Saturday, December 22, 2007

Obama Criticizes Edwards' Senate Record

Presidential candidate Barack Obama, D-Ill., openly criticized rival John Edwards' U.S. Senate record today in front of a crowd of approximately 300 in Oskaloosa.

Obama made the charge that Edwards' record during his single term as a senator from North Carolina does not match the rhetoric he's been using on the campaign trail.

"Both of us agree that we've got to take on the special interests and the lobbyists," said Obama. "Both of us agree that they have too much influence in Washington. But I would argue that in positions where we actually had a chance to do something about it, I did something and John didn't. During six years in the Senate he wasn't passing laws to reduce the power of lobbyists," said Obama. He continued by highlighting his own recent work to reform Congressional ethics laws.

Obama also criticized Edwards regarding independent special interest groups and their influence on the campaign.

"John, yesterday, said he didn't believe in 527s. Those are these independent groups that raise money without disclosure," said Obama. "We found out today that there's an outside group that's funding $750,000, just bought three quarters of a million dollars worth of television time, and the individual running the group used to be John Edwards' campaign manager."

"The easiest thing in the world is to talk about change during election time," he said. "You've got to look at how they act when it's not convenient."

Friday, December 21, 2007

Aw Shucks, Edwards Video is Just Too Much

[Commentary] Those of us living in rural Iowa get just as much political mail as everybody else. Endless piles of fliers and pamphlets touting a candidate's strengths or attacking their weaknesses. We get it all, just like they do up in Des Moines.

But rural Iowans can expect something else to arrive in their mailboxes in the coming days from John Edwards, and it's made especially for us. The Edwards campaign has put together a DVD video aimed at making the case that Edwards is the candidate that will cure what ails rural America.

The DVD, titled "John Edwards: For the Country," is narrated by former Georgia congressman Ben "Cooter" Jones, the actor who played Cooter on "The Dukes of Hazzard."

It also features policy discussion by rural political strategist Dave "Mudcat" Saunders, who wears a Cubs hat as he rails against the corporate powers that he says have destroyed the economies of rural America. He makes a good point, although some may find it all a bit too combative.

Edwards should be commended for his commitment to the issues facing the people who live out here in the country. He has campaigned harder than any of the other candidates (in either party) for the rural vote, and he's probably going to do very well on caucus night because of it.

But the video, with bluegrass music playing over the entirety of its 12 minutes, is about as hokey as a possum wearin' bib overalls. It's the kind of stuff that makes some of us in rural Iowa grumble. Sometimes we get the feeling that a rural rube stereotype is being unfairly perpetuated, and some of us don't like that.

They've gone out of their way to find a log cabin to use as a backdrop for Mudcat, and some kind of shed with cedar shake siding for Cooter. It's all a bit much. It brings to mind that movie "O Brother, Where Art Thou?" and all the while I'm thinking, "Did they film this at Living History Farms?"

There was one line from Edwards that really stuck out as I watched the video. "Rural America is not homogeneous," he says. "There are significant differences from one part of the country to the other and from one community to the other."

I couldn't agree more on that point. I don't know anybody around here who lives in a log cabin.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

I Wish This Was For Real

I'm a big fan of George R.R. Martin's Song of Ice and Fire series. I'm among the millions worldwide who are aching for the completion of this awesome story.

Some people get so anxious for anything new, they take it upon themselves to create their own new SoIaF stuff. Like this YouTube video of an imaginary movie based on GRRM's books. It's all made using clips of existing movies. Check it out:

Monday, December 17, 2007

Ever Heard of Albia?

With less than three weeks to go before the Iowa precinct caucuses, I thought I'd post a quick update on candidate visits. We're not getting very many.

Out here in the sparsely populated rural areas like Monroe County, it's very meaningful to us when a candidate takes the time to find us on the map and pay us a visit. We do not like to be ignored.

The following Republican presidential candidates have set foot in Monroe County so far: John Cox, Tommy Thompson.

The following Democratic presidential candidates have set foot in Monroe County so far: John Edwards, Bill Richardson, Barack Obama, Joe Biden.

Congratulations to those who bothered to take the time to venture out into the hinterlands.

P.S. -- Surrogates don't count.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Trapped Under Ice

We're here safe and sound in Smoky Hollow, but we're probably not going anywhere anytime soon.

There are obvious advantages to living in an area like this. We live down a long tree-lined lane, totally surrounded by woods, and it's such a beautiful place to be. But sometimes you pay the price.

This morning we awoke to find everything -- everywhere -- completely covered with ice. Go outside and you could hear limbs popping and crashing out in the woods.

Our driveway was blocked, as you can see in the picture above (Click on the pic and view it full size, it's really amazing), by trees that just couldn't bear the weight of all that ice. I got the chainsaw out and went to work.

I spent the whole time as I was cutting those limbs worrying about the trees over my head. Would one of those limbs come crashing down on my head?

Then, just before noon, the power went out. We waited a little while, hoping the lights would come back on, but they didn't. So we packed up and went to Albia to my grandparents' house. They didn't lose their electricity, but their phones, cable and internet service was out all day.

I drove back out here just after 4 p.m. and found that the power was back. So I went back to the grandparents' and loaded everybody back up and we came home. We're here safe and warm, and not planning to go anywhere anytime soon...unless the power goes out again.

Monday, December 03, 2007

What I Want To Be When I Grow Up

For the record, I don't remember what I wanted to be when I was in kindergarten. But I'm thinking it was probably a Jedi.

Or more likely, I just wanted to be the owner of a light saber. I was obsessed with Star Wars from 1977 until...well, until the present.

Hillary Clinton's campaign attacks are really starting to get ridiculous. She has blasted Barack Obama for something he said when he was in kindergarten. Clinton says Obama had told someone when he was in kindergarten that he wanted to be president. Clinton says that makes him a hypocrite. Or something like that.

I like John Edwards' response to all this. He said when he was in third grade, he wanted to be a cowboy or Superman.