| 372 Days to the Iowa Caucuses|
Posted 1/10/2015 by Christopher
IIn 372 days Iowans will trudge through snow to vote in Iowa’s presidential caucuses. The campaigns have started in earnest and 2015 will be make or break for some candidates.
There are a more than a dozen Republicans (you aren’t reading this column for any insight on Democrats) running – or laying the ground work to run. Let’s check in on three of them.
Rand Paul: The Front Runner - At least he is in Iowa. His father’s previous finish, and built in apparatus is both a blessing and a curse. Paul the elder received 26,036 votes or 21.4% in what was essentially a three person race. Santorum and Romney, split by 34 votes, garnered 24.5% each. If Paul can hold those numbers in a field with half a dozen or more candidates he’ll be pretty formidable come January 18th. Paul’s built in advantage are the legions of libertarians who love his father. His challenge is to hold that coalition together and add some traditional GOPers to it. Iowa is an expectations game, and Paul will be expected to equal or beat his father’s results.
to read the full column that appeared in the Sioux City Journal clicked the link above.
| Finding Gratitude|
Posted 11/25/2014 by Christopher
Last week as I stared out the windows of the Minneapolis airport watching the snow fall and the ground crew struggle with luggage in the frigid temperatures, I thought about how thankful I should be for those outside helping me get to my destination. Thus began my weeklong experiment in finding gratitude in all things.
It's a fitting time as we celebrate Thanksgiving week. Yes, Thanksgiving WEEK. This uniquely American holiday is deserving of more than just a brief twenty-four hours before we head pell-mell into the Christmas shopping season (that's a column for another day). I'm not suggesting that anyone spend more than one afternoon a year watching the Detroit Lions, or adding gelatinous canned cranberry to their diet, but we can be thankful for a full week. For a humorous take on why Thanksgiving is a week worthy holiday, visit https://chroniclesofdad.wordpress.com , the creative writing outlet for a friend of mine.
Before going farther, I know what some of you are thinking... "Finding gratitude in everything" sounds like new age mumbo jumbo. I've been given this same challenge for the past year and often felt the same reaction. Hence the week long experiment. Could I do it? I promise, I felt better for it, and you will too.
To to read the full column that appeared in the Sioux City Journal click the link above
| The Most Important Race You Aren't Paying Attention To|
Posted 10/19/2014 by Christopher
Most of us are ready to throw our television sets out the window to escape the negative television ads pouring out of the campaigns for US Senate. The Governors race has become a snoozer with Branstad leading by a country mile in his bid for an unprecedented sixth term. The King vs Mowrer contest for Congress is intriguing for the “will he” or “won’t he” debate angle.
All three of these races generate headlines, blog posts, tweets, and lots and lot of television commercials. But there is a contest just as important that you probably haven’t thought about yet – the race for Secretary of State.
Most folks don’t think about the Secretary of State’s office – that is until they stop counting ballots at 2am during a presidential election, or there is a re-count, or there are charges of voter fraud. In other words, most folks don’t think about who their Secretary of State is, or what they do – until its too late.
In our democratic system of governance we put our collective trust in the integrity of ballot box. The Secretary of State as the state’s chief elections official is entrusted to protect that integrity – from the voter registration process, to access to the polls, to conducting recounts in close or contested elections.
Matt Shultz won the office four years ago, but chose to run for congress in central Iowa this year, and as a result the are no incumbents on the ballot this year for Secretary of State. The two candidates are Paul Pate of Cedar Rapids and Brad Anderson from Des Moines. The two candidates couldn’t be more different.
To read my full column that appeared in the Sioux City Journal, please click the link above.
| GOP Needs Plan to Raise More Boats Faster|
Posted 9/7/2014 by Christopher
The other day my neighbor struck up a conversation as I was pulling my garbage cans to the curb. He thought he had a sympathetic ear as he bemoaned the Democrats' campaign to raise the minimum wage. I'm sure most of my neighbors, and readers, think I'm just a notch or two on the dial away from Attila the Hun. I think he was taken aback when I told him it didn't bother me if they raised the minimum wage.
I'm concerned about income disparity in America. I'm fearful of what it means for our economy and society, and concerned about what happens at the ballot box if we don't address it.
There has been, and always will be income inequality. Intrinsically there is nothing wrong with that. Work harder, work smarter - get ahead. Build a better mouse trap - get farther ahead. That's capitalism. It is the best and only economic system for rewarding ingenuity and hard work. In theory we rise or fail based on our own merits.
The problem comes when people who work hard can't get by, let alone get ahead. It worsens when the difference in wealth between the mousetrap designer, and the guy assembling the mousetraps on the shop floor is so great they live in completely different worlds with no shared experiences. When the son or daughter of mousetrap assembler, working forty hours a week plus a second job, is stuck in a failing school with no chance to succeed while the designer doesn't want to improve those schools while their kids learn Chinese attending a top notch school; they lose that shared American experience. It's that growing separation in society where danger lies.
To read the full column that appeared in the 9-7-14 Sioux City Journal click the link above.
| Red Fish, Blue Fish|
Posted 8/3/2014 by Christopher
What do you know about the brightly colored betta fish? It's typically showcased in a pet store, or on television, swimming by itself in a large brandy snifter. Always alone. It only knows what it encounters inside that small glass. It may see another betta fish in the glass globe next door, but it has no way of knowing what that betta fish is experiencing, and it certainly cannot communicate with it. But take one fish out of its bowl and add it to the other and immediately a fight to the death will ensue. The betta is better known around the world as a siamese fighting fish.
The Siamese fighting fish was bred to fight. I have no earthly idea how you would breed a fish to fight, but apparently in the 1800s it was so popular the King of Siam actually taxed and regulated the fights. (Perhaps you are thinking "He must have been a blue fish kinda guy").
Perhaps you breed them by controlling their stimuli and inputs. Maybe red fish are exposed only to Fox News, while blue fish get a daily diet of MSNBC, that's the way many Americans get their news. Thirty years ago, in the days of Ronald Reagan and Tip ONeil, there was a much more limited choice. With only three networks and a giant Associated Press filling our newspapers with syndicated stories, we all had essentially the same inputs from which to form our opinions. Now, with the omnipresent internet and cable television we can self select a diet of news, even if that means we hear and read only that which not only conforms to our own world view, but supports that view to the exclusion of other view points.
To read the full column that appeared in the 8-3-14 Sioux City Journal click the link above.
| June's Winners|
Posted 6/29/2014 by Christopher
June marks not just the half way mark for the year, but also a key month for Iowa’s politicos. Now that the primaries and conventions are over, lets take a look at who the big winners were.
#6 – Sam Clovis. Despite being massively outspent Sam Clovis finished second in the US Senate primary, and earned a lot of respect along the way. So much so that at the GOP state convention he was nominated to be the party’s candidate for State Treasurer. Quick test – who is Iowa’s current state treasurer? Could you identify him if he was standing in front of you at the check out line of the grocery store? With a strong top of the ticket, Clovis could find himself being sworn in this January. (The answer was Michael Fitzgerald and he has been Iowa’s Treasurer for 32 years)
#5 – Joni Ernst. Sometimes you get lucky, and sometimes you make your own luck. Joni Ernst has gotten both. Her primary win for the Republican nomination to the US Senate turned into a rout. Ernst caught a wave of momentum with her hog castration ad and became an example of how to earn media without having to spend a lot of money herself. She caught people’s attention at just the right time and set herself apart. Topping it off, her general election opponent Congressman Bruce Braley managed to insult farmers while running down Chuck Grassley – like we won’t hear about that during harvest season... No one enjoys primaries, but it forced Ernst to shake up her operation and fundraising while fine tuning her message. It was good for her, and she is in better shape for the fall because of it.
To read the rest of my column that appeared in the June 29th Sioux City Journal click the link above.