Dem Lynch Mob Might Hang President’s Hopes - 07-16-09
A Varied Menu For You To Consider - 06-25-09
Notre Dame And Obama
Offer A Splendid Lesson - 05-21-09
Upsets Even Liberals - 03-26-09
‘Adults In Wonderland’
Need To Get Real - 01-15-09
This Time It’s Indians
Who Break The Treaty - 12-18-08
Me? A Grumpy Old Man?
One Reader Thinks So - 12-11-08
Top Athletes Should
Know When to Quit? - 7-24-08
Omaha Stars Again
On National TV Stage - 7-02-08
Obama ‘Stumbling’ To Victory? - 5-08-08
"‘Charisma’ Not Always a Good Thing" - 2-27-08
"Nosy Congress Makes
Three Bad Calls" - 10-26-07
"Right Decision Could
Help Both Fair, UNL" - 10-12-07
"Stop Trying To Make God A Republican" - 10-6-07
A number of you have told me that you don’t look forward to reading the column on your computer screen. That’s not necessary if you have a printer. Print out the column and take it with you to the breakfast table or wherever else you choose to read printed material. (You can also call up past columns in case you missed them.)
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.
First, a reminder:
Attractive, hardbound copies of “Life With Marian”—a book which a good many readers have said they would be interested in owning—are still available for purchase (for $22.50) at The Bookworm in Countryside Village. If more convenient, you can now also send a check payable to Harold W. Andersen for $26.66 (includes tax and postage) and mail to me at P.O. Box 27347, Omaha, NE, 68127. A copy will be sent by return mail.
April 30, 2009
It's no surprise that President Obama is getting predominantly—very predominantly—friendly treatment from much of the nation's news media as he ranges across the American political landscape, proposing "Yes, we can" solutions to issues large and small.
Why should the majority of the media give objective treatment to President Obama when, after all, Candidate Obama was their man? It's closer to idolatry than balanced, objective journalism, not surprising in view of the friendly treatment Obama has received from the beginning of his candidacy.
Some current examples:
As Obama's 100th day in the White House approached, the news media began to ask questions about Obama's feelings in regard to his 100-day performance. First reaction from the White House was to downplay the 100-day importance: It's a media-hyped effort to turn just another day into something worthy of special news coverage, White House staff said.
But the White House reaction quickly changed to: If the media want to ramp this 100-day business into something special, why not take advantage of it?
The result, for one example, was what a New York Times reporter described as "sophisticated management of the news media," with such image-building as providing Slate, the liberal on-line magazine, exclusive access to inside-the-White House photographs taken by Obama's official photographers.
Time Magazine seized a similar opportunity, putting out an edition devoted largely to "Behind the Scenes Photographs" taken during the first 100 days. This Time Magazine pictorial tribute to Obama was the result of the White House giving a Time Magazine photographer exclusive permission to roam the White House taking pictures which, predictably, placed Obama in a favorable light.
The only one of 13 pictures (some of them two pages wide) not featuring Obama was a small photo focusing on, of all things, Obama's breakfast one morning. (No, no—not Obama at breakfast. It was a picture of what Obama ate that morning. Cheese and crackers and a pear, in case you're interested.)
Another break which sycophantic media supporters give to the president as he bounces from issue to issue: Very often, the president's views are quoted, but questions aren't asked or at least aren't reported: Two recent examples:
The president lectured university executives on keeping tuition costs in check and called on universities to take similar steps as the University of Maryland's four-year freeze on the price of tuition. A New York Times news story included no indication that university officials had been asked for their side of the tuition story.
In another of his innumerable public appearances, Obama urged greater emphasis on wind-generated electricity. Neither he, nor the story reporting his plug for wind-generated energy, made any reference to the fact that only generous tax subsidies make windmill electricity practical, since its cost is greater than that of electricity generated by coal-burning plants.
No reference, either, to the fact that windmill electricity doesn't replace the need for coal-fueled electric plants to step up production when the wind isn't blowing consistently enough to replace coal-generated electricity.
No mention by Obama either that the coal industry is working hard and reportedly with some success in developing what a recent World-Herald editorial described as "new clean-coal technology, including gasification and carbon capture and storage."
And how about some attention to the obvious subject of more nuclear-powered electricity generating plants? When was the last time you saw a news story pursuing Obama's views on this subject? (One must keep in mind, I suppose, that Jane Fonda wouldn't approve of more nuclear-powered plants.)
But perhaps the area in which friendly journalists are giving Obama the freest pass in terms of news coverage is the failure to point out that recent developments in Afghanistan—especially where Al Qaeda and Taliban strength spills across the border into neighboring Pakistan, making increasingly difficult an already difficult task—successful pursuit of the war to which Obama is committed in Afghanistan.
I have in front of me four stories with headlines like these: "U.S. analysts foresee Pakistan splintering into terror havens." Or "Pakistani Peace Deal Gives New Clout to Taliban Rebels."
In none of the stories is there any significant discussion of the highly significant new barriers which these developments pose to success in what may come to be known as "Obama's war" as the fighting in Iraq came to be known as "Bush's war."
As in the case of the American efforts in Iraq under George W. Bush, I believe efforts to bring a better life to a nation's people while ending safe haven for terrorists have merit.
But I also believe that President's Obama's task will prove the greater and has less chance to succeed.
History records no successful intrusion into Afghanistan by outside powers—including first the British Empire and later Russia.
* * *
It seems to me the national office of Phi Beta Kappa was stretching pretty far to gild the PBK image in a recent issue of the organization's national magazine.
Featured prominently was a picture of former President George H. W. Bush, President Barack Obama and former Presidents George W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter, taken when outgoing President George W. Bush entertained the presidential group in the Oval Office after last November's election.
Under the picture the caption said: "All of these presidents—past, present and future—share a Phi Beta Kappa connection."
The facts are that there were only two PBKs in the group—George H. W. Bush, elected a member at Yale University in 1948, and Bill Clinton, in Georgetown University's 1968 PBK class.
George W. Bush was included in PBK's overgenerous definition of a Phi Beta Kappa "connection" because his father had been elected to Phi Beta Kappa. Obama was included because his father, Barack Hussein Obama, Sr., was elected a member of PKB at a branch of the University of Hawaii in 1962. And Jimmy Carter became an honorary member at Kansas State University in 1991.
For an organization that prides itself on the intellectual capacity and academic achievements of its members, two for five doesn't rate even a passing grade in terms of claiming a significant "Phi Beta Kappa connection" for presidents or any other slice of American society.
* * *
I've observed in this space before that those mega-million dollar contracts for professional athletes obviously aren't paid for by the team owners but by the fans—including the father who figuratively has to go to the bank for a loan to afford to take his two kids to a ballgame.
The high price of being taking yourself "out to the ballgame" came to mind again when I read in The New York Times that the cost of a suite seat behind the dugouts and home plate in the new Yankee Stadium is $2,650 a game.
Two Sundays later, a Times columnist, after attending a Yankee/Red Sox game in Boston's ancient, legendary Fenway Park, had kind words for the Fenway Park experience and referred to the new Yankees Stadium as "a certain South Bronx monument to excess—best known in its young life for a home team clubhouse that is more of a penthouse, a jet stream right field (there have already been a lot of wind-aided homeruns to right field in the new stadium), and empty cushioned seats that promise to be a continuous and televised reminder of a grand and greedy overreach."
* * *
Turning to Omaha's upcoming municipal elections: Let's not waste any more journalistic enterprise and candidates' time on whether Omaha should start planning a light rail system.
I don't believe there is any evidence at all that such an expensive novelty is needed in Omaha.
City Council candidate Chip Maxwell put it well. He said that a light rail system "sounds exciting" but there is no proof there is a demand for it.
Maxwell believes other methods of transportation are more efficient and less expensive and, besides, the city can't afford a light rail system.
I say "Amen!" to Maxwell's appraisal.
* * *
A sudden outburst of pinched-nerve-related pain down my right leg—the worst I've ever experienced—has led me to a chiropractor's office. Marian called to make an appointment.
"It's either pain relief, amputation or divorce," she told the nurse who answered the call.
We're both hoping that extreme measures won't be necessary, of course. I'll let you know how the story unfolds.
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