McCain, Graham back Osborn

Republican Senate candidate Shane Osborn has picked up the financial backing of the Senate’s two military veterans, Sens. John McCain of Arizona and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina.

Breitbart reports that both are making donations to the Osborn campaign. The two became supporters of the former Navy pilot in February, when Nebraska Sen. Deb Fischer invited Osborn to a closed-door luncheon in Washington. Breitbart also reports that neither has any plans to make campaign appearances in Nebraska on Osborn’s behalf.

Graham, 58, joined the Air Force after graduating from law school in the early 1980s, and served as a judge advocate in Europe. He returned to his native South Carolina after discharge, and served in the Air Force Reserves there. President George W. Bush promoted him to the rank of colonel during a White House ceremony. Graham is not a combat veteran.

McCain, 77, had a more colorful and painful military career. Both his father and grandfather were four-star admirals, and McCain followed in their footsteps by graduating from the Naval Academy in 1958. During Vietnam, McCain flew bombing missions from an aircraft carrier. He was shot down over Hanoi in 1967 and badly injured.

Out of deference to McCain’s admiral father and his family’s 200-year history of military service, the North Vietnamese offered to release him in 1968, but McCain refused to leave his fellow prisoners behind. He remained a prisoner for five more years, and was released with other American POWs after the Paris Peace Accords in 1973. McCain retired from the Navy in 1981 as a captain.


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.


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?


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. is still waiting for an answer, but thanks for the trivia.


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


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 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.” 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. 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.”



Shame on Shane


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. 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.


Nebraska more Republican than conservative

According to the pollsters at Gallop: Nebraska is one of the most Republican states in the union, but not one of the most conservative.

Gallop found at least 10 states more conservative than Nebraska in 2013. The most conservative of all, according to Gallop is Wyoming, with a population that is 51.4 conservative. Also coming in ahead of Nebraska in conservativeness were Mississippi, Alabama, South Carolina, Tennessee, Arkansas, Utah, Idaho, Montana, and Oklahoma.

The new poll showed a 37.5 percent approval rating for President Obama in Nebraska, compared to a national approval rating of 46.5 percent. Self-identified Republicans make up 50.9 percent of Nebraskans, with 34.5 percent identifying as Democrats or leaning Democrat, according to Gallop. That’s a hefty 16.3-point lead.

The District of Columbia had the most liberals, with 38.1 percent. Also in the most liberal column were Maine, Vermont, Massachusetts, Delaware, New York, New Jersey, Hawaii and California.


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.


Coburn endorses Sasse; RNCC builds deceptive web sites

Nebraska Senate hopeful Ben Sasse

Nebraska Senate hopeful Ben Sasse

Oklahoma Sen. Tom Coburn has endorsed Nebraska Senate candidate Ben Sasse, whom he says he spent a considerable amount of time with while Sasse was an assistant secretary of Health and Human Services during the most recent Bush administration. He said he found the-then HHS staffer ‘responsive and very responsible.”

Lincoln Journal Star writer Don Walton reported Coburn’s endorsement of Sasse a few days ago. Said Coburn: “If he was running in Oklahoma, I’d vote for him.”

And, lest I forget, Sasse has a birthday card for Sarah Palin on his Facebook page that Palin fans are welcome to sign. The former Alaska governor and vice presidential candidate hits the big 5-0 on Tuesday.

*     *    *

The National Republican Congressional Campaign Committee has raised the ire of Democrats and others by putting up phony web sites that appear to support Democratic candidates, but are really fund-raising tools for the NRCC.

The NRCC has built at least 15 of these sites, including one targeting Arizona Democrat Ann Kirkpatrick, and says it plans many more as the 2014 political season continues. According to CNN, the NRCC has purchased hundreds of URLs bearing the names of Democratic contenders across the nation.

The sites typically feature large, attractive photos of Democratic candidates, but the copy bashes them for supporting Obamacare or some other program Republicans consider a crime against America, They also include a donation box, with the money going to the to the NRCC and Republican House candidates.

The text on the sites makes it obvious that it is not in support of the candidate, but supporters of the candidates will find them confusing, which is just what the RNCC wants. Daniel Scarpinato, press secretary for the organization, told CNN “we are very proud of this program.”