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Outdated Constitutional Language Adds To Today’s Illegal Immigration Mess - 08-05-10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

"AT LAST: TALK OF PREVENTION
JOINS MOURNING OVER KILLINGS"
- 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.

Gallup ‘Competitive’ Label, If Accurate Long Term,
Is Good News Not Only For Nebraska Democrats

August 13, 2009

So a Gallup six-month “tracking poll,” conducted in the six months ended June 30, has been interpreted as indicating that Nebraska is one of the eight states which Gallup considers to be politically  “competitive.”

Good news not only for Nebraska Democrats—if a six-month polling process can accurately track a continuing political trend, especially in this particular six-month period, following the uplift which Democrats received from Barack Obama’s election and early months in office.

I say good news not only for Democrats but for Nebraskans in general because the American political system functions best when elections represent spirited, substantial competition between the two major political parties.

The polling of 1,035 adults over the six-month period showed 43% of Nebraskans identified themselves as Democrats or leaning Democratic, while 42% said they were Republican or leaning Republican. 

One wonders what Gallup pollsters would have found if they had surveyed a representative sample of Nebraskans over, say, a three-day period last weekend. 

Certainly Obama’s political fortunes have slipped since the early months covered by the January-June tracking poll.  A nationwide Gallup poll over a July weekend showed his overall approval rating down to 54% and only 40% of those polled supporting his national health insurance plan. 

And, as a news story indicated, political leanings don’t mean much unless translated into votes.  At the time of the most recent general election last November, 48% of Nebraska registered voters were Republicans and 34% were Democrats.

But the Gallup designation of Nebraska as a state that is politically “in play” is helpful, of course, to Democratic candidates in terms of financial support from the national Democratic party and in terms of encouraging strong candidates, which has been a major Democratic problem in recent years.  (Except in the case of Senator Ben Nelson who, incidentally but importantly, is in trouble with some liberal Democrats because he doesn’t automatically march to Obama’s tune, being more a moderate than a liberal Democrat.)

If the designation of Nebraska as a “competitive” state in political terms is accurate, subject to the qualifications that I have noted above, the “competitive” label appropriately provides encouragement for Democratic candidates and fair notice to Republicans

* * *

Tax ‘Crybabies’ Make A Lot Of Noise
But Offer Little If Any Assistance

When it comes to taxes, are too many Nebraskans, including especially those in Omaha this time of the city budget year, what might be appropriately called crybabies? 

As for Nebraskans in general, I have in mind the continuing efforts to impose legal limits on state spending and to cut nearly all major taxes in Nebraska, including sales, income, property and automobile registration taxes.  (The most recent sweeping call for such tax reductions was included in a recent report from a newly-formed organization calling itself Nebraska Renaissance, made up of f business, farm and community representatives from across the state.)

When it comes to cutting taxes, advocates pretty consistently fail to say very specifically what governmental services they think should be reduced or eliminated as a result of the reduction in tax revenues.

In Omaha, the current “crybaby” attitude toward taxes manifests itself, for one significant example, in the attitude of a City Council majority.

If the city budget is to be balanced this year and next year, there will have to be either a modest increase in taxes or a reduction in spending.  But a majority of City Council members have taken a stand against any increase in taxes, without offering newly-elected Mayor Jim Suttle any significant suggestions as to how to reduce expenditures. 

Suttle’s reaction has included such unpopular moves as closing swimming pools a week early and such unwise decisions as grounding police helicopters and postponing a police recruiting class from November to January. 

My vote would be for increasing the city property tax enough to met at least the most pressing city budgetary needs, with property tax revenues supplemented by something like a special levy on entertainment venues.  

Some cutback in spending would obviously be helpful, but I wouldn’t include grounding police helicopters and delaying police recruiting classes.  And levying a trash collection fee—if the Legislature could be persuaded to lift the ban—would be very difficult to apply fairly and could encourage illegal dumping.

I believe one proposal that should most definitely be avoided would be the calling of a state constitutional convention.  This was suggested as a possibility by the newly-formed Nebraska Renaissance group, citing reduction in the number of counties in the state as a possible subject for a constitutional convention. 

If the state were badly served by the present constitution—and there is no proof that this is so, in my opinion—a constitutional convention would be in order.  But lacking evidence of pressing need, calling a convention would open the door to every special interest group in the state to seek some kind of special consideration through this or that constitutional amendment.

The case for a constitutional convention would need stronger evidence than a suggestion that it might address reducing the number of counties.  I have never seen a credible study that makes a strong money-saving case for merging counties.  And a fight over which counties lose their county seat towns in case of merger would be figuratively bloody and protracted.

* * *

Let’s Keep Our Tax Problems In Perspective;
A Look At Another State Is Instructive

My thinking as to whether a good many Nebraskans, currently including a good many Omahans, could fairly be called “tax crybabies” was stimulated, I confess, by a story in The News & Observer, published in Raleigh, North Carolina and carrying this headline:  “The new plan:  more taxes for all.” 

The subheadline read:  “Increased sales and sin taxes, and a new tax surcharge projected to raise nearly $1 billion.”

The story reported that after more than a month of strained negotiations about how to raise money to offset a gigantic state budget deficit, the Democratic majority in the Senate decided on a path:  “Raise the tax burden on everybody.”

Even if North Carolina taxes are increased by as much as the North Carolina Senate is proposing, Democratic majority members say that painful cuts will be necessary.  Proposals include cutting thousands of teacher jobs and raising the average class size, reducing health care benefits for the poor and closing prisons.

I’m not suggesting that there aren’t “tax crybabies” in North Carolina, too.  But the news from North Carolina should help put Nebraska’s and Omaha’s tax problems in better perspective. 

Better economic conditions and better governmental management, I believe, have put Nebraska in a much more favorable position than a good many other states when it comes to budget deficits and the need for tax increases.  We should be thankful for that, of course, but still realize the need for continuing state tax rates (with the possible exception of some income tax rates) at least at the current level and the need for modest increases in Omaha’s municipal tax rates.

* * *

The New York Times Has Spoken:
Congress Approved Four Fighter Planes Too Many

Some jottings from a journalist’s notebook:

--I’m reading these days with one eye, the other being temporarily out of action because of an infection, so I had to re-read the statement in The New York Times editorial two or three times to make sure I was seeing what I thought I saw.

The subject was the fact that Congress, under strong pressure from Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, had placed a cap on production of the F-22 fighter plane.  The Times endorsed the Congressional decision to end production of F-22s at 187 planes but “four more than we think are merited,” The Times editorial added.

Regular readers of The Times editorials know that the editors think they could manage all manner of things better than those responsible for the management—including the White House, the Pentagon, etc., etc.

But this was the first time I had seen The Times throw its editorial support behind such detailed, micromanagement as suggesting that the cap of F-22 production had been set four airplanes higher (that figures to be about 2%) than the total The Times would have approved.
 
--Those two young journalists who illegally ventured into North Korea and were rescued by former President Bill Clinton did a foolish thing but, inadvertently, may have contributed to a new initiative in the efforts of the United States to talk some sense into Korean dictator Kim Jong II.  It gave the secretive, ailing, erratic, egotistical North Korean ruler an opportunity to sit beside a former United States president in a formal photograph carried around the world—a clear boost to Kim’s ego.

The result could be bad, in the judgment of some commentators.  But I believe the Clinton visit could open a new avenue for hopefully successful negotiations to end the threat of North Korea developing nuclear weapons.

--I’ve commented in this space from time to time on the fact that national news media are pantingly eager to cover, live, nearly every public appearance by President Obama—and he has a lot of them. 

But to their credit, NBC, ABC, CBS and Fox did not broadcast live Obama’s appearance at a town hall meeting in Raleigh, North Carolina.  CNN, something of a Obama lapdog, not surprisingly provided a live telecast.

* * *

One-Candle Birthday Cakes Are My Style Now

One of the considerations which friends extend to you when you are celebrating a birthday as you advance further into the mature years is the fact that they reduce the number of candles, so you’re not embarrassed by the fact that you can’t blow them all out.

I’ve reached the stage where most of the cakes which came my way had only a single candle.  I could handle that.

I had occasion to thank a number of people for remembering my birthday, and I decided this was the proper response. 

I’ve been blessed with reasonably good health and mental capacity as the years have rolled by.  Among the reasons I feel blessed is the fact that an occasion like my 86th birthday gave me the opportunity to say thank you to so many good friends and tell them that my continuing friendship with them has been the principal blessing of my longevity—except, of course, for the blessing of continuing a marriage(it’s been 57 years now)  to an incomparable wife named Marian.

The incomparable Marian with her household support team.

# # #

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