Fourteen Veeps Have Become President
Democrats Continue On Political Low Road,
Misrepresenting Ryan’s Position On Medicare
While Obama Tries To Rule By Decree

Democrats have been busy misrepresenting Paul Ryan’s position on Medicare, obviously hoping to alarm older voters.

The truth is that Ryan’s Medicare proposal does not end Medicare coverage but would extend it under terms more likely to help the federal government bankruptcy.  And, importantly, there would be no reduction in Medicare benefits for older Americans already covered by Medicare.

Meanwhile, President Obama, in an obvious effort to appeal to Hispanic voters, has issued an unconstitutional executive order.

Obama’s executive order purports to extend educational opportunities to young illegal immigrants, a policy consistently rejected by Congress.

Government by unconstitutional executive orders rather than by acts of Congress is neither legal nor in the American tradition.  I would think that the majority of the American people want strong executive leadership from the White House but not unconstitutional “executive order” government which is more typical of authoritarian regimes than of the checks and balances of the American political system.

Don’t Overlook Caliber Of Veep Candidates

The most important choice, of course, will be between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney.  But the potential importance of the vice presidency has been very often overlooked down through American history.  Fourteen vice presidents have become president.

Five vice presidents became president by election:  John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, Martin Van Buren, Richard Nixon and George H. W. Bush.

Four vice presidents advanced because the president died from natural causes:  John Tyler replaced William Henry Harrison in 1841, Millard Fillmore replaced Zachary Taylor in 1850, Calvin Coolidge replaced Warren G. Harding in 1923 and Harry S. Truman replaced Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1945).

Four Veeps Replaced Assassinated Presidents

Four vice presidents succeeded to the presidency as a result of assassination of the president:  Andrew Johnson succeeded Abraham Lincoln in 1865, Chester Arthur succeeded James A. Garfield in 1881, Theodore Roosevelt succeeded William McKinley in 1901 and Lyndon B. Johnson succeeded John F. Kennedy in 1963.

Only one of the fourteen vice presidents who advanced to the presidency moved up because of the resignation of the president:  Gerald Ford, when Richard Nixon resigned in disgrace (The World-Herald was the first major American newspaper to call for Nixon’s resignation) in 1974.

So a total of fourteen vice presidents moved on to the presidency—a fact which, as I see it, is a relevant factor when Americans go to the polls November 2nd to choose a presidential/vice presidential team for the next four years.

And consider the contrast in the vice presidential candidates this year:  Razor-sharp Republican Paul Ryan and Democrat Joe Biden, who comes across as something of a not-too-bright blunderer, more mouth than brain.  Joe Biden as president is about as scary to me as a vision of President Sarah Palin, whose most attractive feature was her face and figure, certainly not her brain.

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Is One Of Our Biggest Problems
Getting Enough Attention?  I Wonder

Okay, make a mental list—or jot it down if you have scratch pad at hand—of the biggest problems which you believe we face in the United States.

At the end of this slice of the column I’ll spotlight a problem which I believe is not receiving enough attention.  Let’s see if we agree.

Any list, of course, must include, if not start with, a vigorous, comprehensive, painful effort to reduce and ultimately eliminate the federal government’s spending money we don’t have, issuing what amount to “I.O.U.s” in the form of government bonds.

Some painful budget cuts and an increase in federal income tax rates (yes, Republican Senatorial candidate Deb Fischer, an increase in tax rates) will be necessary if we are to stop our irresponsible journey down the road to federal government bankruptcy.

Also essential is continuing improvement in our educational system, realistic improvement, not something like President Obama’s call (which he later moderated) for a college education for every young American.  The news columns are currently reporting a shortage of truck drivers and welders not a shortage of college graduates.

ObamaCare Won’t Solve Health Care Issue

Some reasonable, fair as possible to all parties system of providing health care simply must be devised, and ObamaCare isn’t the answer.

Then there is the absolute necessity of open-minded Republicans and Democrats agreeing, when the public interest requires it, to policies somewhere in the political middle.  Tea Party extremists on the right and Nancy Pelosi-style liberal extremists on the left must not be allowed to create deadlocks which prevent decisions in the broad middle ground of American politics.

I’ve given you some of the causes which are high on my list of national priorities.  Now to the problem which I don’t believe the nation is giving enough attention:  the aging of the American population, including the increasing number of Americans who reach retirement age without the personal resources to enjoy a pleasant retirement, and, most tragically, the increasing number of those who continue to simply exist, without any real quality of life.

A story recently started on the front page of USA Today under this headline:  “Life’s good for older Americans, poll finds.”

Turn the page and you encounter this headline over the continuing story:  “Future retirees?  That’s another story.”

Researcher:  “Disconnect” Between Attitude And Reality

On the inside page, the results of a poll of Americans 60 and older.  The story included this significant quote from the director of the research firm which conducted the poll:

“There is a disconnect between attitude and reality.  Nobody believes that things are going to get worse for them…What they say is that seniors aren’t aware as they could be of some of the health challenges they face.”

Interestingly and significantly, one of the stories written by World-Herald staff writers who recently visited China got full-page treatment including four color pictures and included this headline:  “Eldery:  China’s challenge compounded by one-child policy, urbanization.”

The story reported:  “China’s population is rapidly aging, with the percentage of residents 65 or older expected to triple between 2000 and 2050.”

The head of the Civic Center for Public Finance at in Peking University was quoted as saying:  “That’s the big problem for China.”

It’s not that there aren’t a variety of compassionate efforts to ease the problems that increase with aging.  But do we approach—or have we reached—the point where the numbers of the aged and the cost of compassion divert attention and funds from other needs which must be served if  our nation’s social structure is to remain strong?

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What Do Kerrey’s New York Years
Have To Do With His Senatorial Bid?

Approximately a full page of news space in the Sunday World-Herald devoted to former Nebraska Senator Bob Kerrey’s nearly 12-year residence in New York City.

But the story contained little of significance in regard to Kerrey’s return to Nebraska to campaign for the Democratic nomination for the United States Senate.

Under a New York dateline, the story dealt almost entirely with Kerrey’s 10 years as head of the New University, and his controversial efforts to reorganize the school—efforts which led to a student strike and faculty calls for his resignation.

My long-distance view of those widely-reported controversial years was that Kerrey was on the right track, making a university out of what started out nearly a century ago as the New School for Social Research and later became simply “The New School.”

In the 73 paragraph story, I found eight paragraphs which, having read my World-Herald regularly over the years, contained news that was new to me.

Fischer Is Wise To Limit Debates With Kerrey

Further thoughts on the Deb Fischer/Bob Kerrey Nebraska senatorial contest:

Kerrey says he would like to have seven debates with Fischer.  A Fischer spokesman says three is the maximum she will agree to.

Both the Kerrey and Fischer positions are understandable.  Kerrey would appear to be clearly the more skilled and articulate in the give-and-take of a political debate.  Fischer compiled a record of achievement in the Nebraska Legislature by one-on-one negotiations and persuasion (sometimes with a touch of intimidation, her critics say), not by speeches on the legislative floor.

A suggestion for possibly taking the “welfare rancher” issue out of the Kerrey/Fischer campaign:

There is simply no question that the Fischer family ranch, along with a relatively small number of others, has been the beneficiary of a hard-to-understand federal policy of leasing public land to ranchers at bargain-basement prices.

The benefit to the Fischer family ranch near Valentine in Cherry County has been reliably estimated at something like $100,000 a year—the difference between the less-than-$2-per-acre rental rate and the going private-sector rate several times larger.

End The Rentals—Sell Land At Market Value

Why not end the controversy this way:

Scrap the policy of leasing the relatively few remaining acres of rangeland owned by the federal government.  Sell the land under these terms:

Get an expert or experts to put a realistic value on the land compared with privately-owned land in the area.  Give the leaseholders, like the Fischer family, right of first refusal; i.e., the right to buy the land at the realistic market value as calculated by expert land appraisers.

If the Fischers and other beneficiaries of the current unrealistic rental rates decline the opportunity to buy the land at its true value, put the land on the public market.

There is a continuing need for public lands in Nebraska, and a good amount of it would remain in either federal or state hands or not-for-profit owners like the Nature Conservancy.  But I have never heard a persuasive argument for continued federal ownership of rangeland like that leased by the Fischer family.

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There’s Bad News For Egg Lovers;
City Execs Pay Raise No Big Deal

Another weekly serving of smorgasbord, starting with yolkless eggs:

— I had just finished eating two delicious deviled eggs when I came across this item in The World-Herald:  “Heart study blames yolks.”

The story said researchers have found that egg yolks are linked with added carotid artery wall thickness.  Researchers reported:  “We believe our study makes it easier to reassess the role of egg yolks and cholesterol in general.”

I’m sorry but I feel obligated to share the bad news with fellow egg lovers.

–The cliché about a “tempest in a teapot” seems to me to apply to the fuss over Mayor Jim Suttle having given raises to key city government executives.

The amounts were relatively modest, it seems to me, and good pay to good executives is the best investment that either a private or a public entity can make.

I’m glad to see that the furor seems to have subsided.  The City Council has a lot more serious issues to deal with.

–Why in the world does The World-Herald continue to run his columns under its “Midlands Voices” heading when Gene Budig, a native of McCook hasn’t lived in the state for decades?

Budig offers columns from his New York home or office which have no particular application to the Midlands.  Budig headed three major universities and was once president of the American League, an impressive record but not one that makes him a continuing “Midlands Voice.”

I know Gene and like him, but I suspect his offerings are based on an understandable desire to see his words in print—that’s one reason I write, of course—rather than the feeling that he has any particular special message to deliver as a “Midlands Voice.”

A suggestion:  For the sake of journalistic accuracy, don’t continue to run Gene’s columns under a “Midlands Voices” heading.  A decades-long resident of New York City is no longer a Midlands voice.

An occasional letter to the Public Pulse might be quite enough.

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“Tired Out” Tucker Comes Home

As a column-ender today, there’s a special treat for dog lovers—I know there are a lot of you out there judging from the positive reaction when I tell stories of Marian’s one-sided conversations with Claire and Charlotte, the world’s two most loveable cocker spaniels.

Take a look at a recent video-clip of Tucker, newest member of Jackie and Don Wrieth’s family.

Jackie, as regular readers will know, is my Jacqueline-of-all-trades assistant.  The dog which you will see in action was adopted by Jackie and Don from Hearts United for Animals in Auburn, Nebraska, joining another HUA dog, a female named Sophie, which Jackie and Don had adopted earlier.

The video shows Tucker just after arriving home after spending all day playing with other dogs at “doggie daycare” at Good Karma Dog Center.

Tucker was supposedly so exhausted when leaving Good Karma, Jackie had to carry him to the car and was told, “He’s going to be very tired tonight.”  The video shows him immediately after arriving home.


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