Friend and blogger Don Carr has pointed out the scientific disconnect Senator John Thune and other tools of the plutocracy exhibit in their embrace of scientific evidence to defend genetically modified crops and their rejection of scientific evidence to fight climate-change legislation.

The statements of South Dakota's Secretary of Agriculture Lucas Lentsch on GMO labeling also display the Republican incoherence on federalism:

The National Association of State Departments of Agriculture have passed a resolution supporting a national uniform labeling policy for genetically modified foods. South Dakota Agriculture Secretary Lucas Lentsch says a national standard is needed to overcome all the problems caused by different and diverse state regulations that hamper bio technology.

[Sec. Lentsch]: "The reason why that's so important to get a national footprint on it is to stop the piecemeal approach. You know, in Oregon, there was one county that decided to take on GMO lableing. If you could imagine the patchwork that would happen at a local level across our country, it... would be impossible to try to even manage that. I think that provides clarity and consistency for our consumers" ["NASDA Wants National GMO Labeling," WNAX Radio, 2015.02.09].

Remember, Lentsch directed the SDGOP, which avidly supports states rights and local control on issues like immigration and teacher pay when it suits their agenda. But let states jump ahead on health and environmental concerns that cut into corporate profits, and letting the small laboratories of democracy try different things becomes a piecemeal, patchwork mess that must be ironed out by big government.

Secretary Lentsch underscores a running theme in SDGOP politics: their only principle is power. Their only goal is serving the corporate colonizers who want what they want and will use any available tools and rhetoric to get it.

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The South Dakota Department of Agriculture and independent dairy producers have been tussling all year over raw milk regulations. The state, which has a clear bias against anyone other than huge CAFO mega-dairies trying to make milk, has proposed rules that hamstring the efforts of small dairy operations to sell their product on the local market. After rejecting loads of public comment and suggestions and pushing a set of myth-based rules, Secretary of Agriculture Lucas Lentsch got sent back to the drawing board by the Legislative Rules Committee for more analysis and clarity.

Incredibly, Secretary Lentsch still doesn't get. His department has posted new raw milk rules, and according to Dakota Rural Action, they are identical to the previously rejected rules.

We believe in adequate regulations for direct-to-consumer raw milk sales, and these rules don’t fit the bill. We have also seen how confusing the law is regarding raw milk, and we believe the Department needs to wait to pass rules until after the law is clarified.

You and many other South Dakotans have already made their voices heard on this issue. Now we need to make sure the Department knows citizens are fed up. DRA member leaders will be submitting all the previous comments sent to the Department for this rules hearing, so they can’t ignore what South Dakotans have already said about these rules.And, for the third (and hopefully final) time, we are asking you to send a comment to the SD Department of Agriculture at agmail@state.sd.us. They need to know they have to listen to their citizens – not just wear them down through hearing after hearing [Dakota Rural Action, "Raw Milk (Over)Regulations: Third Time's the Charm?" 2013.10.02].

The South Dakota Department of Agriculture seems determined to keep its fingers stuck in its ears until the folks they're trying to drive out of business get tired of shouting. But don't give up, small dairy friends! Keep up the pressure, and keep pointing out how resistant this particular branch of our government (our government) is to the voice of the people.

And look on the bright side: as you prepare to head to Pierre for another rules hearing (Wednesday, October 9, 10:00 a.m. Central at the Capitol, Room 412), you don't have to do any new prep work. Secretary Lentsch didn't take the time to write new, better rules, so you should be free to reread the same good arguments against them.

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Republican spinster Pat Powers decries Stephanie Herseth Sandlin's work as a lobbyist, then in its next breath calls Governor Dennis Daugaard's choice of lobbyist and former GOP exec Lucas Lentsch a "great pick." Powers breathes not a word about Senator and blog sponsor John Thune's work as a lobbyist during his Congressional hiatus between 2002 and 2004.

David Newquist duly skewers the willfully sloppy journalism behind the Herseth Sandlin complaint. He finds Powers misattributed the original attack to the wrong TV station, quietly and without apology changed the citation after real journalists corrected him. The "story" turned out to come from conservative hack paper the Washington Times and known ultra-conservative windbag Shad Olson. So much for credibility.

On lobbying, reporter Bob Mercer runs interference for Lentsch and says he only lobbied for one megadairy organization. Former SDGOP chair Joel Rosenthal runs better interference, telling Powers and the party to quit whining and focus on real issues:

There are strong contrasts between Republicans and Democrats. Republicans believe in more self-reliance, Democrats in more government reliance. Under Democrat leadership budget deficits and the National Debt are exploding. Democrats want more spending and more taxes, the GOP wants spending reform. Obama care is imploding and as full enactment comes to fruition, Citizens are taking notice that the Affordable Health Care is actually the Un Affordable Health Care Act.
Yet, we hear GOP activists’ rants about Nepotism and Lobbying, i.e. Johnson, Inc. and Herseth Sandlin is a lobbyist. Is this the best the GOP can do? Whine and Complain?
Members of both parties lobby. Tom Daschle, John Thune, Stephanie Herseth Sandlin and even today it’s reported the new SD Secretary of Agriculture, former Division Director at SD Ag and former Executive Director of the Republican Party recently was a lobbyist. The pols if they think it is wrong should be critical of all participants regardless of Party [Joel Rosenthal, "People Who Live in Glass Houses," South Dakota Straight Talk, 2013.04.03].

It's good to hear the GOP still has some grown-ups in the room. Now if they just had some regular blogs offering some original and philosophically consistent analysis instead of just the same old willfully deceptive spin.

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SDPB's Dakota Midday yesterday featured a conversation with state GOP exec Lucas Lentsch and Dems exec Ben Nesselhuf. Mr. Kurtz found the interview...well, one-sided. I also found cause for grief.

Lentsch said that Republicans heard the voters telling them in November that they don't want to pay more taxes. Lentsch is apparently as deaf to public support for paying more taxes for education as Senate Majority Leader Russell Olson.

Mr. Lentsch also said the GOP line is to not take money out of citizens' pockets in the midst of hard economic times. I thus e-mailed this question to the program: "Does Mr. Lentsch feel local school districts should take the same position and not try to replace any cuts in state aid with increases in local tax assessments?"

Lentsch asked host Paul Guggenheimer to repeat the question, then mumbled the usual trope about GOP support for local control. An hour later, Governor Dennis Daugaard said in his State of the State Address, "A recession is the worst time to raise taxes." (Never mind that the recession ended nationally in 2009, and that as far as I know, South Dakota's GDP never showed a decrease.)

Let me check this with you Republican readers: If you think raising taxes is will hurt the economy, does it matter if those taxes are raised by the Legislature or by your school board? Suppose the state cuts K-12 funding 10% and every school board raises its taxes 10% to make up the difference. Wouldn't that do the same harm Lentsch and Olson fret about?

I would think true fiscal conservatives would be obliged to come home from Pierre and campaign against local tax increases as well. (By the way, Russ, how are you voting on the Madison HS new gym/renovation bond issue?) Lentsch's performance yesterday suggests that Republicans in Pierre just want to pass the buck rather than provide the bucks.

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