In early October, as the Iraq debate heated up in Washington, U.S. Rep. and Senate hopeful John Thune (R-S.D.) began airing a campaign ad on western South Dakota television stations. The 30-second spot featured images of Saddam Hussein while an announcer assailed opponent Tim Johnson, the incumbent Democratic senator, for voting against missile-defense implementation. Opposing missile defense, the ad implied, could land Hussein's weapons of mass destruction in your backyard.
SIOUX FALLS, S.D. -- Stephanie Herseth was seven years old when Bill Janklow was first elected to the South Dakota governor's office in 1978. Today Herseth, a 31-year old lawyer and the granddaughter of one of the state's rare Democratic governors, finds herself locked in a dead heat with Janklow in a race for South Dakota's lone House seat. Unlike the Senate race, which pits incumbent Democrat Tim Johnson against Republican Congressman John Thune, South Dakota's House contest has been a relatively low-key affair. Apart from the ubiquitous blue billboards lining the highways that urge voters to send Bill Janklow to Washington, this race has not had the national visibility of the high-profile and heavy-hitting Senate contest.
SAN FRANCISCO -- Early in the morning of Sept. 5, Drug Enforcement Administration officials raided a small farm near Santa Cruz, Calif., that had provided marijuana for sick and dying patients under California's 1996 medical-marijuana law, Proposition 215. According to the DEA, the 100 to 200 plants seized at the farm confirmed that large-scale production, distribution and sale of marijuana was taking place, a charge that owners Valerie and Michael Corral deny. The Corrals -- who lead the Wo/men's Association for Medical Marijuana (WAMM) and helped craft a 1992 local ordinance in Santa Cruz that foreshadowed Proposition 215 -- were arrested following the raid and later released without being charged.
"This hopefully will be a breath of fresh air," exclaimed National Mining Association spokesman John Grasser, with no intended irony, after he learned that J. Steven Griles had been nominated as the Department of the Interior's deputy secretary. Griles, who epitomizes the revolving door between government and industry, has alternated between getting rich working for industry and serving at high-level government posts, where he has devised industry-friendly policies to open public lands to drilling and mining.
On Dec. 6, 2001, under rhetorical pressure from Speaker Dennis Hastert ("Support our president, who is fighting a courageous war on terrorism.") and real pressure from the administration and corporate America, members of the House of Representatives passed a bill granting the president fast-track trade-promotion authority by a single vote: 215-to-214. The bill would not have passed without the unheralded defection of several centrist Democrats -- most prominently, Rep. Susan Davis (D-Calif.), who just the previous November had ousted the Republican incumbent in her San Diego district by virtue of a massive mobilization from labor.