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Herb Strentz: All You Need to Know About the Iowa Straw Poll, and Then Some

Here is a thought to ponder as you read and hear about the results of the Iowa Straw Poll: “Most of what is in the paper comes from irrational people, but becomes rational because it filters through rational reporters and copy editors and maybe a rational editor, if you’ve got one.” Those words came to [...]

Herb Strentz: Des Moines Register Ends Anonymity for Online Posts

DES MOINES–The Des Moines Register will no longer allow people to post anonymous online comments about items published in the paper. On Aug. 7, Julie Thompson, the paper’s digital editor, wrote that effective August 11th, “You will have to have a Facebook account to comment, which will eliminate use of anonymous screen names.” For years, [...]

Herb Strentz: Linus and the Iowa GOP Straw Poll

DES MOINES—Like Linus, who each Halloween prophesied the arrival of the Great Pumpkin, the political press every four years heralds the arrival of the Iowa Straw Poll. Linus proclaimed, “Each year, the Great Pumpkin rises out of the pumpkin patch that he thinks is the most sincere. He’s gotta pick this one. He’s got to. [...]

Herb Strentz: If Bachmann loses Iowa after All This…

DES MOINES—Here in the heartland, much of the news coverage and commentary about the Iowa caucuses remains doggedly oblivious to the fact that their outcome will be determined by the religious right, which is at the controls of the Iowa Republican Party. Indeed, about the only ones who routinely acknowledge the dominance of the religious [...]

Herb Strentz: FOIA for Bin Laden Photos? Get Over It.

Segments of the freedom-of-information community are critical of President Obama for not releasing what are acknowledged to be gruesome photos of the corpse of Osama bin Laden. The public, the argument goes, under the federal FOI Act has a “right to know” about the man’s shattered skull, and the rest of the remains, too. The [...]

Herb Strentz: Trump, Bachmann, and Iowa Political Coverage

If you’re a fan of Hans Christian Andersen and his fable of the Emperor’s New Clothes, you’ll feel right at home with the Iowa Republican caucuses this time around. It’s all a fairy tale in which the likes of expert bankruptcy tycoon Donald Trump and Rep. Dingaling, aka Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.), are viewed as [...]

Herb Strentz: Headlines Made for an Activist Court

Forget about judicial activism in the courts; consider instead its place in newspaper headlines and broadcast commentary. Too often, according to the headlines, judges are picking sides in a dispute, rather than interpreting the constitution or reviewing legislation Those thoughts came to mind as I took in news coverage of the U.S. Supreme Court decision [...]

Herb Strentz: Odes to Plank 10.11

Plank 10.11 of the Iowa Republican Party platform says, “We believe public university, college and school buildings should not restrict possession of firearms by those legally possessing a concealed carry permit, as this endangers our children.” Mary had a little Glock With an extended clip. And everywhere that Mary went She packed it on her [...]

Herb Strentz: The 50th Anniversary of ‘Ask Not’

Here we are marking the 50th anniversary of John F, Kennedy’s inaugural address and his challenge, “And so, my fellows Americans, ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.” The “Ask not” line will be subject to more replays on our TVs and in our newspapers [...]

Herb Strentz: A Columnist Deals with Anonymous Comments

DES MOINES–The convoluted policy of the Des Moines Register that allows readers to post often scurrilous or racist comments on line — under the cover of anonymity — took still another odd turn on Sunday. Columnist Rekha Basu wrote that, henceforth, people who want to comment on her writing will have to do so by [...]