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.
October 1, 2009
First some brief commentaries, before moving on to some heavier subjects, including President Obama’s performance at home and abroad.
--What’s in a name? The question occurred as I read that some liberals now prefer to be called “progressives.” Another news item reported that two men walked away from a state “Work Ethic Camp” in McCook.
I don’t think you can disguise your political beliefs by switching to a more attractive label. Nor can you change a convict detention facility by calling it a “Work Ethic Camp.”
--I would say that Sarpy County officials can be trusted with the public’s money if the most serious current example of county expenses “adding up” was the $4,965.63 expenditure for the county’s one-third share of the groundbreaking celebration costs for the Omaha Royals stadium in Sarpy County. A recent news story gave an exhaustive breakdown of expenses. For example, for the ceremonial shovels, which are customary for such affairs, the budget was $2,000. Are you shocked to learn that the final shovel cost was $423 over budget? And portable toilets cost all of $203. There was a lot more of such detail, in case anybody was interested.
--It might have been called “Nutcake Day” at the United Nations General Assembly meeting in New York City.
The agenda included speeches by Venezuelan President/Dictator Hugo Chavez, Libyan dictator Muammar al-Ghadafi (who was scheduled to speak 15 minutes but spoke 90) and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who denies that there was ever a Holocaust, and also denies that Iran is building that supposedly secret uranium processing plant for the purpose of creating a nuclear weapon.
* * *
Some successes on the international stage last week drew praise for President Obama but not enough, I would think, to offset the continuing lack of broad support, at home and abroad, for his position on the war in Afghanistan and, at home, his case for his plan for a $900-billion overhaul of the nation’s health care system.
The president’s overseas successes included recruiting British and French leaders to join him in putting new pressure on Iran to come clean about the intentions behind its newly-discovered “secret” nuclear processing facility. Even Russia indicated it would challenge Iran to explain its motives in processing uranium in a way that could be used to build nuclear weapons.
Elsewhere on the foreign affairs front, the president received an enthusiastic reception when he told a meeting of the United Nation’s General Assembly that the United States does not have any desire to attempt to play the role of the superpower to which the rest of the world would look for military and economic leadership. Some would say the United States is not in any position to continue to play such a role, but the president’s reassuring words were enthusiastically applauded by his United Nation’s audience.
As to Afghanistan:
The Sunday World-Herald carried a full page focusing on that historically-troubled country—its frequently-in-conflict tribal society (there are nine separate ethnic groups), its history of uniting to defeat foreign invaders as powerful as Great Britain in the Nineteenth Century and Russia in the Twentieth and the continuing influence of radical Islam militants both of the Taliban and al Qaeda variety. The page, prepared by The Chicago Tribune, included up-to-the-minute facts and figures which underscore the problems which confront President Obama as he tries to decide how many more American troops to commit to the Afghan War.
A story in last Sunday’s New York Times indicated something of Obama’s problems in re Afghanistan. The story said that Obama has discovered that as he considers “one of the most consequential decisions of his presidency,” United States military leaders are not united in support of his plan to commit more troops and some of the civilian advisors he respects the most “have deep reservations.”
If Obama is interested in advice from the American people, he might well take a close look at the results of a recent New York Times/CBS News poll. A strong majority of those responding to the poll’s questions said that troop levels in Afghanistan should be either decreased (32% favored this) or kept at the same level (27%). Only 29% of the poll respondents favored an increase in troops.
Obama has argued that a successful military outcome is essential to stabilize a central government in that tribally-divided country and then have the cooperation of that government in suppressing Taliban Islamic fanatics and their allies, the al Qaeda terrorists who are using a sanctuary along the Afghanistan/Pakistan border as a base for training and initiating terrorist attacks in countries like Great Britain in the United States.
Asked about the effect of U.S. military involvement in Afghanistan, 68% of the poll respondents said the threat of terrorism has either stayed the same (51%) or actually increased (17%). Only 27% of the respondents felt that our military presence in Afghanistan has decreased the threat of terrorism.
Somewhat parallel with the poll respondents’ skepticism or opposition to Obama’s policy in Afghanistan was either doubt or opposition to his massive health care overhaul proposal. Only 30% of the poll respondents said they mostly support the president on this issue while 23% said they are mostly opposed and, most significantly of all, 46% said they don’t know enough to have an opinion about the proposal (which runs to some 1,000 pages in one Congressional version).
Not helping the Obama case for health care reform was a recent column from a website commentator, Jacob Sullum, whose views appear on “reason.com.” (Since I’m now a website columnist myself, I tend to pay more attention to these other internet commentators.)
Jacob Sullum challenged Obama’s claim that the average American family is paying thousands of dollars in hidden costs because health care for the uninsured drives up the price for coverage for those who are insured.
But in a 2008 report from the Henry J. Kaiser Foundation, Sullum wrote, “the foundation’s analysis indicates that the true annual cost per family is more like $200, with uncompensated care accounting for ‘less than 1% of private health insurance costs.’”
Such an objective journalistic look at the president and his proposals contrasts sharply with the journalistic lapdog performance which five television networks—count them, five—offered on their weekly talk shows the Sunday before last.
Each of the networks—ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN and Univision—accepted White House invitations to tape half-hour interviews with the president on the Friday afternoon preceding their Sunday morning talk shows. Each talk show host was run through the same White House setting, with the president sitting in the same chair and each of the alleged journalists sitting in the same chair opposite him—assembly line journalism, one might call it.
The president properly received some criticism for not inviting the hosts of the Fox Network Sunday morning talk show. It might be said that he was trying to avoid watchdog journalistic questions instead of lapdog inquiries.
But leave it to a late night talk show host, David Letterman, to take presidential lapdog honors. Letterman, who has had the president as a guest on his show half a dozen times, made Obama his only guest on one recent evening.
One wonders if Letterman would have rolled over if the president had asked
* * *
The stories reporting the arrest of Najibullah Zazi—an American citizen who was born in Afghanistan and had recently received bomb-making training at an al Qaeda camp in Pakistan—said Zazi was questioned for three days about the possible plans for bombings in New York City or Denver or elsewhere.
One hopes that during the questioning, authorities treated him gently, according to the Geneva Convention and International Red Cross and New York Times standards. After all, he denied that buying all those bomb-making materials indicated that he planned to try to blow up Americans. Why not let the matter drop right there, perhaps with an apology?
More seriously, I thought it was significant that a Muslim religious leader, a New York-based Imam, asked by authorities to help thwart any bombing plot, instead warned the suspect that the authorities were on his trail.
This, it would seem to me, is yet another example of the fact that no matter how many peace-loving Muslims live in this and other countries, the Muslim religion includes a belief in Jihad or “holy wars” involving the killing of non-Muslims if Muslim religious leadership believes such killing is justified. I know of no other of the world’s great religions that involves such a belief.
In the case at hand, we have an Imam, a Muslim holy man, coming to the aid of a man whose apparent intent was to kill Americans. Imam-approved “jihad”?
* * *
While waiting for the takeoff of our flight to Wilmington, North Carolina to visit former Omahans Jean and Bill Stauffer, Marian used her cell phone to call Craig Lucas, whose company is in charge of our swimming pool maintenance. She wanted to talk to Craig about plans for winterizing the pool.
Craig responded on his cell phone—from his seat about 15 feet away and across the aisle one row ahead of us. Craig finished the telephone conversation, then called over to say he had spotted us a bit earlier and planned on a face-to-face conversation.We all had a good person-to-person laugh, without the need of any help from our cell phones.
# # #