Why Daschle Lost

If John Thune had his way, Brown County would be dead,” by David Newquist, Northern Valley Beacon, http://browncodemocrats.blogspot.com/2004/12/if-john-thune-had-his-way-brown-county.html, 15 December 2004.

South Dakota, the albatros state?,” by David Newquist, Northern Valley Beacon, http://browncodemocrats.blogspot.com/2004/12/south-dakota-albatross-state.html, 13 December 2004.

The Christmas cheer has not reached Mr. Newquist. All but describing Aberdeen and Brown County as South Dakota’s Falluja, he pens

[John Thune’s] attitude about his political responsibilities was demonstrated at the outset by his initial treatment of Brown County. He did not open a service office in the area because he claimed it was an unnecessary expense for the taxpayers. He very quickly alienated some prominent people in the Republican Party, who have supported his opponents ever since. They say he has no interest in saving taxpayer money other than as a posture that is part of the baggage his party gives him to carry. He really did not want the extra work another service office might entail—and he had not the vaguest idea of how to go about setting one up

At the time he came into Congress, a number of infrastructure projects were being projected for northeastern South Dakota, centering on Aberdeen. A by-pass for US 281 was under development. A proposal for converting US 12 from Aberdeen to I-29 at Summit to a four-lane highway was receiving support. A new airport terminal building that could service the airlines and the security services adequately was proposed. John Thune kept his distance from all these [Brown County] projects under the guise that they comprised excessive spending.

And prognosis for our Midwestern Sunni triangle looks no better

An instance of his work on developmental issues involves the Homestake Goldmine. When it was proposed as a site for the National Underground Scientific and Engineering Laboratory, Tom Daschle very quickly involved himself and his staff in working on the project. The big problem was Barrick Gold, its owner. Barrick said it would donate the mine to the state if it could be relieved of any environmental liabilities associated with the gold mining operation. In other words, it wanted to be relieved of any responsibility for messes it had made, including the problems of toxic pollution caused by a mining process requiring cyanide. Daschle and his emissaries stepped in to see if something could be negotiated. However, that meant keeping up the interest of the scientists, too.

As long as Tom Daschle was in power, he could keep the Homestake alive as an option that could put South Dakota on the high-tech map. When he was defeated, a number of scientists said that the state was no longer an option for such high-level scientific research.

Leaving aside Msr. Newquist’s exhausted hyperbole (which was not reproduced in the snippets above, a coherrent complaint emerges

Tom Daschle was the best Greater Aberdeen ever had it
Tom was the best South Dakota ever had it
We’ve lost everything

But this facile view ignores what’s really going on. For years South Dakota politics have been dominated by the Janklow-Daschle axis. A Republican-goon governor and a Democratic-“nice guy” senator divided the power between themselves. They presided over the destruction of meaningful debate in South Dakota. After Janklow killed a man this special relationship went into a tailspin, and John’s defeat of Tom closed this chapter of South Dakota history.

Tom Daschle never cared about South Dakota. What he he ever done? He cared about maintaining a seperate base from Daschle by monopolizing Brown County spoils, but that is one county. But even with projects as grand as building a nice road connecting Aberdeen to anywhere he didn’t come through. He “negotiated” over Homesteak for years, blaiming a greedy company that for years was South Dakota’s claim to wealth, fame, and respect.

Daschle was temporarily Majority Leader, and for nearly a decade Minority Leader. He could of done something if wanted. Karl E. Mundt was just a middling Senator and he got us three interstate and a awesome hyrdoelectric system. Daschle was nationally prominant for years, and spent his political capital opposing a few Bush judges.

Hurrah for Canada

Report says Ont. Muslims have right to use religious law in family disputes,” by Keith Leslie, Macleans, http://www.macleans.ca/topstories/politics/news/shownews.jsp?content=n122045A, 20 December 2004.

Three words I thought I’d never say: Hurrah for Canada.

TORONTO (CP) – Ontario Muslims should have the same rights as Catholics and Jews in the province to seek arbitration based on religious laws for family disputes and inheritance cases, concludes a report by former attorney general Marion Boyd.

“We’re talking about arbitration based on certain religious principles . . .similar to our Charter values of equality, freedom and justice,” she told reporters at a news conference.

Land of cold. Land of freedom of contract. Land of freedom of faith.

If I’m reading the law right, it’s nothing beyond what the U.S. already has in different form. But it’s a great step forward for our neighbors to the north.

A Trojan Horse?

A Response to Kinsley,” by Ramesh Ponnuru, The Corner, http://www.nationalreview.com/thecorner/04_12_20_corner-archive.asp#048523, 20 December 2004.

Is Social Security reform a Trojan horse for switching from wage-indexing to price-indexing of benefits? Ramesh quotes a reader who writes

3.) Personal accounts are a sweetner/smokescreen necessary to do what really needs to be done, which is reduce benefits via price indexation (or increasing the retirement age). In an ideal world, policymakers could just reduce benefits without resorting to such tactics, but democracy is messy and we let too many people vote and so such tactics have to be adopted from time to time to get the right policy. Reducing benefits will not only increase national saving by increasing government saving; it will increase personal saving as individuals try to offset the reduction in benefits.”

Interesting. I’m so happily astounded by how informative and intelligent the social security debate has been.

Discordantly, my thoughts: The system is a joke. With every paycheck, I’m subsidizing the lifestyles of people who either could work or who could have saved but chose to not. Yes, there are exceptions, and yes the federal government bares some responsibility for this, but it still grates. Even if we aren’t going to reduce real benefits (instead just make benefits constant in price-adjusted dollars) it’s a great move.