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Outdated Constitutional Language Adds To Today’s Illegal Immigration Mess - 08-05-10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

Did Obama/Pelosi ‘Sausage Factory’ Produce
A Debt-Increasing Unpopular Health Plan?

April 8, 2010

There’s an old saying that I have modified slightly to fit today’s political scene: 

If you have to eat the product, you really don’t want to see how either sausage or controversial legislation is produced.

Unfortunately, Americans have to eat the product of the Obama/Pelosi political sausage factory and, in the words of Wall Street Journal Washington columnist Kimberly A. Strassel, this is how the ObamaCare legislation was pushed to a six-vote victory in the House of Representatives: 

“…dirty deals, open threats, broken promises and disregard for democracy.”

Columnist Strassel, under a headline which read “Inside The Pelosi Sausage Factory,” then gave specific examples of the way votes were pushed into the “yes” column either by fear of retaliation or promises in what amounted to a form of political bribery.  Some examples:

A California congressman expressed concern to President Obama about the amount of irrigation water which the federal government had allocated to his Central Valley district.  The Interior Department subsequently announced a Central Valley allocation of 25% of available water rather than the expected 5%.  The California congressman pledged to vote “yes.”

Anti-Abortionists Got A Worthless Promise

An Oregon congressman threatened to lead a revolt unless changes were made in Medicare payments to benefit his state.  Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi subsequently cut a deal to give 17 states additional Medicare money.

A Tennessee congressman switched to a “yes” vote after House leadership inserted a new provision providing $100 million in extra Medicaid money for Tennessee.

Tactics like these produced some additional switches from “no” to “yes,” but the chief sausage maker was still several votes short of the necessary majority.  Then followed the critical deal with Michigan Rep. Bart Stupak and the handful of votes which he controlled:  a promise that after approval of the Senate bill which included possible federal funding for abortion under certain circumstances, President Obama would issue a presidential executive order nullifying the Senate language. 

This brought the anti-abortion Michigan representative and his little band of colleagues into the “yes” camp, providing the narrow margin of victory. 

But as was immediately pointed out, a presidential executive order cannot nullify clear statutory language enacted by the Congress.  If this were possible, we would be in effect a lawless nation any time a president chooses to issue an executive order intended to override the language of the law.

* * *

Widespread Belief That National Debt Will Increase

There were countless other examples of the lengths to which the Obama/Pelosi team went to push to victory legislation to which, two-thirds of the respondents in a USA Today/Gallup Poll reacted by saying that the health care overhaul costs too much and expands the government’s role in health care too far. 

Among those additional examples of the lengths to which Obama and Pelosi went:

Obama flew to Pennsylvania, Missouri, Ohio and Virginia to hold rallies with small supportive crowds and bring pressure on wavering House members in each of those states.  In four days, Obama held 64 meetings with congressmen or calls to congressmen.  On the day of the crucial vote, Pelosi took time to call the former president of the University of Notre Dame, the Rev. Theodore Hesborgh. 

“The House Democratic leader was not seeking spiritual guidance,” in the words of the Chicago Tribune report.  “What she wanted was for Hesborgh to help lock up the vote of Rep. Joe Donnelly, a Democrat from South Bend, Indiana, who was wavering over the abortion issue.”  Donnelly pushed the ‘yes’ button later that day. 

All of this effort in behalf of a bill which knowledgeable observer after knowledgeable observer has said would actually increase the federal deficit and thus the federal debt, not reduce it as Obama and Pelosi and their fellow arm-twisters contend.

Douglas Holtz-Eakin, a former director of the Congressional Budget Office, put it this way, in a New York Times column carrying the headline:  “The Real Arithmetic of Health Care Reform”:

“The stakes could not be higher.  As documented in another recent Budget Office analysis, the federal deficit is already expected to exceed at least $700 billion every year over the next decade, doubling the national debt to more than $20 trillion.  By 2020, the federal deficit—the amount the government must borrow to meet its expenses—is projected to be $1.2 trillion, $900 billion of which represents interest on previous debt.

“The health care legislation would only increase this crushing debt.  It is a clear indication that Congress does not realize the urgency of putting America’s fiscal house in order.”

Incidentally, the USA Today/Gallup Poll I referred to above also found that among the Americans responding to the poll’s questions, Obama’s performance was approved by 47% and disapproved by 50%--the first time his disapproval rating has hit 50% in the USA Today/Gallup polls. 

* * *

Any Public Figure More Unpopular Than Pelosi?
And What Blunder Will Biden Commit Next?

Is there any public political figure in America more unpopular today than House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, California Democrat?  Is it possible that Pelosi doesn’t realize that her “sausage factory” tactics and picture after picture after picture after picture in the news media are not playing well with a good many millions of Americans—a majority, I would venture to speculate?

Pelosi seems to seek out news media picture opportunities and publicity, including that post-victory march on Capitol Hill with a huge gavel clutched in her hands.  I never heard or read an explanation, but I’m guessing that it is a gavel recognizing her role as Speaker of the House.  Whatever its significance, clutching the gavel as she marched in triumph from one victory rally to another didn’t enhance the already battered Pelosi image, in my eyes.

And what will Vice President Joe Biden do next to further the image that he is too often a foolish bumbler who would do better to keep his mouth shut on frequent occasion?  I refer, of course, to the fact that in introducing President Obama at the bill-signing ceremony, Biden, apparently thinking a microphone was not live, was heard by the television audience to say to the president, “This is a big f…ing deal!”

Indorsing this display of almost incredible bad taste, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs, in effect endorsed Biden’s language with this statement:

“And yes, Mr. Vice President, you’re right.”

* * *

Educating The Educators: Nationwide
Classroom Standards Wouldn’t Work

You might call it Educators in Wonderland, the proposal that school districts across the country adopt a uniform set of academic standards. 

It is the recommendation of a panel of educators convened by governors and state school superintendents and it would set uniform national goals for what public school children should learn in math and English, year by year, from kindergarten to high school graduation. 

To me, there is comfort in the fact that the proposal is so obviously impractical that it is very unlikely to be adopted.  But it is disturbing to think that a panel of educators convened by governors and state school superintendents would come up with such an impractical suggestion.

You are talking about school districts in the Omaha area, for just one example, ranging from predominantly low-income East Omaha neighborhoods to middle-income and upper-income neighborhoods in West Omaha.

There are commendable efforts underway to improve educational opportunities in Omaha’s low-income neighborhoods by the creation of magnet schools, which are already producing some positive results.  There is also an ambitious program to start providing learning opportunities for children very soon after their birth.

Although improvements will be made and should be vigorously pursued, good intentions simply won’t be able to produce uniform citywide or statewide or nationwide educational results.  Consider this basic reality:  a primary problem in many cases is simply persuading a single mother to make her children to be show up for school.  The problem is especially acute when there is no father figure present in the family, as is the case in a very large percentage of homes in low-income neighborhoods. 

Under the proposed new national standard for every classroom, fifth-graders would be expected to be proficient in English at a level that enables them to explain the difference between drama and prose (I wonder if that should be phrased as the difference between poetry and prose) and to identify elements of drama like characters, dialogue and stage directions.  Seventh graders would study, among other math concepts, proportional relationships, operations with rational numbers and solutions for their equations. 

I would think a more realistic goal for fifth graders nationwide would be to see that they can read and understand what they read and write a grammatically correct theme on some subject of their choice, rather than being able to explain the difference between “drama and prose.” 

We should keep working at a national goal of improving educational performance in classrooms across the country, but I have to give this panel of well-intentioned educators an “F” for their totally unrealistic recommendations for specific nationwide standards of achievement.

* * *

Lady Huskers Had Great Season—
And Without Any Campus Dribbling

A few thoughts left over from the end of the University of Nebraska women’s basketball team’s history-making season:  I bet a drink of scotch with a doctor friend who lives in Kentucky on the outcome of the Nebraska-Kentucky game in the opening “Sweet Sixteen” round in the NCAA national championship tournament. 

Kentucky ended the Lady Huskers’ remarkable season with a nine-point victory. 

It wasn’t until half-time of the game that I learned, from a CNN commentator, that after a losing season last year, the Kentucky coach was so obsessed with producing a better season this year that he gave each of his returning players a blue and white basketball (Kentucky’s colors) and ordered them to dribble the basketball everywhere they went on campus. 

Had I known this, I still would have bet on the Huskers, but I would have questioned the emotional intensity of the Kentucky coach.  (I was tempted to say I would have questioned his mental balance.)

When Kentucky played the Oklahoma women’s team in the next round, Marian and I were torn between cheering for Kentucky so that the Huskers would look better or cheering for a Big 12 team.  We wound up cheering for Oklahoma but wondering why Kentucky had played so well against the Huskers and so poorly against Oklahoma, losing by a 20-point margin. 

As the old saying starts, On any given day (or night), almost anything can happen in the world of sports.

# # #

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