It’s Christmas Eve and you might be doing last minute shopping (we have some ideas for gifts) or surfing online or just hanging out with your family. We are watching how news sites and blogs react to a right-wing polling firm try to set up the Senate 2012 race for the GOP.  And of course, always have an eye on the TransCanada Pipeline. Here’s your Roundup:

Magellan goes in circles and reporters get it wrong: new poll from Magellan Strategies that pits Jon Bruning against Ben Nelson is making national and local news.  The bad news for Nelson: in a hypothetical match-up, he trails Bruning by 14 points, 52%-38%.  The good news for Nelson: Magellan Strategies is a just a front group for conservatives.  Its too bad national bloggers and political writers did not note this basic fact when they wrote their headline on the poll.  Shout out to the Omaha Reader for doing their job and citing the fact the poll is a right-wing job. Read our take on the poll.

Nebraska Wildlife Gives Clinton a Christmas Present: No, they didn’t send some Nebraska-made beef, instead they sent a letter to reinforce the need for more studies done on the pipeline in the fragile and precious Sandhills. They are asking Sec. Clinton to re-do the Environmental Impact Statement and re-release it for public comment because the Dept. of State failed to consider the climate change and greenhouse gas implications of the pipeline. This is something Senators Nelson and Johanns have also asked for (Gov. Heineman has remained irresponsibly silent on). See their Christmas letter to Clinton here.

Here Comes Santa Claus (repeat post): We know our readers have been busy this holiday season, and that means some gifts may have gotten put off until the last minute.  Not to fear, we’ve got a generic list for the politicos and non-politicos in your life.

For the political junkie, we’ve got a list of top-notch books:

  • DirtySexy Politics by Meghan McCain — full of juicy gossip from the young McCain, it’s made all of our wish lists
  • America by Heart by Sarah Palin or G.W.’s Decision Points — the perennial gag gift
  • The Plan by Rahm Emanuel — a great flashback to 2006, see how this book made Emanuel a superstar
  • How Congress Really Works by Rep. Henry Waxman — for the inquisitive institutionalist in your circle
  • America: The Book by the Daily Show staff — excellent coffee table book and a laugh fest
  • The Backlash — delve into the dark side of Tea Party movement
  • The Blueprint — for the grassroots aficionado, the NE GOP chairman’s read this one too
  • The Real McCain — Cliff Schecter tries to explain why McCain is so silly
  • The Political Brain — one of Jane’s favorites
  • Game Change — full of anonymous campaign gossip from 2008
  • Of Thee I Sing by Barack Obama — a kid’s book penned by our president

For the politically disinclined, we’ve got a list of Nebraska-made products:


Thursday, December 23rd

The 111th Congress has come to a close.  It was certainly a sprint to the finish line to extend the Bush tax cuts and unemployment benefits, update food safety, repeal DADT, give 9/11 First Responders health coverage and ratify the new START.  But rather than take an incomplete, the 111th turned their homework in just under the wire.  Meanwhile, we’ve been seeing themes from “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” in just about every news story.  Here’s your Roundup:

His Heart was 2 Sizes too Small: Over at New Nebraska Network, Kyle Michaelis nails Governor Heineman for his grinchy attitude regarding state redistricting.  In classic Heineman fashion, the declining population in Western Nebraska is everyone’s fault but his.  Instead of reaching out to the urban and rural populations in Nebraska, Heineman’s chosen to pit them against each other (we saw this move when he tried to pit Medicare against education).  View Here

You’re As Charming as an Eel: TransCanada’s leaders are starting to show that they have as much PR tact as former BP CEO Tony Hayward (the one who said he just wanted his life back). TransCanada’s chief executive Russ Girling recently complained to reporters about the delay on the Keystone XL’s approval.  Even though the initial Environmental Impact Statement falls short and their emergency response plan has been skewered, Girling thinks TransCanada has gone out of it’s way to oblige America.  Yes, it’s outrageous that a foreign company should have to wait while American officials weigh the risks their project pose to our country. View Here

All the Noise, Noise, Noise!: Mayor Jim Suttle’s got his own Harold Hill causing contention in Omaha.  Joe Jordan reports that his name is Paul Jacob, and he hails from Virginia.  Jacob is president of the conservative group Citizens in Charge.  He might have had a part in the reports that the recall committee was paying workers per signature — which is illegal.  A ruling on the recall case is expected today at 1:30pm.  View Here

They’ll Play Noisy games like Zoozit: Omaha’s new indoor soccer team is an interesting study of the immigration system.  The 18 Viper players hail from 8 different countries.  Several of them have received P-1A work visas which allows celebrities and entertainers to temporarily work in the States.  Rep. Lee Terry even helped the team out when their midfielder struggled to re-enter the country after a family emergency.  But most immigrants who apply for visas and citizenship don’t have the luxury of a city soccer team and a member of the House to help expedite their paperwork.  It takes most applicants years, not weeks, to get through the system.  View Here


Wednesday, December 22nd

Only three more days until Christmas and four until Kwanzaa.  We’ll be offline on Friday so that we can start spending the holidays with our (somewhat neglected) family members.  It looks like the Senate and House will also get to spend the holidays with their families as the lame duck “to-do list” grows shorter by the day.  Here’s your Roundup:

Make the Yuletide Gay: DADT was officially repealed this morning.  The policy that forced thousands of gay and lesbian soldiers to lie about who they are is gone.  Since DADT was implemented, over 14,000 service members have been discharged because of their sexual orientation.  Yes we can, and we did.  View Here

Peace on Earth: While the new START will not issue in a new era of detente and world peace, it is a step towards a safer world.  The Senate continues debating the nuclear arms treaty this morning.  Senator Nelson has come out in support of START which is also endorsed by every living Secretary of State and multiple top military officials.  Of course, conservatives are holding up ratification complaining that it’s too unilateral and they don’t want to play with Russia. View Here

Visions of Sugarplums: Yesterday the House passed the revived food safety bill which is one of the biggest leaps forward in our food system since the days of Teddy Roosevelt.  The FDA will now has to power to issue real recalls for tainted foods and conduct more frequent inspections. By next year, you can bake your Christmas cookies with confidence that the eggs you used won’t give your friends and family salmonella.  View Here

Here Comes Santa Claus: We know our readers have been busy this holiday season, and that means some gifts may have gotten put off until the last minute.  Not to fear, we’ve got a generic list for the politicos and non-politicos in your life.

For the political junkie, we’ve got a list of top-notch books:

For the politically disinclined, we’ve got a list of Nebraska-made products:


Tuesday,December 21st

Happy winter solstice, everyone!  Today is a particularly special solstice because it was accompanied by a full lunar eclipse, which some of us (read: Malinda) crawled out of bed to see at 2:17am.  She’ll spend the rest of the day trying to feel her toes but claims the frostbite was worth it.  Here’s your Roundup:

Early Return: Usually we don’t see a lot of gift returns until after Christmas, but Jon Bruning’s always had a problem being early.  Bruning has officially sent the $500,000 marked to fight meth addiction in Nebraska back to the federal government.  Oh, just a moment, we can hear the $1 billion state budget deficit knocking on the door.  It sounds angry… View Here

Rave Reviews: The federal Health and Human Services department has proposed a new regulation this morning: a strict scrutiny of any insurance rate increases greater than 10%.  Now before any “laissez-faire government” types go running for the hills (maybe they already have), states and the federal government will only be able to review rate hikes, not stop them.  So there’s greater accountability in the system without stepping on the toes of free market capitalism. And for you “states’ rights” fans, states will take the lead on reviewing rate hikes unless their review process is inadequate.  View Here

Alternative Fuel: Senator Nelson’s already percolating alternatives to the health reform individual mandate.  Like we’ve said, it’s got to be the boy scout training.  He’s also a former insurance commissioner, so he’s not just a wonk suggesting solutions without practical grounding. HHS Secretary Sebelius is standing by the mandate, but she’s also drawing attention to other benefits of health reform like $18.8 million in grants for Nebraska geared toward public health, insurance oversight and exchange planning.  View Here

START Me Up (Again): The Senate is still mulling over the new START which is an important nuclear arms treaty with Russia.  According to Roll Call, Dems think they already have five Senate Repubs who are a lock to vote yes: Collins, Snow, Luger, Brown and Corker.  They need another four and are expected to lean on Alexander, Bennett, Gregg, Isakson, Kirk and Voinovich.  We notice Johanns is on neither list, probably because he’s playing the party line, AGAIN. Meanwhile, someone in the Senate Dems communications center has a wicked sense of humor.

The GrandIsland Independent wants Adrian Smith to show some backbone with his new Ways and Means appointment.


Monday, December 20th

The holidays are almost here, and we know you’ve nailed down most of your plans already.  We’d invite you to add one more event to your calendar: our pipeline rally to kick off the state legislature’s session on Jan. 5.  We want to remind our state leaders to protect our land, water and landowners.  Just RSVP to the facebook event and let us know that you’re coming.  Here’s your Roundup:

Food Safety Lives!: In what may best be defined as a Christmas miracle, the food safety bill will become law after fears that it may die because of a technical error.  The Senate bill that overwhelmingly passed in November had tax-related provisions.  Constitutionally, such bills must originate in the House.  But after some fast maneuvering and a Sunday vote, the food safety bill has been resurrected.  It is expected to head back to the House late this week and on to President Obama to become law.  View Here

Equality Matters: One of our mottos is that politics matter.  Now, the national media watchdog Media Matters is launching a new “communications war room” called Equality Matters.  Just as Media Matters holds mainstream news media accountable on liberal and progressive issues, Equality Matters will push back on homophobic rhetoric in the news media.  Their new website,, went live this morning.  View Here

Walton Covers Nelson: Don Walton has joined the Nelson speculation game.  Like most of us, he predicts a contentious GOP primary and thinks the candidates will depend on Nelson officially announcing he will seek re-election.  So far, Nelson’s only indicated that he will run.  The man’s doing the job we asked of him: help govern in DC!  It’s clear the 2012 election is simmering on Nelson’s back burner, but it won’t be there forever.  View Here

U.S.S. Prius: The U.S. Navy and Marine Corps are out-greening the terrorists.  Don’t worry, the hippies and tree-huggers haven’t taken over the armed services.  The move to go green is actually based on a report that says the military loses one person (killed or wounded) for every 24 fuel convoys in Afghanistan.  The secretary of the navy is pushing for nuclear energy, biofuels and hybrid engines in ships and jets run on bio-fuels.  View Here

START Me Up: The Senate is meeting behind closed doors today to consider the nuclear arms treaty with Russia known as START.  Conservative lawmakers are trying to hold up a vote saying they need more time to look over the agreement.  We know that they want to push off the to vote into the new session when the Senate will have more conservative members.  Despite overwhelming public and professional support for the treaty, more conservative leaders are saying they oppose the common sense security agreement.  View Here