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Outdated Constitutional Language Adds To Today’s Illegal Immigration Mess - 08-05-10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

NU’s Reputation And Research Role
Are Both At Stake When Regents Vote

November 19, 2009

When University of Nebraska regents tomorrow consider a proposal to restrict embryonic stem cell research at the University’s Medical Center, the university’s mission and reputation will be fundamentally important issues which will demand attention.

If four of the eight regents are successful in their effort to restrict medical research (they will need to pick up a fifth vote from some other member of the eight-member board), the predictable result would be substantial damage to the University’s increasingly successful effort to establish itself as an institution which has national stature as both a teaching and a research institution.

If the image of the University of Nebraska projected nationwide is that of a school whose research policy is based on religion and the not-generally-accepted moral and ethical standards of individual members of its governing body—if that national image results from a research-restricting decision by the board of regents, the university runs the risk of not only damage to reputation but increased difficulty in attracting researchers and even the possible loss of researchers currently on the faculty.

The University of Iowa learned this lesson the hard way when a team of medical researchers, faced with the kinds of restrictions being proposed by four members of the University of Nebraska Board of Regents, left for another institution. 

A new strategy is being pursued by those who would impose their personal religious, moral and/or ethical standards on UNMC researchers.  Their argument of choice today is that scientists are making rapid progress in developing new research material which is as good as, or better than, the embryonic stem cell material available under the Obama administration’s policy of widening the embryonic lines for which research will be financed with federal grants. 

But a news story reporting on the non-embryonic stem cell research included such words as “eventually” and “progress toward” and “the time may come.”

UNMC Researchers Proceed Down Both Paths

A UNMC researcher, Dr. Angie Rizzino, expresses a very rational, non-emotional position.  The time may arrive, Dr. Rizzino says, when the new research strategy makes human embryonic stem cell research unnecessary.  But for now, he said, research on all fronts should continue in order to improve the understanding of how cells function and how diseases start.

It seems to me that to make a religious or moral or ethical issue of the research use of embryonic stem cells which sit, frozen, in fertility clinics all over the country, one has to accept the belief that a person with a soul is created at the instant of conception, whether through sexual intercourse or in a fertility clinic.

There is simply no evidence—none—that this belief is held by a majority of Nebraskans, who, in effect, own the state university’s whose research role and reputation are at stake here.

I’m quite sure that I am not the only Nebraskan who resents the implication that what is involved is entirely an ethical or moral issue and that all the moral and high ethical standards are on the side of those who would restrict research.  It seems to me to be an insult to imply that those who disagree are immoral or unethical if they do not embrace the concept that a person, with a soul, is created at the instant of conception in fertility clinics.

‘Traditional Irish-Catholic’ Defends Research

Those who claim for themselves the moral highroad in this controversy might well consider something that I drafted for my column several years ago.  I wrote then: 

“I reject the implication that religion-first believers are best qualified to bring moral standards to bear on public issues.  The fact that moral standards are not absolute verities laid down by ecclesiastical authority was demonstrated, I think, by a letter written to then-Governor Mike Johanns, a Catholic, after the governor said he was going to use his ‘bully pulpit’ to express opposition to fetal tissue use in Medical Center research. 

“The writer pointed out that she was born and raised in South Omaha, ‘the product of a traditional Irish-Catholic family and traditional Catholic schools,’ adding that her husband was also educated in Catholic schools and colleges, adding further, ‘We are opposed to abortion.’  The letter to Governor Johanns continued: 

“’We are, however, able to distinguish the fetal-tissue controversy from our strongly-held beliefs on abortion.  The UNMC research using fetal tissue in no way encourages abortions…

“’UNMC is an academic institution dedicated to training our future medical practitioners as well as an institution engaged in important medical research.  I suspect that most of us have been touched by friends or family members who suffer from multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s and other neurological diseases…

“’To deny UNMC the freedom to engage in medical research by somehow characterizing this vital research as a form of pro-choice activity is ludicrous, highly inflammatory and an effort to politicize the process.  In fact, one could argue that to waste this tissue by not using this tissue for the greater good would be sinful.’

“Amen to those sensible sentiments.”

* * *

Growth Of Republican Support
Moves Columnist To Figurative Tears

As I read a column by Charles M. Blow on The New York Times opinion pages, it occurred to me that it would have been appropriate if The Times had been able to publish the column on tear-stained newsprint.

My point, of course, is that The Times columnist was quite obviously unhappy with the facts that he somehow felt compelled to share with Times readers. 

Take the statement by Rep. Eric Cantor, the House Republican whip, after Republican victories in gubernatorial races in New Jersey and Virginia:  “The Republican resurgence begins!” 

Columnist Blow’s reaction:  “Unfortunately, he’s probably right…they are likely to make significant gains, not because of their…tenets, but because of historical patterns and an electorate exasperated with seeing Democratic ineptitude.”

Further evidence of columnist Blow’s figurative tear-shedding was his reaction to a recent Gallup poll which showed Republicans moving ahead of Democrats, 48% to 44%, in a projection of 2010 Congressional election results.  Blow wrote: 

“The most striking finding in the poll was the margin for Republicans among Independents.  It grew from one percentage point in July to 22 percentage points in November.  This is important because according to the recent NBC News/Wall Street Journal Survey, Independents are now nearly as large a group as Democrats and Republicans combined.”

The Times columnist views the current national political scene as being marked by “the Republicans’ surprisingly effective obstructionist strategy, a Democratic caucus riddled with conservative sympathizers and a president encircled by crises and crippled by caution.”

So from this particular liberal’s perspective, opposition to a political opponent, especially if he is a Democrat, is “obstructionist” and a Democratic majority in Congress shouldn’t include any conservatives.

No wonder that recent polls showed that only approximately 20% of the poll respondents consider themselves to be liberals.

* * *

Paying For Unused Sick Leave:
Bribe To ‘Keep Employees Honest’

I wouldn’t single out Omaha firefighters for special criticism because of their misuse of the paid sick leave option—negotiated by labor unions in many instances—for workers to be paid for a specified number of sick leave days each year, whether they use those days or not.

The fireman’s union—and the city officials involved—can fairly be criticized for the negotiating disaster which has helped put the city in something close to a $500 million unfounded pension liability hole. 

But the fireman have a great deal of company in taking advantage of a policy which specifies that if the employee doesn’t use all the days of sick leave to which he would be entitled, he is reimbursed for the unused days—a sort of bribe to keep the employee from lying by calling in sick when what he really wants is a paid day off.

A much more sensible policy would be to provide for a certain number of paid “sick leave” days and require a statement, under some kind of penalty for lying, from an employee, swearing that he or she was truly sick when one of the days was used, with a description of the ailment included in the sworn statement.

If at the end of some specified time period the employees have not used all their paid “sick leave days,” send a note thanking them for their honesty for not using paid sick leave days when they really aren’t sick.  Both parties should feel better about not bribing employees to be honest.

* * *

Heartening To This Husker Fan
To See Run Game Get A Chance

Since I saw my first Nebraska Cornhusker game on Thanksgiving Day in 1933 (the Huskers beat Oregon State 22-0), I have seen some 350 Husker games over the ensuing 76 years, I feel comfortable with offering occasional public comment on the Huskers’ current performance.  (After all, it’s a game anyone can play, and almost everybody in Nebraska does.)  A current comment: 

I-Back Roy Helu, Jr. is a fine young man and a very good running back when he gets the blocking to open the door for him to use his speed and open field elusiveness.  (A battering ram he is not.)

To me, the most encouraging aspect of Helu’s improving performance is that it represents a change in Husker offensive strategy, with more emphasis on blocking by tight ends and the fullback.  With the defense getting proper credit for superior performance, it’s gratifying to see some of the hardworking members of the offense getting some post-game credit, too. 

Dramatic pictorial evidence of the increased effectiveness of the Husker running game was a World-Herald photograph taken from behind the end zone during Helu’s final touchdown run against KU last Saturday.

The picture showed a hole so big that it might have accommodated part of the army of news media coach/commentators/critics who follow and lecture the Huskers.  (Although there is a good chance, I believe, that at least one of that army would have tried to find fault, asking something like, “Why didn’t we get blocking like this sooner?”)

 

* * *

One Of A Master Cartoonist’s Best

As a final touch today, let me dip into a collection of cartoons by one of the greats, Charles Barsotti, whose work first appeared in the Saturday Evening Post and became a feature of The New Yorker.

# # #

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