Iowa sports announcer: "As Trump would say, go back where they came from"

A northern Iowa radio station has fired two employees for making “insensitive, thoughtless and degrading” comments about high school basketball players with Latino-sounding names. In a statement published this morning, KIOW-FM Radio in Forest City (Winnebago County) condemned the “deplorable” remarks by announcer Orin Harris and an unidentified woman before a recent boys basketball game between Forest City and Eagle Grove (Wright County). UPDATE: KIMT reported that the woman was board operator Holly Jane Kusserow-Smidt.

Eagle Grove resident Betty Jo Willard posted what she rightly called the “absolutely appalling!!” clip on Facebook on December 3. The banter illustrates how President Donald Trump has emboldened bigots across the country to express racist views.

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Weekend open thread: Making history

I’m a third-generation Tigers fan–my mother saw Hank Greenberg play at the old Tiger Stadium in Detroit–but most of Iowa is Cubs country. Congratulations to everyone who “Flew the W” Saturday night, watching the Chicago Cubs win the National League pennant for the first time in seven decades. Seeing any long-suffering sports team win a championship makes me happy, so I am glad the next World Series champions will be either the Cubs or the Cleveland Indians. Any thoughts on the potential impact of a Cubs or Indians victory on the election results in Iowa or Ohio?

I shouldn’t tempt fate with November 8 two and a half weeks away, but FiveThirtyEight.com now gives Hillary Clinton an 86 percent chance of winning the presidency. The latest simulation by Reuters/Ipsos sees her winning in 95 percent of scenarios. Recent polls of Iowa voters show no clear favorite in the presidential race. I expect a close result here; the latest absentee ballot numbers give both Democrats and Republicans reason to be optimistic. No matter who wins Iowa’s six electoral votes, Clinton appears very likely to be the next president.

Until a few years ago, I didn’t think a woman would be elected president in my lifetime. Despite all the misogyny and Hillary hate this campaign has brought to the surface, my children’s generation will grow up without the baggage of thinking this country would never elect a woman, just like they would never think an African-American can’t become president. That’s inspiring and empowering.

Any thoughts on which Iowans might get high-profile jobs in a Clinton administration? What place will she find for Tom Vilsack? Politico came up with a short list of five possible candidates to replace Vilsack as secretary of agriculture. (None are from Iowa.)

I’ve reached out to many Iowa Republicans who have kept their distance from Donald Trump or are rumored not to be voting for him. Most have not responded to my queries. I get that it’s a tough political calculation to oppose your party’s nominee, especially when the whole Iowa GOP establishment enthusiastically supports him. But I am convinced many of these closeted #NeverTrumpers will regret lacking the courage to take a stand before November 8. Trump is not some less-than-ideal candidate. He is playing to the ugliest strains in American politics. His demagoguery and blood libel encouraged white nationalists to come out from under their rocks, some explicitly playing the race card for votes while others relentlessly harass Trump’s critics.

Five former heads of the Republican National Committee, dozens of current and former GOP members of Congress, and four former GOP presidential nominees have said they will not vote for Trump. Fifty former senior national security officials in Republican administrations and a former nuclear missile launch officer have said it would be dangerous to give him the nuclear codes. His narcissism is comical, until you remember this man with no impulse control could become president. Meanwhile, Senator Joni Ernst told the whole country Trump would keep us safer. Ernst pretends to care about sexual assault but will vote for a man who threatened to sue all the women who have accused him of assaulting them. This Iraq War veteran hosted Trump at her biggest fundraiser of the year soon after he insulted a Gold Star family.

In contrast to Ernst, Governor Terry Branstad, or state party chair Jeff Kaufmann, some Iowa Republicans have avoided Trump’s rallies or events where they might be seen with the nominee. To them I say: speak up now, or expect your complicity to be a permanent stain on your political career. These people better not claim after Trump’s landslide loss that they secretly didn’t like him and didn’t vote for him.

Hardin County Auditor Jessica Lara told the Wall Street Journal’s Reid Epstein this week that she’s voting for Hillary Clinton. To my knowledge, she is the only current elected Republican official in Iowa to come out publicly for Clinton. Bleeding Heartland was first to report in May that Lara was #NeverTrump.

This is an open thread: all topics welcome. History buffs may appreciate Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty’s phenomenal interactive site showing pictures of street scenes in Budapest during the 1956 Hungarian uprising and in the present day.

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Steve King doesn't get it: Equating protest with terrorism is un-American

Blogger’s dilemma: which of Representative Steve King’s latest embarrassing, bigoted comments on national television should I focus on today?

Arguing that the government should guarantee parental leave only for the so-called “natural family” (which in King’s mind does not include gay or lesbian parents) was reprehensible. Why does he keep looking so hard for ways the state can treat LGBT people like second-class citizens? A parent’s sexual orientation should have no bearing on whether a baby deserves more time to bond with the primary caregiver. CNN’s Chris Cuomo already did a good job challenging King, pointing out research shows babies in LGBT households “are doing just as well if not better” than children being raised by a man and a woman.

I’ll take door number 2: King telling a friendly interviewer that professional football player Colin Kaepernick engaged in “activism that’s sympathetic to ISIS” and should be forced to “take a knee and beg forgiveness from the American people.”

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Title IX and the Rio Olympics

Tom Witosky covered sports, politics and business for many years as an investigative reporter at the Des Moines Register. -promoted by desmoinesdem

-30-

Back when newspaper reporters typed their stories onto paper, the notation -30- at the bottom of the final page indicated the end of a story.

When the U.S. Men’s Olympic basketball team on Sunday defeated Serbia, 96-66, the 30-point drubbing fittingly symbolized the end of one of the best Olympic efforts ever by U.S. male and female athletes. Medal totals told the story: U.S. teams earned 121 medals (45 gold, 37 silver and 38 bronze) outpacing China’s second place finish with 70 medals.

But what’s more interesting is how the dominance of U.S. female athletes, likely the most superior women’s team ever fielded by the United States Olympic Committee, played such a huge role in that success.

In many ways, the U.S. success provides another metaphor for the progress that has been made in this country’s striving for a better union. Like the breaking of the racial barrier in Major League Baseball by Jackie Robinson, and the breaking of the sexual-orientation barrier by a variety of athletes, the success of the U.S. women illustrates vividly that commitment to equality and diversity does pay despite long-term, deep-seated resistance from those who disagree.

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Weekend open thread: Olympics and Iowa State Fair edition

Who else is sad that the Olympics are ending today? Although we’re not big sports fans, all screen time limits in our household go out the window during the winter or summer Olympics. We’ve been watching for hours every day, despite the poor quality of NBC’s broadcasts. I was spoiled by living in Europe during the 1996 and 2000 Olympics. State broadcast networks provided remarkably thorough coverage, not only of their own country’s athletes, with no commercial breaks. I was also able to watch some of the more obscure events, which don’t receive a lot of attention here. Viewership of the Rio Olympics on NBC was reportedly down 17 percent from the London Olympics in 2012, a “nightmare” for the network. Here’s an idea: try more live coverage of more competitors in more events, with less schlock passing for “human interest” features.

While the Olympics are arguably the greatest show on earth, the greatest show in Iowa is certainly the state fair, which also wraps up today. A summer cold kept my family away from the fairgrounds last week, so my kids and I only visited the fair once this year. We still enjoyed the day enormously, and I have no regrets about not trying to follow Republican vice presidential candidate Mike Pence around. I enclose a few photos below. I didn’t attempt to take a picture of the guy on the midway wearing a “Hillary Clinton for Prison 2016” t-shirt.

This is an open thread: all topics welcome, especially any favorite moments from the Olympics or the state fair. The huge model train display near the giant slide is one of the most under-rated fair attractions in my opinion. Well worth $2 a person. Looking at a toy train set might not sound that interesting, but the scenes are elaborately constructed, and as you move along, there are lists of things to find in the model (a boy flying a kite, a beekeeper, Superman, a waterfall, etc.). It’s a fun game, and the air-conditioned building provides a nice refuge on a hot day. I recently learned that the central Iowa railroad group opens up this exhibit for free on the last Friday of every month from 7 to 9 pm.

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Transgender athlete sets new milestone for LGBT youth in Iowa

Of all the cultural changes in Iowa since I grew up here during the 1970s and 1980s, few are more striking or more inspiring than the growing acceptance for LGBT people. When I was a teenager at Valley High School in West Des Moines, no kids were “out” in our student body or at any other Iowa high school, as far as I’ve been able to ascertain by talking to peers my age. A few of my Valley classmates came out soon after starting college, but I could never have imagined Iowa high school students openly identifying as LGBT. Now gay-straight alliances are active in at least 80 Iowa high schools. Students from much smaller communities than West Des Moines have not only come out, but become leaders in their communities, forming support groups and raising awareness of anti-LGBT discrimination that remains. Even some Iowans attending Catholic high schools have fought to create safe spaces for LGBT students.

In recent years, several transgender teens have sought not just acceptance but understanding of issues they face in high school, including at my alma mater.

Ben Christiason of Cedar Falls set another milestone by becoming Iowa’s first openly transgender high school athlete. I heard of him for the first time in June, when he was among more than a dozen graduating seniors honored at the Eychaner Foundation‘s Matthew Shepard Scholarship dinner. The American Civil Liberties Union of Iowa awarded its annual Robert Mannheimer Youth Advocacy Award to Christiason because of “his pioneering role in transgender equality.” I enclose that announcement below, along with excerpts from Courtney Crowder’s excellent profile of Christiason, which the Des Moines Register published earlier this month. Crowder’s piece on other transgender children in Iowa is a must-read as well.

The non-profit Iowa Safe Schools is hosting Iowa’s First Annual Trans Educational Conference this November, hoping to enlighten “school administrators, school board members, educators, healthcare providers, youth-serving professionals, and parents” about “the specific needs of trans and gender non-conforming students” in communities of all sizes.

UPDATE: A new national poll of millennials provides the latest evidence that LGBT equality is becoming a consensus issue for the younger generation of Americans. Added the toplines below.

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