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.)
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January 30, 2008
Last Saturday’s South Carolina presidential primary election results raise an interesting question:
If Senator Barack Obama bests Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination for president, will it be in significant part the result of blacks and some liberals rallying to his support primarily because they believe he has a real chance of becoming the first black president?
As an example of the pattern that might be developing among black voters, The Washington Post quoted a beauty shop operator in South Carolina as having become convinced, based on Obama’s victory in the Iowa Democratic caucuses, that America is ready to vote for a black man for president. This persuaded the beauty shop operator to strongly support Obama instead of Hillary Clinton.
This type of support presumably was a decisive factor in Obama’s 55% to 26% victory over Clinton in South Carolina’s Democratic presidential primary. Polls-exit interviews indicated Obama won 80% of the support of black voters. (The Wall Street Journal seemed to think that it was impressive also that 25% of white voters supported Obama.)
But if Obama becomes known as a candidate who is attracting significant support primarily based on his chances of becoming the first black president, I think this hurts his candidacy among the majority of voters.
A good many people who would vote for a qualified candidate who happens to be black would not vote for a presidential candidate with an image that his chief distinguishing characteristic is that he is black.
About that 25% of the white vote which so impressed The Wall Street Journal:
Projecting the South Carolina results to a possible nationwide scenario, I don’t believe 80% support for Obama among black voters and 25% support among white voters would produce either the Democratic nomination or election as president, considering that white voters are much more numerous and that Obama’s chances among Hispanic voters would, predictably, be much less than the backing which he would receive from black voters. (Some observers have predicted that Obama would fare badly amongst Hispanic voters, some of whom see blacks as competitors for jobs and other matters of special importance to members of low-income racial minority groups.) ”
* * *
Some in the news media, predictably, went enthusiastically overboard in their reaction to Senator Ted Kennedy’s endorsement of Senator Barack Obama as the Democratic nominee for president.
A CNN commentator referred to Kennedy as “the lion of the Senate” and called the endorsement a “seminal moment” in Obama’s campaign. (“Seminal” as in one dictionary definition: Influencing future events.)
An ABC “Nightline” commentator referred to the Obama endorsement by Ted Kennedy and President John F. Kennedy’s daughter Caroline as coming from representatives of “the most important political family of the 20th Century” and predicted it would help Obama in states all across America.
One less emotional commentator pointed out that a whole generation of American voters has grown up without any exposure to the “Camelot” era of John K. Kennedy’s presidency, which ended in his assassination.
I believe an objective appraisal of this attempted roar by the “lion of the Senate” and the news media’s enthusiastic reaction raises this question:
If Ted Kennedy, with his ultra-liberal record in the Senate and younger-days conduct outside the Senate, can produce a “seminal moment” advancing the fortunes of any Democratic candidate nationwide, is the national Democratic Party in shakier condition than its leaders would like to admit?
Finally, another indication of the way some in the national news media lean in their supposedly balanced reporting of the Obama/Hillary Clinton battle: While going on and on about Ted Kennedy’s endorsement of Obama, both CNN and ABC found time only for very brief mention of the fact that another member of the Kennedy clan, Robert Kennedy, Jr., has endorsed Clinton.
* * *
It’s that unfortunate time of year when so many young men who have demonstrated that they have the potential of being quality collegiate football players have also demonstrated that they have the potential of being liars.
I’m talking, of course, about what has become either a joke or a scandal; i.e., the number of high school seniors who somewhere along the line (in a few cases it started as early as their sophomore year in high school) have expressed a “commitment” to accept a football scholarship from this or that university, then have broken their pledged word and made a “commitment” to another university or, hop-scotching along under intense recruiting pressure, perhaps to still a third university.
My dictionary defines “commitment” as “a pledge or promise; obligation.” Thus I would contend that a young athlete who has pledged or promised or obligated himself to accept a scholarship offer from one school can be said to have proven to be a liar—or at the very least has broken his word—when he dishonors that pledge or obligation and accepts a scholarship offer from another school.
Yes, yes, I know. These talented young athletes are put under such intense pressure, encouraged by college coaching staff recruiters to make a “commitment” or to dishonor a “commitment” and “commit” to another school. But with appropriate support from a parent or guardian—or high school coach—it seems to me it would be possible to teach the young athletes—if they don’t have the instinct themselves—that they are going to be judged in the years to come by whether they can be trusted, by whether they keep their word, by how well they stand up to pressure.
It would be difficult if not impossible to enforce, I suppose, but I think it’s worth considering: Let the National Collegiate Athletic Association adopt a rule for college coaching staff recruiting forbidding recruiters from seeking “commitments” from high school football players. Let the eager recruiters seek only—and receive only—a statement of the young athletes present intention, with all parties understanding that this does not represent a commitment unless the young recruit wishes it to be so.
The young athlete might assure recruiters that he will certainly be coming to Nebraska or Colorado or Missouri or Notre Dame or wherever but let him also understand that, for the record, he is being asked only to state his current intention. Such a policy might start a good many young men on their college football careers without having lied when they “committed” to play football for some other school.
* * *
The pictures above will perhaps help you understand why I think those “Sounding Stones”— an attractive example of modern art in the opinion of some modern art lovers—should be tucked away some place where if you are interested in that sort of art you can find them but where they would not be imposed on others who think they are simply eyesores.
You will recall that the stones had been on public display in Turner Park but were removed to make way for Mutual of Omaha’s impressive residential and commercial development east of Mutual’s headquarters building.
City park department officials ignored objections from homeowners along South Happy Hollow Boulevard and scattered the stones through the northeast section of Elmwood Park, with Dodge Street on the north and South Happy Hollow Boulevard on the east.
Fortunately, the stones closest to Dodge Street are easily visible only to pedestrians, including those who might cut through that corner of the park. Motorists driving on Dodge Street take time to be distracted by looking at the monstrosities.
Along South Happy Hollow, there is clearly a different problem, as residents along that strip tried to convince park department officials. The ugly things are all too visible to residents along a strip on the east side of Happy Hollow. And motorists driving that heavily traveled thoroughfare can see them close up as they drive past.
How many of you would like one of those things figuratively in your front yard? The second of the photos illustrates a close-up view imposed on—or enjoyed by?—persons who walk past the stones on the path that cuts through that northeast corner of Elmwood Park.
The third picture illustrates that I am not simply anti-modern art. That display of discs arranged in seemingly somewhat random fashion sits in our backyard. It is the work of a well-known local artist Les Bruning. Marian and I thoroughly enjoy it. It doesn’t have a name, and it doesn’t represent anything specific at all but is simply be enjoyed as an attractive piece of art.
Final thought: The creator of the Sounding Stones, Omaha artist Leslie Iwai has been reported as saying the sculptures were inspired by the biblical story of David and Goliath. I would say you not only have to have something of an unquestioning passion for any art that is labeled “modern” but a willingness to simply accept the artist’s explanation of her inspiration without asking the obvious question: What in the world did those unattractive hulks, which some have likened to very thick sections of large sewer pipes, have to do with the biblical story of David and Goliath?
* * *
Having followed Nebraska legislative proceedings closely for more than half a century, I can’t resist the temptation to comment on the proceedings each year when the lawmakers are assembled in Lincoln.
(When I covered my first legislative session as a World-Herald reporter in 1949, 43 senators—the total is now 49—were paid $872 a year, met only every other year in regular sessions, introduced a total of 554 bills in the 1949 session and adjourned before Memorial Day. Today, the legislators assemble every year and are paid $12,000 annually plus expenses in some cases. In the 2007 and 2008 sessions, they introduced a total of 1,176 bills.
So a few comments on the 2008 Legislature, which left itself 50 days to consider committee and possible floor action on 703 bills—232 bills held over in committee from the 2007 session and 471 bills introduced in the first 10 legislative days in this year’s 60-legislative-day session.
On the legislative agenda are a number of issues of fundamental importance, such as dealing with the administration of Nebraska school districts, financing both secondary and collegiate-level education, funding of the state highway system, possible repeal of the death penalty, a proposal to move the State Fair so that the University of Nebraska can expand onto the present fairground acreage, possible revision in laws affecting the use of underground water, financing the payment of Kansas state government’s legitimate claim for reimbursement because some Nebraska landowners unlawfully depleted the flow of water into the Kansas via the Republican River system.
With these weighty matters awaiting attention in the less than 50 remaining legislative days, a number of state senators haven’t helped the situation any by yielding to the “there oughta be a law” impulse and introducing bills dealing with everything from adding expressway miles to the state system when the money isn’t available, hiring police chiefs in first class cities, the sale of “farm winery wines,” creating “problem solving courts,” redefining animal life, prohibiting certain kinds of “pig confinement,” passing a “sports tourism advantage act,” providing for the certification of “animal therapists,” licensing “interior designers,” creating a “Nebraska construction prompt pay act” and trying yet again to force non-union members to pay fees to unions which they do not choose to represent them.
There’s more, but I think you get my point.
* * *
Over the years a goodly number of readers have indicated they enjoy occasional reports about the doings of members of the family (two adults, three dogs) which lives in our Prairie Avenue home. So herewith a report on the senior member of the three-cocker-spaniel part of our Prairie Avenue family.
Sweet Sarah somehow seems to be aware of almost any trip I make upstairs. She knows that’s where a Goldfish wafer snack awaits her in a bowl on a shelf in my upstairs workroom.
After enjoying her snack, Sarah accompanies me back downstairs, so when I head in the direction of the stairs, Sarah starts down—but stops and waits at the first landing, looking back up to make sure I’m really going downstairs.
If I turn back for any reason, Sarah turns back up from the landing, and stays with me on the second floor, always hopeful that I will provide another snack which, of course, I usually do.
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