An apparent repeal of the supple appeal

The Nebraskans for the Death Penalty folks came out with a new website and new web video yesterday. See it here:

Vote Repeal from Vote Repeal on Vimeo.

Good spot.

But I will confess that upon reading the website name, I was slightly confused. And then Brent Martin at the Nebraska Radio Network confirmed my thoughts with this headline:

Both sides of death penalty debate worry ballot language could confuse voters

(Phew. Glad I wasn’t the only one…)

Here is State Treasurer, Don Stenberg, putting it succinctly:

So, in effect, you need to repeal the repeal. So, if you favor the death penalty you’ll want to vote to repeal LB 268.

So if you don’t want the death penalty to be repealed, you will vote to repeal the repeal, thereby reinstating the repealed penalty.

So go to

(Quick, which side are they on?!)

Here is the way the wording will appear on the ballot:

Screen Shot 2016-08-17 at 10.52.07 AM

So you can see why the pro-Death Penalty folks are using the term “Repeal” in their appeals.

Now if we can only get our hands on the butterfly ballot…


Gossly misleading

And still on appealing to the repeal of the repellent ordeal, Attorney General Doug Peterson called out the study on the death penalty cost by Creighton professor Ernie Goss as “misleading.”

Peterson said:

“It is misleading for this report to conclude that, on an annual basis, having the death penalty costs an amount that far exceeds the total annual budgets of both the Nebraska attorney general’s office and the state public defender’s office combined,” he said.

“Nebraska voters are entitled to accurate Nebraska figures as they determine whether to keep the death penalty in Nebraska.”

It is certainly an interesting argument from Goss, especially basing many of those numbers on data from other states.

My suspicion is that Goss numbers probably capture more data than the state’s analysis did, but it also seems very likely that he overestimated to make a point.

It does always come back, however, to the adage of, “Look how expensive it is for you when we try to block what you’re doing!


That’s UNICAMERAL air you’re breathing!

State Senator Bill Krist is taking his knife out on Senator Bill Kintner. He is threatening him every which way, if Kintner doesn’t resign, to take away…

His office
His parking spot
His staff

Which is the biggest wuss move the Legislature could come up with.

Look, if they think Kintner’s actions were bad enough (and there is plenty to argue that they were) then they should try to kick him out by impeachment or expulsion.

If they are not willing to do that, or don’t have the votes, then tough luck.
Either he is fit to serve, or he’s not.

Taking away his office and parking spot?
Well that is a vindictive move of someone who clearly does not have either the spine or the power to do what they SAY they are supposed to do.

“All those things are provided by the Legislature for senators in good standing,” Krist said Tuesday. “And from my perspective, that’s a question right now.”

If Krist doesn’t think Kintner is in “good standing”, then he shouldn’t be a Senator. And if not, then he should be kicked out. But taking his office and his staff is punishing the constituents of the district, not Kintner.

Maybe this is just an idle threat to scare Kintner into leaving. But if it is not, then there may be other Senators whose actions are not “consistent with the standards of this Legislature”.

Just maybe.
And then things get very interesting.


  1. Bluejay says:

    Very disappointed in Ernie Goss but it illustrates two key points:

    1. Economics is not much a science and is subject to lots of gloss; and

    2. One can hire an expert to say anything for the right amount of money.

    Recall the MIT Econ prof who cooked up Obamacare.

    • Pete says:

      False. Economics is a pretty exact science, complete with laws, theories, and postulates like any other science. You probably failed a couple of economics courses at Creighton.

      Cost is a real, tangible thing. I’m pro death penalty, and believe that its existence in Nebraska is worth the cost. Some things are worth paying for.

  2. bynd says:

    If economics is such a science, why do they have so many opposing theories?

    Ernie is threatening to not file any legislation while he deals with Kintner. So is that how one represents his constituents?

    Typical Ernie, anything but represent his district. And one wonders, if you ask the folks in his district what they think of Ernie abandoning them to go after a white guy they know nothing about nor do they care, they will say he is great.

    • Pete says:

      Is physics not a science? There are opposing theories about why water expands when frozen. Please name a science without any opposing theories. Theories that everyone accepts, and to which there are no opposing theories, are known as postulates.

      • Bynd says:

        Where as in many science disciplines, theories they can be reconciled or one will eventually be proven the right one. Not so with economics. Easy example, Dems an Repubs have different economic philosophy from the beginning and they will never reconcile. They will remain that way probably forever. Pretty simple concepts.

  3. Dan Parsons says:

    A reporter should ask the AG for his numbers. Dr. Goss has 34 pages based on the best data anyone can lay their hands on. So far the AG gave 0. “Just trust me…please”

    • Dear Dan says:

      When you worked at the AG’s office, you may remember that the attorneys that did the work of prosecuting and appeals got paid the same amount of money no matter what the case. You should also recall that there were several appeals regarding every type of case, including those appealing their life sentences. Do you honestly think that defense counsels will just stop appealing life sentences? They’ll will argue whatever and whenever they can for the benefit of their client.

  4. Sparkles says:

    Interesting ad.
    Interesting in that it deliberately avoids the entire debate over the efficacy of the death penalty. Because it’s a debate NE for the Death Penalty knows it can’t win.
    Nope, primal fear, fear and violent retribution, that’s the sole aim of the ad.

    I can’t help but continued to be overwhelmed by the dichotomy.
    Nebraskans for the Death Penalty is almost solely funded by the Ricketts family, devout Roman Catholics. It is Co-Chaired by Don Stenberg, an Evangelical Christian and Beau McCoy, a born again Southern Baptist.
    Like Bill Kintner, each has claimed faith to be a central tenet to all they say and do.

    Yet this is the guidance of the Nebraska Catholic Conference, whose very byline is “Focus on Public Policy from a Gospel Mandate.”
    Nebraska’s faith leaders have gone on record to publicly denounce the death penalty –
    “The death penalty is not necessary in Nebraska. The purposes of a criminal justice system are rehabilitation, deterrence, public safety, and the restoration of justice. The death penalty does not provide rehabilitation to convicted criminals. There is no clear evidence that executions deter crime. Public safety can be assured through other means. And justice requires punishment, but it does not require that those who have committed capital crimes be put to death.”

    Somebody square that circle for me.

    • Bynd says:

      So once again because if it fits Sparkles wondering principles, it is now ok to pass a law with the basis being religion.

      It would also seem his principles include slaveist devotion to those he says he follows. We do see that from partisan zealots but they are far more rabid and ideological rigid than most others.

    • Bynd says:

      Sparkles and to square it, Romans 13 : 4. Individuals and government are two different things. One thing government is to do is punish evil. Yes God is more than love. He is just and righteous. Many forget the last two.

      • repenting lawyer says:

        Bynd, Paul read by Luther is mostly Luther. Given where the “Left Hand of God” reading of Romans left much of German Lutheranism in the face of Hitler and the response of the Confessing Church which spoke more from the Reformed tradition, you might want to look at more of the Christian tradition.
        If you are going to teach Sparkles theology you might work on your own knowledge first..
        What is your background in comparative cost studies that makes you such a sceptic, not much less certain than a lot of engineering studies.

      • Bynd says:

        I would ask the same of you. Sparkles asked a question I answered. If you believe I am so wrong put your answer out there. I promise not to be an ass and keep personally attacking you over what you put out there. Remember we may both call ourselves Christian but that doesn’t mean we agree on some things or any things. And that is the beauty of a forum like this. Many answers by different folks with different beliefs. Without slinging around the personal. Look that up in your Bible. Be ready to answer all questions for your hope, but do it with gentleness and respect. And yes I know I need to work on it. But you seem to want to be the local judge of what the Bible or beliefs should be.

      • repenting lawyer says:

        Bynd, I love to play theological pingpong and you tempt me to play the game. I am sure our conversations on this blog prove the disagreements among Christians, and it was those disagreements that underpinned Madison’s desire to limit the role of religious disputes in politics. I am persuaded by the non religious case against the death penalty, fallibility of the legal process, no proof of added deterrence over other penalties, and high cost. I also think it is morally deficient since it appeals to the most base in humanity and is cruel to no real purpose. My moral objections are bottomed on my religious beliefs but are, I think, defensible in turns of general moral values. Exactly what the role of religious values should be in politics and political decisions is difficult and I have never had a definitive answer, but a total banishment seems to me impossible.
        One of the Church Fathers said government exists to keep us from eating one another as do the fish. Thai is certainly one of its purposes, though it leaves open the question how to do that. Governmental exists to promote human flourishing, that I think is also part of the Christian world view, though how realms debatable.
        Any help from this?

      • bynd says:


        A lot.
        I believe in the death penalty but do not believe it is viable in it’s current form of endless appeals. In other words it is not efficient and should stay repealed. Frankly, I think life in prison without parole is more cruel than the death penalty and it to will some day be gotten rid of also. In Nebraska, there is absolutely no proof that any person has been wrongly convicted and suffered the death penalty or is on death row at this time. The argument is a red herring for Nebraska. We have so few on death row. The fact that some are exonerated points to the maturing of the system so such deplorable results are not possible. I never believed that deterrence was a goal of the death penalty. It is punishment pure and simple. I have no moral issue with it. But my first sentence still stands, it is simply an illogical form of punishment in it’s current form.

        I believe government is there to keep chaos from being the norm. To reward good and punish evil. I do not believe man is born inherently good. Whether by the Biblical belief or just the understanding in nature. Survival of the fittest and might makes right.

        I had a big long answer to the government’s function but to keep it simple, man’s history and foreseeable future is tension and conflict. It has it’s peaceful moments but man’s inherent nature to be the Alpha man/woman will always drive those who want more of what you have to continue the tension/conflict model. To a point, government can help some flourish. But as time goes on, as the Law of Thermodynamics states, systems tend towards entropy and government becomes less about the masses and more about the individual. That is why they constantly change and will not remain the same indefinitely. Bottom line, government being man run and it’s different forms being man created is like man, imperfect. And it serves man and who is in charge at the time tells you how supporting or non supporting of other men it will be.

        And although participating in sites like this one seem to be another addiction I need and want to break, my personal goal would be, ” to make it your ambition to lead a quiet life: You should mind your own business and work with your hands, just as we told you”. Actually, I am much better at that than I use to be. But it is an everyday process.

        I like ping pong. Any type.

    • Ricky says:

      Great points. I think Ricketts, along with his ego being hurt, must think good republicans must be for the death penalty. Stenberg, McCoy and Ricketts are not the most admired people in Nebraska. They make me throw up.

  5. Ricky says:

    Good point “retain” was an excellent word to use for the good guys. They had that from the start.
    If ‘repeal” wins, Nebraska will be in the same place as before the good guys passed death penalty legislation; no way to carry out the penalty and the great Ernie Chambers passing another law to take it off the books.
    A huge waste of money; but then again Rickett’s daddy can afford it. Sad though that Ricketts had to drag Jean Stothert and Ammie Melton down in the mud with him.

  6. Midtownguy says:

    This country is founded on separation of church and state. So why are we arguing about religion on this issue. Nebraska was spending over 14 million a year on the Death Penalty. We have not executed anyone in 20 years. We don’t have even have access to the drugs that are needed to perform the executions. And for those who say the death penalty is a deterrent, maybe you can explain why Iowa which is larger than Nebraska and has not had the death penalty for nearly forty years has a lower murder rate than we do.

    • The Grundle King says:

      At the risk of being called a racist for pointing out simple statistics, I would posit that the difference in murder rates could be a product of demographics. We know that (unfortunately) racial/ethnic minorities are statistically more likely to commit murder than whites. As a percentage of the population, Nebraska has twice as many blacks (4%) than Iowa (2.1%). Also as a percentage of the population, Nebraska has twice as many Hispanic/Latinos (5.5%) than Iowa (2.8%).

      According to the U.S. Dept. of Justice, blacks are almost 8 times more likely than whites to commit murder. According to a 2009 report from the Pew Hispanic Center, Hispanics account for 40% of all sentenced federal offenders…but only 13% of the population.

      Nebraska’s homicide rate in 2014 was 2.9/100,000, while Iowa checked in at 1.9/100,000…leaving Nebraska with a rate that is about 50% higher. Given that our minority populations are about 100% higher than Iowa, I’d say we’re actually doing pretty well when it comes to homicide rate…and that the death penalty’s effect on murder rates, if any, is negligible. The recidivism rate of executed murderers, however, hovers at around 0%.

      Now…about being labeled a racist. Nothing here should be construed to say that blacks or Hispanics are inherently more violent. There are, of course, a number of socio-economic factors at play when it comes to crime and crime statistics. But you asked why, and I’m providing an evidence-based answer.

  7. rjp says:

    Lots of opinions here on whether ECONOMICS is or isn’t science. Theories do abound. And invisible hands are, after all, invisible. Econ isn’t accountancy’s numbers that add up or not. Econ is an attempt to understand human behavior, as mushy as Sociology or Psych. Econ is about people and even people don’t understand people.

    But what if… a Professor of Economics and Social Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School (G. Borgas) leaves theory completely out of it and simply lists historical facts? Gives hard evidence of laws Americans have passed from the 1600s to today? That’s not theory. It is factual history.

    See Politico Magazine’s August 18, 2016, article by Harvard Professor Borjas that shows Trump’s Immigrant Vetting is as “American as apple pie”.

    • Sparkles says:

      How about we skip the attempt to justify Trump’s xenophobia via a tour of the dark side of American history.
      Even cursory knowledge of such reveals Americans have a rich tradition of fearing and hating immigrants. It was Ben Franklin who decried the pollution of the early colonies by the immigration of “stupid, swarthy Germans”.
      In 1751 he warned:
      “Why should Pennsylvania, founded by the English, become a colony of Aliens, who will shortly be so numerous as to Germanize us instead of our Anglifying them, and will never adopt our language or customs, any more than they can acquire our complexion?”

      Also “American as apple pie” – slavery, and taking it a la mode, the Indian Removal Act.

  8. NE Voter says:

    Though I hope the voters retain the repeal, it is an interesting thought experiment to consider the legislature’s options if the repeal is, well, repealed.

    Pragmatically, the senators likely will accept the will of the voters. However, I like the idea that they could simply strip the law of an execution method. Accordingly, Nebraska would continue to have a “death penalty,” but no means to carry it out.

    The public outcry would be fierce, and I’m sure a number of them would lose in their next elections, but that would be one hell of an emphatic statement on the issue.

    • The Grundle King says:

      Even more emphatic would be a voter petition drive to establish the firing squad as Nebraska’s method of execution. Bullets are cheap and plentiful, and Utah passed a law in 2015 that established firing squad as the method of execution in cases where lethal injection drugs are unavailable.

      I’m neutral on the death penalty issue, but if the Unicam refuses to do its job, the people of Nebraska may just start doing it for them.

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