Tuesday, May 30, 2006

X-men was pretty darn good

Well, we had some nice R&R over the holiday weekend, despite the fact that we traveled halfway across the state and back.

On Saturday we hopped in the car and headed for Davenport for a community gathering with Chet Culver and my mom and dad and lots of supporters.

I was really surprised at the turnout for the event, considering it was on a Saturday afternoon on a holiday weekend with the temperature in the 9o's. The room was packed. Our friend Dau Truong was there with his family and quite a few friends, so it was more than just a political event for my family.

After the event, we headed back west and stopped for an overnight stay with friends in Iowa City. As always, there's lots of fun to be had in Iowa City.

We spent the rest of the weekend right here at Home Sweet Home, except for brief trip to Ottumwa to see the new X-Men movie. It was good, but I'm still not sure if I think it was great.

I'm just not enough of an X-Men scholar to know for sure, but since when was Jean Grey so dang powerful? I guess I don't mind, since it really was a cool plot. The most amazing thing about the movie: lots of very important X-Men characters were snuffed out.

As I think about the movie, I'm liking it more and more. But darn it, STILL NO GAMBIT.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Gotta get to the X-Men movie!

I've been looking forward to the new X-Men movie for quite some time. Hopefully there will be a little down time this weekend and we can get out and see it.

The first two X-Men flicks were very good, though I absolutely hated Halle Berry as Storm. Terrible casting. But all in all, they are great movies.

I'm patiently waiting for Gambit. I sure hope they finally put him in there, he's one of my faves.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Culver holds commanding lead in Channel 8 poll

Great news today about the campaign. I was just watching the news on Channel 8 and they released the results of a poll.

Not only is he the front-runner, but Chet Culver is 13 points ahead of his closest rival in the Democratic Primary race! And the election is only two weeks away!

I'm really not surprised. I have heard so many good things from people lately about how they are solidly behind Chet in this race.

Here are the numbers from the poll:

Culver 38
Blouin 25
Fallon 20
Undecided 17

Chet has raised his support by five points since the last time Channel 8 did a poll. Blouin and Fallon, who were basically nobodies when this started, have also gained support, by nine points and seven points respectively.

Blouin's running mate was on there and she said she was thrilled. Thrilled to be losing by 13 points?

She was trying to spin the story by saying that they were gaining support the fastest or something. (Update: After seeing this in the online version of the story and analyzing the numbers a little more closely, I think it looks even better for the Culver campaign...I mean, Mike Blouin has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on positive and negative ads, and he remains locked in a contest with Ed Fallon for third place...they are still within the margin of error of each other!)

The best news of the whole poll story was the General Election matchup. Chet is beating Republican Jim Nussle by an even higher margin now than in March. Chet gets 49 percent of the vote compared to Nussle's 41 percent.

Blouin and Fallon would lose to Nussle if the election were held today.

The least surprising part of the story was the fact that they said Blouin does not receive much support from women in the Democratic Party. We all knew that already.

Here's what they're saying at Political Forecast.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Interesting story

I was reading the news sites tonight and something I saw reminded me of a lesson I learned when I was little.

Long ago when I was a kid, I had a wooden gun that would shoot rubber bands. If you shot somebody with it at point-blank range, it would really hurt.

One day I went up and shot my big brother with it at point-blank range. He was wearing shorts, and I hit him right in the part of the leg behind the knee. It swelled up and turned red immediately.

He turned around and punched me really hard, right in the stomach. I was a big weenie and I started crying and ran to my grandma (who is the nicest, most caring person in the world).

She said to me: "I saw what you did to him, so I'm really not feeling very sorry for you right now."

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Final Debate

After many, many forums and debates over the last year, the candidates seeking the Democratic Party's nomination for governor of Iowa faced off today in one last debate. It was the big one, so to speak.

I was there to do my part: waving signs at cars near the parking lot entrance.

For me, the highlight of the morning was when I was approached by a reporter from WOI Public Radio, I think it was Joyce Russell, who asked me if I would like to be interviewed about the race for governor. She asked me several questions, and I think I gave good responses. I haven't heard it yet on the radio, but I'll listen for it again tomorrow. Maybe they'll put the audio file on their website? I couldn't find it there yet.

I didn't have tickets to go inside, so I went with a group of Culver supporters to a comfortable location nearby where we watched the debate on TV. Afterwards, it was time to collect all of the signs and stuff.

As for the rest of the day's events...

To me, it was obvious that nothing really happened to change the dynamics of the race. Chet Culver came to the debate today as the clear front-runner. He communicated clearly and eloquently in the debate. The opponents did not score any knockout punches, therefore...Culver wins and cements his front-runner status in the final days before the election.

Oh, one thing I must mention that I found to be exceptionally ridiculous: After the cameras were off, the Blouin campaign staff attempted to make accusations of flip-flopping. No, I'm not joking.

I mean, Blouin is like the granddaddy of wafflers. In case you haven't heard, when he was in Congress he sponsored amendments to the United States Constitution that would make Bob Vander Plaats proud. And just last fall he went around bragging all the time that he was "pro-life." Then he abruptly changed his mind about it in November and now he's even using the word "veto" in public when asked about changing the laws on women's health care rights. Folks, that is not just a minor adjustment of nuance. That is an absolute 360 degree turnaround on one of the most contentious issues in the country, in a matter of a few short months.

That is a flip-flop. It goes way beyond the issue at hand. It's about trust. I have observed that voters generally tend to reject politicians who do things like that.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Road Trip -- Part 3

I rose fairly early this morning and had coffee with the guys. I said my good-byes, and it was back on the road.

I headed east, to Davenport, to meet with an old friend named Dau Truong. He is a close friend of our family, and has been helping us with the campaign in Davenport.

Dau is originally from Vietnam, and came with his family to Iowa in 1991. They are now United States citizens, and are part of a large community of Vietnamese immigrants in Davenport.

Dau has been helping his friends in Davenport get registered to vote, and I brought him a lot of campaign materials and information that he can share with them. We had a nice talk in his comfortable home about the campaign and politics, and we enjoyed some Vietnamese-style cafe au lait and egg rolls.

He then took me out for lunch at a Vietnamese restaurant called Pho 99. We had some flavorful rice noodle and beef soup and also some interesting herbs and bean sprouts.

We talked about Iraq and the problems they are facing in that country. He said it is a lot like how things happened with his country.

Dau served in the South Vietnamese military, and met my dad in 1968. Dad was a lieutenant in the U.S. Marine Corps at the time, and Dau was part of the Vietnamese forces that were supported by the Marines.

At that time, Dad had two very close Vietnamese friends: Dau, and a man named Dien.

Dien suffered serious injuries after an explosive device went off as he was investigating a tunnel during a patrol. Dien later died from those injuries despite the fact that Dad and others tried to save him.

And that is why I have this uncommon name.

After the war, Dau was imprisoned for many years. Fortunately, he was released and re-joined his family. He then contacted Mom and Dad by mail and a stroke of luck. Dad helped him get hooked up with an immigration program, and after a long process he was able to come to Iowa with his family and start a new life.

It was nice to see Dau and his family. I hadn't seen them since my wedding.

It was a long drive back to Albia from Davenport, but it was a beautiful spring day.

Aah, now I can sleep in my own bed.

Road Trip -- Part 2

It wasn't long before people began arriving at The Cottage. We had put about 50 or 60 chairs out, and we thought we had plenty of room. More and more people arrived, and the chairs began filling up quickly. A good showing of my old Iowa City pals arrived, and it was really nice to see them there.
Then the TV crew came in and it started getting a little crowded. It wasn't long before all of the chairs were taken and it was a standing-room-only event. I think we were getting close to having 80 people, and someone said that was the maximum allowed by fire code! (I hear Blouin had about 50 last week at his event in Iowa City, to me that shows Blouin has a weaker ground game)

Chet arrived with the crew and it was on. Chet was introduced and endorsed by Terrence Neuzil, a member of the Johnson County Board of Supervisors.

Chet gave his stump speech, receiving applause many times. The crowds always love it when Chet says, "If you like George Bush, you're gonna love Jim Nussle!"

Afterwards, as people were chatting and mingling, I introduced myself to Dave Loebsack, Democratic candidate for Congress. I was really happy to meet him and chat, even though I reside outside his district (by about three miles). I wish him the best in his campaign. He's going to be a great Congressman.

A little later I overheard a gentleman ask the Culver staff "Where's Patty?" (Mom was not in attendance, she was doing other campaign work in Des Moines)
It wasn't long and the gentleman and his wife were pointed my way. He said to me, with a grin on his face, "Is your mom a nurse?"

I said in response, "She worked for about 20 years as a Registered Nurse at the Monroe County Hospital and in Monroe County Public Health."

The man's wife said to me, "Once a nurse, always a nurse." The lady, who is a nurse as well, told me she saw that nasty attack and it made her mad and she called the union that was responsible for it and complained to them. Basically she said that if somebody is certified as a Registered Nurse, they should be proud of that for the rest of their life, especially if they worked as a nurse for that long.

I helped clean up a little bit after the crowd dispersed, and then I headed back to my Old Roomie's place, where some more old friends were gathering.

He grilled a delicious meal, featuring a flavorful grilled salmon steak with a tangy mango salsa. It was superb. I washed it down with a familiar and wonderful beverage made by the Pabst company. It was a nice contrast of flavors. A few more beverages and more friends made for a fun evening, just like old times.

But one cannot have too much fun and frivolity when there is official business on the agenda!

I had to call it a night early, because my road trip was far from over. To be continued...

Back Home Again -- Road Trip Part 1

I'm home from a nice long road trip.

It all started on Wednesday, when my wife and I made our way to Des Moines. She went to the Smart Talk Whoopi Goldberg show. I went to the campaign office and spent some time volunteering, making calls to Iowa City to invite people to a community gathering with Chet Culver.

We stayed the night in Des Moines, then I struck out on my own in the morning toward Iowa City. When I arrived in town, one of the first things I did was just drive around and look at the buildings that were damaged by the tornado a few weeks back. I had only seen photos until then.

It's just stunning to see those buildings and houses smashed like that. I have walked by many of those buildings and houses a million times before, thinking they'd probably just always be there. Amazing.

I spent the afternoon at my old roomie's place, it was nice that he was off work and we had time to just hang out for a while. He began making plans for a cookout, which was a really, really good idea.

Then I went downtown to the Cottage to help the guys get ready for the community gathering, which I will discuss in my next post.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Pop Quiz

A certain gubernatorial candidate said something this morning on "The Insiders" that has to be one of the most telling statements so far in this campaign. The host, John Bachman, was talking about compromise in politics, and asked the candidate on which issues the candidate was not willing to compromise.

This is the first thing the candidate said in response:

"I can't think of anything off the top of my head right now that would not be compromisable."

Here's your quiz: See if you can guess which candidate said that.
In all fairness, he did come up with one thing on which he would not compromise, but he had to think about it for a little bit.

Monday, May 01, 2006

A Shortcut to Mushrooms

Finally, there is a fungus amongus.

We went out today for about two hours, and came back with just over two pounds of morels. We had a lot of rain over the weekend, and that's all it took to make the mushrooms pop. Steva absolutely loves mushroom hunting, and I have to say it is a lot of fun when you find mushrooms.
So tomorrow night, we'll have fried mushrooms. Here is the recipe, I like to keep it simple. No frills are necessary. Adjust the ingredients according to how many mushrooms you have:

Eggs, beaten

Pre-heat a cast iron skillet. Add plenty of butter, and wait until it is all melted. Don't allow butter to burn.
Cut mushrooms in half. Dip halved mushrooms in the beaten egg. Then dip them in flour. Fry them in the butter until golden brown. Turn only once. Remove to a rack to drain. Sprinkle with salt.
You will be tempted to eat large quantities, but do not eat too many, or you will regret it.

Culver-Judge TV commercials hit the airwaves

The first two TV commercials for the campaign are now airing on local TV stations. I am really happy with them, and I'm sure they'll be a hit with Democrats all across the state.

The first ad is called "Together" and it features both Chet and Mom, as well as Mari Culver and my dad, John Judge. It focuses on Mom and Chet's records of public service and experience.

The second ad is called "World." It focuses on the Culver renewable energy plan.

Both ads are very positive in tone. I hope you all enjoy them. If you don't see them on TV, you can check them out here.