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Outdated Constitutional Language Adds To Today’s Illegal Immigration Mess - 08-05-10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

Splitting Electoral Votes Good Idea?
Then Why Do 48 States Reject It?

October 23, 2008

If allowing a state to split up its presidential electoral votes is a good idea, why haven’t more states than Nebraska and Maine adopted it?

For reasons inexplicable to me, the Nebraska Legislature in 1991 went along with a proposal by State Senator DiAnna Schimek, former Democratic national committee member, to provide that if a presidential candidate wins a majority of the votes in one of the state’s three congressional districts, one of the state’s five electoral votes goes to that candidate.

Democrat Schimek’s motivation was certainly clear.  Less clear was why the Legislature, whose membership traditionally includes a majority of Republicans, went along with a Democratic Party plan to make Nebraska one of only two states in which the minority party could pick up a Presidential electoral vote.

It was a long time in coming, but the success of that Democratic Party ploy in the 1991 legislative session has resulted in 15—that’s right—15 paid Obama campaign workers busily trying to attract Second Congressional District votes—including in North Omaha where most Omaha blacks live. 

A totally undeserving beneficiary of this policy, incidentally, may be the Democratic candidate for Congress, Jim Esch, who is contesting with Republican incumbent Rep. Lee Terry for the Second District seat.  I say undeserving beneficiary because Esch, to my knowledge, has no really sound reason why Terry should be unseated except the fact that he’s a Republican and Esch is a Democrat. 

Big Bucks From Washington Target Lee Terry

But the Obama concentration on the Second Congressional District has helped put the Second District House seat in play, at least in the judgment of Democratic leaders in Washington who are providing hundreds of thousands of dollars for a major late surge of television advertising for Esch.

What about the basic principles involved here?  Is it appropriate, fair, logical that if the entire electorate of a state gives a majority of its votes to one presidential candidate or the other, a minority of voters in one of the Congressional Districts should be given the privilege of naming one of the state’s Electoral College delegates?

There comes to mind the 1990 gubernatorial election, in which Democrat Ben Nelson upset Republican incumbent Kay Orr by 4,030 votes, a victory margin of 7/100s of 1%. 

Republican Orr carried 60 counties, while Democrat Nelson carried 33.  Nelson’s 6,352 vote deficit in the rest of the state was overcome by Orr’s 10,382 vote margin in Lancaster County.

Nelson’s margin of victory came from a minority of the state’s voters—those in Lancaster County.  But overall, thin as the margin was, Nelson got the majority of the votes and won the governorship, not 50.007th of it.  The majority rules.

It seems to me that the same majority-rule reasoning should be applied to the way Nebraska’s electoral votes are awarded.

* * *

Mental Health Insurance Sponsors
Should Be Ashamed Of Their Tactics

Whether mental health should receive insurance coverage equal to that for physical illnesses is a legitimate issue for Congress to address. 

But not address in a way that is so typical of Congressional performance, slipping an issue through Congress by attaching it to a measure which has broad support and high priority for passage.

Those who have worked for bringing mental health insurance up to parity with physical health insurance are delighted, of course, that the requirement was written into the multi-billion-dollar economic bailout legislation which was rushed through Congress.  But for my money, they should be ashamed that they used the economic emergency as an opportunity to win Congressional approval of a proposal which they had not been able to sell to Congress as a stand-alone issue. 

A New York Times story said some mental health insurance advocates are ecstatic.  The story said that the new law will make it easier for people to obtain treatment for a wide range of conditions, including depression, autism, schizophrenia, eating disorders and alcohol and drug abuse.

So people who can’t control their drinking and eating habits or their abuse of drugs without health insurance-financed treatment are now to become eligible for insurance coverage comparable to that offered to, say, cancer victims.

An issue for Congress to decide on its merits, not slipped through as an eleventh-hour “earmark” as enticement for a small group of “parity” advocates to vote for the economic bailout legislation.

* * *

Is Bashing “Big Oil” Pure Demagoguery?

How many times have you heard or read Democratic presidential candidate Barrack Obama or one of his liberal supporters charge that Republicans support tax breaks for “Big Oil” while oil companies are generating record profits and drivers are paying record-high prices at the gas pump?

While such charges receive a good deal of exposure through news coverage and political advertising, another side of the story gets this kind of attention:  A seven-paragraph story tucked among the advertisements below the fold on an inside page of a recent newspaper edition.  That story was headlined:

“Oil industry pumps up exploration.”  The subhead read:

“The search for oil reached $309 billion last year, while the industry’s net income totaled just $246 billion.”

The Bloomberg News report said that a study by IHS Herold Inc. and Harrison Lovegrin & Company showed that spending on exploration and development by oil companies was up 20% in 2007 while net income earned by crude oil producers like Exxon Mobil Corp. and Royal Dutch Show rose 2%.

Net income per barrel remained unchanged at $12.98, and the profit margin per barrel fell for a third consecutive year, the report said.

* * *

Move Omaha Franchise To Canada or Texas?
How Would The Kansas City Royals React?

Add aspects of the news which seem to me are not getting adequate attention:

No one, so far as I know, has publicly addressed the question of whether the Kansas City Royals would continue to supply players to a Triple-A franchise if the franchise is moved out of the Omaha area and put down in, for example, Vancouver, British Columbia or Sugarland, Texas. 

These two locations have been mentioned repeatedly in news stories about what might happen if the owners of the Royal franchise can’t find a satisfactory new home in the Omaha area when Rosenblatt Stadium is demolished.

It seems to me to be a pretty far stretch to suggest that the Kansas City Royals would be pleased with a “farm club” in Canada or in a suburb of Houston, where there is, after all, a major league franchise.

We have, finally, an answer to another obvious question which hung over the where-will-the-Royals-wind-up discussions: 

A spokesman for those interested in providing a new, smaller ballpark for the Omaha Royals in the Papillion-LaVista area has publicly confirmed that the project would require financial support from the Omaha business community.

I would say there is a question whether the Omaha business community, already committed to something like $40 million or more of support for the construction of a new downtown Omaha ballpark as a home for the College World Series, would be willing to help finance the construction of a ballpark in Sarpy County. 

I would think that before plans for a Papillion/LaVista ballpark go much further, the sponsors should be talking to representatives of Omaha private sector funding sources.  Perhaps such discussions are going on.  And perhaps the news media should be asking whether this is the case.

* * *

Sarpy County Building Controversy —

Attractive Appearance Shouldn’t Obscure This Fact:
What Goes On Inside Matters The Most

Speaking of Sarpy County, it seems to me that at least as high a priority as an Omaha Royals ballpark should be efforts to see that Sarpy County does right by Omaha Steaks International in the matter of the 123,000-square-foot Omaha Steaks distribution center, construction permits for which were approved by Sarpy County officials.

The record seems clear that Omaha Steaks went ahead with assurance from Sarpy County officials that the firm’s plans for the new structure county zoning requirements at the time.

Now comes a surprising State Supreme Court decision declining to even review a Nebraska Court of Appeals ruling that found the building was erected in violation of Sarpy County’s architectural rules.

(I might say in passing that the current interest—sometimes rising to the level of obsession—in requiring new buildings to use fancier architecture, signs and landscaping can be carried too far.  The most important thing is what goes on inside the building—how many jobs are involved, for example.)

The news story reporting the Supreme Court ruling quoted Sarpy County Attorney Lee Polikov as saying it’s possible that the county could be involved in a financial settlement which would help provide funds for moving the building towards the new architectural and landscaping standards.

County Attorney Polikov said that such a financial settlement has been done before, “where we’ve made a mistake.”  But, he added, not a mistake of “this size.” 

# # #

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