Short Takes

I just finished up a long day behind the wheel so I don’t have much time but I did come across a few interesting tidbits besides the Shell Oil poverty post below.

It’s been a good week for Conservative Republican scourge John McCain who not only picked up the endorsements of Rudy Giuliani earlier this week and Arnold Schwarzenegger today, he also gained another reason for me to like him just a bit more (not enough to vote for him though). You can now add Michelle Malkin to other wingnuts including Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter that would rather have a root canal than support McCain.

Speaking of Limbaugh, Darth Cheney appeared on his show yesterday to push for telecom immunity as part of the FISA legislation working its way around Congress.

CHENEY: People who don’t want to — I guess want to leave open the possibility that the trial lawyers can go after a big company that may have helped. Those companies helped specifically at our request, and they’ve done yeoman duty for the country, and this is the so-called terrorist surveillance program, one of the things it was called earlier. It’s just absolutely essential to know who in the United States is talking to Al-Qaeda. It’s a program that’s been very well managed. We haven’t violated anybody’s civil liberties. It’s in fact a good piece of legislation.

So Dick, if nobody has violated anyone’s civil liberties, why do they need immunity?

And finally, many have been touting the success of the surge in Iraq and while the effectiveness of this campaign can and is being debated, that little problem in Afghanistan hasn’t gone away either. It seems that bastion of civil and human rights we created after kicking out the Taliban is working just fine.

Afghanistan sentences journalist to death for downloading report on women’s rights

How’s that for progress?

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Remember This The Next Time You Fill Up

The next time you are searching for the money needed to put gas in your tank between your couch cushions, try to remember just how rough that $3 plus a gallon gas is on our big oil companies.

Royal Dutch Shell reignited anger over excessive profits today after revealing it made $27.6 billion (£13.9 billion) in 2007 – a new record for a UK company.

The figure – equivalent to more than £1.5 million an hour – prompted a fresh call from unions for a windfall tax on oil companies. It also comes at a time when motorists are paying forecourt petrol prices of more than £1 a litre.

AmericaBlog does the math for us, Shell only made a paltry $3 million a minute. How can they possibly survive?

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Obama On Edwards Quitting

Barack Obama has released a statement in regards to John Edwards quitting his bid for the White House.

“John Edwards has spent a lifetime fighting to give voice to the voiceless and hope to the struggling, even when it wasn’t popular to do or covered in the news. At a time when our politics is too focused on who’s up and who’s down, he made a nation focus again on who matters – the New Orleans child without a home, the West Virginia miner without a job, the families who live in that other America that is not seen or heard or talked about by our leaders in Washington.

“John and Elizabeth Edwards have always believed deeply that we can change this – that two Americans can become one, and that our country can rally around this common purpose. So while his campaign may end today, the cause of their lives endures for all of us who still believe that we can achieve that dream of one America.

Sounds like someone is sucking up for some endorsement love doesn’t it?

UPDATE: Apparently the Obama Campaign isn’t alone in beating down Edwards’ door for an endorsement. There has got to be some serious gold plated kneepads being put on over at the campaign headquarters of both Clinton and Obama.

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Edwards Dropping Out

Most expected that Rudy Giuliani would be dropping out if he didn’t do well in Florida, he didn’t and he is, but John Edwards future seemed to a least include Super Tuesday. It won’t as according to various reports, Edwards will be dropping out of the race with an announcement in New Orleans this afternoon.

Early on it became obvious that Edwards wouldn’t have the horsepower to beat either Clinton or Obama but his truly progressive ideology kept much of the progressive agenda in the discussion. Unfortunately for us in South Dakota, our June primary date prevented us from really getting to know this man and his ideas for the middle class but as far as I am concerned Edwards leaving the campaign is a loss for the Democratic Party as a whole.

Hopefully some of his ideas have rubbed off on the whomever the eventual nominee is. We’ll see…

UPDATE: Others are saying it better than I did or could.

UPDATE 2: The Edwards goodbye speech

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Bully Pulpit

To be honest, with my readership numbers bully pulpit might be the wrong term, but a recent announcement has again got me going against my local cable company. Earlier this winter I wrote a rant over the NFL Network being the exclusive carrier of several NFL games including the season ending game between the Patriots and the Giants. Included in that rant was a dig at my cable company, Golden West, for not carrying the NFL network.

Obviously not because of my rant, Golden West added the NFL Network shortly thereafter and then the NFL Network also relented and allowed the remaining 60% of the country to see the Patriots-Giants game. Since my first rant worked so well (sarcasm), I figured I would write about my next pet peeve in regards to Golden West.

Being the proud owner of a wonderful 32 inch HDTV and on the eve of the biggest football game of the year, you would think that I would be drooling over the prospect of watching my first Super Bowl in high def. If you thought that you would be wrong. As with the other 35 plus Super Bowls I have seen in my life, this one will also be seen in less than stunning 480i because of my favorite cable company and their embarrassing selection of HD content.

At the beginning of this rant I mentioned that a recent announcement got me going. That announcement was from satellite television provider DirectTV who is getting ready to launch their next satellite which will up their HD capability to 150 channels. Did they say 150 channels, up from their current 85 channels? And here I am with Golden West’s paltry offering of 13 channels (4 of which are premiums like HBO and Showtime) that by the way doesn’t include the HD feed from our local Fox station KTTW.

So here I will sit this Sunday watching the Super Bowl in standard definition just like every other year while Golden West collects their ridiculously high rates from us for providing their normal horrible content. Ah the joys of rural living… <end rant>

P.S. Before anyone asks why I don’t just upgrade to Dish Network or DirectTV, numerous 100 year old+ trees directly in the line of site of the various satellites preclude that option, believe me I checked.

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Where Do I Get Some Of That Kool-Aid?

Even after 7 years of lies, 1984” type breaches of our civil liberties, and outright mismanagement of our country, a totally bogus State of the Union still gets the few remaining Bushie’s hearts a fluttering.

America is blessed – very blessed. We have had an amazing leader who believes in the wisdom of ‘we the people’. Through 7 years of attack from within and without. from across the aisle and from those too obsessed with purity in his party, President Bush has been a stalwart gentleman who has maintained dignity and honor for his office as those around him have collapsed into angry rants. The nation is going to miss George W Bush.

His SOTU speech tonight was probably his best. And it rested upon 7 years of accomplishments only his enemies, in hopes of diminishing him, will never recognize. He has shown that being a lame duck with a veto pen is a might powerful position to be in. He has promised to veto tax increases and uncontrolled earmarks. He will direct no efforts be spent on earmarks that had no debate or public vote in Congress.

What is he mixing with his Kool Aid besides the obvious blind faith?

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Adult Business Regulation Bill Goes Down

The bill (SB98) that sought to put the screws on adult oriented business was killed by the Local Government committee yesterday because it could have lead to long court battles but not before they got in a few digs on the business as a whole.

Sen. Arnie Hauge, R-Canistota, said he agrees adult-oriented businesses are trashy and need to be regulated, but the bill’s language would lead to long court fights over definitions and other issues. He said lawmakers should continue working to find the right method of regulating such businesses.

Arnie ought to know something about the subject considering he represents the district (25) that has made fighting adult oriented business a science with the ongoing fight against the topless dancing/movie house/juice bar/etc. that has been trying to get going outside of Salem. That fight actually brings up the real problem with this bill, why is the state trying to legislate this at all?

One size fits all regulation rarely fits everywhere and I think that this is another of those situations. And by the way Sandy, there is no apparently about this, adult-oriented business do have the legal right to exist. That is at least until we make the mistake of letting folks like you and Arnie (adult-oriented businesses are trashy) Hauge determine what can or cannot exist.

The measure’s main sponsor, Sen. Sandy Jerstad, D-Sioux Falls, said adult-oriented businesses apparently have a legal right to exist, but the state should regulate them to prevent harm to children. A county could make sure such businesses are not located near places where children congregate, she said.

Message to those in Pierre, especially those that think they know what’s best for us, let local government deal with local issues.

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Brave Legislators?

The Argus Leader’s Randell Beck, of fake editorial fame, is patting several in our legislature on the back this morning because they are working to open our state government.

That our Legislature would seriously debate the extent to which the inner workings of government should be transparent is a victory for those who have long believed that accountability in a democracy must be measured by the level to which the average citizen – not journalists, or a favored few – has access to the halls of power.

For that we can thank a few lawmakers courageous enough to champion change – slow but steady, in the case of Sen. David Knudson and Rep. Larry Rhoden; fast and dramatic, in the case of Sen. Nancy Turbak Berry.

Is it really that brave for these few to be working on something that should have long since been fixed? But then again considering our elected officials seem to be quite happy at being last in everything, maybe this is somewhat courageous…

UPDATE: And while Beck is patting some on the back, others in Pierre are stabbing us in the back.

PIERRE — A South Dakota Senate committee has endorsed a proposal that would allow members of a state or local government board to attend the meeting of another government board without giving public notice. The Local Government Committee voted to send the bill to the full Senate for further debate.

The state’s open meetings law requires that state and local boards, commissions and other agencies must give public notice 24 hours before holding a meeting.

SB199 would provide that when members of a board attend the meeting of another board to observe or to provide information, they would not have to provide public notice.

RCJ’s Typos and Tribulations.

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Teacher Pay Bills Introduced This Year

Now that the deadline for introducing new bills has come and gone, the details of the 5 bills making the rounds this year that deal with increasing teacher salary are discussed in this morning’s Argus and are linked to below.

HB1214 – Creates minimum salary for teachers in districts that get state funds. $28,000 minimum in 2009 and $30,000 minimum in 2010. (Prime sponsors are Rep. Ed McLaughlin, R-Rapid City; Sen. Cooper Garnos, R-Presho)
HB1262 – Simply says, “The salaries of teachers in South Dakota are hereby enhanced,” a device sometimes used to get a bill in play while working on details. (Prime sponsors, Rep. Mike Buckingham, R-Rapid City; Sen. Ed Olson, R-Mitchell)
HB1268 – Creates minimum salary of $30,000 by 2013. Districts under that in 2008 must develop plan to move the pay to the minimum target. (Prime sponsors Rep. Kristi Noem, R-Castlewood; Sen. Ed Olson, R-Mitchell)
SB169 – Sets annual school-aid increase at 3.5 percent, requires a minimum teacher salary of $35,000 by 2012, increased in four annual steps from $29,000 minimum in 2009. (Prime sponsors Sen. Cooper Garnos, R-Presho; Rep. Ed McLaughlin, R-Rapid City.)
SB187 – Requires schools to increase average teacher pay by 4.25 percent or receive $80 per student less in state aid than schools that do provide that pay increase.

Does anyone think this year will be any different? Can our legislators push any of these bills past a probable veto by the Governor or does Rounds get his way as usual and push through the standard less than inflation increase again this year?

I’m betting a lack of backbone will again win out as will the meager 2.5% one time raise being pushed by Governor Rounds.

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Probably Not Coming To A Food Court Near You

Vending machines are just about everywhere and nowadays you can almost anything being dispensed by one somewhere. Soda, chips, candy, marijuana? In California at least, the answer is yes.

The World’s first “Weed ATM’s” as they are being dubbed should be available for use in LA and elsewhere in the land of fruit and nuts on Monday and each one comes with it’s own security guard to make sure there is no funny business.

AVMs are 24/7 machines housed in standalone rooms, abutting two dispensaries and protected by round-the-clock security guards — like ATMs for people combating psychological withdrawal with a physical one. After cinching up your doctor’s consultation, hit an AVM location to get your prescription approved, fingerprint taken, and a prepaid credit card loaded with your profile: dosage (3.5 or 7 grams, up to 1oz a week) and strain preference (choice of five, including OG Cush and Granddaddy Purple, the mildly hallucinogenic forebear to Prince). Then day or night, all you do is hit a machine and walk away with enough vacuum-sealed, plastic-encapsulated cheeba to adequately treat your illness, and guarantee your car never smells like new leather again.

And to think here in South Dakota we have a hard time just getting the pill.

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