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.
September 17, 2008
I've referred to his performance as reminiscent of a description of a public figure by Canadian humorist Stephen Leacock who said this particular public figure "flung himself onto his horse and rode madly off in all directions."
Today another description occurs to me: Barack Obama is something of a presidential Energizer Bunny, incessantly in search of some new program or reform to add to his overflowing agenda.
(I will get to the president's latest ambitious undertaking shortly, but first let me say there is no intention of disrespect in the Energizer label. I use it from time to time to describe my "Energizer Bunny" wife, Marian. She involves herself in a myriad of energy-intensive undertakings, but she has the good sense not to spread herself too thin.)
The latest major reform initiative to be launched by Obama—already heavily involved in a major battle over his health care reform proposal and a war in Afghanistan—broke into the news this week.
One news story was headlined "Obama will outline plans for financial sector rules." There was this subhead: "The president wants an immediate and broad overhaul of the regulations that govern the industry."
Some new regulations clearly appear necessary, but must they take an "immediate" place on the president's already overcrowded agenda?
Our "Is there a problem? I can solve it" president addressed Congress last week in a speech which was supposed to make clear what he would insist on in health care reform. At least some of his liberal supporters were disappointed in his performance.
The New York Times, for example, ran a front page opinion column (The Times attempts to justify news-column opinion by referring to such articles as a "News Analysis") which said in part: "Dancing around the issue for eight months, Mr. Obama has seemed, at various times, pragmatic, flexible or indecisive."
In recent comments, the president implied that the problem is obstructionism by conservatives in Congress, especially Republican conservatives, of course. He has said that he would prefer that the health care reform legislation go forward with bipartisan support, but if necessary it can be rammed through by the substantial Democratic majorities in both houses of Congress.
The major problem faced by Obama, ultraliberal speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and ineffective Senate Democratic Majority Leader Harry Reid is opposition not by moderates and conservatives in Congress but by the American people.
While Obama, Pelosi and Reid and other liberals rail against the Republicans in Congress, public opinion poll after public opinion poll indicates that a majority of the American people disapprove of Obama's plan for a federal health insurance system. For example, about the time Obama was urging Congress to take action, a poll cosponsored by the Associated Press produced the following results:
Fifty-two percent of those responding to the poll disapproved of the way Obama is handling health care, 42% approved and 6% were undecided. In regard to the plans being discussed in Congress, 49% of the poll respondents were opposed, 34% were supportive and 15% were undecided.
A majority of those polled indicated they felt that something needs to be done with the health care system but there were sharp differences as to how this should be accomplished. Forty-two percent of those polled advocated starting over from scratch, while 39% say a plan should be passed by year's end.
These and other poll results—and citizens' voices that are being heard across the country—make clear that the problem, Mr. President, lies not with conservatives and moderates in Congress but with a majority of the American people.
In addition to addressing Congress, President Obama last week televised the presidential image into the nation's school classrooms to advise students as to how to perform.
He personalized his remarks by saying that for a few years while he was at the elementary grade level living in Indonesia (where his free-spirited mother had gone with the Indonesian college student she had married), his mother did not have the money to send him to a private school where "all the American kids went to school."
The more complete story, of course, is that when Obama's mother sent him to Hawaii to live with her parents, he attended a private college preparatory school from the 5th grade until his graduation from high school in 1979. From there, the money—or the scholarships or other financial aid—was available for him to attend two of Americas most prestigious institutions of higher education, Columbia University and Harvard University.
* * *
Now let's talk football. (I may continue to do this from week to week so long as I can point out things which I think are relevant and have perhaps been missed or passed over too lightly by the myriad of reporters/commentators, print and television, swarming around the Nebraska's Cornhuskers.)
I thought last weekend's overemphasis on how the Huskers played against the latest of their two early-season patsies resulted in too little attention to the Huskers' first real test of the season: when the 19th-ranked Huskers play No. 13 Virginia Tech on the Hokies home field in Blacksburg, Virginia this Saturday.
Some well-informed Husker fans would have appreciated a reasonable amount of weekend attention as to how the Hokies fared against their early-season patsy, Marshall University. (You could learn that the Hokies had won, 52-10, if you could find the single paragraph summary in the "Associated Press Top 25 Results.")
By Monday, the Husker news/commentary coverage started to pay attention to the Virginia Tech game. We learned that Virginia Tech had—after a season—opening 34-24 loss to No. 4 Alabama—piled up 605 yards in offense in the 52-10 demolition of Marshall. (Our research department—her name is Jackie Wrieth, and she's my indispensable executive assistant-searched out Marshall University on the Internet and determined that it is in Huntington, Va., and in Division I-A in football.)
The early betting line made Virginia Tech a 3-1/2 point favorite over the Huskers.
After last Saturday's 38-9 win over Arkansas State, one easily impressed commentator—after watching the Huskers' Zac Lee complete 27 out of 35 passes for 340 yards and four touchdowns—enthused that Lee is likely the best Husker prospect for a pro quarterback since Vince Ferragamo 35 years ago.
You wonder whether some of the reporter/commentators were watching the same game as Nebraska Coach Bo Pelini was.
A quick reference to the news media guide supplied to those who cover Husker football—it took me two minutes to find the statistics—would have revealed that Zac Lee's 340 yard passing performance against Arkansas State would not have made the list of top 10 single-game passing performances by Husker quarterbacks.
Joe Ganz—and how quickly we seem to forget—tops the list with 510 yards in passes against Kansas State as recently as the 2007 season. Last year, Ganz passed for 345 yards against Western Michigan. And he was among the most decisive factors in the Huskers' Gator Bowl victory over Clemson which capped the 2008 season 8-1/2 months ago. He set the all-time Husker bowl game passing record—236 yards.
Five of the top 10 best single-game passing marks belong to Ganz, including 484 yards against Colorado in 2007. Next most productive in terms of single-game passing in Husker history was Zach Taylor with three of the ten best single-game passing performances. His best was 431 yards against Iowa State in 2005.
In terms of career passing records, Zac Taylor—who ended his two-year Husker career in 2006, 30 years after Vince Ferragamo—topped Joe Ganz—5,850 yards compared to 5,125 yards by Ganz. Ferragamo's two-year career total placed him 8th on the all-time list with 3,214 yards.
Vince Ferragamo, a fine quarterback who went on to play professionally with the Los Angeles Rams, had no single-game passing performance among the 10 all-time best. In season-long passing, Ferragamo ranks sixth with 2,071 yards in 1976. Ganz tops the season-passing record books with 3,558 yards in 2008, Coach Bo Pelini's first year at the Husker helm.
Incidentally, Zac Lee himself made a more sensible comment after his first two games. He said his father, who had been a pro quarterback, taught him that great quarterbacks have big-time wins, not big-time arms. A victory over Arkansas State is not a big-time win.
Lee shows great promise and considerable poise both during and after the game. Let's hope he and his Husker teammates can produce those big-time wins. They have a number of opportunities ahead of them, starting Saturday in Blacksburg, Virginia.
* * *
Okay, I've had my football fix for the day. Let's talk about CNN's consistently slanted (to the left, of course) news commentary. A recent example:
John Cook, who as a former Associated Press staffer should know better, was questioning Republican House Minority Leader John Boehner about Republican opposition to some features that President Obama and other Democrats want to be included in any health care reform legislation passed by Congress.
The questioning turned to the behavior of some Republicans during the president's speech to Congress last week, including the totally irresponsible—and totally audible—comment by one Republican House member that it was a "lie" when Obama said, contrary to allegations that the proposed legislation would not extend health insurance coverage to illegal immigrants. (It has been pointed out that the lack of diligence in identifying illegal immigrants could make any legislative ban virtually meaningless.)
CNN's John Cook then told the House minority leader that he had been observed texting during the president's speech, and wasn't this also unacceptable behavior. Boehner replied that he supposed he would have been criticized if he had been taking notes on the president's speech in the old-fashioned way with pencil and paper.
Disrespectful to take notes on a speech which the president is directing to you and your colleagues? That must be among the smallest nits that CNN has ever tried to pick.
* * *
Marian was smiling as she brought me this week's copy of Sports Illustrated. "Wheaton (her father) would have said that this is another example of the fact that being on the cover of Sports Illustrated is the kiss of death," Marian said.
As Marian's father would have predicted, both Sports Illustrated and the Oklahoma State Cowboys were embarrassed big time by that SI cover and cover story.
The SI cover was dominated by a picture of Oklahoma State wide receiver Dez Bryant falling into the end zone for his second touchdown in the 24-10 win over Georgia. The headline on the cover: "Cowboy Up," with this subhead: "Oklahoma State Struts as the Rival Sooners Swoon."
A story inside carried this headline: "Uprising in Stillwater" with this subhead: "After manhandling Georgia for its biggest opening win, then seeing Oklahoma and Sam Bradford get flattened by BYU, Oklahoma State is the team to beat in the Sooner State."
Well, as the sporting world knows, the team to beat got beat the next Saturday, losing to Houston 35-45. A headline indicated that the Cougars got some breaks, and they did recover three Oklahoma State fumbles. But they outgained the Cowboys, 512 yards to 434 and had a slight edge in time of possession.
In any case, the Oklahoma State defeat, combined with Oklahoma's 64-0 win over Idaho State, made Sports Illustrated look silly and made all the more interesting oil tycoon Boone Pickens' comment when he went into the locker room in Pickens Stadium (he had donated more than $250 million to the Cowboy football program) and told OSU State Coach Mike Gundy after the victory over 13th ranked Georgia: "Every dollar I've put in has been worth it, just for this one win."
Besides making Sports Illustrated look silly, did the cover story jinx the Cowboys in their game against Houston?
Marian's father, the late Wheaton Battey, Lincoln banker and civic leader, would have said it did, and he might have found more than a few others agreeing with him.
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