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 11, 2009
The unquestioning news media coverage which the Nebraska Legislature received in its remarkably favorable treatment of wind power investors in the final days of the 2009 session is being tempered by some post-session commentary, as in a recent editorial in The Kearney Hub and a statement by top executives of the Omaha Public Power District.
The Hub said editorially: “It won’t be long now before we can turn off those nasty nuclear and coal plants and enjoy the benefits of ‘free and clean’ wind power, right?
“Not so fast.”
The editorial continued: “Reality check. Wind energy is supplemental energy at best. Until technology provides a way to store wind-generated electricity, it will never supplant reliable and cheaper coal or nuclear-generated power.”
The Hub editorial also touched on an important point which wind power enthusiasts never mention: “And speaking of the environment, while wind proponents often criticize coal-generated power and its peripheral impacts, a prairie sea of giant windmills is not aesthetically benign.”
The top two Omaha Public Power District officials—President W. Gary Gates and OPPD Board Chairman Fred Ulich—in a World-Herald “Midlands Voices” article warned of the threat of sharply increased monthly bills for OPPD ratepayers if Congress passes the Waxman-Markey bill pending in the House of Representatives.
The costly “clean energy” requirements which the legislation would impose on electricity-generators include a provision that utilities must build or buy a minimum percentage of their electricity from specified higher-cost generation sources such as wind and solar power “even though we may not need this supply,” the Gates and Ulrich statement said.
So while the Nebraska Legislature is persuaded to engage in unusual eleventh-hour maneuvers to enhance the chances of private investors to make money from wind-powered electricity generating projects in Nebraska (which once prided itself on being the only all-public power state in the nation), Congress is considering legislation which would force electric utilities including Nebraska public power districts to generate or buy higher-cost power like wind-generated electricity even if the electricity distributors don’t need it.
It’s about time that homeowners and other electricity consumers in Nebraska and elsewhere realize that expensive, unreliable (wind doesn’t blow all the time, after all) wind power may be “green” but would increase ratepayers’ costs when imposed on utilities that don’t need it.
* * *
A McClatchy Newspapers story earlier this week offered a prediction as to the second 100 days of Barack Obama’s presidency—a prediction which I hope proves accurate. The headline read:
“Next 100 days could make first 100 seem like a joy ride.”
Awaiting a president who had pretty much a free ride in those first 100 days, the story suggested, will be a series of challenges “that will force him to navigate through pressures from both right and left.”
If those pressures push Obama towards a more moderate, middle course offsetting his apparent determination to try to move the country significantly to the left, America will be well served, in my opinion. To date, the new president reminds me of the lines written by a Canadian humorist about a public figure who “three himself on his horse and rode madly off in all directions.”
Some Americans would, I know, credit Obama for being willing—indeed eager—to launch so many different, difficult initiatives in such a short time. But I continue to feel that the result is a scattering of focus, especially for a new president who comes to office with less hands-on political leadership experience than any president in over half a century.
But the news media obsession with Obama coupled with his popular support—which doesn’t necessarily translate into support on all of the specific issues which he is pursuing—are factors clearly working strongly in his favor.
(An example of a specific issue on which the public clearly rejects Obama’s position: Public opinion polls indicate strong majority disapproval of his plans to close the terrorist-detention facilities at the U.S. Naval Base in Guantanamo, Cuba. Even more unpopular is Obama’s idea of dispersing some of the terrorists among a number of high-security prisons around the country.)
Obama’s approach to at least some of the major issues should be a cause of major concern, as I see it. The adage “the president proposes, Congress disposes” still suggests the best policy, especially when a president thinks he knows all the answers. Current case in point:
As a story in the Sunday New York Times made clear, Obama feels he is losing the debate over certain health care policy prescriptions that he favors, “like a government-run insurance plan to compete with the private sector,” so he has decided “to make certain the final bill bears his stamp.”
The White House Budget Director, Peter B. Orszag, said in an interview: “I think you will see that evolution occurring over the next few weeks. We will be weighing in more definitively and you will see him out there.”
It seems to me that Obama would be better advised to see that he has broad Congressional support—and public support, of course—and worry less about whether the resulting health care legislation bears his name and stamp of approval.
But don’t bet that Obama will change his egocentric approach unless enough Americans, through their representatives in both parties in Congress, let him know that teleprompter speeches and good looks can carry him only so far.
* * *
I would certainly not suggest that European political decisions should be a model for our country. But I do find it interesting that at a time when Obama’s policies, unless moderated, would surely move us to the left, a headline in last Monday’s World-Herald read: “Left is big loser in European vote.”
The subhead read: “Center-right coalitions lead as 27 countries vote for the E.U. Parliament.”
The first paragraph of The New York Times account read: “Mainstream liberal politicians fail to turn the global economic crisis into new momentum in the European parliament on Sunday…”
Again, I’m not suggesting that European political decisions should be a model for America. But I do suggest the European results are of interest and should at least be considered by Barack Obama as he rather vigorously plans to move this country’s government and social order to the left.
* * *
I thought the recent “Miracle Cure” story in The World-Herald was both impressive and important whether or not you believe in miracles.
Impressive, of course, to those who have been raised to accept the Catholic Church’s teachings. For them, fresh evidence of the validity of church doctrine.
A story impressive also, I believe, to many of those who find it impossible to believe that a woman who died in 1879 could, from her place in heaven, convince God that He should produce a miracle by saving the life of Dr. Edward Gatz, an Omahan who had been diagnosed as a hopeless cancer victim.
To those non-believers, the story should be significant because it shows the extent of the belief of multi-millions of Catholics in the teachings of their church, a belief of significant public interest and importance because the Catholic Church takes strong stands on important public issues.
So an interesting and impressive story properly given major play by The World-Herald—almost certainly the first time in our city’s history that the story of a miracle involving an Omahan has been used as evidence for canonizing a saint of the Catholic Church, an event which will happen in Rome October 11 when Jeanne Jugan, founder of the Little Sisters of The Poor, will be canonized as Saint Jeanne.
* * *
The Omaha-based miracle story is a welcome contrast to some other references to divine intervention in the lives of mortals. I’ve commented before on the, to me, preposterous presumption that “my Lord and savior Jesus Christ” or other divine intervention helps athletes win games or helped Barry Bonds hit drug-hyped home runs.
Now comes the story of a 23-year-old winner of a $232,100,000 Powerball lottery jackpot who thanks God for His help.
In this case the 23-year-old Mission, South Dakota ranch hand said he wants to make generous philanthropic use of the money which he feels God helped him win. Families which have helped his cash-strapped family survive on their 320-acre “ranch” can now be repaid with philanthropic gifts to the Mission community, said Neal Wanless, the jackpot winner.
If God had any hand in this, the result will certainly be worthier than any possible divine intervention in sporting events.
* * *
Speaking of President Obama’s teleprompter speaking style, as I was earlier: The president might learn something from playing a few videotapes of some of the remarks, both from prepared text and in spontaneous ad libs, made by President Ronald Reagan. A Reagan ad lib example which I continue to enjoy:
As best I recall, someone reminded Reagan, publicly, that he should consider some current public issue or other in terms of a principle which the great Thomas Jefferson had enunciated more than 175 years earlier. Reagan replied with something like this:
“I’m well aware of the thinking of Thomas Jefferson.” Then, with a broad smile, “I knew Thomas Jefferson,” a light-hearted acknowledgement of Reagan’s age. (He turned 70 less than three weeks after starting to serve his eight years as president.)
# # #