Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Tim Johnson

There's news today of Senator Tim Johnson being hospitalized with a "possible stroke" (is it still "possible" or has anything been confirmed yet?). My prayers go out to him and his family.

I'll post again if there are any updates.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

More Wiki Vandalism on SD Articles

Once again, vandals have attacked one of South Dakota's articles on Wikipedia. But this time it's not that bad.

Each day Wikipedia spotlights one article on its main page as an example of the best articles on the site. Today, Mount Rushmore has that honor. Unfortunately, since the feature article is the most high profile article on the website, it attracts the most vandals. So the Mount Rushmore article has had a big target on its head all day. I'd say it's averaged about one attack every five minutes. Just click on the "history" tab at the top of the page and check it out.

Luckily, the regular users of the site have a low tolerance for vandalism and have done something to the article to keep brand new and/or unregistered users from editing the page. And that seems to have worked.

I thought the vandalism this time was funny compared to what happened to the Herseth article.

Friday, November 10, 2006


Whoo-hoo! What a game!

We got there a little late, but we made it in time to catch Canton getting their first touchdown. The guy running into the end zone broke about five tackles to get there.

The game progressed exactly how I love football games to go: constantly close. the score was constant back-and-forth. So much so it was tied at the end of the 4th.

Now high school overtime confuses me. Each team gets a shot at another score and they start ten yards away. You'd think they would automatically try for a field goal, but they'd run the risk of the other team getting a touchdown on their turn.

So Dell Rapids went first in overtime and got a touchdown on the first try. Then Canton went and used all four downs to get their touchdown. That tied it up again. Double overtime. Canton went first and, because Dell Rapids had a penalty on the last play, they easily got a touchdown. Then, for some reason, Canton's defense came alive and was able to stop each of Dell Rapid's attempts. They even pushed them back a few yards. It was amazing!

So 20 years later, Canton returns to the Dome and gets another championship. Way to go C-Hawks!!

Go C-Hawks!!!

I'm headed down to The Dome to watch the Canon C-Hawks football team play against Dell Rapids in the state championship.

Normaly, I have trouble getting interested in local sports (I'm an NFL guy) unless I know someone on the team. But, it's been 20 years since Canton made it to the finals. That's something you can't miss!

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Breaking News: So Long Rumsfeld!

I was watching MSNBC to see President Bush's upcoming press conference, and they announced that Donald Rumsfeld will be stepping down from his position as Secretary of Defense.

Very interesting. A lot of people had been wanting this to happen, but Bush (stubborn as ever) refused. But now that it look like this election was in response to American's disappointment with the war in Iraq, maybe that finally changed the President's mind.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Comedy Central's Election Coverage

Thank God for the Daily Show and Colbert Report!

Their election coverage was the beautiful end to a fairly good election night.

Why Whalen Won't Win

Aside from the fact that he's campaigning against a popular incumbent, there's a very big reason why he's going to lose:

He would be bad at the job.

From the second he entered this election, he's only campaigned on three issues. Being pro-life. Being pro-family. Being Republican. And that's it. If the only issues voters care about are banning abortion and discriminating against homosexuals, then he would win in a landslide.

But smart voters know that the Senators and Representatives we elect have to deal with many more issues that just those two. What does Whalen know about security or economics or agriculture?

And what about Native American issues? I really haven't heard him talk much about any issues that effect SD's Native American population. What are his feelings about sovereignty or the meth problem or education on the reservations? I think he would've been a much stronger candidate if he had focused on issues like that at the beginning.

So, to sum up, don't vote against Whalen because he's Republican. Vote against him because he would be bad at the job.

Church and Politics

I love my church. Not once did my pastor tell us who or what to vote for or against. The only thing he said was that we all should vote. In my opinion, that's exactly what leaders in the church should do. They should never tell their congregations what/who to vote for or against. They should just direct them to vote. Period.

Also, this last Sunday, they used the adult forum after the service to go over the ballot to help anyone who might be confused. Unfortunately I was teaching Sunday school at the time so I couldn't participate in the discussion. But I heard that there was lively discussion about several issues. Everyone thought Amendment E was a stupid idea (I love my church) and there were people on both sides of Amendment C and the abortion ban.

I talked to one lady afterwards who was upset that a whole bunch of men voted for the abortion ban in the legislature. What she said will stick with my the rest of my life. She thinks it would be a good idea to get all the women in the state together to vote on a law to castrate all rapists. I couldn't believe this sweet, 80-something-year-old lady said that, but it was absolutely brilliant.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Cheney Hunting in SD? Run For Your Lives!

KELO has a news story about Vice President Dick Cheney's plans to come to South Dakota for hunting this week. Is anyone else scared? I mean, he shot his best friend in the face. What would he do to someone he doesn't even know? We should all pray for our fellow South Dakotans who live near Pierre.

Update: South Dakota Magazine's blog posted something about the VP's visit which I found completely hilarious.

The Gettysburg folks are polite to a fault, so we’d expect there’ll be few jokes about his quail hunting debacle in which he shot his buddy Harry Whitington a year ago. However, there has been a huge run on orange vests at the Gettysburg Farmer’s Co-op Store. The local nursing home even puts the vests on its patients before they’re allowed to sit outside in the sun.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Ann Coulter: Jailbird!

It seems the good, honest, constervative Christian Ann Coulter might have broken the law.

WEST PALM BEACH, Florida (AP) -- Conservative columnist Ann Coulter has refused to cooperate in an investigation into whether she voted in the wrong precinct, so the case will probably be turned over to prosecutors, Palm Beach County's elections chief said Wednesday.

Elections Supervisor Arthur Anderson said his office has been looking into the matter for nearly nine months, and he would turn over the case to the state attorney's office by Friday.

Coulter's attorney did not immediately return a call Wednesday. Nor did her publicist at her publisher, Crown Publishing.

Knowingly voting in the wrong precinct is a felony punishable by up to five years in prison.

Anderson's office received a complaint in February that Coulter voted in the wrong precinct during a February 7 Palm Beach town council election.

Anderson said a letter was sent to Coulter on March 27 requesting that she clarify her address for the voting records "or face the possibility of her voter registration being rescinded." Three more letters were sent to Coulter and her attorney, but she has yet to respond with the information requested, Anderson said.

In July, Anderson said, he received a letter from Coulter's attorney, Marcos Daniel Jimenez D'Clouet. The letter said the attorney would only discuss the matter in person or by telephone because, he complained, Anderson had given details to the media. Anderson said the matter had to be discussed in writing.
This couldn't have happened to a nicer person.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Top 5 Scary Movies

This week's Top 5 is of one of my favorite things ever: scary movies. I live for this time of year, because it means I can indulge in my craving for scary movies.

A note before we start. My taste in scary movies is different than other people's. I normally hate movies with fake villain/monster like Jason from the Friday the 13th movies. I just don't find them very scary. The kinds of scary movies I prefer are the ones that use psychological fears, especially the fear of the unknown, so you'll see a lot of those on this list. Like with all my Top 5 lists, feel free to comment and disagree.

Let's get started:

Honorable Mention #1 - Cujo

This movie utilizes a personally fear of mine. Ever since an incident I had with a dog when I was a kid, I always get freaked out by dogs that are barking and growling. I mean, I love dogs but something inside of me freaks out when they growl. And this movie features a big, angry, snarling dog. I have a lot of trouble sitting through the whole movie.

Honorable Mention #2 - Final Destination

This movie, like I mentioned earlier, capitolizes on fear of the unknown. An unseen force (Death) is trying to kill the characters in the movie. I think the concept is great for a horror movie. Unfortunately, I don't think they executed the concept as well as they could have. The unseen force is too predictable and the characters can see when it's coming. That took away some of the stength of the concept, but it was still a good idea.

Honorable Mention #3 - Audition

I first heard of this movie from the list BRAVO TV put together of the 100 scariest movie moments. I wish I hadn't. This movie is a build up to the last fifteen minutes, but that scariest moments show spoiled the twist for me. I mean, it was still one of the best, creepiest, most disturbing horror movies I've seen... but I was sad that I knew the twist ahead of time. I suggest going into this movie with no knowledge of the plot. The only thing I'll mention here is that it was made in Japan, so expect subtitles.

Honorable Mention #4 - Kakurenbo

For a cartoon from Japan, this is very good and very scary. I rarely like anime/japanimation, but all of my usual complaints about that style are not present in this movie. It's about a game of hide and seek gone wrong. At certain times, groups of kids get together to play a game of hide and seek in an abandoned part of town, but the kids who play are never seen from again. We follow the current group that's playing. The story is part mystery and it gets more intesne as the movie progresses. I'm not going to spoil some of the twists and turns, but even if you don't like anime movies, I suggest giving this a try. It's only 40 minutes long and when it was over I was sad that it wasn't longer. Also, this is one of the rare horror movies that I think it okay for kids to watch.

5.) Nightmare on Elm Street

This movie is great because it capitolizes on a part of our lives that we probably don't give much thought. We, as humans, need to sleep. And while we're asleep, we're vulnerable. So what happens if someone starts attacking people in their dreams? That's a scary concept. And I love how, throughout these movies, there are parts where the wall between reality and dreams becomes blurred. Like, the main characters are trying to stay awake, but suddenly Freddy attacks and they realize that they fell asleep. It's facinating the think of the psychological aspects of these movies.

I said before that I don't like movies with made-up monsters or villains, but Freddy Krueger is the exception. He's such a great, scary concept. He attacks you when you're most vulnerable and there's not much you can do to defend youself against him. The only way is to stay awake, and that's very difficult for people to do. Plus, Freddy is a great character. He's one of the few horror monsters with a personality and it's a fun personality.

The main concept and Freddy combine for a surprisingly good horror movie.

4.) Blair Witch Project

My friends all laugh when I say this is one of my favorite horror movies, but it's true. Once again, this is a movie that capitolizes on the fear of the unknown. Throughout the movie, you don't know if what's happening is real of if it's just coincidence from the documentary the characters are shooting. Just like Audition, it builds up to the very last moment. It starts off as a nice little documentary and slowly becomes this unknown element messing with these kids. It just gets more and more intense and you're trying to figure out what's going on and suddenly then ending hits you like a ton of bricks. And I love that if you've been paying attention through the movie to the Blair Witch trivia, the ending is a hundred times more powerful. When I first saw that ending, I sat in my chair stunned for about ten minutes.

Also, I have a lot of respect for how this movie was made. The main actors were pretty much given their own cameras and sent off by themselves to improvize the whole time. I saw an interview with the actors where they said they would someimtes wake up in the morning to find notes from the director, and that was the only direction they were given. Not to mention that this movie is one of the biggest success stories in box office history because it was made for nothing and went on to rake in a lot of money.

3.) Misery

I love this movie for a lot of reasons. I'm an aspiring writer, so I'm instantly relating to the main character, and also this is a stuation that I could see actually happening to someone. I travel in some nerdy circles and I've met some really fanatical people. I could definately see maybe a Harry Potter fan going crazy and making the author do more than seven books.

And the acting was incredible. James Caan was stuck in a bed and wheelchair most of the movie, but he pulled excelled through subtle acting. And Kathy Bates was one of the scariest horror villains ever. You start off thinking she's this nice, swet lady, and suddenly she snaps. Great, great movie.

2.) The Ring

I think this was one of the best scary movies made in the last 15 years. Its a horror movie rapped around a mystery movie. It's full of twists and turns and frights. And, being a mystery, you don't see the main villain until the very end so it builds up the fear of the unknown.

1.) The Haunting (1963)

For me, this is the best horror movie of all time. It's the only horror movie to truely show how deep our fear of the unknown can go. No guy in a costume. No fake monsters. Just four people in a haunted house. The special effects were pretty much just camera angles and and a few sound effects. And they used those things brilliantly to make it seem like the house was really trying to get at the characters.

For such simple concepts and effects, this is the scariest movie I've ever watched. The pounding and the creaking just makes your heart jump. It feels like you're right there with them in that house.

My favorite moment is the ending, where the characters are trying to run away from the pounding. They have the cameras follow them from above. As silly as it sounds, it actually looks like you're watching through the house's "eyes" as it chases them.

This is what all horror movies should aspire to, but I don't think any have come close to capting what make this movie so scary.

And, just briefly, I want to mention how disappointing the recent remake of this film was. It tried to do with CGI what the orginal did with subtle camera work. To top it all off, there was a CGI ghost at the end. My only thought was, "Are you kidding me?" I mean, had they even watched the original before making this piece of crap? Catherine Zeta Jones and Owen Wilson cldn't make up for how awful it was. Best not to waste your time with it and rent the original instead.

Anyway, these are my picks for Top 5. Do you agree? Disagree? Care to suggest new categories for future columns? Don't be afraid to let me know!

Haggard Monsters of the Week: Spider-Man and Friends

Happy Halloween everybody! To celebrate, instead of my "Haggard Heroes of the week" feature, I'm bringing you "Haggard Monsters." And who are the monsters I want to feature? No, not Leslee Unruh. The monsters I want to feature are super-hero zombies. That's right! Spider-Man, Wolverine, Captain America and others transformed into flesh-eating zombies.

Marvel Zombies is a fun graphic novel that shows what would happen if Marvel super-heroes like Spider-Man, Wolverine and others were infected by a zombie plague. And villains like Magneto have to stop them from destroying humanity. I love this story. It combines two of my favorite nerdy things: comic books and horror movies. And the writing successfully combines humor and horror. If you like super-heroes and/or zombie movies, I highly recommend checking this out.

Have a fun and happy Halloween!

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Bush is a Flip-Flopper

I'm greatly amused by the new messages coming from the Bush administration. For months, they've been preaching how "stay the course" is the best strategy for Iraq. But after they finally realized what a falure their policy for Iraq has been, they're now changing that message.

What's funny about this is that Bush and his sycophants are claiming that their message for the last few months hasn't actually been "stay the course." It hasn't taken long for people like Jon Stewart to point out that lie. I mean, has Bush ever been on the internet? Once you put some information out there, you can't take it back just because you've changed your mind. It's like he's saying, "Hey guys, you know all that "stay the course" stuff I've been talking about? Yeah, I didn't really mean it. My bad."

And I love the news coverage of this issue. My favorite is an article with the headline: "Bush has decided to cut and run from `staying the course'." Ha!

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Let's Get This Party Started!

(That may be a really horrible title... I couldn't think of a better one)

I've been kind of taking the last couple weeks off. I noticed I was taking certain things way too personally (as you can see here). So I thought a nice break would be in order to rest and revitalize myself for the upcoming political debates.

Now that I'm back, my plan is to have political content up every day. I have a lot I want to cover, from the abortion ban to Amendment Discrimination (or "C") to the various political races. I also want to spend tme discussing my Christian faith and why I believe it doesn't contradict my pro-choice and pro-gay marriage beliefs (no matter how many times Sibby may call me "Anti-Christian"). And I plan to continue my fun posts like the Top 5 on Thursdays and the return of Haggard Hero of the Week which will be on Fridays. Plus I still want to start my Haggard Entertainment posts, but they may have to take a backseat until after the election.

So thanks for your patience!

Update 10/24/06 - I knew I was shooting myself in the foot by saying there would be new content every day. Next thing I know a whole week has gone by. I suck.

Update 10/25/06 - And now when I want to post Blogger craps out on me. Grrrrrr.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

No On E Radio Ad

While I was listening to Viewpoint University today, I heard an add from the anti-Amendment E group, No on E.

I couldn't find the ad online anywhere, so I'll have to describe it. The ad was about a game show where the host would list things or ask questions related to Amendment E. For example, the host listed "family, friends, co-workers" and the contestant tried to guess how all those are related. His first guess was "Good and honest people I know" which wasn't correct. The host listed a couple more and the contestant said "People who would be hurt by Amendment E." And that was correct!

And after that, there was a couple more questions (one was about criminals who would benefit from Amendment E and another was about the Californians who started it). Unfortunately, no one won the game because "nobody wins if Amendment E passes." (paraphrased because I can't remember the exact quote)

What a fun ad! It's exactly the kind of ad that I think can grab the public's attention. If I find it online, I'll post it for everyone to hear.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Top 5 South Dakota Attractions

This is a fun feature I plan to run every Thursday. I'll take a category and try to rate the Top 5. I'll mostly do South Dakota categories, but it won't be limited to just SD stuff.

Today's Top 5 is South Dakota Attractions.

Honorable Mention - Sturgis Motorcycle Rally

I had originally wanted to put this on the list, but it's only a week-long event as opposed to the others which are year-long attractions. But still, I wanted to acknowledge Sturgis as an important SD attraction.

5.) Wind Cave National Park

Out of all the places in the world, you'd never think of South Dakota as having a big, underground cave.

This place is cool. It's one of the only places in the world where you can find boxwork calcite formations.

4.) Wall Drug

My family went on many trips to the Black Hills while I was growing up. The goal of the trips was to see Mt. Rushmore, but I almost looked forward to some of the stops along the way even more. I still have fond memories of the animatronic Cowboy Orchestra.

3.) Badlands National Park

Growing up in the relatively flat southeastern part of the state, I've always had a fondness for places that aren't flat. So it comes as no surprise that one of my other favorite parts of trips to Mt. Rushmore were going through the Badlands. I swear, I could stare at that terrain forever.

2.) The Corn Palace

I have to admit that, when I was a kid, I thought the Corn Palace was silly. I don't know why, I just didn't like it. But it certainly is a unique attraction. So much so, that it averages 500,000 visitors a year. And I love that they use it concerts and other community events. Now that I'm grown up (kind of), I appreciate this landmark as one of South Dakota's treasures.

1.) Mount Rushmore

Was there ever a doubt about which attraction would be #1? Millions of people from all of the country and world come to Rushmore every year to pay homage to America's greatest presidents.

Is it weird that most of our major attractions are on the western end of the state?

Anyway, these are my picks for Top 5. Do you agree? Disagree? Care to suggest new categories for future columns? Don't be afraid to let me know!

Monday, September 25, 2006

Todd Epp's New Job

I just wanted to congratulate Todd Epp on his new job as legal and communications consultant for the South Dakotans Against Discrimination campaign. Todd's a great guy and that's a great cause.

The "New" Argus Leader

Starting today, the Argus Leader is going through a format change. They're making a lot of changes to the paper to supposedly bring it into the "digital age." How exactly do you bring a printed newspaper into the "digital age?" Are we now going to get floppy disks tossed on our front porches or would they send us a CD every day like AOL?

Some of the changes are pretty good. I'm looking forward to the Voices section. And I like that the first section is going to be much more focused on local news. And some of their ideas for online, interactive content sounds interesting.

But there are many things I'm not sure I like about this change. The first thing for me is moving the weather page. It was so handy to have in right on page 2. Then there's the Life section. They're turning it into a magazine-like thing. I don't like that idea. The paper usually comes with a lot of magazine-like things in the form of ads and USA Weekend and other things that I throw away. I'd prefer the Life section to match the other sections, but I'll give this a shot.

Another concern I have is just how much content they plan to leave for the website. I'd rather not see stories that say, at the end, "go online for more on this story." Many people aren't online, especially older people. My parents use the internet only for the basics like e-mail, Google and doing taxes. If they have a choice, they'd sooner stop subscribing to the Argus rather than be forced to read content online. So I just hope they're keeping that in mind when they do this.

We'll see what happens tomorrow.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Distractions... I Suck at Blogging

Is it really September? Wow.

I had such big plans for what I would do with this blog during the summer. I wanted to talk about important issue South Dakota would be facing in November. I had hoped to Spotlight some local people I support who are running for the legislature. I wanted to really get into a discussion on homosexuality and Christian faith. And I wanted to start Haggard Entertainment articles on movies, TV, music, video games, comic books, restaurants, internet culture and more.

I ended up being a lot busier than I thought I would be and I kept getting distracted from my plans. There was the Canton financial issues in June. Then I had a personal distraction in July. And I was out of town a lot in August. Not to mention traveling west river every other weekend to help my sister. And I spent way too much time fiddling with the blog layout.

And looking over my archives, a lot of things fell by the wayside. Anyone remember my Haggard Hero of the Week posts? I haven't done one on months. And at the beginning of June I started what I thought was a series of posts about "Taking Back Family Values" and it ended up being just like the movie "History of the World Part 1" since neither had a Part 2.

So what now? Well, my first step is to set up a schedule of weekly features so I'll have at least one new post each weekday. Like I can do the Haggard Hero posts on Fridays or something. I can't do much about distractions, but the schedule should help me keep on track if anything happens.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Amendment E Discussion on KSOO Tomorrow

I was listening to KSOO's Viewpoint University, as I often like to do, and the list of Thursday's guests was very interesting to me.

They will be interviewing Diana Miller, from the No on Amendment E group. It's scheduled for 5 PM Central time.

I can't wait to hear them pick apart JAIL and talk about how horrible this amendment would be for the people of our state. Everybody should tune in. It'll be fun!

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

New Conservative Blog - Worth Checking Out

A new South Dakota blog has popped up this week called Prairie Conservative. It's run by Greg Belfrage and Kristi Golden, the regular host of KELO AM and a frequent guest host, respectively.

It's a conservative blog, so I know I won't like some of what they post, but so far the content seems to be smart and of high quality. About on par with SDWC. And Greg seems like a nice guy so I think he's a good addition to the SD blogosphere.

And I absolutely love the "News You Can't Use" feature. Without it I would've completely missed the article about Marines showing the South Park movie to Saddam Hussein. If you haven't seen the movie, Saddam is a character who gets killed by wild boars, then goes to Hell where he becomes Satan's abusive boyfriend. Then, as Saddam tries to start the apocalypse and take over the world, he's defeated by a 4th grader.

The thought of Saddam watching that movie just makes me smile.

Sibby Defends Racist

Ever since Senator George Allen of Virginia uttered his infamous "macaca" comment, Sibby has been defending him over and over.

When the story first came out, he spent quite a bit of time defending Allen on Mount Blogmore. He treated it like some liberal plot and then somehow turned the discussion into an abortion argument.

His lastest attempt is reprinting the text of a WorldNetDaily article with the comment "The hypocrites still can't forgive" preceding it.

What's to forgive? Allen claimed ignorance. He tried to claim that he doesn't know what it means and that he made the word up and that he had heard his campaign staff use it and he even said it was a slang term for "mohawk" (which may or may not have been the hairstyle of the person he called "macaca"). So he lied several times to try and save face instead of apologizing. He eventually did apologize, kinda, when he realized his other tactics weren't working.

That's the guy Republicans want to be President? A guy who "used to keep a Confederate flag in his living room and a noose in his law office."

They sure are working hard to spin this story. They're even attempting to put the blame on Sidarth, the kid who was called "macaca" and welcomed to America (even though he was born here). Because apparently it was Sidarth's fault that Allen said a horribly racist slur and implied that he was an immigrant just because of the color of his skin.

Way to go Republicans! It's no wonder that you're losing minority voters.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

How Many Planets Do We Have?

Last week I heard that scientists were planning to reclassify the qualifications of being a planet. They were doing it with the eye towards adding new planets to our traditional nine. And there were three specific objects that they planned to give planet-status: Ceres (between Mars and Jupiter), UB313 (nicknamed Xena) and Charon (Pluto's moon).

I thought that was a great idea. As we learn more about the solar system, it seems logical that our traditional definition of what a planet is will grow and expand.

But then I checked Google News this morning and discovered that not only was that proposal rejected, but Pluto has now been downgraded and is no longer a planet. What the heck happened? How did we go backwards? Their main objection seems to be that the proposed definition would allow to many objects to be classified as planets and we could have up to 200 planets. So what? That's progress.

For as long as I've been alive, Pluto has always been a planet. Now the 76 year history of the planet Pluto is just swept under the rug as if making it a planet had been a mistake. That's crap. I don't want to sound like a religious conservative, but I'm just going to stick fingers in my ears and say "I'm not listening" to those scientists.

Professor Mike Brown of the California Institute of Technology brought some common sense to the discussion in a radio interview:
"The analogy that I always like to use is the word 'continent'. You know, the word 'continent' has no scientific definition ... they're just cultural definitions, and I think the geologists are wise to leave that one alone and not try to redefine things so that the word 'continent' has a big, strict definition."
That works for me. Just as there are seven continents, there are nine planets.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Activist Judges

While on the subject of Amendment Evil, I wanted to talk about something I saw in one of David Kranz's columns last week. He showed what a Minnesota district judge, George Harrelson, wrote about South Dakota's J.A.I.L. Amendment (aka Amendment Evil). What caught my attention was his opinion of the people who are always complaining about "judicial activism."
Activist Judges: "I must be one of those activist judges. In the 23 years
that I have been a judge, the caseload has more than doubled, and at the end of
a lot of days, I feel like I have been rode hard and put up wet. Of course, when
you hear about the 'activist judges,' someone is usually complaining about
rulings of a Supreme Court (often in Massachusetts or California) that they
don't agree with. Problem is, trial judges, such as myself, are required to
follow laws or prior court rulings even if they are not popular.

"In the past, when citizens or groups of citizens were unhappy with a law
or court ruling, they would pressure their legislators to pass a different law
or a constitutional amendment. Recently, a new technique has emerged -
intimidate the judge. People are being urged to 'hold the judge accountable.' If
you don't like what the judge did, get rid of the judge," Harrelson says.

"When a judge starts to worry about who they will please or displease with
a ruling, then we cease to be a government based on law," Harrelson
So the people who are always screaming "activist judges" when they don't like the judge's decision are just bullies. And the Amendment Evil people are just trying to make it easier to bully judges and manipulate the justice system how they see fit. I thought as much.

Amendment Evil

I don't spend much time talking about Amendment E, which we will be voting on in November, because PP and Tim are doing such a fantastic job exposing the clowns who brought this crap to South Dakota. But it's good for anyone to comment, if for no other reason than showing Bill Stegmeier that almost everyone in the state things J.A.I.L. is a horrible idea.

I spent this last weekend hanging out with a bunch of friends on our annual lake trip. We got to talking about politics one day and someone brought up Amendment E. I don't remember how we came to it, but we all settled on calling it "Amendment Evil." Don't you think that just fits?

And I was very happy to see Judge Max Gors' decision about the ballot description for Amendment Evil. I was glad that Gors put a stop to Stegmeier's lies about who has judicial immunity and who can be affected by Amendment Evil. And I really loved that the Argus included Gors' "money quote":

Glasford also maintained that the attorney general should have used the word "accountability" in his description. Gors rejected that with a flourish, writing, "The attorney general could have said with a straight face that the real purpose and effect of the proposed JAIL amendment is to destroy justice in South Dakota by harassment of public decision makers with lawsuits, but he did not. His actual description is quite tame."
Oh my, anyone smell smoke in here? Because I think the Amendment Evil people just got BURNED!

But there was something in that article that horrified me. The lawyer for Amendment Evil is from Canton. What were you thinking Ms. Glasford? Don't you have some standards in who you accept for your clients? Sheesh.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Mel Gibson

I'm very late on commenting about this topic. My comment is simply this: Who the heck cares? He's a celebrity. Celebrities, just like any other human, do stupid things sometimes. The only reason it's news is because he's a popular actor.

I admit that I haven't been following the story that closely, mostly because I don't care. The stir seems to be something about anti-Semitic remarks. Whatever those remarks were, they were wrong and I'm sure he feels bad about it. But I've seen people use those remarks to justify their belief that his The Passion of the Christ movie was anti-Semitic.

I personally didn't think the movie was anti-Semitic, but I guess I was more focused on how lousy it was at adapting the story.

I don't know. It seems like a bit much to get up in arms over a crappy movie.*

So when stuff like this happens in the future, just remember this: It was just a celebrity. Not anything important.

*I'm sure Bob Ellis or someone will blast me about the "crappy movie" part. I just think it was depressing that it focused on every single bit of suffering Jesus went through while it left out little things like hope and love and the promise for the future of humanity (which I believe is the important part of the story).

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Liar Liar Pants on Fire!

It always amazes me how the "good, moral, Christian" members of the pro-life movement will lie and cheat to get their point across.

For example: In Sunday's Argus Leader, there's a letter to the editor from Linda Schauer, SD state director of the Concerned Women for America.

I applaud President Bush and Sen. John Thune for supporting research that does not destroy human life through the use of embryonic stem cells.

We continue down a slippery slope when we regard human life as a commodity. It's just wrong to kill some humans to be used as research material to benefit others. Furthermore, it is not prudent to federally fund research that holds little promise of cures when adult stem-cell research has already cured or improved patients representing over 70 ailments.

Unlike treatment with embryonic stem cells, treatments using adult stem cells do not produce cancerous tumors and the serious complication of rejection is eliminated. We need to direct our dollars toward proven success.

Sen. Tim Johnson cites the frozen embryos conceived through in vitro fertilization as "medical waste." Would he consider it ethical to experiment on death-row inmates or would he have approved of the Nazi experiments on humans? Of the 400,000 frozen embryos, only 2.8 percent have been tagged for research by their biological parents. The rest are awaiting implantation by the parents or made available for adoption. More than 100 frozen embryos ("Snowflake" kids) have been adopted.

Government should not fund unethical and unsuccessful research.

Wow. Let's count how many times she broke the "don't lie" commandment.

1.) "Furthermore, it is not prudent to federally fund research that holds little promise of cures when adult stem-cell research has already cured or improved patients representing over 70 ailments."

This number has been drastically inflated to make adult stem cells seem better than embryonic stem cells. Truthfully, the only current treatment that uses adult stem cells is when they take them out of bone marrow when leukemia patients have chemotherapy. That's to prevent the chemo treatments from killing those adult stem calls along with the leukemia. Once the treatments are over, the inject the adult stem cells back into the bone marrow.

The current research with adult stem cells shows a lot of promise in potential treatments for 8 or so ailments. And they are very close to using adult stem cells to improve patients with heart/muscle damage and blindness.

So not only are pro-lifers lying about how many ailments adult stem cells can help with, but they are implying that they can cure/help them right now (which isn't true).

2.) "Unlike treatment with embryonic stem cells, treatments using adult stem cells do not produce cancerous tumors and the serious complication of rejection is eliminated."

Saying that embryonic stem cells cause tumors is an outright lie. Pro-lifers using this argument are saying this to deceive the public. There is no evidence that embryonic stem cells cause cancer or any kind of tumor. Just because they don't like embryonic stem cell research doesn't mean that can make up things about it.

The part about rejection is more truthful, though the chances of rejection are probably no greater than a heart transplant or something.

3.) "Sen. Tim Johnson cites the frozen embryos conceived through in vitro fertilization as "medical waste." Would he consider it ethical to experiment on death-row inmates or would he have approved of the Nazi experiments on humans?"

Here she compares Sen. Johnson with Nazis. That's just mean. Whenever you bring up Nazis in your argument, it shows how weak the argument is.

4.) "Of the 400,000 frozen embryos, only 2.8 percent have been tagged for research by their biological parents. The rest are awaiting implantation by the parents or made available for adoption. More than 100 frozen embryos ("Snowflake" kids) have been adopted."

This part confuses me. It seems to be her answer to Johnson's "medical waste" remark, but she just throws it out there without making a point. I found an article that talks more specifically about those embryos:

The team tallied a "conservative" total of 396,526 embryos.

About 3 percent were earmarked for research; 2 percent for destruction and a like number for donation to women; and 1 percent for quality-assurance studies. Most of the rest -- about 87 percent of the total -- were reserved for ongoing fertility efforts.
It seems that 2% of that 400,000 is earmarked for donation to other women, which is where the Snowflake babies have come from. What I find interesting is that the pool of embryos for donation to women isn't the same thing as the pool earmarked for research. President Bush and anti-abortionists would have us believe that the Snowflake babies are coming from the research pool when, in fact, they are not.


I don't mean to pick on Mrs. Schauer. I'm sure she's a very nice lady. I just thought her letter was a good illustration of one of the things that's wrong with the pro-life movement. If they want to claim that their side is the side of good, faithful Christians, then they need to stop lying and cheating to get their way.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Is Increasing Minimum Wage Worth It?

The latest twist in the minimum wage issue was that the Republicans in Congress added a provision that would reduce the estates/death/Paris Hilton tax to it.
It ultimately didn't pass. Shocker.

What was brilliant about it was, like a lot of other Republican ideas, they could show support for raising minimum wage without actually having to raise the minimum wage. They knew it would fail like this, but it allowed the Republicans to look like they wanted to raise the minimum wage. Brilliant. Evil, but brilliant.

But my question was: Would it be worth it reduce taxes for the uber-wealthy if we can finally get the Republicans to support a minimum wage increase? It's kind of like signing a deal with the devil, but if that's the only way to get it done... isn't it worth it?

As much as I don't want to support anything that benefits Paris Hilton (because she's destroying America), it might be worth it to get a minimum wage increase. I think raising the minimum wage is very important. If the Republicans will only do it if we agree to their stupid, morally corrupt ideas, then I think we should go for it.

Since it didn't pass, this discussion is pretty moot. But it's something to think about for next time. Hopefully by then the people in control of Congress will want to raise the minimum wage for no other reason than it's a good idea for American citizens. Crazy, I know.

Catching Up

I had such big plans for the blog this summer, but real life keeps getting in my way.

So I'm going to catch up on the news (like the stem cell debate, minimum wage and the various polls about SD issues) and hopefully start the Haggard Entertainment section.

I hope you'll keep sticking with me.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Bush, Conservatives Lying About Adult Stem Cells

President Bush and other conservatives keep bringing up to claim that adult stem cells are better than embryonic stem cells when it comes to research into curing diseases. But real scientists say that's misleading to the public because there's not proof.
When White House political adviser Karl Rove signaled last week that President Bush planned to veto the stem cell bill being considered by the Senate, the reasons he gave went beyond the president's moral qualms with research on human embryos.

In fact, Rove waded into deeply contentious scientific territory, telling the Denver Post's editorial board that researchers have found "far more promise from adult stem cells than from embryonic stem cells."

The administration's assessment of stem cell science has extra meaning in the wake of the Senate's 63-37 vote Tuesday to expand federal funding of embryonic stem cell research. The measure, which passed the House last year, will now head to Bush, who has vowed to veto it.

But Rove's negative appraisal of embryonic stem cell research - echoed by many opponents of funding for embryonic stem cells - is inaccurate, according to most stem cell scientists, including a dozen contacted for this story.

The field of stem cell medicine is too young and unproven to make such judgments, experts say. Many of those researchers either specialize in adult stem cells or share Bush's moral reservations about embryonic stem cells.

"(Rove's) statement is just not true," said Dr. Michael Clarke, associate director of the stem cell institute at Stanford University, who in 2003 published the first study showing how adult stem cells replenish themselves.

If opponents of embryonic research object on moral grounds, "I'm willing to live with that," Clarke said, though he disagrees. But, he said, "I'm not willing to live with statements that are misleading."
Conservatives who oppose stem cell research on moral grounds are making up scientific claims to prove their point. Further proof that many conservatives will lie and cheat to get their way.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

What is Fetal Farming?

Today, the Senate passed three bills dealing with stem cell research. The first two deal with embryonic and adult stem cells, but the third bans a practice called "fetal farming." Here's a description:
"Fetal farming" refers to the use of fetal tissue obtained from a pregnancy initiated for research purposes.

Many people think that fetal farming doesn't actually exist, and there is no evidence that proves it has ever happened. So they are banning something that they just made up. If they can do that, then I want to ban research on people who live in the 5th dimension. Poor Mr. Mxyzptlk has been through enough.

Where fetal farming comes from, I think, is the land of slippery slopes where a lot of right-wing conservatives live. It probably comes from the same place where people think allowing a gay couple in a loving, committed relationship to marry will lead to people marrying goats and kicking puppies (or something).

Gay Marriage Ban Fails... Again!

I thought the amendment to ban gay marriage had gone away last month when the Senate couldn't even get enough votes to send it to the floor for a real vote. But, it came back... only to fail again.

The U.S. House, in an effort in futility, fell short of the number of votes it needed to approve this amendment. Why do I call this futile? Because it already failed in the Senate, so there was no chance that this vote would do anything.

What was the point? To prove, once again, that Republicans want to suck up to their conservative base? Why are they wasting time doing that when they could be focused on something that might actually help the people of this country?

So thank God they weren't able to write discrimination into the U.S. Constitution.

Ku Klux Klan Opposes Gay Marriage

Read it here. (Yeah, I know it's a story from last year.)

Twelve members of the Ku Klux Klan clamored against gay marriage at a pre-election rally Saturday, struggling to regain relevance in a society that recoils from its racist past.

"We're asking Texans to support Proposition 2 because God supports it, not because the KKK supports it," said Steven Edwards, calling himself the Texas Grand Dragon of the American White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan.
See, we can do it too.

Does Thune Want People to Die?

Senator John Thune opposes research that could save millions of lives. Like Bush, he doesn't care about people suffering from Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and cancer. They claim the focus should be on adult stem cells found in bone marrow and other parts of the body. But how do they know adult stem cell research will give the same results as embryonic stem cell research? They don't, but they're still wiling to toy with people's lives.

In the Argus article I linked to, they interview a South Dakota woman whose life could be saved by this research.

The outcome of Senate debate this week over human embryonic stem cell research could mean the difference between life and death for Huron resident Bonnie Younkin and members of her family.

Younkin, 56, is fighting early onset Parkinson's disease and is the fourth woman in her family to get it. She worries about her three healthy daughters, who are in their 30s, and a granddaughter.

Younkin is hoping embryonic stem cell research leads to a cure for degenerative diseases such as Parkinson's - if not for her, at least for her family. For weeks, she has lobbied South Dakota's senators to support legislation that would lift the Bush administration's limits on federally funded research on human embryos. Tim Johnson, a Democrat, will vote for the bill today. John Thune, a Republican, will vote against it.

When Younkin was diagnosed five years ago, her doctor told her she could expect to have about nine years of good-quality life.

"I want a cure, and I want it yesterday," Younkin said Monday during a break from watching the debate on C-SPAN. "My time is running out."
But does Sen. Thune care about saving this woman's life? No. He care more about the embryonic stem cells that would just be destroyed anyway. That, ladies and gentlemen, is the Senator you voted for. Making South Dakota proud.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Sibby Can't Read

I generally don't like using my blog to comment negatively on another blog's posts, but Sibby rarely activates the comments feature... so he leaves me no choice.

In a post today, Sibby tries to claim that the Argus Leader wrote a bias into their article on last week's new sex education materials.

The Argus Leader showed its bias by using the subtitle, "Many parents who had sought change like new middle-school materials" for its report on the approval of the Sioux Falls middle school sex so-called education materials. But the report did not support that subtitle.
I see no bias in that title. It's reporting on the facts. Many of the parents who were unhappy with the previous materials are happy with the new stuff.

From the article:
The new books were received warmly by many of the parents who had asked the district to dump the sex ed materials that were to debut last year.

Tammy Cooper-Mosser said she was happy not only that there were "no offensive diagrams or pictures," but also that the new books strongly recommend students speak to their parents or guardians about sex, even providing activities that encourage discussions at home.
Sibby uses selective reading to pick out the two parents who were still unhappy. Those two, like Sibby, wanted sex ed to be "abstinence until marriage only".

But those two parents don't represent all the parents who were unhappy. So the subtitle that Sibby has a problem with is factually accurate... because many of the parents who wanted new materials are happy with the new materials.

Like other ultra-radical conservatives, Sibby likes to think that he's in the majority when that is clearly not the case.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Temporary Layout

I'm still trying to figure out how to make a three-column blog, but I'm temporarily changing the layout because of my poll results. Everyone (except the soup lovers) wants the blog to have brighter colors for easier reading. So until I can figure out three column fu, this will do.


Flag Burning Solution

There's an easy way to fix the flag burning problem that won't result in violating free speech rights. Just start making all American flags out of non-flammable material. We have the technology, so why don't we use it?

There. It's settled. Can we go back to talking about something else now?

Monday, July 10, 2006

Sex Ed

The Sioux Falls School Board might vote on new sex education materials today.

I applauded the School Board's decision on sex ed standards a couple months ago. It was a smart decision that was inclusive to gay students and others. Yes it made some people mad, but they have the kids' best interests in mind.

Now there's no chance that every parent will be satisfied with these sex ed materials, but you can't please everyone. I hope the School Board puts their foot down. If they vote that this material is best for the standards they set, that's it. If parents still don't like it, they can have their kids opt-out of the class.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Poll: Blog Colors

I'm attempting to redesign this blog and one of the things I'm looking at is the colors. I'm wondering if the colors are too dark and hard to read. If you think they are, vote yes and I will make sure to change that. Thanks for you help!

Are the colors on this blog too dark?
I like soup.
Free polls from

Friday, June 30, 2006

Another Good Letter on Gay Marriage

The Argus Leader has had a lot of great letters this week dealing with the gay marriage issue. This is the most recent:
In response to Rick D. Greb's letter (June 11), maybe judges have "taken it upon themselves to overturn marriage laws or amendments," because said laws and amendments are unconstitutional.

I am a Christian and a member of the ELCA Church, and I wholeheartedly agree with Sen. Tim Johnson in opposing any amendment that would bar any loving couple from getting married - gay, lesbian or otherwise.

Singling out a segment of our society and banning them from marriage is essentially writing discrimination into the U.S. Constitution.

By passing a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage, are you not saying that gay and lesbian citizens are lesser than you and they are not entitled to the same pursuit of happiness that you are? I personally don't care if somebody marries a toaster oven; it doesn't affect me in the least and doesn't lessen the marriage to my wonderful wife one bit.

There is no reason to fear; you cannot catch "gayness." However, if you can find some way at catch some compassion and understanding, it may do you, our community and our country some good. Who knows, an amendment to the Constitution that singles you out could be next.

- Matthew C. Douglas


Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Why SD Teachers Need a Pay Increase

Here's a great reason why teachers in South Dakota need to be paid a lot more: They have to buy classroom supplies with their own money. Most K-5 teachers have to buy their own supplies for their class because the school doesn't supply them. Most of the teachers are forced to spend 50% (in some cases I've heard it as high as 80%) of their income on those supplies.

So SD teachers are already getting paid very little, but they are also forced to spend that little income on their class. Some schools might help the teachers out, but they have no money to spare.

So... why aren't we paying teachers adequately?

Monday, June 26, 2006

"Pro-Life" or Pro-Death Penalty: Pick One

It amuses me that some conservatives who claim to be "pro-life" also support the death penalty. How can that be possible? Isn't that a huge contradiction?

You'd think so.

Two Good Letters in Argus About Gay Marriage

In Sunday's Argus Leader, there were two great letters. They are so good that I'm just going to post them without comment.

Same-Sex Marriage

All the to-and-fro regarding the issue of an amendment to the Constitution that would ban same-sex marriage prompts one to ask a simple question of those who, as obvious political posturing, so vocally support it.

Why are they so mean?

"Do unto others as you would have them do unto you" is a universal principle underpinning all ethical systems. This principle, in many forms, is found throughout the human experience. It is pre-Christian, pre-religion, pre-history. And yet they would support writing into the U.S. Constitution an amendment of little practical value that would deny to a minority of U.S. citizens rights you appear to enjoy.

- J.A. Murphy

Gay Marriage

I don't understand the controversy over gay marriage.

The First Amendment clearly states the freedom of religion. I'm sure that several million gay people in this country believe that their religious belief allows them to marry the one person that they love.

God made me and made me gay just as he made you straight, and I don't see any differences between us.

Gay marriage is coming to the ballot in South Dakota. I don't believe that our state is full of bigots and haters. I do know, however, that we do have many moral-religious activists that got it in their heads that I cannot be or express who I am as God made me. I pray to God just as you, I take communion just as you, and am thankful every day just as you.

Marriage between a man and a woman does not need protecting. Heterosexuals will always be allowed to marry. By allowing gays equal rights, and allowing them the right to marry, we not only uphold the provisions in the Constitution but our religious beliefs, as well.

Ever take time to talk to a gay person? How about that distant cousin or your niece? You may be surprised at what you find.

- Bruce J. Scott

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Leaked Memo on Life in Iraq... It Still Sucks

The U.S. Ambassador to Iraq sent out a confidential memo about the current conditions in Iraq. It paints a picture that is much different than what we've been told by President Bush lately.

You can read the entire text from that memo here.

The situation in Iraq seems to be getting worse, and it's fueled by our continued presence there. Iraqis who work in the U.S. Embassy live in fear of being hurt or killed. From the memo:
Security Forces Mistrusted

11. In April, employees began reporting a change in demeanor of guards at the Green Zone checkpoints. They seemed to be militialike, in some cases seemingly taunting. One employee asked us to get her some press credentials because the guards held her embassy badge up and proclaimed loudly to passers-by "embassy" as she entered. Such information is a death sentence if heard by the wrong people.

Supervising Staff At High Risk

12. Employees all share a common tale: of nine employees in March, only four had family members who knew they worked at the embassy. Iraqi colleagues who are called after hours often speak in Arabic as an indication they cannot speak openly in English.

13. We cannot call employees in on weekends or holidays without blowing their "cover." A Sunni Arab female employee tells us family pressures and the inability to share details of her employment is very tough; she told her family she was in Jordan when we sent her on training to the U.S.

Mounting criticism of the U.S. at home among family members also makes her life difficult. She told us in mid-June that most of her family believes the U.S. -- which is widely perceived as fully controlling the country and tolerating the malaise -- is punishing the population as Saddam did (but with Sunnis and very poor Shia now at the bottom of the list). Otherwise, she says, the allocation of power and security would not be so arbitrary.

14. Some of our staff do not take home their American cell phones, as it makes them a target. They use code names for friends and colleagues and contacts entered into Iraq cell phones. For at least six months, we have not been able to use any local staff for translation at on-camera press events.

15. We have begun shredding documents that show local staff surnames. In March, a few members approached us to ask what provisions would we make for them if we evacuate.
And human rights are disappearing:
Women's Rights

2. Two of our three female employees report stepped up harassment beginning in mid-May. One, a Shia who favors Western clothing, was advised by an unknown woman in her Baghdad neighborhood to wear a veil and not to drive her own car. She said some groups are pushing women to cover even their face, a step not taken in Iran even at its most conservative.

3. Another, a Sunni, said people in her neighborhood are harassing women and telling them to cover up and stop using cell phones. She said the taxi driver who brings her every day to the Green Zone has told her he cannot let her ride unless she wears a headcover. A female in the PAS cultural section is now wearing a full abaya after receiving direct threats.

4. The women say they cannot identify the groups pressuring them. The cautions come from other women, sometimes from men who could be Sunni or Shia, but appear conservative. Some ministries, notably the Sadrist-controlled Ministry of Transportation, have been forcing females to wear the hijab at work.

Dress Code For All?

5. Staff members have reported it is now dangerous for men to wear shorts in public; they no longer allow their children to play outside in shorts. People who wear jeans in public have come under attack.
The situation in Iraq doesn't look to be improving at all.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Ten Commandments on Colbert Report

On last night's Colbert Report, Stephen Colbert interviewed U.S. Rep. Lynn Westmoreland from Georgia's 8th District. He has co-sponsored a bill to display the Ten Commandments in public buildings like the House and Senate.

When Colbert brought it up, he asked the congressman if there was a better place to display the Ten Commandments besides government buildings. You'd think the first thing that would come to mind would be "church," but Rep. Westmoreland couldn't think of anything.

And then Colbert asked a toughy. He asked Rep. Westmoreland to name all ten of the commandments. He got three of the basic ones (don't kill, don't steal and don't lie) but couldn't think of any others.

Maybe Rep. Westmoreland wants the Ten Commandments displayed everywhere so he can find out what they actually are?

They'll probably put the video of that interview up here soon.


How many failed opt-outs is it going to take to make our state legislators realize they aren't giving enough money to our schools?

Garretson already tried an opt-out once. When that failed, they had to cut programs and teachers. And now they are forced to cut even more.

Wake up South Dakota legislators! No price should be too high for out kids' education. If it takes new senators, house members and a new governor to realize this... then so be it.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Bush Thinks He and the GOP are "Forward-Thinking"

Let us all laugh at the absurdity:
"I believe we're going to hold the House and the Senate because our philosophy is one that is forward-looking and optimistic and has worked," Bush told reporters at a White House news conference.

I also have a problem with him thinking the GOP's philosophy is optimistic and whether or not it has ever worked, but I want to focus on the "forward-thinking" part.

What exactly has he or any Republican done lately that is forward-thinking?

Iraq? The results of the war so far has shown that almost no forward-thinking was done. Did President Bush and his administration think about what would happen after they toppled Saddam's dictatorship? Not from what we can see. It seems like they only thought up to a certain point and now are making things up as they go.

No Child Left Behind? This was created because it made it sound like President Bush cared about improving education without actually having to improve education. And by creating this without giving it any money, they've pretty much screwed over ever school in the country. I doubt they ever thought about how this new policy would actually affect schools.

The Gay Marriage Ban Amendment? Nope. This is pretty much a backward-thinking, hurtful piece of legislation. Thank God it didn't go anywhere.

Immigration? Aside from John McCain, I don't think most Republicans have thought this issue through. What exactly is the point of alienating illegal immigrants and, in the process, legal immigrants as well? I think we'll see a lot of Mexican-American Republicans vote Democrat in the upcoming elections.

And I could go on and on. My point is that the Republicans are not the party of forward-thinkers. They've shown this countless times with... pretty much everything they've done.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Do Conservatives Even Care About Gay Marriage?

I've read a lot of arguments opposing gay marriage in the last couple of weeks. What strikes me as funny is that a lot of the conservatives who argue against gay marriage hardly ever mentioned gay marriage. Most of the arguments I read talked about preventing the legalization of incest, polygamy, pedophilia, beastiality and so on. They seem to think legalizing same-sex marriages will automatically lead to the rest. So, it seems to me, that they are hurting homosexuals in committed relationships for no other reason than to prevent completely unrelated things.

So what's the point of banning same-sex marriage at all? Why not just skip the middleman and go after the issues that they really care about? All this does it hurt people for no reason.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Gay Marriage Ban Failed... Again!

The sinking ship that is the Gay Marriage Ban has sunk once again... only to be probably raised once more at a future date (hopefully to then sink again).

The funny thing is, this amendment didn't even get to a true Senate vote. Today's vote was whether or not the Senate should cast a real vote on the amendment. And that couldn't even pass.

Unfortunately, several thick-headed Senators don't seem to be deterred by this latest defeat.

The measure's defeat in the Senate is by no means its last stand, said its supporters.

"I do not believe the sponsors are going to fall back and cry about it," said Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah. "I think they are going to keep bringing it up."

The House plans a redux next month, said Majority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio.

"This is an issue that is of significant importance to many Americans," Boehner told reporters. "We have significant numbers of our members who want a vote on this, so we are going to have a vote."
I was amused by the response Sen. Kennedy got from this quote:

"The Republican leadership is asking us to spend time writing bigotry into the Constitution," said Sen. Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts, which legalized gay marriage in 2003. "A vote for it is a vote against civil unions, against domestic partnership, against all other efforts for states to treat gays and lesbians fairly under the law."

In response, Hatch fumed: "Does he really want to suggest that over half of the United States Senate is a crew of bigots?"

How long do we have to wait for conservatives to realize they are wrong and mean when it comes to this issue?

Friday, June 02, 2006

Haggard Heroes of the Week: Haven Herrin, Jacob Reitan

Haven Herrin and Jacob Reitan, two gay activists, have applied to the National Guard.

ROSEVILLE, Minn. (AP) - Two gay activists applied to serve in the National Guard on Tuesday, saying they hoped to spotlight the unfairness of the military's "don't ask, don't tell" law.

Jacob Reitan and Haven Herrin had expected to be rejected on the spot, and planned a sit-in protest of the law. Instead, their applications were taken and set aside to be processed after a trespassing charge is resolved from an earlier demonstration.

"I'm willing to serve," Reitan said. "I have a right to serve my country."
Haven and Jacob have been in the news a lot lately. They both participated in the Equality Ride this spring. The trespassing charge mentioned in the article was from when the Equality Ride stopped at West Point Military Academy to protest the policy against openly-gay students. It was only one of many arrests they endured in the cause against college discrimination policies.

Those two, plus their friend Ezekiel Montgomery, are my heroes this week for challenging the stupid, mean, discriminatory "Don't ask, don't tell" policy.

Find out more here.

President Bush and Gay Marriage

As reported on A Moderate from South Dakota, President Bush is planning to support the gay marriage ban that will be voted on in the Seante next week.

The funny thing is, even with the President's support, the amendment isn't likely to pass. This just shows that there is no sinking ship that President Bush doesn't love to jump on.

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

I'm back!

College finals, work and "school's out for summer" procrastination have caused Haggard News to become fairly inactive this month. But seeing the news that the South Dakota Campaign for Healthy Families handed in 38,000 signatures has gotten me energized.

There's going to be a lot to discuss this summer. The campaigns for and against the abortion ban. Next week's primary/judicial elections. Stupid things going on in Congress (immigration, gay marriage ban). Fighting against Amendments C and E. Making fun of Unruh. And probably a lot more stuff.

I plan to not only discuss the above topics, but also talk about some non-political stuff, like entertainment (everyone should go see Superman this summer).

It's going to be a fun summer, so I hope you'll all join me.

Saturday, May 06, 2006


I've been studying for finals lately so my posting has dropped off. But after next week I'll be back to annoying the two or three readers I might have.

But after next week, I'm free. And I plan to start a series of articles discussing Amendent C, Homosexuality and Christianity, The Equality Ride and the South Dakotan Against Discrimination group.

See you in a week!

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Augustana Road Project

Today's Argus Leader talks about how Augustana College wants to close off Grange Ave. between 33rd and 37th Streets.

I remember the administration mentioning this plan while I was at Augie. It was one of the options they were kicking around with the future expansion of the Elmen Center.

The guy interviewed by the Argus seems to think that little section of street is hugely important. It's not. Ambulances from Sioux Valley Hospital are much more likely to turn off of Grange on to 33rd St. which is generally a better emergency route.

I think it's more a matter of convenience for the neighboring commuters than for anyone else. The only times I ever used it, while I was an Augie student, was for Elmen Center activities.

But one good thing about this issue is a rare thing to find in an issue like this: compromise. Augie and the city are happy and willing to work things out to everyone's general satisfaction. Augie's preference is to close the street, because it's one less busy street for the students to cross, among other issues. But any compromise is wonderful to see.

Sunday, April 30, 2006

President Bush's Disregard for Laws

Ever wonder why President Bush has signed every single piece of legislation that comes to him, even if he disagrees with it? Apparently, he thinks he's free to ignore any law he wants.

This is what he does: First he signs a bill, then gathers the bill's sponsors and supporters for a photo-op, and then writes a signing statement about that bill giving special instructions on how the bureaucracy is to carry out he law. This way, if he disagrees with a particular bill, he can give instructions saying he doesn't have to follow it.

Legal scholars say the scope and aggression of Bush's assertions that he can bypass laws represent a concerted effort to expand his power at the expense of Congress, upsetting the balance between the branches of government. The Constitution is clear in assigning to Congress the power to write the laws and to the president a duty ''to take care that the laws be faithfully executed." Bush, however, has repeatedly declared that he does not need to ''execute" a law he believes is unconstitutional.


Far more than any predecessor, Bush has been aggressive about declaring his right to ignore vast swaths of laws -- many of which he says infringe on power he believes the Constitution assigns to him alone as the head of the executive branch or the commander in chief of the military.
This shows that our President has no respect for the other two branches of government.

Here are some examples of laws the President has signed and the signing statements he included with them:

Dec. 30, 2005: US interrogators cannot torture prisoners or otherwise subject them to cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment.

Bush's signing statement: The president, as commander in chief, can waive the torture ban if he decides that harsh interrogation techniques will assist in preventing terrorist attacks.

Dec. 17: The new national intelligence director shall recruit and train women and minorities to be spies, analysts, and translators in order to ensure diversity in the intelligence community.

Bush's signing statement: The executive branch shall construe the law in a manner consistent with a constitutional clause guaranteeing ''equal protection" for all. (In 2003, the Bush administration argued against race-conscious affirmative-action programs in a Supreme Court case. The court rejected Bush's view.)
And my personal favorite:

Nov. 6, 2003: US officials in Iraq cannot prevent an inspector general for the Coalition Provisional Authority from carrying out any investigation. The inspector general must tell Congress if officials refuse to cooperate with his inquiries.

Bush's signing statement: The inspector general ''shall refrain" from investigating anything involving sensitive plans, intelligence, national security, or anything already being investigated by the Pentagon. The inspector cannot tell Congress anything if the president decides that disclosing the information would impair foreign relations, national security, or executive branch operations.
So President Bush believes he has the right to pretty much do anything he wants to. Doesn't that send a shiver down your spine?

Update: I was reading through some blogs on this topic and came across one the make some great points. This quote is from a blog called Unclaimed Territory.

It is not uncommon for a President to refrain from executing a law which he believes, and states, is unconstitutional. Other Presidents have invoked that doctrine, although Bush has done so far more aggressively and frequently. But what is uncommon - what is entirely unprecedented - is that the administration's theories of its own power arrogate unto itself not just the right to refrain from enforcing such laws, but to act in violation of those laws, to engage in the very conduct which those laws criminalize, and they do so secretly and deceitfully, after signing the law and pretending that they are engaged in the democratic process. That is why the President has never bothered to veto a law -- why bother to veto laws when you have the power to violate them at will?

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Worst President Ever?

Rolling Stone has an article comparing President Bush to the worst presidents in our history. The article was written by one of American's "leading historians." It's really good but also really long so I'm not going to post much of it here. But I will post my favorite part of the article:

How does any president's reputation sink so low? The reasons are best understood as the reverse of those that produce presidential greatness. In almost every survey of historians dating back to the 1940s, three presidents have emerged as supreme successes: George Washington, Abraham Lincoln and Franklin D. Roosevelt. These were the men who guided the nation through what historians consider its greatest crises: the founding era after the ratification of the Constitution, the Civil War, and the Great Depression and Second World War. Presented with arduous, at times seemingly impossible circumstances, they rallied the nation, governed brilliantly and left the republic more secure than when they entered office.

Calamitous presidents, faced with enormous difficulties -- Buchanan, Andrew Johnson, Hoover and now Bush -- have divided the nation, governed erratically and left the nation worse off. In each case, different factors contributed to the failure: disastrous domestic policies, foreign-policy blunders and military setbacks, executive misconduct, crises of credibility and public trust. Bush, however, is one of the rarities in presidential history: He has not only stumbled badly in every one of these key areas, he has also displayed a weakness common among the greatest presidential failures -- an unswerving adherence to a simplistic ideology that abjures deviation from dogma as heresy, thus preventing any pragmatic adjustment to changing realities. Repeatedly, Bush has undone himself, a failing revealed in each major area of presidential performance.

National Anthem en Español

I just heard about this today. A music producer has put together a version of the "Star-Spangled Banner" in Spanish. He brought together a bunch of musicians from several nationalities and did it like a "We Are the World" compilation. Part of the proceeds will go to the National Capital Immigration Coalition.

You can listen to some of "Nuestro Himno" here.

I know a lot of people will disagree with me, but I think it's a fun idea. Most of the people who came to this country were not English speakers. I'd kind of like to see the National Anthem in many languages to represent the true cultural diversity of America. Not only Spanish, but also German, Arabic, French, Japanese, Zulu (or other African dialects), Norwegian (mostly for those around here) and on and on. And while there is an American Sign Language version for translators, I'd like to see a special version made especially for deaf culture. I've seen some beautiful poetry in Sign and I think someone could make a great version with those elements.

But back the the Spanish song: I was worried that it would have too many pop music influence and not be as "classic" sounding as a national anthem should. But I think they did a pretty good job. I'm not fluent in Spanish so I can't truly appreciate it, but it sounds good.

And I like that this song can be used as a language tool. I hear a lot of people saying that immigrants should be required to learn English. Well, okay, but how about giving them a hand? This could be helpful to those Spanish-speaking people trying to learn English.

What I thought was weird about the whole thing was that this project was started by a British producer. Why, of all people, would someone from England do this? People should be more angry about that then the Spanish translation.

There was one criticism of the song that I agreed with. There was a quote in the article I linked to at the beginning that was interesting:

A remix to be released in June will contain several lines in English that condemn U.S. immigration laws. Among them: "These kids have no parents, cause all of these mean laws ... let's not start a war with all these hard workers, they can't help where they were born."

Bryanna Bevens of Hanford, Calif., who writes for the immigration-focused Web magazine, said the remix particularly upset her.

"It's very whiny. If you want to say all those things, by all means, put them on your poster board, but don't put them on the national anthem," she said.
Political commentary and criticism is inappropriate for a national anthem. The song in its current form is fine.

Finally, I have a few points to make about the national reaction to this.

1.) President Bush's stance on the song is kind of funny. I remember him throwing several Spanish words into his past speeches because, I'm guessing, that he was trying to court the Hispanic vote. But I wonder if coming out against this song will have any backlash against him?

2.) Sen. Lamar Alexander wants to introduce a Senate resolution to give "senators an opportunity to remind the country why we sing our national anthem in English." What a tool. That really seems a bit much to me. It's fine that you don't like it, but don't try to harm a person's free speech rights just because you don't like something.

3.) The extremely negative national reaction strikes me as xenophobic and isolationist. Someone should tell them that a true American National Anthem would actually have to be in a Native American language, like Lakota Sioux, not English.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

School Shooting Threat at Eagle Butte

I heard that the schools in Eagle Butte, SD, on the Cheyenne Reservation, were semi-locked down today because of a school shooting threat.

Someone received an e-mail that had the threat in it and told the school officials. Then there were police at the school and the word spread to the parents who then came to pick up their kids. It wasn't exactly a lock-down, but from what I hear it was still nightmarish.

Apparently, this e-mail threat was from Minnesota. The theory is that whomever sent it accidentally sent it to everyone in his or her e-mail address book.

I'll update this when I find out more information.

Halverson vs. Munson: Final Tally

I thought of a few things I could've added to my last tally post, but it's a moot point now.

Final Round

Munson wins the April 25th run-off election.

1 point for Munson

But... he won with only 51% of the vote.

1 point for Halverson

Final Tally

Halverson = 8
Munson = 6

This was one of the most interesting elections I've seen (though I'm a young'un). Munson was rocked with scandals, announced he wasn't running for re-election, allowed a large group of candidates to enter the race (many of whom said they wouldn't have run against Munson), then re-entered the race with a handicap. And then he went on to not only get the highest percentage of votes in the first election, but also win the run-off. It was an extremely bizarre series of events for an election. Also weird was that his opponent was a close friend of his.

I just find this whole thing fascinating. Sometimes you just have to sit back and watch the fun that life produces.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

SD School Consider Lawsuit Against Poor State Funding

KELOland news is reporting that 46 South Dakota school districts are considering a lawsuit against the state. The lawsuit would be over the funding that the legislature and governor gave them this year.

Forty-six school districts in South Dakota have agreed to provide money for a lawsuit against the state over school funding.

A decision on whether to file the lawsuit will be made by the South Dakota Coalition of Schools, which lobbies for small school districts.

A study that was done last year indicates that South Dakota schools need an extra 133 million dollars a year.

Governor Rounds proposed a three percent increase in school funding for the next year, or an extra six million dollars, but the Legislature tacked eight million dollars more on top of that.

Some education officials, however, say that is still far short of the mark.
So South Dakota schools need an extra $133 million per year and the best the legistlature could do was a lousy one-time-only $8 million? Looks like they were so busy trying to protect the unborn that that they didn't have time to care for the already born.

Both our governor and our current legislature have dropped the ball with education. We need legislators and a governor who actually do care about education in this state.

Halverson vs. Munson: Round by Round

I thought it would be fun to tally up the score between Bruce Halverson and Dave Munson. Here we go!

Round One

Munson initially said he wasn't running for mayor. He went so far as to talk his friend, Bruce Halverson, into running (which resulted in some of his PAC money go to Halverson as well). But then he changed his mind and entered the race. I've never heard of an incumbent giving themselves a handicap like that before. And it kind of made him a flip-flopper.

1 point for Halverson

But it did show that Munson has a lot of support.

1 point for Munson

Round Two

Halverson was the first candidate to get commercials on the air. His strategy was to get his name out there so people will know who he is. Plus the commercials were nice.

"Vote for my dad. He's great!"

1 point for Halverson

Round Three

For some dumb reason the Argus Leader released the political party affiliations of all 11 candidates for mayor. I don't think political parties should matter in a mayoral race, but I'll use it for this tally anyway.

Munson - Republican
Halverson - Independent

1 point for Halverson

Round Four

Debating the issues before the first election was hard, I imagine. A lot of the candidates were pretty much saying the same thing in regards to issues like the Lewis and Clark project.


Round Five

The first election. Munson got a higher percentage of votes than Halverson did.

1 point for Munson

Round Six

Halverson is in a tough spot because he has to criticize his friend Munson about his failures as a mayor.

1 point for Halverson

While doing so, he keeps saying that Munson is "a good man."

1 point for Munson

Round Seven

Both candidates favor building a new events center. Munson wants it built downtown even though practically everyone in Sioux Falls disagrees with him.

1 point for Halverson

Round Eight

Munson keeps the focus on his successes during his time as mayor. Good strategy.

1 point for Munson

Round Nine

An article comes out saying that Halverson raised $64 million for Augustana... $14 million (over 25%) more than their goal. The implication was strong that he can do the same for Sioux Falls.

1 point for Halverson

Round Ten

Both candidates begin an aggressive ad campaign with commercials on TV and radio. Both have pretty good commercials.


Yesterday I heard a Munson ad on the radio where he had an Augustana graduate supporting him. That made me laugh.

1 point for Munson

Round Eleven

Lately there has been an anonymous poster, claiming to be from Augie, going around the blogs and trashing Halverson. He/She is annoying and possibly works for the Munson campaign.

1 point for Halverson


Halverson = 7
Munson = 5

I probably forgot a few things, but it's not like this was a scientific poll. I'll do a final tally when the election results are in.

Happy voting!