One-term president?


Multiple wars, weak economy and job losses leave many Americans still searching for hope

Potential Republican presidential candidates have been massing at Iowa's borders and are beginning to swarm the state in an effort to capture GOP voters leading up to next year's kick-off caucus.

The number of candidates considering a challenge to the sitting President indicates the perceived vulnerability of Obama and the GOP's belief their 2010 mid-term success will spill over to next year's race for the White House.

However, unseating an incumbent president is no easy task, and, historically, American voters are reluctant to oust a sitting commander and chief, absent a scandal or a dire economy.

But the shift in Electoral College votes following the 2010 census, the GOP's mid-term success in key battleground states and the continued depressed economic recovery all present an excellent opportunity for the GOP to halt Obama's second inaugural parade.

In order to pull off the upset, Republicans will need to pick the most electable candidate, focus on the economy as the key issue rather than social issues and use the political advantage they won in 2010 to overtake the billion dollar re-election campaign machine Obama operatives are quietly constructing.


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TV stations winners in remap; plus: Deace, Tirrell, Gross


All four of the new districts converge in central Iowa, and anyone running in any of those districts will have to buy Des Moines media. The new first district, where Bruce Braley has a clear shot to be re-elected, now comes all the way down to Marshall County and includes Grinnell as well. The new second district — where Dave Loebsack is resettling and where Christie Vilsack might announce — now includes Newton as well as Marion and Mahaska counties. The new third district, where Leonard Boswell is the incumbent, and where Tom Latham plans to move, includes Des Moines as well as Dallas, Warren and Madison counties. And the new fourth district, where Steve King reigns supreme, and where Vilsack also might venture, includes Story and Boone counties as well as all of northwestern Iowa.

And with a possible primary between Vilsack and Loebsack in the second district and a hugely expensive contest between Boswell and Latham in the third, the TV general managers must already be salivating.

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Record Store Day celebrates the culture and value of independent stores


Rarely a week went by during my teenage and early adult years when I didn't spend a considerable amount of time and money at locally-owned, independent record stores Music Circuit, Peeple's Music and later, Archives Records and Tapes, all of which were conveniently located near one another in Des Moines.

Like other devoted music fans, I relished the search for records, tapes, CDs and posters by my favorite artists. Yet my greatest discoveries were kernels of knowledge (often found in liner notes, or by talking to store employees) and volumes of new music... the kind that you could not find at the mall or a big box store.

Looking back, the time that I spent at independent record stores was part of my early education as a listener, musician and music critic. It not only fed my voracious appetite for music, but it reminded me to keep my ears and eyes wide open — a lesson that sticks with me today.

Fortunately, despite changes in music formats and intense competition from the Internet and big retail, independent shops like Zzz, Wayback and Red Rooster Records exist in Des Moines today. Their presence provides discerning music fans an alternative to the homogenized way in which most music today is produced and sold. So to help celebrate the unique culture surrounding those and approximately 1,500 other independently owned record stores across the country, the fourth annual Record Store Day will be held Saturday, April 16.


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Mi Patria: Iowa's first Ecuadorian café


Ecuador. Even its name suggests extremes. High as the Andes, primordial as the Galapagos Islands, with 1,400 miles of coastline, it is the closest nation to the equatorial sun. Travel Channel food shows have portrayed its cuisine as extreme, too — sea cucumbers in the Galapagos, guinea pigs in the mountains, tree tomatoes on the coast and goat everywhere.

Yet Mi Patria, Iowa's first Ecuadorian restaurant, is anything but extreme. No guinea pigs, sea cucumbers, nor goat stew. Just a good sampling of foods that are popular in Ecuador, from the coast to the mountains and the jungles. The biggest surprise is that, unlike cuisines of most tropical countries, Mi Patria avoids spicy heat.

Ecuador is the number three banana producing country on earth, and Mi Patria utilizes that fruited herb in many ways. Tortillas de verde presented green plantain patties that had been stuffed with shredded beef and topped with chili-free salsa. Patacones delivered green plantains that had been fried in oil, mashed and refried, with cheese. Chifles differed from patacones in the shape of the slices. Far better were ripe plantains that had been sliced and fried — a waitress explained that this was mainly because green plantains supplies have been in seasonal slump.


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Tell us what you think about local politics, music, restaurants, bars, entertainment or anything else going on in Des Moines.


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