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Outdated Constitutional Language Adds To Today’s Illegal Immigration Mess - 08-05-10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

Today Some Merry Christmas Thoughts
But A Few Political Barbs, Too

December 24, 2008

A column published this week, should, it seems to me, include some items figuratively wrapped in Christmas ribbons.  So today I start and end with some Christmas-season-related items from past columns, skimmed from my book, “Life With Marian.”  Between the holiday season beginning and end, I’ll offer some comments on a variety of items of more current origin.

My December 23, 2001 column included the following item, recalled to my attention the other day by a friend who has been reading my recently published book, “Life With Marian:” 

“Daughter Nancy Karger looked out a window of her Evergreen, Colorado, home and saw what appeared to be a note on the front porch railing in early December.  Possibly a message to Santa Clause from one of her sons? 

“Not quite.

“The fold-over note was addressed to ‘Dear God.’  The message inside from an 8 ½-year-old:  ‘I love you, God!  Jack Karger.’

“An appropriate note…on this Sunday two days before a great many people across the world will be celebrating the birth of the son of ‘Dear God.’”

In a December 26, 1996 column, I wrote:

“I tested Marian’s sense of humor with a comment on one of her Christmas presents.

“The present was a cookbook, presented by The Readers Digest to members of the national board of directors of the Public Broadcasting System, which receives consistent generous support from The Readers Digest.

“Informed of the cookbook gift, I sought—a bit facetiously—to determine the practical value to the Andersen household by asking Marian, ‘Is there anything in there about microwave cooking?’

“Marian chuckled, passing the sense of humor test, as I expected she would.”

* * *

Hey, Al Gore, You Been
Following The Weather News?

A switch now to matters of more current interest, including this message for former Vice President Al Gore, who has been quite profitably making speeches and writing about the potential catastrophic threat of global warming:

Dear Al:  In case you hadn’t noticed, apparently global warming has decided to take this winter off.

--In re the current furor over whether Governor Rod Blagojevich of Illinois is guilty of a crime in his alleged efforts to, in effect, “sell” the appointment to the U.S. Senate seat which will be vacated by president-elect Obama:

In Illinois, a governor going to prison seems to be about as frequent as cases in which a governor serves out his term as a free man.  The biggest surprise to me in the current situation is that the present governor apparently needs a new hair stylist.  At age 51, hasn’t he really outgrown those boyish bangs?

--As this was written, the vote counting in Minnesota was tilting towards the possibility that a former comedian, Al Franken, a Democrat, is about to unseat Senator Norm Coleman, Republican incumbent. 

If the final vote tally sends the former comedian to the United States Senate, it seems to me that the laugh, a derisive one, will be on the people of Minnesota.

--President-elect Obama’s recent “gloom and doom” (my words) prediction that the country’s economic crisis is going to get worse before it gets better and the recovery may take years seems to me to encourage further “hunkering down” by consumers—a pattern not likely to speed economic recovery.

Obama has an understandable interest in cooling any expectations—expectations which his campaign helped build—that Obama in the White House will mean relatively prompt improvement in the welfare of a the great majority of the American people.  Gloom and doom talk doesn’t help create an atmosphere in which Americans are encouraged to strive toward a better future rather than accept continuation of the downward economic slide. 

* * *

Presidential Approval Ratings Low?
Consider How Public Rates Congress

There seems to be a consensus that President-elect Barack Obama comes out of a Chicago political environment which reeks of corruption.  CNN news analyst David Gergen correctly observed the other night, this doesn’t mean Obama is corrupt (I agree, but I think Obama might speak out more strongly as he tries to distance himself from the Chicago corruption.)

Gergen drew a parallel between the Obama case and the case of President Harry Truman, who was first put into public office by the corrupt Prendergast machine in Kansas City.  But Truman rose above his political origins and “we’ve always considered Truman one of our best and most honest presidents,” Gergen said.

It’s true, David, that history has treated Truman kindly and he is now considered to have been an honest, hardworking, generally effective president. 

But in December, 1952, as Truman approached the end of his 7 ½ years in office, a poll sampling of American public opinion gave him an approval rating of 32% and a disapproval rating of 56%.  So Truman was not “always” considered one of our best and most honest presidents.

Job approval ratings for President George W. Bush in recent months have ranged from 31% down to the mid to high 20s, with disapproval ratings ranging as high as 71%. 

It should be remembered that public disapproval of performance of the United States Congress frequently runs below the level of disapproval of presidential incumbents.   For example:

In August, 2006, the Gallup Poll indicated 27% approval of Congressional performance compared with 39% public approval of Bush’s performance as president.  In November of this year, a Bush approval rating of 29% compared to an 18% Congressional performance approval in a Gallup Poll. 

* * *

God And Jesus Really
That Interested In Athletics?

I noted with interest that both Turner Gill, the former Nebraska Cornhusker quarterback who has ended a successful winning season as head coach at the University of Buffalo, and Tim Tebow, University of Florida’s superb quarterback, in television interviews both thanked “My Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ” for help in their athletic achievements. 

Such words and gestures skyward are not uncommon as athletes indicate thanks for divine intervention or support or encouragement or approval—whatever—of their athletic achievements.

In the first place, such gestures seem to me to indicate that God or Christ are taking sides in athletic competition.  A questionable premise. 

But even more questionable, it seems to me, is the assumption that either God or Christ would have the time to keep track of all athletic competition across the world and give a divine hand to the athletes whom they would consider the most devoted Christians.

* * *

Advice For Show Reviewers:
Tell Us Audience Reaction

Herewith a fresh example of a journalistic phenomenon which has bugged me for a very long time:

When a journalist is told to “review” the opening performance of a touring Broadway show or the first performance of a locally-produced show, why isn’t the “reviewer” told that his job is not to concentrate on his personal reaction, his personal tastes, but to report the facts, including, most importantly, the audience reaction, which is predictably more likely in tune with readers’ tastes than with the “reviewer’s” tastes?

Marian and I recently attended the first of five performances of the Omaha Symphony’s production of the “Christmas With The Symphony” show at the Holland Performing Arts Center. 

Thus we saw firsthand the enthusiastic audience reaction, including standing ovations, and found it impossible to reconcile what we saw with what we read in the next morning’s newspaper’s “review.”  (There was one exception.  We did agree that the Omaha Symphony at times played too loudly, drowning out the singing of some featured performers.)

The show, we read, was “predictable,” included “two head-scratching moments” one of which “makes no sense.”  We also read that one local singer’s “pleasant voice seemed strained.”  Not a word about audience reaction. 

The reviewer praised what he described as a winter-evocative performance by two young violinists.  He wrote that “you could almost feel the angry zephyrs.”

How’s that again?  “Angry zephyrs” in winter?  My dictionary defines a zephyr as a “gentle, mild breeze.”

My problem with these “me first, audience second or not at all” reviews goes back a good many years.  I did, however, find a way to put one such reviewer to good use. 

If the reviewer liked a movie, it was almost a sure bet that I wouldn’t like it.  But if the reviewer panned the move, it increased the chances that I would invite Marian to join me in viewing the reviewer-criticized film.

* * *

A Christmas Season Reminder:
Practice Thoughtfulness All Year Long

Here, as promised, a Christmas-time ending, condensed from the version which appeared in my column December 29, 1996:

“Last Sunday Marian and I played host to our children, their spouses and their children in a pre-Christmas brunch at the Omaha Country Club.

“More than 400 people were in attendance, and dozens of parents shepherded their children onto the lap of Santa Claus, there to be photographed and replaced in about 20 seconds by another child or two.

“As the rest of the family went through the buffet line and gathered at our table, Marian was the last to arrive.  She explained:

“’I asked Santa Claus if he’d like a drink.  I think he might have preferred a bourbon, but he said he’d appreciate a glass of water with a straw.  I’ll be back as soon as I take him a glass of water.’

“Later, as we were leaving, I asked Santa how many people had asked him if he needed a refreshing drink.  ‘Just one, a very nice lady,’ Santa replied.”

I call that story to your attention as a reminder that the Christmas season is an appropriate time to dedicate ourselves to the kind of consistent thoughtfulness for others that “a very nice lady” demonstrated by bringing a refreshing drink of water to a hardworking Santa Claus.

# # #

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