The World Of Make Believe

If you have no real ammunition to counter your critics what do you do? In the case of King George and his cronies, you make stuff up.

Bush suggested last week that Democrats are promising voters to block additional money for continuing the war. Vice President Cheney this week said critics “claim retreat from Iraq would satisfy the appetite of the terrorists and get them to leave us alone.” And Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, citing passivity toward Nazi Germany before World War II, said that “many have still not learned history’s lessons” and “believe that somehow vicious extremists can be appeased.”

Okay George that’s pretty strong language, do you have any proof to back that up? How about a name of at least one major Democrat that is actually advocating this?

Pressed to support these allegations, the White House yesterday could cite no major Democrat who has proposed cutting off funds or suggested that withdrawing from Iraq would persuade terrorists to leave Americans alone. But White House and Republican officials said those are logical interpretations of the most common Democratic position favoring a timetable for withdrawing troops from Iraq.

Logical interpretations? Whose logic would that be?

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Public Relations

The DOD is going Hollywood. The old axiom that all publicity is good publicity definitely isn’t the case when it comes to the Bush Administration and the military so they have decided to take bids on a $20 million contract to hire a public relations firm to parse all the news coming from Iraq in search of positive press.

The contract calls for assembling a database of selected news stories and assessing their tone as part of a program to provide “public relations products” that would improve coverage of the military command’s performance, according to a statement of work attached to the proposal.

All I can say to whomever wins this contract is good luck as you will surely be earning your money in this case!

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Liberal Fascination?

The latest talking point that some RightWingers are using to bash the Left with is their perceived belief that some south-paws are obsessed with the death/assassination of George Bush.

The liberal media and the far left fringe are so immature it is ridiculous. This can be see daily in with their pentiant for gutter mouth commentary, their obsession with sexual innuendo and their fantasizing about getting Bushitler. But a movie that explores ‘the possibilities’ (my quotes, no one elses) that could reverberate from the assassination of President George Bush is simply too much. Americans may have their doubts about things, but we do not want another assassinated President. This will kill the democrats who will have to come out strongly against this and alienate the radical far left. If not they will lose the center. Either way they lose. It is only a question of whether they lose with honor or the jump into the fevered swamps.

Now don’t get me wrong, talk like what is discussed in the quote above is disgusting and deserves nothing but the backlash that it is receiving but I would caution those on the Right to refrain from painting this as a strictly liberal obsession. For those that wish to do that I have just 2 words for you, Ann Coulter.

Right-wing pundit Ann Coulter titled her August 30 syndicated column on the Rhode Island Senate race: “They Shot the Wrong Lincoln.” The headline is a reference to Sen. Lincoln Chafee (R-RI), whom she excoriated throughout the piece — calling him a “half-wit” and a “silver-spooned moron[] — while expressing her support for his challenger in the September 12 Republican primary, Stephen Laffey.This is not the first time Coulter has alluded to killing those she disagrees with:

* Commenting on radio host Melanie Morgan’s assertion that if New York Times executive editor Bill Keller were convicted of treason she “would have no problem with him being sent to the gas chamber,” Coulter said, “I prefer a firing squad, but I’m open to a debate on the method of execution.” She later suggested that Times staff members should be “executed.”

* Coulter said of the media: “Would that it were so! … That the American military were targeting journalists.”

* Coulter suggested that Rep. John P. Murtha (D-PA) is “the reason soldiers invented fragging,” — military slang meaning the intentional killing of a member of one’s own unit.

* Coulter argued that the national debate during the Monica Lewinsky controversy should not have focused on whether former President Bill Clinton “did it,” but rather “whether to impeach or assassinate” him.

* Coulter said of Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens: “We need somebody to put rat poison in Justice Stevens’s créme brulée.”

The broad brush that the Right likes to use to described the Left could just as easily be used on them especially with a diarrhea mouth like Coulter sitting in their corner…

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It's Getting A Little Hot In The Rounds Kitchen

You would expect that Governor Rounds would be catching some heat over the debacle that was the called off execution of Elijah Page if for anything because of election year politics and that has been the case for the most part.

Jack Billion was somewhat critical, thought not exceedingly so, of the decision as you would expect being Rounds’ challenger this November.

“To me, there seems to be a lot of misdirection and a lot of confusion. There appeared to be some ignorance initially to the law. I don’t know if the governor knew where he wanted to be on this issue”

And Mike Rounds’ favorite newspaper the Argus has an editorial (not yet online but posted on our newest South Dakota blog Prairie Conservative) that as one would expect from an organization that hasn’t been one of Governor Rounds’ biggest fans, basically rips him a new one.

…Rounds responded defensively, “There’ll always be somebody trying to place the blame somewhere.”

This is not about blame. This is about oversight and accountability.

Judging from the governor’s reaction, he doesn’t appear to think either is necessary in this sad twist to the most solemn action a state can take.

And, consistent with this administration’s past practice, Rounds doesn’t think openness is needed. Many questions remain about the state’s bungled handling of Page’s execution.

As I mentioned these criticisms are not surprising considering the sources but unfortunately for Rounds, the critics of his decision are also now coming from sources that usually either friendly to him and his leadership or at least neutral like the commentary in today’s RCJ.

We still think Rounds could have allowed the execution to proceed since the intent of the law is to provide a humane method of execution and the presence of the third drug is intended to ensure a more humane method than specified by law. The execution also could have been carried out with just the two drugs as specified by law.

But Rounds chose to apply the letter of the law and a strict interpretation of the statute – something that should have been done weeks ago. If you’re going to strictly apply the state’s death penalty law to the letter, shouldn’t Long or someone in the Rounds administration have read the statute and alerted Rounds long ago to the glaring discrepancy that the governor said forced his hand just hours before the execution?

Even if no one in the administration thought to check the statute earlier, when the lawyer for death-row inmate Donald Moeller filed an appeal last week challenging the method of lethal injection, shouldn’t someone have looked it up and immediately advised Rounds?

Someone in Rounds’ administration failed to do their job in researching the death penalty statute. At best, Rounds has been ill-informed and advised; at worst, he was looking for an out and only decided at the last minute to take it.

We expect our governor to make tough decisions, and Gov. Rounds has pushed making this one off to the state Legislature and next year.

While the details of exactly what happened here is still unclear as far as who knew what and when, the ultimate responsibility for this screw-up lies directly on Rounds and his choice to put the final decision in the hands of the legislature is just another case of his not being willing to take responsibility for the tough decisions.

Rounds while still being well ahead in his re-election bid seems to be showing everyone his true lack of leadership ability or a spine for that matter just in time for election silly season which should start in earnest after Labor Day and it isn’t just Democrats that are starting to see the light.

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The King Of Pork

When you are the “King of Pork Barrel Spending” what do you do to prevent the public from being able to monitor government spending? You put a secret hold on the bill that would setup a public database that would allow anyone to search through all recipients of federal grants, contracts, and other payments.

The proposed law – cosponsored by Sens. Tom Coburn (R) of Oklahoma, Barack Obama (D) of Illinois, Thomas Carper (D) of Delaware, and John McCain (R) of Arizona had bipartisan support and sailed through the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee on July 27th and seemed well on it’s way to passage until a previously unknown senator placed a secret hold on the bill that prevented it from making to a floor vote.

Once the fact that a secret hold had been placed on the bill, several bloggers enlisted the services of their readers in an attempt to find out which senator didn’t have the guts to come out into the open. After 100’s of phone calls the persistence paid off and wouldn’t you know it, the senator turned out to be Alaska Senator Ted Stevens, the guy most known for $320 million bridge to nowhere.

I guess no one should be surprised that the “King of Pork” would do what he could to prevent the public from knowing whose pockets he is actually in. The question now is how long will he continue to keep the hold on this bill considering that all of America knows he is responsible for keeping it on the shelf.

UPDATE 8/31: It looks like Senator Stevens had company with the “secret hold” as it is now being reported that Senator Byrd placed a hold on this bill so that he could “have time to read the legislation, understand its implications, and see whether the proposal could be improved”.

If that indeed was his motive, why keep it secret?

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House Cleaning And Site Merger Note

Just a quick note. For those looking for the South Dakota Politics and Elections blog, it has been merged with this site. All posts and comments have been moved over. If you were one of the regular readers using the RSS feed, please update your reader to this rss feed.

I am sorry for any inconvienence that the move might have caused but time and worked constraints have made maintaining 2 separate blogs too time consuming.

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Capitol Punishment To Become The Big Debate For The 2007 Session?

Governor Rounds’ decision to put Elijah Page’s execution into the hands of the state legislature next Winter could again spark the debate as to whether the state should be involved in the execution business in the first place.

Rep. Ryan Olson, R-Onida, another death penalty supporter, said Tuesday’s delay will focus attention on the issue.

“There’s no doubt in my mind that it will be a major issue, not the technicality, but the broader issue of whether South Dakota should continue to support the death penalty,” he said.

Olson said he thinks the majority of South Dakotans favor capital punishment, and he does not think death penalty opponents have enough support to win.

Sen. Jim Peterson, D-Revillo, agrees. Peterson opposes the death penalty.

“I really don’t expect anything will change,” he said. “I’m a pro-life person, and I’m completely pro- life. I don’t believe in the death penalty.”

Just what our legislature needs, another major morality issue to take the focus off of what really needs to be addressed in our state plus another case where Rounds can make the legislature do his dirty work while still being able to keep his hands clean.

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A Little More On The Stay

Exactly what does Larry Long do in Pierre other than write ballot explanations that get overturned? It sure isn’t keeping the Governor informed on state law, or was this the plan all along?

How can Governor Rounds appease both sides of the issue? Easy, he waits until the last minute to “figure out” (see first paragraph) that the state law, which has been on the books for over 20 years by the way, requires the use of 2 drugs instead of 3 so that he can still tell the folks that are pro-death penalty that he wanted the execution to take place but couldn’t allow it to because of this “newly discovered” technicality. The anti-death penalty folks are also happy because the execution has been halted until at least July 2007 so that the current law can be examined during next years legislative session.

As an aside, this “technicality” shouldn’t have been news to anyone in Pierre as an inmate on South Dakota’s death row is already appealing his death sentence on exactly the same grounds that Rounds and Long supposedly only discovered the evening.

Rounds said he and Attorney General Larry Long had learned of the legal concern regarding the drugs used only hours before Rounds issued the stay.But the issue was raised several weeks earlier in another death row case.

In June, South Dakota death row inmate Donald Moeller filed a federal court appeal regarding the three-drug method for executions.

Good thing he isn’t up for re-election…oh that’s right, he is!

UPDATE 8/30: Mike Rounds’ favorite newspaper has an editorial this morning which includes more on the 2 vs. 3 drug controversy and it isn’t very flattering for those in Pierre and the Department of Corrections.

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Rounds Will Stay Execution

From the Argus:

South Dakota Gov. Mike Rounds said he will stay the execution of Elijah Page because of a problem with state law.

At issue: The state planned to execute Page with three drugs, but state law outlines only two.

“I asked that we go back through and confirm and review the existing statutes,” Rounds said at a news conference.

When word of the stay spread through the crowd of about 15 death penalty protesters outside the state penitentiary, they formed a circle, linked arms and sang “We Shall Overcome.”

Rounds said the reason for the stay has to do with a flaw in South Dakota’s law regarding lethal injections.

State law says the lethal injection should be carried out using a two-drug combination, “a lethal quantity of an ultra-short-acting barbiturate in combination with a chemical paralytic agent and continuing the application therof until the convict is pronounced dead.”

However, corrections officials were prepared to execute Elijah Page using a three-drug combination that’s nearly universal among states that have lethal injection.

Rounds said he and Attorney General Larry Long had learned of the legal concern regarding the drugs used only hours before Rounds issued the stay.

So it took him all this time to figure out that state law called for only 2 drugs?

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Pot Meet Kettle

It seems Don “Corleone” Rumsfeld is unhappy and thinks that terrorists are manipulating the media to influence those of us in the West.

“That’s the thing that keeps me up at night,” he said during a question-and-answer session with about 200 naval aviators and other Navy personnel at this flight training base for Navy and Marine pilots.Rumsfeld was asked whether the criticism he draws as Pentagon chief and a leading advocate of the war in Iraq is an impediment to performing his job. He said it was not and he knows from history that wars are normally unpopular with many Americans. “I expect that,” he said. “I understand that.”

“What bothers me the most is how clever the enemy is,” he continued, launching an extensive broadside at Islamic extremist groups which he said are trying to undermine Western support for the war on terror.

“They are actively manipulating the media in this country” by, for example, falsely blaming U.S. troops for civilian deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan, he said.

“They can lie with impunity,” he said, while U.S. troops are held to a high standard of conduct.

So his belief that the media is being manipulated by terrorists is what keeps him up at night and not the fact that under his leadership, we have been bogged down in an untenable occupation plagued by poor planning that has led to the death of over 2500 US servicemen not to mention the 10’s of thousand of civilian deaths?

I also noticed he didn’t show any outrage over the media manipulation that Bush and Co. used to justify the war in the first place. Anyone seen any of those WMD’s that administration used as the reason for the invasion in the first place? How about that nice little photo-op with King George on the flight deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln declaring mission accomplished 1216 days ago?

Sorry Don, I don’t think too many people other than yourself will be laying awake at night worrying about media manipulation, worry over their loved ones put in harms way by your failed policies maybe…

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