Bob Mercer reports that Democrats continue to abandon ship in South Dakota. But they aren't abandoning Rick Weiland. A new Public Policy Polling Survey finds that the Democratic candidate for South Dakota's open Senate seat is just ten percentage points behind GOP frontrunner Marion Michael Rounds.

According to PPP, an election held today would produce these results:

  • Mike Rounds: 38%
  • Rick Weiland: 28%
  • Larry Pressler: 15%
  • Gordon Howie: 4%

PPP's survey differs markedly from the survey conducted by Nielson Brothers Polling in June 2013. Then, NBP found Rounds had 92% name recognition while Weiland had just 50%. PPP now puts Rounds's recognition at 87% and Weiland's at 67%. A 17% boost in name recognition isn't a bad payoff for one trip to every town in South Dakota. Doing that trip again this summer, in beautiful sunny door-knocking and parade-marching weather, plus the inevitable increased media coverage, should bring Weiland to parity with Rounds.

Now let's combine those rising recognition numbers with the 15% of undecided voters above. According to PPP, Weiland leads Rounds (say it again, enjoy it: Weiland leads Rounds!) 38 to 36 among people who know Weiland's name. Weiland draws a better favorable/unfavorable ratio than Rounds (36 to 30 vs. 41 to 41). And to splop ice cream on top of Weiland's pie, PPP found that telling voters about the issues wins Rick votes:

On several issues that will be key in this race, voters side with Weiland’s view over Rounds’ by a wide margin. After being read a description of each candidate’s views on Medicare, South Dakotans say they agree more with Weiland’s position by a 15 point margin, 45/30. And when it comes to the Ryan budget 53% of voters say they side more with Weiland’s point of view, compared to only 29% who go with Rounds.

On both of the issues the independent voters who will be key to Weiland’s campaign overwhelmingly side with his perspective- 53/26 on the Medicare issue and 62/20 on the Ryan budget one [Tom Jensen, "Rounds Stuck Under 40%, Issues Play Well for Weiland," Public Policy Polling, 2014.05.07].

When voters get to know Weiland, they pick him over Rounds. When voters get to know Weiland's policies, they pick him over Rounds. And Weiland's policies on Medicare and the Ryan budget are straight-up Democratic policies, not apologetic Blue-Doggery. Weiland's daylight is to keep doing exactly what he's doing, but more! Run to daylight, Rick... and keep singing!

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KELO deems newsworthy the hubby-fanned rumors of Dr. Annette Bosworth's pending declaration of candidacy for the GOP nomination for South Dakota's open Senate seat in 2014. They also deem newsworthy the very public photos Bosworth and her husband Chad Haber are posting of themselves in Washington D.C. on a trip that began within 24 hours of their Web publicity campaign.

But the real newsworthy question is this: what is she doing in D.C.? Dr. Bosworth offers an update with this photo:Rubio-Willard20130606-crop

"Great example of our rising leaders!" writes Dr. Bosworth. "Inspiring."

That's not Che Guevara; I'm pretty sure that's Senator Marco Rubio from Florida, speaking at the Willard Intercontinental Hotel. If this picture is who and where it appears to be,* then Annette Bosworth is at the Legacy Political Fund's Family Retreat and Policy Briefing. Legacy Political Fund is associated with Legacy, a group of free-enterprise evangelicals (there must be an oxymoron in there) who fancy themselves GOP kingmakers.

For $1000 (or just $750 if she has forked over the $2000 annual dues necessary to become a Legacy member), Bosworth gets...

  • a pre-conference meeting with the man who used to be the next Vice-President of the United States, Rep. Paul Ryan from Wisconsin (that was this afternoon);
  • speeches and panel discussions from other Tea-flavored Congressmen like Rep. Steve King from Iowa;
  • a private audience with an unnamed Supreme Court Justice;
  • talks from Koch Brothers mouthpieces like Americans for Prosperity and the Heritage Foundation.

Power-oriented evangelicals. Paul Ryan. Koch Brothers. Don't be dumb: Annette Bosworth is Christopher Columbus: she's in Washington looking for God, gold, and glory... emphasis on the gold, because she ain't got none!... at least none that could fill a Senate campaign war chest.

I don't know how Bosworth goes from humanitarian making medical mission trips to Haiti and smart independent doctor bucking the Republican good old boys of South Dakota to Kristi Noem's smarter sister. (Trivia: Bosworth is one day older than our Congresswoman.)

But that's what it looks like Annette Bosworth is doing in Washington tonight, praying for the Koch Brothers and other corporate fascists to write her a check to challenge Mike Rounds in the GOP primary.

That's the news. Now for the wild speculation for which you've come to depend on the South Dakota Blogosphere:

Go to OpenSecrets.org. Look up the Legacy Political Fund's big donors. Their big South Dakota donor over the last couple years has been Steven T. Kirby of Sioux Falls. Steven T. Kirby has hinted he might run for the U.S. Senate. But Steve Kirby has also put big money into Kristi Noem and her PAC (which he treasures).

So here's what's happening under the radar: Steve Kirby wants revenge on Mike Rounds, but he doesn't want to run for Senate himself. Why would he, when he knows Rounds can beat him, and when he can probably stay at his Bluestem Capital and make truckloads of money without anyone harassing him? He can get the same revenge by spending his money à la Citizens United. He just needs a pretty face to put in front of his super-PAC narrative.

He looks at Kristi Noem. He looks at her 2010 narrative: nice-looking lady enters against apparent party frontrunner, makes nice speeches and ads, wins the race. She's empty enough of ideology, that she can take orders from the folks holding the purse strings. Perfect. He looks at Annette Bosworth, smart but unversed in any policy issue beyond health care (at least as far as I can tell, but wait 'til she comes home from Legacy with her talking points on the budget and freedom and Big Gulps). She'd sound like an outsider, a non-career politician, which would give her a little edge against Mike Rounds. She'd be able to campaign as sort of an independent... but she'd need a lot of help, and she'd be beholden to those who'd provide that help.

Boom: Bosworth for U.S. Senate, brought to you by Steve Kirby and unfriends of Mike Rounds. Get me a screenwriter!

Update 2013.06.07 10:04 MDT: Also on Dr. Bosworth's agenda: checking in at the offices of Rep. Noem, Senator John Thune, and Oklahoma Senator and physician Tom Coburn.

Update 2013.06.07 21:03 MDT: Chad Haber confirms via Facebook that he and his budding candidate wife are at the Legacy Political Fund event.

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Hey, Team Rounds! Put this in the brief book for the primary Pat says y'all aren't afraid of!

Once again, Rep. Kristi Noem proudly supports a Paul Ryan budget that focuses cuts on lower- and middle-income people. Medicare, Social Security, food stamps, Medicaid—whack! whack! whacky-whack!

Rep. Noem calls those cuts a "crucial step" to a sustainable budget. She recites her mantra that we have a spending problem, not a taxing problem (which is more hogwash)... but in the Ryan budget, she also voted for $5.7 trillion in tax cuts targeted mostly at the rich and powerful, with no plan to offset those cuts.

In supporting yet another Ryan budget, Rep. Noem also supports sandbagging the economy and killing two million jobs:

On net, we estimate that the Ryan budget would decrease gross domestic product (GDP) by 1.7 percent and decrease nonfarm payroll employment by 2.0 million jobs in calendar year 2014 relative to current policy. We estimate that the Ryan budget would increase the unemployment rate by between 0.6 percentage points and 0.8 percentage points. The Ryan budget would push the output gap—the difference between actual output and non-inflationary potential output, which registered $985 billion (5.9 percent of potential) as of the fourth quarter of 2012—from 4.4 percent under the AFS baseline back to 5.9 percent. By proposing a budget that would leave the output gap unchanged from 5.9 percent of potential GDP by the end of 2014, Ryan has essentially proposed that for at least two years the U.S. economy make zero relative progress in emerging from the current adverse economic equilibrium of depressed economic output, slow growth, high unemployment, and large cyclical budget deficits [Andrew Fieldhouse, "Ryan Proposes Another Path to Fewer Jobs and Slower Economic Growth," Economic Policy Institute: Working Economics, 2013.03.12].

You'd think Rep. Noem and her fellow Republicans would have given up on trying to sabotage the economic recovery once they failed in their primary objective of making Barack Obama a one-term President. Rep. Noem's support for the Ryan budget shows that, no, their loathing of the poor and their fealty to the rich still trump sound fiscal policy and a desire to make the economy work for everyone.

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Vice President Joe Biden and Congressman Paul Ryan debate the future of the Republic in just a few minutes. I'll be watching and snarking a bit on Twitter; I welcome your kibbitzing as well!

The three things I'd get a kick out of seeing from tonight's debate:

  1. Uncle Joe drops the F-bomb again. (Net polling effect: +10 for Obama.)
  2. The Vice President visibly seethes at the Congressman's constant lying. He saves up his righteous indignation for the closing remarks, when he erupts on the Congressman for his callous disregard for truth, justice, and the American Way. Then he grabs his chest and, as planned by Team Obama, delivers the best fake collapse since Kevin Kline in Dave. Biden is rushed to the hospital; Twitter lights up with "Ryan causes heart attack" meme; next day, Biden announces he must step down; Obama picks Hillary Clinton to replace him. (Net polling effect: +20 for Obama.)
  3. VP Biden simply tells the truth, coolly, calmly, with no drama or memorable one-liners. (Net polling effect: +2 for Obama... but +20 for Joe and Barack's karma, because the truth matters more than anything else.)
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President Barack Hussein Obama and Willard Mitt Romney debate tonight. I don't mind if Jim Lehrer asks President Obama whether he endorses Vice-President Joe Biden's famous declaration that health care reform is "a big "f---ing deal."

But I really hope Lehrer will ask Romney if he endorses this statement by his running mate, Rep. Paul Ryan, that Social Security is a collectivist system that we must abolish:

Social Security right now is a collectivist system. It is a welfare transfer system.... And so what we have coming now at the beginning of this century is a fight.... [A]ll they have to do is to stop us from succeeding. Autopilot will get them to where they want to go. It will bring more government, more collectivism, more centralized government if we do not succeed in switching these programs and reforming these programs from what some people call a defined-benefit system to a defined-contribution system--and I am talking about health-care programs as well--from a third-party socialist-based system to an individually-prefunded individually-directed system. We can do this. We are on offense on a lot of these issues... [Rep. Paul Ryan, speech to Ayn Rand Atlas Society, 2005, quoted by Brad DeLong, September 29, 2012].

Take that, you geezerly moochers! As Brad DeLong summarizes Ryan's policy views, "In Paul Ryan's eyes, Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, Unemployment Insurance, SNAP, etc. are all socialist, collectivist systems that must cease to exist in anything like their present form."

Mr. Romney (and Mr. Romney's backers), do you agree?

Bonus Question: Paul Ryan says the math behind the Romney-Ryan tax plan is just too complicated to explain. Ezra Klein says it's simple arithmetic (and it doesn't add up). Can you explain your math, Mr. Romney? (You may use a calculator.)

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Republican vice-presidential nominee Paul Ryan wants to turn Medicare into a private voucher program. Kristi Noem has supported Ryan's Medicare privatization since 2010, even though she'll deny the facts of the plan to your face. Vice President Joe Biden says privatizing Medicare is a rotten way to treat your mom:

My mom was a smart woman.... But, my mom, I can't picture handing her a voucher at age 80 and saying — you go out in the insurance market and you figure out what's best for you [Vice President Joe Biden, quoted by Seung Min Kim, "Joe Biden Takes Aim at 'Vouchercare'," Politico, September 2, 2012].

We established Medicare in the 1960s because we recognized that the private market wasn't going to take care of Mom and Dad and that a nationwide community effort was the best way to meet our parents' needs. Neither Ryan nor Noem nor any other advocate of dismantling this great American program has shown that the free-market tooth fairy will work any better now for our elderly parents than it did in the years before Medicare.

Dump Ryan, Noem, and the other folks who want to take away the Medicare guarantee. Stick with VP Biden and other leaders who are strengthening Medicare for our parents and for us.

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"The only dedicated anticommunitiarian researcher in the world," Niki Raapana from Alaska, gets me hung up on communitarianism this morning.

Look out, Birchers: the GOP Presidential ticket also appears to be hung up on communitarianism... acknowledging that communitarians are right!

Consider Rep. Paul Ryan's remarks to the Republican National Convention Wednesday:

What gave Jack [Kemp] that incredible enthusiasm was his belief in the possibilities of free people, in the power of free enterprise and strong communities to overcome poverty and despair. We need that same optimism right now.

...We have responsibilities, one to another. We do not each face the world alone" [Paul Ryan, speech, Republican National Convention, Tampa, Florida, August 29, 2012].

Ryan's boss for ten more weeks reinforced the communitarian spirit in his postscript to Clint Eastwood's performance last night:

We look to our communities, our faiths, our families for our joy, our support, in good times and bad. It is both how we live our lives and why we live our lives. The strength and power and goodness of America has always been based on the strength and power and goodness of our communities, our families, our faiths.

That is the bedrock of what makes America, America. In our best days, we can feel the vibrancy of America's communities, large and small [Mitt Romney, speech, Republican National Convention, Tampa, Florida, August 29, 2012].

Community as the bedrock of American strength and liberty—I guess Paul and W. Mitt really are disavowing Ayn Rand and embracing the idea that we enjoy liberty only in the context of a robust community and social contract.

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Time to raise your game, Democrats!

Golly, all I said was that Congressman Paul Ryan tangled himself and GOP thinking on personal responsibility in a contradiction last night. The Washington Post's Jonathan Bernstein says I should have just called Ryan a liar:

It was, by any reasonable standards, a staggering, staggering lie. Here€™s Paul Ryan about Barack Obama:

He created a bipartisan debt commission. They came back with an urgent report. He thanked them, sent them on their way, and then did exactly nothing.

"They." "Them." "Them.€" Those words are lies. Because Paul Ryan was on that commission. "Came back with an urgent report." That is a lie. The commission never made any recommendations for Barack Obama to support or oppose. Why not? Because the commission voted down its own recommendations. Why? Because Paul Ryan, a member of the commission, voted it down and successfully convinced the other House Republicans on the commission to vote it down.

... the proper response to a speech like this isn't to carefully analyze the logic, or to find instances of hypocracy [sic]; it's to call the speaker out for telling flat-out lies to the American people [Jonathan Bernstein, "Paul Ryan Fails -- the Truth," WashingtonPost: The Plum Line, August 29, 2012].

Mr. Lias catches that Ryan lie and others, as outlined by Cal Woodward and Jack Gillum. Among them: Rep. Ryan perpetuates the lie about the $716 billion in savings President Obama used to extend the life of Medicare and fund the Affordable Care Act. Ryan calls them cuts, but remains silent about the fact that he plans to reduce Medicare spending by exactly the same dollar amount... at least until he can kill it.

Mr. Venhuizen says Rep. Ryan "told hard truths." I think Mr. Venhuizen forgot a few words after "hard". The Displaced Plainsman notes that Ryan appears to be leading the Republicans into a postmoderist world where there are no hard truths, just poll-tested relativist musings that motivate the base.

Rep. Ryan's may have given the most dishonest convention speech ever. Journalists, bloggers and citizens have an obligation to call these lies lies:

Not to put too fine a point on this, Ryan, like his running mate, tells obvious falsehoods because he's confident there will be no consequences. He simply assumes he can lie with impunity because the media doesn't care to separate fact from fiction.

This is a critical test of the political world, and a few too many are failing [Steve Benen, "A Pass-Fail Test," MSNBC: The Maddow Blog, August 30, 2012].

Like his running mate... indeed. Mitt Romney has a distressing comfort with repeating lies even when presented with the facts that disprove his lies. That comfort with lying appears to be linked to his Mormon faith, which institutionalizes lying for the Lord. And that comfort with lying shows itself clearly in Romney's choice of the "unserious and breathtakingly dishonest" Paul Ryan.

Mitt Romney will say anything to get elected, regardless of truth. Paul Ryan showed last night he'll lie right alongside his new boss. Even Ryan's mentor Ayn Rand would have declared his mendacity not just false but evil. Honest journalists should call these evil lies what they are... and voters should reject this liars' ticket

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