Free Speech At Colleges Getting Drowned Out By Controversy Avoidance

The T-ball mentality has spread to many colleges and universities. This trend should concern parents, grandparents, students, prospective employers and others. It should concern us because access to a rigorous education has helped make the United States an academic powerhouse in the world and has moved our nation forward economically and socially. But the attitude wrapped up in T-ball is throwing a wrench into that. The attitude draws its name from the children’s sports leagues where 5- and 6-year-old boys and girls are introduced to softball and baseball by hitting the ball off a tee. No score is kept in […]

Why Can’t We Learn To Hold Our Tongues?

Another year has come and gone, and it’s a time when people take stock of the 12 months we’ve lived through. Looking back on 2016, a bunch of words aptly describe this year: anger, division, animosity, hatred, intolerance, stress, upheaval. I wish more people were familiar with the late Albia attorney Frank J. Karpan, a charmingly cantankerous character I knew for 30 years. He was an astute observer of events and people. On more than one occasion he said, “I missed an ideal opportunity in there to keep my mouth shut.” That was Frank’s way of admitting he probably had […]

What Was Branstad Thinking When He Said “Yes”?

Iowa, this place we call home, has been a state since it was admitted to the Union 170 years ago next week. In that long arc of history, there has not been an Iowa political figure quite like Terry Branstad. Many politicians start plotting their next campaign for a higher office almost as soon as they are sworn in. Not Branstad. He has been a model of consistency (or complacency, depending on your point of view). Admire him or dislike him, you have to give Branstad credit for resiliency: Twenty-one years as Iowa’s governor, the longest-serving chief executive in Iowa […]

Trump Can’t Have It Both Ways On Election Results

I’ve been shaking my head so much lately that friends probably think it is loose. The reason? There’s been so much irony since the election. It’s a miracle we haven’t strained our necks as our heads snap around when we hear some of the comments. Consider these. Moment 1: A regular part of Donald Trump’s campaign rallies was his claims the election was being rigged by Hillary Clinton and Democrats. But Trump won the election fair and square with 306 electoral votes, 36 more than required. Instead of basking in his upset victory, Trump began claiming, with absolutely no evidence to […]

Why Good People Don’t Run For Office

I cast my first vote for president in 1960. Or at least I think it was 1960. Before my Donald Trump friends do the math and conclude I was trying to rig an election as a 10-year-old, let me confess that my “vote” came in the middle school’s mock election. Kids were excited to take part in the election back then. Teachers helped us develop an appreciation for voting and ballot boxes. I’ve carried that appreciation in the decades since the 1960 race between Richard Nixon and John Kennedy. But as I’ve gotten older and as our election campaigns have […]

Iowa Needs To Get Serious About Cleaner Water

Iowans take pride in our state’s reputation as an agricultural powerhouse that feeds hundreds of millions of people every year at home and around the globe. This time of the year, we marvel at the scenes of combines crisscrossing fields day and night bringing in another year’s crops. Those harvest pictures are something of a symbol of our state. But Iowa’s image has suffered a serious blow because of problems with the state’s water. It’s incongruous that a state known for its rural bounty and rural beauty is becoming known for its polluted rivers and lakes and for its popular […]

A Reckless Trump Undermines Democracy

What is happening to our country? For generations, going all the way back to the 13 colonies, the Founding Fathers wanted this place to be different from other nations. People in America would be able to speak and think freely and move about at will. People would get to vote on the people who would make decisions. And there would be a Constitution that spelled this all out. John Winthrop made the trek in 1630 from England to what we know today as Massachusetts. He described the America that he found as a beacon for people looking for a better, […]

My Republican Friends (And America) Deserve Better

You can’t grow up in a state like Iowa and not have close to an equal number of Republican friends, friends who are Democrats and friends who are politically independent. That’s certainly been the case for this kid from southern Iowa. Through the years, I’ve had some enjoyable debates with friends over the pluses and minuses of various candidates of all political stripes. Sometimes we agreed. Sometimes we agreed to disagree. Other times we came away with a deeper understanding of an issue and a better appreciation for why friends believed the way they did. Then along came the 2016 […]

Steven Leath Banged Up ISU’s Optics, Too

You should never under-estimate the importance of timing in business decisions. Or the importance of “optics”. We’re seeing an example of that playing out now in Ames with Iowa State University President Steven Leath and the Iowa State University Foundation. Leath has been in the news recently for an incident that occurred in July 2015 when he banged up a university airplane, causing $12,000 in damage. He was at the controls of the single-engine Cirrus SR22 when the incident occurred. Leath was trying to land in Bloomington, Ill., for refueling during a cross-country trip with his wife. They were flying […]

Coping Is Easier When The Glass Is Half-Full

I’ve long been a glass-half-full guy, rather than someone who dwells on the glass being half empty. It’s just a matter of perspective, I guess. I credit this outlook to my parents. But regardless of its origins, it’s comforting when you focus on the good that is out there rather than the evil – especially these days when it might appear our world is ready to spin out of control. My parents grew up during the Great Depression – not having a lot to start with and then having even less during those tough times – and that reality colored […]