Friday, September 28, 2012

Early Voting In Douglas County Starts Out Big

Early voting begins on Monday October 1 in Nebraska.   It looks like there will be lots of early mail ballots cast as we now know that there will be approximately 30,000 early ballots mailed on Monday in Douglas County alone.  

The election commissioner says that up to 100,000 early ballots may be cast by the time it is over.  That would include early walk-ins as well.    We think he may be a little optimistic and would suggest that 75,000 might be closer to the final number based on a 72% turnout and 33% of those voting early.  

Whatever, it will be a big number and folks are interested.   It also changes the dynamics of those candidates seeking election as somewhere between a third and a half of the votes cast in the election may be cast before election day!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Our Rising Pessimism

In the last week we've share two articles that expressed a certain degree of pessimism about the upcoming presidential election.   Obviously, our fair and objective leanings are to Mitt Romney, but things will have to change substantially if Mitt is to pull this out.   Once again forgive our less than optimistic feelings.

Sadly, we have the following from Sabato's Crystal Ball which certainly is yet another building block in our pessimistic attitude.  You can find the entire article at: http://www.centerforpolitics.org/crystalball.   We hope something changes.....


ELECTION TILTS TOWARD OBAMA, SENATE DEMOCRATS
By Kyle Kondik, Larry J. Sabato and Geoffrey Skelley
U.Va. Center for Politics

"Three weeks after the Democratic National Convention, we see little indication that the lead President Barack Obama took after it has faded. Obama is leading Mitt Romney by about four percentage points nationally, according to an average of national horserace surveys, and his edge has trickled down to the swing states.


So with 40 days to go, we're moving several toss-up states in the president's direction. Our changes push Obama over the magic 270 mark, but we are not calling the race. First, the debates are yet to come. There is at least the possibility that, if Romney fares particularly well or Obama does poorly, the drift of this contest could change. Second, other events -- international (a crisis) or domestic (dramatically poor economic numbers) -- could theoretically occur to re-write the narrative of the race. So caution is always in order with almost six weeks to go, yet President Obama clearly leads at the moment. "



Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Have Another Drink and Fun With Ashford

We just got our invitation via Linked In from the Brad Ashford campaign which is holding its 'kickoff' event on October 2nd.    He apparently passed on the 3rd since he didn't want to take away viewership from the first national presidential debate.

Still, it strikes us odd that he is holding his first fundraiser for the spring election during the month preceding his wife's attempt to run a campaign.   Even more interesting is the duration of the event, from 5:30 to 9:00 p.m.  

Since we know that Ashford doesn't believe in voter I.D., we suggest all attendees claim they are under 30 so they can get the reduced admission rate.  

We also wonder why any politician needs to include in his/her invitation that there will be "an open bar".    Mothers Against Drunk Driving should like that......


Subject: Campaign Kickoff - Brad Ashford - Mayor for Omaha

Dear Friends,

Please join us on October 2nd for the official Brad Ashford, Mayor for Omaha Kickoff Event. Appetizers and open bar will be served in the Ballroom.

Tuesday, October 2nd
5:30PM - 9:00PM

Happy Hollow Country Club
1701 South 105th Street * Omaha, NE

Suggested Contribution: $250 per couple & $25 for those 30 years old and younger.
RSVP to sarah@bradashford.com or www.bradashford.com

Thank you for your support!

Ad Wars (Romney): Too Many Americans

The Romney campaign has yet another new ad out, this one to talk about the economy.

Will Ralston's Lingerie Football League Have Better Officials than the NFL?



We couldn't pass up a relevant article from the Daily Caller given the controversy over the Packers Seahawk game the other night.    Apparently some of the replacement officials in the NFL aren't competent enough to officiate in the Lingerie League.....

Refs fired from Lingerie Football League still officiating NFL games
 by Sarah Hofmann

"If you think getting fired as a referee for the Lingerie Football League means you’ve lost the best job imaginable, have no fear — you can always get a job officiating NFL games.

The LFL had been keeping silent about the replacement referees in the NFL until early Tuesday morning.

In August, Deadspin reached out to the league for comment about a rumor that some of the refs had been fired. After the controversial Packers versus Seahawks outcome Monday night, the league responded and took the opportunity to jab the NFL as well:
“Because of the LFL’s perception it is that much more critical for us to hire officiating crews that are competent, not only for the credibility of our game but to keep our athletes safer. Due to several on-field incompetent officiating we chose to part ways with with a couple crews which apparently are now officiating in the NFL. We have a lot of respect for our officials but we felt the officiating was not in line with our expectations.........."

Obama's Keystone Wake-up Call to Canada

We thought we'd share the following article with our readers, including Jane Fonda Kleeb who will probably be delighted that Canada sees China as a potential partner.   Regardless of what success the ultra-green Kleeb has in defeating the Keystone XL Pipeline, the tar sand oil of Canada will be developed.    It's just a matter of whether the U.S. gets it and reduces its energy dependence on the unfriendly nations of the world or whether China gets it leaving the U.S. that much more vulnerable.....

Obama's Keystone XL pipeline veto a wake-up call to Canada, says former ambassador to U.S.


September 24, 2012
Calgary Herald
Dan Healing

"U.S. President Barack Obama's decision to veto the Keystone XL pipeline has fundamentally changed the way Canadians and their leaders see free trade and that's a good thing, says the former ambassador to the United States.

In a panel discussion at the Global Business Forum, Derek Burney said Canada should be expanding trade ties with the rest of the world and it's disappointing that it hasn't done more in the 25 years since the North American Free Trade Agreement was signed.

"I think that the veto of Keystone was a wake-up call for the Canadian government and the Canadian people," he said.

"(Prime Minister Stephen Harper) has had a sea change in terms of his attitude about China and that has been provoked by the situation with Keystone."

Burney added Canada's trade with the United States has fallen as a percentage of total exports and stands to fall further as the American fiscal probalems multiply.

"As the prime minister has observed, we cannot allow ourselves to be a captive market for exports of energy or anything else to a single market, especially one that's into a prolonged slump," he said.

He said Canada should be trying to free up trade with countries that are expected to grow, such as Brazil.

Karen Harbert, president and chief executive of the Institute for 21st Century Energy at the U.S.Chamber of Commerce, said Harper was correct when he said approving the pipeline designed to bring oilsands crude to the Gulf Coast was "obviously, a no brainer."

She said Canada and the United States are so closely aligned that they are almost family members.

"You know, you treat your friends really well, you know, sometimes you treat your enemies even better than your friends, but the people you sometimes leave behind and who are afterthoughts are your family," she said.

Harbert said she admires Canada for lower corporate tax rates and its energy regulatory regime.

"You actually have some certainty in your permitting process," she said. "Our's is completely open ended and Keystone is the result of that."

Leonard Waverman, dean of the Haskayne School of Business at the University of Calgary, asked if Canada could wind up relying too much on China if it switches its exporting emphasis there.

"The old adage is that when the U.S. sneezes, Canada gets a cold. But China could have a heart attack. It's not a long-term, stable, innovative economy," he pointed out.
Burney replied that Canada could easily double its energy exports to China and it would still be a very small percentage of the total, adding that anyone involved in exporting must be prepared to take on risk.

Addressing the $15.1-billion bid by the China National Offshore Oil company for Nexen Inc., Burney said Canada needs foreign capital to develop its resources but that doesn't mean it can't use its "leverage" to negotiate terms for issues such as dispute resolution, vitally important when dealing with a country with a very different political system."

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Congressman Terry and Smith Highly Ranked By Citizens Against Government Waste

Citizens Against Government Waste has released it's 2011 ratings for all of America's finest including the Nebraska delegation.   It's no surprise that the guy that was the 60th vote for Obamacare, the Judas Ben Nelson got an 'unfriendly' rating.  And it is certainly nice to see that Senator Johanns received a 'hero' rating which is exactly what we expect Deb Fischer will do once she replaces Judas.

It is a little surprising that Congressman Fortenberry didn't do particularly well, but it is not surprising at all that Congressmen Terry and Smith got 'friendly' ratings from this group that isn't exactly easy to please. Here is how the ratings stacked up.

Nebraska Ratings

Sen. Johanns, Mike
Party Affiliation: Republican
District: NE
2011 Rating: 82% (Hero)
 
Sen. Nelson, Ben
Party Affiliation: Democrat
District: NE
2011 Rating: 29% (Unfriendly)
 
Rep. Fortenberry, Jeff
Party Affiliation: Republican
District: 1
2011 Rating: 44% (Lukewarm)
 
Rep. Smith, Adrian
Party Affiliation: Republican
District: 3
2011 Rating: 68% (Friendly)

Rep. Terry, Lee
Party Affiliation: Republican
District: 2
2011 Rating: 65% (Friendly)

Ad War (Romney): No, I Can't

Here's a new web ad from the Romney Campaign taking Obama on those jobs he hasn't created for college graduates.    All of sudden, we have Obama saying "No I can't" rather than "Yes I can".

Mayor Suttle's War on Landlords -- John C. Chatelain

          As bits and pieces emerge, we are learning what the Mayor’s Task Force on Landlords contains.  Among other things, the city wants to be able to 1) post “closed property” without the owner’s permission, 2) allow property owners to assign eviction rights to the city, 3) be named loss payee on property insurance policies, and 4) require training and certification of landlords.

Interviewed by Todd Andrew of KETV Channel 7 for the September 23rd Chronicle episode entitled Neglected Properties, representatives of Omaha Together One Community (OTOC) and North Omaha Neighborhood Alliance, Gloria Austerberry and Terrie Miller, stressed that neighborhoods are unsafe due to crime and vandalism involving so-called nuisance properties. 

Their goal of keeping people in North Omaha churches and communities appears laudable.   They want more money to demolish houses followed by someone building new homes where the demolished ones stood.  Until new homes are built they would like lawns and gardens planted to beautify the empty lots.  Considering the financial condition of the federal and city governments, their silence on the money source to do those things speaks volumes.   

            Channel 7 also interviewed Omaha city representatives, Mike Getty and James Thele, who echoed the desire for more houses to be destroyed.   The council has allocated  $500,000 and is hoping for an additional $300,000.00 from the federal government toward demolitions.  They reported that additional city housing inspectors are being hired.  

            According to the proponents of the mayor’s plan, the problem appears to be vacant properties slated for demolition, for which the city lacks funds.   Oddly, long after city code enforcement has ordered the property vacated, driving out the tenants and property owners, the “landlord” is still the culprit.     

          Two-thirds of the task force participants were government employees.   Apparently two or three landlords were invited to a briefing on the recommendations the evening before the report was presented.   The mayor could then say the landlords were included in his recommendations.  There was no input by people who actually know the industry, however.  This is all unfortunate because we acknowledge serious issues in North Omaha but we were never able to participate in any possible solutions.

The proposals were ostensibly directed at only the worst landlords, but they would burden everyone in the business, right down to folks who may own only one or two income properties.    Tools already exist to deal with crime and serious code violations.   Additional layers of bureaucracy will do nothing to correct the problems but would create new unintended consequences.

            Real estate investors should be very concerned about new regulations making it more difficult and less profitable to do business in Omaha.    Even more sinister is the prospect of city government maneuvering into position to shut down any real estate investor deemed uncooperative.    Mayor Suttle’s wish list of programs simply cannot be accomplished without a heavy hammer. 

There are weighty property right concerns here.  It would be one thing for government to take property by eminent domain, paying market value for it.   What the task force is proposing, however, would chip away at the enjoyment of property ownership, while leaving all the headaches of property management on the owner.  The proposals are all negative with nothing to encourage the property investor, hence the need for vigorous prosecution.  

Monday, September 24, 2012

Omaha's Occupation Tax Addiction -- Platte Institute

 
Tomorrow, the Omaha City Council plans to vote on a new 7 percent occupation tax on cigarettes to fund the University of Nebraska-Medical Center's new cancer research facility. A new occupation tax would harm Omaha's economic outlook and is another example of local government raising taxes for non-essential services.

In addition to its negative impact on Omaha's economy, a cigarette tax would also hurt local businesses and lower income individuals.
 
Cigarette taxes are notoriously unreliable as a source of revenue, particularly since their intent is to discourage consumption. The state of Nebraska already imposes a cigarette tax of 64 cents per pack of 20 and 80 cents per pack of 25, on top of the federal cigarette tax of $1.01 per pack.[1] This gives Nebraska the 38th highest cigarette tax in the nation, a rank which would increase to 31st if Omaha successfully imposes its additional tax of 35 cents per pack.[2] Between 1967 and 2011, the amount of cigarette packs sold in Nebraska decreased 38 percent, with 6.1 percent of that decrease occurring between 2006 and 2011.[3] Such a rapid decrease in consumption demonstrates that the cigarette tax cannot be relied on as a long-term revenue stream, as decreasing consumption inevitably leads to decreased revenue.

Additionally, because the occupation tax would only exist within Omaha city limits, Omaha smokers can easily avoid it by buying their cigarettes outside the city limits, undercutting not only the projected cigarette tax revenue but local sales tax revenue as well.

Driving smokers to buy cigarettes outside the city-as this tax would do-would also have a detrimental effect on Omaha businesses who sell cigarettes, as they would lose customers to sellers outside Omaha. The revenue Omaha businesses would lose because of this tax could cost Omahans jobs, or even force Omaha sellers out of business.[4]

The cigarette tax is also a regressive tax. A recent study by the Research Triangle Institute found that nationally 24.3 percent of individuals in the lowest income group smoked, and from 2010-2011, those individuals spent 14.2 percent of their annual household income on cigarettes. In New York-which has the highest cigarette taxes in the nation-individuals in the lowest income group spent 23.6 percent of their annual income on cigarettes.[5]

Imposing this tax for the benefit of UNMC-which is supported by a Foundation with a $1.7 billion budget-the City Council would essentially be taxing the poor to benefit a well-connected special interest group.

In recent years, Omaha has shown a propensity for imposing occupation taxes as a way to avoid the limits on sales tax. Among the most egregious examples is Omaha's 2.5 percent tax on restaurants, which when combined with local and state sales taxes, gives Omaha the 6th highest meal tax rate in the nation, with 9.5 percent of every restaurant bill going to taxes, a rate even higher than the notoriously expensive and high tax cities of New York, Los Angeles, and Boston.[6] Additionally, Omaha has a 6.25 percent occupation tax on telecommunications companies, which has contributed to Nebraskans having the highest cell phone tax bill in the nation, with 23.7 percent of every bill going to pay taxes.[7]

Another example of occupation taxes gone wild is the 1.5 percent hotel and lodging tax, which, when combined with state, county, and city sales and other lodging taxes, results in Omaha hotel patrons paying 15.36 percent of their bill in taxes, not including the immense costs shouldered by local hotels and their employees.[8]

This addiction by the City of Omaha to occupation taxes has even prompted two bills in the state Legislature, LB165-which capped the amount municipalities could charge on telecommunications occupation taxes-and LB745-which force occupation taxes that bring in over a certain amount of revenue to be put to a public vote and tied to a specific project.[9] Yet Omaha has found ways to avoid these restrictions, as the cigarette tax is estimated to bring in less than the $6 million of annual revenue that would trigger a public vote under the law.

It is time for Omaha to break its insatiable appetite for occupation taxes, and it can start by refusing to implement a cigarette tax that would raise little revenue, punish the poor, and put Omahans out of work.
[1]
Bernard J. Scherr, "LRO Backgrounder: A Brief History of Nebraska's Cigarette Tax," Legislative Research Office, March 2012. Available at
http://nebraskalegislature.gov/pdf/reports/research/2012_cigtax.pdf, accessed September 19, 2012.
[2]
Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, "State Cigarette Excise Tax Rates & Rankings." Available at http://www.tobaccofreekids.org/research/factsheets/pdf/0097.pdf, accessed September 19, 2012.
[3]
Berk Brown, "Hate the Sin, Tax the Sinner?" Platte Institute for Economic Research, March 11, 2010. Available at http://www.platteinstitute.org/research/comments/hate-the-sin-tax-the-sinner, accessed September 19, 2012; Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, "State Cigarette Tax Rates & Rank, Date of Last Increase, Annual Pack Sales & Revenues, and Related Data." Available at http://www.tobaccofreekids.org/research/factsheets/pdf/0099.pdf, accessed September 19, 2012. Calculations performed by author.
[4]
Karla James, "Omaha looking at new tax on cigarettes to fund UNMC's new cancer facility," Nebraska Radio Network, September 10, 2012. Available at http://nebraskaradionetwork.com/2012/09/10/omaha-looking-at-new-tax-on-cigarettes-to-fund-unmcs-new-cancer-facility/, accessed September 19, 2012.
[5]
Matthew Farrelly, James Nonnemaker, and Kimberly Watson, "The Consequences of High Cigarette Excise Taxes for Low-Income Smokers," Research Triangle Institute, September 12, 2012. Available at http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0043838, accessed September 19, 2012.
[6]
Joseph Henchman, Alex Raut, and Kevin Duncan, "Meal Taxes in Major U.S. Cities," Tax Foundation. Available at http://www.taxfoundation.org/news/show/28018.html, accessed September 19, 2012.

Ad Wars (Obama): No Taxes - Obama for America TV Ad

Here's a new attack ad against Romney from the Obama campaign and it would have you believe that Romney doesn't much care about the 47% of the population that pays no federal income taxes.  And it attacks him for paying only 14.1% of his income in taxes.   Of course, we once again point out that the nearly $2 million that Romney paid in taxes in 2011 was more than the total federal income taxes paid by that 47% of the population COMBINED!!!!!

Ad Wars (Romney): Stand Up to China

Here's a new ad you can expect to see from the Romney Campaign dealing with Obama's refusal to deal with China and the subsequent cost to American jobs.

Romney Must Do More Than Merely “Give ‘em Heck” -- Doug Patton


In response to his nickname, “Give ‘em Hell Harry,” President Truman was reputed to have said, “I never did give ‘em hell. I just told the truth, and they thought it was hell.” In 1980, Ronald Reagan rallied his winning coalition using that same strategy, and legions of Republicans, Democrats and Independents responded.

Unfortunately, Mitt Romney too often seems incapable of much more than putting on that goody two shoes Ward Cleaver smile of his and merely giving them ‘heck’ — which is not going to cut it in 2012 against a slash-and-burn campaign like Barack Obama’s.

Romney has been running for president for at least the last five years, and who knows how long he planned to run before that? One might think that he would have learned from studying past campaigns what to say and how to say it. He should have learned from the winners in both parties (Ronald Reagan, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama), as well from the losing efforts (Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, Bob Dole, John Kerry and John McCain). He should not have to be coached about what he believes. He should know in his gut, as Reagan did, what to say and how to say it.

Romney touched a raw nerve with the Obama supporters in the media last week when he defended the First Amendment and vilified the Obama administration for its hand wringing apologies to the tyrants and crazies in the Middle East. This earned him a gold star with those of us who long for the days when the Gipper truly gave ‘em hell.

Now comes this grainy video, with two minutes missing, leaked to left-wing Mother Jones magazine by none other than the grandson of former President Jimmy Carter, showing Romney speaking at a fundraiser last spring. In it, he speaks the unvarnished truth, albeit “inelegantly,” about the desire of the Obama administration to create a permanent Democrat voting majority through dependence on government — a kind of living manifestation of the creepy “Julia” cartoon the president was so proud to have posted on his website a few months ago.

So far, Romney has not backed down on the truth he spoke on that video. But will he continue to double down with this valid attack on Obama, employing the same go-for-the-jugular tactics his campaign used against Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum and anyone else who threatened his ascendency in the primaries? Time will tell, but it is curious that, for a man who persuaded people to invest millions of dollars into his business ventures over the years, Romney sometimes seems almost timid in his approach to this campaign.

Theories abound as to why this is. Many conservatives blame the campaign’s chief strategist, Stuart Stevens, a jack-of-all-trades gadfly who has worked for such “it’s my turn” losers as Dole and McCain. Stevens is drawing a lot of heat this time around for apparently believing that the anemic economy will automatically turn voters away from Obama’s heavy-handed policies and hand the election to Romney. This is a common misconception among overpaid consultants and inside-the-beltway advisors, who truly believe that the way to win independent voters is to moderate and play nice. How many races do these people have to lose before they examine the premise of their campaign playbook?

If Mitt Romney wants to win this election, he should shut the door on Stuart Stevens and sit down with his running mate for advice. Paul Ryan is a winner, and the de facto leader of the next generation of conservatives. It would be a terrible waste if it turns out that Romney put Ryan on the ticket as window dressing, a kind of red meat bait for conservative activists, as John McCain did with Sarah Palin, while running a milquetoast presidential campaign of moderation and appeasement.

I believe that Mitt Romney will win this election, but like Harry and the Gipper, he needs to make the sale.
______________________________________________________________________________

© 2012 by Doug Patton
______________________________________________________________________________

Doug Patton describes himself as a recovering political speechwriter who agrees with himself more often than not. Now working as a freelance writer, his weekly columns are syndicated exclusively by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate. Astute supporters and inane detractors alike are encouraged to email him with their pithy comments at dpatton@cagle.com. For info on using his column at your publication or website, please email Cari Dawson Bartley at cari@cagle.com.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

We couldn't help but be impressed with the president's invite to have dinner with us.   It even came with the great seating chart below which kind of reminds us of the thoroughness of the plans which he has used to restore America's economy......




"We're already figuring out the seating arrangements for the last Dinner with Barack of this campaign.

Two of these seats could be yours.

But only if you enter.


Make a donation of $5 or whatever you can and you'll be automatically entered for the chance to join the President for dinner:
https://donate.barackobama.com/Dinner

Seriously, what are you waiting for?

Julianna

Julianna Smoot
Deputy Campaign Manager
Obama for America

P.S. -- Airfare and accommodations are taken care of."

Should We Gamble on Dinner???

Gosh, if we were only gamblers.......Don't we have a constitutional right to have dinner with him???

You, President Obama, a table, chairs, and some grub.

Want to give it a shot?

Dinner with Barack

Donate $5 or whatever you can, and you'll be automatically entered for the chance to join the President for dinner:

https://donate.barackobama.com/Dinner

It'll be pretty awesome -- we'll even fly you (and a friend) out for the big night.

Thanks,

Obama for America

Saturday, September 22, 2012

More Pessimism?

If you read our 'Rothenberg' commentary yesterday you had to be a little pessimistic.  Well, maybe you shouldn't read what we share below, but we are objective and in all candor something needs to change, i.e. debates, etc., if conservatives are to defeat this sad excuse of a president:

"Presidential Ratings Change: Advantage Obama" from "The Rothenberg Political Report"

"We are moving six states in our presidential race ratings: Ohio, Virginia and Wisconsin from Toss-up to Lean Obama, and Michigan, New Mexico and Pennsylvania to Solid Obama.

Deteriorating state poll numbers for Mitt Romney suggest that these states have moved a few points toward the president, and while Ohio, Virginia and Wisconsin are still broadly “in play,” Barack Obama now has a small but clear advantage over his GOP challenger in them.

Five states that have been in the toss-up category remain there: Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Nevada and New Hampshire, either because new polling is inconclusive or we have not seen enough new polling to move the state. That said, Obama looks to be in a better position now than he was a month ago in all of those states, suggesting further bad news for Romney if the Republican cannot create some momentum nationally.

The moves change our current electoral vote estimate to: 278 Safe and Leaning for Obama, 206 Safe and Leaning for Romney and 54 Toss-up.

While we do not yet believe that the contest for the White House is “over,” the president clearly now has the upper hand, and Romney needs to change the trajectory of the race if he is going to deny Obama a second term."

Friday, September 21, 2012

Mitt Romney's Taxes

For those who will carry on about the fact that Mitt Romney only paid $1,935,000 in taxes on his $14 million of so of earnings for 2011, we might remind them of the fact that Romney paid more federal income taxes than 51% of the entire American public combined!!!!!!!

Makes you wonder who is paying his fair share and who has ownership in our country---and, yes, who is the real victim.......

Ad Watch (Romney): "Redistribution"

Here's the latest from the Republican National Committee.   W like it.

Pessimism for Conservatives?

Stu Rothenberg continues to give us what we feel is a pretty objective analysis is reality.   In his current assessment below that assessment may not please conservatives such as us but it is probably realistic.   Let's hope things change and let's not be discouraged.   It's still early.

""In Politics, Expect the Unexpected" from "The Rothenberg Political Report"
I was on a panel at an event in the nation's capital Sept. 10. The subject was the elections, and another panelist and I discussed the race for the White House and the fight for control of Congress.

Toward the end of the event, someone in the audience asked about foreign policy. Does it matter in this election cycle? I was quick to reply. "No," I said confidently, noting that the elections are all about the economy. The other panelist generally agreed, adding that he thought it was unfortunate, but also true, that the candidates and most voters weren't paying attention to foreign policy issues.

Just a couple of days later, foreign policy became a major topic of discussion, both in the presidential race and for the media, after the killing of a U.S. ambassador in Libya, attacks on the U.S. embassy in Egypt and a mini-controversy regarding the reaction of GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney's campaign to the attacks.

Unforeseen events can always alter the trajectory of an election. That's what happened in the Middle East last week, with the ambassador's death and when the Israeli government signaled its preference in the U.S. presidential race. It happened, too, when the Federal Reserve announced another round of quantitative easing, which produced a noticeable surge in stocks.

Any single one of those events could have been enough to alter the political terrain of the 2012 presidential race. But in fact, the trajectory of the 2012 race may well have changed a week earlier, when, contrary to almost everyone's expectations, the Democratic National Convention altered the thinking of a small but important number of people about the nature of the 2012 presidential election.

I don't know any independent analyst or reporter who expected the party conventions to be decisive. Given the nation's polarization and after months of TV advertising in key states by both the Obama and Romney campaigns, it seemed unlikely that a few speeches would change sentiment enough to affect the race.

But while the GOP convention played to form - there was no bump, no remaking of the contest - the Democratic convention produced something significant.

What seems to have happened in Charlotte, N.C., is that Democrats sold the argument to an important slice of the electorate that four years isn't a true test of President Barack

Obama's ability to turn around the country and that he deserves another term to finish the job.

The convention produced an uptick in the "right direction/wrong track" numbers in a handful of surveys, but even more importantly, it apparently convinced some voters that the president has started the economy on the road to recovery after he found it much worse off than anyone expected.

President Bill Clinton's comment that "even he" couldn't have turned things around in just four years may not deserve credit for the convention's success, but it may sum up the conclusion a few more people had after the convention than before it.
Obama's bump coming out of Charlotte was not large. His standing improved by 2 or 3 points and Romney's slid a couple of points. But in a tight race, with few undecided or "movable" voters, that is a significant move in opinion, and in the shape of the race.
It's also significant that it occurred right after August numbers were released, showing another poor month of job creation. While the unemployment rate fell, only 96,000 new jobs were created in August and hundreds of thousands of Americans stopped looking for work.

But these depressing numbers didn't turn more Americans against the president's re-election. That suggests that the poor economy is already baked into the election outlook and that a crucial sliver of the electorate has concluded that although the outlook is bad, the president deserves another four years to try to turn the economy around.

If this description of the landscape is accurate, it means Romney has just less than seven weeks to change current sentiment. The debates constitute an obvious opportunity, and while the August jobs numbers had little effect, really bad jobs numbers announced in early October or early November could still be important.
And then, of course, there are those unexpected events that can turn a seemingly predictable election into a head-scratcher. Romney mischaracterizes 47 percent of the electorate and the president of the United States suddenly doesn't know whether Egypt is an ally.

Since the conventions, things have deteriorated further for Romney. He seems to spend more time putting himself on the defensive than Obama, and the media death watch is well under way, as evidenced by the process stories about dissension in the Romney campaign and the feeding frenzy about a Romney statement at a fundraiser. The Obama campaign continues to outshine the Republican's in almost every aspect.
The burden is now on the GOP to change the trajectory of the race to deny Obama a second term. That will be very difficult, but this has been a very strange political year and a half, so anything is possible."

Ad Watch (Obama): Adam Scott and Rashida Jones: Be the First to Vote in Iowa - Early Votin...

Here is a new one by stars Adam Scott and Rashida Jones (whoever they are) aimed at getting young voters to vote early in Iowa beginning September 27.   Wow only a week away and early voting starts.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Ad Watch (Romney): "Disappearing" - Restore Our Future

This is the latest from Restore our Future, a pro-Romney super and is being aired in Michigan and Wisconsin.

Ad Watch (Romney): War On Coal

And yet another Romney ad directed at those who make their living in the coal industry.

Ad Watch (Romney): Way Of Life

Remember the days of yore when we had only a few ads from presidential candidates and most were generic and played across all 48 or 50?   Not any more.   Here is the latest from the Romney campaign aimed at those who make a living in the coal industry.....

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Deb Fischer Young Professionals Interview

If you have time you might want to take a look at the Deb Fischer interview with the Omaha Young Professionals group.

Seen at the Airport

Some of us are scratching our heads over the two politicians seen at Eppley Airport yesterday.   Yes, Mayor Donald Groesser of Ralston and would-be Mayor of Omaha and State Senator Brad Ashford were seen together on their way to Kentucky to 'study' city/county consolidation..

Oops, does that mean a Mayor Ashford would be looking to not only combine Douglas County and Omaha but also include Ralston in an annexation or combination as well?

Someone, maybe a watchdog, should ask.....

Tim Dunning Not Supporting Ashford


Some may have gained the impression from the local daily's morning addition that Douglas County Sheriff Tim Dunning has endorsed Brad Ashford.  That's not true. Apparently, there is a lawyer in the area with the same name.  


With the Heritage Coalition effort to overturn Ben Gray's anti-gay, lesbian, transgender ordinance, the Archbishop of Omaha's Catholic Diocese, George Lucas, has sent the following letter to the pastors of all Omaha Catholic Churches.

Frankly, we were hoping for an even stronger response from Archbishop Lucas, but we believe that it is a given that the effort will get more than the necessary signatures despite his tepid endorsement of the effort.

Here is the letter he is sending to pastors of Omaha Catholic Churches:

"Dear Father,
You will soon learn from the local media about an effort that is underway to repeal the City of Omaha’s sexual orientation anti-discrimination ordinance.  The sponsor of this initiative – the Heritage Coalition – must collect 12,000 signatures from October to November to place the ordinance on the spring (2013) mayoral ballot.  The sponsor believes that if given the opportunity, Omahans will vote to repeal this ordinance.

Representatives of the Heritage Coalition may try to solicit your support.  As pastor of your parish, you are free to exercise your discretion in determining if and how you want to involve yourself or your parishioners in this effort which addresses an important moral issue.  Examples of your involvement may include speaking about the issue in your parish, giving petitioners access to your parish events, scheduling information nights at your parish to discuss the issue, providing informational handouts to your parishioners, etc.  If you and your parishioners choose to participate in this petition drive, I ask that there be no undue disruption of parish liturgies, nor distraction from the important moral issues at stake in national and state elections this fall.

You can contact Deacon Tim McNeil if you have questions about this ballot initiative.  In the meantime, thank you for the care you provide the souls entrusted to you.

Sincerely yours in Christ,

 

Archbishop George Lucas"

Ad Watch (Romney): American Crossroads: "Next"

Here's the latest from Karl Rove's American Crossroads.   It's a $10 million buy that will play in all the 'swing' states.

Ad Watch (Romney): American Crossroads: "Next"

Here's the latest from Karl Rove's American Crossroads.   It's a $10 million buy that will play in all the 'swing' states.

Electoral Votes: Could Paul Supporters Cost Romney the Election?

We've talked about how the Ron Paul supporters could affect the results of the Electoral College votes that ultimately 'elect' the next president.   We, in the past, showed concern about Nebraska Paul supporters becoming Nebraska electors.   Fortunately, no Paul supporters were chosen as electors in Nebraska.   But that appears to not be the case elsewhere.  

With the potential of a very close vote, a couple of electoral votes could make a real difference for someone who wanted to send a message.  We hope that doesn't happen, but, from ALLGOV, we have the following: 

Republican Electors Threaten to Vote for Ron Paul Instead of Romney--Noel Brinkerhoff, David Wallechinsky

"In the event November’s presidential election is a squeaker, Mitt Romney may be down two or more Electoral College votes from members of his own party.

Because of the archaic voting system used in the United States, voters do not actually vote for a candidate, but for a slate of state electors who are pledged to vote for that candidate if he or she wins the state. In most states, these electors are not legally required to vote for the candidate who won the state. In fact, there have been 87 instances in which an elector refused to vote for the presidential or vice-presidential candidate he or she was supposed to.

Two supporters of Ron Paul have said publicly they may not vote for Romney in the Electoral College in December. They, and others, have expressed frustration with party leaders over what they said were heavy-handed attempts throughout the campaign and the convention to deny Paul the nomination.

The two Paul supporters considering not voting for Romney are Ken Eastman of Nevada and Billie Zimmerman of Texas.

In addition, another Nevada elector, Ken Searles, says he may vote for Paul as a protest, but only if his vote doesn’t change the outcome of the election. And Kathleen Miller of Alaska plans to vote for Romney but said she might change her mind if GOP leaders engage in more “shenanigans.”

One defector, Melinda Wadsley from Iowa, resigned rather than vote for Romney. “They’ve never given Ron Paul a fair shot, and I’m disgusted with that. I’d like to show them how disgusted I am,” Wadsley told the Associated Press.

The last time a Republican elector switched his vote was 1976, when Mike Padden of Washington voted for Ronald Reagan instead."

Mitt Romney on Obama Voters

Since we had the audacity to publish President Obama's redistribution audio it's only fair that we also provide the commentary that the Democrats are crying about where Mitt Romney reflects on what we believe to be the reality of the voters.

Those Effective Well Used Stimulus Funds

As we reflect on President Obama's 'stimulus' program today we share the belief that many have that the program was virtually worthless.   In fact, even today we are seeing examples of how ineffective it was in stimulating the economy quickly and creating jobs for Americans.

Just yesterday we learned that the Omaha Public School System still has $2 million of UNSPENT STIMULUS dollars that it is carrying forward to use in NEXT YEAR'S budget.    How did that stimulate the economy and put folks back to work three years after it was supposed to?

Also, today we learn that the federal government ignored its own rules and purchased Chinese made solar panels under the stimulus program, that is the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, in 2010.  So, they lend $500 million of taxpayer money to Solyndra, which goes bankrupt, while buying solar panels from China to put on top of a federal building housing the offices of a congressman, a senator and several federal agencies.

Yes, your stimulus dollars have been really effective!

The REAL Barack Obama: "I Actually Believe In Redistribution"


While Democrats chastise Mitt Romney for telling the truth about 47% of the population, they'd like us all to forget the who the real Barack Obama is and what really motivates his every action in office.   And that is REDISTRIBUTION!  

By his own words, he believes in it. 

Ad Wars (Romney): The Romney Plan

Another new ad from the Romney campaign, this one on China and jobs. 

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Omaha's Joe Ricketts A Big Player in National Elections

Omaha's own Joe Ricketts is in the news with his efforts to support Mitt Romney and congressional Republicans, but be advised that Ricketts is an independent and may also help some Democrats who share his anti-earmark philosophy as well.

From: The Hill Overnight Campaign:

"Joe Ricketts, the founder of TD Ameritrade Inc. and owner of the Chicago Cubs, is spending a total of $12 million on advertising supporting Mitt Romney and congressional Republican races."

And from the Wall Street Journal:

Joe Ricketts, the founder of what became online brokerage TD Ameritrade Inc., plans to spend $10 million airing ads supporting GOP nominee Mitt Romney and another $2 million to help Republicans running for Congress. The ads will begin airing this week.
The ads stack up as one of the biggest electioneering efforts by an individual in the 2012 election. National cable television spots will feature disaffected Obama supporters talking about......."

Arrogant Councilman Gray Hangs up on Radio Host Becka

The hypocrisy and arrogance of Omaha City Councilman Ben Gray continues to astound although not surprise us.    Yesterday he did an interview with 1290 Radio host Tom Becka on the recently announced effort to repeal 'Gray's' gay, lesbian, transgender ordinance.    Before hanging up on Becka, Gray said of those making the effort that, "It's their way or the highway."   Seems to us it's been Ben's way or the highway.   Gray also said, "We don't have any documented cases." Before hanging up on Becka he said, "Let them do what they want to do."

Gray was his normal testy and arrogant self.   To listen to his pitiful commentary to Becka you can check it out at the following link: 

Ad Wars (Romney): Dear Daughter

Here is a good one from the Romney campaign that says a lot about how Obama's policies are helping both the newborn females as well as those trying to find jobs now.

Ad Wars (Romney): Prairie Fire

Here is the latest from the Romney Campaign.

Two Kinds of Justice: One for Rich Whites, One for 'Respected' Blacks

Let's get this straight.   A lawmaker STEALS from HER CAMPAIGN ACCOUNT, STEALS MONEY GIVEN HER BY CONTRIBUTORS, ADMITS TO THE CRIME and her fellow lawmakers say that if she is re-elected they won't bring impeachment against her.    Thankfully this criminal, Gambling-addicted Nebraska State Senator won't get re-elected but if per chance she does maybe it is time to ask if there are two different forms up justice?  

When Dave Hergert was elected to the University of Nebraska Board of Regents in 2006 he was accused of a number of campaign violations.   He WAS NEVER FOUND GUILTY OR CHARGED WITH ANY CRIME although he did pay a fine for violating campaign laws.   When he refused to resign as a result of his actions, THE LEGISLATURE IMPEACHED HIM!!!!

Yet we are told by current LIBERAL DEMOCRAT STATE SENATOR COLLEAGUES OF THE THIEVING BRENDA COUNCIL THAT THEY RESPECT HER AND DON'T BELIEVE SHE SHOULD BE IMPEACHED IF RE-ELECTED.  

Council will plead guilty today in Lancaster District Court to two misdemeanors of filing false reports which Hergert was also accused of.  We don't know why Attorney General Bruning has let her off so easily.   Anyone who stole money from a business would face felony charges.   Douglas County Attorney Don Kleine could apparently still bring additional charges, but we suspect he won't prosecute a fellow 'respected' Democrat THIEF.

So, again, we ask are there two kinds of justice in Nebraska?  One for a wealthy white male who isn't convicted of a crime?   Or, one for a black female, who some of her colleagues respect who is by her own admission guilty of STEALING (Hergert never stole anything)?

Monday, September 17, 2012

The University's 'Occupation Scam'

We might put things a little more strongly than our friends at the Platte Institute and we thing Governor Heineman is right on in questioning how honest the University has been in its effort to grab taxpayer dollars from so many sources, but with that said here is what the Platte Institute has to say:

Local Government Needs to Prioritize
Douglas County officials were quick to criticize Governor Heineman's
tax relief plan last January because of its provision to eliminate the
inheritance tax, arguing that elimination of the tax would force
the county to cut essentials services or raise property taxes.[1] Now,
eight months after threatening to raise property taxes or cut essential
services if the inheritance tax was cut, the Douglas County Board has
voted to commit $5 million over the next ten years to the construction
of the University of Nebraska Medical Center's (UNMC) new cancer
center, to be paid for by inheritance taxes.[2]
 
It is great that an expansion of UNMC would make it an epicenter for
cancer research, but it begs the question-how much of the $370 million
expansion are taxpayers going to pay for?[3] In the last legislative
session, state lawmakers committed $50 million from the state's cash
reserve for the project,[4] $5 million in taxpayer dollars is committed
by Douglas County, and the City of Omaha has now proposed a new
occupation tax on cigarettes in order to raise an additional $35
million.[5]
 
Regardless of how worthy the cause, cities and counties should be
careful doling out taxpayer funds to favored organizations like the
University. They should be especially careful when the funding
sources they are relying on are volatile.
 
Although the county is estimating that the inheritance tax will
bring in roughly $12 million this fiscal year, such an estimate is
optimistic, and would be a 23 percent increase over last year's
inheritance tax revenue, which totaled only $9.2 million. Prior
to that, the inheritance tax had been decreasing rapidly as a revenue
source, going from $9.9 million in fiscal year 2007 to $7.8 million
in fiscal year 2009.[6] If the inheritance tax is as vital to county
services as officials argued last January, spending such a substantial
portion on this project would severely cut into other county services,
particularly when the tax is not a consistent stream of revenue.
 
Beyond the fluctuating inheritance tax, Douglas County faces a
large budget deficit. The county estimates it will bring in slightly
under $241.5 million in revenue, and expects to spend $244.9 million,
a deficit of $3.4 million; not including the money now committed
to UNMC.[7] Spending has been driven, in part, by salary increases.
Between 2006 and 2010, Douglas County increased salary spending
from $83.2 million to $98.7 million.[8] Since then, county salaries
have increased several times, including increasing the payroll of
the Public Defender's and County Attorney's Offices by $220,000
and $237,000, respectively-even after both offices got a one percent
pay increase in January-increasing compensation for 105 union
workers by a total of $275,000 over three years, and setting aside
$200,000 for salary increases for city managers and non-union
workers.[9] At the same time, average weekly wages for all workers
in Douglas County fell by 2.6 percent between 2010 and 2011.[10]
These salary increases, as well as taxpayer funds committed to
UNMC, suggests two things: Douglas County is not serious about
controlling its deficit, and the inheritance tax is not the vital revenue
source for essential services Douglas County officials claimed it
was in January.
 
The City of Omaha's proposed occupation tax on cigarettes would add
an extra 35 cents on every pack of cigarettes sold in city limits, on top
of the federal government's $1.01 tax and the state's cigarette taxes,
which are 64 cents for a pack of 20 and 80 cents for a pack of 25.[11]
The tax is estimated to bring in $35 million over the next ten years.
Because this averages to $3.5 million a year, it circumvents the
restrictions placed on occupation taxes last year by the state
legislature, which require all occupations taxes with estimated
revenues over $6 million to be put to a vote of the people.[12]
 
While it may seem like a political coup to tax a group that has
little power to react, there are problems with imposing a city
cigarette tax. First, the tax would only operate on cigarettes sold
within the Omaha City limits, which means smokers can simply
go into one of the many stores outside Omaha proper to buy
cigarettes, in places like Ralston, La Vista, Papillion, Bennington,
or Valley. This could undercut projected tax revenue in addition
to hurting cigarette sales for city stores, perhaps even costing
jobs.[13]
 
Overall, the desire to invest money to create a UNMC cancer
center is well-intentioned. But with looming budget deficits,
 Douglas County is not in a position to be able to afford these
commitments of taxpayer money and the City of Omaha's
efforts to raise cigarette taxes, at best, have not been fully
thought through, and at worst, would cost Omaha jobs.

[1] Katie Schubert, "Douglas County Board opposed to
legislation ending inheritance tax," KIOS Omaha Public
Radio, January 24, 2012. Available at
http://kios.org/post/douglas-county-board-opposed-legislation-ending-inheritance-tax, accessed September 11, 2012; Joe Duggan, "Counties fear
inheritance tax loss," Omaha World Herald, January 13,
2012. Available at http://www.omaha.com/article/20120113/NEWS01/701139875, accessed September 11, 2012.
[2] John Ferak, "Douglas pledges $5M to UNMC cancer
center," Omaha World Herald, September 11, 2012.
Available at http://www.omaha.com/article/20120911/LIVEWELL01/709119892/1694, accessed September 11, 2012.
[3] University of Nebraska Medical Center, "Cancer Center
Project-Q&A." Available at http://www.unmc.edu/cancercenter/docs/QandA-sheet.pdf, accessed September 11, 2012.
[4] Chuck Brown, "Governor Approves ‘Healthier Nebraska'
Funds," UNMC News, April 3, 2012. Available at http://app1.unmc.edu/publicaffairs/todaysite/sitefiles/today_full.cfm?match=9233, accessed September 11, 2012.
[5] Joe Jordan, "Ashford to NU President: ‘Get the city
council off the hook,'" Nebraska Watchdog, September 12,
[6] Douglas County, "Adopted Budget 2012/2013."
accessed September 12, 2012.
[7] Douglas County, "Adopted Budget 2012/2013." Available
[8] Douglas County Salaries, Omaha World Herald. Available
September 12, 2012.
[9] John Ferak, "Lesser-paid attorneys to get pay hike," Omaha
World Herald, April 18, 2012. Available at http://www.omaha.com/article/20120418/NEWS01/704189852/-1,
accessed September 12, 2012; John Ferak, "Raises likely for
county workers," Omaha World Herald, April 2, 2012.
accessed September 12, 2012.
[10] Bureau of Labor Statistics, "County Employment and
Wages in Nebraska-Fourth Quarter 2011." Available at http://www.bls.gov/ro5/qcewne.htm, accessed September
 12, 2012.
[11] Joe Jordan, "Ashford to NU President: ‘Get the city
council off the hook,'" Nebraska Watchdog, September 12,
2012. Available at http://watchdog.org/56064/ashford-to-nu-president-get-the-city-council-off-the-hook/, accessed September 12, 2012; Bernard J.
Scherr, "LRO Backgrounder: A Brief History of Nebraska's
Cigarette Tax," Legislative Research Office, March 2012.
accessed July 16, 2012.
[12] Joe Jordan, "Ashford to NU President: ‘Get the city
council off the hook,'" Nebraska Watchdog, September 12,
2012. Available at http://watchdog.org/56064/ashford-to-nu-president-get-the-city-council-off-the-hook/, accessed September 12, 2012; Nebraska
Legislature, "Legislative Bill 745," April 11, 2012. Available
accessed September 12, 2012.
[13] Karla James, "Omaha looking at new tax on cigarettes to
fund UNMC's new cancer facility," Nebraska Radio Network,
accessed September 12, 2012.