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 15, 2003  

Well, we've got the Democrats' attention now don't we? All of a sudden it's looking like it's going to be harder to pull their election fraud shenanigans next time around. Their arguments against the voter identification bill are completely predictable and were refuted in a preemptive fashion in a January 30 post by yours truly. Notice the latest disingenuous Democratic talking point regarding voter fraud in South Dakota, which was first used by ACLU of the Dakotas director Jennifer Ring earlier this week:

Despite numerous allegations of voter fraud on reservations, the state attorney general found no instance of illegally cast ballots, said Nick Nemec, Democratic Party lobbyist.

It's kind of hard for the attorney general to find evidence of illegally cast ballots when DCI agents investigating the matter are kicked off the reservation by a tribal judge. But the Democrats have never been worried about inconvenient facts. That's why state legislators should be prepared for accusations of racism as they consider this bill. Undoubtedly, the Argus will soon have a scathing editorial that will at least imply that supporters of this bill are racists. David Kranz will engage in his usual backdoor jabs as he reports on the progress of the bill. The best response is to ask why forty other states have some form of voter identification requirement, including Connecticut, a state with a history of progressive politics. Are people in these states all racists too? The fact of the matter is that this will be a neutral, generally applicable law designed to intimidate those who would commit voter fraud. Kudos to those committee members who passed this bill. The battle isn't over though, until Governor Rounds signs it into law. Keep fighting!

posted by Jason | 2:22 PM

Friday, February 14, 2003  

Break out the champagne! SDP has just received its 1000th hit!

posted by Jason | 11:30 AM

In the spirit of Valentine's Day, I thought I'd take some time off from bitching and moaning about our two senators and their various apologists and focus on something truly meaningful. So here's a heartwarming story in today's NY Times that says a little about South Dakota values. The author gets the name of the town Kadoka wrong, but that's understandable. Excerpt:

On the road, traditional gender roles took hold. I drove most of the miles, and Lisa got up alone with the baby in the night. I did do about one diaper change out of four. One memorable one was in the men's room of Cabela's, an outdoorsmen's retail mecca in Mitchell, S.D. There was a changing station for fathers to use, but I was a little nervous anyway about trying out my new changing talents in a bathroom full of woodsmen.

Hanging on to Heath Ryan, I was bobbling the A and D Ointment when I heard a big voice directly behind me say, "Well, that's a fresh one."

A man in head-to-toe Realtree camouflage was nodding at my daughter as he scooped up the tub of ointment from the floor and handed it to me.

"How old?" he asked, and after I told him, he added, "She's darlin'."

"It's all very exciting," I replied.

"Best thing'll ever happen to you," he said, a sobering sincerity settling into his voice.

"Seems like," I responded.

I was soon to learn that the more hard-boiled the truck stop, the more heartfelt the sentiment in these father-to-father exchanges.

posted by Jason | 9:36 AM

It's good to see the state legislature coming to its senses on various proposals that would harm the legitimacy of elections in South Dakota. Particularly in light of a breathtakingly disingenuous statement by one Jennifer Ring:

Jennifer Ring, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of the Dakotas, said there was no proof of voter fraud in the November election.

Riiiight. There's no proof because the attorney general's investigation was effectively blocked by a tribal judge who kicked the DCI agent serving subpoenas off the reservation. It's remarkable how well this all has turned out for the Democrats. They did their dirty work on the reservations, got Tim Johnson re-elected, blocked and effectively ended the voter fraud investigation by entangling it in tribal sovereignty issues, and now they have complete deniability as evidenced by the quote above. I'm no conspiracy theorist, but I think this whole thing has worked out too well. Everything has fallen neatly into place. If it's true that this was all thought out ahead of time, whoever hatched this scheme is a far-sighted, strategic genius. They managed to run circles around the South Dakota Republican Party, the heavy-weight presence of the President of the United States, and a pure gold candidate for the Senate. Remarkable.

posted by Jason | 12:28 AM

Thursday, February 13, 2003  

Will Senator Johnson join this lawsuit like he did before the last Gulf War?

posted by Jason | 11:03 AM

Wednesday, February 12, 2003  

White House counsel Alberto Gonzalez tells Tom Daschle where he can put his filibuster of the Estrada nomination.

posted by Jason | 11:02 PM

It's time to flood the zone on the voter identification, bounty, and poll watcher bills. Click here to e-mail the members of the House State Affairs Committee, which will hold hearings on these bills this Friday. We need to focus on the Republicans who have not co-sponsored the voter identification bill, AND also encourage them to support the bounty and poll watcher bills. As you can see by the list below, the Republicans we need to e-mail are Chris Madsen, Matt Michels, and Bill Peterson. It also wouldn't hurt to encourage Secretary of State Chris Nelson to get on board with this bill too. His office can be reached at 605-773-3537 or e-mail him here.

Frost, Larry Republican co-sponsor of ID bill
Garnos, Cooper Republican co-sponsor of ID bill
Hanson, Gary D. Democrat
Hargens, Dale Democrat
Hunhoff, Jean M. Republican SOFT co-sponsor of ID bill
Madsen, Christopher W. Republican
Michels, Matthew Republican
Nesselhuf, Ben Democrat
Olson, Mel Democrat
Peterson, Bill Republican
Rhoden, Larry Republican co-sponsor of ID bill
Teupel, John Republican co-sponsor of ID bill
Wick, Hal Republican co-sponsor of ID bill

posted by Jason | 7:01 PM

Forgery charges against Becky Red Earth-Villeda have been dropped. The attorney general's office says it's only temporary, but that doesn't make it so. The adjudication of this issue in federal courts will take at least two years, a period of time that's not exactly temporary. When I first heard about this development, I immediately thought of the recently decided case of Nevada v. Hicks, and it appears this case is directly on point with the present situation. The Native American community, and the Indian Law faculty at USD for that matter, loathe Nevada v. Hicks because it impinges on tribal sovereignty. I think the tribal judge involved here is being dreadfully shortsighted in terms of advancing tribal interests, because if this case reaches the Supreme Court with its current lineup the resulting law will undoubtedly further erode tribal sovereignty. Do they really want this set of facts to be a test case for tribal sovereignty? I highly doubt it. The bottom line though, is that Becky Red Earth-Villeda is free and will remain free forever despite committing a crime. The voter fraud investigation was entangled and choked off by the issue of tribal sovereignty. If this is allowed to continue, it will have a chilling effect on future voter fraud investigations, and what is more chilling, will lead to more voter fraud cases that need to be investigated.

posted by Jason | 2:32 PM

Tuesday, February 11, 2003  

A sincere thank you to whoever hit the tip jar. While this weblog is free, if you like what you see here, anything you can contribute helps keep this project operational. If you'd like to leave a tip, just click on the Amazon Honor System or Paypal icons at the lower left of your screen. Here endeth the begging.

posted by Jason | 9:47 PM

There's something historic happening on the floor of the US Senate. A full-blown filibuster is occurring this very moment. Tom Daschle and at least 40 of his Democratic colleagues are actually filibustering the nomination of Miguel Estrada to the DC Circuit Court of Appeals. This is a huge gamble on Tom Daschle's part, and SDP is committed to doing all it can to cause Tom Daschle to lose big on this gamble. Notice how he's speaking as though he is still the majority leader:

Daschle said Democrats will not allow a vote on the nomination until the White House makes Estrada answer their questions and releases the memos. "Until that information is provided, we will not be in the position to allow this vote to come to the floor," said Daschle.

If Tom wins this battle, he might as well be the majority leader. I've just finished reading Master of the Senate by Robert Caro, a biography of Lyndon Johnson's years as the Majority Leader. Caro discusses in depth the filibuster tactic as it was used by Southern Democrats to block civil rights legislation in the Senate. This tactic drove the hard-core liberals crazy, and they wanted to abolish the filibuster. How strange it is to once again see the filibuster used to keep minorities down, but this time by hard-core liberals.

posted by Jason | 8:55 PM

Tony Dean (Dechandt?) recently was interviewed by the Grand Forks Herald. Some questions about his political aspirations came up:

Q: You're planning to run as a Democratic candidate for Congress even though you've been a longtime Republican (Dean recently announced plans to run against former Gov. Bill Janklow for the U.S. House seat Janklow won last fall). Could you talk a little bit about that decision?

TD:I really believe that politics is nothing more than seeing windows of opportunity and deciding whether you're going to act on those opportunities. I've been blessed, I've got a good mind for research and I've got some communication skills.

I can either take my fishing boat and my guns and golf clubs and my dog and spend the rest of my life doing what I've done for a living, or take advantage of my name identification to do something that would be good for my children and grandchildren. I chose the latter. On top of it, I think I'm going to be elected.

Q: Was the decision to switch parties difficult?

TD: Yeah, it is. Philosophically, I'm still a Republican. My own business, I operate in a fiscally responsible manner. I don't spend money I don't have. Honestly, the major reason I'm going to switch parties is conservation. I concluded it's going to be a lot easier to talk to Democrats about guns than Republicans about conservation.

Folks, he's going to do it, but it doesn't seem like he's calculated the hurdle of Stephanie Herseth or, assuming he doesn't retire, Bill Janklow.

posted by Jason | 4:56 PM

Secretary of State Chris Nelson's absentee voter liberalization bill has been voted down by the state senate. Thank heavens people came to their senses on this bad bill. Now it's time to get some reform measures through, specifically the bipartisan voter identification bill.

posted by Jason | 4:38 PM

South Dakota invaded by the Scots? Read this account in today's Independent (UK).
UPDATE: More on this story here, here, and here.

posted by Jason | 3:41 PM

It looks like Tom Daschle is moving forward with the threatened filibuster of Miguel Estrada's nomination to the DC Circuit Court of Appeals.

posted by Jason | 3:13 PM

The state has temporarily dismissed forgery charges against Rebecca Red Earth-Villeda. I have a Constitutional Rights class shortly, but I'll post more on this outrage later. Stay tuned.

posted by Jason | 1:43 PM

It looks like the issue of Janklow's pardons is starting to grow legs. Stories can be found here, here, and here.

posted by Jason | 12:01 PM

The Christian Science Monitor has a fascinating new series on America's dwindling heartland. Excerpt:

Even more broadly, the spreading frontier is challenging America's sense of itself. After all, this is the place where the local barbershop and corner drugstore still exist, where neighbors really do look out for one another, and people cling to small-town values of hard work and keeping one's word. While it's easy to romanticize these places, they nonetheless represent a bedrock of American character - a bedrock that's eroding away.

posted by Jason | 11:46 AM

The absentee voter liberalization bill may be brought to the Senate floor and voted on today. Find your state senator here and send them an e-mail urging them to vote no on the bill.

posted by Jason | 11:28 AM

Here's an interesting report on the tax system in South Dakota written in the latest issue of Governing. Excerpt:

While other states have spent the past decade or so poking their tax structures full of holes through exemptions and tax credits, South Dakota has preserved and even broadened its sales and use provisions. It is one of only three states in the country to collect a gross receipts or sales tax on most services, including those provided by professionals. Hire a lawyer, an accountant or a consultant in South Dakota, and there’s a tax applied.

posted by Jason | 11:18 AM

Here's what Tom Daschle has to consider if he wishes to filibuster the nomination of Miguel Estrada.

posted by Jason | 12:25 AM

Monday, February 10, 2003  

Tom Daschle is attempting to solidify the inroads Tim Johnson created on the Indian reservations in 2002 with a "reconcilation conference" to be held in Pierre this summer. Notice the banalities listed in Tom Daschle's press release on the event:

The goals and objectives of the conference, according to the press release, are to:

*bring together a broad cross-section of South Dakotans to forge a better understanding and mutual respect for one another in the spirit of reconciliation.

*capitalize on this unique and unprecedented gathering to allow people from diverse professional and personal backgrounds to learn from each other, gain new perspectives and develop positive new relationships.

*initiate the first step toward the recovering of nations - federal, state, tribal and local communities - through acknowledgment of their similarities and acceptance of their differences.

*empower and motivate South Dakotans to challenge themselves to help improve the lives of all South Dakotans through reconciliation in their everyday lives.

It's almost laughable how pointless this exercise will be. Everyone will walk away from this with a fuzzy warm feeling and little else. If John Thune is going to run against Tom in 2004, he would be well served by attending this conference and making an iron-clad promise to accomplish something substantive for the Native American community in this state. We conservative Republicans can do better than make banal statements all day long to the Native American community. The Democrats are doing this because it's all they have to do. Republicans have ceded the battlefield without firing a shot in trying to get votes from this segment of the voting public, and we're not going to win an election against Tom by doing this. We have to do something.

posted by Jason | 11:52 PM

Profuse apologies to those who have tried to use the comments feature and gotten a porn website instead. The glitch is being fixed.

posted by Jason | 11:14 PM

The Mitchell Daily Republic has published an editorial piece by Steve Sibson that contains a fascinating detail about Tony Dean:

Everyone knows Hollywood is make believe. Not all sportsmen know, when it comes to the Second Amendment, Tony Dean is also make believe. Perhaps Tony Dean is entirely make believe. His brother’s name is Bob Dechandt, according to A Pierre school yearbook spells his son’s last name as DeChandt. My phone book shows a Tony DEAN with the same Pierre address as an Anthony E DECHANDT.

posted by Jason | 11:10 PM

Sunday, February 09, 2003  

Here's an interesting piece in today's Washington Post. Excerpt:

Democratic Senate leader Thomas A. Daschle (S.D.) and Democratic Whip Harry M. Reid (Nev.) are up for reelection next year. Reid, who had an excruciatingly close call when he last ran, could face a challenge from any one of several prominent Republicans.
In South Dakota, former representative John Thune (R), who narrowly lost a Senate bid last year, is under pressure to run against Daschle. Serious races, even if the challengers fall short, could limit the help that Daschle and Reid could lend to other campaigns.

posted by Jason | 11:24 PM

The New York Times op-ed page whines about the US Senate steamrolling judicial nominees. I like it, I love it, I want some more of it!

posted by Jason | 11:02 PM

I was watching C-Span tonight and noticed it is going to air an interview of the odious Jim Abourezk next weekend. The interview was conducted back in 1990. Here is the transcript of that interview.

posted by Jason | 8:57 PM

As usual on Sunday mornings, after a bagel and eggs, I begin to wonder what slop Dave Kranz has served up for his weekly column. I wonder if his Democratic bias is at a fever pitch or maybe, just maybe, he's toned it down. Well, today it's at a fever pitch. After some nonsense about Bill Janklow, he gets right to his favorite part, namely, skewering John Thune:

In addition to working out of his Sioux Falls office former, Rep. John Thune will do lobbying work as senior government affairs counselor with the Washington, D.C. law firm of Arent Fox Kintner Plotkin & Kahn.

So far, so good. But then Dave moves in for the kill:

A recent Associated Press story said that firm represents the pharmaceutical industry trade group that fought against adding prescription drug benefit to Medicare.

I was appalled at the vicious innuendo and the guilt-by-association nature of this little sentence. It's also BLATANTLY DISHONEST. First of all, what pharmaceutical industry trade group is Dave talking about? If you have some political sophistication, you know that there's only one such group, the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA). Armed with this information, I Googled Dave Kranz's sparse citation of the AP story. I'm pretty sure this is the story he cites. Here's the key paragraph in the story:

Two freshmen worked for the lawyer-lobbying firm of Arent, Fox, Kintner, Plotkin & Kahn - Sen. Jim Talent, R-Mo., and Rep.-elect Chris Van Hollen, D-Md.

The firm has represented dozens of companies with interests before the federal government, including American Airlines; the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, the drug companies' trade group; and defense contractor Raytheon Co.

Dave Kranz, you are so busted! At no point in this story does it say anything about PhRMA fighting the prescription drug benefit to Medicare, as Dave claims the AP story says. Dave just added that himself, but claimed an AP story said it so that it just looks like he's reporting facts. PhRMA is in fact opposed to a prescription drug benefit under Medicare (they support a prescription drug benefit provided by private insurers). But for Dave Kranz to cite a story that says nothing even remotely close to what Dave claims it says is the height of dishonest reporting. An honestly written paragraph would be simply this: "Arent Fox represents the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America. This is a trade group that has fought against a prescription drug benefit under Medicare." The reason Dave Kranz couldn't write this paragraph is because there's no imprimatur of an unbiased news organization behind it. Dave has a clever way of hiding his bias, but in the age of Google, he's going to have to do better. And by the way, if I pulled the stunt in law school that Dave pulled here, I'd be severely reprimanded. If a lawyer told a judge that a source says something that it in fact does not say, the lawyer would be in some serious doo-doo. I hope Dave has an explanation for this.

posted by Jason | 4:09 PM
Ungarnered Praise
Talon News Series on Argus Leader Bias