At least he won't go hungry... (Lee Schoenbeck and friends, from Schoenbeck Twitter feed, 2014.11.14)

At least he won't go hungry... (Lee Schoenbeck and friends, from Schoenbeck Twitter feed, 2014.11.14)

Not only did the 2014 election deprive us the pleasure of testing Lee Schoenbeck's commitment to disenfranchising District 3 and RV voters, but the legislative caucus has deprived us the pleasure of Lee Schoenbeck's leadership. Despite months of machinating by Watertown's imminently Rotunda-revisiting Representative-Elect, GOP House members and members-elect picked Rep. Steve Westra of Sioux Falls as their assistant majority leader.

Rep.-Elect Schoenbeck has graced these blog pages for years with numerous intelligent, kind, and/or provocative comments. Rep. Westra has yet to contribute any thoughts to our rollicking civic discussion. One can only conclude that Schoenbeck possesses an intellect far superior to Westra's and that the SDGOP has passed up an opportunity to boost its collective IQ and Blog-Q.

We can only hope Schoenbeck will emerge smiling from this defeat and use the extra time left in his hands by his colleagues to post more blog comments... and maybe call some more Republicans S.O.B.'s who have it coming.

19 comments

Senator Ted Cruz tells us that net neutrality would slow down the Internet like the Affordable Care Act is slowing down health care. (Two responses to Cruz's absurdity: net neutrality is not the ACA, and one survey finds appointment wait times for five health care specialties in 15 markets decreased from 20.4 days in 2009 to 18.5 days in 2013.) Senator John Thune argues the EPA is overreaching with proposed water rules that would regulate fewer bodies of water than Reagan-era rules did. Senator-Elect Mike Rounds and his friends spew ever varying yet equally bogus estimates of the investment capital and jobs produced by South Dakota's EB-5 program. Pat Powers bleats that "liberal" politics caused the Democrats' defeat last week, when a majority of South Dakotans embraced liberal politics by raising the minimum wage.

Republicans have profoundly disconnected themselves from simple truth. In a Tweet-essay (my stars, what is 21st-century language becoming?) Grist writer David Roberts calls this attitude "postmodern conservatism." America's conservatives have "systematically and progressively destroyed the very notion of a nonpartisan arbiter of information." Conservatives, says Roberts, have accepted a notion that liberals cannot: there are no facts, just competing arguments, and every dispute not a search for truth but a "contest of power" in which the "loudest, best funded, most persistent voices win."

More than twenty years ago, when I was waging rhetorical war against my multiculturalism-peddling Human Relations professors at SDSU, I thought it was liberals and Democrats like Bill and Hillary Clinton who would destroy America with their sinister value relativism.

I was wrong. It is Republicans who are shedding their commitment to any absolutes other than absolute power. It is Republicans who are undermining America's moral compass. It is Republicans whom we must defeat to preserve the Republic.

20 comments

In small potatoes, Pat Powers farmer-blows his nose on my analysis of the real reasons South Dakota Democrats lost this week and summarizes the Republican effort to brand Democrats in one telling sentence:

I had to chuckle this noon hour as Cory Heidelberger lifted his head from crying in his GMO free corn flakes to offer a sniveling retort to the reality of election 2014, known by Democrats as “Ragnarok” [Pat Powers, "Retort to My Analysis of the Races Forgets a Couple of Things," Dakota War College, 2014.11.07].

GMO-free corn flakes. The proper, immediate, and sufficient response to any comment about my diet is what's it to ya?

I'm going to run down this rabbit hole, because I think Pat makes an important point here about how South Dakota Republicans operate. For the record:

  1. Pat Powers has never had breakfast with me.
  2. I have not eaten corn flakes for months.
  3. Both of the cereals I ate yesterday came from Wal-mart.
  4. I ate a big cheeseburger and onion rings for supper yesterday.
  5. I have never checked any of my breakfasts, lunches, or suppers for GMO content.
  6. Whether one bothers to check one's food for GMOs is as much someone else's business as your choice of boxers, briefs, or commando.
  7. Whether one eschews GMOs tells us nothing about a person's ability to intelligently analyze and comment on South Dakota politics.

Without any evidence or basis in knowledge or fact, Republican Pat is ascribing to Democrat me a food-protest elitism that he and his ilk like to think of as effete and risible. Pat doesn't want you to look at what I'm actually saying about the issue at hand. He wants to hang a fabricated label on me, make it mean what he wants, and use that double falsehood to dismiss my arguments without reading them.

I hear an echo here of how certain opponents attack President Barack Obama by calling him a Muslim. Never mind that public facts demonstrate that President Obama is at least as Christian as anyone in South Dakota. Never mind that there's nothing inherently wrong with being Muslim. People who hate the President grab a label—Muslim—invest that label with a negative connotation, and then hang it on the President to dismiss him, contrary to fact, without looking at what the President really says and does religiously, not to mention politically.

Now zoom out to how South Dakota Republicans use Obama and liberal against South Dakota Democrats. Republicans, even those of often good conscience, hung the Obama label on Democrats (even Dems running for Legislature, where President Obama's policies are far less relevant) and told South Dakotans, "Don't vote for Obama!" GOP vilification of the President was so damning that Democrats themselves ran away from a President with a steady job restoration record and a big basket of other great policy achievements.

Likewise liberal. I can't even tell (and I'll bet most South Dakotans can't either) what liberal means in the contemporary political vernacular. Is it handing out government money? Is it increasing government control? Is it running a budget deficit? Is it simply passing new laws instead of sticking with the status quo? But the South Dakota Republicans who do all of those things plow forth unabashed, shouting Liberal! at South Dakota Democrats, who run for their lives from a word turned meaning-free insult.

Never mind what I eat. I'm a liberal. I believe in maximizing liberty for every citizen. I believe in using the power we have as a community to solve problems.

And I believe in using words to educate and enlighten citizens, not to insult others and avoid unpleasant truths.

72 comments

Dakota War College lurches toward the weekend seeing two of its favorite Republican legislators losing Republican endorsements to their Democratic counterparts. Three high-profile former Republican legislators are endorsing District 10 Senate Democratic candidate Michael Schultz over DWC pin-up Rep. Jenna Haggar. Schultz's résumé is far deeper than Haggar's, including his time as mayor of Brandon. And the three Republicans picking his experience over Haggar's conservative cheerleader act are no lightweights: they are former Sioux Falls mayor Dave Munson, former U.S. Marshall and South Dakota Highway Patrol chief Gene Abdallah, and former teacher and principal Jan Nicolay. Munson, Nicolay, and Abdallah each represented Haggar's district in Pierre, and they say Schultz represents the "Strong—Stable—Effective" choice for District 10 today.

I reported last night that District 16 Senate Democratic candidate Ann Tornberg is posting endorsements from registered Republicans and high-profile Dakota Dunes neighbors of GOP Senator Dan Lederman. And hey, this morning, here come two more!

Friebergs for Tornberg 20141031

Wow—add to those endorsements to West River Republican Pat Trask's repudiation of Mike Rounds this week, and could we be seeing a trend of Republicans trading the Powers/Wadhams-style politics for smart, qualified candidates and good government?

13 comments

It's not just Mike Rounds who shouts "Obama!" to get votes. The South Dakota Republican Party is fanning anti-Obama sentiment in the District 16 Senate race to protect Senator Dan Lederman from strong Democratic challenger Ann Tornberg.

The desperate measure of trying to nationalize a state legislative contest may not be working. Tornberg is posting endorsements from registered Republicans:

Roark for Tornberg

Tony Roark, Republican, Jefferson City Council

I serve on the Jefferson City Council. I believe in local control and as far as possible, for those in Pierre to leave local decisions to local city officials. I was disappointed in Dan Lederman when he sponsored Senate Bill 75 which prevents local governments from regulating certain dog breeds like pit bulls. Jefferson and North Sioux City had local ordinances which banned certain dog breeds. What really bothered me was that when I spoke to Sen. Lederman, he said he wasn’t even aware that we had these laws in Jefferson. I’d like to think that my Senator would at least know what the local laws are in the communities he represents. I’m a registered Republican, and I’ll be supporting Ann Tornberg. I sincerely believe she’ll listen to us, and will advocate for local control.

—Tony Roark, Jefferson [Ann Tornberg for District 16 South Dakota State Senate, Facebook post, 2014.10.30]

Unlike Pat Powers, when I use the plural in my headlines, I mean it. Here's Republican for Tornberg #2:

Melstad for Tornberg

Dennis Melstad, Republican, Dakota Dunes

I look at the candidate and vote for who I believe will be best for District 16 and South Dakota. I will vote for Ann Tornberg for the District 16 Senate race.

—Dennis Melstad, Dakota Dunes, Registered Republican [Ann Tornberg for District 16 South Dakota State Senate, Facebook post, 2014.10.27]

Tornberg draws an endorsement from another of Lederman's Dakota Dunes neighbors:

After talking to Ann several times during the 2013 Legislative Session as a legislative assistant and many times during this campaign season as she travels the District, I'm thoroughly convinced she has an in-depth understanding of the issues facing our District and the State. She approaches all issues the same way - from understanding the facts and fundamentals of an issue to reaching out to those affected by it - she is methodical in her approach. I look forward to working with her in the future.

—Jeff Dooley, Dakota Dunes Resident [Ann Tornberg for District 16 South Dakota State Senate, Facebook post, 2014.10.28]

While the SDGOP and Lederman fret about our President, Lederman's neighbors, Republicans included, are voting more on the candidates' engagement in District 16 and their knowledge of local District 16 issues. "Blame Obama!" has its limits, and Dan Lederman may be about to bump into those limits against Ann Tornberg.

13 comments

Elm Springs rancher Pat Trask boils the case against Mike Rounds into one simple message: Mike Rounds puts big money over the interests of South Dakota.

"I voted for Reagan, Bush, Thune -- but I can't vote for Mike Rounds," says Trask, with all the calm force of a Badlands heat wave.

Even objective reporter David Montgomery has to admit this ad from Mayday PAC is not just "effective" but "quietly devastating." Sure, outside money paid to put the ad on TV, but the words come straight from a South Dakota Republican, a man with a pick-up truck with South Dakota plates and horses grazing along the Cheyenne River, saying the words South Dakota needs to hear: Mike Rounds doesn't deserve your vote.

p.s.: The Displaced Plainsman is throwing in the towel for all Democrats, including Weiland. But Mayday PAC and I ain't heard no fat lady! Share this video, and Get Out The Vote!

52 comments

Having trouble getting through to state offices lately? It could be because the South Dakota Republican Party is sending out robocalls to remind our civil servants of who butters their bread.

...calling on behalf of the South Dakota Republican Party, South Dakota cannot afford to send a friend of Barack Obama to Washington. The only way to avoid sending a friend of Obama to Washington is by voting Republican. By not electing a Republican, South Dakota will be supporting Obamacare, a friend of Barack Obama, a Washington insider, and a bigger government. The Republicans have a chance to take back the Senate, and South Dakotans play a vital role. Please remember to vote Republican on November 4. This call is paid for by the South Dakota Republican Party, not authorized by the candidate or candidate's committee, 605-610-8879 [South Dakota Republican Party, robocall, recorded 2014.10.24].

My source found this message on the voicemail of my source's work phone in a state office. My source says my source's boss has received the same message at work. My source has also received two surveys from the national GOP.

I appreciate the SDGOP's effort to lighten our state employees' day with messages from breathless ladies, though I hope they have a hunky baritone version for the ladies who answer the state phones. But we could read this robocall as one more effort by the Republicans to keep government from getting its work done.

Either way, Republicans, how about we save the robocalls for folks not on the clock?

11 comments

Republicans are desperate to beat back Rick Weiland's October surge. Alas, the only way the National Republican Senatorial Committee sees fit to do that is through more falsehood:

The two biggest lies in this ad are the claims that (1) Weiland supports cutting $700 billion from Medicare and (2) Keystone XL would create 40,000 jobs.

The claim that the Affordable Care Act cuts $700 billion in Medicare benefits was false before anyone had entered South Dakota's Senate race. The $700 billion claim was false when Mike Rounds made it in May. It's still false.

The claim that Keystone XL will create 40,000 jobs is fuzzy math of Mike Rounds/EB-5 proportions. A couple thousand workers will spend a few months crossing the high plains laying pipe. Some folks in the neighborhood of the work camps will sell more sandwiches. Then the workers and the jobs and the paychecks will go away, and there will be maybe fifty TransCanada workers left to monitor and repair pipe and pump stations.

Republicans have nothing left but falsehood. Voters, don't give your vote to someone who can't tell the truth.

33 comments

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