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.


I guess Pat Powers just can't get over using false fears about animal rights activists as a prod for his political agenda. In glorious Newspeak, Powers seeks support for a ban on paid petition circulators by saying that animal rights groups like the Right-dreaded HSUS are going to come threaten South Dakota agriculture with ballot measures. "They were active in pushing to make animal cruelty a felony in South Dakota," Powers says, "and now that they’ve got their foot in the door, it’s not going to end there."

Powers is lying... again. Follow his link on the discussion of making animal cruelty a felony in South Dakota. It opens a statement from the Human Society of the United States which cheers the passage of 2014's Senate Bill 46, the legislation that ended South Dakota's status as the only state not treating animal cruelty as a felony. HSUS says they "strongly supported" SB 46. They don't say they were "active" in "pushing" the bill, as Powers alleges. They never testified in favor of it. Recall who did support SB 46:

Presented by Dustin Oedenkoven, State Veterinarian

  • Trudy Wastweet, Dept of Agriculture
  • Lorin Pankratz, SD Pork Producers & SD Soybean Association
  • Michael Held, SD Farm Bureau
  • Paul Dennert, Farmers Union
  • Gary Sandborn, self, Madison
  • Margo Northrup, SD Livestock Markets
  • Brenda Forman, SD Association of Cooperatives, SD Cattlemen's Association, SD Ag Unity, SD Dairy Production & SD Stockgrowers
  • Shari Kosel, SD FACT, Lead [Senate Agriculture and Natural resources Committee, minutes, 2014.02.11]

SB 46 got and needed no push from the HSUS. It had the support of major state agencies and ag organizations. It passed the Republican Senate unanimously and the House easily. The Big Ag and Republicans supported was tougher than the 2013 animal-cruelty legislation proposed by SD FACT , a South Dakota, non-HSUS group. Our animal cruelty felony law is not a sign that we need to gird ourselves for an attack by out-state animal rights activists. If anything, it's a sign that even Republicans and Big Ag recognize that Pat Powers is full of crap.

When SD FACT launched its push for animal-cruelty laws in South Dakota, Powers rolled in his filthy falsehood with all the glee of a baby discovering the contents of its diaper. Why would Powers keep rolling in this lie? I'll have the analysis on the true political objective of his fear-mongering coming up in a separate post!


Speaking of right-wing misrepresentation of reality, I find Pat Powers is out twisting truth again. Sensing a threat, Powers turns his slime gun on South Dakota Progress, the new group forming to support Democratic candidates at the local level. Ignoring most of the facts in Seth Tupper's report on the group's swift evolution, Powers digs for one little hint of change and explodes it into a portent of doom. Writes Tupper:

The woman who distributed the initial news release and who was identified in that release as the chairwoman of the group’s steering committee, Tasiyagnunpa Livermont, has already left the group. She and [SD Progress member David] Hubbard both said she underestimated the time commitment and was pulled away by other matters [Seth Tupper, "New Democratic Organization Trains Candidates for Local Offices," Rapid City Journal, 2014.12.22].

Writes Powers: looks like one group formed to improve their electoral showing is already starting to dribble off members....

...Was that about 30 days, and people are already leaving? [Pat Powers, "Group Formed to Improve Dem Electoral Fortunes Already Fragmenting. And They Just Don’t Get It," Dakota War College, 2014.12.23]

Members, plural? People, plural? Tupper reports on one change, one person who participated in two meetings, accepted a leadership role, but then quickly stepped aside when she realized that this activist outlet wouldn't fit in her schedule. The situation doesn't sound much different from when I've directed plays and had one student-actor decide after a couple days that 6:30 a.m. rehearsals would not be good for her GPA. That's not mass defection or fragmentation; that's an individual making a choice that's healthy for herself and for the group. No story here.

But like a big round snowball, get Pat rolling, and he can't stop. He then takes a gratuitous and false swipe at resigning state Dems exec Zach Crago:

Interesting thing in the story about the Dem’s recent bad fortunes is that we’re not hearing about the biggest part of the South Dakota Democrat party’s problem, as illustrated by Zach Crago’s letter to activists as he quietly slipped out the door [Powers, 2014.12.22].

Never mind that Tupper's story is about the formation of a new group, not the fortunes of the state Democratic Party as a whole. (Tupper sensibly tackled that separate issue in a separate article.) Quietly slipping out the door insinuates something sneaky or shamefaced in Crago's resignation. Crago's departure was no more sneaky than SDGOP chairman Craig Lawrence's resignation announced last week. There's no sign he was punished or pushed out. Rather than quietly slipping out, he volunteers a public resignation letter, in which he says pretty much what you'd expect a good departing executive to say: our organization has had setbacks, but we've made great progress and we look ahead to a great future.

Pat, Pat, Pat, you're hearing things. Those echoes in your head are so noisy that you're missing what could be the big news in Tupper's report on South Dakota Progress. As I understood it, SD Progress originally declared its mission to include the recruitment, support, and election of Democrats in local and legislative races. Tupper downplays the legislative effort and reports the impression, held at least by our new Democratic leaders, that SD Progress will focus on local elections:

Neither the initial news release nor Hubbard, in his interview with the Journal, spoke of focusing exclusively on any particular level of politics. But there have been indications the group will keep its focus on local-level candidate recruiting and assistance.

Mavalwalla, in an interview with the Sioux Falls Argus Leader last month, said he’s proposing to focus on school board and city council candidates to create a bench of future county and state candidates.

Following a meeting of State Democratic Party officials with South Dakota Progress founders earlier this month, newly elected state Democratic Party Chairwoman Ann Tornberg said her understanding is that South Dakota Progress will recruit candidates for local-level positions like school boards and township boards. Joe Lowe, the state party’s newly elected vice chairman, expressed a similar view that South Dakota Progress will focus on city council and other local races [Tupper, 2014.12.22].

To be clear, here's how David Montgomery wrote the November comment to which Tupper refers:

The plan’s focus isn’t on winning high-profile races for governor or U.S. Senate. Instead, he’s proposing to recruit, train and fund Democrats running for school boards and city councils, creating a bench of elected Democrats who can then run for county offices and the state Legislature [David Montgomery, "South Dakota Democrats: An Idea to Rebuild," that Sioux Falls paper, 2014.11.14].

If Tupper's reporting is correct, SD Progress is staying out of direct involvement in legislative races, simply building the bench from which the state Dems can recruit legislative candidates. But as an outsider's outsider, I would suggest that limiting its mission to school board and city council races will make SD Progress's fundraising mission much more difficult. I understand the logic—build up local candidates now, field more experienced candidates for Legislature and beyond later—and some donors will, too. But some big money is going to want a big return right now, and that big return in the eyes of some eager donors will include immediate legislative wins.

South Dakota Progress is not fragmenting. Zach Crago is not sneaking away from the South Dakota Democratic Party. But the real news (i.e., actual events evidenced by actual things Tupper actually writes) may be that SD Progress and the Dems are signaling their modus accommodandi: the new group will focus on the local races where the party traditionally picks no horses, while the party will keep its jurisdiction over races for the Legislature.


Here, have another turkey sandwich...

Pat Powers commits more blogospheric malfeasance with a gratuitous attack on Ann Tornberg worthy of the Stranahan School of "Journalism." If you're able to read past the paralyzing funny headline, in which the man who defines party hackery calls Tornberg and Jeff Barth "Democrat party hacks," you'll find Powers reaching for an excuse to mention "Ann Tornberg" and "sexual assault" in the same paragraph.

Powers drags up a 2005 incident in which some Sioux Falls Roosevelt student-athletes engaged in sexual activity on a school bus on the way home from a football game in Spearfish. The incident led to one player pleading guilty to misdemeanor sexual contact with someone under 16. Students and coaches were disciplined, although, per contract and policy, the district did not publicize that discipline.

Powers then makes out Tornberg to be evil for doing her job as teachers' union leader at the time and defending the privacy rights of employees. He cites this passage from an offline December 2005 article from Dan Lederman's opposition research folder:

Ann Tornberg, president of the Sioux Falls Education Association, said contract provisions to protect an employee’s privacy are crucial. ‘The policy protects the rights of the employee,’ Tornberg said. She said Homan and the school district had followed the letter of the contract. ‘I compliment her for that. They have a high degree of professionalism,’ she said “District: Contract prevents report,” that Sioux Falls paper, 2005.12.10, cited in Pat Powers, "Democrat Party Hacks Trying to Out-Hack Each Other to Be the New SDDP Chair," Dakota War College, 2014.11.28].

If Tornberg's answer bears any fault, it lies in not ripping Superintendent Homan for her incautious damage-control e-mail that alerted the media to the discipline of the coaches. Otherwise, Tornberg spoke simple truth: employee privacy matters. Contract provisions matter. There's no hackery there, and certainly no embrace of sexual misconduct, as Powers so Stranahannily insinuates.

South Dakota Democrats will spend the next couple of weeks debating the relative qualifications of Ann Tornberg and Jeff Barth (and maybe others!) to lead their party to recovery and victory in 2016. Pat Powers will have nothing of intelligence or integrity to add to that debate.

Pat Powers and plank

Pat Powers's vision problem

This morning's review of Dakota War College finds Pat Powers wallowing in blogospherical inferiority and hypocrisy again.

Powers finds it useful to mock that Sioux Falls paper for not making a headline out of where Sioux Falls police found a suspected killer. Over John Hult's straightforward journalism on the arrest of Arthur L. Brundige for the murder of Sabrina White, some copy desk editor (quite possibly out of state at Gannett Central) places the headline, "Homeless Sex Offender Charged in Woman's Murder." Powers slobbers over the fact, reported by Hult, that the suspect was found by police working at the newspaper Wednesday stuffing ads in the Thanksgiving edition. The suspect "was not an Argus Leader employee," notes Hult, but was a temp hired by Labor Ready.

Powers smirks that Hult and the headline "minimize the fact he was physically working at the Argus" and "throw Labor Ready under the bus." Powers appears confused: there is no bus-throwing here, just an accurate reporting of the facts.

This is the same Powers who minimizes the fact that he himself was physically working in the Secretary of State's office while maintaining a business and website engaging in partisan activities that represented a conflict of interest with his job helping to manage elections. This is the same Pat Powers who never blanched at Mike Rounds's minimization and outright misrepresentation of his employerly responsibility for EB-5 czar Joop Bollen. Mike Rounds actually knew about and approved of the plan through which Bollen broke multiple state laws and policies and defrauded the state of millions of dollars, then tried to shirk responsibility for those activities off on the Board of Regents. In fact, while controversy raged during the Senate campaign over Rounds's involvement with Bollen's exploitation of the EB-5 program and mismanagement of Northern Beef Packers, Powers said nothing about Bollen from September 11 until November 13, after the election.

Powers mocks journalist John Hult for reporting facts while ignoring the far greater culpability of his own rich and powerful sponsor.


Pat Powers really doesn't like looking in the mirror.

Larry Kurtz announces a new blogging venture, the Dakota Progressive, a forum "affiliated" with the South Dakota Democratic Party and intended to "compete with the SDGOP blog, Dakota War College."

I'm not clear what either of those phrases mean. If they mean doing what Dakota War College does but for Democrats, expect a regular stream of party press releases shortly.

Whatever the mission, Powers evidently feels threatened, since he immediately turns up his tired "I hate Larry" rhetoric, accusing Kurtz of hate speech and bigotry. Ah, yes, whenever South Dakota Republicans start complaining about "hate speech" and "bigotry," you can bet they aren't defending other groups; they are defending themselves. Powers pans and bans Kurtz because Kurtz insults Powers and his fellow Catholics.

Powers's attack on Kurtz isn't much different from his attack on blogger Scott Ehrisman, whom Powers loathes because Ehrisman exposed the conflict of interest that pushed Powers out of his cushy patronage job in Secretary of State Jason Gant's office in 2012. Powers's attack isn't much different from the baseless insults he throws at me. Kurtz, Ehrisman, and I all disagree with and effectively challenge the party line Powers fawningly regurgitates. Rather than offering good faith rebuttals, Powers plays at personal destruction... which sounds at least as hateful and bigoted as anything Kurtz writes.

I will monitor Dakota Progressive's progress. I'll link to and expand on readworthy posts, and, as with other blogs, if Kurtz can sustain the effort, I'll consider adding it to the sidebar blog feed. But if it really just is a left-wing version of Dakota War College, a mouthpiece for party propaganda, why would I bother?


Pat Powers is having as bad a week as Mike Rounds. First he fouls the leverage his party minders could have gained with the Wismer plagiarism story by implicating his favorite flatteree Rounds in his fabricated fuss over Wismer's stock photos. And now real journalist Seth Tupper finds Powers flat wrong in his rumor-mongering about Brendan Johnson's house sale.

Powers had tried to Febreze his musty press releases by posting information about the U.S. Attorney selling his house, offering unsubstantiated anonymous hints that the Heidepriem law firm was rearranging partners, and concluding (behind the shield of blog-headline question marks, of course) that Johnson was quitting his job and heading to private practice in preparation to run for office in 2016.

Tupper, who now works for the paper that Powers criticized Wednesday for not maintaining a political reporter, reported yesterday that Powers is wrong:

It turns out the reality isn’t as buzzworthy as the gossip, according to Brendan Johnson. In an interview, Johnson said he has no plans to leave the U.S. attorney’s office in the immediate future and simply sold his former house in Minnehaha County and bought a different one in neighboring Lincoln County.

A check of records in Lincoln County confirms that the Johnsons bought a house there Aug. 18. A county fee of 50 cents per $500 was charged, and that fee came to $1,500, which means the purchase price was likely around $1.5 million.

“Just wanted to be closer to my wife’s office and have more garage space for our two teen drivers,” Johnson said [Seth Tupper, "Tongues Wagging Prematurely about U.S. Attorney," Rapid City Journal, 2014.09.26].

Jeepers! If Pat Powers were reporting on the Governor's Office of Economic Development/Northern Beef Packers/EB-5 scandal, Pat Powers-of-Deduction would be "reporting" that Richard Benda was abducted by aliens who sucked all the blood out of his body through a single small hole in his abdomen. Gee—that might actually be more fun than his endless and error-riddled obsession with Brendan Johnson.


As predicted, the SDGOP spin machine has reversed its embrace of the latest Survey USA poll on South Dakota's big political races.

On Tuesday, when Pat Powers thought the Survey USA Senate race results affirmed his snarky theses about Weiland being an awful candidate and heading for third place, he gleefully bruited the poll in multiple posts. He called the results fact and chortlingly concluded they meant the death of the Democratic Party.

But then Pat realized what the poll results really say:

  1. His man Mike Rounds is the awful candidate, the big-money erstwhile foregone conclusion who now can't buy his way past 40%.
  2. The Independent Larry Pressler, whom Powers mercilessly and classlessly mocks at every turn, has (in John Tsitrian's priceless words) managed to "stumble into factor-hood" and has a campaign on fire.
  3. Corinna Robinson and Angelia Schultz can poll within striking distance of their supposedly popular Republican counterparts without lifting a finger.
  4. And the biggest vote getter on the ballot will be Initiated Measure 18, the Democratic measure to raise South Dakota's minimum wage.

"Pretty soon Pat Powers is going to figure out that he shouldn't be crowing about the latest Survey USA poll," I wrote yesterday. "Expect some fake analysis from Pat any moment now explaining why we can't trust Survey USA."

Cue fake analysis:

I’ve reached the conclusion based on these wildly varying results that I’m not buying it. And I suspect Democrats are over represented in the poll.

Part of the problem is, according to its methodology, it’s a push button poll combined with Internet polling [Pat Powers, "Anyone Buying the Survey USA Polling Anymore?" Dakota War College, 2014.09.12].

Get Pat started on math, and things are bound to go wrong.

Sorry, Pat. Democrats were not over-represented. Look at the grey line at the bottom of each question's breakdown, showing "Composition of Likely Voters." Then call your pal and former patron Secretary of State Jason Gant to compare those numbers with South Dakota's voter registration totals as of September 2, the day before Survey USA started calling:

Survey USA Voter Reg
GOP 50% 47%
Dem 33% 34%
Indy 16% 19%

Survey USA over-represented Republicans, not Democrats. Survey USA under-represented Independents. A more representative sample would have put Rounds even lower and Weiland and Pressler even closer to pulling off the upset of the decade.

Pat expresses concern that Survey USA used online polling. Pat links to the wrong methodology page, which doesn't mention the Internet. The poll page itself explains the methodology better:

Cell-phone and home-phone respondents included in this research: SurveyUSA interviewed 775 South Dakota adults 09/03/14 through 09/07/14. Of the adults, 674 were registered to vote. Of the registered voters, 510 were determined by SurveyUSA to be likely to vote in the 11/04/14 general election. This research was conducted using blended sample, mixed mode. Respondents reachable on a home (landline) telephone (88% of likely voters) were interviewed on their home telephone in the recorded voice of a professional announcer. Respondents not reachable on a home telephone (12% of likely voters) were shown a questionnaire on their tablet, smartphone, or other electronic device [Survey USA, "In Solid Red South Dakota, Republican Rounds is Held to 39%...," 2014.09.12].

12% of respondents answered online. That 12%, accessed from lists purchased from various vendors, showed the same support for Weiland, two points less for Rounds, and three points less for Pressler than the landline respondents. Pat does not provide any analysis about why those results are less trustworthy. But I can tell you that 12% under-represents the number of South Dakotans who have no landline.

And if Pat is going to reject polls that combine online polling and phone-button responses, he's going to have to throw out all of his old posts trumpeting Rasmussen Reports. Read their methodology: they do pretty much the same thing, with robocalls augmented by a sample of landline abandoners with an "online survey tool."

I wonder if Pat's even trying any more. He doesn't offer analysis, just wishful thinking frosting his sponsors' press releases. Why bother, Pat?


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