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Salt Valley Sally

James Joyce called Ireland an old sow who eats her young. That same complaint is widely lodged against Democrats who famously--in recent years--seem unable to resist destroying our own. Few things have sickened me over the years more than poll-sniffing Democrats who fell all over themselves to align with attacks on men like Howard Dean and Bill Clinton before him.

As Democrats we share a tremendous legacy of institutions built, wars won, economies grown, labor, civil and environmental justice made law and provision created for the old, the infirm and the poor. Today, Democrats cannot and should not all agree on every issue of public policy. A Democrat is the very opposite of a one issue voter.

In this primary season, as we debate the issues, I look for a high level of civility among and towards our Democratic candidates. I am guilty myself of partisan excess; I wrote a letter to the editor against Janet Stewart a couple years back that was wrong wrong wrong. I here publicly ask, though I do not much deserve, her forgiveness.

EVERY Democratic candidacy, win or lose, is a chance BOTH to raise the level of the debate AND ALSO to build a better candidate with more name recognition in the next cycle, scrutinized and seasoned, tested and challenged, but not beaten so bloody--especially by folks in her or his own party--as to have no heart left to fight again.

Statistically, Democrats are at a disadvantage relative to the possible pool of candidates in Nebraska. Qualitatively, we all know we should be way ahead of the other guys. We have an embarrassment of riches in our state of bright, able, thoughtful, well-spoken Democrats who could and should be running for critical public offices, including the highest in the state and in the land.

Moral giants don't grow on trees, and they are almost never photogenic. And from the peanut gallery, it is easy to snipe and to savage. If we are witty, character assassination is cheap fun. But how many folks have the actual nerve, faith, and commitment, not to mention enough strength of both stomach and character, to file as Democratic candidates in Nebraska? Have you? I thought not. Me neither.

EVERY Democrat's campaign is chance to educate more Nebraskans about Big-D Democrat issues like honest government, health care and keeping American jobs. Today, about as many Nebraskans register Independent as Republican. The vox populi (Latin, meaning the voice of the people) is saying "Convince me," and the good thing about being a Democrat is that the cold facts are almost always on our side.

So-called angry-man politics--the politics of fear and the big lie--must run its course at last. The Democratic Party has long been the party of achievement, compassion and ethics, and the party of the class act, the high road and the fair fight.

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Year In Review

Anne Boyle sent this Paul Krugman column to me this morning and I thought it would be appropriate for all of us to read. Be sure to check out Anne's email to me in the excerpt. Thanks, Anne, and to everyone: a happy and healthy new year.

Heck of a Job, Bushie
By PAUL KRUGMAN -- New York Times
A year ago, everyone expected President Bush to get his way on Social Security. Pundits warned Democrats that they were making a big political mistake by opposing plans to divert payroll taxes into private accounts.

A year ago, everyone thought Congress would make Mr. Bush's tax cuts permanent, in spite of projections showing that doing so would lead to budget deficits as far as the eye can see. But Congress hasn't acted, and most of the cuts are still scheduled to expire by the end of 2010.

A year ago, Mr. Bush made many Americans feel safe, because they believed that he would be decisive and effective in an emergency. But Mr. Bush was apparently oblivious to the first major domestic emergency since 9/11. According to Newsweek, aides to Mr. Bush finally decided, days after Hurricane Katrina struck, that they had to show him a DVD of TV newscasts to get him to appreciate the seriousness of the situation.

A year ago, before "Brownie, you're doing a heck of a job" became a national punch line, the rising tide of cronyism in government agencies and the rapid replacement of competent professionals with unqualified political appointees attracted hardly any national attention.

A year ago, hardly anyone outside Washington had heard of Jack Abramoff, and Tom DeLay's position as House majority leader seemed unassailable.

A year ago, Dick Cheney, who repeatedly cited discredited evidence linking Saddam to 9/11, and promised that invading Americans would be welcomed as liberators -- although he hadn't yet declared that the Iraq insurgency was in its "last throes" -- was widely admired for his "gravitas."

A year ago, Howard Dean -- who was among the very few prominent figures to question Colin Powell's prewar presentation to the United Nations, and who warned, while hawks were still celebrating the fall of Baghdad, that the occupation of Iraq would be much more difficult than the initial invasion -- was considered flaky and unsound.

A year ago, it was clear that before the Iraq war, the administration suppressed information suggesting that Iraq was not, in fact, trying to build nuclear weapons. Yet few people in Washington or in the news media were willing to say that the nation was deliberately misled into war until polls showed that most Americans already believed it.

A year ago, the Washington establishment treated Ayad Allawi as if he were Nelson Mandela. Mr. Allawi's triumphant tour of Washington, back in September 2004, provided a crucial boost to the Bush-Cheney campaign. So did his claim that the insurgents were "desperate." But Mr. Allawi turned out to be another Ahmad Chalabi, a hero of Washington conference rooms and cocktail parties who had few supporters where it mattered, in Iraq.

A year ago, when everyone respectable agreed that we must "stay the course," only a handful of war critics suggested that the U.S. presence in Iraq might be making the violence worse, not better. It would have been hard to imagine the top U.S. commander in Iraq saying, as Gen. George Casey recently did, that a smaller foreign force is better "because it doesn't feed the notion of occupation."

A year ago, Mr. Bush hadn't yet openly reneged on Scott McClellan's 2003 pledge that "if anyone in this administration was involved" in the leaking of Valerie Plame's identity, that person "would no longer be in this administration." Of course, some suspect that Mr. Bush has always known who was involved.

A year ago, we didn't know that Mr. Bush was lying, or at least being deceptive, when he said at an April 2004 event promoting the Patriot Act that "a wiretap requires a court order. ...When we're talking about chasing down terrorists, we're talking about getting a court order before we do so. It's important for our fellow citizens to understand, when you think Patriot Act, constitutional guarantees are in place when it comes to doing what is necessary to protect our homeland, because we value the Constitution."

A year ago, most Americans thought Mr. Bush was honest.

A year ago, we didn't know for sure that almost all the politicians and pundits who thundered, during the Lewinsky affair, that even the president isn't above the law have changed their minds. But now we know when it comes to presidents who break the law, it's O.K. if you're a Republican.

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Open Thread

I'll keep this thread alive -- Happy Holidays…

If you have something to say…

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Thank You For Joining My Conference Call

This is a guest blog post from Democratic Candidate for Governor David Hahn.

Thank You Nebraska,

This evening I spoke directly to callers from across Nebraska and answered questions in an event all organized through the Internet. A great first for me, and, for political discourse in the State of Nebraska.

I have committed myself to make this campaign about realistic dialogue and not the normal political monologue that comes at us each election season. This telephone call session was part of that commitment.

So, thank you all for listening.

Have a great evening.

David Hahn
Democratic Candidate for Governor

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Nebraska News Round-up

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"Hometowns to Heroes" Holiday Greetings

The holiday season gives us plenty of reasons to be grateful for the friends and family surrounding us and for the freedom to celebrate whichever religious holiday we choose. Right now about 1,500 Nebraskans are among the thousands of American troops fighting overseas in Iraq and elsewhere in the world. They are away from their friends and family this holiday to protect the freedoms that shape our way of life.

Thanks to Senator Nelson, you can now easily send those troops a special holiday message to brighten their spirits and thank them for their sacrifice. Sen. Nelson's website will host daily holiday greetings from Nebraska schools, civic organizations and individuals offering season's greetings.

You can easily participate. If you have the capability, you can email a 20 second greeting to or you can stop by Sen. Nelson's Omaha office to record a greeting. The office is at 7602 Pacific Street and will be open Monday through Friday beginning December 14th through January 15th from 1pm to 4pm for you to record a message.

You can join Nebraska troops in watching the videos on Sen. Nelson's website.

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BREAKING NEWS: Former Lt. Governor Maxine Moul to Challenge Fortenberry

Former Lt. Governor and State Economic Development Director Maxine Moul indicated today that she is leaning towards challenging first time incumbent Rep. Jeff Fortenberry. Read the news and stay tuned for more information as it develops…

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It's Official: David Hahn for Governor

Normally, we don't put press releases onto the blog because they're just informal and impersonal--but, we thought everyone should know the same background on your new Gubernatorial candidate.

December 8, 2005

David Hahn for Governor

LINCOLN, NE--Today, David Hahn filed his candidacy for Governor before meeting with reporters at the Capitol Rotunda. Hahn said he has fought to keep Nebraska's identity and values alive, and will continue to do so as Governor.

"I am a fifth generation Nebraskan who was raised in the communities of Omaha, Stromsburg and Schuyler, so I know firsthand the different ways rural and urban Nebraska come together to make this such a great state," said Hahn. "I will find innovative ways to protect what we all value most and to make Nebraska a national leader in economic growth, energy production, and quality of life."

Hahn, an attorney and internet entrepreneur, devoted his early years in legal practice to defending family-owned farms and ranches in Nebraska and worked tirelessly to prevent their dissolution. Hahn attributes his success at saving family farms and ranches to his ability to work collaboratively with others, to innovate, and to apply creative solutions to seemingly unsolvable problems.

Hahn's interest in computer technology led him to work in emerging technologies. He is the CEO of New Digital Group, a world-class internet development company based in Lincoln. Hahn's experience in business and law offers a forward-thinking model for economic growth in Nebraska that is consistently grounded in the fundamental values that make this state unique. His excitement for Nebraska's future coupled with the love and support of his wife, Ruth, and his three children, have encouraged Hahn to share his pioneering vision with his fellow citizens.

Born in Omaha in 1955, Hahn spent his formative years in Stromsburg and Schuyler, communities whose rural ideals cemented his appreciation for Nebraska's core values and traditions. Hahn carried these values with him as he pursued his education first at Sterling College in Kansas, then at Phillips University in Marburg, Germany, where he nutured his lifelong interest in philosophy and theology. In the early 1980's, Hahn returned to Nebraska to complete his law degree at the University of Nebraska.

Learn more about David Hahn at

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Hahn to Announce Bid for Governor

For those of you who don't read the newspaper, the "story of the day" is pretty big:

Hahn to Announce Bid for Governor

Hahn to Enter Governor's Race

and last but certainly not least from the Omaha World Herald:

Democrat Hahn to Enter Governor's Race

Be sure to check back throughout the day as we add more details about David Hahn and his candidacy for a new Nebraska.

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Recap on YDA Phoenix Meeting

This is a guest post from Jeff Leanna, National YDA Vice President for Students and Youth. You can contact Jeff at

This past weekend, Young Democrats of America and the DNC held their respective National Committee meetings in sunny (and yes, warm) Phoenix, AZ. This was the first of many future joint meetings of YDA and the DNC. In fact, the YDA Executive Committee will be joining forces again with the DNC when they meet together in New Orleans on April 20-22, 2006.

Exciting things happened for YDA in Phoenix. The YDA National Committee approved the charters of three new state chapters, bringing YDA's total to 40 Unit (state) Chapters, more than 900 local chapters and more than 50,000 members nationally. The YDA High School Caucus and the YDA College Caucus were officially recognized, bringing the number of recognized YDA caucuses to 8.

YDA announced that immediately following the DNC/ YDA meeting in New Orleans, YDA members from across the country will converge on Mississippi to build a new playground in acommunity devastated by Hurricane Katrina. I'm very proud to announce Nebraska's own UNO College Democrats are the very first organization to donate money to the playground effort and will be organizing a road trip down to Mississippi in April to help build the playground.

Nebraskans played a big part in YDA's meeting. Third Congressional District candidate Scott Kleeb spoke to more than 40 YD's at the YDA Rural Caucus about his candidacy for office and answered questions from caucus members and visitors. DNC At-Large member Frank LaMere attended the YDA General Session Saturday evening and captivated many YD members he spoke with after the YDA General Session had ended. The UNO College Democrats were a huge hit in Phoenix with there well-known activist buttons and have been asked to attend future DNC and YDA meetings.

Finally, YDA unveiled its Chapter Revolution and 2006 in 2006 program, an innovative and challenging plan to increase local YD chapter membership in 2006. With more than 1,100 new chapters yet to be formed, every YDA chapter, including the Nebraska Young Democrats, will be doing their part to reach the goal of 2006 local chapters in 2006.

Warmest Regards,

Jeff Leanna

YDA National Vice President for Students and Youth

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