Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Obama supports RFS, McCain doesn't

Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama reaffirmed his support of the federal Renewable Fuels Standard on Tuesday. Obama's Republican opponent, Sen. John McCain, opposes the fuel standard that mandates a specific amount of ethanol be used in the nation's fuel supply.

Obama's statement was reported Wednesday in an article by Jerry Hagstrom for DTN Ag News:

In a telephone call to a National Farmers Union reception in Washington, Obama said he has supported the RFS and federal programs for renewable fuels since he became a senator from Illinois. He also noted that the weather-related disaster program, hospitals, the recruitment of doctors and high-speed internet service are important to rural America.

"I will keep on fighting for you as president," Obama said. "These are the legislative priorities I am going to tackle with you." Obama received the Golden Triangle from the NFU, a Democratic-leaning group.

The article also quotes Iowa Republican senator Chuck Grassley as saying that his party's platform is "inconsistent" on renewable fuels issues.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

CNN Poll in Iowa: Obama 55 -- McCain 40

Not surprisingly, Obama is currently crushing McCain here in Iowa. This poll makes a lot of sense, given the fact that McCain has been so hostile toward agriculture.

Here's the link

In a CNN/Time/Opinion Research Corp. survey out Wednesday afternoon, 55 percent of Iowa registered voters who were questioned said that Obama, D-Illinois, is their choice for president, with 40 percent backing McCain, R-Arizona. That's more than double the lead Obama had in a University of Iowa poll taken early last month.

"Obama is winning in all regions of the state, even in the western counties, where George W. Bush beat John Kerry by 17 points," CNN Polling Director Keating Holland said. "Obama is winning rural voters in Iowa, not something you see in many other states."

Iowa's caucuses kicked off the presidential primary season and launched Obama toward the Democratic presidential nomination.

"Iowa was Barack Obama's breakthrough state. He won the Democratic caucuses with a powerful organization. John McCain barely competed in the Iowa Republican caucuses. He came in fourth," said Bill Schneider, a CNN senior political analyst.

"Obama retains a strong organization in Iowa, where McCain is just beginning to get started," Schneider said.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008


Caught a nice catfish at the Albia Reservoir over the weekend. It weighed just slightly under five pounds.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Where does McCain's VP pick stand on biofuels?

It's no secret in Iowa where the two presidential candidates stand on renewable fuels.

John McCain is infamous for standing against biofuels time after time. And he sure didn't score too well on the Iowa Corn Growers Association's survey last year.

Barack Obama, a corn-belt senator, is a strong proponent of biofuels, and has talked about them at length during the presidential campaign. Iowans liked his message, and helped propel him to win the Democratic nomination.

Obama's pick for vice-president, Joe Biden, is clearly on the right side of the debate. Just watch this video:

So where does McCain's pick for VP stand? It's a mystery. But considering her ties to Big Oil in Alaska, I wouldn't bet on her being a friend to biofuels. I guess we'll just have to wait and see.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Gettin' Better

Awesome Tesla tune, and it fits the moment perfectly. Enjoy!

Convention coverage

My brother Joe is out in Denver. He's created a blog, Albia Democrat, where he's posting some good stuff from the convention.

Also, Chase Martyn is in Denver for the Iowa Independent. Check 'em out for some good coverage from the Iowa point-of-view.

Saturday, August 23, 2008


Joe Biden was a brilliant choice to be Barack Obama's running mate. Biden was very popular among Iowa Democrats last year when he ran for president. He connected well with the people he met, and gained quite a few supporters along the way.

Above is a photo I took of Biden with my son, Aidan and my wife, Steva when Biden came to Albia for a campaign event.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

McCain on farm policy

Here are a few links to some stories on Iowa Independent that will shed some light on John McCain's views on federal ag policy.

This story by Doug Burns shows what Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Tom Harkin has to say.

Here's a story I did at the state fair last week when I interviewed Senate Agriculture Committee member Sen. Ben Nelson of Nebraska.

This story has a link to the Iowa Corn Growers Association's Targeted Agricultural Education Project results.

It's all stuff that should be of interest to farmers and rural Iowans.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Ottumwa Braces for the Flood

Sandbagging operations were taking place Wednesday in Ottumwa as residents were preparing for flooding of the Des Moines River.

A large crowd of volunteers gathered to move sandbags in Ottumwa. Ottumwa Mayor Dale Uehling has urged residents who live near the river to be prepared to evacuate.

City officials are expected to close Ottumwa's Market Street Bridge in the coming days.

The gates are wide open on the Ottumwa Hydroelectric Dam. The river is expected to crest at 21 feet, one foot less than the record set during the flood of 1993.

Volunteers pitch in to place filled sandbags on pallets so they can be loaded on trucks and taken to areas of town where they are needed.

Some people gathered near the water's edge to get a look at the rising Des Moines River.

Local bow fishermen were taking advantage of the situation, watching for confused fish on the lower side of the hydroelectric dam in Ottumwa.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Photos: Boswell and Fallon Election Night Events

Rep. Leonard Boswell smiles as he accepts the Democratic nomination for re-election to represent Iowa's 3rd Congressional District.

Boswell speaks to the crowd at his election night headquarters at the Hotel Fort Des Moines.

Supporters of Boswell's challenger Ed Fallon watch the election returns at Fallon's headquarters at the Raccoon River Brewing Company.

Ed Fallon chats with supporters shortly before conceding defeat to Boswell.

Iowa Lt. Governor Patty Judge introduces Boswell to the crowd at Boswell's election night headquarters.

Television news crews crowded into the room for the 10 p.m. newscast announcing Boswell's victory.

Iowa Democratic Party Chair Scott Brennan addresses the crowd at Boswell's election night headquarters. Brennan congratulated Boswell and all of the Democrats who won victories in Tuesday's primary elections.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Counterattack Against Ethanol Critics is Gaining Steam, Grassley Says

Renewable fuels advocates are fighting back against a multimillion-dollar campaign against ethanol funded by the Grocery Manufacturers Association.

Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, said this week that he's seeing increasing support for his battle against ethanol's detractors. "I think we're picking up some steam," said Grassley in a conference call with agriculture reporters this week. "Although I doubt if we've caught up with the steam that the grocery manufacturers have already established."

Grassley was referring to an elaborate anti-ethanol smear campaign, masterminded by Washington lobbyist firm Glover Park Group and bankrolled by the Grocery Manufacturers Association, which was recently exposed in a May 14 article in Roll Call magazine. Glover Park's plan involved exploiting a world shortage of certain food grains while blaming ethanol production for the rise in world food prices.

According to Roll Call, Glover Park was hired for $300,000 to craft the anti-ethanol campaign, which the GMA hoped would involve "taking advantage of the 'extraordinary earned media opportunities' caused by rising food prices; mobilizing local food banks and 'other local opinion leaders in key states and districts'; and hiring 'trusted third-party experts' to document" the effect of ethanol incentives.

Glover Park created a plan to "obliterate whatever intellectual justification" exists for ethanol derived from corn, which would involve demonstrating to policy makers that "there is a political price to allowing ethanol policy to drive up the cost of food."

Mainstream media appeared to have bought the story hook, line and sinker. But Grassley pounced on the news in that Roll Call article, delivering a scathing speech on the Senate floor that he says has rallied renewable fuels advocates to redouble their efforts in defense of ethanol.

"I think maybe my speech on the Senate floor a couple weeks ago was the genesis," said Grassley. "We're finding some increasing support now."

Grassley said that the anti-ethanol campaign is still way ahead of the curve. "They were about a month ahead of us before we realized what they were trying to do. But I think you're going to find renewable fuels people and their allies start a counterattack."

Some reports have stated that as much as $15 million has been dedicated to the anti-ethanol campaign, with a $5 million contribution from the GMA and as much as $10 million kicked in by the American Petroleum Institute.

Grassley said he didn't know if renewable fuels advocates could offset that multimillion-dollar public relations assault. "But we hope to embarrass the grocery manufacturers out of it, because they're part of the food chain and they shouldn't be pitting farmers against consumers," said Grassley.

The video below is Grassley's May 15 speech on the Senate floor where he blasted the GMA and Glover Park Group.

Monday, May 12, 2008

New Appointment

Today I was sworn-in as a member of the Monroe County Board of Supervisors. It's an honor to be chosen to serve on the board, and I'll do my best to fulfill all of the duties of the job. But it's a sad turn of events that brought this about. I was appointed to fill the unexpired term of the seat left open by the sad passing of Paul Koffman.

Paul Koffman had served on the board for 16 years, and was a very effective and respected supervisor all those years. His current term was up at the end of this year, but he was not running for re-election when he passed away in April. The unexpired term just lasts until the election in November.

It's exciting and humbling to take on this important but temporary endeavor. There are some fantastic candidates running for the seats on the board this year, and I hope the people of Monroe County give them all a good look as candidates.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Reward Offered for Lost Dog

My brother and sister-in-law have lost their beloved German Shepherd.

Allison was walking with her dogs Koda and Ripley on Monday evening, and Koda took off on a run and didn't come back. We've searched the area and have not found him yet.

Koda is a large male, neutered dog. He is classic German Shepherd coloring, black and reddish tan. He was wearing a black harness. He is incredibly friendly and should come right up to you if you call his name.

Please call 319-530-6590 or 641-777-2900 with any information. A significant reward is being offered.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Simple Solution For Fallon

Looks like Ed Fallon has gotten himself into a pickle.

He's used his private organization "I'M For Iowa" to help his congressional campaign, but he won't disclose where the organization gets its money.

Apparently -- if you follow the letter of the law -- there's nothing illegal going on, which is a good thing for Fallon. But it doesn't look good when somebody who portrays himself as a champion for campaign finance reform uses a secretive group to help his own campaign. Looks a little hypocritical.

Then today we learned that Fallon's campaign has claimed that the Federal Elections Commission "confirmed that Ed Fallon has done nothing illegal or unethical," but the FEC actually did not make any such confirmation.

Fallon has never been shy about criticizing his Democratic colleagues. Now he's the one facing some serious criticism and he needs to address it.

Seems to me there's a simple solution to Fallon's problem: Publicly disclose the list of donors and their contributions to I'M For Iowa. That ought to be a fairly quick and easy thing to do, and it would show he has nothing to hide.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Gordon Thunders Down the Line

It was a beautiful day on the island of Sodor. Thomas and all of his friends were being very useful engines.

But then Henry said some unkind things about Thomas. That made Gordon cross.

Gordon was very upset, and he didn't think before he told the other engines what he thought about Henry.

Sir Topham Hatt scolded all of the engines. "You have caused confusion and delay. You must stop bickering and start being really useful engines again," said Sir Topham Hatt.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Olbermann's Special Comment on Ferraro

This is all over the place already. But it should be. Might as well post it here as well. I think Olbermann captures what millions of people are thinking right now.

Here's my two cents: If something doesn't change soon, the Democratic Party is going to go down in flames. The Clinton campaign needs to immediately knock off all of this race-baiting stuff or we're going to hand the presidency to John McCain.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

A Loss in Texas Should Be the End for Hillary

I'm going to go ahead and predict a victory for Barack Obama in Texas.

I think it's going to be a close one for Obama, given all of the merciless attacks he's sustained from the Clinton machine. But I believe he can pull out a victory nonetheless.

And if that happens, Hillary Clinton should drop out of the race. It would be best for the Democratic Party. Democrats need to get unified behind our nominee, and soon. This is going to be a huge battle to win the general election, and Democrats need to start working together in order to win.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Lots of Farm Bill News

I've been pretty busy this week covering some interesting happenings in the Farm Bill world. Please check out some of these stories I posted over on Iowa Independent:

Boswell Will Push For Packer Ban

Grassley Explains Farm Bill Wrangling In Iowa Independent Interview

Studies Show Farm Bill Loopholes Still Favor the Wealthy

This weekend I'll be going over to Ottumwa for the big Corn Belt Cow-Calf Conference. I hope to do some video stuff that I'll post as soon as I can get it edited.

Thursday, February 14, 2008


Click this link.

You will get mugged, but it doesn't hurt.

I'm serious. You'll get mugged. And my little gladiator dude will get some gold.

Oh, just click it. Please?

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Mudcat Explains It All

One of the most memorable characters from the Iowa caucus campaign is Mudcat Saunders. I had the opportunity to talk to him at length several times over the course of the campaign, and I must say he's a powerful voice for rural folks.

I sorta gave him a hard time over on Iowa Independent about that Edwards rural DVD, but I respect him tremendously for what he added to the Edwards campaign.

Today, as John Edwards was dropping out of the presidential race, Mudcat was on MSNBC talking about Hillary and the possibility of an Edwards endorsement. You've got to watch this video, it's great:

Hat tip to Ben Smith at Politico.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Hillary Thumbs Nose at DNC


Update: Apparently they agree with me in New Hampshire.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

George R.R. Martin on the Presidential Race

George R.R. Martin (my very most favoritest fiction author in the world) sometimes shares his views on real-world politics over on his "Not A Blog" website.

Martin lives in New Mexico, so I was always kind of curious about his thoughts on Bill Richardson and the rest of the candidates in the race.

Here's what Martin posted a couple of days ago:

The political season is well underway. I haven't made any political posts here as yet, but be warned, they will be coming. That's one of the reasons I started this Not-A-Blog, you may recall. So far, I haven't decided which Dem to support in this year's presidential contest. I was leaning toward Bill Richardson, who has been a superb governor for New Mexico, but Bill is out of it now, so I guess I'll have to find a new candidate. Obama and Edwards both interest me. I am lukewarm about Hillary. I wish she had come out stronger against the war.

The best thing about this election, no matter who wins, is that come 2009, we will finally be rid of the worst president in all of American history, that malignant moron George W. Bush.

Interesting comments. He continues to give me more reasons to be a GRRM fan. Now if he'd just let us know what's going to happen on the political landscape of Westeros!

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Practical Farmers of Iowa Gather in Des Moines for Annual Conference

The Practical Farmers of Iowa gathered in Des Moines Friday and Saturday for an annual conference featuring a full schedule of educational seminars.

The organization serves Iowa farmers by promoting ecologically-sound and profitable farming techniques. There are approximately 700 members of the organization in Iowa and neighboring states.

Workshops held at the conference included sessions on soil quality and organic farming, a discussion on the new federal farm bill and a seminar exclusively for beginning farmers.

On Friday, the organization held a screening of the documentary film "King Corn," followed by a session hosted by the film's director Aaron Woolf and co-star Curt Ellis.

One of the major initiatives led by PFI is an effort to create a new "Iowa Food Cooperative" that would operate as an internet-based food distribution system linking farmers and consumers. The cooperative would bring together Iowa's existing farmers' markets and community-supported-agriculture programs to help put fresh Iowa foods on the tables of Iowa consumers.

Iowa Independent visited with PFI executive director Teresa Opheim, who explains the organization in this short video:

Friday, January 04, 2008

Video: Gordon Fischer Comments on Obama Victory

I caught up with former Iowa Democratic Party chairman and Barack Obama adviser Gordon Fischer last night at the Obama victory party, where he shared his thoughts in this quick video clip.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Smoky Hollow's Iowa Caucus Kudos and Cowpies

Stephen Colbert has his "Tip of the Hat and Wag of the Finger."

The Des Moines Register has its "Roses and Thistles."

Welcome to the first-ever edition of Smoky Hollow's Kudos and Cowpies.

A cowpie to Hillary Clinton and Chris Dodd for failing to find Monroe County on an Iowa map. Neither of these two candidates set foot here in my county throughout the entire caucus season, despite the fact that both of them ran very active campaigns all over Iowa.

And kudos to John Edwards, Bill Richardson, Barack Obama and Joe Biden for showing us respect and coming to our part of the state to personally ask us for our support. It matters.

A cowpie to all of the top tier, second tier and third tier Republican candidates who turned their back on Monroe County by failing to come here in person and pay us a visit. Specifically, I'm talking about Mitt Romney, Mike Huckabee, Rudy Giuliani, John McCain, Fred Thompson, Ron Paul, Tom Tancredo and Duncan Hunter.

And kudos to Republicans John Cox and Tommy Thompson for visiting us in Albia. It wasn't enough to help them, but we do appreciate it.

And kudos to all of the campaign staffers who have been working their hearts out. I know what it's like to work on a campaign, and I know it's really, really hard.

A big, fat, steaming COWPIE to the campaign press staffers who did not return my phone calls. I'm not going to name names, but some of the presidential campaigns really don't want to answer questions.

And kudos to all of the news media folks who have been tromping around our state. I hope you have enjoyed your brief stay here, and I hope you'll remember how wonderful a place Iowa really is.

And finally, whole-hearted kudos to my colleagues at Iowa Independent for all of your excellent work covering the Iowa caucuses.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Caucus Eve Predictions

I love making predictions. I'm always guessing out loud what I think might happen in politics.

Sometimes I'm right, sometimes I'm wrong. Last summer I made a bet with another blogger that Fred Thompson would be the Republican presidential nominee. Whoops!?!

I've been about as closely engaged with this process as any normal human being can be. I've attended literally dozens of campaign events and met most of the candidates personally. I've watched all of the TV ads and answered the phone countless times to hear robo-calls and sometimes living, breathing campaign staffers making their case for their candidates.

I watched candidates munch pork chops at the state fair and tenderloins in Albia.

It's amazing and sort of sad that it's all going to come to an end tomorrow night. I might have to start a new hobby or something to occupy my time.

Everywhere I go, friends and acquaintances ask me who is going to win. I almost always end up boring them with a long sermon about the caucuses and each candidate before finally getting to the point that I really don't know.

But now, on the eve of the caucuses, I think I know. I'll try to avoid writing a long a boring list of predictions and explanations. There are plenty of pundits who do that all the time. I'll get straight to the point. Here's basically what I think is going to happen:

First, the Republicans...

Mike Huckabee will win the Iowa Republican caucuses, but it will be a very close victory over Mitt Romney. Neither candidate will really benefit from it. This will result in a storyline that helps John McCain in New Hampshire and further makes the Republican nomination anybody's ball game.

And the Democrats...

Barack Obama will win a decisive victory on Thursday night in Iowa, and it will go down as an historic mark in presidential politics.

John Edwards will win here in Monroe County and in many of the rural counties around the state, but he won't be able to muster enough support to place above Obama or Hillary.

Hillary's campaign will be seriously wounded after putting everything into winning and coming up short. She will limp through the rest of the early states. But that doesn't mean she won't win the Democratic nomination.