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Outdated Constitutional Language Adds To Today’s Illegal Immigration Mess - 08-05-10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

Obama’s Style Without Substance
Exciting, But Is It Presidential?

February 13, 2008

I think it’s worth at least a try to see if some non-emotional commentary can win some consideration in the wake of the whooping, shouting, rock-concert atmosphere which marked Democratic Party proceedings in Omaha last week.

The 38,000 who turned out for the presidential nominating caucuses in Omaha and across Nebraska last Saturday exceeded all expectations—a fact celebrated by party leaders as proof of their wisdom in bringing party caucuses into the presidential-candidate selection process.

But the facts are that the 38,000 caucus-goers equaled only about 10% of the number of registered Nebraska Democrats.

Thousands of Nebraskans were, obviously, impressed by Sen. Barack Obama’s appearance before an enthusiastic crowd of about 10,000 in Omaha two days before the caucuses. For my part, I was disappointed—but certainly not surprised—that so many Nebraskans, including some in the news media, were not only willing but eager to accept the style over substance characteristic which is driving Obama’s increasingly strong challenge for the Democratic presidential nomination.

One news story said that Obama’s 45-minute speech “touched on his trademark themes—hope and change—and many of those gathered said that is exactly why they are drawn to him.”

My reaction continues to be “change to what?”

Incidentally, I don’t think Obama’s cause was helped any by a Wall Street Journal front-page story Monday. The Journal reported that his wife, Michelle, during a strategy session preparing Obama for an upcoming debate, broke into the discussion with this advice (directive?): “Barack, feel—don’t think.”

The campaign theme—and speech theme—of “hope and change” apparently was more than enough to satisfy his Omaha listeners—some of whom had stood for hours waiting for a chance to hear him speak. “They roared and roared,” a news story said. A woman who had waited six hours to hear Obama told him after the speech, “We love you.” Obama thanked her and gave her a big hug.

‘Oprah Thinks Barak Is Super-Nifty-Cool’

There’s no question that Obama has achieved a sort of larger-than-life image in the eyes of a good many Americans, including some national media reporters and commentators. There are dissenting views, of course. One example:

Jonah Goldberg, a commentator for the conservative National Review, has written: Neither Obama nor Hillary Clinton’s campaigns have substance. Oprah Winfrey supports Obama, for example, Goldberg wrote, because he has a “unifying, super-nifty-cool personality. Clinton, meanwhile, is staying afloat largely through her ability to guilt-trip female liberals into sticking with her.”

Goldberg’s bottom line: “If substance were water, the Democratic campaign would be a desert.”

Goldberg’s views are in sharp contrast to the level of voter opinion typified, for one example, by an Alliance, Nebraska resident, a former professor of political science at the University of Pennsylvania. He wrote on The World-Herald’s “More Commentary” page that Michelle Obama and her husband “are the hope for the future.”

And an editorial writer made this remarkable assessment of the significance of Obama’s visit to speak in Omaha: “How inspirational it must be to tell a class of youngsters in Omaha this week that anyone can be president and, at the civic auditorium, point to a serious contender as proof.”

The serious contender in question happens to be tall, good looking, charismatic, an inspirational, emotion-charged speaker, a Harvard Law School graduate whose appeal is partly based on the fact that he would be the first black elected president. I fail to see how this suggests evidence that “anyone can be president.”

The news coverage of the caucuses included a bit of perspective with this report from Daniel Worta of Wilber, who said of the caucus in Crete: “You don’t have even 10% of the county’s registered Democrats here.”

There was plenty of evidence that at least some of the larger caucuses were apparently more driven by feeling than thinking. The news stories said that at Omaha North High School, for example, speeches “were nearly drowned out by rowdy, raucous cheering.” The story also reported that the crowd “danced in the aisles with signs, led deafening cheers and screamed when Obama supporters spoke in favor of the candidate.”

An administrator for the Omaha Public Schools who attended the North High caucus commented: “What an exciting morning. I really feel like we’ve been making history here.”

Yes, but what kind of history?

* * *

Eliminate The Death Penalty,
No New Execution Method Needed

The headline last Friday read: “If no electric chair, what?”

The Saturday headline read: “Death penalty is in limbo after ruling.” The subhead read: “Senators see no quick fix to carry out executions.”

The stories dealt, of course, with the fact that the Nebraska Supreme Court has held that electrocution in some cases “will unquestionably inflict intolerable pain unnecessary to cause death” and thus is no longer a legal way to carry out death sentences in Nebraska.

Some legislators seem to feel that prompt attention must be given to finding some other method of execution—possibly lethal injection.

But the most logical approach to the problem, it seems to me, is not to wait for the introduction and passage of a bill to change the method of execution but to try first a possible solution that is already at hand, in a bill that is awaiting consideration of the floor of the Legislature. That bill would abolish the death penalty in Nebraska.

Possible abolition of the death penalty presumably will be acted on sooner or later in this legislative session, and why not sooner rather than later?

The abolition bill includes language expressing legislative intent that the 10 prisoners currently on “death row” be moved by the State Board of Pardons to the same status as would apply to all future defendants found guilty of first-degree murder; i.e., life imprisonment without possibility of parole.

A possible scenario:

The death-penalty-abolition bill becomes law (possibly surviving a gubernatorial veto). The Board of Pardons commutes the death penalty sentences of the 10 prisoners on “death row.” Thus there is no need to find a new, legal method of execution.

Long shot? Perhaps. But, I suggest, worth a try, by promptly considering the death-penalty-repeal bill.

Keep in mind that if a legally-acceptable method of execution isn’t reasonably quickly found in this legislative session, no irreparable harm would be done.

As a result of repeated legal appeals, the delay between sentencing and execution drags on and on. Of the 22 death sentences imposed in the last 30 years, only three have been carried out. The others have been commuted by the Pardon Board, vacated by court order or nullified by the death of the prisoner or, in 14 cases, are on appeal to the courts. One of the 14 cases still tied up in legal appeals involves a death sentence imposed 22 years ago.

* * *

Imagine: Living Within Your Means

“Many now beginning to tighten their belts,” the headline read.

The subhead said: “Changing times are forcing more consumers to live within their means.”

What a cruel turn of events. Changing economic conditions forcing people not to spend money which they have to borrow, either, for example, by running up credit card debt or by taking on subprime mortgage debt—a “bargain” which proved too good to be true.

* * *

Snowfall Looks Prettier From Indoors

Fed up with the continuing periods of snowfall (in truth, probably no more frequent or heavier than in a good many winters I’ve experienced), I told my associate, Jackie Wrieth: “I no longer believe there is such a thing as a pretty snowfall. Enough is enough.”

Then the other morning I was sitting in our garden room, looking out at this scene:

A cascade of those big, fluffy flakes falling quietly on our formal garden area, with too many birds for me to count—including at least half a dozen red cardinals—flitting down to our two bird feeders and back to the snow-laden evergreen branches, making way for another three or four cardinals or chickadees or sparrows at the feeders.Squirrels were snacking on seeds dropped to the ground beneath the feeders.

All in all, I was forced to reflect, it was indeed another very pretty snowfall—especially if viewed from indoors.

* * *

Wisest Course: Take Her Hint

We still call it “Nancy’s Room,” even though daughter Nancy has long since moved to Denver where she’s raising three fine sons.

It’s convenient for me to use the twin beds as a temporary (sometimes “temporary” gets extended into a couple of weeks or more) resting place for various miscellaneous articles, mostly clothing. Sometimes it’s hard to see the bedspreads through the various articles “temporarily” resting on them.

The other morning I found this note from Marian on the counter in my bathroom: “Have you considered picking up Nancy’s Room?”

My temptation was to reply to Marian, “Yes, I’ve considered that several times. But each time I went and laid down until the impulse passed.”

I thought that response would be pretty funny, but I also thought that Marian wouldn’t agree. So I “picked up” Nancy’s Room, and didn’t drop a single item of significant size on either of the beds for all of two or three days.

# # #

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