Historian considers Ford great
It may not be widely known, but Pulitzer Prize-winning author and historian David McCullough ranks Gerald Ford as one of our country's greatest presidents.
That's worth noting after the recent World-Herald article about the 100th anniversary of President Ford's birth.
In a CBS television interview a few months ago, McCullough surprised the interviewer when he put President Ford up there with the likes of John Adams, John F. Kennedy and Franklin D. Roosevelt, citing Ford's bravery in granting a pardon to his disgraced predecessor, Richard Nixon.
Ford maintained that it was the right thing to do for the good of the nation, even at the risk of his losing the presidency in the 1976 election.
Richard Thies, Omaha
Dams cannot stop all floods
A July 5 World-Herald editorial correctly noted that a deluge could happen here, and there has been a spate of recent floods in the region. However, having the Papio-Missouri River NRD spend $77 million on two new dams in the Papillion Creek watershed is not a solution. We can't dam our way to affordable safety.
Once a dam is built, more floodplain development occurs, with a special benefit to landowners surrounding the new lake. People downstream gain a false sense of security from the new flood reduction.
Dams can't control all floods and still can fail disastrously. This even includes the large dams on the Missouri River. As a meteorologist, I know flood risk calculations reflect past weather, but climate change is increasing our vulnerability to flooding.
Warmer air can hold more moisture and release more rain. Already, up to 12 inches of rain fell in the Omaha area in 1999. Heavy enough rainfall can overwhelm flood control structures.
The most proactive approach to flooding is to avoid new floodplain development and practice flood preparedness.
Low, nearly flat areas will flood sometime. Most residents and businesses in floodplains have little idea of how to respond to a flash flood and may not know they're still endangered.
John Pollack, Omaha
Republicans help poor more
One in three Americans are on some kind of food assistance. Welfare rolls have doubled. The No. 2 employer in the country is Kelly Temp Services. This is what has happened under the party that looks out for the underclass and wants those evil rich people (who create jobs) and corporations to pay even more in taxes.
Republicans are constantly villified as the party on the side of big business. Actually, they're on the side of the underclass as well, more so than Democrats. Democrats gave us welfare, which “gives a man a fish,” but little else.
Republicans fight for lower taxes for people and corporations. In fact, were we to restructure the tax system so corporations paid no tax, this would help the poor more than anything Democrats have ever done. If corporate operating expenses dropped by 20 percent or more, they could lower the prices of their goods and services by that amount. The way the free market works, that would happen. Businesses are in competition, not collusion.
If groceries, gasoline and other essentials cost 20 percent less, how much more would the dollar stretch for that poor family? So you have to wonder: Which party is trying to keep the poor where they are, and which one is trying to improve their situation?
Kevin Rooney, Omaha
Gun made Zimmerman bolder
I wrote this before the jury began its deliberations in the George Zimmerman murder trial.
This case got me thinking about a 19th-century quote I read somewhere, “A gun makes a little man big.”
Zimmerman, 34 years old and 200-plus pounds, appears to me to be a “big wuss” who confronted a 17-year-old, 170-pound kid, who got the better of Zimmerman physically. Zimmerman reacted by shooting and killing Trayvon Martin.
My contention is that if Zimmerman were not carrying a weapon, he would not have been as confrontational with Martin, and we would not have had a needless death or this circus of a trial.
I'm sure this idea isn't original, but it's something to think about when a lot of our neighbors and fellow citizens are applying for concealed-carry permits.
Stuart R. Wood, Bellevue
An alternative to piping oil
The Keystone XL pipeline problems could be fixed simply by building a refinery in Canada.
Jim Huffman, Omaha
Trains riskier than pipelines
I've never heard of a pipeline leak causing 50 deaths, like a 73-car, oil-carrying train did.
Rob Lamm, Norfolk, Neb.
North O answers not so simple
Frank Kokotajlo of Papillion informs us (July 5 Pulse) that there's a simple answer to the problems in north Omaha: Stop the violence and frequent shootings.
I've owned numerous rental homes in north Omaha for 20-plus years. I am familiar with many neighborhoods and at least some of the issues. We've long awaited someone to wave a magic wand and fix everything with such a simple solution.
I've never owned property in Papillion and haven't even traveled there for a few years, but I'll soon write about how to fix Papillion's problems — and simply, besides.
Tim Kaufman, Omaha
Immigrants of yesteryear
I cannot believe the difference in attitude today compared to years ago when my parents came from Sweden. They did not expect English to be a second language. In fact, my father taught himself to read English by reading the old Bee News and World-Herald.
Yes, they did speak quite a bit of Swedish in our home, but when my oldest brother went to kindergarten and he could only say “yes” and “no” in English, my parents knew they were going to have to curtail the use of Swedish.
My parents were even featured in The World-Herald putting up a newly purchased American flag, which they were very proud to display. If only that same patriotism were shown more often today.
I shall be forever grateful that my parents chose to immigrate in 1912 and that they taught us five children to be loyal Americans.
Ruth Wise, Atlantic, Iowa
Bum rap for VA, Obamacare
Should we be surprised that an ex-Marine finds a government-run institution an anathema (“Obamacare eerily resembles VA care,” July 11 World-Herald)? Maybe not.
But Brian Bresnahan's dilemma of choosing between private insurance and VA health care benefits is somewhat an embarrassment of riches, whereas the health care system prior to “Obamacare” was just an embarrassment. Governments worldwide provide better health care, for less money and better outcomes, than does the United States.
People like to tell horror stories, but with 30-plus years in health care I can give you just as many in civilian and Christian-run facilities. And millions of uninsured go without preventive care, costing the system more due to complications, lost revenue and talent, not to mention pain, suffering and effects on their families and community.
As a registered nurse, I've worked with many excellent professionals who dedicated their lives to VA health care. Military health care has often led the way in innovation and treatment.
I believe Bresnahan's mistrust is misplaced. The VA is vastly underfunded. I would love for George W. Bush, Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld to cough up some of their riches to pay for their mistakes, but until then, we should work toward building a healthy country by providing health care for all.
Rachel Dowd, Omaha
Sometimes, government needed
On one hand, I couldn't agree more with Froma Harrop's column (“Marriage should not be any of government's business”) in the July 6 World-Herald.
On the other hand, had the U.S. Supreme Court not ruled on or the federal government not passed several laws that prevented discrimination against Native Americans, blacks, biracial married couples, people with disabilities and, most recently, the issue of gay marriage, would any of these wrongs have changed?
There's not a doubt in my mind; I'm glad we have America's form of government that continually strives toward equality for everyone.
The Rev. Bob Berlie, Holdrege, Neb.
Deen's misdeeds hardly ancient
The lawsuit that Lisa Jackson (a non- minority) filed against Paula Deen had nothing to do with Deen using the N-word years ago. Jackson, a former manager of Bubba's Oyster & Seafood House in Savannah, Ga., sued Deen and her brother as restaurant co-owners.
Jackson had told Deen that she and other employees were being sexually and racially harassed and degraded by her brother. Deen's brother regularly viewed pornography in a small office he shared with Jackson. He showed pornographic pictures at meetings employees were required to attend.
Deen said she heard her employees calling each other names. Why didn't she stop it? Discrimination was offensive to Jackson. She informed Deen about her brother's behavior, and Dean did nothing to investigate or stop it. After five years, Jackson, who has biracial nieces, had enough. She resigned and filed the lawsuit.
Sponsors are withdrawing support from Deen's shows because they don't want to be associated with someone who approves of pornography or sexually or racially harasses employees. Sponsors' withdrawal of support has very little to do with Deen's racial slur of years ago, but everything to do with her inaction to eliminate a hostile work environment for her employees.
Ernie Boykin, Omaha