By John Hicks
Read the sports commentary
by Sean Keeler here ...
The increasing national debt has become important,
but it never seemed to be a major issue until
recently. It, along with God-talk, reared its
ugly head when President Obama was elected.
Isn’t it amazing that these issues became headlines
when an African-American became our leader?
And isn’t it amazing how one can make a case
without providing the entire picture, or skewing
the information, or even lying? What is even
more amazing is that it is done constantly by
politicians. Politicians from both parties are
guilty, but Republicans are having a heyday
blaming Obama for everything in the world. We
have many white Republicans who don’t want a
black president telling them what they should
or should not do. However, it’s an interesting
time when Republicans can’t even make up their
minds on who might run against this “terrible”
Steve King and James DeMint used Obama’s name
eight times in their article in The Des Moines
Register on Dec. 30 and never used George W.
Bush’s name once. Their comments had to do with
our national debt and how Obama is ruining the
country. Republicans are having fun blaming
Democrats for always spending money. They want
to take back the presidency to keep those terrible
Democrats from increasing the debt. It’s strange
that they never mention the following:
• President Reagan was the first president to
increase the national debt by more than $100
billion in one year;
• Reagan was the first president to increase
the national debt by more than $200 billion
in one year;
• In just eight years, Reagan had more than
doubled what all the previous presidents, from
Washington through Carter, had accumulated in
the prior 200 years;
• President George H.W. Bush was the first president
to increase the national debt by more than $300
billion in one year;
• Bush was the first president to increase the
national debt by more than $400 billion in one
• President George W. Bush was the first president
to increase the national debt by more than $500
billion in one year. And, get this; George W.
increased the national debt by $500 billion,
or more, for FIVE YEARS.
Oh, yes, President George W. Bush was the first
president to increase the national debt by more
than $1 TRILLION in one year, and that was before
he spent one penny of his $700 billion Wall
Street bailout. Gee, I hear from Republican
presidential candidates that only Obama helped
Wall Street. Our national debt only went up
$3 trillion under George W. Bush, who claimed
that tax cuts would pay for themselves. They
did not. He claimed tax cuts would result in
growth. Well, we are in the worst economic downturn
since the Great Depression. What George W. did
to the national debt profoundly weakened this
country. And Republicans are blaming Obama,
never mentioning George W., or his dad or Reagan.
Now what voter is going to be so gullible that
he or she will vote for a Republican to lower
the national debt? Voters are correct in believing
the national debt needs to flow downward. Starting
with Gerald Ford in 1975, the increase was fairly
low, as it was with Carter. Then the flow was
up big time with Reagan, then down significantly
with Clinton. Then we were hit with an even
bigger up with George W. When Clinton left office,
the country was in a budget surplus, the first
time in decades. It was never accomplished by
the Republican Party.
Clinton increased the national debt by less
than $18 billion in his entire last year in
office. At that rate, an Al Gore administration
would have almost paid off the entire national
debt by 2008. Should we congratulate Floridians
and Supreme Court judges for electing Bush?
One might wonder how Republican politicians
have the guts to blame Democrats for our increasing
national debt. If blame is to be distributed,
the blame should fall on the shoulders of every
American citizen labeled middle class or above
but most of all on Republican politicians. CV
Dr. John M. Hicks is resident of Des Moines
and a professor emeritus at Drake University.
By Sean Keeler
Who is dropping the ball at Iowa?
At least 13 running bucks have
left the program
The sound you don’t hear is Kirk Ferentz chortling
at the lot of us, probably from the comfort
of his private plane, while Rome burns below.
Whenever one of ESPN’s talking heads gets uppity
about Iowa’s football coach winding up on some
sad NFL team’s shortlist of replacements, remember
Remember Marcus Coker. Remember Rhabdogate.
Remember the outrage. Remember the pleas — for
answers, for clarity, for sanity.
Then remember the silence. Remember the insulation.
Why hasn’t Ferentz become the next Joe Paterno
in the state of Pennsylvania, the kingdom of
his youth? That’s easy: Because he’s already
the Joe Paterno of this one.
Aside from wife and (maybe) his maker, Ferentz
answers to no one here. If you’re waiting for
clarity from on high regarding Marcus Coker
or the vacancy at defensive coordinator, don’t
hold your breath. He will come down from the
mountain when he’s good and ready, and not a
Such is the passion/devotion/obsession (pick
one) with Iowa football among the land between
two rivers that if you’re reasonably successful
(as Ferentz, to be fair, has been, let’s make
that clear), few thrones are more golden, fewer
walls are better fortified. Win, and you call
the shots. Win, and the rest of the world is
on a need-to-know basis. Win, and you’re granted
emperor status. It’s one of the perks of the
We’re often asked: What’s the king like up close?
Ferentz is sharp, well-read (a little too well-read,
actually; the man can quote articles that rankle
him word-for-word), down-to-earth, funny (in
a dry, deadpan sort of way), self-depreciating
and thoroughly professional. He likes a little
ice cream and a beer every now and again, just
like the rest of us. Is he selectively vague?
Yeah. Is he loyal to a fault? No question. But
aloof? Not really. He’s an easy person to like.
And a hard person to cover.
Especially in the middle of a crisis — real
or imagined (Ferentz will tell you that many
over the decade were the latter). At any rate,
you know the story by now. For the fifth time
in 13 months over in Iowa City, a running back
has left the building: Coker, an All-Big Ten
bruiser who rambled for 15 touchdowns as a sophomore
before being mysteriously suspended before the
Insight Bowl, announced his intention to transfer
And here’s where things get hairy. According
to reports, Coker was alleged to have assaulted
a woman on Oct. 28. Why he played the final
five games of the regular season is almost as
baffling as why it was announced on Dec. 20
that he was suddenly yanked from the two-deep.
As an athletic department, Iowa’s not big on
disclosure (unless you’re in the family, and
especially in a crisis), but the university
has been especially tight-lipped where Coker
For his part, the former Hawkeye player went
on Facebook to thank Iowa fans and assert his
innocence. Which begs the question: Innocent
relative to what? No charges were filed in the
assault investigation. Meanwhile, university
administrators have pleaded the scholastic Fifth,
invoking the Family Educational Rights and Privacy
Act of 1974 (FERPA), which decrees that certain
educational records — including academic records
— cannot be released without student (or parental)
As of Monday morning, nobody was exactly sure
which suits knew what or when they knew it,
nor why the timeline of Coker’s status on the
roster seems so curiously out of whack. Meanwhile,
the wind blows, and everybody twists in its
wake. In today’s 24-hour news cycle, speculation
isn’t just reserved for the local coffee shop
over the morning paper. It’s splattered all
over message boards and social media, like graffiti
on a bathroom wall, the scrawls of a fan base
divided: One side wags its finger at the university;
the other snarls at the rest to mind their own
business. Through Jan. 15, Ferentz had remained
above the fray and the noise, jetting along
on the recruiting trail, quietly shopping to
his heart’s content.
Hopefully, he’s stockpiling ballcarriers. Since
2007, at least 13 running backs — counting Shonn
Greene, who went pro early — have left the Iowa
football program before their eligibility was
up. While not as damning a pattern as the two
dozen or so police citations accrued by Ferentz’s
players a few years back, it’s a pattern nonetheless.
Hawkeye tailbacks may not be known for dropping
the ball, but somebody inside the football complex
sure as heck is. CV
Sean Keeler was a sports columnist at The
Des Moines Register from 2002-2011. He can be
reached at email@example.com.