Monday, March 31, 2008
Think you can make western Iowa look cool on the wildly popular and ultra-hip video sharing Web site YouTube?
There’s money and even a new TV in it if you do.
Western Iowa Advantage, an economic development organization in this area, Tuesday launches its first-ever video contest, an event that is slated to run for six weeks.
“We just saw this as a great opportunity to get the message of how great it is to live in western Iowa out to a target audience for us,” said Jim Gossett of Western Iowa advantage.
Gossett said the videos on YouTube.com, one of the more broadly recognized destinations on the Internet — and a place that has changed politics and public relations with its ability to showcase user-generated content immediately — will reach younger people and families, just what cities like Carroll need.
Specifically, the videos must be geared to life in the following counties: Adair, Audubon, Carroll, Crawford, Greene, Guthrie, Ida, and/or Sac.
The contest is void where prohibited. See Official Rules at www.westerniowaadvantage.com for details. Entries must be received by May 15.
“There is no residency requirement, so let your extended families, cousins, and old college roommates know they can enter as well,” Western Iowa Advantage says in a news release. “As long as it showcases the great life one enjoys in western Iowa, we want to see it.”
Videos will be judged on how well they portray the positive attributes of the area (40 percent), the overall appeal of the video (30 percent), and creativity/ originality (30 percent). The most important thing is to show what makes Western Iowa great.
“The more creative, the better,” Gossett said.
There are three separate age groups: high school (13-18), college (18-22), and adult (18+). There will be one grand prize winner for the best video, one first prize winner from each age group and three runner-up winners chosen from the best remaining videos. Winning videos will also be presented on the Western Iowa Advantage Web sites and in promotional events for the community. Prizes are as follows: grand prize, 42-inch, HD-TV; three first places, $500; three runner-up prizes, $250.
For more information go to Western Iowa Advantage's Web site.
Saturday, March 29, 2008
In six short years, U.S. Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, has cultivated a national reputation for attention-grabbling remarks that delight his conservative supporters and appall liberal critics. The latter find his rhetoric fanatical, nativist, and at times racist. But even constituents troubled by the Congressman's runaway mouth have to concede that that King has become something of a voice for western Iowa in the instantaneous news world.
King’s recent rant that al-Qaeda would welcome the election Senator Barack Obama with “dancing in the streets” was heard around the world within 24 hours. The remark echoed other Kingisms in its fact-free content, its casual impugning of the patriotism of people who disagree with him, and its careful delivery.
King’s provocations, he admitted in a Downtown Sioux City Rotary Club meeting, covered by Bret Hayworth of The Sioux City Journal, are carefully contrived for maximum effect.
According to King, he plans everything he says, no matter how 'provocative' -- it's weighed ahead of time, never off the cuff and designed to stir discussion of key issues. 'What kind of a nation are we if we can't have open dialogue?' King asserted..
The disarming, if not disingenuous plea, for “dialogue,” coming from a man not known for his civility is another sign of King’s style. One on one, King can be quite personable, even with critical journalists or liberal Democrats. Founder of a construction company, he knows the ways of rural Iowa and how to connect with a crowd. He got himself elected as a state senator in tiny Kiron before winning the mostly Republican 5th Congressional district seat in 2002.
But with his conservative base seemingly locked in, King is eschewing the traditional path of conservative Iowa Republicans like Chuck Grassley and Terry Branstad who rose in popularity as they migrated from the right-wing toward the political center. Just weeks ago, King opted not to run against Sen. Tom Harkin, the popular liberal incumbent. But he is widely believed to be eyeing the Terrace Hill gubernatorial mansion now inhabited by Democratic Gov. Chet Culver who will be up for reelection in 2010.
The question for King is whether his catalog of outrage can sell outside of his reliable conservative base in western Iowa.
"Steve King's Greatest Hits -- Volume 1"
1. He idolizes Joe McCarthy.
King on Sept. 27, 2005, King referred to widely disgraced red-baiter Sen. Joseph McCarthy as a "great American hero" and continues to defend the statement -- as late as this Monday at the Sioux City Rotary meeting in which he said forthcoming information on McCarthy will prove the Wisconsin Republican right -- and by extension, King's comments.
2. King likens illegal immigrants to animals.
In July of 2006 King went to the House floor to display the model of a wall the Kiron Republican said he personally designed for the U.S. border with Mexico and likened illegal border crossers to the farm animals.
"We need to do a few other things on top of that wall, and one of them being to put a little bit of wire on top here to provide a disincentive for people to climb over the top or put a ladder there." King said in displaying his design. "We could also electrify this wire with the kind of current that would not kill somebody, but it would be a discouragement for them to be fooling around with it. We do that with livestock all the time."
3. The Obama slam
In an interview in Spencer, Iowa, Kings said, "I'll just say this, that when you think about the optics of a Barack Obama potentially getting elected president of the United States - and I mean, what does this look like to the rest of the world? What does it look like to the world of Islam? And I will tell you that, if he is elected president, then the ... the radical Islamists, the ... the al-Qaeda and the radical Islamists and their supporters will be dancing in the streets in greater numbers than they did on September 11."
4. King compares homosexuals to unicorns and leprechauns.
In a Dec. 12, 2003, news release about Sioux City Judge Jeffrey Neary's decision to grant two lesbians a divorce King said the following: "Unless I am mistaken it was in Vermont, not Iowa, that Howard 'The Coward' Dean slyly signed midnight legislation making same sex unions legal. Unicorns, leprechauns, gay marriages in Iowa -- these are all things you will never find because they just don't exist. But perhaps Judge Neary would grant divorces to unicorns and leprechauns, too.'"
5. King says Iraq is safer than Washington, D.C.
In the summer of 2006, on the floor of the U.S. House, King says it's more perilous for cilivians in Washington, D.C. than Iraq. He made the argument at least twice.
"Well, by now, I have a feel for the rhythm of this place called Washington, D.C., and my wife lives here with me," King said. "I can tell you, she is in far greater risk being a civilian in Washington, D.C., than the average civilian in Iraq." (In fact, an estimated 21,000 civilians died violent deaths in Iraq in 2006. That same year there were 169 homicides in the nation’s capital.)
6. King makes fun out of an old lady.
In 2006, King suggested that iconic journalist Helen Thomas, then 85 years old, was ugly in a joke about radical Islam's belief that martyrs will be rewarded with virgins in the afterlife.
"There probably are not 72 virgins in the hell he (Abu Musab al-Zarqawi) is at," King said at the Iowa GOP State Convention. "And if there are, they probably all look like Helen Thomas."
In a rare display of civility, King apologized.
7. King endorses backseat baby-making.
How should Iowa deal with the worker shortage in towns that have relied on Hispanic workers, legal and illegal, since the 1980s?
Make more Iowa babies, King told the Greater Des Moines Partnership, according to Jane Norman of the Des Moines Register. 'What about the 'grow your own' plan?'' King said.
When former Republican Lt. Gov. Art Neu, asked King to elaborate King singled out Singapore’s plan to increase pregnancies which he said including the injunction, "put newspapers in your car (windows) to get more privacy," Added King, "I remember those things when I read them. They kind of stand out in my mind."
8. Congressman claims John Kerry would have lost World War II.
In summer of 2004 King issued a statement about the just-dedicated World War II memorial in Washington, saying, "Can you imagine if John Kerry had been president during WWII? We’d all be speaking Japanese and German right now!"
9. King defends “hazing” at Abu Ghraib.
"The dismembered and charred corpses of American contractors dangling over the Euphrates River in comparison to the abuse committed by a few soldiers at Abu Ghraib are like the crimes of Jeffrey Dahmer compared to those of Heidi Fleiss," King said in a statement. "What amounts to hazing is not even in the same ballpark as mass murder."
10. King as a king.
Visting Iraq, King could not resist opportunity to sit in one of Saddam Hussein's former palace thrones. King later sent the photo to the media prompting some to wonder if he hopes to become a power-mad dictator. If western Iowans, often feeling like the red-headed stepchild of the Hawkeye State, ever secede would King be content with the governor's chair of a new state or would he want a throne -- for real?
This story is cross-posted at Iowa Independent.com, where it first appeared.
Friday, March 28, 2008
“He is in a state of denial,” Hubler said. “Over the last five years our brave servicemen and women have been fighting and dying in this illegal war. A war that has lasted longer and cost more than was initially projected. A war that has seen the number of our allies involved dwindle. And a war whose motives continually change every time the preceding excuses are proven false. All we have is the mounting number of casualties, which reached another grim milestone with the number of killed in action reaching four thousand this past holiday weekend. Moreover, this incumbent, who has no military experience, continues making bellicose statements on how we must continue our occupation until victory is reached, even though he is unable to define what constitutes a victory.”
Hubler, a Navy veteran from the Vietnam-era is issuing a challenge to the incumbent in debating him on the issue in a public forum.
“In trying to defend the polarizing and extremist statements about this war, he has publicly asked, ‘what kind of nation are we if we can’t have open dialogue?’”, he said referring to the incumbent’s comments made to members of the local Rotary Club in Sioux City on Monday. “If that is the case, let us have such a dialogue so the people of western Iowa can determine who will bring real representation to the Fifth District. I believe in a strong national defense for our country in the war against terror. But I also believe our servicemen and women, our ‘precious blood’, must not be used to further extreme political ideology or corporate conquest.”
The Saturday March 29 screening of Haunting Villisca will begin at 7:00 pm and will be followed by a 10:00 pm screening of the behind-the-scenes documentary, A Ghost of a Chance.
The Sunday matinee of Haunting Villisca is scheduled for 2:00 pm with A Ghost of a Chance following at 5:00 pm.
Admission to Haunting Villisca is $10 and A Ghost of a Chance is $5. Both shows may be purchased for a combined reduced price of $12.
An optional buffet dinner will be held on Saturday March 29 at 5:15 pm at the historic Villisca Bank. The $15 dinner tickets must also be purchased in advance.
For information and to purchase tickets in advance using Visa or Mastercard,
call Darwin Linn at 712-621-4291,
or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Tuesday, March 25, 2008
Monday, March 24, 2008
A spectacularly contrite Gordon Fischer told Iowa Independent tonight that his "idiotic" insult of former President Bill Clinton in an Easter blog post deserves every last drop of the buckets of venom bloggers and politicos are pouring on this former Iowa Democratic Party chairman and high-profile Barack Obama supporter.
"It was stupid, idiotic," Fischer said. "I deserve all the venom."
In the phone interview, Fischer explained that anger with what he believed to be President Clinton's challenge to Obama's patriotism motivated the post on his blog and a challenging if not hostile comment on Facebook. The swirl of media attention has so far centered on the post on Fisher's personal blog in which he references Monica Lewinsky's infamous blue dress.
But on Saturday, March 22, at 1:15, Fischer had this to say on Facebook:
Gordon is absolutely disgusted with B.Clinton questioning Obama's patriotism. Clinton supporters, you are now on notice. Do the right thing and at least be neutral.
He has removed the controversial post from his personal blog, iowatrueblue.com, but the Facebook comment is alive and readable.
When asked if the "you are now on notice" line was a warning shot before the blog post or a threat of some other action, Fischer, a Des Moines employment lawyer who chaired the IDP from 2002 to 2004, said it was meant in a more general sense for both Obama and Clinton supporters whom he believes are engaging in damaging internacine warfare.
"The feeling I had was that some folks in both camps need to rein in the excesses," Fischer said. "I myself need to be reined in."
With regard to the post on Iowa True Blue, Fischer said he put it up on Easter and removed it today. "I'm not proud of that, either," he said of the Easter Sunday timing of his remarks.
Fischer said he decided on his own to take down the blog post and that it was not done at the behest of anyone in the Obama camp.
But he did say his fear is the comment may have backfired big time. He's received emails from people who say his remarks have pushed them into the Clinton camp.
"One of the concerns I have is that I actually hurt Obama's campaign," Fischer said.
Clinton campaign officials have sought to use the provocative Fischer remarks to help construct a narrative that portrays Obama as something of a hypocrite for calling for change, a new politics, and then having supporters or surrogates throw the traditional campaign grenades.
Fischer said the Obama campaign didn't pressure him, and that his apology, which could be read as cloying, is genuine, not forced political posturing.
The Obama campaign has sought to downplay Fischer's role with the Illinois senator, which nearly three months after the Iowa caucuses isn't that high-level now. But in the weeks before the Iowa caucuses the Obama campaign played up the Fischer endorsement, suggesting that it carried significant weight in what was then a three-candidate toss up between Obama, Hillary Clinton and former U.S. Sen. John Edwards, D-N.C.
Tonight, Fischer said he was never a co-chairman for Obama in Iowa, but rather a "volunteer" -- an now a very "humble" one.
Ironically, on Facebook, Fischer has posted a photo of Abraham Lincoln and Obama morphed. Lincoln famously urged an angry person to write a letter before bed, place it in a desk drawer, sleep on the matter and then decide in the morning if he still wants to send it.
"Abraham Lincoln was right about so many things and he was right about that," Fischer said.
Fischer said a lesson learned is the danger of posting angry comments in haste. The comments were up for about a day, though, and didn't represent, say, the slip of a tongue caught with a speech on YouTube.com in which a speaker senses a bomb seconds after it hits the air, and wishes to pull those clock ticks back.
That considered, Fischer said the remarks were sort of an Internet version of a verbal gaffe.
"It kind of slipped off the tongue if you look at the number of spelling errors," Fischer said.
Fischer said he made the apology over the Internet and did not call either of the Clintons or any of their representatives. But he said would be "honored" to make such a call if given the opportunity.
Here is Fischer's Easter Sunday blog post which is now down:
"B. Clinton questions Obama's patriotism. In repsonse (sic), an Obama aide compared B. Clinton to Joe McCarthy. This is patently unfair. To McCarthy.
"When Joe McCarthy questioned others' patriotism, McCarthy (1) actually believed, at least aparently (sic), the questions were genuine, and (2) he did so in order to build up, not tear down, his own party, the GOP. Bill Clinton cannot possibly seriously believe Obama is not a patriot, and cannot possibly be said to be helping -- instead he is hurting -- his own party. B. Clinton should never be forgiven. Period. This is a stain on his legacy, much worse, much deeper, than the one on Monica's blue dress."
Merle Wilberding, a 1962 St. Bernard Catholic School graduate and a son of a Carroll County farmer who worked for the Breda Grain Company, is the attorney for Mary Lauterbach, the mother of Lance Cpl. Maria Lauterbach, the slain female Marine found buried in North Carolina last month.
Wilberding, 64, has appeared on the “Today Show” with Matt Lauer, taped a segment for “Dateline” and represented the family in other high-profile media venues.
With its chilling elements, Lance Cpl. Lauterbach’s case has generated a swirl of media attention around the world.
“This case caught the nation’s attention when it broke in a way few cases have,” Wilberding told Iowa Independent in a phone interview from his home in Dayton, Ohio.
Maria Lauterbach’s body — and that of her unborn baby — were found near the home of Cpl. Cesar Laurean, the main suspect in the case.
Laurean, who was accused of a May 2007 rape of Lauterbach, is believed to be on the run in his native Mexico with an international manhunt on his scent.
“He’s clearly still at large and the general belief is he’s still in Mexico,” Wilberding said.
Does he think Laurean did it?
“She was buried in his backyard,” Wilberding said.
He also thinks the alleged rape resulted in the pregnancy.
“Yeah, that’s how she got the baby,” Wilberding said.
Living in Ohio near the Lauterbachs, Wilberding was familiar with the family before the murder. When the case generated so much ink and airtime, Mary Lauterbach looked to him as an attorney.
“The real reason was that when all this broke she was overwhelmed and friends urged her to have a lawyer,” Wilberding.
A major reason for his role in the case is Wilberding’s experience with the military in sensitive, closely watched cases with major social implications. A generation ago, Wilberding served as a military attorney in the infamous trials surrounding the My Lai massacre during the Vietnam War.
That case is very much on his mind now.
Wilberding, who earned his law degree from Notre Dame University, wrote the cover story this month for Vietnam magazine on the 40th anniversary of My Lai on March 16, 1968.
“One of the rifle platoons of Charlie Company was led by Lt. William L. Calley who swept through the My Lai 4 subhamlet and, according to the testimony at his court-martial, gathered together hundreds of old men, women and children — perhaps as many as 500 — and then systematically massacred them,” Wilberding said.
Calley was charged and subsequently convicted by a general court-martial board.
As a young Army Judge Advocate General captain, Wilberding was assigned the responsibility to represent the government in Calley’s appeal of his conviction. Wilberding briefed and argued the case before the military appellate courts with the eyes of the nation on it.
Calley’s life sentence was later reduced. He lived under house arrest in Fort Benning, Ga., and then served four months at Fort Leavenworth before being paroled by the Army. Today he manages a jewelry store in Georgia that he inherited from his father.
Wilberding said he has not spoken to Calley since the trial.
Wilberding said the lessons of My Lai are relevant today.
“There is an enduring risk that one or more incidents like My Lai will recur in other ‘nonconventional’ wars,” Wilberding writes in the Vietnam magazine article.
He referenced the Abu Ghraib prison abuse cases in Iraq as one episode that has been compared to My Lai.
“The need for discipline in the military must be tempered with more effective training on the absolute obligation to protect both non-combatants and combatants who are no longer a danger and completely under control,” Wilberding said.
Like My Lai, the Lauterbach case also involves a breakdown in military order, he said.
Wilberding, who told Iowa Independent that suing the Marines is a “difficult proposition,” said the military could have done more to protect Lauterbach after she made the rape charge — chiefly separating the duties of the two Marines as the investigation proceeded.
“Yeah, clearly I think they could have done things to protect her,” Wilberding said.
Since he has been a visible advocate for Lauterbach, and by extension, women serving in the U.S. military, Wilberding said he’s been contacted by many parents of females in the services — and women in uniform themselves.
One parent told him, “The only difference is my daughter hasn’t been murdered yet.”
They see parallels with the Lauterbach case and their own experiences in the military, a culture Wilberding said that has not fully accepted women.
“I don’t think they (the military) have been fully able to absorb the cultural aspects,” Wilberding said.
After graduating from St. Bernard’s High School in Breda, Wilberding earned a bachelor’s degree from St. Mary’s University (Minnesota), and then his law degree from Notre Dame.
He has practiced law for the past 35 years in Dayton, Ohio, at Coolidge Wall, LPA, a law firm of more than 40 lawyers. He has authored four books and a large number of law review and general interest articles.
(Photos: (Top) As a young Army JAG captain, Merle Wilberding was assigned the responsibility to represent the Government in Lt. Calley’s appeal of his conviction in the infamous My Lai massacre. Merle Wilberding briefed and argued the case before the military appellate courts. Those arguments were memorialized in a series of courtroom sketches that appeared in a report by Bob Schieffer on the CBS Evening News on Dec. 4, 1972. After his own discharge, Merle Wilberding acquired one of those original courtroom sketches and is seen standing beside it in the accompanying photograph. Today, Wilberding is the attorney for the family of a slain female Marine whose suspected killer is reportedly on the run in Mexico. (Middle) Maria Lauterbach. (Bottom) Cover of Vietnam magazine.)
Wednesday, March 19, 2008
In an opinion piece in today's New York Times entitled rules count she reminds Michigan and Florida of some the earlier statements and ugly tactics involved in trying to line jump in the nominating process.
Giddins, who is now a Washington, D.C.-based communications consultant concludes:
Florida and Michigan must face the consequences of their decisions.
That said, because millions of people from Florida and Michigan should not be punished for the short-sighted acts of their state’s Democratic Party leaders, the states’ delegates should be welcome at the national convention in Denver. But the delegates “won” in those noncompliant elections in January should be split 50-50 between the two remaining candidates.
There is no such thing as a do-over. Do-overs are what you get when the end results don’t matter. Do-overs are what children do on a playground. Adults accept their mistakes, learn from them and move on.
This story is cross-posted at Iowa Independent.com.
Sunday, March 16, 2008
It is a top item on the congressman's homepage and reads: "Transcript of King’s
Controversial Comments: What May Cause Al-Qa’da To Celebrate."
"The whole thing is that Mr. King is not a represenative of the district," Hubler told Iowa Independent in an interview.
In making the rounds at county conventions, Hubler said, "Yesterday, my message was totally at him."
Hubler estimates he spoke to a total of about 1,200 people at the conventions. And he said the partisan crowds were ready for his message about the controversial King. "We got great response," Hubler said.
King has developed a penchant for the limelight by making highly charged, provocative comments that many observers say jump far across the borders of robust political discourse into the arena of insult, racism and fanaticism.
"He is a direct opposite of what a representative is," Hubler said.
Just over a week ago, King made international news when he suggested U.S. Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., the leading Democratic presidential candidate, would be something of a smash with terrorists because of the senator's middle name, Hussein, and the "optics" of a black man in the White House.
"The burning question on many people's minds is, what's my middle name?" joked Hubler in a speech he delivered seven times Saturday. "It's Louis."
After the King Obama slam hit the airwaves -- getting out of the gate in Spencer -- it shot around the world. In fact, on MSNBC's "Countdown" host Keith Olbermann listed King atop the "worst person in the world" segment.
Hubler referenced that in the interview, saying the district at the very least wouldn't be represented by someone with that infamous national title were he the congressman instead.
King's reputation offers Hubler potential fund-raising opportunities generally not available to Democrats in this rural district. Using the Internet and other avenues he can use the combustible King as a lure for liberal money from out of state -- or donations from people with no strong political affiliation who are outraged at the specifics of any number of King's remarks and looking for a way to vent.
"I see the race developing in the beginning that way," Hubler said.
But the retired Prebyterian minister from Council Bluffs has been campaigning with his own message for more than a year. He knows many people want to see King gone, and may jump parties or forget their independent-right-leaning ways to vote against the congressman. But they need a viable, respectable alternative, someone they could see in that role. Hubler said it's his job to make the case he's that man.
Retired Creston educator Joyce Schulte, 65, lost the last two elections by wide margins to King, R-Kiron. In 2006, a weak year for Republicans that even saw the outster of Iowa icon Jim Leach in eastern Iowa, Kingpulled 58 percent of the vote to Schulte's 36 percent in the sprawling, 32-county western Iowa district. King spent $620,000 compared to just $73,000 for Schulte. Schulte is not running this year.
A son of a Presbyterian minister, Hubler, grew up in Council Bluffs, graduating from Abraham Lincoln High School in 1961. He then joined the Navy where he served on nuclear submarines from 1962 to 1969.
As a veteran, Hubler said he has been appalled by reports of treatment of men and women in uniform at some health-care facilities.
Hubler said he views poverty as a main front in the war on terror.
He worked on some of U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin's first campaigns for the House in the early and mid-1970s, where he made contacts in wide swaths of western Iowa. He also served as an Iowa field office staff member for former Democratic U.S. Sen. Dick Clark of Iowa.
Hubler did fund-raising for the late U.S. Sen. Paul Simon, D-Ill., and while in Illinois, Hubler gave U.S. Rep. Rahm Emmanuel, a powerful Illinois Democrat, one of his first jobs in politics. Hubler consulted on some campaigns in Colorado as well, including work for U.S. Sen. Gary Hart, who also ran for the presidency in 1984 before the campaign imploded over Hart's brazen showcasing of an alleged extramarital affair.
This story is crossposted at Iowa Independent.com.
From the REAGAN DIARIES------entry dated May 17, 1986.
Friday, March 14, 2008
“I am energized by the response my re-election announcement generated,” King stated. “The support of my constituents, and citizens from across the state and nation, tells me we have a mission that cannot be abandoned. I will be actively campaigning between now and November 4, working hard in Congress and working equally as hard to meet with western Iowa’s citizens to ask for their continued support.”
During his re-election announcement, King declared his intention to continue working to support renewable energy and expand U.S. energy resources, remain committed to completing the mission in Iraq and the War on Terror, and opening the doors of opportunity for western Iowa to prosper through rural and economic development efforts.
“We are at a pivotal moment in history,” King declared. “We must continue and win in the War on Terror so we keep America and Americans safe from the threat of radical Islam. At the same time, we must never ignore the issues we face at home including oil prices and the assault on our core values.”
King was first elected to Congress in 2002. He serves on the U.S. House Agriculture, Judiciary, and Small Business Committees.
“My roots go deep into the soil of western Iowa. I am honored and humbled to serve its residents in the United States Congress,” King concluded. “I am asking for their continued support and vote this fall.”
Kurt Hubler, 40, announced today that he will run for state representative in House District 99, which covers part of Council Bluffs. He joins his father in the political arena as Rob Hubler is a Democratic challenger to U.S. Rep. Steve King, R-Kiron.
"You can't doubt the fact that it's unique," Kurt Hubler told Iowa Independent this afternoon. Kurt Hubler said State Rep. Paul Shomshor, D-Council Bluffs and House Speaker Pat Murphy, D-Dubuque, asked him to run. In House 99 State Rep. Doug Struyk, R-Council Bluffs, is a two-term incumbent.
“The commitment the legislature made to improve the lives of Iowans after the 2006 election must continue,” Kurt Hubler, a Democrat, said. “During that time we saw an increase in the state’s minimum wage, higher salaries for teachers, and the expansion of affordable healthcare among other things that were part of their ‘Plan for Prosperity.’ And it is those types of issues this campaign will champion in its commitment to the people of House District 99 and Iowa as a whole.”
Kurt Hubler grew up in the Council Bluffs area and graduated from the University of Northern Iowa. He has worked as a reporter in public radio for stations in Iowa, Indiana, and Texas covering stories ranging from human interest to all levels of government. He has won numerous media awards, including several from the Associated Press Association of Broadcasters.
“We must show a commitment to our labor force by standing up for worker’s rights, a commitment to our environment by advancing our research and development of renewable energies, and a commitment to our infrastructure so our roads and bridges are safe and secure,” Hubler added.
“Kurt Hubler will listen to and work hard for the people of Council Bluffs. His experience covering news at both the state and federal government has given him a good understanding of how to get things done in the Legislature,” said House Speaker Pat Murphy of Dubuque. “I look forward to serving with him next year in the Iowa House of Representatives.”
Kurt Hubler has worked as his father's campaign coordinator and plans to continue in that role.
2. The Washington Post is read by people who think they run the country.
3. The New York Times is read by people who think they should run the country and who are very good at crossword puzzles.
4. USA Today is read by people who think they ought to run the country but don't really understand The New York Times. They do, however, like their statistics shown in pie charts.
5. The Los Angeles Times is read by people who wouldn't mind running the country
-- if they could find the time -- and if they didn't have to leave Southern California to do it.
6. The Boston Globe is read by people whose parents used to run the country and did a poor job of it, thank you very much.
7. The New York Daily News is read by people who aren't too sure who's running the country and don't really care as long as they can get a seat on the train.
8. The New York Post is read by people who don't care who is running the country as long as they do something really scandalous, preferably while intoxicated.
9. The Miami Herald is read by people who are running another country but need the baseball scores.
10. The San Francisco Chronicle is read by people who aren't sure if there is a country or that anyone is running it; but if so, they oppose all that they stand for. There are occasional exceptions if the leaders are handicapped minority feminist atheist dwarfs who also happen to be illegal aliens from any other country, or galaxy, provided of course, that they are not Republicans.
11. The National Enquirer is read by people trapped in line at the grocery store.
12. The Chicago Tribune is read by people who have recently caught a fish and need something in which to wrap it.
Thursday, March 13, 2008
U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin says he's one of a group of top Democrats floating a plan to split Florida and Michigan delegates evenly between presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.
"It's elegant in its simplicity," Harkin, D-Iowa, told Iowa Independent and other media on his conference call just minutes ago.
Harkin referred to the plan as "half-Clinton, half-Obama." The plan gives the two key states a place at the table without rewarding their past rule-breaking as the Democratic parties there line-jumped with voting. Such a split would not help either Obama or Clinton on its own, Harkin said.
"It puts them in the same position," Harkin said.
Harkin said would move both candidates forward in elected delegates without allowing two states that violated the nominating process order to play the potential roles of kingmakers.
"That way there is no reward for those states having gone outside those rules," Harkin said.
He added, "Let's play by the rules we have."
At issue is the Hillary Clinton-backed efforts to allow delegates from Florida and Michigan to be seated at the Democratic National Convention (DNC) even though those states jumped ahead in the nominating line, a brazen power grab for more influence in the process.
But the rules of Hillary’s own party (ones that were in place well before Iowa) say the calendar-leaping viola-tions should cost Florida and Michigan their delegates.
Sen. Clinton, D-N.Y., wants that changed as she had an open field in Michigan where U.S. Sen. Obama, D-Ill., didn’t have his name on the ballot because he adhered to presi-dential nominating rules.
Florida and Michigan didn’t like the idea of Iowa and New Hampshire being first so they just flat out violated a carefully crafted schedule designed to take into account tradition (Iowa) and diversity (Nevada and South Carolina being moved up
Harkin said he's not the only one advocating the half-Clinton, half-Obama idea and that he's not pressing it in any formal way.
"As you might guess from the Clinton campaign, they don't like it," said Harkin who is officially neutral in the Democratic presidential contest.
Another idea being suggested is allowing Florida and Michigan to re-vote. Harkin had entertained the prospect as viable but now says he's firmly against it.
"If we allow a re-vote who is going to abide by the rules in the future," Harkin said.
Wednesday, March 12, 2008
Tuesday, March 11, 2008
Iowa’s Latino business leaders had a message to deliver in person at the Statehouse early this morning:
Forget our skin color and accents and look at the roll call of strong Hawkeye State economic indicators associated with the Latino community.
Latin purchasing power in Iowa was $1.6 billion in 2004 and is projected to increase to $2.7 billion by 2009, according to the Iowa Division of Latino Affairs.
Several dozens business, political and media leaders attended the first-ever Iowa Latino Business Capitol Reception to discuss the opportunities these figures represent.
Armando Villareal, a fifth-generation Texan who is now administrator of the Iowa Division of Latino Affairs, said his community’s presentation in the capitol is meant to showcase the economic muscle and entrepreneurial spirit of Hispanics. Doing so in a building where debate has raged in recent months about immigration is vital, Villareal told Iowa Independent.
“There’s never been a time in America where the majority population is so dependent on the minority population,” Villareal said.
According to his office, the Latino population in Iowa is expected to jump by 335,000 in the year 2030 which will be the largest generational ethnic demographic change since statehood, Villareal said during an interview under the capitol dome and just steps away from a memorial to Iowa’s fallen in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
At the moment, an estimated 114,700 Latinos are in Iowa, a 28 percent in-crease since 2000, The New York Times reports. In some small towns, nearly a third of the citizens are Hispanic, although about half the Hispanic population is concentrated in five Iowa cities, including Des Moines, The Times adds.
“Who’s going to be paying the bills in the future?” Villareal asked. “It’s almost incumbent on Iowa to start saying, ‘Latinos, you are the ones who can pull the wagon.’”
He says the focus on heated immigration debates misses bigger points, and takes the attention from problems that plague the full nation.
“You can’t blame a Latino making $8 for the mortgage crisis,” Villareal said.
Organizers of the event displayed information about the growing number of Hispanic-owned businesses in an effort to show the community is about far more than quick labor for Iowa’s depleted rural areas.
“It reflects well on our state and capital city,” Gov. Chet Culver told Iowa Independent in an interview about the event. He also spoke to the gathering in the capitol.
He said the small business impact of the Latin community in Des Moines has been “real.”
“You’ve got great businesses that are cropping up,” Culver said.
According to the Iowa Division of Latino Affairs, in 2002, there were 363 Latino businesses with nearly 3,000 paid employees and annual payroll of $55 million. Villareal said new numbers on that are expected to be dramatically higher.
Culver, a former teacher, said he taught English as a second language at Hoover High School in Des Moines and knows first-hand the role of Hispanics in Iowa’s economy.
“I’ve seen some amazing families and incredible kids,” Culver said.
(Editor's Note: Villareal photo and group shot from Douglas Burns and Culver photo courtesy of Carroll Daily Times Herald's Jeff Storjohann.)
Monday, March 10, 2008
“While there is a lot of interest in my running again, especially after Bob Chambers took his name out, we surveyed and explored the potential again, and discussed it with family and long time friends, I will let other people have this year, Schulte said. "I will continue to turn my attention and energy to other ways of stimulating this district in economic terms and for kids.”
Schulte and Chambers, a retired businessman from Essex, squared off in the 2006 Democratic primary from which Schulte emerged. Both are out of the 2008 race which at this point clears the field for retired Presbyterian minister Rob Hubler of Council Bluffs.
“It has been my joy to run for Congress in previous campaigns," Schulte said. "The people of the great 5th District are tremendous, and that includes independents and Republicans, as well as the Democrats. I continue to encourage those who work, pay taxes and not registered to become registered and to express their choices at election time. I especially welcome people to the Democratic party.
“I will continue to work with Iowa, especially, to remove heavy metals such as mercury, aluminum, arsenic and others from our immunizations and vaccinations. I will continue to work for more effective educational methods and find ways to encourage greater academic success. In essence, kids will be my major effort, including my grandchildren! I anticipate more travel and internet work.”
"To say Islamic extremists would be 'dancing in the streets' because of a possible American president's middle name is beyond comprehension," Hubler, a retired Presbyterian minister from Council Bluffs, said. "We have heard him call Joseph McCarthy an American hero and claim the streets of downtown Baghdad are safer than those of our nation's capital. But to say Barack Obama is a link to those who want to destroy the United States is the greatest of insults."
"Is this the representation western Iowans want to be known for? Will this rhetoric truly move our country forward," Hubler asked. "Nothing less than a public apology by the incumbent and admonishment by the U.S. Congress for his remarks is acceptable."
"Now we see the tactics of this Congressman for what they really are," Hubler added. "Continuous fear and demagoguery, all for the sake of extremism and dividing this country, is the foundation for his re-election campaign. This only serves our purpose of letting the people of the Fifth District know there is an alternative for Real Representation come Nov. 4."
As a result of the globalization that McCarthy-worshipping Congressman Steve King cannot grasp, the Fifth District Republican's staggering racist comments about Barack Obama shot around the world, once again making western Iowa appear like a land that time left behind.
Thanks to King the world has a new geographic reference: Sioux City, the capital of yesterday.
Hundreds if not now thousands of news outlets -- from ABC News (national) to The Times Of India -- have reported King's overt racist attack on Obama in which the Iowa congressman refers to what he believes are the dangerous "optics" of an Obama presidency.
Here is King:
"I'll just say this that when you think about the optics of a Barack Obama potentially getting elected President of the United States -- and I mean, what does this look like to the rest of the world? What does it look like to the world of Islam?
"And I will tell you that, if he is elected president, then the, the radical Islamists, the, the al-Qaida, and the radical Islamists and their supporters, will be dancing in the streets in greater numbers than they did on September 11….
"It does matter, his middle name does matter. It matters because they read a meaning into that in the rest of the world, it has a special meaning to them. They will be dancing in the streets because of his middle name. They will be dancing in the streets because of who his father was and because of his posture that says: Pull out of the Middle East and pull out of this conflict.
So there are implications that have to do with who he is and the position that he's taken. If he were strong on national defense and said 'I'm going to go over there and we're going to fight and we're going to win, we'll come home with a victory,' that's different. But that's not what he said. They will be dancing in the streets if he's elected president. That has a chilling aspect on how difficult it will be to ever win this Global War on Terror."
We've known for years now that King is a passionate admirer of Joe McCarthy. Now it seems clear King is seeking to function as a sort of resurrected McCarthy, a man King once called a "hero for America."
While King's comments about Obama are spectaculary ignorant (remember King couldn't graduate from Northwest Missouri State University) they are consistent with earlier utterings.
Last month, King said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and other "liberals" are opening a "back door" for terrorist attacks in the United States.
The Obama racist slam is but the latest Kingism. In July of 2006, King "designed" a wall for the border with Mexico and made sure to add an electrical element to shock immigrants like "livestock." He also compared illegal immigrants to stray cats at a GOP event in Crawford County in September 2006.
Since winning a GOP special convention battle in Denison in 2002 King has made so many bizarre statements that the Iowa Optometric Association should cut him a check for all the eye-rolling damage he’s caused with his commentary.
He has joked the Muslims hoping for virgins in paradise may find newswoman Helen Thomas there waiting for them instead and analogized prison abuse in Iraq to frat-row hazing and compared supporters of certain stem-cell research with Nazis and run around taking photos of war protesters and referenced unicorns when talking about lesbians (can we use the Patriot Act to see what movies King’s been watching lately?)
Friday, March 07, 2008
Now, at age 42, as the Democratic governor travels the state, imploring grade school students and senior citizens and everyone in between to lose some fat, Culver admits that his own frame isn’t what it used to be when he was running pass routes for the Hokies.
Is he near 220 pounds?
“Not there quite yet,” Culver said in an interview with Iowa Independent and the Carroll Daily Times Herald.
That’s why the governor was up at 4:30 a.m. Thursday working out before a full day of stops in western Iowa, including one at the Carroll Recreation Center, to promote his “Working Today for a Healthier Tomorrow” initiative.
“I think symbolically it’s important to get out front on these things,” Culver said.
He plans to improve his muscle-body fat split and not worry so much about being a slave to the scale, Culver said.
“I do want to get my body fat down.” Culver said.
In Carroll, Culver visited the Rec Center’s Cool Kids program and talked up fitness with the children in the after-school program.
“One of the things we’re really encouraging young people to do is exercise more,” Culver said. “A lot of young people are becoming heavier and heavier, and it’s a concern.”
Culver said that in 1998, 26.5 percent of Iowa children ages 2-5 were overweight or obese. That number was up 6 percent to 32.5 percent overweight or obese children in 2006.
He noted that Lt. Gov. Patty Judge pointed out in a conversation with him that comparing school or sports-team photos from the 1980s with today shows the remarkable increase in weight among kids in just two decades.
Speaking in the exercise room at the Carroll Rec Center, as members put in miles on tread mills and bikes behind him, Culver complimented Carroll on having top-of-the-line facilities for exercise.
“You guys are doing great things here in Carroll,” Culver said. “This has to happen across the state.”
There are three chief elements of the governor’s fitness push.
First is the Governor’s Wellness Bill (Senate Study Bill 3225 and House Study Bill 728). This bill includes the Iowa Healthy Communities Initiative Grant. The grant program will provide local communities funds to help transform the existing culture into a culture that promotes healthful lifestyles and leads collectively, to a healthier state.
“Our goal is to create the healthiest state in America,” Culver said.
In 2000, State Health Insurance Premiums cost $148.7 million. In 2008, the premiums cost $315.6 million, an increase of $166.9 million over eight years. Insurance premiums are projected to cost $420.1 million in 2012.
This bill also establishes the Governor’s Council on Physical Fitness and Nutrition. This 12-member council will consist of health care and nutrition professionals, educators and other experts.
Second, the governor is backing the Healthy Kids Act (Senate File 2279). This bipartisan bill calls for the development of nutritional content standards for any food sold on school grounds and creates a Nutrition Advisory Panel to help develop those standards.
The governor also supports a State Employees Wellness and Disease Management program to ramp up fitness and health activities for state employees in a plan financing through insurance premiums.
SIOUX CITY – At a press conference held in Sioux City this morning, Iowa Congressman Steve King announced his decision to seek re-election to the U.S. House of Representatives from Iowa’s 5th District. A second announcement will take place Friday afternoon at 5:30 pm in Council Bluffs at Tish’s Restaurant.
“I work hard each and every day to represent the interests of my constituents, fully understanding the trust each places in me to achieve our many goals,” King said. “I have sought to offer purposeful leadership and play a meaningful role in the mission of Iowa’s 5th District. When western Iowans come together to make a difference we find responsible solutions, efficient government, and accountability.”
In announcing his intention to seek re-election, King credited western Iowans for their strengths. “The 5th District continues to advance and I am proud to have participated in that progress with you,” he said.
“Throughout my time in Congress I have delivered the truth from Washington. Standing up on principle often means taking some arrows, but we have pulled together to make a difference,” King said. “I am looking forward to the next two years and taking this country, our state, and our district, to the next level of our destiny. Working together, we can do just that.”
Congressman Steve King was first elected to Congress in 2002. He is a member of the U.S. House Agriculture, Judiciary, and Small Business Committees. King and his wife, Marilyn, raised three sons and have two granddaughters all living in western Iowa. King started an earth-moving contracting company and saw that small business, with roots in the agribusiness industry, grow. King Construction is now owned by the Congressman’s oldest son, David, and his wife, Meghann.
“I enjoy all the beauty and bounty western Iowa has to offer including our great natural resources which deserve our respect and protection,” King concluded. “I am humbled by the responsibility placed in me by the citizens of western Iowa and ask their continued support as I seek re-election.”
Thursday, March 06, 2008
now out of race
on Democratic side
U.S. Rep. Steve King, R-Kiron, is expected to announce his candidacy for a fourth term representing Iowa’s Fifth District Friday with events in Sioux City and Council Bluffs.
King, the subject of much speculation about a possible run against U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, has not publicly said whether he will seek re-election or move to advance his political career.
But King is circulating petitions for Congress, not the Senate, a clear sign of his intentions.
He will make it official Friday, campaign sources say.
Meanwhile, expected western Iowa Democratic congressional candidates Joyce Schulte and Bob Chambers have both dropped out of the race this week.
The 2006 candidates made announcements in emails to supporters and Iowa Democrats, confirmed Chambers and Carroll County Democratic Party Chairman Butch Heisterkamp.
The absence of Schulte and Chambers for now has cleared the primary field for Rob Hubler of Council Bluffs, a retired Presbyterian minister who has been campaigning for more than a year for a chance to take on King.
For her part, Schulte did not return phone calls.
The Democratic nominee for Congress in Iowa’s Fifth District the past two times, Schulte just weeks ago told the Daily Times Herald she was collecting signatures for a third run she said would happen this year unless some unforeseen circumstance cuts her off at the pass.
“I think you could put it down like that,” Schulte said in an interview.
Heisterkamp said he received an email from Schulte announcing that she had other opportunities and would not run. Heisterkamp said that at a 5th District Democratic meeting in Denison last month many party activists sought to dissuade Schulte from running again.
Schulte, 65, has lost two elections by landslide margins to U.S. Rep. Steve King, R-Kiron. In 2006, a weak year for Republicans that even saw the outster of Iowa icon Jim Leach in eastern Iowa, King pulled 58 percent of the vote to Schulte’s 36 percent in the sprawling, 32-county western Iowa district.
Wednesday night, Chambers said, he talked with Schulte personally.
“She called me last night and said she was not going to run either,” Chambers said.
For his part, Chambers cited health reasons.
Chambers, 69, said he was feeling worn down but didn’t want to elaborate on his health.
“I doubt if I ever try this again,” he said of a congressional bid.
Wednesday, March 05, 2008
In 1874, German immigrants in Carroll County launched The Demokrat, a German-language newspaper, with the declaration that the publication would battle to preserve the interests of recently arrived immigrants against "nativisim and fanaticism.“
The Demokrat was the forerunner of publications like La Prensa, the western Iowa Spanish-language media organization that wins the Google Search title for Hispanic newspapers in the Hawkeye State. It's based in Carroll, nicely positioned in western Iowa within speedy reach of many Latino-rich communities.
The emergence of Spanish-language papers in Iowa shows why learning Spanish is a key asset for Iowa's white native population. Let's look at the numbers:
What The New York Times says:
At the moment, an estimated 114,700 Latinos are in Iowa, a 28 percent increase since 2000, according to the Iowa Division of Latino Affairs. In some small towns, nearly a third of the citizens are Hispanic, although about half the Hispanic population is concentrated in five Iowa cities, including Des Moines.
Iowa, like other parts of the nation, is in the midst of change as more Spanish-speaking immigrants move into the state, taking jobs in meatpacking, corn and egg processing plants. Evidence of their growing presence comes in the form of new Spanish-language newspapers, radio shows and mom-and-pop stores in fading downtown areas.
Let's look at some even more localized numbers.
Using 2005 and 2006 estimates, the Census reports that 16.7 percent (2,830) of Crawford County's population of 16,948 is Hispanic. In the county seat of Denison, using the latest Census numbers from 2000, 17 percent (1,274) of the city is Latin.
These numbers clearly show a demand for the product La Prensa editor Lorena Lopez is putting out in western Iowa twice a month. But her enterprise is more than just commercial. She is an advocate for the Latin community.
Why is that needed?
The answer is simple: brown is the new pink. Here is excerpt from a story I wrote last spring.
East Carolina University political scientist Peter Francia says he doesn't generally quote comedians.
But Francia, co-author of a provocative study on the gay marriage issue in rural America's presidential voting in 2004, says funny man Bill Maher has the perfect description of the 2008 election: "Brown is the new pink." In other words, a possible GOP strategy will be to scapegoat Hispanics with immigration issues in much the same way homosexuals were politically posterized in rural areas with Bush team posturing against gay marriage and Karl Rove-inspired hyperbole that made the debate over same-sex unions sound like a collective referendum on the Bible, country music, cold beer at college football games and the right to smoke cigarettes while fishing.
Now let's get into the history of La Prensa in a story I wrote for the Carroll Daily Times Herald about a year ago.
The 2-year-old Spanish-language paper, La Prensa (The Press), is a family operation, the product of an ambitious mother-son team originally from Nicaragua but with deepening roots in Carroll.
Published twice a month, La Prensa, a free tabloid, is distributed at several locations in western Iowa including Carroll, Storm Lake, Denison, Spencer, Perry, Ames and Fort Dodge. Distribution stands at about 6,800.
Editor and founder Lorena Lopez, a former television personality in Nicaragua, launched the publication in May 2006 with her son, Carlos A. Arguello, a Carroll High School and University of Northern Iowa graduate.
With a master's degree in communications from Central American University, which has a campus in Managua, Lopez became a recognizable face on Nicaraguan television in the 1980s. She even hosted the Miss Nicaragua pageants for a time.
But the same professional drive that finds Lopez getting exclusive interviews with major American politicians landed her on the persona non grata list with the Nicaraguan government. She produced a controversial piece about homosexual activity among teen-age boys forced by the Army into remote areas for service.
Lopez said the fallout from that series is complicated to explain, but it is one of the major reasons that she found herself in California in 1993, along with sons Carlos and Nauj (Juan spelled backward).
While La Prensa is Hispanic-owned and operated, Latinos aren't the only ones spying opportunity for these papers in Iowa.
This is from a story I wrote on Iowa Independent.com a few weeks ago.
Humboldt newspaper publisher Jim Gargano sees parallels between Iowa's burgeoning Hispanic community and his own Italian family.
Coming of age in the 1950s and 1960s in Fort Dodge, Gargano listened to his grandmother, Rosalia Maggio, speak Italian in his hard-working home.
"I learned both languages when I was growing up," Gargano said. "Fort Dodge had a lot of Italians back then."
He recalls hearing anti-immigrant smears about Italians from time to time.
Today, as a community leader in north-central Iowa, an area that is increasingly Latino-rich, Gargano on occasion will hear echoes of that bigotry in comments from some white native Iowans about Hispanics.
His answer is simple:"You can like or dislike the Hispanics, but they are going to be here."
With shared immigrant experience as motivation, Gargano Communications launched the Spanish-language newspaper La Voz "The Voice" in late 2007.
The Daily Times Herald and Iowa Independent have collaborated on a number of project in the last year, including much political coverage:
Here is an example:
Chris Dodd is interviewed by Lorena Lopez, editor of La Prensa, and Douglas Burns of the Carroll Daily Times Herald and Iowa Independant on 10/25/07 at the Moose Lodge in Carroll.
The interview with the Democratic presidential candidate and veteran U.S. senator from Connecticut is in both Spanish and English with Lopez asking the first three questions and Burns the following four.
Sunday, March 02, 2008
U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, says Barack Obama owes it to his supporters to spend their contributions instead giving back millions to hew to the public-finacincing language of a questionnaire the Illinois senator (or his staff) filled out months ago.
The Democratic presidential candidate shouldn't cave in to U.S. Sen. John McCain's appeals to adhere to Obama's earlier remarks on federal funding -- regardless of what Obama may have said or pledged in the past, Harkin said in response to questions from Iowa Independent.
McCain, an Arizona senator and the likely Republican nominee for president, has sought to make the public-financing matter a campaign issue. Harkin doesn't think it has legs with the American people.
"Things like that are sort like people saying they're going to just run for limited terms in office," Harkin said. "How many people, no names mentioned, have said, 'Oh, no, we should change the law, only two terms in office' ... while they were running for their third and fourth and fifth terms."
Here is the Associated Press:
In response to a questionnaire in November from the Midwest Democracy Network, a group of nonpartisan government oversight groups, Obama said: "Senator John McCain has already pledged to accept this fundraising pledge. If I am the Democratic nominee, I will aggressively pursue an agreement with the Republican nominee to preserve a publicly financed general election."
"I just don't think people would hold it against Obama for having said, Well, I'll take public financing and then saying I had no idea all these people around the country were going to support me with $50, and $100 and $75 -- and isn't that the way want politics to operate," Harkin said.
Obama would stand to lose much more money than McCain under public financing, according to the Medill News Service.
Forgive him (Obama) for originally assuming it would be impossible to raise more than the $84 million, but nobody has ever accomplished such a feat. And no one - just ask the Clinton campaign - expected Obama's campaign to morph into the phenomenon it has become.
Much is at stake. While Obama is still grappling with Clinton for the Democratic nomination, McCain can move into general election mode, spending primary funds to position himself for the general election campaign.
Obama would also need to return more than $6 million in private donations already raised. By contrast, McCain only stands to lose $2.2 million by accepting public funds.
This story is crossposted at Iowa Independent.com.
One state senator tells Iowa Independent that he was ready to bring up the veterans issue but was told by leadership that the matter would be handled in conference. A veterans administrator literally begged one legislator on the matter, saying that for many residents, veterans of our nation's wars, smoking cigarettes represents one of the remaining "pleasures" they have in a challenging life.
What remains to be seen is how casinos and bars will fare in negotiatons between the House and Senate versions of bans. Bars weren't exempted in either ones but owners have been giving legislators and the media a mouthful about the ramifications of a ban. Their chief argument has resonance. In places like New York City or California where bans have been in place for years, new customers flowed into the smoke-free bars. But in the sparsely populated and aging towns of much of rural Iowa, there isn't a non-smoking, effete professional demographic around to slide in and replace the hardened blue collar smokers.
Some bar owners have in rural western Iowa towns have estimated the percentage of smokers in their businesses to be from 65 percent to 90 percent.
One of the staunchest defenders of these small business owners in western Iowa is the progressive editor of The Storm Lake Times published a blistering column on the smoking debate this week.
Here is Cullen:
BY ART CULLEN
The Iowa Senate today is set to endorse a statewide ban on smoking in public places, including hole-in-the-wall bars where 95% of the clientele smoke like fiends. Those people are the new lepers of society — do not go near them because their rancid clothes might give you a case of the Big C.
Of course you haven’t. Now you can drive by that bar with the smug satisfaction that those mopes are standing in the alley shivering while their beer warms inside. Thank goodness you are not huddled among the unsaved and unshaved. Listen to public radio’s book club and it will take your mind off them.
You should realize that that addicted rat is actually saving you money — along with the fatty you look down your slender nose at.
The smokers, the obese, the drinkers and the nymphomaniacs are bound to die young for their depravities. They will not burden you with Alzheimers. They will not collect Medicare. They will not embarrass you at family dinners in the future. They will not tell you how to rear your children. They will be dead.
Kurt Vonnegut recently died of the Big C after smoking many years. The University of Iowa graduate called smoking “an elegant form of suicide.” It worked for him.
I don’t know if Vonnegut was a good Christian. He might have been a Jew, or worse, an agnostic. But if those good Christians are right and he was a man of faith, the author of Slaughterhouse Five is in a better place than sitting outdoors at a Paris café not smoking.
Companies are already discriminating against people with vices. “Have you smoked?” the drone in human resources may ask. You had better lie under threat of federal penalty. “Have you eaten pie made from lard?” Never, wouldn’t touch the stuff. Bad for the ticker, you know. “Have you ever drunk more than six beers in one sitting?” My liver is fresh as the fallen snow.
Soon enough people who know what is good for you will tell you that you are endangering your neighbor by grilling hamburgers in the back yard. You are guilty of global warming, hardening of the arteries and cruelty to mad cows. And you might have added to the global problem my burning a fag in the bargain.
No one will give you credit for saving on the nursing home bill because you did not live to be 115.
Nobody will say attaboy for not driving that gas-guzzler another 100,000 miles because you are six feet under.
Nobody will give you posthumous Social Security benefits. The vice-ridden are firming up the accounts for those who lived righteously and too long after you.
The lesser among us are not welfare bums after all. They are saving precious public expenditures and carbon credits for the clean livers to enjoy.
Note that the legislature did not ban tobacco for all its dangers. The state still wants you to be addicted to cigarettes, alcohol and gambling because it amounts to a fair chunk-o-change flowing into the state treasury. No, those who are know what’s good for us have figured out that only 20% of the electorate smokes — and they’re dying by the minute — so what the heck. Ban smoking in bars just to show you can, without so much as a thank-you note to the addicted for sending so much in revenue while saving so much in long-term care expenses. Democracy is a great thing, if you’re in the majority.
CARROLL, Iowa -- Iowa State University professor Kenneth Stone, a nationally regarded expert on Wal-Mart and the first academic to do serious studies on what is now the largest company in human history, says Carroll's existing business community is strong enough to adapt to the arrival of a Wal-Mart Supercenter Wednesday morning.
"I think taking a positive attitude is the best course," Stone said in a recent interview. "I have seen several towns take a very negative attitude. It's usually prompted by the grocers getting together or somebody that's really going to be hurt."
Added Stone, "The bottom line is there are many, many successful towns that have a Wal-Mart Supercenter and all the hysteria that went on about how bad it was going to be just didn't happen."
Jack Schultz, author of the book "Boomtown USA" and an evangelist for rural America, said he was in Pryor, Okla., several months ago and talked to people there about the arrival of a Supercenter.
"The Chamber president told me that sales in their downtown have increased with more people coming to town," Schultz said.
Here is Schultz in a recent post on his blog about rural America and small town development:
There is a life with Wal-Mart ... I see it over and over as I travel around the country. Generally, small towns appreciate their Wal-Marts and the most complaints are from towns that don't have one or that didn't allow one to build in their town years ago and today regret having let the big fish swim to a neighboring town.
Douglas Burns of Iowa Independent and Iowa Political Alert discusses some of the economic and cultural issues in Carroll, Iowa. The above is filmed at the historic Carroll Depot, home of the Chamber of Commerce.
Editor's Note: Jefferson is 30 miles east of Carroll. Burns misspeaks on this during the video.
Read the rest of this story at Iowa Independent.com.