The South Dakota Republican Party predicates its formal call for President Barack Obama's impeachment on allegations that the President is "by passing [sic] Congress" and "usurping his authority". (One does not usurp one's own authority, but as usual with South Dakota Republicans, we have to skip what they say and listen to what they mean.)

Fellow blogger Michael Larson goes to town on those words and Governor Dennis Daugaard's record and predicts that South Dakota Republicans will soon call for the impeachment of their own Legislature-bypassing, authority-usurping governor:

Three times in 2012, Daugaard waived the law to allow the transportation of over-width livestock feed on our roads.  In 2013 he lifted the rules over propane haulers.  In 2012 he also issued an executive order to expand his economic council.  In 2011 he created a task force to lure trust companies to South Dakota by helping them hide money. In 2011 he also created a task force to form a Department of Tourism.  In 2014 he signed an executive order to release of some state financial information.  Most recently he has done another executive order in the face of GOP animosity asking his Bureau of Finance and Management to speculate the economic forecast an additional two years in the future [Michael Larson, "The SD GOP Will Be Impeaching Daugaard Soon," Taking a Left Turn in South Dakota, 2014.07.13].

Larson says Daugaard's executive orders are of far less concern than his much greater blunders on Northern Beef PackersManpower Inc., and education. But when Republicans' own logic leads to the impeachment of their own governor, it's clear their message doesn't make sense for South Dakota.


Hat tip to Larry Kurtz, who notes another ugly irony in South Dakota politics. First Governor Dennis Daugaard asked the President his party wants to impeach to send disaster aid for South Dakota's June tornado and flood victims. The President, via FEMA, turned him down.

Still not ready to return to his self-reliant roots, Governor Daugaard is barking up another federal-handout tree. Encouraged by fellow Republican Senator John Thune, Governor Daugaard is asking the Small Business Administration to provide low-interst loans to help home- and business owners clean up their storm messes.

Matt Varilek, Region VII Administrator, Small Business Administration

Matt Varilek, Region VII Administrator, Small Business Administration

And who oversees SBA operations in South Dakota? Matt Varilek, that nice fellow from Yankton who ran for Congress a couple years ago but was portrayed by South Dakota Republicans as too smart and well-traveled to be a real South Dakotan. The SDGOP ran Varilek through exactly the wringer of character assassination that David Newquist says drives good public servants out of the state.

But those Republicans sure want Region VII Administrator Varilek and the Obama Small Business Administration to be forgiving and generous and spare Pierre the burden of providing for its own citizens in times of need.


Facing a Republican Party committed to character assassination and a majority of voters who appear to tolerate it, the South Dakota Democratic Party has made the sensible tactical move of emphasizing initiative and referendum to win policy battles. Ballot issues are harder to personalize and thus harder to defeat by assassinating one candidate's character. Less distracted by personal attacks, voters can better see the good sense of the policy proposed.

That's why the SDDP's Initiated Measure 18 to raise the minimum wage may have a better chance of winning a majority vote than any Democratic candidate in the state. Raising the minimum wage has 61% support in South Dakota. IM18 has majority support in every age group and income group. It even wins 48% of South Dakota Republicans. The current $7.25 minimum has a third less purchasing power than the $1.60 minimum had in 1968. It will be hard for the Republicans to overcome that support that that glaring economic inequity by calling SDDP exec Zach Crago names.

In the policy-over-personal-attacks spirit of the initiative, I suppose I shouldn't try to support the minimum-wage increase by calling Governor Dennis Daugaard a hypocrite. But  Republican blogger John Tsitrian connects the dots to reveal an inconsistency in our Governor's policy thinking on the minimum wage and the gasoline tax.

Recall that Governor Daugaard opposes the minimum wage increase:

Gov. Dennis Daugaard, a Republican, also responded negatively to the proposal.

"This issue should be based on economics, not politics," Daugaard said in a statement. "There needs to be an analysis of how many jobs would be lost" [David Montgomery, "Dems Planning Initiated Measure to Raise Minimum Wage," Political Smokeout, 2013.07.17].

Economics provide a pretty good basis for raising the minimum wage. Governor Daugaard so far seems unconvinced. But he sounds like an economist when justifying his just-about-face on raising the gasoline tax:

“When I ran for governor four years ago, I promised that I would not support tax increases, and I have kept that promise. I want to participate in a discussion about future transportation needs, however, without taking any options off the table, including proposals to restore the purchasing power of the gas tax,” he said [Bob Mercer, "Daugaard: Willing to Consider Increasing State Highway Taxes," Aberdeen American News, 2014.05.21].

Governor Daugaard wants to restore his purchasing power for building and fixing roads. So why, asks Tsitrian, doesn't our good and gracious Governor want to restore the purchasing power of minimum-wage workers?

My beef about all this isn't the gas tax, per se. I'm just dismayed by the notion that cost-of-living increases need to be considered when pencilling in the price of government services but are to be ignored when it comes considering raises in the minimum wage. If Daugaard believes that jacking up gas taxes doesn't amount to a tax increase, just a restoration of buying power, then shouldn't that same principle be applied to minimum wages? Applying the Governor's own reasoning, raising minimum wages isn't the same as increasing them, it's just a matter of restoring their buying power. Yet Daugaard has effectively ignored this logic and withheld his support for the cost-of-living increase (with its built-in adjustment for inflation) that will appear on November's ballot.

It all looks to me like Daugaard believes state government should consider getting a cost-of-living increase but working people shouldn't. I don't like this. It's illogical. It's inconsistent—and it comes across as institutionalized cognitive dissonance [John Tsitrian, "Sure, Governor Daugaard...," The Constant Commoner, 2014.07.09].

Institutionalized cognitive dissonance—that's still a gentler attack than any of the personal slime Dick Wadhams will throw on behalf of South Dakota Republicans against Democratic candidates. Truer, too.

But Democrats don't need to go there. We don't need to campaign against Dennis Daugaard (or for any particular Democrat, for that matter) to convince a majority of voters to do what they already think is right: raise the minimum wage and index it to inflation so that even the lowest-paid workers can get a fair shake.


In our discussion of the various Obama outhouses, one of my commenters suggested that the next time Governor Dennis Daugaard and impeach-happy South Dakota Republicans came asking for disaster assistance, the President should respond, "'And how many outhouses would you like?' He might even send them pre-loaded for our convenience."

I don't think the President would poop on all of South Dakota for a cheap, half-hearted partisan insult. But he's not sending Governor Daugaard any disaster money this week:

...the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has rejected the state’s request for Individual Assistance programs to help residents impacted by tornadoes and flooding.

The denial of Individual Assistance came in a letter from FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate, who said damage to homes and businesses fell short of the severity and magnitude to warrant federal assistance.

...Governor Dennis Daugaard called the denial disappointing but said South Dakotans will continue to work together to help individuals and communities recover over the coming weeks and months. He said the state is examining all its options, including a possible appeal of the federal decision [South Dakota state government, press release, 2014.07.10].

Republican Senator John Thune is also disappointed and is encouraging South Dakotans suffering from the storms to seek other federal handouts.

Note that the three counties most affected by last months tempests—Jerauld, Lincoln, and Union—all voted against the SDGOP's presidential impeachment resolution. So denying these FEMA handouts can't be direct political retaliation.

Impeachment talk is supposed to be a way for Republicans to make money. The ironic possibility that such talk is losing South Dakota money is unlikely.

But hey, if the Governor feels that the storms were bad enough that local folks can't bear the cost of cleaning up the damage themselves, and if the federal government just won't come through, why doesn't the Governor Daugaard just bite the bullet, do the right thing, and help those storm victims with some state funds?


Yesterday the South Dakota Republican Party responded with immediate snark to Rep. Susan Wismer's announcement of former legislator Susy Blake has her running mate in the gubernatorial race. "South Dakotans Appreciate Results, Not Rhetoric," said the press release headline from the party that spent its convention approving the impeachment of the President of the United States.

The announcement of Susy Blake's addition to the Democrat [sic] Party ticket is a strong indicator that the South Dakota Democratic Party is out-of-touch with what is important to South Dakotans. Rob Burgess, Communications Director of the South Dakota Republican Party, had the following response to the announcement of Susan Wismer's running mate:

"The people of South Dakota are hard-working and they expect the same from the leadership of their state. That is why the people who live here and work here have chosen to elect Republicans as their statewide leaders for the last 50 years. This year is no different. The people of South Dakota deserve responsible and capable leadership which is exactly what Governor Daugaard and Lt. Governor Michels have provided. Susan Wismer and Susy Blake represent the chance for South Dakota to take a step backwards... that just isn't something South Dakotans are known for" [South Dakota Republican Party, press release, 2014.06.25].

The headline spoke of "Results, Not Rhetoric," but I didn't see anything in the text that addressed pinned results to their guys or objectionable rhetoric to our gals. Such poor writing is to be expected from Republicans who apparently don't believe that the assertions they bleat should be supported by examples, logic, or reality.

But hey, I'm a generous, reach-across-the-aisle kind of guy, so I gave SDGOP communications director Rob Burgess a shout and asked for examples of the "results" and "rhetoric" that he was shouting about. Burgess obliged:

Under Gov. Daugaard's leadership, South Dakota has experienced a lot of success ranging from eliminating a $127 million structural deficit in the state's budget to having the 2nd best Business Tax Climate in the nation this year [Source]. More South Dakotans are finding work here than in previous years. These are the type of results South Dakota has seen under his leadership.

Susan Wismer has chosen not to acknowledge these accomplishments. Instead, she insists that people in this state are hurting. That the people of South Dakota need help—her help—in order to succeed... this is the type of rhetoric that does not speak for the people of South Dakota. That isn't the kind of approach the people of South Dakota take to their everyday lives [Rob Burgess, SDGOP, e-mail to Madville Times, 2014.06.25].

Burgess's response at least gives us some rhetorical handles:

  1. Result #1 is Dennis Daugaard's ability to get us out of the structural deficit that his boss Mike Rounds created during eight years of lazy governing. Oh, yes, please, Republicans, emphasize that point on the campaign trail. I'll help!
  2. Governor Daugaard achieved that result by slashing education funding to set our K-12 schools fiscally back five years. That's some of the real hurt candidate Wismer is talking about.
  3. Result #2 is achieving one of several arbitrary ratings based on business taxes that were mostly in effect before Dennis Daugaard took office.
  4. Result #2 is a clever pivot away from the last arbitrary ranking that Team Daugaard touted, last year's CNBC #1 state for business ranking that just CNBC just downgraded to #11... which wouldn't be so bad if CNBC weren't ranking the Democratic People's Republic of Minnesota #6.
  5. Result #2 ignores CNBC's #11 because CNBC's #11 says South Dakota ranks 30th in education, 31st in infrastructure, and 50th in technology and innovation.
  6. The "rhetoric" point is no more than alliteration wrapped around vague word abuse. The SDGOP's razz-welcome of Susy Blake to the race boils down to saying, "Republicans get to say they want to help South Dakota, but Democrats don't get to say they want to help South Dakota."

Susan Wismer is talking about results... the results of a generation of Republican one-party rule and neglect of education. Republicans need to dismiss such talk as "rhetoric," because they need us all to coast on their preferred sunny, checked-shirt, "Everything Is Awesome!" Bricksburg rhetoric rather than engaging in a serious analysis of what their public miserliness and private crony favors are doing to our schools, our roads and bridges, and our creative culture.


My previous post cited some West River angst about Governor Dennis Daugaard's swift response to the flooding in southeast South Dakota compared to what some perceive as his slow response to the October blizzard West River.

Hold your horses: for the record, Governor Daugaard declared a state of emergency one day after the October blizzard hit, about the same time that it took him to sound the emergency alarm on the current flooding.

The Tweet from rancher Dallas Basel cited earlier refers to declaring "disaster." It is perhaps worth noting the need for care with our words. "Emergency" is what the Governor declares to respond to the immediate crisis. "Disaster" is what we declare to get federal reimbursement from FEMA, which is what Governor Daugaard did for West River on October 31, 2013, four weeks after the blizzard, and which we can expect him to do for southeast South Dakota in a few weeks, when we've all gotten done sandbagging.


From the Department of Awkward Twitter Juxtaposition, West River rancher Dallas Basel reacts to Governor Dennis Daugaard's emergency declaration in southeast South Dakota:

Dallas Basel: "1 day after flood in east SD Gov DD declare disaster. Waited 3 wks to declare Atlas.  west SD screwed again."

Daugaard chief of staff Dusty Johnson tweets Lt. Gov. Matt Michels's comment from the Governor's disaster response press conference in Union County this afternoon:

Dusty Johnson tweet: "Lt Gov Michels: 'Concentrate on those you love.' @SDGovDaugaard

Perhaps worth noting: to fight the flood in Union County, the state will build a levy across four lanes of I-29 to divert water to McCook Lake. (Someone remind me: does I-29 have six lanes by Dakota Dunes?)

Update 22:14 CDT: And definitely worth noting is the distinction between emergency and disaster declarations.


O.K., neither Gerald Ford nor Dennis Daugaard actually said "Drop dead." But South Dakota's Governor may as well have said that to future philosophers and other aspiring devotées of the humanities at Girls' State yesterday at USD:

“I’m not saying you shouldn’t follow your dreams,” he said. “If you’ve got your heart set on being a philosopher and you’re going to get a degree in philosophy, God bless you. Have at it. But know that at the end of that ... four-year road, it’s very difficult to get a job.”

While there are many good degrees, there are many others “that lead to virtually no opportunities,” he said [Travis Gulbrandson, "Daugaard to Girls Staters: Get Technical," Yankton Press & Dakotan, 2014.06.06].

Yes, because studying philosophy, literature, dance, or history offers no opportunity for reflection, appreciation of beauty, inspiration, hope, or commitment to something greater than filling one's belly.

What should the best and brightest young women in South Dakota do?

Rather than get just any degree, Daugaard suggested the girls seek a degree in one of the technical fields.

“In South Dakota particularly, the demands that we’re seeing are in the sciences, engineering, information technology, accounting, the health fields and in the skilled trades, machining, welding, construction trades, manufacturing trades,” he said.

There are both two-year and four-year degrees in these fields that yield “spectacular job opportunities,” the governor said [Gulbrandson, 2014.06.06].

Evidently the SDGOP is so hell-bent on driving liberals out of South Dakota that it doesn't even want the liberal arts around.

Governor Daugaard urged the Girls' Staters to check out the state's SDMyLife website, which includes a "Reality Check" income/salary calculator that tells students what jobs they could afford to do based on their anticipated expenses. I punched in moderate expenses for a single person in Sioux Falls, and the Department of Labor recommended lots of jobs: mechanical engineer, commercial pilot, database administrator, sales manager, public relations specialist, loan officer....

But you know which job the Department of Labor did not include in its recommendations for a single person living comfortably but not prodigally? K-12 teacher. And that's even before factoring in the $1,181 per month they say a worker will need to pay for adding just one child to the household.

So there you have it, teachers, historians, poets, thinkers, straight from Governor Daugaard and his website: there are no opportunities for you in South Dakota. Try to make a living here, and you'll probably drop dead.


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