In GOP Senatorial Nomination In-Fighting,
Is Deb Fischer A Possible Beneficiary?
Would Mike Flood Be Interested?

When the dust finally settles—and there seems a lot more dust yet to settle—in the controversy swirling around Attorney General Jon Bruning’s record in office and campaign for the Republican nomination for United States Senator, don’t be surprised if another Senatorial aspirant, State Senator Deb Fischer of Valentine, emerges as perhaps the principal beneficiary of the brouhaha.

I’m not predicting anything other than what I consider the near-certainty that Senator Ben Nelson has decided to run and will run for his third term.

If successful against what might surely be a high level of Republican opposition, Nelson’s third term would start with Nelson 71 years old and end at age 77 assuming he served to the end of the term.  It should not be forgotten that in the past 57 years, four Senators from Nebraska have died in office:  Republicans Hugh Butler, Ken Wherry and Dwight Griswold and Democrat Ed Zorinsky.  It should be remembered also, of course, that several incumbent senators completed their final terms at ages in the 70s.  Republicans Roman Hruska and Carl Curtis and Democrat Jim Exon come to mind.

Continuing the political speculation—it’s an interesting game that anyone can play:  Suppose continuing unfavorable news stories plague Jon Bruning and he continues to make serious blunders like comparing welfare recipients to raccoons—resulting in Bruning slipping from his position as leading candidate for the Republican nomination

Might not State Treasurer Don Stenberg, who has run for office so many times, be seen as something of a worn-out candidate who has gone to the political well too often?

State Senator Deb Fischer has wisely maintained a discreet silence while Stenberg and Bruning duke it out.  Might she be, in effect, the only candidate left standing?  If nominated and elected, she would be the first woman elected from Nebraska to a six-year term in the United States Senate.

Or would Bruning’s troubles attract a potentially strong challenger who is generally considered to have political ambitions but not directed necessarily to a Senate seat?  People who follow these things closely will perhaps have recognized that I’m talking about State Senator Mike Flood of Norfolk, who has built a considerable following among prominent Republicans as well as Democrats with his legislative service, including his time as Speaker of the Legislature.

The political crystal ball has cast Flood as most likely in the role of a potential Republican candidate for governor.  He may have some reservations in that regard in view of Governor Dave Heinemann’s enthusiastic support of Lieutenant Governor Rick Sheehy as his successor.  So a bid for a Senate seat might look attractive.

The one certainty in this interesting situation, as I see it, is that Democrat Ben Nelson has already decided to seek a third term.  If that is not the case and Ben decides not to run, he will be in the position of having to give back a lot of money which has already been raised by his campaign organization.

Incidentally, the news media seem to play along with Ben in his role of uncertainty.  A story earlier this week described Nelson as “yet to decide whether he will seek a third term.”  Not a statement qualified by quoting Nelson as saying he hasn’t decided, but a flat statement by the journalist that Nelson has not yet decided.  Apparently mind reading is a skill which some  journalists bring to their job.

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Howard Hawks’ Experience And Expertise
Effectively Answer Pipeline Emotionalism

For some Nebraskans, the controversy raging over construction of the proposed Keystone Pipeline isn’t based on opposition to a pipeline to bring Canadian crude oil to the U.S. for refining but is based rather on opposition to the proposed route through Nebraska.

For these “build a pipeline but build it somewhere else” Nebraskans, Omahan Howard Hawks last week had an expert’s rebuttal and reassurance.

The day after the World-Herald had published a “build it but somewhere else” editorial, the paper published a “Midlands Voices” article by a highly-respected expert on such matters as pipelines, Howard Hawks, founder and chairman of Omaha-based independent energy company Tenaska who had led the development, construction and operation of the Northern Border Pipeline, an 823-mile, $1.8 billion pipeline that transports natural gas from Canada.  The headline on Howard Hawks’ expert opinion article:  “Science, sound economics support XL pipeline plan.”

Among Hawks’ points:

“…we are confident that Keystone XL Pipeline can be among the safest in operation today.  Our perspective on this issue is grounded in building similar facilities ourselves and in the knowledge that the application of science and engineering approaches can reduce or eliminate the environmental risks.”

Hawks pointed out that there are over 20,000 miles of pipelines operating in Nebraska today, as well as an active oil and gas exploration and production industry that has been operating in areas of the Ogallala aquifer for many years.

And this, to me, perhaps the strongest argument of all:  “Consider for a moment that the proposed route of the pipeline crosses only 13 miles where the Ogallala aquifer is within 50 feet of the surface.”  A pretty effective answer to the endlessly-repeated argument that even a very carefully constructed and monitored pipeline would put at risk a very significant portion of the Ogallala aquifer.

Insofar as the environmental activists’ goal of stopping development of Canadian oil sands by simply not building the pipeline, Hawks said that if the oil in Canada is not delivered to the United States, it will be delivered to China and other global markets.  “Stopping the construction of this pipeline would have no measurable effect on Canadian oil production.”  The statement continued:

“Our national interests in the secure supply of imported energy is at stake after a decade of war in the Middle East, with the ongoing sacrifices of our men and women in uniform, how can we ignore the opportunity to improve our energy security and national security by the construction of this critical project?”

The World-Herald editorial published the day before the Howard Hawks’ article urged that the pipeline follow a different route, citing among other concerns a University of Nebraska researcher’s opposition based on a series of “worst case” scenarios.

It seems to me that the choice is clear:  Should public policy be based on rational discussion and the best informed expert opinion available or on emotional arguments and supposed scientific research which is based entirely on “worst case” scenarios?

* * *

As I See It:  Ernie Chambers’ Ego Trip
Will Be Ended By Sen. Brenda Council

If I were a betting man, I would venture a few bucks against the successful outcome of Ernie Chambers’ ego-driven effort to regain a seat in the Nebraska Legislature.

Chambers’ campaign was not off to a very successful start, it seems to me, when he issued this almost incredible—but then nothing is incredible when it comes to claims that Chambers advances—appraisal of his service in the Legislature as, presumably, an indication of his qualifications to add to his remarkable record of 38 years of legislative service:

“There’s a job that needs to be done that’s not being done, and I think I can do it better than anyone else.  I’ll run on my record.  People will find (there) are things that have not been equaled by any legislator, anywhere in this country, during any period in history.”

The differences between Chambers’ previous service and long string of election victories and the prospect which faces him now are his age (74) and, perhaps most important of all, the fact he would face a formidable opponent in State Senator Brenda Council.

Council has distinguished herself as a effective representative of the northeast Omaha district which Chambers represented for so many years.  Council has also—and importantly—shown herself interested in representing broader interests than those of her legislative district (a characteristic which, in fairness, Chambers also demonstrated, although in a bullying, often insulting style which intimidated rather than persuaded).

More than a few legislative observers believe that Ernie Chambers’ performance over those 38 years was among the factors which led Nebraska voters to enact a constitutional amendment  restricting the state senators to two consecutive four-year terms.

* * *

Just Say No, Representative Lee Terry;
‘Obama Amnesty’ For Illegal Immigrants?

My customary serving of a smorgasbord of brief comments on a variety of subjects.  Help yourself.

–Representative Lee Terry, Omaha Republican, has been publicly agonizing over his pledge to not vote for a tax increase under any circumstances.  Now he wishes he hadn’t signed the pledge—or at least that’s the way I interpreted his recent remarks in a lengthy interview with a World-Herald reporter.

My advice for Terry:  Screw up courage enough to adopt the course that your colleague, Representative Jeff Fortenberry of Lincoln, has followed.  Fortenberry informed the organization to which he had given the pledge that he realized that that type of pledge “can constrain creative policy thinking, so I asked not to be associated with it any longer.”

–Are we seeing amnesty in the process of being extended to some 10 million or so illegal immigrants by way of President Obama’s chief executive policy rather than by act of Congress?

The question presents itself when you read of an Obama administration directive to suspend deportation proceedings against illegal immigrants determined to be no threat to public safety.

The “no threat to public safety” de facto amnesty would, I would think, cover 95% or more of those in this country illegally.

My only problem with Obama’s executive order is that I believe Congress should make such policy decisions and that amnesty should be accompanied with a requirement that the immigrants go through some kind of educational process—learn to speak English for example—that makes them American citizens, not simply Hispanics living in the United States, holding jobs and sending money back home.

–What a heartwarming story appeared under a recent World-Herald headline which read:  “An Omaha group is helping about 1,000 schools in Africa, Asia and the Middle East.”  The Omaha group was established and is funded by Joe Ricketts, the founder of TD Ameritrade.  It is a splendid example of practical compassion.

The Omaha-based Opportunity Education program works with about 1,000 schools in Africa, Asia and the Middle East, supplying lesson plans, TVs, DVDs and educational materials.  The organization has connected more than 800 schools in Africa and Asia with other schools in the United States, Canada and several other Western nations.  Recently, it has begun training for teachers.

Practical, manageable steps that reflect both good judgment and great generosity on the part of Joe Ricketts and his associates.  All Omahans should be proud to think that a fellow Omahan and the Omaha-based company which he built have provided the leadership and the financial resources which is being put to work in such an effective, compassionate way to the benefit of many thousands of children in countries where such help is desperately needed.

* * *

Short Skirts Call For Good-Looking Legs

I’m pretty sure that I’m not the only male television viewer who has noticed that, whether local or national, telecast producers like pretty faces behind the broadcast desk and pretty faces and good-looking legs in the case of weatherwomen.

Blondes, natural or dyed, seem to be the news readers of choice although my local favorite is definitely Carol Wang of KMTV.  She is an attractive brunette and delivers the news in pleasant fashion but without some of the giggling and happy talk that some of her blond competitors seem to feel makes them more attractive.

Now as to TV weatherwomen and attractive legs.  My advice to one local TV station news program producer:

Try again.  Either lower the skirt or get a weatherwoman with better looking legs.

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