Bush The Decider, Giuliani The Divider, And Myopia On The Religious Right

For some odd reason George Bush has often been referred to as “the decider” and now apparently GOP front runner Rudy Giuliani is earning the nickname “the divider” and could be the cause of another 3rd party movement if he gains the GOP nomination. The Religious Right, already fuming over the lack of attendance of the “Value Voters Debate”, is now looking for options if pro-choice Rudy gets the nod from the GOP.

The meeting of about 50 leaders, including Focus on the Family’s James Dobson, the Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins and former presidential candidate Gary Bauer, who called in by phone, took place at the Grand America Hotel during a gathering of the Council for National Policy, a powerful shadow group of mostly religious conservatives. James Clymer, the chairman of the U.S. Constitution Party, was also present at the meeting, according to a person familiar with the proceedings.

“The conclusion was that if there is a pro-abortion nominee they will consider working with a third party,” said the person, who spoke to Salon on the condition of anonymity. The private meeting was not a part of the official CNP schedule, which is itself a closely held secret. “Dobson came in just for this meeting,” the person said.

How the mighty have fallen. The Religious Right has spent many years gaining a foothold in the GOP and at the height of their influence were a major force in getting Republican’s elected. So what has happened? If the very possible occurs and Giuliani gains the nomination, the far-right could be relegated to the likes of other third party runs by such notables as Ralph Nader and instead of getting politicians elected, they could quite possibly split the party to the eventual benefit of those darn “Secularist” Democrats.

Now I can understand the far-right’s concern for getting their agenda heard and discussed but is their latest myopic one issue concern worth losing what little influence they have left in the Republican Party? The Democrats surely hope so because it will likely help them in their run for the White House if it continues this way and maybe in the long run it will be good for the Republican Party as well. The rise of radicalism on either side of the spectrum tends to move many to the middle and the core values that most in the party can agree on and based on the current crop of front running candidates for the GOP, that appears to be happening at least on some level.

The far right’s agenda seems to have started to lose it’s luster, the GOP’s pandering to them pushed me completely out of the party over 2 years ago and now most of the major Republican candidates for the White House are ignoring them on their way to the nomination (of course for some reason they seem to be ignoring Blacks and Hispanics as well). It could be a long hard election season for the Religious Right and a sight for these sore eyes.

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What's The Intent?

The Argus has an interview in this morning’s edition with one client corporation starter Roger Hunt whose Promising Future Inc. was responsible for funneling $750K to the campaign in support of the abortion ban in 2006. The original donor was never identified despite the rumblings from colleagues in the legislature and an unsuccessful lawsuit brought forward by Attorney General Larry Long and Secretary of State Chris Nelson.

No matter what your opinion of the issue or the person involved, the argument being used against Hunt is one that I always found a little amusing.

He said he knew going into the formation of Promising Future Inc. that it was a corporation and not a ballot-question committee. And he not only researched that, but other lawyers did, too, he said. “We knew what the laws were,” he said.
Debate about semantics misses point, critics argue
Perhaps from a technical standpoint, that’s true, said former legislator Casey Murschel of Sioux Falls, now South Dakota’s executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice America. But she said Hunt should have been looking at the intent of that law and not the language.

Intent is a funny thing, in Hunt’s case his intent was obvious. The donor wanted to help pass the most restrictive abortion ban in the country with a donation that would surely put his name in the press but he didn’t want that to happen. Hunt, a well know abortion opponent, state legislator, and most importantly in this case a lawyer was tasked with making that a reality. Hunt did what lawyers do, he found a problem with the law and exploited it, his intent while obvious really doesn’t matter. Hunt and the donor wanted to ban abortion and this donation would help move that cause along, why would Hunt worry about the intent of the law as long as he thought he could legally get away with it?

Most believe that individuals donating large amounts of money to political campaigns or to issue committee’s should not be allowed to do so anonymously for obvious reasons but that belief doesn’t make it illegal, our laws do and in this case Hunt found a way that made it technically legal. As the old saying goes if you don’t like a law, change it. Hunt legally exploited the law by taking a page out of his dirty tricks handbook and as is often the case, South Dakota legislators had to respond after the fact by closing the loophole.

Finally just a suggestion to our legislators that are complaining about this including Rep. Dale Hargens who also seems to not like to follow the intent of some laws. Maybe spending more time on issues that matter to everyone like campaign finance reform (that you seem to ignore) instead of morality and "nanny state" issues would have allowed loopholes such as this to be discovered and closed before they were exploited in the first place. At least one legislator knew of this loophole, how many others did as well?

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Endangering The Cash Cow?

Is this attempt going to be the charm? A story in the this morning’s Argus documents the latest discussions on passing a total ban on smoking in all bars and restaurants in the state.

As Minnesota prepares to become the 17th state to ban tobacco in all bars and restaurants Monday, tobacco foes in South Dakota are working on plans for a similar ban to be proposed this January in Pierre.

“I think it’s safe to say we’ll be bringing forward legislation that would prohibit smoking in restaurants and bars,” said Jennifer Stalley, project director for the South Dakota Tobacco-Free Kids Network and director of government relations for the South Dakota chapter of the American Cancer Society.

I will be watching this debate as it unfolds next year because it will be interesting to see if those that came out against the minimum wage hike because it dictated how business must run will do the same when our legislators attempt to tell businesses whether they can allow smoking or not in their establishments.

Either way I sure hope the state isn’t counting too heavily on it’s latest cash cow in the form of the $1 a pack cigarette tax increase. With this latest assault on smokers coupled with the 61 cent per pack federal tax increase that is being proposed to fund the possible SCHIP expansion, smokers are being legislated and taxed out of existence.

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Must Have The Same Schedule Maker

The 4 front runners for the GOP presidential nomination must have the same schedule maker as all 4 again skipped a debate, this time it was sponsored by PBS and focused on minority issues. Their reasons? You got it, the old scheduling conflict excuse. Skipping this debate in addition to 3 of the 4 snubbing the Univision debate and all 4 skipping the Value Voters debate, one can see a definite pattern starting to appear.

Maybe they should hire someone else to make their schedules…(tongue removed from cheek)

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Another Empty Resolution In The Works

On the heels of last week’s useless resolution condemning the MoveOn.org New York Times ad ripping General Petraeus, Rep. Mark Udall from Colorado is supposedly introducing a similar useless resolution on Monday looking to officially condemn Rush Limbaugh’s phony soldiers comments from earlier this week. As with the MoveOn resolution, the Udall version is totally meaningless and a waste of time but it will be interesting on one front to see if Stephanie Herseth Sandlin, whom had no problem voting to condemn MoveOn’s right to free speech, will be as willing to do the same to Republican mouthpiece and never ending blow hard, Rush Limbaugh.

I will be just as curious to see if Tim Johnson does the same if and when a Limbaugh condemnation makes its way into the Senate. He like Herseth Sandlin didn’t think MoveOn should be allowed to voice their opinion in the New York Times and was one of 22 Democrats voting to condemn the ad.

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Putting GOP Panties In A Bunch

What is a quick way to get Republican’s panties in a bunch? Just say you like the idea of setting up college funds for children when they are born. That is what Hillary Clinton said today while speaking in front of the Congressional Black Caucus.

“I like the idea of giving every baby born in America a $5,000 account that will grow over time, so that when that young person turns 18 if they have finished high school they will be able to access it to go to college or maybe they will be able to make that downpayment on their first home,” she said.

As you can imagine it didn’t take long for many to come out in unison blasting Hillary for even suggesting such a thing. She’s supporting socialism, how would we pay for it? It’s nothing but a $20 billion entitlement.

Addressing the Congressional Black Caucus, Hillary said she’d like to spend $20 billion each year on checks to newborn infants. Since 2000, the United States has had over four million births per year. In 2004 with 4,121,000 births, and each of them receiving $5,000 under Hillary’s plan, that would mean $20,605,000,000 for a single year. To put that in perspective, that’s nearly the equivalent to the budget for the entire Department of Justice in 2006, which topped out at $23.4 billion. No word on where she would get the money from. It’s easy to talk about writing checks, but much harder to actually implement.

Of course missing from all the outrage was the context of Clinton’s statement. You see this isn’t Hillary’s plan, she was actually asked to comment on something that was originally written about in Time Magazine last month and would require public service in order for anyone to collect on the savings account. She even went so far as to say that it wasn’t any kind of policy proposal but just an idea that she liked. On a side note I like the idea where the government gives me a few million dollars but somehow I think that neither idea has as much chance of becoming reality.

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Having It Both Ways

Just a quick drive by today as work has me hopping but I saw in the Argus that Tim Johnson has once again re-affirmed his desire to run for re-election and wanted to comment briefly.

“I am more determined than ever to run for re-election and continue serving the people of South Dakota in the United States Senate,” he wrote in an email sent out by his campaign.

“Please contribute to my campaign before the September 30th end of quarter deadline.”

Maybe it’s just me but even with Johnson’s so far successful fund raising efforts (mainly by his DC colleagues), calls for further contributions would probably be greatly helped if he would just come out and officially declare his intentions.

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Playing Politics With Children's Health

George Bush is threatening to veto the bipartisan extension of the State Children Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) mainly because he says, falsely, that it will expand coverage to those making as much as $83,000 a year.

The Administration strongly supports reauthorization of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) which maintains SCHIP’s original purpose of targeting health care dollars to low-income children who need them most. However, the current bill goes too far toward federalizing health care and turns a program meant to help low-income children into one that covers children in some households with incomes of up to $83,000 a year. If H.R. 976 were presented to the President in its current form, he would veto the bill.

The problem with President Bush’s claim is that it has no basis in fact and comes from a New York request that was intended to cover households in high cost of living areas that never actually made it into the final bill. In reality it specifically ensures that low income children are first in line for benefits.

So why is President Bush so against this legislation and better yet why is he blaming Democrats for putting children’s heath at risk by asking for an increase in coverage? Stephanie Herseth Sandlin is wondering the same thing.

President Bush was off base when he accused Democrats of “putting health care coverage for poor children at risk” and playing politics on proposed changes to the State Children’s Health Insurance Program, says Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sand-lin, D-S.D.

“That’s a really unreasonable statement,” Herseth Sandlin said of Bush’s comment on Thursday.

The SCHIP legislation will increase the spending on the program by $35 billion over 5 years and will be paid for with a 61 cent a pack increase of the federal cigarette tax so again the question needs to be asked, who is really playing politics at the expense of children?

On a similar note, Bill Harlan over at Blogmore had a great comment on the proposed cigarette tax increase that would fund this program.

How to pay for it? A South Dakota-like solution! Raise the federal cigarette tax from 39 cents to $1 per pack. Couple that with South Dakota’s own cigarette-tax increase and some smokers here might switch to crack to save money.

I guess I picked a good time to quit smoking and if this bill eventually becomes law, South Dakota’s reported shortfall in tax revenue from cigarettes could be just a minor blip compared to what will happen if the taxes get raised again…

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Right-Wing Utopia

No need for a federal marriage amendment here.

Of course Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad failed to mention the reasons why when speaking at Columbia University yesterday.

Some international gay rights groups believe that more than 4,000 lesbians and gay men have been executed since the Ayatollahs seized power in 1979.

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To Mr Blanchard in regards to his comments over at South Dakota Politics.

Dear Bob:

Thanks for the comment. However, I cannot agree. It was and now is again up to Rather to show that the facts are as he reported them, not up to Bush to debunk them.

The only things new in the Sept. 2004 story were the claims that George Bush, as a national guard pilot, ignored an order to get a physical, and that his commanding officer felt pressured by the Bush family to go easy on George W. Those claims rested solely on the documents that, Rather himself admitted, “cannot be authenticated.” The story collapsed.

Rather’s news team allowed itself to be hoodwinked by two-bit Democratic hack. CBS responded by canning him. The ignominious end to his career obviously left a deep emotional wound that has not faded over the last three years. He has coped by persuading himself that it was all someone else’s fault. That is the basis of his ludicrous law suit. All this is rather pathetic, don’t you think?

I kind of hate to do this but since Ken decided to post his response to my comments on his KELO post in a forum (his blog) that doesn’t allow for further commenting, I will have to post my response here.

First off Ken, my last name is spelled Schwartz NOT Swartz, secondly defending Dan Rather or his lawsuit was never my intention which was the reason behind the “not because he reported a lie. He just lied in his reporting.” comment in my initial response. Of course he screwed the pooch when he used falsified documents in his story and he is now trying to throw the blame for that on everyone but himself which is further hurting what is left of his battered reputation, though I think he believes that this lawsuit will help him regain his reputation.

My comment was more directed towards the initial allegations that CBS news and Rather reported on. No one ever stepped forward to debunk the allegations and the whole time was spent by the Bush propaganda machine, in this case blogs like Powerline, attacking the messenger. There has always been questions about Bush’s military service and I personally believe that Rather knew this but couldn’t find the smoking gun to prove it so instead he manufactured it. He got exactly what he deserved but my thoughts on the lawsuit being brought by Rather are that it could actually again start the discussions over Bush’s military record (it already has hasn’t it?) and expose something that Bush had hoped had died when Rather was sent out to pasture.

You used a link to a Philadelphia Inquirer editorial in supporting your claim but you somehow missed the part of that same editorial which is the basis of my comment in the first place.

Worst of all, Rathergate deflected the spotlight from the content of the documents, which suggested the younger George Bush had, to put it courteously, a broad attitude toward his military duties and may have received favoritism from superiors on little details like physical exams and showing up. Subsequent evidence appears to suggest some truth to these allegations. But the world doesn’t care about any of that any more. Blame Rathergate.

Nice Rovian tactic by deflecting the actual intent of my comments there Ken. Again I wasn’t defending Rather, I was just stating that Rather’s conclusions could have in fact been correct and that the controversy surrounding his bogus documents clouded that issue. As was the case the first time around, it is apparent that the focus of the right will be to again attack Rather while ignoring the bigger issue, your post is a perfect case in point of how things work. But just because Rather’s lawsuit is likely without merit in a court of law, the facts in regards to Bush’s military service, or apparent lack thereof, have never been answered and are now being discussed again.

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