Rep. Kristi Noem, Senator John Thune, and celebrate the passage of the Black Hills Cemetery Act, which transfers ownership of nine Black Hills cemeteries to local communities:

I am thrilled to see the U.S. Senate take up this important legislation and finally put it on the President’s desk for his signature.... These cemeteries tell the stories of the people and communities that built their lives in rural South Dakota over the last two centuries.  I’m proud the federal government will now turn ownership of these sacred grounds to their rightful owners:  the communities that have maintained them for generations [Rep. Kristi Noem, press release, 2014.07.09].

How nice to see Republicans support the restoration of sacred grounds to their rightful owners

—uh oh. The Black Hills are replete with American Indian burial sites, but the sacredness of the Paha Sapa goes beyond the known and unknown graves:

The entire Black Hills are sacred, not just one place, one burial site, one prayer site. There is a sacred energy field around the Black Hills. How far does it extend? One elder said that it continues about 50 miles around the Black Hills. How can people who believe that only man-made designations, such as a church or a cemetery are called sacred, understand a sacred space and landscape that extend for hundreds of miles? That is why Defenders of the Black Hills have as our motto: "Remember, the Black Hills are sacred." We ask only that respect be given for another peoples' understanding of spirituality. Maybe that respect will begin to generate more concrete actions that will contribute to the restoration of these sacred grounds [Charmaine White Face, "The Sacred Black Hills," Sacred-Sites.org, downloaded 2014.07.11].

Now you may think talk of sacred energy fields is hooey (if so, how do you feel about the Bakken?), but the Supreme Court made clear in the Hobby Lobby decision that the state is not to question religious claims.

So with Congresswoman Noem surrendering federal land to locals with beliefs in the sacred value of the land, her support for handing the Black Hills over to the Lakota people cannot be far behind.

4 comments

Ballotpedia posts a list of the 26 House races it finds competitive. South Dakota's is not among them.

One step toward making Corinna Robinson's challenge to Rep. Kristi Noem #27 on that list is trumpeting the long-anticipated publication of Robinson's Issues page on her campaign website. What's she got?

Jobs: Robinson says Noem's partisanship has contributed to the lack of action from Congress on jobs. In her most substantive statement, Robinson promises to "fight for much-needed improvements to critical infrastructure, fullly support the use of solar and wind energy to help keep our environment safe while helping create new green jobs right here in South Dakota." Rather than go for the green-jobs enchilada, Rep. Noem supports a few temporary jobs to build a tar sands pipeline that will raise our gasoline prices and cost us long-term jobs.

Children and Education: Robinson expresses support for early childhood education and Head Start. Rep. Noem, as we know, helped kick 57,000 kids out of Head Start. Robinson also strikes a Weiland-Warrenesque position calling for giving student-loan holders the same interest-rate breaks international banks get via corporate welfare. Meanwhile, Rep. Noem tells folks worried about student debt to get a job.

Veterans: Robinson dings Rep. Noem for voting to cut funding for veterans' programs. She says "it’s high time we had one of our own representing South Dakota military families in Washington." Showing her stripes is one good way for Robinson to cut into Noem's traditional conservative base... but let's hope she doesn't succeed so well with that argument that she gets Rick Weiland supporters to all flip to Vietnam veteran Larry Pressler.

"A Soldier's Pledge to Defend the Second Amendment": I feel an urge to roll my eyes. Really, Corinna? Do we have to roll over to the misguided gun-nuttery? Can no one run for office in this state without waving a gun and dead critters around?

But wait: Corinna sends me a little code, saying that she "sincerely understand[s] the purpose of the second amendment ~ to provide for a militia in defense of our great nation."

Hmm... she may not understand the purpose of a tilde and an em dash, but Robinson alludes here to the traditionalist, limited interpretation of the Second Amendment that I'd be happy to hear more of: the Founders saw firearms as a means of national defense, not an excuse to walk into a bar or courthouse with a machine gun strapped to your back.

Agriculture: Robinson says Rep. Noem stalled the 2012 Farm Bill, causing food prices to rise. I might need to see some more data on that:

  • Bread spiked in anticipation of the 2012 failure, but actually dropped a bit right after the 2012 failure and has stayed pretty much at the high to which it climbed from 2004 to 2008.
  • Ground beef has risen sharply since 2010, but that price climb stalled while the Farm Bill was in limbo, then bounced up when the Farm Bill finally passed last February.
  • Eggs are following what looks like an typical inflationary trend, with a slight bounce when the Farm Bill failed in 2012, then a drop, then a climb right through passage in February 2014, then a slight drop this May... all the while remaining below the peak price of March 2008.
  • Milk prices plummeted in November 2012 and have remained below their 2011 and 2012 peaks.

Robinson also dings Noem for the $3.4 million in farm subsidies her family has collected. An issue that has non-fatally hobbled Noem's conservative credentials since her first Congressional camapign. Remember, Robinson has received paychecks from the government all her life, but she actually worked for that money.

It's good to see that Robinson has settled on a policy platform. Now let's see her get the voters talking about that platform and asking their Congresswoman why she hasn't done better on those issue.

10 comments

Pat Powers enjoys dismissing my criticism of Rep. Kristi Noem's bad policy, laziness, vacuousness, and legislative ineffectiveness as childish insults or mental disorder. If Pat thinks my policy critiques of Noem are deranged, his own obsession with attacking Democratic candidate for Secretary of State Angelia Schultz must warrant a straitjacket. Unable to tolerate a strong woman who disagrees with him, Pat is on a blog campaign to discredit the Aberdeen writer and former Defense intelligence analyst as a bitchy teen drama queen.

Compare Pat's vitriol with the reasonable portrait Ken Santema painted of Schultz based on his interview with her during her unsuccessful campaign for the District 3 Democratic Senate nomination. As a Libertarian, Santema is principledly conservative than Powers, yet he appears not to find Schultz a threat or an object of ridicule. He deems Schultz logical, knowledgeable, and less partisan than he expected.

But as usual, when someone challenges one of Pat's political patrons, Pat goes on the attack. Angelia Schultz is challenging Shantel Krebs, a key cog in the GOP-Rounds political machine whose favor Pat so craves. Thus, Angelia Schultz is a mean girl.

The proper response to any lecture from Pat Powers about pettiness, cattiness, and "talking smack about other politicos" is to point a mirror his way (preferably a mirror with hyperlinks to Pat's own catty smack here, here, here, here, and here... and that's just since June 26).

The proper response also includes linking to Larry Kurtz's stunning claim that Shantel Krebs may be the queen of the SDGOP mean girls. According to Kurtz, Shantel Krebs, who served in the Legislature with Noem, is the source of the story he ran in 2010 accusing then-candidate Kristi Noem of adultery.

Imagine it: a Republican woman is running to unseat a Democratic incumbent, and another Republican woman calls a blogger five steps to my left to tell him the Republican candidate has cheated on her husband. If true, that story would pretty much negate any mewling Pat makes about his party's uncatty moral superiority.

89 comments

Pat Powers parrots another press release from Rep. Kristi Noem claiming that she led the House in passing the Reliable Home Heating Act. Given that the bill, sponsored by Senator John Thune and co-sponsored by Senator Tim Johnson, coasted through the Senate in May on unanimous consent and yesterday in the House by voice vote, saying Rep. Noem "led" passage is like saying I got the sun to rise by heading west.

The Reliable Home Heating Act isn't a terrible idea. The bill arose from last winter's propane shortage, when South Dakotans and others saw supply dwindle and prices jump due to, among other factors, propane exports growing faster than production and farmers burning up propane to dry a bigger and damper than usual corn crop. It acknowledges that when folks are freezing, we need to move fuel out faster.

Governors can already declare 30-day residential heating fuel emergencies, during which fuel trucks are exempted from certain federal highway safety regulations (specifically, 49 CFR 3 Parts 390–399). The Reliable Home Heating Act authorizes governors to extend those emergencies twice, for a total of 90 days. It also directs the Energy Information Administration to notify governors of possible home heating fuel shortages. In the latter, Rep. Noem, Senator Thune, and the rest of Congress are acknowledging that the market fails, that government has to monitor supplies of vital resources to ensure their proper distribution.

Alas, deregulation and monitoring do not do much to address the fundamental market failures that constrained domestic supply and jacked up prices. Letting bosses require truckers to drive longer without sleep and skipping inspections and maintenance aren't the safest ways to ensure that folks on the reservation don't freeze to death. Helping all South Dakotans afford a reliable supply of propane will take more than some feel-good temporary deregulation.

16 comments

Pat Powers must have found the South Dakota Republican Convention really boring. After touting his supposedly riveting on-site coverage, Powers couldn't find much more interesting to post live from Rapid City than seemingly random dumps of unlabeled, uninformative photos (proving that Pat's blog doesn't seek to inform but rather stroke egos and curry favor among party insiders) and blather about beverages (though I did find interesting Pat's evidence that the SDGOP convention runs on Food for Votes). Ultimately, things were so slow, Powers decided to bug out early and leave it to the real journalists to report the real news from the convention...

...like the SDGOP's embarrassing resolution calling for the impeachment of the President of the United States. Anti-abortion crusader Allen Unruh proposed the divisive resolution, which passed 191 to 176.

This nonsense is too much even for Rep. Kristi Noem to take:

Noem, who addressed the Republican convention Saturday morning, hours before the resolutions was voted on, doesn't believe impeachment is the "best way" to deal with Obama.

"The congresswoman currently believes the best way for Congress to hold the president accountable is to continue aggressive committee oversight and investigations into the administration's actions like the ongoing VA scandal, the targeting of conservative groups by the IRS, Benghazi, and the recent Taliban prisoner exchange," said Brittany Comins, Noem's spokesperson [David Montgomery, "S.D. Republican Party Calls for Obama Impeachment," Political Smokeout, 2014.06.21].

Oddly, the Republican convention chose not to ride another big conservative hobbyhorse, Common Core paranoia. Offered an opportunity to debate the oft-bashed curriculum standards, the convention instead approved a resolution that doesn't mention Common Core but requires that any multi-state standards and tests be approved by the Legislature... because of course, Republicans like to involve big government in education, as long as it's a government that they control.

(Meanwhile, the only resolution Powers covers live from Rapid City is the resolution recognizing crony capitalist Craig Lawrence for his service as SDGOP chair. Again, stroke, curry.)

Oh yeah, and in the only contested nomination race, South Dakota Republicans picked Senator Shantel Krebs over Deputy Secretary of State Patricia Miller to run for Secretary of State, because even Republicans agree that a lady who sold shoes can run elections better than a lady who works for the current corrupt and incompetent Jason Gant.

p.s.: Bob Mercer thinks Krebs is such a strong pick that South Dakota Democrats won't bother to run someone against her. Dems, please prove Mercer wrong

135 comments

As President Obama responds to the collapse of Iraq by talking to Iran and sending 275 troops to secure the embassy in Baghdad, South Dakota's Democratic candidate for U.S. House Corinna Robinson sees an opportunity to remind voters of her foreign policy experience and ask for their cash. The following fundraising note went out Monday:

As the security of the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, Iraq, is under the threat of an al-Qaida inspired insurgency, please pray for those in harm's way. I was privileged to serve alongside State Department and Interagency personnel there twice. As a Deputy Provost Marshal assigned to 4th Infantry Division, and subesquently as a civilian serving as a Director of Legislative Affairs, I know first-hand how critical it is to protect our national security mission there.

And just as in Iraq, our Nation and South Dakota deserve an experienced leader that will effectively deter risks of violence, terrorism, kidnapping, and human trafficking. This is a time where reckless partisanship in Congress and fruitless attacks on our current administration are not going to ease tensions. We must all come together to support the deployment of 100 Marines and Army soldiers to assist in keeping our Embassy safe. As such, I am committed to representing our Nation and South Dakota in Congress.

To do this, I need your support. I look forward to the challenges ahead during my campaign. My goal, and I hope your goal also, is to restore a strong voice in Congress for all South Dakotans and our great Nation.

Your financial contributions are crucial to this goal. It is an ardurous but enjoyable task to travel across my home state of South Dakota as one sole district. Your contributions enable my team to call voters, knock on doors, disseminate campaign literature, sign up absentee voters, and assist with the "Get Out the Vote" operations.

I am asking for your sincere and immediate support. Every contribution benefits our cause. If you can contribute monthly to help build the campaign’s momentum – even better!

My campaign does not cater to the Tea Party money machine or anonymous donors financing attack ads. That makes your contribution that much more critical in our grassroots effort to have our message reach all South Dakotans. Who knows, this race may be just another Eric Cantor/Kristi Noem defeat. Together you and I can win this election and ensure success in defending America's interests ~ at home or abroad!

In selfless service,

Corinna

Paid for by Corinna for SD
Corinna for SD
P.O. Box 3432
Rapid City SD 57709 United States

I'll be curious to see how much fundraising and vote-getting impact foreign policy will have on South Dakotans. It had zero impact in the GOP Senate primary, where a retired Marine came in third and an active Army reservist came in dead last behind a smiling insurance salesman.

For better or for worse, Congresswoman Kristi Noem does not appear to have issued a formal statement or Tweet or anything else on Iraq. We'll see if she joins her Republican colleagues in urging us to go to war again in Iraq, or if she just focuses on the House GOP leadership contest.

20 comments

When it comes to climate change, Republicans are like our drunk uncle: he won't admit he has a drinking problem, but he sure likes us to spend our money bailing him out when his drinking wraps his car around a tree and puts him in jail.

Rep. Kristi Noem and Senator John Thune are both pleased that the Farm Bill directs more resources to the Black Hills to fight the pine beetle. But the pine beetle epidemic is brought to us in part by climate change:

Scientists say climate change is to blame: Winters haven’t been cold enough to reduce beetle populations. The average U.S. temperature has increased as much as 1.9 degrees Fahrenheit (1.06 Celsius) since 1895, with most occurring since 1970, according to the National Climate Assessment issued in May by the Obama administration.

The warming let beetles proliferate at higher elevations and latitudes, and resulted in more generations per year in some areas, according to a 2011 Forest Service report [Jennifer Oldham, "Pine Beetles Ravaging Forests Strain Budgets in U.S. West," Bloomberg, 2014.06.02].

Climate change is causing problems the cost South Dakota and Uncle Sam money. Yet Rep. Noem and Senator Thune have both supported legislation that prevent us from addressing or even studying climate change. When President Barack Obama tries to tackle the cause of climate change, Senator Thune cries "Energy tax!"

Listen to the Republicans, and we'll end up with ears full of sand and Hills full of dead trees as we treat the symptoms but ignore the disease of climate change.

69 comments

Rep. Kristi Noem voted against an appropriations amendment in a midnight session today. Her Republican colleague from California, Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, brought an amendment to prohibit the Drug Enforcement Agency from raiding medical marijuana operations in states that have legalized such businesses. That's 22 states right now, plus D.C.

Rep. Noem chose to keep sending government agents between patients and their doctors. and between citizens and states' rights. But 49 Republicans and 170 Democrats voted for the amendment and got it into the bill, medical marijuana will be part of the discussion in conference committee.

Three House Republicans are also doctors. Two voted nay, one voted aye. Here's what they said:

The debate pitted three House Republicans who also are doctors against one another. Rep. Andy Harris (R-Md.) and Rep. John Fleming (R-La.) opposed the amendment, while Rep. Paul Broun (R-Ga.) supported it.

Harris insisted that there were no medical benefits to marijuana and that medical marijuana laws were a step toward legalizing recreational pot.

"It's the camel's nose under the tent," said Harris. He cited piece of anti-marijuana propaganda published by the DEA this month that claimed medical marijuana was just "a means to an end" -- the eventual legalization of marijuana for recreational purposes. The taxpayer-funded report uses scare quotes around the word "medical."

"I don't think we should accept at all that this is history in the making," said Fleming, who lamented earlier this month that it wasn't realistic to make alcohol illegal.

Broun said there were "very valid medical reasons" to use marijuana extracts or products. "It's less dangerous than some narcotics that doctors prescribe all over this country," Broun said. He said medical marijuana was a states' rights issue and Congress needed to "reserve the states’ powers under the Constitution" [Ryan J. Reilly and Matt Ferner, "House Blocks DEA from Targeting Medical Marijuana," Huffington Post, 2014.05.30].

I don't like smoking any kind of Camels.

Rep. Noem will likely be the subject of the next angry video from South Dakotans Against Prohibition, who can perhaps upgrade their production values with the big money they've made painting propaganda for illegitimate U.S. Senate candidate Annette Bosworth, who occasionally pretends she is Kristi Noem. But given their angry scattershot approach to politics, SDAP will likely end up making more people think Noem voted right on this bill.

36 comments

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