Tag Archives: politics

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?

1 Comment

Filed under Freedom, History, Uncategorized

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.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Tune for Tuesday: A Song for Conventions

Be on guard. First the GOP and now the Democrats. A song about finding or not finding your way in confusing times:

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Rick Perry, Too Lazy to be President


Barack Obama is vulnerable.  The economy is not so hot, federal spending seems out of control, his biggest policy of his first term—his health care plan—is a regular punching bag for Republican opponents.

But if this the best the GOP has, Obama is a two-term president.

Take, for instance, the latest Rick Perry ad that has been aired way too much in recent days in Iowa:

Jeez.  What a stupid, cheap shot.  The slow-talking non-slick performer from Texas clearly has a brain too lazy to qualify him for our nation’s highest office.  The fact is, Obama was saying that America has not promoted itself vigorously enough as an exporter in Asia.  His remarks were not a criticism of America in general or its workers.

Based on this, Rick Perry is too intellectually lazy not to grab for the cheap shot. Republicans, cross him off your list.   Look, we elected one dumb former Texas governor at least once (maybe twice, but I think he stole it in 2000) and got, besides a bloated federal security bureaucratic monster,  the economic mess that Obama still hasn’t dug us out of.  The financial crash that caused our current mess was in 2008—when Bush, one of the worst presidents in modern American history, was still vaguely occupying the Oval Office with no idea what to do with it.

The rest of the Rick Perry ad, after the cheap-shot out-of-context quote of Obama, is mostly stupid rambling.  OK, the balanced budget amendment is a serious proposal—wrong, I think, for lots of reasons—but at least a serious idea.

But “cut Congress’ pay?”  If they don’t do their job which, apparently, is do whatever President Perry wants?  What power does Perry think the president has over Congressional pay?

And “Obama’s socialist policies?”  No, Obama is not socialist anymore than he’s Kenyan.  And you, Mr. Perry,  just look  dumb using that kind of ignorant mislabeling.  Just because the nattering nabobs of right wing lunacy on Fox say it, it doesn’t mean you have to be silly enough to repeat it, Rick.

I freely confess that as a registered Democrat I’m pretty primed to vote again for Obama anyway.  But I still want the Republicans to run a reasonable candidate, a woman or man who, if elected, would make a competent president.

And this ad, to me, is just one more nail in your Texas-sized coffin, Ricky boy.  You are not a potentially competent president.  As an Iowan, here is my reaction to your ad:  I’m already sick of you.  Please, go back to Texas.

And GOP?  Let’s get real.  Act like you might be picking the next president, because you might.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

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.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Grass-Roots Political Action: Phoning for the Cause

My late afternoon:

“Hello, is _____________ there? Hi, my name is Joe, I’m a volunteer for the Democratic Party, we’re calling voters to find out if you would like to vote early in the November election by mail or in person.”

If yes, circle M for mail. In the next two weeks, John or Joan Q Public will get the paperwork for a vote-by-mail ballot.

If no, ask if they’re interested in early voting in person and mention the county auditor’s office in Lindale Mall.

If rude, smile, apologize, hang up and call someone else.

The local Democratic Party at work. Actually, phone operators in Seattle in 1952, courtesy of the Seattle Municipal Archives on flckr, but the atomosphere seems right.

My oldest sister Pat has been active in campaigns lately, and I’m not sure, but I guess maybe she inspired me. When the local Democratic Party called and someone read the above script to me, I politely said “no thanks,” because I enjoy the ritual of voting on the actual election day.

But, when they asked if I would volunteer, I surprised myself by not saying “no.” Instead, I signed up to do some calling this afternoon. So I found myself in a slightly seedy downtown storefront in Marion, Iowa, in an uncomfortable chair with a script in one hand and a 5-page list of names in the other. It took a few minutes to get a pen located, and I used the paperclip from the pack of pages so I could keep my place. Can’t say I socialized much or all; basically, I just sat and called.

I’ve never been a telemarketer before and never hope to be one. And I can tell you this right now, I’d rather hear than  be one.

Actually, it wasn’t that bad. Most people were not rude, even those who were clearly Republicans or who had been called before.

I had 5 sheets of names with 24 names per sheet, which is 120. Some were married couples, however, so I probably only actually dialed 90 to 95 numbers. I started at 5:30 and was done by 7.

They offered to let me have another list, but I politely declined. I enjoyed a bit of grassroots politics, but I don’t want to overdo it. Besides, if I stayed longer, I am sure I would have started to eat cookies.

One glance at me and you know that would be a bad idea!


Filed under Uncategorized