Monday, March 31, 2008

Play Ball!

Some sure signs of spring continue today. In South Dakota we shovel another round of heavy heart attack snow from the latest March snowstorm and my team, the Cleveland Indians begin their 60th season since their last World Series triumph with high hopes. As witnessed by my previous prognostications in regards to Cleveland sports, what i think usually ends up being totally wrong but this year looks to be a good one for the Tribe.

Last year no one expected much and they came within one win of the World Series and this year many pundits have them going to and winning the fall classic. So barring any major injuries, this season looks to be a great one for Indians fans. Could this be the year that the long suffering Cleveland sports fans will celebrate the first championship in any major sport since 1964?

Being one of those long suffering Cleveland sports fans born 9 months after their last championship of any kind, I am not holding my breath.

Posting will be light for the rest of the week as I head to New Jersey for training but as usual, give our other South Dakota blogs some love while I am gone.

Is It Really Partisan Anymore?

Power Line thinks the loud chorus of boos that greeted President Bush last night at the Washington National's opener is just more proof that liberals have no class.
It's a constant effort to remind oneself that not all liberals are jerks.
My question to Mr. Hinderaker and anyone else that feels that way is with Bush's approval ratings in the low 30's, can the feelings expressed last night in D.C. really be considered a partisan issue anymore? It seems almost no one likes him no matter which party they belong to...

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Green Zone?

Somebody didn't get the memo.
A former Corvallis city councilman has died from injuries sustained when rockets pounded Baghdad's U.S.-protected Green Zone on Easter, according to a story in the Corvallis Gazette Times.

Dick and Leona Converse of Corvallis said they learned Sunday that their son, Paul Converse, had been injured and likely wouldn't survive. On Monday, two officers from the Oregon Army National Guard arrived at their door.
Read the whole story...

What memo am I talking about? You know the one that said things are so much better in Iraq. I am sure the 56 year old financial analyst from the above story who was killed in the supposed "green/safe zone" wished it had made it to the insurgents because apparently no one told them things are supposed to be safer as a result of the "surge".

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

FISA And What You Are Not Hearing

I may not be as edumacated as my esteemed blogging professor colleagues from the north whom seem to think that passing FISA reform without Telcom immunity is a compromise that will weaken the legislation. Nor am I as smart as those that consistently blame the Democrats for holding up this legislation and are in turn weakening our national security.

So since I ain't that smart, maybe someone could explain to me what from the following points make the Democrats, re: Stephanie Herseth Sandlin, the bad guy on this issue.

- What the Telcom companies did by allowing the government access to their US customers without warrants was illegal and they knew it was illegal. They already had immunity for turning over records to the Government as long as they followed existing laws while doing so.
- Not giving Telcoms retroactive immunity will not prevent them from helping the Government in the future. Why? Because they would be legally bound to do so (If the government had legal standing to get the records in the first place that is) and would open themselves up to legal action or worse if they didn't.

What President Bush and Republican's stonewalling of the legislation because of the lack of immunity does do:

- Prevents the implementation of oversights that would ensure that the Administration hasn't gone too far while stomping on our 4th Amendment rights.
- Opens up the possibility that current FISA regulations could expire as President Bush has already rejected a House and Senate offer to extend current rules until a new policy could be worked out and refuses to sign any reform that doesn't include immunity. In other words, his stubbornness is putting us in danger.
- Continues to reward Telcom companies for breaking the law and leaves open the possibility that they can continue to break the law without consequences.

What this fight is really about:

- Protecting the Telcoms whom are facing over 40 lawsuits because of their complicity with the Bush Administration's illegal wiretapping program. After all they have spent millions on campaign contributions to members of Congress and now want some return on that investment.
MAPLight.org’s research department reveals that the telecom industry gave, on average, $10,660 to members of the House of Representatives who voted “no” as opposed to $7,085 to those who voted “yes” on the House amendment (to the Senate amendment to H.R. 3773), to amend the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 (FISA).
- Giving the Adminstration an open door to unchecked misuse (see my comment on oversights above). All the government has to do is say the word "terrorism" and suddenly it can spy on anyone, anywhere, whenever it wants, with no due process whatsoever and no warrants to get in the way.

So could someone explain to me why Herseth-Sandlin is the bad guy here and Tim Johnson (and John Thune for that matter) aren't? And speak slooowly...

Monday, March 24, 2008

Selective Memory?

Badlands Blue has a post calling out Mt Blogmore for a negative post in regards to Stephanie Herseth Sandlin's vote on FISA that specifically didn't include Telcom immunity.
In other words, according to the Rapid City Journal's blog, Mt. Blogmore, Rep. Herseth Sandlin is an extremist, Bush-hating, terrorist-loving librul because she voted against granting immunity to big telecommunications companies for past warrantless wiretapping? Because she voted in support of the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution? Amazing.
And while I definitely agree with Lowell's criticism of the Herseth-Sandlin hit piece and with his point that we should not be granting immunity for past warrantless wiretaps, I have to wonder where his anger was just a few weeks ago when Tim Johnson broke ranks with Democrats and voted for similar FISA changes that included the same retroactive Telcom immunity that he is now defending Herseth-Sandlin for not allowing.

Selective memory?

Johnson's Pledge

I missed this a few days ago due to my raw sewage issues but our esteemed Senator Tim Johnson was quoted, actually as is normally the case lately, one of his his mouthpieces, Steve Jarding, was quoted as saying that Johnson supports Barack Obama but will vote for Hillary Clinton at the convention if she wins our June 3rd primary.
Johnson, one of the state's Democratic super-delegates, supports Obama. But Johnson will vote for Clinton at the national convention if Clinton wins the June 3 primary in South Dakota, Jarding said.
Well thanks Tim, or Steve, or whomever is making decisions for our senior Senator. Thanks for pledging to do what you are supposed to do in the first place, you know that whole representing the wishes of your party members thing...

Because It's All About Tolerance

How's this for an Easter message?

Family Research Council's Peter Sprigg's response when asked about the Uniting American Families Act which would give same sex couples the same access to green cards and visas as is currently afforded to traditional partners.



(emphasis below mine)
We oppose this bill because it is, although it may be at the margins, part of an assault on the definition of family ... I would much prefer to export homosexuals from the United States than to import them into the United States because we believe homosexuality is destructive to society.
Just ship them out? Mighty "love thy neighborly" of them isn't it. Whose next to get the boot from our country if these folks have their way?

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Cheese With That Whine?

Will you please give it a rest! Hypocrisy I do not believe is a sin but isn't jealousy?

All the back and forth used to be funny, now it is just sad...

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

When It Rains It Pours

I had hoped to use the weekend to catch up on the happenings in South Dakota politics these past few weeks but again other commitments have gotten in the way. Unlike with the past few weeks where work has taken me away, this past weekend and the days following have seen my basement filling up with raw sewage because of a broken and battered underground sewage pipe.

The pipe is finally fixed though my lawn looks like a muddy quagmire and hopefully soon the cleanup of the basement will have been completed but until that happens, the old homestead is unlivable and the blogging will continue to be sporadic at best. On a related note, if anyone is looking for someone to work on their sewage problem, I don't have a recommendation on who to call but I can surely tell you who not to call...

Friday, March 14, 2008

Busiest Lawyers In The Nation

The busiest lawyers in the nation would have to be those tasked with legalizing after the fact justifying George Bush's forays into areas outside of his authority.
As a consequence, administration lawyers hustled to craft new legal justifications for the weakened standard.
Bush is at it again, this time he has stepped in and weakened the EPA standards that regulate smog forming ozone. A move that directly contradicts the EPA and more than likely goes against the regulations set forth by the Clean Air Act which dictate that air-quality rules be decided by the EPA alone.
"It is unprecedented and an unlawful act of political interference for the president personally to override a decision that the Clean Air Act leaves exclusively to EPA's expert scientific judgment," said John Walke, clean-air director for the Natural Resources Defense Council.
Knock me over with a feather, who would have thought that an oil man would loosen pollution standards?

Monday, March 10, 2008

SDDP Blog Caves

Is this all it takes? To steal a line from the SDDP website Badlands Blue whose primary author recently asked this question of the Argus Leader when they changed a headline. They evidently caved because the right leaning blog SDWC called them out for not mentioning Tim Johnson's horrible power ranking in the sensationalized headline when reporting on the power ranking of GOP Senator John Thune.

That same Argus Leader today called out the blog for a post this morning that gloated over their successful stalking campaign and all but took credit for these tactics forcing Steve Kirby to stay out of the race. But unlike the Argus which relented and changed the headline, Badlands Blue pulled the post completely.

Who said a Virginian with only one visit to the state was out of touch with South Dakotans?

Hat tip to PP over at the SDWC whom has the sorted details including the text of the now MIA blog post.

UPDATE: How hard can it be? Todd Epp asks that question in regards to blogging about politics in a state that you don't reside. He has started his latest blog project, Tidewater Blue, a blog all about Virginia politics written by someone that should know, A South Dakotan with 3 or 4 visits to the state.

Feel Silly Now?

For all the mudslingers that spent a large amount of time and resources smearing Steve Kirby in anticipation of his running against Tim Johnson, it's a good thing mud washes off easily.
“My family and I have been overwhelmed by the outpouring of support and encouragement from many of our South Dakota friends in recent weeks as I have considered a bid for the United States Senate”.

“Suzie and I want to thank all of our friends who have done so much to support us during this time of decision. I have decided, however, not to seek the 2008 GOP nomination for the United States Senate at this time.”
I'd ask if they felt silly but of course they wouldn't, this is politics afterall and patience (how hard would it have been to wait for an official announcment?) isn't one of the more popular virtues of those that participate in the process...

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Another Week, Another Trip

As another week dawns, so does another trip for me which again means light posting for a bit. So while I enjoy the sights and sounds of the cities of the I94 corridor in North Dakota (after a side trip to the Hub City) I would recommend you browse some of the fine blogs from my blogroll.

Especially interesting this week will be what Steve Kirby decides to do. Will he or won't he be running for the U.S. Senate, an email announcement is supposedly forthcoming tomorrow. Stay tuned.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Bush Appeal

Try as he might, President Bush apparently couldn't get Governor Rounds to run for the Senate.

Governor Mike Rounds says President Bush tried again but couldn't persuade him to run for the U.S. Senate this year.

Rounds and first lady Jean Rounds spent two nights at the White House when they were in Washington for the National Governors Association meeting last month.

Last year when Rounds stayed at the White House, Bush also tried to persuade him to run for the Senate - but Rounds declined. Rounds says Bush, in a joking way, tried again this year. The governor says when Bush couldn't get him to run, he turned to Jean Rounds and asked if she would be interested.

Rounds says Bush understands that neither he nor his wife will run for the Senate - even if he persisted one more time.


So can we finally put this rumor that never seems to die to rest?

Why The Fear?

As the onslaught towards Steve Kirby by the SDDP funded website Badlands Blue continues despite the fact he hasn't announced his candidacy, maybe the real question behind the smear campaign should be why are they dedicating so much time and energy towards him in the first place?

- Why is Virginia based blogger Lowell Feld one minute heralding Johnson's seemingly insurmountable lead in the polls then ripping someone that can only be labeled a possible challenger the next?

- Why is this SDDP funded blog spending, from my count, 9 posts as of this writing on their front page alone dedicated strictly to ripping one non-challenger while completely ignoring the 3 announced challengers Joel Dykstra, Sam Kephart, and Bert Tollefson?

- Why is there so much venom directed towards Kirby that they have even resorted to ripping local Johnson supporters who question their tactics?

- Why worry about any Republican challenger until after the primary vote determines who the GOP opponent actually will be? I am sure they could find another Tim Johnson or Stephanie Herseth Sandlin press release to post in the interim.

I have no idea why the writers over at Badlands Blue and by extension the SDDP are so afraid of Steve Kirby's possible run against Tim Johnson but all the attention aimed at Kirby makes one wonder what is going on. Are they starting to see flashbacks to 2004 and Tom Daschle? Maybe so but from what I've seen, Steve Kirby has no where near the political resume that John Thune did so again, why are they so afraid?

Maybe we'll find out Monday after Kirby's email announcement (does that sound like a serious challenger?) or maybe not...

The Check Will Be In The Mail

Not only is the centerpiece of President Bush's "stimulus" plan going to put our government (and hence you and I) billions of dollars further into debt, it will cost us another 42 million just to tell us so.
WASHINGTON - At a cost of nearly $42 million, the IRS wants you to know: Your check is almost in the mail.

The Internal Revenue Service is spending the money on letters to alert taxpayers to expect rebate checks as part of the economic stimulus plan.

The notices are going out this month to an estimated 130 million households who filed returns for the 2006 tax year, at a cost $41.8 million, IRS spokesman John Lipold confirmed.
What's a few million more between friends?

Friday, March 7, 2008

Speaking Of Out Of Touch

"Super Tuesday" part III? Continuing with today's out of touch theme, Governor Mike Rounds tries in vain to prop up the importance of South Dakota's minuscule number of delegates that are to be awarded during our last in the nation primary.
Rounds told Stateline.org that if either of the two parties’ presidential contests are still undecided by June, South Dakotans could come off looking pretty smart.

“If it comes down to the fact that there are actually still competitive races, Republican or Democrat, then for that party they may very well say, ‘See, we were smart in doing so (on June 3),’ ” Rounds said.
Somehow I doubt the travel agents for either Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton are rushing to make travel plans for either candidate to come to South Dakota even considering the fact that the nomination will likely not be locked up before (or after for that matter) our June 3rd contest.

Out Of Touch?

Has the South Dakota Democratic party made a mistake by hiring a Virginian to write the official party blog? I always wondered why it was farmed out to someone out of state and now my blogging buddy Cory is also questioning the decision after the latest flap involving Steve Kirby and the ripping of local Democrats, specifically Todd Epp, that don't agree with the tactics being used.
What nonsense. South Dakota Democratic Party money is being used to host a website that criticizes a loyal South Dakota Democrat who has worked for the party for years, who has taken all sorts of public heat for the party, and who has staunchly defended Senator Johnson since before Lowell Feld knew how to say "Pierre" (and who doesn't get paid for it).

These comments -- and Lowell's tacit approval of them -- prove that the state Dems need to reclaim their own blog. Paying someone from Virginia to host a discussion that publicly criticizes a loyal South Dakota Democrat is insulting and counterproductive. Lowell Feld, NotPP, and Barely40Dem can wage all the personal attacks they want on Todd Epp, but not on the Dems' dime.

Smear Campaigns

Are smear campaigns becoming an accepted tactic in South Dakota? If you go by the results of an unscientific poll run over at SD Watch you might think so. According to Epps' poll, 59% of those responding think that the smear campaign being run by the Tim Johnson spin machine is fair while only 38% believe that it isn't.

But, if you listen to just about everyone else, the opposite might just be the case. Not only is full on Johnson supporter Epp criticizing the tactic, just about every South Dakota blog on both sides of the isle is following suit and condemning the campaign for ripping Steve Kirby despite the fact he has yet to even declare he is running.

Ok, so you might think that it's no big deal, who reads the blogs anyhow? Most people don't even know that the Johnson attack dogs have latched onto Kirby and before today I might have agreed. A funny thing happened this morning that might give this story just a bit more pub as the infamous South Dakota liberal rag, aka the Argus Leader, has also penned an editorial criticizing Johnson for going negative.

As much as we might have hoped that the days of negative campaigning were behind us, that clearly is not the case. Every election cycle, it seems, is earlier and dirtier than the last.

And while we would have hoped Sen. Tim Johnson would swim against that rising tide of negativity, his campaign for re-election already has been part of problem.


While the Argus does go out of their way to show that their liberal leaning hasn't been totally forgotten when they commend Johnson for asking that the site responsible for the smears be taken down, it is noteworthy that they at least mentioned this story. The Argus editorial now takes it out of the blogosphere and puts it squarely into the homes of many South Dakotans that might have never known that this was happening.

It is also noteworthy that while much of the controversy over the Kirby smear centers around the fact that he has yet to even announce his intentions to run against Johnson, it is being reported that his intentions should finally become known when he plans on making an announcement of some sort on Monday. If the claws have been brought out and sharpened before Kirby is even officially in the race, just imagine how ugly this might get if as is expected, he does decide to run.

Johnson has built up quite a bit of political capitol over the past year with most South Dakotans after his illness and has been allowed to campaign without much criticism from those that have announced their candidacy (Joel Dykstra who? ), but with this latest tactic has he made it ok for his challengers to finally take off the gloves? If so, hold onto your hats as what was once thought to be a somewhat boring and successful re-election campaign for Johnson could now be much more interesting.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Welcome To The Neighborhood

Continuing on my catchup mode, I received an email while I was gone announcing a new blog that is now up and running in the South Dakota blogosphere. School Of Thought is an education themed blog written by Watertown School Board member Fred Deutsch. Fred's description of his blogging endeavor.
There are so many pundits, politicians, and experts in the field of education – each with their own focus or philosophy. In this new blog, my focus will be to share my ideas, dreams, concerns, musings, goals, love and passion about issues relating to education in our great community and school district in Watertown, South Dakota, as well as discuss the ramifications of state and federal educational issues on us at the local level. This will all be provided from my perspective as a Watertown School Board Member. Input from parents, community members, educators, legislators, other policy makers, or “anyone” is welcome.
Good luck with your blog Fred and welcome to the blogosphere!

Sunday, March 2, 2008

I'm Back...At Least For The Moment

After 2 weeks in the land of fruits and nuts and after a remarkably uneventful return flight that included no delays and empty seats next to me on both legs of the trip home (can the airlines make the seats any smaller?), I am back and catching up on all the news I missed. Besides the seemingly weekly back and forth feud between righty bloggers PP and Sibby that borders on the ridiculous, it looks like the Tim Johnson campaign has stepped in it, ripping possible challenger Steve Kirby to the point that even Johnson supporter extraordinaire Todd Epp is calling foul. I better check to see if hell has indeed frozen over...

Anyhow, while I am still catching up with the goings on here, one observation I had from my time in Los Angeles I think deserves a few comments. Regular readers here will probably recognize my sometimes myopic view of the horrible state of school funding in South Dakota. Having 2 kids in the system makes that subject near the top of my radar. While our schools have serious issues, we should consider ourselves lucky in comparison to some of the schools in the nations 2nd largest city.

In the 2 weeks in town, I witnessed at least 3 school lock downs because of various gun and gang related issues. Lock downs in LA don't mean just locking the doors to the building like they do here. Things are so bad in parts of the city that many of the schools are actually surrounded by tall sturdy fence structures similar to a medieval fortress with guarded gates in an attempt to provide safe environments for the kids. Hows that for a learning environment? So while I am complaining about our schools it is with the direct knowledge that things could be a lot worse.

Finally as you might have noticed by the headline, I am back but not for long. Having been gone for 2 weeks means I have 2 weeks of work to catch up on and because of other issues I will also be doing some work up in North Dakota so my posting will continue to be sporadic at best. The LA weather was great, but it is nice to be home again!