Friday, December 14, 2007

Senate passes Freedom of Information Act reform

The U.S. Senate passed today some of the changes journalists sought in the federal Freedom of Information Act. Now the House, which passed a stronger version, will be asked to go along.

The Senate bill, which passed unanimously, "does not alter FOIA’s disclosure requirements or any of its exemptions. However, the legislation does improve the process by which the federal government can carry out FOIA’s disclosure requirements," says a Society of Professional Journalists news release. "It creates an independent ombudsman to resolve citizen disputes, helps agencies strengthen FOIA, creates a tracking system for the public to easily track the status of requests and it allows requesters to more effectively recover legal costs incurred when agencies improperly deny requests.

“This is an important step to ensuring open access to the public record by journalists and all citizens,” SPJ President Clint Brewer said. “Freedom of information is at the heart of an open government and a free press. We encourage leaders in the U.S. House of Representatives to pass this legislation.”

SPJ backed reform as part of the Sunshine in Government Initiative, which also includes the American Society of Newspaper Editors, The Associated Press, the Association of Alternative Newsweeklies, the Coalition of Journalists for Open Government, the National Association of Broadcasters, the National Newspaper Association, the Newspaper Association of America, the Radio-Television News Directors Association and the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press. (Read more)

Small Midwest papers, especially in Oklahoma, struggle to publish in wake of huge ice storm

The massive ice storm that tore through the Midwest last weekend, leaving hundreds of thousands of electric customers without power, posed considerable challenges for small newspapers in the region. In the hardest-hit state, Oklahoma, the daily Norman Transcript and the weekly Oologah Lake Leader, were among the papers that had to improvise to get issues out this week. Above, Lake Leader employees, with Editor-Publisher John Wylie at left, put out the paper on the dining-room table in a staffer's home.

While Transcript publisher David Stringer looked for a nearby press that still had power, the rest of the staff looked for a place to work, because the diesel-powered generator in the newsroom only could do so much. Managing Editor Andy Steiger had hoped to use his home as a temporary newsroom, but the power was off there, too. Advertising Director Saundra Morris drove to the parking lot of a Panera Bread outlet to take advantage of the store’s free wireless access. It was full, so she worked from her car, reporter M. Scott Carter writes.

Several reporters and editors found a temporary home in the public-relations offices of Norman Regional Hospital, where they wrote and edited stories and posted them to the paper’s Web site. Stringer managed to secure some time on the press at the Edmond Sun, and a few editors made the 30-mile trip to design the print edition. (Read more)

In northeastern Oklahoma, the office of 3,000-circulation Lake Leader was without power, as were the homes of all its staff members. “We were not sure we would publish at all,” Wylie said in an interview. On Tuesday, the power returned to the home of Marketing Director Carolyn Estes, so staff packed up its production computer and set up shop on a table there. the paper was a day late for the first time, and limited to eight pages. Wylie said its Web site,, would be updated frequently. (Read more)

Foreclosures strike rural areas, but the numbers are far lower than in urban areas

Around the country, foreclosures have shaken up housing markets. Rural areas have not been free from loan defaults, but the number of foreclosures have been far fewer than what has happened in urban areas. That's because rural borrowers and lenders work a little differently, reports the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Rural borrowers tend to be far more conservative in the amount of debt they carry, and the lenders who serve rural areas keep those loans on their books instead of selling off to others, reports Tim Grant. In addition, the U.S. Department of Agriculture handles the majority of rural home loans, and it tries to avoid foreclosures by suspending monthly payments for up to two years. Last year, less then 3 percent of the USDA-funded mortgages in Pennsylvania were foreclosed.

"Usually in small towns people know each other, and you might have help from relatives. Plus you have the stigma of not wanting people to know you've lost your home," Darla Wise, north central chapter leader for the Pennsylvania Mortgage Brokers Association, told Grant. "In a city, you can get away with being foreclosed on and people not know. That might be a reason why rural foreclosures might not be as high. Also, in small towns, people are more inclined to help out their neighbors."
(Read more)

State police investigate arrest of Arkansas reporter

On Monday, Bill Lawson, a reporter for the Maumelle Monitor, set out to cover a house fire. While walking toward the fire with a camera, he was stopped by Arkansas State Police Trooper Thomas Weindruch (at left in a flash photo by Lawson) and handcuffed so that he faced away from the fire, the Monitor reports. The Monitor is a suburban Little Rock weekly with a circulation of 3,200.

"Bill Lawson, 59, a reporter and photographer for the Maumelle Monitor, said Trooper Tom Weindruch arrested him and placed him in handcuffs at the scene of a chimney fire on High Timber Drive about 7:50 p.m. Monday," John Lyons wrote. "Lawson said Weindruch kept him in handcuffs for about 30 minutes before releasing him. Weindruch issued Lawson a citation ordering him to appear in Sherwood District Court on Feb. 26 on the charge of obstructing governmental operations."

Lawson said that firefighter Perry Hopman saw him and told Weindruch that Lawson was not a problem. “I believe my exact words were, ‘He’s not bothering us. He’s no problem at all,’” said Hopman, who is the son-in-law of Dennis Byrd, publisher of the Maumelle Monitor and chief of the Arkansas News Bureau. (Read more)

The Monitor ran a first-person account from Lawson in its Wednesday edition. Arkansas State Police are investigating the arrest, reports Editor & Publisher. A conviction on the misdemeanor is punishable by up to 30 days in jail and a fine up to $100. (Read more)

Senate passes its version of the Farm Bill, 79-14

At 3:30 p.m., the U.S. Senate passed the Farm Bill, or its version thereof. The vote was 79-14, very close to the 78-12 vote to limit debate on the measure. The bill, H.R. 2419, now goes to a conference committee with the House.

Sen. Tom Harkin of Iowa, floor manager of the bill, announced that fellow Democratic Sens. Joe Biden of Delaware, Hillary Clinton of New York, Chris Dodd of Connecticut and Barack Obama of Illinois, who have been busy running for president in Iowa and elsewhere, would have voted for the bill had they been present.

"It is a good bill for rural America and for farmers and for everyone who eats food in this country," Harkin, chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee, said after the bill passed. But the outcome disappointed those who wanted a lower limit on payments to individual farmers, such as Ferd Hoefner of the Sustainable Agriculture Coalition. "It's just sad that a majority no longer counts for much in America's democracy," he told Dan Looker of Successful Farming, referring to the fact that 56 of 100 senators supported a lower limit -- four votes short of the 60 that has become standard for passage of significant legislation in the Senate. For a list of votes on that measure, from the Center for Rural Affairs, which supported it, click here.

Hoefner said the vote fell short partly because some senators "who had supported payment limits for the 2002 farm bill changed their votes this year," Looker reports. "Hoefner was surprised to see a no vote from two other Democrats on the ag committee, Senator Debbie Stabenow of Michigan and Senator Ken Salazar of Colorado. Stabenow voted for payment limits in 2002. Salazar wasn't in the Senate then but he campaigned for payment limits." (Read more, via Agriculture Online)

"The Bush administration continues to oppose the farm bills passed by both the House and Senate," reports Peter Shinn of Brownfield Network, while noting that Acting Agriculture Secretary Chuck Conner "didn't specifically renew the threat of a Presidential veto." (Read more) Conner said the Senate bill is "fundamentally flawed" and major changes must be made in conference or "We are no closer to a good farm bill than we were before today's passage." He added, "Farmers deserve a farm bill that is free of budget smoke and mirrors and tax increases. The measure passed today has $22 billion in unfunded commitments and budget gimmicks, and includes $15 billion in new taxes -- the first time a farm bill has relied on tax increases since 1933." (Read more)

UPDATE, Dec. 15: For our money, no mainstream journalist reports the Farm Bill better than Dan Morgan, a contract writer for The Washington Post and a fellow at the German Marshall Fund of the U.S. For his comprehensive story in the Post, click here.

Fish farms endanger wild salmon off Canada coast

Fish farms are bringing nearby wild salmon populations dangerously close to extinction, according to a new study published in today's issue of the journal Science. It found that the farms bring young wild salmon into contact with parasitic sea lice and that could mean a 99 percent collapse in some populations over the next four years.

The study used data from the Broughton Archipelago, a group of islands about 260 miles northwest of Vancouver. Here, young salmon must travel past miles of fish farms to reach the sea. Along the way, they pick up the sea lice. Adult salmon can handle the parasite in small amounts, but the thin-skinned young are especially vulnerable.

“If nothing changes, we are going to lose these fish,” lead author Martin Krkosek, a fisheries ecologist from the University of Alberta, said in a news release. “Salmon farming breaks a natural law,” said co-author Alexandra Morton, director of the Salmon Coast Field Station, located in the Broughton. To read the full report, go here.

Senate removes timber payments from energy bill

Before passing an energy bill yesterday, the U.S. Senate removed a section "that would have extended for four years payments to rural counties that once depended on federal timber money to fund schools and libraries," reports the Mail Tribune of Medford, Ore.

"A House bill approved last week would set aside more than $1.5 billion to compensate 700 rural counties in 39 states — mostly in the South and West — that were hurt by federal logging cutbacks in the 1990s," the paper recalls. "The counties lost money when the government restricted logging in national forests to help preserve the spotted owl and other threatened species. Timber payments added $23 million annually to Jackson County coffers."

The timber deal "was dropped in final negotiations Thursday as Senate Democrats agreed to remove tax breaks for a wide range of clean energy industries from the energy bill," reports the Mail Tribune, in a staff-and-wires report. (Read more)

Rising cost of hay puts pressure on livestock

Last month we wrote about how drought and other extreme weather had created a shortage of hay throughout the country. The prices for hay are still rising, and farmers in places such as Connecticut are feeling the effects, reports the Norwich Bulletin.

The costs of hay have risen "at a rate comparable to oil, making it a rare commodity in the last few months," Dustin Racioppi writes. As a result, the Connecticut state legislature has earmarked "several million" to help farmers, Racioppi reports.

In the area around Norwich, some farmers have been forced to sell of their entire herd of cattle to get back in the black. Another has started buying hay from Canada, but at $275 a ton, the price is still far higher than it used to be. And at one stable, the owner has cut back services and can now only provide "rough boarding" — essentially just the stall — so that owners must purchase food, hay or bedding for the horse. (Read more)

Illinois High School Association sues Illinois Press Association, newspapers, over athletic photos

The Illinois High School Association and the Illinois Press Association have been fighting over photo rights for high school championship events for the past few months. In November, the IPA sued the the IHSA over a new policy that restricted the rights of newspapers to sell photographs taken at championship events. A few weeks later, we wrote that photographers from five newspapers had been barred from the state's football title games by the IHSA. Last week, the IHSA filed a counter suit against the IPA, reports the National Press Photographers Association.

"The IHSA has filed a counter suit in Sangamon County Circuit Court in Springfield asking a judge to declare that IHSA has the exclusive right to sell photographs taken at high school sporting events, and the right to impose limits on how newspapers use photographs, and for permission to restrict newspapers' access to IHSA games if editors and publishers fail to comply with IHSA polices," NPPA reports.

The counter suit names IPA, the Journal Star in Peoria, The State Register-Journal in Springfield, and The Northwest Herald in Crystal Lake, and asks for at least $50,000 in damage payments. (Read more)

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Forest Service says proposed Virginia power plant would threaten wilderness area in North Carolina

The U.S. Forest Service says a proposed power plant in southwest Virginia could reduce visibility and the air quality needed by some plants in a scenic gorge in northwestern North Carolina, reports Keith Strange of The Coalfield Progress in Norton, Va.

At issue are Dominion Virginia Power's proposed Virginia City Hybrid Energy Center and the Linville Gorge Wilderness, along the Blue Ridge Parkway, which some have called "the Grand Canyon of the East." That's an exaggeration, but it's a great place, as we found when we took this photo in June 2006.

Pisgah National Forest Supervisor Marisue Hilliard said in a Dec. 4 letter "that sulfur dioxide emissions from the plant could have a detrimental effect on plant life in the Linville Gorge," Strange writes. "Hilliard said that the 3,369 tons projected to be emitted annually by the plant would violate the federal Clean Air Act." (Read more)

UPDATE, Dec. 20: Dominion and the Forest Service agreed on mitigation measures, under which Hilliard said the agency's concerns “should be fully addressed to our satisfaction.” (Read more)

Bid to lower farm subsidy cap falls short in Senate

The U.S. Senate voted 56 to 43 today to limit farm program payments to $250,000 per producer, but that was four votes short of the 60 needed to for passage, under a bipartisan agreement to avoid filibusters.

Without the change, sought by small farmers, environmentalists and international development groups, the limit will remain $360,000. However, the bill "would require payments to be tracked to each individual, end the practice of collecting subsidies indirectly and eliminate 'commodity certificates' that can be used to evade the $360,000 a year limit set in 2002," reports Charles Abbott of Reuters. (Read more)

Key to the amendment's defeat were senators from states that grow rice and cotton. "Cotton and rice interests [said] their producers stand to lose more than that in a year if a crop goes bad," writes Bob Meyer of Brownfield Network. "A similar amendment passed the Senate back in 2002 when the current farm bill was being debated only to be removed in the conference committee." (Read more)

A final Senate vote on the bill is expected Friday.

Booming immigration in some Iowa counties makes it a major issue for the presidential caucuses

In 1851, the five-year-old state of Iowa created Buena Vista County, naming it for a great battle of the Mexican War. Now some call the county seat of Storm Lake "Little Mexico," because it has recently become home to many Hispanic immigrants. Similar influxes in other rural areas, scattered across the state, have made immigration a big issue for voters in the state's Jan. 3 presidential caucuses.

The irony of the county's name was lost on The New York Times, which has a story today in which Monica Davey reports from Storm Lake as the epicenter of the immigration issue in Iowa. The story is accompanied by excellent maps with graphic representations of the county-by-county impact of immigration. Here's one:Davey writes, "The nation’s struggle over immigration may seem distant in states like Iowa, hundreds of miles from any border, but the debate is part of daily life here, more than ever now as residents prepare to pick a president. Nearly all of more than two dozen people interviewed here last week said they considered immigration policy at or near the top of their lists of concerns as they look to the presidential caucuses next month. And yet, nearly everyone interviewed said that none of the political candidates had arrived at a position on immigration that fully satisfied them. In real life, they said, the issues surrounding immigration, both legal and illegal, were far more complicated than bumper sticker slogans or jabs on a debate stage or even the carefully picked language of campaign policy papers." (Read more)

As noted here 11 days ago, the weekly Storm Lake Times is pro-immigration. "Thousands of immigrants have worked in our town’s two meatpacking plants, working hard, hoping for a better life for their children, sending money home to Mexico and other nations to help their families left behind. They build businesses and churches, they add color and richness, they learn English as they can and they help an isolated rural community grow and prosper," wrote Art Cullen. "Yes, we need secure borders. We need to know just who is living and working in Storm Lake. We also need workers in our meatpacking plants as the first generation moves up the economic ladder. If we don’t cut the meat here, be assured that the meat will get cut somewhere else and those jobs are lost to us. What we really need is to open up the immigration quotas to fill our low-skilled, medium-skilled and high-skilled job shortages." (Read more)

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Church-driven Huckabee surge draws eyes of some who want to keep the tax-exempt out of politics

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee has gained the lead in polls of likely Republican caucus-goers in Iowa, "driven largely by an eleventh-hour rally of Christian activists behind the Republican’s candidacy, and that’s certain to draw attention from tax sleuths and others," reports Jeanne Cummings, the money-and-politics reporter for We think it should also attract the attention of rural reporters, who are often in a better position to detect such violations of the law prohibiting political activity by tax-exempt organizations.

"The two cases should put a host of Iowa church officials on notice as they join a coalition of home-schooling families working to secure a headline-grabbing, first-primary victory for the former Arkansas governor," writes Cummings, formerly of The Wall Street Journal and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "Thus far, Huckabee has been endorsed by more than 60 Iowa pastors."

“We will be watching it very closely,” Rob Boston of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, told Cummings, who notes the group "has filed two complaints with the IRS accusing Huckabee’s religious backers outside Iowa of violating their tax-free status. The California pastor who used church stationery to endorse his fellow Southern Baptist minster urged his flock "to pray for the deaths of" the AU officials who filed the complaint against him.

"A second complaint, filed against Jerry Falwell Jr., accuses the son of the late Moral Majority founder of violating Liberty University’s tax status by using the school’s resources to announce his endorsement of Huckabee, a former Baptist preacher," Cummings writes, noting that the group "is also monitoring Democrat Barack Obama’s latest round of church visits in the African American community." AU issued a release Tuesday questioning an Alabama group's plan to distribute in churches material promoting Democrat Hillary Clinton.

The IRS increased its monitoring of church political activity in 2004. "No church lost its tax status, but 42 were found to have broken the no-partisan-politicking rules and received advisories about their activities," Cummings notes. "Last year, the IRS received 237 complaints about illegal politicking by churches and charities, which led to about 100 investigations." Cummings goes on to detail the boundaries between allowable and illegal activity. (Read more)

Meanwhile, author Todd Gitlin has eight questions, many of them related to religion, that reporters should ask Huckabee. It's the first in a series for Columbia Journalism Review. Next: a set of different questions for Obama. Click here.

UPDATE, Dec. 12: Seema Mehta and Stephanie Simon of the Times write of Huckabee, "One of his premiere battalions is a tight network of Christian home-schooling families who view the campaign as a civic -- and educational -- duty." (Read more)

Huckabee, seeking Cuban American votes in Fla., switches stand and now supports Cuban embargo

When Mike Huckabee was governor of Arkansas, the nation's seventh most rural state, he opposed the trade embargo of Cuba, as did many in agriculture and other industries. Now, as a surging candidate for president, he has changed his position -- in a transparent appeal to Cuban Americans in Florida, one of the biggest prizes in the contest for the Republican nomination. (Associated Press photo)

"Rather than seeing it as some huge change, I would call it, rather, the simple reality that I'm running for president of the United States, not for reelection as governor of Arkansas," he said yesterday in Miami, where state House Speaker Marco Rubio, a Cuban American, endorsed him. "I've got to look at this as an issue that touches the whole country."

"Huckabee's statement reflected one of the most dramatic reversals by a major presidential candidate on the issue that has defined U.S.-Cuba policy for nearly half a century," because he lobbied President Bush in 2002 to end the embargo, write Beth Reinhard and Laura Figueroa of The Miami Herald. "Huckabee's conversion also surprised the Arkansas Rice Growers Association, which represents the state's top agricultural industry. Cuba is one of the largest potential U.S. markets for rice in the world." (Read more)

Huckabee pleaded for his rice farmers in lobbying Bush, notes Peter Wallsten of the Los Angeles Times. "It was a change of heart sure to please hard-liners among the Cuban exiles who could make up 10 percent or more of the electorate in Florida's crucial Jan. 29 Republican primary," Wallsten writes. "But it also reflected the latest move by a once-obscure candidate now grappling with how to transform a burst of momentum into a sustainable bid for the White House." (Read more)

Monday, December 10, 2007

Farm Bill debate finally begins in the Senate

The U.S. Senate is finally debating the Farm Bill, touching off a furious, last-minute siege of lobbying and editorializing on the five-year plan for agriculture, nutrition, Rural Development and other rural programs. Officially titled the Food and Energy Security Act of 2007, it also includes sections on biofuels. Debate began after an agreement that the Senate would consider 20 amendments from each party. Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., said this afternoon that only 14 percent of the $288 billion projected cost of the bill is for production agriculture. He said 9 percent for conservation (most of which is payments to landowners) and 67 percent for food programs.

"With voting set to start Tuesday, some pending amendments already appear to be long-shot statements of principle," reports Michael Doyle of the McClatchy Co. Washington Bureau. "An early and important test of Senate reform sentiment will come on an amendment putting a $250,000 limit on the amount of federal payments a couple can receive. The current limit is $360,000." (Read more) "The Bush administration has threatened to veto the Farm Bill unless Congress delivers more cuts to the number of wealthy farmers included in the programs," notes Elliott Blackburn of The Lubbock Avalanche-Journal. (Read more)

The Washington Post urged senators to consider its "Harvesting Cash" series about farm subsidies and Rural Development programs. "This painstaking journalism by Dan Morgan, Gilbert M. Gaul and Sarah Cohen identified $15 billion in government waste that had escaped the notice of executive branch investigators, the Government Accountability Office and congressional committees," a Post editorial said. (Read more) "What should happen in rural development is not part of the editorial," notes the Daily Yonder.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Potentially harmful levels of weedkiller atrazine showing up in streams in Missouri and Indiana

"Atrazine, the second most widely used weedkiller in the country, is showing up in some streams and rivers at levels high enough to potentially harm amphibians, fish and aquatic ecosystems, according to the findings of an extensive Environmental Protection Agency database that has not been made public," reports Juliet Eilperin in The Washington Post.

"The analysis -- conducted by the chemical's manufacturer, Syngenta Crop Protection -- suggests that atrazine has entered streams and rivers in the Midwest at a rate that could harm those ecosystems, several scientific experts said. In two Missouri watersheds, the level of atrazine spiked to reach a 'level of concern' in both 2004 and 2005, according to the EPA, and an Indiana watershed exceeded the threshold in 2005."

The watersheds were not named, but those in Missouri are in the northeast part of the state. Sygenta toxicology chief Tim Pastoor said those two monitoring sites were prone to excessive runoff for various reasons, including vegetation clearance by a farmer. "Syngenta sales agents and local corn growers are trying to reform the practices of the farmer," Eilperin reports. EPA won't release the analysis because Sygenta claims some of the data are proprietary. The Post got the records from from the Natural Resources News Service, a Washington-based nonprofit group focused on environmental issues. (Read more)

Banks, rural electrics, economic-development groups try to keep young people in rural Iowa

In Iowa, "Banks, rural electric cooperatives, economic development groups and governments are striving to stem the outflow of young talent and economic vitality," reports S.P. Dinnen of the Des Moines Register. "Just 29 of the state's 99 counties gained population between 1970 and 2000, and that trend continues. So, these groups are coming up with tax breaks, housing options and other incentives to try to stem the brain drain."

Some examples:

Hampton State Bank offers a 3.99 percent home loan to anyone who graduated from a Franklin County high school and moves back home. Brian Lubkmen and his wife, Kirsten, above, are using the program to finance a geodesic-dome home. In Greene County, "Economic development and housing groups are joining with employers to make a $1,000 relocation package available to people who move there. Community programs also are building spec homes that can be ready for occupancy as soon as someone is recruited to work."

Greene County's economic-development director is Jefferson Herald Publisher Rick Morain, former president of Iowa State University’s Community Vitality Center. The center, which gets $250,000 a year from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, is an outgrowth of concern by rural newspaper publishers. Through the Iowa Newspaper Foundation, they realized the need for "a broad-based statewide organization to help rural communities," Morain said at "Health, Wealth and Wireless: Issues and Stories for Rural Iowa," a workshop held in Des Moines in May by the foundation, the Center for Rural Strategies, the Main Street Project and the Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues.

Presidential candidates need small-town values and solutions for small-town problems, columnist says

The first presidential caucus and two of the first three primaries occur in states with disproportionately rural populations, but "There are few small town economic issues being discussed," even though most presidents grew up in small towns, columnist Don McNay writes in the Richmond (Ky.) Register and other Community Newspaper Holdings papers.

"Small-town populations are getting older and their young people are moving to big towns for jobs. Large factories are moving to foreign countries and nothing is replacing them. Is anyone candidate talking about the small towns? If so, please let me know. I hear more debate about rooting for the Boston Red Sox than saving the beauty of small town life. I don't hear anyone talking about rural drug addiction and the dangers of Oxycontin."

After noting his recent column about Rudy Giuliani's work to keep makers of Oxycontin out of prison, McNay writes, "Oxycontin is a primary contributor to the decline of rural America. A whole generation of young people are addicted, dying, neglecting their children and not able to hold a job. For some reason, Oxycontin has been a small town problem. The drug is not as popular in urban areas. Thus, it is ignored by the national media and national candidates. It's more fun to argue about the Red Sox."

McNay, left, writes that a friend commutes 50 miles from his rural home to a large city because, as the friend said, "There are big-town values and small-town values." And that sets the stage for his closing argument: "Small-town people are used to accountability. Everyone knows each other and what they do. At my peak weight, I tried to buy a box of donuts. The grocery clerk looked at the donuts and said 'Aren't you the guy who writes about dieting for the newspaper?' I put back the donuts and got serious about weight loss.

"I laugh at all media attention given to Giuliani and his mistress sneaking off to their fancy love nest. If Rudolph had lived in a small town, he wouldn't have been able to get away with cheating on his wife. Everyone would have known about the affair immediately. . . . Living life in public makes you think before you act. It's a moral compass that candidates need to have. I've been touting small-town candidates like Mike Huckabee and John Edwards. I don't know if they have a plan for rural America but they have a sense of what rural life is like. I want a president who grew up knowing that if they cheated on their spouse or cheated on their diet, someone would hold them responsible." (Read more)