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Saturday, February 14, 2004

Tony Dean belittles landowners
Tony Dean posted an attack toward property rights as he belittles South Dakota ranchers and farmers. First he tries his usual divisive tactic:

And there was a lot of talk about property rights; about how the right to own private land is what’s made America great. And said with such fervor that you had to wonder if anyone who owned no property could possibly be a patriot. It's the "you're either with us or you're agin us" stuff that George Bush uses so effectively.

And then I realized that this wasn’t about them; those in the majority that are “out there, somewhere.”. I refer to the Joe Averages of this world. They hunt and fish on weekends, doing most of their hunting on the crowded public lands. They own no land of their own and they're struggling to buy their kids tennis shoes and keep their financial heads above the waterline. They are totally under-represented in this and other legislative bodies and always will be. They contribute the monies via their income taxes that support the government programs all of these “landowners” take advantage of and pay little into.

Tony Dean’s far-left hypocrisy can be found in the above shot at the President. His essay was based on the House Agriculture and Natural Resource Committee’s hearing on HB 1194, a measure that attempted to put a time cap on conservation easements. That committee amended that legislation to remove Tony Dean’s prized wetland easements. Instead of being happy with the compromise, he stabs landowners in the back and then wonders why they are angry.

In addition he argues that ‘Joe Average’, who are “struggling to buy their kids tennis shoes and keep their financial heads above the waterline”…“contribute the monies via their income taxes that support the government programs all of these “landowners” take advantage of and pay little into”. Just fewer than 50% of American pay no Income Tax and some, who can’t afford tennis shoes for their kids, receive Child Credits. He misleads his followers into thinking that the hard working farmers and ranchers are taking money away from the poor...and he wonders what makes them angry.

Later he repeats this con job:

Few people have ever heard me complain about paying taxes. That's because I don't. I've always figured that if I am paying a lot of income taxes, well, maybe it's because I'm making money. That's probably why George Bush's obvious appeal to those who don't want to pay any taxes, goes nowhere with me.

But if these landed gentry landowners get their way, Joe Average, that under-represented guy at the State Legislature, will shoulder the tax burden for them.

This time Tony Dean adds the far-left Marxist class warfare propaganda into the discussion. That tone comes up again:

Let’s face facts. There isn’t enough land in South Dakota for each of us to own our own 160 acres. Especially since some own so much more. But those fortunate landowners should also remember, as long as they’re relying on history to convince us that private land ownership is important to America, that our forefathers also fled the feudal system in Europe. There, you were either a have or a have not. Needless to say, there were a lot more of the latter, and many of them became Americans, whose offspring of today has forgotten their roots.

Note the strange reference to ‘feudal system’. Here is an analysis of the feudal system that contains this warning:

"Feudalism" and related terms should therefore be approached and used with considerable caution owing to the range of meanings associated with the term. It is important to remember that no medieval society ever described itself or its institutions and relationships as "feudal", and it is advisable to avoiding employing it to characterise phenomena for which others may find its use inappropriate.

Tony Dean is a master at spin and doesn’t care if he misleads. If Tony Dean would have his way, there would be no landowners. Just how feudal is that!

Wednesday, February 11, 2004

US verses UN
Here is a report that discloses a John Kerry belief:

The Harvard Crimson newspaper has unearthed a 1970 interview with John Kerry in which the then-congressional candidate said he favored eliminating the CIA and having the United States military deployed only by the authority of the United Nations.
"I'm an internationalist," Kerry told The Harvard Crimson 10 months after returning home from Vietnam. "I'd like to see our troops dispersed through the world only at the directive of the United Nations."

This far-left platform of the Democrat party helps explain Tom Daschle’s failure of diplomacy comment on the eve of war. Here is an USATODAY excerpt:

Daschle, of South Dakota, supported a congressional resolution last year authorizing Bush to use force in Iraq, but he has criticized the president for failing to win the support of the U.N. Security Council.
"I'm saddened, saddened that this president failed so miserably at diplomacy that we're now forced to war," Daschle said in a speech to the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. "Saddened that we have to give up one life because this president couldn't create the kind of diplomatic effort that was so critical for our country."
Racicot said "it is disheartening and shameful for Senator Daschle, who has previously advocated and authorized the use of force in Iraq, to now blame America first."

Blame America first. Is this what South Dakotans want from their Senator?
Found: A Smoking Gun
The following New York Times column by William Safire is too important for me to ignore. Since there is a problem accessing this column in the future, I am posting its entirety:

In the town of Kalar, about a hundred miles northeast of Baghdad, Kurdish villagers recently reported suspicious activity to the pesh merga.
That Kurdish militia has for years been waging a bloody battle with Ansar al-Islam, the terrorist group affiliated with Al Qaeda in Afghanistan and supported by Saddam Hussein in Iraq. It captured a courier carrying a message that demolishes the repeated claim of Bush critics that there was never a "clear link" between Saddam and Osama bin Laden.
The terrorist courier with a CD-ROM containing a 17-page document and other messages was Hassan Ghul, who confessed he was taking to Al Qaeda the Ansar document setting forth a strategy to start an Iraqi civil war, along with a plea for reinforcements. The Kurds turned him over to Americans for further interrogation, which is proving fruitful.
The Times reporter Dexter Filkins in Baghdad, backed up by Douglas Jehl in D.C., broke the story exclusively. Editors marked its significance by placing it on the front page above the fold. Although The Washington Post the next day buried it on Page 17 (and Newsweek may construe as bogus any Saddam-Osama connection) the messages' authenticity was best attested by the amazed U.S. official who told Reuters, "We couldn't make this up if we tried."
The author of the lengthy Ansar-to-Qaeda electronic message is suspected of being the most wanted terror operative in the world today: Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, long familiar to readers of this space as "the man with the limp," who personifies the link of Ansar and Al Qaeda.
On Sept. 24, 2001 — not two weeks after 9/11 — Kurdish sources led me to report: "The clear link between the terrorist in hiding [Osama] and the terrorist in power [Saddam] can be found in Kurdistan. . . . The Iraqi dictator has armed and financed a fifth column of Al Qaeda mullahs and terrorists. . . . Some 400 `Arab Afghan' mercenaries . . . have already murdered a high Kurdish official as well as a Muslim scholar who dared to interpret the Koran humanely."
The C.I.A. blew off that report. Our National Security Council did not learn of subsequent warfare against the Kurds by the Qaeda affiliate doing Saddam's bidding until its members read it in The Times. After Jeffrey Goldberg of the New Yorker and C. J. Chivers of The Times developed the story from inside northern Iraq, it dawned on some intelligence analysts that a "clear link" was probable.
On Oct. 7, 2002, President Bush said "We know that Iraq and Al Qaeda have had high-level contacts that go back a decade. Some Al Qaeda leaders who fled Afghanistan went to Iraq. These include one very senior Al Qaeda leader who received medical treatment in Baghdad this year."
The leader whose leg was treated, perhaps amputated, in Baghdad was identified here in January 2003, as Zarqawi (twice, after one misspelling). The presence of this international terrorist for two months in a Baghdad hospital required the approval of Saddam's ubiquitous secret police.
In his U.N. speech the following month, Colin Powell publicly identified the Palestinian, born in Jordan, as one who oversaw a terrorist training camp in Afghanistan three years before: "Iraq today harbors a deadly terrorist network headed by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, an associate and collaborator of Osama bin Laden."
Now we have documentary evidence of Ansar's current operation: employing suicide bombers to foment a civil war in Iraq that would reinstate safe haven for terrorists. The notion that these serial killers are not central players in the global network that attacked us — that the Ansar boss in Iraq must be found carrying an official Qaeda membership card signed by bin Laden — is simply silly.
Of the liberation's three casus belli, one was to stop mass murder, bloodier than in Kosovo; we are finding horrific mass graves in Iraq. Another was informed suspicion that a clear link existed between world terror and Saddam; this terrorist plea for Qaeda reinforcements to kill Iraqi democracy is the smoking gun proving that.
The third was a reasoned judgment that Saddam had a bioweapon that could wipe out a city; in time, we are likely to find a buried suitcase containing that, too.
More coverage on HB 1191
Here is a report on South Dakota’s fight to defend the life of the unborn.

New York City hates gun owners
Michelle Malkin has an excellent column that starts out with this:

Last week, Democrat City Councilwoman Gale Brewer introduced a resolution calling on the Republican National Committee "to repudiate the irresponsible and dangerous policies of the National Rifle Association," i.e., supporting the constitutional right of individuals to bear arms and defend their lives, family and property. Resolution 11 also proclaims that the city council "objects to the presence of the National Rifle Association at the 2004 Republican National Convention" (to be held in New York City in August) and demands that the RNC "denounce the intolerant and inflammatory comments made by members of the NRA leadership that are offensive to many communities that bring to the City the diversity that ensures its vibrancy."

Then she covers the Mayor of New York take:

So what does Republican In Name Only Mayor Bloomberg think of all this? He told New York magazine that all of the NRA leaders' comments were "reprehensible." In an interview with New York radio station WLIB on Tuesday, he basically gave rank-and-file gun owners the bird. Reacting to the announcement by two leading national gun-rights organizations, the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms and the Second Amendment Foundation, that they have cancelled plans to hold their 20th annual conference in New York City as a result of the mayor's condemnation, Bloomberg scoffed: "They're worried about the Second Amendment rather than the First." (The First Amendment apparently not applying to those who advocate the Second.)

Here is the wording of the First Amendment:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

May I point out that the New York City Council and Mayor are advocating that those who defend the Second Amendment has no First Amendment right “of the people peaceably to assemble”. So when Bloomberg states, “They're worried about the Second Amendment rather than the First"...his hypocrisy certainly allows Malkin to describe him as a RINO (Republican In Name Only).
Time to give Kranz credit
I have been critical of David Kranz’s bias. It is only fair to admit he did provide a balanced report on the Clinton fundraiser for Tom Daschle. Interestingly, I noticed the Associated Press removed much of that balance. Here is a block that Kranz reported, but the AP deleted:

When Clinton left office, a cloud of controversy followed him because of his relationship with intern Monica Lewinsky that led to impeachment by the House of Representatives but not conviction in the Senate.
Political liability is possible with such an event attended by the former president, said Larry Sabato, director of the University of Virginia Center for Politics.
"People have been trying to spin the idea that Bill Clinton is back and in great demand. Everyone wants to see him, touch him," Sabato said. "They say his record looks great compared to President Bush."
Whatever they think, people don't want to have to relive the scandals, though, Sabato said.

Here is a second block that the AP deleted:

Daschle's political ties with Clinton have never been a secret. As Democratic leader in the Senate, Daschle is credited with holding together his caucus, a factor considered a difference in keeping Clinton in office.
Dick Wadhams, Thune's campaign manager, is intrigued by one line in the fund-raising letter on Daschle's behalf from Clinton:
"When we tried to make meaningful progress on tough issues like health care and tobacco reforms, special interests clogged the airwaves with attack ads. But no matter what battle I faced, I always knew there was one friend I could count on, Tom Daschle."

Those two blocks are not favorable to Daschle and I was surprised that David Kranz wrote them. The fact that the AP removed them should make us all pause and evaluate their hidden agenda. Their end result of Kranz’s report was much more pro-Daschle than the original.
ABC News admit left bias
WorldNetDaily has a report that covers an ABC News web site column that contains this:

They include, but are not limited to, a near-universal shared sense that liberal political positions on social issues like gun control, homosexuality, abortion, and religion are the default, while more conservative positions are "conservative positions."

Keep this point in mind as you read this excerpt from David Kranz’s 1/25/2004 column which is in regard to the Diedrich-Herseth South Dakota House contest:

He brings his strong conservative philosophy to the campaign, probably against Democrat Stephanie Herseth, who is considerably more moderate.

Based on the 54 to 14 vote by the House in favor of banning abortion and Herseth’s support from pro-abortion Emily’s list, shouldn’t Herseth be labeled as liberal and Diedrich as moderate?

Kranz's column belongs on the opinion page and not in the news section.

Tuesday, February 10, 2004

More on SDGO
KELOAM has more on the reasons behind Saturday’s House State Affairs committee treatment of South Dakota Gun Owner's representatives:
A state lawmaker says an e-mail sent by a Rapid City-based pro-gun lobbying group would make most people feel threatened.
Republican Representative Joni Cutler of Sioux Falls received the message and gave a copy of it right away to legislative leaders and law enforcement officers.
Cutler says the e-mail was from a member of the South Dakota Gun Owners, a group that legislative leaders criticized for using threatening and dishonest lobbying techniques.
Cutler would not identify the sender or the contents.
But she says there was no doubt about the e-mail's purpose -- to discourage her from voting for legislation gun advocates don't like.

I don’t think SDGO speaks for all gun advocates. I went to Pierre on my own dime to speak on more than just gun issues. I urge more to do the same. Environmental extremist Tony Dean even has learned a lesson from this group's methods.

UPDATE: Here is a link to SDGO's web site that references Joni Cutler.

ANOTHER UPDATE: The bill that was referenced by the SDGO posting is HB 1131, an Act to prohibit the possession of certain items in an airport. The bill was stopped in committee on 2/2/2004, because there was already Federal law on this issue. I wonder if the Lautenschlagers believe this was worth the loss of their credibility?
BREAKING NEWS
House just passed HB 1191, the ban on most abortions in South Dakota. More details later.

UPDATE: The House vote on HB 1191 was 54 to 14.

Monday, February 09, 2004

Stop the spin
In last Sunday’s David Kranz column, Steve Hildebrand, Tom Daschle’s campaign manager made this comment regarding the lobbying issue:

As for Thune's statement about lobbying in Daschle's family, Hildebrand said, "It is clear that John Thune plans not just to attack Tom, but Tom's family."

I don’t believe Thune was knocking Linda Daschle for being a lobbyist. He was defending himself from attacks coming out of the Daschle camp, who have attacked Thune for being a lobbyist. He is simply pointing out the attacker’s hypocrisy. No offense to Linda. Hildebrand continues the time honored Democrat tradition...misleading the citizens.

Adopt a highway for babies
The Mitchell Daily Republic ran a South Dakota Family Policy Council’s Rob Regier column in support of HB 1191, the ban on abortion in South Dakota. Here is the great ending:

Our state has a wonderful Adopt-a-Highway program. Sadly, there are some people who care more about the trash in the ditch than the discarded bodies of unborn children.
Yes, a million dollars is a lot of money. But thankfully we live in a state where most people are willing to adopt that stretch of highway to try to prevent the death of 800 babies a year.


Abortion and Guns
My experience last week in Pierre started with Thursday’s House State Affairs committee hearing on HB 1191, the bill that will ban most abortions in South Dakota. If you listen to the four hour plus hearing, you should notice the professional, respectful, and constructive debate that would seem surprising on such a controversial issue. I am at a loss for words to describe what it was like to witness this hearing in person.

On Saturday morning, the issue switched to guns. If you listen to the Saturday morning hearing by the same House State Affairs committee, you would think that it was conducted by a totally different group of legislators. Earlier I posted the Argus Leader report that covered the legislator’s anger that was directed at Ray and Zach Lautenschlager, who represented the South Dakota Gun Owners organization. The Associated Press also has a Joe Kafka report on the proceeding.

I have attended this committee’s hearings several times over the last few years which has always been conducted in the manner such as Thursday's abortion hearings was done. So what happened to cause this surprising outburst? When I first arrived at the Capitol Thursday afternoon, I quickly heard about the threats and negative conduct that legislators were exposed to by the actions of this group. You can read the news coverage to gain a better understanding.

The Lautenschlagers has denied the threats. They are arguing that the threats were simply their efforts in getting citizens involved in the legislative process. The legislators argue that the involvement was urged by misinformation, which is also being denied by the Lautenschlagers.

After leaving Pierre, I stopped at gas station near Vivian. As I was about to pay the cashier, I was surprised to see Ray Lautenschlager. He quickly recognized me since I did testify at the hearing. We had a conversation that parallels the statements they made to reporters whose reports I have posted.

I don’t have a problem with the substance of what they want to promote. I do question the tactics they used. I urge all to get involved in the legislative process by going to Pierre and spend time informing yourself. I am glad I have.

I also hope the Lautenschlagers are reflecting, as I am, on the day that was described by Brent Wilber, a lobbyist for the Governor, in Kafka’s report:

Afterward, Wilbur told The Associated Press that it was the most extraordinary legislative hearing he had experienced in 26 years as a lobbyist.
"I have never seen legislators so emotional and concerned," Wilbur said. "It certainly appeared to me that their concerns and opinions appeared to be justified. I've never heard of lobbying tactics like they described."

Sunday, February 08, 2004

Another gun story
When I post my analysis of my recent experience in Pierre, I will make a point on how lucky we are to live in a pro-gun State. Here is a story about what it is like to defend your family in other parts of the Country.

Interesting time in Pierre
Before I give an in-depth analysis of my experience in Pierre, I would like to post an Argus Leader report. Because of the way the AL links their stories, the link may not work after a week goes by. So here is the entire report in today’s AL that covers a controversial House State Affairs committee hearing held on Saturday morning:

Legislators berate gun lobbyists
Terry Woster
Argus Leader

published: 2/8/2004

Group allegedly used threats, misinformation

PIERRE - Several angry legislators on a House committee told leaders of a state gun-rights group on Saturday they had lost credibility through inaccurate information and threatening lobbying tactics.

The outbursts punctuated a hearing on bills dealing with emergency powers of the governor in times of disaster or crisis. During the two-hour meeting, several House State Affairs Committee members criticized the officials of the South Dakota Gun Owners.

"We count on lobbyists to get us good information,'' Republican Rep. Chris Madsen said. He said the gun group's information was inaccurate and "no more than carefully crafted propaganda to play on the concerns of people.''

Madsen, who lived in Spearfish when he was elected in 2002 but has since moved to Sioux Falls, said he planned to vote against the group's bill, "not as a vote against freedom; it's a vote against you.''

Other lawmakers questioned the way the group framed issues involving the emergency powers law and criticized it for including home telephone numbers of legislators on mailings.

Ray Lautenschlager, executive director of Gun Owners, sat silently through much of the outburst. He was accompanied by Zach Lautenschlager, the organization's communications director. After the meeting, the two men denied they'd used improper tactics or inaccurate information.

"I'm going to deny it. We stand by what we said as the truth,'' Ray Lautenschlager said. "Would you feel threatened if you got a call from one of your constituents to vote yes on a certain piece of legislation or vote no? Would you think that is a threat? We have encouraged our members to participate in the legislative process, and getting involved in letting their legislators know how they stand on particular legislation.''

He said the group has about 2,500 members.

House Republican Leader Bill Peterson of Sioux Falls told the men they had the right to testify, contact lawmakers and encourage people to write their legislators. But he said they also had the responsibility to tell the truth, and he said they hadn't done that.

Peterson said he had been told that one of the men told a legislator that "if you can't take the threats, don't introduce the bills.''

"Let me be very clear with both of you. You don't scare us one damn bit, and you never will,'' Peterson said.

The two men weren't given an opportunity to respond at that point. Earlier in the meeting, Ray Lautenschlager had said, "I'm sorry to hear there's so much resistance to hearing from your constituents, and when they are very strongly opposed or in support of something, people tend to get strong in their statements, as we saw here in the committee today.''

At the heart of the meeting were two bills dealing with emergency powers.

One, sponsored by Gov. Mike Rounds, makes it clear that those powers don't include the authority to take firearms from citizens without their consent. A spokes-man for the governor said there was some misconception that current law would allow that.

The other, which the Gun Owners group supported, said none of the emergency powers provisions in law included the authority to take any private property without consent of the owner.

The committee passed the governor's bill and killed the other measure. Both votes were unanimous.

Lautenschlager told lawmakers that members of his group are concerned about more rights than simply firearms. He said a vote against the bill his group favored "is a vote against the rights and security of the people"

Republican Rep. John Teupel of Spearfish said the group falsely called the existing emergency-powers law the "emergency gun-grab.'' That phrase was used several times in letters Lautenschlager acknowledged he had written in efforts to have the law changed.

Lautenschlager said the phrase was simply a colorful way to describe the current law and catch the attention of citizens who received the mailings. But he said the existing law doesn't prevent a governor from taking property or firearms.

Rounds' lobbyist on the issue, Brent Wilbur of Pierre, said the state constitution has stronger protections for gun owners than the federal document. The state constitution says, "The right of the citizens to bear arms in defense of themselves and the state shall not be denied.''

"I think South Dakota has an absolute prohibition against restricting gun ownership,'' Wilbur said.

Lautenschlager said the laws need to clearly support basic rights, too.

"If you give up one, you ultimately diminish the rest,'' he said.

Teupel also objected to part of the gun group's literature that referred to "power-hungry politicians.'' He asked if he was one of those politicians because he had voted for the existing law.

"Only if you want to take on that label,'' Lautenschlager said.

House Democratic Leader Mel Olson of Mitchell said emergency situations demand special powers.

"Did we have, after September 11, any owner of a building around the World Trade Center complaining they'd been converted into a medical facility?'' he asked.

Olson and Republican Rep. Larry Rhoden of Union Center each said the Gun Owners had included legislators' home phone numbers in lobbying material, and both said their families were receiving many calls.

"My home was flooded with calls,'' Olson said after the meeting.

Peterson asked Lautenschlager if he thought citizens have a duty to obey all laws, even laws they think are unconstitutional.

"Yes, we're not a nation where we can disregard laws,'' Lautenschlager said. "That's why people are so concerned about the laws we pass.''

As the meeting ended, Teupel said the gun lobbyists should spend time in the Capitol, talking informally with lawmakers and working to develop relationships and restore credibility.

"I'm not so sure our differences are as great as you think,'' he said. "We can build some trust and exchange ideas respectfully.''

After the meeting Lautenschlager said compromise is possible on "nonfundamental'' issues.

"Compromising on fundamental issues is always a losing situation,'' he said. "Every anti-gun law is a result of compromise, infringing on the fundamental right to bear arms.''

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