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Obama ‘Stumbling’ To Victory? - 5-08-08
"‘Charisma’ Not Always a Good Thing" - 2-27-08
"Nosy Congress Makes
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"Right Decision Could
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"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.
May 14, 2009
As if Barack Obama didn’t have enough challenges to face—including especially the increasing success of Taliban extremists and Al-Qaeda terrorists in creating new bases along the Afghanistan/Pakistan border—there come now fresh pressures from liberals who supported his campaign for the presidency.
The message seems to be, “It’s payoff time, Mr. President.” Time, for example, to appoint a woman to fill the coming vacancy on the United States Supreme Court.
Time also to give some kind of recognition to “gays.” (That, of course, is the language they use when referring to homosexuals and lesbians. The New York Times pointed out that two of those being mentioned as a possible Supreme Court appointee are openly “gay.”)
Time also to give presidential support to the so-called “hate crime” bill which would impose heavier penalties if it can be proven that a crime was motivated by, for example, racial or religious hatred.
And time to put White House support behind the same-sex marriage movement.
The cumulative total of such special interest pleadings seems to me to contribute to what might be called “the splintering of America” by yielding to special-interest groups rather than following presidential policy which brings the American people together, as much as is possible under liberal Democratic Washington leadership, in support of policies on which the majority of the American people agree.
Policies like opposition to same-sex marriage. (The only available evidence, through actions of state legislatures across the country and in public opinion polls, is that the majority of the American people don’t approve of same-sex marriages.)
Policies like dropping the idea of prosecuting Bush administration officials for approving “enhanced interrogations” of prisoners (some call it brutality or torture) in an effort to elicit information which could help protect Americans from death by terrorism. There is simply no evidence that the majority of the American people want Obama to lend his support to prosecution of such officials.
For reasoned, principled rejection of the pro-prosecution arguments, the president could turn to a recent piece by New York Times columnist Tom Friedman, who does not let his liberal views obscure a rational approach to controversial issues.
Friedman approved Obama’s initial rejection of prosecution (there have been signs Obama may have wavered in that initial stance). A Friedman column included this language:
“…Al-Qaeda truly was a unique enemy, and the post-9/11 era a deeply confounding war in a variety of ways…Al-Qaeda was undeterred by normal means.”
The Friedman column concluded:
“…So, yes, people among us who went over the line may go unpunished, because we still have enemies who respect no lines at all. In such an ugly war, you do your best.”
So non-prosecution is a policy which a liberal like Tom Friedman—more balanced, more rational than a good many of those on the left—can live with. But as to how the majority of the American people feel about the prosecution issue, President Obama, and especially the Congressional liberals who are unwilling to let the prosecution issue go, should read also the views of an outspoken black columnist, Thomas Sowell, who recently wrote:
“We have already turned loose dozens of captured terrorists, who have resumed their terrorism. Why? Because they’ve been given ‘rights’ that exist neither in our laws nor under international law.”
Further thoughts from Sowell:
“We don’t need to risk American lives to prove that we are nicer than they are…Squeamishness is neither law nor morality. And moral exhibitionism is beneath contempt when it sacrifices the safety of those who live within the law for the sake of self-satisfied preening, whether in editorial offices or in the White House.”
The liberal pressure on Obama to follow the liberal line with decisions contrary to the wishes of a majority of Americans comes at a most unfortunate time—a potential distraction from more significant issues which confront the president.
Trouble looming for Obama in Afghanistan was suggested some weeks ago in a story in The New York Times which began with this headline:
“OBAMA’S WAR. Fearing Another Quagmire.”
The opening paragraphs raised this question: “Can President Obama succeed in that long-lamented ‘graveyard of empire’—a place that has crushed foreign occupiers for more than 2,000 years?”
Between the headline and that opening paragraph were famous lines from British writer Rudyard Kipling, who wrote in 1892 on the subject of British intervention in Afghanistan. One of Kipling’s pieces included this language:
“When you’re wounded and left
on Afghanistan’s plains
And the women come out
to cut up what remains
Jest roll to your rifle and blow
out your brains
An’ go to your Gawd like a soldier.”
Among recent headlines:
“U.S. analysts foresee Pakistan splintering into terror havens.”
“United Militants Threaten Pakistan’s Populous Heart.”
“Pakistani Peace Deal Gives New Clout To Taliban Rebels.”Success in Afghanistan and Pakistan, surely a goal worthy of broad support, and resolution of a multitude of important domestic issues (some of them created unnecessarily by Obama himself) constitute an agenda to which certainly should not be added special-interest issues in which there is simply no evidence of widespread public support.
* * *
It isn’t exactly a bargain yet, but those $2,500 “suite seats” behind home plate and the dugouts in the new Yankee Stadium have been trimmed in price, for an obvious reason: Hardly anybody was buying tickets for them.
The new price is hardly a bargain--$1,250.
Still a very pricey—and very unfavorable—contrast to the way the Toronto Blue Jays, for example, are reacting to the economic recession’s potential impact on fan attendance.
The Blue Jays are offering “Messin’ With Recession” games with ticket prices as low as $5 and hotdogs for $1.
In Toronto, at least, it still appears possible for a father to take two kids to the ballpark without applying for government aid.
* * *
Suppose you had a service which you offered to the general public and experience over time demonstrated clearly that one segment of the public made greater use of that service, imposing a higher percentage of costs than do other classes of users.
Wouldn’t it be both economically realistic and fair if you charged the high-cost segment of your customers more than another sector which generates less cost?
The answer, of course, is that what makes economic sense doesn’t make political sense, so you have Congressional liberals pushing for legislation which would end the practice of charging higher insurance premiums to women than to men for the same kind of coverage.
Insurance executives point out that women ages 19-55 tend to generate more health care costs than men of the same age because they typically use more health care, especially in the childbearing years. Women are more likely to visit doctors, to get regular checkups, to take prescription medications and to have certain chronic illnesses.
So the insurance industry charged more for coverage of women than comparable coverage for men.
This economic common sense would not, of course, satisfy liberals like Senator John Kerry, Democrat from Massachusetts, who told an insurance industry spokesman: “The disparity between women and men in the individual insurance market is just plain wrong and it has to change.”
Under that kind of pressure, the industry is agreeing to charge men and women the same premiums despite the disparity in cost to the insurance companies.
Once again, Big Nanny government policy prevails over common sense.
* * *
To their credit, Omaha performing arts organizations are making realistic if painful accommodations to the realities of the economic recession (some are calling it a crisis, the worst in decades).
The Omaha Community Playhouse, Opera Omaha and the Nebraska Shakespeare Festival, for example, have made, unhappily but realistically, the decision to cut their performance cloth to fit the reduced financial pattern which is the unfortunate but totally predicable result of current economic conditions.
When a generously-endowed cultural institution like the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles has to make substantial reductions in staff and other operating costs—and when the investment portfolios of other arts supporters are dramatically reduced like the Getty’s—the clearly realistic course for arts groups across the country is to tighten their budgets, be grateful for the continuing support and do their best to weather the storm by offering a reduced but still important contribution to the culture of a community.
Speaking of support of the arts:
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