Yes, yes, I recognize that there is much more important news than college basketball results, and some of the puzzling performances of politicians.
Issues like the confrontation with the Russians in the Ukraine and Crimea. The increasing evidence that the Syrian rebel forces are being increasingly dominated by well-organized Al-Qaeda terrorists. Israel’s continued development of housing on land that under the United Nations mandate was supposed to be set aside for Palestinian occupation.
The list goes on and on.
And, on the domestic front, for just one example: increasing recognition that ObamaCare has serious flaws and increasing support for starting over on addressing the health care problem.
A columnist’s challenge brings to mind a Winston Churchill story.
No, I’m no comparing myself to Winston Churchill, but as I consider the range of subjects available for comment by a columnist who closely follows the news, foreign and domestic, and is also something of a sports junkie, a story about Winston Churchill comes to mind.
It is said that Churchill, drinking a brandy and smoking a cigar in one of his favorite haunts, a wine-cellar lounge in London’s Savoy Hotel, one evening looked around the rack after rack of tempting wines, took a puff on his cigar, a sip of his brandy and sighed: “So much to do, and so little time.”
On with this week’s column:
Where’s The Statue?
It is climax time for the basketball season, and I can’t resist starting today with a basketball-related question:
What has happened to that bronze statue of Doug McDermott that The World-Herald commissioned and offered for placement on the Creighton campus or in front of the CenturyLink Center where McDermott played All-American caliber basketball?
Even Tom Shatel Now Mum
A news story and Tom Shatel’s column indicated no doubt that the statue was already cast and available to be erected, and promptly.
Cooler heads on the Creighton campus must have prevailed.
In trying to make a case for the statue, The World-Herald told of statues erected to honor four basketball greats—Oscar Robertson, Magic Johnson, Shaquille O’Neal and Larry Bird.
None of the four statues was erected until years after those basketball legends had moved well beyond the peak of the career which earned him the honor.
How about somebody telling us the latest chapter in the McDermott statue story?
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ESPN Spotlight On Doc Sadler
Another basketball story with a major unanswered question:
As ESPN was broadcasting the final minutes of the Iowa State victory over Baylor in the Big 12 tournament, the camera fell on former Nebraska Coach Doc Sadler vigorously involved in a coaching role on the Iowa State sidelines. Commentator Brent Musburger called attention to Sadler and said:
“Doc Sadler has done a terrific job” as chief assistant to Iowa State Coach Fred Hoiberg.
From Lincoln, Sadler had moved to two years on the staff of Coach Bill Self of the Kansas Jayhawks. When he moved to Iowa State, the story was that he would be groomed to replace Hoiberg according to Hoiberg’s own plan.
Still unanswered is the question of where Hoiberg, 41 years old, is headed—athletic director at ISU?—if Sadler replaces him.
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Primary Campaign Raises Interesting Questions,
Includes—Surprise!—Some Very Careless Language
Moving from basketball to another currently spotlighted news topic—the 2014 elections:
Published this week was one of the first “Ben Sasse for Senate” television ads that I have seen.
To this voter, the ad was alarming, certainly not persuasive. It said Sasse can “stop” ObamaCare and cut taxes.
Even for political advertising, such a promise is simply ridiculous. Senator Ben Sasse obviously couldn’t “stop ObamaCare.” He could cast one vote toward that end if given the opportunity. One vote.
Nor could Ben Sasse “cut taxes.” Again, he could cast a vote towards that goal (which might be simply unattainable as a practical political matter). One vote.
Sasse and his ad writers might argue something like “well, you know what we mean. Sasse would vote in favor of repealing ObamaCare and in favor of cutting taxes.”
Careless Wording Inexcusable, As I See It
Then say precisely that. Careless wording of a candidate’s political positions certainly doesn’t encourage voters to think that the candidate would employ careful consideration and precise language as a United States senator.
Sasse, incidentally, is retaining a connection with the presidency of Midland University as a potential fallback position if he fails to win the Republican nomination for the Senate.
The word from Fremont, home of Midland, is that the venerable Lutheran-founded university is doing considerably better financially since Sasse took over as president in 2009.
Sasse continues to head the Midland administration on a part-time basis while he spends the rest of his time concentrating on his campaign for the senatorial nomination.
As I see it, Sasse will need to convince a good many voters that his election would not give Nebraska another far-right member of the Senate (I think it is fair to put Senator Deb Fischer in that category) as a replacement for Senator Mike Johanns, who has certainly been a conservative Republican senator but not a Tea Party type.
What Are Dinsdale’s Campaign Plans?
Among the biggest political questions that need to be answered in the relatively few weeks before the May 13th primary: when will the candidate generally considered to be a strong—if not the strongest—contender for the Republican nomination, banker Sid Dinsdale of Elkhorn, begin to mount a vigorous campaign for the nomination?
Dinsdale appears to be the best-positioned candidate if he starts to demonstrate more clearly that he really wants the job.
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Why Did McCoy Target Pete Ricketts?
Jon Bruning Needs Newsletter-Writer
Elsewhere on the political scene:
Attorney General Jon Bruning, a veteran office-holder, appears to be the favorite for the Republican nomination for governor.
So State Senator Beau McCoy, also a gubernatorial candidate, launches an attack on another candidate, former Republican National Committeeman Pete Ricketts of Omaha, with the kind of language that fellow Republicans don’t normally use against each other, at least in public.
Opposition is one thing, and to be expected. But insults are quite another.
The World-Herald described McCoy’s campaign flyers as the first “negative broadside” in the contest for the Republican gubernatorial nomination.
And why a broadside against Ricketts when Bruning could be considered the stronger candidate?
Might it be that if Bruning wins the governorship, McCoy might hope for a desirable position in a Bruning gubernatorial administration?
Bruning Fate—Depends On Marian And Me?
Speaking of Attorney General Bruning and his candidacy for governor:
He’s been in office as Attorney General for 12 years. But Bruning still allows poorly-worded, twice as long as necessary fund-raising letters to go out over his name. A recent example which came to our home addressed “Dear Harold and Marian.”
These followed two pages which included language like this: “…the only way I can win is with your help.”
It all depends on a campaign contribution from Marian and me?
More nonsense: “I know times are tough all over” but your financial help is still essential to my campaign.”
If times are “tough all over,” that fact has being kept from the very great majority of Nebraskans, who may like to grouse about taxes and living costs but certainly aren’t experiencing “tough times.”
Two pages including “it all depends on you” nonsense is a letter that hurt rather than helped Bruning’s cause when it reached “Harold and Marian’s” home.
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College Degrees For Those Who Need Them
But Good Jobs Available Also To Non-Grads
While some universities and colleges are struggling to increase their enrollments (at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln there has been talk of going from 20,000 to 30,000 students as a desirable objective), The New York Times is carrying a headline like this:
“As orders pile up, U.S. seeks textile workers.”
There have been previous reports of a shortage of welders and iron workers in this country.
The fact is that there are well-paying, productive, enjoyable jobs in very great numbers, that do not require four-year college degrees or two-year degrees from schools like Omaha’s excellent Metro Tech schools. And a good many jobs require no formal high school training at all and yet offer satisfying, reasonably-paid lifetime careers.
This is not to suggest that those who can clearly benefit from four years—or two years—in post high school educational institutions. But it is to say that such training is not necessary for a satisfactory life’s work.
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