Saturday, September 30, 2006

Thune To Keep His "Perfect Record"

Even though John Thune has come out and said that he thinks that the proposed abortion ban is too restrictive, the Rapid City Journal is reporting that he still plans to vote in favor of it's passage.

“Although the Legislature took a different approach, I will vote for it because it would reduce the number of abortions and advance our common goal of protecting the unborn,” Thune said.

He goes on to stress that he has a perfect record in Congress on voting for pro-life issues.

“As a member of Congress, I have a 100 percent pro-life voting record,” Thune said. “I have consistently supported a ban on abortion with the exceptions of rape, incest and when the mother’s life is in danger. I will continue to fight in Congress for the unborn and to promote a culture of life.”

So now Thune gets the best of both worlds, he has publicly addressed the concerns felt by many that the ban is too restrictive but can still tell his Conservative base that voted for it anyway. Sounds like he has been taking lessons from our illustrious Governor...

How Many People Have To Speak Out Before The Kool Aid Starts Tasting Sour?

Sour Kool AidThat is the question that needs to be asked to those that consistently defend George Bush and his policies on the "War on Terror". Bob Woodward’s book, State of Denial is just the latest in an ever growing list of sources that have come out with accusations that the Administration has lied to the American public.


Excerpts from Woodward’s latest book are now coming out and has been the case for the most part, the Administration isn’t presented in the most favorable light.


Woodward writes that there has been a vast difference between what the White House and the Pentagon knew about the situation in Iraq and what they have been saying publicly. In memos, reports and internal debates, administration officials have voiced their concerns about the conduct of the war, even while Bush and Cabinet members such as Rumsfeld and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice have insisted that the war was going well.


Woodward goes on to describe much more in a WaPo article scheduled to be printed tomorrow that continues the unflattering commentary on Donald Rumsfeld and highlights the fact that even though the administration continues to talk about how things are just peachy in Iraq the reality is that attacks are increasing to 800-900 a week with even more escalation predicted in 2007.


Now I know we have heard this all before and I am sure the Bush apologists will dismiss Woodward’s book as just more Bush bashing in the name of making a buck as they did with many of the other books on the subject but Woodward is just joining a growing list of detractors including some from Bush’s own Administration that include former Chief of Staff Andy Card and former Secretary of State Colin Powell among others.


Sooner or later you would think the mounting evidence of lies and deception would sour the taste of the Kool Aid that the Bush supporters are drinking but then again blind faith is a powerful force.

Friday, September 29, 2006

So Much For That GOP "Safe Seat"

Florida Republican Congressman Mark Foley has resigned "effective immediately" only hours after being confronted over emails he sent to a 16 year old Capitol page.

Hours earlier, ABC News had read excerpts of instant messages provided by former male pages who said the congressman, under the AOL Instant Messenger screen name Maf54, made repeated references to sexual organs and acts.

Foley's House seat had been considered "safe" for the GOP in November but I think that you can now consider it wide open after this...

Common Ground

All 90 Democratic candidates for the South Dakota legislature agreed to a platform to help take back seats in this Novembers election. The plan called "Common Ground" details several talking points including:

* Require state vehicles to use ethanol and biodiesel fuels.
* Provide grants and loans for small businesses.
* Set up tax-free zones for new businesses.
* Raise the minimum wage.
* Conduct a full audit of state government.
* Provide more openness in campaigns and state government.

If you noticed as I did, there isn't one talking point that would attempt to legislate someones personal life.

"Legislative sessions focused on divisive social issues do not solve the state's education, economic development and health care challenges," it states.

Pretty novel concept, concentrate on concrete issues facing everyone and avoiding the social ones that the state has no business getting involved in.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Johnson Crosses Party Lines And Votes With Thune To Authorize Torture

The Senate today approved the bill that would allow President Bush to authorize certain forms of torture when interrogating terror suspects by a vote of 65-34. The bill also bars detainees from going to federal court to protest their detention and treatment — a right referred to as "habeas corpus."

The vote was mainly along party lines with the exception of 12 Democrats including Tim Johnson voting for passage of the bill.

SDSU Student Association Comes Out Against Amendement E

I am quite sure that Bill Stegmeier and the rest of the J.A.I.L.er's aren't shaking in their collective boots over this but I found the op-ed piece in SDSU's student paper interesting just the same.

First off as I said it was on op-ed piece and the majority of the article is spent ripping the Student Association for not taking a stand on anything including the death penalty and more recently on the battle that the student paper had with SDSU's Board of Regents over the open forum with the SDSU's presidential candidates.

The interesting part comes into play with the fact that even though the Student Association seemingly has a problem taking a stand on any issue, they had no problem coming out against Amendment E.

"It's just garbage legislation," said Sam Nelson, an at-large senator.

Well said Sam...

Healy Picks Up National Endorsement

From the email inbox:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Campaign for a National Majority Endorses Bryce Healy for Commissioner for School and Public Lands in the State of South Dakota

PIERRE (Sept. 28, 2006) – As the highly contentious battle for control of Congress reaches its peak in the coming weeks, the futures of both parties are being decided to much less fanfare in smaller statewide executive races across the nation. In South Dakota, the race for Commissioner for School and Public Lands could very well produce the Democratic candidate for the 2010 gubernatorial election. Bryce Healy, the incumbent and a broadly popular Democrat in a very “red” state, is seeking a second term managing the School Trust Fund that he grew over 11 percent during his first term and its 800,000+ acres of public land. On Monday, Campaign for a National Majority officially endorsed Mr. Healy in the 2006 South Dakota Commissioner for School and Public Lands race.

“Bryce Healy is exactly the kind of competent, honest candidate we want to support,” said John Sheehan, Director of Research for Campaign for a National Majority, a pragmatic political action committee that supports Democratic candidates for state executive and mayoral offices across the country. “With a strong record of success in his position, he has earned the respect and support of people on both sides of the aisle. His future looks very bright and we are thrilled to be supporting him,” continued Sheehan. The organization began their research looking at over 400 candidates in 170 races, contacting over 100 journalists, state Democratic officials and academics and spending nearly 1,200 hours in the process before selecting their 2006 endorsements.

“I’m proud to be endorsed by an organization that carefully examines the entire universe of races taking place across the country,” said Bryce Healy. “CNM cares not only about the direction of the Democratic Party, but they also recognize what’s best for individual states as well,” continued Healy. “With so many organizations taking a monolithic approach to Democratic politics, CNM stands out as a group that recognizes that the Democratic Party has both national values and local aims.”

While South Dakota has been a Republican stronghold for some time now, there is general dissatisfaction with the government over specific issues such as the method for allocating school funding and the lack of health coverage in the state. Bryce Healy’s management of the School Trust Fund and the lands in it, as well as his moderate positions on social issues, have made him widely popular in the state. For those reasons, in addition to his bi-partisan appeal, Healy is often mentioned in the same breath as Stephanie Herseth and Tim Johnson, two other successful and popular South Dakota Democrats, as a potential candidate for the Democratic nomination for Governor in 2010. With the collective clout and potential in that group, South Dakota would be well-positioned for its first Democratic Governor in over 30 years should Governor Mike Rounds be re-elected in 2006.

About Campaign for a National Majority
Campaign for a National Majority is a pragmatic political action committee that supports Democratic candidates for state executive and mayoral offices across the country. Our candidates are viable in tough races, and show promise as contenders for progressively higher offices. Our goal is to build a "farm team" of Democrats who can win statewide and national elections. It is no secret that governors consistently make the best presidential candidates. Their experience as State Executives prepares them for higher leadership and encourages them to articulate innovative policies and messages. The best governors are typically elected from other State Executive offices, like lieutenant governor or attorney general. CNM is focused on achieving clear results by winning races for Democrats, starting with state elections. To learn more about CNM, you can visit us at: www.nationalmajority.org/.
Looks like some in the Democratic Party are already planning for 2010. Good luck Bryce in your run against Jarrod Johnson and as Jack Billion is discovering, it is never too early to start getting some name recognition when it comes to running for office in our predominantly "red state" as a Democrat.

Even Thune Realizes The Ban Goes Too Far

John Thune is quoted in today's Argus as saying the proposed ban on abortions in South Dakota goes too far.
"I have made my position pretty clear on the life issue. ... If you look at my record in Congress, you can look at votes and see I have a 100 percent pro-life voting record," Thune said.

Thune acknowledged his own view differs from the new state law, which makes no provisions for abortions following rape or incest or to protect the health of the mother.

Thune says he supports an abortion ban but with those exceptions.

I have said several times as have many pro-life supporters, the South Dakota legislature has shot themselves in the foot by going to the extremes when they decided not to have the rape and incest exceptions. So I wonder when the far-righties will be calling the normally very vocal pro-life supporter Thune pro-death as they have done with Tim Johnson after he came out against the ban or is that a label reserved exclusively for Democrats?

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

"Our Future Is Grim"

GOP Rep. Marilyn Musgrave from Colorado believes that there is only one "important issue that we face today" and that we could face a grim future.

So you would think that she is worried about the "war on terror" or some other conflict we are facing abroad, but if if thought that you would be wrong. Musgrave's dire predictions are in fact related to the bill she is sponsoring in the House that would ban gay marriage.

Musgrave declared that gay marriage “is the most important issue that we face today.” She told the audience that “when you’re in a cultural war like this, you have to respond with equal and hopefully greater force if you want to win,” and warned that the “future is grim” if gay marriage is not banned.

You just have to love those far right-wing conservative priorities...

Can't Discredit The Message So Go After The Messenger

In the wake of the Bush Administration’s release yesterday of the synopsis of the classified NIE report, reaction has been swift and as can be expected varied depending on who is doing the reporting.

The Left feels that even the miniscule 3 plus page summary declassified out of the 30 page report backs up the assertion being made after the initial leak that the invasion in Iraq has managed only to increase the number of radical terrorists hell bent on the destruction of America. The paragraph in the summary that tends to back up that assertion does appear prominently in that report.

“The Iraq conflict has become the ’cause celebre’ for jihadists, breeding a deep resentment of US involvement in the Muslim world and cultivating supporters for the global jihadist movement.”

Of course on the Right, most pretty much ignore that paragraph and instead concentrate on other bullets in the report or in a few instances they attempt to discredit the report itself. A case in point is the reaction by a blogger over at South Dakota Politics. Jason Heppler, instead of addressing that paragraph directly, states the obvious when he quotes other conservatives such as Andrew McCarthy, Glenn Reynolds and John Hinderaker.

Jihadists hate us because they hate us, not because of Iraq.

While most of that statement is quite true, he fails to address the more damning implication that the invasion of Iraq has made more of the "Jihadists that hate us" than had existed before the invasion. The NIE report is documenting that while there were plenty of militants that wanted to do us harm before we invaded, the act of the invasion itself has radicalized many more and instead Heppler concludes that from the only 3 pages released that those in our intelligence service who wrote the report and then leaked a portion of it should be summarily fired for producing a "a meaningless document full of empty bureaucratic twaddle."

Now the full report could in fact be the "meaningless document full of empty bureaucratic twaddle." as Heppler so eloquently states but one would wonder how anyone could honestly come to that conclusion based on only 10 percent of it being made public?

The main criticism of the Bush policies regarding the tangible results of the invasion of Iraq coming from the NIE report appear to be confirmed by it’s release but as is usually the case in politics when someone attempts to discredit a political agenda, the party under attack goes after the messenger instead of the message.

Senator Johnson Comes Out Against Ban

Senator Tim Johnson is coming out against the abortion ban and has taped an automated phone message that urges voters to reject it this November.

South Dakota's senior senator said the proposed ban on most abortions should be dumped because it contains no exceptions for women who have been victims of rape or incest.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

See For Yourself - Updated

UPDATED BELOW


A leaked portion of the NIE report that supposedly reports that the Bush invasion of Iraq has actually fueled more terrorism was made public today at the request of President Bush whom has been getting criticism that he attributes to election year politics.


Many have criticised the leak including Bush himself saying that those opposed to the administration in the intelligence community had leaked only selective parts just to make Bush and the GOP look bad. Even with the 30 page report shortened to the 4 pages released today the main crux highlighted by the Bush detracters still holds a prominent part in the report.


“The Iraq conflict has become the ’cause celebre’ for jihadists, breeding a deep resentment of US involvement in the Muslim world and cultivating supporters for the global jihadist movement.”


And potentially even more damning for Bush and Co. was the announcement this morning by California House Democrat Jane Harman that a second report exists that exclusively deals with Iraq and contains an even more grim view of the situation.


"This morning at the National Press Club, Jane Harman did say that there is an [National Intelligence Estimate] on Iraq," her spokesman, Ari Goldberg, confirmed. Golberg said he had not read the report, but believes it may be grim. Sources at the event say the document is not officially an NIE, although it was prepared by the National Intelligence Council, an community-wide intelligence body whose primary function is to prepare NIEs.


If in fact this report does exist how much do you want to bet it will never see the light of day, at least that is until after November.


UPDATE: White House Homeland Security Advisor Fran Townsend acknowledged the existence of the second report that deals exclusively with Iraq and as I had surmised he also reports that it will not be ready until January 2007...After the November elections, quite convenient don't you think?

That Was Quick Todd

It didn't take long for former Billion press secretary Todd Epp to find a new job.

From the email inbox:

SOUTH DAKOTANS AGAINST DISCRIMINATION NAMES TODD EPP AS CONSULTANT


SIOUX FALLS --South Dakotans Against Discrimination (SDAD), the grassroots group opposing Amendment C, announces that Harrisburg attorney and activist Todd Epp will be its legal and communications consultant.


"Todd offers a unique combination of legal experience and communications skills that will assist us in educating the public and the media as to why Amendment C, the ban on "quasi-marital relationships," should be defeated," according to Jon Hoadley, SDAD’s campaign manager.


Epp is a former local broadcaster for S.D. Public TV and KSFY-TV and a freelance writer. He is admitted to practice before the state and federal courts of Kansas and South Dakota and 8th and 10th United States Circuit Courts of Appeal. His practice concentrates on workers rights, litigation, and intellectual property. He has had legal and scholarly articles published in the Washburn Law Review, Kansas History, South Dakota History, and the International Journal of Comparative and Applied Criminal Justice. He has a B.A. in history and English from Washburn University of Topeka, a J.D. from Washburn University School of Law, and an LL.M. from the University of Houston Law Center.


"Defeating Amendment C and ensuring that all families are treated fairly with basic legal protections is a civil rights issue," Epp said. I look forward to working with Jon and the SDAD membership in defeating this hateful and unnecessary amendment to the South Dakota Constitution."


Epp, 47, is married to Donna Epp, Ph.D. and they are the parents to two school aged children. Todd is active in coaching youth soccer, playing with his three dogs, blogging, and political activism.



Good luck Todd with your new position.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Be Careful What You Wish For

It looks like Bruce Whalen has gotten his wish.

Democratic U.S. Rep. Stephanie Herseth and Republican challenger Bruce Whalen will meet in a series of three debates next month. Voters in the state are ready to hear what each has to say during this election season. Whalen insists Herseth has been dodging him, but we feel that three debates in October, all to be broadcast, will give the state’s voters a good idea what is on each candidate’s mind and in plenty of time before the Nov. 7 election.

I guess now he'll have to come out and discuss a more detailed platform that consists of something other than ripping Herseth for not debating him and deflecting questions as to why his campaign staff was perpetuating false rumors regarding Herseth.

Clinton's Mistakes Swift Style

Jon Swift weights in on the Clinton interview on Faux news and the blame for 9/11.

The mistakes Clinton made are still having reverberations years after he made them. A new report by Bush's intelligence experts says that the invasion of Iraq has worsened the terrorist threat. Of course, we wouldn't have had to invade Iraq in the first place if Clinton hadn't left Hussein in power, which allowed Hussein to trick us into invading Iraq by making us think he had weapons of mass destruction by denying that he had weapons of mass destruction when he knew that we knew he was a liar. So if indeed it is true that the invasion of Iraq has made terrorism worse, then Clinton has a lot to answer for.

No wonder Clinton was angry, it's all his fault!

Wal-Mart Reaches Out To Their Employees

Wal-Mart is finally doing something that will help their employees. They are lowering the prices on certain generic prescription drugs to $4, a price that the majority of the Wal-Mart workers can now afford. What the heck it's cheaper than offering an employer sponsored heath plan or raising wages and in this case it also helps other working poor that are under-insured or uninsured.

Tobacco Tax

Initiated Measure 2, otherwise known as the "Tobacco Tax" has been getting a lot of press lately especially in the "Letters to the Editors" sections of our newspapers.

Increasing the tax on tobacco in South Dakota (proposition No. 2) should be a no-brainer. Most people who smoke wish they could stop but have trouble doing so because tobacco is probably the most addicting substance legally available. Keeping an estimated 11,000 kids from ever starting the habit is enough to argue strongly in favor of this tax. Once they start, many are unable to fight the addictive nature of the habit in order to quit.

Listening to letters such as this would surely make one think that this measure is a "no-brainer" and in a perfect world, getting youngsters and people in general to quit smoking would be a great thing.

Supporters point to the increased cost caused by the tax leading to young people not being able to afford to start smoking and the increased tax revenue being used to fund tobacco prevention and reduction programs. What they fail to publicize is just how the majority of the tax revenue will be distributed.

The first $30 million generated goes directly into the state’s general fund for use however our legislators see fit to spend it with the next portion up to $5 million going to prevention and education programs and finally any funds generated above the initial $35 million going to other funds including the property tax reduction fund, the education enhancement trust fund, and the health care trust fund and herein lies the problem with this tax.

With the vast majority of all revenue generated going into the general fund, a small group of people made up of for the most part low to middle income residents, will now be paying a tax used to fund state programs. If this sounds familiar, it is. South Dakota has another ballot initiative, Initiated Measure 7 which is an attempt to repeal video lottery, a law that does the exact same thing.

I am all for smokers financing programs that attempt to keep the young from smoking and for funding stop smoking programs and heath care costs related to their addiction, but using the majority of the revenue for non-smoking related programs is nothing more than an unfair tax on the people that for the most part cannot afford to pay it.


Put the tax revenue where it belongs, into anti-smoking related programs and then this would be a "no-brainer". Unfortunately it is nothing more than another tax that effectively gives those in Pierre more money to spend on whatever pet project they want.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Sunday Funnies

Bush says Iraq will just be a comma in history, I'd hate to see what he would consider an exclamation point...
BLITZER: Let's move on and talk a little bit about Iraq. Because this is a huge, huge issue, as you know, for the American public, a lot of concern that perhaps they are on the verge of a civil war, if not already a civil war…. We see these horrible bodies showing up, tortured, mutilation. The Shia and the Sunni, the Iranians apparently having a negative role. Of course, al Qaeda in Iraq is still operating.

BUSH: Yes, you see — you see it on TV, and that's the power of an enemy that is willing to kill innocent people. But there's also an unbelievable will and resiliency by the Iraqi people…. Admittedly, it seems like a decade ago. I like to tell people when the final history is written on Iraq, it will look like just a comma because there is — my point is, there's a strong will for democracy.
The voice of the evangelical right, Jerry Falwell hopes Hillary Clinton is the Democratic Presidential nominee in 2008.
"I certainly hope that Hillary is the candidate," Falwell said at a breakfast session Friday in Washington. "I hope she's the candidate, because nothing will energize my (constituency) like Hillary Clinton," he said. "If Lucifer ran, he wouldn't."

Billion Outlines Heath Care Plan

Democratic challenger for governor Jack Billion outlined his plan for heath care in South Dakota during a get together in Yankton (subscription) Friday.
"We want to establish a basic health care policy that can be sold by insurers around the state of South Dakota," Billion said. "It's not going to be a fancy policy, but it will have immunizations, preventative care, basic care with co-pays ... and, wrapping around on the top of it, you'll be able to buy catastrophic health care."

Additional supplements would be available to those who want to pay for them, he said.

Premiums paid by subscribers and employers will fund the program, according to Billion.

He said the nation's health care system woes are now a national economic problem.

"The cost of health care has gone up so much that businesses have a problem expanding because of it," Billion said. "They don't want to hire new workers because of the health care burden.

"That's what's going to drive the solution," he added. "It's going to be economics."

Other elements of Billion's South Dakota health care proposal include:

* creating a multi-state purchasing compact to negotiate drug prices;

* working with insurers to promote wellness programs to prevent health problems;

* offering portability of the health care plan;

* developing incentives to encourage health care providers to locate in South Dakota's rural communities;

* utilizing technology to streamline health care and eliminate excessive administrative costs;

* providing more funding for mental health care and rehabilitation;

* expanding family coverage plans to allow coverage for unmarried children up to 30 years old;

* allowing patients to seek benefits from stem cell research; and

* offering dental care plans in conjunction with the health care plans.
One thing I have noticed during the campaign thus far is that Dr. Billion has many excellent ideas for what he would like to do if he wins in November but unfortunately another thing I have noticed while traveling the state is that his ideas are not getting out.

We are only 6 weeks or so from the election and going by the billboards and campaign ads (unfortunately I spend many hours on the road and a lot of evenings in hotel rooms watching TV), Billion is still suffering from the same problem he had when he first announced his candidacy, very few South Dakotans know who he is and what he stands for.

Governor Rounds on the other hand is everywhere, billboards in every city and seemingly every other mile marker on the interstates plus campaign ads on all the local stations and cable systems.

Even with mid 60 percent approval ratings, Governor Rounds has never been more vulnerable with his signing of the abortion ban, copping out on the Page execution, charges of impropriety with his secret "hunts" and state plane usage but even with all this ammunition, where is the Democratic Party? Their fingerprints are definitely nowhere to be found in the governors race and unless things change quickly we will be forced to endure 4 more years of the Rounds legacy of closed government, underfunded schools and legislated morality.

We have a candidate that can do great things for our state but we only have a few weeks left to let South Dakotans know he exists...

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Clinton Rips Faux News

Former President Clinton taped an interview with the Faux News Network scheduled to air tomorrow in which interviewer Chris Wallace gets his head handed to him on a silver platter. Wallace tried to continue the BS that ABC's propaganda film the "Path to 9/11" contained and Clinton wasn't having any of that.
WALLACE: …but the question is why didn’t you do more, connect the dots and put them out of business?

CLINTON: OK, let’s talk about it. I will answer all of those things on the merits but I want to talk about the context of which this arises. I’m being asked this on the FOX network…ABC just had a right wing conservative on the Path to 9/11 falsely claim that it was based on the 9/11 Commission report with three things asserted against me that are directly contradicted by the 9/11 Commission report. I think it’s very interesting that all the conservative Republicans who now say that I didn’t do enough, claimed that I was obsessed with Bin Laden. All of President Bush’s neocons claimed that I was too obsessed with finding Bin Laden when they didn’t have a single meeting about Bin Laden for the nine months after I left office. All the right wingers who now say that I didn’t do enough said that I did too much. Same people.
There is much more including Clinton ripping Faux News and their obvious Conservative bias. Think Progress has the full transcript of the interview which the network is now promoting on their website as "Clinton Gets Crazed".

Amendment E Poll

Dakota Voice is reporting on a supposed poll commissioned by Bill Stegmeier of South Dakota Judicial Accountability that shows that 67 percent of South Dakotans would vote for Amendment E. The Zogby International poll that is cited in the article claims to show widespread support for the amendment across the whole political spectrum of likely voters in November. There is no actual link to the poll itself nor did a search on the Zogby site provide a link to the results.

If the poll actually was conducted and if the results reported are in fact true, one only needs to see the wording of the question asked to figure out why.
Amendment E called the Judicial Accountability Amendment will be on the ballot this November. The amendment would allow the creation of a citizen's oversight committee or special grand jury which would hear complaints of alleged judicial misconduct against judges. If a judge is found guilty three times of having engaged in judicial misconduct, he or she would be removed from office and could never serve in any judicial capacity in South Dakota again. Will you vote for Amendment E or will you vote against Amendment E?
Looking at the question asked, one important fact regarding Amendment E is missing from the question, nowhere does it include the fact that this amendment goes much farther than judges. Though the Amendment E folks continue to highlight how this will allow a citizen committee to oversee supposed judicial misconduct, they refuse to include in any of their literature or advertising on how it also affects persons who sit on school boards, county commissions and other citizen boards.

Stegmeier continues to claim that this isn't the case and went so far as to challenge Attorney General Larry Long's ballot explanation that included the following wording.
Citizens serving on juries, school boards, city councils, county commissions, or in similar capacities, and prosecutors and judges, are all required to make judicial decisions. Their decisions may be reversed on appeal, or they may be removed from office for misconduct or by election. However, they cannot be made to pay money damages for making such decisions. This allows them to do their job without fear of threat or reprisal from either side.

The proposed amendment to the State Constitution would allow thirteen volunteers to expose these decision makers to fines and jail, and strip them of public insurance coverage and up to one-half of their retirement benefits, for making decisions which break rules defined by the volunteers. Volunteers are drawn from those who submit their names and registered voters.

The proposed amendment is retroactive. The volunteers may penalize any decision-maker still alive for decisions made many years ago.

If approved, the proposed amendment will likely be challenged in court and may be declared to be in violation of the US Constitution. If so, the State may be required to pay attorneys fees and costs.

A vote “Yes” will change the Constitution.

A vote “No” will leave the Constitution as it is.
Judge Max Gors ruled against Stegmeier's complaint on the ballot explanation stating that Larry Long had in fact described the amendment impartially.
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.
And herein lies the one and only chance that the J.A.I.L.er's have to win in November. Their propaganda blitz in the media and with their polling never includes the fact that this proposed amendment goes much farther than sitting judges and does in fact include any body that claims to be shielded by judicial immunity. Those that meet that criteria as defined in Amendment E include, as ruled by Judge Gors, any decision maker who exercises judicial functions: petit jurors, grand jurors, school boards, county commissions, city councils, professional and occupational licensing boards, prosecutors and other attorneys.

If you noticed the poll question used by Zogby, that fact isn't mentioned and I have a feeling that many voters in South Dakota are unaware of this as well which could explain the popularity of the amendment in the cited poll.

While many South Dakotans may be unaware of how far reaching this bill is, most governmental bodies are which is evident by the fact that numerous cities, counties and school boards have passed resolutions in opposition to the proposed legislation.

I would be curious to hear the results if the same 500 South Dakotans were asked the following question which more accurately depicts Amendment E.
Amendment E called the Judicial Accountability Amendment will be on the ballot this November. The amendment would allow the creation of a citizen's oversight committee or special grand jury which would hear complaints of alleged judicial misconduct against judges, grand jurors, school boards, county commissions, city councils, professional and occupational licensing boards, prosecutors and other attorneys. If a judge, grand jurors, school boards, county commissions, city councils, professional and occupational licensing boards, prosecutors and other attorneys are found guilty of having engaged in misconduct, he or she would be removed from office and could never serve in any judicial capacity in South Dakota again and would be subject to fines and jail, and strip them of public insurance coverage and up to one-half of their retirement benefits if found guilty by a group of 13 citizens with no legal experience. Will you vote for Amendment E or will you vote against Amendment E?
Does any one suspect as I do that the results would be significantly different?

There is much more on Amendment E including the mis-information and half truths being brought forward by the J.A.I.Ler's that all voters should be made aware of before November so I would strongly recommend that everyone go to the No on E site to find out exactly what this legislation is all about.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

The Results Of The Bush Terror Plan

For those that think that torture and the foregoing of due process when handling terror suspects is the way we need to proceed, which is exactly what the Bush Administration is pushing for in Congress, should probably talk to former terror suspect and Canadian citizen Maher Arar. He has first hand knowledge of those policies.

Arar, now 36, was detained by U.S. authorities as he changed planes in New York on Sept. 26, 2002. He was held for questioning for 12 days, then flown by jet to Jordan and driven to Syria. He was beaten, forced to confess to having trained in Afghanistan -- where he never has been -- and then kept in a coffin-size dungeon for 10 months before he was released, the Canadian inquiry commission found.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Wisconsin Group Talks About Boycott

Annie Laurie Gaylor of the Women's Medical Fund is still claiming that their boycott of South Dakota tourism has had an effect and says she doesn't trust anything coming from the tourism industry.

"I have no hard statistics for you on our boycott, but I know people are boycotting South Dakota," Gaylor told The Associated Press. "They may be putting on a rosy front, but there has to have been damage."

The group called for the boycott soon after Governor Rounds signed HB1215 that would ban all abortion in South Dakota and statistics for July and August do show a downturn in tourism with a 6 percent drop in July and 8 percent drop in August.

Being the cynic that I am I seriously doubt that this small fringe group's efforts had much effect on the tourism drop reported the last few months as most of these boycott calls rarely work and I would think $3 dollar a gallon gas is a much more plausible explanation.

Sounds more like a case of wishful thinking on Gaylor's part...

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Light Week Ahead

It will be a light posting week ahead as I have trips to Pierre, Rapid City and then on to Minneapolis for a day. I hope to post a few items in between trips down I90.

I did want to touch on an interesting item I saw posted on Todd Epp's blog this morning. It seems that he and the Billion campaign have parted ways.

I have left the Billion for Governor campaign. Details may or may not follow.

As he said details may or may not follow but it does seem to be an interesting development considering we are only 6 weeks or so away from the elections. I was wondering why the almost daily press releases I had been getting from Todd had stopped, I guess I now know why.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

President Bush's Inner Child

Remember when you were a child how you would hold your breath and threaten that you would continue to hold it unless you got your way? Pretty childish wasn't it? Well that's the tactic George Bush is using in an attempt to get wide ranging interrogation authority from Congress.

President Bush warned defiant Republican senators yesterday that he will close down a CIA interrogation program that he credited with thwarting terrorist attacks if they pass a proposal regulating detention of enemy combatants, escalating a politically charged battle that has exposed divisions within his party.

In other words if our Congress doesn't give the CIA carte blanche to torture suspected terror suspects, they just won't interrogate them at all.

- Never mind the fact that it is against Common Article 3 of the Geneva Convention but as many Conservatives like to say, our enemies don't follow it anyway.

- Never mind the fact that information gathered by the use of torture is usually extremely accurate because we all know people won't just say anything you want to hear to make the torture stop.

- Never mind the fact that America's most well known former prisoner of war, John McCain is against allowing this as is one of our most popular former Generals in Colin Powell, but why should Bush care, as we all know his military service record is so long and distinguished.

- Never mind the fact that we as American's have always prided ourselves on taking the moral high ground when it comes to human rights but what the heck these are just mean ole terrorist "suspects" anyways.

But mommy, Johnny's parents let him do that so why can't I?

Friday, September 15, 2006

You Gotta Love The Hypocrisy

Regular readers here probably know my feelings on Congress's penchant for adding amendments to bills that have nothing to do with the main legislation itself. The latest example occurred yesterday when Democrats tried to add much needed drought relief and wildfire recovery funds to the Senate port security bill.

Living in South Dakota I would be the first to state how much this funding is needed in our area and I am fine with these amendments being written into a separate bill that addresses these needs but what I found totally ridiculous was the Republican reasoning behind blocking the amendments.
Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, said she is sympathetic to the concerns of Burns and Nelson but could not allow the amendment to move forward.

''Unfortunately this does not belong on the port security bill,'' she said.
Geez, wasn't it just last month that the Republicans added a nice tax cut for the richest Americans to the minimum wage bill? So I guess it's only ok when the GOP adds non-related amendments to bills...

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Add Powell To The List

You can add former Bush Secretary of State Colin Powell to the list of those in the GOP that are coming out against King George's plans to allow torture to be added to the bag of tricks used by the US in their interrogation techniques of suspected terrorists.

“The world is beginning to doubt the moral basis of our fight against terrorism,” said Powell, who served under Bush and is a former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. “To redefine Common Article 3 would add to those doubts. Furthermore, it would put our own troops at risk.”

With all the rhetoric from the right on how liberal's are weak on terror I wonder how they will now spin this against Democrats? Or maybe some in the GOP are starting to realize that stooping to the terrorist's level isn't where the US should be on this issue.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Oops!

Before running for office candidates might want to double check to see which party they are registered with and make sure it is correct before filing. That's the dilema that Republican Senate candidate Dennis Schmidt is facing in his run for the South Dakota District 33 Senate race.

The problem is that the Pennington County Auditor's Office had Schmidt listed as an independent when he signed his declaration of candidacy, but then it was changed to Republican. It is not clear where this issue is headed. Maybe to court?

Coming To A CBS Station Near You

CSI South Dakota meets the Deer Hunter.

"The natural resource that the law-abiding hunter and sportsman pursues is that asset worth protecting. And if the lawbreakers know that we are willing to go to the CSI extent to prove them guilty, then hopefully it will have a deterrent effect."

The only question that remains is who will play the lead investigator? Ted Nugent maybe?

That Darn Geneva Convention

Dick Cheney and Josh Bolten where on Capitol Hill yesterday attempting some damage control when they met with members of their own party trying to get them to go along with King George's plan to prosecute suspected terrorists (a plan that has long since been set in motion). It seems the administration is having a hard time following one article of the Geneva Convention in particular.

Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions prohibits "outrages upon personal dignity, in particular, humiliating and degrading treatment" of detainees. The Bush administration had maintained that those protections did not apply to prisoners captured in the U.S. counterterrorism campaign, but allies and human rights groups had criticized some U.S. interrogation practices, including simulated drowning.

One person that the Bush Administration might have a hard time convincing happens to be John McCain who knows a little bit about being held captive by a group that didn't follow that article.

That "is still the area we are farthest apart on," Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) told reporters.

It will be interesting to see how much torture King George and Co. will be able to get approved through Congress. To bad, as usual, they break the law first and then attempt to make it legal after the fact. No wonder members of the CIA are taking out legal insurance.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Note To Congress

You might want to think twice about authoring a bill that has bipartisan support as it will surely be used to forward someone else's political agenda.

The latest bill that fits into that category is the port security legislation that up until this afternoon was a sure bet to fly through the Senate. Instead Democrats added numerous provisions that will make it hard for Republicans to now support. Sound familiar? Can anyone say minimum wage?

<rant>We are already 5 years removed from 9/11 and our wonderful leaders in Congress are still trying to work out securing our ports. What is wrong with authoring a bill on one subject and then voting on it without adding on amendments that they know will put the legislation in jeopardy?

I know it's a pipe dream but it sure would be nice to have our elected officials actually accomplish something once in awhile...</rant>

Quote Of The Day

Stephen Colbert on ABC's "Path to 9/11"

"According to several reliable fictional accounts, and I saw one on ABC just last night, your President let bin Laden go; back when it was important to catch him. Not like after the attacks."

(h/t - Crooks And Liars)

Debate On School Reserves

The candidates for governor (at least the 2 that were invited) held a debate at the State Fair recently and one of the topics discussed dealt with the budget reserves held by the school districts in the state.

According to Gov. Rounds, the schools had $138 million sitting in their general funds and he took issue with that figure.

"So if they're taxing you and not spending it on their kids but putting it in their savings account, let's talk about that, because it ought to be going for the kids instead of into a checking account from year to year.''

Now I find several problems in regards to Gov. Rounds' concerns over that figure, first off what choices do the schools have? The legislature has refused to address any long term funding options for the schools and without money in reserve they could be looking at severe shortfalls in the future that would require dipping into those reserves just to keep the doors open in some districts.

Also because of the lack of any funding plan, they are unable to use that money for future budgeting that could include hiring new teachers or funding new programs because they do not know from year to year what will be in the schools coffers. How can anyone formulate a budget when they don't have any idea what they will have to spend?

Finally isn't it a bit hypocritical of Governor Rounds to criticise the schools for maintaning a reserve fund while at the same time allowing South Dakota to maintain trust funds and reserves that have grown under his watch to more than $1 billion? How can he keep a straight face when criticising schools for wanting a funding backup while at the same time maintaining various rainy day funds that are almost 6 times as large and refusing to dip into them?

If you really want to prevent this reserve fund from ballooning so high maybe you should consider getting with the legislators and try giving the schools more of a long term funding plan so they won't feel the need to put so much money aside.

Monday, September 11, 2006

First Fallout From ABC's Docu-Drama

American Airlines has come out with a statement in regards to ABC's much discussed docu-drama "The Path to 9/11".

AmericaBlog first reported last night as Part 1 was being broadcast the inaccuracy that showed American Airlines supposedly ignoring a warning on their computers about Mohammad Atta boarding their flight. Unfortunately in reality, the warning came up on US Airways' computers not when Atta was getting on the ill fated American Flight that hit the World Trade Center but earlier when Atta was boarding a flight in Portland.

Statement from American Airlines.
FORT WORTH, Texas, Sept. 11 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- American Airlines today issued the following statement regarding the ABC-TV program The Path to 9/11:

"The Disney/ABC television program, The Path to 9/11, which began airing last night, is inaccurate and irresponsible in its portrayal of the airport check-in events that occurred on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001.

"A factual description of those events can be found in the official government edition of the 9/11 Commission Report and supporting documents.

"This misrepresentation of facts dishonors the memory of innocent American Airlines employees and all those who lost their lives as a result of the tragic events of 9/11."

American said it will have no further comment beyond the statement at this time.
Maybe the screenwriters should have paid a bit more attention to the facts, but what the heck, it's only about one of the most important events in our history.

Campaign Leaders to Debate Amendment C

From the E-mail box:
Representatives for and against the proposed ban on civil unions, domestic partnerships, and the legally ambiguous “quasi-marital” relationships will debate the measure at Farber Hall on the University of South Dakota Campus on Monday, September 18 at 7:00 p.m. Jon Hoadley, campaign manager of South Dakotans Against Discrimination, and Rob Regier, executive director of the South Dakota Family Policy Council, will discuss Constitutional Amendment C.

The format includes opening statements from both presenters, followed by questions from the audience and closing statements. A recent poll reported that 49% of South Dakota voters are opposed to Amendment C.

The debate will be free and open to the public.

WHAT:Debate on Constitutional Amendment C, the ban on civil unions, domestic partnerships, and “quasi-marital” relationships.

WHO: Jon Hoadley, campaign manager of South Dakotans Against Discrimination

Rob Regier, executive director of the South Dakota Family Policy Council

WHEN: Monday, September 18, at 7:00 p.m.

WHERE: Farber Hall

University of South Dakota Campus

Vermillion, South Dakota

The Numbers Are In

ABC spent millions promoting it's docu-drama on the events leading up to 9/11 and gathered lots of free press from the 100's of right-wing pundits including Rush Limbaugh and what did it get them? According to the initial overnight ratings posted on Raw Story, a tie with CBS's rerun of their 9/11 documentary and about half the viewers of Monday Night Football.

Well at least they can hang their hat on the fact that they edged out the season premier of the Simpsons...

Bush Insurance

One economic boom that has been realized due to George Bush's policies on the war on terror involve the insurance industry and no it doesn't involve natural disaster responses by FEMA. Legal insurance is the new must have policy for CIA counterterrorism officers that are tasked with carrying out some of Bush's terror fighting policies.


The recent revelation by the Bush Administration of 14 terror suspects being held secretly at several "black sites" around the world and the interrogation tactics used on these individuals have caused CIA agents involved in this secret program to take out the insurance which would pay any civil judgments levied against them as well as any legal fees resulting from defending against these suits.

The new enrollments reflect heightened anxiety at the CIA that officers may be vulnerable to accusations they were involved in abuse, torture, human rights violations and other misconduct, including wrongdoing related to the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. They worry that they will not have Justice Department representation in court or congressional inquiries, the officials said.


At least the premiums for these policies are government-reimbursed, though it is too bad that they need to have this type of insurance in the first place.

5 Years Ago

9-11 5 Years Later



The day that we in the US will never forget happened 5 years ago today. Reflecting back on those 5 years many will write about how their lives have changed and where they were when the planes crashed into the Twin Towers and the Pentagon and a bit later in the field in Pennsylvania but today I believe the focus should really be on the almost 3000 people that lost their lives.


Along those line I would recommend that you go over to the 2996 project, a blog that is remembering these victims by having over 3000 bloggers joining together to commemorate each and every victim by posting a memorial one person at a time.


On a side note, with all the furor over ABC’s showing of "The Path to 9/11" which supposedly documented the events leading up to the 9/11 attacks, was anyone actually able to sit through the whole show? I honestly tried but I just couldn’t get over all the constant jumping around and lack of focus of the story. I read that many of the scenes that had caused the pre-showing furor made it in to the final cut but did anyone actually see them and if you did, were the writer’s intentions of laying much of the blame for the attacks on the Clinton Administration able to come through? Will you be watching part 2 tonight?

Saturday, September 9, 2006

The Path Less Traveled

You've got to love the Conservative banter ripping liberals over their outrage concerning ABC's docu-drama "The Path to 9/11". Claims that the anger is over how the film paints former president Bill Clinton in an unflattering light and places a lot of the blame on him for the attack seems to be the main focus of these Conservatives. But what gets lost in their condemnation is the fact that though Clinton was far from innocent in the pre-war on terror policies, many of the scenes are not based on facts but instead on screenwriter Cyrus Nowrasteh's imagination.
1. Contrary to the movie, no US military or CIA personnel were on the ground in Afghanistan and saw bin Laden.2. Contrary to the movie, the head of the Northern Alliance, Masood, was no where near the alleged bin Laden camp and did not see UBL.

3. Contrary to the movie, the CIA Director actually said that he could not recommend a strike on the camp because the information was single sourced and we would have no way to know if bin Laden was in the target area by the time a cruise missile hit it.

In short, this scene — which makes the incendiary claim that the Clinton administration passed on a surefire chance to kill or catch bin Laden — never happened. It was completely made up by Nowrasteh.

And
Mr. Berger’s character is also seen abruptly hanging up during a conversation with a C.I.A. officer at a critical moment of a military operation. In an interview on Wednesday with KRLA-AM in Los Angeles, Cyrus Nowrasteh, the screenwriter of the movie and one of its producers, said that moment had been improvised.“Sandy Berger did not slam down the phone,” Mr. Nowrasteh said. “That is not in the report. That was not script. But you know when you’re making a movie, a lot of things happen on set that are unscripted. Accidents occur, spontaneous reactions of actors performing a role take place. It’s the job of the filmmaker to say, ‘You know, maybe we can use that.’ ”

Now not all conservatives are in agreement with the airing of this docu-drama, Deacon over at Powerline has a suprisingly fair comment on this issue
My take (or prejudice) is that docu-dramas as a genre are unworthy of our time unless they present only the actual words and actions of the "players." In my view, if you use real names when employing this idiom, you have to use real words.

And conservative blogger Jon Swift also has a wonderful view on this as well.
I was relieved to find out that instead of making an animated version of the events of September 11, Disney was actually making a live-action film in the tradition of such live-action Disney classics as Son of Flubber and The Shaggy Dog. I still wasn't sure that America was ready for September 11 to be turned into heart-warming family entertainment but at least some of my worst fears were allayed. Considering that Disney produced the wonderful Chronicles of Narnia and was planning to produce a miniseries about the Holocaust helmed by Mel Gibson, I thought, how bad could it be? I was further reassured when I learned that the Republican chair of the 9/11 Commission, Tom Kean, was a paid consultant on the film, director David Cunningham was once an evangelical Christian missionary and screenwriter Cyrus Nowrasteh was an avowed conservative who had spoken at the conservative Liberty Film Festival.

No matter what side of the fence you are on, you have to admit that the fact that the producers of the show sent hundreds of copies out to Conservatives for screening but would not extend the same courtesy to their counterparts on the left should have sent out red flags right away. But once Rush Limbaugh, who happens to be a good friend of Nowrasteh, came out with glowing reviews of the show, his conservative kool aid drinkers automatically assumed that it must be the greatest thing since sliced bread and from then on the battle lines were drawn.

Bill Clinton and his administration can be blamed for a lot of the problems that led up to 9/11 but taking such poetic license and including outright falsehoods that make Democrats look worse than they actually were so close to the November elections is nothing more than a blatant attempt by those involved to influence those that don't know any better.

Of course all this could be a moot point as ABC is wavering on their decision to air the show and President Bush himself has thrown a monkey wrench into ABC's plans by asking for network airtime during the second night of the showing but either way, if you are going to make a documentary on such an important historical event so close to when it happened, use the facts and leave the political agendas at the door.

Friday, September 8, 2006

Kettle Calling The Pot Black

You know your global warming policy is bad or non-existent when the president of the world's third largest oil company is criticising it.

Shell President John Hofmeister
The Shell Oil Co. president, addressing a group in St. Louis Thursday, said as far as the company was concerned, the debate over the science of global climate change is over.

"It's a waste of time to debate it," he said. "Policymakers have a responsibility to address it. The nation needs a public policy. We'll adjust."

Quote Of The Day

If Shuler Tried to Pass a Bill, Would It Be Intercepted?

That is a sample of what you will find at a site whose one and only purpose is to campaign against the Democratic challenger for the House seat in Western North Carolina, former NFL quarterback Heath Shuler.

Is this coming from some Republican from the area trying to save a House seat for his party? Actually it is run by a San Diego Democrat that doesn't like Shuler not because of his platform or party affiliation but because in his mind (and many others by the way) he was a terrible quarterback that ruined his favorite NFL team the Washington Redskins.
"From an objective, quantitative viewpoint, Shuler was a terrible NFL quarterback," Woodmansee writes on his blog. "He completely failed at the one thing he was trained to do out of college, and yet was paid millions of dollars. The last thing we need in Washington is someone who gets paid a lot of money to do a lousy job."

In the end, whether Democrats or Republicans control the House doesn't matter, he said. "The really important thing is football. A Redskins Super Bowl vs. a Democratic Congress? That's not really that hard of a choice."

Maybe the new definition of an Independent?

Thursday, September 7, 2006

So What Is It?

Back in July it was announced that the CIA had closed the unit known as Alec Station whose sole purpose was to track down Osama Bin Laden. At the time the CIA said the closure reflected the notion that the focus should be more towards regional trends rather than on specific individuals.

It looks like the Senate thinks that wasn't such a good idea as today they unanimously voted to allocate $200 million to fund the same organization that the CIA felt was unnecessary.

Stay Away From This Kool Aid!

From CNN (emphasis added)

"There are some people, and I'm one of them, that believe George Bush was placed where he is by the Lord," Tomanio said. "I don't care how he governs, I will support him. I'm a Republican through and through."Blind faith is something isn't it? Scary...

(h/t-CCK)

Dilbert Weighs In

Actually it's Scott Adams, the creator and author of the famous Dilbert cartoons. On his blog he puts the whole "liberals are weak on terror" argument into perspective. (F-bomb edited)
Now, since I know from the comments that many of my readers are – inexplicably – also troglodytes, allow me to include a disclaimer here. I’m way more hawkish than you are. It just doesn’t look that way because my thinking is that if a bully punches you, you should run away. Later, when he’s asleep, put a bullet in his head and leave the gun in his little brother’s crib so it looks like a sibling squabble. In other words (again, for the troglodytes) being tough doesn’t require being stupid. It’s totally optional.

I’m not pro-Iranian or anti-American. I’d pave the rest of the world to save my American cat. The only thing I oppose is muddy thinking. If we need to send Americans into harm’s way, I want reasons and I want a full discussion of the options. Excuuuse the f*** out of me for asking for them.

(h/t - The Moderate Voice)

What's Next Mike?

That is the $64,000 question that keeps popping up. Dave Kranz from Governor Rounds' favorite newspaper has an article from a few days back discussing the beginning of campaign season. Eventually Kranz gets around to pulling out his crystal ball and looks towards 2008 and talks about the possibility of Rounds running against Tim Johnson for the Senate.
It is not surprising that some Republican operatives are jumping a couple of squares forward, wanting Rounds to challenge Democrat Sen. Tim Johnson in 2008. Rounds is still riding a popularity wave, but Johnson’s approval rating is higher than Rounds, and that makes it a risky proposition for the governor.

On the plus side, if Rounds wins, he is senator and he gets his likely choice, Lt. Gov. Dennis Daugaard, to succeed him in the governor’s office. And if he loses to Johnson, he’s still governor.

I myself and others have wondered this same question aloud for several months but Governor Rounds, other than saying that at this point he has no plans to seek that office, has been non-committal and when Kranz posed that question to Rounds his response was as cryptic as usual.
“I want to be governor,” he said.

Then he quoted the late Gov. George Mickelson.

“It’s the best job in the world.”

Maybe I should adjust the Governors poll to include Lt. Gov. Dennis Daugaard as a vote for Rounds in November could include 2 years of Daugaard leadership at worst and at best at least 3 or 4 months of his attention being taken up by a Senate campaign instead of focusing on state business.

Could it be that he is waiting for the legislature to address this question for him as that seems to be his way of making the tough decisions because we all know how difficult a yes or no answer can be...

Wednesday, September 6, 2006

9/11 Fictional Non-Fiction On ABC This Weekend

A docudrama that is supposedly based solely on the 9/11 commission report is scheduled to be aired on ABC this weekend and the producers have been more than happy to provide advanced copies to right-wing pundits and bloggers and have even sent out letters to schools urging teachers to tell kids to watch this story.

Liberal's on the other hand have been snubbed when requesting the same advanced copies including members of former President Clinton's staff many of whom are being blamed in the docudrama for the 9/11 attacks.

Keep up with the growing controversy on this work of fiction over at Think Progress. Darn that liberal media...

UPDATE 9/7: The WaPo has more on the Clinton reaction and Glenn Greenwald compares this "docudrama" and the response to the far right's outrage over the 2003 CBS documentary on Ronald Reagan which eventually led CBS to move it to Showtime.

DM&E Janklow And Daschle

Our newest South Dakota Blog SoDa Plains Politics has posted an editorial from the Huron Daily Plainsman on the DM&E project including the economic impact it would have on the states involved but what I took out of the article is the focus on Tom Daschle and Bill Janklow's involvement with the Mayo Clinic and the editor's comments on that relationship.
Besides arrogance, a closer look at the opponents reveals two more reasons why they are against the project - political and personal.
Former South Dakota Democratic Sen. Tom Daschle told The Associate Press in 2003: "This (DM&E) project would provide important benefits to many South Dakota communities and industries."

In 2001, former South Dakota congressman and Gov. Bill Janklow told the Plainsman: "I think no matter how you look at it (DM&E project), it is a good deal. The spin-off to South Dakota from the DM&E project is huge."
The key word motioned above is "former," because now, neither Daschle nor Janklow have any interest in what's best for South Dakota.
In April, Janklow said, "I feel the (DM&E) project is immoral." In May, Daschle told The AP he is backing efforts to stop the DM&E project.

Keep in mind, Daschle is a current member of the Mayo Clinic's board of directors and lost a heavily publicized Senate race to pro-DM&E Thune in 2004. And with his thoughts of running for president, it appears Daschle isn't thinking about South Dakota anymore.

As for Janklow, he quickly became the subject of ridicule after serving what many felt was too light of a sentence - 100 days in jail for driving and killing a motorcyclist - and then getting back his law license. It seemed many South Dakotans turned against him.

Simply, the anti-DM&E campaign is being fueled by egos, politics and personal grudges.
It appears that the talking points that Daschle used during his failed campaign just 2 years ago about how he was in the best position to fight for South Dakota was just that, talk.

On a side note did anyone catch Bill Janklow's response to KELO-TV last night when they tried to talk to him about the story they were doing regarding the Rounds death penalty controversy? They tried to get a comment from him on how the DOC's 3 drug procedure was drafted and put into place while he was still governor back in 2001.

His response, "I don't talk to the news."

How the mighty have fallen...

Tuesday, September 5, 2006

Let's Waste Some More Time

I am sure those of you that are regular readers here know that Don "Corleone" Rumsfeld isn't one of my favorite figures in King George's court but a plan by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee revealed in Time Magazine smells like more time wasting rhetoric to me.
Rep. Rahm Emanuel of Illinois, chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, tells TIME that his party will strike back by trying to force a vote of no-confidence in Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld in the next few weeks. "They want to play games; we'll meet them on a very real thing. We're going to deal with Don Rumsfeld's stewardship. Everybody but one person comes to the conclusion that it has been a total disaster, and that's Mr. Decider himself" — a sarcastic allusion to the President.

Rumsfeld is a perfect example of what's wrong with the current administration but what exactly are the Democrats going to accomplish by this purely symbolic measure? Will it change the minds of the Bush kool-aid drinkers? Will it push King George into relieving Rummy from his post? Of course the answer to these questions is no so how about you guys just get on with the business of working on the issues that really matter like say immigration reform and our security. But I guess when it comes to election year politics that is asking a bit too much.

Healy's "Bookkeeping Error"

Former SDDP executive director Bret Healy has filed 2 amended campaign finance reports in regards to the two contributions from a wealthy Minnesota activist.
The checks totaled $55,000, and were not included on the finance reports of the two PACs.Secretary of State Chris Nelson reviewed the matter after Quam's contributions became public in July in Minnesota. Copies of Quam's checks were among documents faxed anonymously to Minnesota reporters after an uproar ensued about Matt Entenza, Quam's husband and the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party candidate for Minnesota attorney general.

Entenza, the minority leader in the Minnesota House, withdrew from the attorney general's race in July after admitting to hiring a firm to research the DFL's candidate for governor.

Nelson determined that Quam's contributions weren't on the PAC reports and forwarded that information to Attorney General Larry Long.

Healy said last week that Quam's checks were deposited in the account of a third PAC rather than the two she wrote them to.

"I was responsible for all three committees at that time," he said.

The third PAC - the South Dakota Democratic State House Fund - did attribute $45,000 in contributions to Quam in its 2003 filing.

The amended report for the Wanalain Political Committee now shows a $30,000 contribution from Quam, as well as a $5,000 contribution from another PAC, the Capitol Committee. The original filing from 2003 for the Wanalain PAC showed no contributions.

That Didn't Take Long

Only several months removed from President Bush's speech promising a major overhaul of the immigration policies in the US, the GOP has decided that it isn't a political winner for them and will instead focus on other issues.
With Congress reconvening Tuesday after an August break, Republicans in the House and Senate say they will focus on Pentagon and domestic security spending bills, port security legislation and measures that would authorize the administration’s terror surveillance program and create military tribunals to try terror suspects.

“We Republicans believe that we have no choice in the war against terror and the only way to do it is to continue to take them head-on whether it is in Iraq or elsewhere,” said Representative John A. Boehner of Ohio, the majority leader.

A final decision on what do about immigration policy awaits a meeting this week of senior Republicans. But key lawmakers and aides who set the Congressional agenda say they now believe it would be politically risky to try to advance an immigration measure that would showcase party divisions and need to be completed in the 19 days Congress is scheduled to meet before breaking for the election.
I would bet this decision is based on what they are seeing around the country where huge pro immigration rallies aren't translating into increased Hispanic voter registrations.
Even in Los Angeles, where a 500,000-strong protest in March foreshadowed demonstrations across the United States, an increase in new registrations before the June primary was more trickle than torrent in a county of nearly 4 million voters.

Protest organizers — principally unions, Hispanic advocacy groups and the Roman Catholic Church — acknowledge that it has been hard to translate street activism into ballot box clout, though they insist their goal of 1 million new voters by 2008 is reachable.
The cynic in me has to laugh as who would have thought rallies made up largely of illegal immigrants would lead to increased voter registration as one of the few rights the illegals have yet to gain is the ability to vote but what it does show is the GOP's continued willingness to keep stirring the pot with conservative voters while doing nothing to fix the problems that face the country.

So now that the Labor Day weekend has come and gone and election silly season starts in earnest, we can expect the GOP to continue their campaign of rhetoric against the Democrats while not actually accomplishing anything where it matters. In other words business as usual...

Monday, September 4, 2006

Rounds' Excuses Are Starting To Show Some Holes

An AP article in this morning's Aberdeen News looks at several other states and their execution laws and it turns out that South Dakota isn't alone when it comes to their 2 drug procedure when performing executions.

Unlike here though, states like Oklahoma which by coincidence executed their 83rd inmate since 1990 on the same date that Governor Rounds stopped Elijah Page's execution, use a 3 drug cocktail even though their law calls for 2.
"No one's raised that issue here," Oklahoma Department of Corrections spokesman Jerry Massie told the Rapid City Journal.

Even Attorney General Larry Long is quoted as saying that the 2 drug law didn't apply because Page have waived all his rights. So what was Governor Rounds excuse again? Because it being illegal doesn't seem to have been the problem.

The illegal thing didn't fly so his next excuse revolved around the revulsion on the part of the family if only 2 drugs were used.
Page would have died quickly, but his body could have continued to twitch for a half-hour or more, the governor said."There would have been a lot of revulsion on the part of the family - and they don't deserve that - and on the part of the observers and on the part of the individuals we expect to carry out the penalty who had not been trained for a two-drug execution," Rounds said. "We would never have executed an individual in the future."

But that excuse doesn't fly either.
Dr. Jonathan Groner, associate professor at the Ohio State University College of Medicine, said an execution can produce a sight that witnesses find appalling but he questioned the point Rounds was trying to make.The two drugs used under South Dakota's law would be a barbiturate that induces a coma and a muscle relaxant that paralyzes the body, each of which is sufficient to kill, he said.

"Thus, there would be no twitching," Groner said.

Okay Mike, what's your latest excuse?

Why don't you just come out and tell the truth. You couldn't make a tough decision and waited until the last minute hoping the Page would let you off the hook, and when he didn't, you put the decision into the hands of the legislature instead.

John Dean On Donald Rumsfeld

Glenn Greenwald writing over at firedoglake had a very interesting interview with John Dean, the author of Conservatives Without Conscience, that I would recommend everyone read. One of Dean's comments that stood out to me dealt with Donald Rumsfeld when he first came to the Nixon White House back in 1970.
Rumsfeld came to the Nixon White House in 1970 some five months after I arrived. At the time, I asked White House chief of staff Bob Haldeman what Rummy was going to be doing. “Nothing,” Haldeman told me, explaining that they were placing him on the White House staff (giving him a sinecure) to bolster his chances to win a Senate race in IL.

In time, Haldeman — not to mention — Nixon came to distrust Rumsfeld. Many thought Nixon appointed him Ambassador to NATO as a promotion. In fact, they wanted to get him out of the White House. Haldeman called Rumsfeld “slimy” in his contemporaneous diaries, and Nixon is heard on his tapes discussing Rumsfeld in less than flattering terms.

Most ironic, given Rumsfeld’s current position on Iraq, Rumsfeld argued that Nixon should get the hell out of Vietnam. Rummy was a cut and run guy back then.

It gives an interesting perspective on how the guy that is preaching the "stay the course" line in Iraq now felt during the Vietnam War not to mention the lack of trust he earned during his early years in the Nixon Administration.

Crocodile Hunter Steve Irwin Dies In Freak Accident

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Irwin shown with his wife Terri (Australia Zoo via AP file)


Today will be a light one as far as posting goes because of the Labor Day holiday but I did want to touch on the news coming from Australia that Steve Irwin also know as the "Crocodile Hunter" was killed in a freak accident involving a stingray while filming a documentary off of Queensland.



Irwin was at Batt Reef, off the remote coast of northeastern Queensland state, shooting a segment for a series called "Ocean’s Deadliest" when he swam too close to one of the animals, which have a poisonous bard on their tails, his friend and colleague John Stainton said.


"He came on top of the stingray and the stingray’s barb went up and into his chest and put a hole into his heart," said Stainton, who was on board Irwin’s boat at the time.

Irwin made it fun to watch nature documentaries and his death will surely be felt among his millions of fans. Irwin leaves behind his wife Terri, an 8 year old daughter Bindi, and a 2 year old son Bob. More about Irwin can be read here.

Sunday, September 3, 2006

Taking One For The Home Team

During their captivity, Fox News reporters Steven Centanni and Olaf Wiig, were the darlings of the right with daily updates calling on readers to pray for their release.

Once the reporters were released a strange thing happened, the right decided that because part of the conditions of their release was that Centanni and Olaf were forced at gunpoint to convert to Islam, they were now somehow traitors.

Along these lines, self-proclaimed reasonable conservative Jon Swift has an excellent tongue in cheek look at the aftermath in the conservative blogosphere.
Once the conservative blogosphere secured the release of Centanni and Wiig, however, they began to have questions about their conduct. The fact that Centanni and Wiig were Fox News journalists did not shield them from scrutiny. In fact, it meant that they were held to a higher standard than just any old kidnapping victims. While we might expect bad behavior from Reuters or Al Jazeera journalists, who because of their biased reporting are legitimate military targets, we really expect a lot more from Fox newsmen. For some, the journalists' actions while in captivity were a "career ender."

The full article can be read here.

No Parking

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You’ve got to be amazed by the way they are able to park and move the numerous planes sitting on deck and still be able to launch and recover, I am and I watched it happen almost daily while at sea for over 5 years.

I took this from a RADAR platform on the USS Kitty Hawk in 1985. I’m starting to really feel old as a majority of the planes shown are no longer in active service including the A7 which actually was on it’s last legs even back in 85 soon after to be replaced by the F18.

Saturday, September 2, 2006

The Race For Governor - September Poll

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Now that Labor Day weekend is upon us and election silly season is ready to hit full swing, I will be continuing the monthly South Dakota Governor's race poll that was being run over at the now defunct South Dakota Politics and Elections site.

At issue this month is whether Governor Rounds' decision at the last minute to stay the execution of Elijah Page will affect anyone's decision on whether or not they will be voting for him this November. When voting in this poll please feel free to comment on your thoughts on how this decision figures in your choice if at all.

Banned

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It seems for some reason the powers that be over at Mt. Blogmore have seen fit to ban me. Not that it is a big deal as I have only posted maybe 2 or 3 general non-inflammatory comments and rarely even ever visited the site other than through my RSS reader but what bothers me is the folks that run the site have refused to even answer my emails requesting what was behind the ban. Not very South Dakota friendly of them is it...

Practicing What You Preach

Hypocrisy isn't an affliction that just affects the right. National Democrats have made the minimum wage one of their pet projects and the failed attempt earlier this summer is supposed to be one of the issues that they will be campaigning on for the November mid-terms. Along those lines, the Democrats might want to look at one of their own contractors which appears to not have gotten the message.

Grassroots Campaigns, a firm hired to help out with the fight against the Bush Administration in Wisconsin has in many cases paid their workers what works out to be just a little over $1 dollar an hour, well below Wisconsin's mandated minimum wage of $6.50 per hour.
Juan Ruiz says he put in about 45 hours working at Grassroots Campaigns for five days this year, and was paid just $56. And Miles Kristan produces pay stubs for two two-week periods, during which he says he typically worked 50 hours per week. One is for $339.81, the other for $281.50. Before taxes. (For these and more, see Document Feed at The DailyPage.com.)
Not only could this end up being illegal, it sure isn't the best way to go about making your point for the need for an increase.

Friday, September 1, 2006

Leadership Award?

Senator George "Macaca" Allen can't seem to get his name out of the news lately but in most cases for those seeking re-election that would be a good thing. Unfortunately for Allen though, it isn't the kind of press that does much to help his chances. This time unlike his infamous "Macaca" comments and the pictures with him and white supremacist groups, Allen wasn't directly responsible for the bad press.

For some reason the Thurgood Marshall Scholarship Fund chose to award Allen their Community Leadership award which he properly decided to decline but only after an outpouring of criticism from donors to the foundation.

"The foundation told the senator that they've been catching a lot of static from members and some of their donors, and before it spins into a week of controversy, we just decided to decline it," Allen spokesman John Reid said.

Now the question that really should be asked is why, with Allen's history, was a foundation named after a prominent civil rights attorney and the first African American Supreme Court Justice be awarding this honor to him in the first place? What was Gordon Lee Baum, the Council of Conservative Citizens organizer and individual that Allen was pictured with not available?

History's Worst?

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Shaun Mullen over at Kiko’s House lays out his opinions. (H/T - The Moderate Voice)