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Offer A Splendid Lesson - 05-21-09
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‘Adults In Wonderland’
Need To Get Real - 01-15-09
This Time It’s Indians
Who Break The Treaty - 12-18-08
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December 18, 2008
Here, I believe, is a fair way to look at the efforts of the Ponca Indian tribe in Nebraska to win permission to open a gambling casino in Carter Lake, Iowa:
The Ponca’s are trying to break a sort of government/tribal “treaty,” with the Indians being the treaty breakers this time.
The federal government’s acquiescence in violation of Indian rights under treaties negotiated during the settlement of the American west is a stain on our national history. Why is it any more appropriate if today we allow an Indian tribe to violate an agreement with state and federal governments.
The record is crystal clear: In acquiring the five acres in Carter Lake, Iowa, the Ponca Tribe assured Iowa state government, in writing, that the land was to be used for building a health clinic and not for casino gambling. It was with this understanding that the Interior Department placed the five acres “in trust” for the Ponca tribe.
But in 2007 the tribe took the matter not back to the Interior Department but to the National Indian Gaming Commission. (It’s not really gambling that’s involved here, you see; it’s “gaming.”) The Gaming Commission, created for the express purpose of making it possible for Indian tribes to own gambling casinos, predictably ruled the five acres qualified as “restored land” and could be used for gambling.
(The “restored land” language would be laughable if it were not taken seriously by tribal leaders and officials of the Indian Gaming Commission. There is no way that the land in question in Carter Lake, Iowa can be said to have been “restored” to the Ponca, whose ancestral home—and original reservation—were in northeast Nebraska, a good many miles from Carter Lake, Iowa.)
With the help—incredibly, in my opinion—of the U.S. Justice Department, the Ponca are still battling in the courts. The tribe and the Justice Department are appealing a ruling by Federal District Judge Charles Wolle in Des Moines. Wolle held that the National Indian Gaming Commission “was unreasoned and arbitrary in holding that the Ponca Tribe was not bound by its agreement with Iowa to have no gaming on its Carter Lake site.”
If there is any speaking with forked tongue involved in this sorry affair, it has been from tongues in the mouths of the Ponca and their allies in the United States Department of Justice.
* * *
A recent news story quoted a Nebraska political science professor as offering this prediction: Barack Obama’s one electoral vote from Nebraska will help move the nation towards allocation of electoral votes by congressional districts (except for the two votes representing Senate seats which would continue to be allocated on the basis of the statewide balloting).
I can’t resist an observation that a good deal of reasoning offered by political science professors can be discounted. Politics, after all, is not a science. I would rather listen to someone with experience in the political trenches.
Democratic politicians in particular might want to approach very cautiously any proposal to adopt nationwide the Nebraska and Maine system of allocating presidential electoral votes based on Congressional district balloting.
In the voting for election to the House of Representatives—that is, voting by Congressional districts—257 of the House seats were won by Democrats and 177 were won by Republicans with one seat undecided.
The Democratic margin in Congressional district elections thus was 59% against 41% for Republicans.
But in electoral votes, Democrat Obama received 68% and Republican John McCain received 32%--substantially more electoral votes for Obama than Democratic victories in Congressional districts and substantially fewer electoral votes for McCain than Republican victories in electoral districts.
The nationwide popular vote, incidentally, was 53% to 47% in Obama’s favor—quite a contrast to his 68% to 32% margin in electoral votes.
While something of a theoretical case, I suppose, can be made for distributing electoral votes by Congressional District results, political science professors should remember that our national governmental system was created by a coming together of states, not Congressional districts.
* * *
How about a compromise in the use of the word “gay” by American journalists?
I will concede that it’s much easier to use “gay” in headlines, where space is limited. The debased use of the word has become so common that readers know that the story is about lesbians and/or homosexuals.
But in the body of the news story itself, let’s return to the proper use of the English language; i.e., “homosexual,” for a sexual relationship between two males and “lesbian” for a sexual relationship between two females.
A good many lesbians and homosexuals have made clear publicly that they are happy with their sexual orientation, so why not use an accurate name to describe it?
I’m not suggesting disapproval of these relationships, simply arguing for precise and accurate use of the language, at least by journalists.
Now as to “marriage” between lesbian or homosexuals:
I voted against the Nebraska constitutional amendment—resoundingly approved by a majority of voters eight years ago—which provides that marriage in Nebraska shall be legally recognized as being only between a man and a woman. I felt that the amendment went too far by barring legal recognition of a civil union or some other legally binding relationship between two men or two women.
Such civil unions could certainly be created in some sort of ceremony which the parties felt appropriate. But I oppose legalizing the homosexual/lesbian invasion of the institution of marriage—the union of a man and a woman in a legally and hopefully morally binding relationship.
The institution of marriage has been a fundamental building block in the development of moral societies—although certainly it is not as honored as it once was. Among other things, it recognizes that the propagation of the race will come from relations between a man and a woman—an obligation, or a reality, if you will—that doesn’t admit of the intrusion of couples who do not participate in that obligation or reality.
* * *
Herewith a bit different slant on what I interpret as Nebraska Cornhusker football fans’ general encouragement over an 8-4 regular-season results under popular new coach Bo Pelini (count me among those encouraged fans who like Pelini):
I quizzed seveeral Husker fans—all of them enthusiastic about Pelini, including some who said they would have settled for something less than 8-4 to give Pelini a chance to turn around the Huskers’ fortunes after last year’s 5-7 result.
I asked each fan: When was the last time the Huskers had an 8-4 season?
Each fan—some of them I had considered to be close and knowledgeable followers of the Huskers—was stumped by the question. One asked me whether it was during the Frank Solich era. Wrong.
Then I asked: When was the last time the Huskers had a 9-5 season? None of the fans had the right answer. One said it must have been during the Tom Osborne coaching era because Osborne was so well known for seasons with a minimum of 9 victories.
Each of these fans was surprised by the fact that the last nine-victory season was as recent as 2006 when since-fired Coach Bill Callahan’s Huskers went 9-5 and won the Big 12 North championship with victories over Kansas, Iowa State, Kansas State, Missouri, Texas A&M and Colorado. (The Huskers lost the Big 12 championship game to Oklahoma, 7-21 and lost to Auburn, 14-17, in the Cotton Bowl in Dallas.)
The last 8-4 record was in 2005 also under Bill Callahan—a regular-season record which finished with a 30-3 win over Colorado at Boulder followed by a 32-28 victory over 20th ranked Michigan in the Alamo Bowl.
How explain the “Callahan must go” reaction after his 5-7 season when his previous two seasons had ended with 8 and 9 wins, a record that, at the start of the 5-7 season, had earned him a salary increase and a contract extension through 2011?
Essentially, I believe, the Callahan “chemistry” was never as popular as the Pelini chemistry has proven to be. Part of this, I believe, involved Steve Pederson (who was fired as athletic director 2 ½ months after having been given a five-year contract extension by UNL Chancellor Harvey Perlman). Pederson’s standing with too many Nebraska fans was damaged by the way he handled what I consider to have been the necessary replacement of Coach Frank Solich. And Pederson had hired Callahan to succeed Solich.
Chancellor Perlman lucked out when Husker coaching legend Tom Osborne agreed to return as athletic director to replace Pederson.
In firing Callahan, Osborne indicated it wasn’t just the 22 losses against 27 victories during Callahan’s four years. A factor in his decision, he indicated, was the fact that several of the Callahan-era losses were by such wide margins. These included a 10-70 loss to Texas Tech and 21-45 loss to Kansas State in Callahan’s first year and, in his 5-7 final year, losses of 6-41 to Missouri, 14-45 to Oklahoma State , 14-36 to Texas A&M and 39-76 to Kansas.
In any case, I wonder if there is any parallel in college athletics history to Pederson’s and Callahan’s rapid falls from grace: An athletic director fired 2 ½ months after he had been given a five-year contract extension and a football coach fired three months after he had been given a pay raise and a four-year contract extension.
* * *
How is it that Caroline Kennedy—a 51-year-old woman who has no experience in public office, an attorney who chooses not to practice law—is under serious consideration for appointment to the United States Senate? (She would succeed Hillary Clinton when Clinton resigns to become Secretary of State.)
It’s simple: Caroline Kennedy is a woman and a Democrat like Clinton and, most important of all, she is a Kennedy, daughter of the popular President John F. Kennedy. Lesser mortals might do well to get out of her way.
Now, now, skeptics. Remember, she is a Kennedy, part of the royal family of American politics—at least the Democratic variety of American politics.
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