What Politicians Could Learn From University Of Iowa Students

Am I the only one who is discouraged these days? My state of mind is not helped by the news spewing out of Washington, D.C., and Des Moines many days. It doesn’t help my attitude when I see one of the top aides at the White House resigning under public pressure after disclosures he blackened the eye of his first wife and emotionally and physically assaulted her and his second wife. My mood worsened when the president and his chief of staff hurried to defend the wife-beating aide and all but pooh-poohed the women’s statements, in spite of the shocking […]

Iowa’s Tax Dollars Being Frittered Away

It’s nothing short of a miracle that the people of Iowa have not taken up pitchforks and marched on Des Moines demanding the attention of government officials. As things now stand, don’t be surprised if the folks in charge simply wait for the dust to settle and then get back to business. But Iowans should not let that happen. They should vent their frustrations to their elected officials with this business-as-usual attitude — this very expensive business-as-usual attitude that is frittering away our tax money. Consider the recent news out of our state and you can understand why some of […]

An Important History Lesson From Iowa’s Chief Justice

One of Iowa’s talented historians delivered an important lesson last week. But instead of standing in front of a school classroom, he was in the chamber of the Iowa House of Representatives. The teacher was Mark Cady. The subject of his lesson was a proud chapter in Iowa history and how events today are threatening one of our state’s claims to greatness. Cady’s day job is chief justice of the Iowa Supreme Court. It was in that role that he was in the Capitol last week to speak to members of the Iowa House and Senate, Gov. Kim Reynolds and […]

Why My Journalism Ulcer Is Working Overtime On New Trump Book

Last week was a time for setbacks in the United States. The only question is which setback was greater. Was it President Donald Trump’s standing in the eyes of the American people, with a book filled with fresh allegations about chaos inside his White House? Or was it American journalism’s standing in the eyes of the American people that suffered the most? I’m no fan of the president’s, as regular readers of these columns may deduce. So, some of them might think I would be thrilled to see several hundred pages of supposed evidence that Trump is little more than […]

Let’s Give Our Farmers Another Shot At Diplomacy In Korean Crisis

A new year is just around the corner. But instead of tipping a celebratory glass of champagne on New Year’s Eve, a big tumbler filed with Maalox seems more appropriate this time. For all of the optimism that usually accompanies a new year, the arrival of 2018 is being dogged by anxiety about war breaking out on the Korean peninsula. Unlike in Vietnam, Iraq or Afghanistan, a war with North Korea seems almost certain to involve nuclear weapons and the tremendous loss of life that would accompany those weapons. We need the voices of reason to be heard now, but […]

This Big Entitlement Flies Under The Radar

Watching events unfold in Washington, D.C., these days is much like watching Wile E. Coyote pursue the Road Runner in the cartoons from years gone by. When the Coyote and the Road Runner were on the screen, you knew what was coming next. So it is with the federal income tax overhaul bill that Republicans in Congress are determined to approve this week and send to President Trump. We know what will be coming next: Federal budget-cutting. To hear supporters tell it, the tax changes will unleash dramatic expansion of the nation’s economy like we haven’t seen in more than […]

Don’t Forget The Stranger In Need On DACA Effort

Each summer at schools across Iowa, a new batch of kindergartners heads in the front door for the first time. Not surprisingly, there are occasional tears. Some flow from the new students who are apprehensive about what may await them inside. Some come from the parents who are emotional about this milestone in their young children’s lives. When the 2016-2017 academic year was concluding last spring, there were more tears, this time from an unexpected source — a 23-year-old man. The scene that occurred at Hilton Coliseum in Ames in May carries a special message that should remind us all […]

Simplifying The Big Numbers In Government Spending

Back in my working days, back when I supervised The Des Moines Register’s business news staff, one of the columnists confessed to our readers that he had trouble balancing his checkbook. My boss didn’t think a business columnist had any business making such a confession. But the columnist was only admitting what many people, if they are truthful, could admit — and that’s their own challenges with mathematics. The experts call this math anxiety. At the risk of sending you scurrying to get away from your own childhood phobias over long division, this is an excellent time to dig into […]

Congress Doesn’t Operate Like You And Me

If our households operated the way the United States does, members of our extended families would be planning an intervention to get us to see the error of our ways. Why? Fifteen years ago, our household was on track to pay off our assorted debts. We were doing that by spending less than the paychecks we brought home. But now our household finances are in shambles. We gave up our fiscal discipline two decades ago and decided we could afford to be more freewheeling with our money. For the past 15 years, we have lived off our credit cards, spending […]

Wrong To Keep Muscatine Taxpayers In The Dark

One of the nastiest controversies in local government in Iowa in many years was the impeachment in May of Muscatine Mayor Diana Broderson by the city council. I’m not here to pass judgment on the council’s decision. That’s something Muscatine residents can do in the city election. But I do know this: City Administrator Gregg Mandsager owes it to residents to be more forthcoming with public records. Those records would allow people to make informed judgments about the council’s actions, about money the city has spent on the case, and about discussions among council members and Mandsager leading to the […]