This note is to let SDP readers know I'm taking a much needed break from blogging for awhile. I'm going to Key West to recharge the batteries and get away from it all. I'll be back on May 24th.
This note is to let SDP readers know I'm taking a much needed break from blogging for awhile. I'm going to Key West to recharge the batteries and get away from it all. I'll be back on May 24th.
The Argus Leader has a story today headlined "Violations alleged in Senate race." Excerpt:
[A]ides to Republican candidate John Thune say fliers mailed to advertise this month's South Dakota Technology Summit, hosted by Senate Democratic leader Tom Daschle, violated campaign finance laws because Daschle's name and picture are featured.
The summit, which Daschle has hosted every year since 2001, brings together South Dakota business representatives in an effort to help the state capture high-tech jobs.
Thune's campaign contends the mailing is a backdoor way of promoting Daschle by using the corporate money that will pay for the conference. Under new campaign rules that took effect in November 2002, candidates are no longer allowed to work with outside groups - such as the tech-summit organizers - on mailings or ads that refer to candidates within 120 days of a primary or general election.
Only two weeks ago, the Daschle campaign even admitted they violated the federal campaign law that Daschle championed. The Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act (BCRA) was one of Daschle's top priorities when he was the Senate Majority Leader. Shouldn't Tom Daschle be "troubled" by his campaign systematically breaking the law he championed?
D. Elliot Apland of Sioux Falls has an excellent letter-to-the-editor published in today's Argus Leader. Excerpt:
Voting records speak for themselves, and I hope you will study the voting record of Tom Daschle. I doubt John Kerry will carry this state in the election, so take note that John Kerry and Tom Daschle's voting records have a strong parallel.
UPDATE: This Reuters photo was taken March 11, at the conclusion of a press conference in which John Kerry said he stood by his comments referring to President Bush and his advisers as “the most crooked ... lying group I’ve ever seen.” What was that again about Tom Daschle decrying the "startling meanness" in politics?
Bill Sammon of the Washington Times has a fascinating behind-the-scenes account of the mid-term elections in '02 headlined "Democrats played into GOP hands." The passage in the piece regarding Tom Daschle's maneuverings during the run-up to the Iraq war is most interesting:
The public was livid over Mr. McDermott's stunt, which recalled Jane Fonda's infamous visit to Hanoi. Then-House Minority Leader Richard A. Gephardt came under intense pressure to get his caucus under control.
Sensing an opportunity, the White House quietly opened a direct line of negotiation with the Missouri Democrat over the congressional resolution authorizing war.
"It was a night-and-day difference between Gephardt — who was straightforward and 'I'm with you' — and Daschle, who was the nuanced, on-the-one-hand-this-on-the-other-hand-that guy," Mr. Rove said. "Daschle basically was saying very noncommittal things."
And so, Mr. Daschle became the only congressional leader not present at a bipartisan show of support for the president in the Rose Garden. His absence was glaringly obvious as Mr. Bush surrounded himself with Democrats and Republicans from both houses of Congress.
Nine days later, even Mr. Daschle came around to the president's way of thinking. He was among a minority of congressional Democrats who voted yes on the resolution authorizing the president to wage war against Iraq.
Hugh Hewitt urges his readers to contribute to John Thune after digesting the following remark on the Senate floor from Senator Ted Kennedy on Monday:
"Shamefully we now learn that Saddam's torture chambers reopened under new management, U.S. management."
The New Republic's Ryan Lizza briefly discusses his 2002 Election Day experience in Sioux Falls following around Republican volunteers conducting the get-out-the-vote effort. Excerpt:
In 2000, I spent Election Day hanging out in Newark, New Jersey with Democrats who specialize in turning out black voters. In 2002, I spent Election Day in Sioux Falls, South Dakota with leaders of the GOP's new get-out-the-vote operation, the 72-Hour Task Force. In Newark, the work was easy. Nine out of ten blacks vote for Democrats, so GOTV targeting was strictly racial. The "flushers" would pour into black neighborhoods and try to get every voter they could find to the polls. In South Dakota, the Republicans I hung out with worked a suburban neighborhood that was a mix of Democrats and Republicans. This meant that months of phones calls and door-knocking researching how the residents would vote had to precede the actual flushing. On Election Day, as they worked the neighborhood, the GOP flushers skipped over the homes that had already been identified as housing Democrats.
Last November, Tom Daschle said on the Senate floor that he "reluctantly" supported the energy bill, and would "understand and respect my colleagues who oppose this bill." This bill would have more than doubled ethanol production. You can read the relevant portion of Daschle's floor statement contained in the Congressional Record HERE. Excerpt from the CQ piece:
I understand and respect my colleagues who oppose this bill. There is much in this conference report that is objectionable.
Despite secrecy, the partisanship and the shortcomings in this bill, I will vote to invoke cloture—reluctantly— because America needs to improve its energy situation, and I think this proposal takes a few small steps forward.
The cloture vote was a major victory for New York Democrat Charles E. Schumer, whose filibuster threat over MTBE was dismissed by Republicans earlier in November as insignificant.
The vote was a challenge for Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle, D-S.D., who was forced to cast a vote on a Republican bill that most of his Democratic colleagues opposed but that included provisions on ethanol--the fuel additive made from corn--that most of his constituents support.
Daschle, who is up for re-election in 2004, handled the issue gingerly, saying he "reluctantly" supported the bill and quietly voting to end debate even as a majority of Democrats voted to sustain a filibuster.
Despite the final total, GOP leaders were actually just two votes shy of the 60 needed to end the filibuster....
To secure the 60 votes needed to win Senate passage, Republican leaders included generous provisions for ethanol to win votes from Daschle and other Midwestern Democrats.
The bill would require a more than doubling of ethanol production by 2012, providing a major economic boost farm states....
Schumer's victory on the cloture vote certainly strengthened Daschle's hand on Capitol Hill, dealing Republicans in the White House and in Congress a stinging rebuke. But the victory in Washington could weaken Daschle in his home state if the bill and its ethanol provisions are sunk.
"The ethanol provisions [in the bill] are the best thing for American farmers that we will ever see," Domenici warned....
Agricultural lobbyists--who represent South Dakota's leading industry--said Daschle could suffer from political backlash if Republicans do not succeed in passing the energy bill. That would especially be true among corn farmers, who would see their profits soar under the bill as the price per bushel increased.
Those affiliated with the state's burgeoning ethanol industry may also take their anger out on Daschle if an energy bill is not enacted this year, said Lisa Richardson, executive director of the South Dakota Corn Growers Association. She ticked off a number of statistics to underscore her point.
The state currently has seven ethanol plants, and five more are in various stages of development, she said. More than 8,000 farm families have invested in ethanol production in the state. And the industry provides 400 direct jobs at plants and thousands of indirect jobs in rural areas of the state.
"It will be hard to come back to South Dakota without it," Richardson said. "As leader of that side, people expect" him to deliver his party's votes....
Jason Glo[d]t, executive director of the South Dakota Republican Party, said Republicans would "absolutely" use the issue against Daschle in his bid for a fourth term, especially in light of news reports that he did little to pressure his colleagues to support the bill.
"He's basically running his campaign on his ability to deliver for South Dakota," Glo[d]t said. "This energy bill goes directly to the issue of whether or not he can deliver for South Dakota, whether or not he has any clout."
Less than one year out from his next contest, [Daschle] is considered the clear front-runner. He has drawn no top-tier challengers, has a sizable treasury and is already airing campaign ads on television -- the first of which touted his longtime advocacy for ethanol.
But Daschle could falter if a certain Republican -- popular former Rep. John Thune (1997-2003) -- were to jump into the race....
Thune spokesman Ryan Nelson said Daschle's failure to enact ethanol legislation would factor into his boss's decision on whether to mount a Senate bid and also said Thune would "absolutely" make it an issue if he runs.
"If he can only convince less than a quarter of his caucus that ethanol is a good thing for America, I think that is a failure," Nelson said. "He's not lifting a finger to convince his caucus that this is the right thing for his country."
Daschle validated that claim to some extent the morning of the cloture vote, when he took to the floor to notify his colleagues that he would vote for cloture but that he understood their choice to mount a filibuster and respected them for it.
Brian Hansen, a former punter in the NFL, and currently the state director of the South Dakota chapter of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, has an interesting letter in today's edition of the Rapid City Journal:
Regarding the recent TV ads featuring Stephanie Herseth and her reference to the Fellowship of Christian Athletes: The South Dakota Fellowship of Christian Athletes has not been contacted about the use of our name in her ad. We do not endorse or support Stephanie Herseth in any way, and we were very surprised to see FCA mentioned in her ad.
FCA, as a non-profit charitable organization, is not able to support or endorse any political candidate or cause.
However, our hope and prayer for the candidates of this very important race in our state is that they will be led by or led to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
State Director, Fellowship of Christian Athletes
As promised, I have tracked down many of the past writings of Patrick Lalley, currently the assistant managing editor at the Argus Leader. Lalley was promoted to that post last fall, according to a report in the November 7, 2003 edition of the AL headlined "Argus Leader's state, city editors promoted." "[T]he opportunity to move Patrick into a senior editor role...was one I just couldn't pass up," said Randell Beck, executive editor at the AL, according to the report. Previously, Lalley had served as state editor for the AL. Today, in his capacity as assistant managing editor, Lalley generally has the final say in the day-to-day operations of the AL newsroom. He decides what goes in and what stays out. In many ways, it's not news in South Dakota until Patrick Lalley says it's news.
From 1990 to 1994, Lalley served as editor of the now defunct Sioux Falls Tempest, an alternative bi-weekly publication that could be picked up for free in the lobbies of various establishments in Sioux Falls and the surrounding vicinity. What I have discovered in many of these writings lends some insight into the split-second, day-to-day decisions that are made in the chaotic atmosphere of the newsroom, and explains why these split-second decisions almost always cut in favor of liberal interests.
I am certain that Patrick Lalley is a good person, and this post I have written is intended to shed light on what sort of institution the Argus Leader is. This post is offered in the spirit of the people's right to know, because I believe that the people's right to know does not stop at the newsroom door. Unfortunately, the AL leadership takes serious issue with the public's right to know about the decisionmaking process in the newsroom, as indicated by Randell Beck's comments last summer.
Every piece of Lalley's that I cite below is a publicly available record and is fair game to analyze and discuss. (The Tempest archives can be viewed at the South Dakota State Historical Society in Pierre.) I link to the entire text of every document I cite, giving the reader the opportunity to decide for himself whether my characterizations of the document are valid. In short, this post is an attempt at media accountability. It's fair to watch the watchdogs. I am a determined critic of the AL because I want it to become the daily document it is capable of becoming, rather than to continue as the Democratic pamphlet it is widely and justifiably perceived as being.
With all of that in mind, let us turn to what I have discovered.
Patrick Lalley wrote an editorial piece for almost every edition of the Tempest during his tenure there. These pieces usually appeared on page five. Perhaps it is best to first read this semi-autobiographical piece Lalley wrote for the February 19-March 3, 1992 edition of the Tempest, in order to understand his approach to the world.
In a piece for the June 10-23, 1992 edition, Lalley wrote that his editorials "set the tone" for the Tempest. Interestingly, one of the first issues of the Tempest, dated March 1990, (when Lalley was managing editor) contains a letter from Catherine V. Piersol of Sioux Falls, a prominent Democratic activist in the state, offering her "congratulations on giving Sioux Falls an answer to the Village Voice." For those readers who are unaware, the Village Voice is an extremely liberal New York City publication, as a visit to its website can easily attest.
In a September 1990 editorial, Lalley indicated that Gary Hart was his "hero," who was "the dashing savior of the anti-Reaganites" and would "surely defeat the evil Republicans." Relevant excerpt:
Strangely, as the Persian Gulf crisis unfolded I found myself thinking back to a simpler time, a time of heroes and villains. In 1987, my hero was Gary Hart, the dashing savior of the anti-Reaganites. At that time if someone would have said Donna Rice, I would have replied, "No, I'll have the baked potato."
In the race for the Democratic nomination in the 1988 Presidential race it was rather difficult to pick out the issues. Hell, it was difficult to pick out faces let alone issues. But Hart was leading the pack. He didn't need issues, he had image. He was the most promising Democrat since Kennedy--any Kennedy--and he would surely defeat the evil Republicans. Hey, I said it was a simple time.
In 1992, when Senator Tom Daschle was up for reelection, facing Republican Charlene Haar, Lalley wrote a piece profiling the candidates dated October 28-November 10, 1992. Not surprisingly, Daschle is portrayed positively in the piece, while Haar is portrayed negatively. Now that Daschle is facing a tough reelection battle in 2004, the 1992 piece is an illuminating example of what can be expected in the day-to-day decisionmaking Lalley will make as the year progresses. As I have already noted, the AL has developed a troubling pattern of ignoring negative stories about Daschle, but fully covering and following up on negative stories about Thune.
Ironically, Lalley occasionally blasted the AL during his tenure at the Tempest. Because of the Tempest's success in its niche coverage of local music and cultural events, the AL's editors decided to try their hand at competing with the Tempest, publishing a supplement to the Thursday edition of the AL named Venture. Lalley wrote the following, in a piece dated October 4-27, 1992:
You need to ask yourself who better represents your interests in this community: this tiny publication, that is basically a few well-intentioned people with a couple Macintosh computers, or the huge media conglomerate that sucks untold millions out of this community every year, with the profits earmarked for the corporate coffers in Washington D.C. or wherever it is the Gannett fortress calls home?
Since time eternal, it seems, people in Sioux Falls have been complaining about the Argus Leader, our daily newspaper.
As the largest daily in South Dakota, the Argus should elicit a certain amount of attention from the populace. But mentioning the Argus anymore is about the easiest way to receive a sneer or half-hearted "hrumph" in conversation. The paper doesn't have the best of reputations.
However, with a few exceptions, the people who complain about news coverage generally have no particulars on why they think the Argus is the worst publication they have ever seen, other than how "liberal" they are. I have news for you: they aren't as far to the left as you might think.
There are some things to keep in mind when discussing the Argus and media in general. With the exception of the Public Broadcasting System, media is a business, a big business....
Businesses need to advertise to bring in business. The voting populace needs to be informed to make decisions on issues and topics that face us. We need the media to survive as a democracy. There is a balance between what we want to know and what we should know. The Argus is the best example of that....
I think that as part of the Gannett chain of papers, they are overly influenced by the dollar and the bottom line, but that's my opinion....
Your comments, as always, are welcome, because media coverage is an issue and, like other issues, it needs to be discussed to establish what is best for the community as a whole.
Lalley does throw something of a curveball in a piece written in 1992 entitled "H. Ross Perot for President." However, when you read the content of the piece, you get a sense of what issues are important to Lalley, and his view of the issues almost always seems to cut in favor of the left. Excerpt:
On issues [Ross Perot] is as non-partisan as they come. He is pro-choice, pro-gun control, hyper-patriotic, supported the Contras and Reagan, but opposed the Gulf War.
Voting for Bush has never been an option for me and Clinton is a political opportunist who I believe has forgotten, or perhaps never cared, about the American left and the working men and women of this country.
For a glimpse of Lalley's views on the first Gulf War, see this piece, dated December 1990. The piece also offers a glimpse of Lalley's liberal views on the environment.
Another issue Lalley discusses in an editorial for the Tempest dated September 16-29, 1992, is the death sentence handed down for Donald Moeller, one of the most notorious and repugnant murderers in the history of South Dakota. "Please don't kill Donald Moeller," Lalley wrote. Lalley is opposed to the death penalty, which is certainly a legitimate position to take, and one on which reasonable people can disagree. However, Lalley's position on the death penalty, like most of his positions on a swathe of issues, are not positions taken by the majority of South Dakotans.
Lalley also addresses his concern about an "ill-informed populace" with "little concern for the machinations of governmental bodies" in this piece. This concern is poignant given the AL's penchant for ignoring Tom Daschle's behind-the-scenes machinations on such issues as ethanol, or the Unborn Victims of Violence Act. As DVT has noted, such behavior at the AL is strangling democracy, by not giving voters all of the information they deserve to know. Lalley himself wrote a piece dated February 15-26, 1991 in which he declared "The free exchange of dialogue is the cornerstone of Democracy at every level." It's high time the AL put that concept into practice.
Finally, in Lalley's farewell piece dated January 26 - February 8, 1994, he made the following announcement:
In what could be construed as a sellout, I have taken a position in the mainstream media in a neighboring community. I have been critical of the mainstream for many years and I have come to the conclusion that I have an obligation to work from the inside, as it were. I'm not on some covert mission of reform but I am hopeful that my perspective will be welcomed. I intend to be fair, unbiased, truthful and tenacious.
Tom Daschle has frequently engaged in "Sopranos-style intimidation tactics" here in South Dakota, as Jeff Gannon, resident DC expert on South Dakota politics, has reported.
Stuart Rothenberg, a contributing writer to Roll Call, a Capitol Hill publication, has a piece in today's edition of Roll Call headlined "Will Herseth Benefit From Buyer’s Remorse?" Excerpt:
[Larry Diedrich's] first TV ad tries to draw a distinction with Herseth on taxes. After noting that he and Herseth have “promised no personal attacks,” Diedrich argues that, “To make an informed decision, you also deserve a respectful debate about issues. About where we agree, and yes, where we disagree. For example, we both strongly support country-of-origin labeling. But on tax cuts, I think they should be made permanent. Stephanie does not.”
Compared to other “comparative” spots, this one isn’t merely restrained. It’s downright wimpy. The Republican not only indicates an issue of agreement with his Democratic opponent, he states the alleged difference of opinion in a straightforward, unemotional way.
In turn, Herseth responded as if Diedrich just accused her of strangling kittens. She badly overreacted, making herself the one guilty of directing a “negative attack.” In her response spot, Herseth asserts that the Republican “tries to mislead you about my position on taxes,” a far more loaded phrase than any her opponent used.
Then, she lowers the boom on him, closing her ad with, “I approved this message because I’m committed to a truthful campaign. It’s clear that Larry Diedrich is not.”
On one hand, I can admire the Herseth ad, since she has smartly played the “negative attacks” card in her efforts to make it impossible for her opponent to draw any comparisons in the future. The state’s voters have shown their fatigue with negative attacks, and any candidate who is widely viewed as being too negative will be punished.
But on the other hand, Herseth is like the little boy who cries “wolf” when no threatening animal is in sight. And little boys (or girls) who cry wolf shouldn’t be rewarded for their supposed cleverness.
Herseth’s response is a classic effort at inoculation. She is trying to make it impossible for Diedrich to identify differences with her, even if they exist.
If Diedrich were merely misstating her position, she could simply say so and assert her support for making the Bush tax cuts permanent. But things aren’t always as clear as that with Herseth, or at least so say Republicans. They complain that her positions are fuzzy and that she adds caveats and modifiers in an effort to avoid taking a clear-cut position.
I’m certainly not going to attempt to referee this argument. It’s up to Diedrich to make his case and Herseth to fend off his charges. But I must admit that, while I was impressed with Herseth when I interviewed her, I also had an uneasy feeling about her.
Although Herseth has never held elective office, she talks like a politician (in my interviews with her, not in her TV commercials, which are very well done). She appears very cautious in selecting her words, giving the impression that she is trying to answer questions without revealing much.
I received my doctoral hood last Friday night at the law school's traditional private hooding ceremony. Congressional Medal of Honor recipient Col. Bud Day, a USD Law alum (Class of '49), and the most decorated officer since General Douglas MacArthur, gave the keynote address, titled "Law in a Time of War." Col. Day reminisced about his law school days, and also made it clear that he supported the Iraq war, as well as President Bush. I don't think that's something you hear at most law school commencement exercises around the country.
Anyway, now it's time to prepare for the bar exam.
On a completely unrelated note, this weekend I happened to read this interesting article on blogging, published in Mother Jones, that's worth a read. I thought I'd recommend it to SDP readers.