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A Varied Menu For You To Consider - 06-25-09
Notre Dame And Obama
Offer A Splendid Lesson - 05-21-09
Upsets Even Liberals - 03-26-09
‘Adults In Wonderland’
Need To Get Real - 01-15-09
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Obama ‘Stumbling’ To Victory? - 5-08-08
"‘Charisma’ Not Always a Good Thing" - 2-27-08
"Nosy Congress Makes
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"Right Decision Could
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"Stop Trying To Make God A Republican" - 10-6-07
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.)
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January 15, 2009
“Adults in Wonderland” might be an appropriate title for the next few items.
A recent news story reported that Sarpy County officials are considering a proposal that a new ice skating arena be built as a home for the Omaha Lancers, who now play at the Mid-America Center in Council Bluffs.
The officials haven’t figured out yet how they’re going to raise $40 million for a new ballpark for the Omaha Royals, but attorney Kermit Brashear, representing Sarpy County, has said a nearby ice rink, estimated to cost as much as $20 million, “would be an excellent complement to what we’re trying to do with the Omaha Royals.”
Then there’s talk of spending perhaps $8 million to convert an 80-year-old Missouri River bridge into a biker-pedestrian span between South Dakota and Nebraska in the Yankton, S.D. area. In today’s economic climate, to suggest spending perhaps as much as $8 million (other cost estimates are lower) to fund a new use for an ancient bridge which has been replaced by a new span seems to me to qualify for “wonderland” status.
And at the national level and involving a great deal more money: What sense does it make for president-elect Barack Obama to propose spending “economic stimulus” money of perhaps more than a trillion dollars in 2009 while at the same time saying he plans to push through Congress $300 billion in tax cuts?
* * *
If you have any questions about—or, heaven forbid, opposition to—any supposed energy-saving proposal carrying the “green” label, be prepared to find yourself sailing into the increasingly strong prevailing winds in the news media.
This advice occurs to me as I follow the favorable media attention given to almost any proposal that is, for example, anti-coal-fired electricity-producing plants and the consistently favorable attention to electricity-productive (intermittently productive, that is) windmills.
A couple of recent examples of the kind of media coverage I’m talking about:
A news story reporting on a bill introduced in the Nebraska legislature started with these words: “It’s time to put some ‘green’ into the state’s energy usage.”
I suppose if you’re going to inject personal opinion into a news story, you might as well do it in the opening paragraph.
The story went on to report various proposals included in Legislative Bill 14, proposing a variety of ways to cut down energy usage and coal-powered electricity production by such things as “wind farms.”
(I certainly agree with the desirability—the fundamental importance—of energy conservation. I still have to be convinced that windfarms can be an effective, economical way to replace a significant percentage of electricity produced by coal-fired plants. An increase in nuclear-powered electricity production would be considerably more practical and effective, in my opinion, even if Jane Fonda and the rest of the “greenies” don’t approve.)
Another example of the way some news coverage is tilted appeared in The Wall Street Journal in a story which challenged the assertion of computer-producer Dell, Inc. that it has become “carbon neutral,” the latest step in its quest to be “the greenest technology company on the planet.”
The fallacy in Dell’s claim, The Wall Street Journal said, is that while Dell’s manufacturing systems have been engineered so that they do not produce pollution-contaminating carbon dioxide, this is only a small percentage of the “carbon footprint” which could be said to be “associated with Dell.”
The Journal’s reasoning (if the process could be dignified by the use of that word): Dell’s claim to be “carbon free” is misleading because it doesn’t cover suppliers who make Dell’s computer parts or the diesel and jet fuel used to ship Dell’s computers around the world or the coal-fired electricity used to run the computers which Dell’s customers buy.
“That means the company is only neutralizing about 5% of the greenhouse gases that go into the making and use of its products,” The Journal said.
Are the WSJ’s “greenie” reporters and editors seriously suggesting that Dell deserves no credit if its computer manufacturing goes “carbon free” if, for example, its customers don’t use only windmill-powered electricity to operate Dell computers?
That makes about as much sense as the news that a bill to be introduced in the Nebraska Legislature would give homeowners and businesses “larger credits” (whatever that means) for electricity they generate via small wind turbines.
Doesn’t that conjure up pretty visions? Every home with a windmill atop its roof?
* * *
Still speaking of journalists: I continue to wait for some enterprising reporter or team of reporters to dig deeply into what to me is an egregiously obvious significant question:
Will taxing officials—starting with county assessors in Nebraska’s case—examine the 2009 value of properties against which taxes were levied last year on then-current market values?
We read repeatedly that real estate values have dropped (dropped farther in other parts of the country than in the Midlands). The obvious question: Have property values dropped significantly enough to warrant a general reduction in assessed taxable valuations for the coming tax year? If so, what will be the reaction of public officials responsible for levying and spending taxes?
Reducing the taxable valuation on the property does not, of course, assure a comparable drop in a homeowner’s total tax burden. There is always the option of increasing the rate of tax levied against the property, unless the tax rate is already at the legal limit (in which case the Legislature could be asked to raise tax rate ceilings).
There could also be an increase—if there is some leeway under the present legal limits—to increase rates of other forms of taxes. Whatever the answer, the question seems to me to be starkly obvious. Some journalist or journalists need to get cracking to take a comprehensive, detailed look at the issue—and in the process possibly prod public officials to take any corrective steps which might be necessary, including the possibility if not the likelihood that taxes will be reduced.
* * *
Still on the subject of journalistic practice, after making clear that I think a good many journalists still strive to do an objective job:
The leftward drift, particularly in the national news media, continues to show as so many national reporters and commentators pummel President George W. Bush, in most cases refusing to acknowledge that he has achieved anything of significance in his eight years in the White House.
There has just come to my attention an example of what I’m talking about, spotlight in an article in “Investor’s Business Daily,” an article prompted by a report in the London Sunday Times, of all places. The Investor’s Business Daily report went like this:
“Iraq: What would happen if the U.S. won a war but the media didn’t tell the American public? Apparently, we have to rely on a British newspaper for the news that we’ve defeated the last remnants of al-Qaida in Iraq.
“London’s Sunday Times called it ‘the culmination of one of the most spectacular victories of the war on terror.’ A terrorist force that once numbered more than 12,000, with strongholds in the west and central regions of Iraq, has over two years been reduced to a mere 1,200 fighters, backed against the wall in the northern city of Mosul.
“The destruction of al-Qaida in Iraq (AQI) is one of the most unlikely and unforeseen events in the long history of American warfare. We can thank President Bush’s surge strategy, in which he bucked both Republican and Democratic leaders in Washington by increasing our forces there instead of surrendering.”
The Los Angeles-based Investor’s Business Daily article said that in addition to thanking President Bush, Americans should thank the new general he placed in charge in Iraq, David Petraeus, “and we can thank those serving in our military in Iraq who engaged local Iraqi tribal leaders and convinced them America was their friend and AQI their enemy.”
* * *
The New York Times reports that Barack Obama plans to issue an executive order on his first full day in office ordering the closing of the Guantanamo Bay alleged-terrorist detention camp in Cuba.
But, The Times story continued, experts say it is likely to take many months, perhaps as long as a year, to decide what to do with the 248 prisoners.
So why the first-day-in-office announcement rush?
Show business, dear reader, show business. A display of prompt, decisive decision-making which should appeal to liberals who have been disturbed that Obama appointees have included a number of Republicans.
* * *
In late afternoon the other day, sitting comfortably at home watching the cardinals at the birdfeeder in the midst of the wind-driven snow flurries, I told Marian I thought I’d take a 15-minute nap before finishing some dictation for this week’s column.
“Okay,” Marian replied. “But hurry up.”
I told her that I didn’t know of any way you could do a 15-minute nap in less than 15 minutes.
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