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Ugh, indeed

In the you-gotta-be-kidding-me category, the Sasse for Senate campaign sent out a fundraising email Sunday saying it needed help to counter the money blitz that pro-Obamacare forces will be heaping on rival Shane Osborn.

Really? There’s a group somewhere in America running pro-Obamacare ads?  On behalf of Republican candidates? You must need X-ray specs or Google glasses to see them because they don’t exist in this world. The only Obamacare ads uVoted4them.com has seen in 2014 are those attacking Democrats. Ask Alex Sink, who was bombarded with waves anti-Obamacare ads in a recent Florida House race.

We’ll post Sasse campaign manager Tyler Grassmeyer’s email so you can read it for yourself. Interestingly, the subject line reads simply “Ugh.” uVoted4them.com is wondering if the “Ugh” is shorthand for “Ugh. I can’t believe my boss is making me send this stupid email.”

By the way, Sasse has released his own plan for health care, Sassecare. Uvoted4them.com hasn’t read it yet, but if we were a drinking blog we’d be hoisting a cup at every mention of “free market solutions.”

UghMarch30

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Shame on Shane

OsbornWebAdChinese

Senate Candidate Shane Osborn’s deliberate circulation of what turned out to be a phony memo from the U.S. Navy has captured media attention nationwide. In Nebraska? That noise you hear is crickets.

On Sunday, the Omaha World-Herald reported that the memo meant to back up Osborn’s decision to land and surrender his spy plane to Chinese soldiers in 2001 was a phony, written at the direction of an Osborn buddy who had a friend working at the Pentagon. It’s on official Navy stationary, but written without authorization or Navy approval.

It’s a stunning report that has been picked up by news sites across the nation. The New York Daily News, NBC News, Fox News, the Weekly Standard, Daily Kos, MSNBC  There are dozens of news sites that have picked up the story. You’ll even find it in tiny little blogs like Actuarial Outpost.

But the reaction from Nebraska’s mainstream media outlets? We’re still waiting for one. uVoted4them.com has patiently watched our Google Alerts and we’ve yet to see one newspaper, television station or radio station here pick up the World-Herald story.

Have Nebraskans lost their morals? Has it suddenly become the accepted move to resolve uncomfortable situations with fakery? This isn’t like forging a note to your elementary school because you went to the movies instead of class. The guy at the Pentagon who wrote Osborn’s memo requested anonymity from the World-Herald because he’ll be in a shipload of trouble with the Navy if he’s found out.

More likely, Nebraska’s traditional media outlets are too timid to rock the boat, which is truly a shame. This episode speaks volumes about Osborn’s moral values, which apparently involve winning the Senate race by any means necessary. The public deserves to know.

(For the record, Osborn’s campaign said they used the phony memo because the campaign did not have time for the memo to rise through the chain of command and receive approval. However, Osborn left the military in 2005, had to contend with this as an issue when he ran for state treasurer, and should have expected to have to face it again this year. He’s had plenty of time over the past nine years to get a memo.)

After days of silence from the Osborn campaign, the candidate has semi-apologized. You can read it here.

Abortion, the big stage and the airwaves

Nebraska Sen. Deb Fischer appears to be among a group of lawmakers being vetted by the Susan B. Anthony List as potential anti-abortion candidates on the national stage.

Fischer, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, talk show host Mike Huckabee and Utah Sen. Mike Lee were the top names at SBA’s annual Gala & Summit last week in Washington.

Word is that the right-wing group is unhappy that the last two Republican presidential nominees were more concerned about economic issues than social concerns, so it’s looking for anti-abortion candidates it can support in the 2016 primaries.

Part of that effort is finding a way to recast the abortion debate in terms that make it more acceptable to women voters. Fischer attempted to do that during the Susan B. Anthony List event:

“Abortion is not a woman’s issue,” she said. “It is not a men’s issue. it is not a health care issue. It is a violence issue.”

An issue of violence? That argument that is not likely to sway pro-choice female voters, but Fischer did better than Lee, Huckabee and Cruz, who had only red meat to offer the audience.

Huckabee predicted that if abortion is not stopped this generation, the next generation will be killing the elderly. Lee said pro-life voters are savages who embrace a culture of death. Not to be outdone, Cruz called them ruthless worshipers of Satan.

Fischer, in only her second year in the Senate, isn’t likely to find herself in the presidential mix in 2016, but who knows? If male candidates fail to charm female voters in 2016, Fischer might find herself very nicely positioned in 2020.

*****

Each of the four major candidates for Mike Johanns’ Senate seat have been endorsed by the anti-abortion Nebraska Right to Life PAC. They are Omaha banker Sid Dinsdale, Omaha lawyer Bart McLeay, former state Treasurer Shane Osborn, and Midland University President Ben Sasse.

*****

Shane Osborn’s campaign, meanwhile, is launching its first television commercial. About a month ago, the organization Special Operations for America ran a 30-second ad independent of the Osborn campaign, but this is the first commercial paid for by the campaign. Roll Call quotes an Osborn source as saying they made an $80,000 ad buy.

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.

*****

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.

*****

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.

*****

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.

*****

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.

Palin endorses Sasse; more poll numbers

Former Alaska Gov. and Tea Party princess Sarah Palin has endorsed Ben Sasse in the Nebraska Senate race.

“Ben Sasse is the clear conservative choice in the Nebraska Senate Race,” Palin said in her endorsement on Facebook.

“He’s witnessed firsthand the corrosive effect big government policies can have, and he knows that Obamacare is as bad as it gets. Ben is a leader we need in D.C. now! He won’t forget who sent him there because his life is firmly grounded in his small town Nebraska roots.”

Palin, who served half a term as Alaska governor and was Sen. John McCain’s running mate in 2008, announced on her Facebook page Wednesday that she would soon endorse a string of candidates who had been both thoroughly vetted and were bound to “shake things up.”

Palin and Sasse not only share  a common conservative objection to Obamacare, but also a love of guns.

Nebraska Senate candidate Ben Sasse and his wife celebrated Valentine's Day this year with a romantic evening of gunfire -- an event they shared on Twitter.

Nebraska Senate candidate Ben Sasse and his wife celebrated Valentine’s Day this year with a romantic evening of gunfire — an event they shared on Twitter.

For what it’s worth, Shane Osborn defeated “undecided” 35 percent to 30 percent in a recent poll by Breitbart News and The Polling Company. Ben Sasse came in third with 24 percent. Support for the rest of the Republican field — Sid Dinsdale, Bart McLeay and Clifton Johnson — was in the single digits.

The poll showed that ridding the nation of Obamacare was the main concern of poll respondents, with Osborn leading Sasse 35 percent to 28 percent among those who strongly oppose Obamacare. Forty-three percent of those polled said economic issues were the main factor in their preference.

uVoted4them.com puts this poll in the for-what-it’s worth category for several reasons:

  • Only six weeks ago, the Sasse campaign was trumpeting the news that Sasse had pulled into a dead heat with Osborn in a poll sponsored by the Conservative Intelligence Briefing blog.
  • None of the polls so far has met commonly accepted polling standards. The Sasse surge poll also raised questions about conflicts-of-interest by reporters Scott Clement and Peyton Craighill at the Washington Post.
  • It’s a Breitbart poll.

Are we going to have to wait until May 13 to find out what voters are really thinking?

Back to the kitchen?

Anti-feminist Phyllis Schlafly in her 1970s heyday, and today with Shane Osborn.

Anti-feminist Phyllis Schlafly in her 1970s heyday, and today with Shane Osborn.

UVoted4them.com has been waiting to see women’s issues emerge in the rhetoric of the Republican Senate race, and so far we’ve been disappointed. Until Tuesday, there was nothing — zip, zilch, nada — to lead us to believe the candidates considered women to be anything other than shapelier men.

And then Shane Osborn snagged the endorsement of Phyllis Schlafly.

Among Republican men, Mrs. Schlafly is highly regarded as a pioneer of the anti-feminist movement, the woman who almost single-handedly stopped the Equal Rights Amendment from ratification by the states during the 1970s.

With dire predictions that  constitutional protections for women would lead to such unthinkables as female soldiers in combat and unisex bathrooms, Mrs. Schlafly’s campaign stopped the ratification process almost overnight. She believed a woman’s place was in the kitchen, and there was no such thing as marital rape. (If he’s your husband, you haven’t been raped.)

Now 89, Mrs. Schlafly is still active in politics. Last month she agreed with a fringe conservative talk show host who suggested that conservative Americans launch a Ukraine-style 100-million-person march on the White House and depose President Obama.

“I don’t think our military and the few pitiful police they have would fire on the American people,”  host Stan Solomon said.  “We need to clean out that cesspool of Democrats and Republicans, of illegals, certainly, and say it’s to save America for Americans, basically.”

Replied Schlafly: “Yes. I agree. America for Americans.”

***

Having sent the message that women still belong in the kitchen, and that it might be time to end that nearly 250-year-old American tradition of democratic elections, Osborn and other Republicans might try to woo women with support for a rise in the minimum wage.

Voices for Children in Nebraska has released a poll showing majority support in Nebraska for raising the minimum wage. Among Democrats, 85 percent supported raising the minimum wage, as did 57 percent of independents and 35 percent of Republicans. A Gallup Poll from Thursday shows 71 percent support for a minimum wage increase nationally.

After all, independents are the fastest-growing group of voters in Nebraska, and 60 percent of workers earning minimum wage are women. Should we really have a minimum wage so low that someone who works 40 hours a week still lives in poverty?

***

Also on the subject of endorsements, awards and etceteras:

  • KWBE/1450 in Beatrice is reporting that Sen. Mike Johanns will not be making an endorsement in the 2014 Senate race.
  • Senate candidate Ben Sasse, meanwhile, has received the endorsement of Utah Senator and Ted Cruz chum Mike Lee.
  • Pinnacle Bancorp Chairman and Republican Senate candidate Sid Dinsdale is one of seven men who will be inducted into the Commercial Real Estate Summit Hall of Fame this year. The award recognizes individuals and their companies “for contributing to the state’s growth through construction, banking, law and development,” according to an Omaha World-Herald article by Cindy Gonzalez.
  • Democratic Senate candidate Dave Domina held a Q-and-A session with Nebraskans on Reddit on Thursday. It’s a nifty way to handle voter questions, and I highly recommend it as a replacement for those “telephone town halls” used by Nebraska’s members of Congress. There’s no hanging on the phone for 40 minutes, and everybody gets to ask questions. You can read the questions and answers here.

***

Did we mention that candidate Osborn attended one of those two-day  seminars designed, among other things, to teach Republican candidates how to reach female voters and speak in female-friendly terms? Click on the link to learn more.

Senate race roundup

Omaha banker and Republican Senate candidate launches first commerical

Omaha banker and Republican Senate candidate launches first commercial

If you missed Sid Dindale‘s first commercial during Sean Hannity’s program on Fox News Wednesday night, you can catch it here on YouTube.com The Omaha World-Herald says it’s a small, $15,000 buy, but we’ll undoubtedly see more from the Omaha banker’s campaign to succeed Mike Johanns in the Senate. All of the major GOP candidates for Senate have now launched commercials.

If a 16-day government shutdown didn't kill Obamacare, how do Nebraska's Senate candidates expect to do it?

If a 16-day government shutdown didn’t kill Obamacare, how do Nebraska’s Senate candidates expect to do it?

All of the Republican candidates are on the Obamacare-must-be-abolished bandwagon, but none has explained how it will be any more possible in 2015 than it was in 2013, when the House voted more than 50 times to abolish the Affordable Care Act.

The reality is that these things will have to happen first: A Republican takeover of the Senate (highly unlikely this year) AND the untimely, unfortunate deaths of both President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden. It is only with Republican control of the Senate and a President John Boehner (there’s a thought!) that the Affordable Care Act could be killed.

So major league kudos to Chris Schukei, assistant news director at KHAS/TV5 in Hastings, for trying to press Senate candidate Shane Osborn on how he would be any more successful in killing Obamacare than the man he hopes to replace, Sen. Mike Johanns.

Schukei’s question: “When all of you are talking about being able to repeal it and make the changes, isn’t it the reality that the equation is going to be the same? Mike Johanns has been voting no against this all the way. So, can any of you go to Washington and make any difference in this?”

Osborn’s answer: “I think you can make a difference. If you couldn’t, I wouldn’t be doing this. Right? You have to go there and build relationships and work together to get what’s best for the country done, and put the country first.” You can see the full interview at YouTube.com. This exchange starts at about 1:38.

Osborn obviously misses the point, but you can’t really blame him. None of the Republican Senate candidates has addressed the real life obstacles that killing Obamacare would involve. And that includes prop candidate Ben Sasse, who traveled the state with a 12-foot stack of paper to represent all of the federal regulations related to Obamacare. (It’s the nation’s health care system. Of course it’s complicated. Medicare Part D was complicated, too)

* * *

Monday is the last day for aspiring members of Congress to file paperwork with the Nebraska Secretary of State’s office for the May 13 primary. Candidates need to appear in person and bring $1,740 to cover the filing fee.

***

Finally, uVoted4Them.com is soliciting questions you would like to see answered by House and Senate candidates before the primary election. How old is the Earth? is the first question on our list. It may seem silly, but the answer — 5,000 years or a whole lot older than that — tells you a lot about a person and their politics.

Add your questions through the comments box or send them to  acjc40@aol.com

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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.

October to February is how many months?

Nebraska Senate candidate Ben Sasse’s crowing about his rapid rise in the polls has gone a bit too far. In an email distributed Friday, Sasse claims to have come from far down in the pack to nearly even with front-runner Shane Osborn in one short month. From his “this is big” email:

this is big email

The problem? Only two polls have been conducted in the Nebraska Senate race. One was conducted by the Osborn campaign in October 2013. The second was conducted this week. So, the Sasse campaign either miscounted the number of months between October and February or it conducted its own poll last month and did not release the results to the public.

Or maybe he’s puffing to make the surge more dramatic than it probably was. Sasse has raked in big dollars, he’s a darling of the conservative media, and he’s run plenty of campaign commercials. It’s no surprise that he’s all but caught up with former State Treasurer Osborn. But it’s an accomplishment that stands on it’s own. There’s no need for the hype.

And it got worse when I found this on his Facebook page. I left a post asking about the one-month claim. I’ll let you know if I receive a response.

Sasse Facebook

In any event, it wasn’t the only problem this week for Sasse’s e-campaign. To celebrate the birthday of President Reagan, Republican pols across the country Tweeted some of the gipper’s most noted lines. Sasse’s first try with this one had an embarrassing typo.

RealReaganQuoteTypo

Normally, the Sunglight Foundation’s Politiwoops site catches all deleted Tweets, but this one mysteriously disappeared from the Intertubes. It was reported everywhere on Thursday, but notoriously hard to find on Friday. Thanks to South Sioux City Journal columnist Bret Hayworth for memorializing it.

You Voted for Them, Nebraska is normally forgiving about typos — we’ve made a few ourselves — but a professional, multi-million-dollar campaign should be able to handle 144-character Tweets. After all, Sasse is a PhD and university president.

Poll: Sasse closing gap on Osborn in Senate race

According to a newly released poll, Midland University President Ben Sasse has nearly closed the gap on Shane Osborn in the race for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Mike Johanns.

The Harper Polling numbers show Osborn leading with 30.44 percent of support among likely Republican primary voters, and Sasse coming in second with 29.03 percent. Osborn’s lead is within the poll’s 4 percent margin of error. “Not sure” came in third with 23.19 percent of the vote. Bank executive Sid Dinsdale was fourth with 13.10 percent and attorney Bart McLeay was fifth with 4.25 percent.

Even more interesting, the poll shows that Attorney General Jon Bruning would jump to the lead in the governor’s race if he were to enter. Bruning would take 35 percent of the likely voters, compared with Pete Ricketts’ 16 percent, according to the Harper Poll.

The poll shows a huge leap in popularity for Sasse. A poll conducted by the Osborn campaign in October, showed the former Navy pilot with a commanding lead over the field. Osborn came in with 39 percent. Sasse and Dinsdale trailed with 7 percent and McLeay had 1 percent.

The newest poll was sponsored by the blog Conservative Intelligence Briefing. It contacted 565 likely Republican primary voters. Harper Polling conducts interactive voice-response polls, also known as robo-polls, which are generally considered less accurate than polls conducted with human interviewers. Many news organizations consider them so unreliable that they do not report the results of robo-polls.

One problem with robo-polls is that they are usually programmed only to call phones on land lines, which Americans have abandoned in large numbers. Democrats have used robo-polls for years, and Republicans have recently turned to them because live interview polls ahead of the 2012 presidential election turned out to be disastrously wrong. They are also much cheaper to conduct than live polls.