We should not forget the strangers in need

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.

We need common sense about huge numbers

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 people’s anxieties with math. You can’t follow the news these days without be bombarded by many, many millions, by bunches of billions, and by tons of trillions.

Don’t look at sexual abuse through a political lens

Years ago, somewhere around 1990, my wife and I and our two daughters visited my Aunt Elnora, who lived in Arkansas.

Last week, I found myself remembering that trip – especially the Arkansas newspaper article I read while my aunt was doting over the Evans girls.

The article dealt with the popular Arkansas governor at the time, Bill Clinton, who was being mentioned as a possible Democratic candidate for president. In the article, Clinton told reporters that if he decided to run, he would not be addressing rumors that he had engaged in extramarital affairs and sexual encounters.

I knew nothing of the rumors until then. But I knew it would be impossible for Clinton to stick to that I-won’t-comment position if he decided to jump into the presidential race. The public generally doesn’t accept silence from government officials or would-be government officials when shenanigans are suspected.

A news release we'd like to get someday from the Iowa Department of Natural Resources


November 8, 2019

Iowa DNR investigating discharge and likely fish kill in Gulf of Mexico

RACCOON RIVER WATERSHED – A pipe draining water from a corn field about five miles southeast of Adel in Butler County sent Iowa Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) staff to the farm Saturday to investigate.

Congress doesn’t operate like you and I do

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.


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 more each year than we brought home in income. Those credit cards now have astronomical balances.

It’s a tragedy what is NOT happening since Vegas

The funerals are over, all 58 of them.

But the mourning goes on, as it has since that horrible night and as it will for countless nights to come.

The injured are slowly mending, an eye-popping 540 people.

But for some, they will never fully heal. Even if they do, many will be financially crippled for years to come.

It’s been one month, and that’s where things stand after that night of music and jubilation in Las Vegas was transformed into a nightmare in a matter of a few minutes and many hundreds of bullets.

There’s one more update you need to know about, too:

The Republican majority in Congress has, for all practical purposes, moved on and is letting the tragedy of Las Vegas slip into the dust bin of history.

And then there was only one. . .

The news surprised no one in the Quad Cities news business.

The Dispatch-Argus succumbed to the same malady facing newspapers from coast to coast: falling subscribers, Googlizing of news into an everywhere commodity, double digit declines in display advertising, and loss of classified advertising to Craigslist and dozens of other online marketplaces.

The biggest question was why it took Lee Enterprises (with its competing Quad City Times) so long to gobble up its rival.

Growth: check; annexation: check; sewage: hmmm

Bettendorf's elected city officials meet this weekend to set goals and land annexation to assure the city's steady northward sprawl will no doubt come up for discussion.

The more pressing issue when it comes to future growth, however, is sewage. Specifically how will the city handle the growing treatment needs for future homes and businesses located more than 20 miles from the Iowa Quad-Cities' only sewage treatment facility?

Trump’s America: A shining outhouse on a hill

When Donald Trump announced he was running for president, I mocked him. “Of the United States?” I asked. (I got a C- in Mockery when I was in college, unfortunately.)

When he jumped into the lead almost immediately, I laughed. “The higher the climb, the harder the fall,” I said. (I did better in Pithy Quotations.)

The passion of Scalia: Had late justice not violated his own philosophy Iraq War may have been avoided

My mother always told me never to speak ill of the dead.

For that reason I won’t go on at length about Antonin Scalia, the recently departed Supreme Court justice. My opinion wouldn’t be worth that much anyway. I didn’t know the man — I was never even in the same room with him.

However, I do find this avalanche of posthumous praise of him as “a judicial giant” and one of the great justices of our history a little gag-inducing.


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