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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.)
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July 29, 2010
It wasn’t enough that a Democratic majority in Congress had created another welfare-state program to be run by yet another powerful Federal bureau.
President Obama felt compelled to wrap his victory in a package of misleading rhetoric.
In praising the “financial reform” legislation which creates a new federal bureau and a council of regulators to oversee the nation’s financial system the president declared the legislation will assure that the “American people will never again be asked to foot the bill for Wall Street’s mistakes.”
Some additional regulatory oversight might be in order to discourage repetition of the mistakes which created the still-continuing economic recession. But the new legislation goes too far, just as the president does in fingering “Wall Street” as the principal villain in the near collapse of the national economy.
Some Wall Street bankers must bear part of the blame, as should some banks and financial institutions which made housing-purchase loans backed by risky mortgages.
But those primarily responsible for the near free-fall of the national economy were Democratic politicians—including Presidents Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton and leading Congressional Democrats like Representative Barney Frank and Senator Chris Dodd.
They provided the political pressure which ultimately created a situation under which practically anybody could get a mortgage loan to buy a house and, as the politicians put it, realize the American dream of “owning a home.”
This irresponsible policy resulted in government-subsidized bad mortgage loans which worked their way up through the economic system and wound up in packages which some Wall Street investment bankers sold.
When thousands upon thousands of over-extended borrowers defaulted—predictably defaulted—on their mortgage payments, the Democratic-encouraged cheap mortgage market collapsed, pulling the American economy down with it.
Incidentally, if every American family is entitled to own a house, where was Big Daddy government when my family needed him? We lived comfortably in a succession of five modest rented homes (my mother liked fresh surroundings from time to time) and never realized that the federal government owed us a home we owned.
* * *
Mike Meister, the Nebraska Democratic Party’s candidate for governor, deserves thanks from a majority of Nebraskans, as I see it.
That doesn’t mean a majority of Nebraska voters can be expected to support him November 2. It means simply that he has taken on a very tough challenge with the result that Nebraska voters will have a choice in voting for governor. That’s the way the two-party system is supposed to work.
As to the Scottsbluff attorney’s chances of prevailing against popular Republican Governor Dave Heineman who can draw on $1.6 million in campaign funds, as I see it, his chances are somewhere between slim and none. Consider:
Meister has virtually no statewide name recognition except that which results from recent publicity about his coming to the rescue of a party without a gubernatorial candidate 14 weeks before the election. He lost his two previous tries for public office—for State Attorney General and for Scotts Bluff County Attorney—by wide margins.
His private-life history includes a recent divorce and part-ownership of a Scottsbluff sports bar which went broke in 2005. A tax lien of $17,000 was placed on his home in 2005. It has since been cleared along with other debts incurred in connection with his bar ownership.
But he obviously has political courage and the personal integrity to clear up his debts.
Perhaps the largest problem he faces—and properly so—are the stands he will take as well as the issues which he has indicated he will try to duck.
In a campaign-opening interview, he outlined a public school funding proposal which hasn’t a prayer of enactment, in my opinion. He said his idea is to end direct state aid to local schools, requiring them to depend on their property tax base, while the state takes over all maintenance and upkeep of public school buildings.
Such a policy, I suspect, would guarantee the opposition of nearly every school board member in the state—board members who are not about to support any proposition which ends support from state sales and income taxes and replaces it with large increases in local property taxes.
Meister said his campaign focus would be on the state’s economy, not on his support of a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants, his support of abortion rights or his position on same-sex marriage, for which he has expressed support in the past.
I think it unrealistic for Meister to expect not to be challenged on his views on these issues. The illegal immigration issue can become a state issue, as evidenced by the action of the Arizona legislature (or a local issue as evidenced by an ordinance recently approved by Fremont voters).
The abortion issue regularly surfaces in the Nebraska legislature, where it was the subject of two controversial bills this year.
Same-sex marriages are forbidden by a constitutional amendment overwhelmingly approved by Nebraska voters, but Meister shouldn’t be surprised if there is some reference to his position on this issue as the campaign progresses.
The Nebraska economy, by any of a variety of measurements, has held up much better than the national average in the current economic downturn. But if Meister thinks he can bring some new perspective to the matter of Nebraska’s economic vitality, let the debate begin.
* * *
I suppose it’s inevitable that one day I will agree with a column written by Leonard Pitts, Jr. of the Miami Herald, whose writings appear regularly on the More Commentary page in the Omaha World-Herald.
But a Pitts column which appeared in The World-Herald Sunday certainly moved me no closer to agreement with any of his liberal (ultraliberal) views.
Pitts expressed approval of the proposal to build a Muslim mosque in New York City within two blocks of the site of the skyscraper (note: should it by “skyscrapers”?) into which Muslim-terrorist-controlled airliners crashed almost nine years ago, killing close to 3,000 people.
Columnist Pitts argues that Muslim terrorism does not reflect the teachings of the Prophet Mohammed and the tenets of the Muslim religion.
Pitts is simply wrong. One of the basic beliefs in the Muslim religion is that non-Muslims are, on occasion, proper targets of jihad or “holy war.”
Muslim belief goes so far as to preach that a Muslim who dies in killing “infidels” in the pursuit of jihad or “holy war” is assured of a place in Muslim heaven—a belief that helps explain the willingness of some Muslims to blow themselves up in suicide bomb attacks on non-believers.
The majority of Muslims may not hold—or at least not be willing to practice—such beliefs. But how many times have you read or heard of a leading Muslim spokesman unequivocally repudiating the “holy war” component of the Muslim faith?
To build a mosque two blocks from the place where Muslim terrorists on a “holy war” crusade caused the death of nearly 3,000 people would be inexcusably provocative. If there is a need for another mosque to accommodate an increasing number of Muslims—including conceivably American-citizen Muslims like the who that have been found plotting to blow up fellow American citizens—the mosque should be built elsewhere.
* * *
Enough heavy lifting. A look at some less weighty subjects:
--The Elmwood Road pothole and orange sawhorse, depicted in this column recently, are gone now, replaced by fresh blacktop patching.
I wrote that I wouldn’t miss the pothole but the orange and white sawhorse had become sort of an ornamental neighborhood fixture. On balance, I’m glad both are gone now. I interpret this as a recognition by the city street department that Elmwood Road is less a residential street than a much-traveled artery connecting Dodge Street and Underwood Avenue.
--An Omaha businessman has plans to open a new RV camping ground in the vicinity of the new TDAmeritrade Park which next year will become the home of the College World Series.
The RV park would be reminiscent of the “Dingerville” RV campground which was such a companion feature to the College World Series when played at Rosenblatt Stadium.
To my surprise and disappointment, the proposal wasn’t greeted immediately with enthusiasm by all parties concerned. Several unnamed parties were quoted as having concern about the RV park’s presence in the north downtown area.
But the proposed new RV park would be built two miles from the new downtown stadium, near Freedom Park on the Missouri River, out of sight of the new downtown ballpark area.
It seems to me that the proposed RV park should be greeted with the same enthusiasm as the word that a Zesto’s—another popular part of the Rosenblatt/CWS environment—will be built downtown. Such “companions” are part of the CWS tradition.
--Included in the bag of vials of medicine which I had ordered—I take 13 pills every morning and 10 more at bedtime every day—was one of those detailed, several-page explanation of what a specific drug is designed to do and the cautions you should take in using it.
The pages were devoted to a drug—I can’t remember the unpronounceable name—designed to relieve symptoms of anxiety.
Now I have some anxious moments during some Nebraska football games—watching the Huskers more than once fumble their way to defeat inside the Iowa State five-yard line last season, for example. But I don’t think I’m the type that needs anxiety pills on a regular basis. But I will keep that possibility in mind as the Huskers move into a season in which great things are expected of them.
--The headline read: “Screen time saps kids’ attention spans.”
Really? I never would have suspected that.
* * *
Many readers over the years have told me they particularly enjoy my reports on Marian and/or our dogs, I venture to offer a dog-oriented report today:
It has to do with our six-year-old cocker spaniel, Charlotte, whom we call “The Prom Queen” or simply “Gorgeous” because she is especially pretty, consistently refuses to give me a canine kiss, even when, her paws on my knees, I give her her favorite back-scratching.
Charlotte’s attitude is such a contrast to that of our eight-year-old cocker spaniel, Claire, who comes running and puts her paws on my knees every time she hears me sneeze, then gets a back-scratching which she indicates she appreciates with canine kisses.
I’ve reasoned that perhaps the “Prom Queen,” being the attractive female that she is, doesn’t want to appear to bestow her favors too easily. But come on, Charlotte. It’s all in the family, you know.
Incidentally, Charlotte’s reluctance to bestow canine kisses is in sharp contrast to the performance of the two-year-old long-haired chihuahua who lives in the Denver household of our daughter Nancy and our three grandsons. She is named Samantha but has earned the nickname of “The Kissing Fool.”
Samantha repays tummy rubs with a torrid of canine kisses, no matter who administers the tummy rub. She might be called promiscuous, Nancy agrees.
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