I might find South Dakota's religious right wing more tolerable if they'd stop bullying our LGBT neighbors and kids and get back to saying crazy stuff about sustainability and Agenda 21.

Here, wingnut friends, look at the Green Aberdeen project that Ipswich United Church of Christ Pastor Enno Limvere is promoting:

Green Aberdeen will concentrate on community action, education and advocacy, he said.

The group plans to take on projects, such as cleaning up along Moccasin Creek, Limvere said. It will also look to educate people about climate change and what they can do to help. As for advocacy, he said, Green Aberdeen will check into things, such as why the present city recycling program doesn’t accept glass.

The goal, he said, is to make Aberdeen a more sustainable community.

“Burlington, Vt., is now 100 percent renewable energy,” he said. “We could come up with 25-50 percent” [Elisa Sand, "Green Aberdeen Advocates Increased Sustainability," Aberdeen American News, 2015.03.03].

Hear hear on the glass recycling! There are practical economic reasons cities may decline to collect glass, but nothing that separate bins can't solve!

Limvere's plan sounds good, but then he tips his globalist hand:

Limvere said global change will require the support of the United Nations, but individual communities are already rising up to make a difference.

“There are communities that are bagless,” Limvere said, explaining that customers at stores bring their own reusable shopping bags.

On a much smaller scale, he said, people can simply make a conscious effort to use less energy. And that can start with simply unplugging charger cords from outlets. Because those chargers, even when a phone isn’t plugged in, will still use electricity.

“We’re making goals for 2030,” he said. “It’s about sustainability. How can we live as a community so we’re not just adding to the dump site” [Sand, 2015.03.03].

United Nations?!? Aaaaaahhh! Pastor Enno is calling in the UN to take away our plastic bags and ration our phone time!

Pastor Enno's plans sound much more fun than picking on transgender kids. Come to Green Aberdeen's next meeting—Monday, March 16, 7 p.m., downtown at the Red Rooster here in Aberdeen—and see what you can do to make Aberdeen greener. Blue helmets are optional.


To the Republicans Are Really Marxists file, add this statement from Lieutenant Governor Matt Michels on preparations for the as-yet nebulous Blue Ribbon Stalling Tactic on education:

We might be smart individually but collectively we're brilliant [Lt. Gov. Matt Michels, interview with WNAX Radio, 2015.02.24].

In other words, Lt. Gov. Michels and his boss Dennis Daugaard value groupthink over individual genius. Hey, that's why we have Common Core, right?

Update 11:08 CST: Blogger John Tsitrian questions the Daugaard-Michels Administration's collective brilliance given our state economy's soft performance.


The big news I heard around Madison over the weekend was that Dick Wiedenman had died.

Dick Wiedenman collected junk, lived in junk, annoyed the city and county with junk. His junkiness provoked the county to deem him a nuisance and the local paper to skewer him. People looked at him as some crazy old geezer, wearing junk-man clothes and riding his old bicycle around town.

Dick served on the local Smith-Zimmerman Museum board. He spoke up and spoke intelligently on civic affairs. Yet rumor has it he also housed illegal immigrants in old semi trailers on his property. Dick was not an easy guy to like, but Dick didn't seem to give a darn about what anyone else liked or disliked.

It's widely believed that Dick had money tucked away, but he was always looking for freebies. He came to church for free potluck dinners. The local lore about his death Friday is that he went to the hospital for his free coffee, then plunked down and died. The headline should be not "Wiedenman Mooching to the End" but "What Was in Hospital's Coffee?"

It's less likely that the hospital poisoned Dick Friday than that they decided to move their operations to the south edge of town just so it would be too far for Dick to walk to get his free coffee. The prospect of that loss was just too much for Dick's old heart.

Dick was my dad's friend way back in high school. He built the garage that became the lake cabin that I renovated several years ago into a permanent residence. Not one stud in that building was 24 inches on center. But after a half-century of winters and winds, it's still standing straight.

Like all of us, Dick was a mix of good and bad. My pathological affection for pariahs means I have to say I'll miss him. We could drop by the funeral home or the cemetery to pay our respects, but Dick would have none of that. Folks in Madison say he donated his body to science. The USD med school will chop him up, analyze his guts, then burn him back to ashes and dust. Unlike most of the civic fathers who so groused about his presence, no stone shall clutter the landscape and no fancy box shall rot in the ground on Dick Wiedenman's behalf.*

*Update 2015.02.28 16:17 CST: But wait! I'm informed secondhand via FB that Dick's brother Jack said no such body-donation took place! According to the Weiland Funeral Chapel, following the memorial service on Feb. 26, Dick's remains were to be inurned at Graceland Cemetery.


The war against cigarette liberty creeps into your home and your pocketbook. House Bill 1083 would allow rural fire districts and other political subdivisions to recoup the cost of fighting fires from the negligent folks who start them. HB 1083 would allow the fire district or the city fire department take folks to court to make them pay for a fire call if those folks let a controlled burn get out of control, fails to call in a fire, gets in the way of a firefighter, or drops a match or cigarette.

Uh oh—there it is! Section 1, clause 1—"cigarette, cigar, ashes of pipe"—don't you see what's happening? The nanny state is threatening your right to smoke the tobacco our Founding Fathers themselves proudly grew (actually, George Washington saw tobacco wasn't a sustainable crop and switched to grains in 1766, but hush!) by allowing the government to sue smokers... for smoking! In the privacy of your own home!

Can you help it if you drowse off after enjoying a fine cigarette and then gravity—cursed gravity!—pulls your butt to the carpet? Unfair! you should cry. Liberty! you should cry. Down with House Bill 1083! you should cry.

I look forward to the tobacco lobby coming to Pierre to demand that House Judiciary remove smokers from HB 1083.


Gary Jerke submits to Gordon Howie's blog a vague homily to putting Bibles in public schools. The former Yankton-area legislator opens by saying "Last evening a group from our church appeared before our local school board concerned about their policy toward distribution of Bibles to the children...." Jerke does not directly tell us what the school board's policy is or what his group's concerns are. He also doesn't tell us what school board in South Dakota meets on Saturday night. (The post is dated January 25; "last evening" was January 24.)

But details and explanation be darned, we're off and running into the fundie shower-singing meant to get its practitioners into heaven faster:

Schools are to be a place of preparation and yet the most important aspect of preparation (meaning to make ready) we overlook. That is the preparation of spiritual things which the Bible first addresses in Joshua 22:26 in the building of an alter as a place to show witness to God. For me that underscores a part of my cultural history where in communities churches were built in the heart of our towns and pastors were regarded as the highest authority or often final word on many if not most matters [Gary Jerke, "Be Prepared," The Right Side, 2015.01.25].

Pastors as the highest authority in the community, giving the final word on most matters—translate that as theocracy.

But wait! What's this introduction of spiritual things into the public school curriculum? What does that "preparation" have to do with getting students ready to become welders? "Spiritual things" sounds an awful lot like "philosophy," and we all know philosophy won't help our students get good jobs! How dare Gary Jerke threaten to distract our schools from their primary mission of solving South Dakota's workforce shortage?

I am sure the Governor will join me in standing against this intrusion of impractical theology into our K-12 workforce preparation system.


Governor Dennis Daugaard's State of the State Address can be boiled down to this family anecdote, delivered at the end of his lengthy opening discussion of his first policy priority, fixing South Dakota's roads:

You know, just last week Linda and I welcomed the birth of our fourth grandchild, Greta.

It reminded me of when our first grandchild, Henry was born. Some of you have heard this before. I asked Henry's dad how they planned to distinguish between me and Henry's other grandfather. I thought maybe "grandpa" and "papa." He said, "Well, we are going to call the other grandfather, 'Grandpa Fat.'" "Oh," I said. "What will you call me – 'Grandpa Thin'?" "No," he replied. "We are going to call you 'Grandpa Cheap'" [link added; Governor Dennis Daugaard, State of the State Address, as transcribed by that Sioux Falls paper, 2015.01.13].

[Insert the only editorial comment from legislators during the State of the State Address: hearty laughter.]

I suppose that's about right, but I would really prefer, "Grandpa Frugal." You know me. No one wants to raise taxes less than I do. But as I've said before, there is a difference between being "frugal" and being "cheap." A cheap person refuses to spend money even when it would be wise to do so. A frugal person is careful with money, but understands that sometimes spending in the short term can pay bigger dividends in the long term.

That is today's situation. Maintaining our roads and bridges is one of the most basic functions of government and it is vital – for this year and for decades to come. I don't want to leave this problem to future governors, future legislators, and future generations [Daugaard, 2015.01.13].

A cheap person refuses to spend money even when it would be wise to do so. Raising teacher pay to competitive rates would be wise. Expanding Medicaid would be wise. Promoting renewable energy and efficiency would be wise. But Governor Daugaard refuses to spend money on those policies.

South Dakota, brace yourself for four more years of Grandpa Cheap.

P.S.: Credit where credit is due: the originator of this phrase is the Governor's chief of staff and son-in-law Tony Venhuizen.


Right-wing politician and blogger Gordon Howie is up to something. He's opening a new base of operations in the hinterlands east of Rapid City, overlooking the Rapid Creek floodplain. Howie has built a new studio so he and Ed Randazzo and Sam Kephart and Tonchi Weaver and can start making crazy videos again. He's built a meeting facility for conservative groups—a convenient sixteen-mile drive from the heart of Rapid City and all that liberal urban corruption, and close to the airport so he can monitor the comings and goings of Cristo ni Iglesia members headed for Scenic.

And next Saturday, Howie's holding an open house at his new International Headquarters:

While the “International Headquarters” title is somewhat tongue in cheek, the impact of activities from this unique facility will no doubt have far-reaching impact.

You are invited to the open house…

  • Where: 15372 Antelope Creek Road, Rapid City SD. 57703
    3.8 miles east of the RC Regional Airport turnoff on Hwy 44 to Antelope Creek Rd, turn south… 2.3 miles to the driveway (on the right)
  • When: Saturday, Jan 17th 10:00 am to 3:00 pm

There won’t be any formal ceremony. It’s just a day for you to drop in for a cup of coffee and see our new facility.

You might even learn something about Gordon’s new “secret mission” [Gordon Howie, "World Wide Grand Opening," The Right Side, 2015.01.10].

Bob Ellis of the American Clarion says he'll be there; this open house will be a chance for progressive operatives to infiltrate the compound and surveil the machinations of two arch-conservative Black Hills bloggers! Liberals, bring cameras and back-up, and go visit Gordon next Saturday!


Jason Gant is sleeping in today... which may not be different from most of the last four years when he had to drive to Pierre to be Secretary of State. Working the impression out of his office chair is Shantel Krebs, South Dakota's new chief of elections, keeper of seals, and only female besides Public Utilities Commissioner Kristie Fiegen* in a statewide elected office in the Capitol.

Job 1: fix the branding! Team Krebs is already hard at work scrubbing her predecessor's name and replacing it with hers:

Top of SDSOS.gov, 2015.01.02, 08:30 CST

Top of SDSOS.gov, 2015.01.02, 08:30 CST

Hmm, better work on that style sheet a bit. That thin white font floating inconspicuously in the corner seems entirely unlike the dynamic Secretary Krebs we all expect to make a deep impression on the office.

Team Krebs has launched the new @SOSKrebs Twitter account:

Screen cap from midpage, SDSOS.gov, 08:44 CST

Screen cap from midpage, SDSOS.gov, 08:44 CST

New PIO Jason Williams must not be in the office yet. Hop to it, Jason!

Secretary Krebs does have her smiling face up on the SOS homepage, with an image so big I have to switch to full-screen view to take it all in:

Screen cap from bottom of homepage, SDSOS.gov, 08:46 CST

Screen cap from bottom of homepage, SDSOS.gov, 08:46 CST

That image file is 361 KB, and it's on the template for every page. Holy cow, Team Krebs! Free up some bandwidth! Move that image to the top and shrink:

Modified SDSOS.gov banner

Modified SDSOS.gov banner

And if you can get Secretary Krebs to jump 3-D over my browser tab, that would be really cool. Carry on, SOS Web team! (And remember: don't call Pat for Web advice!)

Update 09:03 CST: We can spend the day watching the SOS website evolve before our eyes. Team Krebs has already changed some of the subsections to reflect my suggested change, shrinking that splendiferous image file and copying it to the banner:

SDSOS.gov banner, screen cap, 2014.01.02.09:03 CST

SDSOS.gov banner, screen cap, 2014.01.02.09:03 CST

I think that's now three distinct fonts in the banner—Bill Fleming may have issues. And as expected, Krebs's name didn't stay that small ghostly floater in the corner; it's now all caps, in gold, and a couple pixels larger than the name of the office. That's the SHANTEL KREBS we expect to own the room!

Correction 10:09 CST: In my original post, I forgot PUC Fiegen! Shameful! With Keystone XL bubbling, it is inexcusable that I forget one of the three state officials who can save us from the great black snake from the north. Commissioner Fiegen, I apologize for my oversight.


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