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Outdated Constitutional Language Adds To Today’s Illegal Immigration Mess - 08-05-10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

Some Legislative Issues—Like Gambling—
Deserve Quick Death
But Water Issues Deserve Careful Attention

January 14, 2010

Nebraskans will hope, of course, that even a 60-legislative-days session of the Legislature will leave time for serious consideration of important state issues in addition to the must-decide-now issue involving taxes, spending and producing a balanced budget.

Those budget-balancing issues and the important longer-term issues—protecting the state’s underground water supply, for example—shouldn’t be impeded by consideration of issues that don’t require immediate attention or, in some cases, arent’ worthy of much attention in this or any other legislative session.

In this latter category, it seems to me, is yet another proposal to bail out the horseracing industry.  The legislators will be asked to authorize a popular vote on the question of amending the state constitution so that there can be pari-mutuel gambling on horseracing at locations scattered across the state—something like the legal equivalent of what used to be called “bookie joints.” 

At a time when people are pressed economically (even though Nebraska is much better off than most other states in this regard), it simply doesn’t make sense to entice them to lose money by making pari-mutuel more available throughout the state. 

The president of the Nebraska Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association (protective of people who benefit from breeding and running racehorses), made an incredible statement in support of the proposed constitutional amendment:  the additional pari-mutuel gambling sites would not amount to expanded gambling because the state already allows betting on horse races. 

How’s that again?  If more legal pari-mutuel gambling sites were scattered around the state, there would be no expanded gambling?  Then what’s the point in pushing for more legal gambling sites? 

Another legislative non-starter, as I see it, should be the proposal to increase the state gasoline tax 5 cents a gallon to finance completion of the last 174 miles of the four-lane, limited access “expressway” state highway system. 

Keep in mind that the “expressway system” concept was not that of highway engineers who saw the need for such a system but rather the desire of legislators 20 years ago to see that their legislative districts shared in the four-lane “expressway” concept popularized by the Federal interstate highway system. 

As usual, there are proposals on which the Legislature shouldn’t waste any time at all.  For example, a bill that suggests that the Legislature ask Nebraskans to adopt a constitutional amendment rolling back salaries paid to the governor and other state officials, imbedding those lower salaries in the state constitution, where they can only be increased by another vote of the people.

One speculates that this would be a sort of revenge for—or at least call attention to—the fact that legislative salaries have been frozen into the Constitution at the $12,000 level, despite efforts to win voter approval of larger salaries or create a mechanism for legislative salaries. 

Legislative salaries do need to be increased—the subject is currently under legislative consideration—but it makes no sense at all to try to “spread the inequity” by proposing that other state officials’ salaries be reduced.  (The governor’s compensation, for example, would be cut from $105,000 to $85,000 a year.)

* * *

Is A 60-Day Session Enough Time
To Finally Get Vital Water Issue Right?

The Legislature’s attention will be focused on water issues in this short session, thanks to a proposal from State Senator Tom Carlson of Holdrege—a proposal strongly endorsed editorially by The Omaha World-Herald. 

But the initial explanation of Carlson’s proposal—and the initial reaction to it—are potentially more disquieting than comforting, as I see it.

In the first place, it has been reported that Carlson’s target is to protect the Ogallala aquifer which underlies a good portion of Nebraska.  But the impact of perhaps irreversible depletion of the state’s underground water resources extends beyond the limits of the Ogallala aquifer.

And the supposed protective limitations mentioned by Senator Carlson seem to me to be potentially dangerously too lenient.  For example:

Carlson has said that lowering of the Ogallala aquifer’s saturation level would, under his legislation, face these restrictions:  When decline in the level exceed 10%, wells would be metered and water allocations would be made if they weren’t already in place.  A depletion of more than 20% would cut water withdrawal allocations in half.  And a 30% decline in the underground water level would shut off the irrigation wells altogether.

My reaction, after years of studying the frequently unwise use or exploitation of Nebraska’s water resources, would be that to allow a 30% decline in the Ogallala aquifer levels before shutting off pumping would be a potential disaster.  Senator Carlson said that when the aquifer levels recovered, pumping could start again.  But we are told that the average rate of recharge is one inch annually over the aquifer’s eight-state region.

Even with pumping stopped altogether, how many years would it take to recharge the 200-foot to 1,000-fot deep aquifer in Nebraska to its pre-existing level if the recharge rate were in the neighborhood of one inch a year?

There may be a good answer to this question, if so Senator Carlson and his supporters should come forward with this, clearly and promptly.

I commend Senator Carlson for his concern.  I’m just suggesting that any legislation should be very carefully crafted, after consultation with hydrologists and other water experts who can provide facts and recommendations which can stand up under the pressure which can come from irrigation interests who may be thinking of the next summer, not the next generation.

The irony—I hope it isn’t a tragic irony—is that Nebraska was warned more than a half century ago by the director of the Federal Bureau of Reclamation that it was not too early to start adopting legal machinery to protect the state’s precious water resources.  And while I was working at World-Herald Square (so you know it was more than 20 years ago), we devoted a summer of intensive news coverage to the water issues facing Nebraska.  In 1980 we printed a broadsheet compilation of these articles under the title:  “Water:  Will It Last?”

The question still hasn’t been answered.

* * *

Let’s Don’t Do To The Niobrara
What We’ve Done To Platte And Republican

Another water issue of extreme importance to Nebraska and, indeed, to the nation, since the stream is a true national treasure.  The issue: protection of the scenic and recreational and ecological diversity of the Niobrara River basin.

The Niobrara valley’s importance in the national scheme of things has been recognized by designation of a 76-mile stretch as a federally-protected scenic and recreational river.  Putting the river in its position of unique importance is the fact that it is the only place in the United States where six plant species systems—from eastern hardwood to prairie grass to Rocky Mountain forest—come together.

There are strong legislative interests at work to weaken the Niobrara Council, created under federal mandate with power to negotiate environmental easements which preserve the nationally important integrity of the Niobrara River.  There are landowners, primarily ranchers along the stream, who would like to use more Niobrara water for irrigation.  They hope to do this by reducing the power of the Niobrara Council.

We have allowed portions of the Platte and Republican Rivers to be pumped dry during some stretches in some summers.  It would be a tragedy to allow that—or something even approaching that—to happen to a scenic and recreational river which means so much to so many Nebraskans, not just to those who own property along its banks.

* * *

Taxpayer Stuck With Another Welfare State Blunder?

It was entirely predictable. 

After a front page story had spotlighted the fact that Federally-promoted overly liberal mortgage loans had left many homebuyers unable to pay off their mortgages, housing prices fell, The New York Times came up with this solution:

Put White House pressure on reducing the amount of the mortgage, thus rescuing the borrowers from the mistake of taking on larger loans than they could afford to repay.

Who pays the bill for the mortgage reductions?  The Times indicated that the Obama administration should have pressed lenders “to grant principal reductions.”  Since this wasn’t done, who may be expected to pick up the tab?  The banks and other lenders?  More likely the target is you, Mr. Taxpayer.

* * *

Dog-Loving Readers Share Our Sorrow

Let’s hear it for—and from—my readers, or at least two of them

A very nice note of sympathy and understanding came from an Omaha reader following my report of the sorrow which we felt recently when we said goodbye to our senior Cocker spaniel, sweet Sarah, who had to be put to sleep a month short of her 14th birthday.

The Omaha reader sent an e-mail saying she knew what Marian and I were going through, explaining that “we lost our Yorkie, Jake, early on the morning of his 13th birthday…We still choke up thinking about him.  He was a mama’s boy and would wait by the door to the garage waiting for me to come home whenever I would leave the house.” 

This reminded me of how many times Sarah would sit looking at the door—or sometimes go to sleep right at the base of the door—through which she knew her beloved mistress would be returning.

A longtime reader and friend, Maxine Christensen of Exira, Iowa, a fellow newspaper columnist, wrote to tell Marian and me of her family’s love affair with a dog named “Bandit,” given to them by a man who said he had to find a home for the dog or put him to sleep.  As related in her column—and as you might have expected—Bandit soon took charge and lived to reach 16 when he developed cancer and had to be put to sleep.

“We both cried, brought him home and one of our sons helped bury him right outside our kitchen window.  We put up a small marker, which is still there;” Maxine wrote.

Maxine says her boys are wanting her to come live with one of them and “That I will absolutely not do!”

I will close for the day with that remarkable declaration of independence from my 88-year-old friend.

# # #

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