‘Carpetbagger’ Debate Tends To Divert Attention
From Legitimate Questions For Bob Kerrey

Let’s set aside the question of whether Bob Kerrey can properly be called a “carpetbagger” in his return to Nebraska, after a 12-year absence, to run for what has been described as his old Senate seat.

Whatever you call his return—from a self-serving ego trip to a noble effort to be of service to Nebraska and the nation—it is properly a campaign issue, as I see it.

Democrat Kerrey’s chances for election in a state where voter-registered Republicans outnumber registered Democrats by well over 100,000 will definitely depend in large measure on which Bob Kerrey image a majority of voters perceive:

–A former Nebraskan (although Kerrey contends that he has always been a Nebraskan) might sell—or try to sell—his returning after a 12-year absence as a sort of self-sacrificial mission to help Nebraskans make the right decisions on important national and international issues.

–Or will the prevailing image be that of a former Nebraskan seizing an opportunity to use the state as a stepping stone to return to a position of power and prestige which is a fundamental part of the appeal of a seat in the United States Senate?

And there is also, of course, the real possibility of a combination of motives.  But the key question is how Kerrey’s return will be perceived by a majority of Nebraska voters, regardless of his motives.

The heavily GOP majority of Nebraska voters and questions about returning after a 12-year absence and are not Kerrey’s only challenges.

The biggest challenge of all in a Nebraska election may be the fact that a vote for a Democratic Congressional candidate anywhere in the country will be considered a vote helpful to President Obama and former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and their fellow Democratic leaders in preserving Obamacare and an endorsement of policies which have created record annual federal spending deficits and a record national debt.

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Not A Big Name But New
Husker Coach Looks Good to Me

Enough—perhaps more than enough—about politics.  Let’s turn to the sports page, print as well as electronic.

Big news, of course, in the selection of a new University of Nebraska Cornhusker basketball coach.

Some negative media comment was based on the fact that the search for a new coach didn’t attract a big name.  To which I would reply:

At a school where football has been king as long as the memory of man runneth not to the contrary, as someone or other once said, is it likely that the Husker basketball coaching job would be attractive to a coach with experience at one of the major basketball powers?

It seems to me that Husker Athletic Director Tom Osborne came up with a logical choice, a good choice—a coach with extensive smaller-college experience and a record of turning losing programs around.

World-Herald columnist Lee Barfknecht pointed out that at Colorado State, Miles took over a program that was “in disarray.”  After two dismal seasons, Miles improved the team over the next three seasons, taking the Rams to three consecutive post-season tourneys, including the NCAA tournament this year with a season record of 20-12.

Another Off-The-Wall Comment From Predictable Source

There were more words of praise than grumbling over the Miles selection.

Then there was this utterly incomprehensible (to me at least) comment from World-Herald columnist Tom Shatel in regard to the new coach:

“He’s got, well, a nerd appeal.  And we mean that in the best possible way, Coach.”

My assistant, Jackie Wrieth, went to the Internet encyclopedia and looked for the origin of the word “nerd.”  She found examples of the way it has been used and discovered that it is of fairly recent origin and there are a variety of suggestions as to the origin.

One suggestion is that “nerd” was derived from Mortimer Snerd, Edgar Bergen’s ventriloquist dummy, something of a television star for a long period.  Another theory is that it is derived from “nert,” meaning “a stupid or crazy person.”

I skimmed through a long list of other descriptions of “nerd” meanings and didn’t find any that I thought could be described as being applicable in “the best possible way.”

Tiger Gets Worshipful Treatment From NBC Sports Team

Elsewhere on the sports news scene, this time on the electronic sports page:  Tiger Woods’ first tour victory since 2009 elicited almost worshipful coverage from Johnny Miller and the rest of the NBC Sports reporting and commentary crew.

It wasn’t until Tiger’s victory was assured that someone on the crew made a passing reference to Tiger’s domestic problem.  (You will recall that Tiger carried on affairs with a number of prostitutes and according to one account, tried to escape from an angry wife by backing his car recklessly out of the garage.  His SUV struck a fire hydrant and then hit a tree, which brought authorities to the scene and led to the public unfolding of Tiger’s reprehensible behavior.)

During the final two rounds of Tiger’s victorious march through the Arnold Palmer Invitational, his performance included throwing a club to the ground, and directing an angry comment toward the gallery when there was a sound from the gallery during his backswing.

I don’t know how the public generally, here and abroad, view Tiger Woods as a golfer and as a man.  But over the weekend I heard views expressed by eight of my friends who are golfers and have followed the performance of Eldrick “Tiger” Woods as golfer and man.  Not a one of the eight wants to see Woods win another of the big four major tournaments or any other tour tournament for that matter.

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Lee Terry Wrong On Obama Criticism;
Should Be Wary Of Tea Party Support

Some advice for Second Congressional District Representative Lee Terry of Omaha:

–Recognize when you have lost a fight, as in President Obama’s approving construction of an Oklahoma segment of the Keystone XL Pipeline.

–Don’t encourage Tea Party extremist support in your re-election bid.

Obama no doubt had his eye on the upcoming presidential election when he approved construction proceeding on a portion of the pipeline which will carry tar sand oil from Canada to processing plants in the United States.  But because it is a politically popular decision, it doesn’t follow that is the wrong one or improperly motivated, as you continue to argue.

It seems to me a Nebraska legislator had the right reaction to Obama’s decision.  State Senator Jim Smith of Papillion welcomed the decision, and Smith is the key sponsor of a legislative bill which would restart the review of the pipeline’s proposed detour around Nebraska’s Sand Hills region.

As to this matter of Tea Party support, further advice for Lee Terry.

You obviously welcomed an appearance by a national Tea Party leader at a recent rally in your support.  A news story said about 100 people attended, and there were cheers when one speaker declared:  “We are a Christian country.”

(There is not a word about religion in the U.S. Constitution, which is the legal basis of the United States government.  The First Amendment’s reference to religion is simply that there shall be freedom of religion in this country.)

Congressman Terry, you should understand that the support of Tea Party activists and evangelical Christians, while attractive to some candidates and voters, most emphatically turns a good many other voters off.

* * *

‘Amen’ To World-Herald Editorial On Court Arguments;
UNO Hockey Mavericks Above Critical Comment?

Another weekly serving of commentary smorgasbord:

-“Amen!” to the recent World-Herald editorial criticizing the United States Supreme Court for refusing to allow telecasting of oral arguments in what has been described as one of the most important cases to come before the court in a good many years.

There surely are ways to provide unobtrusive camera crews (note that I didn’t say invisible crews) to televise the arguments in cases of potential great importance.

The case at hand involves whether the commerce clause of the United States Constitution can be stretched so far as to allow Congress to order a private citizen to buy health insurance or pay a fine. (Another way to put it is a test of how far Big Brother can go in depriving individual citizens of freedom of choice.)

Some arguments have been advanced that the whole complicated Obamacare program might be at risk and that the powers of the federal government might be restricted in a way that those who advocate government-mandated behavior would see as disastrous.

My obviously non-expert opinion:  The court will go only so far as it needs to, attempting to settle the single issue before it rather than create—perhaps by a 5-4 vote—a whole new framework within which the federal government must operate.

–Back, briefly, to a sports item.

For three consecutive years, the University of Nebraska at Omaha hockey team has lost in the first round of their conference playoff.

This has not affected, as I see it, the criticism-free, upbeat intensive World-Herald coverage of the Mavericks.

It would be interesting to know the financial results generated by the hockey team these days, in comparison with the profits in early seasons when the Mavs played in the Civic Auditorium rather than the much-larger, more expensive CenturyLink Arena.

Talk continues in regard to the possibility of building a multi-million arena in a new site, closer to the UNO campus, with operating costs presumably less than the rent being paid for use of the CenturyLink Arena.

Where would the multi-millions come from?

–What was supposed to be a report on research supporting the recent emotion-charged City Council proposal to ban discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation turned out to be a dud, as I see it.

The City Council was told that local research by the University of Nebraska Medical Center staff members could not prove that work-place discrimination led to symptoms of depression, as had been suggested by research in other cities.

The local researchers acknowledged having incomplete information about Nebraska’s homosexual and lesbian and trans-gender population.

One wonders if the local researchers had ever considered not supporting the controversial ordinance and reporting that they had no local evidence to offer in support of the proposed ordinance, which passed the City Council by a 4-3 vote.  Or perhaps, better yet, decided not to testify at all.

* * *

Jackie, Sophie, Tucker Draw Favorable Comment

I’m going to the dogs again today.

I don’t mean to overdo dog-focused column-ending.  But my assistant, Jackie Wrieth, and I thought a good many of you would be interested in the reaction to my last week’s account of how a mixed-breed ball of energy named Tucker has taken charge in the Don and Jackie Wrieth household.

The reaction from my readers and to Jackie personally topped even the response I get when I report on Marian’s—and my—love affairs with the world’s two most lovable cocker spaniels.

Typical of the responses:

“Enjoyed meeting Sophie and Tucker over my morning coffee.  There will be a special place in heaven for you in rescuing Sophie and Tucker.  Hi and thanks to Andy for writing the article.”

You’ll understand why I particularly like this reaction from a friend of Jackie’s:

“Loved his write-up this week and pics of the doggies.  Did you do the name thing on purpose?  I think Harold Andersen should run for president on the GOP ticket.”

And yes, Jackie did the Sophie/Tucker name thing on purpose.

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