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Tweeting for #YesAllWomen

Tweeting for #YesAllWomen

Gazette Column
It is a story we’ve heard before: a young person lashes out, innocent people die and society struggles to understand. It is a story we’ve heard so often it feels overwhelming, as if there is nothing a single individual can do to turn the tide of violence. But this weekend, on the social media network called twitter, I and a few million of my female friends took a stand. The latest bit of violence came at the hands of a young man, Elliot Rodger, who was (by all accounts) an incredibly troubled individual. He left behind several videos and written documents, which he dubbed his manifesto. What is immediately clear upon viewing any of these items is that Rodger both desperately wanted and hated women. In fact, I’d go so…
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Owning the political conversation

Owning the political conversation

Gazette Column
If feedback on my “caucus countdown” column is any indication, there is a lot of interest not only for a wider field of potential 2016 presidential candidates, but for the nation to have a broad conversation regarding the future of money in politics, the overall economy and, specifically, the middle class. And, as is usually the case, there is significant disagreement on how such conversations can be generated and spread. [caption id="attachment_216" align="alignright" width="300"] Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren celebrates on election night. (Elizabeth Warren/Flickr)[/caption] There is some thought a strong third party candidate on the left or right would be able to leverage the most influence; that those within either of the two large parties will be unable to rise above the star power of high-profile candidates. Some have pointed…
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Court weakens prayer

Court weakens prayer

Gazette Column
There is an overriding philosophy where government and technology meet, seeking to balance the public’s need and right to know with individual privacy concerns and, yes, cost effectiveness. When considering whether or not to digitize certain records or databases, even ones freely accessible by the public during in-person visits to city hall, the question has morphed from, “Can we do this?” to a more nuanced and complex, “Even if we can do this, should we do this?” The same question should be asked by communities considering a recent Supreme Court decision allowing public prayer before government meetings. In a split decision, the Court determined prayers at government meetings are a matter of free speech, which the listening officials cannot censor or edit. Even if a visiting member of the clergy…
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Voters drowned out by spending

Voters drowned out by spending

Gazette Column
Although we won’t know fundraising results from other county, legislative and statewide candidates until the disclosure deadline tomorrow, Gov. Terry Branstad and Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds let their cat out of the bag Thursday. The duo is reporting a whopping $4.5 million cash-on-hand and promising, now that the legislative session has closed, their campaign “will kick into high gear.” Iowa’s 2013 U.S. Census Bureau estimate is a total population of 3.1 million. Roughly 1.9 million people were registered, active voters as of May 1, according to the Secretary of State. This means the Branstad-Reynolds campaign has collected roughly $1.45 for every man, woman and child in the state, or $2.37 for each active, registered voter. Looking only at the Republicans? That’d be $7.49 per GOP voter. To put it another…
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Conservatives favor gender typicality in female politicians

Conservatives favor gender typicality in female politicians

Gazette Column
If research from Dartmouth is any indicator, Joni Ernst may have already lost the Republican primary for U.S. Senate. In fact, she may never have had a chance. The white paper, published this week, details how gendered facial cues can predict electoral success for female politicians. In other words, researchers wanted to determine if feminine appearance — especially facial cues of femininity — was correlated to success in political contests. [caption id="attachment_206" align="alignright" width="300"] State Sen. Joni Ernst appears at the Family Leader Forum at Faith Baptist Bible College in Ankeny, Iowa, on Friday, April 25, 2014. (Alison Sullivan/The Gazette)[/caption] While research has shown political success for male candidates is linked to perceptions of competence and attractiveness, this white paper demonstrates gender cues uniquely predict a female candidate’s success beyond…
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The caucus countdown

The caucus countdown

Gazette Column
It is probably what most people think of — or at least what most people thought of eight years ago — when they consider the Iowa caucus. A handful of people are gathered around a conference table at the local library. There are a few handouts on the table top, flanked by packages of cookies. Hopes and concerns about the future of the country are on display, but the real tension in the room centers around speculation of a presumptive Democratic nominee and how such a situation could chill certain discussions in the Hawkeye State and beyond. “A lot of people are really eager to avoid a coronation of Hillary (Clinton) or another (Ralph) Nader fiasco,” said Jeffrey Cox, who actively has been gathering signatures to persuade Sen. Bernie Sanders,…
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Work flexibility a win-win

Work flexibility a win-win

Gazette Column
Is it too soon to suggest what the Iowa Legislature should discuss in its next session? If you, like me, think it isn’t, then I propose we ask our lawmakers to stop squabbling over equal pay and minimum-wage hikes (at least for now) and turn their eyes toward Vermont. As of January, Vermont business owners are required by law to consider worker requests for flexibility such as job sharing, working from home or alternative schedules. The law protects the workers making such requests from retaliation. It is essentially a legally protected conversation that can have a tremendous impact on single parents, those tasked with caring for an elderly relative or families stretched thin due to child care costs. While the idea is fairly unique in the United States, several European…
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Mailer uses ‘pants on fire’ attack against Braley

Mailer uses ‘pants on fire’ attack against Braley

Gazette Column
Mailers recently distributed into Iowa’s 1st Congressional District by a Virginia-based organization and attacking U.S. Rep. Bruce Braley use messaging previously deemed false. [caption id="attachment_196" align="aligncenter" width="232"] Front of a mailer by Virginia-based Freedom Partners Chamber of Commerce.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_197" align="aligncenter" width="237"] Back of a Front of a mailer by Virginia-based Freedom Partners Chamber of Commerce.[/caption] The mailers, shown above, were distributed Wednesday and Thursday. They encourage voters to contact Braley, the only Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate, regarding his support of health care reform. The messaging is nearly identical to an earlier television ad buy, which was labeled as “pants on fire” by PolitiFact. Both the television ad and the mailers were produced by a funding group with ties to brothers Charles and David Koch. According to the Washington…
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Discretion isn’t carte blanche

Discretion isn’t carte blanche

Gazette Column
Recently, I was reminded why the wheels of the private sector and government spin at different speeds. As aggravating and frustrating as the slow turn of government wheels can be, their reduced pace allows for thoughtful discussion and input from all facets of society, which will ultimately need to live and function under the laws and policies. Because we understand the system to be deliberate and, at times, imperfect, society has tolerated and even encouraged public servants to use discretion when fulfilling their duties. This is especially true at all levels of the justice system because of the unequaled impact those officials have on individuals and communities. Within our communities, we want the public servants closest to the particulars of any given situation or incident to use their best judgment…
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Just asking for it

Just asking for it

Gazette Column
Some things are so intrinsic to our culture they are no longer spoken. For years, as we have sent our young women off to college, we have given them advice. We told them: Don’t run around after dark Don’t leave your drink unattended Don’t walk across campus alone Don’t dress like that Don’t leave a party alone Don’t leave your friend alone at a party Don’t be stupid While said with the best of intentions, the statements are tinged with an implied conjunctive, “or you’re just asking for it.” Ironically, most of us cannot fathom what “it” actually is. Hopefully we’ll never have firsthand knowledge. But we do know that “it” is something bad, nasty, horrific that happens to women who don’t listen or forget what they’ve been told. If…
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