The Calendar

When an Iowa political blog mentions the calendar — everyone knows that the calender in question is the caucus/primary process of the two political parties. Most importantly it refers to Iowa's first in the nation caucuses.

John Deeth has a post today on the Democrat reform committee recommendations. There will be changes to the so-called superdelegates. But Deeth asks the most important question, what about Iowa? Deeth says:

…the new rules say nothing before February 1st, and only four states before March 12.

Next month's Saturday (1/23) caucus is supposedly part of the deal, a bone thrown to Hillary Clinton's argument that a weeknight discourages attendance. That'd put us on Saturday 2/4/2012, with New Hampshire probably Tuesday 2/12, Nevada Saturday 2/17 and South Carolina on Tuesday 2/19.

The million dollar question: will the GOP cooperate? What if Iowa Republicans start playing leapfrog and land on January 21 or 14? Which takes precedent: Iowa's 30 year tradition of the parties going on the same date, or the Democratic Party rules?

Keeping in mind that I am no longer on the Republican State Central Committee and do not speak for the Republican Party of Iowa — I have some thoughts on the issue.

First, Saturday Caucus: I posted on this issue before. The Saturday Caucus idea came from RPI. The Democrats already had a date and we suggested that they join us in trying a Saturday in order to increase attendance in the off year. This was not a concession to the Hillary camp.

They key phrase here is off year. However, with President Obama eligible for re-election, 2012 will be an off-year for Democrats but not for Republicans — especially Iowa Republicans. In a year with no incumbent Republican president, the caucuses are huge for the candidates, the GOP and RPI. Putting them on a weekend, outside the normal news cycle is unthinkable. This was diuscussed when the original Saturday caucus proposal was made to the SCC.

Second, February: I am not sure what machinations the RNC will go through in setting dates for nominating contests vs. caucuses like Iowa that do not actually nominate delegates. But Iowa will advocate for first in the nation even if it means January 3rd like 2008.

Third, there is a 30 year tradition of keeping the same date. While I would like to see that tradition continue, both RPI and IDP will work to remain first. While it does not matter to the Democrats this time, if they give up first in the nation now — it sets a precedent for the future.

My prediction is that the Iowa GOP will hold its 2012 caucuses in January, on a Tuesday night and that ultimately Iowa Democrats will follow suit.

Airport Insecurity

Readers of this blog may not know that I am a frequent flyer. Now, I am not the 350,000 mile per year type like George Clooney in; Up in the Air

. On the other hand, I am in the top tier of my airline, hotel and car rental programs and Marriott recently sent me a postcard and a nice gift for my 1,000th night. So, I have more than a passing interest in airport security.

Last week an Islamic terrorist detonated an explosive device on NW 253 (AMS-DTW), I flight that I have taken twice this year. I was incredulous when Homeland Security Secretary, Janet Napolitano said,

… everybody reacted as they should the system ― once the incident occurred, the system worked.

The system worked? Let's see, an Islamic extremist, from Nigeria, who was on a watch list,  whose father had warned the US intelligence and law enforcement community that his son had been radicalized and was capable of carrying out an attack, was able to board a US bound, US flagged aircraft with an explosive device. Due to incompetence, luck, or providence, the device burned and did not explode. After the attack the terrorist was subdued by passengers.

This is Secretary Napolitano's picture of a system that works? If the system worked, why the changes in airport security? You know the old saying:

If it ain't broke don't fix it..

The problem is ― the system is broken. The system did not work. Further the enhanced security measures that have been put in place since the terrorist attack will do nothing to improve actual security.

Some of the measures that DHS has mandated include requiring passengers to remain seated (including locking the lavatory doors) in the last hour of a flight, turning of the flight positioning (tracking) display on the in-flight entertainment system and my favorite, not allowing books, magazines or blankets in passenger laps during the last hour of a flight.

Requiring passengers to remain seated during the last hour is ridiculous. If a standing passenger is a threat at the end of a flight, are they less of a threat in the middle of a flight? I have trouble imagining what threat this rule is designed to counter. I agree with security expert Bruce Schneier who asserts:

Only two things have made flying safer [since 9/11]: the reinforcement of cockpit doors, and the fact that passengers know now to resist hijackers.

Turning off the in-flight tracking (that shows the plane position on a map) is also silly. All it takes to estimate the plane's position in flight is a watch or even looking out the window. The net result is that you can't watch a movie on the flight but there is no real increase in security.

Likewise, the lap ban makes no more sense again since it applies only to the last hour of flight.

I think the best thing we could do to improve air security would be to fire Janet Napolitano and get a DHS secretary who actually knows something about security.

Good News!

Good News from the front page of the Cedar Rapids Gazette:

MERRY CHRISTMAS TO YOU

And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.

And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.

Luke 2: 8-11

It is great to live here in the heartland.

Punishing our elected officials

Democrat Linn County Auditor, Joel Miller has come under scrutiny recently over the firing of Deputy Commissioner of Elections, Sue Wold last week. Wold has served in the office for 31 years. However, as a political appointee, she serves at the pleasure of the auditor.

Miller said that the firing was necessary in order to bring in someone with a different skill set to provide better accountability in both county purchasing and elections.

Honestly, I don’t have an opinion on the firing. Today I heard Miller on WMT Radio’s Andy Peterson Show. He said that elected officials were reluctant to take this sort of action because they might find themselves punished by being ‘on the hot seat’ in the radio studio or on the front page of the Gazette. He mentioned having fired people in the private sector without being subject to public scrutiny.

When I heard that I had to focus on keeping the car on the road. Did Miller really say that? Peterson caught it too — punishment? Since when did public scrutiny of elected officials become a form of punishment?

Let me say this clearly:

Dear Mr. Miller,

You,and any other elected official who consider public scrutiny a form of punishment, need to remember that you work for us. We have every right to question and scrutinize your actions. If you consider this punishment, may I suggest that you find a different form of employment.

Sincerely,
HawkeyGOP

HD37 — The Main Event

Last fall in Linn County’s House District 37, my friend Renee Schulte defeated the incumbent, Art Staed by 13 votes. Given the razor thin margin, everyone knew that this race would be targeted in 2010.

Renee has been working hard already. She has been out door-knocking and this week — until the blizzard interfered — my crew and I were going to do a lit drop for her. (My crew of Chung children think that lit drop is a synonym for Dairy Queen.)

Many of us have been speculating who the Democrats would run to attempt to regain the seat. Well, today according to the CR Gazette, there is at least on Democrat in the running. The Gazette reports that Mark Seidl a Cedar Rapids attorney will challenge Schulte for the seat.

It’s time to get to work!

Bill the BeanWalker

Congratulations to Bill Schickel new editor of The Bean Walker. Bill is a former state representative and current member of the State Central Committee. I got to know BIll while serving on the SCC. Bill is intelligent, thoughtful and definitely a stand up guy. Great choice.

According to the site, Bill has been serving as editor for a few weeks already. Cool, HawkeyeGOP has been linked twice during that time, a new record! Thanks Bill.

Fact Checking the Cedar Rapids Gazette

2nd District Congressional Candidate Christopher Reed has two big events today. First there is a fundraiser headlined by former presidential candidate Duncan Hunter. Second it is Christopher's 38th birthday. Unfortunately I'll be timing at a swim meet so I won't be able to attend.

Here is what the Gazette wrote about the event:

Hunter is traveling the country to support conservative, Republican military veterans running for office. Reed is a Navy veteran of the Vietnam War.

Vietnam? Christopher Reed is a Navy veteran but he would have been about 4 years old when Saigon fell.

Primary Leadership

There has certainly been a great deal of discussion about litmus tests and Party Leaders supporting (or not supporting) Republican Candidates. Here in Iowa, the Pocahontas County Central Committee is working on amending their constitution to direct the committee to:

… reject a nominee we find to liberal …

In a comment on this blog, Michael Ryan, the Pocahontas County Chair explained that the amendment:

Simply means we won't knock doors, call or help the candidate and make theme do it themselves without our help.

[I am not sure that I understand all of the local dynamics but Pocahontas is the county where former Republican Tom Shaw is running a campaign for HD8 as an independent.]

In this post, I want to discuss the other side of the issue. I want to discuss our party leaders and whom they choose to support, particularly in contested primaries.

The Constitution and Bylaws of the Republican Party of Iowa do not prohibit members of the State Central Committee from endorsing or even even serving on the staff of campaigns during primary elections. Just as I want to keep the RNC out of our local primaries, I also want to keep RPI out of our primaries.

I resigned my position on the SCC to keep my promise to my district. I did not want my support for Christian Fong to become a conflict of interest. Even though, Fong has dropped out of the race I have no regrets about keeping my word.

In September, I went to the District Executive Committee meeting that elected my successor on the SCC. I thought that all three candidates had promised to follow my lead and remain neutral in primaries. Perhaps my recollection is faulty because according to the Gazette, my successor has chosen to endorse a candidate in the gubernatorial primary.

In 2010, we as a party will be electing new members to the State Central Committee. All district representatives will be up for re-election. (National Committee reps will be up for re-election at the 2012 state convention and the chair, co-chair, secretary and treasurer are elected by the SCC in January of the presidential election year.)

In order to prevent even the appearance of conflicts of interest. I believe SCC members should not endorse nor accept paid staff or consultant positions with campaigns during primaries. I would encourage my fellow Republicans to elect members to the SCC who will pledge to remain neutral in our Republican primaries.

Litmus Tests

Litmus Brent Oleson over at his well-written and insightful The Marion Contrarian blog recently wrote on the proposed litmus test (or purity test) that will be presented at the Winter meeting of the Republican National Committee in Hawaii. The proposal lists 10 points with the intent that any candidate who:

… disagrees with three or more of the above stated public policy positions of the Republican National Committee, as identified by the voting record, public statements and/or signed questionnaire of the candidate, shall not be eligible for financial support and endorsement by the Republican National Committee …

The 10 points are:

  1. We support smaller government, smaller national debt, lower deficits and lower taxes by opposing bills like Obama’s “stimulus” bill;
  2. We support market-based health care reform and oppose Obama-style government run healthcare;
  3. We support market-based energy reforms by opposing cap and trade legislation;
  4. We support workers’ right to secret ballot by opposing card check;
  5. We support legal immigration and assimilation into American society by opposing amnesty for illegal immigrants;
  6. We support victory in Iraq and Afghanistan by supporting military-recommended troop surges;
  7. We support containment of Iran and North Korea, particularly effective action to eliminate their nuclear weapons threat;
  8. We support retention of the Defense of Marriage Act;
  9. We support protecting the lives of vulnerable persons by opposing health care rationing, denial of health care and government funding of abortion; and
  10. We support the right to keep and bear arms by opposing government restrictions on gun ownership; and be further

According to the Wall Street Journal, the proposal is sponsored by RNC Vice-Chairman, James Bopp Jr. of Indiana and co-sponsored by Iowa's National Committeeman, Steve Scheffler. The proposal is also supported by our National Committeewoman, Kim Lehman.

I got a chance to work with Jim Bopp on the National Platform Committee and I have made no secret of the fact that I am a social conservative. It may therefore surprise readers that I agree with Brent on this one.

In my recent post on NY 23, I said two things:

  1. I believe that party leaders should support our candidates
  2. I believe that grassroots Republicans need to work to see that the name Republican means something

I said that I was thrilled when I heard that Scozzafava was dropping out of the NY 23 house race. The real issue was that the county chairs in the district, selected a candidate who was out of step with the grassroots Republicans in the district. I don't know the details but is certainly sounded like the RNC was a part of the choice.

The attempt to implement an RNC litmus test is a symptom of the same problem. Rather than letting the grassroots select our candidates, it is once again the national party dictating their will on us. Even if the party is trying to dictate values that I largely believe in — it is still a bad idea.

There has been a lot of talk about the platform as litmus test. In the the Second Congressional District I am known as a platform geek (perhaps the platform geek). I have served on county, district, state and national Platform Committees. While I wish that all our candidates believed in the major principles in the platform — I know that is not realistic.

Ultimately, I support the one litmus test that matters — the primary. So, I will do my best to work for candidates in the primary who believe as I do.

So Kim, Steve (and Jim Bopp) if you're reading this, we here in Iowa are perfectly capable of vetting our own candidates. I don't want a conservative RNC meddling in our local races any more than I appreciated a moderate RNC doing the same.

Christian Fong

Today, my friend Christian Fong suspended his campaign for governor.

On July 9, 2009, I resigned my position as a member of the State Central Committee in order to publicly support Christian’s campaign. I did so because I saw in Christian, a man of character and integrity, a visionary with a burning desire to serve our community and state. I know Christian to be a man of great faith, deeply committed to his family and his God.

There has been a lot of buzz recently about Christian’s political future. I certainly believe that this is the beginning not the end of Christian’s political career. I know that he will continue to use his experience and talents to help preserve the Iowa Dream. With young people like Christian in our party, the future looks bright indeed.

I hope he is able to find time for Janelle and the kids in the days and weeks to come. They have all sacrificed a great deal over the past few months.

I would have been thrilled to call him governor — but I am even more pleased to call him friend.