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, July 26, 2003  

WILL DASCHLE BACKTRACK ON ANWR? Early last month, the Department of Energy warned of a shrinking natural gas supply that Fed chairman Alan Greenspan believes is a "very serious problem" that could add pressure to the U.S. economy. Now fast forward to a story reported in yesterday's Huron Plainsman, entitled Daschle worries natural gas prices could double. See also the related story reported in yesterday's Aberdeen American News, entitled Daschle pushing for Alaska natural gas line. The stories discuss Daschle's advocacy for a natural gas pipeline to be built from Alaska to the lower 48 states. Daschle believes that the natural gas pipeline would be a long-term solution to the shortage. Excerpt from the Aberdeen American News:

Daschle said there are predictions that by the time the snow flies, South Dakotans may have to pay twice what they did for natural gas last winter. Statewide, that would mean $87 million more would be spent on natural gas.

In addition, he said, the price of fertilizer increased by one-third this year, upping the cost to a typical farmer by $10 to $15 an acre.

The ethanol industry will also take a hit, Daschle said. Combined, South Dakota's nine ethanol plants will pay an additional $3 million for natural gas if prices double, he said.

Ron Lamberty, head of the Sioux Falls-based American Coalition for Ethanol, agreed that the profitability of ethanol plants will be hindered with increased natural gas prices. The price of natural gas is a large one for plants. Much of it is used to dry distiller's grain - an ethanol byproduct used to feed livestock.

Now read the story reported in yesterday's Anchorage Daily News, entitled Senate avoids ANWR issue in energy bill work. Excerpt:

But even if the Senate bill says nothing about drilling in the refuge, there's still a chance for ANWR. Because the House passed an energy bill that includes it, House and Senate negotiators could decide to let the provision stay in the final version of the bill.

Last year, the energy bill died because the negotiators on the conference committee couldn't agree on much, and the Democrats remained fiercely opposed to oil development on the coastal plain of the refuge.

"I think things have remarkably changed this time, as a consequence of Tom Daschle's coming election and the closeness of the polling," Gov. Murkowski said.

As Murkowski sees it, Daschle, the Senate minority leader from South Dakota, is desperate to pass an energy bill so he can deliver the ethanol mandate corn growers in his state want.
(The energy bill would require the nation to dramatically boost its use of renewable fuels such as ethanol. Alaska and Hawaii would be exempt from the requirement.)

The governor said Daschle would be unlikely to re-appoint high-profile ANWR opponents like Sens. John Kerry, D-Mass., and Joe Lieberman, D-Conn., to the negotiating committee on energy. Last year, Murkowski said, the two presidential candidates "pretty much used it as a soap box to attack the ANWR issue."

The governor figures Daschle needs the bill too much to appoint senators who are so unbending.

(Emphasis added). Now contrast the horse-trading Tom Daschle is likely to do (allow ANWR drilling in exchange for the ethanol mandate) to get this energy bill passed to his floor statement on ANWR. Governor Murkowski is a former Senate colleague of Tom Daschle, and presumably has some insight into how Tom Daschle operates. Watch for Tom Daschle to politicize the natural gas shortage this fall during the harvest, and perhaps even get some political mileage in the fall of 2004 as the election nears. And when he does this, remember that Tom Daschle fought tooth and nail against an energy bill at the behest of the environmentalists due to ANWR, until a competitive election loomed.

posted by Jason | 3:00 PM

Friday, July 25, 2003  

KRANZ WATCH: As David Kranz, the dean of South Dakota political reporters, prepares his upcoming Sunday column for publication, watch for him to ignore the following stories that have developed over the past week:

1) Tom Daschle's speech this past Sunday to the annual convention of the Association of Trial Lawyers of America in San Francisco. Trial lawyers and law firms are among Tom Daschle's biggest campaign contributors. Recently, Tom Daschle successfully filibustered malpractice reform, which was a major victory for trial lawyers. This filibuster was yet another obstruction of the Bush administration by Tom Daschle.

2) The new Mclaughlin poll released this week that shows a potential Thune-Daschle race to be a dead heat. The poll also shows that 68% of South Dakota voters say "it's too early for political ads and Tom Daschle should stop running them." Additionally, Roll Call reported yesterday that this poll indicates that Tom Daschle's ad blitz has failed to bolster Daschle's standing in the state. In his Sunday column last week, David Kranz reported on a McLaughlin poll that was good news for the Daschle camp. Will Kranz report on a poll commissioned by the same group that shows bad news for the Daschle camp?

Should David Kranz fail to report these developments, it will be yet another indication that he only reports news items that place Tom Daschle in a flattering light, and refuses to report news items that place Tom Daschle in an unflattering light. Once again, the axiom will apply: what is NOT reported about Tom Daschle is just as important as what IS reported about Tom Daschle.

posted by Jason | 7:11 PM

SOUTH DAKOTA BABE: Check out January Jones, a South Dakota native who has a role in the upcoming movie American Wedding.

posted by Jason | 7:45 AM

Thursday, July 24, 2003  

KRANZ WATCH: Last Sunday, David Kranz, the Jack Germond of South Dakota political reporters, discussed a McLaughlin poll that had Tom Daschle leading John Thune by six points. Now a new McLaughlin poll is out showing the potential race to be a dead heat, with Daschle leading by one point. In addition, the poll shows that 68% said it's too early for political ads to be running and Tom Daschle should stop running them. It will be interesting to see if Kranz ever mentions this poll in an upcoming edition of the Argus Leader.

posted by Jason | 12:53 PM

Wednesday, July 23, 2003  

INTIMIDATION: Sen. Dick Durbin is about as persistent of a critic of the president as I am of Tom Daschle. Now Tom Daschle is bemoaning the intimidation tactics of the White House regarding Dick Durbin. Of course, Tom Daschle knows something about intimidation tactics, as Jeff Gannon reported last week. For more details on what Daschle is moaning about, read Bill Hobbs' post at his excellent blog, Hobbs Online.

posted by Jason | 8:06 PM

MAN OF THE PEOPLE: Lloyd Grove of the Washington Post offers details of Tom Daschle's trip back to DC after giving a speech to the Association of Trial Lawyers of America in San Francisco:

Passengers on Sunday's United Airlines Flight 844 from San Francisco to Dulles got a glimpse of the Washington pecking order.

Scrunched back in coach, their knees knocking up against the seats in front of them, were White House political guru Karl Rove and Commerce Secretary Don Evans.

Stretching out his legs in business class up front was Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.). Rove and Daschle had been in California to give speeches.

"Hey, you didn't have to dress up for us," Rove teased the well-tailored man of the people while making his way with Evans toward the rear of the plane. Then the two had a "friendly chat," Daschle spokesman Jay Carson told us yesterday, noting that Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) and Rep. David Dreier (R-Calif.) were also savoring the luxury of business class with their distinguished colleague from the other side of the aisle. "Who says Democrats are anti-business?" Carson demanded.

posted by Jason | 8:00 AM

STILL WAITING: The Argus Leader had a thorough report on the fundraising efforts of the Daschle Accountability Project within mere hours of the news breaking in Roll Call. But in scanning today's edition, nothing has yet been reported about Tom Daschle's visit to San Francisco this past Sunday--three days ago--to speak at the annual convention of the Association of Trial Lawyers of America. Daschle's appearance at ATLA's convention occurred in the wake of a major political victory for trial lawyers, namely the death of malpractice reform at the hands of Daschle. And, by the way, trial lawyers happen to be among Tom Daschle's biggest contributors. Now that I think about it, the Argus Leader also failed to report a trip Daschle made to California nearly two months ago as a guest of the Directors Guild of America. Daschle was there to discuss the important issue of runaway film and television production, which, as we all know, is an issue of pressing importance to South Dakota's working families. And, by the way, the movie and television industry is also a big contributor to Tom Daschle. But there's no report from the Argus Leader, and so these events basically didn't happen. And that's the way Tom Daschle likes it.

posted by Jason | 12:46 AM

Tuesday, July 22, 2003  

NEW LINKS: I've placed three new links along the right side of this blog:

1)'s website devoted to Tom Daschle's campaign financing.
2)'s website devoted to Tom Daschle's campaign financing.
3) The Senate Committee on the Judiciary's website devoted to the status of judicial nominations.

Be sure to check the links I've placed on the right side of my blog regularly. I think you'll often find them useful. I know I do.

posted by Jason | 11:22 PM

BELFRAGE ACROSS THE NATION: Local talk-show host Greg Belfrage is going nationwide the morning of Wednesday, July 23rd. The Rapid City Journal has this report. For a response to some of the comments in the story by one Mary Ann Giebink about Belfrage, click here.

posted by Jason | 10:38 PM

Denise Ross, political reporter for the Rapid City Journal, reports on several developments on the South Dakota political scene. Excerpt:

Daschle's staff called foul on Neal Tapio of Sioux Falls when the potential Republican Senate candidate ran a full-page ad and another half-page ad in the Aberdeen American News last week.

The week before, Tapio issued a news release criticizing Daschle for airing television ads as early as 17 months before the 2004 election.

Daschle spokesman Dan Pfeiffer asked why it is OK for Tapio's ads to say Daschle has lost touch with his Aberdeen roots and complained about Daschle's position on judicial nominations, abortion, taxes and war but not OK for Daschle to run ads promoting ethanol.

Tapio said his ads promoted a July 17 meeting hosted by area Republicans, but Daschle's ads were intended to "shore up support." And Tapio draws a distinction between newspaper and TV.

"If his campaign is worried about my ad, in one paper, which took four hours to put together, he is more vulnerable than I even thought," Tapio said. "There is a big difference in a Washington politician using Clinton/Gore pollsters, consultants and focus groups to craft television ads 18 months before an election and a 32-year-old spending his own money to invite people to meet him for the first time."


posted by Jason | 10:06 PM

Roll Call has breaking news that Rob Regier and his group, the Daschle Accountability Project, have begun a direct-mail fundraising appeal comparing Tom Daschle to Jacques Chirac and Al Sharpton. Naturally, the Argus Leader jumped to cover this story. It's remarkable how the Argus Leader can cover the fundraising efforts of conservatives with such alacrity, but be very lackadaisical with reporting such items as Tom Daschle being out in San Francisco this past weekend appearing before the Association of Trial Lawyers of America, who are among his biggest contributors, in order to get a pat on the head for effectively filibustering malpractice reform. Roll Call broke the story about the Daschle Accountability Project's mailing at 3:08 PM yesterday. Mike Madden must have worked feverishly to get this story to the presses in time for today's edition of the Argus Leader. When will we see a story in the Argus Leader about Daschle's visit to San Francisco at the behest of the trial lawyers, in the wake of Tom Daschle killing malpractice reform? That's a solid and legitimate story, but we'll probably never see it. Once again, the axiom holds true: what is NOT reported is just as important as what IS reported.

posted by Jason | 12:50 AM

Monday, July 21, 2003  

HOME-BUILDING BOOM IN LINCOLN COUNTY: The rate of home-building in Lincoln county is chugging along according to a local Virginia paper:

In Lincoln County, near Sioux Falls, the number of homes grew 8 percent--a surprising leap to people in the I-95 corridor, maybe, but not to those in South Dakota.

"We're just like any metro area," said Jeff Eckhoff of the Sioux Falls Development Association, which partners with Lincoln County on development issues. "Mornings and afternoons, people commute in, and the lines of cars come from all over."

While Lincoln County tops Stafford and Spotsylvania in the percentage of new homes, it can't match up in sheer numbers. The South Dakota county added 798 homes from July 2001 to July 2002, the Census report says.

posted by Jason | 11:52 PM

FROM THE CHICAGO TRIBUNE: Minority Demos find using Bush's missteps against him isn't easy. Excerpt:

The uranium furor -- coupled with the turmoil in postwar Iraq and the sputtering economy -- for the first time may give Democrats a chance to dent Bush's popularity.
Senate Democratic Leader Tom Daschle, of South Dakota, insists they can do that, even without the well-lighted stage of congressional hearings.
"I feel good over the course of the last few days that we have been getting our message across," Daschle said. "Right now, the media are focused on intelligence and what the facts were before we went to war against Iraq. That has provided an opening and opportunity to talk about the concerns we've had for months."

What concerns would those be? Tom Daschle said at the end of the war that WMD did not need to be found to justify the war. So why is Tom Daschle now worried about what the facts were before we went to war against Iraq? According to Daschle's own words, it was enough to free the people of Iraq from tyranny. Or perhaps Tom Daschle just said that WMD didn't need to be found in an effort to repair the damage from his intemperate remarks on the eve of the war. Now that Daschle's intemperate remarks are a fading memory, he thinks he's free to criticize the president in a consequence-free environment. And sadly, he's probably right.

posted by Jason | 11:41 PM

DASCHLE, SAN FRANCISCO, AND TRIAL LAWYERS: Tom Daschle paid homage yesterday to his biggest contributors at the annual convention of the Association of Trial Lawyers of America, being held in San Francisco. Excerpt from the ATLA brochure:

8:00 AM-9:00 AM
Opening Plenary
All Convention Attendees Welcome!
Guest Speaker: U.S. Senate Democratic Leader Thomas A. Daschle (D-SD)
A great friend of the trial bar, and a true champion of civil justice, Tom Daschle is a respected and accomplished leader in the nation’s capital. As the Senate Democratic Leader, Daschle has been a tireless fighter for working families. All convention attendees are invited to join Senator Daschle as he speaks to the future of civil justice at the opening plenary of the ATLA Convention. He will be available for questions
and answers following his remarks. Complimentary coffee will be available.

Yes, trial lawyers, be sure to thank Tom Daschle for killing malpractice reform, and causing doctors to cease delivering babies for working families because the cost of malpractice insurance premiums is so high. Great job, Tom Daschle! The trial lawyers are getting a great return on their investment!
For more details, click here.

posted by Jason | 7:07 PM

Sunday, July 20, 2003  

KRANZ WATCH: Once again David Kranz, the dean of South Dakota political reporters (or the "Jack Germond of South Dakota political reporters," another phrase coined by liberal blogger Josh Marshall), continues to report on his college buddy Tom Daschle with a story in today's edition of the Argus Leader. The story is on a GOP commissioned poll showing Daschle leading Thune 46-40. It's interesting how David Kranz is suddenly interested in GOP commissioned polls that show Tom Daschle with a significant lead over John Thune, and how Kranz does a full-scale analysis of this news. David Kranz never spilled a drop of ink on the Wall Street Journal poll a few months ago that showed Tom Daschle had a mere 17% approval rating nationwide. Once again, David Kranz reflects his method: what is NOT reported about Tom Daschle is just as important as what IS reported. The key excerpt from today's piece:

Moran thinks Daschle Republicans will decline on Election Day. He calls it a tough sell for Republicans who now support Daschle to vote first for President Bush and then vote for Daschle, who would go back to the Senate and block everything the president supports.

In addition, it will be a tough sell for Tom Daschle to talk about being the Democratic Leader if he is re-elected in 2004. The only way he can retain his leadership status is if returns as the majority leader. These days, no sober commentator would predict that Senate Democrats will regain the majority. If Senate Democrats are still in the minority after the election of 2004, and Tom Daschle is re-elected, look for Hillary Clinton to replace Tom Daschle as the Democratic Leader.

David Kranz seems to want report the news generated from a conservative perspective this week, but he didn't report the following items because they place Tom Daschle in a poor light:

1) Tom Daschle killed malpractice reform with a filibuster, no doubt at the behest of his trial lawyer contributors.

2) The Byron York piece in The Hill, puncturing Tom Daschle's claim that 119 of 121 of Bush's nominees have been approved. York also points out that while Tom Daschle was the majority leader, only half of Bush's nominees were approved. Also, the Rapid City Journal and the Argus Leader editorial pages have urged Daschle to lift the filibuster on judicial nominees, as has the South Dakota legislature.

3) The report by Jeff Gannon of Tom Daschle's intimidation tactics in the state of South Dakota.

4) Former White House speechwriter David Frum's assertion that Tom Daschle tried to put an end to the weekly presidential meetings with the four congressional leaders:

[A]s early as the spring of 2002, Daschle actually tried to put an end to the weekly presidential meetings with the four congressional leaders.

Daschle found those meetings intolerable. He did not want to be informed and consulted and included because he would then have to share responsibility.

Tom Daschle constantly talks about his "clout" in the Senate, but it seems he has been trying to sabotage his own clout for political advantage. Recall that it was during this same time-period that Daschle was whining about not being consulted by the president.

In sum, David Kranz delivers another piece in his role as South Dakota's cheerleader-in-chief for Tom Daschle, while ignoring all of the stories in the past week or so that reflect poorly on Tom Daschle. All in all, a classic Kranz piece.

posted by Jason | 12:43 PM
Ungarnered Praise
Talon News Series on Argus Leader Bias