Eric Swalwell – April 28, 2019
Go Big. Be Bold. Do Good.

Eric looks a bit like Matt Damon and has very good eyesight. He is solid, calm and soft-spoken and he assured us that Donald will NOT be the president in 2020. He is a hardworking and effective Congressperson from California.

This event was a “house party” up the road from here, hosted by a group of local Democrats that calls itself the Potluck Insurgency. They seem quite organized and focussed. Maybe 60 folks milled about eating cookies and watching Eric talk to people as he gradually made his way to the dining room.

I chatted with the nice lady next to me about all the good Donald has done for our country. He has inspired a whole lot of people to pay more attention and get more involved in the democratic process. Huge swaths of American humanity are learning about the Constitution and the laws our government runs on. (I know, there was a class in high school, but I really didn’t care.) The most recent midterm elections had as many voters participating as usually do for a presidential race. Lots of people now are genuinely concerned about The Issues and sense the precariousness of our current political situation. Thanks, Donald.

Speaking of The Issues, the nice lady and I decided that is the real value of candidates like Eric. I wager he’s not going to be president, but the discussions we had with him in the dining room about gun control, climate change, the Middle East and health care as a human right were clarifying all our ideas about what exactly we should be looking for in a candidate’s policy platform. I should say, I think Elizabeth probably stands out as the one who has the most comprehensive proposals complete with arithmetic and to-do lists so far.

Go see Joe Biden tomorrow, May 1, at Big Grove in Iowa City! I saw him as a teeny tiny speck in the distance when we went to the Women’s World Cup final in Vancouver so I know first hand that he’s worth seeing.

Two podcast suggestions for you in your ongoing quest to get smarter and learn stuff: “What Trump Can Teach Us About Con Law,” and one I just started, “Constitutional” from the Washington Post.

Liz – April 26, Tipton

The last time yrmama was in Tipton it was to plead guilty to unlawful swimming with about 25 of her colleagues. It was a high school reunion on a hot afternoon and we decided to go for a swim. Someone said, “Hey, I remember a place we swam once!” So we caravanned to a beautiful old quarry full of cool cool water shaded by trees and started paddling around. Then the sheriff came and we all caravanned to the courthouse. We were in our early twenties with unfinished frontal lobes and we did unlawfully swim

On this trip to Tipton I picked up my friend Lola who told me that despite her advanced age and long tenure in Iowa had never attended a campaign event and wanted to go with me! We arrived at the Tipton Family Restaurant and got in line to Meet and Greet Elizabeth Warren 45 minutes early. The line got longer but never moved – because the building was already full. (Lola made the couple right behind us into our new friends because she grew up in Maine and they had gone there on vacation once so waiting was only cold, not unpleasant. I have to learn how to do that.)) The compromise was announced that Liz would speak to each group separately starting with the hundred or so of us outside because we were cold.

That is Lola’s grey head there right in front of yrmama’s phone. It really was up close and personal.

Suddenly she popped around the corner of the building and leapt gracefully up the steps in front of us. I took in the vibe and liked her immediately, more than I thought I would. My new friend Liz is warm and steely.

A woman in the back raised her hand and said that although she likes Senator Liz a lot, she was very disappointed by the way she and the other Democrats handled the Al Franken situation – basically, that Senator Al is one of us and despite his egregious behavior the country needs him. It wasn’t a question, just a statement of displeasure. Senator Warren listened and left a silence. Then regretfully said, “I know.” She could have been defensive or blame-laying or at least awkward, but she just left it there. A few people called out “Give him a job!” and she nodded. That exchange overlaying what I know of her solid specificity and ferocity made me love her. I bought a t-shirt.

– crickets –

So yes, no.

No candidates have visited here and none are scheduled to before the end of the April. I’m confused after the flurry of activity the first week I decided to attend every event in town…Maybe this is normal? Or do they just schedule things willy nilly with short notice? And again, is yrmama being intentionally left out?

Nonetheless, soldiering on, yrmama convened a focus group the other night. (A focus group about yrmama, not presidential candidates.) Participants included a relatively new U.S. citizen who is EXCITED about being able to vote, a wise green card holder who has never voted in this country and one with dual citizenship in Canada and the U.S. who has also never voted. The latter is not disinterested in the welfare of the country but rather has chosen so far to engage through prayer rather than politics. This Latter is also considering voting this time around. Pray AND vote, I say, like pray AND call an ambulance. All teasing aside, I respect the Latter’s choice to keep it real and keep it spiritual. The Latter is not wrong. More on yrmama’s religious tendencies another time.

Any-wayz, the results came in quickly and the focus group agreed that yrmama’s relatively know-nothing approach to the caucuses is fine and in fact more than fine. It makes yrmama’s coverage of the race more interesting by virtue of being personal and less intimidating by not being remotely journalistic. If you disagree feel free to unsubscribe.

I will see and perhaps take a selfie with Elizabeth Warren on Friday by driving either to Tipton or Clinton. She is going to be closer, in Cedar Rapids on Thursday, but is charging $20 and I’m too cheap for that.

  • yrmama joined a book club devoted to reading all of the political autobiographies of current democratic candidates before caucus day on 2/3/20. We are currently reading Pete’s book, The Shortest Way Home.

Tulsi Gabbard – Tuesday April 16

Tulsi only talks to the cool kids at Yotopia.

I have a fear of being intentionally left out of things, but Tulsi’s failure to invite yrmama out for froyo yesterday was probably not intentional. I just didn’t hear about it and am trying to believe no one is plotting “let’s do it, just don’t tell yrmama.” This is a slow week for Democratic candidates in Iowa City, but I guess not as slow as I thought. Representative Gabbard is from Hawaii, Hindu and running for president, can’t tell you much else. The photos make it look like about 40 people showed up.

Later yesterday afternoon my boy Pete Buttigieg made 1600 people appear at a junior high in DesMoines – an event they’d planned for about 50. When one of the little group of protesters that was following him around all day shouted something about “Sodom and Gomorrah” (because Pete is gay? idk. jk.) he waited until the crowd was done drowning out the yeller and said, “The good news, is the condition of my soul is in the hands of God, but the Iowa caucuses are up to you.”

Julian Castro – Political Party Live at The Mill – Sunday April 14

Rep. Joaquin Castro, left, and his twin brother, Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro.

Locally made podcast The Political Party has been interviewing presidential candidates who will sit down with them. So far they’ve snagged Kamala, Andrew Yang, Beto and last night, Julian Castro. Julian is an identical twin and his brother Joaquin is a congressman so that’s pretty fun.

Event-wise having food and beer was a huge plus. The audience had to really squish in too so we actually interacted with the stranger humans sharing our booth.

Spoken word artist Steven Willis opened for him and he was so good it felt rude to be taking bites of my Cobb salad while he performed. Julian is great, personable, young and experienced – he was Secretary of HUD during the Obama administration. I left wondering if Julian is tough enough – a leader needs a big personality, not just all the right answers.

Now this sweetie pie ——————>

on the other hand, with his very understated manner and mid-western humility oddly does seem to have a stealthy kind of ferocity that could go head to head with Donald.

John Hickenlooper meets and greets – Friday April 12

The former governor of Colorado held an event at Backpocket Brewery neatly straddling the time yrmama needed to pick up her daughter, Serena Williams, from tennis practice at City High. It was only the third campaign event of the week, but I just wasn’t feeling it and decided it was just fine if Serena Williams is my priority. I sent a proxy who reported that about half of the people present in the brewery paid absolutely no attention to the national candidate giving a speech while they ate their burgers. The sound system was very poor as well so it didn’t really matter if they paid attention or not. Sorry Mr. Hickenlooper. I’ll try to see you next time you’re and it will probably go better.

Senator Kamala Harris throws a better town hall than Beto – Wednesday April 10


Senator Harris reserved a larger, fancier room in the Iowa Memorial Union that featured cooler air and chairs. She had music, crazy, blinding spotlights, and three good opening acts; a University of Iowa Student, Diedre DeJear and Royceanne Porter.

Waiting for Kamala Harris to appear. The spotlights trained on the stage in the center were brutal. I bet she looked well-lit on television but those of us sitting across from them couldn’t see her, or anything really.
Royceann Porter
Diedre DeJear

I liked Kamala, she seemed forthright, smart professional and competent. She didn’t make me fall in love with her though, like Barack. And speaking of Barack, have you been watching Pete Buttigieg videos on YouTube like yrmama? He’s so wonderful.

Beto competes with church and hangovers on Sunday morning – April 7

The underwhelming crowd of supporters waiting for the doors to open. The blurry campaign staffer on the left was a man of action though.

There was no need to arrive early at Beto’s town hall. See how the faithful appear pre-wilted waiting for the doors to open? It was 80F.

Inside there was not a rush for the best seats because the only chairs were in the roped-off ADA and Rep. Loebsack section.

The view from yrmama’s seat in the ADA pen. The man in the blue shirt is our Representative, Dave Loebsack. He and his wife got chairs because he is Dave Loebsack, not because he’s gimpy.

Inside it grew even hotter and everyone, even Beto, was red-faced and sweating. He is charming and slick and said good stuff. He was just fine.

The best advice of all

yrmama has lived in eastern Iowa most of her long, long, life and while she cares about politics a lot, especially now that Donald is around all the time, she has never been very involved. Thanks to Donald, that is finally changing. She can’t remember facts and figures because although illustrative, they are too boring, but she will not hesitate to give you free, unsolicited advice on who to elect as president in 2020.

Last time around the opportunity to spend eight months shaking Barack’s hand before participating in the February caucus seemed too normal to be interesting. Candidates are here ALL THE TIME, drinking their down-homey pie shakes and trying to gauge the perfect balance between hayseed folksy and liberally urbane for each Iowa group they face. They’ll all be at the state fair in August, perhaps wearing plaid shirts and feed caps and eating pork chops on sticks, and then at the Jefferson Jackson Dinner blowout in the fall, but the first rounds of visits have already being happening here for months. If a candidate can’t make it in Iowa they won’t make it anywhere. That’s a lot of power we Iowans have and yrmama, like most people, takes it for granted.

But the deal is, yrmama’s generation and everyone older (you know who you are) has been sucking hard at actually fixing things. A whole lot of things have gotten a whole lot worse recently. I know this is mess is just the death throes of the patriarchy, but time’s up, fellow aging hippies. We have to let the kids lead the way.

Climate change is the first thing. All the other things you should care about are connected and interconnected with that – racism, the stupid two-party system, guns and the people who use them to shoot other people just to create a stir, equal rights for women, immigration for God’s sake, access to health care and education. I’m not going to explain how everything is related to climate change right now, but believe me, all of us who live near sea level are fucked and all your other “issues” are going to be cranked up to high broil if you don’t take it seriously.

Who is your current favorite?