Three Weeks Off For This Columnist?  No Way.
Let’s Talk Iraq, Slobs, Tornadoes, Heineman

When does a policy become, in effect, a non-policy if it is violated so many times?  I don’t know, of course, what your answer would be, but I’ve reached mine:  I’m going to stop pretending that I have a policy of three weeks “off,” offering only perhaps a very brief comment or a cartoon, saving longer columns for every four weeks.

It has been a policy more honored in the breach than in the observance, and the time has come to acknowledge that I can’t resist offering comments anytime the news moves me.

So this week a smorgasbord of comments which I hope you will find timely and of interest.

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Afghanistan, Iraq Answer?  Just Get Out

A story in The New York Times raised the disturbing possibility that the United States might be asked to change its plans for pulling out American troops from Afghanistan because of new threats that the Muslim Taliban terrorists will take effective control of that troubled country’s government.

The United States should not, under any circumstances, change its plans for pulling out from a country which has suffered from self-imposed tribal and religious hatreds for a very long time.  Our basic national interests are simply not involved there.

And then there is the problem of continuing bloody Muslim tribal warfare between Shiite and Sunni factions in Iraq where we sent in 350 “advisors” to try to help bring stability in a country where, as in Afghanistan, Muslim groups have been killing each other for many years.  As I have suggested before, the United States should just get out, having spent too many lives and too many billions of dollars in a futile effort to bring stable government in a country where rival Muslim groups seem to enjoy blowing each other up.

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Slobs Trash City’s Memorial Park:
It Should Never Be Allowed Again

Turning to subjects closer to home.

I know, I know, a lot of people love to show up in World War II Memorial Park for the annual Bank of the West free entertainment show and fireworks display.

And 70,000 showed up last Friday, as one broadcast news account estimated the total.

Prove it.

If a news medium can’t get a reliable count or estimate of the number of people attending any public event, it shouldn’t use crowd figures, especially unverified crowd estimates from sponsors of the political rally or the, for a specific repetitive example, “gay rights” parades.

Accurate Estimates Can Be Made

I speak as a former political reporter who never accepted a politician’s estimate of the crowd in attendance at a political rally when I could make a more reliable estimate myself.  And this is not as hard as it might seem, if a journalist will take the time to make his or her own estimate.

Whatever the size of the crowd at Memorial Park, it included a large number of slobs who, inexcusably, left all manner of trash behind, including empty liquor bottles and food trash bags.

This desecration of World War II Memorial Park should not be permitted under any circumstances.  And if that means that concert sponsors have to hire uniformed security personnel, let the sponsors hire them.

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Moving From Politician To Academic CEO
Looks Steadily Less Likely For Heineman

Governor Dave Heineman’s chances of moving to the presidency of the University of Nebraska system when he leaves office look even more remote than they did when he first indicated his interest in moving from politics to academic leadership.

His image suffered when he failed in his second effort to pick a successor.  He strongly endorsed Attorney General Jon Bruning, who lost the Republican gubernatorial nomination to Pete Ricketts.

Then there is the very basic problem of Heineman meeting none of the qualifications for the university president’s job—qualifications which the presidential search committee set forth publicly.

Then there are The World-Herald Public Pulse letters expressing opposition and a 6 to 1 tally of opposition as of last Monday morning in a Heineman Facebook website which offers opportunity for “for” or “against” votes on Heineman’s candidacy for the NU presidency.  The Facebook tally early Monday:  225 “for” and 1,365 “against.”

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Now A Story Of A Possible Flying House;
Will Pilger Tornado News Coverage Ever End?

In case you haven’t heard the news, you surely aren’t a regular reader of The Omaha World-Herald:  the town of Pilger, 85 miles northwest of Omaha, has been virtually wiped out by an unusual tornado assault—two twisters—one closely following the other, well-photographed as they moved in to demolish Pilger.

A major story?  Of course.  A story deserving page after page after page after page of stories and pictures?  The World-Herald obviously thought so.

Massively overdone?  I think so.  But it’s a question of news judgment, of course, and that’s what editors are for.

Now It’s A Possible Flying House

But just when World-Herald readers might have concluded that the unprecedented (in my 60 years of experience, at least) volume of Pilger tornado stories might have subsided, there comes last Sunday’s World-Herald with the Pilger tornado again dominating the front page.

This time the editors decided to give prominent play to four murky color pictures (three of them on the front page) which supposedly raised a question of whether the Pilger tornado had picked up a house, carried it mostly intact for a short distance and deposited it on the ground, mostly intact but turned in the opposite direction, close to its original location in Pilger.

Now my eyes are certainly not what they used to be, but I did my best with a magnifying glass to see if I could spot the house—or the possible house—in any of the four pictures.  No luck.

Editors Yield to Tornado Fanatic

Oklahoman Dick McGowan—self-described as an expert who is “mesmerized by tornadoes—had presented The World-Herald with pictures in which, he said, he saw a shape which might have been a structure—perhaps a house—picked up by the Pilger tornado and deposited, mostly intact, a short distance to the east.

The accompanying story did include comments from a meteorologist and other experts.

Experts Are Skeptical, Editors Apparently Aren’t

“Crazy things do happen in tornadoes.  I can’t say it didn’t happen,” said Van DeWald, meteorologist with the National Weather Service office in Valley, Neb.

Others, however, said it’s almost impossible to imagine a house surviving a sky fall.

Throughout human history, the awe-inspiring power of tornadoes has inspired folklore, along with fear, said Ken Dewey, an applied climate professor at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln who has studied severe weather for 30 years.

He has heard tales of Aunt Mabel’s piano found five miles from her parlor, still in perfect tune Dewey said, and he saw an “historical account” of a man on his horse given a dizzying detour by a tornado.

Oklahoman McGowan, 33, is a full-time storm chaser who apparently makes a living visiting tornado sites and comes away with pictures and stories which he can market in some way.

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How Long Is Puppy A Puppy?

This week’s “upbeat” column conclusion:

How about another report on Ashley, the five-month-old cocker spaniel who is the de facto ruler of the Andersen household?

Marian seems not the least bit perturbed—in fact a little saddened by the prospect—by a veterinarian’s statement that the household-dominating puppy stage lasts for about a year for cocker spaniels.

I would settle for something more like six months but who am I to argue with the ladies of the household?

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