You Don’t Solve Problems By Taking Hostages

I’m not sure you can get Republicans and Democrats to agree on many things these days — not even on motherhood and apple pie. Some people believe a wall along the border with Mexico is a national security priority and is necessary to stop the movement of migrants into the United States. Others think the $5 billion at the center of the border wall dispute could be better spent on additional border agents, more drones and sophisticated new security technology. Each of us has an opinion in this debate. But we all should be able to agree on this one […]

Who’s Wasting Your Tax Dollars? And Who’s Watching?

During most of my career at the Des Moines Register, all purchases for the news staff and all expense reimbursement claims went through the newsroom’s business manager. Through the years, there was turnover in the job. But two people held the job for much of that time, and they had one common trait: They examined each purchase and each expense form as if the money were being paid out of their own bank account, not from the company’s. Judging from news reports in recent weeks, there are government entities in Iowa that need clones of Vern and Marsha to look […]

Iowa Judge Prohibits Journalists From Reporting Simple Facts

On the morning of Aug. 31, shortly after 8:30, a 12-year-old boy pulled out a gun in his seventh-grade classroom in Eldridge, a community just north of Davenport. In an instant, he directed his classmates to get on the floor and then pointed the gun at his teacher’s face and squeezed the trigger. Blessedly, he did not take the gun’s safety off. The gun did not fire. But there was a bullet in the firing chamber and 11 others were in the gun’s ammunition magazine. The quick-thinking teacher got the gun away before the boy could try again. Her actions […]

How An Iowa Farm Couple And Bush 41 Lit The Way

We Americans are an impatient bunch. We typically don’t like to wait in line — unless there’s something we truly want, like much-sought-after concert tickets or whatever this year’s Tickle Me Elmo gift was on Black Friday. That’s why the scene last week was unusual — the thousands of people waiting quietly in line for hours to file past the casket of George H.W. Bush or to see his funeral procession roll by. That’s why one of those people waiting in the crowd stood out for me when a television reporter asked the woman why she had decided to be […]

On Saudi Arabia, Money Isn’t Everything

I’ve learned a lot of lessons about money, some easier than others, in the years since I pushed a lawnmower back and forth across Mrs. Carroll’s and Mrs. Greiner’s yards in Bloomfield long ago. My start as a gainfully employed contributor to the U.S. economy was inauspicious in the grand scheme of things. But I felt like a regular John D. Rockefeller — in blue jeans and a ball cap, instead of a suit and top hat — when the ladies settled up by handing over a couple of dollar bills each week. In those early years, my attitude toward […]

Time To Reverse Iowa’s Extreme Stance On Voting Rights Restoration

We Iowans like to think of ourselves as the true occupants of middle America, the geographic and societal equivalent of Baby Bear’s porridge. We are not as conservative as some sections of our country, nor as liberal as other sections. We don’t have the wealth that some regions do. We don’t have the poverty that is found elsewhere. But clearly, Iowa is out of step with other states when it comes to a basic right — the right to vote in our elections. This was brought home in dramatic fashion on Election Day when voters in Florida, by a staggering […]

Iowa Needs More Than Just The Big Regents Schools

Iowa is speeding toward a dangerous crossroads this week, and there has been too little discussion about what might occur and zero discussion about what the state should do. Trustees of Iowa Wesleyan University, the second-oldest college in Iowa, meet on Thursday to decide whether the institution will close next spring. The Mount Pleasant school has been educating young men and women since 1842. It was established four years before Iowa became a state and five years before the University of Iowa opened its doors. Only Loras College in Dubuque is older, having been founded in 1839. But Iowa Wesleyan’s […]

With A Nation Unraveling, When Will We Say Enough Is Enough?

Let’s skip the debate over whether our president bears even a smidgen of blame for contributing to the domestic terrorist incidents last week in the United States. Let’s agree we are never going to agree, so there’s no use driving each other’s blood pressure higher by talking more about that. Yes, there will always be people who are so mentally disturbed they think they are improving life in our United States by gunning down 11 people in a synagogue or by mailing 13 pipe bombs to people the culprit, and the president, dislike. Having said that, I wonder when will […]

How A Leg Up From Society Can Help Feed The World

Each year in October, when the Iowa countryside transforms from gorgeous summer greens to harvest season hues of tan, some of the world’s top agricultural scientists and anti-hunger activists gather in Des Moines to compare notes. The occasion is the presentation of the annual World Food Prize. It’s three days of conversations about the progress, or the setbacks, in the quest to adequately feed the world’s expanding population. Last week, as in years past, the event brought 1,200 people from 50 countries to Iowa. The highlight came Thursday night during a ceremony at the Iowa Capitol when the 32nd annual […]

Another Case Of Secrecy At An Iowa Community College

There’s an old expression that officials of Indian Hills Community College obviously have not heard about — or have chosen to ignore. The expression is simple: If you find yourself in a hole, stop shoveling. But the school continues to shovel — digging itself ever deeper into legal trouble and into a public relations quagmire. The Daily Iowegian newspaper in Centerville had a blockbuster report last week that contained bizarre disclosures that have been the talk of the town since the newspaper hit the streets: Both of the Indian Hills baseball coaches were forced out in May after several players […]