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.
May 20, 2010
If the Democratic National Committee and their Second Congressional District candidate Tom White of Omaha hope to unseat Republican Representative Lee Terry in November, they’ll have to come up with some positive reasons to vote for White instead of concentrating on cheap-shot attacks on Terry.
After the May 11 primary election, for example, Democrat White declared that Republican Terry should be held accountable for Offutt Air Force Base in Sarpy County losing the chance to become the home of a new nuclear warfare command.
To suggest that there was anything any single member of the Nebraska Congressional delegation could have done to change the Air Force’s decision is simply preposterous.
Did White forget that a Nebraska Democrat, Senator Ben Nelson, is chairman of the Senate Committee on Armed Services subcommittee on strategic forces? Would he accuse fellow Democrat Nelson of failing to change the Air Force’s decision?
White’s charge against Terry simply makes the Democratic candidate look ludicrously unfair.
I haven’t seen or heard any Republican claim that Nelson should be held responsible for the nuclear service command headquarters not coming to Offutt Air Force Base.
The Democratic campaign against Terry began last summer in the political gutter with radio ads irresponsibly implying that Terry does not support funding for U.S. military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan and providing support for military families.
Then late last year television ads charged that Terry had catered “big oil” interests. The ads offered no evidence in support of the accusation.
Democratic focus on Nebraska’s Second District seems based on the fact that President Obama carried the district (by a very narrow margin) in 2008.
But Obama isn’t on the ballot this year—for which White perhaps should be grateful in view of the decline in Obama’s popularity—and the May 11 primary election results do not seem to this observer to be a cause for Democratic optimism.
One news story said Democrats reacted to the primary results “with glee.” The story might well have mentioned, early on, the actual Democratic-glee-producing vote totals in the primary balloting. The reader had to find those totals in the tables of vote results on an inside page.
The numbers: In the Republican primary, Lee Terry, 18,246 and Matt Sakalosky, 10,722—a combined total of approximately 29,000 votes compared to Democrat White’s 12,288 votes. The vote for Second Congressional District Republican candidates was close to 2-1/2 times the vote for the Democratic candidate.
I hasten to add that the Republican nomination was contested while the Democratic candidate was unopposed, and that understandably would affect the turnout. But is it realistic to gleefully assume that the vote gap can be closed by Sakalosky supporters switching to support Democrat White or simply staying home on election day?
The bottom line, as I see it: If White is to have any credibility as a candidate, he and his financial backers in Washington had better start telling Second District voters positive reasons to support White and stop the cheap shots against Terry.
* * *
Before the final act in the “Will Nebraska Join The Big Ten?” melodrama, there will, of course, be occasion for a great deal of additional comment. But for today, let me direct my remarks only to what I think is the farthest-out argument which I have yet encountered in support of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln joining what is primarily an athletic conference.
That argument was put forward in a recent commentary by a journalist who said it would be almost impossible for NU to say “No” to an invitation to join.
The journalist pointed out that the Big Ten is the only major athletic conference in which every school is a member of the Association of American Universities. Then he offered this “NU could hardly refuse” reasoning:
Membership in such a conference (known best for its football teams and a big-money football television network) would somehow enhance the academic prestige of the University of Nebraska (which has long been a member of the American Association of Universities) and this in turn would help the university attract Federal research grants.
To buy this argument, you have to believe that as federal agencies allocate research funds to universities they give more money to Big 10 schools than to Nebraska and the six other Big 12 schools which are AAU members—grants somehow influenced by membership in the all-AAU Big 10 rather than by the individual merits of the AAU schools like Nebraska which don’t happen to be members of the Big 10 conference.
I would say that if this is the basis for a grant policy pursued by the federal government, it would surely be among the screwiest—if not the screwiest—of all federal policies governing grants to universities.
What in the world would Big 10 conference membership have to do with the merits of what goes on in the laboratories and classrooms of a non-conference member?
Consider this scenario:
On an October Friday in 2014, University of Nebraska Medical Center staff members are at work on potential life-saving research. Is their research more deserving of Federal support because the University of Nebraska Cornhusker football team will the next day and the rest of the season be playing as a member of the only all-AAU conference in the country?
If you believe such a Federal policy makes sense, as the old joke goes I have an on-ramp to an Interstate highway bridge I’d like to sell you. As a matter of fact, I’ll sell you the whole bridge and throw in the ramps for good measure.
* * *
Continuing an occasional glimpse into the still unfolding story of the qualifications of Elena Kagan, President Obama’s nominee for a seat on the United States Supreme Court:
One journalistic commentator expressed prompt approval in an editorial headlined: “Kagan seems a capable pick.” (Interesting contrast to a prompt New York Times appraisal which expressed concern that Kagan isn’t liberal enough.)
Elsewhere, in what was intended to be a criticism of Kagan’s hiring policies while Dean of the Harvard Law School, a critic may have boosted Kagan’s qualifications in the eyes of a great many Americans.
A black law professor at Duke University said Kagan’s performance at Harvard raised doubt about her commitment to equality for traditionally disadvantaged groups.
The black law professor said that Kagan should have appointed more blacks and more women, showing her commitment to “diversity.”
I would suggest that to the extent Kagan showed commitment to competency and quality, regardless of color or gender, she deserves praise, not criticism.
After all, the law should be colorblind and gender blind, with no special preference for—or discrimination against—any individual or group based on color or gender.
* * *
Okay, so Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada is an inept bumbler who a good many Americans would be pleased to see become an ex-Senator in the forthcoming November elections.
But I wonder if Nebraska Governor Dave Heineman, loyal Republican that he is, should so directly involve himself—and try to involve other Nebraskans—in the campaign in Nevada to replace Democrat Harry Reid with Republican Sue Lowden.
Especially questionable are the grounds on which Heineman is encouraging some Nebraskans (I don’t know how many were on the mailing list) to support Lowden; i.e., because, according to Heineman’s “Dear Friend” letter, she is “a real pro-life leader with a record of accomplishment in the Nevada State Senate protecting the unborn.”
Heineman’s letter started: “It was my honor a few weeks ago to sign landmark legislation outlawing abortion after the 20th week of pregnancy.”
Heineman’s letter concentrates on Lowden’s anti-abortion record, including the assertion that a contribution from the recipients of Heineman’s letter “have an opportunity to help Sue Lowden become the only pro-life woman in the U.S. Senate.”
Does Heineman realize that his fixation on anti-abortion legislation, including the most extreme piece of anti-abortion legislation enacted in any state, could offend a good many Nebraskans who might properly feel misrepresented by their governor in his pitch for funds for an anti-abortion candidate—or any other candidate—in another state?
Then there is the matter of the grossly overdone fund-raising letter which was in the “Dave Heineman, Governor” envelope which was mailed to me. Nebraska Governor Heineman and Nevada Senatorial candidate Lowden apparently expect recipients of their letters to wade through nearly four pages of “oust Harry Reid, send me money” repetitive rhetoric from Sue Lowden.
Four times in her four-page letter, Lowden asks for “the most generous gift you can afford at this time--$2,400, $1,000, $500, $250, $100, $50, $25 or whatever you can send.”
On a fifth page is a “PLEDGE OF SUPPORT” which is addressed to “Dear Sue” and includes a box in which I am asked to place an “X” indicating “I join Governor Heineman and stand with you 100%.” Then follows a number of boxes to be checked ranging down from $2,400 to $25 or “Other.”
It probably won’t surprise you to know that I declined the invitation to join Nebraska Governor Dave Heineman in his remarkable campaign to help Nevadan Sue Lowden become “the only pro-life woman in the U.S. Senate.”
* * *
“What’s in a name?” Shakespeare asked in Romeo and Juliet. “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet,” which is my way of introducing some comments on names recently in the news.
Start with a puzzling headline which read: “SNAP funds greatly aid many.” Reading into the column, you learn that a federal welfare program—which was formerly called “Food Stamps”—has now been renamed the “Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program” or “SNAP.”
I think a paraphrase of the Shakespearean language would apply—it’s still a federal welfare program, no matter what the name. (I’m not talking about the merits of the program, simply what it is called.)
Then there is the matter of celebrity names associated with supposedly worthy causes. Two recent examples:
Complaints from parents, including the wife of Rep. Lee Terry, caused the Millard School Board to take another look at a book and video designed to portray global warming as fact when, some parents complained, scientists disagree.
One of the teaching aids in the Millard district’s choice of global warming material was a video narrated by Hollywood superstar Leonardo DiCaprio—a name which, it seems to me, might have sounded a note of caution. Traditional liberal Hollywood types cannot be counted on to bring an objective point of view to a controversial subject.
In New York, the name of other entertainment world celebrities, including Elton John, were used recently to attract crowds to a fund-raiser for something called the “Rainforest Fund.” The New York Times had a disgusting picture showing John singing, surrounded by seven men clad only in jockey shorts who appeared to be taking turns fondling him.
It was perhaps a worthy cause, but the spectacle of Elton John singing while being fondled by a group of nearly-naked admirers is enough to make you question the character and judgment of the people who operate the Rainforest Fund.
# # #