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Outdated Constitutional Language Adds To Today’s Illegal Immigration Mess - 08-05-10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

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.

In order to provide time for more fact-gathering and comment-writing at the start of each week, the regular pattern for weekly availability of my column will be every Thursday at 12:01 a.m. instead of Wednesday.

Harold W. Andersen

Would Odor of Politics
Taint Fire Chief Choice?

July 17, 2008

Controversy over the predicted appointment of a former firefighters’ union president as the next chief of the Omaha Fire Department underscores, it seems to me, the fact that all municipal unions—fire, police and civilian—should not endorse candidates for mayor or the city council.

Let the unions represent firemen and policemen and civilian employees in negotiations with representatives of city government.  But, as in the case of the firemen’s union, they shouldn’t be in position of negotiating, in effect, with a mayor or City Council members whom they endorsed for election.

This is exactly the dilemma facing former union president Mike McDonnell and Mayor Mike Fahey as the mayor considers whether to appoint McDonnell fire chief from a list of four eligible candidates.  McDonnell was president of the firemen’s union when it supported Fahey when he ran for his first term in 2000.

The fact that McDonnell has finished No. 1 in three different tests is simply not enough to totally dispel the cloud of suspicion that Fahey’s appointment would have the taint of political payback.  And any argument that McDonnell’s appointment would simply be the result of an objective, arm’s-length judgment by Mayor Fahey would not be helped by the fact that Fahey had McDonnell working briefly in the mayor’s office.

If McDonnell is in fact the best man for the job, it would be ironic if some would still sense a whiff of politics—the odor of political payback—as involved in an appointment which should be based solely on merit. 

* * *

Rep. Rangel’s Rent Bargain
Smells Very Bad Indeed

Speaking of matters in which the odor of politics intrudes, there is a stench originating in New York City which, I would think, is being smelled all across the United States, considering the importance of the office held by the politician who is involved. 

I refer, of course, to Representative Charles B. Rangel of New York City, chairman of one of the most powerful committees in the United States Congress—the tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee. 

Rangel, a Democrat who has served 38 years as a representative of New York City’s Harlem community, has been exposed by The New York Times as the beneficiary of extraordinarily favorable treatment by a major New York real estate developer.  The special treatment gives Rangel four—that’s right, four—below-market-rental-rate apartments in Lenox Terrace, an upscale development of six towers, described in real estate publications as Harlem’s most prestigious address. 

In 2007, Rangel paid a total rent of $3,894 a month for his four apartments—the type that the landlord rents out to other Lenox Terrace apartment tenants at rates which total $7,465 to $8,125 a month for four units.

The special rate for Congressman Rangel saves him something like $30,000 a year, The Times calculates.

Incidentally but importantly, the House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct has a rule that “any gratuity, favor, discount, forbearance or other item having monetary value” is subject to a $100 annual limit.

In a press conference, Rangel angrily defended the four-apartment, bargain-rental-rate arrangement.  “I didn’t see anything unfair about it,” he said.  (Apparently, no one in the group of more than 25 reporters thought to ask Rangel about his villa in the Dominican Republic.)  In defense of his low-rent bargain bonanza, Rangel said one of the apartments is used as his den and office, adding, “When I come home late at night from Washington, I go in there first.”

Is Rangel suggesting that he uses one of the four bargain-rental luxury apartments as a sort of decompression chamber to help him recover from the pressures of his job when he comes home “late at night” from Washington (on a Thursday, as is common Congressional practice)? 

My bottom line:  Rarely does one encounter a better argument against the Congressional seniority system which puts a Charles Rangel at the head of one of the most powerful committees in the United States Congress while he benefits from an arrangement which provides him four luxury apartments at bargain rentals.

* * *

Novel Argument: Olympic Swim Team
Shows State Needs Affirmative Action

The letters published under the “Public Pulse” heading consistently supply some of the more interesting reading in The Omaha World-Herald.  Herewith a couple of examples which appeared on the same recent day:

An Omahan wrote that we should reject the proposal for a state constitutional amendment to “ban affirmative action programs.”  The letter offered this argument: 

“One look at the faces of the swimmers who made the U.S. Olympic Swimming Team should tell us what we need to know.  That team does not look like the America I see.  Out of the dozens of swimmers who qualified for the Olympics in Omaha, only one was a person of color.”

In the first place, the proposed amendment to the Nebraska Constitution is narrowly targeted—at Nebraska state government and political subdivisions.  It would have nothing to do with such matters as the racial makeup of United States Olympic teams.  It would prohibit discriminating against, or giving preferential treatment to, any individual or group on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity or national origin in the operation of public employment, public education or public contrasting by the state or any of its agencies, institutions or political subdivisions. 

In the second place, I wonder if the Pulse writer who suspects racial discrimination in the selection of the United States Olympic Swimming Team saw a recent picture of the United States Olympic basketball team published in The World-Herald.  All 12 members of that team are black. 

I haven’t heard any complaints about the lack of white players on the basketball team which the United States will send to the Olympic Games in Beijing. 

The most talented basketball players were chosen, as were the fastest swimmers.  It’s as simple as that.

Another letter in that same day’s Public Pulse offered a suggestion which, I believe, has occurred to a number of Omahans: 

As the most-publicized focus on baseball in Omaha—including, of course, the annual College World Series—switches in 2011 from Rosenblatt Stadium to a new downtown ballpark, let’s continue to honor former Omaha Mayor Johnny Rosenblatt by naming the baseball diamond inside the stadium “Rosenblatt Field.” 

Naming rights to the new stadium itself would, of course, be sold, as was done so successfully when Omaha’s new downtown arena and convention center was given the Qwest name.

* * *

Don’t Bother Sending
Insults If Anonymous

When it comes to putting a new column on the Internet each week, I hope that the majority of my readers—the great majority, I hope—find enjoyment in what I intend to be thought-provoking comments and in my efforts at humor.

But there is at least one reader out there who seems to find his or her enjoyment from my column in sending anonymous e-mail insults when I write anything about persons of color, especially the great golfer, Tiger Woods.  Any suggestion that Tiger’s performance is anything less than flawless brings anonymous criticism like this:

“Ha:  We are surprised you did not scrounge in the dirt to find yet another way to insult Tiger Woods, another entry on your black list.”

I think it’s reasonable to speculate that this particular reader may really enjoy my column because of an emotional kick out of sending anonymous insulting messages.

Well, I have bad news for Mr. or Ms. Anonymous.  My executive assistant now has orders not to waste my time by passing along insults from people so gutless that they won’t attach their names to the insults.  Any criticism—no matter how worded—that carries a name and a verifiable address will be passed on to me and given the consideration it deserves—in most cases, I hope, careful consideration. 

Anonymous news tips and suggestions will also be passed along to me.

* * *

Let’s Be Clear About Hate Crimes:
Fight Them, Don’t Coordinate Them

Some of the names of organizations with worthy objectives might well be more carefully phrased.  A recent example appearing in a “Midlands Voices” article in The World-Herald: 

An article about efforts to curb so-called “hate crimes” said such crimes are being targeted in Omaha by the Omaha Police Department, the U.S. Department of Justice and the “Omaha Hate Crimes Coordinating Council.”

Now I don’t believe there really is a council of good citizens devoted to coordinating hate crimes, so why does a well-intentioned organization choose such a name?  How about “Coordinating Council to Fight Hate Crimes.”

Such citizens group with good intentions but poorly-worded names bring to mind an occasion years ago in Lincoln where Marian was involved in another one of her worthy causes, a fund-raising effort which she described as “The Mothers March For Polio.”

I told Marian that a more appropriate name would be “The Mothers March Against Polio.”  She agreed.

* * *

It seems to Jackie and me that this is an appropriate cartoon to publish during a political year:

# # #

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