Northern Valley Beacon

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Monday, October 31, 2005


Sammy's grinning olfactory tour of the Capitol

Did YOUUUUU do that?

I hope to God nobody says, "Who died?"

Don't ever, ever try "It must be the geese up there" on an old fart like me.

You keep that up and you won't even get into the hearing chamber.

That was a real good one, Sammy. We all enjoy a Alito ventilation humor now and again.


We support our troops: 90 dead in October; 2025 to date

BAGHDAD, Iraq — Six American soldiers were killed in separate attacks Monday and a Marine died in action the day before, making October the deadliest month for U.S. troops in Iraq since January. U.S. jets struck insurgent targets near the Syrian border and at least six people were killed.

Read a full account in the Star Tribune.


Alito nomination is an attempt at misdirection, among other things

Right off the bat, the news media went ballistic on the nomination of Samuel A. Alito (aka Scalito) to the Supreme Court. Even National Public Radio on its Morning Edition devoted all its time to this nomination, as if nothing else was happening in the nation and the world.

Everybody knows that the ultra-regressives snatched a hold on the Bush scrotum during the Harriet Miers grab-ass fest and they squeezed until he was forced to say "Scalito." What few brain cells that are viable in the Bush dome signaled that Scalito's ultra-regressive stance will so agitate the progressives that the media will prattle and roll and the Democrats will prattle and bitch, and leaking Libby, the attempted conjugal crucifixion of Joe Wilson, the war on Iraq in which six more U.S. soldiers were killed today, Sen. Frist's outside frisk in insider trading, Tom DeLay's laundry business, and the 9th week of not letting Katrina victims know what the government intends to do will be submerged by progressive outrage over Scalito.

If the White House manages to shift the focus off all its incompetence and subterfuge to Alito, it will have succeeded in one of the most massive abortions of democratic process. In rhetorical jargon, the tactic is called misdirection.

To get America back to something like America, progressives will have to stop looking for roses to smell and take a good, deep whiff of the aromas emanating from the halls of leadership. And after they get done wretching, maybe they can get serious about cleaning up the mess. If the White House has to devote needed energy and resources to dealing with its messes, as it should, the Alito nomination may produce the kind of hearings that will show the people exactly who this man is.

Sunday, October 30, 2005


The upholder of American values taking a dive

From the latest Washington Post-ABC News poll:

By a ratio of 3 to 1, those surveyed said the level of honesty in government has declined during Bush's tenure.

The poll also had only a 39 percent approval rating for the President, the lowest for that particular poll.


While Halliburton prospers, Louisiana firms can't get contracts

With almost 300,000 workers thrown out of jobs by hurricane Katrina, Louisiana contractors are complaining that the federal government will not give them contracts for the clean-up work.

According to them, the major contracts are going to Halliburton, the company formerly headed by Dick Cheney. Halliurton has billions of dollars of contracts in Iraq and has been awarded the major reconstruction contracts in Louisiana.

The complaints were made at a rally in support of giving Louisiana workers opportunity to be major participants in the rebuilding. Read the whole story in the Washington Post by clicking on the headline above.

Saturday, October 29, 2005


Dick Cheney emerges as source of retaliations

Both the Washington Post and The New York Times are carrying lengthy accounts of how Vice President Dick Cheney led the charge to go after critics of the war on Iraq. The accounts find that Cheney was particularly obsessed with former ambassador Joseph C. Wilson's account of the way the country was misinformed on Iraq's quest for nuclear weapons. Wilson's wife, Valerie Plame Wilson, was outed as a CIA undercover operative, and many observers believe it was in retaliation for Wilson's ciriticism of the war on Iraq.

While Cheney's chief of staff "Scooter" Libby has been indicted on charges stemming from misinformation he gave to a grand jury, the real question of who leaked Valerie Plame's name has not been uncovered. Whoever did the actual betrayal, Cheney seems more and more like the motive force behind it.


Just who IS responsible for health care?

Asks Nathan Newman at TPM Cafe:

When Wal-Mart's trucks break down, no one expects the government to pay to repair them. Wal-Mart pays to fix them and the costs are included in the price of the goods they sell.

Yet moderate Democrats apparently think that when workers get sick, companies don't have the responsibility to "repair" their workers. The new talking points from think tank Washington -- echoing what Ezra says -- is that it's not Wal-Mart's responsibility to take care of sick workers:
The controversy over Wal-Mart's benefits may mask what some experts see as an unraveling of the employer-based system of health coverage. "These are indications of the gaps in the health care system that are exposed by Wal-Mart," said Len Nichols, a health economist at the New America Foundation, an independent public policy group in Washington. "You can't blame Wal-Mart."

So it's nice to know that when we on the labor left mobilizing against Wal-Mart feel the knife in our back, we know who put it there.

Click the link to read the whole story by Nathan Newman.

Friday, October 28, 2005


Janklow nominated for Supreme Court

Sources at the $1-A-Month Club, Professor Bob in particular, said that the Bush administration is working behind the scenes to reinstate Bill Janklow's law license so that he can be nominated to the U.S. Supreme Court.

George W. was tracked down for comment as he and Harriet Miers headed for Camp David to refine their strategy. Speaking from behind Ms. Miers skirt, but not intelligibly, as usual, he said that he wants to appoint someone with experience in a wide range of issues. "Bill Janklow has more issues than any other candidate I can think of," said Pres. Bush. "Shut up, Georgie," said Ms. Miers. "You've done and said enough." And she dragged him into the helicopter with the dog leash usually used by Dick Cheney. "Are you serving as the Vice President?" asked one reporter. Miers paused on the steps. "Remember what the Vice President said to Sen. Leahy? Well, same to you." The rest of her statement was cut off by the roar of the helicopter.

Sen. Thune was asked if he had a role in the nomination of Janklow. "Georgie never consults me on anything anymore." Asked if he supported the Janklow nomination, Thune said, "I really have to look at his record, if the White House will release it. I have concerns. That hussy was friendly with Tom Daschle, and that may be too extreme for the people in my state, to say nothing of the cattle. And the horsies. And the mountain lions...."

His statement was cut off when a man named Wadhams stuffed a dead pheasant in his mouth.


Wiping out Israel and reading "Lolita"

During the homecoming weekend for NSU last month, a big topic of discussion was the book Reading Lolita in Tehran. Former students had told me I could not call myself literate unless I read it. They have a point.

The book is by Azar Nafisi who taught English literature at universities in Iran and now teaches at John Hopkins. Prof. Nafisi was expelled from the University of Tehran because the Islamic rulers did not find her subservient enough. The book is account of her teaching experiences, the most important of which occured when she and a group of women students met for two years every Thursday morning in her home to discuss works of literature.

The works included Vladimir Nabokov's Lolita, which may seem like a risky choice to be reading in the immensely oppressive revolutionary Iran. Prof. Nafisi relates how important literature is and how it works as the intellectual material and catalyst to obtain pespectives and form values about political and social issues. She restores the purpose and function of literature in a way much needed in our time when fundamentalist militants have repressive designs for all of us.

Perhaps one of the most important things the book does is delineate the violent oppression that has held Iran in its grip since the revolution of 1979. The American press has let us know of how repressive the Taliban regime was in Afghanistan, but it has not told the free world that the same thing is going on in Iran, often worse. For a professor from America to hear how students are arrested and executed for slight exhibitions of individual personality or being associated with any circumstance that displeases the Islamic tyrants, it is jolting. The accounts given in Reading Lolita in Tehran indicate that the repressions and killing are as ruthless and atrocious as anything we have heard and read about in the former Soviet Union.

That Iran bases its pogrom against its people on religion instead of politics does not mitigate the crimes it commits against its people. Still, the press seems to regard what takes place there as an expression of freedom of religion.

Even after 9-11, Americans are inclined to treat Islamic criminals against humanity differently than Marxist or fascist terrorists. Christianity is based on peace and good will, even though few of its denominations preach or practice its fundamental principles. Islam is not a religion of peace and good will. And nothing illustrates that fact better than the president of Iran repeating Khomeini's charge to wipe Israel off the face of the earth.

Iran is no different than Nazi Germany and its holocaust. It is no different than the Soviet Union during its most violent repressions under Stalin.

The world needs to know and understand Iran. There is no better beginning than Azar Nafisi's Reading Lolita in Tehran. And the free world, at least that portion of it that still endorses peace and good will as worthy attributes to pursue and project, needs to come to terms with what threats are posed to the rest of the world by the Islamic hate jihad.

Doing what we have done in Iraq is obviously no answer. It is time for America to martial its brain power, not its military bluster. It's what we did in 1776. And 1865. And during and following World War II.

If we don't, Israel may well be wiped off the face of the earth. And us, too.

The brains are out there. Maybe somebody somewhere can find the brains to use them.

Thursday, October 27, 2005


Oh, my God, the incompetent bitch actually said people should be given chances at equality

One had to have one's cranial parts irretreviably welded into the GOP annal apparatus not to notice when the voices against Harriet Miers got vicious, strident, desperate.

When no documents were forthcoming detailing her position on issues, the mainstream media--the bane of neo-regressives--began digging up speeches and position papers and the like. Harriet Miers, it turns out, was soft on civil rights. She actually indicated that she thought, maybe, that equal opportunity measures were warranted in the name of reparation for moral wrongs and fairness. And that is when the neo-regressives turned up the heat and even started running ads against Ms. Miers.

The Democrats are not blameless in this. They kept diddling around with Roe v. Wade while the real question about what the neo-regressives want to change is ignored. A classic case of misdirection.

What are in real jeopardy are the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments to the Constitution. That is where the rhetoric against Ms. Mier unmistakably points.


Rosa Parks and the bus boycott

By the time that Rosa Parks refused to give in to segregation and relinquish her seat on a bus to a white man, an elaborate and complicated network for achieving civil rights was in place. The day she declined to give up her seat was December 1, 1955.

In an age when most knowledge is transmitted through 30-second sound bites and shallow blogging, the actual work and circumstances of civil rights are lost. Most people think the Civil Rights Movement was a phenomenon of the 1960s. It was firmly planted in the 1950s, and that is when the movers, such as Rosa Parks, did the most important work.

When Rosa Parks was arrested and fined, a boycott against the buses in Montgomery, Alabama, was begun. It did not just happen. Effective boycotts need planning and implementation. In Alabama of that time, black people were dependent upon bus transportation. They knew that if they boycotted the bus service, the effects would be felt economically. But they needed alternative means of getting around to get to work and do their business. And that is where the planning and the implementation came in.

Martin Luther King, Jr., was the leader who came into Montgomery and helped show the people what was needed to make the boycott work. Without that boycott, we would most likely not even know who Rosa Parks was today.

Desegregation and the end of Jim Crow actually had its origins when Pres. Harry Truman signed an executive order to end segregation in the military service. Not until the Korean War, however, did some generals take up the cause of desegregation and start putting an end to military units that were composed of one race. It was a fight. It was resisted. But veterans who came out of the Korean War were ready to help and carry the fight against Jim Crow into the streets of America. They fought with a bus boycott in Montgomery, Alabama.

Then came the Supreme Court decision in 1954 proclaiming that school segregation was against the law of the land. When Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat, she knew that the law was beginning to form support for causes such as hers.

Rosa Parks, a civil rights activist before she was arrested on that bus, had the courage and the understanding of what was at issue to be an effective rallying person. But she was part of a carefully thought-out and planned movement to bring liberty and equality to people from whom it was denied.

Rosa Parks was effective because of she was carrying forward the legacy of Harry Truman, black Korean War veterans, Martin Luther King, and the thousands of people who, like her, stood up in resistance to Jim Crow.

Oddly, the political party of Abraham Lincoln, who began the quest for citizenship and civil rights for black America, was the most condemning of Rosa Parks and the bus boycott. Most people have forgotten that. I haven't. It was one of the stances over which I eventually changed parties.
And I'd do it again, if the party I belong to cannot muster the will and the courage to stand up against current injustices, like the war on Iraq.


Dummer than fence posts

First of all, I have trouble with using the word "dumb" to mean "stupid."

"Dumb" refers to the inability to talk. It has a "b" on the end, that few people pronounce. Over the years, people confused the word "dumb" with the word that sounds just like it when you don't prounce the "b." In German, the the word is "dumm," as in "dummkopf," and as in "dummy." In Scandinavian languages, the word is "dimm," as in a head where the lights don't go on.

Secondly, we made it policy not to mention other blogs unless circumstances are unusual. We try not to be redundant with other blogs. But mostly we can't stand the kind of cutesy-pie, self-sucking camaradie that bloggers emit when they go into their "oh-we-are-precious-little-bloggers-all-together" mode. I don't know how to say this. Yes, I do. If I wanted to be a fucking mouseketeer I'd be at Disneyland. And yes, I use that word a lot. It has many occasions. It does not always have to do with sexual intercourse. It also denotes the act of happily making a mess of things. You can trace that denotation from Old English.

I am breaking the rule about mentioning other blogs because of some real demonstrations of dumm. Clean Cut Kid, who is not dumm, had a post about Dick Cheney, who is. The thread got into the really, really dumm war on Iraq. My wife and I were informed through some testy e-mails that we were featured in the one of the comments. Mrs. N. was office manager for the Daschle Aberdeen field office.

The comment made the assertion that the Tom Daschle staff referred to South Dakotans as "local yokels." Now, that statement is dumm. If anyone on his staff had referred to the Senator's constituents in that manner, they would be on the staff no longer. Sen. Daschle required impeccable behavior from his staff members and refused no constituent respectful service, no matter how dumm they might be. And the staff never made any general observations about the mental acuity of voters.

That's my job.

The anonymous commenter is a skulking coward and a true dummkopf. The question is not merely a matter of not having much wattage going through the brain cells. There are many low-watt bulbs out there who illuminate life with character and good will. What is troubling about some people in the political spectrum is that they make things up, like Daschle staff members calling the voters "local yokels." Then, they believe in their lies. And then, they use those lies to justify doing obscene and atrocious things to other members of the human race--such as in the war on Iraq.

They are not merely dumm. They are like domesticated dogs gone feral, getting their thrills from sheep-killing orgies or their verbal equivalents.

You want dumm? Just read some of the regressive right-wing blogs. If you can stand it.


Busy week for Brown County Democrats

Here is the schedule of events for BCDs during the next few days:

Thursday, Oct. 27: Brown County Democrats October meeting, 7 p.m. at the Brown County Courthouse meeting rooms. Reports, turkey dinner arrangements on the agenda.

Friday, Oct 28: Dollar- A- Month meets 11:30 a.m – 1 p.m. at the Pizza Ranch. State Rep. Paul Dennert, member of the joint appropriations committee, will report on the special session that provided funding for the Homestake Goldmine conversion to a science and engineering lab. Reports from county, state, federal offices.

Saturday, Oct 29: Stephanie Herseth Harvest Festival at Tacoma Park Place, 6:30 – 8 p.m.
Special Guests:
Congressman John Tanner (TN-8)
Congressman Collin Peterson (MN-7)
Congressman Marion Berry (AR-1)
Congressman Mike Thompson (CA-1)

Fundraiser is $50 per person.

Friday, Nov. 11, Annual Turkey Dinner and Auction, 5:30 p.m. at the Eagles Club, Aberdeen. We will also have a special recognition for veterans this year. Our special guests will be
Sen. Tim Johnson
Rep. Stephanie Herseth

We supply the turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes, gravy, and rolls. Bring a salad, vegetable, or dessert dish to pass. (Actually to set on the table and let others dig in.)

There will be door prizes and drawings.

Bring a veteran, a dish to pass, and an item or two for the auction.

If you need someone to pick up items for the auction, call Gary Job at 229-5143. He will haul items or come and pick items for those who cannot make the event.


Wednesday, October 26, 2005


Update: Under pressure, White House reverses itself on lower wages for Katrina rebuilders

Rep. George Miller explained today the strategy that kept the White House from exempting workers rebuilding after Katrina from wage requirements. See below.

In a move that angered laboring people, the White House backed off on a decision not to pay hurricane workers the prevailing wages in the Gulf states. The Washington Post reports:

The White House reversed course today and reinstated a key wage protection for workers doing Hurricane Katrina reconstruction, bowing to pressure from a group of moderate House Republicans who argued that local residents were being left out of the recovery and that the Gulf Coast was becoming a magnet for illegal immigrants.

The Bush administration had decided in the days after Katrina devastated the region to waive the Davis-Bacon Act, a Depression-era law that guarantees construction workers the prevailing local wage when they're being paid with federal tax dollars. At the time, the administration insisted the waiver on hurricane-related work would save the government money and speed recovery efforts.

Read Rep. George Miller's account of the legislative maneuvering that caused the reversal.


Cindy Sheehan opposes Hillary Clinton

The sentiment that anyone in Congress who voted for the war on Iraq should be voted out of office received another boost today from Cindy Sheehan. She is urging New Yorkers not to support Sen. Clinton: "I believe that any candidate who supports the war should not receive our support," Ms. Sheehan told The Associated Press in an interview. "It doesn't matter if they're Senator Clinton or whoever."

One of the lead weapons inspectors in Iraq, Scott Ritter, a Republican, said last week in a television interview that any congress person who voted for the war should be voted out because they failed to do their job of insuring that the Bush administration reasons for the war were valid.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005


Eating pussy

The open season on hunting mountain lions closed in the Black Hills today because the limit on killing fuckable females was reached. Er, ah, in wildlife biology parlance the term is breeding-age females.

The hunting season on mountain lions is based upon the testimony of some folks who claim they predate upon lambs, calves, children, and intelligent designers. Predate is a verb that does not relate to putting a date on a check that is earlier than the day on which it was written or having a trial date with a member of the opposite or same sex to see if they have present-date potential. It relates to one creature eating creatures it regards as prey. Few people are willing to admit that we have a mountain lion hunting season because some people get immense enjoyment out of blasting the ass off of big frigging felines.

I have no problem with paring the asses off of predators with buckshot or bullets. I was raised in farm country. When the chickens gave their restive cackles in the middle of the night, I experienced the drill of rushing outside, grabbing the 12-gauge off the rack in the bath house, and blasting some predatory raccoon or skunk through the chicken-coop wall, knowing that the wall would have to be replaced first thing in the morning. Or when the angry barking and squealing of sows came from the hog pasture (we kept hogs in fields in those days), I knew the drill of grabbing a rifle from the bath house rack to dispatch a fox or two that had dinner plans for piglets.

You ask, why were firearms kept in the bath house? And what the hell is a bath house? Well, back in those days we had utility sheds, not utility rooms. The utility shed had one room for the cream separator, one to store the woodstoves in during the summer, and one for doing laundry and bathing. The latter had a very efficient woodstove for heating up water for laundry and bathing. In the summer, the house was kept much cooler by doing those chores in the bathhouse. In the winter, it provided privacy during the weekly acts of cleansing one’s private parts, because the house did not have a bathroom.

The guns were racked in the bath house because they were regarded as agricultural implements, which need cleaning and to be kept in a clean environment. The bath house was the unit closest to the gate to the barnyard, so as one ran out of the house, one could grab a weapon with no time lost. I still recall that the smell of cleanliness that surrounded one while bathing was a mixture of grandma’s lye soap and gun powder. I think the fire arms were stored in the bath house, also, because grandma’s soap could take the skin off your ass as efficiently as a load of upland game shot. Too much time in the galvanized tub took a toll on the epidermis. Bath houses were set up to discourage the wasting of time and water. Not until my brothers and I hooked up a shower over the basement drain in our house in town did we luxuriate with deodorant soap and dreams of how our irresistible fragrance would subdue the world. Well, maybe a date or two. Predated or not.

When we did lead to the demise of a predator, we disposed of the remains by burying them in the garden or the orchard. I remember the strawberries where we had a mass burial for a whole bunch of ravenous raccoons as winning purple ribbons and gluttony awards throughout the county.

But that departs a bit from why people shoot mountain lions. That they are predators, no one can quarrel with. Mountain lions are carnivores. A cattle herd or a sheep flock is like a 7-11 convenience store to them. As one who likes veal and lamb, I cannot fault them for patronizing their local 7-11.

However, I wonder how many people who filled their mountain lion tags this year were out there defending their calves, their lambs, their piglets, or their children from a big ol’ nasty-assed kitty.

Another reason for hunting is trophies. I have seen few mountain lion heads mounted on trophy walls. Trophies are boring. Few people are impressed by how many dumb animals someone with the latest in optics and firepower can take out. I wish those hunters who claim to be a part of the balancing act in nature would aim at the f-wording face flies that invade my cabin every fall.

And the final justification for shooting mountain lions is food. Thank God, I have no fellow hunters who have called up and said, “I just put a mountain lion steak on the grill. Would you like to come over?” Most of my friends who shoot deer do not know how to cook the steaks into something edible. They make bridge girders out of them. If we could pave the interstates with their deer steaks, we could have a road surface that would last into the 22nd century.

Is there any circumstance under which I or anyone else in the semi-civilized world of South Dakota would eat a wild pussy?

That question is one for the linguistic professors like Noam Chomsky to take on.

May the big kitties who lost their lives this season rest in peace. I hope their spirits are not vengeful.


U.S. military asks media not to report 2,000th death in Iraq as milestone

As CNN reported that American troops hit their 2000th death in Iraq, military leaders asked the media not to report it as a significant benchmark in the body count. Read the account here.

Embedding takes on new nuances with each passing day--and soldier.

Monday, October 24, 2005


Press Review: At the mercy of incompetence

I know there are a lot of really bad newspapers out there. By bad, I don't mean that their political orientation does not coincide with mine. I mean that the reporting is bad, the writing is bad, the editing is bad. They are simply incompetent.

I regret that I live in a region where the major newspaper sucks so bad that that it makes that particular verb a complement. And there are no alternative electronic news operations that can provide a little coverage to motivate the miserable rag to try harder--which seemed to be the case when radio and television did report on local and regional affairs every day.

In its mission statement for its parent company, Knight Ridder, the Aberdeen American News says its goal is to be the dominant source of news in the region. Well, it has managed the "dominant" part. It has real problems with the "source of news" part.

Example of how badly the American News is edited:

The number two story on the front page of Saturday's edition had the headline "Opportunity squandered." The story was a report on the South Dakota Board of Regents Opportunity scholarship program after its first year of operation. The sub-head explained, "State scholarship program losing students quickly."

The scholarship is set up to provide about 1,000 students who qualify with ACT scores and high school grades $5,000 over four years. During the first year, 841 students received the scholarship. Twenty-seven percent of them, 227, did not qualify for the second year. Forty left school, 73 failed to complete the minimum of 15 credit hours a semester; and 114 failed to maintain the 3.0 grade point average (B) for the year. For 2005, the Regents expected to have 1,029 students on the scholarship, but had only 849. The number returning from the first year is 614.

The story is written from the standpoint that the scholarship program is bombing.

On Sunday, the American News ran the same story but with an upbeat perspective. However, this time it was buried on page 5 of the B section. The headline says, "Regents pleased with scholarship program." The subhead states, "Over 800 incoming freshman qualified for state-funded monies." The story goes on to state that 95 percent of last year's recipients stayed in South Dakota colleges. That sort of coincides with the previous day's story which quotes a Regent as saying that even if the students lost their scholarship, they are staying in school.

But note that the first story is written on the premise that the numbers are bad. The second story is written on the premise that they are good. No comparative data with other such programs is offered so that anyone seems to know whether the numbers are good or bad. The two stories do not emphasize merely the news. They emphasize the spin that their writers put on them. And that is not news writing. It is propaganda writing.

But such kind of reporting and writing is the daily stuff that the 16,000 people who read the American News each day are given as news. Fox news claims that they report and the viewers decide. The American News doesn't report. It decides.

What is troubling is that Knight Ridder has some very good newspapers in its chain. Why its executives allow such inferior performance on a daily basis is puzzling. Maybe they can't stand to read the damned thing, and hope that the readership is not educated or literate enough to complain.


Best chance in Iraq: "mitigated failure"

Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Seymour Hersh and former U.N. chief weapons inspector Scott Ritter have a grim outlook on what our best chances are to survive Iraq. Ritter, a former Marine captain who participated in more than 50 inspection missions to monitor weapons in Iraq, says the only way we can avoid perpetual war is to accept "mitigated failure." That means accepting the fact that there is no way we can win the war in Iraq, but need to begin an extrication process that saves the lives of our troops and leaves some chance for diplomacy to start up again in our Middle East relations.

Ritter and Hersh, both authors of books on Iraq, exchanged views at a discussion covered by C-Span2.

Both men refuted the often-advanced contention that we were duped into the war on Iraq by the reports that the country concealed weapons of mass destruction and Saddam Hussein maintained links with Al Qaida. We have long insisted that those reports were suspect at the time they were made, because people who had been on the ground and reporting on Iraq made reports to the contrary. The failure of Congress, the media, and the American people to confront the real evidence and ask the pertinent questions are all factors in our demise in Iraq, says Ritter. He says every Congressman who voted for the war, even if they believed the WMD stories, should be voted out of office.

Hersh emphasizes that Americans still are not getting the true story of what our bombings in Iraq are doing to civilians, what they are doing to build up the insurgency against us, and how we have destroyed our credibility and working relationships with allies.

We, too, wonder if Americans will ever desire to face hard facts again and if they have what it takes to do so. They seem to prefer Big Brother Bush, no matter how incompetent.

Sunday, October 23, 2005


Going out of business

We are nearing close-outs of important businesses in the upper Midwest.

The mechanics' union has chosen not to vote on a proposal by Northwest Airlines to eliminate 4,000 of their 4,500 jobs. So, Northwest has stepped up the pace in hiring replacement workers for them.

The Ford Motor Co. plant in St. Paul is also rumored to be up for closing. Delphi has declared bankruptcy and General Motors has such massive losses that "restructuring," as they call down-sizing is imminent. The wages and benefits to workers are always cited as the reasons American companies are not as competitive in the global market place as many of their foreign competitors. Airline employees and auto workers are accepting cuts in wages and benefits to keep their companies afloat.

Union membership is declining simply because unions cannot bargain against ultra-cheap in other lands.

Strikes are irrelevant in the global economy. An executive from a major corporation on his third single-malt Scotch went into his advice-to-unions mode at a gathering recently.

In vino veritas. He said that if labor unions wanted to be effective in global marketplace, they would be taking very hard looks at what companies their workers helped to survive and which ones their workers could help to increase business.

We think they should start with Northwest Airlines. There has to be a better way to run an airline.

Saturday, October 22, 2005


Rehabilitating John Thune

David Kranz reported in the Argus Leader this week that John Thune does not shy away from being regarded as a maverick by leaders in his party. Does that mean that a man who was totally programmed in speech and action by his Republican handlers to appear as an automaton disciple of George W. Bush has had an epiphany and found an independent identity?


It means the image-makers have found the need for a new image. John Thune can no longer be hauled around South Dakota on George W.'s coattails because those coattails have become tattered and weak. As Al Franken put it, that portion of Americans who believed in W.'s competence have met truth face-t0-face in the last year: Iraq, Social Security, Katrina, Sister Miers, and a multitude of bumbles and reversions to the Watergate mentality within the Republican Party challenged the faith of even the most devout Bush believers.

John Thune needs a new image. Ellsworth provided an opportunity, but only the most oblivious to the real situation behind the saving of Ellsworth believe the base was kept open by his efforts. Other people in West River were working on Ellsworth long before the base-closing list was even announced. The biggest factor in saving Ellsworth was the Rumsfeld Pentagon. The base closing strategies had all the keen and focused thinking of the strategies for going to war in Iraq. The base closure list was based on bottom-line thinking and political expediency with hardly any consideration given to essential strategies of air defense and national security in the interior U.S. The proponents for keeping Ellsworth open had tremendous ammunition on the security front. It also had ammunition in terms of little or no savings in closing the base posed against the tremendous economic destruction it would cause. The committee that worked in behalf of the base did its work exceptionally well, and John Thune's handlers were shrewd enough to maneuver him into what looked like a leadership position on the matter. They got a retired general to write letters of praise and even his campaign handler, Dick Wadhams, came to town when the decision to keep the base open was formally announced. John Thune was not saving Ellsworth; he was saving his political ass.

The maverick image is needed, if Thune is to have any credibilty. South Dakotans in West River like the maverick image, despite the fact that their economy is so dependent upon federal programs. Clint Roberts, the Marlboro man, was once their representative, and he thought he could win re-election by keeping the focus on his cowboyness. It didn't happen.

Right now, too close an identification with George W. Bush and the Republican Party is a liability. Thune's handlers certainly see a necessity to distance Thune from them. But Thune will have to face something that was not used effectively in the 2004 campaign: his record in the House of Representatives.

However, the biggest threat to John Thune's political future is his 2004 campaign. All his opponents need do is replay the advertisements and the comments he made against Tom Daschle. At this time, his suggestion that Tom Daschle's remarks regarding the war on Iraq were tatamount to treason in providing support and comfort for the enemy appear to be the cheap and false politics that they were. Thune appears desperatetly malicious.

In John Thune's future, there is no way he can escape his past. All the rehabilition of image and posture his handlers can muster won't change the campaign of 2004.

Friday, October 21, 2005


Making up and suppressing the news: Updates

Back when I was expected to be at the 6:45 a.m. editorial meeting for planning the day's newspaper, the closing ritual of the meeting was reviewing a long list of unfinished stories that needed follow up. Once a week, usually late Thursday afternoon, this list received a thorough going-over from editors and reporters. The objective was never to let an unfinished story slip under the currents of time. Inaction by agencies of government on continuing stories were generally signals that internal politics somewhere was working against the public interest.

Some stories from these region that would be on that list would be:

1. Violent juvenile crime. A high school boy, the son of a tribal chairman, is being held in the Red Lake School shootings from last spring. No word on the reasons. Some high school boys from Hastings, Minn., are being held in the murder of one of the boy's parents. After some conjectures as to the motives, no word. Four juveniles were arrested for a robbery, rape, and killing spree in Minneapolis. No word. A young woman was left in a field near Sisseton to die last winter. No word as to the motive. While motives may never be fully verified, at least the people need a clue or two as to what motivates such violence in the young. The Star Tribune has an update on the Hastings killings at

2. Closer to home: the killing of Professor Morgan Lewis. The questions left unanswered in this case have gone beyond identifying the cause of death to suggesting that the lack of information may have more to do with the severe dysfunction of city government. An e-mail said that attempts to discuss this situation have been deleted from the local newspaper's on-line forum. Some individuals have indicated they are taking up the handling of this case with their city council person.

3. The John Thune-MetaBank connection in the bankruptcy and fraud charges filed against the Dan Nelson auto company in Sioux Falls. Some reports have been made from attorney generals' office in Iowa and South Dakota, but no recent information.

4. The wind farm in Dickey County, N.D. The company that was putting up the windfarm threatened to balk because the county had put in place zoning rules regarding the placement of wind turbines. No follow up.

5. Why do gasoline prices between Aberdeen and Sioux Falls sometimes vary as much as 20 cents? Huron, which draws from the same pipeline as Aberdeen, often is 10 cents less than Aberdeen. No explanations of any credibility have been offered, leaving consumers to surmise gouging.

We'll stop with five. We are confident that if we want information on these stories, we will have to dig it up for ourselves. And five is quite enough until we post the next list.


It's like old times in the cover-up business

As he weighs whether to bring criminal charges in the C.I.A. leak case, Patrick J. Fitzgerald, the special counsel, is focusing on whether Karl Rove, the senior White House adviser, and I. Lewis Libby Jr., chief of staff for Vice President Dick Cheney, sought to conceal their actions and mislead prosecutors, lawyers involved in the case said Thursday.

The full story is in The New York Times. (Click the link below.)


Who's not getting it? The people or the press?

An AP story is running in South Dakota newspapers about South Dakotans' attitudes toward the war on Iraq, which about two-thirds of U.S. citizens regard as "Bush's Folly." The story claims that AP reporters went out and interviewed people, and the story is a report on those interviews.

In the version in Aberdeen's disgrace to journalism and insult to intelligence (we don't know how much of the story may have been edited out), the writer attempts to balance those opinions for the war and those against. Those for the war say they support it as part of the war on terrorism. Those against it think we have no business in Iraq, or, as one person commented, were for the war until it started going so badly.

What is starkly absent from the comments we read is any mention of the false premises that got us into the war: the WMDs and the linking of Saddam Hussein with Al Quaida. Nobody protested being lied to. That is puzzling.

Many people who are now against the war supported it when they believed what the Bushites told them about weapons of mass destruction and Saddam's plans for terrorism. Quite a few of us found good reason to doubt those excuses at the time, but even we found it difficult to believe that our president would commit U.S. troops and have their lives blown away on phony pretexts.

Many people believed that some kind of sanction and intervention was needed to deal with the genocide that took place under Saddam. We had seen effective resolutions in Bosnia and Kosovo that did not take thousands of American lives. Although the conservative dips like to insist that those oppose the war in effect support Saddam, that is a symptom of the intellectual and moral bankruptcy of what passes for conservatism today. Progressives have made clear time after time that they supported doing something about Saddam Hussein, but that they do not endorse the bumbling idiocy and the lies of the Bushites. George Bush has waged war on the most fundamental premise of morality.

It is difficult to read the AP accounts of what people think and believe that these accounts have not been tampered with if they do not bring up the lying and the deceptions, in addition to the non compos bumbling of the Bush gang.

Did the people not say anything in this regard? Or has the press in their necks of the woods not reported on the dishonesty and deception?

If the AP story is an accurate reflection of the thinking out there, boy, do the progressives have a job to do.


Big Brother tries to vaporize Ed Schultz

Liberal talk radio host Ed Schultz, who broadcasts from Fargo, had an agreement that his program was to start broadasting this week over American Forces Radio. He got a call from penatagon official Allison Barber this week that the arrangement has been canceled.

Barber is the woman who was caught coaching the military on what to say during their "interaction" with George W. last week.

A group of Democratic senators sent a letter to the Pentagon asking that some political balance be put into talk shows broadcast by American Forces Radio to the troops. The troops get to listen to the conservative agitprop.

Schultz says the move is censorship. We do, too. Big Brother is a alive and well. Long live Oceania. (That's a reference to 1984.)

Wednesday, October 19, 2005


Open the gas oven doors, mama, here come American workers

A Washington Post columnist, Robert J. Samuelson, today looks at the future of manufacturing in America. His main point is that the U.S. is still very viable and competetive in manufacturing. It has maintained production, but it has dramatically reduced the number of workers--in other words, eliminated a number of jobs. He quotes the CEO of the bankrupt Delphi auto parts manufacturer, saying that the U.S. can still compete if it slashes wages and eliminates fringe benefits. In reorganizing Delphi, the CEO hopes to eliminate health insurance payments for retirees by putting them on Medicare when they hit 65. That will help restore the profitability of the company, he claims. No doubt.

The column dismisses the plight of American working people and their health as an inconvenience that they must endure, but then looks at China with its vast populations and super-cheap wages as the biggest threat to the viability of U.S. manufacturing. Of course, the column did not mention that Republicans are looking at Medicare payments to cut as a way of reducing the huge budget deficit.

In case you haven't noticed, the war on American workers by the Republicans and their corporate fuehrers is going one hell of lot better than the war on Iraq. The insurgency in Iraq just keeps setting off bombs, while the American workers and the poor are quietly herded into destitution camps.

Patriotism. Long live the corporations. Destroy the people.


Bush knew about Rove's leak of Plame's name

according to a New York Daily News story today:

An angry President Bush rebuked chief political guru Karl Rove two years ago for his role in the Valerie Plame affair, sources told the Daily News.

Read a full account and the press secretary's response to it in Josh Marshall's Talking Points Memo.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005


A rightside literary critique of the Ten Commandments

The Ten Commandments ain't, ah, aren't perfect. A new literary critique of them tries to whip them into shape for hanging on library walls. Here is the take on one commandment:

The next one is "Thou shalt not kill." I'm sorry, but that just sounds like bleeding-heart bullcrud. We have a death penalty in this country, and it works. And how will you fight a war if you don't kill some people? I suppose the writer of these laws is one of these dreamers who thinks the world would be better if people picked posies and held hands all day. Enjoy your flower music, Sunshine, and call me back when you grow up and start paying your own bills.

Read it all in The Onion.


The Wal-Mart chronicles: exploiting the poor

"I'm proud that I worked for Wal-Mart; I'm not proud of what I did for Wal-Mart," says Weldon Nicholson, a former manager for Wal-Mart in a new documentary film.

"I watched so many people go without lunch in the lounges that I stopped eating in the lounges, I just had my managers eating there because I just couldn't stand it. They just wouldn't eat and we weren't allowed to offer them any money. There were people i'd see who didn't eat nothing; they'd take an hour lunch and just sit there.

"I had people there on welfare working, husbands totally disabled. We're paying them $6.75, $7.75 an hour."

The film is Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price. Click the link for the full transcript of Nicholson's statement.


Politicizing crime, the Republican malady

The right wing has been claiming that all the trouble Republicans are encountering with the law is a scheme by the liberals to punish conservatives for governing as conservatives. They call it the criminalization of politics, as if the charges against the many prominent Republicans under the gun are based on laws contrived against them.

The Star Tribune makes the point that it is not the criminalization of politics, but the politicization of crime.


War on the working class and poor

Prof. R called last night to make the point about the mild alleged economic recovery. He says the Bush administration is trying to attributte it to the tax cuts, but it is really spurred by the wild spending the administration has engaged in.

Meanwhile, the economy is the major weapon being used against the working middle class, now that it has been softened up.

Airplane mechanics at the bankrupt Northwest Airlines get a chance to vote on the proposal to eliminate 4,000 of their 4,500 jobs. Pilots and other workers have agreed to pay cuts.

United Airlines has changed the quality of future life for its employees by rescinding their pension benefits.

General Motors, once the invincible corporation, is on the brink of bankrkuptcy and is reducing the health benefits it pays to retirees.

Privatizing Social Security is on the back burner, but it is simmering away in the game plan of the ultra-regressives so that working people can be furthered lowered into social insecurity.

The administration says these measures are ones that have to be taken in our global economy. Global economy means returning the world to the Middle Ages when it was divided among nobles and aristocrats and serfs. Americans are headed for a new serfdom. At the design of the government currently in power.

After Katrina, when the administration and the ultra-regressives were nervous about potential revolts, they made vows to address poverty. A month later, they reneged on those vows, and are now renewing attacks against the middle class and poor.

This from the Washington Post:

Beginning this week, the House GOP lawmakers will take steps to cut as much as $50 billion from the fiscal 2006 budget for health care for the poor, food stamps and farm supports, as well as considering across-the-board cuts in other programs.

It's called economic warfare. America was nice while it lasted.


Stephanie Herseth for whatever

The idea that one commits treason by changing political parties is incredibly, well, ah, silly. If one's political party no longer represents one's values and if it doesn't listen or accommodate one's values, then the only intelligent move is to find a party that does. That is why we have political parties. The ability to change parties is part of citizenship, not a betrayal of the country. Jesus. The idea is that political parties are created to serve us, not that we are bonded to the service of political parties at the peril of our lives. Dayamn.

The idea of changing parties links with the idea that parties should make winning elections their first priority. If a party abandons the principles for which people support it solely to win power, it is not serving the people who support it. It is more important to hold to the principles than it is to win elections. When party leaders switch their allegiance of principles, there are supporters who no longer have a voice in the process.

This is a potential problem for Stephanie Herseth. She is a Blue Dog Democrat, which is a legitimate stance within the Democratic Party. There is nothing sneaky or suspicious about being a Blue Dog. Ms. Herseth is a Blue Dog because she is smart. She knows that a full-out liberal stance will not win elections in South Dakota. She has shaped a platform that is designed to represent a majority of South Dakotans.

I set some erstwhile Democrats to fuming when I commented on Clean Cut Kid's blog that although I do not support some of Ms. Herseth's stances, I support her because she has brains. She has lots of brains. She may take positions that I cannot agree with, but I am confident she will do nothing stupid. Like the junior senator from this state did when he was in the House.

On most issues like the support of rural America, opposition to corporate rule and control of the economy, veterans benefits, and civil rights, Herseth staunchly takes the Democrat side. The one place that the right is uncomfortable with Herseth is on the right for women to exercise personal and private choice on reproductive matters. Here is where brains enter in. The number of women who want to retain the right to choose is a majority. On this issue, Herseth knows her electorate.

So, with her Blue Dog stance, Herseth has a very solid electorate behind her. Republicans are fretting about whether they can find a credible candidate to run against her. Democrats should not be smug that they have a smart and savvy candidate who knows how to appeal to the state's voters. Ultimately, that does not matter.

As a Congressman, John Thune was inconsequential. But he had something the Republicans need. A presentable face and a malleable character. John Thune did not win over Tom Daschle on substance. His record in the House was one of a bumbling party hack who had few clues as to what issues--highways, water, agriculture--needed attending in the state. But after three terms in the House and a close run against Tim Johnson, his puppeteers groomed him into an image that pleased a majority in the state that fears "eastern liberalism" and regards it as a form of terrorism.

The Republican machine is very good at posing rock-star like images while engaging in nefarious character assassination against the opponents. Few of the nice things the Republican campaign suggested about John Thune were true; few of the nasty things it said about Tom Daschle were true. As the slogan on another blog states, "You can fool some of the people some of the time, and that is enough."

This is what Stephanie Herseth has to watch out for. Ultimately, substance on issues means little when the Orwellian propaganda machine revs up at full speed. The Republicans don't need a viable candidate. They need a malleable puppet with few original ideas and positions.

That's why I will vote for the brains rather than the strings. Even if I disagree on occasion with the brains. Looking for new party is always an option, but right now there are no better alternatives than brains.


Tonight at 7:30 for "Grandchildren of the Buffalo Soldiers"

Regional theater examines a legacy of living history:

Grandchildren of the Buffalo Soldiers
by William Yellow Robe, Jr.

Tonight at 7:30, Sisseton Middle School
Adult tickets $5 at the door, students free.

The play opened at the Penumbra Theater in St. Paul in Sept. Tonight it begins its national tour.

It will be presented at the Washington Pavilion, Sioux Falls, Thursday through Sunday.

The buffalo soldiers of African American descent were an important presence in the West after the Civil War. This play explores the complex racial relationships between them, American Indians, and society at large.

Monday, October 17, 2005


How many civilian deaths is the U.S. responsible for in Iraq?

As of this evening, 26,508, according to Iraq Body Count, an internet site that gathers data on all civilian deaths in Iraq.

In addition to "collateral deaths," the site includes the following statistics:

In the current occupation phase this database includes all deaths which the Occupying Authority has a binding responsibility to prevent under the Geneva Conventions and Hague Regulations. This includes civilian deaths resulting from the breakdown in law and order, and deaths due to inadequate health care or sanitation.

It's at

Sunday, October 16, 2005


Chickenhawks carry bird flu to humans

Reporters from the Main Stream Media reported today uncovering internal memoranda at the Center for Disease and Mind Control that the agency found a vector which enables bird flu to leap from fowls to foul ones.

Chickenhawks were identified in a study as the creatures that provided a intermediary sanctuary for viruses looking for higher intelligences on which to carry out their designs.

At an impromptu news conference, as he was trying to start a helicopter for his ninth trip to the Gulf states, President Bush was asked about the report. He said, "Cluck."


Why does South Dakota rank 50th in so much?

It's the will of the people.

The woman, a retired professor, who headed the policy review committee for an organization that analyzes civil rights and government accountability shook her head every time a complaint was brought in from from South Dakota. Her advice was not comforting. She told the people with complaints, if you do not like the system of repressions in South Dakota, move.

That is not to say that she did not think change was needed and, even, possible. But she was quick to point out that the general population was not concerned about repression, discrimination, and denials of freedom, equality, and equal justice. A majority either likes the system of repressions or prefers to ignore it.

South Dakota is often ranked very high for its business climate. That is because of low business taxes, few regulations governing the way companies are allowed to do business, and a system of laws and regulations that regard employees as bonded servants, or worse. South Dakota is an "at will" state, meaning that employees are treated at the will and discretion of their employers. No rules requiring honesty and fair play govern the work place in South Dakota, so when most employees walk through their work place doors, they revert to the status of serfs, whose lives are governed at the pleasure of their "superiors."

However, that high ranking in business climate is exactly what makes South Dakota a terrible place to work. Unless an employee works for a company or boss that possesses a sense of genuine work ethics, there is no American principle in the South Dakota workplace. And no one, but a few oppressed workers, seems to care. That is one of the reasons businesses close or fail to start up in South Dakota: good workers move and refuse to come here.

South Dakotans are said to possess a strong "work ethic," but employers generally do not. The work ethics in South Dakota are among the reasons it stays at the bottom of many state rankings. They include:

In the portion of the government integrity survey that deals with freedom of information, South Dakota receives a zero. The people (and the press) have no legally-enforced access to information on how government performs, no access to justice when they are ripped off by private companies or government agencies, and no recourse when information that is considered public information is denied them.

In many aspects, South Dakota is part of the Third World. Why? Well, no one really cares. The diffidence is bi-partisan.

The only initiative we have seen in state government to bring the state somehow in line with the basic matters of freedom and integrity enjoyed in other states is the persistent introduction to the state legislature of binding arbitration. It loses every year.

And so people who want the benefits of America move.

Friday, October 14, 2005


Legislature funds Homestake proposal in special session

Called into special session by Gov. Rounds, the South Dakota state legislature made a special appropriation of $19.9 million today for continuing its efforts to turn the Homestake gold mine into the national Deep Underground Science and Engineering Laboratory. The plan is to solicit major physics experiments for the lab and use the money to build the necessary facilities for any experiments it attracts.

While scientists originated the proposal to convert the mine into a laboratory, their interest declined when the owner of the mind, Barrack Gold, and state officials pushed economic development schemes over science. The emphasis prior to today's vote on the appropriation was science.

Bill Harlan of the Rapid City Journal reported that a Nobel Prize medal earned from an experiment in the mine was brought to the legislature by University of Pennsylvania physicist Ken Lande, who initiated the proposal to turn Homestake into a national laboratory.

Five year’s ago Lande was the first scientist to publicly call for converting the gold mine into a national underground laboratory. Lande did research for more than 30 years at the “4850 level” in the Homestake mine. His colleague, Ray Davis, who designed the Homestake neutrino experiment, won a Nobel Prize for the work in 2002.

Lande passed around a bronze copy of the Nobel medal at a joint meeting of the House and Senate state affairs committees earlier in the day. “You will see more of these, I think,” Lande said.

If the National Science Foundation eventually chooses Homestake as the DUSEL site from the two remaining sites in competition, it will be because of its promise to produce the kind of science practiced by Lande and Davis. That means that economic development schemes will have to wait until science has done its job.

A full report by Rep. Paul Dennert, who serves on the Joint Appropriations Committee, will be made to the Brown County Democrats Dollar-A-Month Club October 28.


Race and class re-emerge as major political issues, as Bush approval plummets among blacks

Thke NBC/Wall Street Journal poll on the president showed that his approval among African Americans has fallen to 2 percent, a number so low that it caused even the poll-takers to wonder about its accuracy. The overall approval rating in that poll was 39 percent.

However, the Pew Research Center poll released today showed that his approval rating among African Americans was 12 percent, down 2 percent from the Center's last measure.

Analysts commenting on the polls agree that the effects that President Bush gained from 9/11 and his leadership pose on the war on Iraq are crumbling and people are generally realigning themselves with the more traditional positions represented by the two major parties. A happy face has been put on questions of race, but the war on Iraq and the hurricanes have shown it to be a false face.

With Congress quickly acting against the poor and the elderly in looking for ways to pay for Katrina and the war on Iraq, race and class have been thrust into the forefront as the most prominent political issues.

Thursday, October 13, 2005


Want to leave town? Better get while the getting is good

Mesaba Aviation, which is the only air carrier serving Aberdeen, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection this afternoon in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Minnesota. Eagan-based Mesaba, which operates as Northwest Airlink flying primarily between smaller cities and Northwest’s three major hubs, had warned the move may come after Northwest withheld some $30 million in payments and announced plans to ground a significant portion of Mesaba’s fleet. Mesaba said it will continue regular operations. The company employs about 1,500 people in the Twin Cities, and 4,000 nationwide

Wednesday, October 12, 2005


Terrorism heats up in Afghanistan with killing of 5 medical workers

Suspected Taliban gunmen ambushed a medical team on their way to a refugee camp in southern Afghanistan today, killing five people and wounding four others, Afghan officials said. The brutal killing, by two men on a motorbike, follows two large-scale ambushes against local police in the last two days, also in southern Afghanistan, representing some of the worst violence against Afghan personnel since the Taliban was defeated in 2001.


Republican aides campaign against Miers

As the White House seeks to rally senators behind the Supreme Court nomination of Harriet E. Miers, lawyers for the Republican senators on the Judiciary Committee are expressing dissatisfaction with the choice and pushing back against her, aides to 6 of the 10 Republican committee members said yesterday.

"Everybody is hoping that something will happen on Miers, either that the president would withdraw her or she would realize she is not up to it and pull out while she has some dignity intact," a lawyer to a Republican committee member said.

Read the full story in The New York Times.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005


Breaking news: Bush to be in Aberdeen for Super Wal-Mart opening


George W. Bush returns to Gulf for eighth time in search of the WMDs

"Don't tell me there ain't no frigging weapons here," said President Bush to a reporter who asked just what the f**** he thought was doing in the Gulf states for the eighth time.

A source in Iraq told intelligence officials that the New York subway system was targeted for attack, and the system went into red alert to prevent any bombings. The same source said that once all the water was emptied out of New Orleans, the place where Saddam Hussein dumped all his WMDs would be exposed.

President Bush made his eighth trip to the Gulf today when the Corps of Engineers said all the water was pumped out, determined to ferret out those WMDs and a megaphone moment.


Senator Tim Johnson presents Lester Crawford, director of the Sisseton Wahpeton Dakota nutrition program for elders, with a certificate for being an outstanding host for clients from Experience Works.

Experience Works, formerly called Green Thumb, provides training for people 55 in non-profit host agencies, and then helps them find permanet employment. Lester Crawford is training two participants, Rabbit Crawford (no blood relation) and Henry Shepherd, in his facility.

Sen. Johnson spent Sunday visiting with various groups on the Lake Traverse Reservation, reviewing programs for the elderly and other federal programs. With so much attention devoted to the effects of Katrina and Rita in the Gulf states, Sen. Johnson is looking at ongoing programs in the state he represents.


The Sanctity of Marriage Handbook

by Bryan Harris

gives some insights into those paragons of virtue whose party exercises the moral leadership today:

*Newt Gingrich: served his wife with divorce papers while she was incapacitated by cancer and receiving treatment in a hospital room. He is currently enjoying the sanctity of his third marriage.

*Representative Bob Barr, author of the Defense of Marriage Act: before the age of fifty, Representative Barr had three marriages under his belt. The old Beltway joke goes, "Exactly which marriage is Bob Barr defending?"

*Rush Limbaugh: between Rush and his current wife, Marta, there are six marriages and four divorces. Rush is currently in the process of divorcing Marta.

*Rep. Dan Burton: Republican congressman who called Clinton a "scumbag" and who runs his campaigns on family values. Burton fathered a son out of wedlock.



Hyper-regressives use hurricanes to advance their assaults on the minorities, poor, and elderly

The hyper-regressive conservatives have already used Katrina and Rita for their own causes, like suspending requirements that federal contractors have affirmative action plans and pay locally prevailing wages. And with federal costs for rebuilding the Gulf Coast estimated at up to $200 billion, Congressional Republican leaders are pushing for spending cuts, with programs like Medicaid and food stamps especially vulnerable.

Read the full story in The New York Times.

Saturday, October 08, 2005


Red and blue do not designate issues; they discern attitudes and tactics

The CBS poll published today shows a continuing decline in poll numbers for President Bush. Below are the approval ratings. While he has only a 37 percent overall approval rating, the Republicans still approve of him by a huge majority, while the Democrats disapprove of him by even a larger majority. And Independents give him a pretty sound disapproval rating.

All 37%
Reps. 79%
Dems. 14%
Inds. 29%

All 58%
Reps. 13%
Dems. 84%
Inds. 64%

The current polls do not reflect attitudes on issues. They reflect attitudes about attitudes. It is getting increasingly difficult to find any justification for the war on Iraq other than the saving of the Bush presidency. A large majority have realized the crass falsehoods told to the public about getting into the war.

No progressives in America think that terrorism does not need to be confronted and dealt with. That is one of the crass falsehoods: that people who oppose the war are "soft" on terrorism. It is also an incredibly stupid falsehood. A huge majority of people no longer believe it.

But what is worse has been the outpouring of support for our troops that celebrates them for the near-2000 who have died and the tens of thousands who have been wounded. There is no doubt that they are serving their country heroically. The question is whether their country is serving them by celebrating their sacrifice to a failing presidency and a phony justification for wasting their lives.

More and more people, according to the polls and the focus groups, feel that their country duped them and they are paying for it with their sons, daughters, and spouses. The divide between red and blue states is not one of issues. It is a divide between people who like an Orwellian government that says it protects them and tells them what to think and people who think government is ultimately responsible to them and the major part of that responsibility is truthfulness and honesty.

Red America and blue America are as far apart politically as China and Scandinavia. As more people recognize the Orwellian aspects of deceit and thought control under the Bush administration, they are growing less tolerant of the premises of red state governance.

The question is whether we can afford to wait a year for the 2006 elections to register the discontent through the ballot box. An increasing number of people do not think the country can survive that long. There is no way that blue thinkers are going to submit to red totalitarianism.

The big question facing America is not how to deal with terrorism. It is how to deal with the insane bumblers running the country before we can vote them out of office.


"Grandchildren of the Buffalo Soldiers"

will begin its national tour with a peformance at Sisseton:

A new play by William S. Yellow Robe, Jr.
Performance: Sisseton Middle School October 18 at 7:30 p.m.
Admission: $5 for adults, students free

This play, co-produced by the Penumbra Theater Company, St. Paul, and Trinity Repertory Company, Providence, R.I., confronts the complex and destructive racial issues that pervade so much human interaction.

Buffalo Soldiers, the term given to black military units, were stationed at Ft. Sisseton. Their legacy and history is dimension of American history and culture not often explored until recently.

The play premiered at the Penumbra Theatre Company on Sept. 23 and runs through Oct. 15.

After opening its road tour in Sisseton, the company will move to the Washington Pavilion in Sioux Falls to be in residence Oct. 20-23.

In early November, it appears at the Lied Center of Kansas at the University of Kansas, Lawrence.

It will be in residence at the Trinity Company in Providence during December and then will tour the New England and Mid-Atlantic states.

Friday, October 07, 2005


Another airline gets shot down; no way out of town

Mesaba Airlines said Friday morning that it may be forced to file for bankruptcy, because Northwest Airlines has missed payments to its regional partner and intends to dramatically reduce Mesaba's flights, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported this morning.

You want to get out of Aberdeen? Remortgage your home and buy a tank of gasoline.


Will they rename Lead "DUSELdork?"

Bill Harlan in the Rapid City Journal provides an account of how the proposal to turn Homestake into a deep, underground science and engineering evolved.

He leaves one aspect out. Wick Haxton was the lead scientist among the many nationally prominent physicists who were drooling over the opportunties Homestake could provide to do some intense, high-protocol research down there in the depths. When Barrick Gold turned off the pumps that keep the mine dry and legislators started yammering about economic development as a prime reason for the conversion, Haxton quit and turned his attention to another site, Icicle Creek in Washington State. Nearly all the scientists who initially promoted the conversion followed his lead. The circumstances were a very convincing expression that science, research, and scholarship, which are primarily what the scientists want to do, have a very low priority among those who envision Homestake as the nucleus of an expanding economic universe.

I track the Homestake development with great interest. I have been a technical writer and report editor. I have worked with experiments at Red Canyon and White Sands where we toiled in quonset huts in 100+ degree tempertures wearing bath towels tucked in our shorts to keep the sweat from dripping all over and where sidewinders kept slithering across the floor to get out of the midday sun. I covered the building of the Fermi Lab where condensation kept dropping from the tunnel onto the magnets and blew them up. I have an interest in all research and scholarship. Homestake is a real opportunity to do something right. I think its conversion to a DUSEL could lead to some of the biggest advances in science since the University of Chicago abandoned its varsity football program and let scientists use Stagg Field for the first nuclear chain reaction.

The problem is that people in South Dakota do not like scientists and other intellectuals very much. They regard their teachers as akin to slaves, or at least bonded servants. This attitude that people in the academic and intellectual endeavors have to be kept in some state of servitude is reflected in the idea that a DUSEL's main justification should be to contrive some economic benefits from it. As one respondent to one of my posts put, "Are we asked to be a collection of rubes for Physicists' personal pleasure?" That kind of resentment against intellectually-based endeavors pervades South Dakota, and it is a very good reason for scientists and other intellectual workers to stay the hell out. It expresses that there is no real understanding or support or, even, tolerance for the kind of work researchers and scholars do.

Having a bunch of promoters and supporters of the DUSEL peering down the mine shaft asking if the workers have come up with any money-making ideas is not the condition under which any real scientists I know of can do their work. It was this attitude that made the South Dakota proposal for the ill-fated superconducter-supercollider the laughing stock of the science community.

It would be great to have industries build up around the products that DUSEL research produces. But to judge the purpose and worth of the endeavor on that basis would interfere with the scientific objectivity and the freedom to fully test hypotheses that is requisite to true science. When scientists make economic production the ultimate goal, the science is inevitably bad.

If the people of South Dakota think that they are being reduced to rubes if they support endeavors in pure science, then South Dakota is not the place to do science.

South Dakota has a very good chance of being the site for the DUSEL if it does things right for a change. Kevin Lesko of the Lawrence Berkeley Lab, which is run by the University of California for the U.S. Dept. of Energy, took over from Wick Haxton in keeping the Homestake proposal alive.

Why has no one asked these men and others who have been involved in the Homestake proposal what they think? Why do the opinions and ideas of the scientists who are doing the work that Homestake could house get no attention?

Oh. I forgot. They are merely professors and scientists. What do they know?

Thursday, October 06, 2005


"Iraq? Oh, God made me do it."

The lead in a BBC news release:

President George W. Bush told Palestinian ministers that God had told him to invade Afghanistan and Iraq - and create a Palestinian State, a new BBC series reveals.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005


A free press has the freedom to serve a dictatorship

"The US Press was recently found in a comprehensive international study to be only the 27th freest press in the world," Al Gore pointed out in a speech today.

While Bill Clinton visits the states ravaged by hurricanes and reminds us of what effective and intelligent leadership is, Al Gore re-emerges with a profound assessment of how the press is complicit in the fall of our country.

His words bring hope of potential change to us who live Aberdeen, SD, where the local newspaper's corporate mission statement is: "To be the dominant source of news and information in northeast South Dakota."

It is the dominant source of news, but also the most incompetent and poltically repressive. It is to the neo-regressives what Pravda was to the Kremlin.

All politics is local. For northeastern South Dakota, the way to bring democracy back is to recognize the journalistic failure of our "dominant" news source and provide alternatives to one of the worst newspapers in the upper Midwest. As long as that news source serves only those who deceive and repress, there is no chance to live in a true American democracy.


What president is doing the real work for hurricane victims?

I'd rather have you tell me you can't do anything for me than promise me something you can't deliver," a Mr. Warner told Mr. Clinton.

Bill Clinton and the elder George Bush have gathered more that $100 million to help hurricane victims, and Clinton has been touring the Gulf coast states to assess their problems and provide some solutions for solving them.

He's competent, bright, and still able to get things done. God, does that man know how to piss off the so-called conservatives.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005


W: "I admire Harriet Mier for her athleticism."

Roe Vs. Wade, my ass.


"If you wanted to reduce crime, you could abort every black baby..."

No, these are not the words of conservative wingnut bloggers. They are the words of Bill Bennett, former U.S. Secretary of Education, later the nation's drug czar.

I did not see anything about this on local blogs and was unaware of the comment until a friend pointed them out Saturday night.

Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson carefully explains the context in which Bennett said this, and dismisses racist motivations on the part of Bennett. But he then explores why such a statement could be made at all as a matter of residual racial baggage that is covered over by an insincere conservative political correctness.

Monday, October 03, 2005


The only super power is not a leader anymore

If terrorists hatched a plan to undermine the United Sates by making it wholly dependent on foreign countries for energy and capital, they would be hunted and destroyed. But we have done it to ourselves.

Jerald Schnoor, Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Iowa makes that point in an Op-Ed piece in the April 22 Des Moines Register, and reprinted in the University of Iowa alumni newspaper.

Anyone who reads blogs or listens to right-wing radio recognizes that we live in a time when a significant number of the populace longs for totalitarianism. They claim that any one who dissents on the war on Iraq, who criticizes administration policies, who expresses any disapproval of what is going on in our country hates America. At one time these people were recognized as the loony fringe. Their rhetoric shows an inabilities to apprehend facts and an incapability for coherent reasoning. Their menace is in the fact that a majority of the populace tolerates their sound and fury and dismisses it as the right to express opinions.

These people have had an influence on America. Consequently, America has fallen far behind many other countries in developing its resources and retaining its independence from other countries.

Professor Schnoor writes:

We have relinquished the lead in environmental research and technologies that could provide manufacturing jobs for the 21st century. Denmark leads in wind-turbine produciton, creating 100,000 new jobs. The United States has only one remaining manufacturer, General Electric. Yet there is enough wind in a few states (Iowa, the Dakotas, Minnesota, and Texas) to more than power U.S. base electricity demands. ...Wind power is cost-competitive with new coal-fired plants right now.

Professor Schnoor points out that we gave up the lead when we declined to participate in the Kyoto Climate Convention, the only attempt to deal with the most serious long-term threat to the environment in human history. He notes that environmental initiatives have been undermined by those who cannot and do not want to recognize that we have an environmental problem. The right-wing fringes claim that environmentalism is a cover for communism. They call environmentalists water melons: green on the outside, red on the inside.

The professor says that the responsibility of the United States is great, but we have abdicated it.

As environmentalists, we must be smarter, become better internationalists, embrace markets, be less adversarial, work with industry, prevent pollution, sustain the economy, and use voluntary approaches where practical.

Environment, energy, and security are inextricably intertwined and are the keys to peace and prosperity.

The professor outlines the case for getting control of our environment and our economy again. But he does not confront the fact that a majority may complain about $3 gasoline, but will vote for the people and the policies who make it happen.

To the majority, drought in the plains and hurricanes in the Gulf are part of the intelligent design they want us all to submit to.

Sunday, October 02, 2005


Northwest Airline maintenance found faulty during strike

The Star Tribune has obtained documents from federal airline inspectors during the mechanics strike that show training deficiencies among replacement workers, thin staffing, maintenance blunders, and errors in recording repairs.


What is a nation of laws when the laws are stupid?

As the state attorney general pointed out in an Argus Leader story today (and we pointed out in a post yesterday), state law gives the governor special dispensation on the use of state airplanes, and other conveyances of his choice.

South Dakota Codified Laws give a lot of special dispensation to officials and their cronies. On some days, if it weren't for the climate, you could believe you are in Aruba.

If you are a rat, South Dakota Codified Laws look like a huge hunk of Swiss cheese. They provide a lot of fodder for legal palavering, but are full of holes that let those who wish to take advantage of their fellows to do all manner of things without being held accountable.

Using a state-owned airplane as one's personal craft is a case in point. The Governor is taking advantage of taxpayers and exercising exorbitant privileges of office because the law allows him to do so. If South Dakotans wanted to live in a democracy where its officials had to observe the same rules as other people, they would not tolerate laws that give such broad and arbitrary privilege.

South Dakota is a banana republic in the wheat belt. Its laws are deeply rooted in the traditions of special privilege for some and denial of basic democratic processes for others that characterize republics run by dictators.

If South Dakotans want fair play and to live in a place where citizens have some basic rights of equality, they need to insist that some laws be upgraded to meet the standards of equality, justice, and freedom set in our founding documents.

Here are some areas where laws need severe revision:

These are a few places where the law could be brought up to standards that assure equal justice and freedom from oppression. At present, if you want these things guaranteed to you as a citizen, you have to move to another state.


Has NSU become a party school?

During the NSU homecoming this weekend, astute alumni kept asking if the Republican Party is exercising a proprietorship over the univeristy. The occasion this time is that the NSU Gypsy Days were listed on the South Dakota Republican Party website's calendar of events--as if Gypsy Days is a party function.

With tragic encounters with alcohol of college students,making the news in the upper Midwest, some unfortunate experiences at Northern come to mind regarding non-political partying (at least we think it is non-political). NSU has distinguished itself in recents years by its decline in enrollments. On the anecdotal level, we hear many parents and students who do not hold NSU in high regard. The partying and deaths that have occured on campus are part of the perception. To reverse the decline in enrollments, NSU has recruited students from Puerto Rico and South Korea. However, that does not explain why NSU raises such a negative response from some people in the region in which it has been the major cultural and educational resource.

As a professor, I was aware of the attitudes. I had high school counselors tell me that they would not recommend the college to their better students because an anti-academic, anti-intellectual attitude seemed to be the prevailing one on campus. The counselors were very specific in citing the reasons for their recommendations. In general they said they could not recommend a school to the intellectually talented and the studious where those qualities would be ridiculed and held in contempt. Overt ridicule and discrimination against serious students was, in fact, something I had to deal with as a faculty member at times.

Some of the criticisms against NSU, however, are not valid. Some students from better high schools complain that their college courses are mere repetitions of material covered in high school, and sometimes the courses do not carry them as far as their high school courses. A school that admits students from small high schools with very limited resources often has to offer basic courses to provide the students a chance to succeed and to reach a competitive point by graduation. The problem there is not that the university is dummying-down the curriculum, but that it is not placing students with advanced standing in courses appropriate to their accomplishments. NSU's mission has always been to provide students with an opportunity to be competitive with students from the more ostentatious schools. At some times and in some areas of study, it has done that remarkably well.

Northern's main problem is that it has adhered to the design of the Board of Regents, which in the past quarter century has been guided more by poltically-appointed bean-counters and people with notional attitudes about how higher education works. It has not been shaped by educators who know their fields, know what fellow universities are doing, and know how to make students competitive in their fields. The Regents' agenda for NSU has not been good for the university or the people it serves. And their agenda is a reflection of the political party they are affiliated with, not an implementation of sound and effective higher education.

In that context, the listing of the Gypsy Day Parade as an event of interest to the South Dakota Republican Party takes on overtones of proprietorship of the university. The events calendar also lists the Dakota Wesleyan University homecoming--a place with Democratic ties. But Dakota Wesleyan is a private university that operates under a different premise than do the public universities in the state.

The Gypsy Day listing causes comment among alumni because of the context of political activity emanating from the NSU campus.

Most prominent is that the two professors who comprise the political science department are part of the blog, South Dakota Politics, which is notorious for its mean and nasty ad hominem attacks on people who take issue with them. Furthermore, they are given to self-preening crowing and shameless ego-inflation on their blog, like annoying bantam roosters, about their faculty positions and their special insights. According to an e-mail sent me, one of them bragged about going to an academic conference on blogging and identifying himself as a contributor to the blog that knocked Tom Daschle out of office.

No one questions the right of faculty members to voice their personal opinions and to engage in political activity on their own time and with their own resources. However, the self-preening egotism displayed and the utter scurrility of their personal attacks does call into question the probity of their conduct as professors and casts the pall of a petty and vicious partisanship over the institution.

So, when the public relations director of the institution is the main speaker at Republican events and lists the NSU homecoming as a Republican event, people have sufficient reason to question if the Republican Party has assumed proprietorship over the university.

There is more. A former Janklow staff member and director of the South Dakota Right-To-Life group has been hired on the staff of the NSU foundation. The head basketball coach acted as master of ceremonies at the county Lincoln Day dinner. A musical group led by a professor who expressed a particularly belligerent attitude against Democrats provided the entertainment for the Lincoln Day dinner.

There are many faculty at NSU who incline toward the Democratic Party or independent status. But they are overshadowed. And constituents of NSU have more than sufficient reason to ask if the Republican Party is assuming proprietorship over NSU. It is a question that has great bearing on enrollments and donations to the college foundation.

Saturday, October 01, 2005


You want dumb? The Aberdeen American News will give you dumb.

In its latest effort at insuring that it is not dislodged from its position as one of the worst journalistic enterprises in the upper Midwest and as a citadel of South Dakota party-line hackdom, the Aberdeen American News extended its lackey-licks to the sports page today.

Clean Cut Kid already commented on a column in the sports pages of the Aberdeen Assinine News-perversion. Although it is our policy not to duplicate the efforts of other blogs or get into any suck-buddy exchanges with them, we think the journalistic incompetence in today's verbal groveling in behalf of the Kremlin in Pierre requires some comment.

The column does cite the work of the Argus Leader in assembling the facts and doing the story on Gov. Mike Rounds' use of state aircraft for travel that is not related directly to the discharge of his duties. Then the columnist dismisses that work and says it is his turn to give his take on the matter. There is a huge difference. Many of us in the state have been asking for the records on the use of state aircraft to be public for many, many months. The Argus Leader based its stories and its conclusions on documents and facts. It did the basic journalistic job of assembling the facts and citing the sources of information. That is something that is absolutely beyond the ken of the Aberdeen Affront to American Sensibility. They do not know the difference between reporting facts and presenting personal prejudices and judgments as facts. That is why political reports are so often laced with the squeezings from the puny minds of the reporters. We've said it before. The editorial staff of the Aberdeen news-thing could not grasp a journalistic concept if it were emulsified and pumped up the collective colon. Which seems to be what the staff uses as its organ of editorial discernment.

Pappendick (that's the the name of the columnist, not an STD) further says that he believes Gov. Rounds' version for his use of the airplanes because he has sat in editorial meetings and found him to be a pleasant fellow. We assume that the last such meeting is when the Gov. told him what to put in his ridiculous column.

Ironically, the state has a gag law, somewhat but insignificantly modified from its original version, that prohibits state officials from reporting on any financial hanky-panky going on with corporations that the state might have occasion to investigate. That law was put into force when questions were raised about some funds that Citi Bank had obtained during an acquisition of other firms, and the executives and their suck-buddies in state government did not want any information on the transactions bandied about. So, a state law prohibiting government officials from telling the public, who mistakenly think state government operates under their authority, was rushed through the legislature to prevent any such information from being released. Mike Rounds was the point man on getting that law put into place.

Yeah, Mike Rounds is a nice guy and we must trust what he tells us.

We also have a former Brown County legislative leader who said that in his dealings in the legislature, Mike Rounds is the only leader from the opposition who out-and-out lied to him.

As a former state employee who operated university and Game, Fish, and Parks vehicles, I can tell you that this law is applied with rigor and without leniency in most cases:

5-25-1.1. State-owned or leased vehicles to be used for state business only--Exceptions-- Violation as misdemeanor. Vehicles owned or leased by the state shall be used only in the conduct of state business. No state officer or employee, except the Governor, law enforcement officers of the South Dakota Highway Patrol, law enforcement officers of the Division of Criminal Investigation, and conservation officers shall use, or permit the use of, any state-owned motor vehicle other than in the conduct of state business. Nothing in this section shall prohibit any use of any state vehicle, if, in order to provide for the most efficient use of state equipment or personnel, supervisory personnel issue written instructions to any state employee to use a state vehicle for transportation:
(1) Between his permanent residence and his work station; or
(2) Between his temporary residence or eating place and his work station if assigned to a locality other than his permanent residence.
Any person violating the provisions of this section shall be guilty of a Class 2 misdemeanor.
Source: SL 1977, ch 56, § 1.

Note that the law gives the governor special powers. But it also states the principle about when state vehicles may be used.

The Anal Aberration News claims that the governor should receive special dispensation because he uses the state choo-choo-plane to go to his son's high school athletic events. Being a good father and attending the high school ball games is an excuse. I wish I had known that when I had a state van or pickup truck signed out.

The governor, says the columist, is on duty at all times. His job is not 40 hours a week. Letting him use the state choo-choo-plane is just compensation for those occasions when his time in the wienie line is compromised. He states that if the Gov. takes a break during a ballgame and goes to get himself a wienie, some constituent might ask him for moment of his time and intrude on the good Gov.'s wienie-line time.

As for who is paying for the operation of the state airplanes in the service of the Gov.'s wienie time, that is obscured. The Argus Leader, which understands something about the nature of news and honest government, found that not all trips were by any means to wienie lines. Some were political events of various times to which parties of family and friends were transported. It looks as if the state has footed the bill on some occasions. And others are covered by something called the Governor's Club, which we assume must be subsidized by the wienie concession.

But it turns out that the real shame of this story is the Aberdeen American News, which refuses to admit to its readers that it is a partisan rag that does little to serve its readers or monitor the quality of our government and our democracy.

Columnists have the right to express opinions. Readers, and other journalists, have the right to say, "Jesus Christ, that column is dumb."

Jesus Christ, that column is dumb.

But no dumber than the people who let their local news monopoly get away with a performance on this level.


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