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Outdated Constitutional Language Adds To Today’s Illegal Immigration Mess - 08-05-10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

Let’s Not Move Slot Machine Cancer
From Iowa Casinos To Nebraska Race Tracks

February 19, 2009

If ever a single dramatic news story offered all the evidence that should be required to kill a dangerous proposal in the Nebraska Legislature, I believe I read such a news story in The World-Herald last Friday and Saturday. 

The story Friday featured a color picture of a smiling woman from Gretna holding a big replica of a check that represented her winning $204,000 from a “Wheel of Fortune” slot machine in Las Vegas.

“Wheel of Tragedy” might have been a more appropriate name, since her 2006 big-buck jackpot—absolutely no skill or brains involved, of course—undoubtedly nourished the social disease of legalized gambling.

Thirty-two months later, Celeste Baumert stood in a Douglas County Jail courtroom accused of embezzling more than $56,000 from two small businesses in the metro area.  She allegedly owes more than $243,000 to Council Bluffs gambling casinos.

The accountant and tax preparer—with dozens of Omaha area police officers among her clients—could face up to 20 years in prison on each of two felony theft charges if convicted.

Nebraska State Patrol investigation revealed that Baumert, 48, had significant activity at the Bluffs casinos since August, 2006—two months after she hit the jackpot in Las Vegas. 

The legislative proposal to which I’m referring is Resolution 6CA proposed by Senators Russ Karpisek of Wilber and Deb Fischer of Valentine.  If approved by the voters in November 2010, the amendment would legalize the placing of up to 3,500 electronic gambling devices (commonly referred to as “slot machines”) at up to seven racetracks. 

Estimated Cost: $221 Million In Losses

The estimated total that would be lost each year on 3,025 slot machines is $221 million.  An estimated $88 million would go to the State Highway Trust Fund, $86 million to racetrack operators and $46 million would be spread among such things as larger purses at racetracks and improvement of thoroughbred breeding and the quarter horse industry.  One percent--$2.21 million—would go to the “Compulsive Gamblers Assistance Fund.”

Yes, yes, I know.  There are the old arguments that most of the money lost in Council Bluffs casinos is lost by Nebraska gamblers.  So, this simplistic argument goes, why not capture a major part of that Nebraska-generated gambling revenue by promoting gambling big-time on the Nebraska side of the river?

That’s about the same as saying that gambling may be a social cancer but let’s move it across the state line in Nebraska so we rather than Iowa can keep the revenue generated by the social cancer—hopefully even more Nebraska-generated revenue than is currently being lost on the Iowa side of the river.  The amendment would provide for the slot machines to be located at racetracks closer to more Nebraskans —including at least two new racetracks, perhaps as far west as Grand Island or beyond.

Nebraskans in recent years have turned down casino gambling proposals when the issue has made its way to a statewide ballot.  There is no reason to believe that the result will be any different if the legalized gambling issue makes it to the ballot again, even if it has been tricked up in a supposedly more attractive fashion, to benefit highway construction and the thoroughbred racing industry.

Senators Karpisek and Fisher should do the realistic thing and withdraw Legislative Resolution 6CA, saving the Legislature from wasting valuable time on it.

* * *

When Will Royals’ Spokesman
Be Asked Obvious Questions?

On and on it goes, local sports reporters and commentators allowing the spokesman for the owners of the Omaha Royals to go unchallenged in assertions like “we could get a better deal somewhere else…but we really love Omaha.”

Why in the world doesn’t some Omaha journalist pin down Alan Stein as to where the AAA franchise affiliated with the Kansas City Royals could be moved under more favorable terms than are currently being negotiated with Sarpy County? 

Stein could be challenged to at least give some indication in what part of the country and what size city he would find local interests who would like to subsidize an AAA franchise and how the terms in that city would be more favorable than Sarpy County is willing to offer. 

And, perhaps most important of all, why doesn’t some local journalist find out if the Kansas City Royals would supply players of AAA caliber for the Stein-overseen franchise in another city, perhaps one not as large as the Omaha metropolitan area and perhaps located farther from Kansas City than Omaha is?

Instead of such obvious questions to Stein, we read journalistic rhetorical questions like these: 

“Why is Stein doing this?  Why wouldn’t he just go to Sugarland, Texas or Vancouver or a place where he could build a bigger park and get more revenue.” 

Move Franchise From Omaha to Vancouver? Come On!

I don’t now why Sugarland, Texas or Vancouver continue to merit frequent journalistic mention without any apparent effort on the part of Omaha journalists to make inquiries in Sugarland, a suburban community close to Houston, or Vancouver, half a continent away from Kansas City, Missouri.

What are the chances for an AAA franchise in Sugarland, Texas in the shadow of the Houston Astros major league team or an AAA franchise in Vancouver, an area where the Seattle Mariners already have an AAA affiliate just down the highway in Tacoma?

The facts are that among the 30 major league baseball teams, nine of their AAA affiliates are in the same state, some as close as Denver and Colorado Springs and Seattle and Tacoma.  Thirteen AAA affiliates are in an adjoining state and five are located where only one other state intervenes.  Three have longer distances between the major league city and the AAA affiliate—the Toronto Blue Jays-Las Vegas AAA affiliate being the longest stretch.

It seems to me that for the Kansas City Royals, the Omaha-area is the best AAA fit.  There is not any other available relatively close metropolitan area with the possible exception of Wichita (where the Royals, incidentally, have a AA affiliate). 

A Royals tradition is firmly established in Omaha and the two cities, following the major league/AAA affiliate pattern, are relatively close together, making for easier travel both for club personnel and, importantly, Royals’ fans from the Omaha metropolitan area.

If I were Alan Stein, I wouldn’t relish the thought of trying to negotiate an agreement with the Kansas City Royals to supply players for my AAA franchise relocated in Vancouver, either on the American or the Canadian side of the border.

We Shoot At (Sometimes Miss) Deserving Wounded

Some might ask why I don’t pursue the obvious unanswered questions about the future of the Omaha Royals franchise.  First, I’m not being paid to do the job of well-paid journalists supposedly working fulltime at such matters.   

Columnists traditionally observe the passing scene, raise questions and use their background of experience and knowledge in offering comments, often supported by some research.   The job of editorial writers and columnists has been described as watching the battle from the hills, then coming down to shoot the wounded.  I think we work at a higher level than that, but you get the point—and we do frequently figuratively shoot at those who we think deserve it, whether previously wounded or not.

* * *

Spotlight Falls On Ben Nelson,
From Hometown McCook To National Stage

From his hometown of McCook in southwestern Nebraska to the national political stage in Washington, Nebraska’s Senator Ben Nelson is getting appropriate attention these days.

In McCook, funds are being raised for a bronze statue depicting Nelson as a Boy Scout, proudly wearing the merit badges he earned to become an Eagle Scout, an early indication of the leadership potential which led on to the Nebraska governorship and then to the United States Senate.

In Washington, Nelson has gained recognition as a moderate Democrat who can help build coalitions of like-minded Democratic and Republican moderates who can provide a relatively small but sometimes decisive block of votes which help resolve controversial issues and move them through the Senate.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada made a point of publicly thanking Nelson for his leadership in working with Republicans to trim some of the more controversial proposals from the multi-billion-dollar economic “stimulus” proposal backed by President Obama but in some danger of being stalled in the Senate.  Obama singled out Nelson for praise during a White House briefing for regional newspapers, including The World-Herald.

Praise for Nelson has come also from some Republicans of considerable stature.  Sitting with Nelson at the Alfalfa Club luncheon the day of the club’s traditional black tie dinner, John Warner, freshly retired after 30 years as a Republican Senator from Virginia, leaned across the table and gestured towards Nelson:  “He’s a good one.  Keep your eye on him.”

I’ve been keeping my eye on Nelson since the days when his political ambitions culminated in his election as governor in 1990, and I have generally liked what I have seen.

* * *

Sam Nunn Remembers, So Does Marian

Speaking of attendance at the Alfalfa Club luncheon in Washington last month, I had occasion to encounter Sam Nunn, former Democratic Senator from Georgia who disappointed a good many Americans by not becoming a candidate for the presidency.

 After the luncheon Nunn passed by our table and I started to introduce myself.  Nunn politely interrupted with something like, “I know you.  We hunted pheasants together with Jim Exon.”

The pheasant-hunting trip was to the late Don and Olive Forney’s ranch in Rushville in northwestern Nebraska.  I can’t recall the exact year, but it must have been at least a quarter century ago. 

I consider it remarkable that Nunn remembered my face if not my name, so I introduced myself again and agreed that we all had a very pleasant time together hunting pheasants with Jim Exon and with the late Gene Mahoney, director of the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission. 

Nunn’s recollection of the face of a Nebraskan he had met perhaps 20 years ago brought to mind another person with a remarkable memory for people—my roommate.  The only difference is that in Marian’s case, she would have recalled the name, hometown, occupation, wife’s name if she had met the wife and asked how the children are.

# # #

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