Thursday, January 31, 2008

Short Takes

I just finished up a long day behind the wheel so I don't have much time but I did come across a few interesting tidbits besides the Shell Oil poverty post below.

It's been a good week for Conservative Republican scourge John McCain who not only picked up the endorsements of Rudy Giuliani earlier this week and Arnold Schwarzenegger today, he also gained another reason for me to like him just a bit more (not enough to vote for him though). You can now add Michelle Malkin to other wingnuts including Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter that would rather have a root canal than support McCain.

Speaking of Limbaugh, Darth Cheney appeared on his show yesterday to push for telecom immunity as part of the FISA legislation working its way around Congress.
CHENEY: People who don’t want to — I guess want to leave open the possibility that the trial lawyers can go after a big company that may have helped. Those companies helped specifically at our request, and they’ve done yeoman duty for the country, and this is the so-called terrorist surveillance program, one of the things it was called earlier. It’s just absolutely essential to know who in the United States is talking to Al-Qaeda. It’s a program that’s been very well managed. We haven’t violated anybody’s civil liberties. It’s in fact a good piece of legislation.
So Dick, if nobody has violated anyone's civil liberties, why do they need immunity?

And finally, many have been touting the success of the surge in Iraq and while the effectiveness of this campaign can and is being debated, that little problem in Afghanistan hasn't gone away either. It seems that bastion of civil and human rights we created after kicking out the Taliban is working just fine.

Afghanistan sentences journalist to death for downloading report on women's rights

How's that for progress?

Remember This The Next Time You Fill Up

The next time you are searching for the money needed to put gas in your tank between your couch cushions, try to remember just how rough that $3 plus a gallon gas is on our big oil companies.
Royal Dutch Shell reignited anger over excessive profits today after revealing it made $27.6 billion (£13.9 billion) in 2007 - a new record for a UK company.

The figure - equivalent to more than £1.5 million an hour - prompted a fresh call from unions for a windfall tax on oil companies. It also comes at a time when motorists are paying forecourt petrol prices of more than £1 a litre.
AmericaBlog does the math for us, Shell only made a paltry $3 million a minute. How can they possibly survive?

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Obama On Edwards Quitting

Barack Obama has released a statement in regards to John Edwards quitting his bid for the White House.

“John Edwards has spent a lifetime fighting to give voice to the voiceless and hope to the struggling, even when it wasn’t popular to do or covered in the news. At a time when our politics is too focused on who’s up and who’s down, he made a nation focus again on who matters – the New Orleans child without a home, the West Virginia miner without a job, the families who live in that other America that is not seen or heard or talked about by our leaders in Washington.

"John and Elizabeth Edwards have always believed deeply that we can change this – that two Americans can become one, and that our country can rally around this common purpose. So while his campaign may end today, the cause of their lives endures for all of us who still believe that we can achieve that dream of one America.

Sounds like someone is sucking up for some endorsement love doesn't it?

UPDATE: Apparently the Obama Campaign isn't alone in beating down Edwards' door for an endorsement. There has got to be some serious gold plated kneepads being put on over at the campaign headquarters of both Clinton and Obama.

Edwards Dropping Out

Most expected that Rudy Giuliani would be dropping out if he didn't do well in Florida, he didn't and he is, but John Edwards future seemed to a least include Super Tuesday. It won't as according to various reports, Edwards will be dropping out of the race with an announcement in New Orleans this afternoon.

Early on it became obvious that Edwards wouldn't have the horsepower to beat either Clinton or Obama but his truly progressive ideology kept much of the progressive agenda in the discussion. Unfortunately for us in South Dakota, our June primary date prevented us from really getting to know this man and his ideas for the middle class but as far as I am concerned Edwards leaving the campaign is a loss for the Democratic Party as a whole.

Hopefully some of his ideas have rubbed off on the whomever the eventual nominee is. We'll see...

UPDATE: Others are saying it better than I did or could.

UPDATE 2: The Edwards goodbye speech

Bully Pulpit

To be honest, with my readership numbers bully pulpit might be the wrong term, but a recent announcement has again got me going against my local cable company. Earlier this winter I wrote a rant over the NFL Network being the exclusive carrier of several NFL games including the season ending game between the Patriots and the Giants. Included in that rant was a dig at my cable company, Golden West, for not carrying the NFL network.

Obviously not because of my rant, Golden West added the NFL Network shortly thereafter and then the NFL Network also relented and allowed the remaining 60% of the country to see the Patriots-Giants game. Since my first rant worked so well (sarcasm), I figured I would write about my next pet peeve in regards to Golden West.

Being the proud owner of a wonderful 32 inch HDTV and on the eve of the biggest football game of the year, you would think that I would be drooling over the prospect of watching my first Super Bowl in high def. If you thought that you would be wrong. As with the other 35 plus Super Bowls I have seen in my life, this one will also be seen in less than stunning 480i because of my favorite cable company and their embarrassing selection of HD content.

At the beginning of this rant I mentioned that a recent announcement got me going. That announcement was from satellite television provider DirectTV who is getting ready to launch their next satellite which will up their HD capability to 150 channels. Did they say 150 channels, up from their current 85 channels? And here I am with Golden West's paltry offering of 13 channels (4 of which are premiums like HBO and Showtime) that by the way doesn't include the HD feed from our local Fox station KTTW.

So here I will sit this Sunday watching the Super Bowl in standard definition just like every other year while Golden West collects their ridiculously high rates from us for providing their normal horrible content. Ah the joys of rural living... <end rant>

P.S. Before anyone asks why I don't just upgrade to Dish Network or DirectTV, numerous 100 year old+ trees directly in the line of site of the various satellites preclude that option, believe me I checked.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Where Do I Get Some Of That Kool-Aid?

Even after 7 years of lies, "1984" type breaches of our civil liberties, and outright mismanagement of our country, a totally bogus State of the Union still gets the few remaining Bushie's hearts a fluttering.
America is blessed - very blessed. We have had an amazing leader who believes in the wisdom of ‘we the people’. Through 7 years of attack from within and without. from across the aisle and from those too obsessed with purity in his party, President Bush has been a stalwart gentleman who has maintained dignity and honor for his office as those around him have collapsed into angry rants. The nation is going to miss George W Bush.

His SOTU speech tonight was probably his best. And it rested upon 7 years of accomplishments only his enemies, in hopes of diminishing him, will never recognize. He has shown that being a lame duck with a veto pen is a might powerful position to be in. He has promised to veto tax increases and uncontrolled earmarks. He will direct no efforts be spent on earmarks that had no debate or public vote in Congress.
What is he mixing with his Kool Aid besides the obvious blind faith?

Adult Business Regulation Bill Goes Down

The bill (SB98) that sought to put the screws on adult oriented business was killed by the Local Government committee yesterday because it could have lead to long court battles but not before they got in a few digs on the business as a whole.
Sen. Arnie Hauge, R-Canistota, said he agrees adult-oriented businesses are trashy and need to be regulated, but the bill's language would lead to long court fights over definitions and other issues. He said lawmakers should continue working to find the right method of regulating such businesses.
Arnie ought to know something about the subject considering he represents the district (25) that has made fighting adult oriented business a science with the ongoing fight against the topless dancing/movie house/juice bar/etc. that has been trying to get going outside of Salem. That fight actually brings up the real problem with this bill, why is the state trying to legislate this at all?

One size fits all regulation rarely fits everywhere and I think that this is another of those situations. And by the way Sandy, there is no apparently about this, adult-oriented business do have the legal right to exist. That is at least until we make the mistake of letting folks like you and Arnie (adult-oriented businesses are trashy) Hauge determine what can or cannot exist.
The measure's main sponsor, Sen. Sandy Jerstad, D-Sioux Falls, said adult-oriented businesses apparently have a legal right to exist, but the state should regulate them to prevent harm to children. A county could make sure such businesses are not located near places where children congregate, she said.
Message to those in Pierre, especially those that think they know what's best for us, let local government deal with local issues.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Brave Legislators?

The Argus Leader's Randell Beck, of fake editorial fame, is patting several in our legislature on the back this morning because they are working to open our state government.
That our Legislature would seriously debate the extent to which the inner workings of government should be transparent is a victory for those who have long believed that accountability in a democracy must be measured by the level to which the average citizen - not journalists, or a favored few - has access to the halls of power.

For that we can thank a few lawmakers courageous enough to champion change - slow but steady, in the case of Sen. David Knudson and Rep. Larry Rhoden; fast and dramatic, in the case of Sen. Nancy Turbak Berry.
Is it really that brave for these few to be working on something that should have long since been fixed? But then again considering our elected officials seem to be quite happy at being last in everything, maybe this is somewhat courageous...

UPDATE: And while Beck is patting some on the back, others in Pierre are stabbing us in the back.
PIERRE — A South Dakota Senate committee has endorsed a proposal that would allow members of a state or local government board to attend the meeting of another government board without giving public notice. The Local Government Committee voted to send the bill to the full Senate for further debate.

The state’s open meetings law requires that state and local boards, commissions and other agencies must give public notice 24 hours before holding a meeting.

SB199 would provide that when members of a board attend the meeting of another board to observe or to provide information, they would not have to provide public notice.
RCJ's Typos and Tribulations.

Teacher Pay Bills Introduced This Year

Now that the deadline for introducing new bills has come and gone, the details of the 5 bills making the rounds this year that deal with increasing teacher salary are discussed in this morning's Argus and are linked to below.

HB1214 - Creates minimum salary for teachers in districts that get state funds. $28,000 minimum in 2009 and $30,000 minimum in 2010. (Prime sponsors are Rep. Ed McLaughlin, R-Rapid City; Sen. Cooper Garnos, R-Presho)
HB1262 - Simply says, "The salaries of teachers in South Dakota are hereby enhanced," a device sometimes used to get a bill in play while working on details. (Prime sponsors, Rep. Mike Buckingham, R-Rapid City; Sen. Ed Olson, R-Mitchell)
HB1268 - Creates minimum salary of $30,000 by 2013. Districts under that in 2008 must develop plan to move the pay to the minimum target. (Prime sponsors Rep. Kristi Noem, R-Castlewood; Sen. Ed Olson, R-Mitchell)
SB169 - Sets annual school-aid increase at 3.5 percent, requires a minimum teacher salary of $35,000 by 2012, increased in four annual steps from $29,000 minimum in 2009. (Prime sponsors Sen. Cooper Garnos, R-Presho; Rep. Ed McLaughlin, R-Rapid City.)
SB187 - Requires schools to increase average teacher pay by 4.25 percent or receive $80 per student less in state aid than schools that do provide that pay increase.

Does anyone think this year will be any different? Can our legislators push any of these bills past a probable veto by the Governor or does Rounds get his way as usual and push through the standard less than inflation increase again this year?

I'm betting a lack of backbone will again win out as will the meager 2.5% one time raise being pushed by Governor Rounds.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Probably Not Coming To A Food Court Near You

Vending machines are just about everywhere and nowadays you can almost anything being dispensed by one somewhere. Soda, chips, candy, marijuana? In California at least, the answer is yes.

The World's first "Weed ATM's" as they are being dubbed should be available for use in LA and elsewhere in the land of fruit and nuts on Monday and each one comes with it's own security guard to make sure there is no funny business.

AVMs are 24/7 machines housed in standalone rooms, abutting two dispensaries and protected by round-the-clock security guards -- like ATMs for people combating psychological withdrawal with a physical one. After cinching up your doctor's consultation, hit an AVM location to get your prescription approved, fingerprint taken, and a prepaid credit card loaded with your profile: dosage (3.5 or 7 grams, up to 1oz a week) and strain preference (choice of five, including OG Cush and Granddaddy Purple, the mildly hallucinogenic forebear to Prince). Then day or night, all you do is hit a machine and walk away with enough vacuum-sealed, plastic-encapsulated cheeba to adequately treat your illness, and guarantee your car never smells like new leather again.

And to think here in South Dakota we have a hard time just getting the pill.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Birth Control Pill Also Reduces Cancer Risks, That Is If You Can Get It

A new study reports that women who used the birth control pill for extended periods of time not only reduced unwanted pregnancies but also greatly reduce their chances of getting ovarian cancer, even decades after they stop taking it.
"Not only does the pill prevent pregnancy, but in the long term, you actually get less cancer as well," said Valerie Beral, the study's lead author and director of the Cancer Research UK Epidemiology Unit at Oxford University. "It's a nice bonus." The study was paid for by Cancer Research UK and Britain's Medical Research Council.
The results are amazing:
According to the study, a woman's ovarian cancer risk is cut by 20 percent for every five years she is on the pill. Researchers tracked women who had never taken the pill to those who had taken it for more than 15 years. They found that even 30 years after women had stopped taking the pill, they still had about a 15 percent reduced risk of getting ovarian cancer, compared to women who had never taken oral contraceptives.

The experts estimated that use of the pill so far has prevented about 200,000 cases of ovarian cancer and 100,000 deaths from the disease. Based on current levels of oral contraceptive usage, they guessed that 30,000 cases could be avoided every year.
Too bad that might not mean much to some in South Dakota unless SB164 passes making sure pharmacists cannot refuse to dispense legally prescribed birth control because of "moral" objections.

Shouldn't this be about the best interests of the patient as determined by their discussions with their doctor and not by their pharmacists personal beliefs? As with the HPV vaccine flap from last year, heaven forbid we do something to help women when it is in anyway related to sex even when the side effects are as positive as this new study would suggest.

Friday, January 25, 2008

The Rumor That Won't Quit

The nasty rumor that has Mike Rounds running for Senate has re-appeared. Badlands Blue speculates on just that possibility based on a Real Clear Politics story which hints that several Republican "heavyweights" could soon be getting into the Senate races in Iowa and South Dakota.

Do we have any GOP "heavyweights" left in South Dakota other than Rounds?

What Is Obscene?

State Motor Vehicles Director Debra Hillmer didn't get her way when SB20 was quashed last week so now supporters are trying a different tactic.

For those that don't remember, SB20 sought to ban personalized license plates after a recent flap over a license plate was issued that read MPEACHW. Hillmer and her staff, whom apparently have a hard time deciphering acronyms asked that all personalized plates be banned as a result. That bill eventually failed when the state Senate Transportation Committee decided that personalized plates were too popular but apparently this issue is really important as it has re-appeared, thought in a slightly different form.

SB185 was introduced Wednesday and instead of banning personalized plates completely, supporters are now trying to outlaw plates that are "in any language, vulgar, derogatory, profane, racial epithets, or obscene"

Missing from this legislation of course, is who determines what is "vulgar, derogatory, profane, or obscene". Will it be Hillmer and her staff? And if so, do we want someone that is already complaining about figuring out the meaning of all the various letter/number combinations being too difficult to be telling us what is offensive?

Is this a road we really need to be going down right now? While I personally can't see spending $20-25 a year for vanity plates, I have a feeling many who do will have serious issues with other people's idea of what constitutes obscene or vulgar. I guess I better order my "id10t" plates now...

Some More McCain Love

To be sure the punch hole next to John McCain's name will likely never be punched by me in any election, but I have discovered another reason to hope that he gets the GOP nomination, Ann Coulter hates him.

And to think John, you almost had me until you pandered to Jerry Falwell and the religious right, but can a guy that is despised by both Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter be all that bad?

Kucinich In Trouble At Home As Well

Continuing with the Dennis Kucinich theme today, it appears that Dennis might have had another reason to drop out of the running for the White House. Almost no one thought he had much of a shot at the Democratic nomination, other than maybe Cory, but his 2nd futile run at the Presidency could possibly end up costing him his seat in Congress as well.
Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson snubbed his local congressman, Rep. Dennis J. Kucinich (D-Ohio), and endorsed one of his leading primary rivals, Cleveland City Councilman Joe Cimperman, at a press conference this morning.

"I believe Joe is the candidate who will fight the hardest to create jobs for the people of the 10th District," Jackson said in a statement. "He is dedicated to the people he serves, and he knows how to deliver results."

Cimperman is mounting a well-organized challenge to the six-term congressman ahead of the Democratic primary on March 4. Cimperman has been attacking Kucinich for ignoring the needs of his the district while running a long-shot campaign for president.
Oops!

If A Tree Fell In The Forest...

If a tree fell in the forest...could also be answered would anyone know that the man who almost killed Cleveland is out of the race? Dennis Kucinich will quietly ride into the Presidential candidate sunset today when he apparently will announce he is quiting his bid for the White House.
"I will be announcing that I'm transiting out of the presidential campaign," Kucinich said. "I'm making that announcement tomorrow about a new direction."

Kucinich, who was elected to the House in 1996, faces a tough race for re-election.

Kucinich, 61, was making his second bid for his party's nomination; he sought the nod in 2004. He registers in low single digits in polls and has raised little money for what is considered another long-shot run. Kucinich, who is known for his liberal views, has attracted a devoted following.
As to his mention of raising little money, his announcement comes just 2 days after he blew $27,000 on a re-count request in the New Hampshire primary. The re-count was only 40 percent complete when it was halted because of lack of funds and resulted in no changes in how the candidates faired.

So the universal heath care champion who didn't even provide it for his staff has quit because of lack of campaign funds after blowing $27,000 on a re-count in a primary where he barely registered? No wonder Cleveland went belly up on his watch, good bye and good riddance Dennis.

UPDATE: The National Review does point out one reason to miss Dennis Kucinich now that he is gone.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Tax Rebates

Can you earn a rebate on something you never bought? The latest negotiations over President Bush's economic stimulus plan now includes tax rebates of at least $300 even to those that didn't pay any taxes.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi agreed to drop increases in food stamp and unemployment benefits during the Wednesday meeting in exchange for gaining rebates of at least $300 for almost everyone earning a paycheck, including low-income earners who make too little to pay income taxes.
Families with children would receive an additional $300 per child, subject to an overall cap of perhaps $1,200, according to a senior House aide who outlined the deal on condition of anonymity in advance of formal adoption of the whole package. Rebates would go to people earning below a certain income cap, likely individuals earning $75,000 or less and couples with incomes of $150,000 or less.
So why did TiVo just make me buy their product before I could get their rebate?

Tax Break Repeal On Ethanol Shot Down

I was quite surprised when Sen. Jerry Apa introduced a bill that would repeal the 2 cent a gallon tax break on ethanol blended fuel. Why would a South Dakotan want to do something that would endanger our major cash crop in the form of highly subsidized corn based ethanol?

Based on testimony from ethanol industry officials (gee who would have thought they would oppose this?), SB110 died in committee by a vote of 6-3 so we can all breathe a sigh of relief and fill up with our highly government subsidized ethanol blends without worrying about paying more taxes in one of the least taxed states in the country.

Is It Untrue Just Because Of The Messenger?

The AP ran a story yesterday about a study from 2 non-profit organizations that provided blow by blow accounts of what they called "false statements" from President Bush and members of his administration following the terrorist attacks in 2001. The study found over 900 instances where these apparent false statements were given with over 250 coming from the mouth of George Bush.

On the surface the study is quite damning and for sure the left wing blogosphere has been all over it with "I knew it's" and "I told you so's" with their comment sections filled with the usual anti-bush rhetoric including more impeachment calls which is to be expected. On the right, I originally thought things would be quieter than a church mouse but as it turns out, the right doesn't hold much credence to the sources of the study and soon after the story broke, the shoot the messenger posts began in earnest.

Apparently one of the non-profit groups behind the study, The Center for Public Integrity, is partially funded by righty hater George Soros which in the eyes of the blind followers means that the study must be false and should be dismissed with prejudice. In some cases a few even tried to spin it to accuse certain Democrats of being the real liars.

I guess the question that should be addressed is should a story be dismissed just because of who is behind it? If that was the case the accusations by Jose Conseco would never have been proven to mostly be true and Ruppert Murdoch's Faux News would have long since gone silent.

So if you are questioning the story because of it's sources but you have an open mind I recommend you watch the clip below of Keith Olbermann's show last night (the righties will be screaming foul) where he discusses this issue in detail including how many of these "statements" coincidentally occurred at politically advantageous times for the Republican's and George Bush. Maybe you'll think differently and maybe you won't...

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

What Took So Long?

Pen Top ToolsSome ideas take forever to come out and when they do they are so obvious and useful you just have to say, what took so long? You know, iPods, cell phones, sliced bread, peanut butter and jelly...

Of course with others you might say, it should have taken longer. I am not quite sure which category this falls into but it is interesting just the same.

(h/t - gizmodo)

How's This For Appreciation?

You would think that government loans owed by US serviceman killed in the line of duty would be forgiven, at least my version of common sense would have assumed that to be true. But believe it or not, the VA has been trying to collect money from the estates of these fallen soldiers and though rare, they have gone after and collected over $56,000 from the families of 22 soldiers who died in the line of duty owing mainly GI Bill over-payments.

Texas Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison has introduced a bill (S 2536) that would relieve any VA owed debts, and if passed would be retroactive to Sept 11th, 2001 so that those already harassed by the VA in collection attempts will receive refunds. The bill seems to have bi-partisan support including from VA Secretary Dr. James Peake, so hopefully it will pass without problems but how would you like to be the guy from the VA that is tasked with calling family members of fallen soldiers and have to ask them to pay back these loans?

This proposal, while definitely long overdue, seems to be incomplete as it lacks any mention of debts owed to other government agencies such as the IRS. Why this obvious omission? I hope that during the debate process our legislators do the right thing and ensure that all government debts get forgiven, it is the right thing to do. After all haven't these individuals payed back any debts owed to Uncle Sam in spades already?

Time For A Career Change

I have already written about the practice that has some pharmacists not filling prescriptions that go against their beliefs. It got to the point that Congress began debating a bill that would have forced them to fill all legally obtained prescriptions. At the time I was unaware that South Dakota has a law in place that allows pharmacists to do just that, and now our legislators are trying to change that as well, sort of.

SB164 would clarify South Dakota law so that pharmacists could still legally not dispense prescriptions that they have moral objections to, i.e. the morning after pill, they just would be required to now dispense contraceptives.
(3) It is the public policy of this state that the interest in freedom from unreasonable government intrusions into the private lives of citizens, and specifically the right of consenting individuals to obtain and use safe and effective methods of contraception without interference by governmental entities, shall be safeguarded and that the laws of this state shall be interpreted and construed to recognize and protect these rights.
I said it last month and I guess I will have to say it again, if your version of morality includes not dispensing certain safe and legally prescribed drugs especially in rural areas that might not have any other options, it is time to find a different profession or at a minimum, have someone else on staff that would be willing to do your job for you.

You do not see many individuals morally opposed to alcohol tending bar, why should a pharmacy be different?

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Fred, We Barely Knew You

Fred Thompson has announced that he is withdrawing from the race today adding to the mess that is known as the GOP race for the White House.
"Today I have withdrawn my candidacy for President of the United States. I hope that my country and my party have benefited from our having made this effort," Mr. Thompson said in a statement released this afternoon.
Considering his horrible performance, Thompson's withdraw isn't surprising but it also comes on the same day that Mike Huckabee is acknowledging that a slight cash flow problem is resulting in some of his staff having to go without a paycheck while others are leaving the campaign altogether.

Added to the above problems is the fact that Rudy Giuliani, whom is in the midst of his own money troubles, has consistently contended that he would be putting less emphasis on the early contests to focus on Florida. Sounds good doesn't it Rudy? Unfortunately even with the massive money he has spent in the sunshine state, the latest polls have him behind John McCain and Mitt Romney (though at least he is finally ahead of Ron Paul).

So even on the day when only one of the GOP contenders has quit, several of the remaining candidates seem to be on life support. Personally, as long as Huckabee and Paul aren't the winners, I could care less as to whom gets the nod on the right. But if I had to pick, I would look to John McCain. Certainly not because he could win or has the values I subscribe to, as that couldn't be farther from the truth, but because it would be like fingernails on the chalkboard to so many right-wing talking heads.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Over The Hill Actor Comments On McCain's Age

Maybe over the hill is too strong considering Chuck Norris probably never actually saw the hill, but the actor whose claims to fame include a hokey TV series and getting his butt kicked by Bruce Lee, thinks John McCain is too old to be President.
Campaigning for Mike Huckabee, actor Chuck Norris said Sunday that Sen. John McCain is too old to handle the pressures of being president.

"I didn't pick John to support because I'm just afraid that the vice president would wind up taking over his job in that four-year presidency," said Norris, who was hosting a fundraiser for Huckabee at his Lone Wolf Ranch.

"So we need to find someone that can handle it for four years or eight years ... that has the youth and vision and communication skills to make that work." Norris, 67, is four years younger than McCain, who will be 72 in August.
It's nice to know that Norris cares enough to take time out of his busy schedule filming infomercials to stump for Huckabee but seriously Chuck, who cares what you think! Apparently voters from every state that has caucused or held primaries to date other than Iowa disagree with you on Huckabee.

Do what those in the same profession as such other notable "rocket scientists" as Lindsay Lohan think in regards to politics have any sway in who you support?

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Another Loss From TV's Royalty

Sexy voiced beauty from the big and little screen Suzanne Pleshette has passed away at age 70. While she appeared in several big screen classics such as Hitchcock's "The Birds", I will always remember her best from he days on one of my favorite shows growing up, "The Bob Newhart Show". Later she was part of one of the classic series finale's in TV history when she appeared in the final scene of Newhart's other popular show "Newhart" telling him it was all a dream ala Bobby's shower scene from Dallas in the 80's.

By the way, could the AP pick a more horrible picture of Pleshette for their story on her death?

Friday, January 18, 2008

Kucinich Out In Texas

And the hits just keep coming for the man that almost killed Cleveland. The Supreme Court has allowed Texas to print their March 4th primary ballots minus one notable name, Dennis Kucinich.
The court refused to step into a dispute between Kucinich and the Texas Democratic Party over a loyalty oath all candidates must sign to make the ballot.

Kucinich and singer-supporter Willie Nelson objected to the party oath that a presidential candidate must "fully support" the party's eventual nominee. Kucinich crossed out the oath when he filed for a spot on the primary ballot.
Now my man Cory might be lamenting this decision or even praising Kucinich for not following the establishment, in this case the Texas Democratic Party's requirement that all candidates on the ballot sign the loyalty oath, but is this court decision really that big a deal? Considering he hasn't cracked the 5% mark yet in any primary, will he even be around come the March 4th primary?

The Bush Magic

How much confidence does Wall Street have in President Bush and his financial "Midas Touch"? Well this morning the Dow was up 150 plus points thanks to good news from IBM, that is until the President announced his outline for a $145 billion dollar aid package. It then proceeded to drop like a rock continuing the slide that has the Dow down over 9% so far this year.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

The Huckster Speaks Again

Mike Huckabee has already told us that he wants to change the Constitution to meet God's standards, now he is letting us know just how he feels about marriage between those other than a man and a woman.
Well, I don’t think that’s a radical view to say we’re going to affirm marriage. I think the radical view is to say that we’re going to change the definition of marriage so that it can mean two men, two women, a man and three women, a man and a child, a man and animal. Again, once we change the definition, the door is open to change it again. I think the radical position is to make a change in what’s been historic.
Now I know that defining marriage is a sore subject in the Religious Conservative world, the idea of allowing gays to marry surely keeps many of them up at night but to equate gay marriage to bestiality has got to be a stretch even for the staunchest religious zealot. So what does that make Huckabee?

UPDATE 1/18: Satirist Andy Borowitz is reporting that Mike Huckabee was attacked today by a gay tiger from the San Francisco zoo that was angry over his bestiality/homosexual comments.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

You Know Things Are Bad When...

Our friends in Pierre are looking to raise the tax on ethanol blended fuel otherwise known as South Dakota's "liquid gold".
SB110, offered by Sen. Jerry Apa, R-Lead, would remove the current 2-cent fuel tax exemption on the common ethanol blend that motorists use across the state.

The state fuel tax on straight gasoline is 22 cents a gallon, but the tax is 20 cents on ethanol.

Apa's measure would also make the tax on ethanol 22 cents a gallon.
It seems the GOP controlled legislature is having no problem with that normally liberal stereotype of tax, tax, tax.

Ever Meet Nanny Legislation They Didn't Like?

If you want to keep up with all the various nanny legislation being discussed in Pierre this session you can monitor SDWC but I would just like to mention one I came across that was introduced today. HB1197 seeks to add all passengers to the already mandated front seat and kids under 18 requirement to wear seat belts that currently exists.
Except as provided in chapter 32-37 and § 32-38-3, every operator and front seat passenger of a passenger vehicle operated on a public highway in this state shall wear a properly adjusted and fastened safety seat belt system, required to be installed in the passenger vehicle when manufactured pursuant to Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard Number 208 (49 C.F.R. 571.208) in effect January 1, 1989, at all times when the vehicle is in forward motion. The driver of the passenger vehicle shall secure or cause to be secured a properly adjusted and fastened safety seat belt system on any passenger in the front seat who is at least five years of age but younger than eighteen years of age. Any violation of this section is not a moving traffic offense under the provisions of § 32-12-49.1.
Seat belts and child seats, what's missing from the constant stream of nanny legislation aimed at our highway safety? How about the obvious in motorcycle helmets as head injuries kill more motorcyclists than any other injuries?

Taking bets that we won't see that introduced anytime soon as we wouldn't want to mess with the cash cow that happens the first few weeks in August would we.

Time For Another Recount?

Sorry if I am beating a dead horse but I just couldn't resist again commenting on my favorite ex-Cleveland mayor running for the White House. Dennis "I bankrupted my city and now I want to do the same for my country" Kucinich didn't have one of his better days yesterday. Not only did he get axed from last night's MSNBC debate when the Nevada Supreme Court ruled against him, he also got trounced by "Undecided" in the Michigan primary.

Many are wondering how Hillary Clinton, the only one of the big 3 on the Democratic side running in Michigan, only got 55% of the vote in last night's meaningless primary (no delegates were awarded). I on the other hand feel compelled to instead talk about the man that could do no better than the getting 1/10 of the votes that the mythical "Undecided" received (236,000 to 22,000). How exactly did that happen Dennis? 2/3's of your only real competition wasn't on the ballot and you finished 3rd!

I have to wonder what is going through Kucinich's mind this morning, 3 primaries and his best showing is 4% in a contest that awarded no delegates and was missing 2 top shelf candidates. You might think that someone in his position would be pondering his future that should include getting back to Congress, I on the other hand wouldn't be surprised if instead he was pondering his recount options. This is Dennis Kucinich after all.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Short Lived Victory?

Apple TVBuried within Apple CEO Steve Jobs' keynote speech today could be the shortest victory dance in tech history. Many might be focusing on the cool MacBook Air that weights 3 lbs and is only 3/4 of an inch thick at it's thickest but what I got out of the announcements could be the real end of the high definition format war that was just won by Blu Ray.

Only last week the backers of Sony's Blu Ray high def DVD standard pretty much provided a death blow to the Toshiba/Microsoft backed HD DVD camp when most major movie studios including many in the porn industry backed Blu Ray. That announcement at the Consumer Electronics Show had the Blu Ray backers jumping for joy and HD DVD buyers looking to dump their cheaper and more refined players.

Enter Steve Jobs and the re-focused Apple TV 2.0. Until this morning the Apple TV was considered one of Apple's few recent flops with very few adopters and poor reviews, not anymore. How does HD movie rental on demand sound? Apple has redone the set top box, integrated it with Apple's new movie rental service, gotten rid of the PC requirement and voila, HD and standard DVD's on your set within minutes all for as little as $229, a full $100 plus cheaper than the cheapest Blu Ray player and it still plays your purchased music from iTunes.

I've been using NetFlix movies on demand now for a few weeks and have been pretty much unimpressed with their selection of On Demand movies and TV shows none of which are in high def. Want a new release? Forget about it until you can get it mailed to you, if it is available that is. Apple promises to have their movies available no more than 30 days after the DVD is released and considering they have every studio backing them, better HD selections minus the format concerns could surely follow.

Now being a South Dakotan that has been totally left out of the iPhone phenomenon/debacle because of AT&T's lack of a presence here, I am reserving final judgment and my money until the service matures for awhile before I consider adding it to my home theater and unlike NetFlix which gives you movies on demand as part of your normal monthly service, Apple plans to charge by the movie with regular movies for around $2.99 - $3.99 each and HD titles starting at around $4.99. Still cheaper than your local video store and you have 30 days to start watching them and 24 hours once you do before they expire.

And finally for those of you drooling over the MacBook Air, I can't forget about you so I thought I would pull your chain a bit. As with the iPods, you can forget about changing or replacing the battery, you can't. And while your at it forget about the hard drive and memory as well and don't forget that all these "features" will cost you a minimum of $1800.

Huckabee's Idea Of The Constitution

Mike Huckabee has come out of nowhere to be in contention for the GOP nomination mainly by pandering to the religious right and apparently it's payback time.
I have opponents in this race who do not want to change the Constitution. But I believe it’s a lot easier to change the Constitution than it would be to change the word of the living God. And that’s what we need to do is amend the Constitution so it’s in God’s standards rather than trying to change God’s standards so it lines up with some contemporary view of how we treat each other and how we treat the family.
Some believe we were founded as a Christian nation despite Constitutional protections to the contrary and still others believe we aren't Christian enough. Huckabee seems to fall in the later category and aims to change that by proving that religious fundamentalism isn't religion specific.

Continue To Submit Your George Bush Acronyms

I guess State Motor Vehicles Director Debra Hillmer will have to better keep up with acronyms and word plays as her request to have the state stop allowing vanity plates was shot down in committee this morning.
State Motor Vehicles Director Debra Hillmer told legislators Tuesday that it has become very difficult to decipher all the terms that motorists want to put on their plates.

Hillmer says many combinations of letters and numbers may be offensive, and the state is going to be sued at some point by those who are offended by personalized plates or those who argue that free speech allows them to have the plates of their choice.

However, legislators refused to pass the repeal bill, saying personalized plates are wildly popular with many motorists.
MPEACHW might be taken but I am sure there are many more out there that she will have to continue looking for. Maybe reading the plate would help before approving? Just wondering...

The New Bootlegger

Taxing our "sins" is always an easy way to get more revenue for government. In Ohio and elsewhere they used the "sin" tax to build various stadiums and here in South Dakota we have chosen to greatly increase taxes on at least one sin (another, alcohol is being addressed this year) to help finance government when the cigarette tax was passed last year. When proposed I called BS on their attempt to sell it as a way to finance quit smoking programs as the $5 million earmarked for that task was only earned after an additional $30 million had made its way into the state's coffers.

Whatever the real purpose, it was reported last month that South Dakota had issued 20 percent fewer tax stamps than they had the year before marking either a smashing success in getting people to quit smoking, or an ever growing trend of people going elsewhere to buy their smokes. Apparently this drop in tax stamps (re:taxes) has the South Dakota Department of Revenue and Regulation thinking it's the latter as they have requested and gotten an amendment to SD 10-50-6 added to this years legislative session to address this.

SB8 looks to eek out every nickel possible by adding single packs to the statute (SD 10-50-6) that covers cigarette bootlegging. It currently only covers those caught with over 2000 cigarettes not carrying a SD stamp but if passed would cover as little as one partial pack.

" Any person who possesses or receives cigarettes that do not bear a tax stamp or imprint indicating the South Dakota cigarette tax has been paid shall pay the tax imposed pursuant to § 10-50-3."

I can remember back in my Navy days driving through California and the South West and having to stop at checkpoints that looked for foreign fruit. Will we be seeing checkpoints soon at our borders and outside of reservations looking to catch those with out of state cigarettes? Probably not considering Governor Mikey is also looking to gut the Highway Patrol budget but one never knows.

Either way you might want to hide your cigarettes when stopped for other reasons, the tax man cometh and he will find you sooner or later. Those extra nickels and dimes are needed by our "small government" legislators to finance the latest "nanny state" law whatever that might be this time around.

Monday, January 14, 2008

The Nerve Of Some People

These guys actually have the nerve to think they deserved to be paid for the work they did?
Casey's General Stores faces a new federal lawsuit.

The Ankeny, Iowa-based convenience store chain is already being sued by managers who claimed they weren't paid overtime. Now, cooks and cashiers are making similar claims.

The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Des Moines, Iowa, says Casey's wrongfully denied overtime pay and wages to current and former Casey's hourly employees.
Must be Democrats! All humor aside, I have known folks that worked for this company and let's just say I am not surprised.

Sometimes You Gotta Say Hmm...

Heath Care PlanNPR has a story regarding the heath care plans in use by the various candidates as well as whether or not they offer health insurance to their campaign staff. Ignoring the Republicans, as heath care isn't one of their strong suits though it will be interesting to see if Giuliani continues to provide his workers with insurance considering many on his staff are getting paid this month, one Democratic candidate sticks out.

Of the 4 Democrats listed 3 personally have the Federal Employee Health Benefits Plan because of their positions in Congress and the 4th, John Edwards has insurance through his campaign. What I find ironic though is that while all 4 advocate some kind of universal health coverage as part of their platform, the one that often yells the loudest in favor of the need for a universal plan, Dennis Kucinich, is the only one that doesn't offer any coverage at all to his campaign staff.

So is health care only important when and if it is on the government dime Dennis? Just wondering.

The Scarlet Letter

The RCJ has a story this morning about SB65 which seeks to add individuals that knowingly infect someone with the HIV virus through sexual contact to the sex offender registry. Besides my wondering how many people a bill like this would actually cover in South Dakota in regards to our legislators spending time debating such a bill, I just know that it could ultimately open up a much bigger can of worms.

The act of intentionally infecting someone with HIV has already been addressed in the penal code with SDCL 22-18-31 which makes the act a felony to which a very quick and unscientific search resulted in me finding only one person actually being charged  under the law in the several years it has been in effect. While charging and prosecuting offenders is very necessary and placing them on the registry is in no way a bad thing, the side effects of this proposed bill can be seen by just browsing through the comments of the RCJ story. It shows just how ignorant and intolerant some in our rural state still are in regards to HIV/AIDS. One in particular that identified themselves as "Hermosa Resident".
" All HIV+ people should have to register not just the crimminal ones! "
And after taking a beating about that comment the same individual followed up with
" I'm not suggesting that we say HIV+ people have to be listed as a sex offender I'm suggesting that all HIV+ people register. We have a right to know if our neighbor has HIV! "
It still amazes me that in the almost 30 years we have been living with the HIV/AIDS epidemic that we haven't progressed very far from Ronald Reagan's indifference based largely on his discriminatory beliefs towards gays and his pandering to the religious right and Jerry Falwell (AIDS is the wrath of God upon homosexuals"). Considering the outright ignorance, stupidity, and hatred that still exists today, can Hermosa Resident's call for HIV/AIDS infectee registration be too far away? What other deadly illness can be thought of where the people that contract the disease are often hated more than the disease itself?

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Thank Goodness For Capitalism

It does say something for capitalism when our wonderful telcoms have no problems breaking the 4th amendment at the urging of the Bush administration and spying on US citizens but fail to pay the phone bill for that spying and all that flag waving so-called patriotism goes right out the window.
Telephone companies have cut off FBI wiretaps used to eavesdrop on suspected criminals because of the bureau's repeated failures to pay phone bills on time.

A Justice Department audit released Thursday blamed the lost connections on the FBI's lax oversight of money used in undercover investigations. In one office alone, unpaid costs for wiretaps from one phone company totaled $66,000.
Just like your local criminal, breaking the law is only beneficial when it puts money in your pocket. I hope members in Congress remember this when this issue, especially the part about immunity for telcoms, makes it's way back onto the floor for debate.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Faux News Takes A Page From The FEMA Playbook

Seen any staged events lately?



I doubt Bill O'Reilly will be mentioning this anytime soon on his show on the "Fair and Balanced" network.

Ron Paul Losing His Luster?

Continuing with my (lunatic) fringe candidate theme today, it seems that internet darling Ron Paul is starting to lose a bit of his luster with the Libertarian and GOP edge crowds.

Fresh off his snubbing of the Fox News New Hampshire debate, Paul who this morning might be regretting being present in last night's South Carolina debate, showed just how out of touch with reality he actually is. When he was asked about the latest game of tag our Navy played with Iranian speedboats in the Straits of Hormuz he responded by saying that we shouldn't be worried about a little ole speed boat or two.



Excuse me?!

Of course this is after Paul's true colors are starting to come out about his feelings towards blacks, gays, insert minority here...
A series of newsletters in the name of GOP presidential hopeful Ron Paul contain several racist remarks -- including one that says order was restored to Los Angeles after the 1992 riots when blacks went "to pick up their welfare checks."
And this juicy tidbit
Another says, "The criminals who terrorize our cities -- in riots and on every non-riot day -- are not exclusively young black males, but they largely are. As children, they are trained to hate whites, to believe that white oppression is responsible for all black ills, to 'fight the power,' to steal and loot as much money from the white enemy as possible."
One thing is for sure, if hell did indeed freeze over and Paul were somehow elected, we would definitely get the change that seems to be the buzzword for this year's campaign cycle.

UPDATE: Reason Magazine delves into Paul's claims that he was unaware of what appeared in his own newsletters and that he did not agree with what was written in them.

Kucinich Wants Recount

Being originally from the Cleveland area and seeing Presidential wanna be Dennis Kucinich run a city into the ground first hand, the latest news coming from the Kucinich camp is definitely no surprise. The guy that barely got enough votes to even show up on the TV graphics on primary night, less than 2%, now believes the conspiracy theories being brought forward on the internet and is requesting a recount of the votes cast in New Hampshire.
Democrat Dennis Kucinich, who won less than 2 percent of the vote in the New Hampshire primary, said Thursday he wants a recount to ensure that all ballots in his party's contest were counted. The Ohio congressman cited "serious and credible reports, allegations and rumors" about the integrity of Tuesday results.

Deputy Secretary of State David Scanlan said Kucinich is entitled to a statewide recount. But, under New Hampshire law, Kucinich will have to pay for it. Scanlan said he had "every confidence" the results are accurate.

In a letter dated Thursday, Kucinich said he does not expect significant changes in his vote total, but wants assurance that "100 percent of the voters had 100 percent of their votes counted."
At least Kucinich hasn't become so delusional that he believes a recount would affect his dismal 2 percent showing but instead believes that the "internet rumored" improprieties might affect the outcome between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.
Kucinich alluded to online reports alleging disparities around the state between hand-counted ballots, which tended to favor Sen. Barack Obama, and machine-counted ones that tended to favor Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton. He also noted the difference between pre-election polls, which indicated Obama would win, and Clinton's triumph by a 39 percent to 37 percent margin.
So could someone explain to me why a candidate that barely has enough money in his campaign war chest to "pay attention" would want to request and be willing to pay for a recount that would not affect his results and that was based on rumors from individuals that weren't even in New Hampshire election night? And where is Barack Obama in all this so-called voting issue controversy considering he would be the one to most benefit?

The final question that needs to be asked is how did this guy ever get elected and then re-elected to Congress in the first place? Maybe it's Ohioans that should be asking for a recount.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Ron Paul Next To Piss Off Labor

Mike Huckabee isn't the only Republican candidate willing to show just how much the GOP favors big business at the expense of labor. Ron Paul, fresh off his snub in the Faux News forum has booked an appearance for this evening on Jay Leno's Tonight Show despite the fact that appearing will result in him crossing the Writer's Guild picket lines. Unlike Huckabee though who feigned ignorance that he would be crossing a picket line, Paul apparently came out and expressed his true feelings for labor unions without pulling any punches.
I asked Paul if he had any problem breaking the writer pickets to appear on the show. Silly question: He doesn't care about the unions or the pickets.
Ron Paul, the candidate of the little guy, unless it means getting free exposure at their expense.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Our Lawmakers At Work

The AP surveyed all 105 South Dakota legislators as to whether they supported the latest attempt to put another abortion ban with rape and incest exceptions on the ballot. The results were as follows:
One hundred of the 105 members of the South Dakota Legislature responded to the AP mail survey. Fifty-one said they believe an abortion ban with exceptions for rape, incest or the life or health of a woman should be put on the November ballot. Another 29 said they oppose the public vote, and 18 were undecided.
I would have liked the AP to ask a few follow up questions to those 51 of 105, not quite "Most Legislators" that my esteemed colleagues at Dakota Voice would like you to believe, that said they would support another initiative:

- Considering we don't have money to fix our roads or pay our troopers and teachers, how are we going to pay the millions in legal fees that would surely follow?

- Were you not here in 2006 when we as a state addressed this by voting down a similar ban?

I could go on and on but I guess we shouldn't be surprised as it seems many in our legislature don't seem to understand the word no.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Might As Well Cancel The Primaries

Pat Robertson already knows who will win the general election. Why you ask? Because God told him during his annual alone time with the man upstairs.
On Wednesday, Robertson, 77, implied that God informed him who will be elected president in November.
But don't expect him to spill the beans anytime soon because as he puts it, "some old man on “60 Minutes” would make fun of me".

For some reason I don't think 60 minutes would have exclusivity on that...

The Rise And Now Fall Of A Candidate?

The long campaign season can be a blessing for some and a curse for others but in Mike Huckabee's case it seems to be both. Initially he rode the wave of support from certain religious right groups to front runner status basically from nowhere and now that he has to actually perform in the spotlight, he can't seem to do anything right.

His latest faux pas which comes just days after his attack ad debacle involves his appearance on Jay Leno last evening. Showing just how blind Huckabee and his supporters are, many are calling this appearance a brilliant move just one day prior to the Iowa caucus. Of course what these supporters and even Huckabee himself don't realize is that they alienated just about anyone sympathetic to labor issues or involved with labor unions.
But Huckabee, a Republican locked in a tight battle with Mitt Romney, appeared confused before the taping when told that his visit to the Burbank, Calif., studios of "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno" would require him to cross a picket line of striking writers.
Of course in such labor backwards states like South Dakota (and Iowa apparently), this latest issue probably doesn't cause many problems but I will be curious to see how this will play in the huge labor union dominated states that have real pull in choosing a candidate.

Then again of course that all hinges on whether or not Huckabee continues to insert his foot into his mouth and self destructs before it gets to those states.