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Columns

  • America’s greatest enemy is America

    As Americans commemorated another anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, there are lots of things I remember about that day, and the days that followed.

    I was working at a small daily newspaper at the time, one with the Associated Press service. I remember the first advisory that came in simply stating in about 12 words that a plane crashed into the World Trade Center. I recalled a story a few weeks earlier about a small commuter plane crashing into a New York City apartment building, and thought the same thing happened.

  • Do we want government run like a business?

    One of my nephews posted a clip on Facebook last week from The Daily Show’s coverage of the Republican National Convention.  In it, the Daily Show decides to streamline America, running government like a business.  

  • Vague wording may kill motel tax

    When Red Oak’s City Council was deciding when local residents would vote on a hotel/motel tax, I remember Councilman Larry Barnett making the following comment:

    “If I take off my council hat and become a citizen, I want to know how the money is going to be spent … people want to know where this money is going, and I don’t think it’s unreasonable to ask the council to educate the citizens of this community.”

  • Guest Editorial: Hotel/Motel task force member offers explanation

    As a member of the hotel/motel tax task force appointed by the Red Oak City Council, I worked hard with the other members to develop an ordinance for the election.

    We conducted eight meetings, held two public forums and surveyed many communities that already have the tax. We prepared the information, submitted it to the City Attorney and the Commissioner of Elections to assure it met the requirements.

    The ordinance as prepared by our committee was for all revenue to be used for the promotion and encouragement of tourism related activities.

  • The Zephyr train and its Iowa connection

    Two or three years ago this column was on the 1942 bombing of a streamlined, stainless steel passenger train called the Zephyr.  The unsolved crime was referred to by J. Edgar Hoover as the only substantial act of sabotage to take place in Iowa during World War ll.  

    My column did not contain a lot of information, in part because not much was available.  The FBI and Iowa BCI were selective about what was released and local newspaper editors, during those early days of the war, abided by rules of censorship.

  • Missouri politician proves the folly of political parties

    When I went back to St. Louis a few weeks ago to visit my folks, I was greeted by something I have never seen in my parents' front yard in 41 years: a political sign.

    Apparently, my parents attend the same church as a politician who asked my dad to put the sign in their yard, despite the fact they live on a dead end street.

  • Will we choose wisely this election?

    Will we choose wisely?

    Recently, we've been re-watching the Indiana Jones movies.  In the third film, “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade,” Indy sets out to rescue his Biblical scholar father who has been captured by the Nazis and the adventure turns into a quest for the Holy Grail or cup of Christ.

    This quest has been the lifelong dream of Jones, Sr., while the Nazis seek to possess the Grail for its supernatural powers.  

  • Cash Penney and his visit to Iowa

    The story goes that James Cash Penney, back in the late 1930s, walked into one of his southwest Iowa department stores. He struck up a conversation with a sales clerk, circulated, chatted with other employees. He soon realized that not a person in the place had the slightest idea of who he was.  

  • If U.S. flag needs protecting, others need banning

    In the state of Iowa, it is a misdemeanor to burn a U.S. flag.

    It's a misdemeanor to put a sticker on the U.S. flag.

    Technically, it's even a misdemeanor to make a joke about the U.S. flag.

    However, its not a serious misdemeanor, or even a non-serious one as there is no penalty for violating this law, which begs the question: Why have a law that carries no penalty?

  • Grassley Commentary: Q&A regulatory reform and job creation

    Q:    How significant is the burden of federal regulations on economic activity?
    A:    According to a recent Gallup survey, small-business owners in the United States are most likely to say that complying with government regulations is the biggest problem facing them today.  Recently the Small Business Administration estimated the federal regulatory burden has reached $1.75 trillion a year.