Dem Lynch Mob Might Hang President’s Hopes - 07-16-09
A Varied Menu For You To Consider - 06-25-09
Notre Dame And Obama
Offer A Splendid Lesson - 05-21-09
Upsets Even Liberals - 03-26-09
‘Adults In Wonderland’
Need To Get Real - 01-15-09
This Time It’s Indians
Who Break The Treaty - 12-18-08
Me? A Grumpy Old Man?
One Reader Thinks So - 12-11-08
Top Athletes Should
Know When to Quit? - 7-24-08
Omaha Stars Again
On National TV Stage - 7-02-08
Obama ‘Stumbling’ To Victory? - 5-08-08
"‘Charisma’ Not Always a Good Thing" - 2-27-08
"Nosy Congress Makes
Three Bad Calls" - 10-26-07
"Right Decision Could
Help Both Fair, UNL" - 10-12-07
"Stop Trying To Make God A Republican" - 10-6-07
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.
July 9, 2008
By all means, let’s hear it for the athletes—from a 15-year-old to a 41-year-old—who put on such a show of red-white-and-blue effort to win berths on the swimming team which will represent the United States in the Beijing Olympics.
Cheers, too, of course, for the Omahans who gave such enthusiastic support—from the efforts of approximately 1,000 volunteers to the ticket-purchasers who helped break all attendance records for the Olympic Trials and roared their approval of the efforts of this country’s best swimmers.
And appropriate praise also for Mutual of Omaha, proud sponsor of USA Swimming. Mutual’s support of the Trials was evident in so many ways, including some spectacular promotional support, including that building-tall image of an Olympic swimmer which hung from Mutual’s headquarters building.
In celebrating an event which brought great favorable national attention to Omaha as had the College World Series three weeks earlier, let’s not forget to include cheers for the Omaha Sports Authority and especially for a remarkable building, the Qwest Center and those who staff and supervise it. Qwest’s remarkable arena and convention center facilities made it possible to offer what some observers described as the best venue ever for the Olympic Swim Trials.
The Qwest Center venue and the hospitable reception which Omahans extended created immediate top-level endorsement of the idea of bringing the Olympic Trials back to Omaha in 2012. The idea prompted favorable comment from both U.S. Men’s Coach Eddie Reese and U.S. Women’s Coach Jack Bauerle, among others.
Coach Reese’s favorable reaction included these words: “The people on the street and in the stands have been great. Perfect, super hospitality.”
It seems to me that the praise for Qwest Center facilities and staff includes, by implication, a well-deserved endorsement of the way the Metropolitan Entertainment and Convention Authority has carried out its responsibility for oversight of Qwest Center operations—a success story which seems to me to bode well for operation of Omaha’s new downtown baseball park under MECA’s management.
Omaha voters in 2000 approved $198 million in revenue bonds, private sources contributed $75 million and the Nebraska Legislature lent a financial hand to finance construction of a downtown arena and convention center. I wonder whether any visionary then foresaw the number and variety of events which would be attracted to the Qwest Center and the size of the crowds that those events would attract.
The unusually successful Olympic Swim Trials took their place in Qwest Center history alongside performances like these:
In 2005, an NCAA women’s volleyball regional tournament outdrew the total of crowds at the three other regionals and the total which attended the subsequent volleyball Final Four championship tournament.
The volleyball Final Four tournament in the Qwest Center the next year set a new Final Four attendance record. (The Final Four tournament returns to the Qwest Center later this year. It will be nationally telecast.)
A regional NCAA men’s basketball tournament earlier this year gave Omahans and other fans in this area a chance to see such college teams as Wisconsin, California State-Fullerton, Oregon and the University of Kansas, whose team went on to win the national championship.
The arena and convention center facilities have been used for events as diverse as the annual Ak-Sar-Ben Coronation, a rodeo and national bull riding competition, an annual 4-H livestock show, a Creighton University commencement ceremony and annual Creighton home basketball schedules. The University of Nebraska at Omaha plays its home hockey games in the Qwest Arena.
Coming up: the National Veterans Wheelchair Games July 25-29 and an appearance by Celine Dion November 17, one of the continuing round of appearances by top singers and musical groups which time after time have attracted capacity crowds to the Qwest arena.
All in all, a vindication of the judgment of the civic leaders who proposed a downtown arena and convention center and the equally good judgment of the more than 60 percent of the Omaha voters who in 2000 approved the construction-financing package (including $198 million in revenue bonds) and creation of MECA to supervise construction and operation of the arena/convention center.
* * *
Will the real Barack Obama please stand up?
His latest venture into image-building (or should I say image-changing?) is a TV commercial telling about his living a modest-means childhood with his mother, then working his way through Harvard Law School (he doesn’t say whether he received any financial aid or what kind of work he did), then starting his post-graduate life as a social worker in low-income neighborhoods in Chicago, then moving into politics by being elected to the Illinois State Senate.
He has also gone to pains on various occasions to tie his roots somehow to Kansas and his grandparents there. His mother, who was white, grew up in Kansas before marrying a Kenyan.
On the campaign trail Obama has started to refer to his grandmother’s work in an aircraft assembly plant in Kansas (he referred to her as something of a “Rosie the Riveter”) and saying, on one occasion, that his Kansas grandfather had gone to school on the GI Bill of Rights. On another occasion, he said his Kansas grandfather had shown him the grandfather’s dog tags from service in World War II.
The motivation seems a bit murky, but one can speculate that Obama seeks the best of two political worlds—overwhelming support among black voters (as evidenced by his more than 90% majorities among black voters in the Democratic presidential primaries) and support from white voters who might be attracted by the image of a man who rose from humble beginnings, worked his way through Harvard and enjoys telling stories of his white grandparents who showed their patriotism in World War II.
* * *
A news story about efforts in Washington to bail out Americans who bought houses they couldn’t afford was fresh in my mind when I came across a letter in The Financial Times—a British newspaper which covers world affairs, including important news in the United States, very well indeed.
I was impressed with the letter to the editor from a reader named Charles Tan, a resident of Singapore. The headline read: “Average American Joe is going to have to curtail his lifestyle.”
The Singapore letter writer said that a study of the lifestyle of the “Average American Joe” would show that he’s likely to own three credit cards with debt of $21,000, own more than one car and live in a property mortgaged to a bank.
The letter from Singapore offered this advice:
“The average Joe has to curtail his lifestyle and simply live within his means. This could be a downgrade to a smaller home, cutting back on holiday trips or selling the family car if he needs to.
“Of course, none of this will make sense, when the affluent in the US are living a much larger lifestyle. This is free America, the apex of the world’s capitalist economy. The government should not give two hoots about taxing the affluent and reducing handouts to those who are work-shy.”
Charles Ten’s concluding advice from Singapore:
“The work ethos ought to be strengthened and productivity boosted in big measures. The US should work on balancing the budget and start the slow, arduous process of reducing its trade deficits. It requires financial discipline at both national and individual level.”
Hardly a platform for election to political office in the United States, but thoughtful and, in my opinion, wise advice from a foreigner who appears to me to be friendly to the United States and has the advantage of a clear perspective that distance sometimes makes possible.
* * *
Someone ought to do retired General Wesley Clark the favor of telling him that he isn’t going to be any candidate’s vice presidential running mate—he tried with John Kerry and has tried again with Barack Obama—and he should avoid any more image damage of the type he brought on himself recently.
New York Times columnist Gail Collins noted that Clark had said to a CBS interviewer in regard to John McCain’s military service: “Well, I don’t think that riding in a fighter plane and getting shot down is a qualification to be president.”
Collins questioned whether this is “the best possible line of attack for an Obama supporter to take, when Barack’s only big claim to executive leadership was being a community organizer.” Collins also took another crack at Clark, describing him as “available for a vice-presidential nomination for so long that his shelf-life sticker is expiring.”
And another liberal New York Times columnist, acidulous Maureen Dowd, said that Clark’s crack at McCain really didn’t have anything to do about suggesting Obama is more qualified to lead the nation, including the armed services, than is McCain. Dowd wrote that Clark’s comment was “the old business of grunts resenting flyboys.” (Clark was an infantry commander in Vietnam.)
Can we hope to hear no more public statements from ex-grunt General Wesley Clark (Ret.)? (But, of course, John McCain supporters might prefer that he keep talking.)
# # #