Sunday, September 30, 2007

Bush The Decider, Giuliani The Divider, And Myopia On The Religious Right

For some odd reason George Bush has often been referred to as "the decider" and now apparently GOP front runner Rudy Giuliani is earning the nickname "the divider" and could be the cause of another 3rd party movement if he gains the GOP nomination. The Religious Right, already fuming over the lack of attendance of the "Value Voters Debate", is now looking for options if pro-choice Rudy gets the nod from the GOP.
The meeting of about 50 leaders, including Focus on the Family's James Dobson, the Family Research Council's Tony Perkins and former presidential candidate Gary Bauer, who called in by phone, took place at the Grand America Hotel during a gathering of the Council for National Policy, a powerful shadow group of mostly religious conservatives. James Clymer, the chairman of the U.S. Constitution Party, was also present at the meeting, according to a person familiar with the proceedings.

"The conclusion was that if there is a pro-abortion nominee they will consider working with a third party," said the person, who spoke to Salon on the condition of anonymity. The private meeting was not a part of the official CNP schedule, which is itself a closely held secret. "Dobson came in just for this meeting," the person said.
How the mighty have fallen. The Religious Right has spent many years gaining a foothold in the GOP and at the height of their influence were a major force in getting Republican's elected. So what has happened? If the very possible occurs and Giuliani gains the nomination, the far-right could be relegated to the likes of other third party runs by such notables as Ralph Nader and instead of getting politicians elected, they could quite possibly split the party to the eventual benefit of those darn "Secularist" Democrats.

Now I can understand the far-right's concern for getting their agenda heard and discussed but is their latest myopic one issue concern worth losing what little influence they have left in the Republican Party? The Democrats surely hope so because it will likely help them in their run for the White House if it continues this way and maybe in the long run it will be good for the Republican Party as well. The rise of radicalism on either side of the spectrum tends to move many to the middle and the core values that most in the party can agree on and based on the current crop of front running candidates for the GOP, that appears to be happening at least on some level.

The far right's agenda seems to have started to lose it's luster, the GOP's pandering to them pushed me completely out of the party over 2 years ago and now most of the major Republican candidates for the White House are ignoring them on their way to the nomination (of course for some reason they seem to be ignoring Blacks and Hispanics as well). It could be a long hard election season for the Religious Right and a sight for these sore eyes.

What's The Intent?

The Argus has an interview in this morning's edition with one client corporation starter Roger Hunt whose Promising Future Inc. was responsible for funneling $750K to the campaign in support of the abortion ban in 2006. The original donor was never identified despite the rumblings from colleagues in the legislature and an unsuccessful lawsuit brought forward by Attorney General Larry Long and Secretary of State Chris Nelson.

No matter what your opinion of the issue or the person involved, the argument being used against Hunt is one that I always found a little amusing.
He said he knew going into the formation of Promising Future Inc. that it was a corporation and not a ballot-question committee. And he not only researched that, but other lawyers did, too, he said. "We knew what the laws were," he said.
Debate about semantics misses point, critics argue
Perhaps from a technical standpoint, that's true, said former legislator Casey Murschel of Sioux Falls, now South Dakota's executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice America. But she said Hunt should have been looking at the intent of that law and not the language.
Intent is a funny thing, in Hunt's case his intent was obvious. The donor wanted to help pass the most restrictive abortion ban in the country with a donation that would surely put his name in the press but he didn't want that to happen. Hunt, a well know abortion opponent, state legislator, and most importantly in this case a lawyer was tasked with making that a reality. Hunt did what lawyers do, he found a problem with the law and exploited it, his intent while obvious really doesn't matter. Hunt and the donor wanted to ban abortion and this donation would help move that cause along, why would Hunt worry about the intent of the law as long as he thought he could legally get away with it?

Most believe that individuals donating large amounts of money to political campaigns or to issue committee's should not be allowed to do so anonymously for obvious reasons but that belief doesn't make it illegal, our laws do and in this case Hunt found a way that made it technically legal. As the old saying goes if you don't like a law, change it. Hunt legally exploited the law by taking a page out of his dirty tricks handbook and as is often the case, South Dakota legislators had to respond after the fact by closing the loophole.

Finally just a suggestion to our legislators that are complaining about this including Rep. Dale Hargens who also seems to not like to follow the intent of some laws. Maybe spending more time on issues that matter to everyone like campaign finance reform (that you seem to ignore) instead of morality and "nanny state" issues would have allowed loopholes such as this to be discovered and closed before they were exploited in the first place. At least one legislator knew of this loophole, how many others did as well?

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Endangering The Cash Cow?

Is this attempt going to be the charm? A story in the this morning's Argus documents the latest discussions on passing a total ban on smoking in all bars and restaurants in the state.
As Minnesota prepares to become the 17th state to ban tobacco in all bars and restaurants Monday, tobacco foes in South Dakota are working on plans for a similar ban to be proposed this January in Pierre.

"I think it's safe to say we'll be bringing forward legislation that would prohibit smoking in restaurants and bars," said Jennifer Stalley, project director for the South Dakota Tobacco-Free Kids Network and director of government relations for the South Dakota chapter of the American Cancer Society.
I will be watching this debate as it unfolds next year because it will be interesting to see if those that came out against the minimum wage hike because it dictated how business must run will do the same when our legislators attempt to tell businesses whether they can allow smoking or not in their establishments.

Either way I sure hope the state isn't counting too heavily on it's latest cash cow in the form of the $1 a pack cigarette tax increase. With this latest assault on smokers coupled with the 61 cent per pack federal tax increase that is being proposed to fund the possible SCHIP expansion, smokers are being legislated and taxed out of existence.

Must Have The Same Schedule Maker

The 4 front runners for the GOP presidential nomination must have the same schedule maker as all 4 again skipped a debate, this time it was sponsored by PBS and focused on minority issues. Their reasons? You got it, the old scheduling conflict excuse. Skipping this debate in addition to 3 of the 4 snubbing the Univision debate and all 4 skipping the Value Voters debate, one can see a definite pattern starting to appear.

Maybe they should hire someone else to make their schedules...(tongue removed from cheek)

Friday, September 28, 2007

Another Empty Resolution In The Works

On the heels of last week's useless resolution condemning the MoveOn.org New York Times ad ripping General Petraeus, Rep. Mark Udall from Colorado is supposedly introducing a similar useless resolution on Monday looking to officially condemn Rush Limbaugh's phony soldiers comments from earlier this week. As with the MoveOn resolution, the Udall version is totally meaningless and a waste of time but it will be interesting on one front to see if Stephanie Herseth Sandlin, whom had no problem voting to condemn MoveOn's right to free speech, will be as willing to do the same to Republican mouthpiece and never ending blow hard, Rush Limbaugh.

I will be just as curious to see if Tim Johnson does the same if and when a Limbaugh condemnation makes its way into the Senate. He like Herseth Sandlin didn't think MoveOn should be allowed to voice their opinion in the New York Times and was one of 22 Democrats voting to condemn the ad.

Putting GOP Panties In A Bunch

What is a quick way to get Republican's panties in a bunch? Just say you like the idea of setting up college funds for children when they are born. That is what Hillary Clinton said today while speaking in front of the Congressional Black Caucus.
"I like the idea of giving every baby born in America a $5,000 account that will grow over time, so that when that young person turns 18 if they have finished high school they will be able to access it to go to college or maybe they will be able to make that downpayment on their first home," she said.
As you can imagine it didn't take long for many to come out in unison blasting Hillary for even suggesting such a thing. She's supporting socialism, how would we pay for it? It's nothing but a $20 billion entitlement.
Addressing the Congressional Black Caucus, Hillary said she'd like to spend $20 billion each year on checks to newborn infants. Since 2000, the United States has had over four million births per year. In 2004 with 4,121,000 births, and each of them receiving $5,000 under Hillary's plan, that would mean $20,605,000,000 for a single year. To put that in perspective, that's nearly the equivalent to the budget for the entire Department of Justice in 2006, which topped out at $23.4 billion. No word on where she would get the money from. It's easy to talk about writing checks, but much harder to actually implement.
Of course missing from all the outrage was the context of Clinton's statement. You see this isn't Hillary's plan, she was actually asked to comment on something that was originally written about in Time Magazine last month and would require public service in order for anyone to collect on the savings account. She even went so far as to say that it wasn't any kind of policy proposal but just an idea that she liked. On a side note I like the idea where the government gives me a few million dollars but somehow I think that neither idea has as much chance of becoming reality.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Having It Both Ways

Just a quick drive by today as work has me hopping but I saw in the Argus that Tim Johnson has once again re-affirmed his desire to run for re-election and wanted to comment briefly.
“I am more determined than ever to run for re-election and continue serving the people of South Dakota in the United States Senate,” he wrote in an email sent out by his campaign.

“Please contribute to my campaign before the September 30th end of quarter deadline.”
Maybe it's just me but even with Johnson's so far successful fund raising efforts (mainly by his DC colleagues), calls for further contributions would probably be greatly helped if he would just come out and officially declare his intentions.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Playing Politics With Children's Health

George Bush is threatening to veto the bipartisan extension of the State Children Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) mainly because he says, falsely, that it will expand coverage to those making as much as $83,000 a year.
The Administration strongly supports reauthorization of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) which maintains SCHIP’s original purpose of targeting health care dollars to low-income children who need them most. However, the current bill goes too far toward federalizing health care and turns a program meant to help low-income children into one that covers children in some households with incomes of up to $83,000 a year. If H.R. 976 were presented to the President in its current form, he would veto the bill.
The problem with President Bush's claim is that it has no basis in fact and comes from a New York request that was intended to cover households in high cost of living areas that never actually made it into the final bill. In reality it specifically ensures that low income children are first in line for benefits.

So why is President Bush so against this legislation and better yet why is he blaming Democrats for putting children's heath at risk by asking for an increase in coverage? Stephanie Herseth Sandlin is wondering the same thing.
President Bush was off base when he accused Democrats of "putting health care coverage for poor children at risk" and playing politics on proposed changes to the State Children's Health Insurance Program, says Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sand-lin, D-S.D.

"That's a really unreasonable statement," Herseth Sandlin said of Bush's comment on Thursday.
The SCHIP legislation will increase the spending on the program by $35 billion over 5 years and will be paid for with a 61 cent a pack increase of the federal cigarette tax so again the question needs to be asked, who is really playing politics at the expense of children?

On a similar note, Bill Harlan over at Blogmore had a great comment on the proposed cigarette tax increase that would fund this program.
How to pay for it? A South Dakota-like solution! Raise the federal cigarette tax from 39 cents to $1 per pack. Couple that with South Dakota’s own cigarette-tax increase and some smokers here might switch to crack to save money.
I guess I picked a good time to quit smoking and if this bill eventually becomes law, South Dakota's reported shortfall in tax revenue from cigarettes could be just a minor blip compared to what will happen if the taxes get raised again...

Right-Wing Utopia

No need for a federal marriage amendment here.



Of course Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad failed to mention the reasons why when speaking at Columbia University yesterday.
Some international gay rights groups believe that more than 4,000 lesbians and gay men have been executed since the Ayatollahs seized power in 1979.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Rathergate

To Mr Blanchard in regards to his comments over at South Dakota Politics.
Dear Bob:

Thanks for the comment. However, I cannot agree. It was and now is again up to Rather to show that the facts are as he reported them, not up to Bush to debunk them.

The only things new in the Sept. 2004 story were the claims that George Bush, as a national guard pilot, ignored an order to get a physical, and that his commanding officer felt pressured by the Bush family to go easy on George W. Those claims rested solely on the documents that, Rather himself admitted, "cannot be authenticated." The story collapsed.

Rather's news team allowed itself to be hoodwinked by two-bit Democratic hack. CBS responded by canning him. The ignominious end to his career obviously left a deep emotional wound that has not faded over the last three years. He has coped by persuading himself that it was all someone else's fault. That is the basis of his ludicrous law suit. All this is rather pathetic, don't you think?
I kind of hate to do this but since Ken decided to post his response to my comments on his KELO post in a forum (his blog) that doesn't allow for further commenting, I will have to post my response here.

First off Ken, my last name is spelled Schwartz NOT Swartz, secondly defending Dan Rather or his lawsuit was never my intention which was the reason behind the "not because he reported a lie. He just lied in his reporting." comment in my initial response. Of course he screwed the pooch when he used falsified documents in his story and he is now trying to throw the blame for that on everyone but himself which is further hurting what is left of his battered reputation, though I think he believes that this lawsuit will help him regain his reputation.

My comment was more directed towards the initial allegations that CBS news and Rather reported on. No one ever stepped forward to debunk the allegations and the whole time was spent by the Bush propaganda machine, in this case blogs like Powerline, attacking the messenger. There has always been questions about Bush's military service and I personally believe that Rather knew this but couldn't find the smoking gun to prove it so instead he manufactured it. He got exactly what he deserved but my thoughts on the lawsuit being brought by Rather are that it could actually again start the discussions over Bush's military record (it already has hasn't it?) and expose something that Bush had hoped had died when Rather was sent out to pasture.

You used a link to a Philadelphia Inquirer editorial in supporting your claim but you somehow missed the part of that same editorial which is the basis of my comment in the first place.
Worst of all, Rathergate deflected the spotlight from the content of the documents, which suggested the younger George Bush had, to put it courteously, a broad attitude toward his military duties and may have received favoritism from superiors on little details like physical exams and showing up. Subsequent evidence appears to suggest some truth to these allegations. But the world doesn't care about any of that any more. Blame Rathergate.
Nice Rovian tactic by deflecting the actual intent of my comments there Ken. Again I wasn't defending Rather, I was just stating that Rather's conclusions could have in fact been correct and that the controversy surrounding his bogus documents clouded that issue. As was the case the first time around, it is apparent that the focus of the right will be to again attack Rather while ignoring the bigger issue, your post is a perfect case in point of how things work. But just because Rather's lawsuit is likely without merit in a court of law, the facts in regards to Bush's military service, or apparent lack thereof, have never been answered and are now being discussed again.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

No Surprise Here

I had posted a few days ago about how a request had been made to the Federal Government to investigate South Dakota's purchase of an airplane indirectly using federal funds earmarked for other uses. This request was made by Minnesota Representative Jim Oberstar to the Amtrak Inspector General whom presented the funds to states not served by Amtrak.

So imagine my total lack of surprise when the Argus Leader editorial board came out in support of the investigation.
It is increasingly clear that the state's actions were not in line with the prescribed purpose for which the money was allotted. Whether those actions also violated the letter of the terms is less clear. This investigation should determine precisely that, once and for all.
Oberstar's request seems reasonable. He said he thinks the money was misspent, and his committee assignment obligates him to act on that belief. If states do not or cannot use federal funds as intended - and South Dakota has little intercity bus and rail service - the money should be returned.
Wow, perenial Rounds hater, the Argus Leader coming out in support of an investigation of the purchase of the state airplane that they fought so hard to burn him on over the way he used it last year. Who would have thunk it?

Friday, September 21, 2007

Everyone Is An Expert All Of A Sudden

One bleeped sentence at the Emmy's and now all of a sudden everyone is an expert.

"If mothers ruled the, ruled the world, there would be no "bleep" [god-damned] wars in the first place"

Sally Field, whom hasn't been in the news this much since she paired with Burt Reynolds in "Smokey and The Bandit", is now a favorite whipping post of Right whom all of a sudden are Sally Field experts.
She's the mom who buys her teenager beer, condoms and a hotel room on prom night because she'd rather give in than assert her parental authority and do battle. She's the mom whose minivan sports insipid bumper stickers preaching nonintervention at all costs: "Peace is patriotic." "War is not the answer." "It will be a great day when our schools get all the money they need and the Air Force has to hold a bake sale to buy a bomber."
I am pretty sure that Field could care less about what Faux News shill Michelle Malkin thinks, though I doubt Malkin could provide any proof on any of her comments regarding what Field stands for parenting wise but then maybe advice columnist Dr. Helen Smith knows more.
Sally Field and her ilk don’t really mean they want just any mom or woman to run the world, what she really meant when she talked about moms taking over is that leftist women should run the world. Notice that the women who are always talking about how great and different things would be if women were in charge never mention real women leaders like Condi Rice or Margaret Thatcher because they are conservatives. Unlike some leftist women who think that their sex puts them beyond the human traits of aggressiveness and violence, Rice and Thatcher understand that the realities of national security mean that negotiation and “making nice” with the schoolyard bully does not always work.
So which colleges teach those classes, you know the ones that teach you to read one sentence from an individual and then be able to know how good of a parent they are or what they really mean. It that BS 101 or BS 102 and can I sign up for that one at SDSU?

Thursday, September 20, 2007

So What Do You Really Think?

Conservative leader and Focus on the Family chair James Dobson on why he won't support Fred Thompson's bid for the White House:
"Isn't Thompson the candidate who is opposed to a Constitutional amendment to protect marriage, believes there should be 50 different definitions of marriage in the U.S., favors McCain-Feingold, won't talk at all about what he believes, and can't speak his way out of a paper bag on the campaign trail?" Dobson wrote.


"He has no passion, no zeal, and no apparent 'want to.' And yet he is apparently the Great Hope that burns in the breasts of many conservative Christians? Well, not for me, my brothers. Not for me!"

Please Don't Petrae [Us]

The General that has already been called out for not being entirely honest when reporting on the still not-ready-for prime time Iraq security forces when he was in charge of their training is now having to be defended by the person that put him in the line of fire in the first place. President Bush is unhappy over an unflattering ad by MoveOn.org published last week that ripped General Petraeus for blindly following the Bush party line by using cherry picked examples to proclaim how the surge was working. The man tasked with leading our troops in battle is now in a political battle as well thanks to his boss President Bush to the point that Bush's GOP cronies are having to come to his rescue with a totally non-binding waste of time resolution condemning the ad.

Besides being a debate that parallels numerous others that the Republicans had loudly complained about in the past as being "wasted time on empty debates", the fact that 22 Democrats voted for this resolution condemning the ad including our Democratic Senator Tim Johnson truly amazes me (no surprise, John Thune also voted for this resolution). Based on the time wasted on this today you would think that they have nothing else to do in the Senate like oh maybe approve more time away from the war zone for our troops.

By the way Senator Clinton saw through the politics (why shouldn't she, she has been on the other end many times) and voted against this time waster. Her main opponent in the race for the White House on the other hand, Barack Obama, wimped out and skipped the vote altogether though just a hour earlier he found time to vote for a Democrat sponsored version of this waste of time resolution that was defeated.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Chris Nelson: It's Broken

Secretary of State Chris Nelson opines about the Presidential primary process in this morning's Argus.
By the second week of February 2008, most Americans will realize the presidential nominating process is broken. Many, including myself and my fellow secretaries of state, have already arrived at that conclusion.

Over the past 20 years, the presidential primary and caucus process has undergone a dramatic change as states have moved their primary and caucus dates closer to the beginning of the presidential year. South Dakota experimented with an earlier date in 1988, 1992 and 1996 before realizing that other, larger states were getting the attention instead of us. This front-loading of the primary schedule will find over half of the states holding their primaries and caucuses on or before the first Tuesday in February of 2008. The presidential nominating process will likely be over on that date. In essence, presidential candidates will have one shot to make their case.

This front-loading of the schedule precludes the ability of most voters in America to ever see or carefully evaluate the potential nominees for president. We already are seeing that the current set of presidential candidates are spending their time and resources in a few states, with the other states - including South Dakota - left out of the process. The current front-loaded system does not serve the voters of America and needs to be changed.
Why the big deal? Well if like me you think John Edwards would make a good President, by the time June runs around and South Dakota holds it's primary, Edwards will more than likely be out of the race. The only question left for Edwards by then will be whether or not Hillary or Barack will be calling him to fill the second spot on the ballot. Usually, states that have primaries after February or at the latest March have very little say so on who will be a party's choice, nor will they have the chance to have candidates come to their states and explain their positions.

So what does Nelson propose?
The National Association of Secretaries of State has proposed a rotating regional primary system. The system breaks the country into four geographic regions. Each region would hold a primary in a separate month, starting with February. The order of the regional primaries would be determined by a random drawing in the first year and would rotate in successive years. Such a plan would guarantee that South Dakota and the Midwest region would hold the first presidential primary or caucus in the nation every 16 years.
Sounds nice but given the responses from the national parties whom have threatened to take away delegates from the big players from Florida and Michigan for moving their primaries, does anyone think that South Dakota with a total population that is lower than most major cities, will ever be allowed to have a say so in the nominating process? We can dream can't we...

Makes You Go Hmm...

Sioux Falls Mayor Dave Munson has no problem vetoing the hiring of 6 new police officers because of budget issues.
Munson said that the department has added 44 new positions since he took office in 2002. But he warned councilors that the proposed hires weren't just an issue for next year's budget. They also would affect future budgets, as would the cuts needed to finance the positions.
But apparently those budget issues weren't a problem for Munson when he approved the hiring last year of former KELO Reporter Jodi Schwan at $98,000 per year for his Chief of Staff even though she had absolutely no experience. At least he has his priorities straight.

Do You Really Want To Impress People?

One final post on Monday's Values Voters debate. I have been reading the various reports on the event in Florida where the 4 top-tiered candidates supposedly had "prior commitments". Apparently a lot of the media had similar scheduling issues as did the values voters themselves because 1/3 of the 2700 available seats went unused.

The Carpetbagger Report documented some of the highlights including Rudy Giuliani's scheduling difficulties which had him down the street at the time of the debate.
Rudy Giuliani was surprisingly bold in snubbing the religious right organizers. His campaign cited scheduling difficulties when declining to attend the debate in South Florida, but according to his campaign schedule, he was four miles away, attending an event in Fort Lauderdale at the same time as the event. The religious right hasn’t been thrilled with Giuliani anyway, but this looks like an instance in which the former mayor was trying to offend them.
Finally we get this bold prediction from Religious Righty leader Janet Folger.
I predict that the candidates who chose not to attend will regret the decision to snub us because they will not win without us.
The Religious Right has steered the GOP for years and the top tiered candidates not attending the debate could be an indication of a change in that. Janet Folger thinks otherwise and believes they still are a force in the party despite all the snubs so now we will see how much clout they still actually hold. If one of the "second 7" do actually win the nomination, I will truly be impressed and that question will be answered in spades.

But if we want to get back to reality while still staying with the biblical theme that the religious right understands the best, the chances of that happening are about as good as the proverbial snowball existing in hell and hopefully the powers that be South Dakota GOP that insist on trying to legislate the far right's morality on us are paying close attention to this trend as well.

The State Owned Airplane Again

Governor Rounds had his hand slapped by voters in 2006 for using the state owned airplane for personal use and now the federal government might be looking into the purchase of that airplane.
Rep. Jim Oberstar, D-Minn., sent the request Friday to the inspector general of Amtrak, the nation's passenger railroad system.

South Dakota used money from the federal railroad agency to replenish the state aeronautics fund after buying the $1.5 million aircraft.

States without Amtrak rail service got a one-time payment from the agency in 1997; South Dakota got $23 million. The money initially could be spent only on intercity bus and rail service, but that was expanded in 1998 to include air service centers and "the purchase of intercity air service between primary and rural airports and regional hubs."

Oberstar's letter states that the airplane purchase was "in violation of the express purposes for the funding."
This quote from the article was a bit curious.
State Sen. Jason Gant said the Government Operations and Audit Committee, which he leads, had found nothing improper in spending from the aeronautics fund. But he had "no idea" whether the spending violated federal law.
So as an auditor he is unaware if the federal money spent by South Dakota violated federal law? Wouldn't you think that should have been investigated at some point considering the source of the funds?

100% Anti-Discriminatory Companies

(h/t - Dakota Voice) Though I don't think his posting about a list of gay friendly employers has the same intent.

For supporting an unhealthy and immoral practice, the homosexual group Human Rights Campaign has recognized 195 U.S. companies as having a perfect 100% score.


Worldnet Daily lists 195 companies that received perfect scores on the Human Rights Campaign's 2008 Corporate Equality Index and were determined to have policies that did not discriminate against gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender employees and thereby promote diversity in the work place.

WorldNetDaily, of course wasn't publishing this list because they felt it was a good thing. They wanted to let their readers know who these companies were that promoted what they view as a deviant lifestyle and to again bring up the pending Employment Non-Discrimination Act currently being debated in Congress.

As the op-ed letter from Linda Schauer from the Concerned Women for America of South Dakota and WorldNetDaily's myopic concentration on this issue would attest, the far right must be very worried about the Employment Non-Discrimination Act which would mandate that other companies which aren't so friendly to gays to become so.

The far right has for the most part successfully fought against gay marriage and now they are opening a second front against basic human rights. This time they want to make it tougher for gays to find a discrimination free workplace. And they wonder why candidates are avoiding their debates like the plague

Monday, September 17, 2007

Argus Seeks Scott Lawsuit Dismissal

The Argus wants the judge to dismiss the libel suit brought by Sioux Falls Development Foundation president Dan Scott over a op-ed piece by Randell Beck because they say the suit “seeks to chill a journalist’s constitutionally protected commentary on issues important to all South Dakota citizens”.

Reading through the dismissal request I do find the claim by the Argus that the July 15th op-ed piece where Beck crafts an apology letter that is supposedly written by Dan Scott is somehow an issue "important to all South Dakota citizens" to be going just a bit overboard. But it had been a while since I read the op-ed in question so as a refresher I thought I would read it again but low and behold it is no longer available (dead link warning).

But luckily through the miracle that is the internet, the Google cache still is and because I am sure the cached version won't last forever either, here is the Beck column in it's entirety.
Divisively arrogant: Dan Scott's apology
By Randell Beck
rabeck@argusleader.com
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 argusleader.com. 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.
Of course nowhere in the column will you find any true indication that it is a fake letter not actually written by Dan Scott (or is that what that reasonable facsimile comment is all about?) and is actually a completely satirical creation by Beck. That fact was also apparently missed by many of the commenters to the story as well.

I am no lawyer (nor did I stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night) so I have a hard time understanding how fabricating a letter and publishing it under the name of someone else without some kind of obvious disclaimer is considered protected speech under the First Amendment like the Argus claims. I am sure though that Scott's attorney Bill Janklow will have something to say on that subject real soon. And so will the judge...

The Hillary Heath Care Plan

Continuing with the heath care theme, Hillary Clinton today announced her version of overhauling the heath care system if she were to be elected.
Hillary Clinton unveiled the third part of her plan to ensure that all Americans have affordable, quality health insurance. Building on her proposals to rein in costs and to insist on value and quality, her American Health Choices Plan will secure, simplify and ensure choice in health coverage for all Americans. This Plan covers every American - finally addressing the needs of the 47 million uninsured and the tens of millions of workers with coverage who fear they could be one pink slip away from losing their health coverage - with no overall increase in health spending or taxes. For those with health insurance, the plan builds on the current system to give businesses and their employees greater choice of health plans - including keeping the one they have - while lowering cost and improving quality.
The free marketeers might or might not like it but it still lets the private insurance companies get their money, only now they would have to make a few government mandated changes including doing away with the wonderful pre-existing condition clauses that many companies love to use to deny coverage.
Insurance companies will end discrimination based on pre-existing conditions or expectations of illness and ensure high value for every premium dollar; while drug companies will offer fair prices and accurate information.
Of course the Republicans will be wondering where the Federal Government comes into play as we all know, all Democrats want is bigger government. From what I have read, other than mandating certain requirements/conditions be met and giving tax credits to small businesses and some individuals as well as federal subsidies for low income workers, Hillary's plan for the most part leaves a lot in the hands of private industry.

There is quite a bit there to mull over but what are your thoughts?

UPDATE 9/18/2007: Hillary isn't making many friends with further clarification on her plan that could require all American's to get health insurance.

Morality Police

Abstinence Clearinghouse founder Leslie Unruh must have a twin out there, at least among the morality police based on the latest Argus Leader Voices letter from Linda Schauer. I must have been living a charmed life lately as I hadn't heard from her or her group the Concerned Women for America of South Dakota for awhile. Well the silence is over after coming across this fine opinion piece on Idaho Senator Larry Craig and the Employment Non-Discrimination Act.

First she makes the leap that the outrage over Larry Craig's bathroom escapades at Minneapolis International means that morality still matters in America.
The nation's outrage over the conduct of Sen. Larry Craig (R-Idaho) in a men's restroom at the Minneapolis airport demonstrates that morality matters to the American people. Americans do not tolerate immoral sexual behavior, and that stance should be upheld in our laws.
Our current morality beliefs aside, I am not sure what moral outrage she is talking about as from what I can tell, most of the outrage has to do with Craig pleading guilty to a crime while still a sitting US Congressman. The only reason homosexuality was even highlighted had to do with the fact that Craig had been an outspoken "family values" advocate before getting popped for trying to play footsie in a bathroom stall with a male undercover cop, you know that hypocrisy thing that is sometimes a problem with the morals brigade.

She then tries to equate the outrage that really isn't outrage as a reason why the Employment Non-Discrimination Act should be killed in Congress.
Businesses should have the same ability to expect high moral standards from their employees that the critics are applying to Craig. However, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, a bill currently before Congress, would forbid businesses from discriminating against an employee based on "sexual orientation" or "gender identity."
Then as an encore she closes with this:
If the Employment Non-Discrimination Act becomes law of the land, it will give minority status to people based on their chosen sexual behavior and put us on a slippery slope where Biblically based decisions would be prohibited.
I don't know why the South Dakota GOP has yet to recruit her for some higher office, or at least why she isn't a co-blogger over at Sibby's place. Her opinions especially about the separation of church and state seems to fit right in.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Shades Of Al Capone

Just a quick note but when I saw that OJ Simpson had just been arrested in Las Vegas for allegedly being involved in a hotel room armed break in, thoughts of Al Capone came to mind. I am sure you remember that Capone, who was widely believed to be among Chicago's top mob guys as well as the architect of the St Valentines Day Massacre, was the original "Teflon Don" when it came to being jailed for his crimes. It took something as innocuous as tax evasion to finally put him away.

Other than the 12 that sat on O.J.'s jury that acquitted him, most everyone believed that O.J. fatally stabbed his former wife and her companion but will it take something such as a hotel room break-in to finally put him behind bars? Looks like it's time to fire up the dream team again...

UPDATE: Prosecutors are planning to charge Simpson with two counts of robbery with use of a deadly weapon, conspiracy to commit robbery, burglary with a deadly weapon, two counts of assault with a deadly weapon and coercion. The charges of robbery with use of a deadly weapon could bring a sentence of up to 35 years in prison for each count. Not quite what he deserves but it's a start.

Oops!

A Kentucky weatherman should really learn what that red light on the top of the camera means. Apparently his weather graphic was accidentally replaced with one from an earlier segment on breast feeding.

Is It A Debate If No One Attends?

The big Value Voters debate scheduled to be held in Florida tomorrow looks like it is going to be a flop of somewhat biblical proportions as the big 3 1/2 in the GOP running for the White House in 2008 will not be attending. Rudy Giuliani, Fred Thompson, Mitt Romney and the 1/2 candidate John McCain (he seems to be a bit forgetful lately) have declined to attend and the right-wing base isn't all too happy (Warning:WorldNetDaily link).

But at least the far righties will still be able to hear from newly minted 3rd times a charm values candidate Alan Keyes along with other top tiered candidates (tongue firmly in cheek) Sam Brownback, Mike Huckabee, Duncan Hunter, Ron Paul, Tom Tancredo and John Cox.

The absence of the top candidates begs the question, are national Republicans starting to back away from what some consider to be the extreme Christian right? Or do they realize that their pasts do not measure up to Conservative template and therefore see no gain in attending a debate sponsored by that group? Either way, unlike 2000 and 2004 when the far-right swept George Bush into the White House, 2008 might be showing a crack in the right wing's armor as far as their influence in national races.

Time will tell if that is true but if the GOP ever wants to appeal to those of us that left the party, less pandering to the Religious Right and more discussions on real issues like health care, education, and the economy will need to take place instead of the continued push of the extremist views of the right-wing.

The Status Quo

I posted earlier about John Edwards' plan for revamping heath care if he were to win in 2008. Many thought that as it stands it wouldn't fly because of certain provisions that would require everyone to go for preventative heath care visits, you know that "nanny state" thing. But at least he has a plan. Along those lines the AP has gathered the current thoughts for our heath care from all the major candidates and below I listed what the Republicans have in mind.
- Kansas Sen. Sam Brownback: "Market-based solutions, not government-run health care."

- Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani: Income tax deduction of $7,500 per taxpayer to defray insurance costs. Tax credit for poorer workers to supplement Medicaid and employer contributions, as part of "market-driven" expansion of affordable coverage. Expanded use of health savings accounts.

- Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee: Favors market solutions, state innovation. "We don't need universal health care mandated by federal edict or funding through ever-higher taxes." Spend more on prevention and research.

- California Rep. Duncan Hunter: Supported expansion of health insurance through tax breaks, not government-sponsored universal coverage.

- Arizona Sen. John McCain: Has a record of promoting prescription drug coverage for older people and expanded insurance for children, but not universal coverage.

- Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney: Incentives for states to expand affordable coverage. As governor, he signed health care law aimed at ensuring universal coverage through a mix of subsidies, sliding scale premiums and penalties for those who do not get insurance.

- Colorado Rep. Tom Tancredo: Market reforms instead of more federal spending to expand health coverage.

- Former Tennessee Sen. Fred Thompson: "Market-driven" expansion of affordable coverage.
Looking through these "plans" one thing comes to mind. Apparently the GOP doesn't believe there is a problem as the buzz words "Market-driven" and "tax incentives" are very prevalent which if I am not mistaken is what we already have. So it seems that the status quo is about all they are willing to offer.

Now don't get me wrong, I realize there is no magic bullet and any real plan will cost money we as a country would have a hard time coming up with considering the half Trillion we have laid out in Iraq. But can we continue with the often double digit year over year increases in medical costs and not do anything? The free market solution isn't working despite what those in the GOP would like us to believe, so why should we think that it will in the future?

Saturday, September 15, 2007

GOP Savior

I had written a few days ago about the lack of choices for the religious right in the GOP. Apparently that isn't a problem anymore as their savior has filed paperwork to officially throw his hat into the 2008 Presidential ring.

2 time (soon to be 3) Presidential campaign loser Alan Keyes (WorldNetDaily link warning to the easily influenced) is now going to bring values to the Presidential campaign trail unlike the Mormon, divorced abortion rights supporter, and former actor that doesn’t regularly attend church that currently are running at the top of the polls.
After two previous runs for U.S. president, former Reagan diplomat Alan Keyes has announced he's again seeking the White House in the 2008 election, and he'll take part in Monday night's Republican presidential debate here.
If you are the Mormon, or the divorced abortion rights supporter, or the former actor you are probably shaking in your boots...then again maybe not.

This Is Why

From the email inbox:

If you ever wondered why you don't get fired or laid off until the end of the day or at worse you get escorted out immediately without being given the opportunity to finish out the day, below you can see a few reasons why.

Don’t Piss Off The Groundskeeper

And

Pissed off

Friday, September 14, 2007

What Is The Penalty For Cheating In The NFL?

If you are Bill Belicheat and the New England Patriots it isn't much. The NFL Commissioner that has no problem suspending players for a year at a time even before they have been convicted of any crimes for some reason believes fining Belicheat a little over 10% of his base 4.2 million a year salary and taking away a 1st round draft pick if the Pats make the playoffs or a 2nd and 3rd if they don't is punishment enough.

So Belicheat loses some cash but what do the Patriots lose? More than likely they will easily make the playoffs which means the 1st round pick they will lose will probably be 22nd or later (probably later), will that be a devastating loss? Considering they also have the 49er's 1st round pick from an earlier trade, they will still have a 1st round pick which will quite possibly be much higher than the one they lose.

Now look at what the NFL does when penalizing players who cheat by taking steroids. On the first offense a player is given a 4 game suspension as well as losing the game checks for those games, if my Ohio math is correct that corresponds to 25% of their salary. So what Belicheat did when he had his staff taping the opposition's signals so that they would have an advantage of knowing the defense is in effect less of an offense than a player taking illegal substances. At least it is if you go by the penalties handed down by the NFL

And finally if you want to get technical, this isn't the 1st offense for the Patriots as news reports already have them being warned by the Commissioner's office about this exact tactic. Sounds like cheating isn't that bad of an offense in the NFL, at least that is if you are a team/coach and not a player, nice message you are sending there Commissioner Goodell isn't it.

When Is A Troop Reduction Not A Draw Down?

You are probably reading accounts this morning of President Bush's speech last night where he proudly announced that US troop levels would be reduced by as much as 30,000 but guess what? According to numerous accounts, it is only because 30,000 troops will have reached the end of their deployments and we don't have the manpower to replace them!

From Senator Tim Johnson in this morning's RCJ:
"Our troops and their families are exhausted. The Petraeus report is mixed, at best," he said. "We are treading water in Iraq, and the clock keeps ticking in a war that has lasted longer than World War II. It is time for the Iraqi people to take charge of their future and for us to transition our troops to training Iraqi security forces and conducting counter-terrorism operations."

He said that bringing back the 30,000 troops was not a strategy to reduce troop levels because the troops were nearing the end of their deployments.

"Many of these 30,000 troops are facing the end of their deployment and will come home as expected, and frankly, we do not have the manpower necessary to replace them," he said. "It is not a strategy to reduce troop levels when our hands are tied and additional rotations would push our military to its limits."
So what should we read into President Bush's speech? Apparently not that things are so much better that we can now start bringing troops home. Instead it sounds much more like Bush's invasion and occupation of Iraq has put so much strain on our military that we can no longer meet operational requirements. How's that for making you feel secure?

On a side note from the very same article, can Stephanie Herseth Sandlin take a stand on anything?
Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin, D-S.D., said she was disappointed in the report by Petraeus and Ryan Crocker, U.S. ambassador to Iraq, even though she has great respect for the men and their abilities.
"What he is an axe murderer? He was always nice to me"...

No Timeline. No Funding. No Excuses.

The latest from John Edwards.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

E! To Censor Kathy Griffin

The network that has no problem airing Hugh Hefner and his gaggle of playmates for some reason has a problem with comedian Kathy Griffin's acceptance speech during the Creative Arts Emmy Awards. Griffin won the award for best reality program and during her speech she decided to go against the flow and not thank Jesus for helping her win the award.
A lot of people come up here and thank Jesus for this award. I want you to know that no one had less to do with this award than Jesus. Suck it, Jesus. This award is my god now.

As you would expect the wingnuts would come out in full force including Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights president William Donahue.
The self-described 'complete militant atheist' needs to make a swift and unequivocal apology to Christians. If she does, she will get this issue behind her. If she does not, she will be remembered as a foul-mouthed bigot for the rest of her life.

Donahue then tried to compare Griffin's comments with the obviously racist remarks from Don Imus and Michael Richards but for some reason unlike the case with the Rutgers basketball player who's lawsuit was recently dismissed against Imus, Jesus will probably not be filing suit anytime soon.

Who loses here? Kathy Griffin definitely didn't because the few minutes of her from this show that hit the cutting room floor is generating days of publicity that a 3rd rate award would have never given her thanks to Donahue and others. So as far as I can tell the only loser is the 1st Amendment, what else is new...

A Bad Week For The Far Right

Right-wing conservative groups might have to re-think their strategy for eradicating the "secular humanist" influences in our Government. Or at least they are going to have to acknowledge that they have a long way to go after the week they have had.

First locally, South Dakota GOP darling and much rumored 2008 US Senate contender Governor Mike Rounds held a press conference supporting of all things, 150 new jobs coming to Sioux Falls as part of expansion over at Lodgenet. Unfortunately for the Rounds camp, past supporters from the South Dakota Family Policy Council weren't too happy with the governor's appearance with Lodgenet because of their profiting from providing adult entertainment to many of the hotels they serve, you know that 1st Amendment thing is such a downer for some on the far-right.

The latest blow to the conservative right nationally is the revelation by current GOP Presidential favorite and supposed conservative right savior Fred Thompson. Apparently Thompson isn't the good little church going conservative that many in the GOP had thought/hoped.
Asked about his religious beliefs during an appearance before about 500 Republicans in South Carolina yesterday, Fred Thompson said he attends church when he visits his mother in Tennessee but does not belong to a church or attend regularly at his home in McLean, Va., just outside Washington. The actor and former senator, who was baptized in the Church of Christ, said he gained his values from "sitting around the kitchen table" and said he did not plan to speak about his religious beliefs on the stump. "I know that I'm right with God and the people I love," he said, according to Bloomberg News Service. It's "just the way I am not to talk about some of these things."
That loud thumping sound you heard was from the jaws of tens of thousands of far-righties hitting the floor all at once when they realized what they have for front runners in the 2008 race for the White House. A Mormon, a divorced abortion rights supporter, and a former actor that doesn't regularly attend church and isn't going to bring religion with him on the campaign trail. So is there a plan "B"?

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Getting A Little Touchy?

Already getting slammed over poor ratings of their evening news, CBS is apparently getting a bit touchy over the increasing amount of criticism of their high paid anchor as well. When Katie Couric went to Iraq last week most believe she left the tough questions at home and when the few people left that actually still watch their news called them on it they got a bit testy.
From: CBS Evening News < Evening@cbsnews.com>
Sent: Monday, September 10, 2007 11:45:01 AM
Subject: RE: Couric report from Iraq an embarassment to journalists everywhere

Actually most intelligent people were very impressed by the quality of our reports from Iraq and Syria …Apparently you missed most of the interviews that were done over there…imagine you got your information from a blog somewhere…
Wow, basically implying that your viewers many of whom thought Couric lobbed softballs at the powers that be, lack intelligence isn't the best way to keep viewers let alone increase their share. It also looks like CBS corporate doesn't hold bloggers in the same high esteem that our local CBS affiliate KELO does.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Crying Wolf

If you are having a hard time getting legislation past Democrats that would bypass the Constitution what do you do? If you're the Bush administration you come out with a heightened terror warning and shame them into giving you your way.
Bush told the nation in his weekly radio address on July 28 that "America is in a heightened threat environment," and "our national security depends on" passage of his version of the wiretap bill.

At about the same time, Senate Minority Whip Trent Lott, R-Miss., shared that he had been warned that "disaster could be on our doorstep." He said people should leave Washington until today, Sept. 12, to be safe.

The Democrats, nervous that any domestic attack would be blamed on their failure to let the president ignore the Constitution, predictably caved. At least temporarily, they handed Bush the power to intercept Americans' international communications without court oversight, swatting away the explicit protections of the Fourth Amendment like an annoying gnat.
And you know, it is a dirty trick that the Administration uses every time they want a terror related bill passed but to be honest, Democrats should have known better. A bad law is a bad law no matter what the terror threat and this was a terrible law. The government can now spy on American citizens without warrants and we can thank the Democrats and their lack of a spine for that.

Hypocrites Can Be Good For Your Health

The first 2 months of the new fiscal year has seen a $300,000 shortfall in cigarette tax revenue collection. Reading the Argus article you get the impression that many officials think it is due to what they call bootlegging where cigarettes are bought in other states and brought into South Dakota.
Revenue Secretary Paul Kinsman said Monday his department is reviewing ways to assure that the state is effectively controlling its borders to prevent unstamped cigarettes from entering South Dakota.
I have yet to see any statistics showing that this is the case, but considering the cigarette tax nearly tripled I don't see how the shortfall could really be a surprise. Speaking from personal experience I would suspect that some of our local Reservations are seeing a nice increase as are the sales at C-stores in border towns of our neighboring states (is it bootlegging if it has a tax stamp from another state?) and in my case specifically, if the state has a way to track prescriptions, check the instances of Chantix being prescribed.

I had been a smoker for 23 years when the cigarette tax went into effect and I decided to quit. To be honest I didn't come to this decision because I necessarily wanted to for my health, but I refused to pay the tax that I felt was unfair. If the increase in the collections from the tax had gone strictly to help smokers quit and to pay for heath issues related to smoking I would be all for it and probably would still be smoking. But when the vast majority was earmarked for the general fund I felt it was time to stop funding the hypocrites in our government that continued to publicly talk about the health dangers of smoking while using it to fund their pet projects.

Either way, it took what I felt as an unfair tax to do something my mother and family couldn't do for 23 years, get me to stop smoking. 6 months and 20lbs later I am still smoke free and I don't see a relapse in my future. Not because I still don't have the urge to smoke anymore because evey now and then I do, especially at this moment with my morning cup of coffee, it's just that I am too stubborn to give the state one cent in extra taxes.

So how about that, it took our hypocritical government to finally get me to quit! And for any smokers out there reading this and whom are looking to quit, I would strongly recommend going to your doctor and getting him/her to prescribe Chantix. 3 days into my taking it, I had lost almost all urge to smoke and from everyone else I have talked to that has taken it, they say the same thing, it works. So instead of paying the hypocrites in state government, pay the hypocrites in the drug industry. It's cheaper and in the long run it is a whole lot healthier.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Clear As Mud

Real Clear Politics tries to document our 2008 Senate contest. Who's running, who's not, and better still, who might be running.
South Dakota is a trickier question. While national Democratic strategists and operatives close to Sen. Tim Johnson insist that he will seek another term, some Democrats are quietly skeptical. They suggest that when the Senator, who suffered a life-threatening medical emergency in December and returned to the Senate this month, needs to make a decision about the future, he may not choose to seek re-election.

If that were to happen, Republican strategists would place heavy pressure on popular Gov. Mike Rounds to run for an open seat, and while the governor doesn't seem very interested now, he might find it hard to resist an open seat.

One Democrat familiar with South Dakota politics argues that given Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin's apparent preference to run for governor -- her grandfather was governor and her father ran unsuccessfully for the office -- the Democratic Congresswoman might well decide against an uphill run against Rounds for the Senate. But all of this is moot if Johnson runs for re-election.
Got that? Even Senator Johnson's quote saying he plans and running and winning isn't enough to stop the speculation even among Democrats. And if you have somehow figured out the 2008 Senate race, how about the governor's race in 2010? David Kranz continues the Herseth Sandlin for governor theme  and muddies that up for us as well this morning.
When U.S. Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin told me last week that she wouldn't rule out a run for governor in 2010, the political dynamics for the next four years shifted.
But she might not run either, then again it's not like we have over 3 years until the election...Oh wait a minute, we do! I am glad that is all cleared up and in just the nick of time...

I Know It Might Be Hard To Believe But...

...folks it's legal!

Like I mentioned on Saturday when I talked about how the announcement by Lodgenet that they were adding jobs would cause the far right to have nightmares, they didn't disappoint. Yesterday the SDWC posted twice about this including a press release from the South Dakota Family Policy Council and as is often the case when he posts about controversial issues, the far right comes crawling out of the woodwork (And yes I know the far right isn't the only ones against porn, they are usually just the most hypocritical).

Feel free to peruse the comments from these 2 posts but pay close attention to the press release and you will probably discover that adult entertainment or pornography if you wish is the root of all evil and any company that deals with this material is evil and how dare Governor Rounds give this company any press, etc. Of course some who try and disagree with any of these points are immediately labeled a "secular humanist" or some other term related to your religious beliefs or lack thereof. But as with many similar issues, the fact that it's legal, or that you have the choice as to whether or not to watch it, and you can easily prevent those that shouldn't be exposed to it from watching it is rarely mentioned.

It's amazing that the same Constitution that allows dissenters like the South Dakota Family Policy Council to voice their disgust over this issue also allows Lodgenet and other companies like it to supply this material, kind of ironic isn't it? As is the fact that other vices much more easily accessible and detrimental to children and families including alcohol, which kills and injures many more people than pornography ever will is widely accepted even to the point where our illustrious governor's brothers are going into the industry. Either way this reminds me of an excellent Denis Leary quote from the otherwise bad movie "Demolition Man".

I'm the enemy, 'cause I like to think, I like to read. I'm into freedom of speech, and freedom of choice. I'm the kinda guy that likes to sit in a greasy spoon and wonder, "Gee, should I have the T-bone steak or the jumbo rack of barbecue ribs with the side-order of gravy fries?" I want high cholesterol! I wanna eat bacon, and butter, and buckets of cheese, okay?! I wanna smoke a Cuban cigar the size of Cincinnati in the non-smoking section! I wanna run naked through the street, with green Jell-O all over my body, reading Playboy magazine. Why? Because I suddenly may feel the need to, okay, pal?

Pretty much sums up what makes our country great, porn and all, doesn't it?

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Are You Ready For Some Football?

Cleveland BrownsThe latest incarnation of my 40 plus year tradition of being a Cleveland Browns football fan culminates today with the opening game of the regular season. If you root for any of the teams in the NFL that have won a Super Bowl or better yet if you root for a team that has at least made it to the big show you probably have no idea what it is like to be a Browns fan, especially since they came back into the league in 1999. Today when the Browns take the field against the Pittsburgh Steelers, the wait until next year calls can again begin in earnest. And the tradition will continue anew.

Cleveland sports fan are a hearty bunch. No professional Cleveland sports team has won a league championship since the 1964 Browns (sorry Force fans, the MISL doesn't count) with the Indians leading the futility charge with their last championship occurring in 1948. The Browns can also lay claim to several of pro football's most memorable chokes including "The Drive" and "The Fumble" both of which resulted in them missing out on chances to reach the Super Bowl. Just to give you an idea of my memories of being a Cleveland sports fan you must first know when I was born, October 1964, or for those not paying attention, a full 9 months after the Browns won the last championship in Cleveland sports history.

So with that in mind what can I hang my hat on besides "The Drive" and "The Fumble"? How about the Tribe losing in 6 to the Braves in 1995, or maybe the memorable blown 9th inning lead in game 7 of the 1997 World Series against the Marlins and finally who can forget the 4 game sweep this past June when the Spurs completely embarrassed the Cavs in their first ever NBA finals appearance.

After today or if by some miracle they play well against the Steelers, soon there after, Browns fans can again look to next April's draft where they will surely have a top 10 pick and draft the next big thing at whatever position he plays, welcome aboard Brady! The draft then starts the annual tradition of hope and excitement that results in Browns fan's delusion belief that the Super Bowl is within their grasp. Those feelings usually last for the 4 months before the season starts or until the current big name player gets hurt doing something stupid on his motorcycle in some parking lot which results in another Cleveland Browns tradition, reality setting in once more.

So again Browns fans I ask are you ready for some football? At least this year the Indians are still in first place giving Cleveland fans some hope at the start of the football season though there is still 3 weeks for them to choke, is Jose Mesa still available?

UPDATE: Well my Brownies didn't disappoint. Final: Pittsburgh 34 Cleveland 7. Wait till next year!

Oh This Is A Good Idea

What do you do if you are company wanting to build an oil pipeline but are having a hard time re-assuring residents in its path that that your project is safe? Apparently if you are TransCanada and you are wanting your Keystone Pipeline project approved, you ask for and get a waiver that would allow you to use cheaper material.
The company that wants to run a crude oil pipeline through eastern South Dakota is being allowed to use somewhat thinner steel in rural areas, which will save money.
I can't think of a better way to show your detractors just how much you care can you?

Saturday, September 8, 2007

What A Start

PP over at the SDWC's favorite candidate and current GOP darling has only been in the race for a few days and already he is making waves.
Freshly minted GOP White House hopeful Fred Thompson puzzled Iowans yesterday by insisting an Al Qaeda smoking ban was one reason freedom-loving Iraqis bolted to the U.S. side.


And

Thompson said the smoking ban and terror tactics Al Qaeda used to oppress women and intimidate local leaders pushed tribes in western Anbar Province to support U.S. troops.
Wow, why haven't we figured this out sooner. All we need to do is ship a few thousand cartons of Marlboro's to Iraq, set up a huge smoking area, and then watch Al Qaeda disappear!

Do As I Say...

Updated tallies after the latest Catholic Church $198.1 million agreement with 144 childhood sexual abuse victims in San Diego. Via the AP
Sex abuse by Roman Catholic priests has cost the U.S. church at least $2.1 billion since 1950. Here are some of the largest known payouts to victims since the crisis erupted in 2002 in the Archdiocese of Boston:

Archdiocese of Los Angeles, 2007, agrees to pay $660 million to about 500 people.

Diocese of Orange, Calif., 2004, $100 million for 90 abuse claims.

Diocese of Covington, Ky., 2006, up to $84 million for more than 350 people.

Archdiocese of Boston, 2003, $84 million for 552 claims.

Diocese of Oakland, Calif., 2005, $56 million to 56 people.

Archdiocese of Portland, Ore., 2007, agrees to pay about $52 million to 175 victims to emerge from bankruptcy protection. The diocese sets aside another $20 million for any future claims.

Diocese of Spokane, Wash., 2007, agrees to pay $48 million for about 150 claims to emerge from bankruptcy protection.

Diocese of Sacramento, Calif., 2005, pays $35 million to 33 people.

Archdiocese of Louisville, Ky., 2003, $25.7 million to 243 victims.

Diocese of Tucson, Ariz., 2005, agrees to fund a settlement trust worth about $22 million for more than 50 victims to emerge from bankruptcy protection.

When Is The Announcement Of More Jobs Bad News?

"Lodgenet is growing, and the far right is crowing" would also be a suitable title as the Sioux Falls based Lodgenet is adding up to 150 jobs to their Sioux Falls operation over the next 2 years. On the surface this sounds like good news for our local economy, and it is unless of course you are a far right conservative.

You see, besides providing cable television and internet content to thousands of hotels worldwide, Lodgenet also provides pay per view adult content to many of these same properties. What happens when you mention adult content? The far righties start coming out of the woodwork to re-iterate their view on why this type of entertainment is bad. The latest of these groups, Citizens for Community Values and South Dakota Family Policy Council held a press conference just last month in an attempt to get the Justice Department to investigate Lodgenet and in turn to tell us what is obscene based on their narrow interpretation.

So it was no surprise that this latest announcement of Lodgenet's expansion has already attracted the ire of the far right.
It's true that you can choose whether to watch the pornographic channels or not. But then, you can choose whether to do drugs or not...but we punish the dealers much harder than the buyer--perhaps we view it negatively when someone sells something harmful to another person?
Taking out the fact in the above argument that what Lodgenet is doing is currently legal while buying or selling drugs isn't, I am sure you get the idea of the heat Lodgenet has been dealing with and what is coming their way after this latest announcement.

To that end I have often wondered whether many of those that are complaining about Lodgenet's adult content have ever stayed at a hotel that the company serves? I have had that opportunity numerous times because of the travel required for my job and to be honest, the fact that they offer adult content is the last thing that comes to mind for me. Hotels with Lodgenet almost always have the worst offering of basic cable channels out there with some I have stayed at only offering 20-25 channels. And yes I know that they likely do this to try and get you to buy their pay per view content but I am not paying $10.99 or more for a first or second run movie I can rent at Blockbuster for $2.99 at a later time.

So unless you are a far-right conservative that thinks v-neck sweaters are inappropriate, I would think that the bigger problem with Lodgenet is more the amount of content the properties they partner with offer versus the type. For me it is to the point where all things being equal, I would normally choose a hotel without Lodgenet just for the better selection of channels.

Friday, September 7, 2007

A Lot Of Support For A Non-Campaign

It has been a busy few weeks for Tim Johnson. Putting aside for the moment his returning to the Senate for the first time in over 8 months, a lot is being done for his fund raising efforts as well. Senator Johnson supposedly hasn't decided yet whether or not he will run for re-election in 2008 despite comments like this when ask by Bob Woodruff last week:

Bob Woodruff: Does that mean definitely you’re going to run for the Senate again in 2008?

Tim Johnson: I plan on it… I expect to run and to win.


Semantics aside, several heavy hitters in the Democratic Party apparently think he will be running as they have sent out emails asking for contributions to Johnson's campaign. First, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid went panning for campaign cash on behalf of Johnson and then current Illinois Senator, and Presidential candidate, Barack Obama joined in on the fund raising efforts.

Closing out Senator Johnson's week of campaign contribution hawking was an email I got this morning from New York Senator and Presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton.
Dear Friend,

I'm so excited to welcome my friend Tim Johnson back to the Senate.

Tim, the senior senator from South Dakota, faced a life-threatening medical condition late last year, and I am thrilled at the incredible recovery he's made.

After eight months of hard work to regain his health -- the same kind of hard work he's put into representing the people of South Dakota -- Tim is back

I hope you'll take a moment today to show your support for him. You can make a contribution to his campaign here:

http://actblue.com/page/welcomebacktim

Thank you so much for your support.

Sincerely,

Hillary Rodham Clinton
It seems that Senator Johnson's run for the Senate without even "officially" announcing he is running is probably the second most successful non-campaign so far this year. But with Fred Thompson finally announcing, he can surely claim he has the most successful current non-campaign going. All thanks to some of his friends in Washington.