Reading Brian C. Liss's "Suggestions for Conservative Activists" inspires to compose my own list... actually, just one suggestion for conservative activists: Don't listen to Brian C. Liss.

The retiring one-term Republican legislator from Sioux Falls gets airtime on Gordon Howie's Potemkin blogroll to offer what he calls "A Strategic Framework for Conservative Activists." But trust me: Liss offers no strategic framework. Liss offers the fantasies of a junior gamer thinking he is the next Alexander because he beat Caesar by building ironclads and forming an alliance with the Zulus in Civilization.

But let's survey the madness, in Liss's own words:

Our country's liberty and morality are deliberately being destroyed from within by Marxists and their "useful idiot" allies. If you are unfamiliar with Marxism, suffice it to say that in the souls of many there burns an infinite desire to order others about, and to punish those who do not comply. Add a veneer of compassion to this insanity and we call it liberalism or leftism or progressivism. This liberalism dominates the Democrats and has infiltrated the Republicans [Brian C. Liss, "Suggestions for Conservative Activists," The Right Side, 2012.07.31].

Infiltrated the Republicans... I guess that explains the anti-abortion legislation by which the SDGOP orders doctors and women about and punishes those who do not comply, all under the veneer of compassion.

I want to simply laugh at Liss, but his fascist paranoia becomes downright scary in his recommendation to "Remove Leftists from Positions of Power and Influence":

They have infiltrated our churches, schools, universities, governments, media outlets, and many influential professions. Practically any organization of significant size or influence that has not been specifically founded to be conservative will be targeted for takeover by leftists. Identify them and remove them [Liss, 2012.07.31].

Let's get clear on a couple things. I am a leftist. I have not infiltrated anything. I have worked in various public schools around South Dakota at the request of their duly elected local school boards. If there is a "targeted takeover," I haven't gotten the memo.

That's the stupid part. The scary part is the last two words: remove them. What kind of witch hunt is Liss after? I can see how conservative activists can remove leftists from elected government positions (run against them! vote them out!), but how is the typical activist supposed to remove people of political persuasions they don't like from their professions? Is Liss asking my conservative neighbors in Spearfish to lobby the school board to fire me without cause? Is he asking Brookings activists to conduct sit-ins at SDSU to prevent liberal professors from entering their classrooms? Is he urging his Sioux Falls neighbors to kidnap David Montgomery and keep him out of print? Is he urging right-wingnuts with employees to go Chick-Fil-A and fire all Democrats?

Brian C. Liss, Heinrich Himmler

Brian C. Liss, Heinrich Himmler... why am I hearing echoes?

Brian C. Liss seems to be calling for a political purge of education, media, government, and other professions to be listed at his whim later. That's not a strategic framework for activism; that's a pitch for a putsch.

If Liss's framework has any legs, he must not have used it in the Legislature, where he never got a bill past committee. He must not have used it in his referendum petition drive, which failed. He says he plans to use his framework to push a ballot measure "making it illegal for South Dakota's governments to deduct union dues from government workers' paychecks." He fails to recognize that federal and state law already protect paychecks from such predations.

Liss is a frustrated bumbler with delusions of grandeur. But Hitler and Himmler looked like flaccid bumblers as well before they really got going with their purge of scheming infiltrator scapegoats from the professional ranks.

I would dismiss Liss entirely. No one is going to take seriously a politician who says South Dakota's biggest political priority is the extermination of Marxist infiltrators... right? Right?

Paranoia and political scapegoating are diseases. As long as even a few fringe-oids like Liss sneeze their scare-tactics into the public air, we must continue neutralize their sickness with sunlight and scorn.


Update 11:31 CDT: SDEA says they just handed Secretary Gant 30,000 signatures!

* * *
Members of the South Dakota Education Association are delivering their HB 1234 referendum petitions to Pierre today with great Twitter fanfare. SDEA clearly feels good about their signature count:

SDEA HB 1234 Petition Stack 20120618

How many sheets of paper do you see in SDEA's HB 1234 petition stack? (photo from SDEA, 2012.06.18)

However many sheets are in those stacks, they are more than the disappointing pile Rep. Brian C. Liss has on his table... or in his trashbin. On Saturday, Rep. Brian C. Liss called off his petition drive to refer HB 1133, the Legislative planning committee bill. In a mildly amusing hearkening to the euphemism of failed Presidential candidates, Rep. Brian C. Liss told Facebook followers that he was "suspending" his push to place HB 1133 on the November ballot.

Sigh... and I sigh having declared that Rep. Brian C. Liss had good reason to fight HB 1133. Can we all just use words correctly? Pretty much every relevant definition of suspend includes some sense of a limited time frame, a temporary pause, with the idea of resuming action later. It's just silly to say you're suspending a petition campaign two days before the filing deadline. You say you are ending the campaign. You say you are quitting. You say you are done.

There seemed little doubt on either front, but Rep. Brian C. Liss's declaration of defeat and SDEA's trumpeted tour to Pierre suggest we have one more line on our ballot, Referred Law 16, which will join Referred Law 14 in what Bob Mercer accurately calls "a referendum on the first half of the Daugaard administration." Game on!

Update 10:49 CDT: This just in from blogospheric colleague The Displaced Plainsman: merit pay still doesn't work!


Rep. Gene Abdallah (R-6/Sioux Falls) is catching all sorts of heck from wingnuts around the state. David Astin pink-slimed Abdallah with a misrepresentation of his 2006 vote against a state-mandated abstinence education bill. Now departing rookie legislator Brian Liss (R-13/Sioux Falls) attacks his colleague for missing votes:

Liss, a Republican, compiled the voting records of legislative members. To control for sicknesses or other reasons for missing votes, Liss analyzed only days in which a lawmaker made a vote and then missed others.

His analysis showed that Abdallah missed 36 percent of the floor votes, a number that Otten has cited in a flier. Sometimes, Liss said, absences are legitimate.

"Other times, they're just off smoking cigarettes or doing something at the Capitol but not their job," he said [Jonathan Ellis, "GOP Races Pivot on Swing to Right," that Sioux Falls paper, 2012.05.28].

Doing your job 64% of the time? Well, that still beats Kristi Noem's committee participation record.

Not one to mince words, Abdallah lets Liss have it:

Abdallah dismissed Liss as a "totally ineffective" lawmaker who could have been absent for 100 percent of the votes and not been missed.

"If I missed any votes, they were votes that were insignificant, in my opinion, such as the state flag, the state dessert, the state song, or whatever," Abdallah said [Ellis, 2012.05.28].

The first retort approaches Churchillian wit. But the latter defies reality. There is no if: Rep. Abdallah frequently steps out before roll call. And insignificant? Rep. Abdallah skipped perhaps the most significant vote of the session, the final House vote on HB 1234, the Governor's flagship education reform bill. Abdallah was present that day, February 29, to cast votes on measures to say nice things about Taiwan, fiddle with municipal home-rule, stop sex offenders from circulating petitions, set deadlines for transferring school districts, and revise court record search fees. He skipped votes that day on a child custody bill, Rep. Susy Blake's really good food assistance bill, and two votes on HB 1234 amendments in addition to the narrow final vote. Ten votes, five "excused": 50% absence rate... and every one of those five missed votes was less trivial than the state dessert or Taiwan's observer status in the International Civil Aviation Organization.

Abdallah proceeds to meander off into accusing his GOP primary opponent Ernie Otten of having "no record, no program, or no issue" and resorting to "age-old path of going negative and using Chicago-style gutter politics to attack me with innuendo and lies."

David Astin's pink-slime flyers are indeed innuendo and lies. But Brian Liss and I aren't from Chicago. A count of Gene Abdallah's absences from House votes isn't gutter politics. It's only negative to the extent that Rep. Abdallah makes it negative by not showing up to do the people's work.


O.K., I admit: Gordon Howie is full of crap, but his little Potemkin village media empire is providing us all with some good material. His posting of States Attorney candidate Mark Vargo's video provides a useful introduction to the man who would replace Glenn Brenner. His posting of District 30 House candidate Florence Thompson's fantasy alerts us to the harmful silliness and ignorance of contemporary McCarthyism.

And if you can get past Ed Randazzo's snarky intro, this video shows District 13 Rep. Brian C. Liss opening his mouth and, for perhaps the first time in his brief Legislative career, not saying something stupid. Liss explains why he is leading a petition drive to refer House Bill 1133 to a public vote:

Other than talking like Kristi Noem and saying "and" before almost every sentence, Liss makes his point about the new "Legislative planning supercommittee" well. House Bill 1133 creates a committee that violates the will of the electorate by keeping legislators in power even after voters have kicked them out.

I signed a petition circulated by a Liss pal working the GOP candidates forum here in Spearfish last Monday. I hope you'll sign, too, because for once, just like Gordon Howie, Brian C. Liss is managing to do something useful.

To find out where you can sign in your neighborhood, call Rep. Liss at 605-496-1627.


I learn from Facebook (hold on: my oxymoron alarm is going off...) that Rep. Brian C. Liss (hold on: now my moron alarm is going off...) is calling certain legislators chicken:

Here is the Chicken Squad. These Republican representatives voted for Betty Olson's concealed carry bill, HB 1248, and voted against it after the Governor's veto. Abdallah, Kopp, Moser, Novstrup, Romkema, Schaefer, Hoffman, Hunt, Magstadt, Rozum, Tulson, Vanneman, Deelstra, Miller, Perry, Scott, Solum [Brian C. Liss, Facebook status, 2012.03.21 19:40 CST].

I remind the court of public opinion that Governor Dennis Daugaard offered his fellow Republicans sound conservative reasons for rejecting Rep. Betty Olson's unnecessary and dangerous legislation. Changing one's mind given new information and conditions can be a sign of intelligence, not cowardice. Calling a third of his Republican colleagues "chicken" might not be the best way to get his Republican neighbors to sign his referral petition on HB 1133.

I also remind the court that that 14 of the 17 legislators Brian C. Liss calls "chicken" are running for reëlection. Brian C. Liss is not. Balk-balk, Brian?


Rep. Brian C. Liss says a lot of stupid things. His justification for referring HB 1133 is not one of them:

Rep. Brian Liss, R-Sioux Falls, said he supports the idea of planning, but the measure passed by this year's Legislature is flawed because it would allow lawmakers to stay on the planning committee for a year after they've retired or lost elections.

"They will be sticking around for roughly an extra year after they've lost their election. This makes it harder to throw the bums out," Liss told The Associated Press ["State Lawmaker Seeks Public Vote on Planning Panel," AP via Rapid City Journal].

Read the text of HB 1133, and you'll see Rep. Liss is absolutely right. The new Legislative Planning Committee will consist of eleven legislators appointed by the leadership to study up to six topics a year, gather public input, and propose legislation. Planning Committee members will serve two-year terms, from January 1 to January 1 of even-numbered years. For instance, members appointed this year once HB 1133 comes into effect would serve until January 1, 2014. At least three members must be reappointed for another term "to provide continuity."

But what if the voters don't want continuity? Suppose Senator Russell Olson lands a spot on this committee (because he's so good at studying and soliciting public input). Suppose the voters of District 8 decide this November that they've had enough of Russell Olson going to Pierre and making bad decisions. District 8 can (and should!) replace Russell Olson with Charlie Johnson. Johnson would take office in January 2013, but HB 1133 guarantees that, if he's a member of the Planning Committee, Russell Olson could continue to make his voice heard at the Capitol in a position of privilege not available to regular citizens for another whole year.

A simple amendment to HB 1133 to specify that terms end at the beginning of odd-numbered years would have avoided this problem. And it's a shame to see a good idea for legislative planning get sandbagged by one small problem.

But subverting the will of the voters is no small problem. The voters' voice is final: when we say Russell Olson is done, he's done. Legislators serve as the voice of their constituents, not independent consultants. When voters declare that a new person speaks for them, the old speaker should step aside completely.

Bring me a petition, Brian. I'll sign.


Big blooming ballots! The Secretary of State's office was busy with all sorts of petitions today. Here are some of today's highlight filings from the official candidates list and the ballot measure page:

  1. I heard rumors that Frank Kloucek was toting petitions for three different offices. If so, he cast his lot today: it's Kloucek for Senate in District 19! Alas, no epic Kloucek-Nelson debates this year... but hey, District 19! You can send Kloucek to the Senate, keep Nelson in the House, and enjoy what could be the greatest in-district legislative tag-team of the decade. Kloucek will face Republican Bill Van Gerpen. The last time those two faced each other on a ballot was the 2000 District 19 House race. Both men got seats, but Kloucek edged Van Gerpen by 1.39%. Since then, both have appeared on District 19 ballots seeking different offices, and both times, Van Gerpen has won just a hair more votes than Kloucek.
  2. Sibby's in! Steve Sibson is the first Republican on the ballot for District 20's Senate seat. Looking good, Sibby!
  3. Hill City rancher George Ferebee lost to Bruce Rampelberg by 19 votes in 2010. Ferebee wants another ride of the Tea Party bull: he has filed to challenge incumbent Rampelberg for the District 20 Senate seat.
  4. Everybody and their ugly cousin want to serve in District 6: Jason Long became the fourth Republican to file for District 6 House. He and fellow new candidate June Nusz are both from Sioux Falls; they challenge fellow Republicans Herman Otten and Jenna Haggar's assistant Isaac Latterell from Tea. District 6 will show how well the Tea Party fares.
  5. Lutheran Pastor Karen Soli, coordinator of the Food to You Mobile Food Pantry in Sioux Falls, has filed to run as for District 15 House as a Democrat. Mmmm... that's Rep. Jenna Haggar's district. Maybe Soli can replace Haggar and provide some balance to District 9's Rep. Rev. Steve Hickey.
  6. Tony Heinert of Mission and Whitney Meek of Wood both filed to run for the sole House seat in District 26A as Democrats. So far, Meek and Heinert face the only Legislative primary between Democrats.
  7. Speaker Val Rausch filed to challenge incumbent Senator Tim Begalka in a District 4 Republican primary. Recall that Begalka supported Rep. Stace Nelson's very public challenge to Speaker Rausch's authority on ethics questions in the House this winter.
  8. And as an extra special ballot treat, we have not one but two new laws facing referral drives! Teachers and others are ready to petition HB 1234 onto the ballot, but surprise! They are joined by the generally unsuccessful Rep. Brian C. Liss, who wants us to vote on HB 1133, a measure establishing the Legislature's Planning Committee. The PC (ah, the abbreviation is tip-off #1) is to study long-term issues related to legislation. I'm sure Rep. Liss will step out to explain how this reasonable bit of long-range thinking is really a Communist Chinese plot to make us all fat.

Candidates have until March 27 to file their papers. Folks wanting to overturn decisions of the Legislature have until June 18 to get their referendum petitions to Pierre. Keep on knocking, everyone!

Representative Brian C. Liss (R-13/Sioux Falls)
Representative Brian C. Liss (R-13/Sioux Falls), our great leader in the coming baby war with China

It takes real work to distinguish oneself as the worst legislator in Pierre. Congratulations, District 13 voters: your man Brian C. Liss is doing it.

Seeing that House Bill 1217, the coercive pregnancy counseling bill, doesn't have enough misogyny, patriarchy, and bad logic behind it, the gentle representative from Sioux Falls volunteers this "completely secular" reason to support making abortion practically impossible in South Dakota:

Rep. Brian Liss, R-Sioux Falls, who voted for the bill, said he thinks the measure would help ensure a thriving U.S. population.

"The United States is in a strategic competition with China. China is a country which has a military which teaches its soldiers to hate America, it's a country that grows 10 percent a year economically, it has something like 1.4 billion people, and I think that we need to safeguard our economic growth and our population in order to compete with China," Liss said, adding his argument for the bill is "completely secular" [staff, "House Backs Abortion Counseling Bill," that Sioux Falls paper, 2011.02.22].

I can't make stuff like this up. I also can't think of enough ways to explain the myriad flavors of stupid Representative Brian C. Liss is peddling.

  1. On the sheer dumb side, Brian C. Liss thinks the key to beating the next superpower is for South Dakota to have 800 more unwanted babies a year.
  2. On the politically dumb side, Brian C. Liss gets off message and admits this bill is about preventing abortion, which Rep. Manny Steele insisted on the House floor Tuesday it is not.
  3. On the chauvinist dumb side, Brian C. Liss views women as vessels for childbirth to be placed in the service of the state. Come, Winston: making a baby is our duty to the Party.
  4. Gravy: On the factually dumb side, China's population is 1.3 billion. (If you're going to play Spock and cite decimal points, you have to get them right.)

Remember, Brian C. Liss is the same character who wants to tax food to fight obesity. Now he wants make babies to fight China. How pro-life is that?


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