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Outdated Constitutional Language Adds To Today’s Illegal Immigration Mess - 08-05-10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

Cartoonist Koterba Says It Clearly:
Don’t Put All The Blame On Schools

May 13, 2010

Jeff Koterba, The World-Herald’s superb editorial page cartoonist, has done it again—this time in a cartoon that, in a drawing and 17 words, goes to the heart of a problem born in Washington and foolishly nurtured by the Nebraska State Department of Education.

The cartoon, published last Monday:

The sad story to which the cartoon so well applies. 

In an effort to qualify more Nebraska schools for a slice of $77 million in federal “stimulus” funds—dollars which the federal government doesn’t have but must borrow—the Nebraska Department of Education created its own definition of “persistently lowest-achieving” schools. 

The suggested federal standard was schools which consistently graduate fewer than 60% of students.  The “born in Lincoln” Nebraska formula—in an effort to qualify for more federal fund—asked for funds for schools graduating fewer than 75% of students.

The result was to throw some of the state’s best high schools—Omaha Central and Omaha North, for two examples—into the “persistently lowest-achieving” schools category.  (Central’s graduation rate was calculated as 70.3%, North’s at 69.9%.) 

It is simply ridiculous to put these two high schools, for just two examples, on a list of Nebraska schools for which Obama-supported federal standards would apply mandating that the principal and 50% of the staff be fired or the school be closed and reopened as a charter school or that the school simply be closed with the students moved to another school. 

Jeff Koterba’s editorial page cartoon in The World-Herald last Monday put the whole matter of “underachieving” schools in proper perspective.  It makes clear that less-than-desirable graduation rates are to a large degree the result of external factors over which the schools have no control.

Yet the dictators (you don’t have to be the head of a totalitarian government to be a bureaucratic dictator) in Washington and now in Lincoln attempt to place the entire blame for lower-than-desirable graduation rates on the schools rather the societal factors which are the true roots of much if not most of the problem.

And if anybody is to be replaced in this sorry tale of how far a state education department will go in its search for federal dollars, let the school principals and staff keep their difficult jobs. 

Fire anyone in the Nebraska State Department of Education who had any hand in adding a 25% increase to the arbitrary federal “your school’s a failure” graduation-rate standard for qualifying for federal handouts. 

* * *

Legislature Took Extreme Abortion Stands
While Ignoring The Cause Of Abortions

Still on the subject of journalistic commentary (which these days too often occurs in the news columns as well as on the editorial page):

Nebraska legislators were sent home with generally favorable journalistic commentary on what they had achieved during the 2010 session. 

I would submit what I suppose might be called a minority report. 

First, the legislators passed two anti-abortion bills, both of which are assured of winding up in the courts for years to come because they are the most extreme pieces of anti-abortion legislation passed in any state.  They did this without making any effort at all to address the primary causes of abortion; i.e., unplanned and unwanted pregnancies. 

Planned Parenthood, which gets roughed up regularly by anti-abortion forces, is on the right path when it advocates this policy:  “Every child a wanted child.”

In contrast, the knee-jerk anti-abortion activists do nothing about this root problem except to preach abstinence.  (Remember that the policy of the Catholic Church forbids the use of contraceptives, and Catholics are among the loudest of the anti-abortion activists.)

Why Not Educate Young People In Avoiding Pregnancy?

It is too much to hope, I fear, that in Nebraska and other states we can ever achieve an effective policy of educating young people in ways to avoid unwanted pregnancies—from abstinence, of course, to the use of contraceptives.  There would be charges of encouraging promiscuity if contraceptives are mentioned or advocated. 

But in a society where sexual relations are a part of far too many teenagers lives, it seems to me simply realistic to attempt to give at least as much attention to ways to avoid unplanned, unwanted pregnancies as to dealing with the tragic results—too often the birth of children who will go immediately onto the public welfare rolls and will predictably grow up raised by a teenaged mother who is a school dropout, without the father anywhere in the family picture.

Incidentally, the Legislature was certainly not at its best when it virtually panicked over the issue of denying prenatal care to pregnant illegal immigrants.  There was talk that withdrawal of funding of prenatal care would create “an epidemic of abortions.” 

Then a clinic serving low-income patients offered prenatal care and the University of Nebraska Medical Center reported that it would continue to offer such care as it has been doing for some time.

The legislative panic subsided.

Another area in which the 2010 Legislature deserves something less than praise, it seems to me, was the use of federal “stimulus” money—again, money which the federal government doesn’t have but has to borrow—to pay a significant portion of state aid to local school districts. 

The day of reckoning will come, when the Legislature must face the problem of replacing those stimulus funds—a problem which governmental units across the nation will face unless they use stimulus funds for what might be called one-time needs as against continuing needs.

* * *

Real Story Of Times Square Bomb:
Terrorist Nearly Got Away With It

There has been a good deal of favorable comment as to the speed with which the unsuccessful would-be Times Square terrorist bomber was identified and arrested. 

It seems to me that praise for this after-the-fact law enforcement work—which caught the would-be terrorist just as an airliner bound for the Middle East was about to take off with him as a passenger—entirely misses the basic point: 

The important story is not one of success after the bomb plot failed, but a story of failure in keeping this young terrorist under some kind of surveillance which would have prevented him from bringing his amateurish terrorist bomb into crowed Times Square. 

After all, if the would-be bomber had been more skilled—and there are a multitude of such skilled terrorists apparently available in the Muslim world—the bomb presumably would have gone off, killing nobody knows how many people in Times Square that evening.

Among the silly reactions to the Times Square happenings was this comment from liberal commentator Joe Conason of the Salon website (one of a number of website commentators who, unfortunately in my opinion, are being picked up for distribution in print media):

“…the response of government at all levels so far has been effective.  The blocks surrounding the bomb were swiftly evacuated, and the bomb squad quickly disarmed the device. 

“Then the suspected perp was apprehended within 48 hours, just as he seemed to have been attempting escape on a flight to Dubai.”

Liberal commentator Conason said that right-wing “talking heads” are talking “nonsense” about the terrorism issue.

I don’t listen to the right-wing “talking heads” but the whole Times Square bombing story deserves a great deal of scrutiny as to how the amateur terrorist could receive terrorist bomb training in Pakistan and return to this country free to threaten the lives of hundreds of people in Times Square with a bomb that—as good luck would have it—failed to go off.

* * *

My Hope For High Court Nominee:
Restraint, Both Judicial And Caloric

More extensive comment next week on President Obama’s nomination of Elena Kagan, now serving as the Obama Administration’s Solicitor General, for a seat on the United States Supreme Court.

I want to read a great deal more about her record and also more pro and con commentary on her qualifications.  (Early encouraging sign:  A New York Times lead editorial raised several questions as to whether she is liberal enough.)

It is not too early to offer one observation and express one hope in regard to the president’s nominee.

The observation:  she is obviously overweight.

The hope:  That she shows proper judicial restraint and more caloric restraint.

Judicial restraint would be good for a country supposedly governed by the rule of law.

Caloric restraint would be good for Elena Kagan’s health and prospects for long service on the high court.

# # #

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