Hello from the High Life Lounge and El Bait Shop, down by the river in Des Moines, Iowa. It's our favorite purpose-built dive bar cafe. The cheap panelling and old Schlitz signs recall "Starsky and Hutch" but the place opened in 2006, just as the Obama team brought irony to town. The bar has 185 craft beers ON TAP and a menu with enough bacon-wrapped and deep-fried items to bankrupt Obamacare in minutes.
It's a good place to fortify yourself for the Iowa caucuses.
Perhaps 300,000 Iowans will gather in school gyms, libraries and other public places on Monday night at 7 p.m. Central Time to kick off the 2016 presidential campaign by voting in front of each other (Republicans by using a ballot box in the room; Democrats by gathering in groups).
What matters is not the final delegate count -- which will take many months of maneuvering to determine -- but the raw popular vote winners as announced Monday night on TV and online.
Iowa is a bad predictor of the eventual nominees, but it weeds out obvious losers and gives those who finish in the money a chance to move on to New Hampshire to make their case.
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The assumption is that Trump, Cruz, Hillary and Bernie will survive, in various states of glory or distress. If Trump and Bernie win it's going to be tempting to pronounce politics as we know it DEAD. That's probably an exaggeration, but, hey, what's the media for?
In the meantime, we're eying the "High Life Man" burger, described thus: "A 1/4 lb. burger, an Italian sausage patty, three strips of bacon, swiss and American cheese, grilled onions and jalapenos, mayonnaise and BBQ sauce. Topped with a mini powdered donut."
A DONUT on a bacon cheeseburger!
So without further ado, here's 12 things to look for at the most American place on Earth: