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In America, there is a lack of faith in elected officials due in part to the frequency with which politicians appear to be advancing their own interests above the common good.  Yet, the hyper-partisan system results in millions of people voting for "their" candidate regardless of merit or ethics or anything resembling a reliable gauge of leadership.  It speaks to the inner FDR in all of us.  Roosevelt, when asked about ruthless Nicaraguan President Anastasio Somoza Garcia, famously replied, “He may be a son of a bitch, but he’s our son of a bitch.”

In Nebraska, the “social backlash” described by Thomas Frank in What’s The Matter With Kansas? is playing out before Nebraskans' eyes as they are being asked to choose between an aging leader who was once a favorite to become President and a State Senator, Deb Fischer, who has engaged in some brutally unethical behavior of late.

Julie Driscoll breaks it down at Freak Out Nation:

The back story (and this is an awful story): Like many of us whose grandparents farmed, owned land, and lived their lives with sheer love of the land and pride of ownership, Les and Betty Kime’s grandparents, beginning in the late 1890′s, developed the Snake River Falls Ranch, beautiful land which surrounds the Snake River and includes the largest waterfall in all of Nebraska. Republican Senator Deb Fischer and her husband, Bruce, operate a cattle ranch near the Kimes, and – as Nebraska neighbors are wont to do – the Kimes generously allowed the Fischers to graze their cattle on a part of their land near the Snake River and next to the McKelvie National Forest. Nice picture, yes? Neighbors helping neighbors, cattle grazing placidly on beautiful land, with access to water and in the shadow of the picturesque forest. But above that peaceful optic, a dark cloud of conflict was heading toward Les and Betty Kime, in the form of Deb Fischer and her husband.
Anybody with a pulse can understand the idea that the land is valuable but not as valuable as family tradition.  Deb Fischer, though, turned to the Nebraska legal doctrine of “adverse possession” to declare the land that her cattle were being allowed to graze upon freely (as a favor) was hers.   Adverse possession is basically squatter's rights, only Fischer tried to use it for acres of someone's personal history, not an apartment in Brooklyn.

The backstory is damning despite the fact that the courts sided with the Klimes 14 years ago and prevented the land grab from taking place.  But Fischer's most recent actions are even worse.

The Klimes passed away and left their beautiful land to the Nebraska Game and Parks Department.  They hoped it could become a park.  Not so fast! Deb Fischer decided to use her position in the State Senate to prevent the Klimes' dreams from coming true:

The Nebraska Game and Parks Department turned to the Nebraska Environmental Trust for funding – and it was then that Deb Fischer made her move, in a last-ditch effort to acquire land that she had attempted to literally steal from an elderly couple a decade and a half earlier. Deb Fischer decides to introduce legislation in Nebraska to strip the Nebraska Environmental Trust of more than half of its revenue, Bill LB229. She pushed it through, and it passed last year. End result: No bucks, no Klime land deal. And something else: No disclosure.

Deb Fischer introduced this legislation without disclosing her conflict of interest, her own personal end game. Deb Fischer introduced this legislation without disclosing her history of attempting to extort the Kime land through “adverse possession”. Deb Fischer pushed this legislation through in a manner that reeks of bullying, corruption, personal greed and deceit.

Once discovered, this action drew the ire of Fischer's peers in the legislature.  In a press conference, former State Senator Tom White said,
“There is a basic principle in Nebraska politics, not always followed by the rest of the country but almost always followed here and that is you do not use a public office to advance a private interest . . . When you have a bill that affects a private interest, then you have an obligation to tell your fellow legislators what that interest is. Deb Fischer did not do that with regard to Snake Falls.”

Bob Kerrey has his flaws, but they aren’t the kind that Fischer has been displaying.  Regardless, she is likely to win because in Nebraska Republicans outnumber Democrats nearly three to one.  The Kerrey campaign has turned the land grab debacle into a talking point through a new wave of ads and a website called FischerLandGrab.com, but the numbers are swinging very far left.

The best predictor of what a person will do with new found power is what they have done with power in the past.  In a sane world, Fischer's unethical behavior would disqualify her as a serious candidate.  But current polls show that Deb Fischer is leading the elder statesman Bob Kerrey by a margin of 56 to 40.

So goes Nebraska, so goes the nation.

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Comment Preferences

  •  I posted to Driscoll's article (as Andrew Ongais) (3+ / 0-)

    If qualifications and competency are methods to choose Nebraska's next senator, Bob Kerrey wins by every metric.

    Add to that... if Fischer does go to the Senate, she'll be one of the lowest ranking members (99th or 100th), in the minority party, and grossly ineffective. He experience in a unicameral system, as a member of the party in majority... leaves her completely unqualified.

    When Bob Kerrey goes to the Senate, he's got tenure, seasoned, friends on both sides of the aisle, and will do great things for Nebraska and America.

    Deb Fischer is a waste of a Nebraska seat. As a hardcore 1% TeaParty candidate, she is worthy of utter defeat.

    What is this I hear of sorrow and weariness, Anger, discontent and drooping hopes... Life is too strong for you-- It takes life to love Life

    by Nebraska68847Dem on Mon Oct 22, 2012 at 10:33:20 AM PDT

    •  Fischer will be a one-term Senator (0+ / 0-)
      •  She was bought and paid for (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        cherie clark, Ripeness Is All

        by out of state interests. She ran in an extremely weak GOP  field for the primary.

        She started out with a 70-30 lead in early summer polling. The National Dems penciled in Nebraska's Dem seat as a loss early on and sort of looked to Missouri, Mass, and Wisconsin.

        Without much out of state party support, Kerrey is gnawing his way back into the fight and could win this if the momentum continues.

        One thing Kerrey did was to support "early voting". By doing so, he was encouraging voters to cast ballots before his campaign peaked.

        Thankfully, "early voting" has been viewed with a very suspicious eye and the turnout has been almost negligible so far.

        Fischer a one timer?
        I dunno.
        If she doesn't go to prison early, Nebraskans don't change their habits easily.
        Sun comes up, they poop, and vote for the same ol' same ol'.

        What is this I hear of sorrow and weariness, Anger, discontent and drooping hopes... Life is too strong for you-- It takes life to love Life

        by Nebraska68847Dem on Mon Oct 22, 2012 at 11:52:01 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  I would prefer her to be a NO term senator (2+ / 0-)
        •  same here (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          cherie clark, Ripeness Is All

          She's the exact opposite of what progressively minded people, Nebraskans, and Americans need.

          As someone living in Nebraska, I fear we'll have a better chance of becoming a third world nation and begging the State Department for any kind of aid before we get any federal funding.

          What is this I hear of sorrow and weariness, Anger, discontent and drooping hopes... Life is too strong for you-- It takes life to love Life

          by Nebraska68847Dem on Mon Oct 22, 2012 at 12:16:08 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I live in Omaha we aren't nearly as fabulous or (0+ / 0-)

            progressive as we like to think. We might be in the 20th century but we need to be in the 21st. I was in Charlotte and totally impressed, granted they are about 200,000 more population but they are moving into this century. They have an amazing lite rail and bus service, we don't even have decent old school bus service in Omaha.

  •  so goes Nebraska (0+ / 0-)

    A sad story.  There are plenty of unqualified Senators.  Back here in the other NE (New England) we are gaining confidence that it's not going to be "as goes Nebraska, so goes the nation."

  •  I've been sending Kerrey money from Texas (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cherie clark, Nebraska68847Dem

    for months now because I cannot believe this woman's utter and complete ignorance and ruthlessness for power.

    I have no understanding about how Nebraska might vote, but reckon it will be like Texas. People will vote for the devil they know, or in this case the devil they feel didn't "abandon" them for New York City. It is hard to wash off the appearance of hoity-toity to the villagers and all that related class resentment.

    I do hope Kerrey can pull it out, however. I visited Omaha for the first time this past summer and found a much more diverse city than I expected and lots of people who are open to the world around them and as intolerant as anyone elsewhere of hate, unfairness and civil rights.

    The arc of the universe is long, but it bends toward justice - MLK

    by Ripeness Is All on Mon Oct 22, 2012 at 11:00:02 AM PDT

    •  I think (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      cherie clark, Ripeness Is All

      The Republicans of this state are grossly misinformed.

      They buy into Limbaugh, all the rhetoric, and falsehoods. The other thing, is the Omaha-World Daily. It's the second bible and religion of the land.

      In other words, these people don't research and learn on their own.

      I find 'em, one by one, and challenge 'em.

      I tell them things like:
      "The past 30 years, look at who grows the federal government more; go research and see it's Republicans. But, do NOT believe me! If your position is to vote against big government, fine.... go find out for yourself, and get back to me. Do NOT believe me, or anything anyone tells you!"

      In the land of orange here at DKos, Kerrey is not well received. I understand why... but I sure as heck do not want a crooked TeaParty sleezoid in America's Senate.

      What is this I hear of sorrow and weariness, Anger, discontent and drooping hopes... Life is too strong for you-- It takes life to love Life

      by Nebraska68847Dem on Mon Oct 22, 2012 at 11:42:39 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I understand DKos' distaste for Kerrey (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Nebraska68847Dem, cherie clark

        We had the same in Texas with Chet Edwards who was a Dem in name, and voted half the time on progressive issues with us, then half the time with Republicans. It was a delicate dance he did to keep being the representative of a very hardcore Republican part of the state. I got it, but I'm a blue voter in a red state and I get why you need to do things like that.

        I don't love all of Kerrey's positions or past actions, either, but I never needed my politicians to be perfect or mirror my views completely. There is such a thing as voting strategically, and he is a decent man you all could be proud of.

        So the Omaha World-Herald is a bad paper, or just a right wing editorial staff, or other?

        The arc of the universe is long, but it bends toward justice - MLK

        by Ripeness Is All on Mon Oct 22, 2012 at 12:35:22 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Omaha World-Herald (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Ripeness Is All, cherie clark

          is a right wing paper.
          Recently, they were bought out by Berkshire Hathaway, and I was hoping for a bit more of a left-centric position.

          They've endorsed Romney already.

          I read the OW-H from time to time and it isn't much of a paper. They own several other local town papers here in Nebraska and those papers stay in lock-step with the OW-H.

          If forwarding information to readers is one goal of a paper, they're not very proficient.

          In 4 years, I have yet to see a discussion of progressive versus regressive taxes. That's a strong indicator they're not for the common Nebraskan.

          What is this I hear of sorrow and weariness, Anger, discontent and drooping hopes... Life is too strong for you-- It takes life to love Life

          by Nebraska68847Dem on Mon Oct 22, 2012 at 12:43:44 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  That would be CD2 the Dem stronghold (2+ / 0-)

      but there are many who are afraid of Kerrey. I've lived other places and frankly having someone as our Senator who doesn't live in a western Nebraska bubble would be good.

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