South Dakota Politics A University of South Dakota law student's blog dedicated primarily to shining light (either a harsh, unyielding spotlight or a soft, warm glow) on figures and institutions in South Dakota.
Saturday, January 11, 2003
South Dakota native and USA Today founder Al Neuharth, a very weird (you should see the duds he has on during D-Days), but very rich (which is why he's always at D-Days) man, serves up some mindless blather about civility in politics. The most priceless quote is this:
As I watched and listened, my feeling was that the tone may have had less to do with the absence of lobbyists and the press than with the presence of spouses. Hard not to feel friendly and civil when you are in the company of the likes of Karyn Frist and Linda Daschle.
Absence of lobbyists? What about when the spouses themselves are lobbyists? Like, for example, um, Linda Daschle, who is one of Washington's premier lobbyists. Absence of press? What exactly is Al Neuharth, if not a member of the press? You see? Mindless blather. It shows the utter contempt the elites of this country have for the rest of us. Did Al actually do any thinking while he was writing this piece?
The state legislature is taking baby steps toward solving the voter fraud problem. The legislature has to do more to make it easier for the authorities to investigate voter fraud, and to make it more difficult for those who wish to commit voter fraud. These days, one can register one's dog to vote. Then they can send in an absentee ballot application, and a few days later, the dog has an absentee ballot. It's that simple to commit voter fraud. It shouldn't be.
Isn't it time that we dispel of this notion that just spending more money is going to solve our education problems? We can start out by countering the leftist Argus Liar and its mundane calls for more money to be spent on teacher pay. The Argus constantly calls for more money, yet refuses to espouse its views on standards and goals that should be set out for teachers and students. No person deserves a carte-blanche pay raise for the work they do.
There has to be justification for any increase in salaries. The first is better teaching. Those teachers who want to improve themselves, by seeking national certification, by improving their educational credentials deserve to be compensated better. Secondly, seniority alone does not make a person a better educator. The current seniority-based system for determining pay is outmoded and not serving in the best interests of our children. Third, claims that other states are sucking away the best teachers are not a persausive rationale for an across the board pay raise. Veteran teachers are not going to leave, thus little to no pay raise for them. South Dakota should focus on raising the pay of well qualified starting teachers. This is where we can make more money work for us. Lure better qualified, above average teachers to our government schools by increasing their pay. Also, let's retain those well qualified above average teachers most likely to leave, those with 2-5 years experience, with targeted pay raises. Again, our government schools need to employ time tested corporate recruiting and retention strategies when hiring teachers.
Represenative Matt McCaulley gets the common sense award of the day!
A typical family [in Yankton] makes $44,000 a year, free from a state income tax, and unemployment is low at 1.7 percent. In Palo Alto, average families pull in $117,000 a year, and unemployment is similarly low, at 1.3 percent.
Paychecks go much further than in Palo Alto, with basic things like gas, milk, eggs and ground beef costing significantly less than in the Bay Area. A gallon of milk at the HyVee supermarket in Yankton costs $1.87, and ground beef sells for $1.79 a pound. No chi-chi suburban food emporia for Yankton, but then again, where in Palo Alto can you routinely find bison meat ($3.99 a pound)?
Perhaps because Yankton is the area's regional center -- boasting a Wal- Mart, Kmart, shopping mall and five-plex movie theater -- the town's top selling point, like Palo Alto's, is its school system.
Yankton High School, a $20 million building funded by both the school district and the city, has an indoor pool, two auditoriums, a basketball court with a parquet floor and an intricate computer network. It's the type of school that even Palo Altans would brag about, if it were theirs. South Dakota as a whole has the most wired K-12 school system in the country.
President Bush on Wednesday renominated 30 people to the judiciary whom the Senate refused to act on last year. [People for the American Way president Ralph] Neas predicted "contentious confirmation battles" over the group of potential judges because the nominees weren't chosen through "bipartisan consultation."
If Bush gets a chance to nominate one or more Supreme Court judges, the resulting court could "turn back the clock" on civil rights, abortion, church and state issues, environment, and consumer and workplace safety laws, according to Neas. Opposing Bush's Supreme Court nominees will be a "monumental struggle over the nation's future."
Neas called on the Senate to require appeals court and Supreme Court nominees to demonstrate "appropriate qualifications," which he listed as "commitment to civil rights and individual liberties" and respect for Congress' role in passing laws on these and other matters. In other words, the Judicial branch shouldn't pass judgment on the Legislative branch's work, although the work of state legislatures is fair game.
Neas argues that "The mere absence of disqualifying evidence in a nominee's record should not constitute sufficient grounds for confirmation." This is an incredible argument to put forward - that a senator doesn't even require a reason for rejecting a well-qualified judicial nominee.
Ralph Neas and his ilk (read Tom Daschle and Tim Johnson) are raising the stakes, and I hope that President Bush will ram through judicial nominations after the outrageous behavior of the Democratic controlled Senate on this issue last year. NO MORE MR. NICEGUY! It was particularly gratifying to see Judge Pickering renominated. It looks like the Bush administration has had it with the Democratic shenanigans on judicial nominations. It's simply another example of the short-term thinking of Daschle's obstructionist tactics while he was the majority leader. His take-no-prisoners strategy will be turned on him, and I must admit, I will enjoy it thoroughly.
In many ways, Rosenthal's departure signals a shift in the South Dakota paradigm. Leaders like Bill Janklow have served this state well and they are to be commended. Now is the time for the future of the party to bring us into the 21st century. I am told that Governor Rounds has selected a new chairman and that it is someone close to him. From everything we've seen from Gov. Rounds so far, we feel confident that he has made a wise choice.
South Dakota's next GOP chair must usher in new leadership to our state party. In two years the primary mission of the GOP will be take out Tom Daschle. This starts with the selection of a state party chair who understands that there is no time to look in the rearview mirror of South Dakota politics. Essentially, it also means that the road should be cleared for John Thune.
There are others who may want to take Tom Daschle's seat, but who represents the future of South Dakota? John Thune does! I am confident that the next state party chair will understand this.
Great news! Tom Daschle is renewing his assault on every idea the administration has. This is great news because Daschle doesn't seem to have learned his lesson from the election. His governing formula is a sure ticket to having him and his party in the minority for a long time. And of course, Tom never misses a chance to trot out the tiresome clout argument, although this time it's a little dressed up:
Daschle spokesman Jay Carson said the South Dakotan can offer a powerful voice of opposition in Congress because he won't be jostling for position in the crowded primaries.
Oooh. He's so POWERFUL! Daschle really hasn't learned a thing has he?
There are murmurs about Thune running against Daschle, and possibly Janklow getting into it. That's just exactly what's needed: a circular firing squad between Janklow and Thune supporters during the primary season, reminiscent of Abnor and Janklow in '86. And remember what happened after that disastrous primary. Daschle won.
Remember Stephanie Herseth going up and down the state explicitly telling voters she was a conservative Democrat? She actually said she was a conservative Democrat on Joan Russell's radio show. As all discerning conservative voters know or should know, THAT CLAIM IS A BLATANT LIE. Look at what the extreme left-wing magazine The Nation thinks of Stephanie, as written by Katha Pollitt:
I know what I'm supposed to say about the Democratic losses: The Dems stood for nothing/were indistinguishable from Republicans, so why not vote for the real thing? The last part of that argument has never made much sense to me--why would you vote for the more intense version of something you supposedly don't like in the first place? True, overall the Dems fumbled just about every issue in hot pursuit of the ever-rightward-moving center. But may I play devil's advocate for a moment? As Nation readers were endlessly informed, there were a number of contests in which the differences between candidates were quite marked. In the Florida gubernatorial contest, could you really mistake labor-backed Bill McBride for Jeb Bush, the dark prince of election 2000? Walter Mondale may not have had Paul Wellstone's populist fire, but he was hardly a carbon copy of Norm Coleman; Rhode Island's liberal Myrth York blasted her conservative, business-backed opponent in the gubernatorial race for his retrograde positions on abortion and gun control. Chellie Pingree, the Democrat who challenged moderate GOP incumbent Susan Collins for the Senate in Maine, was a classic progressive with strong positions on corporate reform, education, the environment and healthcare, an attractive personality and a record of public service as a state legislator. Like other progressive-endorsed Democrats--Iowa's John Norris, Oregon's Bill Bradbury, South Dakota's Stephanie Herseth, Arizona's George Cordova and Illinois's Hank Perritt--they all went down to defeat.
Stephanie must position herself within the "ever-rightward-moving center" to get elected. It's a classic fake-right, go-left formula successfully pulled off by Tim Johnson. When she runs again (and she will) don't let her get away with it!
Mort Kondracke's analysis on FoxNews last night was right on:
"[Daschle decided not to run for president because] he wanted to be Senate Leader. He was being begged by his colleagues in the Senate to give up the presidential race and stay as leader because he would have tapped off money for his own campaign that he can now raise for other Democrats running in 2004. It would have been very confusing to have him as Leader shaping positions for the entire caucus and at the same time, trying to fashion his own campaign and he would have probably lost the seat in South Dakota, couldn't have run for re-election, which would guarantee that the Republicans would have the Senate in perpetuity."
Daschle did the calculations and figured out he had too much to lose.
I was thinking John Thune had gotten tossed over the side by the Bush administration after losing to Tim Johnson. But it looks like he's Bush's choice to run against Tom Daschle in 2004. Here's the money phrase:
"In South Dakota, Bush aides have been working with former representative John Thune on a fight for Senate Minority Leader Thomas A. Daschle's seat."
That's going to be a ticklish situation though, given that so many Republicans buy the stupid clout argument. But anyway, the last thing I want to think about right now is the next election. This past one was soul-sapping.
Tom Daschle isn't running. I'm actually disappointed. It would have been entertaining watching his candidacy crash and burn. But the guy's smart enough to realize he didn't have a chance, despite his public fantacizing about having a western White House in the Black Hills. It's amusing to see the Argus Leader web page have contradictory headlines, one saying he's running and the other saying he's not.
UPDATE: Here's the AP article on the story. The money paragraph:
"South Dakota's strong preference for Republicans in presidential elections is behind Daschle's insistence on staying in touch with people back home."
Since we often talk about voter fraud around here, it has been suggested we link to the Byron York Archive on National Review Online. This is a helpful resource for some of the facts that need fleshing out on the voter fraud story, which probably will never happen. Here at South Dakota Politics, we've put the election behind us, but we hope that many South Dakota voters have drawn some lessons from that election. The primary lesson is not to buy the clout argument that Tom Daschle never stops selling.
Did you happen to hear Tom Daschle's radio address on Saturday? Not only does Tom have all of this clout, apparently he can see into the future! Here he is discussing the new tax cuts that will be proposed by President Bush tomorrow:
"I intend to do everything I can to replace this misguided plan with a proposal for immediate tax relief for middle-class families, tax relief that will actually spur economic growth."
How can Tom possibly know the plan is misguided, WHEN THE PLAN HASN'T EVEN BEEN PUT OUT YET? Apparently, Tom has yet to draw some lessons from the fact that he and his party were CLOBBERED on election day, largely due to the fact that Tom had this fetish with disagreeing with the president on everything. I guess Tom has quickly gotten used to being in the minority.
The Argus finally gets on board with Daschle's run for the presidency. Note how Daschle knows the only way his meal ticket is punched in South Dakota is if he retains some sort of leadership status, and he pounds that theme to death. The whole "clout" concept is so shallow, but it works. It appeals to the lowest regions of human nature, and is so fleeting as to be irrelevant, as seen in this past election cycle. The clout argument got Tim Johnson re-elected, but Tom Daschle no longer has the clout he had before, if he ever did. Proving once again you win more often if you stick to your principles rather than cravenly abandoning them in the interests of some ethereal concept like clout.
UPDATE: Another local source with the Daschle story and the ever present clout sensibility.
Our new attorney general is on the right track with regard to openness in government. Betty Breck writes to the Rapid City Journal:
"The Government Openness Task Force organized by the attorney general-elect offers all South Dakotans an opportunity to help shed some light on our government's meetings and records.
The "Government in the Sunshine" movement started 50 years ago when states began adopting laws opening government to the people. South Dakota's legislators helped pioneer this effort by adopting an Open Meetings law in 1965, and adding criminal penalties for violators in 1974.
Changes in technology and social attitudes, and the realization that criminal penalties actually deter prosecution of violators, indicate it's time to examine our open government laws and find ways to make them more current and effective.
That is the job of the Government Openness Task Force. But the task force needs your help!
For starters, think about what information should be public, and problems you've had getting government records. Look at the current laws on the task force's section of the Attorney General's website. Determine whether your local governmental bodies are acting openly or secretly. Write down your ideas if you feel the laws should be more understandable to, and enforceable by, citizens.
Attend the next task force meeting Jan. 14, 10 a.m., at the Capitol Building."
The sanctimonious Randall Beck, editor of the Argus Leader, is actually on to something. Here's the money paragraph:
"Sioux Falls is no Philadelphia or New York, but neither is it immune from the dark forces that can lead to an abuse of power - or an organizational tolerance for such abuse. Who, then, watches for evidence of that abuse? In Sioux Falls, we are asked to trust - despite a shroud of official secrecy - that all is well. Sorry, chief, but Americans have heard that tune too many times. Which, of course, brings us to the role that an aggressive, independent and, yes, sometimes irritating press plays in a free society. It is our duty to check and balance the power and performance of government in all its forms. It is our responsibility to probe - accurately, fairly, thoroughly - where some, perhaps many, may not want us to go. It is, in large part, what we do."
Unfortunately the "shroud of secrecy" Beck speaks of here is endemic in all public institutions in South Dakota. This is another theme of this blog; the unfortunate tendency of public officials and institutions to prevent access to important information that needs to be known by the public in order for the public to make decisions when elections come around. Unfortunately, the Argus Leader too often plays right into the hands of these public officials and institutions, and ignores stories that should be told. The best example is the Argus taking at face value the attorney general's statement that no voter fraud occurred. On the voter fraud issue, Beck fails to follow his own advice about what journalists should do when told by public officials that the information won't be given out because the problem is being taken care of. So Beck is on to something, he just doesn't follow through with his doctrine very often.
UPDATE: This is the letter by the Sioux Falls chief of police to which Beck is responding.