Letter to the Editor

Nelson responds

Friday, January 6, 2012

Dear Editor,

At the risk of creating a pen-pal relationship with Dick Trail, I cannot let his most recent diatribe go by without making numerous corrections because as usual Dick is very short on facts.

As I've said before, everyone is entitled to their own opinion but they are not entitled to their own set of facts.

First point: His assertion that I decided against seeking a third term because polls show I would lose is absolutely wrong and may be based on an unscientific robo call poll by a partisan political group. The facts are that a scientific poll shows I would have won had I chosen to run. Here is the story as reported by Politico which, as a "columnist" he should have been aware of.

Internal poll shows Ben Nelson leading in Nebraska

By JAMES HOHMANN | 11/29/11 7:39 AM

EDT (jhohmann@politico.com; Twitter: @jameshohmann)

NEBRASKA SENATE - NELSON INTERNAL POLL SHOWS HE CAN WIN: A survey of 1,300 likely Nebraska voters conducted for Ben Nelson puts him ahead of all three Republicans running against him. The vulnerable Democrat, trying to decide whether to run for another term, has a 54% favorable rating, up from 47% in a February survey conducted by the firm Hickman Analytics. He leads Jon Bruning 47%-45%, Don Stenberg 49%-43% and Deb Fischer 50%-37%. "For those who might argue that our survey was conducted after weeks of paid media by the Democratic Party: that is correct," Nelson campaign manager Paul Johnson wrote us in an email. "But let it also be noted that this survey was conducted after months of negative advertising by Mr. Rove, Americans for Prosperity and other like-minded groups." Here's a two-page memo from pollster Harrison Hickman: http://politi.co/vrEUkA.

Second point: There was no so called Cornhusker Kickback, and that has been documented by legitimate media. When the health care reform bill contained an unfunded mandate that would have increased state Medicaid funding, at the request of Governor Heineman, I asked to have the federal government fund that mandate for all 50 states, not just Nebraska. The term took on a life of its own by my political opponents and continues to be used by partisan "columnists" to this day, but, in fact, all states benefitted from my efforts, not just Nebraska. Even the Staff Director of the Senate Finance Committee has explained the issue

[A related Lincoln Journal-Star story is available here.]

Third point: The "columnist" reads straight out of partisan talking point memos when he says Congress has not passed a budget. I'm not going to defend the Washington budget process but the fact is a budget was passed in December to carry the government through fiscal year 2012.

Fourth point: The writer should have heard by now that earmarks are a thing of the past but he continues to complain about them regardless of the facts. I did use them initially to jump start some very worthwhile projects such as the Keystone Hotel renovation in McCook, and a new headquarters for STRATCOM, which is 50 years old and is in bad need of a new facility. You can't fight cyber warfare with drop cords. They were also used to help get a new Veterans Administration Medical Center built in Nebraska. As an Air Force veteran, I would presume Dick supports those projects, unless he thinks we're spending too much money on veterans and defense, not to mention the city of McCook.

Which brings me to a fifth point: Dick Trail takes on the role of spokesman for "all" veterans when he says, "we veterans resent his vote" to end Don't Ask Don't Tell. In case he didn't notice, that policy ended with passage of HR 2965 on a bipartisan vote of 65 to 31 in the Senate after passing the House 250 to 175. The repeal was supported by many veterans including Defense secretary Gates and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Admiral Mullen. They felt as most Nebraskans do that it was wrong to require members of the military to lie. The military encourages honesty and integrity. That policy encouraged deceit and undermined honesty and integrity.

My purpose in writing is to set the record straight with some inconvenient facts that Dick Trail and the Gazette's readers should know.

Sen. Ben Nelson

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  • On the premise you return to see if anyone says anything, Ben, I'd like you to let us know how you voted on this subject matter, I just found on Face Book: "The Senate voted yesterday to allow illegal aliens to collect Social Security benefits based on past illegal employment -- even if the job was obtained through forged or stolen documents."

    True, or False, please. It is hard to figure out who to trust, and what is true.

    -- Posted by Navyblue on Sat, Jan 7, 2012, at 5:51 PM
  • *

    It is rather amusing that a retired Air Force pilot and part time opinion writer in the local paper can get under the skin of an ex Governor and now US Senator. Wow!! I'd say Ben has major problems trying to defend the indefensible.

    Maybe Ben has already forgotten he was the 60th vote on Obama Care. C'mon Ben run again so you can show us your internal polls are right or go out as a loser!

    -- Posted by ksfarmer on Sun, Jan 8, 2012, at 12:06 AM
  • Skip my challenge, post, Ben, I was duped again by a spammer. Sorry for the challenge.

    -- Posted by Navyblue on Sun, Jan 8, 2012, at 11:44 AM
  • Actually ks farmer, Dick's opinions and opining gets a little tiresome and under my skin as well! Perhaps Dick should get the facts straight, quit "***-u-mming" and do some major research first. Dick also likes to drop the "retired Air Force Pilot" term in about every other article he writes. Yes...Dick you are a veteran, so are a number of others, but the ones that are the most respected are the ones who "know" they are veterans and quietly continue to do good things for others. Look for the good in others Dick, do volunteering around the community and then write and comment on the good instead of taking delight at cheap shots!

    -- Posted by ThinkBeforeYouPost on Mon, Jan 9, 2012, at 11:32 AM
  • "Please reconsider and run again, Ben. I was soooooooooo looking forward to voting against you!!!!!!"

    I'm sure that he is crushed by this.

    -- Posted by bberry on Mon, Jan 9, 2012, at 11:51 AM
  • but would you agree that the "spending more time with my family" mantra is getting somewhat trite?

    -- Posted by doodle bug on Mon, Jan 9, 2012, at 1:59 PM
  • Obviously you did or you wouldn't have felt the need to express yourself. I am guessing it struck a bit of a nerve judging by your reaction.

    -- Posted by carlsonl on Mon, Jan 9, 2012, at 4:35 PM
  • Wow you know his looks all too well. :)

    -- Posted by carlsonl on Mon, Jan 9, 2012, at 5:50 PM
  • Jo,

    I wasn't worried if you cared or not. I'd say very few, if any, do.

    -- Posted by bberry on Mon, Jan 9, 2012, at 7:41 PM
  • *

    Personally, I am impressed that Sen. Nelson did not send Mr Fagin again.

    -- Posted by Sir Didymus on Mon, Jan 9, 2012, at 10:29 PM
  • Hey kana$$ farmer, Senator Nelson has every right to set the record straight! Would you not defend yourself, when someone writes falsehoods about you?

    For all of you that continue to hate Senator Nelson for his vote on healthcare, you forget that his record shows that he votes with the publicans more than 70% of the time, better than some so called publicans.

    I don't blame him for retiring, it would get pretty old listening to all of you perfect people that seem to do nothing but criticize him. You people think his vote was wrong, there are also many that think it was right. Get over it.

    Thinkbefore-right on!

    -- Posted by goarmy67 on Tue, Jan 10, 2012, at 10:00 AM
  • Jo,

    He was born in Mccook and must still take the time to read up on its "news".

    Why would anyone care if he responds to something written about him?

    You obviously feel the need to reply to responses pertaining to you Jo. Yet you heckle him over his.

    Another example of your own hypocrisy.

    -- Posted by bberry on Tue, Jan 10, 2012, at 12:19 PM
  • grandmajo 1 key fact you are neglecting. I believe this was written while they are on reccess. So therefore he used his own time to do this. Another thing even if it was a work day who the heck says he didn't write this in the evening at home during his downtime. To many people read something in the news or see an elected official doing something in their private time and react like this. I am sorry but no human can work 24-7. They all deserve days off as well.

    -- Posted by carlsonl on Tue, Jan 10, 2012, at 2:10 PM
  • Well I guess neither of us will ever know, since it can't be proven either way. Also, if it came from one of his press laisons wouldn't they simply be doing their job.

    -- Posted by carlsonl on Tue, Jan 10, 2012, at 3:12 PM
  • Jo,

    You are simply dense enough to think everything they do is at the tax payers expense.

    -- Posted by bberry on Tue, Jan 10, 2012, at 6:41 PM
  • I wish to clarify one of the facts presented here: The federal funding that was received for the construction of the Keystone Business Center was not the result of an earmark. It was awarded by the Economic Development Administration, a branch of the Department of Commerce through a very competitive scoring process backed up by extensive documentation of economic stresses in Southwest Nebraska at that time as well as estimates of potential job creation, economic impact and intangible benefits from downtown improvement and historic preservation. While Senator Nelson and his staff appropriately offered their support, it was not a politically driven process. Respectfully, Rex Nelson

    -- Posted by Developer Guy on Wed, Jan 11, 2012, at 11:46 AM
  • Well Jo, the way I look at it, everyone has the right to defend themselves, especially when falsehoods are printed about them. (and perhaps when they are called names?)As far as that old retired air force guy, perhaps if he would remember the code of conduct for the USAFA, he would check all the facts before stating them in his column as being entirely true.

    You seem to get pretty hot under the collar when someone states something about you, that you feel is not correct. Why can't the Senator defend himself when he thinks the same?

    As far as the government time deal you seem to be upset about, perhaps you should ask the Senator for an accounting of all of his time, both on the clock and off the clock. That would be a great use of time for one of his so called lackies.

    -- Posted by goarmy67 on Fri, Jan 13, 2012, at 12:12 AM
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