Further demonstrating what passes for a Congresswoman in South Dakota, Rep. Kristi Noem tells Fox News that she supports Texas Governor Rick Perry's plan to send National Guard troops to the U.S.–Mexico border to... hmm... to do what, again?

See we need more than a thousand border troops down there, plus they're limited to what they can do on federal lands, so we have some proposals going into house that would give us more access to that. Get more troops, and more border patrol agents down there that would really help the situation [Rep. Kristi Noem, quoted in "Noem Supports Guardsmen at Border," KBHB Radio News, 2014.07.23].

Wait: the National Guard is limited in what it can do—i.e., it cannot make arrests (and conservatives should not want the military running around he country making arrests)—so Rep. Noem wants to send even more troops to stand around and watch children swimming the Rio Grande and staggering through the scrub to escape crime and violence in their homelands?

Noem says while actions of the Texas national guard may be limited, it does send a message.

"These countries have realized that if they send their children to the United States, we'll interview them, take care of them, feed them. We'll even deploy them all across the country and re-establish them with families across the United States. 72% of these children never leave our country. They get a free pass into the United States of America, and they're doing it illegally, so these parents in Central America recognize here if they can get them here and get them through this process. They have to recognize that we have rules, and we want people to do this legally" [Noem via KBHB, 2014.07.23].

Yeah, mobilize soldiers with guns to send scared, hungry children a message. That'll fix 'em.

Actually, the National Guard mobilization Rep. Noem wants to expand won't fix anything, say local Texas officials.

The National Guard will not be making arrests and will instead observe the border and notify law enforcement of any undocumented immigrants, which doesn't make sense to many officials at the border.

“I don’t know what good they can do,” Cameron County Sheriff Omar Lucio told the Dallas Morning News, referring to the National Guard. “You just can’t come out here and be a police officer.”

Lucio said that hiring additional police officers at the border would make more sense.

"The National Guard is trained in warfare. They're not trained in law enforcement. This is not a war. This is people asking for help," Lucio told the Houston Chronicle [Caitlin MacNeal, "All the Border Authorities Who Think Perry's Plan Doesn't Make Sense," Talking Points Memo, 2014.07.22].

Presidents Bush and Obama have sent Guards to the border before, to no apparent avail:

Starr County Judge Eloy Vera told the Chronicle that sending the National Guard to the border didn't help in 2006 and 2010, so it won't do any good now. Vera suggested that the surge of police presence at the border isn't even helping that much.

"Those DPS people that are down here," he said. "There's one every mile, or every half a mile. And then every once in a while you'll see a cluster or three or four of them chatting. They are doing absolutely nothing" [MacNeal, 2014.07.22].

Even President Bush's National Guard chief can't figure out what good a border-troop surge will do:

“Until mission requirements are clearly defined, it can’t be determined whether this is an appropriate use of the Guard in this particular case,” H. Steven Blum, who was the Chief of the National Guard Bureau from 2003 to 2009 and has been a career military man for decades, told me. “There may be many other organizations that might more appropriately be called upon. If you’re talking about search and rescue, maintaining the rule of law or restoring conditions back to normal after a natural disaster or a catastrophe, the Guard is superbly suited to that. I’m not so sure that what we’re dealing with in scope and causation right now would make it the ideal choice” [Greg Sargent, "Sending in the National Guard Isn't the Answer," Washington Post: Plum Line, 2014.07.15].

So we have a Republican Texas Governor seeking redemption and a Republican South Dakota Congresswoman seeking more Fox News time eager to spend more money on a plan that local officials dealing directly with the immigration problem and a former Guard chief say won't do any good. Soldiers are a response rooted in fear, not compassion. Governor Perry and Congresswoman Noem favor a policy that does little but play to "un-biblical and inhumane" impulses among their constituents.

With their common commitment to posturing over problem-solving, Perry and Noem might make the perfect GOP running mates for 2016, representing everything—ineffective, inhumane, but good-looking—that the GOP wants to be.

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While Mike Rounds fantasizes that the Albertan tar sands oil that Keystone XL would ship to the Gulf of Mexico for export to China somehow secures American energy independence, and while pols and hustlers insist that maybe South Dakota can stick a straw in West River and suck some Bakken oil our way, the Union of Concerned Scientists notes that South Dakota has the resources to cash in on a real, renewable domestic source of energy growing and plopping right in our backyards... or the back forty.

UCS-Top 10 States for Crop Residue Manure Bioenergy 2030

According to a new UCS analysis, by 2030, South Dakota can sustainably produce the ninth-most biomass—crop residues and manure—for renewable energy production. (Add Mike Rounds's speeches on coal and oil, and we boost our rank to seventh.) We're not talking about turning more food into fuel; we can squeeze energy from all that stuff we and the cows leave in the fields without burning one more bean or kernel of corn.

UCS crop residue manure by county 2030

(click to enlarge!)

Why would we want to convert cornstalks and cowpies into energy?

Clean, renewable energy resources for transportation and electricity are an im- portant part of the solution to the climate, economic, environmental, and security challenges posed by our fossil fuel use. Bioenergy—the use of biomass, including plant materials and manure, to produce renewable fuels for transportation and to generate electricity—can provide a sustainable, low-carbon alternative to fossil fuels while enabling communities to benefit from local resources. Bioenergy is one of several elements of a comprehensive climate strategy that can cut projected U.S. oil use in half by 2030, and help put the nation on track to phase out the use of coal in producing electricity [Union of Concerned Scientists, "Turning Agricultural Residues and Manure into Bioenergy," July 2014].

Oh, those darned scientists, trying to get us to use less of a polluting fuel source that will run out. Don't they know that all this talk of conservation and renewability messes up the business model for Mike Rounds's favorite industries?

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Never mind that RNC robocall; Team Rounds thinks they have the Senate race in the bag. Why else would they leak numbers to Roll Call showing that Pressler is sapping Weiland's Democratic support?

According to a Rounds campaign memo obtained by Roll Call, a mid-June internal poll of 500 likely voters found Pressler’s supporters were more than twice as likely to be Democrats as Republicans, 48 percent to 22 percent. Also in the survey, a hypothetical head-to-head race showed Rounds with 49 percent, Weiland with 24 percent and Pressler with 15 percent [Colin Diersing, "Quirky Ex-Senator Dashes Democrats' Hopes in South Dakota," Roll Call: At the Races, 2014.07.24].

Those campaign memos don't just leap off desks all by themselves.

Dick Wadhams, newly ensconced at SDGOP HQ instead of Rounds HQ, underscores the GOP's hopeful narrative:

Pressler “is a respected former senator … who’s trying to run on issues the Democratic candidate is running on,” said Dick Wadhams, a senior adviser to South Dakota Republicans, in an interview with CQ Roll Call [Diersing, 2014.07.24].

For maximum ridiculing effect, Wadhams should have gotten Diersing to write that Weiland is dashing Pressler's hopes.

Diersing lists Pressler's endorsements of Barack Obama and his positions on the Affordable Care Act, gay marriage, estate taxes, and immigration as part of Pressler's Democratic appeal. Add his play for Indian votes, and you have a reasonable case for Pressler appealing more to voters who would otherwise pick Democrat Weiland over conservative Rounds and worse conservative Gordon Howie. But just last March, another Roll Call writer (also calling Pressler "quirky") said Pressler could wield just as much wonder for conservative voters.

So let's dip that stick in the blogospheric oilpan to see if we can find some data to align with what Mike Rounds wants us to believe. I know you readers aren't all Democrats, but I know we have a larger than normal concentration of progressive/liberal/socialist thinkers here. Who's your pick for South Dakota's Senate seat this year? Is Weiland singing your love song? Is Pressler setting your quirky heartstrings a-quiver? Do you prefer Rounds's reedy paeans to big business and French women? Or is God calling you to hasten the apocalypse and send Gordon Howie to Washington? Vote now in the poll in the near-right sidebar, and let's see how Pressler's doing!

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Corinna Robinson is working to reverse that downward Q2 fundraising trend. The Democratic candidate for House is speaking at a fundraiser tomorrow (Friday) evening at the Rapid City home of Dr. Nancy Babbitt and Steve Babbitt. Team Robinson staffer Valerie Parker tells me all interested parties are invited. The campaign tweets the where and when:

  • When: Friday, July 25, 5:00 – 7:00 p.m.
  • Where: 1121 Settlers Creek Place, Rapid City, SD 57701

Dr. Babbitt and Team Robinson would like a heads-up on how many people are coming, so please RSVP to campaign staffer Adam Schantz at aschantz@corinnaforsd.com.

offers this statement from Dr. Babbitt explaining her support for Robinson:

“I’ve become a big believer in who represents us in Washington has a major impact on how physicians get to deliver healthcare," Dr. Babbitt said. "And as someone who is frequently called upon to give input on healthcare reform issues, healthcare legislation, and questions of how we provide quality, affordable healthcare for South Dakota seniors, children, veterans etc., I've found Corinna Robinson to be an open- minded, common-sense voice on this issue. We're excited about the event and we're honored to host it" [Robinson campaign, press release, 2014.07.23].

Dr. Babbitt has publicly challenged Senate candidate Mike Rounds's false scare tactics and Governor Dennis Daugaard's detachment from reality on the Affordable Care Act. Now let's see if she can help Robinson set Kristi Noem's bad record on health care reform straight.

 

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Independent candidate for U.S. Senate Larry Pressler continues to work the Indian vote. He announced Wednesday afternoon that he has accepted an invitation from Native Sun News and United Tribes Technical College to debate at the UTTC campus in Rapid City on September 12. "I commend the Native Sun News and the United Tribes Technical College in sponsoring this debate," says Pressler, "and I hope they will set an example for many more across South Dakota.”

If the other Senate candidates accept, we could realize a hope that we discussed here in the blogosphere this spring, when Oglala Lakota College hosted a lively candidate forum in Kyle. That Pine Ridge debate, covered most avidly by Mr. Santema (see his additional posts on the OLC forum here, here, and here) was the only statewide candidate forum held on an Indian reservation during the primary season. (Does anyone know of any past statewide candidate debates held on a South Dakota reservation?) The UTTC debate isn't on the reservation, but Native Sun News and UTTC would surely focus that debate on Indian issues in a way that KELO and SDPB likely will not.

Neither Pressler nor his general election opponents attended the  OLC forum; let us hope Rick Weiland, Gordon Howie, and Mike Rounds all join Pressler in making up for their absence last spring by attending the UTTC debate.

Pressler's quick acceptance of the UTTC invitation aligns with plays he's made for the Indian vote from the beginning of his candidacy. Just last week, Pressler promised immediate action if elected to fund an indigenous holocaust museum at Wounded Knee. And in addition to his UTTC debate announcement, Pressler said Wednesday that he wants to work with the tribes to bring President Obama to South Dakota to discuss tribal issues. Pressler says he will talk with tribal leaders about working together to get the President to come to South Dakota for his first visit as President. President Obama paid our Indian neighbors on the North Dakota side of the Standing Rock Reservation in June.

Pressler has already invited President Obama to come to South Dakota to discuss health care reform. Pressler suggested that meeting take place in Humboldt, so it appears Pressler is advocating two Presidential visits to South Dakota.

Wait a minute: shouldn't Rick Weiland be the one angling to get President Obama here during the campaign? Or is Pressler's Obama press really an offshoot of the deep anti-Washington strategy: just as Weiland may benefit from the apparent distance between himself and Majority Leader Harry Reid, maybe Pressler is secretly helping Weiland by playing drawing all of South Dakota's anti-Obama ire to himself. Brilliant!

Nutty conspiracies aside, Pressler is making two positive gestures toward Indian voters. Democrat Rick Weiland should make sure his team keeps up and doesn't take that Indian vote for granted.

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Brookings city councilman Tom Bezdichek would like to ban single-use plastic shopping bags. Pat Powers screams "Nanny state! Nanny state!"

Seattle, San Francisco, and D.C. have banned plastic shopping bags. Chicago is implementing a partial plastic-bag ban. New York City may require customers to pay a dime for their convenience. Stores all over Europe expect you to bring your own bag. This isn't nanny-statism; it's recognizing that free bags easily become litter and trying to deal with that public problem.

We can debate the extent to which plastic shopping bags pollute the environment. (Alas, much of that debate is fueled by crony-corporate mouthpieces hitching their profit wagons to that one word from Mr. McGuire in The Graduate.) What bugs me is the crux of Powers's bitter attack on his neighbor as an enemy of sainted capitalists:

Let me restate this – So, Tom Bezdichek is going to go on the attack against the job creators & providers in this town. He is going to go on the attack against the lion’s share of the sales tax generated in this community, because in his dippy liberal world, he doesn’t like people who litter? [Pat Powers, "Welcome Back To The Nanny State. Brookings City Councilor Plans Attack On Retailers Using Plastic Bags," Dakota War College, 2014.07.23].

Pat's argument appears to boil down to the infallibility of businesspeople. The popular job-creator mythos attempts to paper over the fact that job creators, just like job doers, and moms, and kids, and retirees, make decisions that have consequences. They all—we all—have a responsibility to make sure our choices don't harm others. Sometimes we make choices that look as if they don't cost us much but end up imposing costs on others. And sometimes when the short-term financial incentive of such choices clouds certain actors' ability to see the long-term, large-scale costs, community regulation can and should trump certain selfish decisions... even the decisions of those whom the GOP thinks are hot stuff.

Bexdichek isn't attacking job creators or anyone else. Bezdichek is trying to solve a problem and improve his community. We can hope Brookings shows the wisdom to ignore Pat Powers's one-note squawking and instead engages all interested citizens in an intelligent discussion about the harms and merits of plastic shopping bags.

28 comments

The latest Madville Times poll finds more trouble for Chad Haber's unlikely campaign for attorney general. I asked you all Monday, "If no one else runs, whom should the SD Libertarian Party nominate for attorney general?" More than three times as many readers urge the Libertarians to leave the spot blank than to fill it with Haber. Seven times as many say the anti-government Libertarians would do better to nominate a liberal blogger than to pick the chronically unemployed and degree-less husband of debt-ridden, faux-conservative, failed Senate candidate Annette Bosworth.

The final tally:

Question: If no one else runs, whom should the SD Libertarian Party nominate for attorney general?

  • Cory Heidelberger: 61% (71 votes)
  • no one: 30% (35 votes)
  • Chad Haber: 9% (10 votes)

[voting conducted Monday, July 21, 11:54 CDT to Wednesday, July 23, 06:56 CDT]

I will happily defer to no one... or an actual lawyer... or a registered Libertarian with an honest desire to serve the public rather than conduct a delusional vendetta to prevent his wife from facing justice for her crimes.

But Libertarians, if you need me, let me know ahead of time so I can change my voting registration before your August 9 convention.

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My friends at PowertechExposed.com are going to have to change their name. Hong Kong-based but British Virgin Islands-incorporated Azarga Resources is finalizing its takeover of the Canadian Powertech, the company that wants conduct in-situ leach mining for uranium in the southern Black Hills. Powertech will take on the new name Azarga Uranium Corp.

Technically, Powertech is acquiring Azarga. However, as Mark Watson and Adam Hurlburt reported on July 3, the deal looks much more like Azarga taking over Powertech. The structure of the deal is the typical dizzying shuffle of shares, debt, and tricky tax games. Jim Woodward reports that on June 30, Powertech shareholders voted to dilute their own ownership by issuing a big gob of new stocks that will make Australian businessmen Alex Molyneux and Curtis Church, and Singaporean investment firms Blumont Group Ltd. and Pacific Advisers Pte Ltd. the controlling shareholders. Molyneux is a key advisor to Blumont, which owns another British Virgin Islands company called Powerlite Ventures Limited, which holds the note on a loan of up to $26 million to Azarga, which debt Powertech/AUC now takes over via share conversion, which could make Powerlite/Blumont the majority stakeholder...

...which is all more than you may need to know if all you're worried about is stopping Powertech, Azarga, or anyone else from wrecking the Black Hills water supply, but which Powertech's shareholders and Canadian securities regulators might have wanted to know sooner:

When added to the 41 million Powertech/AUC shares already owned by Powerlite following the closing, Powerlite/Blumont could end up with a controlling stake of 51.7%. This possibility was not fully disclosed by Powertech in its May 13 meeting notice and information circular filed with Canadian securities regulators. This document is the primary source of information on the proposed transaction, and it is not clear why this potential change of control was not adequately disclosed [Jim Woodward, "Powertech Shareholders Approve Reverse Takeover by Australian and Singaporean Investors," PowertechExposed.com, 2014.07.20].

Powertech left out other information:

The Powertech information circular also does not discuss a current wide-ranging and unprecedented investigation of Blumont by Singapore’s white-collar police unit and central bank following a 95% drop in Blumont’s stock price in October 2013. Singapore police have requested three and a half years’ of corporate electronic data from the firm, as well as data storage devices belonging to Executive Director James Hong and Executive Chairman Neo Kim Hock in their probe of possible breaches of the Singapore Securities and Futures Act.

Also missing from the Powertech filing is any mention of Alex Molyneux’s role as a consultant and key advisor to Blumont’s board of directors, or his 2013 agreement, rescinded in April, to purchase 135 million shares of Blumont and become its Chairman [Woodward, 2014.07.20].

Rapid City businessman John Tsitrian has raised questions about Powertech/Azarga's exaggerations and omissions in statements to investors and securities regulators. This month's high-financial action makes Tsitrian all the more suspicious of this shaky deal and the shady characters casting their beady eyes on the Black Hills.

Perhaps the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, which takes public comment on the Powertech mining permit request August 18 in Hot Springs and holds an evidentiary hearing August 19–21 in Rapid City, should also be suspicious. Neither Powertech nor Azarga has ever received a permit to mine uranium. Molyneux is promoting a different mining technology called ablation. Adam Hurlburt raised the question last November of whether this change in ownership warrants a restart of the entire regulatory process:

It seems there’s a very real possibility the entity that drafted and submitted lengthy environmental reports, technical reports, economic impact reports, permit applications and more to the South Dakota Department of Environment and Natural Resources, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission; the same entity that signed agreements with numerous private South Dakota landowners; the same entity that conducted several years of extensive research into the economic viability and safety of a proposed 17,800 acre in situ recovery mine set to pull roughly 8.4 million pounds of uranium out of the southern Black Hills over a nine year period; the same entity that’s assured the state of South Dakota and its citizens that it can do this successfully without adverse affects on the environment and its inhabitants may not be the same entity that actually does the mining, should all these permits be granted [Adam Hurlburt, "Who Are We Permitting?" Black Hills Pioneer, 2013.11.05].

Powertech assures us that the new owners will be bound by the same conditions set for Powertech by any previous permits. Woodward reports that a source says NRC staff aren't going to fret over the change in Powertech/Azarga control, even though no one at Azarga has experience with in-situ leach uranium mining.

Azarga appears not to know the specific mining activity for which it's seeking a permit, and its new property Powertech isn't doing a good job of informing investors and regulators of what's coming down the corporate pike. Those are two good reasons to be suspicious of the uranium mining these schemers are trying to bring to the Black Hills.

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MVT Poll: US Senate

U.S. Senate - July 2014
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