Simon Stevenson

Do Something about this Shady Republican Group

The Iowa Future Fund is running ads that are lying about Chet Culver’s record.  The group has apparently incorporated itself as a 501c4, so it can refuse to disclose its donors.   Basically, they are claiming that their intent is not to influence elections, despite the fact that all they have ever done is try to smear the big lug.

The organization’s spokesperson is David Kochel, who claims he is the only person who will speak for the Future Fund ever.   Give him a call at 515-865-6077 to let him know how you feel about his organization, or email him at to demand that the group disclose its donors.  Let us know what kind of response you get.

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State Republican Fundraising Even Worse Than National

The Democratic candidates for Presidents outraised Republicans by about 47%.

The Democratic committees (DCCC, DSCC, and DNC) outraised their Republican counterparts by 4%.  (With the DNC dragging the other two down.)

And now from the Register, we find that state Democrats are doing even better.

Incumbent House Democrats altogether drummed up $1.1 million, based on reports on file Wednesday, while House Republicans raised $721,000.

In the Senate, incumbent Democrats collected $448,000 in reports on file while Republicans pulled in $371,000.For the statewide parties, new reports show the Iowa Democratic Party has $669,000 in cash on hand in its state account, and the Republican Party of Iowa has $49,000.

Because Iowa has basically no campaign finance laws, all of this money is essentially interchangeable.  That means that, overall, Democrats are outraising Republicans in state money $2.22 million to $1.14 million, giving us just short of double their resources.

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Edwards' Money Situation

As I said back when it came out, if Edwards is really limited to the rules of the public finance system, he is finished.  Having only $50 million through mid-August to go up against a Republican candidate sure to have well over $200 million is a debilitating disadvantage for the Democrats, and one that can be entirely avoided by supporting one of the other candidates.

However, there have been a developments with the story – not all specifically linked to Edwards.

The first is that it turns out there won't be money to pay for the public financing in January.  Instead, candidates will begin to get payments as tax receipts come in, and will probably receive their first disbursements in March, when the nomination will almost certainly have been settled.  While this seems like bad news, it is actually good for Edwards.  If I understand it correctly, it means that he can take out loans in the amount that he would be eligible for, delay or withdraw any request for matching funds until after February 5th (something Howard Dean did, though before Jan. 1), and then only accept the matching funds if he was clearly out of contention and just in need of paying back his loan.  If necessary he can certainly afford to take out loans on his ample personal assets.  John McCain, another guy who is thinking twice about accepting public financing, just did basically all of this.

I don't think anyone was naive enough to actually believe Edwards when he said that this was all about public financing being the right thing to do.  If people were actually snookered by that line, the fact that Edwards is trying to skirt the nomination procedure to start raising money again shoulddisabuse them of that notion.  For me, the whole “public financing is the right thing to do” garbage made him seem like a huge phony.  It still bothers me that the campaign still sticks by that line, all the while acting contrary to it.

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The Des Moines Register Endorsement: A Fisking

Long story short:  Terrible editorial, would work great for an endorsement of Biden, Dodd, or Richardson, but doesn’t explain at all why to pick Clinton.  My guess is it was based on gender.

A deep, talented field in the Democratic caucus race offers both good and difficult choices.

No fewer than three candidates would, by their very identity, usher the nation to the doorstep of history. Should the party offer the nation the chance to choose its first woman president? Or its first black president? Or its first Latino president?

Or should the party place its trust in two senators, Joe Biden or Chris Dodd, who have served their nation with distinction for more than 30 years each? Or should it heed John Edwards’ clarion call to restore opportunity for all Americans?

Beyond their personal appeal, the candidates have outlined ambitious policy proposals on health care, education and rural policy. Yet these proposals do little to help separate the field. Their plans are similar, reflecting a growing consensus in the party about how to approach priority issues.

Their plans on Iraq are not at all similar, no matter how often Clinton claims she will “end” the Iraq war.  Did anyone at the Register even consider this issue?  I personally think it is kind of an important one.

The choice, then, comes down to preparedness: Who is best prepared to confront the enormous challenges the nation faces – from ending the Iraq war to shoring up America’s middle class to confronting global climate change?

The job requires a president who not only understands the changes needed to move the country forward but also possesses the discipline and skill to navigate the reality of the resistant Washington power structure to get things done.

That candidate is New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton.

From working for children’s rights as a young lawyer, to meeting with leaders around the world as first lady, to emerging as an effective legislator in her service as a senator, every stage of her life has prepared her for the presidency.

That covers three years, eight years, and seven years of her life – a total of 18 years, or 30%.  For some reason the register doesn’t think childhood, early adulthood, and middle-age don’t count as stages of your life.  Clinton herself obviously does, since she has attacked Obama for both a kindergarten essay and his time in Indonesia as a 10-year-old.

That readiness to lead sets her apart from a constellation of possible stars in her party, particularly Barack Obama, who also demonstrates the potential to be a fine president. When Obama speaks before a crowd, he can be more inspirational than Clinton. Yet, with his relative inexperience, it’s hard to feel as confident he could accomplish the daunting agenda that lies ahead.

Hard for you, maybe.  He has had mostly success in his endeavors at bringing people together to pass legislation, whereas Clinton has one huge failure and then a bunch of throwaway bills.  I don’t think reaching across the aisle counts for much when she is reaching across the do things like ban flag-burning.

And that’s just the comparison for Obama.  Clinton unquestioningly loses when compared to Richardson, Dodd, and Biden, who all have real accomplishments to their name.

Edwards was our pick for the 2004 nomination. But this is a different race, with different candidates. We too seldom saw the “positive, optimistic” campaign we found appealing in 2004. His harsh anti-corporate rhetoric would make it difficult to work with the business community to forge change.

Earth to Register:  The business community isn’t going to work with anyone to enact policies that cut into profits.  Edwards deserves credit for recognizing this, not attacks for telling the truth.  Not taking the opposition of business groups seriously is something that leads to legislative defeats.  Like, say, health care.

Unfortunately, for many Americans, perceptions of Clinton, now 60, remain stuck in a 1990s time warp. She’s regarded as the one who fumbled health-care reform as a key policy adviser to her husband, President Bill Clinton, or as a driving force in the bitter standoff between the “Clinton machine” and the “vast right-wing conspiracy.”

Her record in the Senate belies those images. Today, she’s widely praised for working across the aisle with Sam Brownback, Lindsey Graham and other Republicans.

Widely praised for what?  As far as I can tell she wrote a letter with Brownback, and I can’t think of any major legislation she has even fought for as a Senator.  Is it too much to ask the register what makes her such a great Senator, other than making friends with members of the former majority?

Determination to succeed and learning from her mistakes have been hallmarks of Clinton’s life. She grew up in Park Ridge, Ill., graduated from Wellesley College and earned a law degree from Yale. As first lady in Arkansas, she was both strategist and idealist, borne out by her commitment to children and families. As the nation’s first lady, she in essence spent eight years as a diplomat, traveling to more than 80 countries and advocating for human rights.

Right, learning from her mistakes.  Iran, meet Iraq.  And Bill Richardson actually spent time as a diplomat, as well as a Governor, Congressman, and energy secretary.  And in terms of the advantages that diplomatic experience brings, does anyone really believe that electing Clinton would do more good to our world image than Obama?

In the Senate, she has earned a reputation as a workhorse who does not seek the limelight. She honed knowledge of defense on the Senate Armed Services Committee. She has proactively served rural and urban New York and worked in the national interest, strengthening the Children’s Health Insurance Program.

Clinton is tough. Tested by rough politics and personal trials, she’s demonstrated strength, resolve and resilience.

Translation:  She brings home the pork and votes like a hawk.  I don’t consider either of these admirable traits.  Apparently the Register does.

Can she inspire the nation? Clinton is still criticized in some quarters as being too guarded and calculating. (As president, when she makes a mistake, she should just say so.)

Of course she won’t, since she won’t admit to making a mistake on Iraq now.

Indeed, Obama, her chief rival, inspired our imaginations. But it was Clinton who inspired our confidence. Each time we met, she impressed us with her knowledge and her competence.

Once again, Dodd, Biden, Richardson?  Are they ignorant or incompetent in the Register’s eyes?

The times demand results. We believe as president she’ll do what she’s always done in her life: Throw herself into the job and work hard. We believe Hillary Rodham Clinton can do great things for our country.

So basically the entire endorsement is a paean to competence and experience, yet it is in support of the fourth (and arguably fifth) most experienced candidate.  It talks about her bipartisanship, but all of the three or four more experienced candidates also have worked in bipartisan ways during their careers.

In other words, the editorial just does not explain any actual reason they could have used to pick Clinton.  It comes down to the fact that Laura, Carolyn, Carol, Linda, Rox, and Andie liked Hillary better than all the other candidates.  How about that.

And yes, I do anticipate getting flamed for insinuating that the decision was based on gender.  Maybe next time the editorial board can try writing an endorsement that actually explains why they picked the candidate they did so we out here in the blogs won’t have to guess at it.  And it doesn’t help when they bring up the issue themselves and then don’t address it:

Some had already speculated that we would endorse Clinton because the editor, publisher and I are women. We didn’t begin with Clinton. Like many others, we were skeptical, and, even at the end, not all the women leaned toward Clinton. But she won us over, particularly in the editorial board meetings and debates. And we take our responsibility to Iowa and the nation too seriously to make a decision based on just gender or race or one issue.

So, basically, they can’t explain why they liked her, they just liked her.  I guess that’s not any different than how most Iowans pick their candidate, but one would expect better from Iowa’s paper of record.

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