We’re back

Today, uVoted4them.com makes its return from vacation. We had a great time. Hope you did, too.

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U.S. Sen. Deb Fischer is one of 24 senators whose wish came true Friday with the resignation of Eric Shinseki as secretary of Veterans Affairs.

Sen. Deb Fischer

Sen. Deb Fischer

Fischer was one of 13 Senate Republicans and 11 Democrats who called for the resignation after a preliminary report from the VA inspector general’s office disclosed that roughly 1,700 veterans who’d requested services from the VA in Phoenix, Ariz., were never scheduled for appointments or put on a waiting list.

In the House, ABC News put together a list of 32 Democrats and 72 Republicans also calling for Shinseki’s departure. Of the Nebraska delegation, only 3rd District Rep. Adrian Smith was listed.

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Nebraska’s House delegation — Reps. Terry, Fortenberry, and Smith — all voted against a measure Friday that would prevent the DEA from raiding medical marijuana farms in states that allow the use of medical marijuana.

The amendment, sponsored by California Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, passed anyway, on vote of 219-189.

Pot farms are far from safe, however.  The appropriations bill to which Rohrabacher’s amendment was attached still needs to be passed by the House, agreed to by the Senate and signed into law.

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Sen. Mike Johanns has been named one of 32 members of Congress recognized as a “Fiscal Hero” by the Campaign to Fix the Debt.

MikeJohannsFiscal heroes are chosen for a number of reasons, include their voting records, floor speeches, introduction of legislation, attempts to push leadership toward certain policy positions, efforts to emphasize the nation’s debt at town hall meetings and other constituent contacts.

Campaign to Fix the Debt is one of the groups financed by Wall Street billionaire Peter G. Peterson, whose ambition is to cut earned-benefit programs such as Social Security and Medicare.

Peterson, 86, doesn’t attract the attention of, say, the Koch Brothers, because he maintains a low profile, and his groups publically project a reasonable, bipartisan spirit.

Democrats the group has named as “Fiscal Heroes” include Sens. Mike Bennet of Colorado, Tom Carper and Chris Coons, both of Delaware, and Rep. Steny Hoyer of Maryland.

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If he’s lucky, Nebraska Senate candidate Ben Sasse will never again have to follow a reality Duck Dynasty Phil Robertsonstar in camoflauge to the lectern, as he did Thursday night in New Orleans.

The Daily Beast reports that half the audience at the Republican Leadership Conference left the hall after keynote speaker and  Duck Dynasty patriarch Phil Robertson delivered they keynote speech.

Sasse followed Robertson to the stage about 9 p.m., after a long night of speeches.

Glenn Beck’s The Blaze does a splendid job covering Robertson’s guns-gays-God speech; we’re still trying to find decent coverage of Sasse’s speech.

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Ben Sasse’s Senate campaign is adding staff. The Journal Gazette in Fort Wayne, Ind., reports that James Wegmann has quit his job with Indiana Rep. Martin Stutzman to work for Sasse. Wegmann has been on Stutzman’s communications staff since 2010.

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Dr. Marie Belin, an Omaha pediatrician and Douglas County co-chair of the Ben Sasse for MarieBelin149x199Senate campaign, has been named vice chairman of the Nebraska Republican Party.

Belin is a Nebraska native who grew up in Lincoln. She is a partner in Village Pointe Pediatrics, and has long been active in Nebraska politics, according to J.L. Spray, state party chairman.

“Marie will bring a range of talents and experience to the NEGOP and I look forward to working closely with here,” Spray said in a statement. “Her experiences with grassroots campaigns will be a valuable addition in our efforts to elect Republicans throughout Nebraska.”

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Lincoln businessman Todd Watson is trying to create some traction for his independent bid for the U.S. Senate. The self-described Todd Watsonfaith-based conservative told the Lincoln Journal Star‘s Don Walton that the two-party system is broken. “We need to reduce government regulation, but if you break the laws, you get extra oversight. If you caused an economic meltdown, you deserve oversight, ” Watson said.

Watson said he’s already collected the 4,000 signatures needed to get on the November ballot, but hasn’t turned them in yet. Also gathering signatures for an independent bid is Jim Jenkins.

We found this from Watson on youtube.com.

 

 

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More odds and ends

With the support of Nebraska Reps. Lee Terry, Jeff Fortenberry and Adrian Smith, the House passed Rep. Paul Ryan’s 2015 budget on Thursday, which calls for deep cuts in federal spending — $5.1 trillion over 10 years — and the privatization of Medicare.

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If you Google “who receives farm subsidies” and go the EWG Farm Subsidy Database, you’ll find the names of about 15 Dinsdales who live in either Palmer, Elkhorn or Omaha listed as beneficiaries of the government’s subsidy program between 1995 and 2012. Nebraska Senate candidate Sid Dinsdale grew up in Palmer, lives in Elkhorn and works in Omaha. What are the odds that he knows some of those folks?

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Senate candidate Ben Sasse tried to put the no-big-deal slant on campaign finance during Wednesday’s debate by noting that more money was spent on potato chips than political campaigns during the ’06 and ’08 cycles.

Thanks for the history lesson, Dr. Sasse. The question was about campaign spending since 2010, when the Supreme Court’s Citizen’s United ruling started feeding billions more dollars into campaign coffers. uVoted4them.com is still waiting for an answer, but thanks for the trivia.

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Finally, polling shows a larger divide between Republicans and Democrats on climate change during the Obama administration, based at least in part on the parties’ fundamental policy positions.

Republicans are more likely to oppose comprehensive efforts to combat climate change because they would require a federal role nationwide, thus stealing “liberty” from the American people. Democrats, of course, don’t have the same ideological opposition to federal intervention.

Here’s how Oklahoma Sen. Jim  Inhofe explained it to Roll Call:

Jim Inhofe from Roll Call

Endorsements, stereotypes and bad jokes

U.S. Rep. Jeff Fortenberry, the Republican representing Nebraska’s 1st District, has endorsed Ben Sasse in the Senate race and Pete Ricketts in the race for governor. Sasse was Fortenberry’s chief of staff during the “spring of 2005,” according to the Omaha World-Herald. We’ll have more to say about Fortenberry’s endorsement in an upcoming post.

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U.S. Sen. Deb Fischer will be campaigning later this month in Iowa for Republican Senate candidate Joni Ernst, according to the Weekly Standard. Former Alaska Gov. and Tea Party royalty Sarah Palin, who endorsed Fischer in 2012, has also endorsed Ernst and Nebraska’s Ben Sasse and Pete Ricketts. Palin endorsed Sasse for Senate in a Facebook post; she endorsed Ricketts for governor at a splashy event in Grand Island. The World-Herald has a nice photo of the two.

Tom Brewer's military career makes impressive campaign visuals, but you'd think it would also make him less likely to jump to conclusions about his fellow soldiers.

Tom Brewer’s military career makes impressive campaign visuals, but you’d think it would make him less likely to jump to conclusions about his fellow soldiers.

The day after Wednesday’s deadly shooting spree at Fort Hood, Texas, retired Army Col. Tom Brewer has issued a statement calling for all personnel on military bases to carry guns.

“The men and women of the United States military have spilled their blood across the globe to protect our way of life and the rights given to use by the Constitution, including the Second Amendment, the right to bear arms. These rights should not be denied by our own government on American soil,” Brewer said in a news release.

The 36-year Army veteran, who served six tours of duty in Afghanistan, is Rep. Adrian Smith’s Republican opponent in Nebraska 3rd District. They will debate April 25. The winner of the primary will face Democrat Mark Sullivan of Doniphan.

Only law enforcement and security are currently allowed to carry guns on military bases. uVoted4them.com doesn’t want to be rude, but asks the question: If everyone is in uniform, and everyone has a gun, how is anyone going to be able to tell the good guys from the bad guys when the shooting breaks out?

We know Col. Brewer is a man of action, but isn’t it unfair to every veteran who served in Iraq and Afghanistan to jump to the conclusion that the shooter, 34-year-old Ivan Lopez, suffered from PTSD? All we’ve heard is that he had been treated for depression, anxiety and sleep deprivation. PTSD was only one of the diagnoses being explored, and not everyone with PTSD goes on murderous rampages.

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One of uvoted4them.com’s email treats is Daily Kos’ daily roundup of campaign news from across the nation, which is usually handled in a far less ideological manner than most Kos content.

Here’s part of the email from Thursday:
Jesus

No, Jesus hasn’t entered a Nebraska House race. And, no, state Sen. Ernie Chambers hasn’t sued Jesus. “Jesus. Seriously?” was Daily Kos’ reaction to 2nd District Rep. Lee Terry’s insensitive joke about being late to a committee hearing because his plane was delayed, maybe because of a faulty ignition switch.

The hearing was about faulty ignition switches on General Motors vehicles linked to 13 deaths. GM hid the problem from 2001 until finally issuing a recent recall of 2.6 million vehicles earlier this year.

This is the second time in about six months Terry has gotten national attention for foot-in-mouth disease. He faces businessman Dan Frei in the Republican primary. State Sen. Brad Ashford is the Democrat in the race. Terry has apologized.

 

The good news and the other news

This lucky little girl will  grow up with the story that she was born during her grandpa's run for U.S. Senate. How many kids can say that? Congratulations to Mr. and Mrs. Sid Dinsdale on the birth of a new granddaughter, Violet Grace.

This lucky little girl will grow up with the story that she was born during her grandpa’s run for U.S. Senate. How many kids can say that? Congratulations to Mr. and Mrs. Sid Dinsdale on the birth of a new granddaughter, Violet Grace.

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U.S. Rep. and Mrs. Jeff Fortenberry recently spent eight days in sunny, oceanside Cartagena, Colombia, courtesy of the Aspen Institute. Roll Call’s Political Money Line column reports that the Fortenberrys were among of a contingent of 19 members of Congress (most with spouses) who went to Colombia for an “educational workshop.” The value of the Fortenberrys’ free trip was reported at $5,775.

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If you missed the dust-up between Republican Senate candidates Shane Osborn and Ben Sasse, you didn’t miss anything unless you are on the far-right fringe of Nebraska Republicans.

It all started when Poltico posted a story linking Sasse to a Washington firm’s early jump on the let’s-make-money-from-Obamacare bandwagon. The Weekly Standard then came to Sasse’s defense, saying that it wasn’t true and that the Osborn campaign was peddling oppo research to Politico. Some third party jumped in with old stories about Osborn’s nasty divorce and, well, the fight was still making headlines on Sunday.

Basically, the Politico story suggests that Sasse took the expertise he gained working for former Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt to the consulting firm Leavitt started after leaving President George W. Bush’s administration.

Sasse says he never made a dime from Leavitt’s firm — and that he never even really worked there — despite his name turning up on some documents and PowerPoint presentations, and former co-workers remembering him at events where Leavitt’s company wooed potential clients looking for help with Obamacare.

So what are Osborn and Sasse fighting about? Which one of them hates Obamacare most, who started hating it first, and how could Sasse even think of making money from the Affordable Care Act if he hated it so much? uVoted4them.com rates this fight as a backseat squabble that needs to end before somebody’s dad stops this car.

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The May primary is still seven weeks away,  but the Sasse campaign has started distributing 14,000 pounds of yard signs. We haven’t seen any signs yet, but  uVoted4Them.com already misses the Lincoln city ordinance that limited campaign signs to the two weeks before the election.

By the way, you have the Legacy Foundation Action Fund to thank for Sasse’s new campaign ads. According to Federal Election Commission filings, the conservative group is spending $25,000 on internet ads and $286,160 on television time.

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There’s a fascinating piece by Dan Balz in Sunday’s Washington Post about how new media consumption habits are changing campaign ad strategy. Less than half of voters (48 percent) say that live TV is their primary source of video content, so politicians are having to diversify their ad mix for those who mostly use steaming video or video on demand.

For those 52 percenters, like uVoted4Them.com, who don’t watch live television, you can see Sasse’s new spot here.

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Debt ceiling passed, tidbits from the trail

SnowpacolypseFrustrated Americans may have learned the secret to motivating legislators to act quickly in Washington this week: Snow.

Eager to leave town ahead of a snowstorm, a “clean” debt ceiling bill was passed without any of the showmanship that stalled the debt ceiling hike last fall. It passed the House on Tuesday 221-201 and the Senate on Wednesday on a vote of 55-43.

The entire Nebraska delegation to Washington voted against extending the debt ceiling. The legislation, which is now headed for President Obama’s signature, suspends the debt ceiling until March 15, 2015, well past the November mid-term elections. The U.S. was expected to hit the current debt ceiling on Feb. 27.

Also on Wednesday, the Senate passed legislation that would repeal the 1 percent cut in military retirement pay for working-age retirees. Lengthy, expensive wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have boosted military benefits to the point that they consume more than half of the American defense budget. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, the Pentagon and Hill leaders are seeking ways to cut benefits, but heavy lobbying by veterans’ groups has stymied attempts at reform.

Bank executive and Nebraska Senate candidate Sid Dinsdale has opened a campaign office in Lincoln in the Candy Factory, 201 N. Eighth St. in the Haymarket. Dinsdale is an Elkhorn resident and chairman of Pinnacle Bancorp. His campaign website describes him as anti-Obamacare, anti-debt, pro-Keystone Pipeline and  secure-the-borders-first on immigration reform.

Republican wordmeister Frank Luntz would be proud of Republican Senate candidate Shane Osborn. In an interview with Brent Martin of the Nebraska Radio Network, Osborn remembered to use the word “bill” to describe Obamacare. Last year, with the launch of Obamacare looming, Republicans began referring to the Affordable Care Act as a bill, despite the fact that it had been law for nearly four years. Osborn also remembered to suggest that President Obama was a lawless dictator for delaying the employer mandate again.