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Outdated Constitutional Language Adds To Today’s Illegal Immigration Mess - 08-05-10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

The “Teddy Kennedy Seat” Lesson Might
Benefit Both Democrats and Republicans

January 21, 2010

A political junkie like me must, of course, start this week’s column with some thoughts on Tuesday’s Massachusetts senatorial election results which CNN political commentator David Gergen called “a vote heard around the world.”  Gergen’s explanation of the Massachusetts vote:  “There is a lot of anger in Massachusetts as to the direction they are taking in Washington.” 

Another CNN commentator put it this way:  “The message has been sent.  The question is, did the White House get it?”

A few thoughts which seem to me to reflect some of the major lessons to be learned from Republican Scott Brown’s capture of what—very unfortunately from the Democratic point of view—was frequently described as “Teddy Kennedy’s seat.”  (A description which allowed Brown to score heavily when he responded that the senate seat involved belonged not to a Democratic Ted Kennedy successor but to the people of Massachusetts.)

The lesson for both parties surely was that, more often than not, elections are decided by independent-minded voters who may not be registered as independents but are perfectly willing to cross party lines if they think the other party has the better candidate.

A political truism, you say?  Yes, but it’s good for the American political system—for the way we govern ourselves—to have that truism demonstrated from time to time by such a dramatic example as was on display in Massachusetts Tuesday.

A case could be made, I think, for the argument that the big loser in Tuesday’s voting in Massachusetts was not Democratic candidate Martha Coakley but another better known Democrat, Barack Obama.  Remember that Obama had come to Massachusetts for some very public campaigning for Coakley as recently as last Sunday.  Obama had carried Massachusetts some 15 months ago with a victory margin of 26% of the vote.

The Massachusetts results Tuesday underscored, as I see it, this question:  In the history of American politics how many presidents have fallen so far in public favor in their first year in office?

His obsession with “ObamaCare” has certainly contributed in significant degree to President Obama’s decline in popularity, but other factors are certainly at play. 

Obama’s principal problem, as I see it, is that despite his lack of executive experience, he is eager to take on a variety of issues which require campaigns and judgments beyond his managerial capabilities.

Tackling fewer issues would help, but lack of managerial or executive experience is another matter.  Presidents should not require so much on-the-job training.

* * *

‘ObamaCare’ Half-Truth, Untruths Confuse
People Satisfied With Own Health Care

To me, the most interesting and significant numbers turned up by the recent Omaha World-Herald poll dealing with the health care issue were these figures:

Among the 500-person sampling of Nebraskans’ opinions, only 6% said they were not satisfied.  Ninety-three percent of those responding indicated they were either completely satisfied (36%), mostly satisfied (42%) or somewhat satisfied (15%).

Consider other issues of lesser but still very considerable public importance—things like schools and police protection and the state’s tax system with its heavy reliance on property taxes.  Do you imagine that public satisfaction—from complete to somewhat—would total 93%?

Standing somewhat in contrast to the “quality of health care you receive” responses was the 54% positive response when the 500 Nebraskans were asked whether the national health care system “has major problems.”  Fourteen percent responded positively when asked if they believed the national health care system is “in a state of crisis.”

Why the dramatic difference in a very high degree of personal satisfaction and the belief that the national health care system has major problems?  If think the explanation lies, to a very large extent, in the fact that so much confusing information—much of it ranging from half truths to outright untruths—has been spread by politicians ranging from President Barack Obama to Nebraska Senator Ben Nelson. 

Obama Cheap Shots Insurance Industry

Too typical is this cheap shot by Obama:  “If Republicans want to campaign against what we’ve done by standing up for this status quo and by standing up for insurance companies over American families, that is a fight I want to have.”

On another occasion Obama said he would continue to fight for the people against greedy insurance companies.  Obama has offered absolutely no proof—none—that the great majority of American health insurance companies have been unprincipled or greedy.  Attesting to that fact is the general satisfaction of the American public with the health insurance coverage that they have. 

One of Senator Nelson’s contributions to the confusion was this flat misstatement in a written statement released publicly last weekend:  The proposed federal legislation will provide new access to coverage “for 220,000 Nebraskans without health care today.”

In the first place, no one knows the number of Nebraskans who don’t have health insurance.  There are estimates, but no basis for the flat implication that 220,000 Nebraskans don’t have such coverage.  Even more questionable is Nelson’s clear implication that a person without health insurance coverage is “without health care today.”  This is preposterous, as forcefully pointed out in a column written by a New Hampshire surgeon and published last week in The Wall Street Journal.

Dr. Mark B. Constantian wrote that what is consistently overlooked is that “our population has universal access (to health care) because most physicians treat indigent patients without charge and accept Medicare and Medicaid payments, which do not even cover overhead expenses.”  Addressing further those ObamaCare advocates who denigrate the availability and even the quality of care offered by doctors and hospitals, Dr. Constantian wrote: 

“The Nobel Prizes in medicine and physiology have been awarded to more Americans than to researchers in all other countries combined.  Eight of the 10 top-selling drugs in the world were developed by U.S. companies.  The U.S. has some of the highest breast, colon and prostrate cancer survival rates in the world.  And our country ranks first or second in the world in kidney transplants, liver transplants, heart transplants, total knee replacements, coronary artery bypass and percutaneous coronary interventions.

“We have the shortest waiting time for non-emergency surgery in the world.  England has one of the longest.  In Canada, a country of 35 million citizens, 1 million patients now wait for surgery and another million wait to see specialists.”

The New Hampshire surgeon’s article concluded:  “Who determines how much a nation should pay for its health?  Is 17% too much, or too little?  What better way could there be to dedicate our national resources than towards the health and productivity of our citizens?

“Perhaps it’s not that America spends too much on health care, but that other nations don’t spend enough.”

So writes an American doctor presenting facts that seem indisputable and opinions which, I believe, at least deserve consideration, although I don’t agree with any implication that health care costs should not be subject to scrutiny and modification where justified.

More Facts You Hear Little About

It’s hard to single out the most misleading if not simply untrue arguments being offered by ObamaCare advocates.  I have already pointed out the leader in this category; i.e., that being without health insurance means being without health care at all. 

Then there is the implication that it’s simply greedy insurance companies which have declined coverage for pre-existing health problems.  Never mentioned by the critics is the fact that this has typically resulted when a person chooses not to buy health insurance until he has a health problem that demands attention and then applies for health insurance.  Something like a person who tries to buy his first life insurance policy after being told by his doctor that he has six months to live. 

Then there is the accusation that doctors and hospitals run up bills unnecessarily by subjecting a patient to an array of tests and possibly treatments which aren’t necessary.   One response to that accusation is that doctors frequently are attempting to protect themselves from malpractice suits brought by a certain class of attorneys who specialize in malpractice litigation.  (You’ve seen some of the television ads paid for by attorneys soliciting such clients.)

In an effort to keep these emotion-charged malpractice lawsuits from being tried in courtrooms where clever attorneys can play on the emotions of the jurors, a proposal was made that ObamaCare include the creation of a special court in which such cases would be tried to a judge, not to a jury.  Members of the trial attorneys’ bar quickly and vigorously objected, and the proposal sank quickly and without a trace.

Incidentally and interestingly, it was his ability to figuratively make jurors cry that made John Edwards rich.  (Before he became a United States senator and a Democratic vice presidential candidate, before his moral and political bankruptcy when his extramarital affair became known to his wife and the public.) 

One reported example of Edwards’ successful, emotional appeal to jurors:  In a case involving the death of a youngster, he dramatized his appeal to the jurors by telling them that he could literally feel the youngster speaking through him to the jury. 

* * *

Help, Readers, Help:
What’s A Doogie Howser?

Let me conclude with a request for help from readers.  Our In-Depth-Research-Department’s entire staff (my administrative assistant Jackie Wrieth and me) hasn’t been able to come up with the answers.  A recent headline read: 

at UNMC?

The story was about a program that will work to create interest in health science careers among students in Omaha area high schools.  An admirable objective, but the story didn’t explain what a “Doogie Howser” is.

Then there was the headline which supposedly reflected the Nebraska Cornhuskers’ Huskers Holiday Bowl victory over the Arizona Wildcats.  The headline:  Raise Arizona.

I have no idea what that meant. 

Marian guessed that it referred to some sort of cult movie popular some time ago and was possibly understandable if you could remember—if you ever knew—the theme of that movie. 

Any help you can give us in deciphering those headlines would be appreciated.

# # #

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