Apparently The Judge Couldn't Find The Column Either

The Argus Leader lost another round in the Dan Scott libel case brought against the paper by the Sioux Falls Development Foundation president over a column published last July.

A Minnehaha County judge Friday denied a motion by the Argus Leader to dismiss a libel lawsuit brought against it by Dan Scott, president of the Sioux Falls Development Foundation.

The lawyers for the Argus thought that once the judge read the Randell Beck column, she would dismiss the lawsuit. But just as is the case with the Argus’ website where we can no longer view the column in question, the article wasn’t attached to the complaint so she refused to consider it stating it was outside the civil complaint. (I have posted the Beck column in it’s entirety here)

A quick question for any lawyers out there. Who files a libel lawsuit but doesn’t include the alleged libelous material as part of the lawsuit or am I missing something?

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Self Importance And Delusions Of Grandeur

I have often wondered how someone could write about the general lack of importance of most political blogs while running a blog that touches on politics themselves like one of our more popular bloggers

What really got me thinking about this subject was the recent release of a book by former blogger, John Thune henchman, and lawyer with a questionable history, Jon Lauck. When his book was released, several blogs began wondering out loud why South Dakota’s largest newspaper, the Argus Leader, was basically ignoring the book by not reviewing it. As other media outlets began printing reviews the calls of bias aimed at the Argus grew louder to the point that Patrick Lalley finally addressed these concerns on the Argus blog. He pointed out that they didn’t feel it would be journalistically prudent to review a book by someone that made a living ripping the paper. Fair enough…

Of course that explanation just made the calls louder and last month the paper relented and printed a review by a 3rd party. Game, set match as far as some in the blogosphere were concerned. The hated Argus had broken under the pressure from the blogs and printed a review, of course it was from someone not associated with the Argus but what the heck it was a review. As a side note on this book, even after the state’s largest newspaper reviewed this book which some are calling the best South Dakota political book ever written (exactly how many are there in the category?), it still hasn’t done much to increase it’s sales. It currently ranks as the 11th most popular book on Amazon for books about South Dakota, ranking behind ever popular books about the James River among others.

Now lets rewind to earlier this year when it was revealed that popular Liberal blogger and employee of South Dakota’s most well know political consulting firm, Hildebrand-Tewes was fired for embezzling money from the firm. Hildygate as it was dubbed by South Dakota’s most popular blog was earth shattering in the blogosphere and among the several thousand in our state that read the blogs but barely caused more than a whisper in the MSM, even with Hildebrand -Tewes’ association with Presidential candidate Barack Obama. Another blogging tempest in a teapot.

Now move forward to the latest news in our fine blogging community. South Dakota’s self proclaimed most popular blogger is in the midst of a feud with our most intolerate and far right blogger. “Blog wars” are nothing new and in fact Sibson seems to be at war with someone just about constantly, either spewing slurs at what he believes to be our religious shortcomings or at least our lack of any religious beliefs at all. Most of the time he is pretty much ignored as he should be but this time he must of hit a nerve and that is when the sparks flew along with a realization on my part as to just how self important and delusional some of us have gotten over our true importance.

South Dakota probably has under 500,000 registered voters of which only a fraction, probably several thousand, regularly read any of our political blogs but yet some are starting to believe that they speak for a large number of these voters or for the particular party they are a member of. We (South Dakota bloggers), as a group are very diverse, we have former political operatives that now work as lawyers and real estate agents, college professors, even accountants for toner manufacturers. But last time I checked, none of us are in a position to tell anyone else what their beliefs are or should be nor can we dictate what their importance is in their party of choice based on the amount of time they have been a member.

Most South Dakotan’s don’t know the difference between A South Dakota Moderate and South Dakota Watch and when we as a group start to think that we speak for more than the few that choose to read our political discourse, the sooner we become more irrelevant than we already are in the overall scheme of things. When one of our blogs gets the type of readership that a Daily Kos or Michelle Malkin receives, then we can get into a discussion as to the importance or influence of our blogs.

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Conscientious Objectors

Lowell over at Badlands Blue posts on our Democratic representation’s position on a bill currently making the rounds in Congress that would force pharmacist’s to fill prescriptions even if they have moral objections for doing so. Being the mouthpiece of the Democratic party he prints statements from both Tim Johnson and Stephanie Herseth Sandlin’s camps supporting the bill for varying reasons including from Johnson
“I believe it is important to ensure patient access to FDA-approved medications that are legally available,” Johnson said. “I also believe it is important to protect health-care providers’ rights to refrain from taking actions they find objectionable.” Johnson said he hoped legislation addressing the issue could be carefully shaped to “allow health-care providers to obey their personal consciences without imposing their own beliefs upon the patients they serve.”
And from Herseth Sandlin
She believes that every man, woman and child in South Dakota should have timely and ready access to necessary health care, including prescription medications,” Hart said. Hart said Herseth Sandlin “does not believe that there is a role for Congress to get involved in this local dispute in Montana,” but she believes that, if a pharmacy is unable — for whatever reason — to fill a prescription, it should assist the customer in getting the health-care service they seek elsewhere.
What Lowell doesn’t touch on is Senator Thune’s position which predictably is in opposition to making Pharmacists do their jobs.
“I believe that, if a pharmacist or pharmacy owner has a religious or moral dilemma with filling controversial prescriptions, he or she should not be mandated by the federal government to do so”
So there you have it, it has come down to the Federal Government having to tell an industry to do their job. Should pharmacist’s be required to fill legal prescriptions even if they do not believe in the purpose of the drug? What’s next, pharmacists asking for marriage licenses before filling Viagra prescriptions or outright refusing to fill them at all?

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Some Things Never Seem To Change

A lot is being made of Tim Johnson’s health and whether he would be able to serve the people of South Dakota for another 6 year Senate term. But one thing can’t be debated. When your chief challenger has 1/10th of the campaign war chest of another party member that hasn’t run for anything in 4 years of which some of that time was spent in prison, you know you are in trouble. Can you say Bruce Whalen vs. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin?

From SDWC

*NOTE: Joel Dykstra’s U.S. Senate campaign raised more than $81,000 in its first three months, detailed in the Federal Elections Commission report for the quarter ending September 30, 2007

And from this morning’s Argus

candidate’s campaign finance report usually brings some interest, but not to the extent that former Gov. Bill Janklow’s does.

His annual Janklow for Governor Committee report filed earlier this year in the secretary of state’s office shows $887,364.96 cash on hand more than eight years after his last gubernatorial race in 1998.

Everything above doesn’t even take into account the bank account that Johnson has waiting for him if and when he decides to hit the campaign trail. Johnson’s 3rd quarter FEC filing listed over $2 million in the bank with a nice chunk of that being raised while he was in the hospital.

So what does that say of a challenger that can’t even raise a small percentage of what Johnson earned while sitting in a hospital bed with a life threatening illness? Maybe, just maybe Republican’s might want to start spending more time wondering why the state Republican party, that is always willing to mention their majority in state politics, can’t seem to drum up worthy candidates for national offices and a little less time worrying about Johnson’s fitness to serve. Those questions, while valid when Johnson’s prognosis was unknown, should now be left to the voters of South Dakota if Johnson carries through on his promise to run.

And speaking of Bruce Whalen, maybe he is free for another unsupported beat down at the hands of a popular candidate as he seems to have a bit of free time to spend bashing folks over at the War College. Does anyone wonder why this Republican had a hard time getting 29% of the vote in an overwhelmingly Republican dominated state?

Lately there are certain things in South Dakota you can count on just like death and taxes. Our schools will remain forever underfunded, the next attempt to ban abortions will always be on a ballot near you, and the Republican party will find sacrificial lambs ready to be slaughtered in national races (as long as the incumbent isn’t named Daschle).

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Oh Geez Not Again!

If you were hoping to get a break from the abortion ban battles that we seemingly deal with every year, you are going to be disappointed as the latest attempt was announced this evening.

Supporters of the new petition now must gather 16,776 signatures of registered voters by April 1 to add an initiated measure to the Nov. 4, 2008 general election ballot, said Elections Supervisor Kea Warne.

This time though it won’t be our legislature debating the ban, supporters including former abortion provider and Chamberlain obstetrician-gynecologist Patricia Giebink have bypassed Pierre and are going to attempt to put the measure on the ballot. The petition can be seen here (pdf alert).

Giebink thinks that this time will be the charm

“This is what the people said they wanted after the 2006 campaign. And a number of polls since then indicate a majority of people believe abortion should not be a method of birth control,” Giebink said.

One question Giebink doesn’t address in her comments or in the petition is how the lawsuits that will surely follow if this passes will be paid for, with our tax dollars of course, and how their campaign will be funded now that the Roger Hunt school of shady campaign finance has been closed. Either way it’s going to be another long election season.

Much more on this to follow.

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Global Warming?

This isn’t a post that seeks to get into the global warming argument, I will post about that later I am sure, but instead details what Religious Right leader Pat Robertson thinks could be the cause behind the latest ice storm to hit the Midwest. Believe it or not it has nothing to do with what many are claiming is more proof that global warming is just a liberal snow job. Seems in Robertson’s mind, it could just be God getting back at us for being less than nice to Israel. Watch it.

And some think those that believe in global warming are crazy…

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A Little Musical Respite

On the road a lot this week but just got a shipment from Amazon that contained a CD that I had been looking to locate for quite a while. In my high school days I fancied myself a trumpet player and at the time a version of “Hey Jude” from Maynard Ferguson was just about the best horn playing I had ever heard.

It’s not available from any of the major download sites like the iTunes store so I had to find the CD from 1972 in which it appeared as it finally has been released. So to christen my new audio player plugin, I have included a small clip from Maynard Ferguson’s version of the Beatles’s “Hey Jude“.

[audio:http://www.sdmoderate.com/wp-content/uploads/2007/12/8_Hey_Jude.mp3]
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Waterboarding, Not The Latest Surfing Craze

A post over at Dakota Voice about a Time Magazine article on waterboarding deserves some more thought. He does his best to justify the use of waterboarding because it could help in the fight of terrorism.

Sometimes it takes tough measures to stop the bad guys and protect innocent people. Waterboarding does no serious and certainly no lasting damage to the terrorist.

I am surely not going to disagree with his point that terrorists are bad people and that our intelligence agencies need to be creative in their interrogation techniques but ask yourself a few questions before jumping on the waterboarding bandwagon.

If waterboarding isn’t “that bad” of a technique, why did our government condemn it as being torture on several different occasions. Once when the Japanese used it during WWII and then during Viet Nam when we actually courtmartialed soldiers for performing the tactic on a North Vietnamese soldier?

Why does the Bush Administration refuse to comment on waterboarding as a technique by either endorsing or condemning its use? How many times can Dana Perino deflect that question?

Why did the CIA destroy tapes that showed them using the technique on prisoners against the advice of several in Congress and even the White House counsel?

He then tries to justify the use of waterboarding by claiming that the people we are using it on have done a lot worse.

U.S. interrogation techniques are nothing like what terrorists do to innocent people, involving such peace-loving techniques as blow torches, meat cleavers, whips and eye removal.

So it’s the biblical eye for an eye argument?

We as a nation have a document called the US Constitution that used to put us above those that we are currently fighting. Lately our government has seeming approved tactics that have made that document much less relevant. Once we go down this road, what’s stopping us from going even further making us no better than those that seek to destroy us?

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Democratic Majority = Joke

Even though the numbers say the Democrats have the majority, most of the time they don’t because of no-shows and illness. This past year of Democratic control has been a comedy of errors, absence, and lack of backbone for the party that promised change to get elected. Senator Tim Johnson missed 100% of the votes through August, Barack Obama has missed 80% of the votes since Labor Day and 34% of the votes since the democrats took power. In the middle of a banking crisis, Banking Chairman Chris Dodd has missed 84 percent of the votes since October and Dodd’s banking panel Web site lists no hearing touching the subject since last spring. The committee has not even held a business meeting since Oct. 17. Throw in Joe Biden and his 36% absentee rate and a definite pattern appears.

Now let’s look at some promises made to get elected.

We all remember that Democratic message about Iraq, you know that thing about bringing our troops home and not approving funding that didn’t include a timetable for withdrawal. How’s that going?

The war money would not be tied to troop withdrawals, as Democrats want. But it would let Democrats wrap up their long-unfinished budget work and go on vacation before Christmas. It also would spare them from criticism during the holiday recess by President George W. Bush for leaving work without providing money for the troops

Surely wouldn’t want to cut in to your vacation time would we? How about fighting against torture? Nancy Pelosi has condemned Water Boarding but just 5 years ago she was briefed on the “procedure” by the CIA and for some reason didn’t object.

In September 2002, four members of Congress met in secret for a first look at a unique CIA program designed to wring vital information from reticent terrorism suspects in U.S. custody. For more than an hour, the bipartisan group, which included current House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), was given a virtual tour of the CIA’s overseas detention sites and the harsh techniques interrogators had devised to try to make their prisoners talk.

Among the techniques described, said two officials present, was waterboarding, a practice that years later would be condemned as torture by Democrats and some Republicans on Capitol Hill. But on that day, no objections were raised. Instead, at least two lawmakers in the room asked the CIA to push harder, two U.S. officials said.

“The briefer was specifically asked if the methods were tough enough,” said a U.S. official who witnessed the exchange.

Congressional leaders from both parties would later seize on waterboarding as a symbol of the worst excesses of the Bush administration’s counterterrorism effort. The CIA last week admitted that videotape of an interrogation of one of the waterboarded detainees was destroyed in 2005 against the advice of Justice Department and White House officials, provoking allegations that its actions were illegal and the destruction was a coverup.

Yet long before “waterboarding” entered the public discourse, the CIA gave key legislative overseers about 30 private briefings, some of which included descriptions of that technique and other harsh interrogation methods, according to interviews with multiple U.S. officials with firsthand knowledge.

So Nancy what exactly has changed between 2002 when you were first told and now? Could it be that now your constituents are aware and outraged over this and you are now flip flopping to pander to those that elected you? Unfortunately Nancy that ship has sailed.

We’ve had a year for the Democrats to stand up to the President on issues that they were elected to change and in that time it has been business as usual, Bush asks for something, the democrats protest, and then they concede giving him exactly what he wants. Maybe a backbone should be a requirement along with citizenship before someone can be elected to Congress…

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Real Clear Politics On The Johnson Seat

Real Clear Politics at one time believed that Tim Johnson’s Senate seat was in play because of his health problems. Unfortunately for the Republican’s, the only candidate of note they seem to be able to muster to challenge him is Joel Dykstra.

South Dakota, where Sen. Tim Johnson is still recovering from a stroke, should be a good opportunity for Republicans. So far, though, they have only managed to recruit a State Representative who hauled in just $37,000 in the third quarter, nowhere close to Johnson’s $2 million account. Because of his health troubles, Johnson had been a retirement threat. But he announced his re-election bid in mid-October, and with an underfunded challenger, he will likely sail to another six year term in 2008.

Will Governor Mikey ever have a better chance for higher office? Time is slowly running out for him to find out.

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