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.
June 4, 2009
Justice will not have been done unless criminal records and jail time result for those three teenage creatures guilty of what The World-Herald headline described as “Unthinkable acts against a pal’s mom.”
The first creature to go to trial was acquitted on a charge of first-degree sexual assault because it could not be established to the jury’s satisfaction that he was the one of the three who had removed the sleeping woman’s jeans and penetrated her manually.
(During his trial, this first creature to be tried didn’t testify—how’s that for an innocent party who wants to defend himself?—and during the trial flipped through the pages of a Bible—sometimes handing it over the rail to his mother. Nauseating is not too strong a word to describe that behavior, I would think.)
The Douglas County Attorney’s office should now vigorously prosecute the acquitted defendant—let’s call him Creature A—with charges about which there is no question. He is guilty of trespassing (the mother involved had ordered all the young beer-drinkers out of her house) and fondling the sleeping woman’s breasts—a misdemeanor under Nebraska law—which all three of the young creatures have admitted to.
The public will be watching very closely to see how the criminal justice system handles this outrageous case.
* * *
The story didn’t get much attention—four paragraphs on an inside page of one newspaper—but it has, as I see it, very substantial importance to the future of the Niobrara River.
I refer to the recent ruling by the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that a federal district court judge should not have dismissed a 2007 case in which irrigators along the Niobrara River were appealing an order to curb their pumping from the river.
The district court ruling had been prompted by the Nebraska Public Power District’s order that irrigators with water rights junior to NPPD pay the power district for water or stop using it.
The State Department of Natural Resources has lifted the order against irrigators but has said such an order could be issued in the future.
Adequate stream flow is essential to maintain the Niobrara’s status as a Congressionally-mandated recreational and scenic stream.
Uncounted thousands of people, including those who canoe or float the river, have a stake in a stream flow which continues to help make the Niobrara Valley of unique importance not only to Nebraska but to the nation.
* * *
“Listen up, Mr. President,” some liberals seem to be saying. “We elected you because you promised ‘Yes, we can’ change a long list of American public priorities, but you aren’t even trying to change some of them.”
And on what priorities is the president defaulting on his campaign promises? Or, at least, failing to deliver what liberals expected of him?
To Frank Rich, the fanatically liberal New York Times columnist, Obama is letting liberals down by failing to make “the moral case” for “full gay civil rights,” specifically including the right to same-sex marriage.
Obama’s personal opposition to same-sex marriage “is now giving cover to every hard-core opponent of gay rights,” Rich declared in a recent column.
Rich went on to the edge of liberal lunacy, it seems to me, by implying that same-sex marriage is among “fundamental constitutional rights” and that it is “shameful” for Obama to remain mute on the marriage issue, so important to the “gay civil rights movement.”
Rich did not quote what constitutional language or Supreme Court decision makes same-sex marriage a “fundamental constitutional right.” Polls indicate that the great majority of Americans oppose same-sex marriage and don’t regard it as a “fundamental constitutional right.”
Another New York Times piece reflecting liberal disenchantment with Obama took issue with Obama’s decision to revive the Bush administration’s practice of trying terrorism suspects in military tribunals. This and other decisions to pursue Bush policy in the detention, trial and release of terrorist suspects raise this question, wrote Sheryl Gay Stolberg of The Times:
“At what point is President Thinker in danger of being perceived as President Flip-Flop?”
* * *
The story, I suppose, deserved its major headline, but did anyone really expect that the reality of what is happening to some home valuations in Douglas and Sarpy Counties would reflect itself in county assessors reducing tax valuations of significant numbers of homes?
I’m referring to a recent story which carried this advice for homeowners: “Count out seeing dip in home valuations.” And this subhead: “Local county assessors haven’t seen enough evidence of falling prices in the Omaha area.”
The assessors reached their decision despite figures which showed that 38% of houses sold in the two counties in 2008 were tax-assessed at more than the sales price and 32% of ’09 sales to date were similarly over-assessed.
I believe that a good many Omaha area residents have had personal, painful evidence that the assessors react much more quickly when home values are increasing.
* * *
Still on the subject of local taxes:
Any solution to the police/firemen multi-million dollar pension mess simply must include some sacrifice on the part of the police and firemen—some redress of a situation which has some police and firemen retiring in their 40s with pensions greater than their straight-time salaries.
This sacrifice on the part of police and firemen must be as fundamental a part of the solution as is the reality that Omaha taxpayers are going to pay dearly if they are to help meet pension obligations and, most importantly, preserve what to this time has been a strong municipal bond rating—a rating which saves Omahans millions upon millions of dollars over time.
As to the share of the pension bailout cost which citizens of Omaha must pay:
Forget the idea of a garbage tax fee of $120 a year earmarked for the pension fund. There is no fairness at all in levying the same fee against the owner of a modest home and a four to five times more valuable home, as a recent World-Herald editorial pointed out.
A pension-bond-retirement increase in the city sales tax is also a non-starter, in my opinion. Like a uniform garbage-collection fee, a sales tax increase would fall heaviest on persons with lower incomes.
Then there could be—dare I mention the possibility?—an increase in the city property tax. For some reason, to mention a property tax increase—which would certainly fall more equitably across income groups than the other proposals—seems to make you something of a political pariah, unworthy of the company of clear-thinking citizens.
But if you don’t like the idea of a property tax increase, how does a city income tax grab you?
Common sense seems to me to dictate that a property tax increase be a part of the mix of possibilities as Omahans make the tough decisions necessary to extricate ourselves from the police/fire pension mess.
* * *
It’s become so perfunctory that it really isn’t necessarily courteous; i.e., the “How are you?” greeting.
My continuing bout with sciatica—the nerve pinch which puts some people in bed and has others like me limping around taking exercises and pills for relief—finally prompted me to start replying honestly.
When asked “How are you?”, I’ve been replying with everything from “Doing better, and thanks for asking” to “Not very well today, since you asked, but making progress.” This is not a ploy to divert the conversation to a detailed explanation of what ails me, because I shift into something like, “But you didn’t call to talk about me. What can I do for you?”
I don’t expect to set any new patterns, but I do think we sometimes fall into meaningless conversational patterns which could be improved upon.
Oh, by the way, how are you today?
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