Friday, November 6, 2009

An Open Letter To Chris Nelson

Attn: Secretary of State and U.S. House hopeful Chris Nelson

Dear Mr. Secretary:

If she votes no on health care reform, I'm a Nelson guy.

And South Dakota Representative Stephanie Herseth Sandlin now says she's going to vote against the health care bill in the House.

So I'm writing to offer you my services as a campaign volunteer in your race against Rep. Herseth.

Now, I know that you're against the very same bill. But at least I know why. The bill would represent a massive political victory for President Obama and the Democrats. I don't expect any Republicans to be for it. So even though we disagree, I can, on some level, respect your position.

We don't, in fact, agree on much. But I do have some experience volunteering. I worked hard to defeat the abortion ban here in South Dakota the first time around. And I knocked on doors and made phone calls for Barack Obama in Iowa. I even served as a precinct captain in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and Hutchinson, Kansas. (We won both places big, by the way.)

Now you were on the other side of those arguments, but, still, I'm sure you can appreciate that organizing is organizing, in the end. I can cut turf, run a phone bank and I, ultimately, believe that you can swing an election on the ground. Every campaign needs people like that.

And at least you have publicly taken a stand on health care reform. I can respect that. Rep. Herseth Sandlin is STILL straddling the fence. She says she might vote for the final version -- even though the House bill will cut the deficit much more than the Senate bill she claims she prefers according to CBO estimates. So much for the Blue Dogs being deficit hawks, eh?

In the past, I've generally voted for candidates whose ideology I though most closely mirrored my own. But I'm willing to make an exception, this time. I know liberal South Dakotans who used to vote for Bill Janklow. I knew conservative Minnesotans who used to vote for Paul Wellstone. Those people voted the way they did because they admired public servants who stood for something, and, moreover, who didn't make them ashamed to believe what they believed, even when they differed.

So, think it over, and I'll be in touch about knocking on some doors for you in Pierre when this thing gets cranked up. I probably still have my clipboards, and I can wear my Nelson button right next to the one that reads "Ask me about Barack!"

I'd rather be represented by a Republican who votes like a Republican and tells me why than a Democrat who votes like a Republican whenever she thinks someone is watching.


Josh Linehan

*cross posted at David Montgomery's blog at

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Allow me the following humble suggested language for Wednesday night, Mr. President

The American people sent me here to do a job. And that's what I intend to do. And let me be very clear when I say this: The American health care system is broken. This Congress will send me a bill that begins to fix it.

There have been a lot of people out there lying to the American people about what we're trying to do. That's because they're bought and paid for by people who benefit from the status quo. Well, the status quo has left us spending more money than any other nation on health care while getting the approximate health care benefits of Costa Rica.

When members of this body tell you, the American people, that there will be death panels, or that the federal government is going to deny treatment to its political opponents, they are lying to you. They are lying to you because they want re-election money from the pharmaceutical companies and the insurance companies. It's as simple as that.

And that goes for both sides of the aisle. Corporate PAC money is as big a problem for Democrats as it is for Republicans.

I didn't run for this office to simply hold it. I ran for president because I saw an opportunity to fundamentally change the way the government is run in this town. And because I saw problems spiraling out of control while talking heads blather about the latest cable-news non-story.

And so I challenge the members of this Congress: put a real health care reform bill on my desk, one that includes provisions to force insurance companies to stop denying coverage based on pre-existing conditions, one that expands coverage for children and seniors, one that strengthens the current Medicare system, and one that contains a robust public option to both cover the uninsured and drive down costs for all Americans.

These are the parameters I expect you to work in, and I will personally sit down with any member of Congress genuinely interested in negotiating within them. But I'm done pretending that Republicans are negotiating in anything remotely resembling good faith. I've got the votes on my side of the aisle, and if we have to push this process through via reconciliation, that's exactly what we intend to do.

The American people sent me here to do this job, ladies and gentlemen. And I'd rather get it done and serve one term than serve two terms without it. That's what I meant when I talked about bringing change to Washington. That's what the folks who knocked on doors for me in Dubuque and Derry thought they were getting, that's what folks in Charlotte and Carmel thought they were getting when they voted for me. And that's exactly what I intend to give them: Low-cost, high-quality health care as a matter of right and not of privilege.

The American people deserve better than what they're getting -- and that statement covers both health care insurance and Congressional representation. It's time to stop posturing. Put a bill on my desk.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Requiescat in pace

Nor law, nor duty bade me fight,
Nor public men, nor cheering crowds,
A lonely impulse of delight
Drove to this tumult in the clouds;
-- W.B Yeats

A lonely impulse of delight. That's what I'll always remember about Teddy Kennedy. That's the line that stuck with me all week as I watched a nation begin to say goodbye to the last of the lions, to Rose Kennedy's baby boy.
My family is Irish-Catholic, and that should tell you all you really need know about how I feel about the Kennedy brothers. Suffice it to say, Irish Americans never knew one of their own who was in charge in their own country. To see Jack and Bobby and Teddy rise to be leaders of this country, to be leaders of the world, well, it was special. Only in America.
But that coin has two sides. Only in America could Teddy's brothers all be killed. Killed fighting the Nazis, killed for being a president, killed for trying to become one.
But Teddy, as the poet said, would live to comb gray hair. All the hopes of a nation, of those who were inspired by his brothers' artful words, would come to rest with the baby of the family.
Teddy Kennedy didn't have to become a great man or a great Senator. His dignity and eloquence eulogizing his brothers, some time in the Senate, that would have been enough. After Chappaquiddick, after 1980 -- when he lost but held his head high, and gave a speech that will live forever, not just for its beauty in describing an immortal dream, but for its fiery demand that Democrats in this country stand for something -- Teddy Kennedy could have bowed out gracefully, retired to the shores of Cape Cod, sailed his boat, taken a drink for the comfort in it and relieved himself of the burden of carrying his name and his brother's ghosts up those Capitol steps.
But Teddy kept coming. Like the waves against the shore at Hyannis, day by day, he kept chipping away at America's problems, at his own failings, at our own failings. Like the tide, Teddy Kennedy kept coming.
The flags at the VFW hall behind my office -- and all across this country -- fly at half-staff this morning, and it is right they should. Whatever anyone thought of Teddy, or his politics, or his family, we all owe the man a debt. Because he kept coming, lives are better in America.
Have a daughter who played sports in high school? Teddy Kennedy helped it happen. Have an immigrant in the family, from anywhere, and, really, who doesn't? Teddy made it easier for them. Have a mother or father who depended on Medicare? Thank Teddy. A child of privilege, Teddy Kennedy spent a lifetime working on behalf of those who didn't enjoy his advantages.
I only met Ted Kennedy once. The day Paul Wellstone's plane went down in the Northwoods of Minnesota, he was supposed to be on it. But he missed the last plane out of Washington -- I'm sure there was a bill to be worked on, a vote to be courted, one last phone call to be made -- and instead arrived in the morning.
At Wellstone's headquarters on University Avenue, a crowd gathered outside in the October rain. 50, 100, 150 people, lost and grieving, simply stood outside and wondered what to do, now. And after a long while, Teddy came out and spoke to them.
His words were not those of a politician. They were those of a man who had seen too much death, who saw the pain in the faces and wanted to make it go away. Teddy called Paul a voice for the voiceless. And he shook hands, he hugged the weeping, he began again the horrible process of binding up the wounds, of comforting the living, of honoring the dead. His lonely impulse carried those people forward, and he was big enough for all their pain.

I balanced all, brought all to mind,
The years to come seemed waste of breath,
A waste of breath the years behind
In balance with this life, this death.

In a few hours, the man Teddy picked to carry his standard will step to the podium and speak, to sing the last of the lions to the shores where his brothers lay. It always fell to Teddy to give the eulogy, and, I have no doubt, he asked the President to do it in no small part because he didn't want that awful burden passed to his son or his niece. May he be big enough for all our pain.
The Senate will return to session, and for the first time in my lifetime, Teddy Kennedy will not be there to fight for the little guy. But here, the burden falls not to President Obama -- or to any of our Senators -- alone.
It's time the rest of us carried our share of the load. How we would, if we could, yield the rest of our time to the distinguished gentleman from Massachusetts, that he might say what we are feeling, what we know to be right, one more time. But he has earned his rest. He saw wrong and tried to right it, saw pain and tried to heal it, saw war and tried to stop it. He alone among his famous brothers will be known for the balance of his life, and not his death.
It is to us, now, to take up what's left of the flag and keep moving forward. May the road rise up to meet us. May we seek, may we find, and may we, most of all, never yield.
And may we do Teddy proud.

Monday, August 3, 2009

A millenium. 40 years. 365 days, counting backwards.

(This is a story I did for the Cap Journal as part of a continuing series profiling veterans in the area. Fascinating guy, and by chance, I interviewed him 40 years to the day from when he shipped out to Vietnam.)

PIERRE — Time and war can play tricks on the mind.
Some things seem frozen forever, just the way they are — all the while, time seems to pass faster.
Tom Magedanz, who works for the Legislative Research Council at the Capitol, can’t believe 40 years have passed since he got on a plane bound for Vietnam. But it was June 29, 1969, when the wheels went up. The dates serve as guideposts.
"It’s hard to believe it has been 40 years," Magedanz said. "I was 19 years old, then, but it doesn’t seem that long ago."
But the gap will strike Magedanz, who helps out with Rattlers amateur baseball, at times.
"One thing I do think about, now, is how young we all were," he said. "I’ll look around at the Rattlers guys and realize there are only one or two guys on the team that would have been our age. I was 19. Most of the guys were 19 or 20. We had a lieutenant who was 23, right out of school. We had another guy who was 23, and we used to tease him about how old he was."
Magedanz spent three semesters at the School of Mines before enlisting in the Marines and heading to Vietnam.
After graduating from Yankton High School, where he played Teener and Legion baseball before he left and amateur ball upon his return, he spent some time in college, but felt because he supported the war effort, he should enlist.
"At the time I thought the policy was good, and I couldn’t escape that it wasn’t right to take the student deferment if I believed that. I was playing Legion ball as a returner, and we got beat out on a Saturday, and Monday morning I was in the recruiter’s office."
Magedanz finished one more semester and went to boot camp in California on Feb. 7, 1969.
Time started going backwards when the wheels went down.
He was initially assigned to the Third Marine Division, and was eventually transferred to the First Division as part of a rifle company. They would alternate day patrol and night ambush. They would hump from spot to spot. They were constantly moving, constantly guarding, constantly taking turns sleeping.
"I’ll always be thankful it wasn’t the cold, like the Korean veterans and some of the World War Two guys had to deal with," Magedanz said. "Other than that, conditions were pretty bad. It was tiring. The food was C-rations, which weren’t bad, but if it was foggy, we’d have trouble getting them in. You sleep on the ground. When it rained, you slept in the rain."
Though the United States was drawing men out of the war by that point, it took time.
"By the time I was there, enemy contact was down, but we still lost guys," he said. "A lot of those were to booby traps and things like that. How do you fight back against those?"
Time was different, too, in the bush. Those Marines, still young enough to count up to birthdays, counted down from the day they landed in-country toward the day they got to go home.
"When you were getting short, for sure you counted the days," Magedanz said. "You wouldn’t know if it was Tuesday or Saturday out there, but you knew how many days you had left."
Shortly before Magedanz was scheduled to leave, he and his company were sent back into a bad area, a place they called, with gallows humor, Happy Valley.
"There were a lot of Happy Valleys over there, but we had been there before, and I didn’t like the area," Magedanz said. "I did have friends who got hit there. And you just didn’t want to have that happen with such a short time left."
Magedanz was lucky. He made it through Happy Valley and spent the last of his time in Vietnam south of Da Nang, near the ocean.
"The tradition was, the short-timers got out on the resupply helicopters, and someone had to pop a smoke grenade to guide them in," Magedanz said. "So the guy who was going home got to do it. But they sent a track vehicle for me, so I didn’t get to pop my own smoke."
Then, someone hit the fast-forward button.
"They took me to a bigger base in Da Nang, and I spent a week or so doing paperwork and physicals and things," he said. "I flew back to Camp Pendleton on July 20, 1970. And I was back in Yankton as a civilian by the 24th or the 25th.
"It was nice being home," he said.
Time passes. Magedanz would finish school at USD, go on to get his master’s and do a three-year stint for the Peace Corps in the Phillipines. There, he met his wife Lita.
"That was a good thing," he said. "Just the experience. You hope you made a difference, but just in terms of my own development, it was a great thing to do."
His daughter, Stephanie was born there, too.
And when she graduated college, she and her husband signed up for the Peace Corps, too. They ended up stationed in Cambodia. And on a trip to visit them in April, Magedanz returned Vietnam.
"I probably wouldn’t have gone, on my own," he said. "But we were there, and we took the bus over. And it was just so different from what I remembered."
Time and war have played tricks on Vietnam, too.
Paved roads have replaced gravel. Tile roofs and concrete floors sit where only grass and dirt stood before. And satellite dishes adorn houses and gas stations where American bases once called out coordinates to short-timers in the bush.
"I knew specific hilltops, specific features of the land that didn’t change," Magedanz said. "But everything else was so different. But I’m glad I went. I’m glad I got to see the place when a war wasn’t going on. Everyone doesn’t have a bunker under their house, now. There are men in the villages."
He is hesitant to discuss the policy or politics of America’s involvement in Vietnam, but Magedanz said his time in-country did change his outlook.
"In our current situation, the group overall seems older," he said. "By the time I was there, some of the more experienced NCO’s weren’t re-enlisting, and it seemed like the group got younger and younger overall. You had guys with six months experience who were the senior guys.
"Politics aside, I really did like the guys I was there with. There were a few who I never would have come in contact with otherwise," Magedanz said.
Clicking through photographs from his recent trip, Magedanz points out different places — always noting the difference between what war made them and what they have become over time. He has an encyclopedic recall of hills and landing zones.
A restaurant does brisk trade where choppers used to land; a Vietnamese war memorial now sits where the Marine headquarters once stood. Tourists wander through ruins that were there for a thousand years before an American boot ever touched down in Vietnam.
He has two pictures. One shows a beautiful waterfall, adorned with greenery poking out between ancient rock formations. A tourist could take this picture. Another shows a spot under the waterfall. In between the rocks. A spot big enough for a man to hide.
A millenium. 40 years. 365 days, counting backwards.
Time passes.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

And I'm falling, and I'm falling...

Oh, I am being kind. But I know this part.

This is the part where the Minnesota Twins, in all their sideburned glory, play baseball with that elusive mix of determination and joy that makes for all the syrupy lyrical prose the game so richly deserves. And then, eventually, they remember exactly who they are.

So what we huddled masses are left hoping for is that the cosmic timing is right, that we capture this division with a winning streak while we're playing inside it and before we go back to being nature's most vexing creature aside from women and birthers -- a .500 ball club.

Buddha preaches joyful participation in the miseries of the world. Bone it like you own it and drive it like you stole it, in other words. Give 'em hell, boys.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Lady Govs move on

BROOKINGS -- The Pierre Lady Governors served notice to the rest of the state Thursday afternoon: Stopping Steph Paluch won't be enough to defeat us.
With ESD foe Huron faceguarding Paluch the entire game, Pierre center Katie Lingle had perhaps the best game of her career, scoring 19 points and ripping down 19 rebounds as the Lady Govs cruised past the Tigers, 53-30, at Frost Arena.
When asked about her center's performance after the game, Pierre coach Lisa Kannegieter clapped her hands and said, "She's back!"
Paluch, who scored 30 points or more in four of Pierre's last six games and averaged 20 per game for the season, was held to just six points in the game. After forcing up a few shots early, Paluch adjusted to Huron's defense and worked to move the ball around.
"Steph did a good job of recognizing what they were doing and correcting and working to get her teammates some good looks," Kannegieter said.
The game plan might have worked better for the Tigers had Pierre not played excellent defense. The Lady Govs found the proper spacing in their sagging man-to-man defense, not allowing the 3-point happy Tigers any easy looks. After Huron put up 11 points in the first quarter, Pierre held them to just two points in the second quarter and five points in the third to put the game out of reach. Pierre allowed Huron just two field goals in the two quarters while scoring 24 points themselves to pull away.
For the game, Huron shot just 24 percent. The Lady Govs finished at 42 percent.
"Our girls did a great job of finding that happy medium, that place on the perimeter where you're guarding the three but they can't drive on you, either. We really didn't give them much," Kannegieter said.
Lingle was a force on both ends of the Frost Arena court, blocking two shots and altering several others and rebounding tenaciously.
"Katie put it into her head that every ball that went up on the glass was hers," Kannegieter said. "That's the best game she has played for us."
Pierre's other post presence, Tristan Rogers, also played a superb game, scoring 10 points and adding two assists to a strong performance on the defensive end.
"That's the best game Tristan has played defensively," Kannegieter said. "She moved her feet and just played fantastically. If she can play like that, it makes it very tough to beat us."
Alexa Berg added 11 points for the Lady Govs, to go along with six rebounds and four assists.
Lacey Stahl led the Tigers with eight points on the game. Huron, now 10-14 on the season, moves to the consolation bracket tomorrow afternoon at 1 p.m.
The other two quarterfinals pit second-seeded Sioux Falls Washington against No.7 Aberdeen at 7 p.m. and third-seeded Brandon Valley at 8:45 p.m.
With the win, the Lady Govs move to tomorrow night's semifinal game at 7 p.m. They will take on the winner of the other afternoon game pitting Sioux Falls Roosevelt against Watertown. Pierre split a pair of games with the Arrows this season and has not yet played the RoughRiders.
The Pierre girls were planning to watch the Watertown-Roosevelt game to find out who they play tomorrow.
"We'll just kind of ride the tide a little bit," Kannegieter said. "We'll see who we have to play and go from there."

Friday, February 27, 2009

On Another Rough Week

There are a lot of charlatans about in the newspaper business these days. They wrap themselves in corporate-speak buzzwords, and they talk a lot about using Twitter and Facebook to save journalism.

And they're full of shit.

It's the business model that's broken in newspapers. And these people don't have the first clue how to fix it. Neither do I, but I least I have the guts to admit it. And I'm not scared of Facebook or Twitter. I use both. But neither is bringing back lost classified revenue. Neither is going to go back in time and make greedy-ass newspaper companies not take out loans based on 20-percent profit projections in perpetuity.

The bloodletting in Cedar Rapids this week was about money. Period. And anyone who tells other people that it was about something else is lying. There's no grand plan. There's no re-envisioning. They're making it up. It's a cover to allow the suits to hack costs.

And I for one wonder how the people who let themselves be useful idiots to the money folks who actually screwed this whole thing up... Well, I wonder how they sleep at night.

I really do.

Make no mistake, these people didn't kill the newspaper, either. But they are profiting from its demise, rather than trying to save it.

So when they write the obit for newspapers, let it be said in the lede, those who forgot the purpose of newspapers was to use language to illuminate, not obfuscate, dug the grave.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

All I Can Muster

When they write the obit, let it be said that those who forgot that the purpose of newspapers was to use language to illuminate, not obfuscate, dug the grave.

RIP, Cedar Rapids Gazette.


Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Did Steroids Turn ARod Orange, And Other Delights

I held off as long as I could, I really did.
But now, it’s time.
Try as I might, I just couldn’t avoid writing a dot-dot-dot column this week. Too many things rattling around the old gourd. Sure, they’re hacky and often disjointed. But I love reading them. Maybe some of you do, too.
At last check, more than 15,000 people had joined a Facebook group called "I don’t care that Michael Phelps smokes weed." Which is just the sort of thing that makes Facebook great. I’ve got to say, though, that Kellog’s comes off looking awful in the whole deal. You didn’t mind a celebrity endorser who got a DUI underage, but now you drop him? Weak sauce... Alex Rodriguez should had quit while he was ahead in his interview with Peter Gammons. I give him points for being (sort of) honest and not using a dodge, but he looked petty and sounded like he was lying the longer the interview went on. Also, he should probably lay off the lip gloss and the spray-on tan. Of course, maybe if kids think steroids turn you orange, they won’t take them... Sticking with baseball, if Michael Cuddyer can play third base — even a little bit — the Twins pretty much have to put him there this season. Carlos Gomez, Denard Span and Delmon Young are all young guys who need to play every day, and Kubel needs his ABs at DH, though I suppose Cuddyer would be a good DH option against tough lefties. But the bottom line is that the Twins need his bat in the lineup more than they need a Gold Glover at third. If he’s serviceable, he should be out there... I got some negative feedback on my column about the girls HS coach in Texas and running up the score. One caller noted that the coach said he wasn’t running up the score. I would point out that the score was 100-0. Who you gonna believe, a fired coach or your own lying eyes... After having seen most of the teams in South Dakota play hockey this season, I have come to this conclusion: Things are still wide open. I think everyone is still waiting for someone to get hot, but, apart from Sioux Falls, all of the top teams have been consistently inconsistent. I also can’t help but wonder if people would be able to catch a pass more often with a wooden stick, or at least a wooden blade. Or maybe I’m just getting old... I am told that Pierre and Watertown has developed into a solid rivalry in girls basketball, and there is always a great atmosphere for hoops at Watertown. Should be entertaining... What happened to my Minnesota Golden Gopher hockey team? Egads, boys... Was delighted to see Alison Krauss get some much-deserved Grammy love last week. If you’re not already a fan, you probably heard her on the O Brother Where Art Thou? soundtrack. An amazing talent... Have people been checking out the new MLB Network? Lots of interesting stuff on there, in addition to old games. Caught most of Kerry Wood’s 20-strikeout game from his rookie season in 1998. He was filthy. Oh, what might have been, Cubs fans... The Pierre—Brookings girls basketball game was a lot of fun to watch, though probably not to play in or coach. The Lady Govs just could not get anything to fall for long stretches and Brookings played excellent defense, especially denying the entry pass to the post. Pierre will have to be able to find some back door plays or lobs if other teams can muster that kind of effort. And, as the story of this season unfolds, I think you’ll end up with Berg’s Block right up there with Paluch’s Free Throws as plays of the year...

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

The Hardest Thing To Do In Sports

It’s often said that the hardest thing to do in sports is hitting a baseball.
But I’ve always agreed with whoever wrote that the hardest thing to do in sports is to go into the locker room at half time of a championship game and completely change the strategy that got you there, because it isn’t working anymore.
So, while it wasn’t a championship game, you have to give Pierre boys basketball coach Terry Becker a lot of credit for being willing to change gears midseason.
The Govs’ new run-and-gun offense — combined with a constant full court press — allows Pierre to force other teams into contesting what they feel is their biggest strength: Athletic ability. And it also allows Pierre to get a lot of kids involved in the game, which gives them confidence and a deeper bench.
The advent of the shot clock in South Dakota AA basketball makes this style of play even more attractive, because opposing teams can’t really avoid running with the Govs. Gone are the days when ESD coaches could hold the ball for minutes at a time and keep scores in the teens and twenties.
At 3-9, the Govs are sitting at the bottom of District 3. But Pierre played Mitchell tough twice and lost at Aberdeen when the Golden Eagles shot out the lights.
The Govs have eight games left in the regular season to fine-tune their up-tempo style before the playoffs. And, as is also often said, anything can happen when you get to the playoffs.
The Pierre Capitals have three big games at home this weekend. The Caps play host to the rapidly improving Rapid City Thunder.
Pierre won Junior Gold tournament in Grand Forks, N.D. over the weekend, while Rapid dropped three games at Brookings — but played the Rangers tight in two of them.
The Thunder have played a lot of teams close this year, but have found a way to lose a lot of those close games. That’s another of the hardest things to do in sports: Learning how to win.
While Sioux Falls is running away with the league and Brookings is coming on strong of late, Watertown has suddenly lost four league games in a row.
With the league shaping up to be fairly wide open at the state tournament, the Capitals will want to stay in the 3-6 range.
Pierre stands in sixth place right now, one point behind the Thunder. But Rapid City has played three more games to this point than the Capitals.
Long story short, Pierre likely wants to take at least four of six possible points from the Thunder to put themselves into at least the fifth slot at the state tournament in March. A sweep, and the Caps would be right in the hunt for a top-four finish.
The Pierre Lady Govs will try and set a team record for consecutive wins when they take on the Brookings Bobcats at Riggs Gym on Friday night.
While Steph Paluch has grabbed headlines lately in becoming Pierre’s all-time leading scorer, she’s only part of what makes the Lady Govs fun to watch.
Coach Lisa Kannegieter’s squad is aggressive on both ends of the floor and transitions smoothly. They play tough man defense and even throw in a zone from time.
Against Brandon Valley, in perhaps as dominant a performance as they’ve given all season, the Lady Govs put all facets of their game together.
Katie Lingle dominated defensively, eventually turning the Lynx into a team of jump-shooters. Alexa Berg pushed the ball on the point and had a very tough game defensively. Tristan Rogers creates a lot of matchup problems for opposing teams and seems to hit plenty of timely 3-pointers. And Pierre has a bevy of players who contribute off the bench without the team missing a beat.
All told, the Lady Govs play aggressive, physical, up-tempo basketball that makes for a fun evening, whether you’re covering the game or not.
And they’re about half the way to doing the hardest thing in all of sports.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Daschle Out

No second acts, or some such.


Friday, January 30, 2009

How Long Must We Sing This Song?

37 years ago today, 27 unarmed civil rights demonstrators in Derry were massacred by British soldiers. The Brits are still investigating.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

They Just Don't Learn

PIERRE, S.D. (AP) — South Dakota lawmakers will have an abortion-related bill to debate this session.
The legislation, SB92, would require abortion doctors to be at the clinic the day before the procedure to provide consultation, even if the woman doesn't want it, refuses to acknowledge the consultation or has no intention of showing up for it.
Republican state Rep. Roger Hunt of Brandon, a staunch abortion foe, is one of the sponsors of the legislation, which was assigned to the Senate Health and Human Services Committee for a hearing.
South Dakota voters have defeated proposed abortion bans the past two general elections.


Pierre Stays Perfect

By Josh Linehan
Capital Journal Staff

PIERRE — Through 11 games, the Pierre Lady Govs still sport an umblemished record.
But here’s the scary part for teams who still have to play Pierre this season: They might be only now hitting their stride.
The Lady Govs used stifling defense and a balanced offense to take all the drama out of a showdown of unbeaten teams Tuesday night, cruising to a 51-29 win over the Brandon Valley Lynx.
"That was a very nice night," Pierre coach Lisa Kannegieter said. "That’s probably the best full game we’ve played all year. We put four quarters together."
The Lynx entered the game unbeaten and ranked third in the state. But the Lady Govs held Brandon Valley scoreless for nearly five minutes to open the game, staking themselves to a lead they would never relinquish.
The game also featured a milestone for Pierre guard Steph Paluch, who scored her 1,000th career point on a three-point play in the third quarter.
Paluch, who led all scorers with 19 points, stole the ball near midcourt and blew past two Lynx defenders for a layup and 1,000 points even. After the Riggs Gym crowd gave her a standing ovation, she sank the free throw to give Pierre a 43-25 lead.
Her 1,001 points put Paluch second in Lady Govs history, 29 points behind the 1030 Karen Hasek scored from 1981-83.
"Steph is a very unselfish player, and as much as she passes the ball, it’s amazing that she hit 1000 at this point in the year," Kannegieter said.
Paluch finished 7-12 from the floor and added six rebounds and two assists.
"It hasn’t really sunk in yet, I’m just kind of excited that we won this game," Paluch said.
While Paluch was reaching a milestone at one end of the floor, the Lady Govs were owning the other end. Pierre held Brandon Valley under 10 points in every quarter. Katie Lingle led the way with seven blocked shots — and at least as many altered.
The Lady Govs also hounded the Lynx into 22 turnovers en route to the win.
"I would have to say that was our best defensive game," Paluch said. "We put a lot of pressure on them and forced a lot of bad shots."
The lone down spot for the Lady Govs was inbounding the ball. Pierre was whistled twice for five seconds on inbounds plays and turned the ball over another two times.
Lingle scored 10 points for Pierre, follwed by Alexa Berg with eight. Tristan Rogers, Linsey Peterson and Amanda Stout had four each and Amber Olson had two as the Lady Govs got all 10 players into the game and Pierre looked exactly like a team that has won its first 11 games.
"Our kids played their hearts out tonight," Kannegieter said. "The quote I heard in the locker room was, ‘We just played,’ and that’s what we’ve been trying to get them to do, just play."
Pierre gets back in action Friday night when the Lady Govs travel to Spearfish to take on the Spartans.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Ugly Score Leads To Uglier Situation

By now, you’ve probably heard the story.
A girls basketball team in Dallas beat another girls basketball team 100-0 earlier this month.
The winning team was up 59-0 at halftime, and continued to press full court and jack up 3-pointers until they hit the 100-point mark with about four minutes to go.
But the story doesn’t end there.
Officials from the Covenant School — the winners — apologized and offered to forfeit the game to the poor team from Dallas Academy. Dallas Academy, it turns out, is a school for children with learning disabilities such as dyslexia, and hadn’t won a game in almost four years.
Covenant’s coach publicly disagreed with the school officials, and was soon fired, leading to Covenant canceling the rest of the girls basketball season.
Now, of course, with the story all over the internet, people are piling on the victors just as shamelessly as those victors piled on Dallas Academy.
But the whole sad saga does raise an interesting question: What, exactly, constitutes running up the score? What obligation does a clearly superior team have to an inferior opponent? And, conversely, what obligation does a weak team have to at least be able to compete at the level for which they register?
I fear that the definitive answer to this question might be like the Supreme Court’s definition of pornography — you can’t define it, but you know it when you see it.
Still, I do think that intent matters.
What got me about the original story — and, I suspect, what got the Covenant coach fired — was reading the Covenant girls were up 59-0 at the break and continued to press into the fourth quarter. There’s no place for that.
As a former coach, I do feel somewhat for both coaches in this situation. I’ve been on both ends of these blowout games, and there’s no perfect solution. And scores alone don’t always tell the tale.
Stanley County’s girls, for instance, were on the winning side of a mismatch earlier this season. The Lady Buffs downed McLaughlin on Jan. 8, 99-15. I only caught the first half of that game, but I didn’t see Stanley County looking to run up the score. They certainly weren’t pressing full court up by 60.
Some friends of mine who are coaches or sportswriting colleagues would argue that, at the varsity level, it’s not the job of a coach to stop his own team. I am sympathetic to this point. When you’re the coach of a clearly superior team, it isn’t your job to stop your own kids.
And when you’re the coach of a team that isn’t likely to win a game all year, it isn’t your job to win basketball games, either. It’s your job to try and teach the kids who are willing to tough out a rough season that playing the game can be its own reward. And it’s your responsibility to stay upbeat and positive and find successes to celebrate.
I don’t want to pile on the coach from Covenant. He probably didn’t go into the game with any kind of malice in his heart. But, still, in pushing forward as hard as he could until the score was 100-0, he accomplished nothing but the sporting equivalent of beating up on the littlest kid on the playground.
I remember playing pickup hockey games on the outdoor rink when I was a kid. We’d pick teams by throwing our sticks in a pile at center ice. One of us would then dutifully get on his knees, pull his stocking hat down over his eyes and throw sticks toward each end.
We’d play for a while. And, if the game was one-sided, inevitably, someone would stop the game and we’d shuffle a player here or there to even things out. And then we’d play on.
So, no, it isn’t a coach’s job to stop his or her own team from scoring.
But it certainly is a coach’s responsibility not to short-circuit what kids everywhere know when there isn’t an adult to be found — on the bench or in the stands.
If you lose sight of that, maybe it’s time to find something else to do.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

When They Come To Write Our Obit

Let them write that newspapers died when people who were supposed to be running newspapers started writing like PR hairdos and HR hacks.


Saturday, January 17, 2009

Huron 7, Pierre 2

It was closer than that. Tied 2-2 with 2 to play in the 2nd.

Huron flurry for 2 quick ones at the end of the period sent them on to the win.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

In Response To Right-Wing Nuttery

I say this, earlier today:

Well, after Tuesday no more Bush to bitch and whine about. No more voting "present." Time to make decisions. The One will actually be the one now. God help us all.

Allow me to retort:

Gosh, if he's not careful, this country could really get off track.

We could end up in the wrong war, the economy could go in the shitter, natural disasters could claim entire American cities without an appropriate government response. Children could be left behind, we could start torturing prisoners. Our entire standing as a benevolent superpower could go by the wayside. The justice department could be purged of competent prosecutors in favor of incompetent lackeys. Ditto the rest of the federal agencies. Our intelligence operations could become completely fucking useless. The vice president could take advantage of his stunning weakness within his own government and run a shadow presidency while claiming to belong to no branch of government, effectively shredding the seperation of powers to any practical purpose. He could appoint a crazy man to head the Pentagon. We could open illegal prison camps in several far-flung nations. War could erupt in the Middle East and we could stand idly by. Years of genocide could go by in Africa without any reaction from America. Unemployment levels could climb dangerously high. States could teeter on the brink of bankruptcy. Our health care system could completely break down, and the President could do nothing about it. He could try and privatize Social Security, to be immediately followed by a massive stock market collapse. Greed and corruption could become so brazen that bagmen wander the corridors of power in DC with impunity. Oil executives could bribe the administration in the open, then just pretend it didn't happen. He could pretend that stem cell research and a comatose woman in Florida are the great moral issues of our time, while all of these other things are going on.

I mean, Obama could really fuck shit up.

What's that? Really? All of it?

Never mind.

Soccer Still Not Scoring

By Josh Linehan
Capital Journal Staff

PIERRE — The implementation of soccer as a school-sponsored sport will continue to be delayed in South Dakota following a meeting of the South Dakota High School Activities Association on Wednesday.
South Dakota high schools were originally scheduled to begin playing soccer as a school sport in the 2010-11 school year. That process was delayed at the last SDHSAA meeting based on a request from the Eastern South Dakota and Greater Dakota conferences, which comprise most of the AA schools in the state.
South Dakota is the only state left in the nation that does not sanction soccer as a school sport.
Wednesday, the board took no further action on the motion to delay implementation and instead gave first reading to a motion to appoint an ad hoc implementation committee to be appointed by the SDHSAA executive committee with a mandate to hash out some of the funding, budgeting, scheduling and compliance concerns.
The motion passed 8-0.
"It was about what we expected," SDHSAA executive director Wayne Carney said. "The board took a cautious approach. That’s what we heard from the member schools and we responded accordingly."
Board member Terry Nebelsick, also principal at Huron High School, made the motion to form a committee comprised of superintendents, principals, athletic directors and coaches, along with non-voting members from the South Dakota Soccer Association, the governing body which currently oversees club and school-affiliated soccer in South Dakota.
Nebelsick said while he understood the concerns about implementation, he was looking for the SDHSAA to eventually adopt soccer as a school sport.
"I get very, very nervous at hearing the viewpoint that club level soccer is fine as it is," Nebelsick said. "At some point, I think, that argument gets turned around, and people say ‘If club sports are fine, what is the role of the activities association?’"
The new committee will present its’ findings to the board at a meeting in August, the earliest a start date for soccer as a school sport could be announced.
Carney said the formation of the committee didn’t make it impossible for soccer to still begin in the 2010-11 school year, but he did not expect it would.
"The board left that wide open," Carney said, noting the motion asked the ad hoc committee to report back to the board annually at the August meeting. "We’re certainly not ready to take a guess on that from our spot here."
A SDHSAA survey of schools showed about 15 schools who were set to add soccer in 2010-11, along with 15 who were considering the move, executive board member Bob Lowery said at the meeting. But that number was likely diminished after the concerns were brought forward by the ESD and GDC.
Activities directors from several schools spoke in favor of continuing toward making soccer a school sport in South Dakota, even with reservations about the current state of the economy and other concerns.At the end of preliminary discussions, board member Bob Sittig made a motion to postpone the implementation of soccer as a school sport indefinitely. But the motion was eventually withdrawn in favor of Nebelsick’s motion to form the new committee.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Plan Your Trip Now

Well, Bert got hosed again, but he's gaining ground.

As the story notes, most people who get the number of votes he's getting get in, eventually.

There are some dry years coming up, and I've got Blyleven penciled in for 2011.

Cooperstown, here I come!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Bert Belongs, People

In the interest of transparency, many members of the Baseball Writer's Association now publish their Baseball Hall of Fame ballots. I think ESPN might even require its writers to do so.

So this site is tracking the published votes.

Right now, as expected, Rickey Henderson is a slam dunk.

Jim Rice is on the fringe, and this is his last chance.

Bert Blyleven is getting 70 percent of the vote. Players need 75 percent to be inducted.

The HOF case for Blyleven is pretty easy to make, and Rich Lederer has boiled it down to one sentence for everyone. So memorize this, text it to a friend, have a T-shirt made, whatever:

Since 1900, Bert Blyleven ranks 5th in career strikeouts, 8th in shutouts, and 17th in wins.

Had Blyleven pitched for better teams, he'd have been in years ago. Come on, baseball writers. You get most of these right, eventually. Do the right thing here. Quit making the guy wait. He belongs in the HOF.

And if you don't believe this blogger, there are plenty of people you can read.

Try all these folks, for instance:

Or one of my favorite writers and baseball guys (and one who also thinks, as I do, that Ron Gardenhire is the most underrated manager in baseball) Joe Posnanski of the Kansas City Star:

Govs Get In Win Column

By Josh Linehan
Capital Journal Staff
PIERRE -- The Pierre Governors got their first win of the season in comeback fashion Friday night, downing the Brookings Bobcats, 63-53. Pierre rallied from a 7-point deficit in the fourth quarter to win going away. Curry Kuehl led the way for the Govs, scoring 22 points.
Brookings was led by senior Brayden Carlson, who scored a game-high 27 points, but also had a technical foul that gave Pierre three shots and the ball in the midst of their fourth-quarter rally. The Govs stay home through the weekend, playing host to Huron on Saturday night. Tipoff is set for 7:30 p.m.

Friday, January 9, 2009

That's Not A Typo


That was the final score last night in the Stanley County vs. McLaughlin girls basketball game in Fort Pierre.


Now, someone tell me, which is more odd: That final score, or the fact that the teams' nicknames are the Lady Buffaloes and the Midgets, respectively.

God, I love South Dakota.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

A sad, sad story

Minnesota Daily, my college rag, to stop publishing Fridays.

Does kind of ruin the name.

Newspapers are the kid in the boxing match during the last episode of season three of The Wire.

We're getting the crap kicked out of us. Heart-wise, we're doing good.

Alas, season four of The Wire doesn't bode well, for the boxing kid or the newspaper.

Maybe we can get Cutty to write a column?

New Pierre Legion Coach Named

PIERRE — The Post 8 Legion baseball team has a new coach.
Bob Sullivan, an assistant wrestling coach at Riggs High School and last year’s split-squad Teener baseball coach, will take the Legion baseball reins. "I’m definitely excited. I hope we can get Pierre into the upper tier of South Dakota Legion baseball this season," Sullivan said.
The hiring was finalized at a baseball board meeting Monday night.
Sullivan said he applied for the position in November and interviewed in December.
"Like with any new position, it’s a little overwhelming, but I’m really looking forward to it," Sullivan said.
Sullivan replaces Bill Ellwanger, who served one season as Legion coach after replacing longtime Legion coach Jim Iversen.
Now in his second season as an assistant wrestling coach, Sullivan was also a volunteer Legion assistant coach two seasons ago.
A native of Mitchell, Sullivan played Legion ball there and was part of a state championship team before playing four years of baseball at the University of South Dakota in Vermillion.
Sullivan teaches physical education and health at Georgia Morse Middle School in Pierre, in addition to his coaching duties.
Longtime assistant coach Bill Gayton was also named Teener split squad coach. Gayton has served as an assistant coach within the program for the past 3 seasons.
He also was the "A" Teener head coach for Pierre in 2003 and 2004.
Sullivan said Post 8’s prospects for the upcoming season should be good.
"We should have a good group of returning players and a pretty good group moving up from Teeners, so we’ll just need to be able to put that all together, and get things to gel" he said.
Sullivan also said that he was working on putting together the Post 8 schedule for the season, and said Pierre would open with its traditional games against Rapid City Post 22 over Memorial Day weekend.The other two Teener coaches and an assistant Legion coach have yet to be named by the Post 8 baseball board.