The final Harry Potter movie premiered at midnight last night. (Yes, some of us attended.) We’ll leave the reviews up to Ebert and Roeper, but we will say that fans won’t be disappointed by the conclusion to this magical tale. Here’s your Roundup:
Debt Ceiling Update: Debt talks are to resume again today since no deal was reached yesterday. Obama gave negotiators 36 hours to come up with a plan, or they would have to continue the talks into the weekend. If a bigger deal cannot be reached, congressional members will likely have to use a fall-back plan with a narrower goal in mind. Mike Johanns joined Ben Nelson and Gov. Heineman in adding his support for a debt ceiling increase, saying “government default next month is not an acceptable option for members of Congress to consider”–a position that has still not been taken by the 2012 Senate GOP candidates: Bruning, Stenberg, and Fischer.
“Wrong Way” Jon Back in the Spotlight: WaPo has it right when they write that Jon Bruning has never hidden his ambition, as he has shown over and over again throughout his career. Ambition also has the unfortunate effect of causing “Wrong Way” Jon to push his ethics to the back-burner and skirt around the legalities, which is very problematic if you are the attorney general.The ethical and legal questions raised earlier this year around Bruning’s campaign finance chairman David Sokol making waves at the national level. At the time that the SEC was investigating Sokol, Bruning said, “I’m not the kind of guy that abandons my friends…There’s nothing even close to a criminal matter in this…it’s not even in the ballpark.” (Investigations are still pending, and Sokol no longer works for the Bruning campaign.) The joke was on Jon again this week when the Douglas County District Court Judge cleared the way for death-row inmate Carey Moore’s lawyer to ask that his client’s sentence be vacated because state officials (i.e. Bruning) withheld information about problems with the lethal injection drug they bought illegally from India. Read here.
Creating Jobs: Just as uncertainty surrounds the US budget and the economy seems to be falling back down, the Brookings Institute published their report about Green Jobs. The report found that 2.7 million jobs can be attributed to the Green Economy, which is more than the oil industry produces, and there is a lot of room for growth. To find the many different descriptions of a “Green Job,” the qualifications needed, and potential salaries, read here.
ALEC Exposed: This week, the American Legislative Exchange Council’s (ALEC) connection with the conniving Koch brothers was exposed. ALEC has long been a key weapon in the Koch brother’s war on the public sector, which has also been attacked by many Koch-funded right-wing enterprises including the Reason Foundation and Americans for Prosperity. However, ALEC held a special place in the Kochs’ cold hearts as the one avenue through which they could turn their radical ideas into law. ALEC set up swanky retreats where corporate lobbyists could meet with lawmakers to discuss their interests and creating “model legislation” which could then be distributed to more than 2000 state legislators. It succeeded in manipulating environmental protection laws, sabotaging healthcare, and rigging elections, amongst its many other accomplishments. Read the exposure details here.
Montana Oil Spill Update: In most recent news on the Montana Silvertip pipeline rupture, Exxon Mobil pledged Thursday to pay all “legitimate claims” and clean up damages incurred from the spill. During its first hearing on Capitol Hill since the spill, President Gary Pruessing noted the pipeline had “met all federal regulatory requirements,” and that the company still doesn’t know what caused the spill. “That is troubling to all of us,” he said, adding that the company did “very good engineering analysis” before the incident. “We had nothing that would indicate the line was not safe.” Lesson noted: promises CANNOT be made about the safety of a pipeline. Accidents DO happen. Our state leaders MUST ensure that Nebraska’s land and water is protected. Read here.
Thurs, July 14th
With the clock ticking on the debt ceiling, the news looks pretty grim. Moody’s says it’s reviewing a possible downgrade of the government’s AAA bond rating, and Obama and Cantor are butting heads. But who’s be worried about all that today? Harry Potter 7.2 premieres at midnight tonight (see you there)! Here’s your Roundup:
Political Games: On Tuesday, Gov. Heineman said the debt ceiling should be raised and complained about members of Congress who are unwilling to find common ground. Heineman’s being surprisingly reasonable on the issue–something that our 2012 GOP Senate candidates are having a tough time with. Bruning and Stenberg both said they wouldn’t raise the debt ceiling unless a balanced budget amendment is part of the deal, and Fischer wouldn’t raise it unless a balanced budget amendment is voted on. The amendment has been called “irresponsible” by economists, who argue that it would ensure economic downturn would turn into a depression, and its chances passing are close to zero. Read Here.
“Disdain for Borrowers”: In an interview with the NY Times, outgoing FDIC Chairwoman Shelia C. Bair had a lot to say about the actors behind the foreclosure crisis. She said the mortgage industry had a “disdain for borrowers” and was therefore reluctant to help them. “I think some of it was that they didn’t think borrowers were worth helping,” she said. Bair fought against predatory loaning practices starting in 2006 and met with mortgage industry execs to try to slow foreclosures, but she was never listened to. Bair also had some choice words for Obama’s economic team, who helped the banks but were “utterly unwilling” to help homeowners. Read Here.
More Videos: GOP presidential candidate Tim Pawlenty talks about his faith in a new campaign video released this morning. Watch Here. Ron Paul’s new TV spot that is airing in Iowa and New Hampshire this week was also released. Watch Here. Also, a few journalism students in NY put together a rockin’ music video to better explain fracking and its impact on the environment. “What the frack is going on?” Watch Here.
Shrinking Deficit: The U.S. budget deficit was $970.52 billion for the first nine months of 2011, down from $1.29 trillion over this time last year. Read Here.
More Stimulus?: A weak jobs report and still-too-high unemployment prompted Fed Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said he is prepared to take new action if the recovery falters. Read Here.
Wed, July 13th
Budgets are being debated in nearly every state and major city. Lincoln is not exempt from this, and we commend Mayor Buetler for his bold approach to the city budget, just as this letter to the editor suggests. Plenty of Repubs in Congress would be well off if they had Buetler’s ability to make difficult decisions. Here’s your Roundup.
Game Changer: Despite the continued talks, we’re still where we were Sunday night: a stalemate. Still, yesterday wasn’t without news. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell came ready to play dirty. Too bad it didn’t quite work out the way he planned. McConnell’s proposed allowing the president to decide (for the rest of Obama’s term) when to raise the debt ceiling, thereby taking any possible political fallout away from obstinate Repubs. This plan was attacked first by conservatives who assailed McConnell for his “treachery.” To make matters worse for the senator, the White House took his dare and supported his plan, only to anger many more people from the Right. What we take from this? It shows once more that Congressional Repubs are playing political games. Is the GOP running a party or a racket? The miscalculation here. Current state of negotiations here.
Why is this so hard?: Why are the Repubs in Washington refusing to compromise or concede on tax increases for the richest Americans and corporations? Well, it seems many are working for them. After Republicans took over the House, an influx of former lobbyist made their way into staffer positions for representatives, many of them freshman Republicans who not even a year ago campaigned on their status as Washington outsiders. About 128 (compare to 60 in the previous Congress) former lobbyists now work for our politicians, most of them formerly employed by large corporations. Read here.
Facing the Music: Wisconsin conservatives won’t admit it’s over. In last night’s six Democratic primaries, Repubs offered six fake Democratic candidates. In all six cases, these fake candidates lost. It was definitely a triumphant night for Wisconsonites. Read here.
It’s Not Just Nebraska: Others that would be negatively affected by TransCanada’s Keystone XL pipeline are stepping up and appealing for help. This guest opinion in a Montana paper shows that fears are widespread about the legitimate dangers of the pipeline. After the horrible spill in the Yellowstone River, this writer and others realize just how much more traumatic a leak from the Keystone XL would be. Montana’s Gov. Brian Schweitzer is being called upon to protect the people of his state just as we continue to ask the same of Gov. Heineman. Read the appeal here.
Thank you again: From everyone here at Bold, thank you so much again for making our first year a success and ensuring our coming years will be even more successful and meaningful. We hope you continue to support us as we work for you by offering an important voice to Nebraskan politics. At Bold we encourage the support of all organizations seeking to better this country and the world we live in. Everyone has something they are passionate about and chances are there are others that share that passion. So visit GOOD and find a non-profit working on ways to help people across the globe and if you wish, lend them your support. Site here.
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Tues, July 12th
When is the last time pea farmers made national news? Yesterday morning. When Obama said, “It’s not going to get easier, it’s going to get harder. We might as well do it now – pull off the Band-Aid; eat our peas,” at his morning press conference, the USA Dry Pea and Lentil Council had to respond. Here’s your Roundup:
Safety Net: Analysis by Moody Analytics found that close to $2 of every $10 that went into Americans’ wallets last year were payments like jobless benefits, food stamps, Social Security, and disability. But by the end of this year, many of these dollars are going to disappear, making economists worry that consumer spending will be further crimped and drag the recovery. Read here.
What’s Our Priority?: Because Repubs in Washington seemed determined to not raise the debt ceiling, one Florida representative mapped out an emergency spending plan, you know, just in case an agreement isn’t reached. His “Prioritize Spending Act of 2011” tells the Treasury where the dwindling money should be spent if we hit the debt limit. Here’s the order of priorities: 1) bondholders 2) soldiers 3) military contractors/national security 4) Social Security 5) Medicare. Read here.
Enlightened: The tyranny of energy-efficient incandescent lightbulbs is almost over! Today, Republicans are trying to repeal a 2007 bill (that passed with bipartisan support) calling for the phasing out inefficient bulbs in order to preserve our freedom to choose. Even the bill’s author is turning his back on it. Aren’t we glad House Repubs are working hard to solve the big problems America is facing? Read here.
Fighting Back: In today’s Billings Gazette is an editorial from three Montana landowners who live downstream on the Yellowstone River. They voice their concern about the Keystone XL and how another spill could affect their family’s health, water quality, and way of life. They call on their Governor to do more to protect Montana by doing the following: requiring TransCanada to provide a publicly reviewed response plan and bear all liability for oil clean up and property damage, require a government agency to be in charge of overseeing construction, and develop a comprehensive worst-case scenario study. They know their governor is in a position to prevent another disaster, and so do we. Gov. Heineman, listen to these landowners’ demands. Assurances aren’t enough, we need real leadership and real protections from TransCanada before the Keystone XL is allowed in our state. Read here.
Hallelujah: Fifteen years ago, Herman Cain recorded a gospel album. Yesterday, six tracks surfaced on the web. Cain’s got serious soul. Listen here.
Mon, July 11th
It was a good weekend for the sports world. Derek Jetter homered his 3,000th hit, and the US women’s soccer team beat Brazil 12 years after they won their first World Cup in what’s being called one of greatest games in women’s soccer. Here’s your Roundup:
Debt Ceiling Games: Sunday’s budget deficit talks only ended with the agreement to keep talking. It’s becoming quickly apparent that Repubs are not serious about this issue. They refuse to concede on issues that would result in a long term agreement worth $4 trillion in deficit reduction, over $1 trillion more than initial Republican proposals. Instead, they’re now asking that the plan conceived under the Biden negotiations be the one discussed. Biden was quick to point out that this was not a plan at all but a series of goals. Furthermore, Repubs leaders were the ones who walked away from the Biden table. The GOP is clearly playing a game, refusing to raise taxes on the top 1%. While they campaigned on creating more jobs for Americans, it’s not their goal. Read here.
Why Raise Revenue: So why should we increase revenue in our budget overhaul? The top 1% of our economy is succeeding and being rewarded with tax rates equivalent to the Eisenhower era. As they continue to succeed, the rest of us struggle to pursue the “American Dream.” Watch Former Labor Secretary Robert Reich’s take on how we got into this mess here.
Slavery, The Foundation of Family Values: Presidential candidates Michelle Bachmann and Rick Santorum have some ‘splainin to do. The candidates signed a pledge from the Iowa group First Leader that not only compares same sex marriage to polygamy, rejects Sharia law and calls for banning all pornography, but also suggests black families were stronger under slavery. The Family Leader’s now removed the offending passage, but the damage has definitely been done. And conservatives wonder why they struggle to reach minorities. Read here.
The Real Worst Case: We’re exposing and reviewing the worse-case scenario study done by a UNL scientist that shows just how devastating the TransCanada pipeline could be for Nebraska. The author of the analysis, John S. Stansbury has said, “I’m not anti-pipeline, and I’m not pro-pipeline.” There is no agenda in this independent study, therefore we should take what it tells us seriously. Ultimately it says what we knew all along: the current pipeline plan is bad news. Read here for a review.