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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
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One Reader Thinks So - 12-11-08
Top Athletes Should
Know When to Quit? - 7-24-08
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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
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"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 8, 2009
Kudos to a Public Pulse writer who called attention to something that I had been waiting to read in more detail in connection with the flood of families-living-below-the-poverty-level stories in the six daily papers which Marian and I regularly read.
The usual tone of a “poverty level” story is to simply report—as though it were an exact figure that can be determined with precision—that there has been an increase or decrease in the number of families living below a level of annual income which, a federal bureau informs us, is the “poverty level” applying to families all across the United States.
Rarely does such a story include any reference to the variety of public welfare assistance programs which are available to families living in federal-calculated “poverty.” And rarely if ever does any news report point out that living costs vary very substantially between East Coast and West Coast cities and cities and towns in, for example, the Midwest.
The Public Pulse writer, a perceptive Omaha reader of The World-Herald, pointed out that a federal program—the Women, Infants and Children Supplement Nutrition Program—is available to families with income less than $44,035 and that food stamps are available for families with income less than $30,944.
The letter was written in response to an assertion by the Nebraska Appleseed advocacy group that one in seven Nebraska children aren’t sure of their next meal.
If families are below the poverty income level, they should qualify for food provision programs, so why should one in seven children in Nebraska be unable to count on their next meal, the “Pulse” writer asked.
Not mentioned by the Pulse writer but also available to low-income families are a variety of other welfare programs, including Medicaid, federal rent subsidies and, for their children, free school meals.
This is not to suggest lack of sympathy for persons with limited income which force them to seek aid from public and private welfare programs. The point is that such aid is available, although rarely focused on in stories reporting federal estimates of the number of people living in poverty. (I stress the word “estimates.” Many reporters use the figures as if there had been a precise determination of the income of millions of American families.)
* * *
The “vote for me because I’m black like you” sales pitch worked in North Omaha last November, but in Copenhagen last week it wasn’t enough to win the 2016 Summer Olympics for Chicago, despite President Obama’s personal efforts, including a flight to Copenhagen with First Lady Michelle to urge the International Olympic Committee to give the games to Chicago.
Nebraskans will remember that in order to capture a largely symbolic electoral vote in a normally solid Republican state in presidential elections, the Obama campaign organization sent a dozen or so paid staff members into Omaha. A primary purpose was to turn out a big vote in North Omaha, where the strong majority of black residents could be expected to vote for a fellow black (actually half black).
The “get out the black vote” strategy worked, giving Obama a narrow edge in the Second Congressional District and thus one of Nebraska’s five electoral votes.
The same basic strategy—seeking African support for a United States Olympic bid because it has the strong support of our black president—was used by the Obama administration in a variety of ways—lobbying representatives of African nations on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly, during a Washington reception with African diplomats and in a video of Mr. Obama personally appealing to African IOC members.
In an embarrassment to President Obama (although he doesn’t appear to embarrass easily) and arguably a considerable embarrassment to the United States, the presidential-backed Chicago bid ran dead last in the first round of IOC voting—in fourth place with 19% of the votes, running behind Madrid, Rio de Janeiro and Tokyo. Not likely to increase our stature in the eyes of the world.
It can, of course, be argued that the odds favored Rio de Janeiro all along because of the compelling argument that this would be the first time that the Games have been held on the South American continent. If that was the case, the president could have avoided the embarrassment by arguing, quite honestly, that he was very heavily involved in other issues (like the controversial proposal for health care reform) and sent a message to Copenhagen but ducked the embarrassment which resulted from his decision to make a personal appearance in support of “my hometown.”
* * *
You might call it a duel of “save the date” heavyweights—two October 16 events, each targeted at some of the same group of philanthropic Nebraskans.
The first “save the date” notice came from a group of philanthropic heavy hitters who wants their guests to learn about the University of Nebraska’s billion dollar-plus campaign for programs at all four campuses in the University system.
Two or three weeks later (I wasn’t keeping track) many of the same potential contributors received invitations to a “TeamMates Tailgate” party on the same evening.
TeamMates was co-founded by Tom and Nancy Osborne and encourages adults to mentor young people who need help.
The word is that when University officials learned that NU-Lincoln’s longtime football coach and current athletic director was going to hold a fund-raising event on the same night as NU planned to announce its fund-raising campaign plans to, predictably, many of the same people invited to the Osborne affair, Osborne was asked if he could move his event, since NU “save the date” invitation had been first in the mail. An NU official said Osborne declined, saying his star attraction, Omaha investment guru Warren Buffett, was committed for that specific night.
The TeamMates “tailgate” party is scheduled for the Embassy Suites Hotel Conference Center in LaVista. “Special guests” are to be Buffett and Vince Gill. (I don’t have the slightest idea who Vince Gill is.)
Honorary Chairs are Mogens and Cindy Bay. The invitation includes a suggestion for “table reservations” which would make it a rather unusual “tailgate” party.
The people inviting guests to at the NU event at the same hour on the same night as the TeamMates affair:
James Abel, Susie Buffett (so there is a Buffett involved in each of the invitations), James Clifton, Michael Dunlap, John Gottschalk, Howard Hawks, Bruce Lauritzen, Jeff Raikes, Walter Scott, Ronald Williams, Gail Walling Yanney, Michael Yanney and James Young.
The NU gathering at the Strategic Air and Space Museum near Ashland is billed as “A Salute To Nebraska.” Since both events are scheduled to start with cocktails at 6 p.m. and serve dinner at 7, my best bet is that the double-invited supporters of both the university and TeamMates will send a check to TeamMates and attend the university’s “Salute to Nebraska” function.
* * *
It was encouraging to see, at long last, some recognition—still too limited—of the fact that the alcoholism problem on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota can’t be blamed on four Whiteclay, Nebraska businesses which sell beer—mostly to Indians residing on the reservation just across the Nebraska-South Dakota border from Whiteclay.
A story of a recent legislative hearing in Lincoln started, as usual, with focus on the wrong target. The story started: “The state has a moral obligation to restrict or end alcohol sales in the border town of Whiteclay. That was the message Friday from activists calling for a crackdown on liquor outlets in the town.”
If you read far enough into the story, you discovered that State Sen. Russ Karpisek of Wilber told the witnesses targeting Whiteclay liquor stores: “You’re just nipping at the edges.”
Karpisek, who is chairman of the legislature’s General Affairs Committee, said he wants to explore funneling $122,000 a year in state liquor excise taxes, generated in Whiteclay to alcohol rehabilitation programs on the Pine Ridge Reservation.
Omahan Bob Batt, a member of the Nebraska Liquor Control Commission, said the answer is a massive social program to halt demand for alcohol on the Pine Ridge Reservation.
The alcoholism problem is simply not in Whiteclay but on the reservation itself—a reservation which, in contrast to others in South Dakota, does not allow alcohol sales on the reservation, where the tribe itself could take a measure of control of sales and use the income for programs to combat alcoholism.
* * *
A local sports commentator was discussing the Nebraska Cornhusker/Missouri Tiger football rivalry.
Among other things, the commentator said that Nebraska and Missouri fans have never liked each other, “for whatever reason.”
One reason—one very good reason—for fan animosity is the fact that a vocal segment of Missouri fans are the most obnoxious worst sports of any college athletic fans I have ever encountered. And I know from many conversations with fellow Husker followers that they share this feeling.
It can be argued, I suppose, that these obnoxious fans are only a minority. But I can testify from personal experience that there are enough of them to give Missouri’s Faurot Field and its environs a reputation of being the most inhospitable venue in the Big Twelve.
Again speaking from personal experience, I can testify that Missouri fans heap abuse on visiting fans who are walking away from Faurot Field even when Missouri has won the game.
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