Archive for March 2010

South Dakota Democrats Make History

Posted: Wednesday, March 31, 2010 at 11:13 pm
By: Ken Blanchard
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sad-donkeyLike Pat Powers at SDWC, I have not yet gone to look at the historical records.  I do seem to have the impression that no U.S. Senate election in the state has ever gone uncontested.  Until now.  Our state Democrats have failed to field a candidate against John Thune.

This is appalling.  To be sure, Thune is probably unbeatable.  In an ordinary year, or even a bad one for Republicans, he would probably be safe for reelection.  This looks to be no ordinary year.

Consider the Real Clear Politics summary.  In the last Gallup Poll, President Obama’s job approval rating finally flipped to negative, with 50% disapproving to 47% approving.  That will be a drag on Democrats across the country.  Worse still, Gallup has the Republicans up on the generic question: “are you going to vote Democrat or Republican?”  Republicans are ahead by three points.  In the past, Democrats always enjoyed a larger lead on this question than they actually got in the general election.  A CNN poll gives the Republicans four points.  Rasmussen gives them seven.

If these numbers hold up, the Republicans will gut the Democratic majorities in both houses of Congress.  It is not out of the question that they will take control of one or both houses.

Any Democrat running against John Thune would probably face insurmountable odds.  From the start, she or he would be called a sacrificial lamb or something like that.  But the people of South Dakota deserve a choice.  Whatever you think of Senator Thune, and I admire him, he needs to face an opposing candidate.  Senator Thune needs to be challenged to answer hostile questions.  It looks like that won’t happen.

The most basic task of the two parties is to present voters with a choice and create the setting for debate.  This year it looks like the SD Democratic Party couldn’t manage that.

Weiland Withdraws. Span Hits Mother in Chest with Foul Ball

Posted: Wednesday, March 31, 2010 at 10:26 pm
By: Ken Blanchard
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55553236The Gods are sending us messages, by way of the Argus Leader no less!

Minnesota Twins leadoff man Denard Span hit a hard foul ball that struck his mom in the chest during today’s game. She was treated by paramedics and back in the stands minutes later.

God bless Ms. Span, and I hope she is indeed alright.  God bless Denard.  He is going to be hearing about this for the rest of his Mother’s life.

I fancy that this story is connected with Kevin Weiland’s withdrawal from the SD House race.  See South Dakota War College.  Kevin Weiland’s brief campaign for the Democratic nomination might have triggered a civil war within that Party, but that’s only because the guns are already cocked.  My friend and esteemed Keloland colleague Todd Epp says this is his second worst day as a Democrat.  He represents the faction of the Party (a majority faction, perhaps) that is very angry with our good Congresswoman.  Likewise esteemed colleague Cory Heidelberger is another.

I have argued that it would be silly for SD Democrats to try to deny HS the nomination.  No one is likely to have a better chance of holding that seat for the Democrats.  HS may dismay the Epps and Heidelbergers, but the national party needs her votes on other issues.  The election of the House Speaker comes to mind.

But that argument is predicated on the assumption that HS can win reelection.  What if she can’t win, or is very unlikely to win?  It is possible to interpret the recent poll numbers that way.  If Weiland had gotten on the primary ballot, and then HS lost, he and his supporters would have been blamed.  That would be a high stakes game.

On the one hand, it might leave lasting scars on the SD Democratic Party, and might have discredited the more liberal core.  On the other hand, it would demonstrate the power of that core and give it a claim on the next nomination.  Perhaps SD Dems would be better off losing than winning with a DINO.  I think that’s a recipe for chronic disaster, but then I am not the one to say.

Apparently, Blake Curd and Kristi Noem are demanding to know about a backroom deal.  Frankly, I think a backroom deal would make Representative Herseth-Sandlin look better.  It would show that she is at least interested in winning reelection, a matter about which some doubt exists.  Contrary to what Todd says about Tom Daschle, I think our former Senator was all out of steam in his last run for office.

Passover 5770

Posted: Wednesday, March 31, 2010 at 3:29 pm
By: Joel Rosenthal
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Straight Talk Commentary – Each years Jews gather together at their Passover Seder and recount the story of the Passover and their Exodus from Slavery. We read passages of our Rabbis and sages which admonish us to consider ourselves as if we too sojourned from Egypt.


Each year we recite – “Slaves Were We” and “This Year Here … Next Year in the Land of Israel.”


This Passover Jerusalem is in the news. There has been lots of flap and diplomatic fallout over the announcement of Israeli home construction in East Jerusalem. The announcement came at the time of the Vice Presidents visit to Israel and Vice President Biden’s comments that he subsequently apologized for. Just a little Rosenthal commentary but the so called Palestinians expressed no outrage until after the U S weighed in on the announcement. The Israelis also might wonder why the President has not visited Israel and sent the number 2 man. In diplomatic circles such action is noted particularly after President Obama made his high profile visit and speech at Cairo University last year where he spoke of his Muslim heritage. At the time there was no corresponding stop to see our strongest ally.


It is amazing but it seems the U S policy in the Middle East, Israel, and on Iran sanctions seems to lack earnestness, consistent focus, and follow through.


For a historical perspective take on the Israeli perspective of Jerusalem take a look at Yoram Ettinger’s oped last week.


Passover has always been my favorite holiday. This year because of the controversy surrounding the Jerusalem announcement, Ettinger’s oped and coupled with the recounting of the story of the Exodus has connected with who I am and made Pesach 5770 a very emotional experience.


Passover Guide for the Perplexed 2010

By Yoram Ettinger

March 29, 2010

Happy Passover and Happy Easter

Assembled from Various Jewish Sages

1. “Next Year in the Reconstructed Jerusalem” concludes the annual reciting of the Passover Saga.  How pertinent in March 2010?!

2. Passover’s centrality in Judaism and in the context of Judeo-Christian values: “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.” The first of the Ten Commandments refers to the Exodus and not to the Creation or to God’s Covenant with Abraham or with Jacob.  The remembrance of the Passover Saga (via daily prayers) and the annual family reciting of the Exodus – on the event of Passover – are included among the 613 Laws of Moses.  The Passover Saga is highlighted in most Jewish prayers and rituals, such as the welcoming of the Sabbath, the blessing over the wine, during each holiday, upon circumcision, at the door step (Mezuzah) of Jewish homes, etc.

3.  David Ben Gurion, the Founding Father of the Jewish State (UN Commission, 1947): “300 years ago, the Mayflower launched its historical voyage.  How many remember the data of the voyage, how many passengers were on the Mayflower and what kind of bread did they consume?  However, 3,300 years earlier, the Exodus from Egypt took place.  Every Jew knows the date of the Exodus – 15th of the Jewish month of Nissan – and the kind of bread – Matza, unleavened bread – consumed.  Until today, Jews all over the world tell the story of the Exodus and eat Matza on the 15th of Nissan.  They conclude the story of the Exodus (Hagadah) with the statement: “This year we are slaves, but next year we shall be liberated; this year we are here, but next year in the reconstructed Jerusalem.”

4.  Passover highlights the fact that the Jewish People have been passed-over by history’s angel of death, in defiance of conventional wisdom.  Non-normative salvation has characterized Jewish history ever since the Exodus, the Parting of the Sea, the destruction of the Temple, the exiles, the pogroms, the expulsions, the Holocaust, Communist and other forms of anti-Semitism, on-going Arab/Muslim terrorism and wars, etc.  However, the involvement of Moses, Aaron, Phineas, Joshua, Caleb and Nachshon (the first to step into the Red Sea) attests to the crucial role played by principle-driven, steadfast leaders.

5.  Passover highlights the centrality of Liberty, Roots, Education and Collective Responsibility.  Passover commemorates the creation of the Jewish People and their transformation from Diaspora slavery to National freedom.  The difference between the spelling of Ge’oolah (deliverance in Hebrew) and Golah (Diaspora in Hebrew) is the first Hebrew letter, Alef, the root of the Alpha-Bet.  Alef is the first letter in the Hebrew spelling of critical root values: God, Truth, Faith, Covenant, Credibility, Awesome, Power, Abraham, Light, Father, Mother, Love, Soil, Adam Courage, Spring, Unity, Food, Responsibility, Immortality/Everlasting, Cure, Horizon, Patrimony, Tree, etc.  In order to attain liberty and to transform (personal or national) Diaspora into Deliverance, one must return to one’s roots.

6.  The Exodus took place around 1,300BC, 600-700 years before Greek philosophers promoted democracy, establishing the Jewish People in the forefront in the on-going battle against rogue regimes.  Passover is celebrated on the 15th day of the Jewish month of Nissan – the first month of the Jewish year and the introduction of natural and national spring (Nitzan is the Babylonian word for spring and the Hebrew word for bud).  Nissan (its root is Ness – miracle in Hebrew) is the month of miracles, such as the Exodus, the Parting of the Sea, Jacob wrestling the Angel, Deborah’s victory over Sisera, Daniel in the Lion’s Den, etc.  The 15th day of any Jewish month is endowed with full moon, which stands for optimism in defiance of darkness and awesome odds.  It is consistent with the 15 parts of the Hagadah (the chronicles of Passover), 15 generations between Abraham’s message of monotheism and Solomon’s construction of the first Temple and the 15th day of the Jewish month of Shvat, Arbor Day – the “Exodus” of vegetation.    

7.  Passover has four names:  Holiday of Pesach (Passed-over; sacrifice), Holiday of Liberty, Holiday of Matza and Holiday of Spring.  The number 4 features in the Passover Saga: 4 Sons, 4 glasses of wine, 4 Questions and 4 stages of divine deliverance.  The 4th Hebrew letter (Dalet) stands for G-D.

8.  Passover is the first Jewish holiday, according to the Jewish calendar, which starts in the Spring (Aviv in Hebrew, which consists of two Hebrew words: Father of 12 months), the bud of nature.  The word spring is mentioned 3 times in the Torah, all in reference to the Exodus.  Passover – which commemorates the creation of the Jewish nation – lasts for 7 days, just like the creation of the universe.  Passover is the first of three Jewish pilgrimages, succeeding Soukkot/Tabernacles (Soukkota was the first stop in the Exodus) and preceding Shavou’ot/Pentecost (which commemorates the receipt of the Ten Commandments and the Torah).

9.  Passover – the role model of Liberty – interacts with Shavou’ot/Pentecost (role model of morality), since Liberty interacts with Morality.  The one constitutes a prerequisite for the other.  The Liberty/Morality interdependence distinguishes Western democracies from rogue regimes.  No appeasing rhetoric would transform rogue regime into a free/moral entity.  Herut is the Hebrew word for Liberty and Harut is the Hebrew word for inscription, which refers to the Ten Commandments.

10.  Passover – just like monotheism, the Sabbath, Ten Commandments, repentance/Yom Kippur – constitutes a Jewish gift to humanity.  It constitutes inspiration to liberty-loving peoples (“Let My People Go”).  Jews have been targeted by enemies of Liberty (from Pharaoh, Nazism, and Communism to Palestinian/Arab/Muslim terrorism and Ahmadinejad) because Jews have been rightly perceived as the messengers of liberty as a God-given natural right and equality before law. 

11.  Moses, the hero of Passover, has become a role model of principled and steadfast leadership.  Moses’ name is mentioned only once in the Passover Hagadah, as a servant of God, a testimony to Moses’ humility, in order to humanize – and not – deify – Moses and to highlight the role of God in the Exodus.  Similarly, Moses’ grave site is purposely unknown and the only compliment accorded by the Torah to Moses is “the humblest of all human beings.”  The Mosaic legacy has greatly impacted the US democracy.  Hence, Moses’ marble replica at the House Chamber on Capitol Hill (facing the Speaker), at the Rayburn House Office Building’s subway station and above the table of the Justices at the Supreme Court.

12.  Passover inspired the Puritans, the Pilgrims and the US Founding Fathers:

*George Washington and John Adams were

compared to Moses and Joshua.

*Adams, Jefferson and Franklin proposed the Parting of the Sea as the official US seal.

*John Locke – who authored the first draft of the constitution of the Carolinas – considered the 613 Laws of Moses to be the worthy legal foundation of the new society in America.

*Ezra Stiles, the President of Yale University: “Moses, the man of God, assembled three million people – the number of people in America in 1776…” (May 8, 1783).

*President Calvin Coolidge: “The Hebraic mortars cemented the foundations of American democracy…” (May 3, 1925).

*John Winthrop, the first Governor of Massachusetts: “God has entered into a Covenant with those who are on their way to wilderness in America, just as he had entered into Covenant with the Israelites in the wilderness of Sinai… (A 1630 sermon on the Arbella).

They considered themselves “the modern day People of the Covenant,” King Charles was “the modern day Pharaoh,” the Atlantic Ocean was “the modern day Red Sea” and America was “the modern day Promised Land, New Canaan.”

The term Federalism is based on “Foedus,” the Latin word for “The Covenant.” The Founding Fathers were inspired by the political structure of the 12 Tribes, which sustained semi-independence, were governed by tribal presidents/governors and by Moses (the Commander-in-Chief), Aaron, Joshua and the 70 person Legislature, a role model for the 13 colonies and the US democracy.

13.  The Exodus is mentioned 50 times in the Torah, equal to the 50 years of Jubilee, a pivot of liberty (“Proclaim liberty throughout the land to all the inhabitants thereof,” Leviticus, 25, 10, inscribed on the Liberty Bell).  50 days following the Exodus, Moses received the Torah, which includes – according to Jewish tradition – 50 gates of Wisdom.  Where does that leave the 50 States?!

14.  Passover commemorates the victory of Jewish demography.  Jacob emigrated to Egypt with 70 relatives, but Moses launched the Exodus with 600,000 adult males and a total of some 3 million people.  The Exodus was the first case of a massive Jewish Aliya (immigration) to Israel, in defiance of odds, as have been all major Aliya waves since 1948 (1950s, 1970s, 1990s), but consistent with Jewish history and destiny.  Currently, there is a robust Jewish demographic tailwind between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean.  The number of annual Jewish births has surged 50% between 1995 (80,400) and 2009 (121,000), while the number of annual Arab births has stabilized during the same period.  Moreover, Herzl launched the Zionist voyage in 1897 with an 8% Jewish minority between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean, Ben Gurion celebrated the November 1947 UN vote with a 33% Jewish minority, but in 2010 there is a 67% Jewish majority in the combined area of pre-1967 Israel, Judea and Samaria and a 60% majority with Gaza.

“Next Year in the Reconstructed Jerusalem”

To comment on this post go to South Dakota Straight Talk.

South Dakota loses, adds “hate group”

Posted: Wednesday, March 31, 2010 at 11:31 am
By: Tim Gebhart
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Last year, the the Southern Poverty Law Center‘s “Hate Map” identified four “hate groups” operating in South Dakota. The 2009 map is out and it says South Dakota had three hate groups active in 2009, two of which are making repeat appearances.

Once again, the best known is the Fundamentalist Latter Day Saints, which was headed by now-jailed Warren Jeffs. The group split from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints when the LDS Church renunciation of polygamy and is now the largest polygamist Mormon group in the U.S. It bought about 100 acres of land it developed into a compound near Pringle. The SPLC calls the group “a white supremacist, homophobic, antigovernment, totalitarian cult.”

Again appearing without a specific location is Nordwave, a neo-Nazi organization. The organization calls itself “the voice of National-Socialism” and lists a “unit” called Nordwave South Dakota on its web site. Little information is given about the group, although the contact information lists Nicholas Chappell, formerly the national director of another neo-Nazi group, the National Socialist Order of America. That group was listed as active in South Dakota on last year’s Hate Map but is not on it this year. (Also missing this year is Retaliator Skinhead Nation, which was supposedly located in Centerville.)

The new group on the list is also a neo-Nazi organization. Knights of the Nordic Order is said to be based in Jackson County. Some websites report that it was founded in 2008 by “two former captains of the Aryan Brotherhood,” a notorious white supremacist prison gang. The group’s website lists a 25-point manifesto with statements such as, “Only those of Nordic blood whatever their creed, may be members of the nation. Accordingly, no Jew, Black, Mexican, Arab, or any other race may be a member of the nation.” Its membership requirements, meanwhile, include having “NO interracial relationships in their history,” “NOT hav[ing] custody of interracial children” and “NOT hav[ing] friendships and/or contacts with people that take part in interracial relationships.”

The figures for South Dakota seem somewhat indicative of the nation. The SPLC reported that the number of hate groups in the country rose slightly in 2009 — to 932 from 926 in 2008 — despite the collapse of the second largest neo-Nazi group in America, the American National Socialist Workers Party. Interestingly, although not included in the Hate Map, when it released the map the SPLC noted a dramatic increase in so-called “patriot” groups, specifically including the Hutaree Militia, whose members were indicted this week after planning to “levy war” on the government.

My Second Worst Day Ever as a South Dakota Democrat

Posted: Wednesday, March 31, 2010 at 11:27 am
By: Todd Epp
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And while Tom didn’t run a perfect race, he ran hard.  Sen. Thune had brilliant TV ads and won.  Our state lost enormous clout and a great leader.  But at least Tom played in the game and did his best.  Sen. Thune earned his victory.

But I would have to say that yesterday, March 30, 2010 (and dribbling into today), might be a close second as to my worst day as a South Dakota Democrat ever.

First, my party has no one–none, zilch, nada, bupkis–to run against Sen. Thune in his reelection bid this fall.  I’m not sure that has ever happened, that a major party candidate for U.S. Senate won by default in South Dakota.  But it’s going to happen.

And second, literally within minutes of having his petitions filed just prior to the March 30 filing deadline, Dr. Kevin Weiland yanked the petitions that volunteers had scrambled to gather in the previous five days.  Weiland had said he was ticked at Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin votes on health care and was planning to run against her in the June Democratic primary.  Like many of us progressive Democrats, we have been unhappy with Stephanie’s Republican-lite act and have had enough.

And then Kev and Steph had a little chat. And Kev is back to being Citizen Kevin rather than Candidate Kevin.

So now, Blue Dog Stephanie goes along her merry Blue Dog way and it’s too late for anyone else to jump into a primary to at least send her a message that if you’re a Democrat, you should vote like a Democrat from time to time.  I’m just sayin’.

And perhaps worse, Sen. Thune cake walks to a second term.  On the last day of “March Madness,” that would be like Duke not having to play anyone for the NCAA basketball championship.  They wouldn’t even have to face Wofford or Prairie View A and M.

That’s bad politics.  That’s bad government.  Coupled with the Weiland/Herseth Sandlin Tango, that’s a bad state party.  And it looks unfixable.  It’s a swamp normal, reasonable people have no time to drain. Unless you like having your butt eaten off by alligators.

And all that’s bad for South Dakota’s democracy. And makes for a bad day for Todd.

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Demonizing the Opposition

Posted: Tuesday, March 30, 2010 at 10:07 pm
By: Ken Blanchard
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guy_fawkesEugene Robinson has a piece on “The Right Wing Hate Element” with which I am largely in agreement.

The arrests of members of a Michigan-based “Christian” militia group should convince doubters that there is good reason to worry about right-wing, anti-government extremism — and potential violence — in the Age of Obama.

It is disingenuous for mainstream purveyors of incendiary far-right rhetoric to dismiss groups such as the Hutaree by saying that there are “crazies on both sides.” This simply is not true.

There was a time when the far left was a spawning ground for political violence…But for the most part, far-left violence in this country has gone the way of the leisure suit and the AMC Gremlin… By contrast, there has been explosive growth among far-right, militia-type groups that identify themselves as white supremacists, “constitutionalists,” tax protesters and religious soldiers determined to kill people to uphold “Christian” values.

I am not sure about the “explosive growth” bit at the end.  I know of no evidence that such groups are growing in numbers.  But Robinson is surely right that, in contrast to earlier decades, domestic political terrorism is more likely to originate on the right than on the left.  Timothy McVeigh was no leftist.  Of course, you have to include Islamic militants on “the right,” which makes the right look rather multicultural.

Unfortunately for his honesty, Robinson uses this fact to launch an ad hominem against pretty much everyone who objects to Obama Administration policy.

The vitriolic, anti-government hate speech that is spewed on talk radio every day — and, quite regularly, at tea party rallies — is calibrated not to inform but to incite.  Demagogues scream at people that their government is illegitimate, that their country has been “taken away,” that their elected officials are “traitors” and that their freedom is at risk.

It would have been very unfair in the 1970’s to blame the Left in general or the Democrats in particular for the crimes of the Symbionese Liberation Army.  Likewise there is no reason to blame the Tea Party movement, or Republicans in general, for the malevolent Hutaree goofballs.

Tea Partiers are a rowdy bunch, and they aren’t the least bit shy about criticizing their own government.  The Left considers that a virtue when the President is a Republican.  Now that we have the most Leftist President yet, dissident speech suddenly becomes hate speech.

The Tea Party movement is in fact the active front of majority opinion in these United States.  According to a USAToday/Gallup poll, a landslide majority (64-65%) of Americans believe that the recently passed health care bill will expand the role of government too much, and cost too much.  Fifty-eight percent believe (quite rightly IMHO) that the bill does not control costs.  Does every American who stands up in public to say so, or attends a rally with like-minded people, have to take responsibility for the Hutarees or Timothy McVeigh?

To say so is to demonize the opposition.  Liberals complained vociferously about that when they thought George W. was doing it.  Now they are doing it, systematically.

ps. Contrary to what Robinson says, it is not “simply untrue” that there are crazies on both sides. It is exactly trueFrom the Washington Post:

A Philadelphia man was charged Monday with threatening to kill Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.) and his family in the first such arrest since an outbreak of harassment and vandalism began against members of Congress more than a week ago.

From the Gipper: Nat’l Healthcare = Socialist Meds

Posted: Monday, March 29, 2010 at 11:37 pm
By: RadioActive Chief
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Once upon a time, when Harry Truman was President and was seeking universal healthcare…(from the L.A. Times)

Same healthcare arguments, just decades earlier

…to serve as the public face of its campaign against a government-sponsored health plan, the AMA chose none other than Ronald Reagan, the star of “General Electric Theater” and former president of the Screen Actors Guild whose views on politics matched its own.

Warning that enacting Medicare would lead to socialism in America, Reagan said that if Americans did not stop Medicare reform, “one of these days you and I are going to spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it was once like in America when men were free.”

In an 11-minute recording for the AMA, Reagan invoked the name of Norman Thomas, the Socialist Party presidential candidate, saying:

“Now back in 1927 an American socialist, Norman Thomas, six times candidate for president on the Socialist Party ticket, said the American people would never vote for socialism. But he said under the name of liberalism the American people would adopt every fragment of the socialist program. . . . One of the traditional methods of imposing statism or socialism on a people has been by way of medicine. It’s very easy to disguise a medical program as a humanitarian project. . . .

“Now, the American people, if you put it to them about socialized medicine and gave them a chance to choose, would unhesitatingly vote against it. We have an example of this. Under the Truman administration, it was proposed that we have a compulsory health insurance program for all people in the United States, and, of course, the American people unhesitatingly rejected this.”

Reagan’s prescription? “Write to our congressmen and senators,” he said. “The key issue is this: We do not want socialized medicine . . . demand the continuation of our traditional free-enterprise system.”

Sound familiar?

Note to critical readers: it’s not the Chief that is labeling universal health care as socialist…it’s the proudly socialist Norman Thomas making the point. If you want to argue, take it to him yourself!

Herseth-Sandlin & Nelson in Virtual Tie

Posted: Monday, March 29, 2010 at 9:35 pm
By: Ken Blanchard
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chrisnelsonA new Rasmussen poll on South Dakota is out.  Here are the most important results:

Herseth-Sandlin 46%/Chris Nelson 44%

A month ago Rasmussen had this:

Herseth-Sandlin 45%/Chris Nelson 38%

These numbers indicate real trouble for the Congresswoman.  In the first place, she is stuck about 45%.  As I wrote recently, well-known incumbents have a hard time improving on their initial poll numbers because they are, well, well-known.  Voters have a pretty clear early idea whether they want her back or not.  Anything below 50% spells real trouble.

By contrast, challengers usually have nowhere to go but up, at least at first.  Secretary of State Chris Nelson’s half dozen points in one month is a real gain.  It is probably due to no more than growing name recognition.  However, since the race is still well below the radar screen for most voters, that is impressive.

There is a popular saying among political junkies that all politics is local.  Like a lot of popular sayings, it’s wrong.  One thing that is surely depressing Representative HS’s poll numbers is dismay among Democrats regarding her vote on national health care legislation.  My Keloland colleague, Cory Heidelberger is pushing primary challenger Dr. Kevin Weiland.  Cory notes with some satisfaction that Weiland is picking up fans really rapidly on Facebook.

Far be it for me to ignore the testimony of the cybermasses.  I am guessing, however, that Weiland will not deny HS the democratic nomination.  Weiland’s candidacy does mean something in either case.  Every Democrat investing time and money in his campaign represents resources that the sitting Representative cannot count on right now.  That puts her behind.  Of course some of those resources will come back after the primary.  But HS needs all of it.  If the Democratic vote is even slightly depressed in November, the Congresswoman may well be depressed after the election.

Representative Herseth-Sandlin may have had genuine disagreements with the House health care bills, but she probably did not neglect to weigh the political consequences.  She may have thought that a vote for a 940 billion more than a trillion dollar expansion of the welfare state would hurt her with Republicans and independents who voted for her in the past.  If so, she was probably right.  That doesn’t mean that her vote will protect her against the larger political forces moving the nation right now.  This looks to be a very strong year for Republicans.  HS standing at 45% is one piece of evidence for that.

If someone gave me a wad of greenbacks to place, I would place some of it on Nelson to win the primary, and most of it on Nelson to win the general election.  I’d get better odds on the second bet, but not a lot better.

Crazy Like a Fox

Posted: Monday, March 29, 2010 at 12:56 pm
By: Joel Rosenthal
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(Disclaimer – contrary to any impressions readers may conclude; I believe that Steve Hildebrand is the top political strategist in South Dakota and among the top five in America and in all probability I will not be supporting Stephanie Herseth Sandlin in this Fall’s election.)

Events concerning the South Dakota Democrat Primary for U S House the past couple of weeks have been event filled and interesting if not downright fascinating.

As background; The President’s Socialization of America has shifted the political winds that are now blowing mightily in the face of Democrats. Most national pundits believe there is reasonable probability that Republicans may take the Majority in the U S House after the November elections. The political climate and the perception that the Congresswoman may be electorally weakened have not been missed by Ms. Herseth Sandlin, Mr. Hildebrand or the South Dakota GOP who have three credible candidates now seeking the GOP nomination, State Representatives Blake Curd and Kristi Noem and Secretary of State Chris Nelson. The GOP has the best chance for a challenger to defeat an incumbent than it has had in many years. This is not lost on the players named above.

As further background; many activist South Dakota Dems have been outraged if not downright pissed that their girl has been voting against popular liberal positions being pushed by the President and the National Democrats. Particularly the Dems are agitated and outraged about her NO votes on Cap and Trade (the Climate Control bill) and last November’s vote on so called Health Care Reform.

Shouts of DINO and let’s get rid of her she is not one of us and doesn’t represent our views anymore resounded in demopolitcoland. Despite all the Democrat grumbling, several weeks prior to the House vote Ms. HS announced she would not be changing her mind and voting for health care reform if the normal voting process were circumvented and in particular if the controversial “reconciliation process” were used. Otherwise she also continued to express reservations about the bill because she did not feel that the reforms would reduce costs.

It is important to understand that Hildebrand is one of the prime architects of President Obama’s campaign for the Presidency. He is close to the White House and is invested in the President’s success and I suspect also attached to the Health Care Plan thru his former boss and political ally Senator Tom Daschle. I further believe Daschle has played an instrumental role in advising the President on Health Care Reform.)

Herseth Sandlin’s expressed opposition put Mr. Hildebrand in motion.

Prior to the vote, Hildebrand issued a thinly veiled threat that he very likely would oppose our Congresswoman on the ballot in the Democrat Primary if she again voted no. Well it turns out Hildebrand was bluffing and did not scare her into changing her position. Stephanie may or may not be an economic moderate but in this instance and far more importantly she is realistic. My horseback guess is that her Constituents and the South Dakota electorate oppose Obamacare by at least 75% – that’s 3 to 1. Additionally She understands changing her position would only make matters worse for her electorally.

Activists Republicans do not believe it and do not like it but Stephanie Herseth and now Stephanie Herseth Sandlin has invested mightily in her brand that she is an Independent Voice for South Dakota. Her votes among all this political turmoil and name calling reinforce that claim.

After the vote last weekend when Hildebrand’s bluff was called and he announced he was not running there almost immediately appears Kevin Weiland, a physician who supports Obamacare, saying he (at the encouragement of Hildebrand) was going to oppose the Congresswoman (ostensibly because of her no vote) in the June Dem Primary. Weiland is not a political outsider. He is the brother of Rick Weiland who worked for Tom Daschle for many years and opposed John Thune in the 1996 General Election for this House Seat. Rick W. also ran again in the 2002 Democrat Primary to first time candidate Stephanie Herseth. There is probably not any love lost between the Congresswoman and Rick. Note – After Weiland’s loss to Thune, President Bill Clinton appointed him as Regional Director for FEMA.

On the surface it simply appears that this year’s US House race in South Dakota is competitive and the incumbent is being challenged within their own party (almost unheard of but is happening a lot in the GOP this year as well) for re election.

However I connect the dots a little differently. Both Stephanie and Hildy fully understand that Federal elections in South Dakota are won in the center, hence why the Congresswoman has been moving to the Center. Hildebrand while his positions are more liberal than the Congresswoman’s, and he desperately wanted to deliver her vote for his ex boss, The President, he without question does not want the South Dakota seat to go into GOP hands in 2010. Thus Hildebrand is taking action to move Stephanie further to the center and thus actually helping her. Kevin Weiland is acting as his foil. Having a primary allows Stephanie to start active campaigning with her Independent message now rather than wait until the Fall. Despite recent polls that show her approval rating around 50% I still find her popular among voters. I attribute her lower numbers to general public dissatisfaction with Congress and Democrats in particular. Though given the political environment and the quality of GOP candidates I believe she is vulnerable to defeat.

This Spring’s Democrat primary campaign will be in strong contrast to the GOP House campaign where the candidates are beating their chest over who is further to the Right – the most pro life, the most anti gun, the most against deficits, the most hating Washington, though they want to go there even if just to clean it up.

Despite activist Democrat outrage over Stephanie, I can’t seem to find any that would vote for Curd, Nelson or Noem instead of her. I agree that Hildebrand is furious as it appears and I do not believe he and Herseth Sandlin are acting in concert. But Hildebrand is acting like Hildebrand, in this case Crazy Like a Fox.

Endbar – The despite all the inside the Party fussing, if the elections between the Rs and the Ds are as close as projected, the Democrats will not be dis owning her. Despite their outrage over some of her votes the Cash from Pro Choice, Unions, Trial Lawyers, and the National Democrat Committees will find their way to her campaign next fall. Just like Hildebrand repositioning this campaign, Democrats understand the need to Win.

To comment on this post go to South Dakota Straight Talk.

Updated and rhetorically corrected March 29, 2010

Fox Reports Health Care Reform Boosts Entrepreneurs, Innovation

Posted: Monday, March 29, 2010 at 3:44 am
By: Cory Allen Heidelberger
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An eager reader forwards an interview from the Fox Small Business Center that finds self-employed people eager for the benefits of health care reform… benefits like more innovation and more economic liberty:

Sara Horowitz, founder and director of the Freelancers Union, said that as a result of the shift, “more (workers) [will be] in the driver’s seat about organizing their career than in the past.”

FOXBusiness: What do you see as being the biggest impact freelancers should expect from the health-care changes?

Horowitz: Right away, of course, is the pre-existing condition changes. This will be the big thing. For lower income freelancers, they will see they are able to get certain subsidies in the next few years….FOXBusiness: Do you think the health-care legislation will lead to more innovators taking the leap to the driver’s seat?

Horowitz: I do. It will enable people who stay in a job for health care to get out. People are going to have to be more nimble and more mobile. Not having your benefits tied to your employment will clearly help people be nimble [Suzanne Zionts, “How Health-Care Changes Impact Self Employed,” FOXBusiness, 2010.03.26].

I told you so. Now Fox has, too.