Weekend open thread: Catching up on the news edition

Who else is watching the World Cup? I am surprised by how much my kids are enjoying the games, even though they don’t play soccer and it’s such a low-scoring sport. Des Moines business owner Tanya Keith and her husband have gone to every World Cup since 1994, and Tanya is blogging here about her family’s trip in South Africa. What I want to know is, how are her two young kids coping with the vuvuzela noise at the games? It sounds deafening even on tv.

I wasn’t around last weekend to write up the Iowa Democratic Party’s state convention in Des Moines. Radio Iowa’s blog covered most of the highlights here. Sue Dvorsky of Iowa City is the new IDP chair, replacing Michael Kiernan, who needs to have surgery on a tumor near his salivary gland. Iowa Democrats nominated Jon Murphy as our candidate against State Auditor David Vaudt. Read more about Murphy at Radio Iowa or at Iowa Independent. I am so glad we’re not giving Vaudt a pass.  

Convention delegates also voted to change party rules so that the gubernatorial nominee can choose the lieutenant governor candidate. The move was intended to undermine Barb Kalbach’s efforts to replace Lieutenant Governor Patty Judge on the Democratic ticket, and will make it impossible for an activist to do something similar in the future.

John Deeth has been pretty harsh on Kalbach, suggesting it’s a waste of time for her to run against Judge when her own Republican state representative and senator don’t have Democratic opponents. I see things differently. Kalbach said in announcing her candidacy, “I am taking this opportunity to represent the progressive, grassroots base of the Democratic Party who feels the issues that they have put forward have been ignored at the state level.” Kalbach wouldn’t have run if the Culver administration and Democratic legislative leaders had done anything to limit factory farm pollution during the past four years. She wouldn’t have run if the governor had done anything to advance the cause of local control (agricultural zoning), which he claimed to support during the 2006 campaign. Kalbach wouldn’t be able to draw attention to those failures as a candidate for the Iowa House or Senate in a conservative district. By the way, Culver would have an army of grassroots volunteers now if he had listened less to Patty Judge. He would also have a great campaign issue to use against Terry Branstad, on whose watch factory farm pollution became a much bigger problem in our state.

Moving to Iowa’s U.S. Senate race, while I was away a group called Americans United for Change started running this television commercial against Senator Chuck Grassley. The ad mentions campaign contributions Grassley has received from oil interests and draws a line between the catastrophe in the Gulf of Mexico and Grassley’s vote for a “resolution of disapproval” that would have limited the Environmental Protection Agency’s ability to regulate greenhouse gas emissions. It’s a poor ad, because as Grassley’s office noted, that particular vote had little to do with big oil or offshore drilling (click here for more background). In voting for the Murkowski amendment, Grassley was carrying water for big coal, utilities that rely on fossil fuels, corporate agriculture interests and major industrial polluters.

Grassley has done plenty throughout his career to represent corporate interests rather than the public interest. There’s no excuse for such a sloppy attack ad.

The Atlantic’s Marc Ambinder interviewed Grassley’s opponent Roxanne Conlin yesterday, and the Cedar Rapids Gazette tried to make a big deal out of her misspeaking on when Grassley won his first election. Rasmussen’s latest Iowa poll of 500 likely voters on June 14 found Grassley ahead of Conlin by 54 percent to 37 percent. The previous Rasmussen survey, taken in late April, had Grassley leading Conlin 53-40. I would like to see other polling of this race. The Washington Post published a feature on Scott Rasmussen this week, including some criticism of his methods.

This thread is for anything on your mind this weekend. Also feel free to post any links to good reads. I am working my way through this article by a self-described Tea Party consultant.

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  • Patty Judge

    I know we’re going to see things differently on this dad, because I actually supported Patty Judge for Governor while you voted for a Green candidate against her.  She is a supporter of bigger, corporate farms.  I don’t see where you really can tackle the issue and prevent these massive farms unless you say, you can only buy x amount of acres even if you are able to broker a deal and can actually pony up the cash.  I hope I am making sense.  My grandfather is a small farmer in the state of Illinois so I’ll admit I’m not as versed on Iowa agriculture as I should be.

    I certainly wish Jon Murphy luck, but with the misinformation out there already portraying a common sense Keynesian program like the stimulus package as some sort of wild, communistic program I’m not sure he is running in the right cycle.

    • the current conventional ag model

      benefits very few people–not most farmers, certainly not most rural communities, who do worse with fewer people living on the farms in the area.

      It’s not about banning people from buying more than X number of acres. There are lots of ways to create incentives for more sustainable farming methods. By the way, farms using more sustainable methods are often more profitable.

      Our federal ag policies are part of the problem, but Patty Judge said she would represent family farmers when she first ran in 1998 (I did vote for her that year). Once elected secretary of agriculture, she did absolutely zero on farmland protection, she did zero to promote organic or sustainable methods, she did nothing while Republicans cut most of the Leopold Center’s funding. She didn’t even pretend to be an advocate for anyone doing anything but the massive corporate model. Having her govern this state would have been an absolute catastrophe. At least Culver threatened to veto efforts to roll back water quality protections–a Governor Judge would have been working to get that kind of bill through the legislature.

      • Solid points

        You are to my left environmentally speaking, I certainly don’t think she would have been anything close to a catastrophe, but I’ll take your word for it.  Whenever I go to Democratic events I usually ignore the environmentalists.

        Sustainable farming methods yes, but unless you limit the amount of land someone can buy in order to have these large operations, you’re basically wasting your time in my view.  

        • not true

          Other countries that have different farm subsidy policies have experienced much less consolidation into enormous farms than the U.S. has, without laws limiting the number of acres someone can buy.

          • They do but the subsides are only a part of the issue

            Some successful farmers do not use their subsidies in order to buy more land.  

  • I meant dmd LOL

  • Kalbach

    Yeah, I’ve been pretty harsh. I just think it was the wrong fight, wrong time. If progressives were PO’d at Chet – and there were plenty of reasons to be – then someone should have primaried HIM. Nobody but Narcisse, who’s hardly a “progressive” option, even looked at it. The filing deadline passed, game over. And no one noticed the substance “progressive uprising” of the Kalbach “campaign” except the handful of platform geeks who showed up at the conventions.

    And Parry Judge was my first choice in `06, too.

    • I didn't get involved in this fight

      I don’t think it was the most constructive effort ever, but I see why Barb Kalbach did it, and I feel this kind of progressive shot across the bow was less damaging than a primary against Culver would have been.

      I can’t understand why any progressive would prefer Patty Judge for governor in a Democratic primary. She’s pro-choice, which is great, but other than that, what do you think she would stand for (other than “Iowa is a farm state, and anyone who doesn’t like it can leave in any of four directions”)?

  • The amendment was not a rules change

    The Iowa Democratic Party’s constitution was never updated after Iowa changed the lt. gov. selection process to make the position a “running mate” of the party’s governor candidate. The amendment to the IDP constitution passed at the convention last weekend was an attempt to codify the process that has been followed all along. So it really was not a “rules change.”

    Even if the amendment had failed, the rules of the convention, which passed without debate or dissent, stipulated that the lt.gov. candidate was to be nominated by the gov. (or a designate) and then ratified (or not) by the convention.

    So the real issue for the 2010 convention was the rules as proposed by the Rules and Nominations Committee. Even if the amendment had failed, the rules of the convention had already been passed and Barb Kalbach would not have been nominated anyway.