No more lowered bar for sexism

No more lowered bar for sexism

Gazette Column
Expecting chuckles, I was quite surprised to hear startled gasps. That was when I knew I’d crossed a line. As part of the Pints & Politics panel March 24 at CSPS in Cedar Rapids, I was listening to ongoing discussion of the 1st and 2nd District Congressional races, musing on the possibility of the incumbents being chosen for another term. The conversation drifted to Democrat Monica Vernon, who is challenging Republican incumbent Rod Blum. The consensus was that if Donald Trump takes the GOP presidential nomination, his supporters would most likely benefit Blum in the general election. Someone noted that Vernon is probably the type of candidate Trump/Blum supporters would be motivated to vote against, and a short list began of the attributes those voters would highlight as negatives against…
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Wendell Willkie is a 2016 cautionary tale

Wendell Willkie is a 2016 cautionary tale

Gazette Column
This is what happened in 1940 when Republicans opted for a political outsider National pundits pondering what a Donald Trump nomination means for the Republican Party and the nation have been reading the tea leaves. They’d be better off reading history books. This isn’t the first time party activists have engaged in friendly fire or looked beyond political loyalists for a savior. Seventy-five years ago Repubicans decided a businessman was their best presidential bet. Like Trump, Wendell Willkie, the GOP’s 1940 presidential nominee, once considered himself more left than right. Less than a year before he was named the GOP nominee, Willkie was registered as a Democrat. And he too bucked the establishment. Willkie didn’t run for the nomination, instead taking a stand at the party’s national convention in Philadelphia.…
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Sarah Palin embarrassed herself, again

Sarah Palin embarrassed herself, again

Gazette Column
There’s something terribly sordid about schilling for the guy that diminished the distinguished military career of your former presidential running mate. Even worse is accepting an endorsement from someone who will trot out your closet’s skeletons in hope of hiding her own. “He is not a war hero,” Donald Trump said of U.S. Sen. John McCain last year at the Family Leadership Summit in Ames before he received push back from the program’s host. “I like people that weren’t captured, OK? I hate to tell you. He is a war hero because he was captured. OK, you can have — I believe perhaps he is a war hero.” And now the person selected by McCain as his presidential running mate, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, has endorsed Trump, claiming both…
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Learning from our history of finding scapegoats

Learning from our history of finding scapegoats

Gazette Column
Sadness, fear and confusion. Those are the three emotions woven throughout conversations I had in the wake of a 2008 immigration raid in Postville. For nearly the same reasons, these emotions also surrounded the Muslim residents taking part in a community demonstration last weekend. The alignment is understandable, if regrettable. [caption id="attachment_913" align="aligncenter" width="640"] People of many faiths gathered on May's Island on Saturday, Dec. 19, in a show of support for Muslims and other immigrants, who have recently been targeted in political rhetoric. The solidarity demonstration was organized by the Inter-Religious Council of Linn County. (Lynda Waddington/The Gazette)[/caption] Some Postville Hispanics were spared the felonious identity theft convictions faced by 389 male workers — a prosecution strategy that the U.S. Supreme Court later found lacking. Instead of being bustled…
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Hoping for less BVP under the holiday tree

Hoping for less BVP under the holiday tree

Gazette Column
From a political standpoint Bob Vander Plaats and I are near polar opposites, but that isn’t why I hope he drops off the radar of the national press. Another caucus season, more national positioning of Vander Plaats, head of the Family Leader, as some ill-conceived GOP kingmaker in Iowa. How soon they forget. Vander Plaats has been three times rejected by Iowa gubernatorial election voters — twice during GOP primaries. His largest claim to fame is taking millions in out-of-state money to campaign for the ouster of the Iowa Supreme Court justices who found a state ban on same-sex marriage violated equal protection clauses. The bus tours and demonstrations were so far removed from reality that many religious conservatives celebrated not the removal of the justices, but a wrong assumption…
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An opportunity this weekend to stand with your neighbors

An opportunity this weekend to stand with your neighbors

Gazette Blog
Area residents should meet at noon on May's Island Four teenage boys — Moussa, Abbas, Yousef and Ali Habhab — arrived in Cedar Rapids in the 1880s. They were the first of many Muslims to settle in the community, many following Christians known from their homeland into Iowa. Like so many immigrants, they found pride and promise in their new home and wanted to fold their own traditions into the existing culture. On a cold February in 1934, the community opened its first official house of worship — a small mosque, which would also serve as a community center. It is now the oldest standing building originally built as a mosque in our nation. The community grew. They fell in love, married and worked hard. They bore children, choosing to…
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Trump, UKIP and other body blows to compromise

Trump, UKIP and other body blows to compromise

Gazette Column
Maybe instead of merely reacting to GOP presidential hopeful Donald Trump “crazy talk,” it’s time to start understanding its appeal. Almost a year ago, I wrote about the correlations I’ve seen between the views of people who no longer fit neatly into either of the two dominant political parties and members of the United Kingdom Independence Party, commonly known as UKIP. An excerpt from the previous column: “Those who identify as UKIP feel they’ve been left behind economically and are adrift politically. They are incredibly anxious about the direction of their nation. Sound familiar? “While this British ideology that began in 1993 — the first to win a nationwide election in nearly 100 years — has been painted as a predominantly conservative movement, the survey shows its members hold liberal…
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The view from stage right

The view from stage right

Gazette Column
Imagine the Iowa Straw Poll in its glory days. Now pretend that no one there really likes or trusts each other. Pump up the humidity and temperature to the consistency of a bowl of soup. Finally, multiply everything you just imagined by 100. That was the scene Wednesday as I crossed the U.S. Capitol Complex. A highly publicized Tea Party Patriots rally, led by presidential candidates Ted Cruz and Donald Trump and featuring former GOP vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin, was organized to oppose a nuclear diplomacy deal with Iran. Off the stage, a variety of issues were on display. Signs, T-shirts, hats and even lawn chairs offered messages regarding marriage, religious freedom, President Barack Obama, gun control, education, health care and assorted federal agencies. By the time the chorus of…
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Binders full of … hypocrisy

Binders full of … hypocrisy

Gazette Column
Pardon the dust, but it’s time we brush off one of the Republican Party’s binders full of women. And, no, I’m not talking about Mitt Romney’s fictional debate binders, but the very real autopsy report commissioned by the Republican National Committee in the wake of the 2012 election. Romney garnered support from male voters, but experienced an 11-point deficit among female voters. And, when single women were singled out, the gap became a cavern of 36 percentage points. The report concluded women are not a “coalition,” and appealing to them should be integrated into all activities. GOP talkers “need to use language that addresses concerns that are on women’s minds in order to let them know we are fighting for them.” Among the findings was that women voters are interested…
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