MORTIFIED to be a Nebraskan! High taxes, licensing witch-hunts, ridiculous Safe Haven Law, UNL invited Bill Ayers. Get me outta here!

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Nebraska is supposedly “solidly red” but has high taxation and a recent string of governmental bungles. Three of these embarrassing episodes displaying poor policy and lack of common sense have made national news in the last few weeks. Are these Nebraska events just coincidentally happening within a short period, are they symptomatic of systemic bad decision making, or are the current events here just illustrative of what plagues government in most of America?

This is a long post. I’ve had it with government incompetence and elitist arrogance. Probably a self-indulgent rant, I admit. But also possibly a lot of examples of where we’re going wrong in this country. We seem to be living in a land where there is no longer any common sense or moral standards.

I’m finding out that life-long convictions should be kept if they are based on sound reasoning or even a gut instinct with a good track record. One of mine, previously long held, was that I would never live in the state of Nebraska. Because of a promotion offer made to my husband, we tried to ensure the compensation agreement settled on covered the increased cost of living. Calculated numbers can’t tell you everything. The “won’t live in Nebraska pledge” was based on a lifetime of personal observation regarding the state’s tax policies. What I’ve realized since is that a state’s tax policies are likely to be an indicator of other flaws.

Unfortunately, Nebraska made national news recently multiple times, and at one point, last week, three days in a row. The headlines regarded a loopy state senator’s lawsuit, a newly implemented “Safe Haven” law, and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s invitation to William Ayers to speak to students. There’s no question, I’m embarrassed to say, “I live in Nebraska.” The sad part is, I really did know better and I just tried to convince myself otherwise. Sometimes the lessons we learn come in the form of having our head rammed into a brick wall. While I have adequately learned my lesson about maintaining convictions, it doesn’t prevent me from wanting to scream. National embarrassment is actually the least of my concerns. The most recent headlining-making incident affects my family directly, and really sets my blood boiling. But some of the most irritating policies and recent bungles haven’t made national news.

My opinion about living in Nebraska developed based on it’s tax policies in contrast to its immediate neighbors to the north, South Dakota, and east, Iowa. Since I lived for long periods in both of these two states in communities immediately adjacent to Nebraska until two years ago, my observations of the contrast were first hand.  Considering the many issues that arise in any region throughout it’s history, the three state convergence provided me with many examples from which to learn. As would be expected,  tri-state area demographics are used for decision making by businesses, such as whether or not to open a nationally popular chain restaurant. Manufacturers have been able to take advantage of the available labor base while having the option to pick and choose which specific state’s tax structure is most advantageous. In an effort to stay informed, I’d seen many debates and decisions of that kind. Most often, businesses did not choose to locate in Nebraska.

Besides my observations of the business climate as an adult, I was left with an impression as a young adult that you didn’t want to live in Nebraska if you already owned or wanted to own a nice car. The motley collection of clunkers crossing the Missouri River with Nebraska plates told the tale. I would occasionally hear personally of people who had moved into the smaller Nebraska city across the bridge from Iowa, then later were turned into the Nebraska State Patrol by a neighbor with some kind of grudge for having Iowa license plates although they’d been living in Nebraska for several years. The state, of course, charges basic licensing and title fees comparable to others, but there are several other taxes and fees: personal property tax is assessed on vehicles annually, there is a “wheel tax” in many counties, and upon the purchase of any new or used vehicle, the same sales tax rate is applied to the as if one were buying toilet paper, a refrigerator, or a pair of blue jeans, which is 7% almost everywhere in the state. Perhaps that laundry list of taxes and fees is standard practice in many states, but it wasn’t and isn’t in Iowa or South Dakota.

My early and vague impression about Nebraska and the expenses associated with owning a vehicle here  have only been reinforced since our move. Iowa applies the base state sales tax rate of 5% at the time of the purchase. South Dakota has a special vehicle purchase excise tax rate of 3%, again, applied upon purchase. Neither of the two states has a personal property tax, at least not on vehicles or on any item I ever owned while living in either state, and neither have a wheel tax.

Since I’m frugal or thrifty….ok, since, I’m cheap, I found myself whining annually when renewing my license plates in the state of Iowa. The best illustration I can give of differences among these three states is to use my own vehicles and their respective cost to license in each. Certainly, this little illustration will reveal a number of things about my husband and myself, such as the unavoidable truth that we ran the gambit from living within, above, and then below our means in the span of the last fifteen years. So be it. At least we’ve learned something.

In the state of Iowa in 1994, the cost to license a 1993 Ford Taurus sedan was $150 per year, and we paid $425 in sales tax when purchased. Three years later, the licensing fee was still $150, but when moving to South Dakota it cost just $45 for a full year. In 1998, we bought a 1997 Ford Expedition. It cost $630 in sales tax and a whopping $75 to license it in South Dakota. The clerk looked sheepish when she pushed the bill across the counter. “This is the highest rate we charge, because it’s a truck and it’s so new. It will stay that high for a few years. The law just changed and the costs went up,” she said apologetically. I almost wanted to kiss her but wasn’t surprised by the amount. Employing the same logic as we had done when purchasing a vehicle in Iowa, we’d checked prior to buying. In some cases, the taxes and fees can be a deal breaker. $630 is nothing to sneeze at if you value a dollar, but it wasn’t $1400, which would have been the cost had we resided in Nebraska at the time. And that’s just the sales tax. I don’t want to know what the personal property tax would have been.

We continued to pay that “high” $75 fee for a few years. It dropped to $56 and then $45. The clerk told me at the $45 drop that that would be the lowest price it would ever hit. Same clerk who originally waited on me and she was only slightly less apologetic. Every year, I made sure I expressed my gratitude to the County Treasurer and staff at the reasonableness of the costs, and they were pleased. At least I had the sense to appreciate a good thing when I had it.

In 2006, when we licensed the same 1997 Ford Expedition in the state of Nebraska, the total for the license, title fee, personal property tax, and wheel tax was almost $450. At renewal in 2007, it cost over $350. My renewal is coming up soon and can’t wait to see how much an eleven year old truck will cost. In 2007, we added a 1999 Ford Taurus Wagon to our “luxurious fleet”. All of the taxes and fees amounted to over $400. That’s on a vehicle we paid $3800 and gave over a clunky van that had to be jump started (yeah, yeah, redneck, what can I say?) to get it to the dealer. The thing booked at around $5000. Renewal in 2008 was $130+. These are nearly or over ten year old vehicles, for Pete’s sake. We’ve become economic “freaks” in recent years, having adopted a no-debt policy (other than our mortgage). Obviously, we’re not like so many people who buy new vehicles every five years or even more frequently. Yes, our Expedition was high end at the time we purchased it. I’ve already acknowledged we’ve lived above our means at one point. We’re not going to replace that truck anytime soon but I wonder how other people can afford not only hefty car payments, but the increased cost of all the fees that must be sky high on an equivalent vehicle today. I would guess many roll those expenses right into their car loan. We would probably have considered that if we’d lived in Nebraska at the time. If we were dumb enough to go into that much debt on a vehicle, we’d likely have been dumb enough to finance the taxes and fees, too. What are people getting for all of these taxes and fees? I wish I could say that there is something special about the state of Nebraska in that the roads are generally better constructed, in better repair, or noticeably clearer in the winter, but I can’t. I can’t figure out what the heck we are getting for our money.

I can say where at least some portion of that money goes in Nebraska and one reason why Iowa also costs more than South Dakota; that state’s county Treasurer offices don’t fool around mailing reminders to people when it’s time to renew. Wonder of wonders, they expect people to remember to do it themselves. If after sixty days, their is a failure to comply, there is a summons issued. I never knew anyone who found themselves in county jail for that offense. What I found even more interesting was the local news eight years ago detailing how people from Nebraska and even Iowa had been caught in the attempt to avoid the hefty licensing fees in their homes states by opening post office boxes in small South Dakota towns and then using that address as a “residence” basis for licensing in South Dakota. To the best of my recollection, that particular loophole was closed; vehicle licenses in South Dakota are established with residential addresses, post office boxes are no longer accepted.

Although one would expect to, and does see lots of out of state plates in a state university’s home city, it seemed upon moving here, we saw a disproportionate number of South Dakota plates. State officials apparently noticed it as well. Last spring, local news reported investigations by the Nebraska State Patrol of suspected circumvention of licensing laws. The investigations, the report detailed, included actually following cars with South Dakota plates to see if they went to Nebraska residences. The probe went further and we personally experienced what it’s like to become targets of a government witch-hunt, if only on a minor scale.

About a year and a half after moving to Nebraska, and therefore seventeen months after licensing our vehicles here, we and several thousand of our fellow citizens received threatening letters from the Nebraska State Patrol, on the governor’s letterhead. The letter stated, “Our records indicate that a vehicle (or vehicles) has been registered in your name in another state.” The letter also informed that we might not be in violation but “there will be an investigation to evaluate this information.” We were also warned that failure to comply with state law is a felony and we would be prosecuted, but were urged to comply voluntarily.

One wonders at the total expense of this effort. Postage and printing of the letters alone had to be significant. My husband and I always title our vehicles jointly, and as would be expected from oh-so efficient government, there was apparently no effort to weed out duplications by address, joint ownership, marital status, or otherwise. We each received our own letter, so there was double the expense. It may seem trivial, but the paper was heavier than the cheapo standard office stuff, was virtually full of print, included several of those official state seals, and was printed in two colors of ink. Further, there is a statement at the bottom: “Printed with soy ink on recycled paper.” Super! We all know that recycled stuff is so much more cost effective than that which is traditionally manufactured. Glad our tax dollars are not only subsidizing farmers’ with a myriad of government programs, including ill-advised corn-based ethanol, but that we are helping out with soy bean prop-ups as well.

Besides just the cost of sending out these letters, the entire basis for making the contacts must be questioned. What was the criteria, after all? Common sense tells us (now, there’s a concept) that the letters my husband and I received provide decent information with which to make some reasonable surmises about the general plan employed by the state. The letter was sent to our Nebraska residence. Since it doesn’t make any reference to a particular vehicle, we have to do some guessing, but the options are finite. When we moved from South Dakota, we owned two vehicles and a boat. Within thirty days of the move, we licensed the two vehicles in Nebraska. Within a year we made the aforementioned trade of the clunky van for that luxurious station wagon. The wagon was promptly licensed in Nebraska. So, both of our passenger vehicles were licensed by June of 2007. The boat we owned never left the state of South Dakota as it was stored and used there. In 2007, we renewed the licenses for the boat and its trailer, but changed the address on file to our residence in Nebraska. This way of handling the situation was exactly according to the letter of the law in both states; location of majority use determines where a boat is to be licensed. And it took all of ten minutes for me to verify that information, including looking up the necessary phone numbers for the appropriate government agencies. Within a couple of months of renewing the license, the boat was sold by consignment through a South Dakota dealership. In other words, we haven’t owned a “vehicle” of any type licensed in the state of South Dakota since the summer of 2007, under any address.

There are only a few ways that the state could have used to determine their basis for mailing letters to “violators”. Regardless of which one chosen, it was clearly all erroneous. Since the letter was received through and addressed to our residence in Nebraska, the only logical explanation is that the state of Nebraska requested and paid for a list of licenses held in South Dakota with Nebraska addresses and the list included boats as well as passenger vehicles. The letter quotes the state law requiring the licensing of passenger vehicles. Why they would pay money, and you know they had to have paid for the cost of generating such reports, for dated lists that included a lot of clearly useless information is rather mind boggling. In addition to this incompetence, the very basis of trolling for people actually using a Nebraska address with “vehicles” licensed in another state is just plain stupid. People who are truly subverting the law don’t use their Nebraska address; they use a phony one, one of a relative, one for an empty piece of land, one for a hunting cabin they use once a year, and so on. I know this is what goes on, because I know you can’t license a passenger vehicle in South Dakota with a Nebraska address. I also know its bogus because we’ve been in full compliance with the law the entire time. It’s all so ridiculous.

In addition to the cost of obtaining the “fresh” list of supposedly felonious peoples’ names from the neighboring states of South Dakota and Iowa, there would also have been fuel costs for following vehicles around, apparently, to see where they live, the man hours lost on this hot pursuit, the incalculable costs of crimes committed while the State Patrol was looking the other way, and time spent by state officials’ and attendant PR departments dealing with the ugly backlash that followed the news stories and receipt of the letters. Likely, there ware man hours in the State Attorney General’s office at some level, as multiple attorneys stated their angry objections to the language of the letter and advised the public to ignore the letter, since in their opinions, several aspects of it were unconstitutional.

We took the free “advice” of the enraged attorneys. I was more than ready to field any silly inquiries of the State Patrol and happy to produce the proper documentation. Nearly six months later, I haven’t heard a peep out of the state. Have they been following me? Don’t know, don’t care. I abide by the speed limits, wear my seat belt, etc., etc.

So…the state of Nebraska clearly expended a good chunk of change so they could pursue dead ends and actually do little to deal with getting people to comply with properly licensing their vehicles.

Is there any method that would actually be effective in catching the non-compliant? I can’t think of one that doesn’t remind one of checkpoints with a uniformed guy saying, “Papers, please.” I do have a radical idea: how about lowering the cost of licensing vehicles in the state of Nebraska? It’s amazing how compliant people are when these costs are kept reasonable, in fact, how well they can actually remember to comply, on their own, when this is the case. It seems to me that the costs have to be as high as they are just to fund all of the nonsense I just detailed. It’s fantastic to watch our tax dollars at work.

Nebraska’s vehicle taxes and licensing fees are just the tip of the tax iceberg. It has the highest overall tax rate in a nine state region, when considering income , personal property, sale, and real estate taxes. For a family making over $27,000 per year, the income tax rate is 6.84%, in Iowa the same family would be taxed 6.8%, if they made over $40,000, the rate would be 7.92%, over $60,000, 8.98%. (Click this link to check the source of this information.) In South Dakota, there is no income tax. It’s obvious why my family moved from Iowa to South Dakota. Nebraska’s real estate property tax is 1.74% of value, compared to Iowa’s 1.25%, and South Dakota’s 1.30%.

One would think our state is in big financial trouble. What other reason could there be for such high taxes? Not so, in the last few weeks, it was reported that there is a $500 million dollar budget surplus, and state officials are debating about whether that money should be held in reserve or, gasp!, returned to the taxpayers, or double gasp!!, whether taxes should be lowered. Wow, tough question.

Believe me, I’ve already kicked myself a number of times for going against my previous conviction about living here. Besides learning not to get into debt, I’ve also learned one would benefit tremendously by subscribing to the newspaper of a city or town which one is considering moving to for a time prior to making the final decision. So, another lesson learned. But we tried to be smart; we ran all of the numbers, not just taxes. We did make one serious mistake; we assumed that this city would have similar or lower costs for groceries and fuel as compared to the smaller, more rural area from which we were moving. We based that assumption on knowledge of prices in Nebraska’s largest city, Omaha. We all know what happens when one assumes things. At least we had checked everything else, right down to the cost of cable TV. Our weekly food costs went up 25% and gas cost at least $.25 more gallon than we’d previously paid. And that was prior to the overall rises people began experience about year to a year and a half ago.

Incompetence and high expense are not isolated to the state government here. We have the misfortune to have moved to the city in Nebraska with the highest cost of living, and apparently with the most incompetent municipal government. Within six months of our move, there was a city-wide property tax increase in addition to the expected increase resulting from an updated assessment, both of which increased our monthly mortgage payment by $100. After getting settled in to our new community, we discovered that the City of Lincoln has been running budget deficits for several years and have been debating the implementation of a city income tax. Super! At at time when the local newspaper was busy running stories such as the one entitled “A Broke City”, complete with photos of failing infrastructure, the mayor proposed a housing industry stimulus package that would have given a $5,000 – $10,000 bonus to first-time or new construction home buyers. Wonder of wonders, the new home construction industry in the city has been slowing down. This proposal, and a competing one from a City Council member was made a couple of weeks prior to the Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac meltdown and the subsequent financial crisis. It’s mighty interesting that not one word about said stimulus has been uttered since…from anyone.

There are a number of other examples of total lack of common sense applied by both the state and local government here, but all that I’ve already mentioned gets the point across amply. When coupled with the several national headlines that appeared last week, three days in a row, any lingering doubts about whether our move was a mistake, have been erased. It’s almost like God heard my internal dialogue and decided to send me a message.

The message came in the form of weeks of national news reports culminating with three days in a row. The first point worthy of note to national press was that a state Senator filed a lawsuit against God. Yes, I did just say “God”, as in Yahwey, the Alpha, the Omega, you get the picture. The case was filed almost a year ago, and last Wednesday, October 15, a judge dismissed the case. It begs the question: why on earth did it take that long? My favorite column or headline regarding the adventure is entitled, “There’s Just No Cure For Stupid” found in the Royse City, Texas, Herald-Banner, in which columnist John Browning examines not one, but two stupid Nebraska cases, among others. “Maybe there’s something in the water in Nebraska”, he mused. Yeah, maybe…

The next, and most frequently reported on Nebraska issue generating national press buzz really ginned up a few weeks ago. In the Unicameral’s 2008 session, those genius state Senators, in reaction (over-reaction?) to an infant abandonment incident at an Omaha hospital, decided to pass a Safe Haven law. Prior to this, Nebraska had no legal way for a parent to legally abandon their child. Oh, the horror! I understand the purpose of Safe Haven laws, but there was not an epidemic of abandoned or dead babies in this state prior to that lone incident of a mother abandoning her baby in the hospital bathroom.

In any case, the over reaction was palpable. The legislature quickly passed a Safe Haven law. Somehow, and no one seems to be able to explain it, the law was written in such a way that allows any child up to the age of nineteen to be abandoned at a hospital without legal recourse. In the last four weeks, 19 children have been abandoned in Nebraska, two of which were trucked in out of state. One mother actually drove all the way from Michigan to dump her teenager off in Nebraska. All of the children were over the age of 2, and all but three of them were teenagers. One of the stories I found in the national press was this AP story chronicling the Michigan mother’s abandonment. When two days in a row saw multiple drop offs, one of which was five children from the same family, local news began reporting about government official’s debating over a potential special session of the legislature to change this very poorly written law. Nebraska doesn’t allow the governor to call a special session. He’s stated the law needs changing, but he’s not sure a special session is necessary. State senate leaders have said the same. Some apparently powerless members of the Senate have called out for a special session, to no avail. This debate began when fewer than a dozen children had been abandoned. As of today, Friday, October 24, a total of 19 have been abandoned, two of which were dropped off in the last 48 hours. Perhaps the debate about a special session will continue long enough that it will be time for the regular session to convene in January. Wonder how many kids will be scarred for life after being abandoned as teenagers by their parents?

The most recent, and most embarrassing in the series of headline splashes, and it appears we’re going for the tri-fecta, is that the University of Nebraska – Lincoln College of Education and Human Science had invited William Ayers, to speak to its students in November. Fire and brimstone hailed down on the college the minute the word hit the streets, in the form of floods of phone calls and emails. College of Education Dean Marjorie Kostelnik said, “It’s been a universally negative response.” How shocking!

I happened to hear this wonderful tidbit from Rush Limbaugh. I was incensed. Within two minutes I was dialing the Office of Admissions. It just so happens I have a high school senior who is corresponding currently with six different colleges in an effort to narrow down to his top three to four choices. Among his six prospects, one won’t find any ivy league school on the list, but one would have found UNL, until a week ago. It may be that we can’t afford to send him to his preferred conservative schools and since so many colleges and universities are incredibly liberal, why pay $20,000 per year for indoctrination when you can pay $7,000? UNL was the fallback choice only because of the in-state tuition and the ability to cut expenses by living at home. I was struggling with my distaste for this option, and once again, it’s like God was urgently phoning in a message. He said, “Wondering about sending your kid to UNL? Wonder no more, my child!” What in the world are the odds that as several early decision dates loom and the Obama / Ayers connection is being hotly debated in the media, my state’s, nay, my city’s university invites the guy to speak? Coincidence? I think not.

I called the Office of Admissions specifically, because I wanted to let that department know how the invitation to Ayers would affect my son’s decision to attend. One thing I’ve learned in life; I’m not unique. If I’m thinking something, so is someone else. There have to be other parents out there who feel exactly the same way as myself. Trouble is, so often, people don’t take the time or trouble to voice to the offending party what caused their decision. I thought that voice needed to be heard. Upon reaching the receptionist, I was transferred to a counselor, who, unbelievably, had neither ever heard of Ayers nor had any knowledge of the invitation. I let this poor woman, who must have been living under a rock for the past six months, know who William Ayers is. I sketched out his background and I made sure I told her that I hadn’t just taken someone else’s word for it, I’d looked into the issue myself. I informed her that if the University had William Ayers on it’s campus, my son would not being choosing UNL next fall and neither of my other children would seriously give the school its consideration in the future. I further informed that there are some people who should be the object of universal scorn in our society, and this fellow is one of those people. I compared Ayers’ impending visit to that of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s to Columbia University in 2007.

The very polite, kind counselor informed that she was unaware of this particular issue but appreciated that I was expressing my concerns and my opinion. She further informed me that the University was open to all points of view. PC message received, loud and clear. I accepted the offer to be transferred to the Communications Director.

Finding myself connected to the voice mail of that director rather than the live person came as no surprise to me, as I imagined how many phone calls she was now receiving. I left a message for her. Considering the “We Are the World” attitude I was given by the Admissions’ Counselor, I felt it important to take on the ridiculous world of academia nonsense regarding taking into account “all points of view”. Finally, I expressed my concern as a taxpayer, who had zero desire to participate in funding such an endeavor. I was actually very pleased to have gotten the voice mail; I didn’t have to talk to a PC press person but was able to get my message across.

At the time I made my calls, the University was sticking to its invitation. The next day, Friday, October 17, my husband handed me a copy of the Omaha World-Herald for my reading “enjoyment” on a flight. The headline read “UNL invitation to Ayers raises furor”. Towards the beginning of the article, I was pleased to read that one of the regents, a Randy Ferlic, urged donors to withhold funds and gave his opinion on how the decision to invite Ayers reflected on the University’s Chancellor and staff, “[it] speaks volumes of the arrogance”. And how. Not much further reading in the article allowed readers to sample some of that arrogance.

Chancellor Perlman stated, “In this instance, it is unfortunate that a lecture directed toward an academic subject has become implicated in a political campaign. Nothing in his presence suggests that the university supports his personal or political philosophy or condones any of his former conduct.”

I’m with Randy Ferlic. Speaks volumes of the arrogance, alright. What is actually most arrogant about it is that it is possible for a man who oversees the education of thousands of students every year, to be completely ignorant of the fact that Mr. Ayers didn’t stop being a radical just because he “went on to gain a measure of respect in the education world”, as the Herald informed its readers in the typical mainstream media oh-so-unbiased-way. Ayers acceptance in the world of academia is not an endorsement of Bill Ayers; it’s an indictment of academia. One wonders whether Mr. Perlman has bothered to read the “100 academic articles and 17 books” that Mr. Ayers has written. No one can accuse Bill Ayers of being stupid, that’s for sure. He is actually very intelligent. He realized he could have more impact on radicalizing society by infusing his Marxist, anarchist viewpoint into the academic world. He teaches teachers how to teach. Not only is he an unrepetent terrorist who wanted to overthrow American society, he decided he could do a better job of that by tinkering with the educational system. And apparently, the educational system is only to warmly ready to accept him.

The defense of the invitation and explanation of its history is definately more arrogant even than the Chancellor’s ignorance and an insult to the citizens of the state of Nebraska who took the time to let their voices be heard. The school was very quick to point out that a private donation was being used to fund the event at which Ayers was scheduled to speak. It was actually money raised by the University of Nebraska Foundation. This is a fantastic group. This isn’t the first time its done something marvelous like this; there has been another statewide flap recently (yes, another one) regarding an effort to repeal Affirmative Action throughout the state. This helpful foundation has used some of its funds to fight this effort.

The chronicle of the process of engineering the invitation, and its review by the College of Education is just too rich:

Education Dean Marjorie Kostelnik said that when the college invited Ayers to the conference in February, some on the selection committee were vaguely aware of his controversial past, ‘but it wasn’t high on their radar screen’. They were focused on his academic credentials.

Officials in the college learned more about Ayers after he became a figure in the campaign. They decided then not to withdraw the invitation but to make clear to him that he was to speak only on his research.

Well, that’s just fantastic. I’m sure that would do the trick, really.

But Kostelnik’s rationalization and defense of the decision to hold to the invitation gets even better. Somewhat ironically, one of the better stories quoting Kostelnik appeared in my hometown’s newspaper on Thursday, Oct. 16. The Sioux City Journal article reports:

She said Ayers is an expert in two areas that are of interest to the university’s teaching students: teaching methods that help assure students of all socio-economic backgrounds receive quality education; and research designed to increase teachers’ understanding of how people think and learn.
Kostelnik said Ayers was invited before he emerged as a controversial figure in the presidential campaign but that faculty members who decided to invite him, including herself, had a superficial knowledge of his past.
During a faculty discussion of whether he should be invited, his violent past “never came up,” Kostelnik said.
When his invitation was announced at a faculty meeting in August, a faculty member asked if the group knew who Ayers is. Kostelnik said more research was done on his radical activities, and the group that decided to invite him stuck with its initial decision.
“The group was very clear to me they were purely interested in his research perspectives,” she said.

I’d love for one of these pinheads to define a “quality education” and what the hell someone like Bill Ayers has to substantively say about educational “research”.

I like Regent Ferlic more and more as I think about what he had to say about the arrogance. But he had even more to add:

If the university invites Ayers to speak on educational reform, he said, perhaps the university might want to consider having Osama bin Laden to speak about religion.

This is not about a Democrat or Republican issue, or the elections. This is about the University of Nebraska, and we should not allow staining of the people’s university.

Amen, brother! This guy deserves a Bozo button, a medal, something. This is real straight talk. Meanwhile other university Regents, the President of the University, for Pete’s sake, and the state’s governor, were all doing the political tap dance of offering a negative opinion but stating that their respective offices provided no outlet for stopping Ayers’ attending the event. Can anyone say “No controlling legal authority?” Good grief.

Citing “safety concerns”, the invitation was rescinded on Monday of this week. A pointy-headed spokesperson breathlessly informed that there had been threats of violent disruption, even a vague death threat against Ayers. Ok, maybe, but likely poppeycock. There have been reports that big money donors threatened to withhold funding if Ayers visited the campus.

I’d withhold my funds anyway. I know that after listening to the staements of some of these university people, I’m still not going to consider sending any of my kids to the school, rescinded invitation or no. And like my phone call, I’m going to be sure to let them know why. I actually think this issue, the world of academia is the biggest threat to our society. The whole sorry situation with Ayers being invited to UNL and its fallout is a beautiful illustration of why. I’m just mightily embarrassed that it happened in my state.

Of course, it’s obviously not the only thing to be embarrassed about. South Dakota’s looking reeeaaal good right about now….


Time for a Dan’s Bake Sale America! America’s Bake Sale

In 1993, a man named Dan called Rush Limbaugh’s radio show. What started as a flippant conversation, quickly exploded into a listener-driven phenomenon. Although, the whole “saga” may seem trivial, there were fundamental truths within it that appealed to Rush’s listeners. Dan introduced himself by thanking a friend who’d recently made him aware of Rush, and for the weekly photocopy of Rush’s subscription Limbaugh Letter. Initially, Rush was simply going to gift a year’s subscription to the poor fellow, whose wife didn’t care for Rush’s show.

Rush, being the true conservative at heart, advised Dan to have a bake sale and raise the money himself to purchase the subscription. He rightly told Dan that he would appreciate the subscription more if he paid for it. Beginning with the very next caller, listener after listener called in to donate everything from baked goods to t-shirts for Dan’s effort. Ultimately, an estimated 65,000 – 80,000*  people showed up for Dan’s bake sale in Fort Collins, Colorado. Rush himself, best explained why his listeners responded so enthusiastically:

Here’s the truth of the matter.  These people show up, 35,000 to 65,000*, they drop a hundred dollars in and around Fort Collins.  That, my friends, is called trickle-down economics.  You should see the people who were at Dan’s Bake Sale, ’93, in Fort Collins, Colorado, because this is something that’s just fundamental.  What happened in Fort Collins, Colorado, is a microcosm of what could have happened all over this country, could be right now if you just had the right kind of leadership.  If we had somebody talking about how great people can be.  If we had somebody talking about how good people are and decent they are in their hearts and motivating those people, take the people who play by the rules, take the people who are good and decent, hardworking, motivate them, inspire them, don’t punish them, motivate them, then you could have Fort Collins, Colorados, all over America.  It’s just overwhelming.

Again, what may have seemed like a superficial endeavor to some at the time, reveals what is universally true about the heart of America: America is a country filled with good, generous, and kind-hearted people. We are a people who are more than willing to stand up and help out our neighbor, whether he be next door or in a state across the country. The vast majority of us are busy living our lives and taking care of our families, trying to live the American dream, but when action is called for by a leader, or events require, we will come together to support a just cause or convey a necessary message.

There is something in the phenomenon of Dan’s Bake Sale that makes a very clear point that is not to be overlooked. People responded so enthusiastically because they were willing to get behind a man who was going to work to earn something for himself. Dan was making the first move, and people were willing to back him up. It wasn’t a government-imposed form of “neighborliness” or an attempt to impose someone’s arbitrary idea of fairness. It was support of the idea that Dan’s friend needed to stop enabling him from taking the newsletter for free, something he hadn’t paid for, and earn the money himself. Once Dan embraced the concept, people we were willing to step forward and help him out. America, at its heart, has always been like that.

The majority of Americans know that social engineering through government-fiat is always doomed to failure. We know that handing something to people who aren’t willing to take the first steps themselves, who aren’t willing to work hard, or who don’t play by the rules, will ultimately fail in helping the person and drag down the rest of society who are burdened with paying for the experiment.

The American people are angry because they know two such massive social engineering programs, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, were wildly mismanaged, enlarged, and forced upon the banking industry, and they know that none of the responsible parties are being held to account, and to add further injury, capitalism is now under attack. The American people know that the Fannie and Freddie mess are not totally to blame; massive over spending by Congress, left unchecked by President Bush’s veto pen, and very bad money policies by the Treasury Department and Federal Reserve, lack of enforcement of existing regulations, and failure to communicate the extent of the problem effectively to the American people in time to head off disaster, were also to blame. The American people also know that there was a lot of greed on the part of some companies to make a fast buck on the loosened lending rules, and yes, some people were taken advantage of.

The financial meltdown that has taken place was a wake up to all Americans; from the average citizen on “Main Street”, to the institutions on Wall St., to the halls of Congress, to the Oval office, and to the media. Of late, a large number of Americans have previously woken up and spoken out on a couple of other serious issues facing this country, both of which, in retrospect, it can be seen, in one way or another, have helped to contribute to our economic problems. Large numbers of calls and e-mails have reined down on Washington in the recent past, albeit not in the totally unprecedented numbers seen with the proposed bailout bill. In 2007, a very large number of Americans voiced their disapproval of a so-called comprehensive immigration bill that did not adequately secure our borders and was viewed as granting a form of amnesty to illegal aliens. Just this past summer, again, a large number of Americans put pressure on politicians to “Drill Here, Drill Now”, recognizing the lack of a truly comprehensive energy policy that includes immediate increases in the amount of drilling and refining for oil, is very damaging to our economy and endangering our national security.

The average American understands the problems and the solutions. Torrential downpours of phone calls and e-mails flooded Washington in an effort to stop the extraordinarly ill-conceived “bailout bill”. While many of us may not be able to articulate the minute details, we knew in our guts that it was wrong. It wasn’t because we didn’t want to bail out “the fat cats” on Wall St., we opposed it because we knew the very same people who engineered the failure were not the ones to engineer the solution. We knew the bill was dangerous, we knew there were saner, better solutions proposed that did not socialize a large portion of our financial sector. After decades of expansion in the housing market and a long period of growth of the stock market, the average person took stock of history, applied their common sense, and knew that it was time for a major correction. We knew some would get hurt and we could personally suffer hard times. In order to preserve freedom, and the principles of a capitalist, free market society, we shouted our voices that we were willing to accept that. We knew those of us who could, would help others out. We will and do help each other out, but we don’t want the government taking the money from us and deciding. That’s the American way. Sometimes we fail but we will get back up. Punish the guilty, correct the mistakes, learn from them and then, emerge stronger and smarter than before. Many, many Americans conveyed this message to Washington.

But Washington utterly failed to listen. Many of us were momentarily hopeful that the initial failure of the bill meant that our voices were being heard. While there were some of our representatives of principle who opposed the bill from the beginning for the right reasons, we were informed that it was not the fundamental principles of the bill that were the cause of the failure; it was partisan politics embodied in a speech on the House floor given by Speaker Pelosi. Most unfortunately, a bill was ultimately passed. We heard phrases like “that’s whay happens in the sausage factory” and that the bill was “sweetened” to entice more politicans to vote for it. It was Washington business as usual, but this time, large numbers of Americans were watching and were completely repulsed.

Americans are outraged at the complete disenfranchisement that has occurred in this whole debacle and that has been going on for some time. We are outraged that no one directly responsible for the financial mess in which we find ourselves are being held to account. We are outraged that the very same people should be under intense scrutiny, are instead hatching plans to further socialize this country and impose still more social engineering programs. And we are equally outraged that many of the same representatives in our government that sat idly by in the past are still doing it today. Why don’t they speak?

Americans are fed up with being lectured to by the media. After the bailout bill initially failed, the all-out assualt on public opinion, nay, the sheer propaganda flew from every quarter. We were inundated with stories of businesses that had been having financial troubles for quite some time now supposedely going belly-up because of the “credit crunch”. We were warned about so-called experts about the devasting effects of the sharp drop in the stock market on all our retirement accounts and the impending apocalypse should the bill ultimately fail to pass. In one case, a business network anchor actually wagged her finger at the screen and chastized, “Wall Street is ‘Main Street’, folks!” How dare we form our own opinions! Apparently, or so we are told, we are just too stupid to understand the fatal consequences.

We are fed up with the absolute absence of tough questioning to politicians who are currently in power while corruption is “hiding” in plain sight. We are fed up with the complete lack of journalistic ethics that has resulted in free advertising for one candidate on the one hand while deploying squadrons of investigators to dig up dirt on another.

As this is being written, the press are perverting what is behind the righteous anger of citizens who have begun expressing themselves at McCain – Palin campaign rallies, and even using it as a weapon against the campaign, accusing them of inciting a racist, mob mentality. While there have been a very few inappropriate remarks at a couple of the rallies, those hyperbolic expressions come as no real surprise to the rest of us.

These unfortunate inflammatory effusions of anger are what come from years of disenfranchisement of the average citizen while Washington continues down a ruinous path. Nearly all widely available forms of media, including broadcast and print news, films, celebrity interviews and award ceremonies convey to Americas what a terrible country they live in, that it must become more like Europe, that capitalism doesn’t work, and that they, the average person with values, are just plain ignorant if they disagree with a socialist agenda. The calvacade of insulting rhetoric has recently reached a crescendo, so much so that it has become nearly a parody of itself. This kind of environment does ultimately produce a frustration that spills out. The elitists in the world who are nearly the only voices broadcast, are so totally out of touch, they can’t possible understand this.

The majority of Americans, a few principled, lonely souls in Washington, some in print, some on TV, and a huge number of people in “the blogosphere” do get it. The sentitments of the majority of Americans are best embodied in the passionate remarks of a gentleman at an October 9th McCain-Pally townhall meeting in Waukesha, Wisconsin, during which the following exchange occurred:

Speaker: I’m mad, I’m really mad, and what’s going to surprise you is, that it’s not the economy. It’s the socialists taking over our country. (applause) (to the crowd) Sit down, I’m not done. Thank you.

John McCain: You’re going to have to…(inaudible from Speaker) You’re going have to give me…

Speaker: Let me finish, please.

John McCain: Ok. Excuuuuse me….(laugher) I think I get the message.

Speaker: Thank you. I think it’s important, what we’re really missing, and what’s going on, when you have an Obama, Pelosi, and the rest of the hooligans up there going to run this country, we’ve gotta have our heads examined. It’s time that you two are representing us and we are mad!

This gentleman spoke for so many, many people and he was trying to convey to Senator McCain and Gov. Palin that we know where the real power in this republic is supposed to reside. Many of us are concerned that Sen. McCain is just as out of touch with the majority of Americans as the rest of Washington, based on the fact that he, too, voted for the bailout, and has even proposed using some of the money to bail out people who took on more house than they can afford. Sen. McCain is not articulating the many issues about which people are so angry, he is not spelling out how he would punish the guilty, or what he would fundamentally change to prevent a recurrance. People attending his rallies are just trying to get the message through. Senator McCain is not inciting a mob, the average American is trying to incite him to hear truth and take appropriate action.

The expressions of fear by McCain rally attendees at the prospects of a President Obama are being called racist by the media, the Obama campaign, and his supporters. Again, while a very few of those comments have been inappropriate, it is again, an expression of a righteous emotion. Despite all the efforts by the Obama campaign and the overwhelming majority of the media, many Americans are aware of the questionable aspects of Sen. Obama’s history and have followed his ever-evolving versions of past and current associations, comments, positions, and policies. Many Americans are becoming increasily dismayed by the emerging portrait of a man who once gives such eloquent speeches, yet in other quarters says so many troubling things. The espousal of principles of unity, hope, and a new kind of politics does not square with the demeaning remarks about Americans with values, the inciting of supporters to “get into people’s faces”, appeals to the Justice Department, the Federal Communications Commission, even local law enforcement to silence the free speech of those in opposition, and a failure to distance himself from the multitude of odd supporters whose t-shirts, signs, songs, and chants evoke the imagery of socialism, communism, and fascism of days gone by.

The rumors regarding Mr. Obama that speculate on his past and present ideology and connections are only fueled by the near-total lack of journalistic ethics. The number of false rumors about him are the direct result of an absence of rigorous investigation. It is left to the individual to sort through what is available from a few in the media, from those with whom they speak casually, and most especially from the internet. Because there is much about Mr. Obama to correctly cause genuine concern intuitively, some people latch on to the wrong reason for it. The media, rather than pointing fingers at the McCain campaign have only themselves to blame.

While many Americans are feeling the same way, they feel they have no one who is voicing their concerns and they are fearful that time is running out. The daily message from the media is: “This election is over.” There is growing concern, as the gentleman from Wisconsin put it, “What’s going on, when you have an Obama, Pelosi, and the rest of the hooligans up there going to run this country, we’ve gotta have our heads examined.” The gentleman was articulating the growing concern that “the hooligans” will actually increase in numbers, that there will be a tipping of the balance of power and the increasing forces of socialism will be unstoppable. And, he was attempting to clearly tell Senator McCain and Gov. Palin that they are not articulating that particular message at all or the overall issues with clarity.

What is so desperately needed at this time is leadership. There appears to be an absolute lack of it from the President, whose failures and failure to communicate have lost our trust. The only leadership in Washington is leading this country to ruin.

Perhaps because of a long period of prosperity and an agenda-driven media that has long attempted to frame the overall picture of government, including what it should and should not do, and what it really does, too many of us may have “bought in” to these ideas. Clearly, the majority of us no longer trust the government and have come to question how much stock we put in its leadership.

Leadership cannot come from Washington at this point. America has lost sight of the single most important principle on which it was founded: God grants rights to the individual and “In order to protect these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.” “We the people” need to be the leaders and remind all of those “hooligans” in Washington, the media, and Senator McCain, with home the power really rests.

We the people need to come together and send the following messages…

To those currently in power:

  1. No more bailouts! Companies and people who make bad decisions should be allowed to fail so they learn from their mistakes.
  2. America is not a socialist country, so stop nationalizing the private sector
  3. The only thing that you should be doing to “help” fix the current situation is to come up with real market based solutions.
  4. Stop spending our money! Actually stop printing it! Right this minute! We’re broke!
  5. You work for the American people – when we barrage Washington with phone calls and e-mails in opposition to your plans, you better listen.
  6. If we have too many foreign entanglements that have tied our hands, you’d better figure out how that happened and begin extracting us, somehow. Trade may be global, with global markets, but America is not a market! America is a sovereign nation filled with American citizens, we are not citizens of the world.

To the media elite and celebrities:

  1. Stop telling us who to vote for and do your jobs.
  2. If you’re a reporter, investigate and report. Stop advocating. Look carefully into Sen. Obama’s background and ask him the tough questions.
  3. If you’re a celebrity, shut up. No one cares what you think. All you’re dong is alienating a good chunk of your audience. If you’re a comedian, poke fun at both sides or find something else to joke about.

To John Mccain and Sarah Palin:

  1. Stop talking to us about corruption on Wall St. and predatory lenders and start talking about corrupt politicians. Announce who you would appoint as your Attorney General and develop a plan with him to investigate and prosecute all responsible parties on Wall Street and in Washington. Send him around the country until Election Day to explain this plan to the American people.
  2. You must totally ignore the opinions of the media, you’re not going to win them over no matter what you do. Do only live interviews with major broadcast networks, go on every local media affliate you can wherever you go, and one of you should call someone in talk radio, daily, everyday until the election is over. More people are paying attention than ever before; there are a lot of new listeners calling in, upset about the current situation.
  3. Tell the history of Barack Obama, from start to finish. That includes all of his socialist and radical ties, including Rev. Wright. Weave a narrative, it’s really not that complicated. Stop telling crowds that Mr. Obama is a decent, honorable man, from whom they have nothing to fear. At the very least, he is not truthful and it just makes you look out of touch and like your’re caving into media criticism.  Any criticism will be called racist, and by caving in, you are allowing yourself to be completely disarmed. Expose, vigorously all of Mr. Obama’s ties to ACORN.
  4. Call for an immediate investigation into and a nationwide rejection of any more voter registrations to be accepted by ACORN. Propose the introduction of an immediate spending freeze on funds to ACORN. Promise the American people, if you are elected, you will direct your appointed Attorney General with investigating this group and all of its activities, say that you are willing to appoint a Special Prosecutor, if necessary. Promise the American people you will challenge election results that appear questionable due to the widely reported incidents of voter fraud involving this group.
  5. Start talking about the danger we all face from the possibility of a Democratic majority in Congress, the loss of the filibuster, and the plans of Speaker Pelosi and Majority Leader Reid in the event of this possibility and in particular, in the event the majority is secured, what America might look if Barack Obama would also be elected President.
  6. Stop talking to us about any additional bailouts! Realize your mistake in supporting the original bill. Propose only real market solutions and advocate for capitalism and free markets. Talk about how the wrong kind of government intervention led to the current financial mess, how because there were a few greedy companies, it doesn’t mean we reject the entire capitalist system. Talk about how the fear of increased taxes and looming prospect of the re-imposition of the offshore drilling ban creates so much uncertainty in financial markets, those factors are contributing to fear. Talk about how increasing government intervention creates even more uncertainty and failure of investors and business to trust that the government won’t swoop down on them, too.
  7. In the event you are elected, Sen. McCain, you need to realize that you work for us. The American people are awake to the difficulties that face the country and have little trust in politicians. If the majority of Americans express themselves so loudly in the future, as they did in trying to stop the bailout you need to listen to them next time.

Let’s send these messages, together, by raising money to either form a 527 group or by donating to one already in existence to run ads about these issues during the last few days of the election.

Let’s raise money to support candidates who voted “No” on the bailout bill and to avoid tipping the balance of power in the House and the Senate so far to the left that further damaging legislation can’t be stopped.

Let’s get together for one big event in a central location and in as many locations across the country as possible. Let’s remember Dan, and really do something with it this time, together. Let’s remember that we’re not alone, that this is our country and then, as Rush said, “Then you could have Fort Collins, Colorados, all over America.”

I call on anyone who is interested in fighting for freedom and stopping socialism, to send a message that We the People are the true leadership in this country, to join me.

Here’s to Fort Collins, all over America.

How, and what next?

Instead of Dan’s Bake Sale, it’s…

America’s Bake Sale

Saturday, October 25

Time to be determined

I invite as many people as are able to participate in the main event, which will be held in Lincoln, Nebraska. I’ll start out with the idea of holding it in a nearby park shelter, with an advertisement in my local newspaper. If that’s all, so be it. I’ll donate any money raised to the American Issues Project which is the only organization currently running any ads close to the kind that should be on the air. If we work together, though, a show in numbers can make a difference, and it would definitely send a message.

I call on anyone willing to help, to join me. We’ll move from the park shelter to a small community center. If we get more help, we’ll move from the community center to an event center, or to a large farm field near the edge of the city.

For those who cannot come and join me in Nebraska, I urge you to hold an event in your city own or town. Starting out, just like I suggested for myself, with a little sale in your driveway, local park shelter, or community center. Call on others to join in, and see how big you can make it and try to move it a larger venue.

I call on people who own businesses to donate items for sale, including, of course, the requisite baked goods. But I also call on any business that is willing to donate t-shirts, stickers, buttons, or like items, to be sold. I call on people with sound equipment, with video and webcam equipment to set up to broadcast the individual bake sales across the country, live, over the internet. I call on vocalists, musicians, or other people with the skills to put on some entertainment at local events. I call on those with motivational speaking abilities to say a few words of encouragement to those attending. I call on printers to make up flyers and signs.

I call on attorneys who know more about election finance law than I do to advise on setting up a 527 group or to work with one already existing to best spend the money raised. I call on these attorneys to advise on any election law issues allowing or preventing the invitation of worthy candidates to attend these events.

I call on widely known people who have been in positions of leadership in government, like Newt Gingrich,  Fred Thompson, and others to come and speak in Lincoln. I call on radio talk show hosts, who have led the way on in the past on grassroots movements just like this one, to join in and spread the word, and speak at one of the locations where one of these bake sales is being held.

I call on people with video editing skills to make some more videos to put on the internet to explain the vital issues and post them on the internet in a coordinated effort to spread the word. I call on people with these skills to work together to possibly prepare ad spots should it be determined forming our own 527 group is the best way to go, so they are ready for placement during the last few days of the election immediately after the nationwide effort.

I call on anyone who is willing to help me organize this thing, right now, to give ideas for ensuring its success, and to get immediately to work.

And most earnestly, I call on bloggers all over the internet, whose many voices have been shouting out the truth, trying to spread the word about the issues facing all of us, who love their country, and who feel frustrated about what to do. You can do something – spread the word!

If you believe that We the People are the leaders in this country and can make a difference, go to the following link at Facebook and sign up!

America’s Bake Sale Event

or email me at