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
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February 20, 2008
A belated additional comment on the Von Maur slaughter by “Robbie” Hawkins (who, I say again, should not have been released from the supervision of the state juvenile court system):
Columnist Cal Thomas and some Public Pulse writers have argued that what happened at Westroads Mall is an argument for allowing responsible citizens to carry concealed weapons.
The implication, of course, is that an armed responsible citizen would pull his or her handgun and face down or simply shoot the psychotic gunman on a rampage or a potential rampage.
In the first place, what would be the odds that a private citizen “packing iron” would be anywhere near the scene of the shooting.
Second, of course, the private citizen so armed might understandably and properly be reluctant to take on a psychotic armed with an AK-47 semi-automatic weapon capable of shooting 30 rounds without reloading. And if the courageous but outgunned private citizen chose to confront such a gunman with a handgun, what would be the likely result?
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Chapter CXXI in my continuing critiques of journalistic performance:
A story on the front page of the Washington Post carried this headline: “Detainee Alleges Abuse in CIA Prison.” Under the bylines of two Washington Post staff members, the Post reported the accusation by “a high-level al Qaeda suspect.”
If you followed the story to page 12, you would come across this language: “It is impossible to confirm or evaluate Nashiri’s allegations…U.S. government officials often caution that the terrorists are trained to allege abuse in the hands of their captors.”
If you followed the story to the fourth paragraph from the end, you would read a quote from a man described as a terrorism analyst citing testimony and evidence suggesting that the detainee had “a longstanding role as an al Qaeda operative and recruiter” and involvement in the bombing of the USS Cole in Yemen in 2000.
The obvious question: If it’s impossible to confirm or evaluate the allegations of torture and if a terrorism analyst says that people involved in the USS Cole bombing investigation have implicated the prisoner, what in the journalistic world is the justification for giving the story front-page play under headlines which give no hint that the torture allegation is totally unsubstantiated?
* * *
It seems to me that concern over potential harm from so-called “second-hand smoke” has moved from legitimate concern to something of an obsession with some Nebraskans.
I’m thinking of a bill introduced by State Sen. Gwen Howard of Omaha which would ban smoking in motor vehicles when a person under age 16 is present. Just to show how thorough the anti-smoking fanatics have become, the ban would apply whether the car windows were up or down. No fresh air loopholes in that proposed piece of legislation.
I have written before that I think anyone who smokes is foolish and I think it would be unfortunate, although not necessarily life threatening, if an adult were to expose a child, especially a toddler, to secondhand smoke in a closed vehicle.
But the proposed law would simply be “feel good” legislation, virtually impossible to enforce.
* * *
A good many Americans—especially among blacks, young people and some traditional liberals—are emotionally involved with Senator Barack Obama, eager to vote for him this November as the first black (he is, of course, of half black parentage and half white parentage) to occupy the White House.
Count me among those Americans impressed—I didn’t say favorably impressed—by Obama’s ability to attract recruits to what The New York Times Sunday referred to as a “cult of personalty.” Consider a couple of examples cited not by The New York Times but by a columnist for another liberal newspaper, Joan Vennochi of The Boston Globe. Vennochi wrote that veteran CBS news anchorman Bob Schieffer recently told radio talk show host Don Imus that he got choked up watching the inspirational “Yes We Can” video, which boosts Obama’s candidacy.
Chris Matthews of MSNBC, columnist Vennochi wrote, “has admitted to tearing up over Obama’s speechifying.” Matthews, host of a TV program called “Hardball,” compared Obama to “the New Testament.” Vennochi finished her column with a comment that reflects a legitimate concern about the pro-Obama tilt in so much of the news media coverage: “…If a candidate’s uplifting language makes eyes among the press mist up, how many tough questions will ever pass those lips?”
A couple of examples of the quality of Obama’s rhetoric which has so many followers misty-eyed, either figuratively or literally: He told a rally in South Carolina that his “Yes We Can” crusade means “we can change this country. We can change the world.” At a rally at the University of Wisconsin, Obama said that as president he would take action to assure that “your kids can go to college even if they’re not rich.”
Hillary Clinton has sometimes reached the level of Obama’s rhetoric in what seems to be an effort to not fall too far behind in energizing followers with emotional nonsense. On Valentine’s Day, she came up with this one: “For Bush, every day is Valentine’s Day—Valentine’s Day for the special interests.”
(One would think that Hillary’s speechwriters could have come up with something cleverer than that.)
* * *
Digging through my file of comments which I have dictated but, for one reason or another, not published, I have come across a number of items which still seem pertinent, since they treat with issues with which the Nebraska Legislature is still struggling.
One such set of comments was designed to help explain my opposition to the death penalty:
You need look no further than the 1997 case involving police officer Todd Sear’s fatal shooting of Marvin Ammons here in Omaha to see a graphic example of the lack of comparability in the thinking - - and thus the decisions - - of different juries.
You may recall that one grand jury returned a manslaughter indictment which was later thrown out by a judge because of the alternate juror’s aggressive participation in a jury’s deliberations.
Another grand jury was impaneled, heard the same basic evidence and testimony and, without a community activist alternate juror influencing its deliberations, returned no indictment.
My point is that the death penalty has to me an unacceptable basic flaw: There is simply no way it can be applied equitably and uniformly across the United States or in an individual state.
The same basic set of circumstances—in other words, a murder where the facts are almost exactly parallel to another murder—will predictably be viewed differently in different trials where not only are the jurors different but there is also likely to be a difference in the ability of the prosecution, the ability of the defense attorneys and the quality of the different judges.
Can you assure anything approaching uniformly fair results, even within a single state, when there are so many variables at play?
Then there is the fact that a number of states have no provision for capital punishment.
It wasn’t a first-degree murder case, but I cite again as evidence in support of my argument the 1997 Omaha case in which one jury indicted police officer Todd Sears for manslaughter and another jury, hearing the same basic evidence, returned no indictment against Sears.
* * *
Critical communications from readers are welcome. But I think it’s understandable when I say that I more enjoyed hearing from a Kearney reader who said he thoroughly approved of my criticism of the continuing debasing of our language with such references as “kids” in stories referring to children.
But the one that most bothers him, this reader wrote, is the constant use of “cops,” which he feels is “quite disrespectful of the men and women who work so hard to protect us.”
(I also deplore the growing journalistic practice of referring to mothers as “moms” and fathers as “dads” in otherwise serious news stories.)
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