• Anybody up for some crab meat?

    I’m writing this after spending an afternoon with Delmer Scott.  Scott is a native Texan, although not the sort you might expect. He does not wear a Stetson, plate-sized belt buckle, or lizard-skin boots.  He’s distinctly more short and round than tall and lean.  I cannot imagine him on a horse.  

    Scott is a gulf coast product, a former commercial fisherman.  In his youth he built a boat and made his living dragging nets and selling shrimp.  He’s now semi-retired and owns a small RV park on a pleasant expanse of salt water.

  • Trying to figure out how to grieve for a nemesis

    I just found out a former co-worker of mine passed away this weekend after a lengthy battle with cancer.

    Typically, I would be making arrangements to send flowers or at least a card to her family expressing my regrets.

    But not this time as quite honestly, I didn’t like this person one little bit, and the feeling was quite mutual.

    There aren’t many people in this world I truly hate, in fact, I can’t think of one. If pressed though to make such a list, this woman would have been close to the top of it.

  • Ernst touts fiscal reforms during start of legislative session

    Welcome back into our legislative session! 

    We jumped headfirst into the new session with the establishment of various committees, subcommittee meetings, and Governor Branstad’s State of the State address. 

    There is a buzz of excitement around the Capitol as we review interim committee work from the past summer and fall. 

  • Caucuses and Primaries: Do you know the difference between the two?

    Hallelujah, the caucuses are over! My phone no longer rings off the hook, we get through meals uninterrupted, and local TV news reporters are back to covering accidents, crimes and sporting events.

    But after surviving the latest round of political reporting, I have to wonder how many people really understand our political system? Let me give you a couple of examples.

  • The process and art of headlines

    I find headlines interesting.   I don’t know who writes those that appear above my articles, but they do a nice job.  Perhaps for this column one of those that follow will be used, such as:  “Jury to Try Shooting Suspect.”              

  • The gift of some delicious Pate’

    This year my holiday gift to you, dear readers, is an appetizer so good that it could, if our federal government knew anything about negotiation, be exchanged with China for a chunk of our national debt.  

    You may wish to go directly to the end of the column for the formula.  But I need to fill space, so a bit of background.  

    A few months ago I was running down recipes for a book on Southwest Iowa’s Greatest.  Some of them were well-guarded secrets.   

  • My concerns with the Iowa Caucus procedure

    After experiencing my first Iowa caucus, if I had to use one word to describe the process it would be disconcerting.

    I’m tempted to use the word terrifying, but that seems a little too strong.

    However, I am still amazed this is the first step in choosing a president.

    I recognize I’m trampling on sacred ground with this commentary, as Iowa cherishes its caucus process, especially the first in the nation part of it.

  • Whatever happened to Statesmanship: Why can’t congress work?

    By Cherie Miner

    “I got a lot of problems with you people!” yells George Costanza’s father on Seinfeld during the Festivus Airing of the Grievances.

    And that’s how I felt watching our Congressional Republicans during the fight to extend the payroll tax cut and unemployment benefits.
    At a time when millions of Americans cannot find work and many families open empty cupboards the latter half of every month, House Republicans were willing to raise taxes on working people and leave the unemployed empty handed.

  • How I’ll remember Myrna Johnson

    It often takes a little time for these columns to work through the pipeline. When I use the word “recently” I’m referring to when the column was written—not necessarily when it appears.
    Such is the case when I say that a couple of days ago I opened our paper and encountered the obituary of Myrna Johnson. Although she was 85, I was taken off guard.

    My last conversation with Myrna was during a late-summer baseball game at Anderson Park. I puzzled over something she said that evening and was expecting to one day ask for clarification.  

  • Santorum’s extra effort may push him to top in Iowa

    When I first moved to Iowa nearly three years ago, one of the biggest things I was looking forward to as a journalist was covering the Iowa caucuses.

    About 18 months removed from Joe Biden, John Edwards, Hilary Clinton and Michelle Obama from visiting the region, I was eagerly anticipating getting to see the best and the brightest the GOP had to offer in 2012.

    Instead, I got 1,483 phone calls, 1,482 from random pollsters or Mitt Romney.