Enough already. Three major news stories dealing with Jon Bruning’s accumulation of wealth, and yet no proof—none—that Bruning has used his public offices (state senator, then Attorney General) to enhance his investments.
The latest shot was fired by a spokesman for State Senator Deb Fischer, who hopes for an upset victory over Bruning in next Tuesday’s contest for the Republican nomination for United States senator.
Ironically, no journalist, so far as I’m aware, has asked Fischer to justify the fact that her family’s Sand Hills ranch gets bargain-rate grazing rights from the federal government at charges totaling some $100,000 a year below the cost of grazing rights on comparable private land.
For some reason this is standard Federal policy. But there is no excuse for Fischer, supposedly a foe of federal deficit spending, not to be asked about her family’s acceptance of this particular federal handout.
The question to be answered in next Tuesday’s Republican primary election is very clear: Who among the three principal candidates—Bruning, State Treasurer Don Stenberg and Fischer—has the best chance of defeating the Democratic nominee, former senator Bob Kerrey, who has already announced that he will support Barack Obama’s re-election bid?
Stenberg, whose campaign has been financed primarily by contributions from ultraconservative national groups?
Fischer, who has shown no evidence that she is prepared to step from the role of state senator to United States senator and is not above an eleventh-hour shot at Bruning with no evidence that he had acted improperly?
Or Bruning, who has an overall record of aggressive, competent performance as Attorney General?
Nebraska Republican voters will provide the answer next Tuesday. I’d say it would be a pretty safe bet that Bob Kerrey and his followers would be delighted if Stenberg or Fischer upset Bruning in the important first round of the battle to see who replaces retiring Democratic Senator Ben Nelson—a battle which has important implications in the fight for control of the United States Senate for the two years following the November general election.
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Warren Buffett Gives Further Assurance:
Berkshire Control Will Remain In Omaha
In The Sunday World-Herald, if you read through the massive coverage of Warren Buffett’s response to questions during the annual meeting of Berkshire Hathaway stockholders, were some new and interesting facts about Buffett’s plans for the future of Berkshire Hathaway, including what happens after his death.
(Warren is 81 and in generally robust good health, with Level 1 prostate cancer apparently under control.)
Among the interesting revelations scattered through the multi-column report of Buffett’s answers to questions:
–Further assurance that Berkshire Hathaway will continue to be managed from an Omaha headquarters. (Buffett has already said that after his death this will be the policy which his son Howie will pursue as chairman of the Berkshire board.)
“Even when I’m gone, the Buffett family will likely have ten times the voting power than anybody else,” Buffett told the stockholders’ meeting.
Buffett did not expand on this statement, but the clear implication is that, as he has previously indicated, nearly all of his Berkshire Hathaway stock will go to charitable foundations controlled by his children. It would be this concentration of Berkshire Hathaway stock in the foundations that would, presumably, give his family 10 times more voting power than anybody else.
–Buffett made it clear that he doesn’t feel he should soft-pedal his outspoken involvement in politics because Berkshire Hathaway investors include people who don’t agree with his liberal views. He told the Berkshire shareholders:
“I will not put my citizenship in a blind trust.”
(In this connection, it is important to note that when Buffett made the decision to use Berkshire Hathaway as a vehicle for keeping control and management of The Omaha World-Herald in Omaha, he committed publicly to a position of not being involved in the newspaper’s decisions in regard to political coverage or endorsements.)
–He might acquire more newspapers where the newspaper’s focus is local news not available elsewhere.
–In answer to a question as to Berkshire’s policy in regard to wind and solar energy, Buffett replied:
“Federal wind power subsidies of 2.2 cents for 10 years per kilowatt hour make wind projects work. Neither solar nor wind would be working without subsidies…
“Berkshire has distinct competitive advantage in the utility and renewable energy space because 80% of the utilities in the United States can’t reap the tax benefits available because they don’t pay federal taxes.”
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It Took Some Searching,
But I Found Husker Story
For a Nebraska Cornhusker sports fan, last Sunday’s Omaha World-Herald sports section posed an interesting challenge: Find the results of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Cornhusker baseball team’s Saturday game in a sports section dominated by:
–The story of a Louisiana State University baseball player who is within range of a .500 batting average during the spring season.
–Columnist Tom Shatel’s 36 paragraphs of advice for Cornhusker Assistant Football Coach Ron Brown. (Bottom line: Swallow your personal religious views and don’t testify at the public hearing on Lincoln’s proposed ordinance banning discrimination based on sexual orientation.)
The next day another front-page, top-headline column by Tom Shatel reporting that Ron Brown had decided not to testify at the Lincoln City Council meeting that afternoon.
–A front-page-dominating news story of solid importance chronicling the growth of both boys’ and girls’ soccer in Nebraska high schools.
But where, I kept thinking, will I find a story of primary interest to me; i.e., how the UNL Husker baseball team did in its first game in an important series against Indiana in Bloomington?
Persistence paid as I found the story on page 7—10 paragraphs reporting that the Huskers had defeated Indiana 13-2. (The Huskers lost both ends of a double header the next day, leaving Bloomington with a disappointing 1-2 result.)
Also on page 7 was an eight-paragraph story telling of the Creighton Bluejays ninth-inning rally to record their first conference road victory, 7-4 over Bradley.
On the same page with the 18 paragraphs reporting the Nebraska and Creighton victories were a page-dominating 69 paragraphs detailing the LSU’s player’s (I don’t remember his name) effort to finish the season with a .500 or better batting average.
Why Not Men’s Soccer At UNL?
Turning to the positive play given to the growth of soccer in Nebraska high schools:
That growth underscores the irony that the University of Nebraska-Lincoln does not offer a men’s soccer program.
Then-athletic director Bill Byrne and Chancellor Harvey Perlman made the original mistake of favoring women’s athletics years ago when they drowned the men’s swimming program and set UNL on a program of giving preference to women’s sports (to the questionable extreme of sponsoring women’s bowling and shooting teams) in a misinterpretation of the often-cited Title IX of Federal law and the NCAA regulations inspired by Title IX.
In regard to soccer specifically, the misapplication of Title IX and NCAA regulations resulted in UNL starting a women’s but not a men’s soccer program—by recruiting the coach of the Canadian national women’s team and practically the entire Canadian team, hardly a way to recognize the growing interest of Nebraska girls in high school soccer.
A case could be made, I believe, that discrimination in favor of women (soccer, swimming, bowling, shooting) could be a Title IX violation because it discriminates against men.
Incidentally but importantly, there is only one Nebraskan among the 19 scholarship-holding recruits on the women’s bowling and shooting teams.
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What’s ‘Best Kind Of Birth Control?’
It was a small item on an inside page with this headline: “Better birth control.”
The Associated Press story told of a government study which said that more teenage girls now use “the best kind of birth control.” The story went on to say that about 60% of girls who have sex use “the most effective kinds of contraception, including the pill and patch.”
While I’m pleased by the report that more young people are taking steps to avoid unwanted pregnancies, I had to smile as I read that things like the pill and the patch are “the most effective kind of birth control.”
Need I point out that there is an even more effective kind of birth control if a girl decides she doesn’t want to become pregnant?
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