Sunday, June 29, 2008
By DOUGLAS BURNS
Iowa Political Alert.com
Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin , a 44-year-old with five children, a captivating TV-mom look and a brief and but weighty background as a reformer governor, could vault from relative national obscurity to star in a game-turning role as John McCain's running mate.
In fact, of all the candidates under consideration to ride shotgun with the Arizona senator, Palin brings the most to McCain. The Republican Alaska governor should be his choice.
Millions of Americans fell in love with Barack Obama's biography. They'll go for Palin's too --and perhaps relate more to it. She hunts and fishes, and in Iowa, where girls basketball is a major cultural force, the fact that this governor led her high school team as point guard to an Alaska state title as "Sarah Barracuda" will resonate. She appears to pull off the Clair Huxtable balancing act: being strong and feminine at the same time.
The Almanac of National Politics speaks of her thusly: "An avid hunter and fisher with a killer smile who wears designer glasses and heels, and hair like modern sculpture."
Her oldest son, Track, is in the military (having enlisted in the Army on Sept. 11, 2007), and she opted to continue with a pregnancy of her fifth child, born recently with Down syndrome. She not only pro-life but she has a son to prove it.
With his strengths being experience in Washington -- as measured by tenure in the Senate -- and foreign policy, McCain, 72 in August, can afford to go a true balancer, someone much younger with a strong suit in domestic issues. And a woman.
Elected in 2006, Palin admittedly has had a short run as governor of a state most of us associate with exotic cruises and a oil-drilling debate no one really understands but on which everyone has an opinion.
She has astronomical approval ratings in Alaska and is getting a good deal of press for going after corruption, and focusing on fiscal responsibility. The Politico reports that as governor she has shown a willingness to veto some of the state’s large capital projects.
While some Republicans may worry that Palin would get knocked around in a vice presidential debate by, say, U.S. Joe Biden, D-Del., it could actually work to the ticket's advantage in the same way Hillary's tears did in New Hampshire, not that Sarah would be crying over a botched point on North Korea. The Democrats would have to be careful about bullying her, and she would be a vessel for Hillaryites, bulging with estrogen, looking for a reason to bolt the party. What's more, suburban women, a key swing block now seemingly more fit for Obama, could actually be pulled by Palin, one of their own in a very real sense.
And the press -- with spectacuarly little knowledge of Alaska and life there -- would seize on her family background. Her husband, Todd, is a four-time winner of the Iron Dog, the world's longest snow machine race. The McCain camp will get weeks of biography stories on Palin, and she will puncture the stodgy stereotype of the party. She'll also play well in rural America where McCain, with provocative comments and a farm-unfriendly voting history, will face more challenges than he now expects.
Think about this way: Imagine the reaction to the selection of Mitt Romney as a vice presidential candidate? What does that get MccCain? Maybe Michigan, but likely not. An known white male governor like Tim Pawlenty from Minnesota is about as inspiring as a Wednesday -- and with Obama's lead there, he may not even pull that state.
Palin completey changes the complexion of the election, and helps establish a narrative of two mavericks, one too old and one too young, waging an underdog quest against Battlestar Barack.
This commentary also appears at Iowa Independent.com and Sarah Palin For VP, the latter being a news, not advocacy site.
For all of his bluster and posturing what has U.S. Rep. Steve King, R-Kiron, actually accomplished?
The Sioux City Journal researches this question in some detail.
In terms of legislation King has been successful with one bill he's sponsored: getting Christmas recognized as being, well, important to Christians.
Of the 44 bills King has sponsored according to www.GovTrack.us, three have made it out of committee and only one has been acted. The piece of legislation? House Resolution 847: Recognizing the importance of Christmas the Christian faith.
But don't despair, King says he's had some success blocking what he believes to be bad legislation or funding choices.
King said the extended 2007 funding debate for reauthorization of the federal State Children's Health Insurance Program was a key moment. The measure was initially written for an increase of $35 billion, but was scaled back before being signed by President Bush in December.
King took to the House floor last fall with a sign that said the SCHIP acronym should instead stand for "Socialized Clinton-style Hillarycare for Illegals and their Parents."
"I do believe if you took me out of the equation, there would have been a different (funding) result," King said.
And in the priority debate raging between U.S. Highway 20 and U.S. Highway 30 -- with 30 having the most traffic and the clear lead in economic development in its corridor -- King has proven to be an advocate for 20 at the expense of 30.
The cost for expanding U.S. 20 from two to four lanes over 90 miles from Moorland to Moville is estimated to cost $520 million. King has specified his $35 million is for portions west of U.S. Highway 71 in Woodbury, Ida and Sac counties.
"It's a given that Highway 20 will be completed all the way to Sioux City," King said. "I believe I have given every effort to keep my word on those two (infrastructure) things. Both of those things will get done."
King said as he's served in Congress, he's broadened the infrastructure funding list to Interstate 29 interchanges in Council Bluffs and Sioux City, along with the Outer Drive expansion in Sioux City.
Nowhere in the The Journal story does King mention U.S. 30 -- something those who live along that federal route may want to consider when evaluating the congressman.
Saturday, June 28, 2008
The Baltimore Sun lays out some of the Obama campaign's strategy of introducing the Democratic presidential candidate to the nation -- sort of a larger version of what it did here in Iowa.
Team Obama says it isn't paying attention to national polls, and looking at the 2008 race as state-by-state combat.
Here is The Sun:
David Plouffe, a cool-headed operator who helped engineer Obama's nomination victory, says he doesn't put much stock in national polls, since a presidential election is a state-by-state battle. Laying out the public version of his campaign's strategy for a room full of reporters, he zeroed in on the most important target for both Obama and McCain.
"The people in the middle--in some cases we're only talking about six to ten percent of the people in a state--they will decide the election," Plouffe says. "Some of these voters just haven't been consuming the political news . . . So we think we have some very, very important foundational work to do" in spreading Obama's message.
See what The New York Times reports on the prices of these household staples.
Egg prices in May were up 18.2 percent from a year ago, while bread rose 15.9 percent and milk was up 10.2 percent, according to Consumer Price Index data. With those kinds of spikes, the big question most consumers are asking is whether it’s time to switch grocers.
But in the 2008 race, the first in which campaigns are feeling the full force of the changes wrought by the Web, the most attention-grabbing attacks are increasingly coming from people outside the political world. In some cases they are amateurs operating with nothing but passion, a computer and a YouTube account, in other cases sophisticated media types with more elaborate resources but no campaign experience.
Friday, June 27, 2008
Massachusetts Rep. Bill Delahunt made the remark while questioning David Addington, Vice President Dick Cheney’s chief of staff, during a House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution hearing on interrogation policies, Fox News reported.
Addington said he couldn’t discuss certain interrogation techniques because “Al Qaeda may watch C-SPAN,” which was televising the hearing, according to Fox.
Delahunt responded: “Right, well, I’m sure they are watching, and I’m glad they finally have a chance to see you Mr. Addington.”
Congressman King said in a news release that he was dismayed and outraged at the comments saying, “Congressman Delahunt’s live, televised statement to Vice President Cheney’s Chief of Staff was an invitation to Al-Qaeda to target him. I wonder if Bill Delahunt is ready to guard Mr. Addington’s home and family.”
Delahunt told FOX News that King has “a good sense of humor” but “under no circumstances” was he implying during the hearing that Al Qaeda may target Addington.
Here is a video of Delahunt's comments:
Here is the Toronto Star:
Recently the U.S. government lowered the cap on this category of visa and beautiful men and women have been denied the experience of working American runways. To solve the dilemma a New York congressman has proposed a bill which will separate models into their own category.
"Steve King, an Iowa congressman, thinks the bill should be called the "Ugly American Act" because it implies there are not enough beautiful people in the United States."
Thursday, June 26, 2008
Veteran columnist Robert Novak is reporting that Colin Powell is planning to endorse Barack Obama for president.
Neither Powell, first-term secretary of state for George W. Bush, nor Hagel, retiring after two terms as a U.S. senator from Nebraska, has endorsed Obama. Hagel probably never will. Powell probably will enter Obama's camp at a time of his own choosing. The best bet is that neither of the two, both of whom supported President Bush in 2000 and 2004, will back John McCain in 2008.
A New York Times food reviewer agrees:
Now, it’s a given among soda connoisseurs that high-fructose corn syrup, the industrial sweetener of choice, is the devil in disguise. That’s why Coca-Cola lovers prize bottles from Mexico, where cane sugar is still used.
“Because the Smokefree Air Act will impact nearly every business and citizen in the state, IDPH and our partners considered a great many issues to ensure that these rules are faithful to the intent of the law,” said Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) Director Tom Newton.
The Smokefree Air Act was written to protect the health of employees by prohibiting smoking in nearly all workplaces in Iowa, including restaurants and bars. In creating the rules, IDPH and the Attorney General’s Office worked with several state partners, including the Departments of Inspections & Appeals, Natural Resources, and Public Safety, Regents Universities, and many more.
Here is Hayworth's Politically Speaking Blog Post:
McClellan was called last week to testify before a U.S. House Committee, and said the Iraq War was sold to Americans as part of a “propaganda campaign” by Bush and other key administration officials.
King’s response to McClellan’s remarks was, “Couldn’t you have taken some of this to the grave with you and done this country a favor?”
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
"These numbers are not surprising to anyone who works in this field but they are alarming," Karen Thompson, IDPH's Sexually Transmitted Disease Program Manager, told Iowa Independent. "It's a pretty big jump and its something we're seeing nationwide."
The 2007 statistics show:
· 8,643 reported Chlamydia cases – a 67 percent increase in reported cases over the last 10 years.
o 74 percent of the Chlamydia cases (6,350) were in Iowans aged 15 to 24.
· 1,928 reported Gonorrhea cases – a 19 percent increase in reported cases over the last 10 years.
o 60 percent of the Gonorrhea cases were in Iowans aged 15 to 24.
· 64 reported Syphilis cases – a 52 percent increase in reported cases over the last 10 years.
o 52 percent of the Syphilis cases were in Iowans aged 35 to 55.
It’s notable that the number of cases of STDs in Iowa would be even higher if HPV and herpes were reportable diseases in the state, reports the IDPH.
Thompson said young people in the state are receiving mixed messages that lead to risky behavior. Many also are operating with mistaken views on how they can develop diseases. For example, Gonorrhea can be contracted in the throat through oral sex.
She said IDPH has no data on spikes in oral and anal sex but "we hear about increases."
The issues of STDs is not only stigmatized but highly politicized as well, with groups on the Christian Right calling for abstinence-only education and blaming increases in disease on sex education, Hollywood and the Internet. The political left hits right back with it's own case, arguing that ignorance of basic science and reproductive health facts breeds the numbers Iowa sees now.
Thompson said the state should have a standardized education program for young people.
"Something fairly standardized that sends the same message to youth is a good idea," she said.
There's reason to believe 2008 could be worse for STDs in Iowa as people in the wake of the flooding may be more inclined to make the sorts of poor decisions that lead to STDs, Thompson said
"We saw a spike with Katrina," she said of the Gulf Coast hurricane.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate up to half of STDs go undiagnosed. This is common because people may be unaware they have an STD. The initial signs and symptoms are often invisible, but the infection is still doing damage internally. Untreated STDs can cause rashes, sores, abdominal pain, surgery, infertility and even death. While many STDs are curable, any damage done to the body cannot be undone. The American Social Health Association estimates that every dollar spent on STD prevention saves $43 in the costs of STD-related complications.
This story cross-posted at Iowa Independent.com.
By Lorena López and Douglas Burns
Just days after nearly 300 Guatemalans working at a Postville, Iowa meatpacking plant were nabbed in the largest immigration raid in U.S. history, an unknown entity sought to recruit more laborers from the Central American nation for jobs in the same small Iowa town -- going so far as to run advertisements in two major Guatemalan newspapers that a government official there says have all the trappings of a "fraud."
The mysterious newspaper ads, published in late May and also affixed to telephone poles and store walls in Guatemala City, sought people for meat-processing jobs in Postville, Iowa -- site of the May 12 raid at the kosher slaughterhouse run by Agriprocessors, the only meatpacking facility in the town.
Of the 389 people caught in the U.S. Immigration Enforcement and Customs (ICE) raid, 295 were Guatemalans working at the kosher facility, said Tim Counts, an ICE spokesperson.
The ads, published in the Guatemala City newspapers Prensa Libre and El Periodico, promised an "excellent opportunity of a job in the United States" for "men who have permission to work in the United States."
The printed pitch goes on to say that the company was "located in a technologically developed town with a friendly atmosphere, pretty green areas, public schools and family recreation areas" -- and that the jobs paid $8.50 an hour and offered medical and dental benefits.
The ads don't specifically mention Agriprocessors, and the company says it has nothing to do with them.
"Here's the bottom line: Agri didn't place the ads," said Jim Fallon, a spokesperson for Agriprocessors. "We don't know who did it."
Guatemalan government investigates
Guatemalan government officials say they are seeking the source of the ads.
"This is a case that is under investigation," said Erick Mauricio Maldonado, general director for immigration issues in the Guatemalan Chancellor's Office. The matter is now in the hands of the Public Minister's Office in Guatemala City, Maldonado said in a phone interview with Iowa Independent.
Maldonado added, "The government doesn't support any of this program because we don't know where it is coming from or who is placing it."
The ads included a cellular phone number for those interested. Iowa Independent called the number and received an answer saying the phone number was no longer in service.
So did Guatemalan officials who said they received the same result.
Asked who paid for the ads, Gerardo Jimenez, editor of Prensa Libre, said, "We don't know." When pressed whether the accounting department at the paper might know anything about payments, the editor said the paper had no information.
Maldonado said Prensa Libre provided the same answer to the government. He said an investigation is under way because of the potential "fraud" involved.
In the United States, Counts said he could not disclose any information about an investigation. "Even if agents do know something about it, it is not something we would confirm," Counts said.
Agriprocessors has been shaken by the raid. CEO Sholom Rubashkin, son of the company's founder, stepped down in late May.
Last week, Iowa Independent reported that an Agriprocessor supervisor who sold used cars and favorable treatment to company employees had fled to Israel, according to people who knew him. A federal agent said in sworn affidavit that there was "probable cause to believe" that the supervisor who sold used cars, "aided in the harboring of illegal aliens."
The Postville plant, owned and operated by the Rubashkin family, is one of the leading manufacturers of kosher food in the country. Members of the Rubashkin family have donated more than $120,000 to the Iowa Republican Party and Republican office holders in recent years and a smaller amount to Democratic Gov. Chet Culver and Lt. Gov. Patty Judge.
The company is under federal investigation, according to news reports.
(Lorena López is editor of the western Iowa Spanish-language newspaper La Prensa. Douglas Burns is a fellow for Iowa Independent.)
This story is cross-posted at Iowa Independent.com.
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
The $300 million turbine project started in recent days with the construction of access roads and other initial work, Tom Budler, Mid-American’s general manager for wind power, said.
MidAmerican plans to move swiftly on the project.
“It will absolutely be on the line by the end of 2008,” Budler said.
He said the electricity generated from the wind project could provide power to about 75,000 homes. The nearly 400-foot towers will sweep majestically from farmland to the Carroll County sky, with just about all 100 being visible on a drive from Carroll to Breda on U.S. 71.
MidAmerican already has 66 turbines in Carroll and Crawford Counties. As of now, the company has no plans to move beyond the 166 total turbines. But by the end of the year, Carroll County will be a major player in the wind-energy scene with the 100-turbine addition.
“I see them as part of the future of energy in this area,” said Carroll Mayor Jim Pedelty.
This story cross-posted at Iowa Independent.com.
Hubler, a retired Presbyterian minister from Council Bluffs, is framing this as a "family values" issue in his race against U.S. Rep. Steve King, R-Kiron.
"In my first pastorate, twenty years ago, I anticipated I would be marrying, counseling, burying, and generally guiding the flock in the church," Hubler said. "I knew even in 1988 that the rural economy is always a challenge to those that live there. I knew that life always presents problems that test daily living. What I never expected was the frequency that I encountered relationships involving physical and mental abuse situations. Neither did I realize the profound effect abuse has not just the individuals involved, but on the communities where they live. It soon became clear that this was a secret that most families were unwilling to talk about and that most communities were not prepared to address."
According to Hubler, since 2002, the number of domestic and sexual violence facilities in Iowa has fallen from 34 to 27. In the Fifth Congressional District, the number of outreach centers has gone from 11 to 7 in that time frame, Hubler said.
Both federal and state funding for programs providing services to victims of domestic violence and sexual assault have been diminished in recent years, said Joyce DeHaan, executive director of the Domestic/Sexual Assault Outreach Center (D/SAOC) in Fort Dodge.
"Federal funds have been diminishing since 2000 although many valiant efforts have been made to offset the losses," DeHaan said. "As a result, a number of programs across the state have been forced to close or merge with neighboring programs. Our own agency, the Domestic/Sexual Assault Outreach Center was asked to add Carroll and Crawford counties to our service area, as the former program was no longer able to sustain services."
Initially, D/SAOC was promised sufficient funds to operate the shelter in Carroll as well as provide advocates in both counties.
"However, because of the cut in federal funds, we did not receive sufficient funding so we have not been able to keep the shelter open 24/7, but rather provide counseling and advocacy services out of the Carroll shelter as well as from donated space in Denison," DeHaan said. "This means that victims and children seeking shelter from the Carroll/Crawford area must come to Fort Dodge for shelter, making it very difficult for the family needing safety."
This story cross-posted at Iowa Independent.com.
Here is The Washington Post:
A top adviser to Sen. John McCain said that a terrorist attack in the United States would be a political benefit to the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, a comment that was immediately disputed by the candidate and denounced by his Democratic rival.
Charles R. Black Jr., one of McCain's most senior political advisers, said in an interview with Fortune magazine that a fresh terrorist attack "certainly would be a big advantage to him." He also said that the December assassination of former Pakistani prime minister Benazir Bhutto, while "unfortunate," helped McCain win the Republican primary by focusing attention on national security.
Thursday, June 19, 2008
Harkin, an Iowa Democrat, travels Thursday to Iowa with President Bush aboard Air Force One to help show the nation's chief executive damage first-hand, and make the case for federal assistance.
Speaking with reporters on a conference call, Harkin said about $1.8 billion would flow to Iowa and surrounding states hit by flooding through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). More than $1 billion more -- to start with -- will come through other special appropriations, said Harkin, chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee.
"There more be more later on," Harkin said.
The money would go to Iowa, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas and Missouri through the small business, transportation, community block grants and agricultural sources.
"We don't know how much Missouri is going to require because that hasn't hit yet," Harkin said.
Harkin said the Department of Labor has signed off on the release of more than $17 million in national emergency monies -- including $6 million for Iowa -- for temporary jobs aimed at the flood recovery efforts. The jobs would last up to 26 weeks.
"This could provide pretty good jobs for people who have been dislocated," Harkin said. For information on these jobs call (800) JOB-IOWA.
When asked by reporters what he would talk to Bush about during the tours of devastated regions, Harkin listed funding for disaster loans and Corps of Engineers work along with farm-related assistance.
While it is too early for a final verdict on the coordinated federal and local response, Harkin said it is apparent lessons were learned from both the floods of 1993 and Hurricane Katrina.
"I was impressed with how fast they moved people to Iowa," Harkin said of the federal government.
He added, "I think perhaps they learned a lot during Katrina. I think we're benefiting from mistakes they made during Katrina."
Tuesday, June 17, 2008
The heavily odds-on favorite to win a Senate seat there, former Democratic Gov. Mark Warner, sent out an e-mail Monday pushing a Washington Post line about his Republican opponent, the arch-conservative Jim Gilmore — also a one-time governor.
Here is The Washington Post:
In Mr. Gilmore, Virginia had its very own Herbert Hoover.
Does a reference to Hoover and the 1932 campaign really have any resonance in 2008 — when increasingly economic anxious Americans have only to look to the last eight years to find their White House villainy?
Hoover deserves a full examination — not cheap political shots that miss the mark anyway.
Monday, June 16, 2008
"There could be some phenomenal results," said David Leiting, general manager of the FAC Farmers Cooperative Elevator in Arcadia -- located between Carroll and Denison.
"The fact is that's really true," added Dennis Molitor, director of the Carroll County Office of the Iowa State University Extension Service. "The exceptions are those by rivers or streams. Overall and in general we (west-central Iowa) are really fortunate."
While counties in western Iowa have been listed in Gov. Chet Culver's disaster-designation, "we bypassed the bullet," for corn and soybeans, Leiting said of a large area of west-central Iowa.
Leiting said that some late-planted crops were affected by heavy rains and some flooding as well as soil erosion. But this part of the state is not nearly as soaked as eastern Iowa, meaning that as grain prices climb, some western Iowa farmers could be in for boom times, or a "windfall" as Molitor puts it, -- albeit at the expense of livestock producers and geographically unfortunate farmers.
Here is the Associated Press:
Corn prices have shot up 11 percent in the last week as floodwaters continue to ravage the Midwest, swallowing corn fields just before the crucial growing season. The U.S. government will report June 30 on how many acres have been lost to flooding, but a survey in Farm Futures magazine estimated that flooding could claim 3.3 million acres — or nearly 4 percent of the expected crop.
Just take normal yields in west-central Iowa times the higher grain prices and one sees a 2008 season with some distinct winners benefiting from top prices and losers who, as one Farm Bureau official predicted, literally being flooded off the farm.
Both Leiting and Molitor make the obvious point: the crop season is still young, and potential problems loom, such a double-whammy of hot-and-dry drought conditions following the soaking spring.
"Farmers would be quick to point out the season is far from over," Molitor said. "There is a lot of uncertainty."
But with some predictions of corn prices reaching $9 a bushel, and losses from the flooding hitting $1 billion in Iowa agriculture, those who missed the bullet will be well-positioned.
"That tend to be the way things happen in agriculture with a big weather event like this is that someone's misfortune turns out out to be someone else's great opportunity," said State Rep. Rod Roberts, R-Carroll.
Friday, June 13, 2008
Shocking news of NBC Washington Bureau chief Tim Russert's death from an apparent heart attack is still fresh but it recalls some old stories of how the paunchy countenanced TV personality became one of the most respected arbiters of political debate by high-jumping substance over the blow-dried showmanship so common in his business.
There is a reason so many Americans feel they know Russert well enough to mourn his passing at age 58. An Iowan gave Russert the chance to do what he did with "Meet The Press."
Former NBC News president Michael Gartner, a native Iowan who edited the Des Moines Register and co-owned The Daily Tribune in Ames before his well-chronicled involvement with the Iowa Cubs and Board of Regents, had the foresight at NBC to see that Russert's behind-the-scenes smarts made him the perfect choice for more air time.
In a speech at Drake University several years ago, to a packed house at the Knapp Center, Russert, host of "Meet The Press," said he would not be in the position without Gartner taking a chance on him. Gartner introduced Russert that day in Des Moines for the speech, and the two lions of American journalism were close friends, as NBC's Brian Williams just pointed out on MSNBC moments ago. I recall being at the funeral for Gartner's son Christopher and hearing that words from Russert, poignant ones about valuing the years we have with loved one, were among those most comforting to Gartner.
Those of us who worked for Gartner (for my part at the Daily Tribune in Ames) recall the story Gartner's Midas Touch with Russert's television career.
The St. Petersburg (Fla.) Times committed the story to print:
By 1989 he (Russert) was beginning to appear on news shows. Viewers took to him. Michael Gartner, then president of NBC News, suggested more on-air assignments. Russert described his first reaction to the proposal on The Larry King Show: "I said, "Michael, look at me. I don't belong on TV. I don't have a jaw. I have cheeks.' "
And cheekiness. Soon he was on Meet the Press regularly, doing frequent comment on Today and NBC's cable outlet, even turning up often on Imus in the Morning. "It gives me a chance I don't get on my own shows to insult people," he jokes.
Thursday, June 12, 2008
Thomas Friedman of The New York Times today has a compelling report about the dramatically positive impact Barack Obama's election could have on U.S. standing abroad.
Here is Friedman:
It would not be an exaggeration to say that the Democrats’ nomination of Obama as their candidate for president has done more to improve America’s image abroad — an image dented by the Iraq war, President Bush’s invocation of a post-9/11 “crusade,” Abu Ghraib, Guantánamo Bay and the xenophobic opposition to Dubai Ports World managing U.S. harbors — than the entire Bush public diplomacy effort for seven years.
"This is a disaster and our federal government should respond," Harkin said.
Gov. Chet Culver already has declared 55 counties disaster areas.
Culver just added Muscatine County to the list of counties now under the Governor's emergency proclamation.
The counties proclaimed disaster areas are: Adams, Allamakee, Benton, Black Hawk, Boone, Bremer, Buchanan, Butler, Carroll, Cedar, Cerro Gordo, Chickasaw, Clarke, Clayton, Crawford, Dallas, Delaware, Dubuque, Fayette, Floyd, Franklin, Fremont, Hamilton, Hancock, Hardin, Harrison, Howard, Humboldt, Iowa, Jasper, Johnson, Jones, Kossuth, Linn, Marion, Marshall, Mitchell, Monona, Montgomery, Muscatine, Page, Polk, Ringgold, Scott, Story, Tama, Taylor, Union, Van Buren, Wapello, Warren, Webster, Winneshiek, Worth, Wright.
Harkin said he planned to join U.S. Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, Friday for a tour of some of the more heavily impacted areas. The itinerary is evolving but Harkin said the likely agenda involves Cedar Rapids, Des Moines, Charles City and the Little Sioux Scout Ranch in Monona County where four Boy Scouts were killed.
"I think it is important to get a first-hand look at it," Harkin said.
Harkin said there are elements of the recently passed farm bill designed to assist in recovery, and the senator said he worked aggressively after the 1993 flooding to put other response-and-assistance programs in effect.
The effect on the farm economy is already significant, Harkin said, noting some prediction for $9 corn, which he said would tough on hog, cattle and chicken producers.
Here is The Chicago Tribune:
Heavy rainfall across the Midwest has muddied forecasts for the corn crop, with analysts now predicting a poor harvest and prices that could shoot to once unthinkable levels.
Freshly planted corn and soybeans literally drowned last week, as rain drenched fields in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa and elsewhere.
Farmers can respond to the downpour by replanting soybeans late in the season or abandoning their fields, choices that would limit how much corn is available for ethanol, overseas buyers and livestock feed.
"We could easily see corn go to $7, $8 or $9 because we're going to be losing yield," said Phil Flynn, an analyst for Alaron Trading Corp. in Chicago. "And it could be higher if the weather doesn't improve."
In the column, which I first started running in the 1990s, I humbly offer, based on successes and failures I experienced, and observations I made as a reporter for the college newspaper covering campus crime, what I consider to be the "Top 10 Keys To Success in College." You can read the full column online at www.carrollspaper.com - where it is archived.
Most of it is devoted to non-controversial academic pursuits. At issue with some feminists is point No. 7 of the column, which reads as follows:
"Women should always travel with friends to parties.
"On the college-campus party landscape, women can be in an especially vulnerable position. This goes for universities and small colleges alike.
"If you doubt this, ask the directors at the women's centers on campuses how many calls they get each year about date rapes.
"When a young woman leaves her group of friends and goes it alone at a fraternity party, a dorm bash or an off-campus gathering, she is at the greatest risk of becoming a victim.
"Remember, perpetrators generally aren't the guys who pop out from behind trees in the night. They are friends or acquaintances."
I've long thought that item might be some of the best advice in the column. Before becoming the political writer for three years at Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill., I was on the crime beat and reported a number of stories on date rape charges. Later, at the Ames Tribune, I covered crime at Iowa State University which included articles on sexual assaults.
Reporting those stories had a major impact and led to advice I have given female members of my own family.
Thanks to the Internet and my growing involvement with the blogosphere, the column grew some digital legs and earned readers outside of the Daily Times Herald circulation area.
My friend Lynda Waddington of Marion, who writes for a number of blogs, including the highly popular Essentialestrogen.com and RH RealityCheck.org, both geared toward reproductive rights and women's issues, published a fierce essay concluding that my column amounted to "misogyny disguised as friendly advice."
For the record, Webster's defines misogyny as "hatred of women."
"While I find no fault with instructing young people to travel in groups or with a buddy, I do think it is unfair to only hold females to this standard of safety," Waddington writes. "It implies that women are unable to protect themselves. It implies that freedom, at least if you are female, has consequences. Far worse still, it implies that women who do choose to go stag are somehow 'asking for it' because-let's face it - women have been warned."
I think it is clear the DTH column is not intended as a sort of generalized "witness for the defense" primer to explain away criminal behavior.
In the past, I have warned friends not to go into parts of Washington, D.C., Chicago and a frightening area in West Palm Beach.
Now if said friends were mugged or murdered in said locales, we wouldn't blame the victims for their fates.
Murderers are murderers.
Rapists are rapists.
To agree with Waddington is to suggest I'm some monster hanging out in emergency rooms, pointing fingers at victims of sexual assaults as they are being swabbed for rape kits.
To be fair, the column could have included an item urging men to respect women. The vast majority of men do.
And thanks to the efforts of activists like Waddington, women are in a more empowered place today than in 1991 when I graduated from college.
But substance abuse thrives on campuses and some people are sexual criminals or deviants or both. Sexual assaults do occur. If we are free of this then what's the purpose of the Take Back The Night rallies or funding for rape crisis lines at our state-funded schools?
In the end women are free to travel alone on the college party circuit as soldiers in Waddington's ideological battles or in the company of my advice.
And Daily Times Herald readers can decide if the college advice column is the result of a genuine motivation on our family newspaper's part to help protect many of our young readers - or a dark sociological calculation involving an alleged hatred of women and desire to inspire fear and subordination in their lives.
If you want to get around export controls, just sell the product to a front company in Dubai. The middlemen will take it from there… Hewlett-Packard, Dell and Microsoft, among many other U.S. companies, keep Dubai offices and are favorites these days among Iranian traders in Dubai. (Forbes, 4/19/04)
Tuesday, June 10, 2008
“We have seen a gutless energy policy over the last 35 years,” Pedelty said.
That goes for both federal and state government, the mayor says.
As the city adapts to higher prices, Pedelty said, the local fallout could have been prevented back in the 1970s after the oil embargo.
Instead of allowing prices to fall then, the government should have taxed gas to fund a move to alternative energy.
“Then we wouldn’t be in the situation we are in today,” Pedelty said in an interview this week.
Pedelty, who has attended state transportation infrastructure meetings, thinks both Iowans and Americans should have swallowed some more modest, phased-in expenses through the years to improve roads and reduce dependence on foreign oil rather than waiting to get hit all at once.
In February, at a session in Jefferson with Iowa legislators, Pedelty and others pressed legislators on the gas-tax issue, with Pedelty wondering about the intelligence of the state tax staying flat at 21 cents a gallon for nearly two decades. What happens to state road revenues if gas hits $4 a gallon and fewer people are at the pumps, Pedelty wondered then.
Now we are there with some analysts predicting $5- a-gallon gas.
“I don’t think we’ll see them lower than this,” Pedelty said.
As far as the word on the ground in Carroll with gas prices is concerned today, there is some good news.
Two nuggets of pluses, in fact.
The city doesn’t have to pay federal and state taxes on gas, which amounts to about a 40 cent per gallon savings. What’s more, the prices started the steep climb in the summer, long after snow plows have been stored away.
So for the city it is better to have higher prices in the summer than winter “when we push snow all day,” Carroll Public Works director Randy Krauel said.
Right now, Carroll City Manager Gerald Clausen said, Carroll city officials are working within budgets, absorbing escalating fuel costs by trimming or moving around dollars from other accounts.
“We have not encountered any problems yet relative to the cost of fuel,” Clausen said.
“We are able to live within our budget.”
Clausen said there have been conscious efforts to reduce driving time but the city has not cut services.
“I’m sure the public hasn’t noticed anything,” Clausen said.
City officials may make up the difference by, say, delaying a capital purchase like a computer.
This doesn’t mean the city won’t have to make budgetary or service changes in the future if prices continue to rise, perhaps hitting even $5 a gallon.
“If it continues it will put pressure on where we allocate our funds,” Clausen said.
To just look at what different departments in the city spend on gas doesn’t tell the whole story.
In April, the police department spent $2,078 on gas with an average price of $2.73 (remember no federal and state taxes). Two years earlier, in April 2006, the police department spent $1,795 with an average prices of $2.08.
But the costs borne by the city come in other forms as deliveries of products and services come with what amounts to a gas surcharge, an increase in the general cost of doing business in an oil-dependent American economy.
Monday, June 09, 2008
Over the next two weeks, Obama will travel across the country, talking to Americans where they work and live about how the economy affects their everyday lives, discussing the challenges we face and his plans to turn the economy around.
This event is not open to the general public and is by invitation only.
Here are results of the Ipsos Poll:
Among those who have changed their driving, the median gas price at which they did so was $3.20 per gallon, a level that was reached back in March.
As the price at the pump continues to rise, more and more Americans will be changing their driving habits: at $3.00 per gallon, 35% of Americans had changed their habits; by $4.00 per gallon — a reality in many parts of the U.S. already —, it will be 74%; and by $5.00 per gallon, 85% of all Americans will have changed their driving habits. However, one in ten Americans (9%) say they will never change their driving habits, regardless of the how high the price climbs.
Those who have already changed their driving habits are particularly prevalent among adults with a household income of less than $50,000 per year (73%), parents of children under 18 (72%), those living in the South (72%) and those saying the country is headed on the wrong track (71%).
"I just feel very strongly that we need to get the message out that in Iowa we have some of the neatest things to show people in agriculture," Greteman said.
She said major agricultural facilities, like ethanol plants and working farms in Iowa, are of great interest to foreigners involved in food and energy production.
"What's really great here is our agriculture and our heritage," Greteman said.
What's more, she said, places such as the Templeton Rye whiskey distillery should serve as developing draws for tourism.
"I see it as a way to promote Iowa as well," Greteman said. "Iowa is really shortchanged on tourism dollars."
In May, Star Destinations planned the ag tour for more than 30 Germans. In coming months, Star Destinations, located on U.S. Highway 71 North in the same complex with Windstar and Town & Country Travel, will work with Chinese tours.
Star is one of the first travel operators in the United States to be licensed for special arrangements with Chinese tourism. The Carroll company is marketing itself aggressively on the Internet and through other means to attract international clients. Tours from South America and other places around the globe are expected soon.
The tours will involve many potential U.S. points, but Star plans to incorporate Carroll County in as many as possible.
"We want to bring them all through Carroll," Greteman said. "That's one of our goals."
For example, the German tour group, which consisted of working farmers and some government officials, went to the Chicago Board of Trade and John Deere in Moline, Ill., before making its way to Carroll.
Seeing a blend of rural and urban is vital for such tours, Greteman said.
"It's important that they see a really modern city in the United States," Greteman said.
In Carroll County the tour group visited the POET ethanol plant, West Central Cooperative and Schenkelberg Implement.
"I'm very excited about the new website and the increased access to their government and government services it provides to Iowans. The new site makes finding information very simple and makes it even easier for people to contact me with their concerns and get help from my office. I invite everyone to visit the new website at tomlatham.house.gov."
Visitors to the website will immediately be greeted with a window into Iowa life and landscapes with a number of photographs taken by Joe Murphy, renowned Iowa photographer.
The site makes it easier to contact the congressman for his assistance with a problem with a new online web form and online answers and links to common government red-tape problems. Iowans can also keep track of events taking place in and near their community, such as Congressman Latham's Traveling Help Desk schedule, through the Constituent Services page.
The site features an interactive 4th Congressional District map, a multi-media section with the Congressman's "Congressional Report" television show viewable over the Internet, streaming audio of the congressman's weekly Latham Reports, and an extensive photo gallery with numerous images of Iowa faces and Iowa places.
Visitors can also keep up-to-date on important news updates through the site’s front-and-center news section or via the "News" link at the top of the page.
Friday, June 06, 2008
“What it really means is that people are waking up to what the Bush-McCain-King machine has done,” Hubler, the 5th District Democratic candidate, said in Carroll.
Speaking to a crowd of about 50 people at a Democratic fund-raiser at a South Side Park shelterhouse, Hubler said 10 percent of politics is experience and 90 percent good fortune.
He sees this as a particularly strong year for Democrats in which U.S. Rep. Steve King, R-Kiron, could be upset after the conservative posted strong general election numbers in his three previous elections.
“There cannot be a better year to run as a Democrat,” Hubler said. “Each Republican district in the United States is in play.”
A day earlier, U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, who was swept into Congress as part of a post-Watergate Democratic surge, said he sees parallels between 1974 and 2008.
“It sure feels that way,” Harkin said. “This feels a lot like when I came here in 1974.”
Harkin served in the U.S. House before being elected to the Senate in 1984.
Hubler, who has been campaigning for more than a year, says he is hearing Republicans and independents express concerns about King who has developed a national reputation for making outrageous remarks of the conservative radio talk-show variety.
“This is going to be a referendum on our congressman,” Hubler said.
And the Bush economy, Hubler said.
“We are worse off now than we were eight years ago,” he said.
Hubler, who caucused for U.S. Sen. Joe Biden, D-Del., for president in January and employs a former Biden staffer as his campaign manager, is now firmly behind his party’s presumptive nominee, U.S. Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill.
In fact, Hubler said, he sees Obama as the best presidential candidate to buoy his own fortunes because of the Illinoisan’s appeal to Republicans and independents in Iowa against U.S. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., the Republican presidential candidate.
“Absolutely, absolutely, there’s no doubt about it,” Hubler said when asked if Obama was the best of the Democratic field to have at the top of western Iowa tickets.
Hubler, 64, a retired Presbyterian minister from Council Bluffs and Navy veteran, said King may in fact be more vulnerable than U.S. Rep. Tom Latham in Iowa’s 4th District, where the Republican incumbent faces Democrat Becky Greenwald who had a strong primary showing.
“Latham does not have that national reputation,” Hubler said. “He’s not off the wall.”
Hubler said he’s spoken to party leaders in Iowa about giving attention to western Iowa, often neglected by Democrats in recent years.
He said Democrats will have a vigorous coordinated campaign in western Iowa with nearly 30 staffers on the ground.
“That was the topic of conversation,” Hubler said of a recent meeting with Democratic leaders in Des Moines. “There is a district between Des Moines and Nebraska.”
This story first appeared at Iowa Independent.com.
Thursday, June 05, 2008
"I don't think Obama's going to be hurting for money," Harkin joked.
Earlier in the day Harkin officially announced his support of Obama after having stayed neutral in the protracted primary fight.
Harkin, who has dispatched three congressmen and one sitting U.S. senator in his previous four races for the Senate, will be up against political upstart Christopher Reed, 36, a Marion businessman who was driving himself around to campaign events in recent weeks -- unless George Eichhorn, fresh off a failed state legislative race, pulls out a recount.
In a conference call with Iowa Independent and other media Harkin hit the expected keys, saying he wouldn't take his re-election for granted.
"I don't believe in any way I can walk or skip," Harkin said.
But with a nation trending for change and a newly minted farm bill on the resume the stars are aligned for Harkin.
"I have more Republicans supporting me openly than ever before," Harkin said.
This powerhouse position will allow him to train his own considerable political instincts and vast organization, developed over a half century since his days as an Iowa State University student, on congressional and statehouse races and Obama.
"I think Barack has an excellent chance of winning Iowa," Harkin said.
Harkin said he could best help Obama by getting out his own voters. He also said he planned to travel with congressional and other down-ticket candidates.
Because he starts this race a hairsbreadth from the finishing tape, Harkin can do soemething else that may be vital for Obama: he can take chances on the attack.
While Harkin's recent criticism of U.S. Sen. John McCain's biography as something of a family tree rooted in a military industrial complex may have been questionable, off key to Iowans who people Rotary Clubs and the like, it served to advance a narrative of the GOP presidential candidate as a warrior itching for another fight. In a tight race against Tom Tauke or Jim Ross Lightfoot the media would have been all over this and it could have tipped the race against the liberal lion. Harkin doesn't have to worry about that now so he can fire away at McCain.
Look for that to come more on farm policy than personality, though. The word "ethanol" is a positive one for most Iowans, who even if they don't live on farms, think they should probably be for things and people that help ethanol. McCain is strongly opposed to ethanol subsidies -- and is on record as saying he would have voted against the Harkin-shepherded farm bill.
"We employ thousands of people in Iowa in ethanol," Harkin said.
Wednesday, June 04, 2008
There is a solution for Obama, though, and we raised it with U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, just moments ago. Obama could have it both ways with Clinton -- use her on the ticket for the win and then not have to govern with her -- if he cuts a quiet deal with Hillary to appoint her from the vice presidency to the U.S. Supreme Court in the months after inauguration.
"That just sounds way, way, way, way, way, way too far-fetched," Harkin said.
Harkin said he has heard many schemes and theories about the Obama/Clinton relationship floating around Washington, D.C. but not this one.
"I've heard everything else but I haven't heard that," Harkin said.
Harkin doubted such a deal would have legs as it would come off as game-playing with the presidency.
"I don't think Barack Obama is going to play that kind of game at all," Harkin said.
After a long, hard-fought battle for the most important job in the world, Democrats across this country have spoken.
Today, I congratulate Senator Barack Obama on securing the Democratic nomination and I pledge to do everything I can to assist his campaign over the next few months.
Like so many Americans, I have been moved by Senator Obama's message of change. He is poised to win the presidency and bring new ideas, new priorities and new ways of getting things done to the White House.
I know in my heart that an Obama presidency will bring us quality, affordable health care for all Americans, investments in alternative sources of energy, a commitment to cleaning up our environment, a return to diplomacy and an effort to re-build America's bruised alliances around the world.
I commend Senator Clinton on her historic effort to gain the nomination. She is one of our party's strongest leaders and her vision for our party will always be necessary and respected. She inspired so many voters along the way and we are all grateful for her efforts.
By turning out in record numbers throughout this exciting primary season, you've created a momentum that cannot be stopped. Now is the time for us to come together and begin the process of helping our nominee secure the presidency.
A young political newcomer appears to have won the U.S. Senate Republican primary in Iowa, the political undercard of the night, and now has a chance to face heavyweight Tom Harkin in November.
The Associated Press is reporting that with all but one of the state's precincts in, Christopher Reed, a 36-year-old businessman from Marion, had about 35.29 percent of the vote last night. Former Iowa legislator George Eichhorn had about 34.71 percent. Cedar Rapids businessman Steve Rathje had about 30 percent.
Because of the close race there could be a recount.
Should Reed remain on top he would face a daunting task as the newcomer. With no fund-raising filing he would be reaching to knock off Democrat Harkin who has a nearly $4 million war chest and a recently minted Farm Bill on his resume as chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee.
Reed has accused Harkin of "fumbling" on the farm bill -- which even conservative U.S. Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, ended up supporting.
"Washington is broken and we cannot fix it by sending the same people back," Reed told Iowa Independent.
All three of the Republican candidates were largely unknown, making it fair to wonder if some of Reed's success Tuesday stemmed from the simple fact that his name is the least ethnic and clumsy of the three.
But as a Navy veteran with strong views on abortion and immigration, Reed had the credentials for a GOP primary.
He told Iowa Independent that he is an "opponent" of Planned Parenthood.
And Reed had strong words for illegal immigrants.
"Coming into our country illegally is breaking the law," Reed said. "We need to send them back where they came and they need to get in line."
Without an experienced opponent with name recognition, Harkin, seeking his fifth term, will be free to assist other campaigns and perhaps dedicate more of his time and resources to Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama here -- as well as working for other candidates downticket.
Tuesday, June 03, 2008
Obama, now with the math indisputably on his side, used his historic moment to heap generosity on his long-time rival for the nomination, Hillary Clinton.
"I am a better candidate for having had the honor of running against Hillary Rodham Clinton," Obama said.
He mentioned his wife Michelle, and two daughters, and then dedicated the night to his grandmother in Hawaii -- perhaps presaging an upcoming biographical tour that no doubt will tout the role of strong women in his life.
In largely thematic speech, Obama did quickly train his rhetoric on McCain, the Arizona senator and presumptive Republican nominee.
"It's not change when John McCain decided to stand with George W. Bush 95 percent of the time as did in the Senate last year," Obama said.
He then moved to the economy and suggested that McCain's focus on trips to Iraq showed something of a disconnect with economic troubles in U.S. communities
And Obama got off a good shot at McCain: "I respect his many accomplishments even if he chooses to deny mine."
Obama said there are many words to describe McCain's evolving platform.
"Change is not one of them," Obama said.
This post first appeared at Iowa Independent.com.
McCain, the presumptive Republican presidential canddidate, speaking from Louisiana, went right after potentially disaffected female Hillary Clinton supporters on the historic night for Obama, a U.S. senator who moments ago collected enough delegates for his party's nomination.
"As a father of three daughters I owe her a debt of gratitude," McCain said.
McCain added that he is "proud" to call Clinton, a U.S. senator from New York, a friend.
Smiling more often than usual and taking the pose of the happy warrior in a way we didn't see in Iowa -- or in the months after -- McCain raised concerns about Obama's judgment and characterized him as something of an arrogant savior without the experience to back up the hype. McCain said Obama is cut from the cloth of the Ivory towered who are sure of themselves but don't have faith in other people. "He doesn't trust us to make decisions for ourselves," McCain said.
Using change 32 times in the speech McCain challenged Obama's claim to that dynamic, arguing that the Illinois senator is tethered to a liberal legacy.
"I am surprised that a young man has bought into so many failed policies," McCain said.
With a broad smile, and pitch perfect timing, McCain said his candidacy is not a "third Bush term" -- a narrative the Obama campaign has been pushing with caffeinated persistence.
"He tries to drum it into your minds by constantly repeating it," McCain said.
McCain also used the fear card, saying Obama's Iraq policy would draw the United States into a wider war rather than bring peace through withdrawal.
This post first appeared on Iowa Independent.com.
"You're just not getting the fair shake you deserve," Rathje said.
When asked by Iowa Independent to get specific about western Iowa being something of a red-headed stepchild, Rathje said U.S. Highway 30 should be four-laned "all the way to the river," (the Missour River).
"We at this side of the state have fallen short for a long-time," Rathje said.
Why has western Iowa been neglected?
"I can't answer that," Rathje said.
Doesn't Congressman King rightly shoulder some of the responsibility for his constituents not getting the fair shake, as Rathje alleges?
"Congressman King has been a great asset to this side of the state," Rathje said.
But according to a leading watchdog organization King this year has been the runaway least effective member of Iowa's federal delegation in bringing money home to the Fifth District.
Rathje, an eastern Iowa businessman, faces Christopher Reed, another businessman from Cedar Rapids, and George Eichhorn, an attorney and former Iowa legislator who lives in Hamilton County, in the primary Tuesday.
Monday, June 02, 2008
In essence the rules show Iowans where the butt meets the ashtray.
Department of Public Health officials plan for public input on the rules, to be used as written for some time to enforce the ban, which goes into effect July 1. The Iowa Smoke Free Air Web site will soon feature a tool by which visitors can submit comments on the rules. This function will be available by June 15th and will remain active until the formal public comment period ends August 6th. The rules may be amended based on the additional comments -- but any significant changes, such as an exemption for, say, indoor smoking in bars, would require legislative action.
As reported earlier by Iowa Independent, the draft rules, crafted with the intent of lawmakers in mind after after collaborative sessions involving the attorney general's office, permit smoking on outdoor patio area of bars but not restaurants. The distinction between bars and restaurants is generally clear, but in the gray areas, the IDPH says "bars" serve food that is pre-packaged and "incidental" to the business, and cannot make and sell food from scratch if a smoking patio is desired.
One provision that is sure to spark some controversy is that no distance requirement from doors are in place for outdoor smoking as in other places, such as Washington State.
Casino gaming areas (but not stand-alone bars), 20 percent of rooms in hotels, the Iowa National Guard, the state's Veterans Home and private residences are exempted from the ban.
Public health officials in the rules and in interviews with Iowa Independent have said the law is intended to be implemented largely through voluntary compliance and education. But the rules do say the IDPH may refer complaints regarding the law to "designated law enforcement authorities."
One element of the ban that may strike some as unnecessary -- since indoor public smoking is virtually eliminated -- is that all public places and places of employment where smoking is not allowed must post non-smoking signs that can be downloaded at the Smokefree Air Act Web site.
This post first appeared at Iowa Independent.com.
There is much to be learned from the Iowa experience for Obama when it comes to narrowing that margin. He can stary by talking with more community newspapers in certain states.
While the "media" ranks with lawyers and telemarketers on so many America's Most-Hated Lists, weekly papers and small dailies -- the ones that still run so-called "chicken dinner" stories, engage in unabashed boosterism for the local hospital or high school sports teams, often retain great standing in rural areas.
The reporters and editors Obama talks to at these newspapers are the same ones who field calls from loved ones after the untimley death of a teen or for the reporting of a quick announcement on an 80th birthday or a new business opening or for help about fixing up the local cemetery or even getting someone to clean up the junk from an unsightly yard (all things I talked about with people in just the last week in Carroll, Iowa, where my family runs a small daily newspaper). In short, we are old the town square. People trust us more than the bigger papers. They know us personally. We are in the next pew at church or just a few stools down in the tavern.
"There's actually some research to prove that," Al Cross, director of the Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues, tells Iowa Independent.
Our newspaper has a decided different role in life in Carroll, Iowa, than The New York Times does with its readers. Jeff Zeleny of The New York Times (who used to write for The Des Moines Register) understands this.
"There is, perhaps, no better way to give an hour-long presidential visit far greater staying power than appearing on the pages of the weekly newspaper," Zeleny wrote before the Iowa caucuses.
The Washington Post's Peter Slevin -- who spent several days in Carroll -- wrote a piece on caucus night chronicling the Obama communications team's effort to cultivate working relationships with rural journalists months before the Illinois senator's 8 percentage point win here.
Faced with a well-documented challenge to court rural voters, does it make sense for Obama to use a strategy of reaching out to smaller papers as a way to get more punch for his time in rural areas?
"I think it would be useful around the margins," Cross said.
Cross said Obama doesn't have the luxury of being able to zero in on just one state as he did with Iowa where he used many angles to get that win, including a strategy to grant access to the more influential small dailies and weeklies.
"The thing that is most valuable to him right now is time," Cross said.
That said, using some variation of his rural newspaper outreach strategy may pay off for Obama in some Southwest states like New Mexico or in New Hampshire, Cross said.
"It would depend on the degree of penetration," Cross said.
In the latest issue of Newsweek, dated today in fact, former Congressman Harold Ford, Jr., of Tennessee, an African-American who nearly won a seat in the U.S. Senate (and likely would have were it not for an 11th-hour racist smear television ad) advises Obama that the white voters of much of the nation's rural areas just need to get to beyond the celebrity.
Here is Ford:
Obama has run a first-rate primary campaign, energizing countless new voters. Now he's got to get off the big stage more often and meet with people where they work, play and pray. That means getting out to schools and factories, coffee shops, fairgrounds and houses of worship. He needs to earn their trust.
Bill Bishop, an editor with The Center For Rural Strategies Daily Yonder Web site, writes that the rural white working class gap Obama must overcome is less about the color of Obama's face than it is about the face time on his schedule in wide open spaces.
If he takes Ford's advice, Obama would be well advised to roll out the Iowa media plan and schedule stops in community newspapers. Sitting down for interviews with those editors and reporters not only will provide him with the ink in publications that are about far more than just news (people really do rely on us for grocery ads and keep the paper around for a while as a result).
Residents of small towns, who interact with the editors of papers like my family's at church and in the Rotary Club or at a pancake fund-raiser for a sick child, pull us aside with some frequency and ask what the candidates were like up close and personal. Are they something more than talk-radioed and MSNBC-ed caricatures? They hear Chris Matthews. But they believe us.
This story first appeared at Iowa Independent.com.