Tag Archives: Iowa Caucuses

The News From Precinct Six


Crowd in Peace Church, deep in Bernie country, looking out towards Hillary Town.

Man, I never knew there were so many Democrats in north Cedar Rapids. We’re a pretty white bread, GOP neighborhood, but several hundred showed up to pack the Peace Church for the Precinct 6 caucus Monday night.

In the end, it was pretty much a tie. The few Martin O’Malley people and a few undecided joined the larger Clinton and Sanders camps.

On the way, I decided to stick with my tribe and stand with Sanders. I can’t wish Hillary any ill will, and am sure I will vote for her if she is the nominee, but I went with my heart more than my head tonight.


Audrey in Bernie area. The three behind her  are the O’Malley crew. Then, on the other side, Sandersville continues. O’Malley is the University Heights of Bernie Sanders.

I don’t know how things were at other places, but in Precinct 6 we were mostly a polite, if rather disorganized, lot. Despite the clear almost 50-50 split, which meant both Sanders and Clinton would get two delegates to go on to the county convention, they had to keep recounting and recounting. The totals added up to more than the number of people registered, until they realized they had under counted the registrations.


Erika, a former ME of the MMU Times. Her first caucus.

In the meantime, I got to chat with Erika, a former Mount Mercy student who now works in marketing for a big accounting firm. I’m hoping to get her to come back to MMU to speak with one of my classes.

The meeting room at the church was a bit stuffy and got rather warm. After an hour and a half, my young grandson decided he was done. We tried to leave and got held up because their plan was to have the Hillary people leave first—and they would count again to verify numbers as people filed out.

But a cranky baby is a powerful motivator, and they figured they could count three Sanders votes first.

That’s my report from Precinct Six. How was your caucus night?


There you go, Ben Sheller, I did it. Are you pleased?

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Torn Between Three Lovers, Feeling Like a Fool


Twin US flags on back of a fire truck in Monticello during a Fouth of July Parade.

What’s an Iowan to do? I keep telling myself, I’ll do more background research, check their web sites, make an informed decision …

But Monday is coming up real fast, the spring semester has started, and I haven’t had much time to scratch myself, blog or do any “extra” reading.

Feb. 1, the first-in-the-nation Iowa Caucuses—an ancient tradition that goes all the way back to 1976, the year I graduated from Muscatine High School, and attended a precinct caucus for the first time.

I was a Republican then, and Gerald Ford was my man. My, how times have changed. I know some Republicans, I even like a few, but my life and views and the GOP’s have so far split asunder that I can’t really imagine a world in which I’d again be a Republican. Not with the clown car of crazies, Bible thumpers, billionaire blowhards and science deniers that is the current, pathetic GOP  presidential field.

A political party in which a loathsome, irritating slick-haired Texan like Ted Cruz seems like the “rational choice” of the two front runners is a political party that somehow got lost and wandered so far deep into the woods that being eaten by bears might be a relief And yet this is the party that has irrevocably gerrymandered itself into control of the U.S. House. Makes you proud to be an American.

But, I digress. My current problem is that right now I plan to caucus for:

  • Martin

    Martin–from his web site.

    Martin O’Malley. He’s young, he’s lean, he plays a mean guitar. He’s the Democrat running who has the most executive governing experience, so he deserves to lead our party to victory and Stump The Trump. Except … Martin who? It’s hard to ignore the fact that, in the practical real world, he’s just not caught on, so it’s hard to caucus for my man Martin.

  • Hillary

    Hillary, from her web site. Best presidential duck face ever.

    Hillary Clinton. She’s experienced, seasoned, a dedicated fighter for All The Right Stuff, so she deserves to lead our party to victory and Stump the Trump. Except … Another Clinton? It would be like the GOP nominating another Bush. Granted, at least in the Democrat’s case it would not be a repeat of one of history’s least competent presidents who almost ran the economy into the Great Depression and everybody seems to forget that, but in the practical real world, can you say “baggage?” Hillary doesn’t own political baggage, she has a political container ship, so it’s hard to caucus for my woman Hillary.

  • Bern

    You know where I got it. It’s Bernie!

    Bernie Sanders. Ah, I can hear Simon and Garfunkel now. I do feel the Bern—he’s got all the right ideas, says the smart things, and many in my family have fallen for this eloquent charmer. Except … the GOP would love to see the Democrats nominate Bernie. Honestly, of the three Democrats, he’s the one almost any Republican would want to run against. America is not ready to elect a socialist. And if a third candidate enters the fall race, I honestly fear that it’s the Sanders campaign that could elect President Trump, so it’s hard to caucus for my man Bernie.

I love them all. But I’m not quite sold on any one. I suppose I could be “undecided” still on Monday, but, unlike the Republicans who can come up with dozens and dozens of candidates, none of whom should be elected Dog Catcher in West Nowhere, the Democrats this year actually have three smart, capable, the-world-would-not-end if they were elected candidates. Yet, each of whom also has strong negatives in terms of political strategy, which matters when it matters a lot that none of the members of the Grand Old-crazy-as-a-loon Party nut jobs wins the eventual election.

Why can’t I choose? I suppose, to be honest, I’m most taken with Martin. Except whenever I hear or see Bernie. But then again, a small voice in the back of my head says “Hillary may have the most baggage, but she’s also the one with the balls (metaphysical) to kick Trump in the balls (metaphysical again, although a guy can hope).”

So I’ve decided. It’s Hillary. No, wait, it’s Bernie. No, wait, time for a new generation of guitar-strumming leadership, so it’s Martin.

Oh, my. How many weeks do I have to decide? Oh well.

Bernie, I don’t know if I’ll be standing with some of my family in your corner, or if I’ll have to waive hello from Martinville or Hillary Town, but kudos, my man, on the best ad of this sad campaign season of 2016:

Sigh. Great commercial. Still undecided.

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Joe’s Face for Radio

Radio microphone

Image "The Little Microphone that Could" by Bjorn Hermans from Fotopedia.

It was a little surreal.

I was interviewed for a morning radio news program today on WMT radio in Cedar Rapids. I’m going to give a public “Faculty Forum” next Tuesday at 7 p.m. in Flaherty Hall at MMU, and the radio host was going to ask me some questions.

I’m also suffering what for me is a fairly rare respiratory infection. Many members of my family suffer with all kinds of sinus ailments, allergies, persistent coughs, etc., but, while my digestive tract can be a touchy, my respiration system seems to have been built by Toyota.

Not this week. GM from the early 1970s.

Anyway, due to the uber-cold that won’t end, I’ve been sleeping poorly this week. Got to bed before midnight last night and got up a little past 5, and had far less than 5 hours of sleep in between, since there was a whole lot of coughing and bloviating and other nasty stuff in those restless hours.

So, how did the interview go? My memory, clouded by exhaustion, might not be 100 percent accurate, but it seemed like this:

Radio Host: What about them caucuses?

Me: Blah, blah-blah, blah. Blabbidy blah. Blah blah blah blah blah. Blah; blah! Blah! Blah: blah, blah and blah. Last hurrah.

Radio Host: It all started in 1976 with Jimmy Carter, right?

Me: Blah. Blah. Blah, blah, 1968, blah, blahbitty blah, 1972, blah. Blah, blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah (radio host inadvertently snores) blah, blah blahbitty, blah blah.

Radio Host: So this talk is next week. When is it?

Me: (Stunned silence, not even a blah. I have no idea. Should have known that lamestream media would try to trip me up with their tricky, fact-based questions.)

Anyway, Emily, the media relations person at MMU, e-mailed me that she was listening and that she thought I had done a good job. The host actually asked fairly easy questions and I tried to be chatty, and I didn’t honk or cough or bloviate during the interview.

But I did feel a little blah.


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Say It Ain’t So, Mike Huckabee

Mike Huckabee

From CNN.com (not Fox!) the Mike man, with no plan to run.

Well, darn. I’m not a Republican—not now, anyway, although I honestly don’t think I’ve changed politically that much since the 1970s when I was a Republican; from my point of view, I didn’t decide to leave the party to join the Democrats, the party left me, a middle-of-the-road progressive conservative (how’s that for a label to unravel)—so it’s not my fight.

But I have to teach a class on the Iowa Caucuses next year, that that class got a little duller recently.

No, not so sad that The Donald isn’t in. He was always a clown car candidate anyway.

But I had a catchy political tagline ready to go, in case any political consultants wanted to promote a former Arkansas Governor. How would this be, set to a catchy tune, maybe with a cartoony parade led by an animated elephant: “Mike for President, Mike for President, Mike for President–I like Mike, you like Mike, we like Mike” …. Etc.

Thought, perhaps, maybe it’s been done.

I don’t agree a lot with Mike Huckabee. But, at least he seems like one conservative who’s not always “mad dog” about it. He stands where he stands, but he doesn’t hate the world.

He can speak intelligently off the cuff, something many politicians need to learn. I even like this not-running tagline: “All the factors say go, but my hearts says no.” Not great poetry, but OK.

Many conservatives—Sarah Palin seems one example—seem constantly angry or whiney about something.

Well, I’ll not get diverted by Sarah. To be fair, even if she is unable to articulate a thoughtful position on any political question—name the issue, Sarah will spout the empty political platitude of the right for you—it’s also true she does have a lot of be angry about. As does Hillary Clinton. Our politics is not advanced enough to be very kind to female presidential candidates, yet.

Still, back to Mike. Dude, I will miss you. Course, since you’ve been on Fox News lately I’ve pretty much missed you all the time—but you at least seemed to think about things before you opened your mouth.

Many of those thoughts seemed deeply wrong to me, but you’re the kind of conservative that added something to the political discourse rather than making me feel as if discourse itself is coming to an end.

Yeah, I don’t like a lot of what Mike said. But, in a surprising way, it’s still true.

I like Mike. Not that I want him as president. For that, I kind of like Barack a whole lot more.

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