Rep. Kristi Noem voted today to support the House's unconstitutional effort to violate the separation of powers and tell TransCanada it can build the Keystone XL pipeline without the approval of the President of the United States. Rep. Noem is on automatic pilot for Big Oil, so there's no news there.

Offering us something slightly more interesting is Rep. Justin Amash, the only Republican not to vote in favor of HR 5682. Rep. Amash didn't vote against HR 5682, either; he voted presentjust as he did in May. Rep. Amash says he supports Keystone XL, but he has issues with a bill that targeting a specific company. Hmm... the Constitution (Article 1, Section 9) prohibits bills of attainder, Congressional acts that single out a person or group for punishment without trial; so what do we call a bill that singles out a person or company for a special favor?

Our scholarly President could likely expound on that Constitutional point to justify a veto, but he's sticking with more practical matters. He seems a bit put off by the fact that, of all the useful legislation Congress could have taken up right away after the election, the House and Senate are concentrating on a piddly little bill that doesn't seem to do much good for anyone but a Canadian company and the Chinese:

In some of his strongest language yet, Obama pushed back against the Republican argument that the pipeline is a “massive jobs bill for the United States.”

“Understand what this project is: It is providing the ability of Canada to pump their oil, send it through our land, down to the Gulf, where it will be sold everywhere else. It doesn't have an impact on US gas prices,” he said, growing visibly frustrated.

“If my Republican friends really want to focus on what's good for the American people in terms of job creation and lower energy costs, we should be engaging in a conversation about what are we doing to produce even more homegrown energy? I'm happy to have that conversation,” he continued [Jim Avila, Chris Good, and Mary Bruce, "Obama Doubles Down on Immigration, Keystone Pipeline," ABC News, 2014.11.14].

Correction, Mr. President: Keystone XL does have an impact on U.S. gas prices. Keystone XL raises our gas prices.

Our own Senator John Thune helps peddle the lie about Keystone XL creating 42,000 jobs. (Come January, South Dakota will no longer have anyone in Congress capable of telling the truth.) No, the State Department report doesn't say that:

Over the course of up to two years of construction, the State Department estimates a total of 42,100 jobs "would be supported by construction of the proposed project." Some jobs are directly tied to the pipeline and construction. Other jobs are simply a nature of how spending $8 billion ripples out into the economy. And more than 99 percent are temporary.

...The State Department estimates that 26,100 indirect and induced jobs "would be supported by construction of the proposed project" during the construction phase. The jobs would be in providing the supply chain to Keystone as well as employee spending on lodging, food, entertainment, health care, etc.

The State Department calls these jobs "supported" and not created because it includes jobs that already exist [Katie Sanders, "Fox News Host: Keystone Pipeline Would Create 'Tens of Thousands of Jobs'," Politifact.com, 2014.11.13].

Keystone XL will create at most a couple thousand temporary jobs, most to be filled by out-of-state contractors who will follow the pipeline down the route, just as happened with Keystone 1 through eastern South Dakota. Any jobs Keystone XL creates will be swamped by the jobs it kills by raising energy costs.

Republicans keep lying about Keystone XL. The proper response to such lies is not the Democratic surrenderism of Senators Mary Landrieu and Michael Bennet; the proper response is to tell the truth (Senator Johnson! Swing harder!) and put the interest of the American people before the profits of a Canadian pipeline company.

52 comments

Country music singer Merle Haggard says that, contrary to popular conserva-blather, President Barack Obama is not arrogant or conceited.

Of course, President Obama could get a big head, considering all of his policy achievements. Joe Lowe and I have done what we can to point out the President's praiseworthy record. But let's hear from a Canadian who can't figure out why midterm voters would repudiate their President's party at a time when their President has the country humming along quite enviably:

...[C]orporate profits are at record highs, the country's adding 200,000 jobs per month, unemployment is below 6%, U.S. gross national product growth is the best of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries.

The dollar is at its strongest levels in years, the stock market is near record highs, gasoline prices are falling, there's no inflation, interest rates are the lowest in 30 years, U.S. oil imports are declining, U.S. oil production is rapidly increasing, the deficit is rapidly declining, and the wealthy are still making astonishing amounts of money.

America is leading the world once again and respected internationally — in sharp contrast to the Bush years. Obama brought soldiers home from Iraq and killed Osama bin Laden [Richard Brunt, letter to the editor, Detroit Free Press, 2014.11.10].

Brunt has received loads of responses since the publication of his letter, 99% of it positive. Brunt notes in a follow-up that Canada's own prime minister may be their most conservative ever but still out-liberals U.S. Democrats with his support for "universal health care at low cost to the public, heavily subsidized post-secondary education and gun control."

That's interesting, because America's Bruce Bartlett argues that President Obama is really a Republican:

...Obama has governed as a moderate conservative—essentially as what used to be called a liberal Republican before all such people disappeared from the GOP. He has been conservative to exactly the same degree that Richard Nixon basically governed as a moderate liberal, something no conservative would deny today [Bruce Bartlett, "Obama Is a Republican," The American Conservative, 2014.10.21].

RomneyCare, hawkish Hillary as SOS, stingy stimulus and deficit cutting, dogged war on drugs, well wishes to Wall Street... where is the liberal President that voters thought was on the midterm ballot last week?

22 comments

Joop Bollen is trying to distract the Government Operations and Audit Committee from his illegitimate contract with himself, his apparent mismanagement of Northern Beef Packers, and his multiple violations of state policy and law by claiming that reporters like Denise Ross and Bob Mercer have wrecked South Dakota's chances of making more money from the EB-5 visa investment program.

Joop Bollen appears to forget that Governor Dennis Daugaard yanked Bollen's contract and put EB-5 on ice before any journalists started digging into South Dakota's EB-5 program. Bollen's own narrative to GOAC suggests that many in the state wanted to back away from the "liabilities" of EB-5 (which were what, Joop, if everything was being run properly?) back in 2009; the program hung on only because Bollen, Richard Benda, and the Governor's Office wanted to keep that money train rolling. Bollen ignores the fact that South Dakota at his behest (and with Mike Rounds's support) gave up the key competitive advantage of public, state-run status for its EB-5 program, making it harder for us to stand out among the growing number of EB-5 Regional Centers.

Maybe Bollen should switch to blaming Obama. Monday, the President announced that the U.S. will offer new, longer visitor visas to Chinese citizens. Starting today (November 12), tourist and business visas for Chinese visitors jump from one year to ten years. Student and exchange visas stretch from one year to five years.

Keep in mind that one attraction of EB-5 visas has been for wealthy Chinese to buy their kids' way into the country so they can attend American universities. But EB-5 visas cost $500K in at-risk investment plus tens of thousands in fees for lawyers and middlemen like Joop Bollen. President Obama's visitor visas don't give permanent residency the way an EB-5 visa can, but five years on an extended visa for a $160 application fee might sound like a bargain to a lot of folks considering EB-5.

South Dakota reporters are not killing EB-5. South Dakota has lost its EB-5 edge due to decisions made by South Dakota's EB-5 czar and his collaborators in state government. The President's new visa deal with China may reduce EB-5 demand even further.

12 comments

Senator-Elect Mike Rounds lies on Meet the Press:

And so part of the message has got to be that the bureaucracy, which has taken over, or the vacuum, because Congress has been dysfunctional, has not been doing their job. You've got a bureaucracy which is growing. We've got to get that bureaucracy back under control again [Mike Rounds, interview with Chuck ToddMeet the Press, NBC-TV, 2014.11.09].

The federal bureaucracy, the black beast Mike Rounds is charging to Washington to kill, is not growing. It is shrinking:

Federal State Local Total
October 2013 2,732,000 5,057,000 14,065,000 21,854,000
October 2014 2,711,000 5,066,000 14,137,000 21,914,000
change -21,000 9,000 72,000 60,000

Over the last year, the federal government has cut 21,000 jobs. Over the last six years, after briefly adding 629,000 federal jobs as part of the stimulus effort to tow the economy out of the ditch, the Obama Administration has given all those jobs back and cut another 75,000 from the 2.786-million strong workforce it inherited from the Bush 2 Administration.

Fewer civilians work for Uncle Sam now than at any point under President Reagan or President Nixon.

The federal bureaucracy is not growing. Mike Rounds's list of lies is.

29 comments

In small potatoes, Pat Powers farmer-blows his nose on my analysis of the real reasons South Dakota Democrats lost this week and summarizes the Republican effort to brand Democrats in one telling sentence:

I had to chuckle this noon hour as Cory Heidelberger lifted his head from crying in his GMO free corn flakes to offer a sniveling retort to the reality of election 2014, known by Democrats as “Ragnarok” [Pat Powers, "Retort to My Analysis of the Races Forgets a Couple of Things," Dakota War College, 2014.11.07].

GMO-free corn flakes. The proper, immediate, and sufficient response to any comment about my diet is what's it to ya?

I'm going to run down this rabbit hole, because I think Pat makes an important point here about how South Dakota Republicans operate. For the record:

  1. Pat Powers has never had breakfast with me.
  2. I have not eaten corn flakes for months.
  3. Both of the cereals I ate yesterday came from Wal-mart.
  4. I ate a big cheeseburger and onion rings for supper yesterday.
  5. I have never checked any of my breakfasts, lunches, or suppers for GMO content.
  6. Whether one bothers to check one's food for GMOs is as much someone else's business as your choice of boxers, briefs, or commando.
  7. Whether one eschews GMOs tells us nothing about a person's ability to intelligently analyze and comment on South Dakota politics.

Without any evidence or basis in knowledge or fact, Republican Pat is ascribing to Democrat me a food-protest elitism that he and his ilk like to think of as effete and risible. Pat doesn't want you to look at what I'm actually saying about the issue at hand. He wants to hang a fabricated label on me, make it mean what he wants, and use that double falsehood to dismiss my arguments without reading them.

I hear an echo here of how certain opponents attack President Barack Obama by calling him a Muslim. Never mind that public facts demonstrate that President Obama is at least as Christian as anyone in South Dakota. Never mind that there's nothing inherently wrong with being Muslim. People who hate the President grab a label—Muslim—invest that label with a negative connotation, and then hang it on the President to dismiss him, contrary to fact, without looking at what the President really says and does religiously, not to mention politically.

Now zoom out to how South Dakota Republicans use Obama and liberal against South Dakota Democrats. Republicans, even those of often good conscience, hung the Obama label on Democrats (even Dems running for Legislature, where President Obama's policies are far less relevant) and told South Dakotans, "Don't vote for Obama!" GOP vilification of the President was so damning that Democrats themselves ran away from a President with a steady job restoration record and a big basket of other great policy achievements.

Likewise liberal. I can't even tell (and I'll bet most South Dakotans can't either) what liberal means in the contemporary political vernacular. Is it handing out government money? Is it increasing government control? Is it running a budget deficit? Is it simply passing new laws instead of sticking with the status quo? But the South Dakota Republicans who do all of those things plow forth unabashed, shouting Liberal! at South Dakota Democrats, who run for their lives from a word turned meaning-free insult.

Never mind what I eat. I'm a liberal. I believe in maximizing liberty for every citizen. I believe in using the power we have as a community to solve problems.

And I believe in using words to educate and enlighten citizens, not to insult others and avoid unpleasant truths.

72 comments

It's not just Mike Rounds who shouts "Obama!" to get votes. The South Dakota Republican Party is fanning anti-Obama sentiment in the District 16 Senate race to protect Senator Dan Lederman from strong Democratic challenger Ann Tornberg.

The desperate measure of trying to nationalize a state legislative contest may not be working. Tornberg is posting endorsements from registered Republicans:

Roark for Tornberg

Tony Roark, Republican, Jefferson City Council

I serve on the Jefferson City Council. I believe in local control and as far as possible, for those in Pierre to leave local decisions to local city officials. I was disappointed in Dan Lederman when he sponsored Senate Bill 75 which prevents local governments from regulating certain dog breeds like pit bulls. Jefferson and North Sioux City had local ordinances which banned certain dog breeds. What really bothered me was that when I spoke to Sen. Lederman, he said he wasn’t even aware that we had these laws in Jefferson. I’d like to think that my Senator would at least know what the local laws are in the communities he represents. I’m a registered Republican, and I’ll be supporting Ann Tornberg. I sincerely believe she’ll listen to us, and will advocate for local control.

—Tony Roark, Jefferson [Ann Tornberg for District 16 South Dakota State Senate, Facebook post, 2014.10.30]

Unlike Pat Powers, when I use the plural in my headlines, I mean it. Here's Republican for Tornberg #2:

Melstad for Tornberg

Dennis Melstad, Republican, Dakota Dunes

I look at the candidate and vote for who I believe will be best for District 16 and South Dakota. I will vote for Ann Tornberg for the District 16 Senate race.

—Dennis Melstad, Dakota Dunes, Registered Republican [Ann Tornberg for District 16 South Dakota State Senate, Facebook post, 2014.10.27]

Tornberg draws an endorsement from another of Lederman's Dakota Dunes neighbors:

After talking to Ann several times during the 2013 Legislative Session as a legislative assistant and many times during this campaign season as she travels the District, I'm thoroughly convinced she has an in-depth understanding of the issues facing our District and the State. She approaches all issues the same way - from understanding the facts and fundamentals of an issue to reaching out to those affected by it - she is methodical in her approach. I look forward to working with her in the future.

—Jeff Dooley, Dakota Dunes Resident [Ann Tornberg for District 16 South Dakota State Senate, Facebook post, 2014.10.28]

While the SDGOP and Lederman fret about our President, Lederman's neighbors, Republicans included, are voting more on the candidates' engagement in District 16 and their knowledge of local District 16 issues. "Blame Obama!" has its limits, and Dan Lederman may be about to bump into those limits against Ann Tornberg.

13 comments

The Tea Party Express has endorsed Mike Rounds as a real conservative who can "get out-of-control spending under control."

HA HA HA ha ha ha ha ha haHA HA HA ha ha ha ha!

O.K. Fine. Rounds is Tea Party. Black is white. War is peace.

Too bad for Mike and his Tea Party pals that the deficit is falling like a rock...

The final numbers for 2014 announced yesterday by the U.S. Treasury show the federal deficit for the fiscal year that just ended did indeed fall as precipitously as I previously reported. As the report shows, the actual 2014 deficit was $483 billion, $3 billion less than what the Congressional Budget Office estimated a week ago.

For the record, $483 billion is $197 billion below the almost $680 billion deficit recorded in 2013. It’s also $930 billion, that is, close to $1 trillion, less than the largely recession-caused $1.4 trillion deficit in 2009. (Attention trolls: the Congressional Budget Office projected in early 2009, that is, before the start of the Obama administration, that, because of the recession, the deficit that year would be $1.2 trillion.)

In dollar terms, 2014 was the lowest federal deficit since 2008. And in the category most important to economists – the deficit as a percent of Gross Domestic Product – the 2014 deficit was 2.8 percent of GDP, the smallest since 2007 [Stan Collender, "Stop and Smell the Roses: Final 2014 Federal Deficit Fell... Big Time," Forbes, 2014.10.16].

...thanks to Obamanomics:

"The President's balanced approach to deficit reduction has made our tax code more fair, reduced spending and made critical investments to help drive U.S. competitiveness and growth," said Treasury Secretary Lew. "The President's policies and a strengthening U.S. economy have resulted in a reduction of the U.S. budget deficit of approximately two-thirds – the fastest sustained deficit reduction since World War II" [U.S. Treasury, press release, 2014.10.15].

President Bush's Tea-flavored voodoo economics brought us to the brink of economic destruction. President Obama has pulled as back to "fiscal normalcy."

And all the Rounds campaign can do now is toss some wet Tea bags that taste like sour grapes and hypocrisy.

80 comments

The majority of South Dakotans don't want Mike Rounds to be their Senator. His failing campaign remains alive only because South Dakotans even more passionately don't want Barack Obama to be their President. Remind voters that Larry Pressler voted for Obama twice, and his hypothetical head-to-head advantage over Rick Weiland against Rounds would disappear.

It's probably a fool's errand to try reversing that deep-seated antipathy for our President in four weeks. But if voters want to honestly assess the impact of President Obama's policies and the wisdom of sending Mike Rounds to join a Republican majority that would obstruct the President, consider:

Mayday PAC and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee won't spend their money telling South Dakotans how awesome Barack Obama is. They'll focus on selling Weiland's awesomeness and Rounds's awfulness. But if you find a voter who's open to the conversation, remind them that voting for Rounds to check President Obama's policies is counterproductive.

5 comments

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