Rhyme & Reason

SLV Native - flickr
SLV Native – flickr

Interesting day yesterday, no?

The Nebraska Legislature decides to get rid of the penalty of death.

This while also planning on getting rid of mandatory minimum punishments for criminals.

Repeal of the Death Penalty is led by a guy who said the following:

“If I was going to carry a weapon it wouldn’t be against you, it woudln’t be against these people who come here that I might have a dispute with. Mine would be for the police. And if I carried a gun I’d wanna shoot him first and then ask questions later, like they say the cop ought to do. Could I get away with it? You know I couldn’t get away with it. They better hope I never lose my mind and find out I’m on my way out of here.”

(We were told, by numerous Senators and others how this wasn’t a big deal, how this was just Ernie being Ernie, how he had a good point.

How about all of those folks stand up and repeat it today?)

And then in the afternoon in Omaha, a criminal guns down a police officer performing her duties, who also happened to be a new mother.

Everyone can feel free to discuss the theology and justice implications of all of this (FWIW, I found this discussion on the theory of “revenge” to be interesting).

Just throwing out some of the day’s events.

Back to politics…


State Senator John Murante’s vote on the Death Penalty Repeal could have some political consequences.

Murante — who has been a guest on The Wheels Down Politics Show — has been pro-Repeal of the Death Penalty.

Murante also has been thought for some time now to be a likely candidate for the GOP nomination for Nebraska’s 2nd District Congressional seat. He has not yet announced. (Right now the only ones who have are Don Bacon and Chip Maxwell.)

While there have been some who have said that being against the Death Penalty is actually a “conservative” position, it would be interesting to see whether 2nd District Republican voters agree with that.

Or, whether it would be an issue — or whether Don Bacon, or say an independent PAC, would make it an issue.

This subject will likely come up in Legislature races, but the 2nd District would be the most high-profile — and if loudly discussed, would MAKE it an issue in those races.

When Republicans have a hard time differentiating themselves from each other, there are usually a few issues that come to the fore.


And on that note, where a few months ago the feeling was that it would be a Battle Royal for the GOP nomination for Nebraska’s 2nd Congressional District, right now there is an eerie silence.

Shane Osborne and Bryan Slone have dropped off of the top rope and out of the ring. Brian Buescher, who has run for other offices seems to be pretty unlikely.

We have yet to hear anything from Dan Frei on the “Tea Party” wing.

We continue to hear that Garth Glissman is thinking about it, but it might take some serious backing to pull him away from his current gig at Kutak Rock.

There have been some low-level rumblings about some candidate recruitment, but nothing that is really hitting the Richter scale.

Which leaves us with Don Bacon — who has a full-time campaign, serious endorsements and an impressive background.

Then there is Chip Maxwell, who announced last year that he would run, but hasn’t had a full announcement roll-out…yet. He is scheduled to speak — presumably as a candidate — before the DCRP. But as noted here, he is already getting some push-back from the Sarpy County GOP for not being a team-player in the past.

And would Maxwell put together a big-time operation, or go with the shoe-string approach?

Is the 2nd District GOP content with these two — or maybe three — battling it out for the chance to take out Brad Ashford, in what would likely be the best time to defeat him?

A bit of a surprise, no?


Finally, here is an interesting question.

The Governor got what he wanted on “Tax Relief” in the budget.

The LJS noted…

“The additional money for property tax credits — $64 million a year more than before — amounts to about $33 for the owner of a $100,000 home, or $83 for the owner of a $250,000 home.”

Democrat State Senator Heath Mello said,

“Governor Ricketts displayed tremendous leadership today.”


And yet…

Gas Tax increase, Death Penalty Repeal, Drivers Licenses for DREAMers, Medical Marijuana, Voter ID, Winner Take All, Public Votes for Chairman — all going, or went, against Ricketts’ public positions for these votes.

Would Governor Heineman have gotten the rug pulled from under him on these?
Did he?

So here’s a Q:
Did Governor Pete Ricketts really care about ANY of those votes?

Was he ever willing to really spend any political capital on them?

Or has the goal all along just been to say, “Hey look! Tax relief!”
And have the Democrat state Senators roll with him on that — while not really pressing them on these “side” issues.

Or, did he simply get rolled on these issues, not appreciating the effort that it takes to herd the cats in the Unicameral?

Just looking for a little rhyme or reason for all that has happened over the past few months.


  1. I’m not in favor of the death penalty.

    However, those who accuse the retributive theory of justice of being primitive or ignorant need to read a little more. Immanuel Kant, perhaps the greatest moral philosopher of all, considered retribution to be not only a philosophical underpinning of justice, but the only defensible philosophical underpinning. Opponents of the death penalty need to take those arguments seriously and rebut them.

  2. Unisham/spam/scam says:

    Looks like a deal was cut not to push mandatory minimum sentences this year per LJS article where Kintner says “We’re all one big Unicameral family” or something to that effect and then the reporter says he went over to Nordquist and said, “Deal.” Wait, I thought there was to be no deal-making? Then the Dreamers bill went through Final Reading with no further filibustering. And Ernie laid down on a gambling-related bill that the real conservatives want dead. After the McCoy faction got whipped on the death penalty repeal, it looks like some mending needed to be done to stop them from filibustering the crap out of the next five days. Has anyone noticed how conciliatory Ernie has become in his remarks over the past couple weeks? Trying hard not to screw up the house of cards that allowed the death penalty repeal to blow through.

  3. To Texas Annie says:

    The Governor has held to every promise he made – I have no complaints. There are senators who obviously have a problem with doing what they said they would do. Such people are obviously flip-floppers or simply have a problem telling the truth. Proof offered by the quote from the senator above.

  4. Anonymous says:

    “To Texas Annie”:
    The Governor’s job goes beyond vetoing or signing.
    He is supposed to lead the legislature, and use his power to tailor the agenda.
    He failed on this.

  5. To Anonymous says:

    What is the Governor supposed to do with people who can’t even be trusted to keep their promises to their constituents?! This is a democracy, he can’t dictate to people or force them to do something they are unwilling to do. Instead of placing the blame with Pete, why don’t you all point the finger at those who flat out fail to keep their promises? Or do promises not mean anything if they are coming from someone running for the legislature?

  6. Real failure says:

    If you hire two people, one keeps their promises, and the other fails to do so, is the person who keeps their promises the bad employee? I think not! Pete kept his promises, others backtracked. Who is the real failure? The one who couldn’t do the job they promised.

  7. repentinglawyer says:

    While I do not share Prof. Harbison’s enthusiasm for Kant, hard to get the ethics off the ground without the metaphysics, see no reason why opposition to death penalty is inconsistent with retribution unless one adopts what C.S. Lewis called a vulgar police court theory. Catholic Natural Law theory is a sophisticated theory of retribution and yet the magisterial support for abolishing death penalty in Us as in EU is clear As for revenge theory, Justice Stephen would appreciate the Sweepers endorsement. On this issue Senator Chambers seems to have better represented Church teaching than his critics.

  8. The Good Old Daze says:

    Are there really some longing for the Heineman Circus?
    Amazing. Ricketts is setting priorities, showing leadership and working well with others. He is managing the state as opposed to playing partisan games. It is refreshing. The primary rejected the Heineman-like politicians running for Governor.

  9. Outsider says:

    Amazing, Ricketts can set priorities! But he cannot follow through with the big issues. Sure glad that through the session he has become best friends with Mello, now that is where the real power lies at this time.

  10. Mayor Test Dummy says:

    Once there was this Mayor who
    Ran a city where purple penguins went to school

    Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm
    Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm

  11. Macdaddy says:

    The liberals sure are silent on the Catholic Church pulling the strings in our Unicam. I guess theocracy is ok if you get what you want, right?

  12. I agree with repentinglawyer. Only the crudest version of retributive justice insists on Lex talionis. We don’t rape rapists, or burn down arsonists’ houses; there is no particular reason we should execute killers. My point was that there is a hefty basis in moral philosophy for retributive justice, as a fundamental underpinning of the law.

    In contrast, most liberals are utilitarians in large measure, though I doubt most of them could articulate what utilitarianism is. But truly utilitarian moral philosophy would be far crueler than retribution. Take serial pedophiles; it’s widely acknowledged they’re incurable, so putting them on the street will surely cause serious harm. And locking them up forever costs resources and gains nothing. The greatest good for the greatest number clearly requires we execute them. Ditto with serial rapists, thieves, and murderers.

    Retributive justice is far more merciful

  13. Anonymous says:

    To 4:06: What in the world are you talking about? Can we all play? Do we get a secret decoder ring? hmmmmmm hmmmmm?

  14. Brian T. Osborn says:

    If the Governor is such a supporter of state sponsored murder, then I suggest we require him to personally dispatch the condemned by manual strangulation.

  15. To 5:31 says:

    Read Nancy Hicks insightful article about 20 Things you probably did not know about the Lincoln Mayor. You have to be hip to say Crash Test Dummies

  16. Refocus says:

    Like the man said, out of 3,000 murders, Nebraska executed only 3 by lethal injection.

    What the mad didn’t say was that those three were all killed by Democrat Gov. Ben Nelson. What Republican really wants to tout those good old days?

    Things change. You need to adapt. This one was over a long time ago.

    Right now the worse that Republicans are throwing at Dems is how awful it is that Democrats have so much unity in the legislature. Like praising your rapist on his prowess. On issues, you need to shift your gaze and refocus, as Reagan did, onto the few that really matter.

  17. Anonymous says:

    So, what will y’all say when Ricketts allows drivers licenses for illegals to become law? That is most certainly NOT keeping his promise on immigration, something the Heineman-like politicians were afraid of.

  18. Macdaddy says:

    Anon 4:20: Asked and answered. As for the Republicans, I think they decided to throw their priests a bone so they’ll quit haranguing them about abortion. If any of them still do that.

  19. TexasAnnie says:

    Right. Refocus. Quit fretting about those being jailed and/or aborted and begin giving due consideration to those whose legitimate rights and liberty are being trashed by your Legislature AND your Governor! Our chemistry professor has obviously taken an effort to comprehend the dynamics of moral philosophy and he correctly identifies deontology as a means to justice.

    But Repenting Lawyer Says It’s: “hard to get the ethics off the ground without the metaphysics.” Tell us more!

  20. Actually, I don’t think the Democrats are at all awful by voting in lockstep. They’re behaving like an organized political party with a clear and coherent message. The point, IMHO, of the scorecard is to show that Walton’s claim the unicam is showing bipartisanship and moderation is simply nonsense. The Democrats have not moved one millimeter to the middle, or shown any willingness to compromise. The faux ‘bipartisanship’ is merely dishonest shysters registering Republican to get elected and then voting in lockstep with the Democrats.

  21. Anonymous says:

    Don’t know why everyone is so surprised that Dems in the Legislature tend to vote the same, and it’s not because they are more organized or vote in “lockstep”. They are a minority and come from urban areas with similar demographics, so this would happen naturally. Whereas Republican reps come from every area of the state. Thank God we do have a technically non-partisan Legislature where members aren’t whipped and threatened to vote as their party leaders desire. We’d be exactly like Kansas.

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