Friday, April 27, 2007

Taking the Gravel Road Less Traveled

The clear winner of last night’s Democrat Presidential “Debate” was, hands down, former Senator Mike Gravel (D-Alaska).
Gravel details his political rebirth, explaining how he metamorphosed from underneath an Alaskan rock, where he'd been hiding for the past 10 years

Why was Gravel the big winner?

Choose the answer that BEST fits:

A) Before last night, most people had never even heard of Mike Gravel, including people who have lived in Alaska their entire lives*
B) He actually answered some of the questions asked with “candor” and “honesty”
C) He had absolutely nothing to lose but his dignity, which, for the sake of Democracy and mankind, he was willing to sacrifice early on**
D) Political pundits have dismissed the legitimacy of his candidacy by calling him “crazy,” which is a prerequisite for running for President in the first place, thus making him a bonefied candidate
E) Usng rhetorical precision skills worthy of Edward Scissorhand, he managed to not only distinguish himself from the other candidates but a “potted plant” as well*
F) Performance may have helped him seal Howard Stern’s endorsement
G) The Sanjaya Effect: Helped shore up his Loser voter base
H) ALL of the above

*In a post-debate interview, when asked where he’d been the last 30 years, Gravel responded, “Living under a rock for the past 10 years.”

**To end the Iraq War, proposed Congress should pass a law that would make it a felony for the Bush administration to continue to prosecute it. (Traditional thinking would indicate that Bush would VETO this bill, but maybe, just maybe, using reverse psychology and tapping into Bush’s hubris reserves, may prove otherwise.)

***In the world of grassroots politics, one should never underestimate the power of the “potted plant.”

A recent Political Fallout poll shows a Ficus Plant leading all GOP presidential contenders in Iowa

For those of you who didn’t get a chance to see Gravel in action, check out the video clip on “Crooks and Liars.”

Best live-blogging depiction of Mike Gravel goes to John Deeth:

“Mike Gravel made Dennis seem positively moderate; There were a few good lines and ideas that would have sounded fine in the calm measured voice of a George McGovern, but his overall tone through the debate seemed to be along the lines of Grandpa telling those darn kids to get the hell off my lawn, saying the other candidates “scared” him.”

After Gravel’s performance debut, I imagine the corporate bi-partisan National Commission on Presidential Debates is carefully sifting though their bylaws, trying to figure out how to create a loophole to silence him. If only our lawmakers implored the same vigilance before voting in favor of the Patriot Act; who knows, maybe Mike Gravel would still be living under a rock in Alaska...

Thursday, April 26, 2007

48 Hours: “The Heat is ON” for VOICE

Are my eyes deceiving me, or did House Speaker Pat Murphy just stick a banana in the tailpipe of the 'Clean Elections' bill?"

With less than 48 hours left in this year’s Iowa legislative session, there’s no time to look back, especially with regard to the fate of VOICE (Voter-Owned Iowa Clean Elections). By the way, how come you never hear anyone complaining about lawmakers having summers, falls and half of springs off? But I digress --unless you answered this rhetorical conundrum: “So they can raise barrels of money for the next election.”

Despite the heat from activists or what Yepsen calls “L*beral H*otheads,” the bill (HSB 105) has been sitting on a House Appropriations subcommittee backburner for weeks.

It’s time to turn up the heat and make one final push to keep VOICE from suffering a tragic and untimely "Death by Committee." The Horror! The Horror!

Speaking of which, let’s take time for yet another mini-round of…

“Deconstructing Yepsen: Tales from the Intellectually Lazy”

In Yepsen’s latest diatribe, “Get more from Legislature: Sell ideas to people first,” Yepsen comes down from the burning political bush (stoked with old clippings of his previous columns I’m sure) and attempts to impart some words-of-wisdom to Iowa Lawmakers – before they depart for home.

1. VOICE: Who’s selling what and to whom?

Yepsen: "There are a lot (of*) things this Legislature could have done to make Iowa a better place. They didn't do them. Why? The answer is the people of Iowa weren't sold. The gestation period for good ideas in this state is often several years. Groups that take their case to the people often have more success than those that don't."

*added by Political Fallout editor

Lazy Intellectual Response: The problem with VOICE is that lawmakers, especially leaders on both sides of the aisle, had already been bought, so they weren’t in the market for buying VOICE. Had VOICE been marketed by the Democrat leaders, especially in the House where it’s been shelved indefinitely, this bill would be on Governor Culver’s desk, awaiting his landmark signature. Regarding the gestation period for good ideas, Yepsen’s clearly projecting; your readership is still waiting, David. Any day now…

2. VOICE: A Cautionary Tale

Yepsen: "Lesson: If you can mobilize public opinion for an issue or cause, the hearts and minds of legislators will follow - or you'll be in a better position to get new legislators."

Lazy Intellectual Response: Agree. Although, Yepsen left out "pocketbook" (the hearts, minds, and pocketbooks…). Should VOICE fail to even make it to the floor for a debate and vote, it will come back to haunt some legislators. This is precisely why it hasn’t made it to the floor: Who wants to be on record for having voted against “Clean Elections,” eh?

3. The Peoples’ Purchasing Power?

Yepsen: "The lesson for those trying to get the Legislature to do something is simple: Sell the voters first."

Lazy Intellectual Response: Without VOICE, it’s a Buyer’s Market for legislators, not the other way around. It's time for Iowa Voters to flip the equation.

4. The debate about debates

Yepsen: "Other issues in Iowa lend themselves to a few years of debate. Iowa's income, sales and property tax systems need overhaul. Each year, lawmakers tweak here and there, but comprehensive change seems elusive. The same is true for local control of hog lots, or using public dollars to pay for political campaigns or tax breaks for rainforests."

Lazy Intellectual Response: But how can a debate occur if the issues are held in captivity by Senate and House leaders? Not to mention, Pam Jochum has introduced a public campaign funding bill every year for over 10 years, so when does it merit a debate? Besides, preserving logic and Democracy is not like preserving fine wine, but rather, only serves to erode both of them, eh David?

5. "Never put off until tomorrow what you can do the day after tomorrow." ~Mark Twain

Yepsen: "While there were many disappointments and shortcomings to this session, there's time over the summer and fall to correct some of them. Democratic lawmakers should use these months between adjournment and the start of next January's session for an aggressive series of interim studies on a host of issues facing Iowa. Do the research. Hear from the experts. Draft well constructed bills."

Lazy Intellectual Responder: That goes double for political pundits writing for major corporate newspaper outlets. The beauty of being a lazy intellectual is not having to do the research, or at least being held accountable by shareholders, or worse, special interests’ contributors. By the way, VOICE is a well constructed bill and has been successful in states with smaller gestation periods (e.g. Maine & Arizona).

Note to House Speaker Pat Murphy: It's not too late to pull the banana out...

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Iowa Civil Rights Bill FINALLY Hits House Floor

In the 2007 Iowa legislative session, the Democrat Majority stood up for human corpses, protecting them from mutilation. They took a stand against the widespread epidemic of flag desecration, amending Iowa’s unconstitutional law to make it less unconstitutional. And just yesterday they vowed to protect “sleepy smokers” from burning to death, while sleeping when they enacted legislation that would mandate self-extinguishing cigarettes.

And now, FINALLY, after considerable pressure from civil rights activists, the Iowa House is going to debate SF 427 today. The amendment will extend rights to gays, bisexuals, and transgendered individuals, protecting them from discrimination in employment, housing, education, credit, and public accommodations. The amendment will add “gender identity” and “sexual orientation” to the existing law. The amendment defines these terms as follows:

"Gender identity" means a gender=related identity, appearance, expression, or behavior of a person, regardless of the person's assigned sex at birth.

"Sexual orientation" means actual or perceived heterosexuality, homosexuality, or bisexuality.

Despite these proposed changes, some members of Iowa congress still have some reservations, hence the prolonged procrastination of the long-overdue debate on the House floor. Why the delay is dumbfounding, but not surprising -- given the new Democrat Majority’s Trifectaphobia. Apparently, protecting one’s political longevity trumps the protection of one’s human dignity. Lawmakers had no problem adding “sexual orientation” to the Bully Bill, which already passed with flying colors, but extending the same protections beyond the K-12 classroom walls ran into some roadblocks.

Besides, homophobia and the closeted fear of committing political suicide, the amendment ran into a few other obstacles, especially from members of the business community. The last barrier lawmakers had to break down, thus paving the way for today’s debate was what I’ll call the “Klinger Conundrum.” Employers wanted to maintain sovereignty of their “dress codes as they see appropriate.” Imbibed with watching too many M*A*S*H reruns, employers had unsubstantiated fears that the amendment would lead to a surge in cross-dressing at the work place.

The Klinger Conundrum: Posterboy of Homophobia in the Work Place?

Even in the closeted Underworld of Homophobia, I guess you have to draw the line somewhere. Right?
Stop the Fallout NOW!...

Move to Act (Bleeding Heartland)

Civil Rights Bill Update (J. Deeth)

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Deconstructing Yepsen: Tales from the Intellectually Lazy

While raising money for an "Intellectually Lazy" charity event, David Shark-Toothed Yepsen devours a H*thead L*beral Activist.
Just when you thought it was safe to read the “Des Moines Register” again (cue Jaws’ theme music here), David Yepsen opened his mouth and attempted to unleash some analysis of the Iowa Legislature’s 2007 session. Similar to the Democrat Majority’s approach of playing it safe this year, Yepsen’s scratch-‘n’-surf political analysis has avoided catching any major waves.

It was only a matter of time before the little voice inside Yepsen’s head would resurface as well as Yepsen’s trademark style and dependency on chopped logic and logical fallacies. Let’s take an “intellectually lazy” look at some of Yepsen’s analytical tells in his latest diatribe, “High hopes deflate the 2007 legislative session”:

1. When all else fails, blame Satan, or worse, teachers and public employees.

Yepsen: “Today, Democrats are more influenced by various spending constituencies, such as teacher and public-employee unions.”

Lazy Intellectual Response: Why does Yepsen continue to scapegoat unions and bash teachers? This may mean delving into Yepsen’s psyche and probing his pre-pubescent schooling experiences with a teacher who permanently scarred young David. I’m not sure I want to step into the dark side, where I may encounter a stack of Yepsen’s analysis papers submerged in a sea of blood-red ink. In Yepsen’s defense, teachers make great targets for scapegoatinly lazy people and for writers who are too lazy to look up scathing adverbs (e.g. scapegoatingly), so make up their own instead.

2. Attack “the Left” (code word for L*berals).

Yepsen: “Some on the left have grown so intellectually lazy they can only measure success by how much more they spend - not by any results they get.”

Lazy Intellectual Response: None. Irony speaks for itself.

3. Attack “the Left” (code word for L*beral Activists) Part II.

Yepsen: “Last week, for example, a profane shouting match erupted in the rotunda between some of these folks (L*beral Activists) and Democratic leader Mike Gronstal. They want public funding of election campaigns. He knows most Iowans don't want to use public money to pay for politics, and that Republicans would just find other ways to spend their money to defeat Democrats. So, he and other Democrats are saying no, and tempers flared. So ... one thing to watch in coming weeks is how centrist Democratic legislators and the liberal hotheads patch up their differences.”

Lazy Intellectual Response: Had David done his homework, he may have discovered that a nonpartisan poll conducted by Public Campaign found that 74% of those polled favored public campaign financing. What most Iowans don’t want is their elected officials spending their time raising over $500,000 for an election they’re either not running in (e.g. Sen. Gronstal) or they’re running unopposed (e.g. Rep. Rants).

4. Lose your temper and resort to name calling.

Yepsen: "So ... one thing to watch in coming weeks is how centrist Democratic legislators and the liberal hotheads patch up their differences.”

Lazy Intellectual Response: Hey now, simmer down big fella. No need to get testy and call people “hotheads,” or worse, a “centrist.” Feelings don’t grow on trees, you know? Besides, in the incident Yepsen’s referencing, a VOICE activist called Gronstal a “Republican in Democrat Clothing,” and it was Gronstal who lost his temper and responded with, “…Kiss my ass” before stomping off and dropping an F-Bomb from afar. So, who’s the hothead here, David? Had you or your paper covered this story, maybe your name calling would’ve been properly aligned with the proper subjects. Golly David, seeing how the Newspaper Association has been actively lobbying against the VOICE bill, maybe you’re right about one thing: the Democrats ARE being influenced by some spending constituencies. Meow.

Although Yepsen’s little voice did resurface in his latest effort, David did refrain from injecting his Political Editorial Omniscient (P.E.O.) narrator into his commentary. Although, Yepsen did resort to using slanted language and name-calling, which may be construed by the intellectually lazy as a step backwards in his political punditry progress. But how would I know, I’m nothing but a L*beral H*thead. (cue Jaws' theme music here)
Cross-posted at “Surviving Yepsen

Monday, April 23, 2007

Even the Losers Get Lucky Sometimes…

Americans are obsessed with losers, and thanks to the foresight of the Republican Majority 80th U.S. Congress, which led the Twenty-second Amendment drive nearly fifty years ago, we don’t have to worry about electing a loser for the third time. Whew! Although, in the world of politics, losing does have its distinct plusses; just ask Al Gore, whose recent success with the “Inconvenient Truth” may not have happened had he won (the Supreme Court’s ruling) in 2000. And we all know what happened to the popular vote loser, eh? (see pic)

And then there’s John Kerry, who…never mind. Although, his high-priced Democrat campaign consultant, Bob Shrum, keeps rolling in the dough, despite his 0-7 win-loss record in the presidential campaign consulting biz. (Hey Bob, I heard the Oakland Raiders are looking for another coach to hop on Al Davis’s Losers’ Carousel of Musical Coaches.) Howard Dean’s unraveling in ‘04 landed him a gig as head honcho of the Democratic National Committee. Jim Nussle’s trouncing by Chet Culver paved the way for Jimmy the Hustler to become the top consultant of Giuliani’s campaign in Iowa. Tom Vilsack’s failed presidential bid not only helped him ensnare a Sugar Mama, Hillary Just Hillary, who’s helping him pay off his $400,000+ campaign debt, but Vilsack also procured national co-chairman of Hillary, Inc. Losing in politics pays dividends. In fact, I’m contemplating testing this theory with a possible ’08 presidential bid:

My Campaign Motto: “I’m in to Lose!”

Campaign Slogan: “If a loser like you-know-who can win twice, a loser like me can win at least once.”

Campaign Theme Songs: Bob Seeger’s “Beautiful Loser,” & Tom Petty’s “Even the Losers (Get Lucky Sometimes)”

Campaign Mantra/Battle Cry: John Wesley Harding’s “The Patron Saint of Losers”

…Deliver me, deliver me from that which I've undone
Cos if you're looking for a loser, I might just be one
Martyrdom's the only thing that faguely turns me on
Cos I'm the Patron Saint…

Although, I’m a wee bit hesitant to test the “Political Loser Theory,” especially since Iowa’s very own Sal Mohamed’s candidacy has yet to resonate and pay off. Sal’s distant fourth-place finish in the ’06 Iowa Democrat Primary has yet to catapult him into the spotlight of fame and fortune.

Speaking of politics and losers, fallen “American Idol” loser, Sanjaya Malakar (see pic), has been making the rounds on the prime-time circuit, spreading his message of hope to fellow losers across America, who have come to depend upon Sanjaya to help them make it through the minutia of the day. Thanks for helping keep my dreams alive, Sanjaya.

Sanjaya appeared on “The Tonight Show” last Thursday and is scheduled to show up on the "Late Show with David Letterman" tonight; not to mention he's landed gigs on "Live with Regis and Kelly"and "The Ellen DeGeneres Show." Sanjaya’s recent loser phenomenon reminds me of another loser, only in the world of Olympic Ski Jumping. In the 1988 Winter Olympics, Great Britain’s Eddie “the Eagle” Edwards (see pic) became quite a phenomenon after finishing dead last in every ski jump event. While his performance embarrassed the British and the ski-jump sports world, Eddie “the Eagle” was embraced by Americans; he too made his rounds on the talk-show circuit. In response to the Edwards' phenomenon, in 1990 the International Olympic Committee (IOC) instituted what became known as the "Eddie the Eagle Rule," which requires Olympic hopefuls to compete in international events and place in the top 30 percent or the top 50 competitors. Apparently not everyone has a soft spot in their hearts for our beloved losers. I wonder if “American Idol” plans on instituting the Sanjaya Rule?

On Saturday night, Sanjaya was invited to the White House Correspondent Dinner, where he would join fellow losers, George Bush and ‘80s throwback comedian, Rich Little. I though he was dead? I made a late-night run to McDonalds to get a chocolate milkshake, and lo and behold, there ol’ Rich was broadcasted live on McTelevisions. (Warning: Mixing FOX TV with McDonalds can be fatally toxic to your mind and body. It’s recommended to sample both separately and in moderation, although Political Fallout recommends abstaining from both.)

The only joke I happened to catch was a bit about lawyers and assholes. Rich used the word assholes not once but twice. I think it may have been the same joke he intended to use 22 years ago, before FOX TV’s conception, when it was blacklisted by the media censors. Although I found the joke old school, the young kids standing in line in front of me, who were waiting for their Happy Meals, thought it was a real hoot. So much for playing it too safe.

Ho Hummmm…

How about a rerun from last year’s White House Correspondent Dinner, when Stephen Colbert, thanks to divine intervention, was invited to roast President Bush and the media:

I’m guessing Colbert wasn’t invited back to this year’s festivities. What a loser, huh?

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Every Day is Earth Day, eh?

Many moons ago, local Iowa City band, Dagobah (formerly Captain Barney), hit the biodegradable nail on the head with their song, “Every Day is Earth Day.” Unfortunately, the prospect of acting as Mother Earth’s steward 365 days a year was too daunting a task for most Americans, so in 1970, on the 22nd day of April, Senator Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin created Earth Day. After witnessing an oil spill off the cost of Santa Barbara in 1969, Nelson was inspired to make his Earth Day declaration, which has grown to be the largest secular holiday in the world, although remains a distant second to the secular Christmas holiday celebrated in the United States.

Like Hallmark, the creators of Valentines Day who set aside one day of the year when people can think about love and what it symbolizes (greeting cards, flowers, chocolates, and teddy bears with hearts embroidered on their chests), Nelson wanted to earmark one day each year when people could think about the plight of Mother Earth and what it symbolizes (your environmental platitude here).

Similarly, politicians take their environmental cues on Earth Day by trading in their suits for a pair of crisp Carhart jeans, a pair of working boots, and a long-sleeved work shirt (usually rolled up to mid-forearm to indicate that they’re willing to get their hands dirty, but not too dirty, for they have to go back to the office tomorrow morning and spend the next 364 days ignoring environmental issues).

Speaking of ignoring the environment, it looks like Iowa’s 82nd General Assembly has pretty much swept most of the major environmental reforms underneath Mother Earth’s rug, either completely ignoring them or killing them off in committee. Despite overwhelming public support for CAFO (Confined Animal Feeding Operation) Regulation (HF 873), the Trifectaphobic Democrat Majority appears determined to kill this bill, taking their cues from Culver’s newly overhauled Agribusiness Protection Committee. The only major environmentally-related bill still on the table is Governor Culver’s highly touted $100 million Power Fund. Although, given the amount of money raised for Iowa offices in last year’s elections and the descriptor “power,” it’s hard to tell if Culver’s talking about campaign or renewable energy funds.

But we cannot sit around and wait for politicians to take action to protect Mother Earth’s borders; we must take it upon ourselves to ensure Her safety.

Political Fallout’s Things YOU Can Do to Help Protect Mother Earth’s Borders:

1. Whenever somebody tells you Global Warming is a hoax, open up a can of Lysol on ‘em and spray it in their eyes and say, “How does that feel? You think Mother Earth likes it? Huh? Do you? Huh?” (Note: This is a dramatization and is only meant to be played out in your imagination.)

2. Participate in the “Litterbug Catch and Release Program.” Any time you see somebody litter or flick their cigarette butt on the ground, apprehend them and call the authorities, who will arrest them and either release them in the Iowa River or sentence them to hard time in the city land fill (formerly known as “The Dump”).

3. Play a rousing game of “Capture a Young Republican,” whose 2000 Earth Day motto was "EARTH FIRST! We'll log Earth first, other planets later!" Once all the Young Republicans in your area have been captured, have them deported to the Amazon Rain Forest, where we’ve already helped deplete a significant portion of their trees.

4. Bring in Iowa’s National Guard and have both remaining members take turns guarding Mother Nature’s borders around the clock, keeping Her secure from Us 24/7.

More Earth Day Fallout:

“Basu: Leadership key to environment” (Des Moines Register)