From the New Nebraska Network
It must be Halloween because Nebraska's Republican Congressmen Jeff Fortenberry and Tom Osborne have been playing dress-up for the local press. In this magical time of year when children become ghosts, goblins, and fairy princesses, Fortenberry and Osborne are trying to make-believe that they have the ounce of spine or independence to stand-up to their party masters and do what's right for Nebraska, particularly its rural communities.
Frankly, they're not fooling anyone.
The Omaha World-Herald reports:
Nebraska GOP Reps. Tom Osborne and Jeff Fortenberry managed to soften the budget-cutting blow when they recently met face-to-face with House Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., and delivered an ultimatum, Osborne said.
‘We were prepared to vote no," Osborne said Friday."
"We got the best deal we could."
The House and Senate are working on budget-cutting bills that seek savings of $35 billion to help pay for hurricane relief. Agriculture spending in the House bill was reduced from $4.2 billion to $3.7 billion in proposed cuts.
Osborne and Fortenberry, members of the House Agriculture Committee, said the change they negotiated reduced farmers' subsidy cuts from 3 percent to 1 percent. That would cost the average Nebraska farm $200 a year in lost federal subsidies, Osborne said.
Besides subsidies, cuts are proposed for conservation and other rural development programs.
The Senate is working on a bill proposing $3 billion in cuts. Sen. Ben Nelson, D-Neb., a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, has complained that agriculture programs are being cut more than is fair compared with other federal spending.
They got the best deal they could? They were prepared to defy Hastert and Tom DeLay? Who are they kidding?
The average subsidy cut is not what's at issue here. The question, as always, is WHO faces these cuts. It certainly should not be the family farmer, not while large agricultural congrlomerates are still receiving unlimited payments. And, what of this bill's cuts to the food stamp program…or is that tucked away in some other Republican travesty against working-class and rural families?
Frankly, this article is a press release -- nothing more -- a form letter from the Republican leadership to provide some political cover to their blindly loyal footsoldiers in the Midwest. I expect most every Congressional hyper-partisan who is supposed to be representing rural America -- not the Republican Party -- is doing the same song and dance about having done what they could….everything, that is, but voting "NO" as they damn well should.
This is the cost of Nebraska voters' allegiance to the Republican party. They will continue to be taken for granted -- their interests neglected and their goodwill exploited. The trick's on us. Happy Halloween!
Lewis "Scooter" Libby was indicted this morning on five criminal charges including perjury, obstruction of justice and making false statements. Shortly after, Libby resigned from his job as Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff. Read more on this developing story.
Official documents released by the Special Counsel and be found on Fitzgerald's website.
Oil companies are reporting record profits across the board for July-September. We aren't talking chump-change. BP's quarterly profits rose 34%. ConocoPhillips profits surged 89%, nearly doubling their profits from this time last year. Experts predict profits by the top 5 oil companies will reach $20 billion. At the same time, these oil companies are given $8 billion in tax breaks, while we all have to pay higher prices to fill our cars at the pump.
National Republicans are trying to spin the record profits by encouraging the companies to "invest in America's energy infrastructure and resources…the companies need to do their part." Their answer is a recommendation that companies need to spend their money on facilities to increase production. I bet most of the profits end up being used as bonuses for the top executives.
The cost of gas is one of the top issues on the minds of Americans. These egregious profits and the weak response of Republicans are a clear sign to Americans that the Republican Party is not committed to developing alternative fuel sources that truly protect consumers in the long run. They also don't seem to care that every family in America is being burdened by this imbalance.
You can find more facts about oil company profits in the Talking Points section of the Communications Center.
Quotes to remember as Bush and the Republicans deal with the fallout from their cave to the craziest of their issue groups. This is exactly the sort of thing they accused Democrats of doing on the Roberts nomination, even though Democrats handily confirmed Roberts.
RNC Accused Reid of Bowing to Liberal Groups. Last month, the Republican National Committee put out a press release with the headline "Puppet Politics: Reid `Got The Message' From Liberal Third Parties To Oppose Judge Roberts." [RNC Press Release, 9/21/05]
NRSC Wrote of Need to "Fight off Attacks" from Democrats and Liberal Interest Groups. In a fundraising email last month, NRSC Chair Sen. Elizabeth Dole wrote, "I ask that you contribute to the NRSC as we continue to fight off attacks from the Democrats and their radical allies, like MoveOn.org and Alliance for Justice, as they attempt to put a strangle hold…on this confirmation process." [Dole NRSC Email, 9/15/05]
Conservatives Accused Senate Democrats and Issue Groups Of Trying to Hold Roberts' Nomination "Hostage." Last month, Gary Bauer wrote, "with the passing of Chief Justice William Rehnquist, left-wing special interest groups are demanding Senate Democrats block Roberts' confirmation until President Bush names his second nominee to the Court. Since Roberts is now replacing Rehnquist, liberal groups are once again demanding that the president maintain the existing balance on the Court by nominating another `centrist' like O'Connor, and they want to hold Roberts' nomination as a hostage!" [Bauer End-of-Day Email, 9/8/05]
Conservatives Accused "Far Left" of Smearing Roberts. Last month, the American Conservative Union told its members, "John Roberts is an outstanding choice. We cannot allow the Far Left to smear and besmirch his good name, all in an attempt to push the direction of the Supreme Court to the Left." [ACU Action Alert, 9/11/05]
And here I was thinking that every nominee deserved an "up or down vote".
Last night, the Metropolitan Community College Board of Governors voted to approve the motion of Board Member Ron Hug, renaming the library at its Fort Omaha campus after the late, great Sonny Foster.
Thanks to the Board for this wonderful honor. We miss you Sonny…
Yesterday, I blogged about Senator Obama's visit to Omaha. One of the stories he told described how much southern Illinois changed since Sen. Dick Durbin first traveled there when he was 24. Racial tensions were high in those parts during the 1960
The New Nebraska Network has a thoughtful take on this issue…
By his handling of the near-simulatenous, controversial decisions to dissolve "elementary-only" school districts in rural Nebraska and to merge various metro-area school districts into Omaha Public Schools, Governor Dave Heineman has proven himself completely undeserving of the office that he holds.
At every turn, Heineman has used people's fear and passion to boost his meager chances at election in 2006 rather than leading this state into the 21st Century. He has chosen to play regional and economic divides to his favor rather than healing these still-developing rifts. His actions have been shameful, his positioning irresponsible, and his leadership non-existent.
How sad that a man who seems to have dedicated so much of his life to public service should forsake his integrity at the first taste of power. Even more than Mike Johanns' incompetence and our Congressmen's blind partisanship, Heineman's ambitious manipulation may well be the ultimate example of the Nebraska Republican Party's failure to protect this state's future.
In his Sunday column, the Omaha World-Herald's Harold W. Andersen wrote:
Continuing the sequence of unusual aspects of the Heineman candidacy was his injecting the Governor's Office into a local controversy, i.e., the Omaha school district's "one city, one school district" proposal. The OPS plan has engendered fierce opposition among residents of suburban school districts -- districts with heavily Republican voter majorities among whom Heineman is now something of a political hero, an image enhanced by his appearances at anti-Omaha school district rallies.
One aspect of Heineman's involvement in the school redistricting controversy would be almost laughable if the subject matter were not so serious. I refer to the fact that after indicating very clearly that he is taking the side of the suburban districts, he offered himself in the role of peacemaker, asking both sides to come together for negotiations under his sponsorship.
It seems to me that it's rather hard to offer yourself in the role of an honest broker when you already have announced that you favor one side over the other in the negotiations that you say you would like to sponsor.
Meanwhile, an article in Monday's World-Herald included:
Voters will get a chance next year to decide whether to repeal a law forcing elementary-only schools to merge into larger
But the vote outcome may not matter unless a judge first decides to suspend the law. That's because the mergers will take effect five months before the vote will take place….
Gov. Dave Heineman, who vetoed the bill passed by the Legislature earlier this year and signed the petition, supports suspending the law until the vote.
"That would be applying a little Nebraska common sense," he said during a news conference call in which he was asked about the issue….
The law angered small-school advocates, who said it was unnecessary because many elementary-only, or Class I schools, are closing on their own, primarily because of a lack of students. But backers of the law said it was needed primarily to ensure equity in education and financial resources in districts across the state.
I feel for the parents and communities that are trying to keep their schools open and/or independent. But, Heineman's pandering for votes in one instance to let small schools die a slow death (at great student/tax-payer expense) and in the other to protect a privileged class violating every principle on which public education is founded is outrageous and despicable.
Heineman, for all his bluster, is flat-out wrong on both these issues. There is nothing populist or principled in protecting waste and privilege. Where compromise may have been possible, Heineman's fool-hardy, line-in-the-sand approach has emboldened short-sighted idiocy in public policy. In so doing, he has actually hurt those with whom he so cynically stands, whose well-meaning causes must now be defeated entirely if we are to maintain any degree of responsible governance.
Heineman deserves a similar fate for the very same reason.
This weekend was met with another of our Grassroots Academies. We met at UNK with people from Buffalo, Phelps, Kearney, and Dawson Counties.
Our staff at the Nebraska Democratic Party spoke to the crowd about different ways to get involved in the party. Amanda gave a session on how to write a good letter to the editor. Heath talked about our 93 county strategy and how we can best build a Democratic community in Nebraska. Ian gave an intro to running for office and also spoke about how to best reach out to voters. I gave a talk about volunteering and an impromptu session on phone-banking.
Overall, the training was a great success and our question/answer period proved the great interest level of the attendees. It's always exciting to meet people who have a strong will to help out and give of themselves.
Following the training, we joined the Buffalo County Democrats for their Fall Fundraiser. Jeanne Butler did an amazing job coordinating the events and had a wonderful meal prepared. We even had a visit from candidates Scott Kleeb and Larry Harvey.
To help the NDP provide FREE Grassroots Academies, you can contribute here.
Senator Barack Obama lit up the Qwest Center in Omaha this morning as 1,500 people listened attentively to his remarks ranging from empowering girls to the federal deficit.
I was there with a large group of Democratic Divas that turned out to support Girls Inc. and listen to the popular Democrat.
The Senator talked about his two young girls and what it takes to be a good parent before delving into empowering all young women to exceed expectations and become leaders. He told the girls in the audience never to be satisfied with yourself just because you have satisfied someone else. Obama said often times, expectations for girls are lower then they should be. He told them to set high goals for themselves and only be satisfied when they achieve them.
Sen. Obama told the adults that women's issues need more attention beyond abortion and reproductive rights. Women should have the same rights and opportunities as men. He said society should not expect less from women than it does from men.
The Senator also took questions from some of the young women who participate in Girls Inc. One young lady asked if the deficit is real and what it will mean to her generation. Sen. Obama said that while Democrats need to be more realistic about some spending (i.e. entitlements), Republicans flat out lie about taxes. He told us that the Republicans are now asking for a tax cut to provide economic growth after the heavy cost of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Obama said the tax cuts would make absolutely no sense.
Obama also answered a question about how hard it is to work with Republicans and lobby groups. He admitted that it is tough because extremist lobbyists and operatives like Karl Rove feed on fears, and their efforts have worked on the America public. It is more difficult to inspire hope, Obama said. However, he feels it is possible to be firm, and respond to criticism quickly and effectively without stooping to the levels of people like Rove. Obama quoted Martin Luther King saying, "the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice."
Obama presented a vision of hope and inspiration to those who attended the event, so it is unfortunate that the press stories I have seen so far focus on Girls Inc. and conservative backlash towards the group because it supports abortion rights. While it is a controversial subject matter, few organizations are so dedicated to improving the lives of girls and educating them so that they will hopefully never be in a situation where that kind of choice has to be made.
I wonder what Tom DeLay thinks is so great? Sure, I didn't expect him to look sullen, but come on, he looks like he is posing for one of those tourist photos at Walt Disney World.
Maybe he is in denial about the state of the national GOP. Check out these talking points I have posted in the Communications Center for all the details on the not-so-happy week for the Republicans. With all the investigations and arraignments, it's hard to believe things are going to get much, much worse for them next week when the Fitzgerald investigation results in high-level indictments. (Okay, so it's not so hard for us to imagine, but I'm sure it's a nightmare for the President. Halloween could come a few days early for Mr. Bush.)