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Ak-Sar-Ben Itself Merits Praise Along With King Dick And Queen Suzanne - 10-14-10

Come Election Day, White And Terry Can’t Duck Party Labels Any Longer - 10-07-10

Today, Second-Guessing Other Sports Commentators But Some Thoughts On Current Political Issues, Too - 09-30-10

Gates Gives Somber Non-Political Appraisals Of Iraq, Afghanistan - 09-23-10

At Last, A Prominent Moderate Muslim Speaks Out Against Muslim Terrorists - 09-16-10

Today, It’s All About College Football With Some “As I See It” Commentary - 09-09-10

Danes’ Sensible Approach To Immigration Won’t, Unfortunately, Fly In The U.S.A. - 09-02-10

Mosque Controversy Isn’t About Legal Rights; It’s About Moral Use Of Those Rights - 08-26-10

Time To Answer The Obvious Question: What Chance For Success In Afghanistan? - 08-19-10

Two-Paragraph News Story Offers Scary Prospect For World’s Future - 08-12-10

Outdated Constitutional Language Adds To Today’s Illegal Immigration Mess - 08-05-10

Not Wall Street But Democratic Policy Caused Mortgage Market Crash - 07-29-10

Windfarm Promoters Need More Facts, Less Rhetoric - 07-22-10

Nebraska Democrats’ ‘Find A Candidate’ Problem Began Long Months (Years?) Ago - 07-15-10

When The Subject Is Disasters,Obama Needs A History Lesson - 07-08-10

McChrystal’s Firing Spotlights Afghan War And The Slim Chance Of U.S. Victory There - 07-01-10

Advice For An Egocentric President: “I, I, I” Suggests One-Man Team - 06-24-10

Texas Decision Good For Big 12 But Even Better For The Longhorns - 06-17-10

Europe Is Sobering Up From 'Welfare' Binge; Obama-Led U.S. Moving Toward Similar Crises? - 06-10-10

A New Issue: Does ‘Don’t Ask/Don’t Tell’ Make Military Service Easier For Gays? - 06-03-10

Do State Officials Really Understand The Challenges Faced By Omaha Schools? - 05-27-10

Democrats Continue Cheap Shot Campaign Against Republican Congressman Lee Terry - 05-20-10

Cartoonist Koterba Says It Clearly: Don’t Put All The Blame On Schools - 05-13-10

Citizenship For Immigrants Is Inevitable But Start By Closing The Border - 05-06-10

Punish Wall Streeters If They Deserve It But Liberal Dems Spawned The Mortgage Mess - 04-29-10

Did Legislature, Speaker Mike Flood Deserve All Those Kind Words? - 04-22-10

Tiger Sulks His Way Through Masters— Is Obama Gambling On The Nuclear Issue? Rogue States And Terrorists Won’t Sign Up - 04-15-10

Did Obama/Pelosi ‘Sausage Factory’ Produce A Debt-Increasing Unpopular Health Plan? - 04-08-10

The Stories Behind Some Disturbing Headlines And Some Advice For Avoiding National Bankruptcy - 04-01-10

Four-Vote House Margin Makes Americans Swallow Trillion-Dollar Pill They Don't Want - 03-25-10

Insurance Pays 96% Of Family’s Cost For Seven Years Of ‘End Of Life’ Treatment - 03-18-10

President Angry Replaces President Cool; ‘ObamaCare’s’ Chances Helped Or Hurt? - 03-11-10

Americans To Get ‘ObamaCare’ Even If They Don’t Want It? - 03-04-10

Despite The Headlines, There’s Progress In Curbing Violence In North Omaha - 02-25-10

Corporate Expenditures Bad For Politics Except When They Benefit Liberal Candidates? - 02-18-10

Wind Energy Industry Faced Disaster; V.A. Hospital Not Personal Obama Choice - 02-11-10

Some Remarkable Legislative Comments And Some Questionable Media Performance - 02-04-10

When The Subject Is Nebraska Wind Energy, ‘Green’ Is The Color Of Money - 01-28-10

The “Teddy Kennedy Seat” Lesson Might Benefit Both Democrats and Republicans - 01-21-10

Some Legislative Issues—Like Gambling—Deserve Quick Death But Water Issues Deserve Careful Attention - 01-14-10

Today: ‘Big Daddy’ Government Wrong Again, And How Justified Is Cornhusker Title Talk? - 01-07-10

Dan Neary Worthy Of The Honor--
Today Some Upbeat Comments But "Obama Care" Debate Demands Attention
- 12-30-09

Even Without That Health Bill Vote, Another Term For Nelson Was Questionable - 12-23-09

Let’s Talk Football And Why Nebraska’s Suh Deserved The Heisman - 12-17-09

Image of Immigrants Would Be Helped By Less Cinco de Mayo, More 4th of July - 12-10-09

Image Of Islam Is Badly Damaged By ‘God-Approved’ Slaughter Of Non-Muslims - 12-03-09

Close Call For NU Research, Reputation; Thanksgiving Reminder: Count Your Blessings - 11-25-09

NU’s Reputation And Research Role Are Both At Stake When Regents Vote - 11-19-09

Obama’s ‘Yes We Can’
Changing To ‘Maybe We Can’t’?
- 11-12-09

Review The History Before Renaming A Street; Memories Of Sarah, Our Sweet Senior Dog - 11-05-09

“Socioeconomic Diversity” More Important Then Academic Achievement In “Learning Community”? - 10-29-09

A Visiting Sports Columnist Agrees: ‘There Is No Place Like Nebraska’ - 10-22-09

Might Obama Wish He Had A Chance To Say ‘No, Thanks’ To Early Nobel Prize? - 10-15-09

Don’t Overlook The Variety Of Aid Which Goes To ‘Poverty Level’ Families - 10-08-09

Smorgasbord Today: From UN’s “Nutcake Day” To Obama Performance Here And Abroad - 10-01-09

Must Defense Continue To Cover For Huskers’ Anemic Red Zone Offense? - 09-24-09

'Energizer Bunny' President Continues To Add Proposals For Reform - 09-17-09

Today, Variety: Football, Golf And Why No President Should Televise Himself Into The Nation’s Classrooms - 09-10-09

Massachusetts Gave Kennedy Significant Second Chances - 09-03-09

Obama’s Problem Not Just With GOP
But With A Great Many Americans
- 08-27-09

Tiger Could Use Sportsmanship Lesson—And Less Coverage From Fawning Media - 08-20-09

Gallup ‘Competitive’ Label, If Accurate Long Term, Is Good News Not Only For Nebraska Democrats - 08-13-09

Democrats Go All-Out Negative:
Trash Private Insurance Industry
- 08-06-09

Journalistic Watchdogs Turned Lapdogs When Obama Called That ‘News Conference’ - 07-30-09

Look Back, Mr. President: Opposition Is Catching Up - 07-23-09

Dem Lynch Mob Might Hang President’s Hopes - 07-16-09

Dems Start Oust-Terry Effort In The Political Gutter - 07-09-09

Despite Liberal Media's Views, Nation Better Served By Viable GOP - 07-02-09

A Varied Menu For You To Consider - 06-25-09

Freshman President Learning Some Political Realities? - 06-18-09

Voices Of Reason Raised Too Late To Slow Rush To Wind Power? - 06-11-09

Public Will Be Watching Prosecution Of Three Teen-Age Creatures - 06-04-09

Wealthiest Paying Less, In Taxes?
It’s Simply Not True
- 05-28-09

Notre Dame And Obama
Offer A Splendid Lesson
- 05-21-09

Special-Interest Liberals
Shouldn’t Badger Obama
- 05-14-09

A Surprising Source: Obama
Cites Positive Results of Iraq War
- 05-07-09

Media Transfer Their Love
From Candidate to President
- 04-30-09

Suttle Campaign Subtly Two-Faced? Or ‘Just Politics’? Voters Will Decide - 04-23-09

If America Is "At War
With Islam," It's Self-Defense
- 04-16-09

Seven Iowans Change Marriage
Tradition For 3 Million Others
- 04-09-09

Will Liberal Democrats Continue
Escaping The Verdict Of History?
- 04-02-09

Multi-Focused President
Upsets Even Liberals
- 03-26-09

Richard Nixon—Appropriate To Recall The Good As Well As The Dark Side - 03-19-09

Not Reducing Mortgage Costs; We’re Simply ‘Modifying’ Them - 03-12-09

Fair Warning From NY Times: Obama’s “Breathtaking Plans” Would “Transform American Society” - 03-05-09

A Look At Academy Awards Nastiness, But First A Plug For My Book, “Life With Marian” - 02-26-09

Let’s Not Move Slot Machine Cancer From Iowa Casinos To Nebraska Race Tracks - 02-19-09

Whiteclay Is Wrong Target;
Aim At Alcoholism Problem
- 02-12-09

For The Best “Stimulus” Formula:
Put Economic Recovery First;
“Remaking USA” Can Wait
- 02-05-09

Journalistic Hounds Are Still
In Full Pursuit Of Bush
- 01-29-09

‘First Black President’ Celebration
Shouldn’t Further Distract Us
From Job We And Obama Face
- 01-22-09

‘Adults In Wonderland’
Need To Get Real
- 01-15-09

Advice For Husker Fans:
Rejoice—But Be Realistic
- 01-08-09

Kennedy Dynasty History
Includes Shameful Chapters
- 12-31-08

Today Some Merry Christmas Thoughts But A Few Political Barbs, Too - 12-24-08

This Time It’s Indians
Who Break The Treaty
- 12-18-08

Me? A Grumpy Old Man?
One Reader Thinks So
- 12-11-08

Obama Steers A Moderate Course
But Congressional Democrats Veer Left
- 12-04-08

Too Many "Non-Blessings"
This Thanksgiving Week
- 11-26-08

Let’s Hear More About
The Principal ‘Crisis’ Victims
- 11-20-08

Color-Blind Issues Voting
Showed No Turn To The Left
- 11-13-08

Election Made History
But Big Questions Remain
- 11-06-08

Today, A Choice of Topics:
Politics Or Football—Or Both
- 10-30-08

Splitting Electoral Votes Good Idea? Then Why Do 48 States Reject It? - 10-23-08

Dems Take 11th Hour Low Road
In 2nd Congressional District Race
- 10-16-08

Another Government “Welfare Program,” Bargain Mortgages, Caused The Crisis - 10-09-08

Words Can Lose Their Meaning
When A Government Program Is Involved
- 10-02-08

—Have We Learned This Lesson?— Crisis Results When Individuals, Encouraged By Financial Institutions, Try To Live Beyond Their Means - 9-25-08

Bonds To Build Four-Lane Highways?
Where Would The Money Come From?
- 9-18-08

Today, a Large Load of Political
Commentary After a Brief Plug For
My Book, ‘Life With Marian’
- 9-17-08

Major News Media Look Bad
In Non-Coverage of
Edwards’ Sex Affair Story
- 9-11-08

Disadvantaged Students Can Be
Helped Without Discriminatory ‘Affirmative Action’
- 9-04-08

My Favorite Olympic Champion?
It Wasn’t Michael Phelps
- 8-28-08

Will Chinese Get Away With
'Out Air Is Clean' Scam?
- 8-21-08

Windmills, Solar Won't Do It;
Time To Get Real On Energy
- 8-07-08

I Doubt That God or Jesus
Have Heavenly Money on Either Team
- 8-07-08

‘Pop Star’ Obama Lacks Experience,
McCain Lacks Clear Campaign Strategy
- 7-31-08

Top Athletes Should
Know When to Quit?
- 7-24-08

Would Odor of Politics
Taint Fire Chief Choice?
- 7-17-08

Will Hospitality, Qwest Center
Lure Swim Trials Back to Omaha?
- 7-09-08

Omaha Stars Again
On National TV Stage
- 7-02-08

Omaha's CWS Reputation
Gets New "Rave Reviews"
- 6-25-08

S.D. Vote Could Lead
To National Abortion Battle
- 6-18-08

Don’t Let Niobrara Go The Way
Of The Republican And The Platte
- 6-11-08

Voters Didn’t Impose Term Limits
To Rid Legislature of Chambers
- 6-04-08

“It’s Our Turn” Pitch Might
Not End With Hillary Defeat
- 5-28-08

Prime Nebraska Political
Battleground This Year:
2nd Congressional District
- 5-21-08

The 'Browning' of America:
How Far Will It Go?
- 5-14-08

Obama ‘Stumbling’ To Victory? - 5-08-08

"Does Homebuyer Bailout
Reward the Irresponsible?"
- 4-30-08

"Was McCain, Not Clinton,
The Real Winner in Pennsylvania?"
- 4-25-08

"Cleaner Skies Advice For Gore:
Pressure On China, More Nuke
Power If Jane Fonda Will Allow It"
- 4-16-08

"Why The Big Fuss Over
Tiny Gasoline Cost Increase?"
- 4-09-08

"Quietly, Nebraska Yields
All-Public-Power Status"
-  4-02-08

"Obama’s ‘Historic’ Speech Left
Big Questions Unanswered "
-  3-25-08

"Overweight Moore Produces
“Sicko,” Finds An Ally In Creighton Doctor"
-  3-19-08

"Bush Sings, Praises Press
At Annual Gridiron Dinner"
-  3-12-08

"Obama Would Be Least
Formidable Opponent For McCain"
-  3-7-08

"‘Charisma’ Not Always a Good Thing" -  2-27-08

"Could Citizen ‘Packing Iron’
Have Stopped Von Maur Killings?"
-  2-20-08

"Obama’s Style Without Substance
Exciting, But Is It Presidential?"
-  2-13-08

"Barack Obama and John McCain:
A Major Contrast in Egos? "
-  2-07-08

"‘First Black President’
Emphasis Wouldn’t Help Obama"
-  1-30-08

"Kimball Lauritzen: Think of Her
As Joyous on Some New Dawn"
-  1-23-08

"What 'Tough' Election Contest
Was Ben Nelson Talking About?"
- 1-16-08

"Overhyped New Hampshire
Offsets Overhyped Iowa"
- 1-10-08

"Coach Bo Now Well Welcomed;
Time to Start Thinking of NU Wins"
- 1-2-08

"Words of Jews Most Moving
To Me This Christmas Season"
- 12-25-07

"AT LAST: TALK OF PREVENTION
JOINS MOURNING OVER KILLINGS"
- 12-19-07

"Killer Is Getting Just What He Wanted;
Let's Add Anger and
Action to Our Sorrow"
- 12-12-07

"Bo Brings Emotional Fire to NU Job;
Scary News: Huckabee Gain in Iowa"
- 12-05-07

"Callahan Outclasses Loudmouth Critics;
Tom Osborne Treated Him Fairly"
- 11-28-07

"A Thought for Thanksgiving Day:
Tell Them You Love Them"
- 11-21-07

"Callahan Critics: Is Loss to CU
The Only Way to Satisfy Them?"
- 11-16-07

"Crybaby Fans, Sports Commentators
Distracting Players From Their Job?"
- 11-09-07

"Did Bob Kerrey’s Decision Avoid
the Likelihood of Defeat?"
- 11-02-07

"Nosy Congress Makes
Three Bad Calls"
- 10-26-07

"Is This The Way to Run UNL´s
Athletic Program?"
- 10-19-07

"Right Decision Could
Help Both Fair, UNL"
- 10-12-07

"Stop Trying To Make God A Republican" - 10-6-07

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As I See It
Harold W. Andersen is a retired Publisher and Chief Executive Officer of the Omaha World-Herald Company. Full biography.

A number of you have told me that you don’t look forward to reading the column on your computer screen. That’s not necessary if you have a printer. Print out the column and take it with you to the breakfast table or wherever else you choose to read printed material. (You can also call up past columns in case you missed them.)

And, if you haven’t already done so, let us know your e-mail address so that we can send you a weekly reminder when a new column is available.

Bonds To Build Four-Lane Highways? Where Would The Money Come From?

September 18, 2008

In yesterday’s column, still available for calling up on this website, the focus was on presidential politics and some of the tactics being used by the liberal establishment to tie the Republican McCain/Palin ticket to George W. Bush and to discredit Palin by a barrage of questions and criticisms, hoping to offset the popularity and new vitality which the Governor of Alaska has brought to the McCain campaign. 

Today some additional comment on the presidential campaign, but first a look at some state and local issues much in the news recently, issues such as the push for a state bond issue to finance construction of more four-lane highways linking some cities beyond the Omaha and Lincoln metropolitan areas.

I don’t think that a bond issue proposal is likely to go very far—and shouldn’t go very far.  Consider the facts:

The Nebraska constitution authorizes the issuing of highway construction bonds if 60 percent of the legislators approve but limits the funding of the bonds to tolls or irrevocable pledges of “all or part of any state revenue closely related to the use of such highways, such as motor vehicle fuel taxes or motor vehicle license fees.”

So a bond issue proposal immediately runs into a requirement that 60% of the 49 legislators must approve and the perhaps higher hurdle that bonds could be paid off only by tolls or “revenue closely related to the use of such highways, such as motor vehicle fuel taxes or motor vehicle license fees.”

At a time when the level of gasoline tax revenue is under pressure from the fact that high gasoline prices have some motorists driving less and/or turning to cars which get more miles to the gallon, paying off a major bond issue—and the interest on the bonds—would appear to require a major increase in the state gasoline tax rate and/or vehicle license fees. 

And it seems to me to be a near impossible task to come up with some acceptable new form of “revenue closely related to the use of such highways,” at a time when a good many Nebraskans feel they are already being overtaxed.

‘Put The Money Where It’s Needed’

An even more compelling argument in this matter of new highway construction comes, in my opinion, from highway engineers rather than from state legislators and chamber of commerce spokesmen.  The engineers’ argument was very clearly expressed by Nebraska Department of Roads spokesmen during a recent legislative hearing.  They pointed out that traditional roads-funding has fallen as people drive less and buy more fuel-efficient vehicles, while construction projects cost more because of inflation in the construction industry.

Thus, Randy Peters, planning and development engineer for the Roads Department, explained, the department has had to change its priorities and concentrate on, first, fixing bridges that need immediate attention, then preserving existing highways, then completing the six-lane Interstate 80 project between Omaha and Lincoln.  Last on the list are new projects such as four-lane expressways.

Legislators representing central and western Nebraska questioned why finishing the proposed state four-lane expressway system seems to be much lower on the priority list than the Interstate 80 project in eastern Nebraska.

John Craig, the Roads Department director, said the “blunt truth” is that the department has to rely on traffic counts to plan projects, especially when money is shrinking for road projects.

“You try to put the money where it’s needed,” Craig said.  And traffic numbers justify widening Interstate80  between Nebraska’s two largest cities, Peters said.

Although it is not likely to be acceptable to some central and western Nebraska legislators and some of their constituents, it seems difficult for me to argue with the Roads Department policy of using traffic counts as the basis for it’s construction decisions.  Putting the construction money where the volume of traffic justifies it, especially at a time when Roads Department revenues are under pressure, is clearly a policy which should prevail as against political pressure.

* * *

Omaha To Elect Obama?
How About 270-to-1 Odds?

Turning to the local political scene, I find myself looking at a recent headline with a mixture of surprise and amusement.  It read:  “A victory for Obama may hinge on Omaha.”

I knew that there would be an effort to gain at least one Obama electoral vote in Omaha because of Nebraska’s ill-advised (Maine is the only other state with similar legislation) provision that presidential candidates can lose decisively in statewide voting but pick up electoral votes in any Congressional districts where the defeated candidate, statewide, carried a majority of the votes.

Omaha has been targeted as such a district, as witnessed by the fact that the Obama campaign has sent 15 paid campaign staffers into Nebraska.  But to suggest, as did an Omaha native who now teaches American political history at Stanford University, that Omaha might well decide the presidential election by providing the 270th electoral vote necessary for an Obama victory seems far-fetched, to put it mildly.

Incidentally, the Second Congressional District Democratic candidate, Jim Esch, made clear that he hopes he can ride Obama’s coattails.  This may be Esch's best—or only—chance to win(?).   Esch has not, to my knowledge, offered a single compelling argument as to why he should replace Republican Representative LeeTerry.

* * *

It’s Really Not Built For Pedestrians;
Just Call It The Bob Kerrey Bridge

Still on the local scene: 

I think “The Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge” is a pedestrian name for that $22 million span, financed primarily by an $18 million “earmark” (some call such earmarks “pork barrel” legislation) arranged by Kerrey shortly before he left the Senate. 

In the first place, the bridge was not originally supposed to be for true pedestrian traffic.  The principal promoters were those who wanted to link biker/hiker trails on the Nebraska side of the river with the biker/hiker trails on the Iowa side, including the well-known Wabash Trace Trail. 

In the second place, the bridge is not likely to attract much pedestrian traffic, except by people who might want to walk out to see the sights from observation spots on the bridge before going back to enjoy the food and drink and entertainment available on the downtown Omaha side of the river.  There are no such attractions close to the bridge on the Iowa side.

Why not simply call it the “Bob Kerrey Bridge,” a more attractive and more accurate name.  The bridge, as World-Herald columnist Mike Kelly has put it, was redesigned and illuminated in a way that it becomes a “dazzling” link between Council Bluffs and downtown Omaha (which has a good deal of dazzle of its own).

Why burden the bridge’s visual appeal, probably now its most important characteristic, with a “pedestrian” name? 

* * *

Look At Biden’s Record, Too

Turning to the national political scene, a look at a little-mentioned part of the political record which Sen. Joe Biden brings with him as he campaigns as Barack Obama’s vice presidential running mate.

Biden is not, I believe, the sharpest intellect to rise through the seniority system to chairmanship of an important Congressional committee.  For example:  He laid himself wide open for renewed scrutiny of his record when he made this televised remark about Sarah Palin:  “Eventually, she’s going to have to answer questions about her record.” 

Biden should be challenged to answer some questions about his record.  Wikipedia, the internet encyclopedia, offers a Biden biography which includes these assertions: 

In 1987, Biden was seeking the Democratic Presidential nomination.  He made a speech in which he borrowed, without giving the source, from an effective passage in a speech that had been made by Neil Kinnock, then-leader of the British Labor Party.  This was plagiarism, of course, since Biden did not acknowledge that he was using Kinnock’s words.

It was also discovered that, while a student at Syracuse Law School, Biden had plagiarized a law review article.  Biden got a grade of F, which was subsequently dropped from his record, after he was permitted to retake the course.

During his 1987 campaign, Biden also released his undergraduate grades, which were unexceptional, but when questioned by a New Hampshire resident about his grades in law school, Biden talked about graduating in the “top half” of his class when he actually graduated 76th among 85 students.  He also said he had attended on a full scholarship and had received three degrees.  The truth was that he received a single Bachelor’s Degree, as well as a half scholarship based on financial need. 

Faced with these revelations, Biden withdrew from his first presidential nomination race on September 23, 1987. 

After Biden declared his second candidacy for president in January, 2007, Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen wrote that Biden’s 2008 candidacy might be endangered by his “manic-obsessive running of the mouth.”  During the Iowa Democratic caucuses in January, 2008, Biden announced that he would be dropping out of his second presidential race when over half of the precincts were tallied and he had attracted only 1% of Iowa’s national convention delegates.

The New York Times sends columnist Maureen Dowd and at least three reporters to Alaska to look for shortcomings in the political record which Alaska Governor Sarah Palin brings to her role as Sen. John McCain’s vice presidential running mate.  Don’t expect a similar liberal news media focus on any shortcomings in Joe Biden’s political record.

* * *

McCain Should Thank Barbra

How lucky can John McCain get?

Barack Obama is trying to persuade voters that the GOP favors the wealthy and Joe Biden is talking about his “working class” background. 

Obama takes time out to head to California to attend a big-money fund-raiser.

And—more good news for McCain—Barbra Streisand is a featured performer to entertain Obama and the turnout of Hollywood’s liberal—and rich—“glitterati.”

Did Obama consider asking Barbra and her rich Hollywood pals to skip the party and just send in their checks?

# # #

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