In case you missed the wonderful spoof of Big Oil’s attempt to pull the wool over our eyes, give it a watch. Here’s your Roundup for this sunny Friday:
Lost in the Fray: Decisions like the FDA’s to allow pizza sauce to be considered a vegetable or news about Rupert Murdoch eyeing the American public education system as a profit-maker boil up quickly to make headlines but then fall even faster from everyone’s memories. Who does this effect? The obvious but sadly overlooked answer is our kids. The children of this country deserve a voice standing up for them and not corporate privilege. That is why the #OccupyBigEd movement has begun. Head to the K12 News Network for a run through of their main concerns. Read here
Wrong Way Jon: Attorney General Jon Bruning got downright testy defending his shady grant to a front group for corporate ag. The group, We Support Agriculture, was created to counter the Humane Society’s push for improved treatment and quality of Nebraska cattle. To Bruning however, any criticism of his actions is invalid because of his run for Senate. Bruning’s election campaign has increased focus on his past, and it’s no wonder many of the Nebraska’s AG’s previous actions are being scrutinized. Bruning has a past littered with backdoor deals, like the We Support Agriculture one. It appears his way of handling valid criticism is to play the blame game and avoid responsibility. Read here
The 1% Defenders: The tax plans coming from Republican presidential candidates make no sense. They insist that our way back to a booming economy and to tackle the deficit is to decrease taxes and cut vital public programs. All they do is reduce the already low tax burden of the rich in the United States and in some cases increase the poor’s, furthering the divide between the two. Finally, all the candidates’ tax systems have been analyzed. Romney’s is especially lose-lose for the candidate. Not only would he raise taxes on the poor, his tax cuts for the wealthy fall short compared to the giant handouts favored by Gingrich. Read Here.
Kicking the Can: An Appeals Court ruling that delayed federal environmental regulations going into effect in Nebraska pushes the problem down the road for our state. NPPD says despite the ruling, they will continue ahead with retrofitting coal plants with more than $35 million in new equipment. Nebraska’s coal plants will not be allowed to continue like they do now, but why continue to invest in a source that can never be truly clean? We ask, why not put that money to better use? If you care about putting the “public” back in public power, join us on January 13th in Columbus at the NPPD board meeting. Read here
Protect the Vote: Adam Morfeld of Nebraskans for Civic Reform has an excellent op-ed in today’s Journal Star about the high costs of a voter ID bill in Nebraska. Voting ID “fixes” a problem that doesn’t exist, is costly to implement, and attacks our constitutional right to vote. We won’t let State Senator Janssen ruin Nebraska’s tradition of fair and accessible elections. Read here
Thursday, January 5th
Before we get too immersed in our plans for 2012 and caught up in the inevitable political mud throwing that will come out of the campaigning season, we’d like to take a step back to the Daily Good’s Top Ten Kindness stories for the year 2011. Here’s your Roundup:
Bucking the GOP: For months, Congressional Republicans have vowed to block the appointment of Richard Cordray to the head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau because they disagree with the entire concept of the agency. Over the holiday season, they have held a Senate session every three days (consisting of only a handful of senators), preventing Obama from making a recess appointment. Until now. Yesterday, the President made four total recess appointments–the much delayed appointment of Cordray as well as three appointments to the National Labor Relations Board. These appointments will help agencies that fight for the middle class. Read here and here
The Real Supporters of Agriculture: “We Support Agriculture,” formed by the Farm Bureau and designed to fight HSUS, made center stage when Jon Bruning gave them $100,000. Back in November, Farmers Union member Ron Meyer attended a “We Support Ag” meeting. He found that the organization gets all of its information about the HSUS from the Center for Consumer Freedom, which receives support from multinational corporations intent on protecting their profits and market share. It is these multinational corporations that are responsible for the massive decline of independent producers in this state since 1980, not the HSUS. In fact, HSUS wants to create a market that more closely links the consumer and farmer. So cheers to the Farmers Union for championing our family farms. Read here
Don’t Stifle Innovation: Lightbulbs became a lightning rod for House and Senate GOPers this past year. They spun the approaching 2012 efficiency requirement as a talking point for how EPA regulations kill jobs and restrict the economy, as well as evidence of “Big Brother” trying to run all of our lives. Thomas Edison’s grandson says his grandfather would be disgusted by the efforts of the GOP to stifle innovation and efficiency. These lightbulb efficiency regulations would “thrill” Edison and will thrill consumers as well–they’ll save households between $100 and $200 each year. Read here
What Happened to the American Dream?: The United States has long identified as a vast land of opportunity and wealth, where even if you grew up in a poor household, you could rise to the top with enough hard work. Unfortunately, recent studies show that this ideal is not reality. Americans actually have less economic mobility than their peers in Canada and European countries. It is especially sticky for the lowest and highest classes, where roughly 65% of those who belong to those classes stay there their entire lives. While the studies show mobility is much higher in the middle class, the fact that America’s middle class is sinking into the lower class is even more alarming. It’s becoming conventional wisdom that the American Dream is in fact, just a dream. Read here
Big Oil Lies: The American Petroleum Institute, which is the lobbying arm of big oil, is planning to litter our airwaves with their “drill, baby, drill” and pro-KXL messages in key battleground states. API plans to frame big oil as a victim of pollution regulations. Never mind that big oil’s expected to rake in record profits for 2011 and took $4 billion in tax breaks. It’s insult on top of injury. Now, more than ever, it’s clear that we need to rid ourselves of these arrogant, spoiled brats by investing in renewable energy that supports middle class Americans. Read here
Wednesday, January 4th
The Nebraska Unicameral reconvenes today, and we look forward to seeing what bills that will be on the table this session. We expect child welfare reform to be a top priority and prepare to fight an anticipated voter ID law, which would disenfranchise thousands of Nebraskans. Here’s your Roundup:
Iowa Caucus Results: Well, the votes have been tallied and the results of the Iowa caucus are in. Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum are within a hair of each other, Romney capturing first with 24.6% and Santorum a close second with 24.5%. Ron Paul came in third with 21.5%. Gingrich, Perry, and Bachmann fall into 4th, 5th, and 6th place, with respectively 13.3%, 10.3%, and 5% of the votes. Now it’s on to New Hampshire where Mittens is expected to come out well ahead and then South Carolina which pundits are calling the Super Bowl of the GOP primaries this year.
Mittens’ Mischief: Last night on MSNBC, Luke Russert commented that the plethora of right winged bills will be “thrown around the neck” of whomever becomes GOP Presidential nominee. Romney’s already embraced those bills, jumping on the GOP Congressional bandwagon of supporting unemployment-rate-doubling, big-oil-subsidy-protecting, job-outsourcing, Medicaid-decimating, Medicare-ending, time-wasting bills. Romney’s passionate and misguided support of a balanced budget amendment (here, here, and here) and Paul Ryan’s budget (here and here) mean a Romney presidency would have devastating consequences for the middle class.
Ugly: Santorum has demonstrated his ignorance most recently in Iowa, where he singled out blacks as being recipients of assistance through federal benefit programs, telling a mostly-white audience he doesn’t want to “make black people’s lives better by giving them somebody else’s money.” Considering 84% of welfare recipients in Iowa are white (nationally it’s 39%), there’s no hiding the racism in this statement, and certainly no place for it in the White House. As a smart man once said, “There is no Black America or White America or Latino America or Asian America, there is just the United States of America.” Read here
A Must-Be Top Priority: As the Unicameral comes back for the 2012 session, a crucial issue is our state’s failing child welfare system. Sarah Helvey of Nebraska Appleseed notes the progress that can be made if our legislators utilize Health and Human Services Committee Report and its 18 recommendations. She brings up a key issue that must be tackled–children becoming wards of the state who do not suffer from abuse or neglect but from the inability to pay for needed mental health services due to Nebraska’s restrictive Medicaid policies. Above all, our child welfare system must support families, and private contractors are not the answer. Read here
New Abolitionists: As we have seen the past three years fighting TransCanada’s KXL pipeline, there are terrible human consequences to feeding our need for energy–and no one wants it in their own back yard. For 40 years, mountaintop removal in the Appalachian minefields has been destroying the quality of life in that area, and has been a largely ignored humanitarian crisis. HuffPost contributor Jeff Biggers explains that despite the human cost, mountaintop mining will continue until there aren’t enough people to want it to continue. Too many people write off the fight against mountaintop mining and indeed, the fight against the KXL, as an insignificant fight to save a few bugs and birds. But it is much, much more than that. It is an existential struggle for the right of people to live their lives. Read here
Buy Locally: The word “organic” draws millions of people to the fruits and vegetables with that label in the supermarket. Organic foods are naturally better for you because they aren’t grown using harmful chemicals, and the underlying assumption and philosophy behind organic agriculture is that it is also good for the environment because it is a more sustainable way of growing food. But the bulk of organic tomatoes now gracing the produce aisles of US supermarkets hail from Mexico’s Baja Peninsula–a desert. This is putting stress on the water table and hindering locals from subsisting on the land they long have depended upon. This highlights the need to not just to buy organically, but to also buy locally for sustainability and to support our neighbors. Read here
Tuesday, January 3rd
Tonight, the Iowa Caucuses begin at 7pm CT. Four years ago, TV networks declared Barack Obama’s Iowa victory at about 8:25pm. There’s no shortage of speculation about who will come out on top tonight. For this morning, here’s your Roundup:
Canadians Don’t Want the KXL: The Globe and Mail, a Canadian newspaper, recently published its viewpoint on the KXL. Basically, the newspaper argues that the pipeline in no way benefits Canada, because the few jobs that will be created and whatever money will be made off of the project will go to the U.S. The way the G&M looks at it, if the oil sands are to be expanded to the point where they melt the planet, at least dress them up with refineries to create some wealth along the highway to hell. Read here
Look at the Alternatives: We’ve heard about a million times now from Congressional Republicans (and here and here) that the KXL is a shovel ready project, and will create 20,000 jobs. We also know that to be false. Only about 5,000 jobs (a generous estimate) will actually be created by the pipeline. Congressional GOPers also say that any amount of new jobs created is worth the risks involved, but for us and thousands of others, they aren’t. The GOP would have us believe the KXL is the only job creator that is an option right now. But there are many alternatives. There are other “shovel ready” projects that will do more to improve America’s economy that won’t have negative impacts on our health. Invest in bio-fuels and building wind turbines and solar panels. Rebuild our crumbling roads and bridges. Alternatively, lower the value of the dollar.
Brutal Messaging: One of the defining features of election periods is the plethora of campaign ads that find their way into every single commercial break. These ads have become much more negative and brutal since the Citizens United court case, which now allows any organization to spend as much as it wants to say whatever it wants about a candidate on air. The fact that no candidate has to come on at the end of the ad and say they “approve the message” means civility has no place on the airwaves. Read here and here
Movement Toward Peace Talks: A huge step was taken today when the Taliban announced its intention to open up a peace mission in Qatar. This is in sharp contrast to all previous announcements made by the terrorist group that negotiating nor ending the insurgency in Afghanistan was on the table. American officials have said for years that the war in Afghanistan ultimately requires a political solution, not a military one, and this new movement by the Taliban brings hope to the table. Read here
Occupy Our Food: On this past December 4, food activists and the Occupy Wall Street movement came together for a Farmers March for “a celebration of community power to regain control over the most basic element to human well-being: food.” In a political climate where pizza is considered a vegetable for schoolchildren, these voices and many others are needed to protect our health and our family farms. Watch here
Monday, January 2nd
Happy 2012, Bold Nebraskans! We’re so excited to dig into the new year and continue building a bold Nebraska. Join us to kick off the 2012 legislative session in Lincoln Wednesday night at Zen’s Lounge. Here’s your Roundup:
A New Energy Year: The NY Times editorial board encourages President Obama to start 2012 off right by denying they Keystone XL and encouraging clean energy growth. Just upgrading our power plants could create 45,000 construction jobs for 5 years and 8,000 long-term jobs. Obama and every politician on Capitol Hill for that matter have a choice: will they make sure America gets a slice of the $5 trillion global clean technology market or will they let China and Germany lead the way? Read here
The Kids Ain’t Alright: Nebraska’s child welfare system is a mess and the shame of the state. As if the boondoggle over Safe Haven three years ago didn’t throw a big enough spotlight on the massive holes in our safety net for kids, the privatization of child welfare services has proved an absolute catastrophe. Speaker Flood says fixing the mess will be the Unicam’s priority for the 2012 session. We hope the state senators and Governor Heineman prioritize kids and not money or corporate interests. Read here
People Matter: Mike Klink, an engineer who inspected the first Keystone, has a great Op-Ed in the Journal Star. Klink was fired after repeatedly complaining about safety violations and bad construction on TransCanada’s first pipeline. Klink knows most pipelines can stand the test of time, but TransCanada cannot. Klink joins the chorus of Nebraskans demanding that our Legislature stand up for families by standing up to TransCanada. Read here
Ron Holscher from Ogallala has a compelling LTE about why we should repeal health care reform. Kidding! It’s an entirely tongue-in-cheek piece that actually points out all the positives of reform.