The 26th Amendment, which allows people 18 and older to vote, turns 40 years old today. Despite recent conservative attempts to suppress the vote (through really bad voter ID laws), young people are still rockin’ the polling booths.  Here’s your Roundup:


But…I thought we were friends?: The addition of Deb Fischer to the NE GOP’s primary Senate race has put some fellow state senators in a difficult position. Nebraska Watchdog is reporting that at least two Senators, Pete Pirsch and Abbie Cornett, are supporting two candidates: Deb Fischer and “Wrong Way Jon” Bruning.  State Sen. Abbie Cornett said she initially supported Bruning but since Fischer has jumped in the race, she now supports both because she and Deb are “friends.” Read here.

Risky Energy: If you thought the risky TransCanada pipeline was the only energy project that’s hurting our small towns, think again.  Champion Robert Kennedy, Jr. is highlighting a new movie called “The Last Mountain” that not only shows how risky this form of energy is but, more importantly, shows how these energy companies lie to small towns to get what they want–full control of the land and resources.  Read or Watchere.

A Victory for “Truthiness”: Much like he did with the illegal immigration debate, Stephen Colbert took his satirical critique of the campaign finance laws straight to Washington, DC.  The FEC allowed the creation of Colbert’s SuperPAC yesterday, possibly opening the way for other television programs and companies to openly support, promote and finance candidates.  The ‘’media exception’’ passed on a 5-1 vote.  Does that mean Olbermann can return to MSNBC since we still don’t get Current in our cable?  Read here.

Economics with a heavy dose of Culture Wars: Senator Orrin Hatch (UT-R) is trying to appeal to Tea Partiers and help his falling poll numbers by attaching an anti-abortion amendment to the U.S.-Korea Free Trade agreement.  Medicaid family planning funds (for things like birth control and pap smears) would not be available to any organization–hospitals included–that provide abortions. Hatch seems content to derail the trade agreement for his own agenda, further showing that while they campaigned on it, improving the economy is not the primary goal of Republicans in Congress.  Read here.

End of Quarter Spin: As the financing quarter closes, some Republican candidates are doing better than others in the struggle to find donors for their presidential campaigns.  While Mitt(ens) Romney appears to be doing well, he is still below his 2007 numbers.  Bachmann will likely continue her fundraising successes of the past.  Jon Huntsman, Herman Cain and New Gingrich are in worse shape.  While Cain and Huntsman are dealing with a small amount of capital to work with at the moment, some estimates put Gingrich at $1 million in the hole.  You can guess everyone–especially Pawlenty, who is struggling to find his place with donors–will be measured against Mittens’ success.  Can anyone compete with President Obama, who surpassed 480,000 donors as the 2nd quarter came to an end?

Land of 1,000 Lakes CLOSED for the Holidays: Minnesota’s State Government shut down because Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton and state Republicans could not reach a budget agreement. There are two ways to close Minessota’s budget gap: budget cuts and increased taxes.  For the Republican-run House and Senate, only one of those means are on the table. Sound familiar?  Fringe conservatives refused to accept the Governor’s tax increase on those making over $1 million a year.  Minnesota residents and visitors will now have to go without the many state parks during the July 4 weekend. Read here.

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Thurs, June 30

There’s a flurry of activity from Dems about the economy. After weeks of criticism from Republicans and the breaking down of the Biden talks, Senate Dems plan to release a budget plan of their own next week. Also, Sen. Chuck Schumer unveiled a jobs plan this morning, arguing that Republicans are deliberately slowing the recovery for political gain. Here’s your Roundup:

Oh, Really?: While Americans For Prosperity parades around the country using our elected officials to blame Obama for high gas prices, a new report shows the speculative commodities trading on Wall Street is inflating prices at the pump.  The speculation, according to the report, cost the average consumer an extra 83 cents a gallon in May, amounting to a more than $1 billion premium across the country. Read here.

Lil’ Cayman Island of the Great Plains: In Cheyenne Wyoming, more than 2,000 companies are registered at 2710 Thomes Ave. The building isn’t a skyscraper or office park, but a small brick house where anyone can set up a “shelf” company to hide their assets and avoid taxes under the business-incorporation specialist Wyoming Corporate Services. One of the owners of a firm is a jailed former Ukrainian Prime Minister hiding real estate assets, another firm sold counterfeit truck parts to the Pentagon. “A corporation is a legal person created by state statute that can be used as a fall guy, a servant, a good friend or a decoy,” the Wyoming Corporate Services website boasts. “A person you control… yet cannot be held accountable for its actions. Imagine the possibilities!” Read here.

Big Win for Health Care Reform: For the first time, a Republican-appointed federal judge upheld the constitutionality of President Obama’s health care law. Circuit Judge Jeffery Sutton argues that the Constitution doesn’t limit Congress to regulate inaction the same way it regulates action. The health care field is much different from other fields of commerce, he argues, and some states already have health insurance mandates in which no court has yet invalidated. This case will most likely head to the Supreme Court by the end of the year. Read here.

Rural Recovery: Nationally, the housing market is still a mess. But in rural states like Iowa, South Dakota, North Dakota and Alaska, the market is marching towards recovery. These states did not see a big rise in home prices during the bubble years, have lower unemployment rates, and are home to energy, agricultural, and industrial sectors of the economy. Gotta love the Great Plains. Read here.

Fighting Back: A group of Senators urged the Dept. of Justice yesterday to review the highly restrictive voter ID bills that have been passed in states around the country. Voter ID bills are a costly state-by-state effort suppress voting from the disabled, the young, and minority groups. Not surprisingly, our own State Sen. Charlie Janssen proposed one of these bills, which was shelved for being costly and unnecessary. Read here.

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Wed, June 29

Christine Lagarde is the new head of the IMF, Herman Cain has a either a book or a print edition of an identity crisis on the way,  and Tom Petty is trying to stop Michele Bachmann from using his songs at rallies.  Here’s your Roundup:

Free Trade Fiasco: GOP The White House finally finished haggling with congressional negotiators over free trade agreements with South Korea, Panama and Colombia.  The controversial point has been something called TAA, which is a retraining program for the workers whose jobs might be lost as a result of the deals.  Naturally House Republicans are already labelling the attachment of TAA to the deal an unnecessary disaster, making clear their priorities lie with the corporations who are sure to benefit from the deals.  House Democrats on the other hand are concerned about tax havens in Panama and anti-union violence in Colombia. Read here.

Shameful Study: A recent study on LGBT Nebraskans has revealed a disproportionate rate of suicidal thoughts that persist throughout life.  The study concluded this is largely the result of the stigma present in conservative areas.  Ultimately, this is what people who denigrate marriage equality or advocate a “don’t be obvious” societal attitude don’t understand.  A community which denies a person full legal and social participation inflicts continuous harm on that segment of the population, a harm which can have devastating emotional impacts. Needless to say, as Nebraskans, this study makes us less than proud. Read here.

Nuclear Plants Holding Up: The NRC’s blog is a great resource for understanding the flooding and how it relates the nuclear plant.  So far everything seems to be going according to plan, except for one thing: the plants were only supposed to be up and running for 40 years, and that timeline has expired.  Still, so far they’re holding the flooding at bay, and we’re keeping our fingers crossed for their continued success.  We’d also like to point out that the current success has a lot to do with an inspection by the NRC a few years ago which declared Fort Calhoun unprepared to deal with a flood of this magnitude.  Imagine that, government regulations protecting the citizenry from industrial disasters.  We shudder to think about how this might have played out if an agency like the NRC had its funding slashed.  Read here.

Deja Vu: Tax credits and protective tariffs for the the ethanol industry are on the chopping block in the Senate.  Wait, didn’t this happen a few weeks ago?  We could have sworn… Anyway, three senators say they’ve reached an agreement that will leave some industry assistance in place for things like ethanol infrastructure.  The senators claim it will result in saving around $6 billion.  That may be, but we wonder why there’s so much enthusiasm for cutting subsidies to a Midwestern, thoroughly American, industry?  Where was this sentiment a month ago when tax credits for the five major oil companies were on the table?  Read here.

Consequence Lesson:  This isn’t really news, but it sure feels good.  Almost former TV host Glenn Beck was jeered out of a free movie in New York City by fellow spectators.  Apparently, sometimes people actually hold you accountable for what you say.  Meaning you can’t rail about socialism, and communism and Marxism and then go to a public park and watch a free movie.  Got to love New Yorkers. Read here.

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Tues, June 28

Over the past few days, the flooding near Nebraska’s nuclear power plants has been making national news. Officials insist the plants are safe and are actively trying to dispel rumors that this is Fukushima-like incident by bringing journalists into the plant.  Let’s hope they’re right.  Here’s your Roundup:

A Dangerous Game: By refusing to raise the debt ceiling, Republicans are threatening to push America to default on our debts and risk serious economic consequences. Yet the four Republicans who are attempting to hold the increase hostage (Kyl, McConnell, Boehner, Cantor) voted to raise the debt ceiling 19 times combined under President Bush–an increase of nearly $4 trillion dollars–without demanding any drastic spending cuts.  Read Here.

Nebraska Teachers <3 Obama: And we love our teachers, too.  The Nebraska State Education Association voted yesterday to support President Barack Obama’s re-election in 2012.  Nancy Fulton, the NSEA’s president-elect, will travel to Chicago this week to cast her vote in favor of the National Education Association adopting a similar resolution. Read here.

Visualize It: In response to the adoption of marriage equality in New York, the good people over at the Maddow Blog posted a graph showing LGBT equality in the U.S. from 1960 to 2011. We’ve come a long way as a country, but we still have much more to accomplish in the way of LGBT rights.  Read here.

Money Talks: Exxon Mobile pledged to stop funding climate change deniers in 2008 (yes, they admitted it) in order to shift their focus to developing green energy.  But new documents attained by a Greenpeace FOIA request show that Exxon was still funding climate skeptics as recently as last year.  The documents reveal that one famous climate change denier, astrophysicist Wei Hock “Wille” Soon, has been paid over $800,000 by various oil and gas companies.  This is just another in a long, long line of examples of Big Oil purposely deceiving the public and breaking its promises. Read here.

Face Time: Members of the House of Representatives can now use Skype through the chamber’s public WiFi.  This will probably be a helpful tool for our elected officials, but judging by recent scandals, it’s easy to imagine how the technology could be abused.  Read here.

A Little Good News: Rep. Gabrielle Giffords received a standing ovation at a NASA award ceremony yesterday.  She reportedly stood up from her wheelchair and kissed her husband while he was awarded the Spaceflight Medal. Read here.

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Mon, June 27

Michele Bachmann has finally, officially declared her candidacy today.  Yawn.  In other news the House has decided they’re strongly against our involvement in Libya, but they’re fine with continuing to pick up the tab and Republicans continue to attack the National Labor Relations Board for doing their job.  Here’s your roundup:

Inspector Jackzo is on the Job:The Chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission spent yesterday inspecting Cooper Station and will spend today at Fort Calhoun.  This is especially important since a flood guard at the Fort Calhoun station deflated yesterday.  In response, the reactor went off grid and switched to diesel generators before returning back to grid power later in the day.  Officials say despite the minor emergency, everything is just fine, and they’re prepared to weather the flood.  We hope so.  Read here.

Taste the Rainbow: Same-sex couples in the state of New York finally have to right to be married.  Governor Cuomo signed the legislation into law Friday evening.  We’ve got to say, it’s about time.  There’s something wrong when the home of Stonewall, the place that more or less gave birth to the gay rights movement, is behind Iowa’s progressive curve. This is a huge victory for all the same-sex couples that want to share in the comittment and responsibilities of marriage.  Not only did the number of same-sex couples allowed to marry pretty much double, but the legislation had strongly bi-partisan support.  We can only hope this signifies the start of a pattern, rather than a legislative anomaly.  Read here.

Obama Steps into the Ring: The president is set to get directly involved in the deficit talks this week after Eric Cantor walked out on negotiations to protect Americans making over $500,000.  We say good riddance, since Cantor’s intransigence on uncontroversial matters like eliminating tax cuts for corporate jets was just absurd.  Whether Obama will be able to dissolve the impasse over raising revenues remains to be seen, but one thing is clear: He better figure out how to do it or the consequences could be dire, for both the country’s credit rating and essential social services.  We advise him to ask Michele Bachmann where she got her titanium spine.  Read here.

API Casting Call: As the GOP primary is just getting started in Iowa, Big Oil is hitting the ground running.  A group calling itself the Iowa Energy Forum is pushing candidates on their support for tar sands oil and the Keystone XL.  While they claim to be a grassroots organization, further investigation has revealed they are in fact funded by the American Petroleum Institute.  Big surprise there.  The good news is that Big Oil must be getting desperate.  They can’t seem to find any citizens to spontaneously advocate for their agenda, so now they’re paying people to do it.  This shortage of genuine popular support is what happens when your business model is built on irresponsibly exploiting and poisoning communities.  Read here.

For Public Profit: Unions in this country are increasingly under fire, and it’s important to take a look at the arguments being deployed against them, especially public sector unions.  Garret Keizer makes some great observations in his editorial for the New York Times.  In states like Wisconsin, GOP politicians are arguing that unions only make sense in for-profit industries. Well, as Keizer points out, public sector jobs are profitable-for every single citizen in the community.  It’s time to remind the GOP that there are things other than stock options that have value.  Read here.

AM Audio Apertif: To check out our very own Jane Kleeb in an interview with Talk Back Omaha click here.

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