Personal contact keeps us in touch with world events
International events may seem far away at times, but they hit home when we are able to have personal contact with the players involved.
Such is the case with Ben Nelson, "our" U.S. senator and one who carefully cultivates his hometown roots. During a recent visit, Nelson shared some of his views in a way that's often lost in the media pipeline from Washington.
Some of the topics:
* He makes no apologies for using an "earmark" for funding 21st Century Systems Inc., a software company which incidentally employs his son and has an office in McCook. Although he removed his name from the earmark after an "unfair and mean spirited" attack from an Oklahoma senator, he said earmarks "level the playing field a bit" and keep all of the federal spending from unfairly going to states with large populations.
* The Iraqi government must be held accountable for the benchmarks America has imposed -- at Nelson's urging -- and forced to stand on its own feet. Now, the United States should move away from the "surge" strategy and should specifically target al Qaeda in Iraq as well as secure borders with Syria and Iran. The United States, relying on its reserves and volunteer military, is running out of the troops needed to maintain the current levels.
* The farm bill should reflect new links between food and fuel security -- the United States is dangerously close to importing more food than it is exporting.
It's good to hear from someone like Sen. Nelson and to be able to talk to him face to face -- especially when so many of our families are sacrificing to support national policies which he is trying to influence.
It's a relationship McCookites and Southwest Nebraskans shouldn't take for granted.