- Associated Press - Monday, June 9, 2014

North Platte Telegraph. June 8, 2014.

Heineman wants to enter lion’s den

Not long ago, we wrote on this page that we understood Gov. Dave Heineman’s decision not to seek a seat in the United States Senate.

While Heineman was considered a shoo-in if he ran, we expressed the opinion that a governor - who is used to being the chief executive of a state - would find the Senate a difficult place in which to work. Under the “leadership” of Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid, life as a Republican senator is probably the very definition of hyper-partisan frustration.

Over the years Heineman has served as governor, we have been generally supportive of his efforts to cut taxes, make government more responsive to the needs of the state and make the state more attractive to those businesses that might choose to start here or relocate to Nebraska. In short, Heineman has fought the good fight for our state.

That said, we were perplexed in recent days that Heineman would now seek the presidency of the University of Nebraska.

While Heineman’s education at West Point is without doubt an impressive achievement, his lack of a master’s or doctorate degree, and lack of formal experience in the higher education system, would seem to count him out as the president of a significant university system.

That, however, isn’t our main problem with Heineman’s application. More significant is the fact that in his role as governor, Heineman has found himself at odds with many in the university system over important issues like Medicaid expansion, in-state tuition for illegal immigrants who graduate from state high schools, embryonic stem cell research and providing benefits to same-sex couples.

If the governor was looking for even less political consensus than at the Unicameral - where overrides of his vetoes long ago ceased to be front-page news - he could not have picked a better destination than the university system. How an outspoken Republican without an advanced degree fits into the ultra-liberal setting of a modern American university system is uncharted territory. Campus politics can be every bit as bitter and complex as anything Heineman experienced in state government, and he would face it with far fewer conservatives in his corner.

Heineman has said that he would give up partisan politics and simply carry out the wishes of the Board of Regents, and we suppose that is possible.

What the state would be giving up, however, is one of the few politicians who was willing to speak his mind about important issues.

Given the challenging situation he would face on campus, we would all have been better off had he instead accepted the challenging situation of serving in the United States Senate. At the very least, he would have accounted for a reliable Senate vote for the conservative beliefs of most Nebraskans.

It is far less clear what he could accomplish serving as president of the university system.

Our View: He should have run for Senate.


Lincoln Journal Star. June 8, 2014.

Battle over carbon will rage on

The Lincoln Electric System is looking quite savvy now that the Obama administration has unveiled plans to order power plants to cut their carbon dioxide emissions by 30 percent.

Last year, the LES board negotiated a long-term contract to triple the amount of electricity it gets from wind.

The purchase of 100 megawatts of wind energy from the Arbuckle Mountain Wind Farm in Oklahoma means that about 23 percent of the electricity sold to the utility’s retail customers will come from renewable sources.

At the time, LES administrator and CEO Kevin Wailes pointed out that adding more wind energy to the publicly owned utility’s mix of sources would provide a hedge against costly emission controls for coal-fired power plants.

The announcement by Gina McCarthy, director of the Environmental Protection Agency, was hailed by environmental groups as an important move against global warming that fuels drought, heat waves and superstorms.

But there’s reason to wonder if the rules will stick. The new regulations will face legal challenges from the coal industry, for one thing.

And Republicans seem to think they can find political advantage in opposing efforts to slow global warming. The reaction from Nebraska’s congressional delegation showed the political challenges the plan faces. Rep. Adrian Smith said the costs of retrofitting power plants would be “disastrous for manufacturing, agriculture and especially low- and middle-income Americans who can least afford huge increases in their electric bills.”

Since the new rules are being implemented administratively, rather than enacted by Congress, they could be rolled back if a Republican president is elected in 2016.

In a better world, people would take seriously the increasingly dire warnings by an overwhelming percentage of scientists of the ruinous impacts of global warming.

Just in the past few weeks, two separate studies by groups of scientists concluded that the melting of large glaciers in Antarctica is unstoppable, and that a large increase in sea level is inevitable.

With Congress mired in dysfunction, the EPA’s new regulations mark the most significant effort in years by the United States to show leadership in the battle against global warming.

It might not be much. It might not last. But at least it’s something.

In the meantime, work to help the nation adapt to a warmer world should continue at a brisk pace. Even if the EPA regulations go into effect exactly as planned, Americans will still need new tools to cope with climate change.


Omaha World-Herald. June 7, 2014.

Questions surround soldier’s freedom

The two principles are clear, even if they came into conflict in recent days:

Leave no soldier behind.

Don’t negotiate with terrorists.

In winning release of Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl after five years in Taliban captivity, President Barack Obama followed the first and appears to have disregarded the second.

The price for Bergdahl’s release was freedom for five Taliban leaders held at Guantánamo Bay. These hardened terrorists could rejoin the anti-America jihad. “The deal he struck to release five high-level terrorists puts Americans at risk around the world, including our men and women in uniform,” Nebraska Sen. Mike Johanns said.

Even the president acknowledged that, saying: “Is there a possibility of some of them trying to return to activities that are detrimental to us? Absolutely.”

So was it worth the risk?

That’s at the top of a list of questions arising from this swap. The administration’s oft-changing responses haven’t been very helpful, nor was the president’s complaint that this is just another controversy “whipped up in Washington.”

- What were the circumstances of his capture?

Bergdahl walked away from his combat outpost in Afghanistan, and some fellow soldiers have said his disappearance was tantamount to desertion.

National Security Adviser Susan Rice first said Bergdahl served with “honor and distinction.” Within 48 hours, the secretary of the Army said a review would be conducted.

In the fog of war, exact details can be elusive.

- Why didn’t the president notify Congress?

As Johanns noted, federal law calls for the president to notify Congress 30 days ahead of releasing Guantánamo detainees. That didn’t seem to happen. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., said the administration drew sharp opposition when it floated the idea of the swap to lawmakers in 2011. “There were very strong views and they were virtually unanimous against the trade,” she said.

The administration’s explanations haven’t shed much light. The president first said it was the “right thing to do.” Officials then said there were concerns about the soldier’s health. Obama’s chief of staff said “we didn’t have 30 days” to inform Congress, and White House aides finally told some congressmen there were threats to Bergdahl’s life.

- Why negotiate over these terrorists?

The intent of a no-negotiation policy is to protect other U.S. diplomats and soldiers by minimizing incentives for terrorists to grab Americans. Releasing these five bad guys would appear to increase the danger. “Assume they’ll be on the battlefield once again trying to kill Americans,” Iowa Sen. Charles Grassley said.

Kathy Gannon, an Associated Press correspondent who has covered Afghanistan for two decades, suggested there may be a broader purpose. “It was about setting the stage for larger discussions on a future peaceful Afghanistan,” she wrote.

If so, shouldn’t the White House tell us that? Rather, the administration that ballyhooed Bergdahl’s release with a Rose Garden announcement offers frustratingly murky answers and a strident “no apologies” to legitimate questions.

It is understandable that no commander in chief wants to leave a soldier behind. It’s understandable that the president would want to reunite an ailing captive with his family, no matter how he came to be a prisoner.

It’s also understandable why many are concerned over what negotiation with terrorists means for Americans still on the battlefield.

What’s hard to understand is why the country hasn’t heard a full explanation of how the president chose one principle over another.


McCook Daily Gazette. July 6, 2014.

D-Day numbers tell their tale

With America now attempting to wind down its longest-lasting war, attention is focused on a single soldier who may or may not have been a deserter, in exchange for five captives who definitely were terrorists.

As we debate the implications of the exchange of those six individuals, a look at the raw, nameless numbers from the D-Day invasion, which occurred 70 years ago, can bring things into perspective.

While about 4,500 Americans died from all causes in Iraq and more than 2,300 have died in Afghanistan since those wars began more than a decade ago, researchers have detailed 2,499 American fatalities on D-Day alone, and 1,915 from other Allied nations, for a total of 4,414.

Since history of wars is written by the winners, the number of German casualties at Normandy isn’t known, but is estimated between 4,000 and 9,000 men.

According to an online question-and-answer website for historians and history buffs - https://history. stackexchange.com:

More than 425,000 Allied and German troops were killed, wounded or went missing during the Battle of Normandy, including more than 209,000 Allied casualties, nearly 37,000 dead among ground forces and a further 16,714 deaths among the Allied air forces.

Today, 27 war cemeteries hold the remains of over 110,000 dead from both sides: 77,866 German, 9,386 American, 17,769 British, 5,002 Canadian and 650 Poles.

Hollywood and historians have told and retold the story of D-Day in the 70 years since the event, each retelling reflecting the age in which its audience lives. The young men who hit the beaches, jumped from the planes and landed in gliders are now in their 90s, their numbers fewer and fewer by the day. While most can no longer tell their stories, the numbers tell a tale of their own.

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