Iowa Goes Conservative This Year—
Except In Football Coaching Strategy

Let’s start today with some comments on Iowa news—election results and that controversial failed go-for-two trick play effort by Iowa State Coach Paul Rhoads in the Cyclones’ 31-30 loss to the Nebraska Cornhuskers.

Rhoads decided to gamble for a two-point pass off a fake one-point place kick formation instead of calling for another tie second overtime.  The result was the 31-30 Husker victory.

I was not surprised—nothing in sports commentators’ analysis of Husker football games surprises me—that Coach Rhoads’ failed effort was enthusiastically approved by at least two commentators. 

One indicated Rhoads’ trick play effort helped convince him to vote for Rhoads as Big 12 Coach of the Year if Iowa State doesn’t “collapse” in its last two games.

This commentator said that an upset win over Nebraska “was only three yards away”—a puzzling comment when in many sporting events, the no-trick-play results are decided by inches, not yards.

Another print commentator said that because of Rhoads’ gamble, all anyone will remember about the game “is the gutsy call by Rhoads.”  This commentator said that Rhoads “had a perfect play saved up for just the right moment.”  All that people will remember about the action-packed game is Rhoads’ call of a “perfect play”?  Rhoads’ call will certainly be remembered but not for its perfection.

If the play was “perfect” and it was “the right moment,” are people expected to forget that it didn’t work?

If you read all of the 275 paragraphs of Husker-Cyclone coverage, on an inside page you would have come across this language from Husker safety Austin Cassidy:  “The coaches warned us about it all week.  They said they’re going to use a fake at some point.  They had the fake punt last year against us.”

So good Husker coaching and an alert play by Nebraska’s superb defensive back Eric Hagg, who intercepted the attempted two-point conversion pass, made Cyclone Coach Rhoads’ against-the-odds gamble a long-to-be remembered mistake, in this commentator’s opinion.

Now to Iowa politics: 

The election in our neighbor to the east—whose voters have consistently returned liberal Democrat Tom Harkin to the Senate—showed voters were definitely in a conservative mood this year.

Former five-term Republican Governor Terry Branstad, 64, ousted Democrat Tom Culver from the governor’s office.  (Culver’s image, incidentally, isn’t helped by the fact that he is obviously considerably overweight.) 

Iowans also sent Republican Senator Chuck Grassley, 76, back to Washington for a fifth term.  

And the candidate who projected the best television image of all those I looked at during the long political campaign, U.S. Rep. Steve King, won his fourth term from Iowa’s Fifth District, which includes much of Western Iowa. 

The popular Republican immediately called for cutting off grants of funds to for cities offering sanctuary to illegal immigrants.  He also supports ending automatic citizenship for anyone born in this country even if the mother is here illegally.

Iowans Vote Against Legalizing Same-Sex Marriage

But perhaps the biggest election-day news from Iowa was the voters’ ouster of three Iowa Supreme Court judges—big news because appointed judges are rarely voted out of office when they run for approval to serve another term.

The three Supreme Court justices voted with their four colleagues in a 7-0 ruling legalizing same-sex marriages.

As World-Herald staff writer C. David Kotok pointed out:

“The results do nothing to overturn the controversial 7-0 ruling by the court but send a loud message that a majority of Iowa voters remain angry that the court—not the legislature—had overturned the state’s ban on same-sex marriages.”

It was the first time that Iowa voters have ousted a member of that state’s Supreme Court.

The message in the Iowa ouster of the three Supreme Court judges could well resonate in other states as an indication of how far opponents of same-sex marriages are willing to go when given a chance to express their views in a meaningful way.

Predictable Knee-Jerk Reaction From N.Y. Times 

Turning to the national-Democratic-disaster election results:

I went to the Thursday morning New York Times editorial page for confirmation of my expectation that The Times would blame Republican George W. Bush for the recession which Barack Obama has tried to solve by “stimulus” spending adding uncounted billions to our national debt. 

Expectation confirmed.  The Times said “the polls” (no details as to what polls, how the questions were phrased, how many were polled) showed that more voters blamed Bush for “the economic problems” than blamed Obama and even more blamed that favorite liberal whipping boy, “Wall Street.”

The truth, of course, is that the recession had its roots in totally unrealistic “easy mortgage” policies promoted by Democratic presidents going back as far as Jimmy Carter.

Over time, it became part of the bedrock Democratic ideology that every American family is entitled to live “the American dream”—home ownership.  No more renters.

Under pressure from Bill Clinton, two government-subsidized mortgage underwriters, Freddie Mac and Fanny Mae, made mortgage underwriting available on totally unrealistic terms.

‘Greatest Success Story’ Becomes A Disaster 

The results were predictable.  People could get mortgages with little or no down payment and no realistic expectation that they could pay off the mortgages.  (Sen. Chris Dodd, ranking Democrat on the Senate Banking Committee, called the whole risky business “the greatest success story of all time.”)

The unrealistically cheap mortgages were bundled and sold and moved upstream to become part of packages marketed by Wall Street.  Predictably, the whole shaky mortgage-based structure collapsed when borrowers defaulted on unrealistic mortgage payment obligations that never should have been offered to them.

There is plenty of blame to go around.  The original lenders, the firms that bundled the mortgages and sold them upstream, the Wall Street bankers who packaged and sold the obviously (if they had been scrutinized) dangerously risky mortgages.

But the roots of the problem were in that Democratic-promoted, federally-subsidized totally unrealistic “every American family is entitled to own a home” welfare state philosophy.

New York Times editorial writers—and liberals in general, including Barack Obama—are either ignorant of the facts or maliciously misrepresenting them.

George W. Bush was not my favorite president.  In more than one column I questioned his intellectual depth.  But Bush is not responsible for the recession.

The responsibility lies with American liberals who preached and implemented the welfare state “every family should own a home” philosophy—liberals like Bill Clinton and Barney Frank (chairman of the House Finance Committee) and Chris Dodd.

* * *

Dare We Question Famed Sculptor’s Opinion
That ‘Starkness’ Best Defines Our Area? 

Turning to a subject which I have addressed before, those ugly eight-story tall sculptures towering above the intersection of Interstate Highways 80 and 29 southeast of Council Bluffs. 

A recent front page World-Herald story for the first time depicted all of one of the towers in its Interstate-intersection setting.  The headline read:  “A STARK REMINDER OF WHERE WE LIVE.” 

It’s certainly not a reminder of the generally pleasant Midlands setting in which I live. 

Do we have some “stark” weather days?  Of course.  But as I dictate this, I look out my garden room window and see another of a long succession of pleasant autumn days, in no way reminiscent of that collection of what appears to be scrap metal put together by “internationally renowned sculptor Albert Paley.”

The story quotes Paley as saying the real life inspiration for his “Odyssey”—four sculptures looming above the Interstate intersection—is the “stark” nature of this Midlands area, a nature which the sculptures are supposed to reflect.  

The sculptor is quoted as saying that “in wintertime, there is incredible starkness to the landscape.”  Apparently the internationally renowned sculptor hasn’t heard that in the Council Bluffs/Omaha area every year includes four seasons. 

Sculptor Says We Experience Starkness ‘All The Time’ 

The internationally renowned sculptor goes on to tell us that “when you live here, you experience it all the time and maybe you don’t (notice) it that much.”

I wonder if we really needed four ugly sculptures, built with funding from Bluffs casino gambling profits, to remind us we should be impressed—or is it depressed?—by the “incredible starkness to the landscape.”

Incidentally, a caption accompanying the picture said that the four towers are intended to form a “ceremonial archway into Iowa from the west,” according to sculptor Paley. 

Apparently neither Paley nor the caption writer realized that much of the traffic at that intersection comes from north-south I-29 and east-west I80.  It is not accurate to describe the sculptures as only a ceremonial entrance to Iowa from the west (on I80). 

Sculptor and caption writer should know that two Interstate highways are involved and that highways move traffic in both directions.

* * *

Lovable Little Sophie’s Mission:
Bring Happiness, Help Other Dogs 

A 17-month-old Yorkie/Poodle bundle of canine appeal named Sophie has recently been happily introduced to a few families, including Marian and me. 

Today Sophie is being introduced to a wider audience through this column and the picture below, with the hope that the information that I’m about to supply will perhaps help other puppy-mill, abandoned or abused dogs find owners. 

Sophie, you see, is a graduate of Hearts United for Animals (www.hua.org) after being rescued from a puppy mill.  We hope that Sophie’s story will focus favorable attention on HUA, a no-kill shelter located on 65 acres in Auburn, Nebr.

Sophie’s story: 

Jackie Wrieth, my executive assistant these past 25 years, had gone “dogless” since the death of her beloved yellow lab, Bud, five years ago.  I couldn’t convince her that a lot of people believe the best show of love for your departed dog is to welcome a new dog into the family very soon.

Then, one month ago, Jackie’s mother died at age 90 after moving from Florida 2-1/2 years ago to live at a senior living community in west Omaha.  This left Jackie’s stepfather, Heinz Friedrich, living alone. 

Jackie thought it would be a good idea to give her stepfather some canine companionship on Jackie’s frequent visits to Heinz.  It has worked.  Sophie now sits in Heinz’s lap during Jackie’s visits.  Both Sophie and Heinz like the companionship.

(Jackie freely admits she figured correctly that a dog would also be a very welcome addition to the home of Jackie and her husband, Don.)

Jackie, also an enthusiastic every-year supporter of the Nebraska Humane Society in Omaha, said she hopes Sophie’s story will help bring favorable attention to HUA, whose largely volunteer workers’ dog collection and placement efforts are supported by contributions from dog lovers.


Sophie and Jackie

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