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Nebraska Young Democrats and College Democrats Special Elections

This is a guest post from Lee Clausen, who recently served as Chair for the Nebraska Young Democrats and College Democrats Special Elections.

The Nebraska Young Democrats and College Democrats Special Elections were really exciting today.

Congratulations, to Jessica Rathbun the new NYD President!

Jessica has worked really hard as NYD National Committeewoman over the past year and a half and it was great to see her rewarded for her hard work by her election as NYD President. Cody Farrens was elected NYD Vice President. Cody has done an amazing job helping out the UNO College Democrats and will revitalize the energy of Young Democrats to get out and work for our Democratic candidates in 2006.

Congratulations, to Grant Folger of the UNL College Democrats on being elected the new Nebraska College Democrats President. The Nebraska College Democrats will work as a direct link with the Democratic National Committee to bring resources to our college campuses. Kelly Simmons was elected Nebraska College Democrats Vice President. Kelly has been really active as Creighton University President and is an exciting new face in the Nebraska College Democrats organization.

Thank you to Ryan Renner, Meg, Layne and the rest of the UNO College Democrats for hosting the Nebraska Young Democrats and Nebraska College Democrats Special Election. UNO College Democrats have become a shining star in promoting campus activism in Nebraska. Visit www.unodemocrats.com to check out their website and make sure and check out their great blog at "www.unodemocrats.com/blog:http://www.unodemocrats.com/blog.

Thank you to Jeff Leanna, newly elected Young Democrats of America Vice President of Students and Youth, for speaking about how the Young Democrats of America will help Nebraska Young Democrats become more effective in helping our Democratic candidates in 2006. The Young Democrats of America are starting a new initiative called Chapter Revolution and are willing to send national officers to Nebraska for training Nebraska Young Democrats to become better political activists.

Thank you to Janet Stewart for attending the Nebraska Young Democrats and College Democrats Special Elections. It is always great to see those with experience in politics come out and support the youth wing of the Nebraska Democratic Party. The Nebraska Young Democrats and College Democrats need the mentorship of our elected officials, activists and former candidates in order to succeed and maximize the organizations' efforts to help elect our Democratic candidates in 2006.

Thank you to NDP Field Director Ian Russell for attending the special elections and the help of Barry Rubin and the rest of the NDP staff in making them happen. It is great to see the Nebraska Young Democrats working hand-in-hand with the Nebraska Democratic Party under the leadership of our State Chair Steve Achelpohl to help elect our Democratic candidates in 2006.

And as always, a big thank you to Gary DiSilvestro for his interest and leadership with the Nebraska Young Democrats and College Democrats.

It was really fun to serve as special elections chair for the Nebraska Young Democrats and College Democrats and I look forward to helping each organization work to help our Democratic candidates recruit volunteers for the 2006 election cycle.

Lee Clausen.

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Weekend Open Thread

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Tony Ojeda: Please Pray for Him

Once again, the UNO Dems hit the nail on the head with this posting on their blog. Tony Ojeda is running for Nebraska Legislature in District 30. Some of you may know about him from the recent domain name controversy.

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Patriot Day Blood Drive

The American Red Cross is sponsoring their fourth annual Patriot Day Blood Drive at the Holiday Inn Central on Friday, September 9th, from 6:30 am -- 6:30 pm. The goal is to collect 275 units of blood. Visit their website for more information.

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Senator Nelson Wants Gas Prices Investigation

It is good to see our Democratic leadership doing something proactive on an issue that is affecting our pocketbooks everyday: gas prices. Senator Nelson's new bill calling for an investigation into high gas prices is making headlines across the nation. The Senator wants the Federal Trade Commission to spend two weeks studying whether the rise in gas prices is the result of a struggling market or price gouging. You can read about it in the Omaha World Herald, the Grand Island Independent, and the Lincoln Journal Star. The Senator wants the focus of the investigation to be on the weeks leading up to Hurricane Katrina and the additional spike in prices that it supposedly caused.

The Journal Star article also highlights Nelson's critical response to the slow disaster management in the Gulf. The G.I. Independent has an entire separate article in which Nelson questions the effectiveness of FEMA and the Homeland Security Department.

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Spend a Semester in Washington

NDPer Lee Clausen sent us this email about an exciting opportunity for Nebraska's next generation of political leaders. Check out the website to learn more about this once in a lifetime opportunity.


The George Washington University's Native American Political Leadership Program (NAPLP) Scholarship program is an opportunity that creates a limited number of full scholarships for Native American undergraduate students and recent graduates to participate in GWU's Semester In Washington program. The scholarship is the first political leadership development scholarship for Native American students and is funded by the SBC Foundation, the philanthropic arm of SBC Communications Inc.

NAPLP enables qualified Native American students to spend a semester taking classes at George Washington University, complete a professional internship, and interact with national political and policy leaders. The grant will support a series of events on Capitol Hill devoted to policy issues relevant to Native American communities. NAPLP Scholars must confirm their tribal enrollment to be eligible for the scholarship.

The goal of the program is for these students to return to their communities knowing what it takes to form coalitions, pass legislation, win elections, and influence public opinion. They will be better informed about how politics works and more aware of how they can influence the political process to improve their tribal governments and their communities.

Nationwide recruiting of students has begun for the first class of NAPLP. The scholarship covers the full cost of tuition, housing, books, and other expenses. The students selected for the scholarships will join the Semester In Washington class in January, 2006. The Spring 2006 application deadline is October 1, 2005.

For more general information about the program and an application for admission, please visit our website at www.gwu.edu/~siw .

To apply for the NAPLP Scholarship, please visit www.gwu.edu/~siw/naplp.

This is a once in a lifetime opportunity--be sure to not pass it up!

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Weekend Open Thread

Regardless of what you may think of Michael Moore (and I am not necessarily endorsing the following commentary), this is worth a quick read. Vacation's Over President Bush

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Poverty Caged Americans in the South

The sad reality about poverty in our country is the most disturbing remnant left behind by Katrina. Hurricane predictions stated that over 100,000 people would be unable to leave New Orleans because they would not have the means to do so. Yesterday on a conservative radio show, I heard a caller say the government is not responsible for helping the impoverished people now dislocated by the devastation. He said the government has been hurting those people for years by giving them hand-outs. I was absolutely outraged by the detached attitude of the man and the agreement from the show's host. Their ideologies blind their compassion, and more seriously, blind them from acknowledging the basic realities of poverty and its causes.

There are a lot of fingers that can be pointed as to what led to New Orleans becoming a No Man's Land. New Orleans's Mayor has the right to be so enraged by the slow government response time that he is now swearing in interviews. I have been watching a lot of the news coverage and I think the press is doing a pretty good job so far of raising questions about preparedness and the President's reaction. I suspect these events will further hurt his approval rating.

But as Democrats we must not exert all our energy on the preparedness mistakes of our opponents. We are Democrats because fundamentally we believe all Americans are entitled to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. The basic necessity of "life" has been trampled upon, and the stampede started long before Katrina made landfall.

Our job as Democrats, the Party of Progress and the Party of the People, is to work for a better future for all Americans. Our job is to provide hope and empowerment for the poor so that together we give everyone the means of getting themselves out of harms way when their lives are threatened. The poor of the South have been denied the right to life and their futures hang in the balance. Saving their lives goes beyond airlifting them off roofs. We cannot leave them to wonder Texas, spirits broken by being treated as second-class citizens by their government's relief efforts.

This is our chance to convince Americans that poverty is a real issue, impacting real families, and that poverty is a cage that traps Americans not only from finding confidence and hope, but from being able to save their children from a forecasted disaster.

I encourage everyone to write letters to the editor of your papers, not simply attacking President Bush, but encouraging social change that can prevent so many people from falling into poverty. President Clinton says 30 percent of New Orleans's population was below the poverty line. This week, the U.S. Census Bureau released a report on poverty, and the numbers are growing. You can find more information on report in the Talking Points section of this site or by checking out this article.

Remember why we are Democrats. We believe in the basic rights of every person as designed by our Creator and laid out by our Founding Fathers. As Americans we believe in helping families victimized by circumstances, whether they were working in the World Trade Center or living in a bayou in Louisiana.

As I mentioned in a previous post, there are many ways you can donate to the relief effort. Here is a link to a list of legitimate agencies including the American Red Cross.

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More Ethanol Could Mean Lower Pump Prices

Gas prices are driving heavy discontent both in Nebraska and across the county. We don't know how far down the road it will be before prices become stable and come back down to earth. It's nice to know that local Democrats are working diligently to find ways to make sure we don't go down this path again.

State Senator Matt Connealy's plan for an ethanol mandate was front and center in the Omaha World Herald Thursday. Requiring 10 percent ethanol in all gasoline sold in Nebraska could save folks as much as 8 cents a gallon, not to mention a long list of additional benefits. Check out the article for all the details.

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From the Road: Washington, D.C.

Blogging from DC, where I've been meeting with national Democratic leaders and organizations in preparation for what promises to be an exciting 2006 election cycle.

The DNC remains committed to its state party partnership program, and were thrilled to see how extensive and far reaching our "93 County Strategy" has developed. In fact, after some cajoling, i'm happy to report that the NDP will be hosting some DNC officials at our State Central Committee meeting in Scottsbluff. The DNC's National Training Director and their Regional Political Director (my former colleague who orchestrated a wholesale Democratic takeover in Montana in 2004) will attend our meetings and events in late September, in additon to conducting the training at our NDP Grassroots Academy from 1:30 -- 5. Stay tuned for more information about the training and the Gathering on the Great Plains event that evening.

I also met with the Devorah Adler, the DNC's Research Director (and my former Research Director in 2002) who agreed to come to Nebraska late in the year to extensively brief all of our candidates, party officials and activists on the issues that will dominate the 2006 elections.

I've also had meetings with the Democratic Governors' Association, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee in order to lay the groundwork -- early -- for the Victory 2006 Coordinated Campaign.

Literally minutes after I left the DNC yesterday, Governor Dean called an emergency DNC conference call to announce that he was postponing our Fall Meeting scheduled to take place next weekend in Phoenix. Amidst our nation's worst ever natural disaster and the Republicans spending millions on ads encouraging Congress to repeal the "Estate Tax", Governor Dean rightfully thinks it would be inappropriate to hold a political meeting when so many of our brothers and sisters in the Gulf States are in need. I was in Senator Nelson's office yesterday and ran into his Deputy Press Secretary, Jena Longo, who had literally just arrived back in DC after a harrowing three days riding out the storm and the floods in New Orleans, her home town. I cannot begin to describe to you the genuine fear and concern on her face as I spoke to her about her family, and her story of survival in the hotel directly adjacent to the NO Convention Center (now a morgue for thousands).

I'll be back in Nebraska next week after what I think has been a very busy and productive trip. Until then, please don't hesitate to contact me or comment here if I can be of assistance, and say a prayer for our fellow Americans in the Gulf (both Gulfs).

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