Tuesday, June 05, 2007


Washington D.C.--Unlike the barrage of coverage we got from the burst blood-vessel of Democratic Senator Tim Johnson (D-Sd.), there is no television coverage on CNN as I write this. Unlike the coverage with Johnson where we were treated to constant coverage about every tiny detail, this one has the sound of crickets--so much for "liberal media bias," it's back in the cupboard with the Easter Bunny and Santa. What's worse is that the Republicans somehow have finagled a deal where they get to choose the three replacement candidates.

Thomas died with his family at his side in the National Naval Medical Centre in Bethesda, Maryland, where he was undergoing a second round of chemotherapy for the disease, a form of blood cancer, the report said. His death could set up a succession battle as his replacement will be appointed by the Wyoming state governor, a Democrat. Governor Dave Freudenthal will choose from three candidates selected by the state's Republican Party. (Deutsche Press-Agentur, 06.05.2007)

This writer is registered as a voter with the Democratic Party, but has very little sympathy for them. The difference is that the DNC is responsive to the public's will and pressures, while the GOP is not. Calling someone like Craig Thomas a "conservative" is like calling Hillary Clinton a "liberal," labels that have no real basis in reality. The hush-hush surrounding this is incredible and one-sided, violently underscoring the control of the right-wing over media ownership in the United States.

Will a succession battle occur? Are you kidding? The GOP in Wyoming will get their way, and they aren't even the majority party. Where is the media? They've been told--ordered--to stand-down on this story and the fact that it should be extremely salient in the headlines. We're seeing it on the internet, but that appears to be about it. Certainly, there will be some belated coverage for...coverage ("look, we covered it."). Instead of hearing, seeing, and reading of a razor-thin margin being contested, we get nothing, but it's a gamble: editors and ownership are showing us the structures of control.

What's so important that it was worth risking this? Control of the Senate, of course, the GOP and RNC don't want that contentious succession battle--it's easier when the public doesn't know the stakes or even that the situation is occurring. This is perception management. Reuters and AFP were over-assertive about the outcome, so we have to all wonder if the fix is in:

Thomas's death would not alter the balance of power in the Democrat-led U.S. Senate. Wyoming Gov. Dave Freudenthal is a Democrat and would likely appoint a Democrat to fill the remainder of Thomas's term. Another U.S. senator, Democrat Tim Johnson of South Dakota, has been recuperating since undergoing emergency brain surgery last December. (06.05.2007)

That was kind of them to mention Senator Johnson again, they've shown such compassion and even-handedness. It would behoove all Democrats--not exactly my allies since my politics are closer to European Socialism--to fight over the succession in a very ugly way, and to make the points this writer has in excruciating detail. A little tit-for-tat is appropriate here.

As I write this, I. "Scooter" Libby has been sentenced to 30-months in federal prison, and a $250,000 fine--he can be expected to appeal. This is one story that the mainstream media cannot sweep under the rug, but they're doing their best to bury the glaring-hypocricy of their non-coverage of the death of a standing GOP senator, one Craig Thomas. However, we're getting a lot of coverage about Louisiana congressman William Jefferson! It's 90% likely--bringing new meaning to the term "cold cash"--that he's guilty, but shouldn't the coverage of Thomas's death be at least equal? Closer? The New York Times is the original source of the contention that:

Under Wyoming’s election laws, the state Republican Party will nominate three people to be his successor. The final choice will be made by the state’s governor, David Freudenthal, a Democrat.
Because the seat will remain in Republican control, the balance of power in the Senate will not shift, a prospect that shook up Capitol Hill when Senator Tim Johnson, a South Dakota Democrat, had a brain hemorrhage on Dec. 13.
(New York Times, 06.05.2007)

This is accurate, and due to language in the 17th amendment of the Constitution of the United States.

When vacancies happen in the representation of any state in the Senate, the executive authority of such state shall issue writs of election to fill such vacancies: Provided, that the legislature of any state may empower the executive thereof to make temporary appointments until the people fill the vacancies by election as the legislature may direct. (law.cornell.edu)

Yet, there is a lot of room for interpretation here--elections are an option, and considering that the state of Wyoming elected a Democrat as governor, it's a possibility if David Freudenthal calls a vote in their legislature that There is a little-known section of 22-18-111 ("Vacancies in other offices; temporary appointments"). The governor of Wyoming can choose someone unaffiliated with the Democratic or Republican parties with just 100 signatures of registered voters.

Qualified persons who do not belong to a party may, within fifteen (15) days after publication of the vacancy in office, submit a petition signed by one hundred (100) registered voters, seeking consideration for appointment to the office. Within five (5) days after receiving the names of qualified persons, the governor shall fill the vacancy by temporary appointment to the office, from the names submitted or from those petitioning for appointment; (legisweb.state.wy.us/)

And so you can see--Wyoming Governor David Freudenthal doesn't have to choose the candidates the Wyoming GOP chooses--there is a lot of smoke-and-mirrors in how this story is being framed and reported.

Reuters bloviating on a dead bloviator: http://www.reuters.com/article/politicsNews/idUSN0419795120070605?src=060507_0909_DOUBLEFEATURE_

DPA Today: http://news.monstersandcritics.com/usa/news/article_1313431.php/Republican_senator_dies

The New York Times, doing the horned-one's work: http://www.nytimes.com/2007/06/05/washington/05thomas.html?_r=1&adxnnl=1&oref=slogin&adxnnlx=1181059202-2bDsoj8ENyJEF0yDmODxFQ

"House and Senate Vacancies: How Are They Filled?": http://www.senate.gov/artandhistory/history/resources/pdf/Vacancies.pdf

The 17th amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America: http://www.law.cornell.edu/constitution/constitution.amendmentxvii.html

Wyoming's Election Laws (page halfway down): http://legisweb.state.wy.us/statutes/statutes.aspx?file=titles/Title22/Title22.htm