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Outdated Constitutional Language Adds To Today’s Illegal Immigration Mess - 08-05-10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

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.

A Varied Menu For You To Consider

June 25, 2009

Today’s topics, described briefly to you with the hope that you will find one or more of them of interest (hopefully, all of them of interest!):

  1. A history lesson—some Civil War facts any well-schooled American should know.
  2. Some lessons for journalists.  (This really shouldn’t be necessary, but, regrettably, it is.)
  3. “Tiger Mania”—let’s cool it when the facts warrant.
  4. Democrats’ health insurance plan—the numbers don’t add up.
  5. An idea worth considering?  Replace Mother’s Day and Father’s Day with Family Day?

* * *

First serving from today’s menu:

What Was Proclaimed
In The Emancipation Proclamation?

There are some pretty tough questions, so let’s say this is a pop quiz in History 101, a senior-level course.

The recent celebration of Juneteenth by blacks across the United States drew attention to President Abraham Lincoln’s issuance of his Emancipation Proclamation effective January 1, 1863.  It is said that word of the proclamation did not reach the former slaves in Texas until federal troops arrived in Galveston in June, 1865.

Question No. 1:  What did the document proclaim?   

Question No. 2:  What was the greatest significance of the Emancipation Proclamation? 

Question No. 3:  How was the Battle of Antietam (also known as Sharpsburg) related to the Emancipation Proclamation?

Question No. 4:  How did the British government react to the Emancipation Proclamation and why was this important to the Union cause in the Civil War?

You will find the answers farther down in the column.

* * *

Lessons Some Journalists
Never Seem To Learn

Turning now to lessons for journalists (one might call the course Journalism 1):

Lesson No. 1:  Be careful to avoid offering proof of the common perception that given the choice between good and bad news, your choice almost invariably is to give most attention to the bad.  Recent example: 

The headline prominently proclaimed:  “28 people to lose jobs at UNL.”

Reading into the story, you learn that UNL employs about 5,700 people.  I calculate that 28 people losing their jobs would mean a 4/100 of 1% reduction in the employment total.

The more important news is that the University of Nebraska system, while being required to hold spending below the total requested (as almost invariably happens), will still wind up with an increase in the amount of funds appropriated to fund expenditures in the next two-year budget cycle. 

This contrasts with the situation at many other state universities where the schools are required, in the next budget cycle, to reduce spending below current levels. 

Lesson No. 2:  Avoid—studiously and persistently and responsibly avoid—writing the results of poll samplings of American opinion as if they unquestionably closely reflect what more than 200 million American adults think.

Unfortunately, almost all polls or opinion surveys are erroneously reported.  A recent example in The New York Times: 

A sampling of the opinions of 895 Americans resulted in a page 1 story in The Times which started: 

“A substantial majority of Americans say President Obama has not developed a strategy to deal with a budget deficit, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News poll.”

I happen to think that the poll may well have properly reflected the feelings of a substantial majority of Americans.  But the poll simply did not find this to be unquestionably true.  More accurate language would have said something like: 

“A poll of 895 Americans—selected in an effort to be representative of majority opinion—found a majority of respondents expressing the belief that President Obama has not developed a strategy to deal with a budget deficit.  We consider the poll an accurate projection within 3 percentage points plus or minus.”

Such accurate wording allows readers to decide for themselves whether they believe a poll of 895 people can determine, within three percentage points, the feelings of over 200 million Americans.

* * *

“Tiger Mania” Less Classy
Than The Tiger Himself

What I call “Tiger Mania”—almost sycophantic media adulation of Tiger Woods—dies hard in any given tournament.  For example:

As ESPN handed the telecast responsibility to NBC in Monday’s final round of the U.S. Open, a commentator tried to hype viewer interest—as if that were necessary—by saying that “Tiger’s surging.” 

The truth was that Tiger was in the clubhouse with an even par 72-hole total while several golfers were still on the course with scores almost certain to better Tiger’s even-par total.

Johnny Miller, who has parlayed a two-major-title golfing career into a presumably lucrative TV commentator’s role, was among those apologizing for Tiger’s showing.  For example:  When Tiger left yet another putt short or not putted firmly enough to avoid a last-second break, Miller said that when greens are slow, Tiger tends to hit the ball too softly. 

Miller described this as “a little Achilles heel” of a golfer whom, I hasten to make clear, I consider one of the great ones, although I’m not obsessed with him. 

But if Tiger consistently hits the ball too softly when the greens are slow, I would describe this as perhaps more than “a little Achilles heel.”  How about an “Achilles foot”?

I would add that Tiger carries off his off days with more class than do the sycophantic commentators.  His post-play comments, whether he wins or loses, are consistently those of a good sport and a gentleman golfer

* * *

Do Health Plan Numbers Add Up?

Republican skeptics can’t be accused of providing some of the latest bad news in regard to the multi-billion-dollar arithmetic behind Democratic plans to overhaul the nation’s health care system as President Obama urges.

A story given front page play in The New York Times carried a headline which read “Health Bill’s Cost Challenged” and included this language:

“An analysis released Monday by the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office raised the hurdles for draft legislation in the Senate just as its Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee planned to begin voting.” 

The story said the CBO had concluded that a plan by the committee’s Democratic leaders, Senators Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts and Christopher J. Dodd of Connecticut, could reduce the number of uninsured Americans only by a net 16 million people.  That, the budget office said, would leave 36 million people uninsured in 2017.

Further evidence, it seems to me, of a problem which I have suggested before:  Obama’s ambitious trillion-dollar spend and tax programs are so large and so complex that they give the impression that they have been too hastily thrown together, are too complex and too numerous to inspire confidence and popular as well as Congressional support.

* * *

Answers For History 101 Students

Question No. 1:  The Emancipation Proclamation proclaimed freedom for slaves in 10 states which were trying to secede from the Union and were currently at war with the United States.  The legal reasoning was that continuing them in slavery allowed slaves to be used in support of the secession efforts.

The proclamation did not include the border states of Kentucky, Missouri, Maryland or Delaware which had never declared secession from the Union.  Thus the proclamation did not free slaves in those states.

Slavery was abolished nationwide by the Thirteenth Amendment effective January 1, 1865.

Question No. 2:  The greatest significance of the Emancipation Proclamation was that it gave legal standing to what was becoming increasingly clear; i.e., that the war was not just about keeping the rebellious states in the Union but also about abolishing the institution of slavery.

Question No. 3:  The Battle of Antietam, which included the bloodiest single day in American military history, was considered by some to have been a draw or at best a strategic victory for the Union, but it did force Confederate General Robert E. Lee to withdraw his troops back across the Potomac and end the threat of invasion of Union territory.  It gave Lincoln what might be called a platform of strength from which he could  target the institution of slavery through the Emancipation Proclamation. 

Question No. 4:  How did the British Government react to the Emancipation Proclamation and why was this important to the Union cause in the Civil War? 

With the abolition of slavery clearly now a target of the Union, Great Britain could not yield to any temptation to recognize the Confederate States of America as a legitimate independent nation.  There was evidence of strong sentiment in some British quarters for such a recognition, prompted to some extent by the fact that the Union naval blockade was depriving British textile mills of cotton imports which they needed from the Southern American states.

But with the war clearly now involving Northern determination to abolish slavery, the British could hardly recognize the Southern states, Britain itself having abolished slavery in its colonies.

* * *

“Happy Family Day” Anyone?

As to that idea worth considering, replacing Mother’s Day and Father’s Day with Family Day:

When son David and daughter Nancy called last Sunday to wish me a happy Father’s Day, I thanked each of them for being the kind of child who made me proud to be a father.

Then the idea occurred that—greeting card manufacturers to the contrary notwithstanding—it might be a good idea to replace those two well-intentioned days with a single “Family Day.”  This, I believe, would encourage the exchange of sentiments such as I shared with Dave and Nancy when they called me last Sunday.

I realize that my idea has limited prospect of adoption, but I would suggest that more parents consider thanking their children for being the kind of children that makes the mother or father proud of them.  (I wish I had thought of the idea a long time ago.)

Consistent with the sentiments I’ve expressed here, I hope you think it’s appropriate that I conclude today with a couple of pictures showing happy occasions involving a father and the son and daughter of whom he is very proud.

Dave and Dad on a hunting trip in Western Nebraska

Dad introduces Nancy as an Omaha Symphony Ball debutante

# # #

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