Another year, another...
...AARP membership offer?
I mean, I realize I live in Iowa, but still.
"Our records show that you haven't yet registered for the benefits of AARP membership, even though you are fully eligible."
Their computer, it lies to them.
There's snow on the ground. Admittedly, not a lot, and I'm fairly certain it won't last out the day, but still.
There's snow. On the ground. Before October's even half over.
I made a point to sit down and watch the first Iowa gubernatorial race debate tonight.
Oh, and contacts are awesome. I predict in another couple of weeks or so, I'll be forgetting that I have them in.
But back to the debate. This being Iowa, there was much referencing of ethanol. I only rolled my eyes a little bit, given my apparently superior knowledge of just how inefficient ethanol made from corn is. They did manage to hit a few other issues, however. In the interests of only boring those who really want to be bored, I'm putting the rest below.
The two candidates are Congressman Jim Nussle (R) and current Iowa Secretary of State Chet Culver (D).
Attack ads: Nussle was first, and managed to avoid the question by giving an unasked-for opening statement and having a moment of silence for remembering the military personnel who died today. Culver made another unasked-for opening statement, and said that Nussle used attack ads first. The moderator gave both another 30 seconds since Nussle hadn't answered the question at all. Nussle says Culver has attack ads too. Culver says he had to respond to Nussle's attack ads. Throws in something about independence from foreign oil. Ardith decides they've both started off about as well as your average teenager.
Abortion: Apparently Nussle would support a ban of abortion even in the case of the life of the mother, as he didn't ever refute a statement to this effect which Culver made. I was not actually aware of this; if so, I think Nussle needs to rethink the consequences of this just a wee bit. For instance, consider if you will the case of an ectopic pregnancy, which can never come to term, and can very easily kill the mother. Other than that, mostly the same old party-line stuff.
Taxes: Fairly predictable. Nussle says we're overtaxed, Culver wants to raise the cigarette tax to, uh, prevent kids from smoking or something. Says he won't raise the gas tax, though.
Education: Raise teacher pay, raise teacher pay more. Culver wants to expand early childhood education, which I think is mostly a dumb idea. Just pay the teachers more with that money, if you're going to use it for anything. As far as college goes, it seems to be a question of buying down student loans of kids who stay to work in Iowa (Nussle), or letting highschool students earn up to a year's worth of college credit online from local community colleges (Culver). Me, I have no opinion, since I left the state for college and still managed to get back here after graduation. But I'm weird.
Health care: Nussle wants to cap medical lawsuits, and do something currently undefined about rural access to hospitals. Culver's all for insuring kids. I assume these kids are currently uninsured, although I was a bit hazy on this point. Also something about allowing small businesses to pool insurance for lower rates. Ardith has done no research, and has no real opinion.
Law enforcement: Apparently Iowa prisons are overcrowded. Culver wants to build a new one at Fort Madison. This is, of course, the place a couple of inmates escaped from last year. Nussle just says vague things about making the support of corrections officers a top priority. Both make half-hearted remarks about doing things, possibly to toughen the standards, for the Iowa graduated license program. Oh, and the sex offender laws are apparently still not tough enough, since both want to make them tougher. Nussle wants to give the worst ones GPS trackers. From my point of view, the long-term goal seems to be to shove them out of the state and make them someone else's problem.
Embryonic stem cell research: Party-line positions. Culver invokes Nobel Laureates.
Hog lots: This has been a major issue in Iowa for years. Culver quotes the New Testament (that didn't feel forced at all), favors doing happy things for the environment and allowing more local control. Nussle lays out this simple piece of logic: Iowa needs Agriculture. Biodiesel needs Agriculture. Agriculture needs Livestock. This is then followed up with something involving a 'need to be fair'.
Constitutional marriage amendment: Party-line stances. Nothing unexpected here.
Iowa job opportunities: This was just awesome. The question referred to both candidate's talk about encouraging engineering jobs, and then asked what they would do about non-engineering jobs. Because, you know, not everyone wants to be an engineer. Even I can understand this. Both candidates' response? Point out what they want to do to bring more engineering jobs to the area. 'Doh!
And, that was pretty much it. I think the most exciting part was the ad I saw before the debate, where Mike Whalen (R) accused Bruce Bailey (D) of having support from both a pro-terrorist group and the Communist Party of the USA. I think it's going to be hard to push that one from the top of my Funniest Political Ad list.