Obama Campaign Goes ‘Down And Dirty’;
Ryan Could Help Avoid Federal Bankruptcy;
Olympics Need Change—Lots Of It

I don’t believe “down and dirty” is too strong language to describe the level of political campaigning which President Barack Obama is directing from the White House or, on very frequent occasion, displaying during campaign flights around the country in taxpayer-provided Air Force 1.

For example, even before Mitt Romney had announced his choice of Representative Paul Ryan as his vice presidential running mate, the Obama campaign was compiling a list of negative attacks which could be used against any one of several Republicans who had been among those speculated about as potential vice presidential candidates.  Sort of an arsenal of nastiness which could be reached into for immediate negative response to any one of several vice presidential possibilities.

Ironically, Romney’s choice, Representative Paul Ryan, was not on the Obama staff’s potential hit list.

Another example of the nature of much of the Obama campaign:

Republicans are opposing a return next year to the higher federal income tax levels which were in place 10 years ago when George W. Bush pushed through Congress a broad overall reduction in federal income tax rates, intended to extend for 10 years ending in 2013.

Not A Tax Cut, And Obama Knows It

The Republican majority in the House of Representatives this year decided to extend the Bush tax-rate reductions for at least another year.  This has led Obama to the ludicrous charge that Republicans are proposing a “tax cut” of billions of dollars for wealthy Americans.

The Republicans are proposing to leave the tax rates where they are for another year.  It is not a tax reduction.

A liberal Democratic president’s campaign performance has to get pretty bad before not one but two New York Times columnists are critical of him.

Maureen Dowd, the acid-tongued liberal, wrote a column which, under the headline “The Ungrateful President,” which included this paragraph:

“Stories abound of big donors who stop giving as much or working as hard because Obama never reached out , either with a Clintonesque warm bath of attention or Romneyesque weekend love fests…of celebrities who gave concerts for his campaigns and never received thank-you notes or even his full attention during the performance…”

And on another New York Times opinion page appeared a column which carried this subheadline:  “The Obama campaign slashes and burns, while Romney stays generic.”

* * *

Romney’s Pick Of Representative Paul Ryan:
Could It Help Avoid U.S. Government Bankruptcy?

Turning to the selection of Representative Ryan, chairman of the House Budget Committee, as Mitt Romney’s running mate:

A good call, I believe.  Controversial in terms of liberal reaction, which was predictable, but promising to Americans who believe that we simply can’t continue spending money we don’t have, issuing billions of dollars annually in what amount to I.O.U.s in the form of more bond issues.

It will be slow and painful to turn away from the road to potential national governmental bankruptcy, but the first, painful steps must be taken, and soon.

The final decisions, of course, would be up to President Romney and the Congress if the Romney-Ryan team is elected, but Ryan’s expertise and deficit-cutting determination could be of great help to Romney.

* * *

Olympics Too Long, Often Trivial,
Cutting, Deeply, Obviously Is Needed

It’s almost impossible to turn off the emotions and view the Olympic Games dispassionately.  But let me try:

I write against the background of having attended the Games in Rome, Mexico City, Munich and Montreal and being a longtime contributor to the United States Olympic Committee.  And I still thrill to an outstanding Olympic performance, especially by an American athlete or team.

But I feel strongly that the Olympics have simply gotten out of hand.

There are too many events—far too many events.

Also a medal-count competition which is essentially meaningless.   (Unless you think each of four Chinese gold medals in badminton or a gold medal in table tennis or gold medals in synchronized swimming ought to be counted as equal to a gold medal in the decathlon.)

Bad Sportsmanship Too Often Displayed

And too often examples of simply bad sportsmanship.  One shameful example:  Brazalian fans booed and catcalled when Americans were serving in that Gold medal match in which Brazil upset the favored American volleyball team.

Then there is the bizarre example of Jamaican Usain Bolt, who continued his world-record-breaking career and then acted like an egotistical nutcake in proclaiming:  “Who is Number One?  Me, Usain Bolt!” and striking that ludicrous pose, left arm low, right arm high and pointing skyward.

Nauseating.

There were, of course, many understandable expressions of personal pride, but very often followed by expressions like this, “I did this for America.”  And a number of examples of personal courage, as in the case of the runner gamely competing on two legs which were artificial from the knees down and at least two examples of runners who either fell or pulled or muscle during a race and gamely, painfully, struggled on to the finish line far behind all the other runners.

Media Don’t Ask Enough Questions

Incredible to me was the fact that, insofar as I could tell from fairly close monitoring of printed and broadcast accounts of the Games, the media appeared content to record Bolt’s record-shattering performances and his post-performance antics without raising a question as to how Jamaica produces such talented runners and how much money they make by being talented runners.

My curiosity about the Jamaicans’ background reflects questions that hangs over so much of the Olympic Games:  How much are so many of the athletes paid and who pays them?  How many of them get there championship expertise honed in other countries—for example, by playing in professional basketball leagues in Europe and the United States or receiving expert training by competing on American collegiate teams?

From time to time there were hints of the overseas-training influence which made—or at least helped make—athletes into Olympic champions.

For example, there was the story of an athlete, who won a gold medal competing for a small country whose name I forget, who spent his childhood in New York City, moved to Phoenix and won two NCAA national championship while competing for the University of Southern California.

Then there was the televised story of British double-gold winner Mo Farah moved his entire family to an apartment in Eugene, Oregon so that he could train with one of the world’s best—if not the best—trainer of long distance runners.

English/Scottish Animosity Temporarily Suspended

I was very glad to see Scotsman Andy Murray finally win a major tennis championship.  This gave Great Britain, which includes Scotland, a great Olympic victory but still leaves England itself without a major Wimbledon center court victory since Fred Perry won the British Open in 1937.

I can add a personal note underscoring the touch of irony in Murray’s victory, which I hope all the people of Scotland—or most of them at least—are glad to share with the English.

I was staying with golfing companions in a hotel across Loch Lomond from a golf course where I then was a member.  Headed for the bar in the hotel one evening, I passed a booth where three or four Scots were drinking ale and watching a telecast of a soccer match between Germany and England.  I paused and asked about the match and which team the Scots were rooting for.

“Germany, of course,” was the quick reply from one of the Scots.

Some suggestions for improving the modern Olympics:

Simply eliminate such events as badminton, table tennis, synchronized swimming, velodrome indoor racing on bicycles with solid black wheels—the list is long.

Did Diving Competition Really Finally End?

Speaking of synchronized swimming, I saw a picture of a five-women team demonstrating their artistry thus:  Four of the swimmers had their heads submerged so that just their swimming caps were showing.  The fifth swimmer, striking what I guess was supposed to be an artistic pose, had one hand on the head of each of two of the four other swimmers and one foot on the head of each of the other two swimmers.  This kind of thing is worthy of Olympic gold medals?

Then there is the diving—high board, low board, platform, one diver at a time or two divers at a time.

I wouldn’t be surprised to tune in sometime in September, looking for a college football game perhaps, and come across a telecast of competition by six-diver teams, with all the divers striving to hit the water at the same time.

Get Those Nuns Off Roller Skates

More seriously, I thought the diving telecasts were interminable, and unless you are an expert, you couldn’t tell that much difference between the performance of one diver compared to another.

Drown some of the diving competition, would be my advice.

And then there were the opening and closing ceremonies—spectacular, well rehearsed and performed, very expensive and presenting no significant message that I could discern.

A better case can be made for the closing ceremonies, although they were too long by half.

The mixing of the athletes rather than having them march in country by country was a nice touch, and the proceedings could be interpreted as a release from the discipline of Olympic training and just having a good time listening to such rock stars as the Spice Girls and Beady Eye.

But were the nuns on roller skates really an appropriate part of the final evening’s proceedings?

* * *

Are Deb Fischer’s Successful Legislative Tactics
Transferable To U.S. Senate?  Good Question

The Sunday World-Herald had an interesting account of one aspect of State Senator Deb Fischer’s political career—her effectiveness in quietly (so far as the public was concerned) rounding up enough votes to virtually assure passage of her particular favorite pieces of legislation before the bill came out of committee or was scheduled for consideration on the Legislative floor.

But I have serious questions as to whether these one-on-one tactics in a 49 member non-partisan Legislature could be successfully transferred to the United States Senate by a freshman senator which Fischer seems destined to be, since she is the Republican senatorial nominee in a state where registered Republicans outnumber Democrats by something like 175,000 voters.

But if past is prologue to the future in the performance of political candidates, it is interesting to look at the tactics which a candidate like Fischer used as a state senator and as a defender of ranchers’ interests.  (A native of Lincoln, Fischer married into a ranching family and lives now in Valentine in the heart of ranching country.

She has a consistent record of defending the special interests of the ranching community, specifically including active efforts to discourage the pubic-interest purchase of conservation easements along the Niobrara River in northern Nebraska.

Such easements pay landowners for agreeing not to change the character of property which plays an important role in preserving the unique character and beauty of land along the Niobrara.

Fischer Put Ranchers First, The Niobrara Second

Fischer has done her best to see the ranchers have the freedom to pump water from the Niobrara for irrigating cattle pastures and cornfields, in effect ignoring the fact that a long stretch of the Niobrara River Valley has been designated by Congress as a scenic and recreational national treasure which should be protected from commercial development.

Fischer should be quizzed closely as to whether her longtime disinterest in protection of the Niobrara River Valley’s natural beauty is an indication of the attitude she would carry with her into the United States Senate.

No, I’m not talking about programs of the Environmental Protection Agency, which I think far oversteps the bounds of reason in too many cases.  I’m talking about the kind of resource protection which has given us our national parks system.

Next Sunday The World-Herald will take a look at the political-record credentials which the Democratic nominee, former United States Senator Bob Kerrey, brings to his campaign against Fischer.  It could make for an interesting comparison with Fischer’s record and political philosophy.

* * *

Birthday Check More Welcome Than My Singing

Before I turn to a brief column-ending offering, let me say I hope you found today’s four preceding items of interest.  I’ll save some of my typical “smorgasbord items” for the weeks ahead.

What better upbeat column-ending report than that, for a change, I thoroughly enjoyed being Marian’s recording-telephone-calls secretary last Monday.  It was, you see, Marian’s 84th birthday, and she received a good many “Happy Birthday!” messages.

I was pleased to relay the messages to Marian, who was, as usual, out and about for much of the day.

I sang “Happy Birthday To You,” adding “and many more,” and gave Marian a check.

Marian thanked me for my secretarial duties and the song, but indicated she appreciated the check even more.

I was not offended.  I really sing fairly well, but money does talk, especially when it is symbolic of appreciation for more than 60 years of happy association with a remarkable woman named Marian.

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