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, February 08, 2003
The anti-American English newspaper the Guardian has a piece today about the Great Plains, specifically North Dakota, and its thesis is that the plains are emptying out, and may one day be occupied again only by the buffalo and the Sioux. Excerpt:
North Dakota is not the only state with a rural crisis. The troubles affect the whole Great Plains region - South Dakota, Montana, Nebraska. Analysts expect the plains to replace the south as the nation's poorest region very soon. Nowhere else has it as bad as North Dakota, though, to which the phrase "ground zero" was applied long before it was expropriated for use elsewhere. But perhaps the original ground zero was also here, more than a hundred years ago.
Tom Daschle is threatening to filibuster the nomination of Miguel Estrada to the DC Circuit. This story has been a bit under the radar because of the Iraq and North Korea issues. Watch Tom's behavior closely on this nomination though. Tom talks big about filibusters, but Sen. Dorgan of North Dakota is already peeling off. Sen. Nelson of Nebraska is starting to peel already too. And the so-called moderate sycophantic junior senator from South Dakota? Um, he's Tom Daschle's sycophant so don't hold your breath for any independent South Dakota First thinking.
We keep discovering items of pork for South Dakota that have been zeroed out in the proposed federal budget. This is Tom Daschle's "clout" at work. The latest zeroed out item discovered:money for Missouri River task force
Secretary of State Chris Nelson's bill (HB1009) weakening absentee voter requirements has passed in the Senate Local Government Committee. The argument that this bill will encourage voter fraud is not credible to Chris because "those who are intent on committing voter fraud are going to do it anyway." That's the whole point, Chris! You should be working to propose laws that will prevent voter fraud in absentee voting, not proposing laws that do nothing to prevent it and in fact make it that much easier.
So much for the one-two punch South Dakota hasn't seen in a long time, a theme Tim Johnson yammered about all the time last year. Now, the proposed 2004 federal budget basically zeroes out pork for South Dakota. Oh, and remember those ads during the 2002 campaign by the Johnson campaign tying Tim Johnson to President Bush? Now the sycophantic junior senator says that the president is a "small and petty person." Is this all there is to the "one-two punch?" Just calling the president names doesn't get the pork. Obviously, Tom Daschle getting in the way of the president's agenda at every turn has consequences. Now, South Dakota citizens are paying the price for Tom Daschle's intransigence. The Watertown Public Opinion has all the details, and since it takes forever for the story to load on their website, here it is in its entirety:
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Senate Democrats continued their assault on President George W. Bush's budget recommendations this week with Sen. Tim Johnson, D-S. D., calling the president's proposals "anti-South Dakota."
Along with still balking at the Senate's proposed package for drought relief for farmers and ranchers, the president's budget also severely cut or eliminated funding for several major water projects in South Dakota. Johnson said that, while the president is proposing spending that will continue to increase the country's budget deficit and allow tax cuts amounting to $1 trillion over the next decade, Bush continues to take money from necessary state projects.
"The funding for the Lewis and Clark water project was completely zeroed out," Johnson told reporters during a conference call Wednesday morning. "That makes no sense to me at all. It strikes me as backward thinking on the president's part on this project."
Johnson said the president's budget proposal also cuts 80 percent of the funding requests for water projects in Perkins County and other areas of western South Dakota.
"He has made massive cuts in the omnibus funding bill," Johnson said, referring to a package proposed recently to fund 11 major appropriations bills left over from the last session of Congress. "It is clear the president has taken an anti-South Dakota attitude on these projects."
Johnson said he and fellow Sen. Tom Daschle, D-S.D., will continue to work to restore funding for the water projects and others impacted by the president's proposals. He also referred to his seats on the both the Senate budget and appropriations committees and Daschle's position as Senate minority leader as a benefit to the state in this situation.
"It is good South Dakota has two senators who can use common sense," Johnson said.
The senator said that, in general, a president's budget proposals are considered basically suggestions to Congress and often face many changes before a final budget resolution is adopted.
"I believe the president's budget recommendations are dead on arrival and I will work to see they are dead on arrival," Johnson said. "I have never seen such a poor budget in addressing the needs of rural America."
At least one South Dakota farm organization agrees with Johnson and spoke out Wednesday in response to the Bush budget.
"This administration's decision making process and budget priorities are simply incomprehensible and unacceptable," S. D. Farmers Union President Dennis Wiese said in a prepared statement.
"We resent all of the proposed cuts in water projects," Wiese said. "However, elimination of funding for the Perkins County rural water project and slashing of funding for the Mid-Dakota and Mini Wiconi water projects at a time of record-setting drought is absolutely deplorable."
Wiese went on to speculate that the president's actions could be based on the results of the November general election when Johnson narrowly defeated Republican John Thune to retain his Senate seat.
"South Dakotans would like to think that partisan politics have nothing to do with decision making on important issues like funding for water projects in the midst of a drought," Wiese said. "The White House may want to penalize our state for re-electing Tim Johnson to the Senate, but in the process, they have targeted some of the president's strongest supporters."
Johnson was asked about Wiese's statement during the conference call Wednesday as well.
"It's impossible for me to read the president's motives," the senator said. "Whether he is just a small and petty person or if his set of values are just that out of line."
Johnson said he expects more problems with other areas of funding, including drought relief and rural development projects in South Dakota, although he feels Congress will provide more funding for projects than proposed by the president.
"I'm going to work very hard at restoring funding for the Lewis and Clark and Perkins County water projects," he said. "I have always been able to get more money for projects than presidents have recommended.
"This (proposal) is a slap in the face to the people of South Dakota, but I think we'll do better than what the president is recommending."
John Podhoretz of the New York Post has a startling comment about Tom Daschle's outrageous behavior toward the administration regarding the coming removal of Saddam Hussein:
The administration's refusal to supply its opponents with the answers they demanded on their schedule emboldened them. There were anti-war rallies. Democrats in the Senate began finding fault with the president. Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle basically said he feared the administration was making up reasons to go to war.
Stephen Hayes at the Weekly Standard piles onto Tom Daschle with more of Daschle's contradictory statements regarding the coming removal of Saddam Hussein:
Yet Daschle's own record on the matter of using force in Iraq reveals him to be a hypocrite. And the tortured logic he employs to question the main premise of the Bush administration's Iraq policy--that Saddam Hussein possesses weapons of mass destruction--exposes him as a political opportunist.
Nichols was employed as a consultant for the United Sioux Tribes Voter Education and Registration Committee and received $756 for the cards he turned in (emphasis added).
Nichols is alleged to have used names obtained from the phone book or the newspaper to complete the registrations.
His attorney, Mike Polk of the Pennington County Public Defender's office, contended the multiple indictments should be thrown out because they don't specifically list different individuals whose names were allegedly forged on the registration cards.
Deputy Pennington County State's Attorney Ken Varns argued against dismissal of the indictments, handed down by a Pennington County Grand Jury in late October.
"There's no basis for legally quashing indictments because they're identical," Varns said. "The defendant is well aware of what the charges are."
Polk told Delaney he expected one of the indictments to remain in place (emphasis added).
Where is Tom Daschle's vaunted clout? He's supposed to be bringing all of this pork into the state, and yet $1.3 million designated for the Fox Ridge Road Repair in South Dakota has disappeared. Additionally, water project funding has been cut or eliminated.
Rural water systems are the only source of clean drinking water for thousands of South Dakotans, including three Indian tribes. These cuts amount to a nearly 80-percent cut in funding for South Dakota water projects.
It appears that the Democratic Party of South Dakota has discovered an airtight method of committing voter fraud. What better way to foil a voter fraud investigation then to get it entangled in tribal sovereignty issues? This is the kind of thing that will bounce around in various courtrooms for years, while leads dry up and the trail gets cold. Ultimately, the only way to get beyond this is to confront the Democrats on what they think is their turf. Republicans have to have their own presence on the reservations. There's a sizable segment of the Native American community disillusioned with the Democratic Party (Russel Means for example), and Republicans have to give them a reason to vote Republican. There are plenty of good reasons for Native Americans to vote Republican. We have to get out there and show we care about them and want to help them. It's called compassionate conservatism.
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If the Argus Leader hasn't written about it, it hasn't happened, right? Well, they've finally published a story that's already old hat. The infamous Tony Dean has officially launched his trial balloon flirtation with the Democratic party. Regular readers will recall that Tony sent SDP a nasty-gram on this very subject over a week ago (see the postings for Thursday, January 23, below). Also on that date, SDP announced its support for a Tony Dean candidacy, because we believe it will fuel massive internecine warfare among South Dakota Democrats. That's why we need to do all we can to encourage Tony to come out of the closet. Let's keep his trial balloon aloft!