You think I've been hard on Republicans today? Pat Powers is so disgusted with his fellow Republicans that he interrupted his usual lazy Sunday press releases to write his own blog post to blast Rep. Elizabeth May (R-27/Pine Ridge) and Rep. Isaac Latterell (R-6/Tea) for exposing the vile, selfish thoughtlessness that having an R in front of one's name excuses in South Dakota:

How does saying test anxiety is contributing to a disturbing suicide rate encourage a young professional businessperson to run as a Republican candidate for office when asked? When going door to door, how does saying “Planned Parenthood is beheading children people like ISIS terrorists” convince people that helping Republicans get elected is a worthwhile cause?

The answer is that they don’t. They’re just incendiary bombs being lobbed for the sole purpose of getting personal attention. And of course they’re going to get attention. They’re over the top, offensive and just plain stupid. And all that attention comes at the expense of all the other Republicans who are trying to do the difficult job of governing, and are now at risk of being painted with the same broad crazy brush by Democrats and the media who look for these opportunities.

Everytime I read that kind of things, I find myself asking “For crying out loud, please stop damaging the Republican brand.” If you feel the need to say something offensive and incendiary, sleep on it first. Bounce it off of a colleague for a read on how it sounds [Pat Powers, "For crying out loud, please stop damaging the Republican brand. (And maybe sleep on it before you say it.)" Dakota War College, 2015.03.01].

Oh, Pat, you and your "brand." May and Latterell aren't "damaging" the South Dakota Republican brand; they are the logical product of the very Republicanism you peddle. They ooze Republican anti-intellectualism. They throw whatever they've got at their opponents. They say vile falsehoods to arouse their base, then assume they can wave the flag or hit Delete and make us all forget. May and (more so) Latterell are Republicans straight out of a Dakota War College lesson plan.

Because May and Latterell are products of the politics he practices, Powers can't issue a simple, uncategorical rejection of their errors. Powers still couches his critique in language about Democrats and the media that make it sound like we are to blame for talking about what Republican legislators say and do in Pierre. "Broad crazy brush"? Hey, if crazy Republicans were just the trim, I could use my narrow brush. But with Reps. Craig and Stalzer disrespecting students who beat their gun bill with smart lobbying, with Rep. Stalzer dissing cops, and with former Noem intern Tomi Lahren calling Hillary Clinton and Elizabeth Warren men (why? why?!?), the "crazy" folks aren't the trim; they are the siding. I can paint all day with the biggest brush I've got and still not cover all the rank idiocy that South Dakota Republicans put out.

(Note: Powers has yet to critique Craig, Stalzer, or Lahren for saying things that hurt the GOP "brand".)

South Dakota Democratic Party chair Ann Tornberg, at whom Powers has regularly thrown mud, agrees with his assessment of Latterell's irresponsible headline-scoring. She sends out this comment appended to Huffington Post's coverage of Latterell's equation of Planned Parenthood and ISIS:

Our politics are cheapened when extreme GOP legislators resort to demagoguery to score headlines. No matter your position on issues like life and choice, South Dakotans deserve better than this kind of hateful rhetoric [Ann Tornberg, SDDP e-mail, 2015.03.01].

Tornberg is party chair; she has as much interest in promoting her party's brand as Powers does his. But for Tornberg, panning Latterell's comments is about respecting all South Dakotans and resisting demagoguery and hateful rhetoric. For Powers, it's just damage control, throwing a couple fellow Republicans overboard for fouling the party's effort to conceal its inherent extremism behind a marketing curtain.


Rep. Isaac Latterell (R-6/Tea) takes his anti-abortion crusade over the top by saying that Planned Parenthood is worse than ISIS:

There are certain revolting methods of execution, such as beheading, that no state would ever permit, even against murderers who use this method on their victims. It is this revulsion that leads us to rightly condemn the beheadings committed by unconscionably violent soldiers in the Middle East....

Planned Parenthood abortionists in Sioux Falls are similarly beheading unborn children during dismemberment abortions...

No state, no religion, and no organization should ever be allowed to use this unspeakably horrifying method. While we rightly take the speck out of our neighbor’s eye by holding ISIS accountable, let us be sure to take the plank out of our own eye by holding Planned Parenthood accountable [Rep. Isaac Latterell, "Planned Parenthood Worse Than ISIS and Lying about It," blog, 2015.02.17].

Rep. Latterell gets his specks and planks mixed up. Planned Parenthood is not kidnapping and killing innocent citizens. Planned Parenthood and other providers of counseling and health services do not make gory, sensationalist videos to radicalize and recruit disaffected youth (actually, that's what the anti-abortion crusaders have done to Isaac, and that's what he does now).

Planned Parenthood isn't even performing the kind of abortions Latterell discusses in South Dakota:

Planned Parenthood said it does not perform this abortion procedure and only performs first trimester abortions in South Dakota. Planned Parenthood spokesperson Jennifer Aulwes told TPM that the type of abortion described by Latterell is only performed after the first trimester, and any such abortions would have been performed by a doctor outside of a Planned Parenthood clinic [Caitlin MacNeal, "South Dakota Lawmaker: 'Planned Parenthood Worse Than ISIS'," TPM Livewire, 2015.02.18].

Rep. Latterell simply dismisses Planned Parenthood as liars, saying they must be performing the procedure and not telling the Department of Health. Latterell decorates his irresponsible diatribe with a lie of his own, a photo of a healthy, born baby, who unlike a fetus has constitutional rights and cannot be aborted.

Planned Parenthood promotes women's rights, public health, and science-based education. ISIS uses gore and lies to promote a brutal political regime that would endanger women's health and deny women their rights. If Rep. Latterell really wants to open the door to debating South Dakota legislation by comparing opponents to global terrorists, then he invites the critique that Isaac is a lot like ISIS.

p.s.: The Legislature appears not to recognize the irresponsibility of Rep. Latterell's rhetoric. They have so far failed to behead House Bill 1230, the legislation that commits the same ISIS confabulation about abortion that Rep. Latterell is peddling online. Say it again, people: abortion is a constitutional medical procedure, not terrorism.


In another attempt to strip South Dakota women of their Constitutional right to control their bodies and seek abortions, Rep. Isaac Latterell (R-6/Tea) has recycled a bill from last year to conflate abortion doctors with ISIS. House Bill 1230 would make "beheading" (that's the term in the bill) a fetus a Class 1 felony. This bill scales back the scope and penalty of the horror-theater abortion legislation Rep. Latterell proposed last year, 2014's HB 1241, which made "dismemberment" a Class 2 felony and "decapitation" a Class B felony (Class B brings a life sentence; Class 1, 50 years; Class 2, 25 years). Rep. Latterell compared abortion to the animal cruelty felonized by the Legislature last year, called abortion "savage", then asked for House Health and Human Services to table his bill with the promise to bring a refined bill next Session.

And now he's back with another bill that will give him a chance to trot out his biased language and grandstand for the single-issue voters in his district. Expect him to tire House Health and Human Services today with his inflammatory and chilling language intended to mask the fact that Rep. Latterell is presuming to tell doctors how to practice.

I could advocate a ban on vaccines by talking about the horror of restraining a screaming, terrfied child while plunging a needle into her flesh and forcing into her blood a potentially deadly organism. I could advocate a ban on surgery by talking about masked men drugging women and then ripping and tearing their naked flesh. But I'd be showing off while ignoring responsible medical practice and basic human rights to autonomy.

Rep. Latterell, just back off. I'm really tired of having to defend my wife and my daughter from you. Isn't one woman enough? Must you keep inserting yourself into the private affairs of every woman in South Dakota?

Abortion is legal, and should be. Women have an unalienable right to control what takes place and what does not within their bodies. If a woman has another organism growing within her body, it is her call, not any legislator's, not any policeman's, not any judge's, as to whether she must continue to bear that organism.

Related Legislative Doctoring: Ken Santema mentions that the Senate prime sponsor of this bill, Sen. Brock Greenfield (R-2/Clark) is out of commission with a broken arm. Brock's mom Lana (R-2/Doland) said he's having surgery. Perhaps we should hoghouse HB 1230, declare an emergency, and pass a law telling the doctors what thread to use when they stitch Brock up tomorrow. Or maybe we should just ban them from interfering with what God clearly intended for Brock's arm.


From what alternative-universe dystopia is Rep. Isaac Latterell blogging? The Tea (party and town) Republican prefaces his Monday commentary on proposals to raise taxes to fix South Dakota roads with two servings of red herring:

But as the Federal Reserve continuously prints money, and Obama’s draconian policies prohibit more U.S. oil production, costs to build and repair roads have been going up [Rep. Isaac Latterell, "South Dakota's 90th Legislative Session Begins," blog post, 2015.01.19].

Let's get literal: yes, the government prints money. 85% of the Fiscal Year 2015 order for 7.2 billion notes valued at $188.7 billion is ordered to replace destroyed currency. That's just Uncle Sam doing the proper business of government. Isaac, if you're worried about folks printing bogus money, tell your conservative friends to stop playing with Bitcoins (oh, never mind: market already solving).

The second serving about oil production sounds like the GOP fabrication of some "war on energy." Maybe Rep. Latterell thinks "draconian" means "fantastical, not real, like dragons": as I must tediously remind the Representative from Tea, under the Obama Adminstration, U.S. monthly oil production rebounded from a 23-year decline and grew by October 2014 to 53% higher than the highest it ever was under President George W. Bush (May 2002).

But Rep. Latterell appears to dislike discussions of reality at the national or local level. Rather than focusing his commentary on the realities of the conditions of roads and other public services that shape South Dakota's Legislative priorities, Rep. Latterell wants to frame everything in terms of whatever right-wing podcast-rot he's listening to on the earbuds he shares with Senator Haggar:

...[T]he reason we have these discussions at all is because the Federal Government and Federal Reserve are out of control, far beyond their intended authority. With the Fed printing money (which devalues your dollar and causes inflation), and burdensome taxes and regulation increasing the costs of everything, now is the time to pass amendments to the Constitution using Article V which will return the power to you locally [Latterell, 2015.01.19].

Rep. Latterell amplifies his indigestion about printing money by citing the ever-present bogeyman of inflation. I understand that when folks like Latterell yell about printing money, they're really yelling about economic stimulus and deficit spending. Under the last six years of stimulus and deficit spending, inflation has averaged 1.6%. That's the lowest six-year average we've seen since 1966. Right now, the Fed's "printing money" (with or without quote marks) is not causing inflation, or at worst, it's causing darned little.

(As for this Article V tangent—that's the right-wing plot to get just enough conservatives in just enough state legislatures to convene a Constitutional Convention. It won't pave a single road or pay a single teacher in South Dakota, but it will likely scrap the Constitution as we know it. But that's a tangent about Isaac's preference for fantasy-football politics over representing the practical interests of his South Dakota constituents, a whole blog post, if not an entire blog, of its own.)

But no, really, Rep. Latterell insists in an earlier post, inflation and disaster are coming!

The Governor announced in his budget address that sales tax revenues came in below estimates, signs that the Fed’s money printing and phony stimulus bubble is showing signs of bursting. This would be the largest tax increase in South Dakota history, at a time when our national debt, inflation, and economic situation have gotten even more dangerous and I am predicting will see another severe correction in 2015 [Rep. Isaac Latterell, "Representative Latterell Joins Craig Dewey on The Facts Sunday," blog post, 2015.01.04].

Rep. Latterell, you've been reading Rep. Rev. Hickey's secret online fanfic novel, The Long Economic Winter, haven't you?

I get what's happening here. Reality is kicking the crap out of conservatives' worldview. The President's approval rating is rising (not as much as il production was, but hey, you don't get miracles). When the hyperinflation monster fails to jump out at us from around the corner, conservative abstractionists like Rep. Latterell must stoke out fears that the monster is still just around the next corner. When the world doesn't blow up, they have to keep telling us the world is going to blow up.

And when national talk radio and blogs don't tell him what to think about real South Dakota issues like fixing roads and bridges, Rep. Latterell has to contort a real pressing local problem into karaoke speeches about right-wing fantasies. District 6, is Rep. Latterell's detachment from reality really what you voted for?

p.s.: Then again, maybe gasoline prices will bounce back, to $5 a gallon. I'll bet an Article V Convention will help us invent fusion cars!


Michael Larson catches his District 6 Representative Isaac Latterell weaving a cynical fundraising ploy. As a response to the big special-interest money that Rep. Latterell says has too much influence in politics, Rep. Latterell wants people to tithe to him:

Over 40% of our earnings each year are taken from us in the form of federal, state, and local taxes. It is economically foolish NOT to spend 1% of our income hiring our own lobbyists or candidates, who will work to reduce our taxes by 1%, make sure they are spent wisely, and say no to laws that cost us money and benefit a privileged few. Would you believe a financial planner who wants to invest 40% of your money, but tells you there is no management fee?

...What I am advocating for is a group of people in the district gathering together on a set of clear principles, and contributing 1% of their income to good government. They could hire a lobbyist who will work for their principles and actually answer to them [Rep. Isaac Latterell, "There's Not Enough Money in Politics," blog, 2014.03.18].

Rep. Latterell is really just wrapping a bunch of words and analogies around the same old campaign fundraising pitch. He wants more of your money in his campaign war chest. He's trying to make it sound like sound financial advice, when really he's asking his constituents to get into a bidding war against multi-million/billion-dollar corporations. He's asking them to buy back their own government, which is kind of like asking the Lakota to buy back the Black Hills. Why should we have to pay for something wrongfully taken from us?

Latterell lacks the principles and courage to advocate restrictions on big corporate money in politics. In his Tea Party worldview, he can't bring himself to advocate rules and regulations to protect the people's voice in Pierre and Washington. He can't think past a free-market fundamentalist solution in which political influence is just another commodity for sale to the highest bidder.

As Mr. Larson points out, Latterell also can't give up his own PAC bread and butter:

This is a confusing statement considering when you look at where Mr. Latterell received most of his funding. $1,500 from Jim Latterell, $1,500 from Don Frisco, Xcel, SD Realtors, SD Corn Growers, SD Ethanol, and Black Hill Home Builders PAC is not exactly going around to District 6 voters and asking for financial support [Michael Larson, "Latterell Is Full of a Lot of (Confusing) Talk and Little Explanation," Taking a Left Turn in South Dakota, 2014.03.19].

Latterell's 2012 year-end campaign finance report shows $2,850 in PAC contributions, $1,324.22 in party contributions, and zero in individual contributions.

Voters, when Rep. Latterell asks you to tithe to him, ask him why you need to buy his vote in the first place.


Scott Ehrisman posts an e-mail exchange indicating that most of the Legislative candidates in District 6 are cool with three debates. Contrary to my initially erroneous and unfairly maligning post last week, Tea Republican Senate candidate Ernie Otten is willing to participate... as long as the Lennox debate slavishly conforms to the format set for debates in Tea and Harrisburg:

Michael, we thank you for taking the initiative to schedule this debate in Lennox. My Republican House candidates and I believe that setting a different precedent for this debate is neither fair nor even-handed to the constituents of Lennox. Debates are already set up in Harrisburg and Tea that include all the District 6 House and Senate candidates for 90 minutes (and include the County Commissioners).

District 6 contains many busy families with young children. In deference to them, and communicated in earlier emails, we'd agreed to one combined debate, for 90-minutes (formal or informal) in Lennox. Busy, but interested families shouldn't have to set aside two different school nights for separate debates when one 90-min format works well in Harrisburg and Tea [Ernie Otten, e-mail to Lennox debate organizer Michael Larson, September 4, 2012].

Otten misses the point that in the YouTube age, "busy but interested families" can log in to watch such debates any time.

Speaking of YouTube and openness, you can get an introduction to four of the six District 6 Legislative candidates on South Dakota Public Broadcasting's 2012 Meet the Candidates playlist. Democratic Senate Richard Schriever is there, but Ernie Otten is not. On the House side, you can watch the GOP's Herman Otten and Isaac Latterell (who babbles about Washington and a "pivotal point in our nation's history") and Democrat Joseph Weis (a Democrat who says "Less government is better"!), but not Democrat Michael Christopher Jauron.

The e-mail exchange above indicates Jauron has been incommunicado. I can't find any online campaign presence from Jauron. Folks on the ground in District 6: has Jauron knocked on your door or stopped by at coffee?


My Friday post on Rep. Jenna Haggar's fibbery before House Judiciary last week drew an urging from an interested reader to look more closely at the Roll with It tobacco shop surveillance video posted by that Sioux Falls paper:

Clip from Roll with It tobacco shop surveillance video, Sioux Falls, SD, 2012.02.12, posted by Argus Leader

O.K., I'm looking more closely...

Clip from Roll with It tobacco shop surveillance video, Sioux Falls, SD, 2012.02.12, posted by Argus Leader

There's Jenna at the counter, looking for fake pot. Who's that boy?

Clip from Roll with It tobacco shop surveillance video, Sioux Falls, SD, 2012.02.12, posted by Argus Leader

He's got nice hair, and we're all suckers for plaid, not to mention Jenna's hipster kicks....

But I'm not seeing it. Who is the mystery man?

My correspondent clears a deep throat: "Jenna's boyfriend—"

—Oh! Jenna has a boyfriend! How nice. Some conservatives were starting to wonder—

"—Isaac Latterell."

Isaac Latterell

Isaac Latterell

Isaac Latterell?! Wait a minute: he can't have time for a fruitless sting operation on a Sioux Falls incense dealer, let alone for a girlfriend. Doesn't he have to put together his fourth futile District 3 Legislative campaign?

Oh no, Aberdeen voters don't have Isaac Latterell to kick around any more. Latterell has moved to Tea, where he has filed to run for District 6 House alongside Herman Otten. If I'm reading the map correctly, this means someone is going to get his butt kicked by incumbent Rep. Gene Abdallah... if he gets around to filing his petition for re-election.

Rep. Jenna Haggar, "I"-15/Sioux Falls

Jenna Haggar, ready for a big date and historical lies

I cannot confirm any mushy stuff between Haggar and Latterell. But Facebook confirms that Haggar and Latterell are among those planning to attend a March 3 presentation by wingnut Kitty Werthmann, who will regale them with her usual lies and distortions about history, Nazis, socialism, and the President of the United States.

A clearer sign of a Haggar-Latterell connection is the similarity of their websites:

Jenna Haggar website homepage -- screen cap 2012.02.20

Jenna Haggar website homepage -- screen cap 2012.02.20

Isaac Latterell website homepage -- screen cap 2012.02.20

Isaac Latterell website homepage -- screen cap 2012.02.20

I've marked key similarities in green on Latterell's oddly named "WeAreTheKing" website (ah, the royal we? that could explain losing three elections). Among the similarities:

  • Haggar and Latterell both use WordPress, SimpleFolio theme.
  • Both use the same default favicon, that block capital S you see in the browser tab. (Latterell has worked as a technology consultant... but he sticks with the default favicon? Hmmm....)
  • Both use the same font.
  • Both have the same menu bar, just with Jenna's cleverly right-justified. (Get it? Right-justified? Isaac! You gotta do that!)
  • Scroll down and you'll find identical "What district do I live in? Where do I vote?" links in their right sidebars.

And perhaps most importantly, Haggar and Latterell share an almost complete lack of interest in discussing real, practical, South Dakota policy on their campaign websites. Haggar's Issues page at least mentions tackling crime on the mean streets of Sioux Falls. Latterell doesn't have Issues; he has Principles, a scroll of Tea Party karaoke that doesn't mention South Dakota once. Latterell sounds a lot like Jason Bjorklund, another ormer candidate who seemed to think he was auditioning for a radio talk show or John Adams Passion Play, not state legislator. Birds of a feather....

Haggar and Latterell appear to be made for each either. Neither is made for the Legislature. Let's give them both a chance to spend more time together... at home, in Sioux Falls and Tea, not in Pierre.

Update 18:39 MST: Oh yeah, and Haggar and Latterell made a joint appearance on Ryan Dobson's Grounded podcast on August 23, 2011. Dr. James Dobson's son thinks a politician knocking on doors is revolutionary political concept. Haggar says knocking on doors is not self-promotion, then says her election victory in 2010 was "God's blessing on my life and my neighborhood." The interviewers also consider the fact that Jenna still lives at home with Mom and Dad to be "just awesome." Dr. James Dobson might think otherwise. The interviewers also celebrate Haggar's lack of a college degree, suggesting that college smarts somehow prevent an individual from speaking with and understanding one's fellow citizens.

The interviewers refer to Isaac as Jenna's "assistant." Wow: is Rep. Haggar the first legislator to have an official "assistant"?


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