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Carthago Delenda Est

I hardly ever cross-post material between the Redister and here.  But I'd like to share the piece I wrote this weekend and humbly suggest this new rallying cry.

 “Carthage Must Be Destroyed.”  During the Third Punic War, the Roman statesman, Cato the Elder, was said to have inserted this phrase into every public speech he gave, regardless of whether he was speaking of the war with Carthage.  Thus, the Latin phrase, Carthago Delenda Est has come down through the ages to be synonymous with the repetitive insistence on something.

I'd like to propose dusting it off and polishing it up a bit and returning to its more literal meaning.  In this case, by Carthage, I mean the modern conservative movement in America.  For the sake of our future, it must be defeated, razed to the ground and salt sown on the earth.

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Come Argue and Drink With Me Next Wednesday

I'm going to be in Des Moines on business next Wednesday and Thursday (2/17 – 18).  Instead of huddling in my hotel room watching porn on Wendesday night I thought it might be more um, stimulating to get together with some like minded people for drinks and talk.

 Drop me a line at cmananderson at gmail dot com if you would like to suggest a place that is a) near downtown and b) has good food and beer.

 Is there already a Drinking Liberally meetup place? 

DMR Blog: Scene From A Party

I don’t flog my postings on politics at the Des Moines Register as much as I probably should considering that it amounts to most of my more substantial political blogging nowadays. But, I’m pretty proud of this one from a pure gonzo/literary standpoint.

Now, I wonder if Katie Koberg will take the bait?

I also wonder if my editor will call me out for using the term, “circle jerk,” in the Register’s blog.

It also occurrs to me that I never properly thanked desmoinesdem in public for tipping me for that position.

Thanks [desmoinesdem]! Drinks on me when I’m next in DM.

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Everything You Know About Environmentalism Is Wrong

Way back in 2005, I posted, The Environmental Movement is Dead, about how the traditional environmental movement — centered around the big lobbying groups such as the Sierra Club and their associated policy initiatives — had failed to do anything to apply real brakes to the decline in the global environment or even to significantly improve our national carbon footprint.  Featured in that post were the poster-children of the anti-movement environmental movmeent, Ted Nordhaus and Michael Shellenberger.  The two are still at it and have an interesting take in The New Republic, on The Green Bubble.

Green anti-modernism brings with it other contradictions. Despite the rhetoric about “one planet,” not all humans have the same interests when it comes to addressing global warming. Greens often note that the changing global climate will have the greatest impact on the world's poor; they neglect to mention that the poor also have the most to gain from development fueled by cheap fossil fuels like coal. For the poor, the climate is already dangerous. They are already subject to the droughts, floods, hurricanes, and diseases that future warming will intensify. It is their poverty, not rising carbon-dioxide levels, that make them more vulnerable than the rest of us. By contrast, it is the richest humans–those of us who have achieved comfort, prosperity, and economic security for ourselves and for our children–who have the most to lose from the kind of apocalyptic global-warming scenarios that have so often been invoked in recent years. The existential threat so many of us fear is that we might all end up in a kind of global Somalia characterized by failed states, resource scarcity, and chaos. It is more than a little ironic that at the heart of the anti-modern green discourse resides the fear of losing our modernity.

Nonetheless, it has become an article of faith among many greens that the global poor are happier with less and must be shielded from the horrors of overconsumption and economic development–never mind the realities of infant mortality, treatable disease, short life expectancies, and grinding agrarian poverty. The convenient and ancient view among elites that the poor are actually spiritually rich, and the exaggeration of insignificant gestures like recycling and buying new lightbulbs, are both motivated by the cognitive dissonance created by simultaneously believing that not all seven billion humans on earth can “live like we live” and, consciously or unconsciously, knowing that we are unwilling to give up our high standard of living. This is the split “between what you think and what you do” to which Pollan refers, and it should, perhaps, come as no surprise that so many educated liberals, living at the upper end of a social hierarchy that was becoming ever more stratified, should find the remedies that Pollan and Beavan offer so compelling. But, while planting a backyard garden may help heal the eco-anxieties of affluent greens, it will do little to heal the planet or resolve the larger social contradictions that it purports to address.

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Let Chysler and GM Die

You:  You heartless bastard!  What about the jobs?

Me:  Chrysler employs 60,000 people.  That's a rounding error in the total number of jobs lost since the current downturn started.  GM employs 240,000 globally, approximately 98,000 U.S.  Again, compared to the 2.5 million lost jobs since October, 2008 those aren't particularly meaningful figures from a national economy standpoint.  As Megan McArdle notes:

To put it another way, we could have taken the $8 billion or so we gave to Chrysler and given every one of the company's employees $133,000 to start their own War on Poverty, while still providing much of their pensions through the PBGC.  Of cours, the new Chrysler is going to cut many of those jobs, so the cost of actual jobs saved will probably top $200K per.  For as long as the company lasts.  Which most analysts do not expect to be long, given that their super secret surprise scheme for turning everything around is to have Chrysler sell retooled Fiats to a country with one-seventh the population density and almost twice the birthrate of Italy.

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GOP: Adapt or Die

(I agree with cman and recommend that post by Nate Silver he cites below. Also note that Democrats have a 24-point lead in the generic Congressional ballot, according to the latest Hotline poll. - promoted by desmoinesdem)

Aa noted on the main page, the Stimulus Bill passed the House last night without a single Republican vote.  President Obama had met with Republican leaders, heard their concerns.  Obama made concessions that he wouldn't have made if he didn't want Republican support.  As the vote indicated, he didn't need any Republican votes in the House and only needs a couple in the Senate.

Here is just a partial list off the top of my head of the items that Obama and the Democrats compromised on:


  • Including nearly $270 billion in tax cuts, including a one-year fix for the alternative minimum tax which will cost the treasury almost $75 billion in revenue.

  • Family planning and contraceptive support for poor families.  Complained about, gone.

  • $200 million for renovations to the National Mall.  Complained about, gone.

There are further examples, I'm sure.  We're busy and I haven't focused in closely on details.

And still the House GOP unanimously turned their backs on the new president.

The Republicans are playing a very dangerous game here. As Karl Rove said, “elections have consequences.”  Three years ago it was the GOP running roughshod over the Democratic minority.  They should expect no better now.  They are given a seat at the table however.  They request and get concessions but then collectively turn their backs on the bill when it's time to vote.

As far as I can tell, the Republicans think they are playing the president.  They are engaged in a very high-stakes gamble that the stimulus plan will not work.   They figure by the time the mid-terms roll around the public will have turned on Obama's “change” and sweep them back into power so they can…  do what exactly?

The concessions the GOP asked for amounted to the same old GOP policies of the last eight years.   Lower taxes for businesses and the rich, Devil-take-the-hindmost.  Culture War attacks on programs for public health and family planning.

Obama does not need GOP support in the House.  In the Senate he only needs the occasional vote of Senators Snowe, Specter, McCain and any combination of one or two others he can peel away on any given issue.

Nate Silver of FiveThirtyEight wrote a typically numerically dense analysis of the GOP House prospects in light of changing demographics in the country.  The news isn't good for the GOP.

Basically, the Republicans aren't competitive virtually anywhere on the Eastern Seaboard north of Washington, D.C., and virtually anywhere on the Pacific Coast north of Monterey. They aren't competitive in virtually any dense urban center, or in virtually any majority-minority district (such as the black belt in the South or Hispanic-majority districts in South Texas). Finally, there are a dozen or so districts where Republicans are virtually nonexistent because of the presence of a large College or University. Collectively, that adds up to a lot of districts — almost a third of the country.

Conversely, the Democrats have very few districts in which they can't play some angle or another. Nearly all of the Republican-dominated districts fit into a particular template: white, Southern, rural or exurban, lower-middle class (but not usually impoverished), low-mobility, with poorly-diversified economies reliant on traditional sectors like manufacturing or agriculture. There are only a couple dozen such districts throughout the country.

Although the Republicans face an arduous task in crafting a path to 270 electoral votes, finding 218 viable seats in the Congress might represent the more difficult challenge.

The upshot of all this is that the GOP is bereft of new ideas, continuing to drift further to the right and is therefore placing itself in a deeper and deeper demographic hole.  But they continue to raise the stakes and place the long-shot bet: that Obama will fail nearly as spectacularly as Bush, and that a disgusted nation will sweep them back into power.

That's their choice and they have every right to make it.  But I don't want to hear any whining when and if in 2010 the Democrats reach the magic number of 60 in the Senate and the GOP is left completely out in the cold.

The GOP need to get smart.  As Obama said in his inaugural address, “the ground has shifted beneath their feet.”  In politics as in everything else, there is but one imperative: adapt or die.  Right now, it seems the GOP is living is living in a shrinking political ecosystem.

 cman in clinton blog

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The Realism of Idealism

This is kind of a partisan national political post for my first post back from a long hiatus.  But this one has been stuck in me for a while.  So bear with me.

The Clinton campaign today finally throws what it considers “the kitchen sink” out there trying to derail the Obama Machine.  Among their “five points” they continue to harp on this idea that because Obama is an eloquent speaker that therefore there is nothing substantial with which to back it up from a policy perspective.  This is just silly.  There is no Law of Conservation of Virtues that says just because a person is eloquent, they are a policy dunce.

For starters Clinton (and the GOP) is just plain wrong in the experience issue.  In an institution where it can take years for a Senator to make any kind of impact at all, Senator Obama has had a very distinguished first term.  Don’t take my word for it, Hilzoy of the Obsidian Wings blog put together a very complete profile of Obama’s legislative record, way back in October of 2006.

I think the main problem that many have in suspending their disbelief that there can be any substance behind the calls for hope is that we have come to see utter mediocrity as the standard of our political discourse.  Somehow, in the years since 1968 it became unfashionable (too elitist?) to wax eloquent about our collective dreams and aspirations.  The standard has become the highly briefed pol who studiously says nothing while occasionally throwing out a short sound bite as red meat to the mob.  See, no new taxes, compassionate conservative, and ready to lead on day one.  The winner is the one who can come closest to embodying the mental image their sound bite evokes in 51 percent of the superset of party regulars and normal people who can hold their noses long enough to vote.

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A Blogger Wraps Up His First Campaign

Mostly coss-posted from the campaign blog, with addtions made for Bleeding Heartland.

The calendar says September 19 was only 45 days ago.  It has been 45 of the longest days of my life.  Not is a bad way but in literally long hours of hectic, interesting and stressful days.  I wouldn’t have missed it for the world.  Here are some things I’ve learned in the last 45 days:

Some of the side streets of Clinton are among the worst streets in the developed world.  Seriously.  I've been to some pretty run-down places in Europe and certain streets in Clinton put the side roads of Slovakia, Poland and Croatia to shame.  To wit: Parts of Cleveland Avenue, 14th Street by the Arboretum – one of our finer City institutions no less – blocks long stretches of Roosevelt and McKinley, so say nothing of 18th Avenue N. by my own home.   This situation is the product of decades of neglect.  It is going to take at least a decade to fix.

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Time To Walk The Walk: I'm Running For Office

(from desmoinesdem: I love to see good Democrats stepping up to run for office. Good luck, cman! - promoted by desmoinesdem)

It is really easy to bang away at the keyboard sneering and playing Monday Morning Quarterback with our politicians at all levels.  Which isn't to say that those sneers and second-guesses are unearned.  But at the end of the day if we really, really want to look ourselves in the mirror, or face our children and say we are really making a difference then it is time to push ourselves away from the desk.  Time to walk the walk.

Which is why I announced this week that I am running for Clinton City Council for an At-Large seat.  The election is this November 6.

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Meanwhiles, Back At The Statehouse...

( - promoted by Simon Stevenson)

As the excruciatingly boring presidential campain grinds remorselessly on:

The Associated Press reports that Sen. John Putney, R-Gladbrook has become the third republican Iowa senator to announce his retirement



Putney was elected in 2002 and is in his second term. He is head of the Iowa State Fair Blue Ribbon Foundation, and said he'll focus his time and energy on the State Fair after he leaves office.

He joins Senate Republican Leader Mary Lundby, of Marion, and Sen. Thurman Gaskill, of Corwith, in announcing plans to not seek re-election.

All three are veteran lawmakers who would be overwhelming favorites to win another term in office, and their decisions mean Republicans will have to defend at least three open seats in next year's election.

Democrats grabbed control of the Senate in last year's election by a lopsided 30-20 edge. They also control the House by a 53-47 margin and hold the governor's office. That gives Democrats control of state government for the first time in 42 years, and Republicans are struggling to recover.

Of the 25 Senate seats that will be on the ballot next year, Republicans must defend 14 while 11 Democrats are on the ballot. None of the Democrats facing re-election have announced plans to step down.




Progressives are presented with a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to cement a veto-proof majority in both houses of the legislature.

We need to focus on finding good candidates in all districts.  And in January when the legislature convenes, we need to apply pressure to this new legislature to follow-up on the wishes of the people that put them there: to pass VOICE with mandatory limits and to produce some meaningful health care reform, for starters.

From the cman blog


Dem Candidate Extravaganza in Clinton, Aug. 18

Cross-posted from the blog in case anyone in the Eastern Iowa region wants to come down for the afternoon. 

Rep. Polly Bukta's annual corn boil, which is always the political event of the summer in Clinton County, will be even more of a must-attend this year.  She has wrapped up Sens. Clinton, Biden and Dodd as well as John Edwards.  Sen. Obama has promised “a major surrogate,” but not himself.  Hopefully, the Obama campaign will send out the Senator's wife who is supposed to be a rather compelling person and speaker in her own right.

In addition to the presidential candidates, most of the regional statewide office holders will be in attendance.  Congressman Bruce Braley will also be there.  

All in all, a fine day to eat some food and pigeonhole your elected officials about whatever is on your mind.

The event has become so large that is has moved from Rep. Bukta's home to Alliant Energy Field.  Noon to 4 p.m.  $10 gets you some corn and a bevvy.  The ball park will be serving its usual fare at the concession stands. No reservations required. Children 12 and under are free.

Action Time on Key Energy Bills in the House

Two major energy bills are headed towards floor votes in the House probably Friday, Aug 3.  I haven't yet sorted out what amendments were made yesterday.  This is one of those Congressional doozies, a 700-plus page bill of high complexity that will have a lasting impact on the future of the nation.  Lawmakers will thus only have about 48 hours to familiarize themselves with its provisions.

Bill details and links to track both the bills and coverage of the provisions after the jump. 

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Time For Tough Love

Let's say that you live in a small, prosperous Midwestern town, a real old-fashioned place right out of Leave It To Beaver or Mayberry, RFD.  You have two teen-aged boys.  The first, let's call him Bill, is whip-smart, ambitious but a bit reckless, prone to run-ins with the law and goes through cheerleaders like most boys go through a pack of M&M's.  The second, his name is George, is not too bright, a “C” student but he's a real straight arrow, dates a frumpy National Merit Scholar and always comes home by curfew.

So, let's say and why not, that one night the cops pull Bill over in his '68 Camaro SS — after a high speed chase — only to find the kid reclined in the front seat swilling Coors Light while getting a hummer from the Prom Queen.  

Chaos ensues.  It is a major community crisis.  Your family, model citizens in the town is publicly shamed.  After several tormented months, an unconscionable amount of money spent on expensive lawyers to maneuver Bill out of a felony charge things finally settle back down.  Bill is bundled off to Harvard, his scholarships still in place.  The family takes a deep breath of relief.

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Democrats: Stop Playing at Being "Good Christianists"

Like any true-blue American, I don't really concern myself with religion much — literally, but that's another post — until it starts insinuating itself into politics and public policy.  That's when I start to get downright obstinate and feisty.  One thing I have observed over the years: being a Christianist zealot politician is like having jazz chops.  You've either got it or you don't.  Someone needs to tell Nancy Pelosi that she don't got it.

“Science is a gift of God to all of us and science has taken us to a place that is biblical in its power to cure,” said Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Democrat of California, arguing for the bill’s passage. “And that is the embryonic stem cell research.”

Personally, I'd rather see my Democratic leaders putting forward this theme:

XKCD: Science. It works, bitches







But seriously, when Pelosi and other democrats try to ape the religious right in order to “triangulate” with the vast middle, they just make themselves look like insincere whores.  And besides, I think that — as ususal — most of the strategists who are urging their candidates to do this vastly underestimate the level of the backlash going on against the Christianist right, even among non-secularists.  Everyone is tired of these hand-clapping, if-you-beleive-hard-enough-it-will-be-true idiots.  Message to strategists: Doing what makes the other side successful is NOT automatically the right thing.  Sometimes you have to do the OPPOSITE thing really well.

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The 08 Election: Prisoner's Dillemma?

From the always impressive James Howard Kunstler, comes an eloquent synopsis of the misgivings many people have about the presidential election campaign.  No Confidence?

CNN is frantically advertising a set of “live” debates between the presidential candidates this week — Democrats Sunday and Republicans Tuesday, with loads of “color commentary” before and after. This big media show is being staged in New Hampshire, whose once-significant early primary election has been reduced — like so much else in our national life — to merely symbolic status now that fifteen other states have crammed theirs into the super-duper primary day of February 5, 2008. Since I believe that a collective unconscious operates among groups at all levels of the social hierarchy, including the national level, this extraordinarily early staged contest says a lot about how insecure we must be about our leadership, about our place in the world, and about where we are headed.

     US election campaign periods have never been regulated in terms of a set number of weeks or months, the way some other nations do. But the 2008 US election is the first in my lifetime that ramped up to such an intense and formal level of activity so far in advance. If nothing else, the amount of money that the candidates need to raise — and burn through in airplane charters, staff salaries, and staged events — puts them all in jeopardy of corrupting themselves to the various donors desperate to preserve their prerogatives under the status quo.

     What everybody seems to sense semi-consciously is that the status quo is dragging the US into an abyss.


More after the jump

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Memorial Day Quotes Thread

Post something you've written or read for Memorial Day.

Memorial Day orators will say that a G.I.'s life is priceless. Don't believe it. I know what value the U.S. government assigns to a soldier's life: I've been handed the check. It's roughly what the Yankees will pay Roger Clemens per inning once he starts pitching next month.

I know that my son did his best to serve our country. Through my own opposition to a profoundly misguided war, I thought I was doing the same. In fact, while he was giving his all, I was doing nothing. In this way, I failed him.

Andrew J. Bacevich, Viet Nam veteran, Professor at Boston University, whose son was killed in Iraq, in today’s Washington Post.

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Memorial Day: Debunking the Myth of War Fatigue

It's Memorial Day weekend.  It is dreary and raining and I can't get out and work on the pond like I wanted to.  So, I'm catching up on my reading.

Over at Talking Points Memo, Josh Marshall recently published a letter from a reader that, I think sums up very well the feelings and opinions of the small number of Americans who either still support the war outright or support it in concept.  TPM reader JDG writes:

Yes, our war in Iraq is very much like the one in Viet Nam, but not the way its opponents mean the comparison. What's similar is this: Both of these war efforts by the United States have been sabotaged, probably on purpose, and we will probably lose this one as we lost Viet Nam, by the media's practice of showing us the daily body count in color on the nightly news every single day, again and again and again and again!

It is simply impossible for a democratic country to pursue any war, no matter how justified, to a successful conclusion under those conditions.

No matter what you think of the merits of the present war, it's obvious that two choices lie before America: either we go back to our pre-1950 policy (which most countries in the world still follow) of wartime censorship — not just of information that would help enemy commanders, but also of information that would undermine our own public's morale — or we may as well pack it in and invite China to rule our country, since we can never possibly win another war.

As I said, I think it is important to confront this idea head on.  It is, among a class of mostly male mostly conservative individuals a very popular and persuasive notion and it goes like this:  The media prevents us from winning because the American people cannot stand to see their boys and girls bleeding and dying on a daily basis.  It undercuts morale over the long haul and makes victory impossible by undermining the support for the war at home.

More after the jump.

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21st Century Campaings: Polls are for Chumps

Over at, Matt Stoller has been picking apart how polls work, or don't work in the 21st Century.  In his latest installment he looks at how traditional land-line telephone polls are becoming more and more unreliable because of the increasing size of the wireless-only household.  This goes back to my post last month on Technology and the 21st Century Political Campaign.

Graph of Wireless Only Households

More after the jump.

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Sane Conservatives Scared Sh**less of Obama

Andrew Sullivan is a conservative whose ideals I admire even if I don't always agree with.  Clearly against the extreme lunatic wing of the Republican party, his libertarian streak keeps him from thoroughly embracing the Democrats, who if one looks only at his biography, one could be excused for thinking are his natural affinity group.  But no,  Sullivan is pretty clear-headed, cold-eyed traditional conservative in the best, pre-1968 sense of that word.

So, when he attends an Obama event in DC and comes away saying the man is the Reagan of the Left, it is time to take notice.


Excerpts after the jump. 

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Renewable Is Not a Synonym for Sustainable

Cross-posted from the blog — cman.

This is a good mantra for the times.  Keep reciting it to yourself… Renewable  is not a synonym for sustainable. Letter to the Editor of the Des Moines Register from Dale Shires of Iowa City.

One of my dad’s maxims was “never buy or sell hay.” Buying hay might bring in the seeds of weeds we had spent years trying to control; selling hay removed tons of nutrients without replacing it with commensurate manure.Thousands of years of unharvested prairie had built the rich silt loam. The first 75 years of diversified, value-added farming saw mainly livestock and livestock products leave a nearly-level farm, using no commercial fertilizer, yet with ever-increasing yields.

We began raising soybeans during World War II, rotating and covering about one-fifth of the acreage each year. By 1954, soil tests showed a need for phosphate fertilizer. (The southwest Iowa soils were high in potassium and we inoculated the beans for nitrogen fixation.)

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Emerging Tech Conference, Ames, April 25 - 27

I just got e-mailed about this today and immediately signed up.  Emerging Technologies 07 in Ames from Wednesday, April 25 to Friday, April 27. 

Anyway, those of you interested in the intersection of technology and politics might want to check out this conference.  It is free.  If anyone wants to hook up for beers, I’ll be at the IgniteIT thingy on Thursday night as well as for Kawasaki and Stephenson (I’m a HUGE fanboy) for sure.  I’ll also be in on the Agriculture Track events on Wed.

Technology and Campaigns

(Anyone else have technology thoughts? - promoted by Simon Stevenson)

This started out as a quick reply to Mark Laggin’s post on Technology and 21st Century Caucus Ops.  It basically turned into a post in its own right.  Cross posted to (as opposed to from) my blog.

The paradigm shift we are starting to see is in the decline of one-to-many “broadcast” communications methods as an effective voter contact and voter persuasion tool.  Mark talked about phones.  Phones are especially vulnerable for two reasons.

One, the proliferation of cell phones, Internet telephony and the lack of centralized directories for both begins to limit traditional phone campaign methods to the a diminishingly useful or relevant legacy PoTS (plain old telephone service) universe. 

The second factor is linked to the first.  The inability to reach additional voters outside the PoTS universe leads to more intense competition for those voters using the tried-and-true methods campaign staff know.  This leads to what we saw in 2006 which is the almost complete alienation of voters to any phone contact and utterly diminishing returns on phone contacts

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Edwards Sets The Standard (So Far) On Energy

I’ll elaborate on this later today (hopefully).  But John Edwards’ energy and environmental policy rolled out in his speech in Nevada yesterday represents the  most serious, and workable approach of any candidate in the race.  Policy paper here.

Gotta run to work now but I’ll try and get into this in more detail anon.

Still waiting for someone, anyone to utter the two magic words…

“drive less.”

Walter Reed Blog

My initial reaction to hearing about this blog was, “Ah, the inevitable, exploitative follow-up to the tragedy-of-the moment.  Some soldier trying to buy himself an easy ticket out or a good job afterwards.”

But that changes as soon as one reads along a bit.  This is the real, compelling and heart-wrenching, self-help of a soldier caught in bureaucratic purgatory.

If you oppose the war, if you support the war, you must read Walter Reed.

TIF-ed Off.

(For those getting sick of Presidential gossip. :-) - promoted by Drew Miller)

All this presidential stuff is okay, I guess.  But really people, even as a hard-core politics geek there is no way in heck I’m going to maintain interest and enthusiasm for 330-odd days until the caucuses, let alone the more than 20 months until the general.  We need something else to focus on as well or we will all go starkers, our friends and family will shun us.

Lately, my gaze has drifted lower towards local governance, especially local governement finance and economic development issues.  When we talk about economic development and growth in Iowa (as in most states now) the word, TIF enters the conversation pretty quickly.  More on TIFs and their uses and overuses on the flip.

Continue Reading... Radical Transparency Whether They Want It Or Not

Cross posted from my own blog.  I promise that this won’t be the rule, but I already wrote this yesterday while waiting for the BH confirmation e-mail.

I’ve been dying to blog about this site since I saw the beta call back in November. aims to add much-needed transparency and usable search tools to open the often closed, and intentionally obscure workings of the United States Congress.

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