She Is Getting A Lot Of Publicity
But The Odds Are Strongly Against BOLD Kleeb

She came to Nebraska with her husband, Scott Kleeb, who had a remote tie to a ranch family in western Nebraska.  Scott moved here to run in 2008—as a Democrat—for Nebraska’s 3rd District seat in Congress.  He lost to Republican Adrian Smith of Gering.

The Kleebs decided to stay on, and Jane Kleeb took up her job of bringing a loud—and I mean loud—liberal voice to conservative Nebraska.  She formed something called BOLD Nebraska—whose website tells something of Jane Kleeb’s decision to live among us with a resume which included being executive director of the Young Democrats of America.  Her announced goal is letting Nebraskans know how wrong they are to be so conservative.

I cite again her liberal credentials and stated goal because Kleeb, with the news media help, has emerged as a leader of the fight to keep the Keystone Pipeline from being built in Nebraska.  (We’ve learned also that she and her like-minded activists don’t want a Canada-to-America oil-delivery pipeline to be built anywhere.  They are opposed to Canada developing a new source of oil from so-called “tar sands.” They don’t acknowledge that if the tar sand oil isn’t piped across the United States to Gulf Coast refineries, it will predictably be pumped—in a pipeline—to the Pacific Coast and put on tankers for export to China.)

But for now, Kleeb is concentrating on blocking the construction of the Keystone Pipeline across the Nebraska Sand Hills and getting a great deal of news media attention, as in a story in Tuesday’s editions.

The story reported that Kleeb’s BOLD Nebraska organization had hired a Washington-based polling firm primarily used by Democrats.  The results of the poll supposedly were as follows (I say supposedly because the news accounts simply reported the results as a matter of fact, without attributing them to anyone):  64% of 604 Nebraskans polled support adopting state regulations via the ballot box “to ensure that pipeline companies are held liable for oil spills, avoid fragile areas such as the Sand Hills and take care of any other damages.”

The “ballot box” woding and petition-drive plans referred to by Kleeb suggest she realizes she isn’t going to force a special legislative session and may try instead to put the issue on the ballot next year.

It would have been interesting if readers had been told what is required to put an issue on the ballot.

A call to the Secretary of State’s office quickly confirmed my recollection of the requirements to put a proposed statute on the ballot:  the petition signatures of 7% of the registered voters in Nebraska—in this case, about 80,000 valid signatures.  The petition signatures would have to be filed with the Secretary of State no later than July 6 to win a place on the November 2012 ballot.

This would require recruiting a good number of petition circulators and, if the issue goes to the ballot, raising the funds for a campaign in support of the proposed statute—all of this, of course, in the face of heavy opposition from supporters of the long-publicized route of the Keystone XL Pipeline across the Sand Hills.  The likely prospect would also be that construction of the pipeline could very well be underway by the time of the November 2012 general election.

Final thought (for today):

Liberal Democratic activist Jane Kleeb is aiming strange language at conservative Republican Dave Heineman.  Announcing the poll results, Kleeb said of Heineman:

“He is a man.  He has to look in the mirror and decide if he’s going to take the right action…or continue to be the damsel in distress.”

To suggest that the only manly thing for Heineman to do is yield to liberal pressure to call a special session of the Legislature and that any other course makes him “a damsel in distress” seems to me a strange way to try to win Heineman over.

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“Tax The Rich” May Be Good Politics
But Class Warfare Isn’t Good Public Policy

Even The New York Times, while predictably favorable to President Obama’s “the rich should pay more taxes” rhetoric—wishes the president would be more specific in his class-warfare (my description, not The Times’) rhetoric.

The Times lead editorial Tuesday said Obama would do better to tell the public how the so-called “Buffett Rule” would work.  Warren Buffett, the Omaha investment guru, has been widely quoted as calling for higher taxes on billionaires like him.

About the only specifics that have surfaced in Obama’s rhetoric have involved references to higher tax rates on families with income more than $250,000 a year, increasing the capital gains tax by some unspecified amount (would Buffett and Obama advocate that capital gains be taxed as ordinary income?) and ending or reducing certain tax exemptions.  (Would this mean upper-bracket taxpayers could no longer take income tax deductions for philanthropic contributions?).

And does President Obama seriously contend that all families with annual income of more than $250,000 in a given year can be properly described as “rich”?

Another hole in the liberal rhetoric is the contention that, as a class, families with incomes above $250,000 a year, for example, are paying taxes at a lower rate than middle-income taxpayers.  The facts are that the regular income tax rate is higher on upper-income taxpayers than it is on middle-income taxpayers.  And a good many middle-income taxpayers have had their federal income taxes substantially reduced both through the across-the-board rate reductions some 10 years ago and the substantial tax break given middle-income families for each child in the family.

More specific details—and more honesty—would not only be welcomed but is essential if President Obama’s tax proposals are to be given fair consideration.

I have written previously that if we are to find our way out of the economic mess created by the “every American family deserves to own a home” welfare state nonsense, some increase in tax revenues must accompany reductions in spending.  But I don’t believe a simplistic “soak the rich” tax policy is the answer.  There simply aren’t enough truly “rich” people to provide the needed revenue.

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Are Perry, Bachman Talking Themselves
Out Of Presidential Nomination Contention?

Today, only a two-choice smorgasbord, with the hope that you like them both.

–Am I the only one who thinks that the best thing going for former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney in the contest for the Republican nomination for President is the campaign trail performance of Texas Governor Rick Perry and—I really think she is out of it by now—Minnesota Representative Michelle Bachmann?

Perry, who switched to Republican after chairing Democratic nominee Al Gore’s presidential campaign in Texas in 2000, seems to think that most Americans are impressed with Texas in general and particularly impressed with a tough-talking “Here’s the way we do it in Texas” governor.

As for Bachmann, the more she talks on the campaign trail, the worse she sounds.  Coming out against inoculations to protect against the disease in young females wasn’t the last straw, I believe.  Bachmann had shot herself in her high-heeled feet a number of well-publicized times before the irresponsible inoculation warning.

–Two results were inevitable when the Nebraska Legislature passed Speaker Mike Flood’s “toughest in the nation” anti-abortion legislation:

First, other states would follow the example, which attempts to restrict abortions to only the first 20 weeks of pregnancy, on the argument that at 20 weeks a fetus can feel pain.

–Second, the 20-weeks challenge to the long-standing Roe v. Wade U.S. Supreme Court decision—which in effect legalizes abortions up to 26 weeks of pregnancy—would be tested in court.

Five states—Idaho, Kansas, Alabama, Indiana and Oklahoma—have adopted laws modeled after 20-week-limit law passed in Nebraska in 2010.

Now an Idaho woman has filed the first-in-the-nation lawsuit testing the constitutionality of the 20-week limit.  The defendant said she took abortion-inducing drugs when the fetus was between five and six months old.

* * *

When Tom Friedman Sounds A Warning,
Israel—And The U.S.—Had Better Listen

Both Israel and the only substantial friend it has left, the United States, must face a reality addressed last Sunday by one of the most respected editorial columnists in the United States or indeed the free world.

Pulitzer Prize winner Tom Friedman, Jewish, who worked on a collective farm in Israel as a youth, wrote a piece in The New York Times which appeared under this headline:  “Israel:  Adrift at Sea Alone.”

Friedman pointed out that Israel this year has lost the friendship of Turkey and peaceful relations with Egypt and also is concerned with the instability of the Syrian government.

Israel, Friedman wrote, can’t be blamed for these developments but the Israeli government of Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu is responsible for Israel’s failure to develop a strategy dealing with its new problems and failure to help reignite negotiations with Palestinians leading to establishment of the long-promised Palestinian state.

Friedman’s concluding paragraph:  “Unfortunately Israel today does not have a leader or a cabinet for such subtle diplomacy.  One can only hope that the Israeli people will recognize that before this government plunges Israel into deeper global isolation and drags America along with it.”

I happened to be cleaning out some old files two days before I read Tom Friedman’s “Wake Up, Israel” message.  Among the things which I had filed during long years of critical appraisal pf Israel’s failure to deal realistically with the Palestinian issue was a Wall Street Journal article August 15, 1983—28 years ago.  The headline read:

“Israel Hastens West Bank Settlement”

The West Bank, of course, was supposed to be part of a nation promised to the Palestinians more than 60 years ago in the same United Nations resolution which called for creation of the State of Israel.

The 28-year-old Wall Street Journal article made clear the reason that Prime Minister Menachem Begin’s ultra conservative Israeli government was moving to fill the West Bank with new Israeli settlements:  the settlements would make it more difficult to deliver the West Bank to the Palestinians as the United Nations had proposed so many years before.

* * *

Nebraska Sports Scribes Too Optimistic?
One Sand Hills Golf Course Stands Out

Let’s finish, as usual, with some less weighty subjects—football and golf.

I’ve said here before that optimistic predictions of Nebraska’s likely success in the Big 10 Conference this fall would make good material for posting in Big 10 opponents’ locker rooms.  Such predictions continue with what this longtime Nebraska Cornhusker fan believes are overly optimistic opinions on what to expect for the Huskers in Big 10 competition.

One columnist predicted Huskers’ prospect this way:  “Nebraska doesn’t need an extra special season to win the Legends Division.  Or even a special season.”

A fellow Nebraska columnist said that the Huskers’ offensive line may not gel this year, then added:  “But most of the Big 10 stinks, and the Legends Division is there for the taking.”

We’ll see how much better the Huskers smell than the rest of the Legends Division teams—Iowa, Michigan, Michigan State, Northwestern and Minnesota.

Now Let’s Talk Golf—Sand Hills Golf

Turning to golf and the remarkable growth in the number of courses in or near the Nebraska Sand Hills.

The Sunday World-Herald told the story of the remarkable proliferation of golf courses in or near the Nebraska Sand Hills:

Another 18 holes to be built at the Dismal River Club, which has gone through two ownerships and apparently needs more members and the resulting additional revenue.  Another 18 holes to be built at the Prairie Club, which already has two 18’s.  Another 18 holes to be built at Ballyneal, just over the Colorado line.

The Sunday story counted a total of seven clubs with a total of 216 holes if all the proposed additional links are built.  The story also said that the courses offer “minimalist-design golf.”  True of some of the courses, but  not of all.

I should note that I am a member of the course which started it all, the Sand Hills Golf Club.  It was built for a little more than a million dollars, largely as a result of being of “minimalist-design”—a course “laid upon the land” in the tradition of Scottish links courses, rather than a more expensive course which requires the moving of good quantities of dirt.

It might be noted that of all the courses which have been “popping up” in the Sand Hills, to borrow from the Sunday story’s headline, only the original, the Sand Hills Golf Club south of Mullen, is ranked among Golf Digest Magazine’s listing of the 100 best courses in America.

Sand Hills, ranked ninth best in the country, is, of course, in some pretty select company.  Golf Digest’s top 10 American course rankings, in order:  The Augusta National, Pine Valley, Shinnecock Hills, Oakmont, Cypress Point, Pebble Beach, Seminole East, Winged Foot, Sand Hills and The National Golf Links of America.

It’s not only Golf Digest which pays tribute to the Sands Hills Club.  A Travel & Leisure Golf magazine article started with these words:

“When the Sand Hills Golf Club opened in 1995, it was more than just a collection of glorious holes set down in the Nebraska Prairie.  The course was a revelation, a minimalist masterpiece that instantly redefined golf architecture in America.”

The article went on to say that the designers, Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw, “moved as little dirt as possible during construction, letting the terrain dictate an aesthetic of heaving fairways and shaggy blowout bunkers, all framed by exquisite isolation…the return to a more natural style of golf led to rapturous reviews and a consensus that Sand Hills is one of the ten best courses in the nation.”

While Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw are understandably credited as the designers of the Sand Hills course, proper credit has also been given to general manager Dick Youngscap of Lincoln, Nebraska who also has a residence near the Sand Hills course.  Youngscap conceived the well-regarded Firethorn course on the eastern edge of Lincoln and was the first to visualize—and act on that vision—the tremendous potential of a “laid on the land” golf course in the Nebraska Sand Hills.

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