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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.)
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.
September 23, 2010
On two recent well-publicized occasions, President Obama has claimed that he has kept his word and American combat troops are being withdrawn from Iraq on the schedule he set.
No emphasis, of course, on the fact that nearly 50,000 American troops will remain in Iraq to help train the Iraqi military and protect American interests.
The truth of the matter continues to be reflected in stories from time to time that tell about American troops in Iraq being attacked and suffering casualties. Prospects are that we can expect more of the same.
Probably a more honest picture of prospects for the future in Iraq was presented by President Obama’s Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates.
The headline read: “Not yet time for victory parades over Iraq, Gates warns.”
In Iraq, Gates said, the most recent elections have yet to spawn a coalition government, Al-Qaida is beaten but not gone and sectarian tensions remain.”
And this note of caution about American involvement in Afghanistan: Gates said the success of U.S. forces there is “possible,” although not inevitable.
A more realistic prospect for continuing American involvement in both Iraq and Afghanistan, I would think, coming from Obama’s well-respected Secretary of Defense than from the president himself.
* * *
Enforcement—or lack thereof—of our so-called national immigration policy too frequently reaches the level of incredibility. Consider this case involving a “temporary” waiver of immigration law—a waiver which has lasted for nine years:
A Salvadoran boy is in this country illegally, awaiting deportation which would separate him from his mother who is living in this country legally—legally, that is, under what the news story described as a “temporary” protected status.
If you read far enough into the story, you learned that the mother is one of about 217,000 otherwise deportable Salvadorans who have been living in the United States since early 2001 when earthquakes devastated their homeland.
Their continued legal residence in this country under a “temporary” humanitarian policy which has been in effect for nine years does not apply to her 11-year-old son who came illegally from El Salvador to be with his mother in Omaha. The son faces deportation, but seems assured of at least another year of residence here because an attorney is appealing the deportation order.
And if you had read to the end of an earlier story on young Enrique’s case, you would have learned that his mother’s “boyfriend” would be happy to have the boy join what I guess in these days of lower moral standards might be called a “family circle” created by an unmarried couple.
* * *
A New York Times editorial carrying the headline “Endangered Parks” included this language:
“How bad is the problem? The National Trust for Historic Preservation has put all of the nation’s state parks and state-owned historic sights on the list of America’s most endangered historic places…In all, 26 states have already closed parks, limited hours, reduced staff and budgets or deferred maintenance.”
This somber picture for state parks across the nation led me to call Roger Kuhn, whose Nebraska Game and Parks Commission responsibilities include supervision of the Nebraska state park system.
Kuhn said Nebraska’s park system—parts of which have received national recognition as recently as early this summer—is in good shape, still operating efficiently despite the necessity of eliminating 22 positions. (Only two required layoffs, the others were eliminated through attrition).
State historic parks are now open in the summer only, although at Arbor Lodge State Park and the Arthur Bowring Ranch State Historic Park busloads of visitors and visits by school children are welcome at any time.
Roger Kuhn and his associates, including certainly Game and Parks Commission members and staff director Rex Amack, deserve a heartfelt “Thank you!” from all those who continue to enjoy one of the nation’s very best state park systems.
* * *
Elmer Pinkerton, the sage of Elmwood, Nebraska, who for years wrote me with a commentary on every one of my columns, is still very much alive and offering, if possible, even more acidulous commentary.
Elmer’s latest communication opens with a wish that I and my family “are all OK,” then addresses this still practicing member of the news media with this commentary:
“The media is the cause of most of our problems and the worst enemy of our great nation.” Elmer added, “Nothing personal!” Then followed an indictment of the media for, as Elmer sees it, giving big play to outrageous conduct which doesn’t deserve such attention—big play which can encourage more of the same kind of conduct. For example:
“The nerd kid joined a gang and did a drive-by shooting. Then he was a hero on the news to his peers.”
Another of Elmer’s examples is the Florida preacher who talked about burning copies of the Muslim holy book, the Koran.
This kind of conduct “and others would not have been popular had the media not played them up big,” Elmer contends.
The news media, Elmer says, “only wants sensationalism! They do not give us the news or the details that are not sensational.”
I think the Sage of Elmwood goes a long way too far. But I also think that Elmer raises a point worthy of consideration—but in considerably less emotional and more rational tone than suggested by Elmer’s super-heated rhetoric.
Do the news media overplay acts of violence? And overplay stories like the picketing of funerals or a threat to burn the Koran coming from a minister with a congregation of about 40 people?
What do you think? As I see it, such stories are sometimes sensationalized and overplayed, but in a large majority of cases, comprehensive media coverage is justified by understandable reader and viewer interest in the story.
* * *
In case you hadn’t noticed, it’s football season again, and the Nebraska Cornhuskers are ranked 6th best in the country in the Associated Press sports commentators’ weekly poll. This is more than enough to inspire occasional (it may turn out to be regular) weekly commentary from this Cornhusker fan/sports commentator.
My credentials? Glad you asked. I’ve been attending Husker games for 77 years, and I was sports editor of my high school paper, the Omaha North High School “North Star.” (Yes, that was 70 years ago, but at Omaha North they educated—and still do—their students for the long haul.)
Credentials established (?), I’ll proceed:
To my friends who were predicting Husker victory over the Washington Huskies by 10 points or two touchdowns or so, I was replying:
“But the ‘Latest Line’ Husker margin projected by the professionals in Las Vegas who make a living being right a great share of the time has Nebraska by only three points.”
So both the Las Vegas odds-makers and I look bad as prognosticators, but looking bad didn’t cost me any money, unlike the Los Vegas prognosticators.
As anyone interested in college football knows by now, the Huskers beat the University of Washington by 35 points. If the same rationale had been applied as is followed in Little League baseball games, the contest (?) might have been ended by the officials at the end of the third quarter with the Huskers leading by 28 points.
More seriously, the much-hyped game was, in effect, decided after three quarters.
Some other thoughts sparked by the dominating Husker performance on the Huskies’ home turf:
The Washington quarterback, Jake Locker, should have chosen to go in the pro draft last year. If he doesn’t show more promise as a passer as the season goes along—he was 4 for 20 Saturday—he could drop down several pro draft rounds if not completely out of sight, it seems to me.
I can’t recall a case where a Husker opponent, supposedly one of the best passers in the country and a cinch for a top spot in the pro draft, proved to be so overrated—overrated to the extent that USA Today the week before the game gave a full page of play to Locker, with a half page or so color picture apparently calculated to make him look tough (or at least unshaven).
The Huskers’ backup quarterback Cody Green looked so bad that one of the ABC commentators, apparently a former coach or player or someone with some knowledge of the game, said that Cody had to learn the four points of how to hang onto the football. This was, of course, after Green had fumbled on the first play after each of his two entries into the game.
One of the network commentators said the Huskers looked like a candidate for a national championship.
A friend of mine called after the game and said she had watched the entire game with her parents and the three of them wanted to watch it all over again that very evening if there were to be a rebroadcast.
I told her that I don’t know of any rebroadcast of entire Husker games, even one which the fans enjoyed so much, and that the best bet for her and her parents would be to watch the Sunday evening Coach Bo Pelini show, which presents major plays accompanied by Pelini’s comments.
Go Big Red!
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