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, August 09, 2003  

AS BAD A BLOGGER AS HE IS A SENATOR: If you haven't already, read Powerline's recent post about the new Club for Growth ad and Tom Daschle's blogging ability.

posted by Jason | 11:58 PM

TIES THAT BIND: The Washington Post had an article this week about the families of lawmakers becoming lobbyists: The Ties That Bind on Capitol Hill. I would remind readers that the Argus Leader's Mike Madden had a thorough report on this phenomenon weeks ago, and that Jeff Gannon beat them all with this report.

posted by Jason | 11:41 PM

DASCHLE TAKES A HIT, KRANZ SEETHES: It's been pure entertainment to watch the hyperventilation from the Daschle-Kranz crowd regarding the Club for Growth's latest ad. First, David Kranz, the dean of South Dakota political reporters, reported on the new ad in Thursday's edition of the Argus Leader, with the outraged headline "Group again runs anti-Daschle ads." Then today, Kranz tries to fan a flickering flame of scandal with a piece entitled "Use of tune in ad fuels controversy." The Daschle people are desperately trying to prevent the ad from running by "respectfully" requesting that television stations pull it. Now the new tactic is to enlist Crosby, Stills & Nash in claiming a copyright violation. Yeah, that's the ticket.

UPDATE: Legal Affairs has an interesting piece on copyright law: The Copyright Cage.

ANOTHER UPDATE: The New York Times Magazine has an interesting profile of Stephen Moore: Fight Club.

posted by Jason | 11:22 PM

Thursday, August 07, 2003  

Two law professors, who teach both constitutional law and internet law, have now weighed in on the defamation lawsuit of former Senator James Abourezk (you know, Tom Daschle's mentor) against the website First, University of Tennessee law professor Glenn Reynolds' take on Abourezk:

He was an undistinguished U.S. Senator, whose term in office is remembered by few and celebrated, I suspect, by none. Right now he's cementing his place in history as an exceptionally dumb former U.S. Senator by filing a rather baseless lawsuit against a blog for calling him a "traitor."

My prediction: when it's over, Abourezk will be out some money, and those few who remember him will say "Oh, yeah, the 'traitor' guy." Not much of a capstone for a political career, but some will regard it as fitting, in a way.

UCLA law professor Eugene Volokh also weighs in:

James Abourezk, a former U.S. Senator from South Dakota (for whom, incidentally, Tom Daschle used to work back in the 1970s), is suing the operator of for calling him a "traitor." If he can show that he's not guilty of the crime of treason, and the site operator knew that the "traitor" allegation was therefore false, then he'll win, yes?

Well, no. "Traitor" is sometimes a factual allegation (this person performed certain actions that constituted the crime of treason), but it's often just a statement of opinion that "I think this person isn't patriotic enough." And the law recognizes that the same word may mean different things in different contexts. If the word will be understood by the reasonable reader as a factual allegation, then the accusation may be libelous (if it's false). But if it will be understood as a value judgment, with no embedded false factual claims, then the accusation isn't punishable.

The Supreme Court has explicitly held this, in Letter Carriers v. Austin, and also (as to allegations of "blackmail") in Greenbelt Pub. Ass'n v. Bresler.

Also, don't miss Jeff Gannon's background reporting on this story. Note: this former Senator is suing a 20-year-old kid for blogging!

posted by Jason | 10:23 PM

Wednesday, August 06, 2003  

Posting will be sparse over the next few days, as I'm off to Sturgis for the Rally. Meanwhile, make sure to check the links to the right.

posted by Jason | 7:39 AM

PRESS EVERY ADVANTAGE: Jeff Gannon connects some interesting dots in his latest piece, revealing Democratic hypocrisy on the issue of homosexuality. The piece also reveals that the Democrats will press every advantage, no matter how unsavory, to win elections. But we already knew that.

posted by Jason | 7:37 AM

Tuesday, August 05, 2003  

DASCHLE'S UNFAVORABLES HIGHER THAN FAVORABLES: Byron York, writing for the Hill, reports on the latest in a series of disappointing developments for Tom Daschle. Now a CNN/Gallup poll has Daschle as the only congressional leader with an unfavorable rating higher than his favorable rating. Excerpt:

“People in South Dakota are flat-out disgruntled with the position that Sen. Daschle has taken against the president,” said Randy Frederick, chairman of the South Dakota Republican Party. “Democrats have blocked this, and they’ve blocked that, but they don’t point to anything positive where they tried to move the nation in the right direction.”

In particular, Frederick pointed to a statement Daschle made in March, just before the war in Iraq. “I am saddened, saddened that this president failed so miserably at diplomacy that we’re now forced to war,” Daschle said. “Saddened that we have to give up one life because this president couldn’t create the kind of diplomatic effort that was so critical for our country.”

“People have not forgotten that,” said Frederick.

And then there’s Daschle’s loss of clout. Being Senate majority leader was a big part of his appeal to South Dakotans last year.

During Sen. Tim Johnson’s (D-S.D.) reelection race, Daschle told audiences that a vote for Johnson was also a vote for Tom Daschle as majority leader.

It didn’t quite work out that way.

posted by Jason | 10:05 PM

DASCHLE MUST BE SADDENED AND DISAPPOINTED: Fritz Hollings is retiring from the Senate. This makes it even more unlikely to most observers that Tom Daschle will ever again become majority leader. Most observers that is, except for David Kranz, the dean of South Dakota political reporters, who only weeks ago spun about the likelihood of Tom Daschle again becoming majority leader. Kranz's report drew a lot of eyerolls for saying the Dems were merely at disadavantage "on paper."

posted by Jason | 7:55 AM

Monday, August 04, 2003  

ABOUREZK V. PROBUSH.COM UPDATE: You can now access's brief in support of its 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss by clicking here (pdf file). For background information, read the Progressive's "McCarthyism Watch." Abourezk's complaint can be accessed here (pdf file).

posted by Jason | 8:55 PM

Sunday, August 03, 2003  

KRANZ WATCH: David Kranz, the dean of South Dakota political reporters, reports on former South Dakota GOP chair Joel Rosenthal's effort to recruit conservatives to run for local government positions throughout the state. Kranz drops a few names in his report:

Doug Beck, Mitchell
Brenda Dreyer, Huron;
Char Haar, Washington, D.C.
Linda Henry, Rapid City
Dustin Johnson, Mitchell
Tom Muenster, Vermillion
Gabe Mydland, Brookings
Laura Schoen, Pierre

David Kranz has written extensive profiles of conservative figures in South Dakota for the Sunday Argus Leader (Paul Erickson and Leslie Unruh). I wonder if we'll ever see him write a profile on any one of the people named above?

Speaking of Paul Erickson, Kranz also has a few paragraphs about Erickson's recent speech before the College Republican convention:

Salon, an online news magazine, reported that Paul Erickson, conservative Republican activist from Sioux Falls also spoke.

(Emphasis added). In this small paragraph we catch a glimpse of Kranz's liberal bias. Salon is not just an "online news magazine," it's a LIBERAL online news magazine. The Salon article Kranz cites can be read here. The tone of the Salon article is evident from the very first sentence:

Just as presidential Svengali Karl Rove, dressed in a light-gray suit and mint-green striped tie, began to speak Friday at a gala dinner for college Republicans in Washington, piercing whistles sounded.

It's really evenhanded to be calling Karl Rove a person who, with evil intent, tries to persuade another to do what is desired.

But David Kranz is always quick to point out the political leanings of such publications as the Weekly Standard. When Weekly Standard writer J. Bottum reported on Bishop Carlson telling Tom Daschle to stop calling himself a Catholic, Kranz wrote the following in a piece dated 4/18/2003:

The Weekly Standard, a conservative Washington publication, reported in an opinion article Thursday that Carlson, bishop of the Sioux Falls Catholic Diocese, wrote the Senate minority leader a letter saying he may no longer identify himself as a member of the religion.

(Emphasis added). If David Kranz were an objective observer, as he holds himself out to be, he would have mentioned that Salon is a liberal newsmagazine, and that the piece he cites is an opinion piece. As it is, the average reader gets the impression that Salon does not have a partisan agenda. Conversely, in Kranz's piece about the Weekly Standard, Kranz makes certain that the reader knows about the Weekly Standard's partisan agenda. There's nothing wrong with Kranz pointing out a publication's political leanings. There IS something wrong with him only pointing out the political leanings of conservative publications, and failing to point out the political leanings of liberal publications.

posted by Jason | 2:10 PM
Ungarnered Praise
Talon News Series on Argus Leader Bias