Thursday, August 31, 2006

The World Of Make Believe

If you have no real ammunition to counter your critics what do you do? In the case of King George and his cronies, you make stuff up.
Bush suggested last week that Democrats are promising voters to block additional money for continuing the war. Vice President Cheney this week said critics "claim retreat from Iraq would satisfy the appetite of the terrorists and get them to leave us alone." And Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, citing passivity toward Nazi Germany before World War II, said that "many have still not learned history's lessons" and "believe that somehow vicious extremists can be appeased."
Okay George that's pretty strong language, do you have any proof to back that up? How about a name of at least one major Democrat that is actually advocating this?
Pressed to support these allegations, the White House yesterday could cite no major Democrat who has proposed cutting off funds or suggested that withdrawing from Iraq would persuade terrorists to leave Americans alone. But White House and Republican officials said those are logical interpretations of the most common Democratic position favoring a timetable for withdrawing troops from Iraq.
Logical interpretations? Whose logic would that be?

Public Relations

The DOD is going Hollywood. The old axiom that all publicity is good publicity definitely isn't the case when it comes to the Bush Administration and the military so they have decided to take bids on a $20 million contract to hire a public relations firm to parse all the news coming from Iraq in search of positive press.
The contract calls for assembling a database of selected news stories and assessing their tone as part of a program to provide "public relations products" that would improve coverage of the military command's performance, according to a statement of work attached to the proposal.
All I can say to whomever wins this contract is good luck as you will surely be earning your money in this case!

Liberal Fascination?

The latest talking point that some Right-Wingers are using to bash the Left with is their perceived belief that some south-paws are obsessed with the death/assassination of George Bush.
The liberal media and the far left fringe are so immature it is ridiculous. This can be see daily in with their pentiant for gutter mouth commentary, their obsession with sexual innuendo and their fantasizing about getting Bushitler. But a movie that explores ‘the possibilities’ (my quotes, no one elses) that could reverberate from the assassination of President George Bush is simply too much. Americans may have their doubts about things, but we do not want another assassinated President. This will kill the democrats who will have to come out strongly against this and alienate the radical far left. If not they will lose the center. Either way they lose. It is only a question of whether they lose with honor or the jump into the fevered swamps.

Now don't get me wrong, talk like what is discussed in the quote above is disgusting and deserves nothing but the backlash that it is receiving but I would caution those on the Right to refrain from painting this as a strictly liberal obsession. For those that wish to do that I have just 2 words for you, Ann Coulter.
Right-wing pundit Ann Coulter titled her August 30 syndicated column on the Rhode Island Senate race: "They Shot the Wrong Lincoln." The headline is a reference to Sen. Lincoln Chafee (R-RI), whom she excoriated throughout the piece -- calling him a "half-wit" and a "silver-spooned moron[] -- while expressing her support for his challenger in the September 12 Republican primary, Stephen Laffey.This is not the first time Coulter has alluded to killing those she disagrees with:

* Commenting on radio host Melanie Morgan's assertion that if New York Times executive editor Bill Keller were convicted of treason she "would have no problem with him being sent to the gas chamber," Coulter said, "I prefer a firing squad, but I'm open to a debate on the method of execution." She later suggested that Times staff members should be "executed."

* Coulter said of the media: "Would that it were so! ... That the American military were targeting journalists."

* Coulter suggested that Rep. John P. Murtha (D-PA) is "the reason soldiers invented fragging," -- military slang meaning the intentional killing of a member of one's own unit.

* Coulter argued that the national debate during the Monica Lewinsky controversy should not have focused on whether former President Bill Clinton "did it," but rather "whether to impeach or assassinate" him.

* Coulter said of Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens: "We need somebody to put rat poison in Justice Stevens's créme brulée.''

The broad brush that the Right likes to use to described the Left could just as easily be used on them especially with a diarrhea mouth like Coulter sitting in their corner...

It's Getting A Little Hot In The Rounds Kitchen

You would expect that Governor Rounds would be catching some heat over the debacle that was the called off execution of Elijah Page if for anything because of election year politics and that has been the case for the most part.

Jack Billion was somewhat critical, thought not exceedingly so, of the decision as you would expect being Rounds' challenger this November.
“To me, there seems to be a lot of misdirection and a lot of confusion. There appeared to be some ignorance initially to the law. I don't know if the governor knew where he wanted to be on this issue”

And Mike Rounds' favorite newspaper the Argus has an editorial (not yet online but posted on our newest South Dakota blog Prairie Conservative) that as one would expect from an organization that hasn't been one of Governor Rounds' biggest fans, basically rips him a new one.
...Rounds responded defensively, "There'll always be somebody trying to place the blame somewhere."

This is not about blame. This is about oversight and accountability.

Judging from the governor's reaction, he doesn't appear to think either is necessary in this sad twist to the most solemn action a state can take.

And, consistent with this administration's past practice, Rounds doesn't think openness is needed. Many questions remain about the state's bungled handling of Page's execution.

As I mentioned these criticisms are not surprising considering the sources but unfortunately for Rounds, the critics of his decision are also now coming from sources that usually either friendly to him and his leadership or at least neutral like the commentary in today's RCJ.
We still think Rounds could have allowed the execution to proceed since the intent of the law is to provide a humane method of execution and the presence of the third drug is intended to ensure a more humane method than specified by law. The execution also could have been carried out with just the two drugs as specified by law.

But Rounds chose to apply the letter of the law and a strict interpretation of the statute - something that should have been done weeks ago. If you're going to strictly apply the state's death penalty law to the letter, shouldn't Long or someone in the Rounds administration have read the statute and alerted Rounds long ago to the glaring discrepancy that the governor said forced his hand just hours before the execution?

Even if no one in the administration thought to check the statute earlier, when the lawyer for death-row inmate Donald Moeller filed an appeal last week challenging the method of lethal injection, shouldn't someone have looked it up and immediately advised Rounds?

Someone in Rounds' administration failed to do their job in researching the death penalty statute. At best, Rounds has been ill-informed and advised; at worst, he was looking for an out and only decided at the last minute to take it.

We expect our governor to make tough decisions, and Gov. Rounds has pushed making this one off to the state Legislature and next year.

While the details of exactly what happened here is still unclear as far as who knew what and when, the ultimate responsibility for this screw-up lies directly on Rounds and his choice to put the final decision in the hands of the legislature is just another case of his not being willing to take responsibility for the tough decisions.

Rounds while still being well ahead in his re-election bid seems to be showing everyone his true lack of leadership ability or a spine for that matter just in time for election silly season which should start in earnest after Labor Day and it isn't just Democrats that are starting to see the light.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

The King Of Pork

When you are the "King of Pork Barrel Spending" what do you do to prevent the public from being able to monitor government spending? You put a secret hold on the bill that would setup a public database that would allow anyone to search through all recipients of federal grants, contracts, and other payments.

The proposed law - cosponsored by Sens. Tom Coburn (R) of Oklahoma, Barack Obama (D) of Illinois, Thomas Carper (D) of Delaware, and John McCain (R) of Arizona had bipartisan support and sailed through the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee on July 27th and seemed well on it's way to passage until a previously unknown senator placed a secret hold on the bill that prevented it from making to a floor vote.

Once the fact that a secret hold had been placed on the bill, several bloggers enlisted the services of their readers in an attempt to find out which senator didn't have the guts to come out into the open. After 100's of phone calls the persistence paid off and wouldn't you know it, the senator turned out to be Alaska Senator Ted Stevens, the guy most known for $320 million bridge to nowhere.

I guess no one should be surprised that the "King of Pork" would do what he could to prevent the public from knowing whose pockets he is actually in. The question now is how long will he continue to keep the hold on this bill considering that all of America knows he is responsible for keeping it on the shelf.

UPDATE 8/31: It looks like Senator Stevens had company with the "secret hold" as it is now being reported that Senator Byrd placed a hold on this bill so that he could "have time to read the legislation, understand its implications, and see whether the proposal could be improved".

If that indeed was his motive, why keep it secret?

House Cleaning And Site Merger Note

Just a quick note. For those looking for the South Dakota Politics and Elections blog, it has been merged with this site. All posts and comments have been moved over. If you were one of the regular readers using the RSS feed, please update your reader to this rss feed.

I am sorry for any inconvienence that the move might have caused but time and worked constraints have made maintaining 2 separate blogs too time consuming.

Capitol Punishment To Become The Big Debate For The 2007 Session?

Governor Rounds' decision to put Elijah Page's execution into the hands of the state legislature next Winter could again spark the debate as to whether the state should be involved in the execution business in the first place.
Rep. Ryan Olson, R-Onida, another death penalty supporter, said Tuesday's delay will focus attention on the issue.

"There's no doubt in my mind that it will be a major issue, not the technicality, but the broader issue of whether South Dakota should continue to support the death penalty," he said.

Olson said he thinks the majority of South Dakotans favor capital punishment, and he does not think death penalty opponents have enough support to win.

Sen. Jim Peterson, D-Revillo, agrees. Peterson opposes the death penalty.

"I really don't expect anything will change," he said. "I'm a pro-life person, and I'm completely pro- life. I don't believe in the death penalty."
Just what our legislature needs, another major morality issue to take the focus off of what really needs to be addressed in our state plus another case where Rounds can make the legislature do his dirty work while still being able to keep his hands clean.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

A Little More On The Stay

Exactly what does Larry Long do in Pierre other than write ballot explanations that get overturned? It sure isn't keeping the Governor informed on state law, or was this the plan all along?

How can Governor Rounds appease both sides of the issue? Easy, he waits until the last minute to "figure out" (see first paragraph) that the state law, which has been on the books for over 20 years by the way, requires the use of 2 drugs instead of 3 so that he can still tell the folks that are pro-death penalty that he wanted the execution to take place but couldn't allow it to because of this "newly discovered" technicality. The anti-death penalty folks are also happy because the execution has been halted until at least July 2007 so that the current law can be examined during next years legislative session.

As an aside, this "technicality" shouldn't have been news to anyone in Pierre as an inmate on South Dakota's death row is already appealing his death sentence on exactly the same grounds that Rounds and Long supposedly only discovered the evening.
Rounds said he and Attorney General Larry Long had learned of the legal concern regarding the drugs used only hours before Rounds issued the stay.But the issue was raised several weeks earlier in another death row case.

In June, South Dakota death row inmate Donald Moeller filed a federal court appeal regarding the three-drug method for executions.

Good thing he isn't up for re-election...oh that's right, he is!

UPDATE 8/30: Mike Rounds' favorite newspaper has an editorial this morning which includes more on the 2 vs. 3 drug controversy and it isn't very flattering for those in Pierre and the Department of Corrections.

Rounds Will Stay Execution

From the Argus:
South Dakota Gov. Mike Rounds said he will stay the execution of Elijah Page because of a problem with state law.

At issue: The state planned to execute Page with three drugs, but state law outlines only two.

"I asked that we go back through and confirm and review the existing statutes," Rounds said at a news conference.

When word of the stay spread through the crowd of about 15 death penalty protesters outside the state penitentiary, they formed a circle, linked arms and sang “We Shall Overcome.”

Rounds said the reason for the stay has to do with a flaw in South Dakota's law regarding lethal injections.

State law says the lethal injection should be carried out using a two-drug combination, “a lethal quantity of an ultra-short-acting barbiturate in combination with a chemical paralytic agent and continuing the application therof until the convict is pronounced dead.”

However, corrections officials were prepared to execute Elijah Page using a three-drug combination that’s nearly universal among states that have lethal injection.

Rounds said he and Attorney General Larry Long had learned of the legal concern regarding the drugs used only hours before Rounds issued the stay.
So it took him all this time to figure out that state law called for only 2 drugs?

Pot Meet Kettle

It seems Don "Corleone" Rumsfeld is unhappy and thinks that terrorists are manipulating the media to influence those of us in the West.
"That's the thing that keeps me up at night," he said during a question-and-answer session with about 200 naval aviators and other Navy personnel at this flight training base for Navy and Marine pilots.Rumsfeld was asked whether the criticism he draws as Pentagon chief and a leading advocate of the war in Iraq is an impediment to performing his job. He said it was not and he knows from history that wars are normally unpopular with many Americans. "I expect that," he said. "I understand that."

"What bothers me the most is how clever the enemy is," he continued, launching an extensive broadside at Islamic extremist groups which he said are trying to undermine Western support for the war on terror.

"They are actively manipulating the media in this country" by, for example, falsely blaming U.S. troops for civilian deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan, he said.

"They can lie with impunity," he said, while U.S. troops are held to a high standard of conduct.

So his belief that the media is being manipulated by terrorists is what keeps him up at night and not the fact that under his leadership, we have been bogged down in an untenable occupation plagued by poor planning that has led to the death of over 2500 US servicemen not to mention the 10's of thousand of civilian deaths?

I also noticed he didn't show any outrage over the media manipulation that Bush and Co. used to justify the war in the first place. Anyone seen any of those WMD's that administration used as the reason for the invasion in the first place? How about that nice little photo-op with King George on the flight deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln declaring mission accomplished 1216 days ago?

Sorry Don, I don't think too many people other than yourself will be laying awake at night worrying about media manipulation, worry over their loved ones put in harms way by your failed policies maybe...

The Demonization Of Wal-Mart

Sebastian Mallaby in yesterday’s WaPo tries to document his belief that Democrats are all of a sudden anti Wal-Mart in an apparent shift in away from the globalization ideals that they once fought for.

While it is true that many Democrats have in fact moved away from Wal-Mart as he so deftly describes, it isn’t Wal-Mart itself that many are bashing so much as what Wal-Mart has come to represent in today’s economy. Economist’s View does a nice job of explaining what I feel many think is the effect companies like Wal-Mart have had on our economy and why Democrats are now distancing themselves from these corporate behemoths.
I think the answer to the question of why centrist Democrats have shifted their stance on globalization is straightforward - the gains from globalization have not been shared equally. The claims made in the 1990s about the benefits of globalization have not been realized and it’s no longer wise politically to assert that globalization will benefit typical households. With stagnant real wages and other economic problems such as declining health care coverage, Wal-Mart is an obvious and glaring symbol to many of the failed promises of globalization, and lower priced imported goods do not overcome the failed promises the symbol represents.

The effects on the changing makeup of the global economy had been pretty much kept quiet in the media because up until recently the stagnation in worker wages had been somewhat offset by the increasing value of the benefits they were receiving.

But that increase has all but disappeared in recent months to the point that even though worker productivity has risen consistently since 2003, worker salaries have dropped.
The median hourly wage for American workers has declined 2 percent since 2003, after factoring in inflation. The drop has been especially notable, economists say, because productivity - the amount that an average worker produces in an hour and the basic wellspring of a nation’s living standards - has risen steadily over the same period.

As a result, wages and salaries now make up the lowest share of the nation’s gross domestic product since the government began recording the data in 1947, while corporate profits have climbed to their highest share since the 1960’s. UBS, the investment bank, recently described the current period as “the golden era of profitability.”

Until the last year, stagnating wages were somewhat offset by the rising value of benefits, especially health insurance, which caused overall compensation for most Americans to continue increasing. Since last summer, however, the value of workers’ benefits has also failed to keep pace with inflation, according to government data.

At the very top of the income spectrum, many workers have continued to receive raises that outpace inflation, and the gains have been large enough to keep average income and consumer spending rising.

Wal-Mart, while by no means the only corporation responsible for the shift to the stagnate wage vs. increasing profit corporate movement, is a perfect example of this trend and therefore the most obvious target. Their cut-throat mentality when dealing with vendors, lower end wage structure, and poor to non-existent employee benefit offerings typify the results of globalization that was once touted as the next big thing.

The Democrats have come to the realization that the winners in this new global economy are the big corporations like Wal-Mart that are seeing huge growth and increasing profits while at the same time not allowing these profits to make their way down to the workers that are directly responsible for generating this new found wealth in the first place.

How sad is it to say that in our new global economy we are going to need companies like Wal-Mart because it will be the only place Wal-Mart employees will be able to afford to shop.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Judge Gors Back At It

In his third ruling in a little over a week, Judge Max Gors has instructed Attorney General Larry Long to change his ballot explanation. This time Judge Gors has instructed Long to add context to his video lottery explanation to provide perspective to the $112 million in lost revenues.

Gors ruled that the explanation is truthful but voters should be told what the lost revenue is in relation to the total revenue received by the state.
Gors said there’s no question that statement is true. But he told Atty. Gen. Larry Long, who authored the ballot explanation, to add a phrase that points out the amount is 11 percent of the state’s general-fund, or tax, revenue.“Then the voter will know the magnitude of the limitation being imposed on state government finances,’’ Gors wrote.

This is the second time that Judge Gors has instructed Long to change a ballot explanation, the other being his ruling that the medical marijuana text be changed while he ruled in favor of Long on the Amendment E lawsuit.

Better Build Your Bomb Shelters

That’s the message coming from Bible scholar and author Yisrayl Hawkins whom is predicting that nuclear war will begin on September 12th 2006 in the area around the Euphrates River.




Amnesty International Urging Clemency

Amnesty International has sent out a press release urging a worldwide call to action in an attempt to get Governor Rounds to step in and stop the execution of Elijah Page.
(Washington, DC) -- Amnesty International USA (AIUSA) today urged clemency for Elijah Page, a 24-year-old man who is scheduled to be executed in South Dakota tomorrow night. Putting teeth into the call, Amnesty International, the world's largest grassroots human rights organization, has issued a worldwide call to action, mobilizing the public to send appeals to South Dakota Governor Mike Rounds on Page's behalf. AIUSA Executive Director Larry Cox has written to Governor Rounds, urging the commutation of Page's sentence.

Page was sentenced to death by a judge after pleading guilty and waiving his right to trial and sentencing by jury. Page's co-defendant Darrell Hoadley pleaded not guilty and was tried by a jury that found him guilty of exactly the same crime as Page, with the same aggravating factors. Hoadley was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

"Elijah Page's case clearly demonstrates that our capital punishment system is a lottery of death," Cox said. "Page was sentenced to death, and Hoadley was sentenced to life -- for the same crime. Page's execution must be halted at once."
The press release does bring up a somewhat under reported issue in this case, the fact that Darrell Hoadley, Page's accomplice in this crime who was also found guilty of the same charges received a life sentence instead of the death penalty awarded to Page.

Taking Care Of The Troops

After almost 2 years serving our country in Iraq, 150 members of the 220th Transportation Company from Massachusetts came home to a hero's welcome which included an 18-20 hour bus ride from the demobilization ceremony in Indiana back to their homes in Massachusetts.

What a nice thank you from the fine folks at the Department of Defense!

The Emmy's

I normally wouldn't care much about the annual pat on the back for the rich and famous in Hollywood but yesterday's telecast of the Emmy's had 2 interesting subplots.

First, on a personal note, one of the few shows I actually watch without fail (and Tivo when I can't) finally got recognized when Fox's 24 took home 3 Emmy's including best drama and best actor for Kiefer Sutherland, the first I believe for both in the 5 season history of the show.

Now for the real news. This year's show will probably go down in television infamy as one of the biggest bone-headed moves on record when the opening skit, which was designed as a "Lost" parody, depicted Conan O'Brien's plane crashing on the way to the show just hours after a real plane crash killed 49 in Lexington, Kentucky.

NBC is already taking a beating over this unbelievably stupid decision to run this skit including from Lexington's NBC affiliate:
WLEX’s president and general manager, Tim Gilbert, who was home watching the telecast with his family, was “stunned” by the intro; if station managers had known about the intro before the broadcast, Lexington viewers wouldn’t have seen it, he said.

“It was a live telecast — we were completely helpless,” Gilbert said of the Emmys. “By the time we began to react, it was over. At the station, we were as horrified as they were at home.”

Gilbert said he’ll complain to NBC, but he said an apology won’t make up for insensitivity.

“They could have killed the opening and it wouldn't have hurt the show at all,” Gilbert said. “We wish somebody had thought this through. It’s somewhere between ignorance and incompetence.”
What were the show's producers thinking?

The Clock Is Ticking For Governor Rounds

Late last evening the warden from the South Dakota State Penitentiary announced that Elijah Page's execution will happen at 10 pm on Tuesday evening. Page, whom has fired his lawyer and dropped any attempts at appealing his execution, now has his fate resting squarely in the hands of Governor Rounds.
"At this point, I don't have any plans to intervene," Gov. Mike Rounds said in an interview that ran in the Argus Leader on Aug. 20.

If Page does indeed get put to death it will be the first execution in our state since 1947 when convicted cop killer George Sitts met "old sparky" and because of that long drought between executions officers from our State Penitentiary had to make a trip to Texas, where they have the business of execution down to a science, to make sure they were properly prepared.

I am sure this is the last thing Gov. Rounds wanted on his plate right before the elections. He is already dealing with questions regarding his signing of the abortion ban which is making national news and now with his refusal to step in to stop the Page execution, some of the same people that were praising his abortion stance are now criticising his refusal to stop the execution.

Looks to me to be an interesting talking point for Jack Billion the next time the two get together for a debate. I have already read what many pro-life bloggers believe is the difference between abortion and execution but I would love to hear what Governor Rounds has to say about this.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Hindsight As Policy

20/20 hindsight should be the slogan of King George and his minions as it seems that every time something happens in this country he comes out and says that we will learn from this ____________ (insert problem here).

The latest "lesson learned" coming from the Bush Administration deals with the absolutely inept governmental response to Hurricane Katrina.
"Last year I made a simple pledge: The federal government would learn the lessons of Katrina, we would do what it takes, and we would stay as long as it takes, to help our brothers and sisters build a new Gulf Coast where every citizen feels part of the great promise of America," Bush said Saturday in his weekly radio address.
Why does it always take a catastrophe to figure out just how unprepared this administration is? What ever happened to proper planning, it wasn't like the idea of a major storm hitting the gulf coast was a new one to anybody...

The Conservative Week In Review

Katherine Harris, the wingnut from Florida again shows why she is bottoming out in the polls and why her staff is defecting in droves.
Rep. Katherine Harris (R-Fla.) said this week that God did not intend for the United States to be a "nation of secular laws" and that the separation of church and state is a "lie we have been told" to keep religious people out of politics."If you're not electing Christians, then in essence you are going to legislate sin," Harris told interviewers from the Florida Baptist Witness, the weekly journal of the Florida Baptist State Convention. She cited abortion and same-sex marriage as examples of that sin.

Harris told the journalists "we have to have the faithful in government" because that is God's will. Separating religion and politics is "so wrong because God is the one who chooses our rulers," she said.

So it is God that choses our leaders? Osama must be proud and maybe he can find her a prominent position in his organization once she gets whipped in the primary.

It sure has been an interesting 2 weeks for the Conservative right.
* Sen. George Allen’s (R-Va.) "macaca" scandal.

* Sen. Conrad Burns (R-Mont.) joked about how a "nice little Guatemalan man" fixing up his house might be an illegal immigrant.

* A leading congressional candidate in Florida said he knows, "from my own experience, that blacks are not the greatest swimmers, and may not even know how to swim."

* Two congressional candidates and a gubernatorial candidate believe people who "appear" to be Arab or Muslim should be subjected to racial profiling at airports.

* Pat Buchanan’s new book argues for "an immediate moratorium on all immigration," in order to preserve the dominance of the white race in America.

And in one you may not have heard about, a Baptist church in Mississippi voted out a 12-year-old boy who "asked Jesus to live in his heart" — because the child is biracial and church members didn’t want the black side of his family attending with him.

And add to these examples Christopher Hitchen flipping off the audience on "Real Time" after the ardent Bush supporter was heckled during his appearance last night and Ann Coulter's meltdown on Hannity and Colmes and one could surmise that the pressure is starting to show on some in the GOP camp.

Medical Marijuana Ballot Explanation Must Be Changed

In a decision handed down yesterday, Circuit Judge Max Gors has ruled that the ballot explanation written by Attorney General Larry Long in regards to the medical marijuana ballot initiative must be either re-written or changed to use a new one written by the judge.
“The whole impression leads one to believe that the attorney general wants voters to reject the initiative. The attorney general should confine his politicking to the stump and leave his bias out of the ballot statement that is supposed to be objective,” Gors wrote.

Ouch!, quite a spanking for our esteemed Attorney General. I am sure J.A.I.L.er in charge Bill Stegmeier isn't very happy with this ruling which came on the heels of the same judge ruling against his similar lawsuit over Larry Long's ballot explanation in regards to Amendment E.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Friday Afternoon Quickie

Not much time to post today but I did want to share a cartoon from the Sacramento Bee’s Rex Babin.


babin-thumb


Pretty much sums up the GOP plans for November don’t you think?

Thursday, August 24, 2006

The GOP Voice?

Rush Limbaugh:
Regarding the new Survivor series, Limbaugh also stated that there “are many characteristics … that you would think would give [the African-American tribe] the lead, and the heads up in terms of skill and athleticism and so forth.” He also stated that “our early money” is on “the Hispanic tribe” — which he said could include “a Cuban,” “a Nicaraguan,” or “a Mexican or two” — provided they don’t “start fighting for supremacy amongst themselves.” Limbaugh added that Hispanics have “probably shown the most survival tactics,” that they “have shown a remarkable ability to cross borders” and that they can “do it without water for a long time, they don’t get apprehended, and they will do things other people won’t do.”

Limbaugh also asserted that “the Asian-American tribe” — whom he called “the brainiacs of the bunch” — “probably will outsmart everybody,” but while “intelligence is one thing … raw, native understanding of the land — this is probably why the Native Americans were excluded, because they were at one with the land and they would probably have an unfair advantage.”

He added that “the white tribe,” “if it behaves as it historically has,” will “bring along vials of diseases” and “will wind up oppressing” the other tribes by “deny[ing] them benefits” and “property,” but will later “try to put [the other tribes] on some kind of benefit program.” He further asserted that if CBS “allows … cheating” and “oppression,” “then of course the white tribe is going to win.”

The Rushies must be proud...

I Am Sorry, Sort Of

I missed this yesterday as my day job has put me on the road to Rapid City but it seems that Bruce Whalen's campaign manager Lee Breard has finally come out with a half hearted apology to Stepanie Herseth over his remarks calling her a "homewrecker".
The campaign manager for Republican U.S. House candidate Bruce Whalen said Tuesday that he wanted to apologize to Democratic Rep. Stephanie Herseth for his role in spreading an unfounded rumor about her personal life. Lee Breard said he contacted Herseth’s South Dakota staff Monday to see if he could call her personally to apologize. But Herseth was busy with public engagements and couldn’t take the call, and staffers were hesitant to give Breard her cell-phone number, spokesman Russ Levsen said Tuesday.

What was conspicuously missing was an apology for the witch hunt Breard started by trying to substantiate the infamous Wiki editing incident instead saying that he was only trying to get confirmation for the obviously untrue data entry.
“If I were to look back on this, I would say that this is just fact-finding. In this business of fact-finding, there’s going to be rumors about both candidates,” he said. “This was the first time I had used that Web site. I had no idea it could be edited. But it’s definitely clear now that it was.”

Is it any wonder that the Whalen campaign is basically dead in the water before it has even started?

Plan B Gets The Go Ahead

The FDA has finally come to their senses and approved the sale of the controversial "morning after pill" Plan B over the counter. The drug will now be available at pharmacies and health clinics to women over 18 without a prescription but will still require a prescription to those under 18.

Now the question will be just how many pharmacies in South Dakota will carry this drug as it still has the incorrect perception of being an abortion pill and how many women in the state will be aware that it is an available option.

Here We Go Again?

It appears that our Middle East intelligence machine hasn't gotten much better since 9/11 if what is being written in this morning's Washington Post is any indication.

A 29 page report from the House intelligence committee states that though they believe that Iran is moving towards nuclear weapons production, the evidence provided by our intelligence community doesn't provide any evidence to support that conclusion.
"American intelligence agencies do not know nearly enough about Iran's nuclear weapons program" to help policymakers at a critical time, the report's authors say. Information "regarding potential Iranian chemical weapons and biological weapons programs is neither voluminous nor conclusive," and little evidence has been gathered to tie Iran to al-Qaeda and to the recent fighting between Israel and Hezbollah in southern Lebanon, they say.

Sound familiar?

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Can A Draft Be Too Far Behind?

The Marines are starting to recall thousands of their inactive reserve troops back on to active duty due to slow recruiting and lower than expected inactive reservists volunteering to return to active service.
Col. Guy Stratton, head of the Marine Corps’ manpower mobilization plans, said the service is short some 1,200 volunteers over the next 18 months to fill roles in the war on terrorism. The total shortfall fluctuates regularly, he said.

Stratton said President George W. Bush authorized the Marine Corps to issue involuntary recall orders to members of the Individual Ready Reserve, part of the non-active force. It will be the Marine Corps’ first involuntary recall since the invasion of Iraq in 2003.

The authorization limits the number of Marines who can be activated involuntarily to no more 2,500 at any one time, out of a pool of about 35,000, Stratton said. The length of each activated service member’s duty is capped at 24 months but will likely last 12 to 18 months.

An Iraq war veterans group believes that this call up is one of the last steps before having to resort to a draft.
"This move should serve as a wake-up call to America," said Jon Soltz, an Army captain who served in Iraq and heads the group VoteVets.org, which raises funds for Iraq and Afghanistan veterans running for Congress. "Today's announcement that thousands of Marines in the Individual Ready Reserve will be called back to go to Iraq is proof that our military is overextended, and there is no plan for victory in Iraq."

No wonder Iran is growing a "set" in their dealings with the US and the UN, we cannot even support the 2 occupations we are currently involved in.

August US Senate Popularity Poll

The latest Survey USA poll is out and Senator Tim Johnson again leads the way coming in at number 6 among the 100 US Senators with a 71 percent approval rating which is up 4 percent from last month. Junior Senator John Thune comes in at number 54 with a 56 percent approval rating up 1 percent from last month.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Local Governments Attempting To Do What The Federal Government Has Yet To Do

With the Federal Government's failure to come up with any viable immigration reform package, local governments are deciding to take the lead on their own.

The latest city to fight back against illegal immigrants is Hazleton, PA.
Last month, in a raucous meeting, the mayor and City Council passed the Illegal Immigration Relief Act. (Barletta wore a bulletproof vest because, he says, Hazleton is menaced by a surge in crime committed by illegal immigrants.) The act imposes a $1,000-per-day fine on any landlord who rents to an illegal immigrant, and it revokes for five years the business license of any employer who hires one.

The act also declares English to be the city's official language. Employees are forbidden to translate documents into another language without official authorization.
Whether or not you agree with what the Mayor of Hazleton has done, the lack of movement on this issue by Congress is just going to result in more cases like this.

What’s The Quickest Way To Get A Government Paycheck?

Apparently by working in Journalism.

Nationally former Faux News anchor Tony Snow gets tabbed as the Press Secretary for the Bush Administration and the local pipeline into the political paycheck arena continued yesterday when Sioux Falls Mayor Dave Munson tabbed KELO-TV reporter Jodi Schwan as his Chief of Staff.

Schwan is just the latest in the KELO connection following former employees DeeAnn Tiede, Kenyon Gleason, and Vernon Brown into the local political arena and i'll bet that $98,000 a year made the choice for Schwan a no brainer.

Normally a political staff hiring by the Mayor of Sioux Falls wouldn't be something I would write about but in this case it just so happens that Ms. Schwan is somewhat of an Ohio neighbor of mine having grown up right down I90 from me (though quite a few years later) in Westlake so congratulations Jodi from one transplanted Ohioan to another, and good luck in your new position.

Monday, August 21, 2006

146,587

According to Dick Cheney, that's the number of terrorist supporters living in Connecticut. In other words that is the number of votes Ned Lamont received in the Democratic primary.

(From a Ted Kennedy action mailing list via Crooks And Liars)

The JAIL Ballot Explanation

PP over at South Dakota War College has the result of the lawsuit filed by the J.A.I.L.er's to have the ballot explanation provided by Attorney General Larry Long changed. I would recommend you click on over to read the full result but the conclusion is as follows:
¶61.] Excepting use of the word “volunteers,” the attorney general’s ballot statement is 1) objective and 2) clear and simple and it states 3) the purpose and effect and 4) the legal consequences of the proposed JAIL constitutional amendment. The word “volunteers” should be replaced by the words “special grand jurors” and then the ballot statement is good to go.
I know Bill, you lost, so this is sure to be an excellent example as to why this law is needed right?

Liberal Ranks Growing?

That must be the only conclusion one could make if the definition of a Liberal is someone opposed to the occupation in Iraq as many neo-cons claim.

A new CNN poll shows that 61 percent of the country is opposed to the war in Iraq, which is an all-time high for this particular poll. A few more tidbits from the CNN poll:
Most Americans (54 percent) don't consider him honest, most (54 percent) don't think he shares their values and most (58 percent) say he does not inspire confidence.

Bush's stand on the issues is also problematic, with more than half (57 percent) of Americans saying they disagree with him on the issues they care about.

Bush's disapproval rating exceeds his approval, 57 percent to 42 percent.

That's in the same ballpark as was found in an August 2-3 poll: Bush garnered a 40 percent approval.

And that was up slightly from a 37 percent approval in a poll carried out June 14-15.

Fewer than half of respondents (44 percent) say they believe Bush is honest and trustworthy; 54 percent do not.

And just 41 percent say they agree with Bush on issues, versus 57 percent who say they disagree.

Americans are about evenly split on whether their commander-in-chief understands complex issues, with 47 percent saying yes, and 51 percent saying no.
Well at least he can hang his hat on the "huge" 2 percent jump he saw in his approval rating...

Biting The Hand?

It's not like Joe Lieberman has many political allies as it is but recent comments might not endure him to the few he has left.

The DINO whom is garnering numerous calls from his Democratic colleagues to drop his run as an Independent had been gaining support from Republicans in his bid but his interview yesterday when he called for the resignation of Don "Corleone" Rumsfeld could cause a few problems in that area.
"With all respect to Don Rumsfeld, who has done a grueling job for six years, we would benefit from new leadership to work with our military in Iraq," he said on CBS' "Face the Nation."

Considering Lieberman's 12 point lead in the polls is mainly due to Republican and Independent support, he may want to reconsider his Republican bashing tactics or he will lose them as well.

Answer - Nothing

Question - what did Iraq have to do with 9/11?

In Jeopardy terms, that is how King George responded to the question that was asked of him during today's pep rally. He also said this (emphasis added)
The strategy is to help the Iraqi people achieve their objectives and their dreams, which is a democratic society. That's the strategy. The tactics -- now, either you say, yes, it's important that we stay there and get it done; or we leave. We're not leaving so long as I'm the president. That would be a huge mistake.
So Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11 and we will be there for a long time to come. At least he finally admitted what many have been saying for years.

Poster Child

The big news in South Dakota this week will most probably revolve around the scheduled execution of Elijah Page. As I have posted previously, the outrage on the right is almost non-existent in regards to his execution and instead continues to be focused on winning the upcoming abortion ban fight.

On that subject in today's Argus, Randall Beck attempts to compare the two issues and the obviously different schools of thought maintained by many on the right. On one hand they approve of the taking of the life of a convicted murderer and on the other hand they fight for protecting the life of an unborn child.

But what I find amazing and what the article inadvertently describes, at least I don't believe Mr. Beck was working towards this, is how Page is the perfect poster child for both issues. The description of the crime committed by Page cannot be a more perfect example of why the use of death penalty is approved of by a majority in this country.
He and two pals tied 19-year-old Chester Poage to a chair, forced beer, pills and drain cleaner down his throat, and drove him to a remote area of the Black Hills, where they beat and stabbed him.

Page finished the job, dropping big rocks on the teenager�s head.
The article then goes on to describe the absolutely terrible childhood that Page endured.
He grew up in a series of abandoned buildings in Kansas City, his mother addicted to drugs. When he was just 2 years old, his mother loaned him out to pedophiles in exchange for drugs. Mostly, mother dearest wasn�t around, and the boy and his siblings took care of themselves. Page�s stepfather wasn�t any better; he used the boy, then 10, as a human shield during a drug-related gunbattle.

Rescued by state social workers, Elijah Page found himself shuffled among more than a dozen foster homes in a single year.
Isn't this a perfect example of the life that awaits many unwanted children that the right is looking to save? What is the plan by the right to help these "innocent" children that will grow up with similar stories? Save them when they are unwanted fetuses, allow them to live through horrible childhoods, and then kill them when they grow up to be "guilty" murderers? I am sure that Chester Poage would have had an opinion, if he would have been given the chance that is.

UPDATE: This post deals with the first attempt to execute Elijah Page in August of 2006. For more On Chester Poage and the actual execution of Elijah Page please go here and here

Iwo Jima Photographer Dies

iwojima


The man that took the most famous photo of World War II has died of natural causes at the age of 94. Joe Rosenthal, who almost didn’t make the climb to the top of Mount Suribachi because he heard that a flag had already been raised, actually caught the second raising of a larger US flag out of the corner of his eye, swung around and snapped this photo on February 23,1945.


"What I see behind the photo is what it took to get up to those heights _ the kind of devotion to their country that those young men had, and the sacrifices they made," Rosenthal once said. "I take some gratification in being a little part of what the U.S. stands for."
Another notable loss from America’s greatest generation.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

A Question Of Priorities

A story in today's Washington Post should really call into question exactly where the priorities of the GOP and the Bush Administration really lie.

The rhetoric from the Right lately revolves around their contention that the Liberals are soft on terror and that if they gain control in November, that supposed softness will lead to increased terror strikes. On the surface it seems like it would be a good tactic and in the past it has been. Recently though it seems like this agenda has lost some of its legs as opinion polls are beginning to reflect the nation's growing doubts of the GOP's ability to do what they say the Left is unable to do, protect America.

The latest story that supports the public's growing belief that the Right has its priorities out of whack deals with government funded research in the area of terror technology.
The federal research agency in charge of countering emerging terrorist threats such as liquid explosives is so hobbled by poor leadership, weak financial management and inadequate technology that Congress is on the verge of cutting its budget in half.

The Homeland Security Department's Science and Technology Directorate has struggled with turnover, reorganizations and raids on its budget since it was established in 2003, according to independent scientists, department officials and senior members of Congress.
One would think that from the time our country became embroiled in this "war on terror" that began in earnest when our commercial aviation industry was used as a weapon against us on 9/11, that preventing this tactic from being used again would have become a high priority. 4 years ago that was, at least publicly, the case as the government formed the Department of Homeland Security and spent billions on outfitting the airports with most of the available detection technology in an attempt to prevent similar attacks from happening again.

Since then what has happened? For starters the DHS has become a severely over-managed, poorly run, and underfunded agency that seemingly spends more money sending it's managers on all expense paid trips to exotic locations then on hiring and retaining qualified personnel and pretty much ignoring the changing threats facing our country by investing in new technology.
"There was a period that actually very little was getting done . . . even though this was something that everyone thought would be heavily funded," said Fred Roder, manager of the explosives countermeasures portfolio at Homeland Security from 2003 to 2006. Lost in the scramble was research to secure aviation cargo and to prevent car and truck bombs, he said.

Disputes over money delayed by two years the testing of walk-through "puffer" machines designed to detect explosive residue at checkpoints, said Tony Fainberg, a private consultant who oversaw explosives and radiation detection at DHS in 2003. Ninety of the devices were finally installed at U.S. airports over the past year.
Ok, we have pretty much lost 4 years of staying ahead of the terrorists but at least now you would think that we are aware of the issues and are working to straighten things out right?
In a 2007 spending bill awaiting a vote after the August congressional recess, the Republican-led House would cut spending by the Science and Technology Directorate from $1.3 billion to $668 million. Congress noted about $250 million in unspent agency funds.

Republican and Democratic senators are offering the agency $712 million, but in a budget report cited the agency's lack of goals, mystifying accounting and unspent money, and called it a "rudderless ship."
So what exactly are the priorities of the GOP? They are quick to slam liberals as being soft on terror but it sure seems that other than devising legally questionable spying programs and generating more terrorists in Iraq, they don't appear to have a clue when it comes to securing our airports, railways, and ports. Will it take another successful terrorist attack for our government to realize this or will we continue to be relegated to reacting again after the fact as has been our history during the Bush reign?

Saturday, August 19, 2006

The Week In Network News

Think Progress has some figures related to the news coverage afforded a couple of topics that were making waves this week.

On the day that a Federal Court in Detroit ruled that the Bush Administration's warrantless wiretapping program was unconstitutional dealing a major blow to one of King George's attempts at circumventing the Constitution in the name of fighting terror, the big 3 networks decided that the 10 year old murder case of JonBenet Ramsey was a much bigger deal.





















NETWORKRAMSEY SEGMENTNSA SEGMENT
NBC7:390:27
CBS3:230:25
ABC4:032:00

It is totally amazing to see how the networks seem to have taken to becoming more of a late night tabloid TV show then an organization that should be dedicated to keeping the public informed.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Proof That You Should Always Read Before Signing

Not to say that King George didn't read the Federal Pension Bill he signed into law yesterday, maybe he just didn't understand what he was reading? It turns out with one signature, Bush has accomplished something that many states have been legislating against now for several years. It actually contains provisions that help gay and other non-traditional couple's rights, at least when it comes to pensions.
The first provision allows the transfer of an individual’s retirement plan benefits to a domestic partner or other non-spouse beneficiary (sibling, parent, child, etc.) when the individual dies. Specifically, the surviving partner (or other non-spouse beneficiary) will now be able to transfer his or her deceased partner’s retirement funds into an Individual Retirement Account and either draw down the benefits over a five-year period, or over his or her own life expectancy. In the past, surviving same-sex partners or other non-spouse beneficiaries in similar situations were typically forced to withdraw the entire amount as a lump sum and incur immediate tax charges. In addition, this action often bumped the survivor into a higher tax bracket because the withdrawal was counted as taxable income to the beneficiary.

The second provision, which addresses retirement plan hardship distributions, allows gay couples (and others with non-spouse, non-dependent beneficiaries — siblings, parents, children, etc.) similar access to laws that permit people to draw on their retirement funds in the case of a qualifying medical or financial emergency. In the past, the federal law covered only the spouses or dependents of employees when it came to accessing retirement funds during an emergency.

Another Mission Accomplished Moment

Yes things sure are going well, with one of the worlds largest oil reserves, Iraq still has to import a large majority of their oil needs.
Even though Iraq has the world's third-largest proven oil reserves, it is forced to depend on imports because of an acute shortage of refined products such as gasoline, kerosene and cooking gas. Sabotage of pipelines by insurgents, corruption and aging refineries have been blamed.

Falah Alamri, head of the State Oil Marketing Organization, which is responsible for Iraq's imports of oil products, said the money normally allocated by the government to buy oil products was doubled in August, to $426 million. The normally allocated amount would be doubled for September, too, Alamri told Dow Jones Newswires.
Mission accomplished?

In Denial

The current theme circulating among many conservative circles seems to try and focus on their belief that the left is anti-war and that if they win control of Congress in November, the US will face certain "destruction" at the hands of the terrorists.

One such discussion focuses around the misguided impression that whenever a vote is taken on possible troop withdrawal, the only complaints are coming from the so-called anti-war left.
America has decided everytime we saw a vote in Congress to withdrawl from Iraq and the vote was trounced. Narry a complaint outside the anti-war left was heard. America will not chose the bleak future of surrender at any cost. The Democrat party, on the other hand, has everything riding on this fall. How many anti-war debacles do the Dems think America will let them have before they are relegated to the history books with the Whigs? Two would be plenty in my opinion. They scraped by with Vietnam. There is no stomach for another Vietnam at the hands of the surrender-monkeys.
When dissecting this, one has to wonder if the author has seen any of the opinion polls on this subject regarding pulling troops from Iraq? The latest Pew Research Poll shows those wishing that a timetable for withdrawal from Iraq be set is now at 52 percent. Either the anti-war left has grown to include the majority of Americans or it is more than just a liberal platform.

Another issue that the Right likes to use against the Left has to do with the outrage over the recently exposed NSA warrantless eavesdropping program. They use this issue to turn up the fear mongering that has become the main GOP tactic saying that because the liberals are fighting against this program, they must be aiding the terrorists.

Yesterdays decision by the federal court in Detroit that found this program to be unconstitutional was used by the Right in their attempt to show how liberals are weak on terror. Of course nothing was said on how nobody is saying that the NSA doesn't have the right to perform this surveillance or that they shouldn't be spying on Americans overseas that are suspected of participating in terror plots, we just believe that the NSA should follow the law and get the required warrants from the FISA court first.

These examples show exactly what the GOP plans on using to hold on to their majority in Congress.

1. Liberals are anti-war because they want an exit strategy for a 3 year old occupation that was based on lies, resulted in 1000's of civilian casualties, cost the lives of over 2500 US servicemen, severely overextended our military, and has actually generated more terrorists not to mention the fact that it has spiralled the country towards a civil war.

2. Liberals are soft on terror because they oppose an unconstitutional NSA spying program that could have easily been run following the law by using the FISA court to obtain the necessary warrants.

Sounds like a good platform to me, especially if you want the Democrats to win back Congress in November.

Not A Clue

One of our local far right conservative bloggers had a post yesterday calling out so-called liberals for what he describes as crying about Governor Rounds not coming out to spare the life of convicted murder Elijah Page. Page is scheduled to die by lethal injection at the end of the month.
Several Left-wing groups and most of the Leftist blogs in South Dakota are crying about the upcoming execution of convicted murderer Elijah Page, practically begging Governor Rounds to spare his life.

Now I am not sure which liberal groups he is talking about (I was unaware the Catholic Church was considered liberal), or which liberal bloggers he was talking about but I don't believe he quite understands some of my posts on the subject which echo other left leaning blogger's concerns.

While I can't speak for the bloggers he thinks are calling for Rounds to issue a stay, I can say on my behalf that I hope this man does get what he wants at the end of an IV needle a few weeks from now. What I and others are calling into question is the hypocrisy of those on the right that are saying that they are fighting for the sanctity of life but are applauding Rounds' decision to allow the execution to go forward.

They justify their position by trying to make the distinction between the "innocent life" of a several week old fetus versus the taking the life of a murderer. To their credit, the Catholic Church doesn't make this distinction but many of the pro-lifer's such as this blogger do and that is where the hypocrisy comes in to play.

Protection of innocent life vs. execution of murderers? What does that say about the hypocrisy of the so-called pro-life Right? Or should I say the under certain circumstances pro-life.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Next On The Agenda

Now that a Federal Court in Detroit has declared the NSA's wiretapping program unconstitutional, I guess it's time for King George and the propaganda machinery in the GOP (i.e Arlen Specter) to get busy in their efforts at changing the laws to further restrict our Constitutional rights.
Fox News reports a federal district court in Detroit has ruled that the Bush administration’s NSA warrantless wiretapping program is unconstitutional and ordered an immediate halt to it.
As with previous rulings this will more than likely just be a speed bump in Bush's crusade to fight terrorists no matter what the cost to our freedoms. In this case though it will probably take more than one of his infamous "signing statements".

50 to 47

That's the current prediction for the make-up of the Senate from the latest Balance of Power polling from Rasmussen Reports. The GOP leads by that margin with 3 toss-ups so as things stand now even if the Democrats were to take all three undecided's, the Republicans would maintain control due to the tie-breaking vote being the responsibilty of the Vice-President.

The polling shows that the Democrats should pick up seats in Pennsylvania and Rhode Island while the 3 toss-ups are Republican held seats in Ohio, Missouri, and Montana. Currently Rasmussen has no Democratic incumbents in real danger of losing their seats.

Broken Record August Edition

Even after the announcement of the foiled terror plot in London, our Commander in Chief can't seem to catch a break in the polls. According to a Zogby International poll conducted August 11-15, George Bush's overall approval numbers dropped 2 points to 34 percent.
One third of respondents – 34% – said that, overall, the nation is headed in the right direction, while 59% said they think things are off on the wrong track.

Pollster John Zogby: “President Bush’s numbers mainly reflect the country’s thinking on the war in Iraq, and most people have made up their minds that the war overall has not been worth the loss of American lives. Terrorism is an important issue to Americans, but when it comes to judging Bush’s presidency, their decision is based largely on Iraq.”
The same poll also has Democrats winning in a generic mid-term congressional race 39 to 31 percent.
Democrats continue to carry a lead into the fall campaign season on the generic congressional election question. Likely voters in the poll, asked whether they planned to vote for the Democrat or the Republican in their local congressional election, 39% favored Democrats, while 31% said they would be voting for the Republican candidate. Democrats also are winning the battle among independents, who favor the out–of–power party by a 32% to 20% margin, with 41% of independents yet undecided.
Not quite the bump in polls Bush normally sees after the announcement of a foiled plot. Are Americans becoming somewhat immune to these in a way that is similar to what happened in the "Chicken Little" fairy tale?

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

New Bush Strategy

When the press starts getting too hostile, what is one to do? In the case of the Bush Administration, you just cut them out of the loop.

When you don't like the question, how do you handle the answer? You reply with another question.
Press question - Does President Bush think the cease-fire in Israel and Lebanon will undermine support for Hezbollah?White House Press Secretary Tony Snow's response - "Well, we're going to find out, aren't we?"

Press question - "Did the president call for the respect of sovereignty by both sides?"

White House Press Secretary Tony Snow's response - "Respect of sovereignty?" Snow parried.

Add to that the President's latest tactic of taking trips without the press plane and it seems that he has found a way to keep the press at arms length. I guess when your poll numbers are consistently in the 30's you have nothing to lose.

Dropping Like Flies

That would probably be a good way to describe Joe Lieberman's supporters in the Democratic Party. The latest to throw Joe under the bus is long time supporter and former president Bill Clinton. Clinton, who was in Connecticut just 3 weeks ago in support of Lieberman's failed primary attempt, is now going public with the suggestion the Lieberman could find the future tougher than he might have expected.

In an interview yesterday, Clinton gave Lieberman a vivid lesson in how life is different now that the senator has lost to Lamont and is running as an independent.


The former president slapped Lieberman over the latter's suggestion that he lost because party liberals wanted to purge a politician who shared Clinton's overall philosophy of being progressive on domestic issues while supporting a robust national security policy.


Lieberman may well win in the November mid-terms, but with the almost complete loss of support from the Democratic Party and the threatened loss of seniority within the party taking him out of high profile sub-committee positions, the victory could well turn out to be quite hollow.


On a positive note, at least he would be adding time towards his government pension when he finally retires.

One Debate Down

The candidates for Governor held their first debate yesterday at Dakotafest with the highlights including numerous barbs from Jack Billion directed at Mike Rounds and Mr Rounds pretty much ignoring them.

Rounds, as he likes to do, spent much of the debate quoting numbers from his first term to which his main challenger, Billion, often used against him. An example of the rhetoric:
Rounds - gross state product — the total value of goods and services produced in South Dakota — grew by $5 billion during the past three years from $24 billion to $29 billion.

Billion - The $5 billion increase in GSP over the past three years equated to nearly 5.5 percent per year, which he said trailed the national rate and the state’s own rate from previous years.

“If you go ahead and take that 5.5 percent and you deduct the increase due to gas prices, due to inflation and due to health care costs, you come up with a pretty flat economy,” Billion said. “We have to do better than we’ve been doing.”

And the tearing down of Rounds' so-called achievements went on from there to include the subjects of wind energy, school funding, drought relief, abortion, and rural development.

As has been the case from the start, Governor Rounds was quite happy to quote his "achievements" from the past but was a bit silent about future plans. Is the status quo good enough?

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

We Are Safer Says Bush

President Bush says we are safer as evident by the foiled plot in Britain but we are not yet safe.
"America is safer than it has been, yet it is not yet safe," Bush told reporters at the National Counterterrorism Center just outside Washington. "The enemy has got an advantage when it comes to attacking our homeland: they got to be right one time and we got to be right 100 percent of the time to protect the American people."
And damn those terrorist plots, they seem to always get uncovered right around big elections and other times when the Bush Administration needs a pick-me-up.
The first hint that the plot, while real, might not have been quite as real as it was being advertised came Thursday night, when “TIME” magazine reported that the alleged airline liquid bomb plotters were arrested by the British only after American intelligence reported chatter among them.

Then came the revelation that the British had the purported conspirators under surveillance for 13 months. Now we know, from senior members of British intelligence, that no attack was imminent, that those suspected had yet to buy airline tickets, and some of them didn‘t even has passports.

British intelligence wanted another week, wanted to capture the man who was hoping to make a dry run, as he dry ran. Our government insisted on immediate arrests, and proceeded, both before and after them, to make every imaginable piece of political out of them.
Awful convenient that the bust happened right after the controversial Connecticut primary especially since the British wanted to wait at least another week before making any arrests. Sure got Ned Lamont's name out of the news for a few days. I wonder what plot will be uncovered around the first week of November?

Rounds Looking To Step In To The Elijah Page Execution

Governor Rounds is quoted by KELO-TV as saying he is looking into stepping in to stop the scheduled execution of convicted murderer Elijah Page at the end of the month.
“I am not required by law to step in. I will tell you that any time we're looking at an execution, I believe that it's the governor's opportunity and responsibility to review the case itself...and I will do that, says Rounds.

And Rounds says he's already started on that. “I've read this particular case. It was a vicious crime. There was cruelty. There was torture in this case. The judge in this particular case clearly has made a determination that it would be appropriate.”

And now it's up to the Governor to agree or disagree as Page waits to die.

“My responsibility in this particular case is to review and to look and to see if there are any extenuating circumstances that I should take into account,” added Rounds.
I would think that someone so "concerned" with the sanctity of life wouldn't have to think twice about stepping in.

More On Amendment E

The No on E folks have a news release detailing the numerous cities, counties, and school boards that have come out against Amendement E.
Local government officials in South Dakota overwhelmingly oppose passage of Constitutional Amendment E. As of Aug. 15 official resolutions opposing Amendment E had been passed by 56 cities, 31 counties and 20 school boards and more are passing resolutions all the time. Currently, not one city council, county commission or school board has come out in favor of the amendment.

“Local government officials in South Dakota are voicing their opposition to the amendment because it endangers far more than just judges,” said No on E spokesperson Dianna Miller. “If this passes, people who serve on school boards, city councils, water boards, parole boards and many others could be sued personally if someone is upset with their decision.”

The 56 cities opposing Amendment E are Alpena, Arlington, Aurora, Big Stone City, Blunt, Bryant, Camp Crook, Canistota, Castlewood, Chancellor, Colton, Dallas, Dell Rapids, DeSmet, Estelline, Faulkton, Flandreau, Fort Pierre, Frederick, Geddes, Hartford, Hazel, Hermosa, Herrick, Howard, Huron, Java, Kennebec, Lake Norden, Lake Preston, Letcher, Marion, Martin, McLaughlin, Menno, Mitchell, Monroe, Montrose, North Sioux City, Onida, Philip, Plankinton, Platte, Raymond, Roscoe, Sisseton, St. Lawrence, Summerset, Tulare, Volga, Wall, Warner, Webster, Westport, White and Woonsocket.

Counties opposing Amendment E are Aurora, Bennett, Brown, Brule, Clark, Codington, Custer, Day, Douglas, Edmunds, Fall River, Faulk, Grant, Gregory, Hand, Hughes, Hyde, Jerauld, Lawrence, Lincoln, Lyman, Meade, Minnehaha, Perkins, Roberts, Stanley, Sully, Turner, Union, Walworth and Ziebach.

The school boards include: Avon, Edgemont, Grant-Deuel, Haakon County, Herreid, Huron, Isabel, Lead-Deadwood, Madison Central, New Underwood, Pollock, Rapid City Area, Redfield, Rosholt, Selby Area, Todd County, Warner, Waverly, White Lake and Winner.
That's 56 cities, 31 counties and 20 school boards against Amendement E and 0 for it. I wonder how the J.A.I.L.er's will spin this news?

(h/t - South Dakota War College)

Monday, August 14, 2006

Larry Long’s Summer To Forget

South Dakota Attorney General Larry Long has had a long (no pun intended) couple of months. First his recommendation to Secretary of State Chris Nelson to remove the video lottery referendum and the cell phone tax repeal from the ballot was overturned by the State Supreme Court. He next drew the ire of the Amendment E and medical marijuana folks regarding his ballot explanation and now the video lottery has again reared it ugly head.

Dan Brendtro from Forward South Dakota, the group that spearheaded the drive to gather the required petition signatures to put the video lottery repeal on the ballot, is now speaking out on Long's ballot explanation.
“It is written in a way that suggests to the voters that our state government will collapse without video lottery funding,” Brendtro said.“Including such language without the proper perspective is on par with the scare tactics so fondly used by video lottery supporters in years past,” he wrote in a letter to the attorney general.

Here is Larry Long's ballot explanation on Initiated Measure 7 which is the video lottery ballot initiative.
The State operates video lottery as authorized by State law. During the last year, the State received approximately one hundred twelve million dollars ($112,000,000.00) from video lottery.The proposed law would repeal video lottery and eliminate this source of revenue.

A vote “Yes” will adopt the proposed law.

A vote “No” will reject the proposed law.

I don't see the connection Mr. Brendtro is trying to make by saying the wording makes it look like our government will collapse. Looks to be straight forward and to the point to me.

Does is take away over $100 million in state revenue? Yes
Do we have anything in place currently to make up that lost revenue? No

Sounds pretty much like my take on it from an earlier post.

Connecticut GOP Candidate Can't Catch A Break

How would you like being the Republican Candidate for the Senate in Connecticut? Not only is everyone focused on Ned Lamont and Joe Lieberman, even the President has so far yet to endorse the GOP nominee Alan Schlesinger.
At today's White House press briefing, spokesman Tony Snow was unwilling to state that Bush backed Schlesinger. All Snow would say is that the president "supports the democratic process in the state of Connecticut and wishes them a successful election in November." Further pressed by reporters for an answer, Snow said, "I think you know the situation in Connecticut."

And RNC chairman Ken Mehlman has been told to stay clear of this race.
On Meet the Press yesterday, RNC chairman Ken Mehlman told David Gregory that he's been told to stay clear of this race. "The way I do it is to work with our leadership in the states, and what my leadership in the state has said to me is, 'You ought to stay out of this one. You ought to focus on the House races and focus on the governors’ races.'"

Talk about your proverbial "sacrificial lamb"...

The Cheney Spin

What does the Bush Administration do to turn a negative into a positve. They play the terror card and that is exactly what Dick Cheney is an expert at doing. Dan Froomkin documents Cheney's scare tactics regarding the Bush war advocate Joe Lieberman's defeat in an article in todays Washington Post.
By insinuating that the sizeable majority of American voters who oppose the war in Iraq are aiding and abetting the enemy, Vice President Cheney on Wednesday may have crossed the line that separates legitimate political discourse from hysteria.Cheney's comments came in a highly unusual conference call with reporters, part of an extensively orchestrated and largely successful Republican effort to spin the obviously anti-Bush message of Ned Lamont's victory over presidential enabler Joe Lieberman in the Connecticut Democratic Senate primary.

In making the case that Lieberman's defeat was actually an enormous boost for Republicans, the customarily furtive vice president let loose not with compelling argument, but unsupported invective.

Voters who supported Lamont's antiwar campaign in the Democratic primary were giving "the Al Qaeda types" exactly what they wanted, Cheney said. And as a result the Democratic Party, he asserted, now stands for a wholesale retreat in the broader campaign against terror.

When you can't beat them, spin the truth to scare them...

The Delusional World Of Ajay Bruno

I know I am giving this guy more discussion than he deserves but I just wanted to finalize everything that has happened over the weekend regarding the self proclaimed "fiancee" of Stephanie Herseth. From pretty much the beginning of this non-story, most everyone other than Lee Breard (campaign manager for Bruce Whalen) was aware of Ajay Bruno’s (or whatever his real name is) ridiculous claims.

If anything though, Ajay is persistent. After he left a comment on an earlier post I wrote in regards to the story, I decided to send him an email asking him to provide more information about his claims using the address he left fully expecting it to be bogus. Low and behold a few hours later he responded.
I was the Chief of Staff on her campaign, upon my resignation, she quickly promoted Mr. Navin, part of her cover-up. Have you seen any information showing how long he’s been chief of staff? no, I didn’t think so.. hmmm, I wonder why. Did that ever cross your mind that he has not been the chief of staff very long? If I speak out now, I will hinder my chances of getting a comparable position elsewhere. Right now, this is just a somewhat big controversy in South Dakota, but not nation-wide, if I were to speak out now, being a Republican, I may be regarded as a turncoat for working for her due to our relationship, and the Democrats would not hire me because of my original, true political leanings. You can’t possibly fathom my position. She is trying to hide her pregnancy right now, and she can very well do that until the election as she is a little under a month right now. She puts her career before her personal life, and that is what I cannot tolerate.

I was curious about his claims about being the former Chief of Staff as I knew that Jeff Navin was Congresswoman Herseth’s Chief of Staff and not being very well versed in the history of her staff I decided to contacted them and find out. They confirmed that not only was Mr. Navin still her Chief of Staff, he has been the only person to hold that position from day one of her first campaign for Congress.

Now Mr Bruno in regards to you being able to find a similar position with another candidate which you claim to be your reason for not coming forward, just a suggestion, I would leave out serving as Chief of Staff for Ms. Herseth on your resume as lying on your job application is not a very good way to get a job though I suspect you already hold a position with somebody’s campaign already, but I digress.

So again what is your agenda and who is behind your campaign of lies and misinformation? Anytime you are willing to come clean feel free to let me know though I am not holding my breath.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Where Is The Outrage?

I was browsing some of our more conservative blogs this weekend reading some of the pro-life rants that seem to make up a large majority of their posts but one thing I haven't seen much of is any outrage over the upcoming execution scheduled for the end of this month in South Dakota. Elijah Page is scheduled to die by lethal injection the week of August 28th and he is doing everything in his power to ensure that the execution goes forward.

Why the silence? Is his life not worth as much because he is a convicted killer?

What To Do Next?

The latest terror threat that was uncovered in London last week has again shown just how reactionary and behind the curve the US is in regards to our airport security.

Speaking as someone that has worked in airport security since the TSA came into existence in 2002 (and no I do not work for the TSA), many of the latest news stories describe holes in our system that even though they are just now getting press, have actually existed from the beginning. One of the main problems when placing something under government control is that you add numerous layers of bureaucracy into the mix, and as being demonstrated lately, politics and airport security do not necessarily work well together.

The government has known about the possibility that liquid explosives could be used as the London terrorists were planning and security equipment manufacturers have had technology in the pipeline for several years to detect this threat but our current mentality of reacting only after someone tries to exploit a known hole instead of being proactive could have again resulted in the loss of 1000’s of lives. We got lucky this time but how long before that luck runs out resulting in a successful attempt?

Admittedly, the current liquid explosive detection equipment isn’t ready for use in an airport environment due to the time involved to properly screen passenger baggage and the costs of the equipment which at this point runs up to $250,000 per machine, but as has been shown in the past, our technological minds can overcome most limits if they have the resources to do it. But why isn’t the technology ready to implement? One reason can be summed up by the recent announcement that the Bush administration consistently tries to divert money away from the development of such technology.

If our government is so concerned about our safety, why is the administration trying to quietly funnel $6 million from developing better explosive detection technology? Why did they fail to spend $200 million that was available for research? Companies that specialize in manufacturing this type of detection equipment can not be expected to fully fund this type of research without government help or at least without the guarantee that they will have a market to sell the finished product, neither of which seems to be readily forthcoming from the Bush Administration. Why should these companies work to improve the technology when they are unsure that they will have a customer to purchase it when it is ready? It’s not like they can sell it to the masses at your local Best Buy.

The other issue revolving around the security of our airports involves the competence and training of the front lines of the process, the screeners manning the technology. A lot of the press lately involves these individuals and their ability to catch contraband before it makes it on to an aircraft. Much of it revolves around successful attempts by security consultants to smuggle bomb parts and other possible weapons through checkpoints and the somewhat questionable background of some of the screeners.

Many of these horror stories, while true do not always report on the whole story. I work alongside these people on an almost daily basis and seeing the hoops that they are forced to jump through makes it understandable as to why some of these events occur. The TSA sets forth certain policies and procedures that the screeners must follow that seem to change on almost a weekly basis making proper training an almost impossible task. Almost as soon as their personnel are trained on new procedures, they are completely changed.

Manning levels at many of the airports are nowhere near where they need to be to properly perform their duties making the process of screening even more difficult. Several of the airports I deal with are so short staffed that several of the screeners are required to work 7 days a week and the ability to hire replacements is hampered by the fact that at many of these airports, new hires are required to work part time with terrible pay and even worse schedules. At the larger airports, employee turnover is so high because of poor pay and working environment that having enough properly trained individuals on hand is difficult at best

The excuse by some as to why we do not have the technology in place to detect liquid explosives was because it was too expensive and that no one had as of yet tried to exploit that hole. Sounds a lot like the excuses being made after 9/11 to me. Our government needs to decide just how secure it wants our airports to be. Either we are committed to doing it properly by finding holes in the process and then investing in new technology to close those holes and then hire, train and maintain the required personnel levels needed to man that technology. If we do not make that commitment, we will continue to see cases like what happened in London, only one of these times it will be discovered after a successful attack instead of before one.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Catherine Ratliff

Just a quick drive by post this evening. I wanted to let my readers know of a new link I have added to my candidate sites blogroll for Catherine Ratliff who is running for State Senate in District 30.

From her website:
1. The biggest reason for running is that our state system is clean out of balance. Mainstream moderates of every party must vote collectively to shore up our system of checks and balances in the legislature, where one party dominates the House 51-19, the Senate 25-10.

Our American democratic system doesn’t work when we’re lopsided: loose cannons begin to roll. Legislators this year crashed up against individual rights and women’s rights; they imposed one sector of one religion on us. They voted for secrecy in legislative meetings; they tried to slash funding for our single best statewide reporter of lawmaking and the process. They voted against education, the means by which real democracy is maintained. Their extremism made South Dakota an object of national focus and negative attention.

2. I believe that the SD legislature’s most vital job is to invest in education. I believe that public education and religion don’t mix, although ethics is a proper subject to be integrated in the curriculum. However, ideas like intelligent design should be taught at home and in church, not in our public schools. We can look at Iraq and Iran and see what happens when religion rules government and public education – and women.

In accord with the high value we place on education, we should not casually close rural schools that are the heart of the community. Therefore, we oppose the one-size-fits-all recommendation of the Education Task Force established by the 2004 legislature and handpicked by the current governor, to close all of our schools with fewer than 200 students, one-third of South Dakota’s small-town schools.

3. To help individuals get on the right path to improve their lives and also the productivity and profitability of small business and industry, we need to emphasize career counseling in our schools and for adults in transition. The U.S. Census, Department of Labor and other government agencies provide ample reports of industrial and labor force trends, and identify jobs that will provide the best benefits for SD workers. We need to get that information to students of all ages who are contemplating further training and education.

When we're deciding whether to fund our schools, we need to look at our spending priorities. South Dakota's tax dollars support too many prisoners, prisons and jails. We need to invest in people “on the front end,” not when they get on a wrong path, resulting in an expensive waste of tax dollars, overburdened families of those in the correctional system, and lost productivity.

4. Most urgent after education is equity in health care. Our state government, doctors and insurance companies, working cooperatively, are capable of figuring out how to bring health care to 90,000 uninsured South Dakotans and under-insured families, and how to staff rural clinics and reduce turnover of medical providers. In the absence of national leadership, states are taking this on; they are working out innovative ways to provide universal health care within their boundaries. Their efforts provide a menu of models, a place to start when we begin formulating a system of health care. That system must include more reasonably priced pharmaceuticals. There is no excuse for a system that makes the uninsured and Medicare recipients the only persons required to pay full price for prescription drugs. We have to look at medical inflation, many times greater than growth of the economy and people's salaries. Health insurance premiums have skyrocketed with no end in sight. People worry about how they are going to take care of themselves and their families. Small businesses and schools are hard-pressed by the escalating cost of health insurance

5. I support a minimum wage that single parents can live on without having to take two and three jobs. But a stronger minimum wage is just a start. We need broad prosperity. We need good jobs so our kids have a choice to live here, so it’s not just a beautiful place to retire – although undeniably, this is a great place for retirees. South Dakota is also a great place to raise kids; we have cultural diversity, diversity in the environment and recreation, but we need good schools to draw families here, keep families here, diversity in the job market, more career paths, and career counseling.

6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, and 12. Energy, the environment, recreation and tourism, logging, mining and ranching are industries with many overlapping issues. We don’t have to have a tug-of-war, winners and losers over these issues. Rather, we can and will approach the concerns of groups managing and competing for resources with creativity and respect, aiming for win-win solutions.

13. Relationships between state and tribal governments, between Caucasian and Lakota people must be supported because these intersect in South Dakota; and ancient wounds and rifts cannot begin to heal until we acknowledge ancient wrongs.

A more balanced legislature, a more respectful discourse – may not achieve the grand goal of greater prosperity, liberty and quality of life for all of our citizens; but a balanced legislature will not throw us off course. We will take back South Dakota, and we will have a state that makes us proud.
I would strongly recommend those living in District 30 drop by her site and see what she is all about.