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“Mary learned early in life to eat a balanced diet, balance the bowl between your knees, balance the cheesy treats equally in each hand, balance the spills and fallout symmetrically.”
“Cheetos…. Either you love them, or you really love them.”
“Maggie’s exercise routine includes a ton of curls each day, followed by stomach lunges.”
“Nothing says delicious like corn meal, salt, sugar, yeast, ferrous sulfate, MSG, red dye #40, and yellow dye #6.”
“Marissa was not prepared for the squirrel swarm that appeared right after this photo. For some reason, they were fond of the crumbs.”
Down through the ages, a pretty comprehensive list of sins has been compiled to guide our daily lives.
Some have been added over time as society’s norms have changed, and others have been stricken from the list.
I’m not here to preach to you about envy, gluttony or greed, or even some of the more salacious sins. I’m wringing my hands that compromise appears to be on the list, too, at least when it comes to politics and governing.
That’s a shame, for compromise should be in everyone’s book of virtues.
But compromise has become almost a sign of weakness in politics and governing. In our fractious world, too many of us are unwilling to venture away from the absolutist, my-way-or-the-highway approach when it comes to a whole host of issues facing Iowa and our nation.
Both political parties are adept at practicing this sort of intractability.
There are some Republicans in Washington who are beginning to talk openly about wanting another cut in federal income taxes, even though the government is weighed down today by a nearly trillion-dollar budget deficit and by record federal debt that now exceeds $23 trillion.
At the same time, some Democratic presidential candidates — notably, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren — are campaigning on the need for a “yuge” income tax increase and a wealth tax on the richest Americans. We are hearing about this even though there is little appetite among many Americans for another prolonged fight over taxes.
Those of us who inhabit the middle ground often get overlooked these days as right-wing extremism and left-wing extremism become more entrenched in our politics.
It’s not just the D’s and R’s who are fighting. If you pay attention to political analysts, commentators and politicians, you see some Republicans facing the wrath of the president and his base when they criticize him. Likewise, you see moderate Democrats being targeted by fellow Democrats for not supporting positions the critics think are progressive enough.
Consider the case of Pete Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Ind.
In just a year, he has surged from obscurity to the top of some polls of Iowa Democrats. But he has been pummeled by some Democratic activists nationally for not being liberal enough on health care and on how the country should deal with the cost of college.
He refuses to get behind Sanders’ and Warren’s plans for everyone to be covered under Medicare. Instead, he prefers to allow people to remain on their employer-provided group insurance plans if they want or to choose to be covered under the federal government’s Medicare insurance plan.
More recently, the progressive critics’ displeasure with Buttigieg has focused on his refusal to get behind the tuition-free public college plans advocated by Sanders, the Vermont senator.
But the free-college advocates don’t like to talk about whether there are better and more sustainable ways to provide more people with education and training after high school.
They fail to recognize how compromise can strengthen and improve proposals.
The discussion and compromise that should be part of the everyday legislative process in Des Moines and Washington is on life support in today’s climate of political polarization.
Without a willingness to talk about differing proposals and to engage in a productive give-and-take to shape a workable compromise, nothing gets accomplished — other than pointing fingers at those whose ideas don’t agree with ours.
Flaws in some ideas don’t get examined and resolved — flaws like, what would become of Iowa’s 24 private colleges and universities that educate thousands of students annually and greatly enrich their communities culturally, academically and economically.
How would they survive if students could attend the three state universities or the state’s community colleges without paying tuition?
Rural Iowa already has a bumper crop of challenges from the changing complexion of American agriculture and retailing. Rural communities would suffer an unnecessary and devastating blow if these private colleges were priced out of existence in places like Storm Lake, Pella, Orange City and Waverly.
Without discussion and compromise, there’s no way to address Buttigieg’s fundamental philosophical concerns about tuition-free-for-everyone proposals including the children of wealthy Americans at a time when the public’s appetite for government help far exceeds our desire to pay the taxes to provide that help.
Without debate and compromise, no middle ground is possible from today’s reality where Iowa young people finish their college degrees with some of the highest student loan debt in the nation. Two-thirds of Iowa graduates owe an average of $30,000 when they leave college.
Without debate and compromise, ideas like expanding the federal government’s Pell Grants go nowhere. These grants now provide financial assistance of up to $6,195 per year to low income college students and can be used at public or private colleges and universities.
The United States needs to be guided by the quotation I once heard. It reminds us, “Compromise is what makes nations great and marriages happy.”
Randy Evans can be reached at DMRevans2810@gmail.com.
Cumberland Rose Players to Present “Best Christmas Pageant Ever” Dec. 13-15 at Warren Cultural Center and Greenfield United Methodist Church
The Cumberland Rose Players will present the play “Best Christmas Pageant Ever” December 13, 14, and 15. The first two performances will take place at the Warren Cultural Center (7 p.m.) with the final performance Sunday morning at 10 a.m. at the Greenfield United Methodist Church. The Sunday performance will take the place of the regular GUMC worship services. Tickets for the Warren Cultural Center performances will be available at the door for $10 (adults), high school and younger are free.
The story involves preparing for the annual Christmas pageant. A new family of children gives a new perspective to the familiar Christmas story. Director Brenda Plymesser said that children from several local churches in Fontanelle and Greenfield are involved in this production.
Country and Gospel music legend Ricky Skaggs is set to make a stop at Hoyt Sherman Place on Friday, April 17 at 7:30 PM.
Fifteen-time GRAMMY® Award-winner Ricky Skaggs’ career is easily among the most significant in recent country music history. His life’s path has taken him to various musical genres, from where it all began in bluegrass music, to striking out on new musical journeys, while still leaving his musical roots intact.
Skaggs emerged as a professional bluegrass musician in 1971, when he and his friend Keith Whitley were invited to join the legendary Ralph Stanley’s band the Clinch Mountain Boys. Skaggs then went on to record and perform with progressive bluegrass acts like the Country Gentlemen and J.D. Crowe & the New South, whose self-titled 1975 Rounder Records debut album was instantly recognized as a landmark bluegrass achievement. Skaggs turned to the more mainstream country music genre in the late ‘70s when he joined Emmylou Harris’s Hot Band, replacing Rodney Crowell.
In 1981, his Epic label debut album Waitin’ for the Sun to Shine topped the country charts and yielded a pair of #1 hits. Overall, his productive stay at Epic Records would result in a total of 12 #1 hits and garnered eight Country Music Association Awards–including the coveted Entertainer of the Year trophy in 1985. Over the past decade, he has been honored with inductions into the Gospel Music Association’s Gospel Music Hall of Fame and the Musicians Hall of Fame. In 2018, a landmark year, Skaggs was also awarded membership into the National Fiddler Hall of Fame, the IBMA Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame and country music’s greatest honor, the Country Music Hall of Fame.
Ricky struck his first chords on a mandolin over 50 years ago, and he continues to do his part to lead the recent roots revival in music. Clearly his passion for it puts him in the position to bring his lively, distinctively American form of music out of isolation and into the ears and hearts of audiences across the country and around the world. Ricky Skaggs is always forging ahead with cross-cultural, genre-bending musical ideas and inspirations.
Tickets go on sale Friday, December 6 at 10:00 AM and can be purchased in person at the Hoyt Sherman Place Box Office or online at www.ticketmaster.com.
For additional information about the benefits of becoming a Hoyt Sherman Place Member, including presale opportunities, please visit www.hoytsherman.org
The Iowa Barnstormers and the Indoor Football League (IFL) are pleased to announce their 2020 season schedule. The Barnstormers will open the season with a bye week before hitting the road to take on the Oakland Panthers on Saturday, March 14.
The 2020 IFL season marks the league’s 12th season of play and will feature a 14 regular-season game schedule. The league is also welcoming four new member teams this season with the addition of the Spokane Shock, Duke City Gladiators, Oakland Panthers, and the yet unnamed team in Frisco Texas.
The Barnstormers 2020 home schedule will consist of seven total regular-season home games and will kick-off with a matchup versus the Green Bay Blizzard on Friday, April 3. The home schedule also hosts the Arizona Rattlers (April 11), Bismarck Bucks (April 25), Quad City Steamwheelers (May 9 and June 13), Cedar Rapids River Kings (May 16), and the Sioux Falls Storm (June 27).
The Barnstormers will be traveling a total of seven times in 2020, kicking off the season on the road against the newly joined Oakland Panthers on Saturday, March 14. The season also includes travel to the Bismarck Bucks (March 29 and June 6), Green Bay Blizzard (April 19), Sioux Falls Storm (May 2), Cedar Rapids River Kings (May 30), and to the Barnstormers’ newest rival the yet unnamed team in Frisco (June 19).
Once again this season, all Iowa Barnstormers home games will be played at Wells Fargo Arena in downtown Des Moines.
Season Tickets are on sale for the Iowa Barnstormers 2020 season starting as low as $80 per seat. For more information, call the Barnstormers at (515) 633-2255 or log on to www.theiowabarnstormers.com.
According to her friends, local author Jan Walters is an independent, creative writer. She loves to laugh and bake, and the central Iowa resident — she grew up on the east side of Des Moines — is supportive and loyal.
CV: What is the best gift Jan has received?
JAN: The year I turned 13, my Christmas wish was for a hand-held transistor radio. As I opened my gifts, there was no radio. When I opened my last gift, I saw a doll — a bridal doll with a frilly white dress. I hate dolls!
CV: But the season wasn’t yet finished.
JAN: The next morning, I spotted a small box under the tree. My grandmother smiled and nodded. It was my radio! It had a leather carrying case. I still remember the smell of that leather. The sound of rock music put me to sleep for many years.
CV: Thank goodness for grandmothers! What is the favorite sentence of the popular local author?
JAN: “Because, Officer O’Shea, I believe there is a vampire in Des Moines.”
This sentence lays the foundation for Red Sunset Drive. Just because this isn’t New Orleans, doesn’t mean Des Moines can’t have vampires roaming the streets.
For more information about Jan Walters, visit http://authorjanwalters.com/
Julie Dueker is a mother, educator, author and composer who is exuberant for the Lord, energetic, patriotic, selfless, passionate and a servant, according to her friends.
“My husband and I were on the way to family Thanksgiving back in 1995, before we were engaged. In the midst of a wintry mix of weather, we were inching our way down an icy I-80 stretch when our car slid into the ditch. Neither of us was hurt, so he cheerfully took the opportunity to go digging in the back of the car and came out with a beautiful necklace he’d bought for me, a locket. I loved it and have always wondered what he would pull out of the back seat if we were to slide into the ditch again. I haven’t wished for it, but I’ve wondered.”
Julie’s favorite words written by her?
“Fix your eyes on Me. Stand strong on My Word. My promises for you – find them to be true. Fix your eyes on Me.”
“A refrain for my song Think of Me, which shares God’s promises with our U.S. military and veterans.”
For more information about this author, visit https://juliedueker.com.
“Joe, it’s not so cozy.”
Really? “It’s not so cozy”? They have great fries. And I love their coffee. And look at their apple pie.
“I’m sorry, but it’s not so cozy,” repeats my Dutch friend, Margreet. And that is the end of the discussion. We move on.
And everybody in this Dutch world gets it. A house might not be cozy. A cafe might not be cozy. A situation might not be cozy. “Gezellig” is the untranslatable Dutch word for this idea of coziness. Something is not gezellig? You might as well pack up and go home. Good night, Irene.
The Dutch all nod their heads with understanding when you say something is not cozy. Clearly, not-coziness is to be avoided at all costs. It may be worse than murder in the Netherlands. At least when you murder someone, you can still have a cozy prison cell with a cozy meal. Not-coziness has the sour smell of bad manners. Why aren’t you making me comfortably cozy? Fine. I’ll go elsewhere.
Well, if not-coziness is so serious, how does an outsider from Iowa determine what is cozy? Especially because when I was growing up with seven other brothers and sisters, there was never a not-cozy moment. In fact, things were too cozy. At our very tight dinner table, if you raised your left arm too suddenly, you smacked the poor kid sitting next to you causing a chain reaction down the entire table until the tuna noodle casserole was knocked to the floor where Sam the mangy dog waited with tongue hanging out. No, being not so cozy was the goal in my family.
But the Netherlands is a different place in a different time.
So, Margreet, what is cozy?
“Flowers, candlelight, and dim the overhead lights please,” she says matter of factly.
Let’s check this out.
I go to Frederik Hendriklaan in The Hague on a shopping Saturday. Flower sellers seem to be everywhere on this popular street of small businesses. I stop at one flower stand and talk to the owner as he bustles around with customers.
So, who is actually buying all these flowers, I ask, while I watch a young girl, an old man, a woman carrying a baby, a dad pushing a stroller, a smartly dressed teenager, and a man with his dog, all pull flowers from the various buckets.
No, I think you don’t understand, how many Dutch folks buy flowers?
Okay, this guy clearly just knows one English word.
I go to the next stand a little ways down the street to try again.
How many Dutch folks buy flowers?
“Everyone,” the busy, smiling Dutch woman says.
“Most of the Dutch have flowers because they live inside. It’s the weather. Other parts of the world, Italy and Spain for example, they live outside.”
And that’s that. Back to work she goes.
I think about this as I watch bike rider after bike rider peddle down the road with bouquets held with the blooms pointing down, stems clutched tightly, and usually a child or two strapped on the bike for good measure. It all seems crazy. But, having tried it myself, the flowers actually arrive home unsmashed. As for the hapless children with their little blonde hair plastered to their foreheads by the rain and cold and wind, they seem none the worse for wear either.
I started noticing in grocery stores and small soap shops and convenience stores whole aisles devoted to candles. Small votive candles, long taper candles, wide stand-alone candles, scented candles, unscented candles, candles for romance, candles to calm your mind, candles for energy, and even the “Lumberjack” collection of candles — “great gifts for him.”
I’ll be darned. Where have I been?
And lights? Do the Dutch have the neon lights of America with their crackling buzz of electricity? Lights that turn on back home with a blinding flash of alarm when a squirrel dares to pass near your front door? Lights that are so bright in U.S. convenience stores that it is possible to actually see people’s DNA?
So at dusk I bike through the various neighborhoods and look through the large Dutch windows into people’s homes. I admit, a very un-Dutch thing to do. In spite of my bad manners, I still notice the soft glow from the ever-present chandeliers. The light is golden. Warm. Inviting. Intimate. And, dare I say, cozy?
And it’s not hard to imagine that behind those Dutch windows is a woman smoothing the worry lines on the forehead of her partner with her cool firm hands, a grandpa rocking his grandbaby as her eyes flutter closed as both fall sleep, or an old man dreaming of a heron flying low over a Dutch canal as a gentle mist falls. Yup, coziness in action.
Coziness in action?!! How could I forget . . . eating hot fries with mayonnaise in a large paper cone.
Margreet, can we please eat at this cafe?
She grabs a candle from another table, adjusts the flowers, asks the server to dim the lights, and then she gives a big sigh of satisfaction.
Mark Cady was right at home at the piano and was an occasional singer, too, maybe best known among family and friends for his rendition of “Easter Parade” each New Year’s Eve — a whimsical tidbit that widened the eyes of some people at his funeral last week.
But it was no surprise the music at his funeral was outstanding. The voices of the Des Moines Gay Men’s Chorus filled Drake University’s Knapp Center during the celebration of the life of the 66-year-old chief justice of the Iowa Supreme Court.
The symbolism was unmistakable.
Cady spent four decades as a judge, first in Fort Dodge, then on the Court of Appeals and finally, for the past 21 years, on the Supreme Court. His best-known piece of work — one that will be analyzed and discussed 100 years from now — was the Supreme Court’s unanimous decision in 2009 giving gay couples the right to marry.
The decision in Varnum v. Brien produced controversy as soon as it was handed down. Opponents criticized it for disregarding the views of many people who think homosexuality is a sin and has no place in marriage. A year later, three justices would be kicked off the court by angry voters.
But the case also attracted praise and nationwide attention for Iowa’s important role in the past 180 years in the expansion of personal liberty and equality under the law.
The occasion of Cady’s death is an excellent time to Google “Varnum v. Brien” and read his clear writing as he patiently explains the circumstances that brought the Supreme Court to this landmark legal crossroads.
His presentation of the facts, the Iowa marriage law, and his analysis of the Iowa Constitution flows like it was part of a lecture by a beloved professor.
Cady wrote: “This lawsuit is a civil rights action by 12 individuals who reside in six communities across Iowa. Like most Iowans, they are responsible, caring, and productive individuals. They maintain important jobs, or are retired, and are contributing, benevolent members of their communities. They include a nurse, business manager, insurance analyst, bank agent, stay-at-home parent, church organist and piano teacher, museum director, federal employee, social worker, teacher, and two retired teachers.
“Like many Iowans, some have children and others hope to have children. Some are foster parents. Like all Iowans, they prize their liberties and live within the borders of this state with the expectation that their rights will be maintained and protected — a belief embraced by our state motto.”
But these Iowans are not the same as other people, Cady wrote.
“Despite the commonality shared with other Iowans, the 12 plaintiffs are different from most in one way. They are sexually and romantically attracted to members of their own sex. The 12 plaintiffs comprise six same-sex couples who live in committed relationships. Each maintains a hope of getting married one day, an aspiration shared by many throughout Iowa.
“Unlike opposite-sex couples in Iowa, same-sex couples are not permitted to marry in Iowa. The Iowa Legislature amended the marriage statute in 1998 to define marriage as a union between only a man and a woman.”
Cady said the record before the court “included an explanation by some of the plaintiffs of the disadvantages and fears they face each day due to the inability to obtain a civil marriage in Iowa. These disadvantages and problems include the legal inability to make many life and death decisions affecting their partner, including decisions related to health care, burial arrangements, autopsy, and disposition of remains following death.
“Various plaintiffs told of the inability to share in their partners’ state-provided health insurance, public-employee pension benefits, and many private-employer-provided benefits and protections. They also explained how several tax benefits are denied.”
He continued: “The Iowa Constitution … defines certain individual rights upon which the government may not infringe. Equal protection of the law is one of the guaranteed rights. … A statute inconsistent with the Iowa Constitution must be declared void, even though it may be supported by strong and deep-seated traditional beliefs and popular opinion.”
Then he provided important context for the court’s decision:
“In the first reported case of the Supreme Court of the Territory of Iowa, In Re: Ralph (1839), we refused to treat a human being as property to enforce a contract for slavery and held our laws must extend equal protection to persons of all races and conditions. This decision was 17 years before the United States Supreme Court infamously decided Dred Scott v. Sandford, which upheld the rights of a slave owner to treat a person as property.
“Similarly, in Clark v. Board of Directors, (1868), and Coger v. North West. Union Packet Co., (1873), we struck blows to the concept of segregation long before the United States Supreme Court’s decision in Brown v. Board of Education, (1954). …
“In each of those instances, our state approached a fork in the road toward fulfillment of our constitution’s ideals and reaffirmed the absolute equality of all persons before the law as the very foundation principle of our government.
“So, today, this court again faces an important issue that hinges on our definition of equal protection. This issue comes to us with the same importance as our landmark cases of the past. … How can a state premised on the constitutional principle of equal protection justify exclusion of a class of Iowans from civil marriage?”
The court answered that question unanimously: There is no legally justifiable basis for treating same-sex couples differently in Iowa.
“Professor” Cady’s civics lesson is one that Iowans should read and remember as we go about life in this state — a state that was blessed to count Mark Cady as one of us.
Randy Evans can be reached at DMRevans2810@gmail.com.
Bring on the holiday cheer with Waukee’s free, annual WinterFest celebration on Friday, Dec. 6 in the Downtown Triangle area. Downtown businesses will host open houses from 4:30-8 p.m. The rest of the festivities kick off at 6 p.m. SHARP when Santa Claus and Waukee Mayor Bill Peard light the WinterFest Tree!
“WinterFest offers an early opportunity to gather with family members, friends and neighbors to celebrate the holidays,” said Mayor Peard. “This is my final WinterFest as Waukee Mayor, so seeing the looks on the kids’ faces when the tree lights up will be extra special for me this year.”
After the tree lighting, kids can visit Santa at the Waukee Community Center. Guests can watch an ice sculptor create holiday pieces, enjoy hot cocoa and cookies (sponsored by Mi-Fiber), make art with the Waukee Area Arts Council, hear carolers, play mini golf (sponsored by Grace Baptist Church) and embark on a scavenger hunt. An old-fashioned trolley will circle residential streets with the WinterFest Light Tour, and the popular Snowball Drop will take place at 6:30 p.m. for kids up to age 10.
“Crews will again drop 600 snowballs (table tennis balls) from above which kids will retrieve and redeem for a free book at Charter Bank’s downtown Waukee location.” said Recreation Supervisor Danae Edwards. “This was a bit hit last year. Not only is it fun, but the kids go home with something to read!”
WinterFest attendees are encouraged to donate new, unwrapped toys or non-perishable food items to be distributed to those in need through Waukee Area Christian Services. Those items can be dropped off at the Waukee Community Center during WinterFest or at the Waukee Public Works Building (805 University Avenue) December 2-13.
For more information, visit www.Waukee.org/winterfest.