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Outdated Constitutional Language Adds To Today’s Illegal Immigration Mess - 08-05-10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

- 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.

Even Without That Health Bill Vote,
Another Term For Nelson Was Questionable

December 23, 2009

If ever a Nebraska politician has been nationally spotlighted with political egg on his face—enough egg to raise a serious question as to his re-election chances—that politician is, of course, Democratic Senator Ben Nelson, who seems to have lost touch with a great many Nebraska voters as well as Nebraska values.

Under any circumstances, there would have been a question as to whether Nelson, who would turn 71 four months after starting another term, shouldn’t call it a political career rather than asking Nebraskans to elect him, in 2012, to a term scheduled to end four months short of his 78th birthday. 

And now the question of another term will predictably be impacted by Nelson’s indefensible performance in agreeing to cast the deadlock-breaking vote which cleared the way for Senate passage of a complex public health bill which, according to one poll, 67% of Nelson’s Nebraska constituents are opposed to.

Providing the tie-breaking vote would have been political problem enough for Nelson as, in the crunch, he sided with President Obama, who, like the health care legislation, lacks majority support across the country.  But the deal which Nelson accepted—some called it a bribe—leaves a stain that can’t be removed, although he has tried to shift the responsibility to Republican Governor Dave Heineman.

In the “Heineman started it all” version, it was Heineman who brought Nelson’s attention to the fact that Nebraska would be hard pressed to pay the increased Medicaid costs that would result from passage of the health care bill.  Nelson said he mentioned this problem to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada.  Reid volunteered a “get Nelson’s vote” solution by adding an amendment under which Nebraska does not pay any part of the increased Medicaid costs. 

Nelson accepted the deal, putting himself and his state in an ethically irresponsible position.

Heineman promptly made clear he disapproved of the deal.

Nelson at one stage said that he was willing to give up the “only state in the union” Medicaid tax concession offered by the Senate Majority Leader.

Too late, Senator Nelson, too late.  The offer should have been rejected immediately. 

Also fumbled by Nebraska’s senior senator, who has a reputation as a clever compromiser and deal-maker, was the issue of whether any federal funds can wind up subsidizing abortions under the new health insurance legislation. 

Nelson publicly postured in indignant opposition to this possibility for some time, then agreed to a compromise which abortion opponents believe—indignantly believe—does not close the door to the possibility of federal funds being used to encourage abortions.

Nelson agreed to a compromise which, he stressed, would require that federal subsidized insurance plans involve the writing of separate checks in cases of abortion—one non-Federal-funds check for the abortion and one for the rest of any health care services.

A belief that this two-check gimmick would satisfy abortion opponents was, as Nelson discovered, politically naive, especially for an old political hand like Nelson.  A headline in The World-Herald told the story:

“Abortion foes ‘stunned,’ feel ‘betrayed’ by Nelson.” 

The news story pointed out that the next senate election in Nebraska is three years away and that, by then, the health care bill may not be a hot potato.  True.  But consideration of whether Nelson should, at age 71, seek to start a new term under any circumstances will begin immediately, fanned by the dissatisfaction with his health care bill performance. 

In more than half a century of closely following and commenting on the American political and social scene, I can’t recall an example of a greater “disconnect” between what Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid and Tom Harkin and Ben Nelson are putting together on Capital Hill and what the American people want.  As respected TV commentator David Gergin indicated the other evening, a majority of Americans are uncertain about what is going on in the field of public health legislation and are unhappy to the extent that they do understand it.

* * *

You Helped 21-Year-Old Buy A House

A front-page story and picture told how much a 21-year-old Omaha “hairstylist” (didn’t we used to call them “hair dressers”?) is enjoying being a homeowner.

If you think this is made possible with your help, you’re right, if you are a federal taxpayer.

The home was purchased with the help of an eight-thousand-dollar Federal tax credit, a “new homeowner subsidy” supplied by the federal government. 

Is this a great country or what?  Isn’t it comforting to know that younger Americans today can avoid the stigma of having to rent their housing while they save money to be able to afford to buy a house?

* * *

Clerics’ Good Intentions
Leave Questions Unanswered

That was an unusual coming-together of clerical support for the so-called “green revolution”—a “Midlands Voices” essay on The World-Herald’s More Commentary page, carrying the names of sixteen Nebraska ministers—seven “fathers,” eight “reverends” and one “right reverend.”

The headline read:  “Climate-change challenge emerges as issue of faith.”

The good clerics could have used a good editor, it occurs to me.  For example, the statement said that “there is a growing consensus that our shared biblical faith calls us to address the challenges of extreme climate change.”  It would have been more impressive if this had been followed with some specific Biblical references which could be clearly interpreted as calling for addressing the matter of “extreme climate change.”

Further on there was this observation:  “Our faith tells us that we are to love and care for each other, especially for those that Matthew 25  refers to as “the least of these.”

Were the clerics suggesting that interest in curbing climate change is not broadly focused across all mankind but rather focused primarily on “the least” among us?

Then there are the examples in which the clerics suggested they have a certain expertise in matters which they believe involve man-caused life-threatening climate change.  For example, this language:  “…we watch in horror as Hurricanes Katrina and Rita ravaged the Gulf Coast during one of the warmest years on record.”

Global Warming Cause Hurricane Kratina?

I wonder if the clerics have done sufficient research to be able to suggest that climate change, raising daily temperatures, was the cause of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita? 

In ritual condemnation of coal as a fuel source, the clerics’ statement alleges that the mining of coal “has devastated mountaintops, increased mercury poisoning and in some areas led to elevated rates of asthma and cancer.”  We are not told how “devastation of mountaintops” fits into an indictment of coal as a health threat. 

I wonder whether the clerical critics are aware that in the case of open pit mining in, for example, Montana and Wyoming, the miners are required to restore the land to at least its former level of cover.

Consider also the assertion that the passage of a national clean energy bill “would create as many as 11,000 new jobs here in Nebraska.”  No authority is offered for this estimate.

Then there is the matter of what China will continue to do no matter what efforts the United States makes to curb air pollution. 

The Copenhagen discussions included the United States offer to cut emissions 3 to 4% from 1990 levels.  An Associated Press story said that China “has offered a different formula”—a difference formula indeed.  China proposes that, with financial subsidy from the United States and other developed nations, it would cut carbon dioxide emissions from each “production unit” to 45% of 2005 levels.

But China is building new coal-fired plants so fast that even with a per-plant cutback compared to 2005 levels, the total of China’s emissions will increase by nearly 50%.

My bottom line:  Certainly promotion of steps to curb global warming can be properly presented as a moral issue.  But the clerics promoting this as an example of “shared biblical faith” might do well not to suggest that they are well-informed students of the intricacies of pollution control and know, for example, that the passage of a national clean energy bill “would create as many as 11,000 new jobs here in Nebraska.”

* * *

Christmas—A Good Season To Resolve
To Be Thoughtful All Year Long

When you have an appropriate ending for a Christmas season column, why not repeat it from time to time?  (After all, The New York Sun newspaper for years republished, every year, the classic Christmas season column, “Yes, Virginia, There Is A Santa Claus.”)

So herewith a Christmastime column, first published in 1996:

Last Sunday Marian and I played host to our children, their spouses and their children in a pre-Christmas brunch at the Omaha Country Club.

More than 400 people were in attendance, and dozens of parents shepherded their children onto the lap of Santa Claus, there to be photographed and replaced in about 20 seconds by another child or two.

As the rest of the family went through the buffet line and gathered at our table, Marian was the last to arrive.  She explained:

“I asked Santa Claus if he’d like a drink.  I think he might have preferred a bourbon, but he said he’d appreciate a glass of water with a straw.  I’ll be back as soon as I take him a glass of water.”

Later, as we were leaving, I asked Santa how many people had asked him if he needed a refreshing drink.  “Just one, a very nice lady,” Santa replied.

I call that story to your attention as a reminder that the Christmas season is an appropriate time to dedicate ourselves to the kind of consistent thoughtfulness for others that “a very nice lady” demonstrated by bringing a refreshing drink of water to a hardworking Santa Claus.

# # #

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