Column Production Returns To Normal.  Enjoy!

Due to last week’s technical difficulties, we weren’t able to give you a full-length column.  Here is one for this week.  (And thanks for the comments from several readers as to how much they enjoyed the cartoon.)

McPherson Case Could Lead To
Needed Provisions For Recall Elections

Something good may still come—although it would be a case of justice long delayed—from the inexcusable performance of State Board of Education member Pat McPherson in allowing President Obama to be referred to as a “half breed” several times on an open-to-the-public blog site which McPherson maintained.

McPherson has publicly apologized and shut down his blog site but refuses—as he presumably has the unquestionable legal right to do—to resign from the State Board of Education despite a 6-2 vote of his fellow board members urging that he resign.

As I see it, it would not be a case of justice denied (although too long delayed) if the McPherson case could lead to state legislation (a constitutional amendment if necessary) providing for recall elections for not only State Board of Education members but for other elected public officials on the state and local levels—any office for which the occupants are elected by popular vote.

Recall Issue A Proper Subject For Legislative Study

It is certainly worth a vigorous effort which could, I believe, be properly initiated by a special committee of the Legislature.

After all, the Presidential example is before us—not a popular vote but something comparable, as I see it, in the provision that the Congress may remove the President of the United States by a vote of two-thirds of the House of Representatives and three-fourths of the Senate.

But it would be ironic justice if the McPherson case creates a road to voter-inspired recall elections.

* * *

Can Ashford Zig-Zag His Way To A
Second District Congressional Seat?

With his typical ingenious way of offering on-the-mark editorial page opinions with few words and clever drawing, The World-Herald’s superb editorial cartoonist Jeff Koterba recently depicted the difficult job which Second District Representative Brad Ashford has created for himself.

2015-02-10 09_01_00-Andersen

The cartoon, reproduced here, shows Ashford, elected as a Democrat, after being registered as a Republican for more than 20 years, has set for himself:

Elected as a Democrat, Ashford acting like a Republican when it comes to an issue like the TransCanada Pipeline which is strongly supported by many Nebraskans but fiercely opposed by some Democrats who helped elect Ashford.

We won’t have to wait long, as political terms in the House of Representatives go, to see whether his flexible tactics protect Ashford from defeat by a potential strong Republican nominee in next year’s elections.

Stay tuned.

* * *

‘Think Tanks’ Get Too Much Journalistic Attention:
Front-Page Play For Income Tax Increase Proposal

As I see it, the description “think tank” is an unjustified journalistic shorthand for referring to special-interest organizations representing unnamed supporters (relatively few in number, I believe).

A recent example of journalistic overplay of “think tank” proposal appeared on the front page of The Omaha World-Herald’s Midlands section.

The reporter described the “OpenSky Policy Institute” as “one of the state’s major think tanks.”  I had never heard of it before.

An Increase In The State Income Tax Is A Good Answer?

The news story said that the OpenSky Institute “think tank” had proposed that property tax relief for rural and low-income families could be achieved by enacting a special state income tax equal to 19.4 percent of Nebraska’s current state income tax.

The proposal said OpenSky Policy Institute’s executive director Renee Fry (surely you’ve heard of her as an authority on tax matters) would allow property tax relief for lower-income Nebraskans.

Another effort to, as the headline said, counter poverty, surfaced recently.

Learning Community Plan Should Include Sex Education

This proposal came from officials of the “Learning Community” school district which supplements normal school financing in Douglas and Sarpy Counties.

Attack On Poverty Must Include Sex Education

Its sponsors describe the program as designed to help families get out of poverty.  Some of the details:

Targets would be selected schools in the Omaha, Millard, Douglas County West, Westside and Ralston districts.

Funds would be provided to offer special programs of educational help for children from preschool to the early grades.

‘Children Having Children’ Won’t Reduce Poverty Rate

All these well-intentioned but perhaps impractical efforts to help children living in low-income (the usual description is “living in poverty”) will fail, in my opinion, if somewhere along the educational road, perhaps starting as early as junior high, the children aren’t taught to abstain from sexual relations or use birth control devices when they engage in sex.

Otherwise the prospect of “children having children,” with little prospect of either the mother or the child rising from poverty, is very strong indeed.

When you have reliable estimates that 50% of black children are born to unwed mothers and 70% are raised without a father figure in the home, the basic problem isn’t going to be solved by any program that doesn’t address the problem of too many children born and raised in poverty.

* * *

Smorgasbord Menu Ranges From Presidential ‘I’
To Monumentally Dumb Super Bowl Coaching Decision

This week a varied menu of what I call a smorgasbord, with commentary offered, as always, with the hope that you find items of interest.


I’ve come to the conclusion that resisting the spread of legalized “marriage” between homosexuals or lesbians—invariably referred to in the upbeat description “gay marriages—isn’t worth all of the fuss it causes and the publicity it receives.

The affect is a sort of glorification of such marriages or at least popularization of them, never with a suggestion as to how many such marriages there are or would be if every state abandoned any ban on them.

My hunch is that if there could be an accurate count, it would reveal that the total is surprisingly low compared to all the time spent—wasted would be a better word, I believe—on arguing about legalization.

Let’s get on with more important business, after reminding those involved in “gay marriages” that they should be very grateful indeed that their parents did not embrace such so-called marital relationships.


I’m sure I’m not the only one who has noticed that The Omaha-World Herald’s practice of consistently referring to mothers and fathers as “moms” and “dads.”

Wouldn’t the traditional “mothers” and “fathers” be in better journalistic taste?


Occasionally I listen to Fox News—a sort of an antidote for liberal national media commentators.

In a recent Fox News broadcast, it was reported that in a recent press conference, the president used the word “I” more than 100 times in discussing White House policy.

Less ego-centered language would, of course, have included a lot of words as “we” or “our administration.”


I’m talking, of course, of Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll’s decision to pass with three downs to go and the ball on the New England Patriots’ one-yard line, having been placed there by a first-down four-yard burst by Seattle’s superb running back Marshawn Lynch.

So the situation is second down, a little more than one yard from victory, with 29 seconds left to play and Seattle having one time out.

All over the country—and other countries where the Super Bowl was broadcast—the correct decision appeared obvious:  Three more running plays—perhaps not straight-ahead smashes but that ran little risk of loss and certainly didn’t involve a pass.

So on second down, coaching staff calls for a pass.  The pass was, as the whole sporting world knows, intercepted.  Predictable victory turned into stunning defeat.

The sports expert in our household—my wife Marian—said that in fairness to Coach Carroll, the call might well have been made not by him but by the offensive coach on his staff.  No excuse.  Head coaches take credit for victories and should certainly accept responsibility for defeats.

So the Super Bowl ends with a bone-headed coaching decision, perhaps one of the worst in the history of pro-football championship series (divisional as well as national) and college championship playoff games as well.

* * *

Easy To Find This Week’s ‘Upbeat’ Ending:
Examples Of High National Rankings Of Our City

Easy to find an upbeat ending for this week’s column.  I simply turn to last Sunday’s World-Herald’s “Outlook” section and call attention to a story which appeared under this headline:

“With plenty of momentum,
Omaha gets attention”

The column goes on for 14 paragraphs, listing ways in which the quality of life in Omaha has been getting national attention.

“Four dozen different studies ranked Omaha, our region and the state of Nebraska in the top ten in a variety of different categories in 2014.  These studies reinforce that we are a top-three city for business start-ups and entrepreneurship, a top 10 city for business overall, a top region for economic development success and one of the five most affordable places to live in the U.S.

“In several studies, the Omaha metro was recognized for our exceptional quality of life.”

This list goes on and on.

Again, a very upbeat note on which to end this week’s column.

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