Free Speech Is Sometimes Uncomfortable

The First Amendment isn’t long, but it certainly packs a lot of angst into those few words: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.” Most Americans embrace these concepts that are important foundations for democracy in the United States — although there are times when these freedoms make us uncomfortable. One of those times was in 1978 when the American Civil Liberties […]

What You Do With Your Money Tells Us Something

When you drive down Columbia Street in Bloomfield, you will roll past two lessons on selfless giving. Both of those “lessons” are wrapped in one important building, the Bloomfield Public Library. More on the library’s lessons in a moment. All of this is pertinent to our discussion today because it seems as if Beto O’Rourke, one of the flood of Democrats who want to be our president, never really grasp the lesson about the importance of giving that many of us have learned. O’Rourke is wealthy, both by Davis County standards and by Washington, D.C., standards. The nonpartisan Center for […]

College Sports Want It Both Ways With Athletes And Coaches

A few days ago, a friend repeated a maxim about what it’s like at his work these days: When the company wants him to do something after hours for no pay, the boss points out this is his calling. But when he asks for a raise, the boss winces and reminds him this is a business. It’s like that with the NCAA, too. The organization wants it both ways. The NCAA reminds us about the glorious thing that is amateur athletics — the competition against rival schools, rabid fans wearing their team’s colors, alumni coming back to campus. It’s all […]

Hey Lawmakers, Let Local Government Govern

When members of the Iowa Legislature show up at coffee shops in their districts on weekends, you won’t hear them talking about not trusting local government officials. But that is at the heart of a bill that would turn city and county government topsy-turvy and place a straitjacket on the governments that are closest to the voters. House Study Bill 165 is the product of Republicans who hold a majority of seats on the House Ways and Means Committee. A subcommittee has recommended approval of the bill. If that doesn’t occur this year, don’t assume for a minute the idea […]

Bloom Where You’re Planted: Thoughts On A College Admissions Scandal

The altar at the First United Methodist Church in Cedar Falls was decorated with bouquets of beautiful flowers last week. Dozens of people gathered there to celebrate the life of a wonderful woman at the conclusion of her 84 years on this Earth. Those blossoms offered especially poignant symbolism. Ruth was a true treasure — to her family, to her friends, to her community where she lived, and, when you stop to think about all of the people like her, to the world around us. Like the phrase encourages us, Ruth bloomed where she was planted. But sitting in that […]

Forget The “Socialism” Labels, Let’s Stick To Policies

If you had your ear cupped just right and were listening closely Sunday afternoon, you might have heard my head explode. The pressure inside the old noggin has been building for months, thanks to what can be called politics as usual in Washington, D.C., and Des Moines. So, my friends and relatives were not surprised by what occurred about 2 o’clock Sunday. My cranium could not contain the buildup any longer when I read that U.S. Rep. Devin Nunes of California was fuming about his visit to a restaurant in that state. The waitress asked the congressman if he wanted […]

Iowa Needs Sunshine – On Police Videos

Sunshine Week will be observed across the nation next week. The week shines a spotlight on the important role open government and citizen accountability play in our democracy. Open meetings and open records are the tools that enable the public to know what their government is doing, or not doing, in the name of the people. In Iowa, the sunshine next week will be obscured by clouds — at least when it comes to citizen access to videos recorded by law officers on their squad car cameras and body cameras during incidents in which police shoot someone or when officers […]

Tax Breaks For Amazon, Punishments For Struggling Iowans

Last week’s news put furrows in my brow. As I ruminated on the headlines and details in the news accounts, I came away convinced something is out of whack somewhere. One of the reports was that Amazon, the online retailing behemoth, cancelled plans to build a corporate headquarters in New York City. The company had said 25,000 employees eventually would work there. Amazon’s decision came after persistent criticism from some New York politicians and community activists about the amount of incentives the state of New York and the city government were going to give the company — $3 billion, with […]

State Help Shouldn’t Overlook Our Small Towns

Community leaders always prefer to see the glass as half full instead of dwelling on trends and policies beyond their control that could easily produce anxiety — or ulcers. I had a friend for many years who fit that description. I would call him an optimistic realist. I’m sure he had opportunities to follow a career path that would have taken him to a large city, just as I did. Instead, he chose to work and expend his leadership energy in a smaller town with fewer people than some neighborhoods in Des Moines have. He never wore blinders, however. He closely […]

Kim Reynolds Reverses Course From Branstad Voting Rights Stance

Faithful readers of this space know I have not been shy about disagreeing with Gov. Kim Reynolds’ positions on a variety of issues. But I am here today not to criticize our governor but to praise her — for her courage that is both political and personal. Politically, Reynolds risks offending some of her staunch supporters with the proposal she made last month to amend the Iowa Constitution to automatically reinstate felons’ right to vote after they finish their prison terms and complete parole or probation. There is political risk for Reynolds because her mentor, Terry Branstad, the longest-serving governor […]