Friday, November 30, 2007

The Next Program To Get Cut

School funding will be a big topic for discussion as the lawsuit against the state goes forward and during the upcoming legislative session. So when I saw this headline and accompanying story, I felt that it fit perfectly within that discussion.

Underfunded Schools Forced To Cut Past Tense From Language Programs

Faced with ongoing budget crises, underfunded schools nationwide are increasingly left with no option but to cut the past tense—a grammatical construction traditionally used to relate all actions, and states that have transpired at an earlier point in time—from their standard English and language arts programs.

A part of American school curricula for more than 200 years, the past tense was deemed by school administrators to be too expensive to keep in primary and secondary education.

Then the response from fictional educators in The Onion story sounded just like our school administrators as they are announcing the latest funding related cut.

"This was by no means an easy decision, but teaching our students how to conjugate verbs in a way that would allow them to describe events that have already occurred is a luxury that we can no longer afford," Phoenix-area high-school principal Sam Pennock said. "With our current budget, the past tense must unfortunately become a thing of the past."

And yes I know it is satire but not far from the truth here in South Dakota, especially for those of us with children in rural school districts.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

The Planters Are In Full Bloom

The controversy over the FEMA press conference that used agency staffers as questioners has added a new term to our political landscape, the plant. Last night's CNN YouTube Republican debate went so badly that many went looking for reasons why. Of course it couldn't be the fact that the crop of candidates wouldn't strike fear in anyone so it had to be something else and sure enough if you look hard enough you can find something.
Digging out more CNN/YouTube plants: Abortion questioner is declared Edwards supporter (and a slobbering Anderson Cooper fan); Log Cabin Republican questioner is declared Obama supporter; lead toy questioner is a prominent union activist for the Edwards-endorsing United Steelworkers
So how about that, the GOP candidates flopped because some of the questions came from Democratic supporters. So I suppose if one of these candidates somehow won the election they would only be governing those that support them? Talk about a weak excuse, blame someone for lobbing softballs (diamonds or pearls?) if you must but blaming the poor performance of GOP candidates on the affiliation of the questioners especially when the questions could hardly be called partisan is just plain ridiculous.

Go Pack Go!

That is unless you live in one of the approximately 60 percent of US households that do not get the NFL network as part of their cable package or live in the respective TV markets of the Packers and Cowboys. Tonight's game which pits two teams with some of the biggest national fan bases in the league and whom are both 10-1 becomes just the latest pawn in the big boy pissing contest between the NFL and cable providers that believe that a handful of games a year doesn't justify the addition to their basic cable package and in my case it isn't available at all no matter what package you get (thanks Golden West, may I have another?).

Do you believe that after this week the furor over this will end just as it did last year? What will be the reaction if the final week of the season finds the New England Patriots at 15-0 and facing a very good New York Giants team in what could be a history making game as they go for the first undefeated regular season since 1972? I will give you one guess as to which network has that game and if you guess CBS, FOX, NBC, or ESPN you would be wrong (thanks Golden West, may I have another?). If that happens, today's fan backlash will be just a drop in the bucket.

Some might think based on my less than nice comments regarding my cable provider, Golden West, that I am blaming the cable operators exclusively for this issue. Of course the fact that their rates are ridiculously high, their HD offerings total 9 channels not even including our local FOX affiliate, and their basic and digital offerings aren't much better might be clouding my judgment somewhat but I think the NFL is just as culpable. Like Golden West (thanks Golden West, may I have another?), current estimates have approximately 75 million households without easy access to the network but still the NFL decides to place 8 regular season games on the channel each year despite their claim that the NFL is the game for the masses. Which masses would those be Commissioner Goodell, the ones that can afford to subscribe to your partner in the financial rape of the masses, Direct TV and their NFL Sunday Ticket?

The cable TV industry is a mess and needs an overhaul. Many in Congress are starting to agree and the FCC is now looking into adding more regulations to the industry. Would I like to have the NFL network available without having to cut down 100 year old trees so I could have access the satellite networks? Of course but is the extra cost that would surely follow for 8 games a year of which only a few would be interesting to me and 7 months of useless content that is shown during the off season be worth it? Probably not and because of the NFL and Cable TV operator's greed and stubbornness, the only losers will end up being their customers but because both pretty much have monopolies on their respective markets, they can get away with it and you can bet we will be having this same argument for years to come. But heck at least I still get the RFD and PTL networks...

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Dream Ticket?

Dennis Kucinich has announced his first choice for a running mate if hell freezes over and he wins the Democratic presidential nomination.
"I'm thinking about Ron Paul" as a running mate, Kucinich told a crowd of about 70 supporters at a house party here, one of numerous stops throughout New Hampshire over the Thanksgiving weekend. A Kucinich-Paul administration could bring people together "to balance the energies in this country," Kucinich said.
Kind of makes our current team of Bush/Cheney look a lot better doesn't it?

Be afraid, very afraid...

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Scott Lawsuit Against Argus Goes To Court

Does this sound like sarcasm at first glance? Can you tell that it is parody?

Divisively arrogant: Dan Scott’s apology
By Randell Beck
email address redacted
Published: July 15, 2007

News item: Dan Scott of the Sioux Falls Development Foundation, under fire for comments directed toward out-of-state lawmakers, has said his remarks were taken out of context.

Speaking at a June 15 breakfast, sponsored by the Sioux Falls Area Chamber of Commerce for lawmakers from across the state, Scott stressed the importance of helping Sioux Falls develop. If they don’t, Scott said, “Stay out of the way, will you? We’ve got a city to build!”

Some public officials across the state characterized the remark as divisive and arrogant. Seeking to mend fences, members of the foundation’s board asked Scott to write a letter of apology to lawmakers.

Scott’s letter, dated July 5, is available at Or you can read a reasonable facsimile right here.

To: South Dakota Legislators

From: Dan Scott, Sioux Falls Development Foundation

You may have read an article in the Argus Leader blatantly misquoting my remarks at a recent Chamber of Commerce breakfast for out-of-state lawmakers.

You know how that newspaper is, so you won’t be surprised to learn that when I said, “Stay out of the way, will you? We’ve got a city to build,” I was, uh, let’s see, I was really talking about legislators in NORTH Dakota. Yeah, that’s it! North Dakota. That was obvious to everybody, and even though I am not admitting I said anything like that, leave it to the Argus Leader to put a negative spin on it.

Well, after the Argus Leader misquoted me saying what I’m not admitting I actually said, the whole thing blew up. Now my job is on the line. A few hicks from small towns with zero hope of ever having a strip mall or a river walk complained about what I said - even though I didn’t say it - and now the money boys in town are squeezing me hard. They told me I had to apologize to you, which I’m not officially doing in this letter, because I did nothing to apologize for, even though I’m hoping people are dumb enough to think I’m apologizing, which I’m not.

Here in the golden city of Sioux Falls, we’re pretty darn proud of our success. Let’s be honest: We have more money, better jobs and nicer houses than other towns. Even the governor, who lives in one of those towns, has called us the “economic engine” of the state. As I like to say, an engine doesn’t get very far without other important stuff - like, oh, the glove box or cup holders. If we didn’t think the small towns of South Dakota were important, we wouldn’t have launched our campaign to persuade young people to leave them and move to Sioux Falls so they can get better jobs, more money and nicer houses.

Here in the shining city of Sioux Falls, we’ve been bellyaching privately for a long time that the state Legislature is dominated by people like you from small towns who don’t care a whit about our little slice of paradise.

We finally got some of our guys into leadership positions in the Legislature, and so we think we’ve got a decent chance to take over. Our motto is: “What’s good for Sioux Falls is good for South Dakota.” If political muscle doesn’t work and you still vote against bills that give us a blank check to do anything we want, we may secede and move to Iowa.

Oh, I’m just kidding on that one.

In conclusion, I feel certain we are all on the same page when it comes to making this state a better place for our children and grandchildren - as long as you speak reverently of Sioux Falls and enthusiastically support everything we want. Because all of us are public servants selflessly devoted to the common good, we are bound to encounter an occasional disappointment along the way, such as being misquoted and taken entirely out of context when I was clearly talking trash about North Dakota lawmakers, not you. If I manage to keep my job, I intend to work even harder in the future to brag about our good fortune to live, work and play in a city like Sioux Falls.

Too bad you don’t.

Many readers of the article when it first appeared in the Argus Leader didn't think so and now a judge is reviewing the libel case brought forward by Sioux Falls Development Foundation president Dan Scott against the Argus and Executive Editor Randall Beck. Lawyers from both sides including ironically Scott attorney and no fan of the Argus Bill Janklow, made their cases today to Judge Kathleen Caldwell who must now determine whether the case should go forward.
Dan Scott is asking for $1 million in damages for the article written by Sioux Falls Argus Leader Executive Editor Randall Beck.

The lawyer for the newspaper asked the judge to dismiss Scott's lawsuit, claiming a reasonable reader would recognize the article as a parody, which is protected under the 1st amendment.
Parody is protected speech but is it really parody if no one gets the joke? We should know in 2 weeks whether the judge thinks the case has merits.

(Note: The above article is no longer available online nor it it still cached in Google but is taken from an earlier post that contains the article taken directly from Google's cached page before it was purged)

Stones And Glass Houses

Barack Obama is apparently turning up the heat on Hillary Clinton as the first sets of caucuses and primaries draw near. His latest dig aimed at his chief rival concerns her experience.

"I think the fact of the matter is that Sen. Clinton is claiming basically the entire eight years of the Clinton presidency as her own, except for the stuff that didn't work out, in which case she says she has nothing to do with it," Obama said, and added, referring to his relationship with his wife, Michelle, "There is no doubt that Bill Clinton had faith in her and consulted with her on issues, in the same way that I would consult with Michelle, if there were issues," Obama said. "On the other hand, I don't think Michelle would claim that she is the best qualified person to be a United States Senator by virtue of me talking to her on occasion about the work I've done."

While I agree totally with Obama's assertion that sitting at the big boy table with her husband during his 8 years in charge hardly qualifies Hillary to do anything other than pick colors for the White House residence or choosing the official White House china pattern, should someone whose only national political experience entails the almost 3 years he has served to date of his Senate seat be questioning someone's experience?

And speaking of those 3 years, that is about half of what Hillary has so maybe he should move on to his next talking point.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Hair Metal Icon Dead In Vegas

Kevin Dubrow, the lead singer of one of hair metal's pioneering groups Quiet Riot, was found dead in Vegas. Even though the group could be technically considered a one hit wonder with 1983's “Cum on Feel the Noize”, they are often credited along with Van Halen with making hair metal cool after their Metal Health album hit #1 on Billboard. That success opened the door for the scores of Aqua Net doused bands that followed throughout the 80's.

Support Ron Paul, Patronize The Bunny Ranch

The old saying goes, "You can pick your friends but you can't pick your relatives" should be amended for politics to include you also can't pick your supporters because if you could, some in the Ron Paul Army would surely be suspect. The latest to come out of the woodwork in support of the red-headed step child of GOP presidential candidates is Dennis Hof, owner of the Moonlite BunnyRanch.
"I'll get all the (working girls) together, and we can raise him some money," Hof told the Reno Gazette-Journal. "I'll put up a collection box outside the door. They can drop in $1, $5 contributions."

Hof and two of his prostitutes, Brooke Taylor and a woman who goes by Air Force Amy, attended a Paul news conference.

The women said they liked Paul's message, but wanted to learn more about other candidates before making a decision.
One thing that you have to give Paul supporters credit for, they sure come up with new and novel ways get contributions.

Code Of Conduct

While I do agree with Lowell over at Badlands Blue who questions Governor Rounds' refusal to comment on the new code of conduct being worked on for our lawmakers...
C'mon, now, is this really that difficult to comment on? I mean, if the leader of the state can't even bring himself to say, "YES, we need a code of ethical conduct for our legislators," what does that tell you about him?
The fact that anyone actually believes a piece of paper that states that lawmakers should not molest children along with other common sense "rules" is going to accomplish anything or improve their image should be the real question. All it shows me is that common sense is apparently not so common anymore to the point where our legislators think they should re-enforce these rules and that a sicko will be a sicko with or without a code of conduct.

Doing Your Part For The Environment

Anyone of my generation probably remembers the old console TV's, you know the big 25 inch sets encased in wood (or some reasonable facsimile) that sat on your floor. Nowadays, everything is made of plastic that if not recycled, ends up filling our landfills. If you have a wish to go back to those good old days or want something a bit more environmentally friendly, A Swedish manufacturer called Swedx might have the answer. They have numerous products that have eliminated a majority of the plastic used in consumer electronics products and replaced it with wood.
The technological development is rushing forward, sometimes at the expense of environment. Nowadays caring about the environment is a central priority. SWEDX aims towards a better environment and makes its products 100 % recyclable cabinets in factories with environmentally friendly certificates.
Not only do they make TV's from 17-46 inches, they also sell PC monitors, mice, and keyboards all made with wood with more products on the way. Unfortunately though it appears that they only have outlets in Europe and the Middle East so those of us in the West might have to wait to get our solid oak wall mounted flat screen.

What You Don't See Is Almost As Bad As What You Do See

The not so publicized cost of the war that you won't see on all the rosy accounts of the recent events in the war.
At least 20,000 U.S. troops who were not classified as wounded during combat in Iraq and Afghanistan have been found with signs of brain injuries, according to military and veterans records compiled by USA TODAY.

The data, provided by the Army, Navy and Department of Veterans Affairs, show that about five times as many troops sustained brain trauma as the 4,471 officially listed by the Pentagon through Sept. 30. These cases also are not reflected in the Pentagon's official tally of wounded, which stands at 30,327.

The number of brain-injury cases were tabulated from records kept by the VA and four military bases that house units that have served multiple combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan.

One base released its count of brain injuries at a medical conference. The others provided their records at the request of USA TODAY, in some cases only after a Freedom of Information Act filing was submitted.
Some more creative accounting practices brought to you by the Bush Administration.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Giving Thanks

Light posting ahead as the family prepares to make the 950 mile drive to Ohio later this afternoon for the Thanksgiving holiday. If you are so inclined you might want to check out the new blog from the veterans organization VetVoice, a blog by vets that focuses on issues facing vets, officially kicks off today with guest posts from several Presidential candidates. Check them out and read what these candidates have to say about issues veterans care about.

I hope that you have a very happy Thanksgiving and see you back here soon.

Abortion End Around?

While the South Dakota legislature again contemplates banning abortion, several other states are using different tactics. I missed this when it first came out last week but Colorado is looking to ban abortion by not banning abortion as a procedure but instead by giving fertilized eggs person hood.
The Colorado Supreme Court cleared the way Tuesday for an anti-abortion group to collect signatures for a ballot measure that would define a fertilized egg as a person.
Interesting tactic that could have far reaching effects and would be a religious right utopia because as the article suggests it could not only prevent any and all abortions, but might also translate to other controversial issues.
Wittneben and others said the measure would have would hamper in-vitro fertilization and stem cell research and would effectively ban birth control.
I'm surprised our local zealots Roger and Leslie hadn't come up with this tactic, it seems to be right up their alley.

(h/t - Crooks and Liars)

Monday, November 19, 2007

Pictures Tell The Story?

I often monitor what some of the more popular right wing blogs are talking about as I have many of their feeds in my RSS reader. Over time one thing sort of caught my eye so I thought I would dig a little deeper and sure enough my suspicions seemed correct. The percieved front runner, and therefore the most wrote about and hated Democrat by those on the right can be determined just by searching the images used by the right wing bloggers as witnessed by the images above and below.

Furthering that theory, do an image search on Google for the presidential candidates and the number of unflattering images seems to be directly proportional to their spot in the polls. Just check out Hillary and you will see several very unflattering snapshots as well as numerous creative photoshop edits using her image while similar searches of other candidates finds mostly very presidential photos and portraits. Looking at the Hillary pictures is it any wonder why she gets the reputation as being bitchy which was re-enforced recently by the flap with John McCain and the question about Hillary Clinton's character?

So what does this mean in the overall scheme of things? Probably not much but it does bring back memories of 2004. Anyone remember this?

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Just Ignore It, It Will Go Away Sooner Or Later

Apparently that is what some think our legislature should do this session in regards to education. KELO has a story about some tenative plans for the upcoming session which includes a comment from Democratic Senator Sandy Jerstad whom would actually like to look at funding our education system.
Democratic Senator Sandy Jerstad is hopeful the education lawsuit brought on by parents and their children will move education to the front of the line when it comes to deciding who gets more money this legislative session

"I'm hoping that we can strike a deal right away," Jerstad says.

Jerstad says since the funding formula was put in place over a decade ago, schools continue to lose money. Last year a senate bill that would have given school districts a 4.3% annual increase in funding failed. Jerstad says if that bill would have passed a funding lawsuit may have never existed.

"I do believe that if the districts knew that they were going to receive the bill that we did last year I think they would cancel their lawsuit," she says.
Now having our legislature actually address school funding instead of putting a year to year band aid on it might seem to be a good idea to most, but apparently not everyone thinks it should be addressed and instead believes our legislators should just continue to ignore it.
Sioux Falls Democratic Senator Sandy Jerstad exhibits something intestinal, because it isn’t fortitude this morning on KELOland, as she points out how in her view legislators need to strike a deal right away on education this session because of the pending lawsuit against the state.

Regardless of the fact that one court has basically said that school funding is up to the legislature, the Attorney General believes such lawsuits to be without merit, AND the legislature traditionally shies away from matters that are set to be heard in a court of law
Pretty interesting logic there, instead of addressing a problem that many parents and educators felt needed addressed to the point they were compelled to sue the state, our legislators should instead ignore it (as usual) because it will be decided in the courts. Oh and while they ignore issues being addressed in the courts they instead will likely work a bill that would put our state into court when they again look at attempting to ban abortions.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

A Case Of Johnsonitis

Governor Mike Rounds continues to confound those looking at a run at Tim Johnson's Senate seat. This time he has confused one of those seeking to unseat Johnson, Joel Dykstra, when he was discussing the Governors future plans including his thoughts on running against Johnson next year.

During an interview with the Mitchell Daily Republic, Dykstra's communications director mentioned what Governor Rounds told Dykstra when asked about his plans for next year.
After Dykstra left our office, I asked his communications director, Sue Salter, for clarification. I wanted to know whether there had been a conversation between Rounds and Dykstra about a possible Rounds for Senate candidacy, and if there had been, what was said.

Salter said there had indeed been a conversation. She wasn't a party to it, but she said she felt comfortable in paraphrasing the governor. Rounds had apparently been as vague and open-ended with Dykstra as he's been with everybody else.

"The governor told Joel that he plans to be governor for three more years, so you tell me what that means," Salter said.
Can't anyone in South Dakota politics give a straight answer? Rounds' answer sounds eerily similar to what Senator Johnson's staff had maintained up until he finally came out and admitted his intentions. Isn't it amazing how a simple yes or no question can be so difficult?

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Light Posting Continues

Light posting, more likely no posting, will continue through tomorrow afternoon as I am again west river and unfortunately the hotel wireless is making my old 56K dialup look like a T1 line so feel free to read some of my older posts or just talk among yourselves.

Monday, November 12, 2007

More On Lowering The Drinking Age

Apparently the talk of lowering the drinking age that started West River with Rapid City's Bill Napoli has now migrated East River to of all places Flandreau. N. Bob Pesall, a lawyer from the town best known for their casino, thinks that 19 year olds should be allowed to imbibe 3.2 beer and is starting a campaign that could lead to getting that on the ballot in 2008.
Pesall said he and several other people, whom he declined to identify, believe the drinking age should be 19. On behalf of the group, Pesall drafted a proposal that was submitted to the Legislative Research Council for review. But Pesall is not yet sure if he'll help launch a petition campaign.

The measure could make the 2008 general election ballot if 16,776 signatures are collected by April 1. It would allow 19 and 20 year olds to buy low-point beer. They could be served in bars only if those businesses do not sell liquor or have separate areas for consumption of beer by those younger than 21.
So now a lawyer wants to put alcohol into a teenagers hands, what's the matter not enough ambulances to chase so you have to look to drum up more business?

The Edwards Promises

John Edwards has just announced his "Plan To Build One America" (pdf warning) which maps out what he would like to accomplish during his Presidency if elected. Within the 80 page e-book, Edwards discusses some of his proposals to:
- End the War in Iraq: We should immediately withdraw 40,000 to 50,000 combat troops and bring home the rest within nine to ten months. We also need a “diplomatic surge” to engage all nations in the region in reaching a political solution in Iraq.

- Guarantee Universal Health Care: This is a moral issue. I will stand up to the big drug and insurance companies and guarantee health care for every American, while cutting costs and improving care. My plan costs $90 billion to $120 billion. To pay for it, I will repeal the Bush tax cuts for families above $200,000 a year to pay for it.

- Support Middle Class Families: I will raise the minimum wage, strengthen workers’ rights to organize and reject bad renewable energy and strengthen rural schools. I will stand up for family farms with country of origin labeling, antitrust enforcement, a ban on packer ownership and a moratorium on building or expanding concentrated animal feeding operations.

- Support Middle Class Families: I will raise the minimum wage, strengthen workers’ rights to organize and reject bad trade deals. I will help families save, cut taxes for middle class families, protect pensions and lift millions out of poverty.

- Teach Our Children: We must end No Child Left Behind’s punitive approach and restore a comprehensive curriculum. I support universal early childhood education, smaller classes and better teacher pay. My College for Everyone plan will make college affordable for every student willing to work part-time.

- Achieve Energy Independence and Fight Global Warming: The crisis of global warming demands action today. I will cap and reduce greenhouse gases by 80 percent by 2050, as scientists say is necessary, and invest in innovation and renewable energy to create new jobs that cannot be sent overseas.
This was just released but I am sure the right-wing spin machine is already gearing up. Some of the highlights that will surely catch their eye include Edwards' health care plan that not only would require health care for everyone but would pay for it by repealing tax cuts for the rich (ouch, double whammy). Edwards would also work towards reducing global warming by mandating that greenhouse gases generated by business be reduced by 80%. (another double whammy). And finally of interest to us here in the Midwest, Edwards wants to expand the bio-fuels industry by requiring that oil companies install bio-fuel pumps at a minimum of 25 percent of their stations, require that automakers produce nothing but flex fuel vehicles, and would require that 25 percent of our electricity be generated with renewable energy. (though were would we grow all this bio material?)

There is a lot more listed in his "book" so I would recommend that you read through it if you are interested in what Edwards stands for. But to be honest some of his proposals are nothing more than pipe dreams like eliminating poverty while the majority of his more reasonable plans would never make it through Congress because they fly in the face of big business which would surely buy all the support they need to ensure none of these plans ever make it out of Congress.

Google: The Left Wing Shill Company

Having owned and run web sites of various types for almost 4 years, my love/hate relationship with Google is directly related to how much traffic they would send me, the more they send, the more I like them and visa versa. But who would have thought that Larry Page and Sergey Brin actually started Google to forward their left wing agenda?

According to one of the right-wing's versions of Media Matters, that's exactly what they have been doing by not commemorating Veterans Day (up until yesterday) and Memorial Day by decorating their logo.

Having ignored Veterans Day since 1999, Internet behemoth Google has finally chosen to commemorate this holiday by decorating its logo (h/t NB reader Brian Snyder).

As NewsBusters readers are aware, this has been a source of contention for conservatives that believe Google at times uses its emblem to make political statements.

Who would have thought that a company that follows the conservative business model to a tee by making money hand over fist, often to the detriment of the little guy, is actually a left wing front? Again I must say, it must be rough always believing that someone is out to get you...

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Magic Bat

Figure the odds of this happening. I hope the player bought a lottery ticket after the game.

A Day To Honor Our Vets

Considering the world we live in and the sacrifices our military members are making on a daily basis, Veterans Day has special meaning for most including myself. So in honor of those that have served and who still serve, I thank you!

Refueling at sea

And carrying on this blog's on again off again tradition of photo blogging on my travels during my own time in the military, I have posted a picture of one of the more dangerous maneuvers done at sea. The above is a picture of the beginning of refueling operations at sea as the Kitty Hawk is coming into position with an oiler. Even Hummer drivers would surely be happy with their mileage when comparing it to a 90,000 ton aircraft carrier.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Always Good To Be Reminded

After a week that included a former state legislator being convicted of terrible crimes, a former sheriff being arrested for killing his wife and a murder trial West river, one might think that they are living somewhere other than South Dakota, then a story gets printed that reminds you of where you actually are.

Police investigating disappearance of landscaping stones

Friday, November 9, 2007

How's That Free Market Thing Working For You Now?

Awhile back Hillary Clinton discussed her thoughts on what she would do with health care if she won the White House and seconds later she was pummeled by the right whom buckle in fear when a democrat talks health care. In their minds it will surely lead to socialized medicine which everybody knows is a bad thing right?

While they run from the democratic plans, they continue to tout the current free market system for heath insurance as the only way to go because it is just working so well up to now. Just ask those that can't get it and those that get dropped because they are too expensive, often in the middle of possibly life saving procedures.
Woodland Hills-based Health Net Inc. avoided paying $35.5 million in medical expenses by rescinding about 1,600 policies between 2000 and 2006. During that period, it paid its senior analyst in charge of cancellations more than $20,000 in bonuses based in part on her meeting or exceeding annual targets for revoking policies, documents disclosed Thursday showed.

The revelation that the health plan had cancellation goals and bonuses comes amid a storm of controversy over the industry-wide but long-hidden practice of rescinding coverage after expensive medical treatments have been authorized.
Ok so I see how the free market works for heath insurance, don't get sick and pay ever increasing premiums and if you do get sick, forget about insurance at all while the insurance companies pay huge bonuses to the employees that cancel the most policies. The GOP free market at system work...

Thursday, November 8, 2007

The End Of An Era?

Even after his much blogged about troubles, the Clean Cut Kid's web site remained up and running I suppose as a testament to what used to be. From time to time  after his troubles came to light I would check back to see if he had returned or at worst to see how many viagra spam comments had made it through that day. Today's check might end up being my last as the "Server not found" error could quite possibly mean that the Clean Cut Kid is no more.

Chad's site was one of the first South Dakota blogs I read and inspired me to start my own small place in the blogosphere. So while the site's passing isn't a surprise, it is a shame.

Politics And Labels, Sometimes They Just Fit

I sometimes go overboard with labels when discussing politics as do many other bloggers. Terms like nutroots, secular humanists, and in my case wingnuts get used all too often. But then something I read re-affirms my willingness to use labels because they just fit and to be honest allow me to not say the word or words that actually come to mind.

The issue of the day for the "wingnut nation" of the far right is the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) which seeks to grant protections in the workplace against discrimination of gay men, lesbians and bisexuals. It passed the House yesterday 235-184 and the wingnuts are coming out of the woodwork in opposition and you know why? Because it puts the religious freedom for Christian employees and business owners is in jeopardy!

Of course the head homophobe in the White House will more than likely veto this legislation if it ever makes it that far and they have no where near the votes needed to override it, but to be honest I'm still trying to figure out how discriminating against someone's sexual orientation would put a business owner's religious freedom at risk? To put icing on the hate cake, a commenter at the link above really puts the mentality of these homophobes into perspective. A person named Kermit wrote a comment in response to another commenter that actually thought this bill was a good step.
kerwin Says:
November 8th, 2007 at 1:43 am


Why not? Homosexuals are a huge health care cost and thus raise the bill for everyone else. That is extremely unfair to those who choose not to live a homosexual lifestyle. But I suppose you are unfair.
What??? Sounds like Fred Phelps and his "the problems in the world are caused by Gays" church has another member.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

I Want One Of These!

Anyone in my age demographic that loves muscle cars will surely remember the movie Bullitt. Not only did it feature what many call the greatest car chase ever filmed, it launched the Ford Mustang even deeper into cult status. Ford surely remembers and to commemorate the 4oth anniversary of the movie (man do I feel old...) they have announced plans for the 2008 Mustang Bullitt.

The new new special edition will be available in Dark Highland Green, similar to the color used on the original movie version. The only other color available on this version will be black. (Dark Highland Green is not used for any other Mustang version and, Ford (Charts, Fortune 500) promises, it never will be.)

The 2008 Mustang Bullitt will be powered by a 4.6-liter V8 engine tuned to deliver 315 horsepower, 15 hp more than the regular V8 Mustang. It will also have suspension, chassis and brake upgrades for improved handling.

"Like the original Bullitt, this car dials the driving dynamics up a notch for Mustang enthusiasts who love the performance, handling and sweet sound of Ford power that only Mustang can deliver," said Derrick Kuzak, Ford's vice president for global product development, in a statement.

315 horsepower and exhaust tuned to mimic the sound from the 68 'stang in the movie will only cost you a hair over 31 grand. I guess it's time for me to start saving my pennies. The only thing that could make this car cooler would have been to have the late Steve McQueen still around to introduce it, so for those too young or that somehow have never seen Bullitt, I present what I believe to be the greatest car chase ever put on film.

I wonder if it is too early to get down to Sioux Falls Ford and get my name on the waiting list?

At Least He Is Consistent

Pork and earmarks seem to be the buzzwords of the day on the heels of the Tim Johnson sponsored $1M earmark for the Daschle Center for Public Service and Representative Democracy (what a name, how much of the $1M is for the building sign?) at SDSU. When talking pork and politics you seem to get a lot of doublespeak and hypocrisy and our Reps aren't immune.

First Badlands Blue calls out John Thune's criticism of earmarks in the wake of this bill considering his support of the Robert Dole Institute of Politics just a few years ago at the University of Kansas.
Gee, that's interesting, because I could have sworn John Thune was in the House of Representatives for the Robert J. Dole Institute of Politics at the University of Kansas and the name change from Washington National to Reagan National airport by bill S. 1575, which passed in the House by voice vote on February 5, 1998. John Thune supported both pieces of legislation. It is especially noteworthy that Thune voted yes for the Conference Report of the FY 1999 appropriations bill, which included the late edition earmark for the Dole Institute.
Then PP over at the SDWC calls out our lone Congress person Stephanie Herseth Sandlin who when running for office spoke out against earmarks but is now happy to let us know she supports this $1M waste of money.
“She is very supportive of the project, which will enhance the educational experience for our state’s students and improve the course offerings of one of our state’s premier universities,” Levsen said. “As a South Dakota State graduate, it’s fitting that Sen. Daschle’s papers be archived in Brookings.”
So what is missing from a listing of hypocrisy over this latest piece of pork? How about any mention of hypocrisy aimed at the South Dakota Senator who was responsible for sneaking the earmark into the appropriations bill in the first place. A little digging on my part has yet to find anyone calling him out on it because apparently he has no problem with the tactic of throwing earmarks into spending bills. In fact he has even been given special mention as having a perfect record on pork by voting against all 10 amendments he was present for that sought to reign in this wasteful practice.
The only senator receiving a 0% was Senator Tim Johnson (D-SD) who voted against all 10 anti-pork amendments he was present for.
If anything, it appears no one can say that Senator Johnson has flip flopped on this issue...

Our Reps Sure Want To Throw Wasted Tax Dollars To Brookings Lately

Yesterday I wrote how Senator John Thune wants to send $1M in tax dollars a year to allow 3 passengers a day to fly out of Brookings and this morning I see that Senator Tim Johnson is looking to waste some of our tax dollars as well. Apparently not wanting to be outdone by his Republican counterpart, Johnson is looking to send another $1M to Brookings when he quietly sponsored a $1M earmark to a federal appropriations bill that would be used to help fund the Tom Daschle Center on the SDSU campus.
A massive federal appropriations bill that includes a $1 million earmark to create a center for former Sen. Tom Daschle drew heavy fire Tuesday in Washington, D.C.

The earmark would pay for the Thomas Daschle Center for Public Service and Representative Democracy at South Dakota State University. It's among 150 pages of earmarks in a combined bill for education, health services, veterans programs, and other areas of federal government.

The legislation is more than 850 pages and emerged Monday night out of a joint House/Senate conference committee. Within those pages is more than $215 billion of discretionary spending.

Although the bill emerged Monday night, House Democrats pressed ahead Tuesday night to force a vote. That outraged fiscal conservatives, who argue the bill is overloaded with pork.
150 pages of earmarks and $215B in discretionary spending? So much for reform.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Subsidies And Business

When Democrats talk subsidies, i.e. the recent attempts to pass the State Children's Health Insurance Program, Republicans complain that the government shouldn't be involved in the health care business or that it would benefit people that can afford to insure themselves but when the subsidies are in the name of business, they become necessary all of a sudden, just ask John Thune. Thune's latest crusade involves re-instating Essential Air Service (EAS) funding for Brookings and 2 other cities that were determined to no longer qualify for the federal money.

The EAS program started after airline deregulation and was an attempt to keep smaller airports that were deemed too far from larger airports open in hopes of making these cities more attractive to business. Brookings qualified for the funding because it had been determined that they were over the minimum 210 miles from a major hub, in this case Minneapolis (213 miles on mapquest) though the DOT listed it as only 206 miles. So up until October 1st Brookings had been the recipient of $1 million in federal money that was in turn used to get and keep airlines flying in and out of Brookings Regional Airport.

If you consider the intent of the funding, making a city more attractive to business you would think that the EAS money would have been a big draw for Brookings and their major employers such as 3M, Daktronics, and South Dakota State. Unfortunately that wasn't the case as the airport averaged a paltry 3-4 passengers per day flying out with the majority of business travelers making the 50 mile hop to the south for more choices out of Sioux Falls. Those daily empty flights meant that the federal government was paying approximately $677 per passenger, not exactly a big bang for our buck.

After many years of this waste of tax dollars, the subsidies for Brookings and 2 other airports in similar situations were dropped in this year's budget and as of October 1st, commercial service ended. You would think that this would have been the end of the story but it is not. Senator Thune believes that Brookings needs that $1M returned so that the 3 people a day that fly out of there can still do so and now he is trying to get the funding renewed.
"Ensuring access to communities like Brookings strengthens the local economy, provides consumers with choices and makes the entire commercial airline network more valuable," Thune said in a statement announcing his bill to restore subsidized services to all three towns.
It is nice to know Senator Thune's priorities considering he is coming off his second straight no vote on SCHIP and appears to have no problem throwing away $1M a year for unneeded subsidies. God forbid we increase health coverage for kids funded without increasing taxes one cent as long as we can help businesses, who by the way didn't use it when it was available anyway, all on our dime.

Will This Help Paul Be Taken Seriously?

Ron Paul's internet army has done it again, raising more than $4.2 million in contributions in 24 hours ranking only behind Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama for single day success.
Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul, aided by an extraordinary outpouring of Internet support Monday, claimed to haul in more than $4.2 million in nearly 24 hours.

Paul's reported total deposed Mitt Romney as the single-day fundraising record holder in the Republican presidential field.
Paul now has raised over $7.2M (according to his web site) so far this quarter that started Oct 1st and is well on his way to meeting his fund raising goal of $12M. With this sudden surge in funding the question should be asked, is Ron Paul now a serious contender for the GOP or will he still need to go the 3rd party route?

The second question that should be asked is how bad must the Republican field be overall if we are even entertaining the thought of Ron Paul being a viable candidate for the GOP? Maybe Dennis Kucinich can catch fire in the coming months, how would a Kucinich versus Paul election play out next November?

Wake me please I am having a nightmare!

Monday, November 5, 2007

If You're In The Pierre Area...

You might want to stay indoors for a few days.
Vice President Dick Cheney is back in Central South Dakota today – and as always, he is hunting birds, not votes.

Cheney arrived aboard Air Force 2, which landed, coming in from the south, at about 10:58 a.m. at the Pierre Regional Airport. He is making his annual pheasant hunting trip to Central South Dakota, where he stays at a private hunting resort in the Gettysburg area.

About a dozen aides and military personnel exited the plane from the rear before Cheney came out of the front passenger door, down the stairs and into a black suburban. He did not wave.

A 12-vehicle caravan that included law enforcement vehicles, an ambulance and suburbans left the airport through a north gate.

Cheney has gone pheasant hunting in Central South Dakota all seven years that he has been vice president. He is expected to stay in the area for a few days.
I had received notice last week from a displaced South Dakotan staying at a hotel in Pierre that something was going on in our fine capitol, now we know what it is.

In related news, I am sure hunters don't like it when their prey fights back.
A deer gored a man Sunday afternoon while he was hunting with a friend in between Craig and Meeker.

A spokesperson for the Division of Wildlife says the hunter shot the deer and went to get it. When he approached it, the deer jumped up, charged the man and gored him.

The man's friend drove him to a hospital. He was later airlifted to St. Mary's Hospital in Grand Junction.

The man's name and condition have not been released.

Wildlife officials say they haven't seen something like this happen in at least four years.

They remind hunters to be careful because injured animals can be dangerous.

Monday Morning Quick Hits

Work will be taking up most of my time this week so here are just a few quick items for you to browse through while I slave away in Sioux Falls and Watertown for the next few days.

Denise Ross discusses over at the Hog House blog what Tom Daschle has been up to lately including his work with Barack Obama while finishing up his new book. I wonder if Dave Kranz or anyone else on the Argus editorial staff will feel the need to review this book when it comes out or will they look for an independent reviewer?

Perry Groten from KELO TV apparently found enough people willing to admit that they are Atheists in very conservative South Dakota after his call last month. Again these folks tell of how Christians like to say they will pray for them and how they get the I am sorry for you comments. From my post last month on this.

Would an Atheist care if:

- Someone prayed for them and their soul?
- They were told they were going to hell?
- People felt sorry for them because they can have no hope for the afterlife?
- Were called immoral because they didn’t believe that the 10 Commandments existed?

Finally, I haven't talked much lately about Apple and their iPhone but it is becoming even more apparent that I am not alone in condemning their marketing strategy of choosing an exclusive cell provider (that doesn't even have a presence in South Dakota among many other issues). It seems they are employing the same strategy across the pond which is not only enraging many Brits but is also getting under the skin of die hard Apple supporters. Apple lovers normally never utter a bad word against the almighty Apple and normally defend anything they do (sort of like your typical Ron Paul supporter) but are now getting a bit wary of Apple's new make as much money as possible at the expense of their customers attitude.

By the way Mr. Jobs, check out my new MP3 player, I got the brown one...

Sunday, November 4, 2007

If You Thought The 2006 Election Was Bad

2008 is shaping up to be just as bad if not worse. Not only is there enough chatter going around to lower the legal drinking age headlined by Bill Napoli to make it onto the Secretary of States page listing possible ballot measures, Roger Hunt and his pals appear poised to put us through another round of abortion ban talks as well. From The Argus
Leslee Unruh, founder of the Abstinence Clearinghouse, said she could not confirm the source of the new initiative effort or even whether leaders of the state anti-abortion push have decided to pursue an initiated measure rather than developing a new law in the Legislature banning abortion.

Rep. Roger Hunt, R-Brandon, one of the state's notable anti-abortion activists, says legislation or a ballot measure are possibilities.

"Stay tuned," Hunt said. "I do believe the pro-life interests across the state are looking at both of these routes."
Here we go again only this time Roger won't be able to funnel $750K through a shell corporation for this attempt like he did in 2006. Will his big money donors be just as willing to donate when they don't have the promise of anonymity? Like Roger says, stay tuned.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Oh This Is A Good Idea

When a large percentage of vehicle fatalities in South Dakota are alcohol related with an even larger percentage of teen and young adult fatalities related to alcohol, what does Bill Napoli want our federal lawmakers to do? How about removing the highway fund provisions making states set the drinking age to 21 so that South Dakota can lower the drinking age.
The Rapid City Republican wants U.S. Sen. John Thune to lead an effort in Congress to repeal or amend a 1984 federal law that required states to establish 21 as their minimum drinking age or face the loss of millions of dollars every year in federal highway funds.

"It's a horrendous law," Napoli said. "This has been an issue of mine for a very long time. I think the issue has lain dormant long enough."
I wonder if Napoli consulted with law enforcement agencies before bringing this up again and of course he uses the tired excuse that if they are old enough to fight for our country they are old enough to handle alcohol.
"I think the Iraq war has really brought home that we need to take a very serious look at this issue," he said. "We're losing 18-, 19-, 20-year-olds over there all the time fighting to save our country, our way of life, our people's lives. They come home from war more mature and having seen more than many of us sitting in our easy chairs. And we're telling them they're not mature enough to drink?"
Why do I think this is a poor excuse? How does because I used it myself when I was a 19 and 20 year old sailor stationed in Great Lakes and enjoyed taking the short hop up Route 32 to Kenosha to get drunk almost every weekend. At that time Illinois was a 21 state while Wisconsin still allowed 18 year olds to buy alcohol. I now realize that I was young, stupid, and more than anything else, very lucky.

Going to war does change your life, I cannot argue with Napoli on that point, I just don't see how that correlates to an 18 year old being able to drink responsibly. It's hard enough for some 50 year olds to figure this out and some never do so how's an 18 or 19 year old fresh out of high school supposed to? I also believe that there are many 19 year olds that are mature enough to drink but is making them wait 2 years for the privilege worth the possible consequences?

Think about this Bill, those headlights from that drunk driver crossing the median one night could be aimed at your car some time, do you really want to greatly increase the chances of that happening just so you can allow 19 and 20 year olds the chance to legally drink a few years earlier? Patience is a virtue, let our youngsters learn that before turning them loose in the local watering holes...and then our highways.

Now That's A Big Bucking Deer

A KELO story of a 28 point buck shot near Clark.

Usually I only see deer this big running out in front of my truck

Friday, November 2, 2007

The Campaign Season Is Just Too Long

Example #236 as to why the election season is too long. Candidates can't remember what they might have said only a few minutes prior. Just ask Hillary.

No surprise, the above video is from John Edwards' camp but it is funny none the less. That is as long as you're not a Hillary Supporter.

SCHIP Take 2, Similar Bill Same Result

The Senate yesterday again voted on a revised bill that would overhaul the State Children's Health Insurance program adding another 4 million kids to the 6 million already covered. The bill passed 64-30 which was again short of the 2/3rds majority that would be needed to override the promised veto from President Bush. Let the rhetoric begin...

Harry Reid:
"We're convinced that the president has undermined an effort to protect children," Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said shortly before the vote.

Bush Press Secretary Dana Perino:
"Congress has known for weeks that the president would veto this bill," White House Press Secretary Dana Perino countered in a statement shortly after the vote. "Now Congress should get back to work on legislation that covers poor children and stop using valuable floor time to make partisan statements."

Anyone else?

If ever there were a perfect example of why Congress' approval ratings are lower than the most unpopular president in history this would be it. You would think a 5 year extension costing $60 billion that was paid for by a $1 a pack increase in the cigarette tax that would provide heath care for kids would pass easily and be signed with fanfare by the President. But if you thought that you would be wrong.

Some more thoughts you might have had on this subject that would be wrong.

- $60 billion is a drop in the bucket considering we have no problem throwing $1 trillion at the "war on terror".
- Such an important program should have no problem passing.
- "Sin tax" revenue is good enough to build new sports stadiums so it should work just fine for health care for kids.
- Congress and the White House would never play politics with kids health.
- Democrats would feel the need to compromise with the President to get something passed.
- The tobacco lobby would never be able to influence the White House considering the health issues associated with their product.
- Congress and the White House care what the majority of our population thinks.
- John Thune listens to his constituents including the Republican Governor of the state he represents.

That's what we get for thinking...

Political Pressure And The New Media

Cross posted from my KELO blog.

A story out of my old home town of Cleveland caught my eye a few days ago and I have been following it with great interest ever since. The Cleveland Plain Dealer which could be considered the Argus Leader of Ohio decided to try and mix the old media with the new and hired 4 of the states more popular political bloggers to write for them on their new project, Wide Open. The 4 bloggers they hired represented pretty much all sides of the political spectrum and were given what they were told was wide latitude on what they could write. Then shortly after the project launched, it crashed and burned with the newspaper and a popular Congressman embroiled in a truckload of criticism from all sides.

You may be asking yourself how does a story from Cleveland mean anything to us here in South Dakota? Blogs have been around for quite a few years now but until fairly recently, they didn't mix well with the mainstream media. Slowly over the last half dozen years or so the old media has started embracing the new media. The Rapid City Journal has Mt. Blogmore, The Argus Leader has their Voices blog and KELO TV has their blog section featuring individual blogs from some of their on and off air personalities.

In August, KELO decided to carry that new media idea to a different level when they recruited myself and 7 other South Dakota bloggers for their political blogs section. If you think about it that was quite a leap of faith as in essence they were providing space for 8 regular South Dakotan's with widely varying life experience and opinions and gave them free reign (within reason) to write about politics. Six weeks or so ago, the Cleveland Plain Dealer did the same thing. After 3 months, the KELO project is still going strong and the PD project is going down in flames.

So what happened in Cleveland?

One of the bloggers on the Plain Dealer project, Jeff Coryell, happened to have been an outspoken critic of one of Ohio's more popular Congressmen Steve LaTourette and had in fact spent a lot of time and blog ink on his own site discussing possible links between LaTourette and disgraced former lobbyist Jack Abramoff. This blogger also ended up being a donor to the campaign of LaTourette's challenger during the 2006 election when he sent a $100 check to the campaign. Once the PD project lifted off LaTourette apparently recognized that this critic of his was now writing for the Plain Dealer and went to the paper demanding that he be let go even though Coryell had yet to even write a word about the congressman on the PD blog.

Earlier this week the Plain Dealer relented to LaTourette's pressure and fired Coryell but unfortunately for the PD and the Congressman, the story didn't end there. Soon after the firing, the other democratic blogger resigned and the 2 other bloggers announced that they were abandoning the project as well all but ending the Plain Dealer project. Topping off the debacle, the Ohio blogosphere is now ganging together to rip the Plain Dealer in a rare show of blogger bi-partisanship.

Congressman LaTourette is not getting away unscathed either. Coryell's story has been picked up by several popular national blogs including DailyKOS among others which has now taken one local blogger and put him onto the national stage. LaTourette, who until he pressured the Plain Dealer only had to deal with a tiny gnat now must deal with the 1 ton gorilla that is pretty much of his own creation as many of the national sites that picked up Coryell's story are also helping with his fund raising efforts on behalf of Latourette's 2008 challenger, Bill O'Neill.

How would a situation like that translate to the KELO project? I touched on that a few days ago when the story first hit.
I admit that Ohio and South Dakota are 2 completely different animals but this situation brings up a few questions. How would things shake out if a similar situation happened here? What if a local candidate like say Stephanie Herseth Sandlin for instance took umbrage with something one of us wrote either on our own or our KELO blog and made that displeasure known to the powers that be in the news department at the state’s most watched TV news outlet, how would they react? Of course we couldn’t be fired like the blogger in question as we aren’t actually employed by KELO but would they censor the post if it appeared on their site? Would they disassociate themselves with the person in question? Personally I don’t think they would as long as it wasn’t something totally over the top but who knows for sure?

Upon further reflection, I think the big difference between the Plain Dealer situation and here that I hadn't considered initially and is something that I think is being overlooked in many accounts of this story nationally is probably the main reason that project was doomed to fail from the start. The bloggers for the Plain Dealer were being paid by the paper to blog for them. Even though when hired they were told they would be uncensored, the fact that they were compensated opened up the paper to claims by individuals like LaTourette that the paper supported the views of those writing for them. Many mainstream media outlets have rules in place that prevent their political reporters from participating in or donating to political campaigns, and the fact that Coryell had donated to LaTourette's challenger and was now being paid by the PD opened up the paper to LaTourette's pressure tactics. KELO, by not paying their political bloggers, can bypass the type heat brought forward by LaTourette though that's not to say they won't get pressured because of the free exposure they provide.

The 2008 election cycle is fast approaching and you can bet some of us will be critical of those running for office either here or on our own sites which could lead to some of the same heat that was felt in Cleveland. Politics is a dirty business and to this point I have to give credit to KELO for what they are doing and for being pretty much hands off with the content we have provided. Hopefully at this time next year I can say the same thing, stay tuned...

Thursday, November 1, 2007

When Political Pressure Backfires. Plain Dealer Blogger Update

Just a quick follow up on the Cleveland Plain Dealer blogging project from yesterday. The Plain Dealer (yes Cory, from the home of your favorite candidate Dennis Kucinich) originally had hired 4 bloggers with varying political views to write unedited posts about Ohio politics similar to what I and 7 others are doing with KELO. One of the bloggers, Jeff Coryell, drew fire from one of Ohio's more powerful Congressman, Steve LaTourette, whom Coryell had written unfavorably about during the 2006 elections.

Once LaTourette discovered Coryell's affiliation with the Plain Dealer blog he promptly pressured them to let him go which they finally did yesterday. Unfortunately for the Plain Dealer the saga didn't end with Coryell's firing, soon after the announcement the remaining democratic blogger resigned and now it looks like the project itself will be going down in flames with rare bi-partisan condemnation aimed at the newspaper.

And lest you think that LaTourette is getting a free pass, you can bet that Ohio liberal bloggers won't be letting my former fellow Ohioans forget about this event anytime soon and they are now led by an even more focused Jeff Coryell. His campaign against LaTourette has already begun in earnest only unfortunately for LaTourette, it is now bigger than just one lone blogger writing a few posts a week on a Cleveland newspaper blog. (heck even my small time South Dakota blog is mentioning it)

That Explains Everything

Awhile back I wrote about one of the almost daily top 10 lists that people throw out there, in this case it was from the conservative front group Family Security Matters and it listed what they believed to be the 10 most dangerous organizations in America. Surprisingly, to me at least, the group listed our colleges and universities as the 2nd most dangerous in the country. South Dakota Politics today links to an article that tells us exactly why our colleges are so dangerous.
"The University of Iowa's history department and Duke's history department have a couple of things in common. Both have made national news because neither has a Republican faculty member. And both rejected the application of Mark Moyar, a highly qualified historian and a Republican, for a faculty appointment."
Who knew there was a box on the job application that asked for an applicants political affiliation? No wonder many on the outer fringes of the political spectrum are always so uptight, it must be really tough to believe that everyone is constantly conspiring against you...Just ask Ron Paul supporters (sorry, I couldn't resist).

Ron Paul Supporters Strike Again

The Ron Paul Army is striking again. Last week I mentioned how his supporters had gotten themselves banned from the very popular conservative blog for stuffing comments and polls and now Wired Magazine is reporting on an email spam campaign that is being carried out using a global network of hacked computers in support of the Republican candidate.
"This is clearly a criminal act in support of a campaign, which has been committed with or without their knowledge," says Gary Warner, the University of Alabama at Birmingham's director of research in computer forensics. "The question is, will we see more and more of this, or will this bring shame to the campaigns and will they make clear that this is not a form of acceptable behavior by their supporters?" Warner pointed to provisions of the federal Can-Spam Act.
Now to be fair, Ron Paul's campaign is denying any knowledge of this and I am sure he doesn't know of or condone this tactic but how long can someone continue to be considered a serious candidate when the vast majority of stories about them has to do with the craziness of their supporters?

It Couldn't Have Happened To A More Deserving Group

Updates below

The "religious" group that runs runs the website "God Hates Fags" and specializes in picketing at the funerals of fallen soldiers, including some here in South Dakota, is in the news again. This time luckily it isn't for another funeral disruption though it is related to that act as yesterday the Fred Phelps led Westboro Baptist Church, a group that claims that the deaths are God's vengeance for allowing the homosexual lifestyle, was slapped hard in a court of law and was ordered to pay $11 million in damages for their disruption of a 2006 funeral.
The jury first awarded $2.9 million in compensatory damages. It returned in the afternoon with its decision to award $6 million in punitive damages for invasion of privacy and $2 million for causing emotional distress.
Constitutionally, this might be the next test for our free speech rights though some that are more knowledgeable of the law than I am contend this finding isn't without precedent especially when applied to the tort laws.
Free speech doesn't absolve people of responsibility for the damage they do, and most reasonable people would consider what Westboro's minstrels of misery do very painful and completely inappropriate. Perhaps this might convince a few other victims to follow suit, pun intended, and ensure that Phelps' moral bankruptcy gets matched by his financial bankruptcy.
Either way the Phelps followers are finding out that free speech isn't necessarily "free" and it couldn't have happened to a more deserving group. Appeals are sure to follow and the award could easily be overturned but hopefully some of the financial damages stick or at a minimum, the legal costs incurred will make it harder for them to afford to continue though I somehow doubt that will be the case.

Ultimately, it might be easier to muzzle any future hate speech from this group at the funerals of our veterans by not having to have the events in question. Unfortunately that option is even more unlikely than stifling them financially through court actions because of the Bush Administration's desire to keep us in Iraq (and possibly into Iran) and the Democrats inability to stop him. In other words I doubt this is the last we will be hearing from the Westboro Baptist Church.

UPDATE: Fred Phelps was interviewed last night on CNN about this case.

UPDATE 2: Just listened to an interview with Shirley Phelps, one of Fred Phelps' daughters, on Bubba The Love Sponge's show on Sirius and believe it or not, she says that she is ecstatic over the verdict. First she says that this trial has made their cause the #1 search on Google (that's a good thing for these nuts?) and that she is positive that it will be overturned on appeal because it wasn't their actions but was instead their religion that was on trial which would make the whole circus unconstitutional.

Like I said, we haven't seen the last from these wingnuts...