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Outdated Constitutional Language Adds To Today’s Illegal Immigration Mess - 08-05-10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

- 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.

Advice For Husker Fans:
Rejoice—But Be Realistic

January 8, 2009

Some advice for my fellow Nebraska Cornhusker football fans: 

By all means, let’s rejoice in a 9-4 season capped by a come-from-behind Gator Bowl victory that wasn’t decided until that Clemson pass was broken up about one second short of success in the end zone late in the fourth quarter.

But, for Bo Pelini’s sake—and ours, too—let’s be realistic. 

We lose a splendid passer—quarterback Joe Ganz—and two superb receivers—Nate Swift and Todd Peterson—who have been the heart of an offense which, combined with a late-season revival of the Blackshirt tough-defense tradition—was the primary reason for that 9-4 season.  And two-thirds of that Blackshirt defensive line which came on so strong late in the last half of the season—Ty Steinkuhler and Zach Potter—were seniors. 

The key for 2009 here may be whether the superb Ndamukong Suh—surely one of the best defensive linemen in the country—decides to play his senior year with the Huskers or makes himself available in this year’s pro draft.  (Suh has said he will play his senior year.)

Let’s Don’t Talk About ’09 Quarterback

And I’d rather not talk about—or think about—the question of who will replace the indomitable Joe Ganz at quarterback.

There are some fine football players who will be returning next fall and some promising younger prospects.  But there are some size 12 (13? 14? 15?) shoes to be filled, and in fairness to Pelini and our own sensitive egos, let’s remember the wisdom in an adage which goes like this:  “One swallow does not a summer make.”  Nor does one successful season assure another to follow.

But for now, let the emphasis be upbeat and hopeful that the future will justify the reactions from some national sports commentators, who saw the 9-4 season and Gator Bowl victory as indications that “the Huskers are back” or at least well on the way to being back to their former status as a perennial national power.  In a televised commentary, former Notre Dame Coach Lou Holtz took a positive tone in noting that the “Blackshirt” tradition—recognizing outstanding defensive players by allowing them to wear blackshirt practice jerseys—was re-established toward the end of the season.

Former Tennessee Coach Phil Fulmer said a sign of the Huskers’ return to national prominence is the fact that “Nebraska recruiters are showing up everywhere.”  And the Associated Press said the 9-4 season capped by of the Gator Bowl victory over Clemson gave “the storied program plenty of optimism after Coach Bo Pelini’s first season.”

Big 12 Quarterbacks Best Ever?

A panel discussion among ESPN commentators turned to the question of relative strength of regional football conferences.  Veteran commentator Brent Musburger spoke up strongly for the Big 12 Conference.

“The Big 12 quarterbacks, top to bottom, are the best in the country, maybe the best we’ve ever seen,” Musburger declared.  Need I point out that Nebraska’s Joe Ganz is one of that “best in the country” group of Big 12 conference quarterbacks

* * *

No More ‘Expert’ Studies Needed
In Hawkins Murder Spree

Some Omahans’ continuing obsession with the Von Maur murder spree a year ago has resulted in yet another review of the case of mass murderer Robert Hawkins (I see we have stopped calling him “Robbie” or “Mr. Hawkins”). 

Two reviewers described as experts have come to the same conclusion as was crystal clear in the days and weeks following the murder spree in which Hawkins killed eight people and himself. 

The conclusion of the “experts” who restudied the case:  The state government system designed to deal with such troubled youths failed by releasing Hawkins while he was still in need of psychiatric care and supervision. 

You didn’t have to be an expert to reach this same conclusion within days after the killings.  I make no claim to expert status, but a week after the killing spree, my column included criticism of Sarpy County Juvenile Court Judge Robert O’Neal for ending state custody of Hawkins.  I also criticized a spokesman for the state agency responsible for supervising “children and family services.”   The spokesman had said:  “The most appropriate thing for this youth was the closure of his case.” 

I wrote then:  “What about the most appropriate thing for the eight people Hawkins killed and the four he wounded?

My column quoted Dennis McCarville, director of Cooper Village, in whose custody Hawkins had been placed:  “The state could have ordered him to continue treatment.  Instead, the state made the decision to terminate.  Even for a youth who received over $265,000 worth of treatment, you can’t say, ‘Well, that’s enough.’”

Twice more in December of 2007 and twice in the first two months of 2008, my column included similar comments and questions, including approval of a suggestion that the state should consider “a new facility where young people who represent a threat to themselves and others can be—may I actually say it?—locked up.”

If Necessary, Lock Them Up Indefinitely

On February 20, I said again that Hawkins “should not have been released from the supervision of the state juvenile court system.”

My post-Von Maur slaughter columns included endorsement of views of Dr. Michael J. Reznicek of Spokane, Washington, a psychiatrist, and an Omaha native and a 1985 graduate of the University of Nebraska Medical Center.  On The World-Herald’s “More Commentary” page, an article by Dr. Reznicek said this might be a good time for Nebraska “to consider returning to an era when we had smartly-run institutions for children who had no parents—orphanages, I believe we call them.

“Designed correctly, these institutions would be highly structured, set high standards, punish bad behavior, reward good behavior and pay less attention to how children feel about it all.”

In another column, I suggested that after an appropriate period of mourning—it still hasn’t ended, of course—“we concentrate now on ways to prevent young people like ‘Robbie’ Hawkins from being free from state supervision and therefore free to kill eight people and himself in the shopping mall spree.”

We don’t need more studies of what went wrong in the Hawkins case.  The answer was there to see in the days and weeks immediately following the murder spree.  We continue to need fewer postmortems and more preventive action, including, in my opinion, a state policy which clearly puts protection of the public first and, if necessary, places potential killers in institutions where they can receive treatment but be released only after clear evidence—as clear as evidence can be in such cases—that they do not represent a threat to the public.

My post-slaughter columns reflected, I believe, the common sense, “enough is enough” prompt reaction of a good many people—people who felt that the state’s “children and family services” system placed too much emphasis on the child’s needs and too little on the public’s right to expect government to protect them from potential killers.

* * *

Don’t Insult Nebraska By Linking
1871 Case To Illinois Corruption

It was a long stretch—in fact, a ridiculously long stretch—to categorize impeachment of a Nebraska governor 137 years ago as somehow comparable to the kind of political corruption that has marked—and is currently marking—politics in Illinois and in Chicago in particular.

I’m referring to a column in the Sunday World-Herald written by “Everyday History” columnist David Harding, whose work I generally enjoy.

David is not the first columnist to overreach (I’ve been accused of it on occasion) in an effort to find an angle to give added appeal or relevance to a column.

But I suggest there is precious little basis for linking Illinois-style political corruption to impeachment of Nebraska’s first governor, David Butler, for a variety of irregularities in the handling of state funds.  The state senate found Butler guilty of one of nine charges—misappropriation of education funds.  He was removed from office.

Columnist Harding started his piece by saying that a lot of Nebraskans are rolling their eyes at the way Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich allegedly tried to sell an appointment to the Senate seat vacated by President-elect Barack Obama.  Harding suggested that Nebraska might feel that this sort of “Chicago-style politics” would not be something that could ever occur “in our squeaky-clean state government.”  Then he detailed the Nebraska Governor David Butler story.

I would suggest that impeaching and removing a governor in 1871 could hardly be fairly compared to Illinois’ history of political corruption that includes current criminal charges against Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich and the fact that in the pat 40 years, three Illinois governor has gone to prison after being convicted of corruption.

If you read to the end of Harding’s column, you encountered these words in the second paragraph from the end:  “While historians fault Butler for inappropriate handling of state funds, they point out that government ethics were not yet clearly defined, and scandals throughout the country were creating a new awareness of the need for accountability.” 

So why suggest any relevant connection between a case 137 years old and a current case very much alive in a state which has sent three governors to the penitentiary? 

Finally, A Touch Of Perspective

So in David Harding’s column a touch of perspective and balance came in the next to last paragraph.

This fits a pattern on which I have commented before.  Too often journalists, including columnists, leave the balance or perspective in their story or column—if there is any balance or perspective—until close to the end.

Another recent example: 

A long story told of the amount of money lost by a Nebraska farmer because an ethanol plant company went bankrupt and could not pay him the price at which he had pledged to deliver his corn under what is called a “forward contract.”  The story indicated that he thus collected some $60,000 less for his corn than he would have under the “forward contract.” 

In the next to last paragraph of the story, readers learned—if they had read that far—that while the corn was not sold for the forward-contract, price, it was sold at prices higher than the farmer had ever received for corn in 36 years of farming—a fact which, in my judgment, should have been mentioned near the start of the story.

* * *

Marian Makes A New Friend

As I have observed in this space before—and as our many friends will attest—one of my roommate’s most outstanding characteristic is making friendships.  Some, of course, more deep-seeded and long-lasting than others, but nearly all first-name acquaintances nonetheless.

So it was not entirely a facetious rejoinder which I offered when, at a recent dinner party, one of our dinner companions returned to the table and noticed Marian was missing.  “Where’s Marian?” he asked.  My reply:  “She went to the lady’s room, where she probably encountered at least two friends and made another one.”

# # #

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