Thursday, March 31, 2011

Nabity and His Fuzzy Math (Continued)

Back on March 17, we commented on Dave Nabity's fuzzy N.A.D.C. reporting ( Fuzzy Accountability By Nabity's Citizens For Omaha's Future) noting the lack of detail in his disclosure of expenditures. If you read his response, he indicated that he'd be happy to sit down with anyone and explain where the money went. Such a response makes one wonder why we even need an N.A.D.C. if one can only track the dollars by sitting down with the spender personally and relying on him/her for an 'honest' disclosure.

While we continue to believe that Nabity's math is fuzzy if not just plain disingenuous, we were recently told that his word isn't as good as he claims. One of the folks/groups that helped Nabity's failed recall effort distributed several thousand fliers with the understanding that they would be reimbursed for their effort. Guess what? They weren't. We must have missed that unpaid obligation on his N.A.D.C. report.....

Bruning to Make It Official

On April 13, John Bruning will make it official by kicking off an announcement tour of Nebraska. According to his latest e-mail, "On April 13th and 14th Jon Bruning will kick off his campaign with a tour of cities. You may check his website for specifics, but some of the cities are Lincoln, Kearney, North Platte, Grand Island, South Sioux City, Norfolk, Chadron and Valentine."

A Pig Is Still A Pig Senator Lathrop

We have to give the Platte Institute credit for making a very realistic assessment of the current C.I.R. 'reform' bill which the ever liberal, labor-owned State Senator Lathrop has moved out of committee. Here's how the Platte Institute summarized Lathrop's proposal:

"Nebraskans have a unique opportunity to corral government spending and lessen their tax burden, without the animosity seen in Wisconsin and other states, by encouraging the passage of real CIR reform this legislative session. Lathrop's proposal does nothing to lessen the authority of the CIR to substitute their decisions for that of local representatives. No longer should the Nebraska taxpayer be denied the right to decide how much government they can afford."

If this is the best that Senator Lathrop and his cohorts, including always liberal Brad Ashford, can do, then we hope the Legislature has the courage to vote it down. If they pass it we hope Governor Heineman will veto it. A pig is still a pig no matter how much lipstick you put on it.....

Don't Forget to Make that Donation


In our "We get e-mail" category, we've been inundated in the last two days by pleas to send money to federal candidates before tonight's midnight reporting deadline. Yep, everyone wants to impress their opponents and perspective opponents with the money they have raised and tonight ends the reporting period.


So we've gotten requests from John McCain, Michelle Bachmann, Jon Bruning and several others. Of note, we haven't yet gotten one from Don Stenberg.......

A Note To State Senator Schumacher

Just a note to our self-enriching, gambling-promoting, misguided State Senator Schumacher. He might want to check out Larry Sabato's Crystal Ball blog today. As this prairie populist non-partisan senator continues to oppose the return of Nebraska to a "winner-takes-all" electoral vote method, he might take note of the following analysis by Sabato:

"California has 53 districts. Only one has changed party hands since 2002. The other 52 districts have consistently been held by one party or the other. The result: What was a 33-20 Democratic advantage in the House delegation following the post-redistricting election of 2002 now stands virtually unchanged at 34-19 Democratic."

In other words, if California adopted the Nebraska/Maine method, Republicans would get 19 electoral votes out of California. But guess what Senator Schumer, oops Schumacher--they won't. And neither will any other state governed by RATIONAL REPUBLICAN STATE SENATORS.

While you are filling your pockets on the bad luck of the poor and addicted, you might rethink your rationale on the electoral vote situation.

Redistricting: Will Omaha Lose a Seat?

Talk of redistricting scenarios is beginning to surface. No doubt there will be lots of rumors and potential scenarios floated before all is decided. With that said, we have good information that there is discussion about a plan that would give Sarpy County four seats contained completely within its boarders. For most of the last ten years, folks in Sarpy have felt somewhat slighted that they are only 'partially' represented by most of their senators whose senators they share with other counties.

Sarpy County's gain may be Douglas County's loss under this plan as we understand that Legislative District 9, that of term-limited Gwen Howard, would be moved to Sarpy County, leaving Omaha/Douglas County with possibly one less legislative district and thus one less senator supporting Omaha/Douglas efforts.

For Douglas County Republicans there might be additional concerns as we're told State Senator Mello (whose district now includes a small part of Sarpy) is supportive of the plan. Mello never supports anything that isn't beneficial to him and the Democratic Party.

Bottom line on this potential plan is Sarpy gets what it wants, Douglas may lose a senator and at least one Democrat may be happy.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The National Debt and the President's Words

How much difference a few years make: "The fact that we are here today to debate raising America’s debt limit is a sign of leadership failure. It is a sign that the U.S. Government can’t pay its own bills. It is a sign that we now depend on ongoing financial assistance from foreign countries to finance our Government’s reckless fiscal policies. … Increasing America’s debt weakens us domestically and internationally. Leadership means that ‘the buck stops here. Instead, Washington is shifting the burden of bad choices today onto the backs of our children and grandchildren. America has a debt problem and a failure of leadership. Americans deserve better". -- Barack Obama, 2006

Judas Nelson: Independent for Nebraska

In today's "We get e-mail" category, we have one from Judas Nelson himself. One can already seeing him setting up his 2012 campaign as an independent, not a Democrat, and heaven forbid not a Republican. He's already establishing issues, cuts in veteran and social security benefits, defaulting on the national debt, etc. Here's what ol' Ben has to say: Friend: I've never run for public office to promote a personal agenda, a Democratic agenda, or a Republican agenda. My goal has always been to promote Nebraska’s agenda and to do what is best for the future of our nation. My opponents see things differently. As you listen to their rhetoric, what you'll hear is a clamoring to become the darling of the radical right. So they stand in front of groups like Americans for Prosperity and pledge loyalty to their agenda. Then it’s on to the next one, and the one after that. At each stop they renew their commitment to the agenda of these organizations in an effort to win their financial support for their primary campaign. Here’s the rub: These groups really don’t care about Nebraska. They could barely find it on a map. Their agenda is to alter the basic notion of our democracy and make this a nation “of the few, by the few, and for the few.” If it means America defaults on its debt, fine. If it means cutting Social Security, okay. If it means reneging on America’s commitment to our veterans, no problem. Our nation faces serious problems that will require adult-like conversations and leadership. What I hear from my opponents is the polarizing rhetoric of the radical right. While that may be good for their political careers, it’s not good for Nebraska. So if you want a voice for Nebraska who will promote Nebraska’s agenda and put the interests of our nation above the agenda of any group or organization, I hope you will contribute to my campaign. Nebraska and our nation deserve leadership that brings us together, not tears us apart. Thank you, Ben Nelson

Energy and those Oil Dollars

While we do have very legitimate interests in the Middle East (Israel), let's face it; the major reason we are as involved as we are is because of OIL. After nearly 40 years, we've failed to institute a comprehensive national energy policy. All we do is piecemeal 'solutions' such as energy efficient light bulbs and appliances, increased miles per gallon legislation, etc. The American public has never been presented a comprehensive plan that they could understand and buy into. With that said we thought the following fact might be of interest:

"Based on the latest figures from the Federal Reserve Economic Database, the U.S. imported 55% of its oil in February, sending approximately $31.3 billion - or $777,064 per minute - to foreign countries."

Monday, March 28, 2011

Newt Takes Lame Excuses to New Low - Doug Patton

March 28, 2011 Perhaps I have been too busy to notice, but I have not seen much from the late-night comics on one of the best sources of comedy material provided for them in a long time. It just seems like such great fodder for spoofing by Leno, Letterman, Conan, etc. I'm talking about Newt Gingrich's explanation for cheating on his first two wives. Let me say that I was once a fan of the former House Speaker. I even have a photo of myself with him in 1994 from one of the times I met him during my own political career. I was actually proud of having that photo on my wall at the time. Not so much anymore. Until Gingrich's recent interview on the Christian Broadcasting Network, the number one lame excuse of all time had to be "the dog ate my homework," followed, of course by, "I did not inhale." But Newt's doozy has taken political spin into a whole new universe. It goes like this: "There's no question at times of my life, partially driven by how passionately I felt about this country, that I worked far too hard and things happened in my life that were not appropriate." That is exactly what Gingrich told CBN's David Brody concerning his adultery with his current wife, Callista, which occurred while he was still married to his second wife, Marianne — with whom, incidentally, he cheated while still wed to wife number one, Jackie, who had been his high school geometry teacher and who claims Gingrich dumped her while she was recuperating from cancer surgery. Newt married Jackie in 1962. He was 19, she was 26. In the spring of 1980, after 18 years of marriage, he walked into her hospital room and announced that he was leaving her for Marianne. Eighteen years later, he did the same thing to Marianne, informing her he was marrying Callista, who was his congressional aide at the time and who is 23 years his junior. He subsequently converted from his Baptist faith to Catholicism and requested from the Catholic Church an annulment of his marriage to Marianne. As he prepares to run for the presidency, it is not only necessary but important that we examine New Gingrich's personal life as it relates to his character. There are those who will claim, as they always do, that a person's personal life should have no bearing on the job he or she does in public office. This argument ignores the facts. Of course, it is not a universal truth that good family men also make good public servants. After all, Jimmy Carter apparently never strayed (except when lusting in his heart), and he was one of the biggest disasters ever to sit in the Oval Office. However, it is axiomatic that trust begins at home, and men like Bill Clinton and Newt Gingrich are not trustworthy. Gingrich is shoveling a boatload of horse manure at Evangelical Christians (apparently the last group to care about such things) when he says he committed adultery because of his great love of America. As Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace told the former Speaker, "My wife would never buy that one." I believe fervently in forgiveness and in redemption, but Newt has it all backward. A man with character does not love his country so much that he works too hard, which makes him stray from the values in which he claims to believe. That kind of warped thinking puts country first, his personal life second and God last. Rather, a man of character must put God first, family second and country third. That is the kind of man (or woman) for whom I could vote. And Newt Gingrich is not that man. As my wise-beyond-his-years younger son says, "Any man who would deliberately cheat on the person in this world whom he supposedly cares for most will not think twice about cheating on me, whom he has never met." ______________________________________________________________________________ © 2011 by Doug Patton ______________________________________________________________________________ Doug Patton describes himself as a recovering political speechwriter who agrees with himself much more often than not. Now working as a freelance writer, his weekly columns of sage political analysis are published the world over by legions of discerning bloggers, courageous webmasters and open-minded newspaper editors. Astute supporters and inane detractors alike are encouraged to e-mail him with their pithy comments at dougpatton@cox.net. ______________________________________________________________________________

Sunday, March 20, 2011

The 9,000 Pound Elephant in the Living Room - Doug Patton

March 21, 2011

Financial advisor Dave Ramsey put forth an interesting scenario recently on his nationally syndicated radio call-in program. Taking a hypothetical phone call from John Q. Public and his wife, We the People, in one brief illustration Ramsey demonstrated that no one in Washington, D.C., is really serious about cutting spending.

Ramsey has a way of boiling large numbers down to their essence and showing us the absurdity of our debt crisis. In his radio example, his callers — "John" and "We" — are earning $58,000 a year. However, they are spending $75,000 a year. More importantly, they have credit card debt totaling $327,000. In fact, $10,000 of the family's income goes just to pay interest on those credit cards.

"Now, what would you expect my advice to this couple to be?" Ramsey asked his radio audience. He then proceeded to say that if he followed the current model of "cuts" being proposed in Washington, his recommendation would be that they reduce their annual expenditures by a mere $3,000 — all the way down to $72,000.

Ramsey has calculated that these numbers are in exact proportion to the actions of our federal government in dealing with our deficit. However, instead of terms like "billions" and "trillions," to which no one can relate, Ramsey has reduced the numbers to one we can all comprehend. Anyone with a brain can figure out that a family making $58,000 and spending $75,000, with $327,000 in credit card debt, is headed for bankruptcy — or worse.

This, most people would agree, is the classic definition of insanity. And yet, many Americans go merrily along pretending that somehow the reason for our debt is the war in Iraq, or the war in Afghanistan, or tax breaks for the rich or whatever other cliché entrenched Washington politicians want to throw out during election years. The truth is that we could eliminate every federal program in Washington and we still could not pay for Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security at the current levels — and still provide for the defense of the country. The truth is that this nation cannot pay its bills, and like John Q. Public and his wife, We the People, we are in for a rude awakening when those bills come due.

It has become obvious over the last two years that Barack Obama and the Democrats in Congress have no intention of being serious about the realities of our federal spending. Letting them set our national priorities is — in the words of satirist P.J. O'Rourke — tantamount to giving whiskey and car keys to teenage boys.

It is tempting to believe that John Boehner and his House Republicans are any more serious than the Democrats about making the tough decisions to keep this nation from falling into a financial pit from which we can never escape; but all one has to do is look at their proposals to know they are not the least bit serious. They are as addicted to spending as Barack Obama, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid, who ran our spending levels up to the point where we are now spending $1.5 trillion more than we are taking in this year. Meanwhile, Boehner and company want us to cheer about $6 billion in cuts?

We cannot continue in serious times with unserious people representing us in Washington. They have taken the United States of America from the greatest, strongest, most prosperous country on the face of the earth and turned it into a debtor nation. They have taken us from a shining city on a hill to a banana republic.

As Dave Ramsey concluded in his lesson to his listening audience, it is the 9,000-pound elephant sitting on our foot in the living room. ______________________________________________________________________________
© 2011 by Doug Patton
______________________________________________________________________________ Doug Patton describes himself as a recovering political speechwriter who agrees with himself much more often than not. Now working as a freelance writer, his weekly columns of sage political analysis are published the world over by legions of discerning bloggers, courageous webmasters and open-minded newspaper editors. Astute supporters and inane detractors alike are encouraged to e-mail him with their pithy comments at dougpatton@cox.net.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Where are those North Omaha jobs?

We're beginning to wonder where those 'green' North Omaha jobs are---or where they are going. If you recall, last summer American Hydraulics announced it was leaving North Omaha and moving to Red Oak, IA where it would hire 135 employees (Monday, July 19, 2010
There Those North Omaha Jobs Go). Now we see that instead of expanding in North Omaha Distefano Manufacturing is moving to 108th and the Interstate. Sure, most of those employees will move west, but any new jobs created will probably be filled by folks from other than North Omaha. And, of course, we'll have another empty building in North Omaha.

His Incompetence, Mayor Suttle, promised 1000 green jobs in North Omaha when he ran for office. Not only has he not delivered on that promise, but he has in fact presided over there being even few and virtually no green jobs.

We're sure Suttle has excuses but the fact remains he just can't deliver.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Congrats to Nebraska Congressional Delegation For NPR Vote

Some of our contributors will admit, sheepishly, to some of their confidants that they do listen to such public radio shows as Prairie Home Companion and Click and Clack. Some will also admit they watch Public Television occasionally which does have some very good shows from time to time, covers our legislature, etc. Given the content of cable that probably isn't surprising.

Having taken note of the above we are still unanimously opposed to any public funding of NPR. Some of its content could be covered by local stations or syndicated to network for that matter. While it is easy to criticize the liberal opinion of NPR and its reporters, a bias evident to the most uneducated of listeners/watchers, the real reason is that there is no reason for tax payers to pay for something that competes against private business. These folks will either survive on their own by raising most of their funds from donors, as they do today, or their worthwhile content will be picked up by other non-publicly funded entities.

With that said, we applaud Congressmen Terry, Fortenberry and Smith for their votes yesterday to eliminate NPR funding.

Hoping for Fiscal Restraint

According to the Hill, "GOP seeks sweeping reforms with balanced budget amendment" ( Michael O'Brien - 03/16/11), " A group of Republican senators are set to unveil a long-awaited constitutional amendment to require a yearly balanced budget." Unfortunately, the chance of such an amendment being approved by 2/3 of the House and Senate is only a dream. Nonetheless, this is exactly what this country needs.

With that said, here is the rest of the article:

"The sweeping legislation, which calls for an annual spending cap and a legally mandated balanced budget, with some exceptions, will be unveiled Thursday by five GOP senators: Jon Kyl (Ariz.), John Cornyn (Texas), Orrin Hatch (Utah), Mike Lee (Utah) and Pat Toomey (Pa.). The proposed amendment goes beyond requiring a simple balanced budget each year, and seeks to enact a series of other fiscal reforms.

Under the proposal, the president would be forced to submit a balanced budget to Congress each year. But Congress would also face certain constraints in its work to pass the budget.

The amendment would mandate that total outlays each year could not exceed total receipts by the government, unless both the House and Senate agree to an excess in outlays by a two-thirds vote. Any tax increase would also be required to pass both houses with the same two-thirds supermajority.

The Republican proposal would also cap spending each fiscal year at 18 percent of gross domestic product, a provision that could be waived by Congress during a time of war, or by a three-fifths majority of the House and Senate in a time of other military conflict.

Both the House and Senate would also be forced to cobble together three-fifths majorities to authorize an increase in the debt ceiling, according to the GOP measure.

The reforms would, if enacted, make it much tougher to authorize new spending.

The GOP amendment would need to be approved by a two-thirds majority in the House and Senate, a tough climb especially because Democrats control the Senate. Even if lawmakers somehow managed to advance the amendment, three-fourths of the states would still have to ratify it for the amendment to become part of the Constitution."

2012 Still Not Looking Good for Obama Defeat

Yesterday's Crystal Ball blog by Larry Sabato, 'Shadow-Boxing for the Presidency', does nothing but support our belief that the Republican Party, at least at this point, has only one or two possibly viable candidates who can/could defeat the Prince of Peace Nobel Laureate President of the World of Equal Nations Commissar Barack Barry Soetoro Hussein Obama next year.

Here's part of what Sabato had to say about potential Republican candidates. You can read more of his analysis by clicking on the Sabato's Crystal Ball on our 'Links' column below right.

Much has changed since our launch of the 2012 Crystal Ball Presidential Ratings—and yet little has changed in this slow-starting campaign. We outlined all our cautions about early assessments in the January Crystal Ball, so we’ll just skip right to the red meat evaluation.

Assuming Republicans want to put forward a candidate who can fully compete with President Obama—if the electoral circumstances in 2012 allow it—then the GOP nominee is likely going to come from either Tier I or II, so we focus special attention there. In the past months we’ve lost a couple of Tier II candidates, Indiana Congressman Mike Pence and South Dakota Sen. John Thune. Pence is positioning himself instead for a run for Governor in his home state, while Thune has decided for now to focus on Senate leadership office. Governor Mitch Daniels of Indiana gained the most from Pence’s non-candidacy decision, if in fact Daniels decides to make the race. Of course, Pence had intense conservative base support, so other conservatives in the field might have moved up a bit, too. Thune’s opt-out probably favors former Governor Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota, given the overlap in Midwestern regional backing.

In Tier I, Mitt Romney remains the undisputed if underwhelming frontrunner, mainly due to lack of strong competition. The candidate who has moved up faster than anyone is Tim Pawlenty. Haley Barbour gives every sign of running hard, and he’s clearly in the top tier even though the Mississippi governor has not had a trouble-free couple of months. Naturally, Mike Huckabee, Sarah Palin, and Mitch Daniels will also be secure in Tier I if they actually pull the chute on a candidacy. The Beltway conventional wisdom says none of the three is running, but with “Beltway” attached to the appraisal, we all know to stay alert.

Still, Palin and Huckabee in particular have lost altitude as the GOP establishment, having concluded they won’t be on the ballot, moves to embrace others.

Daniels continues to receive the accolades of Beltway admirers, but equivocates every time he’s asked about actually running. In our experience, a politician who hems and haws about a presidential bid usually settles on “haw” (no).

The potential contender who insists he’s not running but who has the most juice in his revved engine is Chris Christie. Should he change his mind later in 2011, it is possible he could storm the field.

Newt Gingrich gives every sign of tossing his hat in—at long last, after a strip-tease lasting years. Yet his semi-not-quite-launch in Atlanta was a bobbled bust. Jon Huntsman rounds out our small Tier II. His money and ambition are towering, but we wonder if his ties to Obama and moderate views make his eventual share of the vote much smaller than he anticipates.

If the GOP, infused with Tea Party spirit, decides to move right (right off the cliff in November), then Rick Santorum or Michele Bachmann could see their Tier III candidacies take off. Assisted suicide is illegal for individuals, but perfectly acceptable for political parties. Santorum is already sprinting, and Bachmann appears close to a White House bid. Santorum is a social issue warrior at a time when the nation doesn’t seem to be looking for it, and Bachmann has a Tea Party base but little else. (Her former governor, Tim Pawlenty, cannot be pleased by the potential in-state competition.)

Finally, Tier IV candidates—some real, some just possible—have no real chance to be nominated, but offer ideas and, in some cases, pure amusement for those of us following the 2012 round-up. Joining Ron Paul, John Bolton, Gary Johnson, Herman Cain, and Donald Trump is new candidate Buddy Roemer—former governor of the state most widely associated with political entertainment, Louisiana. Roemer and Cain got positive attention for good speeches at an Iowa gathering of social conservatives last week, which merits a “thumbs up”. But it’s difficult to believe, to the vanishing point, that the GOP will entrust its presidential nomination to either.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Suttle Reaches Fire Union Agreement?

We're told the Mayor and the Omaha Fire Union have reached an agreement. Sadly, the Mayor isn't in a hurry to make it public. Perhaps he will use the Nancy Pelosi method of 'Let's pass it and then we'll find what's in it?"

Whatever is in it, it will be bad for the taxpayers.

Heineman Impresses. Heineman for President!

Yesterday, Governor Heineman spoke to the local Republican Forum luncheon group. He had some interesting things to say that go beyond the Joe Jordan Nebraska Watchdog Heineman/Kleeb fight. With little discussion of the latter (the governor shouldn't be arguing with some self-appointed Democrat left-wing operative in the first place), Heineman talked about everything from taxes to the economy.

On Omaha's incompetent mayor (our words) and his quest to tax citizens more Heineman said that he was glad that Suttle's 'bad-neighbor' policy of taxing those outside the city (wheel tax) has been removed as an option by the legislature, that Suttle needs a 'good-neighbor' police that doesn't have one entity taxing another.

On Omaha's incompetent mayor (our words, again) and his request for an additional half-cent sales tax, Heineman continued to assert that it was a bad idea and he would veto.

Heineman indicated that Suttle had apparently asked how he was to develop a budget without his desired tax increases to which Heineman said, "I'll tell you how to balance your budget if you'll enact it!" Suttle apparently doesn't appreciate that offer of help nor the suggestions of many others.

On the C.I.R., Heineman again stated he wanted substantial reform or the business community would simply do away with it altogether (referendum).

On the future, Heineman noted that he has two major thrusts. First is economic development and second is educational improvement. On the current state of African American education he noted that the Omaha Public School system has the worst black/white educational gap in the country, anywhere. He suggested that Superintendent Mackiel doesn't get it.

Heineman was rightly proud in discussing Nebraska's prominence and that of many of its towns and cities in many categories. On tax climate, he noted that since 2008, three-fourths of all states have raised taxes while Nebraska didn't (sorry Jane Kleeb, New Nebraska Network, etal.). In fact, Heineman noted that Nebraska's business tax climate rating has improved under his governorship from 45th to 29th.

One of Heineman's most direct and frankly candid comments came on the issue of energy and oil. Heineman forcefully said that because of our nation's reliance on oil, "We are putting our sons and daughters in peril because our nation has no energy policy."

On Obamacare, the Governor wasted no words saying that, "It is a disaster for America and a disaster for Nebraska." He proudly noted that he was one of twenty-nine governors who actively joined in seeking its repeal. He continued by saying that Nebraska needs more flexibility in dealing with federal mandates like Medicaid.

We couldn't help but be impressed with Heineman's candor. While Larry Sabato (Sabato's Crystal Ball) might regard Heineman as a Tier 2 or Tier 3 potential candidate for the presidency, we can't think of a guy that from a policy standpoint, from an economic and trade record of accomplishments, from a tax-cutting standpoint, from an overall success standpoint and from a social issue standpoint would be more in tune with what the Republican Party needs as a candidate against the current resident of the White House come 2012. Yes, we were and are impressed.

Fuzzy Accountability By Nabity's Citizens For Omaha's Future

We mentioned the Miami recall in a recent entry (Two Recalls Different Results) and took note of the Omaha attempt to recall Mayor Suttle and Dave Nabity's failed efforts. We thought we might follow up with an analysis of the money that Nabity's PAC, Citizens For Omaha's Future, spent on the recall effort, primarily since the successful gathering of the necessary petition signatures after which he established his own PAC and effort to recall the mayor. Unfortunately, it's pretty difficult to determine where Nabity and Citizens for Omaha's Future spent all of the $195,000 it claims it spent on behalf of the recall.

The N.A.D.C. reporting of expenditures shows primarily those funds spent as an 'Independent expenditure (designated 'D' below) without any real designation of whom the money went to or for what purpose. Most expenditures simply show the money was spent on behalf of the original Mayor Suttle Recall Committee, although that committee never received any of those funds. We were able to establish from some late reporting where some of the monies went but there certainly isn't any reliable breakdown of who received the funds and where they went in many cases.

This is supposed to be the way the N.A.D.C. provides for clear reporting?

Here's a list of the dollar amount of expenditures, not including some $34,000 shown as expenditures on behalf of the Mayor Suttle Recall Committee for December of 2010

Reported expenditures on behalf of the MAYOR SUTTLE RECALL COMMITTEE

  1. 3,000.00 D

  2. 825.80 B

  3. 2000.00 B

  4. 2396.64 D

  5. 1060.09 D

  6. 435.19 D

  7. 55000.00 D

  8. 14469.56 B Polish Enterprises

  9. 9399.78 D Nebraska Strategy Group

  10. 1420.05 D Quality Press

  11. 2000.00 D Nebraska Strategy Group

  12. 4260.15 D

  13. 5077.78 D Postmaster

  14. 2448.29 D Nebraska Strategy Group

  15. 2500.00 D Strategy Group Media

  16. 1348.97 D Postmaster

  17. 5077.78 D Postmaster

  18. 10000.00 D

  19. 22287.70 D Company HQ (Brooklyn, IA)

  20. 2840.10 D Quality Press

  21. 540.35 D

  22. 2034.18 D Company HQ (Brooklyn, IA)

  23. 1500.00 B

  24. 482.52 D

  25. 393.73 D

  26. 7000.00 B

  27. 655.36 B

  28. 344.54 B

    (1) Total Expenditures to or for the benefit of Nebraska
    (non-federal) Candidates and B.Q. Close of Last Period $ 64717.72
    (2) Total Expenditures to or for the benefit of Nebraska (non-federal) Candidates and B.Q. This Period
    (To Summary of Disbursements, line 11(a)) $ 96080.84
    (3) Total Expenditures to or for the benefit of Nebraska (non-federal) Candidates and
    B.Q. for the Calendar Year to Date (Line 1 plus line 2) $ 160798.56

    KEY: A - Direct Contribution to Candidate or Ballot Question B - In-Kind Contributions C - Loans D - Independent Expenditures

At best the N.A.D.C. reporting by Citizens for Omaha's Future is inadequate. In fact, we don't know whether Nabity or any other employees received compensation for their efforts.

Once again, it would be nice if someone from the media had the intellectual curiosity to follow up on this. It will also be interesting to see if the N.A.D.C. has the curiosity to ask for a better explanation of the spending.

Lee Terry, Let's Get Creative

After reading Roll Call this morning we've decided that Lee Terry is boring. He obviously doesn't have the slightest way to raise money for his election campaigns. Let's face it, Lee just doesn't have the creative ability to raise in-kind donations of wine totalling $340,000 like some of his peers, for instance Mike Thompson (D-CA). He doesn't have the ability to collect more than $56,000 in ''art" in-kind donations, for instance Lynn Woolsey (D-CA). Others are getting such in-kinds as helicopter flights, raft trips, fishing trips, hogs, birdhouses and cigars! If you want to read more on these in-kinds, which are apparently auctioned off for more campaign funds, check out today's Roll Call at: http://www.rollcall.com/issues/56_98/Members-Congress-In-Kind-Donations-204185-1.html?ET=rollcall:e9991:80105784a:&st=email&pos=epol

Let's tell Lee to get with it. Maybe he could have a fundraiser where folks could bring in-kind contributions of Big Red tickets, College World Series, Stormchasers or Beef Tickets, Nebraska wine vintages, Nebraska beef, air-boat trips down the Platte, etc.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Democrat Lawyers and the State Troopers Health Fund Scandal




It seems the press has let Mike Foley's audit of the State Law Enforcement Bargaining Council Employee Health and Dental Funds (http://www.auditors.state.ne.us/local/pdfSearch/PDF/2010_State_Law_Enforcement_Bargaining_Council.pdf) fall off the radar. As you will recall State Auditor Foley's office (APA) reviewed this fund/organization and found that they had co-mingled funds, bought a building and assets without authority and he recommended that the state take over the insurance fund. He described the fund as a “fiscal train wreck” that should be immediately moved to another agency. The report detailed widespread mismanagement and irresponsibility,according to Foley. On March 9, the funds were transferred to the care of Nebraska's State Treasurer.

In Foley's Independent Accountant's Report he said, "We were unable to obtain a management representation letter from SLEBC, which declined to make representation as required by generally accepted attestation standards. We were also unable to obtain documentation for eligible participants, meeting minutes, support for expenses, and contracts with former and current associates and employees."

Well, it seems there are some interesting names involved with this operation which apparently no one in the press has displayed interest in following up on (Heaven forbid any intellectual curiosity or reporting by the Douglas Street Rag, a.k.a. Omaha World Herald). Here's a couple names of interest: David Domina, Mike Boyle.

As you may recall Domina, a Norfolk lawyer has been a big player in state Democrat politics over the years and even ran for Governor if memory serves. On page 7 of Foley's Audit report we find that Dave Domina was the legal counsel for this group. Anyone heard his name mentioned? Where was he when these guys were spending their insured's tax dollars so recklessly?

Mike Boyle, on page 7, is described like Dave Domina as SLEBC Legal Counsel. It certainly appears from the commentary found on page 33 of the audit that Mike was less than cooperative in responding to Foley's requests:

Page 33

"4. Lack of Cooperation and Board Oversight
Lack of Cooperation
In April 2010, shortly after the Legislative Performance Audit Committee authorized the APA to conduct – and, in fact, after preliminary work had already begun on – a performance audit
relating to the cost of health insurance coverage for State employees, Mike Boyle approached the APA with concerns related to the questionable expenditure of funds entrusted to SLEBC for
health insurance purposes. Since that time, however, SLEBC’s officers have displayed a marked
reluctance to cooperate with the APA’s efforts to carry out the recent audit, as the timeline below illustrates:

Timeframe Description
May/June 2010 The APA contacted the State Patrol administrative offices to obtain the name of a contact for the SLEBC health insurance plan. The State Patrol staff referred the APA to Harvey Wiltsey.

June 2010 The APA emailed a list of questions to Harvey Wiltsey.

July 14, 2010 Mike Boyle called the APA to explain that the situation between SLEBC and Harvey Wiltsey was complex. Lawsuits have been filed and attorneys are involved.

July 27, 2010 After several unanswered requests for information, the APA received a response to the initial request.

August 23, 2010 Mike Boyle provided the APA with detailed claims files he received from the third party administrator, Meritain. Both prescription and medical claims data were made available to the APA.

August 30, 2010 The APA sent Mike Boyle an email message indicating the difficulty in obtaining from SLEBC basic financial data necessary to perform the audit.

September 3, 2010 The APA requested again the assistance of Mike Boyle in obtaining the requested financial information. Mike Boyle responded, “As I said at the meeting, we want to cooperate with you fully.” At the same time, he questioned the APA’s authority to access the financial records requested due to HIPAA confidentiality requirements. Mike Boyle indicated he would not provide access to the financial records because of a disagreement between the Governor and the Director of DAS with the State Auditor over access to HIPAA records. Mike Boyle stated, “We need to slow down and see how this disagreement is resolved.”

September 3, 2010 The APA provided Mike Boyle with the relevant statutes regarding the APA’s access to records.

September 17, 2010 The APA sent a formal letter to Mike Boyle requesting any and all financial records related to SLEBC’s health insurance program.

October 12, 2010 The APA spoke with SLEBC’s current CPA, Mark Lynch, of Blackman and Associates, who indicated he was preparing a non-disclosure agreement for access to the financial records.

October 15, 2010 The APA received the non-disclosure agreement from Mike Boyle, which indicated in Section 2.11, as a prerequisite to the release of financial records, that the APA would agree to “hold SLEBC Harmless from any and all litigation and/or claims made by a member of SLEBC who alleges damage of any kind as a result of the audit being conducted by the Auditor.”

November 5, 2010 The APA provided Mike Boyle with a revised non-disclosure agreement.

November 14, 2010 Mike Boyle responded that the revised non-disclosure agreement was “reasonably good” but that SLEBC’s members did not want anyone to see their health-related information. Mike Boyle added, “We have not wavered in our desire to cooperate in completing an audit.”

November 15, 2010 The APA reminded Mike Boyle that he had already provided the APA with every prescription and medical claim incurred by every member of SLEBC’s health insurance plan and what the APA was currently requesting was financial data related to the plan. Mike Boyle and Brian Petersen agreed to attend a meeting at the APA’s office.

November 16, 2010 The APA provided notification that a financial audit would be initiated, in addition to the performance audit authorized by the Legislature. The APA also emailed Mike Boyle, expressing frustration with the continuous delays in obtaining the requested information. Mike Boyle responded, “We are still committed to full disclosure - except the names/illnesses of our members.” Limited information began flowing to the APA at this point.

November 23, 2010 The APA held an entrance conference meeting regarding the financial audits of the State’s four health insurance plans (State, University, State Colleges, and SLEBC). No one from the State Patrol or SLEBC attended.

STATE LAW ENFORCEMENT BARGAINING COUNCIL
EMPLOYEE HEALTH AND DENTAL FUNDS
COMMENTS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
(Continued)
- 34 -
4. Lack of Cooperation and Board Oversight (Continued)
Despite Mike Boyle’s repeated assurances of full cooperation, the trail of events disclosed above reveals a concerted effort by SLEBC to impede the audit’s progress by unnecessarily delaying or even outright refusing, compliance with the APA’s request for important financial documentation and other relevant financial information."

We wonder how much these two received for their services or possibly their efforts to delay the audit by Foley? We wonder why the news media hasn't paid more attention to their roles in this organization that was clearly operating outside of the law? Maybe someone with some intellectual curiosity will tell us.....

Two Recalls Different Results

The recall may be dead in Omaha, but it certainly isn't in Miami where its Suttle-clone, Mayor Carlos Alvarez was swept out of office by a margin of 9 in 10 votes. Alvarez did basically everything Suttle has done, cars, unions, taxes. Apparently, the voters of Miami are smarter. You can read more about this at:

http://www.miamiherald.com/2011/03/15/2117129/9-of-10-say-yes-to-ousting-alvarez.html

Having taken note of this, the results of Omaha's campaign might have been much different had it not been for the inept advertising/sales pitch of Dave Nabity and his media/campaign associates. It might have been much different had the Wisconsin labor issues been in the news.

Loss or not, Omaha's current mayor and the majority of his council should be very nervous about 2013 when they inevitably continue to raise taxes this next fall and as they continue their efforts to socially engineer Omaha to their own liberal philosophies.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Schumacher's Support of Gambling

Since we aren't exactly part of the RINO State Senator Paul Schumacher fan club, we thought we'd elaborate a little on the business interests of this disgustingly pathetic example of a Republican.

The following is his statement of potential conflicts from his Nebraska Accountability and Disclosure Commission filing:

"I am involved in 3 private businesses. 1) As a private practice solo-attorney who has numerous clients with Agricultural interests and are unfavorable to regulation and taxation of their activities; 2) As a part owner and officer of Community Lottery Systems, Inc., a Nebraska Corporation, which operates, for a commission on gross proceeds, lotteries under the County and City Lottery Act for approximately 100 Nebraska cities, counties and villages united under a common governmental entity formed under the Interlocal Cooperation Act called the Nebraska Cooperative Government (NCG). The NCG has an interest in maximizing revenues to its members through alternatives to compulsory taxation, such as gaming. 3) As a part owner and office of Community Lottery Systems, Inc. (CIS), one of Nebraska's first rural Internet Service Providers and also a competing local exchange and interexchange licensee, CIS, along with the general public, has an interest in promoting a level playing field for all private telecommunications carriers, open networks, and authorization of Nebraska's public power companies and municipalities to engage in telecommunications activity for hire."

This sad excuse for a Republican apparently has less conflict in voting and supporting gambling interests to his own financial benefit than he does in promoting the efforts of his own party....Perhaps some in 'his' party will keep this in mind when his cronies bring forth more gambling legislation in the future.

Nebraska State Senator Schumacher is a a Disgusting RINO

Yes, we said and we won't apologize for. Besides being a disgusting RINO, Senator Schumacher is a disgusting populist progressive who lives in la-la land. Now what do we really think about this poor excused of so-called senator, so-called lawyer devout supporter of expanded gambling in Nebraska?

Apparently this idealistically liberal traitor to the best interests of the party he claims to be a member of simply doesn't get the fact that being one of two of 50 states that proportion their electoral votes by congressional district doesn't make sense. If this stupid excuse for a legislator had any rationale whatsoever he would realize that California and New York, just to name two states will never be influenced by Nebraska and Maine's stupid attempts at populism.

We're not sure why Schumacher doesn't have the gonads to vote yea or nay to kill the bill or move it out of committee. Maybe it's because he's mad at the Republican Party for not supporting his candidacy in 2010 when he was running against a real Republican for the open seat to which Schumacher was elected. Ironically, this is the same Schumacher who has served on the Republican State Central Committee for numerous years--numerous years when he opposed any endorsement of the party for any Republican candidate, even for endorsements of incumbents like Governor Heineman! If he's mad about not getting an endorsement, he can only attribute it to his prairie populist approach.

If Lee Terry loses his congressional seat in 2012 or even worse if our sad excuse for a president wins re-election in 2012 by one electoral vote coming from the Second Congressional District there will be no one to blame other than this pathetic self-serving prairie populist.

Stenberg on the Attack and on Earmarks


We're starting to get our daily e-mails from Don Stenberg and Jon Bruning. Today, we got one from Don Stenberg who advises us that he can beat Judas Ben Nelson (see blog entry below) and, of course, Don is asking for money. No surprise. While we're sure his message on the topic isn't any different than Jon Bruning's, we did like what he had to say about earmarks and Judas Nelson.

Not surprising, however, Don seems to get a between-the-lines shot at Bruning whose liberal history is now more than 20 years past. Perhaps, he should remember that Ronald Wilson Reagan was once a Democrat. It's pretty easy to be a liberal in college, but for those that are somewhat cogent, it's pretty hard to continue to be one in the real world of work and personal responsibility....

"No More Earmarks!
As Nebraska's next United States Senator I will not seek any earmarks and will oppose all earmarks sought by others. Wheeler dealers like earmarks. Ben Nelson likes them a lot. But they are fundamentally wrong. They lead to scandals, as Senators seek earmarks for their friends and cronies. They are used to buy votes for bad legislation and grease the skids for vast deficit spending.

Under President Obama, assisted by Senator Ben Nelson, our nation is going in the wrong direction. It is the direction of vast budget deficits and heavy-handed federal government regulation. Nebraska's next United States Senator needs to be a genuine, lifelong conservative -- not a wheeler dealer, or a person whose core principles change from day to day or from year to year."

Judas Nelson Still A Liberal Big Spender

From our friends at Megavote:

Full-Year Continuing Appropriations Act, 2011 - Vote Rejected (44-56)

The Senate rejected this House-passed continuing resolution that would have reduced spending by $57.5 billion over the remainder of the 2011 fiscal year. The current, short-term continuing resolution expires on March 18, 2011.

Sen. Mike Johanns voted YES
Sen. Ben Nelson voted NO

Monday, March 14, 2011

They Don't Want Nebraska to Be More Like Wisconsin

Given our last entry (see Why Can't Nebraska Be More Like Wisconsin?) we thought it was interesting in our 'We Get E-mail' category that our friends at Moveon.org are planning a demonstration in Omaha on Tuesday to protest what is happening in Wisconsin in hope of making their case to defend their public union/control of state and local governments here in Nebraska.

Here's the details of their efforts:

"Where: Lewis and Clark Landing (in Omaha)

When: Tuesday, Mar. 15, at 5:30 PM

Can you come?
Click below for more details and to RSVP:

What: Republican attacks on workers and public programs are escalating in Wisconsin and in Washington, D.C. We have to stand up to Defend the Dream! So on Tuesday, we're getting together in Omaha. At the event, we'll stand in solidarity by wearing Wisconsin red and white, hear from local speakers impacted by Republican attacks, and be a show of community force to stop this onslaught on the American Dream. A big crowd is crucial—please join us on Tuesday!"

And, it seems that doin' it in Omaha isn't enough for these thugs as they've also scheduled a demonstration in Lincoln. According to the Lincoln Journal Star:

"MoveOn will demonstrate in front of Lincoln's federal building Tuesday to protest cuts proposed in the federal budget and a recent law passed in Wisconsin limiting collective bargaining rights for public unions.

In a press release, MoveOn calls cuts to education and health care in the budget proposal "immoral" and dubs the Wisconsin law "a Republican power grab."

The rally will take place at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday outside the Robert Denney Federal Building on O Street. The group staged a similar rally last month outside the Capitol.

Also participating will be labor unions, Democracy for America, the Progressive Change Campaign, True Majority, the Sierra Club and other organizations, according to a news release."

Why Can't Nebraska Be More Like Wisconsin

After watching the turmoil in Wisconsin over the last month we can only ask why Nebraska can't be more like Wisconsin--at least when it comes to public union control over our state and local budgets. We like what Governor Walker has done and the bill that he signed although certainly first responders should be covered. They are certainly the problem in Nebraska where we'd like to see something similar to Senator John Nelson's bill to eliminate the C.I.R. passed.

For all those naysayers, the Wisconsin bill is pretty reasonable, at least as described below courtesy of U.S.A. Today:

"Pension contributions: State, school district and municipal employees who pay into the Wisconsin Retirement System would be required to contribute 50% of the annual pension payment. The payment amount is estimated to be 5.8% of salary in 2011.

Health insurance contributions: State employees would be required to pay at least 12.6% of the average cost of annual health insurance premiums. The bill would require changes to the plan design to reduce current premiums by 5%. Local employers participating in the Public Employers Group Health insurance plan would be prohibited from paying more than 88% of the lowest cost plan.

Pension changes for elected officials and appointees: Pension calculation for elected officials and appointees would be the same as for state employees and teachers. Under the state constitution, the change would be effective for elected officials at the beginning of their next term of office.

General fund impact: The estimated $37 million in savings from implementing these provisions for state employees in the current fiscal year would be transferred to the general fund.

Collective bargaining: The bill would make various changes to limit collective bargaining for most public employees to wages. Total wage increases could not exceed a cap based on inflation unless approved by referendum. Contracts would be limited to one year and wages would be frozen until the new contract is settled. Collective bargaining units are required to take annual votes to maintain certification as a union. Employers would be prohibited from collecting union dues and members of collective bargaining units would not be required to pay dues. These changes take effect upon the expiration of existing contracts. Law enforcement, fire employees and state troopers and inspectors would be exempt from these changes.

Quality Health Care Authority: The bill repeals the authority of home health care workers under the Medicaid program to collectively bargain.

Child care labor relations: The bill repeals the authority of family child care workers to collectively bargain with the state.

University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics Board and Authority: The bill repeals collective bargaining for UWHC employees. State positions currently employed by the UWHC Board are eliminated and the incumbents are transferred to the UWHC Authority.

University of Wisconsin faculty and academic staff: The bill repeals the authority of UW faculty and academic staff to collectively bargain.

Authorize Department of Health Services to restructure program: The bill authorizes the Department of Health Services to make program changes notwithstanding limits in state law related to specific program provisions. The department is expected to develop new approaches on program benefits, eligibility determination and provider cost-effectiveness. The proposed changes would require approval through the Legislature's rule process before implementation. A previous version of the bill required only the approval of the Joint Finance Committee. The provision would end Jan. 1, 2015."

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The Battle for Freedom and Democracy

For those of you who may recall the recent effort to remove our incompetent mayor from office you may recognize the name of Paul Jacob who was retained to help lead the effort to collect signatures for the recall petition. Jacobs' business, Citizens in Charge, has been involved in initiative campaigns across the country. Jacob had an interesting commentary on the initiative process, "The Status of the Union," which you can find at:
http://townhall.com/columnists/pauljacob/2011/03/06/status_of_the_union/page/full/

In concluding, Jacob notes: "The battle for freedom and democracy is not taking place just in a far off land in fast flickers on your television screen; it rages in a city hall and state capitol near you. And if we citizens ever stop fighting to protect and to enlarge our freedom and our control over our democratic republic, we will cease to be No. 1 in the world."

Suttle Is a Cheapskate

According to one of our contributors, Jim Suttle is a real cheapskate. We have this report on an an event His Incompetence attended last week:

"Last week our great mayor attended the benefit for then comatose Nebraska State Trooper who later passed away at North High School. People who were attending the benefit spaghetti dinner were bringing in jars of pennies and asking for the jars back, weren't dressed to the greatest and probably couldn't afford to be giving money to the Troopers Family but were anyway. But who should arrive but our Mayor. He handed the person collecting the money at the door a ten dollar bill. He then asked for his change back. The cheap guy couldn't even donate an extra dollar toward the cause. And he was in the neighborhood that supported him. What a great guy and embarrassment. Thought you might love to hear this great story about the guy."

We're watching you Mr. Mayor.

Richard Takechi Passes

We're sad to relate the news that former Omaha City Councilman and former Learning Community Board Member Richard Takechi passed away around midnight. We understand that services are pending but may be delayed several days.

He was a good man and we will miss him.

The Cattle Call Begins

The parade of potential, want-t0-be candidates for the presidency has begun across the river in Counciltuckey, oops, we meant Council Bluffs. Tomorrow morning at 8:00 a.m., Herman Cain, the former 'Godfather' (C.E.O.) of Godfathers will be at Tish's restaurant to rev up potential support. The public is welcome.

Sadly, Cain doesn't stand a chance because he has never been a governor or a U.S. Senator and will never be able to find enough money to compete. That's a shame because he is probably as qualified or more so than about 13 of the 16 or so other potential G.O.P. candidates....

For This We Should Be Grateful?

The Prince of Peace Nobel Laureate President of the World of Equal Nations Commissar Barack Barry Soetoro Hussein Obama addressed Democrats at a fundraiser for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Monday and had this to say about his and Nancy Pelosi's performance.

"Not only were we able to get this economy going again ... but under Nancy’s leadership we were able to achieve historic health care legislation that over the last 15, 20 years will end up benefiting millions of families across the country, [and] we were able to get ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ repealed,” Obama said, adding that Congress under Pelosi expanded investments in clean energy, infrastructure and education.

“We didn’t just rescue the economy, we put it on the strongest footing for the future."


We're not sure whether the comment about the "last 15, 20 years" is a typo or simply a slip.
And we're suppose to miss her as Speaker? We can't wait to miss him as President!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Public Employee Unions

Walter Williams had an interesting editorial a couple of days back, "Public Employee Unions" (http://townhall.com/columnists/walterewilliams/2011/03/03/public_employee_unions/page/full/). Since we recently opined on the City of Omaha City Council resolution which will probably never see the light of discussion, we think Williams' comments are relevant.

In it, he notes:

"According to the Department of Labor, most union members today work for state, local and federal government. Close to 40 percent of public employees are unionized. As such, they represent a powerful political force in elections. If you're a candidate for governor, mayor or city councilman, you surely want the votes and campaign contributions from public employee unions. In my view, that's no problem. The problem arises after you win office and sit down to bargain over the pay and working conditions with unions who voted for you.

Given the relationship between politicians and public employee unions, we should not be surprised that public employee wages and benefits often average 45 percent higher than their counterparts in the private sector. Often they receive pension and health care benefits making little or no contribution......

Consider the cushy deal for many of California's unionized state and local police, fire and prison employees. They have what's called a "3 percent at 50" formula that determines their retirement check. It's based on 3 percent of the average of the three highest-paid years of the employee's career, multiplied by the number of years on the job. An employee with 20 years' service can retire at age 50 and receive 60 percent of his salary. Employees often boost their retirement income by putting in a lot of overtime hours during their last three years of service."


SOUND A LITTLE LIKE MAYOR SUTTLE AND FAHEY'S SWEETHEART DEALS WITH THEIR POLICE AND FIRE UNIONS?

"Temple University professor William Dunkelberg said in his recent CNBC article "Should Unions Have the Power to Tax?": "The 'employers' (taxpayers through their elected officials) have slowly lost their ability to determine the terms of employment offers. The unions now determine working hours, hiring criteria, the quantity of 'output' to be produced per day, the number of sick and vacation and holiday days, how their performance will be evaluated etc. No longer can the employer make an 'offer' for a job with requirements that fit the needs of the public institution."

The time has come for the City of Omaha and the State of Nebraska to address these issues before they thrust themselves and their citizens into public-union caused bankruptcy!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Dumbing Down Education Standards

If you missed the article in Sunday's Dodge Street Rag, a.k.a., Omaha World-Herald, "Federal policy at root of grad requirement shifts," you probably didn't see just how the big hand of big brother is changing graduation requirements in Nebraska. Why? So local schools like those in Lexington, NE don't have to be labeled "persistently lowest-achieving" with the resulting consequences of the federal money hammer.

We've expressed our opinion here many times that the Federal Government's Department of Education serves no purpose other than laundering tax payer money, employing an unaccountable bureaucracy and attaching strings to getting our own state's money back. And, of course, since its establishment there are no tangible signs that students are any more ready for the real world and have achieved any significant gains in reading, writing or arithmetic.

The truth of the matter is that there would be lots more money for teachers if local school districts weren't spending so much money on administration to deal with the federal governments mandates and purse strings.

A Constitution Designed to Protect Unpopular Speech -- Doug Patton

March 7, 2011


"It does not take a majority to prevail, but rather an irate, tireless minority keen to set brush fires in people's minds."

- Samuel Adams

My opinion of the radical homosexual agenda in this country is well known. On every issue from same sex "marriage" to homosexual couples adopting children, there is no sane reason for the reordering of American society to accommodate a tiny, loud, deviant minority. That said, anyone who subscribes to the odious worldview of the members of the so-called Westboro Baptist Church is one sick puppy.

I have opined on these people before, most notably in a column titled "Idiots in the Hands of an Angry God." They have made a science out of creating attention for themselves through the manipulation of the law — in which they are well schooled. Their "church" is essentially Fred Phelps and his extended family of lowlife lawyers, living out their pathetic existence in a compound in Topeka, Kansas, and on picket lines around the country.

Though claiming to represent Jesus Christ, Phelps teaches instead a hodgepodge of Old Testament hellfire and brimstone aimed at one particular sin: homosexuality. So obsessed is he with this issue that he has come to the conclusion that American troops who die in battle defending this nation deserve to have their funerals picketed with signs reading "Thank God for IEDs" and "God hates fags."

Albert Snyder, the father of one fallen hero, 20-year-old Marine Lance Corporal Matthew Snyder, decided to sue Phelps and Westboro Church. Snyder won once and lost once before taking his case to the U.S. Supreme Court, which last week ruled on the issue. In an 8-1 decision, the High Court said that Westboro's actions, disgusting though they may be, are protected political speech under the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Only Associate Justice Samuel Alito dissented, writing, "Our profound national commitment to free and open debate is not a license for the vicious verbal assault that occurred in this case. To have a society in which public issues can be openly and vigorously debated, it is not necessary to allow the brutalization of innocent victims."

However, Chief Justice John Roberts, writing for the majority, proclaimed that the church group's signs represented protected speech on public issues, such as "the political and moral conduct of the United States and its citizens, the fate of our nation, homosexuality in the military, and scandals in the Catholic clergy. Distress occasioned by Westboro's picketing turned on the content and viewpoint of the message," Roberts concluded, "rather than any interference with the funeral itself."

As much as I respect Samuel Alito, I believe that John Roberts and the other seven members of the Court are correct on this issue. In fact, as reprehensible as Fred Phelps and his cult's message may be to us as Americans, and as distasteful as I find it to write these words, this decision by the United States Supreme Court may, in fact, turn out to be the salvation of free speech in our nation. If this group's disgusting message, aimed at those who should be our most revered citizens, is protected by the Bill of Rights, then it is hard to imagine a Christian pastor being sanctioned by government for preaching from the pulpit that homosexuality is a sin. And as our society hurls itself downhill toward Sodom and Gomorrah, that prospect becomes more real with each passing day.

This is the glorious and messy business of a free people. Popular speech is speech allowed by tyrants and the masses alike. It is the stuff put forth by those who would lull us to sleep for the purpose of stealing our liberties. Free speech is, necessarily, unpopular speech. As George Washington reminded us more than two centuries ago, "If freedom of speech is taken away, then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter."
_____________________________________________________________________________
© 2011 by Doug Patton
______________________________________________________________________________
Doug Patton describes himself as a recovering political speechwriter who agrees with himself much more often than not. Now working as a freelance writer, his weekly columns of sage political analysis are published the world over by legions of discerning bloggers, courageous webmasters and open-minded newspaper editors. Astute supporters and inane detractors alike are encouraged to e-mail him with their pithy comments at dougpatton@cox.net.

Republican Swamp Draining

If you've read our posts you probably have noted that we haven't been exactly enamored with the possibility of John Ensign (R-NV) seeking re-election. He's a slime ball and probably a crook and the Republicans should hold their candidates and particularly their elected officials to a higher standard. So, it comes as no surprise that we're delighted this guy has announced that he won't seek re-election.

With that said, according to Stu Rothenberg, things look pretty safe for Republicans to keep the seat in Nevada:

"Sen. John Ensign’s (R) retirement announcement isn’t that surprising and doesn’t change our initial bottom line in Nevada since we didn’t expect him to make it out of a primary if he sought reelection.

With Cong. Dean Heller (R) as a likely candidate, Republicans are well-positioned to hold the open Senate seat. Of course it’s still very early in the race and it’s unclear who Democrats will nominate, but the race remains Lean Republican for now."

Employee Union Ownershp Of Mayor and City Council Unlikely to be Addressed

We've learned that an amendment to City of Omaha statutes was prepared for potential introduction before the Omaha City Council. The gist of the amendment would be that the taking of monetary or in-kind contributions from any of the City of Omaha employee unions would trigger the abstention of voting by councilmembers who took such contributions. If a mayor had taken such contributions the council would be required to approve such contracts by five votes.

In an era of increased concern over public union contracts and given the recent attempted recall based very much on the the outrageous provisions of police and anticipated fire union contracts one might think that such a change would make sense, removing the stigma of conflict of interest from those council members who have received such contributions. But, of course, this is a change that will likely never even be discussed by this council given the self interests of Mayor Suttle, Garry Gernandt, Ben Gray, Chris Jerram and Pete Festersen. We can only presume RINO Republican Thomas Mulligan would vote with his adopted Democrat comrades since if anyone will ever need help to get elected in 2013 it will be him.

No, this is a proposal that will never see the light of discussion because it would simply show the hypocrisy of those who are owned by the police and fire unions. Once again, five of the unions' city council marionettes will act in their personal interests, not those of the citizens. Maybe they haven't seen what is going on in Wisconsin and across the nation. Hopefully, in 2013 they will.

Steve Oltmans, the mayors disgraced Chief-of-Staff, who was fired by the Papio-Missouri NRD for lying to its board about an affair he had with one of its board members, has already alerted his and the mayor's union buddies so they can begin their efforts to stop this in its tracks.

We hope somehow, Councilmembers Stothert and Thompson will find a way to at least get this on the agenda so the hypocrisy and ownership of the others can be prominently displayed.

Here are excerpts from the proposed changes:

Section 1: Legislative Findings. This City Council hereby finds and declares that the source of monetary and nonmonetary contributions to candidates for Mayor or City Council of the City of Omaha is a matter of concern to the City Council and the citizens of Omaha. Such contributions, if not addressed, can result in a perception of improper influence upon the actions of elected officials that threatens the integrity and credibility of the governmental process and crates a cynical view that jeopardizes the willingness of voters to participate in the democratic process of local government. This perception can be particularly harmful when the contributions are from labor organizations composed of City of Omaha employees for which collective bargaining agreements and other conditions of employment are presented to the Mayor and City Council for approval or rejections. The City Council further recognizes that monetary and nonmonetary contributions to political campaigns are a legitimate form of free speech and a legitimate form of participation in our political process. To address this concern while not unduly restricting the valuable freedoms and participation, this City Council hereby utilises the authority and direction given by Omaha Home Rule Charter sections 2.11 and 8.05 to prohibit conflicts of interest and provide for rules of procedure for the City Council.

Article XII Campaign Financing

2-322 Any City Councilmember who has received a contribution or in-kind contribution or expenditure from a labor organization or union shall be considered to hold:
(a) An indirect financial interest in a collective bargaining agreement of any nature or kinds between that labor organization or union and the city that is presented to the City Council for approval or rejections; and,
(b) An indirect financial interest in any amendment of the terms of Omaha Municipal Code Chapter 23, Article VI, that affects the contributing labor organization.

Section 2-323 Any Mayor who has received a contribution or in-kind contribution or expenditure from a labor organization or union shall be considered to hold:
(a) An indirect financial interest in a collective bargaining agreement of any nature or kind between that labor organization or union and the city presented to the City Council for approval or rejection; and,
(b) An indirect financial interest in any amendment of terms of Omaha Municipal Code Chapter 23, Article VI, that affects the contributing labor organization or union.

Sec. 2-324 Effect of Contributions

(a) Any City Councilmember who holds an indirect financial interest within the scope of section 2-322 shall abstain from voting on the collective bargaining agreement or amendment. Abstention shall be considered to remove the financial interest for purposes of applying Home Rule Charter section 8.05
(b) Any collective bargaining agreement or amendment in which a Mayor holds an indirect financial interest within the scope of section 2-323 shall require five affirmative votes for approval. Approval in accordance with this subsection shall be considered to remove the financial interests for purposes of applying Home Rule Charter section 8.05.

2012 and Judas Ben Nelson

Stu Rothenberg has some commentary today that might lend credence to the notion that Nebraska's Judas, Ben Nelson, is in trouble come 610 days from now, November 6, 2012.

From today's Rothenberg Report:

"Vulnerable Democrats beware: The bipartisan well is about dry.

Last cycle, Democrats saw their percentage of the Republican vote drop dramatically, and that could spell trouble for incumbents relying on that vote to survive in 2012. Sen. Ben Nelson is at the top of the list.

The Nebraska Democrat received a whopping 42 percent of the GOP vote in 2006 when he cruised to re-election, but with two GOP statewide officeholders already running against him, the Senator’s narrow victory in 2000 is a better road map for a third term. The former two-term governor was elected to the Senate by just a couple of points with the help of 21 percent of the Republican vote.

The trouble for Nelson is that no Democratic Senator or nominee in a competitive race even came close to that share of the GOP vote last cycle, according to an exit poll analysis. As the country becomes more polarized, partisan voters are going against politicians they may like or have supported in the past because they are upset with the candidate’s national party.

In Arkansas, Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D) saw her percentage of the Republican vote slip from 12 percent in 2004 to just 4 percent last cycle when she lost re-election.

In Wisconsin, Sen. Russ Feingold (D) dropped from 14 percent of the GOP vote in 2004 to 5 percent last fall when he lost re-election."


Bachmann's Embarrassing Performance

Michelle Bachmann (R-MN) is the mouth of the Tea Party in the House. She is also mentioned as a potential candidate for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination. Some of our contributors happened to see her performance yesterday morning on "Meet the Press". While we like Bachmann the record which she was programmed apparently got broke on the way to the studio as it just kept repeating the same answer to virtually every question she was asked (other than the one about if and when she might become a candidate for the 2012 presidential nomination). That programmed response was, "The president lied to us about $105 billion of program start-up costs included in the Obamacare bill.

Frankly, it looked like a Sarah Palin moment to us. We also like Sarah Palin but neither of these individuals (for you sexists, we didn't say women) should have any thought in their craniums that they might be electable to the highest office in the land.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Ari Fleischer, Former Bush Press Secretary Makes Stop in Omaha

Ari Fleischer, former press secretary for President George W. Bush from 2001-2003 made a stop in Omaha last night at the Loft 610 at Midtown Crossing. He mingled with about 50 Nebraska Republican boosters for nearly two hours, taking time for photos, comments and questions and answers.

While Fleischer discussed and answered questions on a number of issues our reporters took note of his discussion about the 2012 presidential election. He indicated that the race was likely one between 'old' faces and 'new' faces, seeming to indicate that it will take a 'new' face to win against Obama. Still, he was absolutely convinced that a Republican can beat the current occupant of the White house come next year.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

A Further Look at 2012

Our crew at the O.C. tend to be a little pessimistic (we'd suggest realistic) when it comes to prognostications of elections. We've expressed our concerns about the prospects for the G.O.P. to win in 2012 against the current resident of the White House without a really solid candidate. We now find one of those that we still like being trashed for possession of lots of marijuana (two size 12 shoe boxes full) while a college student in 1970.

Now we do believe that barring any major faux pas the G.O.P. will control the senate in 2013. One of the guys we like when it comes to intelligent prognostication/analysis is Larry Sabato (see link to his Crystal Ball on lower right column) who relates the success of senate candidates to the coattails of the president and his party. His thought process is worth looking at and you can read the balance of his analysis at his site if you wish, but here is the gist of what he has to say:

"Overall, a healthy 58% of the 66 truly competitive Senate battles have been won by the candidate of the presidential nominee that carried the state.

Every election is different, of course, and coattails appear longer in some years (1980-Reagan vs. Carter and 2004-Bush vs. Kerry) than others (1988-Bush vs. Dukakis and 1992-Clinton vs. Bush vs. Perot).

In 2004, Bush’s robust margins in Florida, Kentucky, North Carolina, and South Dakota may well have pushed, respectively, Republicans Mel Martinez, Jim Bunning, Richard Burr, and John Thune over the top. In 2008, Democrats Al Franken of Minnesota and Jeff Merkley of Oregon won wafer-thin victories while Barack Obama was sweeping their states. It is doubtful either Franken or Merkley would be in the Senate today had Obama not led their ticket so handsomely.

The 58% total actually understates the effect of presidential coattails. Look at 1980, for example. Surely, Sens. Gary Hart (D-CO) and Thomas Eagleton (D-MO) would not have had close scrapes in winning reelection had Ronald Reagan not been securing landslides in Colorado and Missouri. Even in his relatively coattail-less 1984 reelection triumph, Reagan surely made the difference for Mitch McConnell in Kentucky and Jesse Helms in North Carolina in their difficult campaigns.

There are remarkable exceptions along the way, too. Ben Nelson (D-NE) had a weak opponent in 2000, but it is still noteworthy that he won with 51% while George W. Bush captured a commanding 62% of the statewide vote in Nebraska. Will Nelson be able to repeat his feat in 2012, when any mainstream Republican nominee for the White House will probably trounce President Obama in the Cornhusker State?

Other than Nelson in Nebraska, there are quite a few 2012 contests almost certain to be substantially influenced by the downdraft from the presidential race, including but not restricted to Florida (Sen. Bill Nelson-D), Massachusetts (Sen. Scott Brown-R), Missouri (Sen. Claire McCaskill-D), Montana (Sen. Jon Tester-D), Nevada (Sen. John Ensign-R), North Dakota (open seat of Sen. Kent Conrad-D), Ohio (Sen. Sherrod Brown-D), and Virginia (open seat of Sen. Jim Webb-D).

When you watch these nine seats, seven of them currently held by Democrats, remember to include the presidential factor in your calculus. You can be certain that some lucky candidates in these states will be grabbing for their White House nominee’s coattails on Election Day."


P.S. We thing Ensign would be well to resign.