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Outdated Constitutional Language Adds To Today’s Illegal Immigration Mess - 08-05-10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

Let’s Hear More About
The Principal ‘Crisis’ Victims

November 20, 2008

Tens of millions of Americans who live within their means, make regular payments on mortgage loans which they can afford, and have money—perhaps their life savings—invested in corporate stocks are the principal victims of the current economic crisis, but is their story being well enough told? 

No. 

Politicians and most of the national news media concentrate on savaging “Wall Street” and sympathizing with—and bailing out—Americans who are poor credit risks but who, with government encouragement, were willing to gamble on the chance that housing values would continue to increase so that they could repay mortgage loans which were clearly not justified by their creditworthiness.

But I have yet to read or hear of detailed interviews with a representative sample of those Americans who have seen their stock investment portfolios drastically reduced in value because, basically, of Big Nanny government efforts to put low-income people into houses they really couldn’t afford.

So a good many Americans who have lived within their means but now find their life savings and retirement plans threatened by the stock market collapse will be expected, as taxpayers, to share the 700-billion-dollar cost of efforts to repair the damage—damage resulting from pressure from the federal government on banks and other lenders which resulted in mortgage loans which wound up, finally, in the hands of Wall Street investment bankers who certainly should have known better.

Nothing Noble In Giving Up Bonuses

Speaking of Wall Street investment bankers: 

Some of them—perhaps most—surely must be a breed apart if they have to debate for one minute whether they should forego multi-million-dollar bonuses at a time when their firms are collapsing or merging or looking at reductions of 60% of more in the market value of their stock.

I found it nearly incredible that top executives at Goldman Sachs Group Inc. are trying to put a noble face on their decision to forgo 2008 bonuses.  A Wall Street Journal story reported that this decision followed “months of internal debate,” this at a company whose stock price had fallen more than 60% this year.

Seven Goldman executives are giving up bonuses potentially totaling in the tens of millions of dollars because they decided this was “the right thing” to do, in the words of a company spokesman. 

I think the great majority of Americans would feel it was not only just “the right thing” to do but the only thing to do and the fact that the decision was debated for months indicates the whole system of Wall Street executive bonuses ought to be very carefully reviewed.

* * *

‘Dream’ Of Home Ownership
Becomes American Nightmare

Final thoughts—for today—on the subject of the federal government’s disastrous venture into promoting mortgage-financed home purchases by Americans whose creditworthiness could not justify the mortgage terms.  (This was described by some as giving every American a chance to realize “the American dream” of homeownership.)

A recent news story gave sympathetic treatment to the plight of a woman, employed with a reasonable salary in what would be considered a good job, who had paid $600,000 for a home and was now having mortgage payment problems because she couldn’t find a tenant to rent part of the home.

The definition of an “American dream home” seems to rise to a pretty pricey level when a “dream home” can cost $600,000.

What, incidentally but importantly, are the specific proposals for giving relief to people like the woman who bought the $600,000 house?  And, of course, to others who paid less, but in some cases bought a house, sold it for a profit and then bought another house, all with the help of the government-promoted mortgage loan.

In an editorial criticizing the government for not giving help faster, The New York Times suggested that hundreds of thousands of troubled homeowners were qualified for bankruptcy and hundreds of thousands of others would be helped if lenders and investors opted to restructure bad loans.  Examples of “restructuring” cited by The Times would be “a fast-track process to lower troubled borrowers’ monthly payments to an affordable level, either through a longer repayment term, a lower interest rate or deferral of payment on part of the principal.”

But The Times preferred bottom line would be to follow the path proposed by president-elect Barack Obama:  Ask Congress to amend existing bankruptcy laws so that homeowners could have their mortgages revised in court.  Such “bankruptcy restructurings…would cost the taxpayers nothing,” The Times editorial said. 

Have we really come (sunk?) to the point where as a result of unrealistically liberal government-encouraged lending policies, the president of the United States and the Congress would decide that the way to realize “the American dream” of homeownership is to go bankrupt?

* * *

Some Presidential Campaign Leftovers:
Did Obama’s Victory Make You Proud?

During the height (or depths?) of the Obama/McCain campaign, there was a good deal of criticism of what Obama supporters said was negative, unjustified campaign rhetoric originating with Republican candidate John McCain, his running mate Sarah Palin or their supporters. 

It was easier for Obama to stay above the rough and tumble campaigning when he had so many fanatically loyal supporters (and Republican haters) firing insults.

Consider some cheap shots from The New York Times stable of columnists.

One columnist described the Republican Party as being consistently guilty of a “wrong headed, favor-the-rich, country-be-damned approach” to public issues.

Another Times columnist, Princeton University scholar Paul Krugman (recently awarded a Nobel Prize in economics), described John McCain as “more frightening now than he was a few weeks ago.”  Krugman also described the GOP as having become “the party of stupid.”  After Obama’s victory, Krugman wrote:

“If the election of our first African-American president didn’t stir you, if it didn’t leave you teary-eyed and proud of your country, there’s something wrong with you.”

(A very great many Americans, including many who voted for John McCain, were impressed by the election of the first black American and wish him well in one of the toughest and most important jobs on earth.  But I don’t really think “something’s wrong with you” if you weren’t moved to tears.)

Frank Rich, The New York Times hater-in-chief, started a recent column by referring to “poor old John McCain” and ended it with these words:  “What he has offered his country this year is an older, crankier, more unsteady version of Bush.  Tragically, he can no sooner escape our despised president than he can escape himself.”

* * *

Socialism By Some Other Name?

A saying once used by a great friend of mine, the late James Green, an Omaha attorney, came to mind when I listened to a debate about whether Obama’s economic policies sound like socialism.  I heard Jim Green once say in regard to a political issue:  “If it walks like a duck and sounds like a duck, it’s probably a duck.”

We shall see.

* * *

Former Nebraska Governor and Senator Bob Kerrey is a good friend of mine who for a number of years now he has lived in New York City, where he is president of New School University. 

He endorsed Democrat Jim Esch for election as Nebraska’s Second District Congressman and included a misrepresentation of Republican Representative Lee Terry’s position on veterans’ benefits.

An opinion piece written by Kerrey endorsing Barack Obama, a piece written for the New York Daily News, appeared in The World-Herald under the heading “Midlands Voices.”

I would think that the importance of Kerrey’s views on Nebraska politics would or should steadily decrease in proportion to the years that have passed since he became a New Yorker.  Much as I like Bob, I find it hard to regard his as still a “Midlands voice.

* * *

Such Friends As Don Forney,
Bernice Labedz—A True Blessing

I think it appropriate to start today’s closing column item with those beautiful lines from the great Irish poet, William Butler Yeats:

Think where man’s glory most begins and ends,
And say my glory was I had such friends.

Today I write about two such friends, the late Don Forney of Rushville, Nebraska and the late Bernice Labedz of Omaha.

The first two paragraphs in the World-Herald’s story of his recent death beautifully captured the spirit of the late Don Forney:

“Don Forney, who for decades brought people from across Nebraska together on his Sand Hills ranch near Rushville, collapsed and died Tuesday.

“He died as he lived—looking forward to getting people together on his ranch to socialize and work on making Nebraska a better place.  Nebraska Game and Parks commissioners and other guests were planning to eat dinner at the ranch Tuesday afternoon, then hunt turkey there today before a commission meeting in Alliance on Thursday.”

Don died in his ranch home as he was preparing to entertain Nebraska Game and Parks Commissioners later in the day.  It was typical that at 83, Don was still not only willing but eager to continue his longtime work of bringing Nebraskans together.

My son David and I were frequent beneficiaries of the friendship of Don Forney and his charming wife, Olive, who died in 2002.  One of my most cherished memories of Don’s hospitality and friendship was the occasion when Dave and I suggested that Dave and three of his Tomcat fighter plane VF33 naval squadron mates would surely enjoy a chance to hunt pheasants on Don’s ranch.  His prompt reply went something like this:  “You bring those flyers out here.”

Don was a World War II Navy veteran.  He was widely known for his thousands of hours of accident-free single-engine flights which often involved missions to help friends, including dropping food to snowed-in ranchers during the blizzard of ’49.  (He also shot, flying alone in his single-engine plane, enough coyotes during each of several winters to supply the wives of friends, including my Marian, fur for a coyote-pelt jacket.)

During my years on the Nebraska Game and Parks Foundation board and as an Omaha World-Herald staff member, I have had the good fortune to know people all across this great state.  I’ve never met a finer Nebraskan than Don Forney.

Bernice Labedz—Splendid Public Servant

Nebraska lost another fine citizen in former State Senator Bernice Labedz. 

Her death at 89 brought back memories of our friendship and her outstanding public service as a Nebraska state senator and member of the Douglas County board.  As noted in a World-Herald editorial, one of Bernice’s lasting achievements was the passage of a parental notification requirement for minors seeking abortion.  As a state legislator, she pursued that goal relentlessly, finally winning passage of the law in 1991.  It remains in effect.

One account of her death noted that many South Omaha residents can attest to the warmth of Bernice Labedz’s personality and outstanding record of public service.  I would simply amend that praise to say that Bernice’s warm personality and dedication to public service were known and appreciated far beyond the South Omaha which she so loved.

# # #

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