If you’re freaking out about your zodiac suddenly changing, CNN’s got good news: if you’ve been using the tropical zodiac, your sign doesn’t change.  In other news, the Republican National Committee will vote for their chairperson today — will the controversial Michael Steele keep his seat?  All the local buzz will focus on the Gov.’s proposed budget and the recall tussle in Omaha.  Here’s your Roundup:

Return to Governing: Congress will be returning next week, albeit under a much different tone than when they started a week ago.  The House GOP’s agenda remains the same, but their rhetoric is expected to change to reflect the shifted national mood.  Politico points out the biggest hurdle for the House Repubs, “now they’re going to to re-launch a congressional agenda that’s largely aimed at dismantling the accomplishments of a president who just had one of his most unifying moments.”  View Here

Budget Unveiled: Governor Heineman unveiled his budget for the next two years yesterday (the two years are called a “biennium”).  Heineman’s repeating his campaign promise of balancing the budget without increasing taxes.  As expected, Heineman’s single solution approach of cutting programs doesn’t have us thrilled.  We understand that cuts will have to be made, but a serious approach to the $1 billion budget shortfall would also consider revenue increases.  We’ll give our full take later today.  View Here

Nelson on Tour: Sen. Nelson is touring the state and checking in with local businesses that benefited from stimulus money.  Yesterday he stopped in O’Neill to see Marv Fritz and the crew at Garden Fresh Vegetables.  He also made a stop in Norfolk to see NPPD’s new operations center.  We don’t know where else Nelson will be visiting, but you can follow him on facebook or twitter to track his tour of the state.  View Here

Beck and PR 101: We generally avoid Glenn Beck at all costs.  Fortunately, there are non-profits like Media Matters or blogs like Mediate that pick out Beck’s shining moments for us.  Yesterday, Glenn Beck gave us a brief history on public relations and one of it’s founders, Edward Bernays. If you’ve ever taken a PR or persuasive communication class, you’ve heard of Bernays.  You also know the difference between spin, propaganda and brainwashing.  Unfortunately, it looks like GB skipped class during those lessons.  Chat up Malinda if you want to debate PR, propaganda or bacon.  View Here

DirtyOilSands.orghas an awesome graphic that fact checks TransCanada’s ads.


Thursday, January 13th

We had a lot of news to cover yesterday, so try to check out our news feed after you peruse the Roundup.  The headlines today will be all about President Obama’s speech at the memorial in Tuscon.  Local news will center on bills being introduced in the state legislature, and Gov. Heineman unveiling his budget recommendations.  Here’s your Roundup:

Obama’s Speech: President Obama gave a stirring, tear-jerking and deeply moving speech at the memorial for the victims of the attempted assassination in Tuscon.  Speaking at the University of Arizona, President Obama spoke of heroism in the midst of tragedy and offered a vision to move forward.  “All of us – we should do everything we can to make sure this country lives up to our children’s expectations.”  Full Text of the Speech, Video at WhiteHouse.gov

Girl Power: President Obama was the first to break the good news that Rep. Gabrielle Giffords opened her eyes for the first time yesterday after a bullet went through her brain.  Former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Giffords’ parents and husband were in the room to see the miracle.  Nancy Pelosi called the moment a little bit of “girl power.”  We keep sending prayers as Rep. Giffords keeps fighting.  View Here

Local Control: We were proud to hear the news yesterday that State Sen. Annette Dubas has introduced a bill to regulate oil pipelines in Nebraska.  Any company wanting to build an oil pipeline through Nebraska will have to go through an application process with Nebraska’s Public Service Commission.  Environmental, economic and social impacts will all weigh in on the PSC’s decision to allow an applicant to build or not.  We’re so excited to see Nebraska embrace local control and will put pressure on our elected officials to pass Dubas’s bill.  View Here

BSDC Dismissed: US District Judge Richard Kopf dismissed a lawsuit against Gov. Heineman and other Nebraska officials over the degenerate of safety conditions at the Beatrice State Development Center.  Judge Kopf granted Heineman and the other officials immunity which protects government workers from being sued while carrying out their duties.  We couldn’t say it better than the plaintiffs’ attorney, Brian Jorde, “Even if the governor and the state were not technically wrong that doesn’t make what happened right.”  View Here

Kopf Out: We won’t see too many more decisions from Judge Kopf because he’ll retire from the bench on Dec. 1.  Sen. Ben Nelson announced that he has recommended Nebraska Supreme Court Justice John Gerrard to replace Judge Kopf.  Sen. Johanns has also indicated support for Gerrard which could mean a smooth approval process if President Obama does nominate the Justice.  I’ve met Gerrard, and while I am certainly no legal scholar and have no role in his appointment, I will say his sincerity, integrity, intelligence and love for the law are unmistakable. We wish him the best of luck.  View Here

A native Nebraskan has been tapped to be California’s secretary of Food and Agriculture.


Wednesday, January 12th

Did you make your epic wishes yesterday at 11:11AM and 11:11PM?  If not, you’ll get another chance in 10 months at 11:11 on Nov. 11.  We’re abiding by the birthday wish rule and not telling anyone what we wished for, lest it fail to come true.  Here’s your Roundup:

Dog Whistle Politics:  Sarah Palin’s statement on the Arizona shootings is causing quite the stir. Once again, the mamma grizzly is in the spotlight for her linguistic choices, but this time it’s much more serious than “refudiate.”  Palin used the term “blood libel” which typically to the myth that Jews use the blood of Christian children in their rituals.  It’s a concept that’s been used as a pretext for violence against Jews.  Rep. Gabby Giffords is Arizona’s first Jewish Congresswoman.  View Here

Windmills, Not Oil Spills: Landowners in northeast Nebraska are jumping on the renewable energy train by signing on to windmill projects.  Jim Huttmann tells Prairie Star that he’s had no problems with the Chicago company, Midwest Wind, who has contracted to run turbines on his farmland.  Huttman says he’s had no problem with noise, maintenance, farming or injured wildlife since the turbines were installed.  We’d of course encourage skepticism when dealing with any company, oil or wind, but it sounds like the latter is treating Nebraska landowners well.  View Here

Threat Level Blue: The State Patrol has found no threat in the emails sent to members of the state leg’s judiciary committee which urged them to pass AZ-style legislation.  We’re glad to hear that our elected officials can sleep a little easier, but chairman Brad Ashford has said he still plans to have metal detectors at the hearing for Charlie Janssen’s immigration bill.  It says something when our elected officials have to worry about being protected while doing their job.  View Here

Well Said, SCJ: The Sioux City Journal’s editorial team is pressuring state lawmakers to focus on the business of the state instead of issues like federal health reform.  The SCJ has an editorial poo-pooing Sen. Beau McCoy’s bill that would exempt Nebraskans from the individual mandate. The editorial urges state senators to leave that business to the courts where it’s currently being challenged and focus on fixing our state’s budget.  We couldn’t agree more.  View Here

George Lucas’s Take on Immigration: No, not that George Lucas — we mean the one who’s the Archbishop of Omaha.  The archdiocese has a resource page up on their website for inquisitive Catholics (and non-Catholics) who want to know the church’s position on undocumented workers.  The Church is praying for statewide civility when discussing this heated issue.  So are we.  View Here

Jeff Fortenberry is co-chairing the bipartisan Malaria and Neglected Diseases Caucus.


Tuesday, January 11th

It’s 1-11-11 which means we’ll make an epic wish at 11:11AM and 11:11PM today.  The recall vote in Omaha is underway.  We recommend visiting ForwardOmaha.com for information on the Jan. 25 vote on the Mayoral Recall.  Here’s your Roundup:

NE Lawmakers Threatened: The Nebraska State Patrol is investigating an ominous email to members of the state legislature’s judiciary committee.  The email implored the senators to pass Sen. Janssen’s AZ-style immigration law, but it was the postscript that unnerved Chairman Ashford.  “We shed blood to build this country, and we will shed blood again to take it back.”  After the attempted assassination of Rep. Giffords in AZ this weekend, our state senators are rightfully taking such rhetoric much more seriously.  View Here

High Court Hints: The Supreme Court has refused to hear a case about the commerce clause, which could give some incite on how they’ll react to the individual mandate in health reform.  The US government will argue that they can require everyone to buy health insurance as part of the commerce clause in the Constitution.  Only two justices dissented on the Court’s refusal to hear the case — Thomas and Scalia (who are notorious conservatives).  If you’re a legal junkie, this article is for you.  View Here

Delay Gets 3 Years: The former House Majority Leader has been sentenced to serve 3 years for money laundering and 10 years probation for conspiracy to commit money laundering.  Delay faced the potential of life imprisonment after his conviction in Nov.  Delay continues to maintain his innocence and says he feels no remorse.  Delay also had a role in the Jack Abramoff scandal but was never charged with any wrongdoing in the case.  View Here

Prenatal Woes: In astunning move (of cluelessness?), the Nebraska Dept. of Health and Human Services tweeted advice on having a healthy pregnancy this morning.  Of course, the NE DHHS is at the center of the prenatal care controversy in our state.  While we appreciate the advice, the fact is over 1,500 women in our state can’t afford to follow all of the rudimentary advice because DHHS cares more about pleasing the Governor than promoting healthy babies.  So far, 5 babies in Nebraska have died because their moms did not have access to prenatal care.  Feel free to tweet with us, “Thanks for the pregnancy health tips @NebraskaDHHS. Let’s restore prenatal care so all women in NE can have healthy babies.”  View Here


Monday, January 10th

In light of the weekend’s tragedy, Congress has postponed all legislation until next week. Expect a much more toned-down Washington when they return.  As for our state government, Governor Heineman has ordered flags be flown at half-staff.  Our federal delegation have issued statements, but our Governor and state senators have not.  Here’s your Roundup:

Calm and Cool: WaPo explores the ramifications of Saturday’s shooting and the effects it will have on our political discourse.  We whole-heartedly agree when Dan Balz writes, “The reality is everyone bears some responsibility, from politicians to political operatives to the media to ordinary Americans.”  The fact is, our political debates have devolved into a destructive competition.  While we don’t have control over the actions of a very disturbed kid, we can control how talk about and interact with each other.  View Here

Back to Work: The Federal Reserve has said it will not bailout state and local governments. Chairman Bernanke told the Senate Budget Committee that struggling states “should not expect loans from the fed.”  Senior House Republicans have also declared that they will not help states in distress.  So to our governor and state senators, enjoy repairing that $1 billion revenue shortfall on your own.  We know tough decisions are ahead and hope you consider ALL your options. View Here

Self-Control: We called out Mark Fahleson Sunday night for using an image of Senator Ben Nelson’s face in the middle of a target, and Politico picked up the story.  Fahleson blames his childish behavior on Dems, rather than taking personal responsibility (which we thought was a conservative value) and admitting it was in poor taste.  Sorry Mark, but we aren’t in the business of throwing pity parties.  View Here

Control Freak: When our state’s facing major budget concerns, Mark Fahleson’s already pointed out the NE GOP’s top priority: electoral college reform.  How this will help the state’s budget woes, we have no idea.  But Fahleson has made it abundantly clear that the GOP’s major concern is tilting the political playing field in Nebraska to favor conservatives by using the state’s non-partisan legislature.  Our goal continues to be changing the political landscape and restoring balance to Nebraska politics.  View Here