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Outdated Constitutional Language Adds To Today’s Illegal Immigration Mess - 08-05-10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

Not Reducing Mortgage Costs;
We’re Simply ‘Modifying’ Them

March 12, 2009

When is a federal government handout not a handout?

When you call it a government-subsidized “modification” in mortgage terms in order to stimulate home ownership—a policy which must be at least a first cousin of the disastrous federally-financed easy money program which created the underpriced mortgage mess in the first place—a mess which pushed the American economy and subsequently the world economy down the road to disaster. 

Admittedly, there have been efforts to add some safeguards to this latest version of making home ownership a sort of federal welfare program.  We can only hope that the new restrictions will make the new version of federal-subsidized cheap mortgage rates something less than another disaster.

It has been estimated that the “mortgage bailout” program will be helpful to 1 in 9 U.S. homeowners. 

This does not include the Americans who can now receive up to $8,000 in federal income tax credits if they choose to become first-time homeowners.  This new program reflects the Welfare State fantasy that every American family is somehow entitled to home ownership as part of “the American dream.”

President Obama, and those liberal Democratic members of Congress whose cheap-mortgages policy got us into this mess in the first place, believe it is important to avoid the ire of the great majority of homeowners who have acted responsibly, not borrowed more money than they can afford and have made their mortgage payments on time.  I suspect that is the major reason the mortgage revision advocates talk of “modifying” the cost of mortgage loan repayments rather than reducing or softening them.

Initial reaction to the bailout plan has not been universally popular among those homeowners who, in the words of The Wall Street Journal, “have been diligently making regular mortgage payments.”

No More ‘Idiotic’ Behavior?

Conservative columnist David Brooks, it seems to me, took a realistic look at the situation in a recent column.

While acknowledging that “idiotic” or self-indulgent behavior by everyone from non-creditworthy mortgage loan borrowers to Wall Street bankers brought on the economic crisis, Brooks said it still make sense “for government for try to restore some communal order…

“To stabilize the communal landscape, sometimes you have to shower money upon those who have been foolish or self-indulgent.  The idiots may be greedy idiots, but they are our countrymen.  And at some level, we’re all in this together.”

Brooks stopped short of addressing perhaps the toughest question of all, When you have political leaders like Representative Barney Frank and Senator Chriss Dodd indicating they haven’t learned that their irresponsibly mistaken views helped bring on the present financial crisis, what can we hope for in the way of lessens learned that will help us as a nation avoid similar “idiotic” behavior now and in the future?

You don’t have to look very far ahead (how about later this year?) to see cause for concern about further cases of what columnist Brooks describes as “idiotic” behavior.

For example, the liberal editors of The New York Times believe passionately that “modifying” mortgage terms must go beyond lowering interest rates or extending the time for repayment, Times editors recently wrote:  “A better way to lower the monthly payments…is to reduce the principal…ultimately the debt itself needs to be greatly reduced.”

Then there are the countless opportunities for further Big Brother federal government intrusion into the lives of the American people by way of the liberal smorgasbord of proposals included in Obama’s recently announced $3.6 trillion tax--and-spend budget proposal.

Tighten your seat belt.

* * *

GOP Helped Or Hurt
By Rush Limbaugh Rantings?

A political party whose chairman feels the need to figuratively kiss Rush Limbaugh’s ring either needs to overhaul its political philosophy or get a more political savvy party chairman.

In what might be described as a political comic opera if the basic subject matter weren’t so serious, in recent days we have had both Limbaugh and the new Republican Party chairman Michael Steele “clarifying” statements in an effort to repair damage caused by earlier remarks.  Steele looks the worst, in my opinion.

And Democratic Party spokesmen are thoroughly enjoying the show and trying to take political advantage of it.

It started with a speech which the controversial radio talk show commentator recently delivered to the Conservative Political Action Conference.  Limbaugh declared, “I want Barack Obama to fail.”  Limbaugh later said he meant that “I want Barack Obama to fail if his mission is to reconstruct and reform this nation so that capitalism and individual liberty are not its foundation.”

Democratic Party spokesmen jumped at what they saw as an opportunity to deepen the split in Republican Party ranks—a split between the far right conservative element which Limbaugh attracts and the more numerous (in my opinion) moderate conservative Republicans for whom Limbaugh certainly doesn’t speak.  White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel fanned the political flames by declaring that Limbaugh is the real head of the Republican Party. 

This led newly, elected Republican National Chairman Steele to call Limbaugh a mere “entertainer” whose radio show is “incendiary” and “ugly.” 

Within two days, Steele apologized, saying he has “enormous respect for Rush Limbaugh…there was no attempt on my part to diminish his voice or his leadership.”

“His leadership”?  Leadership of what?  An unfortunate choice of words by the new Republican Party chairman.

So we have the “new look” Republican chairman (Steele is African American) playing into the hands of both Rush Limbaugh and Democratic Party strategists.

Bad show for the GOP.  Limbaugh is occasionally on target but in terms so indignant if not insulting as to be self defeating to all but his faithful followers (and there are, admittedly, a good many of them).

* * *

It’s Ridiculous To Suggest
Congress Can Amend Constitution

It’s not uncommon for an idea to be offered in Congress without any substantial chance that it will pass.  Sometimes such ideas promote useful debate.

But it is unusual—extremely unusual and in a current case potentially dangerous—for a proposal to be seriously considered by Congress when the proposal very clearly, is unconstitutional, in the opinion of a good number of constitutional scholars.

The proposal is to give the District of Columbia a voting seat in the House of Representatives.  The current District representative in the House does not have voting rights like the 435 other House members. 

Whether the District representative in the House should have a vote is a matter of some interest and a proper subject for limited debate and consideration.  But to suggest that there is any language in the Constitution which would allow Congress to create voting rights without amendment of the constitution is simply irresponsible.

You amend the constitution by winning approval in two-thirds of state legislatures, not by act of Congress.

Making the proposal more bizarre is linking it to giving Utah an extra seat in the House of Representatives.  The argument is that since Utah consistently votes Republican while the District of Columbia residents would consistently vote Democratic, you would not be giving the Democratic Party an advantage.

Giving Utah another Congressional seat to balance a District of Columbia voting seat is not only unconstitutional.  It’s downright loony.

* * *

State Needs Fourth Federal Judge

Turning to another proposal awaiting action in Congress, a proposal that makes considerably more sense than the District of Columbia/State of Utah proposition which I discussed above.

I’m talking about a bill introduced by Representative Lee Terry, an Omaha Republican, to give Nebraska a fourth federal district judgeship. 

I have seen impressive figures as to the average caseload carried by Nebraska’s three current federal judges.  Those caseloads have increased very substantially and are well above the average for federal judgeships around the country.

This not only imposes an unreasonable burden on the judges but it slows the turning of the wheels of justice in our state. 

One would hope that the legislation—in which Representative Jeff Fortenberry of Lincoln and Adrian Smith of Gering joined as co-sponsors, is not lost in the avalanche of controversial proposals which the Obama administration has sent flooding into Congress.

* * *

What Makes A Good Journalist?

Today, a lighter-touch ending that pokes some fun at myself and my journalistic colleagues.

# # #

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