See For Yourself – Updated

A leaked portion of the NIE report that supposedly reports that the Bush invasion of Iraq has actually fueled more terrorism was made public today at the request of President Bush whom has been getting criticism that he attributes to election year politics.
Many have criticised the leak including Bush himself saying that those opposed to the administration in the intelligence community had leaked only selective parts just to make Bush and the GOP look bad. Even with the 30 page report shortened to the 4 pages released today the main crux highlighted by the Bush detracters still holds a prominent part in the report.
“The Iraq conflict has become the ’cause celebre’ for jihadists, breeding a deep resentment of US involvement in the Muslim world and cultivating supporters for the global jihadist movement.”
And potentially even more damning for Bush and Co. was the announcement this morning by California House Democrat Jane Harman that a second report exists that exclusively deals with Iraq and contains an even more grim view of the situation.
“This morning at the National Press Club, Jane Harman did say that there is an [National Intelligence Estimate] on Iraq,” her spokesman, Ari Goldberg, confirmed. Golberg said he had not read the report, but believes it may be grim. Sources at the event say the document is not officially an NIE, although it was prepared by the National Intelligence Council, an community-wide intelligence body whose primary function is to prepare NIEs.
If in fact this report does exist how much do you want to bet it will never see the light of day, at least that is until after November.
UPDATE: White House Homeland Security Advisor Fran Townsend acknowledged the existence of the second report that deals exclusively with Iraq and as I had surmised he also reports that it will not be ready until January 2007…After the November elections, quite convenient don’t you think?

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That Was Quick Todd

It didn’t take long for former Billion press secretary Todd Epp to find a new job.

From the email inbox:

SIOUX FALLS –South Dakotans Against Discrimination (SDAD), the grassroots group opposing Amendment C, announces that Harrisburg attorney and activist Todd Epp will be its legal and communications consultant.
“Todd offers a unique combination of legal experience and communications skills that will assist us in educating the public and the media as to why Amendment C, the ban on “quasi-marital relationships,” should be defeated,” according to Jon Hoadley, SDAD’s campaign manager.
Epp is a former local broadcaster for S.D. Public TV and KSFY-TV and a freelance writer. He is admitted to practice before the state and federal courts of Kansas and South Dakota and 8th and 10th United States Circuit Courts of Appeal. His practice concentrates on workers rights, litigation, and intellectual property. He has had legal and scholarly articles published in the Washburn Law Review, Kansas History, South Dakota History, and the International Journal of Comparative and Applied Criminal Justice. He has a B.A. in history and English from Washburn University of Topeka, a J.D. from Washburn University School of Law, and an LL.M. from the University of Houston Law Center.
“Defeating Amendment C and ensuring that all families are treated fairly with basic legal protections is a civil rights issue,” Epp said. I look forward to working with Jon and the SDAD membership in defeating this hateful and unnecessary amendment to the South Dakota Constitution.”
Epp, 47, is married to Donna Epp, Ph.D. and they are the parents to two school aged children. Todd is active in coaching youth soccer, playing with his three dogs, blogging, and political activism.

Good luck Todd with your new position.

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Be Careful What You Wish For

It looks like Bruce Whalen has gotten his wish.

Democratic U.S. Rep. Stephanie Herseth and Republican challenger Bruce Whalen will meet in a series of three debates next month. Voters in the state are ready to hear what each has to say during this election season. Whalen insists Herseth has been dodging him, but we feel that three debates in October, all to be broadcast, will give the state’s voters a good idea what is on each candidate’s mind and in plenty of time before the Nov. 7 election.

I guess now he’ll have to come out and discuss a more detailed platform that consists of something other than ripping Herseth for not debating him and deflecting questions as to why his campaign staff was perpetuating false rumors regarding Herseth.

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Clinton's Mistakes Swift Style

Jon Swift weights in on the Clinton interview on Faux news and the blame for 9/11.

The mistakes Clinton made are still having reverberations years after he made them. A new report by Bush’s intelligence experts says that the invasion of Iraq has worsened the terrorist threat. Of course, we wouldn’t have had to invade Iraq in the first place if Clinton hadn’t left Hussein in power, which allowed Hussein to trick us into invading Iraq by making us think he had weapons of mass destruction by denying that he had weapons of mass destruction when he knew that we knew he was a liar. So if indeed it is true that the invasion of Iraq has made terrorism worse, then Clinton has a lot to answer for.

No wonder Clinton was angry, it’s all his fault!

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Wal-Mart Reaches Out To Their Employees

Wal-Mart is finally doing something that will help their employees. They are lowering the prices on certain generic prescription drugs to $4, a price that the majority of the Wal-Mart workers can now afford. What the heck it’s cheaper than offering an employer sponsored heath plan or raising wages and in this case it also helps other working poor that are under-insured or uninsured.

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Tobacco Tax

Initiated Measure 2, otherwise known as the "Tobacco Tax" has been getting a lot of press lately especially in the "Letters to the Editors" sections of our newspapers.

Increasing the tax on tobacco in South Dakota (proposition No. 2) should be a no-brainer. Most people who smoke wish they could stop but have trouble doing so because tobacco is probably the most addicting substance legally available. Keeping an estimated 11,000 kids from ever starting the habit is enough to argue strongly in favor of this tax. Once they start, many are unable to fight the addictive nature of the habit in order to quit.

Listening to letters such as this would surely make one think that this measure is a "no-brainer" and in a perfect world, getting youngsters and people in general to quit smoking would be a great thing.

Supporters point to the increased cost caused by the tax leading to young people not being able to afford to start smoking and the increased tax revenue being used to fund tobacco prevention and reduction programs. What they fail to publicize is just how the majority of the tax revenue will be distributed.

The first $30 million generated goes directly into the state’s general fund for use however our legislators see fit to spend it with the next portion up to $5 million going to prevention and education programs and finally any funds generated above the initial $35 million going to other funds including the property tax reduction fund, the education enhancement trust fund, and the health care trust fund and herein lies the problem with this tax.

With the vast majority of all revenue generated going into the general fund, a small group of people made up of for the most part low to middle income residents, will now be paying a tax used to fund state programs. If this sounds familiar, it is. South Dakota has another ballot initiative, Initiated Measure 7 which is an attempt to repeal video lottery, a law that does the exact same thing.

I am all for smokers financing programs that attempt to keep the young from smoking and for funding stop smoking programs and heath care costs related to their addiction, but using the majority of the revenue for non-smoking related programs is nothing more than an unfair tax on the people that for the most part cannot afford to pay it.
Put the tax revenue where it belongs, into anti-smoking related programs and then this would be a "no-brainer". Unfortunately it is nothing more than another tax that effectively gives those in Pierre more money to spend on whatever pet project they want.

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Sunday Funnies

Bush says Iraq will just be a comma in history, I’d hate to see what he would consider an exclamation point…

BLITZER: Let’s move on and talk a little bit about Iraq. Because this is a huge, huge issue, as you know, for the American public, a lot of concern that perhaps they are on the verge of a civil war, if not already a civil war…. We see these horrible bodies showing up, tortured, mutilation. The Shia and the Sunni, the Iranians apparently having a negative role. Of course, al Qaeda in Iraq is still operating.

BUSH: Yes, you see — you see it on TV, and that’s the power of an enemy that is willing to kill innocent people. But there’s also an unbelievable will and resiliency by the Iraqi people…. Admittedly, it seems like a decade ago. I like to tell people when the final history is written on Iraq, it will look like just a comma because there is — my point is, there’s a strong will for democracy.

The voice of the evangelical right, Jerry Falwell hopes Hillary Clinton is the Democratic Presidential nominee in 2008.

“I certainly hope that Hillary is the candidate,” Falwell said at a breakfast session Friday in Washington. “I hope she’s the candidate, because nothing will energize my (constituency) like Hillary Clinton,” he said. “If Lucifer ran, he wouldn’t.”

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Billion Outlines Heath Care Plan

Democratic challenger for governor Jack Billion outlined his plan for heath care in South Dakota during a get together in Yankton (subscription) Friday.

“We want to establish a basic health care policy that can be sold by insurers around the state of South Dakota,” Billion said. “It’s not going to be a fancy policy, but it will have immunizations, preventative care, basic care with co-pays … and, wrapping around on the top of it, you’ll be able to buy catastrophic health care.”

Additional supplements would be available to those who want to pay for them, he said.

Premiums paid by subscribers and employers will fund the program, according to Billion.

He said the nation’s health care system woes are now a national economic problem.

“The cost of health care has gone up so much that businesses have a problem expanding because of it,” Billion said. “They don’t want to hire new workers because of the health care burden.

“That’s what’s going to drive the solution,” he added. “It’s going to be economics.”

Other elements of Billion’s South Dakota health care proposal include:

* creating a multi-state purchasing compact to negotiate drug prices;

* working with insurers to promote wellness programs to prevent health problems;

* offering portability of the health care plan;

* developing incentives to encourage health care providers to locate in South Dakota’s rural communities;

* utilizing technology to streamline health care and eliminate excessive administrative costs;

* providing more funding for mental health care and rehabilitation;

* expanding family coverage plans to allow coverage for unmarried children up to 30 years old;

* allowing patients to seek benefits from stem cell research; and

* offering dental care plans in conjunction with the health care plans.

One thing I have noticed during the campaign thus far is that Dr. Billion has many excellent ideas for what he would like to do if he wins in November but unfortunately another thing I have noticed while traveling the state is that his ideas are not getting out.

We are only 6 weeks or so from the election and going by the billboards and campaign ads (unfortunately I spend many hours on the road and a lot of evenings in hotel rooms watching TV), Billion is still suffering from the same problem he had when he first announced his candidacy, very few South Dakotans know who he is and what he stands for.

Governor Rounds on the other hand is everywhere, billboards in every city and seemingly every other mile marker on the interstates plus campaign ads on all the local stations and cable systems.

Even with mid 60 percent approval ratings, Governor Rounds has never been more vulnerable with his signing of the abortion ban, copping out on the Page execution, charges of impropriety with his secret “hunts” and state plane usage but even with all this ammunition, where is the Democratic Party? Their fingerprints are definitely nowhere to be found in the governors race and unless things change quickly we will be forced to endure 4 more years of the Rounds legacy of closed government, underfunded schools and legislated morality.

We have a candidate that can do great things for our state but we only have a few weeks left to let South Dakotans know he exists…

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Clinton Rips Faux News

Former President Clinton taped an interview with the Faux News Network scheduled to air tomorrow in which interviewer Chris Wallace gets his head handed to him on a silver platter. Wallace tried to continue the BS that ABC’s propaganda film the “Path to 9/11” contained and Clinton wasn’t having any of that.

WALLACE: …but the question is why didn’t you do more, connect the dots and put them out of business?

CLINTON: OK, let’s talk about it. I will answer all of those things on the merits but I want to talk about the context of which this arises. I’m being asked this on the FOX network…ABC just had a right wing conservative on the Path to 9/11 falsely claim that it was based on the 9/11 Commission report with three things asserted against me that are directly contradicted by the 9/11 Commission report. I think it’s very interesting that all the conservative Republicans who now say that I didn’t do enough, claimed that I was obsessed with Bin Laden. All of President Bush’s neocons claimed that I was too obsessed with finding Bin Laden when they didn’t have a single meeting about Bin Laden for the nine months after I left office. All the right wingers who now say that I didn’t do enough said that I did too much. Same people.

There is much more including Clinton ripping Faux News and their obvious Conservative bias. Think Progress has the full transcript of the interview which the network is now promoting on their website as “Clinton Gets Crazed”.

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