Temporary National Debt Fix Is Not Enough
To Prevent Lasting Damage To This Country

Despite an 11th-hour temporary resolution of the national debt issue, the American people should realize that both in this country and around the world, there has been substantial collateral lasting damage to the image and the reality of the American political system

In this country, the liberal left is disappointed if not outraged over an American Democratic president willing to compromise with Republican Party leadership in an effort to, in the words of a New York Times story, “appeal to the broad swath of independent voters.”

So we have liberal outrage over the performance of a president attempting to appeal to the Americans—a majority, in my opinion—who resent and reject the views of extremists in both political parties.

At the international level, consider the point of view advanced by The Times in a front page story with the headline:  “In World’s Eyes, Much Damage Is Already Done.”

The story offered the view that “the bitterness, division and dysfunction that resounded around the world in recent weeks did more than just fuel a perception that Washington is approaching Japan-like levels of political gridlock.  Among foreign leaders and in global markets, it has eroded America’s already diminishing aura as the world’s economic haven and the sole country with the power to lead the rest of the world out of financial crisis and recession.”

Christine Lagarde, Chairman of the International Monetary Fund, spoke of a weakening “positive bias” toward the United States.

The Times reporter put it more bluntly.  He wrote that America’s “brush with default” has left America’s creditors and allies alike wondering what had so changed in American politics that a significant part of the country’s political elite “was suddenly willing to risk the nation’s reputation as the safest place for the rest of the world to invest.”

A major share of the blame for this sad situation can be charged to Democratic liberals typified by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of San Francisco and, on the ultraconservative right, to Tea Party favorites like Rep. Michelle Bachman of Minnesota, whom some far-right Republicans actually consider a viable candidate for the Republican nomination for President of the United States.  (Bachman will be remembered as the presidential hopeful who blamed her migraine headaches, which on two occasions sent her to hospitals for emergency room treatment, on the fact that she likes to wear high heels.)

My bottom line:  To make significant progress in treating our massive annual deficit/national-debt-increasing cancer, we will need both major spending reductions and what some politicians would refer to as “revenue enhancement” but which I’ll refer to as “tax increases.”

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Huskers Needed To Make Big 10 ‘Great’?
Nebraska Columnist Seems To Think So

I’ve written before about “bulletin board material”—news stories originating in the home state of a college football team—let’s call it Team A—and picked up by representatives of a future opponent—let’s call them Team B—put up in the locker room of Team B as inspiration before A and B take to the field against each other.

Occasionally, the bulletin board material is so far-ranging that it can go up on bulletin boards throughout an entire conference.  The World-Herald sports pages recently offered such an example of conference-wide opponent inspiration.

The headline over a piece written by a columnist read like this:  “Big Ten’s reception for Nebraska says it all:  Struggling league needs Huskers to be great.”

The tone of the column, stressing Big Ten officials’ enthusiastic reception of the Huskers at the annual Big Ten media day, reflected the columnists’ opinion that the Huskers are a team that the Big Ten really needed.

Not too many weeks ago, the tone of comment in Nebraska, from both journalists and University of Nebraska-Lincoln officials, was that the Huskers were fortunate to have been invited to become members of the Big Ten.  Now the picture in at least one Nebraska journalist’s mind is that the Huskers come swaggering in as saviors of the conference.

The massive coverage given the Huskers’ role in their first Big Ten media day was interesting and newsworthy, but, in at least one other respect, was puzzling.  Athletic directors for Nebraska and Iowa teams felt they needed to create a formal “traditional” relationship between the two schools in an annual day-after-Thanksgiving contest which will be a regular feature of Big Ten competition.

As I see it, the Husker/Hawkeye rivalry in a game to be played every year, on a day when national television exposure is virtually guaranteed (recall the Nebraska/Oklahoma post-Thanksgiving Friday games of years past) doesn’t need to have a manufactured “Heroes Game” designation sponsored by the HyVee food chain.  (There were no details as to what HyVee is paying for sponsoring the annual “Heroes Game.”)

Part of the commercially-tinged manufactured “Heroes Game” rivalry will be the selection of a “hero” by each of the two teams each year.  A person to be designated officially as a sort of HyVee Hawkeye hero and a person to be identified as a sort of Cornhusker HyVee hero.

What college football programs won’t do for money these days.  I think back to the Nebraska/Oklahoma “game of the year” rivalry.  (In 1971, it produced what some people still consider the “Game of the Century.”)  It became a treasured tradition, with no commercial sponsorship and no annual trophy awarded.

Elsewhere in the world of sports reporting, things are back to more normal in The World-Herald sports section.  After a Sunday edition without a single mention of Maverick hockey, Monday brought a first page dominated by a half page of UNO Maverick hockey coverage (with the hockey season still a good distance away.)  A 32-paragarph story and a color photo of at least quarter-page size informed readers that two brothers, sons of former pro football player Jay Megna, had chosen to play hockey with the UNO Mavericks instead of pursuing football careers.

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Evidence Is Clear:  Islam Is Not
Simply Another Way Of Worshiping God

The movement among some American religious leaders to welcome Islam to the American religious scene as simply another way of worshipping God (Allah, the Islamic version) would be more successful if there weren’t so much evidence to the contrary.

Muslims continue to demonstrate that Islamic law, described as a way of life mandated by the doctrine of “Shariah,” teaches not tolerance of other religions but sometimes bloody rejection of a belief in tolerance, which is fundamental to other religious faiths.  For example:

An Associated Press dispatch from Afghanistan reported:  “An Afghan man is being prosecuted in a Kabul court and could be sentenced to death on a charge of converting from Islam to Christianity.”

Another news story from Afghanistan details the story of two teenagers, each a member of a different ethnic group, have been imprisoned and threatened with death because a romance developed between them.

The reaction included a mob riot which overwhelmed local police, set fire to cars and stormed a police station which was destroyed by fire.

The two teenagers were confined to juvenile prison.  The girl’s father asked that the government “kill both of them.”

The story recalled that a young couple in another Afghan city was stoned to death by scores of people—including family members—after they eloped.  “The stoning marked a brutal application of Shariah law.”  No one has faced criminal charges.

In the latest case to gain international attention, family members of a man killed in the riot sent word to the teenage girl in the center of the brutal controversy that she is to blame for the man’s death but offered her an out:  Marry one of their other sons.

So much for the argument for welcoming Islam as a member of the world community of religious faiths—faiths which advocate strongly for their version of religious truth but extend the hand of friendship to those with differing views.

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I’m Grateful For So Many Birthday Remembrances,
Especially Those Going Beyond ‘Have A Nice Day’

As best I can recall—my short-term memory isn’t as good as it used to be—my 87th birthday passed last year without much fuss over me.  By contrast, this year I have received a good many birthday greetings (I especially liked the ones that didn’t stop with a simple “have a nice birthday” wish) and been a guest at two birthday luncheons.

I’m very grateful for all the remembrances—phone calls, “have a nice birthday” cards and the luncheon hospitality.

Then there were the family remembrances—three books on some of my favorite subjects delivered by son David and daughter-in-law Leslie, a phone call from grandson Robby Andersen, a double-header hand-drawn birthday greeting for both Marian and me (Marian turns 83 August 13) from granddaughter Katie Andersen.

And a birthday card from daughter Nancy and our three grandsons in Denver:  Jack, James and Mark.  I especially liked the message from 10-year-old Grant.  Grant wrote that he considers me “hard as a rock” with the prospect of many more birthdays.

Included among the birthday remembrances were gifts from my administrative assistant, Jackie Wrieth, with whom I have been happily associated for some 25 years now.

One of the gifts came in the form of a package supposedly the result of a shopping expedition by Jackie and her charming little Yorkiepoo, Sophie, mistress of the Jackie and Don Wrieth household.

Sophie was described as having picked out a set of four double old-fashioned glasses, each with a dog-based cartoon from The New Yorker magazine.  The gift was accompanied by a card carrying Sophie’s name and assuring me that there was a tail wagging in my honor on my special day.

So to all of you who remembered me in so many ways on my 88th, a heartfelt “Thank you!,” even if you wouldn’t go so far as to consider me “hard as a rock.”

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