Northern Valley Beacon

Information, observations, and analysis from the James River valley on the Northern Plains----- E-Mail: Enter 'Beacon' in subject box. Send to:

Thursday, April 27, 2006


It's not just abortion, stupid

As a couple of blogs point out today, the abortion ban has galvanized the Democratic Party in South Dakota. That is probably so. But abortion is not the main issue at stake.

I know of no one, including women who have had abortions, who approves of abortion as a routine method of handling unwanted pregnancies. While the right-wingdingbats can sit at their keyboards, drool running down their chins, calling pro-choice people baby-killers, murderers, zygote-squelchers, and whatever else they dream up in their hateful frenzies, the huge majority of people are concerned about abortion and the social issues of which it is a part. That huge majority knows that the abortion ban does not address the problem. They prefer to let individuals and their physicians address the problems that result in the consideration of abortion as an option.

The abortion ban is the most salient symptom of how democracy can fail. It came out of a legislature that is run like a Pierre politburo. While people find it a preposterous piece of legislation, they also have come to recognize how the hearings held on the bill and its drafting were a sham exercise in democracy through which people with tyrannical ambitions tried to dupe the electorate while it imposed its perverse will on the people.

The abortion ban is merely one way a totalitarian faction is trying to subvert democracy and criminalize those people who hold political viewpoints different from theirs. The script is right out of Orwell's 1984. While undergoing a brain-washing session, the protagonist is told by an indoctrinator:

"The Party seeks power entirely for its own sake. We are not interested in the good of others; we are interested solely in power. Not wealth or luxury or long life or happiness; only power, pure power... We know that no one every seizes power with the intention of relinquishing it. Power is not a means; it is an end...The objection of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power."

Citizens who have informed themselves as to what the abortion ban will do, how it came about, and who is behind it realize that the humane claims behind it are a sham. If they were interested in saving lives, they would be addressing the grotesque and damaging inequities afflicting people in the state. They have found a way to impose power on people who might otherwise make individual decisions and try to live their lives on their own terms.

The propaganda coming out of the right-wingdingnut faction reflects another of their beliefs, often expressed on their blogs. In an afteword, Eric Fromm summarizes the underlying premise of the propaganda:

"'Reality exists in the human mind and nowhere else...whatever the Party holds to be truth is truth.' If this is so, then by controlling men's minds the Party controls truth...'the leaders of the Party do not even pretend that their system is intended to make man happier, because men being frail and
cowardly creatures, want to escape freedom and are unable to face the truth. The leaders are aware of the fact that they have only one aim, and that is power...And power means the capacity to inflict unlimited pain and suffering to another human being.' Power, then, for them creates reality, it creates truth."

If blogs serve any purpose in politics today, they allow people to examine the thought and expression of political factions. If you surf through some of the wingnut blogs, you will find Orwell's description of insidious totalitarian purpose expressed time and again.

Abortion is the cover issue. Look at other issues such as the secretizing of government, the closing of public records, the assaults against public broadcasting and public education--which might act as sources of information that the rightwingdings don't want you to hear. And look at the regressive and punitive tax system in South Dakota.

If there is a regeneration of political interest in South Dakota, it is because people realize the issue is their freedom and power for power's sake.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006


Meet South Dakota's next governor

Jack Billion <--------------------------------------------------------------------> Dennis Wiese
This week is a great opportunity to meet South Dakota's next governor. Both Democratic candidates will in Brown County for events Thursday and Friday that are open to the public and provide a chance to hear the men present their cases and their campaigns and provide a chance for people to meet them personally. Jack Billion and Dennis Wiese have agreed to appear together and begin an informative and constructive discussion and analysis of the issues that confront (and in some cases plague) South Dakota.

Thursday's April meeting of the Brown County Democrats will be at 6 p.m. at Tacoma Park Place. It is located on County Highway 13 about 15 miles east of Aberdeen near the James River. Its address is 39849 127th St.

The meeting is important because the membership needs to authorize the payment of some bills and spending money on updated voter lists for Districts 2 and 3. However, it will be short, and at 7 p.m. a reception will be held for the candidates. Tacoma Park Place has a lovely view of the James River Valley and some of the richest farmland in the state. The candidates will be working in one of the loveliest East River Settings, and people will have the chance to greet spring as it brings its lushness to the valley.

On Friday, the candidates will appear at the Dollar-A-Month Club at the Pizza Ranch in Aberdeen. In addition to some updates from congressional offices, county officials, and candidates, the men will be provided a half hour each to address the gathering. While the meeting is scheduled from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., people will have plenty of opportunity to ask questions and visit at the end of the meeting.

The buffet is $8, $6 for seniors. Those on stringent diets can grab a coke or coffee and make a small donation to the kitty. Or not.

The issues in the campaign this year, both national and state, indicate the need for a different kind of leadership, if America is to survive as the land of freedom, equality, opportunity, and equal justice under the law. Both candidates have remarkable credentials in dealing with social issues.

Jack Billion is a retired orthopedic surgeon from Sioux Falls. He also served in the state legislature and is currently chair of the Minnehaha County Democrats.

Dennis Wiese was president of the South Dakota Farmers Union for 12 years, providing cooperative services and lobbying for farmers in the Statehouse. He is currently heading an economic venture organization.

Come and help save South Dakota and learn how to get it done.

Saturday, April 22, 2006


A lot of people want totalitarian government

The CIA fired Mary O. McCarthy Friday because she was identified as the person in the agency who told reporters that the CIA operated secret prisons for captured Al Qaida operatives. The stories on those secret prisons and on the Bush administration's spying on U.S. citizens won Pulitzer Prizes for the articles.

With the ascendancy of George W. Bush to the presidency, the U.S. became a working model of Oceania, the country in which George Orwell's 1984 is set. Many of the civil liberties which have distinguished America from totalitarian republics have been canceled or are eroding away. The tough fact is that many people want it that way. Here is a comment from a blog on the subject:

BEFORE I FORGET Friday, April 21, 2006
I would just like to take a moment to congratulate the New York Times and Washington Post on their Pulitzers for undermining our national security. Way to go.The Pulitzer can now take its place next to the Nobel Peace Prize in irrelevance.

That comment was made by Dawn J. Benko, a woman who identifies herself as a photographer for the Daily Record, A Gannett newspaper in Morris County, New Jersey. She also says she is a right wingnut.

If Mary McCarthy did in fact leak information, she did so in the spirit of a democracy that, until recently, prided itself on the fact that government offcials work at the behest of the people. Therefore the people have both a right and a need to know how that government is conducting itself. Sometimes people, like some colleagues of Mary McCarthy have suggested, will sacrifice their personal careers and lives to keep Big Brother from running secret prisons where no one can monitor whether they observe the rules and from keeping citizens under surveillance and the threat of "vaporization."

As the blog quotation indicates, there is a significant number of U. S. citizens who do not support freedom, equality, justice for all, and the openness of government required to allow the people to hold their government accountable.

In South Dakota we have seen a legislative session in which elected representatives acted more like they were in the Kremlin of the Cold War Years, not Pierre in the age of terror. The abortion ban was conceived and passed in an atmosphere of deceit and intimidation. The cut of funding for Public Broadcasting, although restored, revealed a governing process that has much more to do with totalitarian objectives than it did democratic integrity.

We live in a time when secrecy is a requisite for the kind of government some people want. They brand as criminals and traitors anyone who exposes nefarious workings within government.

America is split between those who believe in the Bill of Rights and those who want to hold the citizenry in thralldom.

The election of 2006 is about whether we will honor the American revolution and the great experiment in democracy. Or whether the majority wants to return to feudalism and the rule of tyranny and subterfuge.

Here is link to TPM Cafe that gives deep insight into the Mary McCarthy firing.

Thursday, April 20, 2006


Time to identify the issues, forget the blogs

At 7 a.m Wednesday morning, the 2006 election campaign season got down to serious business. Gubernatorial candidate Jack Billion stopped by Aberdeen at the Ramada Inn on his tour of the state in promoting his candidacy in the Democratic Primary.

His primary opponent, Dennis Wiese, held his Aberdeen campaign stop on April 7. The men are entering a contest that has raised speculations about how the men can be reduced to "defining themselves" with the kind of snarling defamations that characterized the Republican primary campaign that sent the party's leading contenders down in flames and gave the nomination to Mike Rounds.

A Republican blog conjectured that the men cannot successfully identify their differences without getting into a pissing duel against each other. The Rapid City Journal political blog, Mt. Blogmore, asked what their campaign managers should tell them to attack about Gov. Rounds. The real problem with politics is expressed in those assumptions.

The popular mentality has been so conditioned by tabloids like the National Enquirer, cable television's obsession with personality traits as things to be condemned, and with the petty meanness of blogs that it can no longer understand the politics of issues.

Gov. Rounds can stand or fall on his record. While his use of a taxpayer-bought airplane is a blatant abuse of privilege, it is an expression of values and priorities. It fits with his legislative leadership in passing the infamous "gag law" which reduces South Dakota democracy to the status of a banana republic.

Let Dennis Wiese and Jack Billion examine the policies of the state and recommend their solutions to the problems they identify.

Let those who are obsessed with maligning and defaming people who think differently than they do have the blogosphere.

South Dakota has real problems to confront:

Let the real discussions begin. Let the blogs do the verbal lynchings among themselves.


We'll beat BOJ to it

Pull my finger, but be gentle, please.

Friday, April 14, 2006


You can lead them to slaughter but you can't make them think

The Bush administration has used a ploy to whip citizens into line on the war on Iraq that held about two-thirds of the nation in a pants-wetting fear until this year. Now tw0-thirds of the people know that claims that got us into the war were false. They understand the political coercion that voted Bush back into office and the waste of the lives of our troops in a battle that can't be won by military force.

As the administration turned on its propaganda machine, about one-fourth of the people who were paying attention knew that the claims of weapons of mass destruction and links of Iraq to Al Qaida were suspicious at best. Information coming from the weapons inspectors, the foreign press, and scholarly observers of the Middle East kept pointing out the flimsy and sometimes patently bogus evidence. But the nation was gripped by the fears of 9/11 and chose to believe the president and his hacks and follow the president's lead in calling anyone who had doubts about the war traitorous, unpatriotic, and insulting to our troops.

A plethora of books and news articles chronicled the fact that Bush and his Oval Office cronies were dead set on going to war and they would deceive, contrive, and issue false information to realize their objective. Even after cabinet members and high officials were deposed for objecting to and revealing White House tactics, a majority of Americans joined in denouncing them as unpatriotic and disloyal to George Bush. The home of the free and land of the brave turned into cowering throng that showed courage only when they peeked out from behind the president to shout their insult and abuse at critics of the war and the president.

The neo-conservative minions taught us one big lesson: thought control and rule-by-thought-police can happen it America. Because it did.

Now as the pogrom of deceit, dishonesty, and intimidation unravels and two-thirds of the people can no longer believe or trust what the White House told them, the military is making its doubts heard.

Six generals have called for the resignation of Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld. The big question is if these men saw bad policy and unadvisable military action implemented, where were they during the discussion and planning of the war? The answer is easy. Generals get promoted by doing what they are told better than their peers. Questioning authority or asking for an accounting of battle plans is not something you do if you want to be a general officer. The path to military success is to suck, suck, suck.

The picture of Gen. Colin Powell in the role of Secretary of State getting up in front of the U.N. and using The White House lie about trailers being used to manufacture biological weapons to get us into the war stuck in the minds of all who have been in the military. When Powell stepped down and his former chief of staff, another career military man, said it was the worst day of his life, we got a picture of an honorable and competent soldier being used by the Bush Adminstration for devious and dishonorable purposes.

The denunciation of Donald Rumsfeld by the six generals is in fact a lining up behind Colin Powell. They did not question the war on Iraq in more strident terms because they feared for their jobs. They were used and abused, and now they voice their misgivings and their resentment that their advice was not requested or heeded. It is one hell of a way to plan a battle.

But there is more behind this moral defection. The worst thing a commander can do in the field is send his troops into a slaughter that has no ground to gain and no advantage to be had. While we celebrate the efficiency and honor of our troops, we hide behind those stupid ribbon decals on our automobiles rather than admit the fact that the lives of our troops in Iraq, like the lives of our troops in Viet Nam, are being wasted.

One of the generals calling for Rumsfeld's resignation put it best when he said that wars should not be planned and run by those who do not have to deal with the results.

The generals have 2,500 lives and 10,000 maimed young people to account for. But so does the two-thirds of America that denounced valid critics of the war as traitorous and unpatriotic.

It happened in America.

Monday, April 10, 2006


If Constitutional Amendment E sucks, Amendment F nibbles

A concerted non-partisan effort is being made to expose the silliness of Constitutional Amendement E on the South Dakota ballot. We applaud those who bring constitutional amendments into the full light and heat of discussion.

We fear, however, that the outrage against Amendment E may diminish attention from amendments with just as much implication for democracy in South Dakota. Amendment F proposes to cut some confusing and outmoded chaff from the state constitution. One improvement is in the article governing open meetings of the leglislature and its committees:

Here is the proposed article:

The sessions of each house and of the committee of the whole shall be open, unless when the business is such as ought to be kept secret. All legislative sessions and joint sessions shall be open to the public unless a two-thirds majority of the membership declares the business is such as ought to be kept secret. No votes may be taken at any session or meeting closed to the public.

This is an improvement over the vague language in the Constitutiona now, and it requires a super-majority to close a meeting. However, it still does not solve the problem and secrecy and subterfuge in government, where the ruling party often commands a two-thirds majority. There are few cases in which secrecy can be justified. Some personnel matters and certain negotiations require secrecy. The Constitution should require that complete records be kept of proceedings in any secret sessions and be subject to being opened after a certain time. The public needs the means to hold its elected and appointed officials accountable for ALL their actions.

The revised amendment also removes the prohibition against passing any special laws that give special privileges and immunities to any individuals, associations, or corporations. That article needs to be retained.

I am not sure Amendment F should be approved until someone gets it right.


Me? A liberal?

Yeah, I got recognized for being a good Democrat once.


South Dakota follows El Salvador's lead to the Third World

Unwanted pregnancies, how to prevent them, and how to resolve them are too important to be left to the perpetrators of HB 1215 and the scurrilous name-calling of what we so eupemistically term the "blogosphere." Like most civilized people, we do not approve of abortion or of the circumstances in which one might be contemplated. Our objection is to the criminalization of it. We have noted over the decades that the so-called Pro-Life movement is fraught with hate-sloganeering and anti-living actions.

South Dakota embraces so many Third World values that its latest foray into the realm of personal denigration and oppression does not surprise us. The New York Times Magazine has a lengthy piece that looks into what it is like to live in a nation that criminalizes abortions. It is time to move discussion of the issue from deranged bloggers and would-be oppressors to the consideration of people who can solve problems with intelligence and respect. This article is a good place to start the dialogue.

Sunday, April 02, 2006


Yes, we submitted a petition to run in the primary

Family illness has intruded, mine and other members of the family, and I am splitting time between South Dakota and Illinois. Nevertheless, I have submitted petitions to the Secretary of State's Office to run in the primary for a District 3 house seat. I have had to depend upon others to solicit the signatures and get the petitions processed.

The lack of posts on the Nothern Valley Beacon is because of more urgent duties, but also because I continue to question blogging as a constructive activity--except in a few cases.


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