Let’s drop the SOTU responses

Let’s drop the SOTU responses

Gazette Column
Let’s be honest: the state of the union response is not strong, nor is it necessary. This is not a slam against newly minted U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst. In fact, I’m just following her lead. “It wasn’t about responding to the State of the Union or President [Barack] Obama as it was responding to the concerns of Iowans and other Americans,” Ernst told reporters on a conference call the morning after she delivered the official 2015 Republican speech. I say “official” response because Ernst was chosen by Republican Congressional leadership. But there were at least four additional GOP responses to President Barack Obama’s address. Carlos Cubelo, a newly elected Republican congressman from Miami, Fla., was supposed to offer Ernst’s speech in Spanish, inserting his personal details in place of hers.…
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Looking ahead as election craziness nears end

Looking ahead as election craziness nears end

Gazette Column
Rejoice, fellow Iowans. We’ve outlived the seemingly never-ending stream of political nastiness that attempted to hijack our lives — not to mention our mailboxes, streetscapes, televisions, Web browsers and radios. If you, like me, have found shelter from the murky deluge in books and podcasts, now is the time to roll back the rock and re-enter the world anew. Fair warning: We’ve missed the best of the fall colors, and it’s quite a bit colder out there. No matter who garners the most votes on Tuesday, the candidate signs will soon come down or be covered by snow. And, much to the abject joy of our Opinion Team, letter writers will consider fresh topics. Television ads will once again offer clear pictures of people’s faces and soundtracks less suited to…
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Telemedicine case will find justice

Telemedicine case will find justice

Gazette Column
No matter our stance on controversy de jour, we can agree on the importance of an independent judiciary. No one wants to stand before a judge and wonder if his or her ruling is based on placement of a wet finger in the political winds. We understand all too well, after all, that politicians can be swayed in their mission of what’s in the best interest of society to a stance better summarized as doing right by their political party or a special interest group. The last thing we need or want is our court system to fall under political scrutiny; for each decision, verdict and sentencing to be viewed as some small battle on the path to a politically-motivated goal. This is exactly why the decision this week by…
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Local opposition to ‘ineffective’ immigration program not enough

Local opposition to ‘ineffective’ immigration program not enough

Gazette Column
Iowans concerned about increased crime resulting from a decision by some law enforcement agencies not to honor federal immigration detention requests should take solace in new evidence that the local-federal partnership does little, if anything, to achieve its mission of lowered crime rates. From 2010 to 2012, each of Iowa’s 99 counties joined Secure Communities, a federal immigration program aimed at fighting crime by deporting individuals suspected of committing offenses. A new study, however, shows the program to be ineffective. Such findings may serve as the final blow against this particular embattled program, but are unlikely to stop newer federal initiatives that don’t rely on local cooperation and have fewer safeguards against racial profiling. Secure Communities “While [Secure Communities] was originally sold as a voluntary program, we all now know that’s not the…
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Addressing the GOP gender gap

Addressing the GOP gender gap

Gazette Column
Labeling the GOP as the party of “old white men” reached new fervor in the wake of a report commissioned by two major Republican groups, which detailed the currently insurmountable gender gap faced by the party. The report, leaked by Politico, was the result of conversations with women across the country in the form of focus groups and polling. The bottom line? Overall, 49 percent of women view Republicans unfavorably. The contents of the report aren’t necessarily shocking. Republican strategists have known for years that women and ethnic minorities are trending away. The report sums this up, according to Politico, as Republicans “fail[ing] to speak to women in the different circumstances in which they live.” That’s a nice way of saying most women believe the GOP lacks understanding and is out…
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Bertrand defamation case changes nothing

Bertrand defamation case changes nothing

Gazette Column
Transparency makes attack ads palatable In September 1895, Woodrow Wilson was more than two decades away from his move into the White House and spent a great deal of time studying government via the lens of history. It was at this time, well before history and political science were distinct disciplines, the scholarly Wilson wrote a magazine essay establishing his thoughts on how historians should present their work, summarizing why it is often difficult to see into the past as well as into the future. “The truth of history is a very complex and very occult matter. It consists of things which are invisible as well of things which are visible. It is full of secret motives, and of a chance interplay of trivial and yet determining circumstances; it is…
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So much for lessons learned

So much for lessons learned

Gazette Blog
There is one moment in the recent past that has, above everything else, continued to shape and solidify those who identify as liberals, progressives and Democrats: the 2000 presidential contest and the Florida fiasco. If either of the two limited recounts in Florida — one requested by Vice President Al Gore, the other ordered by the Florida Supreme Court — had been completed, it is likely that Republican George W. Bush would have won the state. If, however, a statewide recount of all disputed ballots had taken place, or would have been ordered by the court, the extremely narrow victor in Florida would have been Gore. Those scenarios are courtesy of a study commissioned by several news organizations in late 2001. There were other studies, of course, that provided more scenarios and…
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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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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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