Community blogs

November 3, 2012
In the closing days of the election, there are two important Congressional seats in my backyard that may be early indicators of changes that might occur in the new House.. In Iowa, long-time incumbent and one of the most conservative members of the GOP controlled House is Steve King. He has been popular among Tractor County folks, a major advocate for corporate farmers, and outspoken voice against immigration reform. He is being challenged, even in Sioux County (the most conservative in the state, if not the nation), by the popular and high profile Christie Vilsack, wife of Iowa's former governor and current Sec. of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack. This is the first serious opponent to face King in years, who has blown away any token Democratic opponent.  But recently, King's extremist rhetoric has increasingly become an embarrassment to independents and even moderate Republicans in Northwest Iowa.  One other difference in this election is that his district was...
July 26, 2012
We recently finished a national survey of 1,009 registered voters. Among the questions were items designed to tap voter preferences for the type of candidate (minority, woman, moderate or religious conservative, Mitt Romney should pick as VP. It seems fairly clear from the data, the Romney would be best served by picking a moderate vice president. There are several reasons to treat the findings with caution.   First, we are referring to types of candidates (minority, woman, moderate, or religious conservative) and not to specific individuals. There is a parallel to this type of question and questions asking about generic Republicans or Democrats where respondents can read a preferred candidate (or stereotype) into the question. Second, ideological terms can themselves be problematic. In highly partisan and polarized era, what exactly is a moderate? Or people responding to an understanding based on issues and ideology? Probably not. Third, majorities across each type...
February 5, 2012
Now entering his second term, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal remains one of the nation’s most fascinating politicians. His reelection campaign in 2011 was a tour de force, a textbook study in how to run for reelection. Raise large sums of money, deter serious opposition, control your message, and take nothing for granted. In what may be his most understated achievement, he deflated Louisiana politics of its raucous carnival-like atmosphere and won easily in a “boring” election.  Indeed, with the outcome largely a foregone conclusion, only 37.4% of Louisiana’s voting age population bothered casting a ballot, a sign perhaps of both contentment and apathy. Despite his political success, however, there remains lingering criticisms from his first term. Jealously guarding his approval ratings and with his eyes focused squarely on national politics, he was too often cautious and risk averse.  With an incredible reservoir of political capital following...
January 11, 2012
Mitt Romney’s New Hampshire win was unsurprising but nevertheless significant.  Not only does he become the first Republican non-incumbent to win in both Iowa and New Hampshire, he moves one step closer to securing the Republican nomination. First, public opinion polls in South Carolina and Florida now show Romney with a comfortable lead. The most recent numbers from South Carolina (conducted from January 5 – January 7) put Romney up by 7 points.  In Florida, polling data shows Romney with a 12 point  lead.  Polling from before Romney’s eight vote Iowa victory showed Gingrich significantly ahead in South Carolina and Gingrich and Romney in a dead heat in Florida. Mitt Romney is now well-positioned to win in both states. Second, while much has been made about the not-Romney vote in this cycle, it has yet to coalesce around a single candidate. Rick Santorum’s second place finish in Iowa is unlikely to be replicated,...
December 18, 2011
The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, But in ourselves, that we are underlings I almost always recoil when I hear people complain about our choices in presidential candidates. "Why can't we get any good candidates?"   I would argue there is nothing wrong with the field but something profoundly wrong with us, the voters, and with a process that highlights every flaw and pounces on every misstatement.  Think about the current Republican field: The architect of the 1994 Republican Revolution, a former Speaker, and one of the more fascinating political figures in contemporary politics. Hate Newt Gingrich if you must, but he has already earned his place in the history books as the key player in the Republican Revolution.  A former Massachusetts Governor who won as a Republican in a Democratic state and ushered in the most comprehensive health reform in the nation. Romney may run from the accomplishment in Republican nominating contests...
June 16, 2011
I heard somewhere that when a person dies that they actually experience three deaths. The first is when they stop breathing and their heart stops. The second is when their remains are given back to the earth; and the third is after the the last person alive ever thinks of them.   We lost my wife's father this last November, his name was Averill, and he was 82. Averill lived in a house above us, and he was a big part of our lives. He was cut from a cloth of honesty, loyalty, dedication, and old fashioned hard work. I could go on and on, and Averill deserves that, but he wouldn't want it. So I'll stop.   Sometimes, generally in warm breezy weather, (I don't know why) I think back to when my dad was alive. He and I were both young when cancer claimed him. I was five and he was twenty-nine when he heard his terminal verdict. Six years later he was gone. I re-live my memories of him over and over, because I guess that is all I have. My wife, Katrica, can...
June 13, 2011
It has been a while since I have posted from Lincoln City. To bring you up to date, Lincoln City is a small coastal town in Oregon. Business is seasonal and is becoming less so. This year due to global climate change we lost our spring. Our average temperature is ten degrees below normal and it has rained almost everyday.   We try to market “Storm Watching” during our foul weather season (now nine months long), but it is not long before the tourists wake up an realize that they have come just to watch the rain. Something they could have easily done at home; after all this is Oregon.   As you might guess, during the rainy season we spend a lot of time indoors. Generally in front of a fire we have plenty of time on our hands to grouse about mostly local issues and a few national issues or events thrown in as spice. As citizens we have a history of entertaining ourselves with local discord, after all Lincoln City was born in turmoil.   Before 1965...
May 30, 2011
Today we celebrate Memorial Day.  The last Monday in May marks our taking time to remember those Americans killed in our nation's wars. As most national holidays it has morphed into its own unique weekend where we carry out many family and community traditions like watching the Indianapolis 500 (held on Memorial Day weekend for nearly 100 years now), getting out the family barbecue grill and relaxing for the long weekend away from work and school.  Many still attend the typically American parades featuring the usual mix of marching bands, Boy Scout and Girl Scout troops, Veterans' organizations, public officials, and of course veterans themselves marching in time's honor of their fallen comrades. In this "Emptying Nest" in the Patchwork Nation here in Clermont, Florida I went down to the new pavilion at Waterfront Park on Lake Minneola where a couple hundred...
May 24, 2011
Sunday's tornado broke the heart of the Evangelical Ozarks. The deadliest in fifty years, its devastation continues to horrify. To be sure, Ozarkers are no strangers to severe weather. As Vance Randolph wrote way back in 1947, "There are occasional violent tornadoes or cyclones in the Ozark country. I have seen long lines of big trees uprooted in the timber, and sometimes one of these storms destroys a settlement with considerable loss of life." Even more chilling is the ballad legendary Ozarks musician Almeda Riddle sang about the Heber Springs tornado of 1926: They saw th lightning flashing They heard th thunder roar Such tears were in that city As never known before And as the storm came near them They heard th people cry O, Lord, have mercy on us Is this our time to die In a recording from 1970, Riddle apologized for skipping a stanza. As she told song collector Max Hunter, "For some reason I choke up on that one. As you know, my husband and son...
May 17, 2011
It is spring in Lincoln City and all that is blossoming is not good.