Sunday, July 08, 2007

We Don't Need Another Hero...

Once again, Berkeley Breathed sums it up visually.
What we need are ideas and someone with a vision.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Ohmigosh!!! They are B-R-O-T-H-E-R-S!!!

Be afraid. Be very, very afraid.

Excuse me Ms. ur, Mr., umm, Ann or is it Arnie, ho geez, anyway, would like fries with that?

Monday, January 22, 2007

Coming to a Theatre Near You!!!

Paramount Pictures and Academy of Motion Pictures Award Winning Director and Producer Francis Ford Coppola announced today the early release of Godfather IV starring University of South Dakota President Jim Abbott in the title role of Freddie Corleone…

What in the heck was Jim thinking when he posed for this photo that was featured in Sunday’s Argus Leader? "I'm gonna make them a deal they can't refuse."?!?

I would advise Mr. Abbott to reconsider accepting any fishing trips on the river...

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Help me Understand

I think Larry Long is the archetype of an outstanding Attorney General. He has done a terrific job in continuing the tradition of keeping politics out of decisions made in the office of the state’s chief prosecutor. He is a model public servant and I have no doubts about his integrity.

Today the Sioux Falls Argus Leader reports on Long’s analogy to help reassure us that the Senate’s awkward decision to hold hearings on the alleged groping of a page by one of its own is the proper for thing for them to do. He compares their actions to a school board investigating the possible inappropriate actions of one of its teachers.

I don’t think the comparison works.

From the Argus: “Long compared the Sutton case with a hypothetical situation in which a 16-year-old student falls for an adult teacher and the two end up having a romantic relationship.

The student would be old enough under state law to consent to such a relationship, but a local prosecutor would investigate whether the student did in fact consent.
However, regardless of that investigation, the school district still would consider the relationship ethically inappropriate and would conduct its own investigation and take action against the teacher if it deemed it necessary to do so.In that case, "it might be criminal as well, or it might not, but that doesn't lessen for 30 seconds the school's responsibility," Long said.”

So let’s see, if this is true, a school board (or any other governmental body) could decide to conduct a criminal hearing or investigation MINUS sufficient evidence for any prosecutor to move forward with the same case. Such a decision would be based on politics, not on a legal basis.

That is how politics is played in Cook County or Louisiana. In those jurisdictions one might not hesitate to use the power of the office to distract the public, smear an opponent, or gain a cheap political advantage. But this is not how we do things in South Dakota, or at least how we used too.

Please don’t misunderstand me. I am not blaming Larry Long for how we got to this point. He is only trying to rationalize how the Senate made its decision to move forward with the hearings absent enough proof for even his own office to prosecute.

And although I am amazed and disappointed with their decision, I am not overly critical of the legislature either, or at least most of the present and past membership. While I expect a bit more fortitude, the body has been placed between the rock and the hard place in this situation: either they hold hearings based on little, if any, real evidence or they essentially perpetuate the swirling speculation and rumors. Worse yet, by doing nothing the legislative body can be seen as part of the problem as a group covering things up for one of its own. So while I don’t agree with their decision, one can appreciate how they made it.

No, there are a select few who can be held accountable for whipping all of this into a tawdry public scandal. I refer to those that drop bombs from their official capacities with slimy assurances to the accused that all will be forgotten if the “troublemaker” will just quietly go away. That, or the accused will be responsible for everyone becoming entangled in the snarled mess, and nobody really wants that, do they? It all seems like legitimized extortion and abuse of power.

So we go forward. The victim is victimized again, the accused will remain forever guilty in minds of most without real due process, and everyone else is left to clean up the mess. And others, like Long, are left to explain how we arrived at this embarrassing political situation.

Meanwhile the perpetrators remain deluded with the notion they are our moral heroes and are ever ready to stir up more chaos. It is unbelievable, unfortunate, and unnecessary how some advance by stepping all over the lives of others.

Maybe it really is justice for “just them.”

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Top Five Reasons to Read, Subscribe or Bookmark the Hog House Blog by Denise Ross

5. Amaze your friends and family about your knowledge of current events in South Dakota.
4. Decision makers talk to Denise.
3. Denise is informative.
2. Denise is insightful.

And the number one reason to Read, Subscribe or Bookmark the Hog House Blog by Denise Ross...

1. Denise writes really good.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

She Is Really A Man!!!

It all makes sense now. Before I really had a tough time understanding how everything got to this point. The uncompromising position, the resentment and bitterness, along with the absolute conviction to change the attitudes of the unwashed. Blend all of this together with a large dose of anger and hate to fuel a determination to win a moral, righteous, and unconditional victory. Yes, it all does make sense now.

And yet, it was all there right in front of me the whole time. She is really a man! I just didn’t see it. All the signs were there. They always had been. I just didn’t notice. (Or I didn’t want to notice.)

First there is the slight but detectable moustache that match the sideburns and unibrow. (Ever notice how unibrow and unborn are almost spelled alike? That is kind of creepy. Maybe the unibrow is actually like a symbol or signal or something. A discreet way to send a message to the disciples.) Don’t forget the deep almost guttural and masculine voice that cracks when she, I mean he, gets excited. And the preference for pant suits with matching blazers. Oh, it was all of it was right there in front of me.

Wow. She's a man! I can’t believe I didn’t put together before now. But it all just clicks into place. Just like the movie The Crying Game. Isn't it amazing?

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

A Book I Will Be Reading

Today National Public Radio Fresh Air host Terri Gross had an interview with Frank Luntz, a notable and national political and business consultant. Lutz was stooping for his book, “Words that Work: It’s Not What You Say, It’s What People Hear.” Despite the mixed reviews for the book, I want to read it given the author’s premise that we ought to describe things as what we believe them to be and not necessarily for what they are.

Luntz explains how “energy exploration” instead of “well-digging” in the Artic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska is more palatable to the public, as is “conversationalist” to “environmentalist” or “gaming” to “gambling, and “electronic intercepts” to “eavesdropping” or “wiretapping.”

He also is dismissive of the Administration’s use of the word “Surge” in relation to the proposed escalation of troops in Iraq. (Luntz suggests that realignment, reassessment, and refocus would be better.) It is at this point in the interview where he begins to sound at worst as though he was upset not to be consulted by the White House, and at best, like a snake oil salesman with the elixir for every type of pain or problem: Don’t like a description or explanation, let’s just consult the Thesaurus to find a word or cliché that will make you more comfortable. (Here is a link for an audio version of the interview.) ,

This “wordsmithing” likely explains political apathy at all levels. Maybe we spin so much that we make the general public nauseous.

Clearly Luntz is very good at what he does. I share his appreciation for the power and influence of words and language. However, I can’t just help but feel handled or manipulated with this type shading or exaggerating. Most disturbing is how it is presented under the guise that our understanding of situations or events just isn’t quite accurate or that we really don’t grasp the intricacies and complexities. How patronizing.

I don’t have a problem with someone trying to persuade me. I prefer though to weigh the evidence and make a decision minus any posturing. Besides, I am not sure anyone could convince me that “electronic intercepts” are any less invasive.

Although, maybe Luntz could come up with a better way to describe that portion of the annual physical I hate so much…

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Things that make you go "Mmmhmmm!"
Dana Milbank of the Washington Post reporting on Thursday’s US Senate swearing in ceremonies…

“…Senators, meanwhile, waved up to President Clinton, who was sitting in the second row of the public gallery with his daughter and mother-in-law, greeting a line of fans and talking on a cellphone until he noticed the opening prayer had started.

The attention quickly shifted -- to Robert Byrd. The 89-year-old West Virginia Democrat, beginning his ninth term, wore a red-white-and-blue tie and punctuated the opening prayer with shouts of "Yes!" and "Mmmhmmm!" and "Yes, Lord!" and "Yes, in Jesus's name!" When he was sworn in, he twice cried out "Hallelujah!" and then "Amen!" Minutes later, he was installed as Senate president pro tempore, the majority party's most senior member. "Yeah, man! Yeah, man!" he shouted. "Hallelujah!" "I do, so help me God!" he shouted when the oath was administered. Yeah, man!"

His colleagues were amused. Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.) at one point pretended to tilt a bottle into his mouth, though it was unclear whether Byrd was the target of that gesture.”

No wonder Milbank entitled his article “Reid Takes Center Stage, but He's Hardly the Star of the Show…”

And after all, it is unfair to say Senator Kennedy was suggesting that Speaker Pro Tem had been imbibing. The distinguished gentleman from Massachusetts may have only been suggesting he was thirsty. Or he might have been signaling to a friend in the second row of the gallery it was time to blow the scene, toss back a couple, and go cruise for some chicks.

“Yes! Yeah Man! Hallejuha!”

Friday, January 05, 2007

Play that Funky Music…

I write today from Arizona and news from home this week literally trickles to me through a dial-up modem (the good old days really weren’t all that good.) From what I have been able to gather, it appears that political environment in Dakota South continues to be dry, brittle, and flammable. It is easy to imagine that all of us will be swallowed up in a conflagration which means that once again, we all will be burned out on the political scene in the land of Rushmore.

We are distracted. Our focus needs to be on the issues before us rather than trying to shape the debate and outcome of matters that have yet to be decided. Whether it is the accusations about one member of the legislature acting inappropriately with young employees or another bending campaign finance reporting statues into a twisted pretzel, there are plenty of other issues that deserve our attention and ought to be discussed.

What do we do about school funding? How can we address the availability of affordable housing for new families? (This challenge is a serious threat to continued economic development in many of our communities.) What kind of efficiencies can be realized in local and state government through greater cooperative efforts and technological advancements? How do we enhance the relationship between higher education and the private sector in areas of research and development? What do we do about water development? And how do we ensure that our children continue to receive the best possible education?

Instead we are preoccupied by the salacious and dim behavior of miscreants. Some would say that is just human nature to become mesmerized with the scandalous and aberrant. And while that may be true, it is time to evolve to the next level on the Darwinian Chart.

Our elected leaders need to sound a clarion call and we all need to respond to it. We need to discuss the issues calmly without flamboyance and grandiosity and with the goal of resolution rather positioning. This is can be accomplished if we all make an effort to keep our attention on the issues before us rather than the misguided actions of a few.

The best campaign slogan emerged from the din of this past campaign season, “It’s time to get back to work.” Yes, yes it is time we got back to work.

And maybe we need to have them blow the trumpet a little louder.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Campaign Finance Reform in Two Easy Steps
  1. End all limits on the amounts individuals, PACs, Unions, Corporations, and cats can give to candidates.
  2. Full and immediate disclosure on every dollar donated to a campaign.

Money can play a significant roll in any campaign. Money however is not the issue. The issue is who is giving and what do they want from the candidate they support. Let the voting public decide if there is a problem with the contribution.

There. Next problem please.


Medialoper reports that Zune is currently fourth in sales of portable music players (behind SanDisk, Creative, and titan Apple).

  • Estimates are approximately 1 million Zunes have been sold since the player was introduced in July

  • This pales in comparison to the 20 million iPods sold over this holiday season alone

So, whatza Steve Ballmer to do? The site hints that changing the name of the device, loosen the restrictions on its wireless file sharing, and alter the promotion of its "squirting" feature.

Maybe. I suppose we could call it Zit, let everyone share as much and for as long as they want, and call it leaking instead. Yeah, that could work.

Anyone have Steve's address where I can send a statement for my consulting fee?

Friday, December 29, 2006

I Me Me Mine
I love history. It was one of my majors in college. My love stems from the wonderful teachers I had in middle and high school. They made the past vivid with their reflection of the lives of individuals whose decisions, passions, and actions influenced how things have evolved. And I suppose my love of history sparked my parallel interests in literature along with a fascination with human behavior. And when history, literature, and human behavior are combined the result is something I perhaps enjoy more than anything: a good story.

Nobody tells a better story than Bob Woodward. The first book that I read of his he co-authored with Scott Armstrong, “The Brethren” which describes from an insider’s perspective the machinations of the Supreme Court for several of its terms after Warren Burger became Chief Justice. I remember buying the book for my father as a gift at a not long after it was first published. As a judge, I thought it was an appropriate gift although it was like giving a gift you really wanted for yourself (you know, like a father who gives his daughter an Xbox for Christmas--can you imagine?)

Initially, it was an amazing book for me as it combined all the elements described earlier. After finishing it I remember asking my father how could Woodward write in such incredible insight about the inner workings of the court, especially the debates between the justices in conference (attended only by the nine Justices—no staff allowed) laced throughout with amazing quotes and insight into the thinking of each of the judges with so much responsibility and authority. I wanted to know how Woodward and Armstrong got such detailed information given how the deliberations in the conferences are strictly confidential and how no one was supposed to know the positions taken by the justices until after the decision was announced publicly.

Even though he hadn’t read the book my father suspected it was the combination from three sources: first, clerks and other employees may have talked to the authors about what the justices may have told them about how they and their colleagues viewed each of the cases, the justices themselves unintentionally (or purposely) may have revealed some bits and pieces to the writers, and, a lot of the material was made up and based upon the authors speculation based on the information they received from the other sources.

Oh how desperately I wanted the book to be accurate because it was such a good story. I did have to concede though that is all it was, just a good story. In reality there was no way to substantiate many of its tantalizing anecdotes and attribute several of its amazing quotes.

I am reminded of all of this by the recent reports of Woodward’s interviews with Gerald Ford about the former president’s perceptions on the War in Iraq and Richard Nixon. Here I can’t doubt Woodward reports of what Ford said on these and other topics. I heard for myself the taped interview on the Washington Post web site.

Instead my interest is over Woodward’s decision to release information when and how he did along with the commentary on these actions. I agree with those who are critical of the decision to release the interview even before the former president has been placed in the ground of his home in Grand Rapids. On its face is appears to be nothing more than a shameless attempt by Woodword to draw attention to himself in an effort to possibly be defined as the a super journalistic sleuth who was able to get the inside scoop among the powerful and mighty.

If left there and without any further analysis it could leave one cynical and skeptical. However the story that fascinates me is how someone like Woodward thrives so much on personal attention (negative as well as the positive), the incredible effort he goes to maintain his celebrated image, and how the rest of us (myself included) continue to reinforce (unknowingly and sometimes willingly) his narcissistic behavior despite our own revulsion of it, and how all of this influences our own thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.

This is why I love history. And this is why I love a good story.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Nagging Quandary

For the past several days I have been carefully weighing the merits of Ipod versus Zune only to get thrown off by the sleek design of Clix. No, I haven’t come from a meeting of Gene Roddenberry disciples at a Star Trek convention. Instead I am referring to the sophisticated portable music players which everyone and their cat seem to own, expect for myself.

The players offer all kinds of tantalizing alternatives. Consider the iLink pictured at the right. As reported in Engadget, connecting the iLink to an iPod reproduces true digital (rather than analog) sound reproduction. Amazing. And for just a mere (GASP) $2K.

While out of my price range, further development of this sort of technology will help to resolve one of the dilemmas I face when considering buying a portable music. More, specifically I lack enthusiasm for listening to hours of music through headphones, ear buds, headsets, etc. My fear is that I will end up with a hearing loss similar to Beatle producer Sir George Martin and other music icons from head phoneyism (my term related to overindulgence of loud music through headphones, ear buds, headsets, etc—although believe the term could be used in the political context as well. Used in a sentence, one might say, “Lee suffers from head phoneyism.” Yeah, that could work.)

Another personal predicament centers on having to decide which music service for where I would purchase my digital music. Should I decide upon an iPod the choice will be made for me with iTunes although its non-compatibility with other players in order to create a false consumer base leaves a bad taste in my mouth in my free enterprise mouth. There are almost as many music services as there are players. I literally suffer from paralysis trying to determine the best alternative.

But it isn’t too difficult to keep things in perspective, especially after reading news accounts from around the country and world. My family and friends are healthy (for the most part anyway), happy, and secure, I have had more than enough to eat, I am warm, and I have several things that interest me and that I anxious to learn more. And what portable music player and music service I choose will likely be influenced on what the cats are buying.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

"I'm a Ford, not a Lincoln."

I was only 13 and already I had enough of politics. My father had lost a bid for the Republican nomination for the US Senate two years earlier in a primary that included a cast of characters from a John Irving novel. Nixon was in the midst of his desperate attempt to hold onto the Presidency and at the national, state, and most certainly at the local level, to stand with those who identified with the Grand Old Party was to be viewed by others with suspicion and distrust. There was something slimy and sleazy about membership in a party led by liars, cheats, and crooks.

I didn’t understand. My father had impressed upon me a responsibiity for doing the right thing even at one’s personal expense, my mother was very vocal in her criticism of Nixon, and those who they were closest too politically were decent, hardworking people with a strong sense of integrity. Yet as our elected leader, Nixon had besmirched and tainted anyone associated with public service with his criminal behavior and transparent denials. It was a very dark and cynical time.

Onto the stage appeared Gerald Ford. Selected to replace disgraced and indicted Spiro Agnew as Vice President, Ford assumed the Presidency once Nixon vacated the office after being ordered by the Supreme Court to turn over the White House tapes. The tapes contained the evidence needed to impeach and forcibly remove Nixon from office and likely convict him.

I remember watching Ford as he assumed the oath of office and his words, “My fellow Americans, our long national nightmare is over. Our Constitution works. Our great republic is a government of laws, and not of men.” Using plain language and speaking directly to the point, Ford perhaps did more than any other to restore a sense of confidence in our government and political process at a time in our country’s history when we needed it the most.

What I admired most about the late President was how much relished the contest instead of just the result or outcome. He played to win and also could accept that one always didn’t finish as the victor. He recognized the value of the contest rather than just the end result. He appreciated that a vigorous, thorough, and respectful discussion of the issues leads to the best possible outcomes and that the ends can never justify the means.

We have a lot we can and should learn from Gerald Ford. We are fortunate he emerged to lead our country when he did. Let us all help to ensure his legacy continues.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Virgil Be Goode

Enough said.