I’m sure readers can add to that list of dangers, Trump-inspired or otherwise. Electing a South Dakota Democrat to Congress to help retake the House and stop the blindly destructive Trump agenda, as well as electing Democrats as Governor, Attorney General, and legislators to use all the tools available to our state government to resist Trump’s predations on the common wealth, should be the guiding theme of every decision South Dakota Democrats make at their Central Committee meeting tomorrow and every decision our party chair, staff, and volunteers make in the coming eighteen months.
My sponsors at the Sioux Falls Democratic Forum have landed an interesting speaker for Friday’s luncheon. Addressing all interested listeners at noon at the Sioux Falls VFW will be Judge Tim Bjorkman, who will offer “A Judicial Perspective on Mass Imprisonment: Its Profound Impact on South Dakota’s Social, Cultural, and Economic Well Being.”
Judge Bjorkman serves the First Judicial Circuit, which runs along the Missouri from Buffalo County to Union County and reaches up to Hanson and McCook counties. He comes highly recommended by a First Circuit native and Governor’s chief of staff Tony Venhuizen, who clerked for Judge Bjorkman:
…any replacement for Bjorkman will be stepping into the shoes of a very thoughtful judge, said Venhuizen, who served as Bjorkman’s law clerk in 2008 and 2009.
“He’s the type of guy you’d want as a judge,” Venhuizen said. “He’s very thoughtful and very interested in doing the right thing” [Jake Shama, “Mitchell, Yankton Judges to Retire,” Mitchell Daily Republic, 2017.03.21].
Venhuizen was responding to Judge Bjorkman’s announcement in March that he will retire from the bench come July.
To Steven Youmans, a 21-year-old man who admitted to consuming alcohol and testing positive for marijuana while on probation: “When I look at the pre-sentence report, I see that you lied to me when you stood before me about your marijuana abuse. I don’t take offense myself as a person, but for the system of justice that governs … you offended that system when you lied.”
…To Patricia Erler, a 61-year-old woman who admitted to receiving approximately $2,000 in fraudulent unemployment funds: “I’m torn, Ms. Erler, because of the insidious nature of fraud. It’s hard to detect. It’s a blight on our society, frankly, and there seems to be an increasing disrespect for money that comes from the government. There needs to be a clear message, in my view, that it won’t be treated lightly.”
To Loren Mead, a 19-year-old man who admitted to drinking alcohol while on probation: “Every time that you appear in front of the court, any sympathy that your own personal history might generate is less and less. He didn’t set any beer in front of you or make you drink or cause you to skip out on your treatment program. Those were all choices you made, weren’t they? That’s really what life is all about. Sometimes to be an adult man or woman is about accepting the moral responsibility for our own actions and not looking for someone else to blame” [“Quotes from the Courtroom,” Mitchell Daily Republic, 2010.12.28].
Bjorkman said he didn’t initially plan to attach words of wisdom to his sentences. It just happened naturally as a byproduct of his analysis of pre-sentence reports, which contain information on the criminal’s family, education and substance-abuse history. Bjorkman said the reports indicate a “disintegration” of the family structure.
“The breakdown of the family is the most powerful component,” he said. “Probably 85 percent of the people who stand in front of me on a felony sentencing grew up without a father in the home or grew up with an alcoholic, drug-addicted or abusive father. Usually, two of those three exist.”
Heather Halverson, chair of the Minnehaha County Democratic Party, said she felt the efforts to elect a new chair nearly half way through Tornberg’s term seemed “sudden.” Despite that, she said she would listen to arguments on both sides and decide how to vote on Saturday.
“If it seems like something that might help the party move forward, then I might vote to support it,” Halverson said. “But if it’s too much of an upheaval, I’m not sure I can vote for that.”
Jeff Barth, who challenged Tornberg for her position in 2014, said he wouldn’t be in attendance at the meetings Saturday but felt the effort to oust the party head was being brought in poor taste.
Commissioner Barth usually chooses words sharply, but “last second” doesn’t quite capture what’s happening here. A “last-second” change in this case might be right before the 2018 election, or before the 2018 convention, with all the candidates, strategy, and messaging in place. The snap election that Rachelle Norberg and other Democrats are calling for at Saturday’s meeting in Sioux Falls is about as early and sensibly timed as such a move can be. We’re a year out from the primary, before any Democrats have declared for major offices. We have a vacancy in the party executive director position, an opportunity for the chair, current or new, to put a key person in place to help define the direction and tone of the 2018 campaign. The move for a snap election is happening in conjunction with McGovern Day, the party’s flagship statewide fundraiser and a speech by DNC vice-chair Rep. Keith Ellison, which should draw greater attendance than a typical Central Committee meeting. That party event also includes caucuses of the College, High School, and Young Democrats and a panel discussion with leaders from numerous blossoming activist groups, making it a prime event for the chair, current or new, to have meaningful conversations with key groups that can bring new energy and play an integral role in planning an executing a Democratic recovery.
Chair Halvorson’s concern about “suddenness” also seems misplaced. Prominent Democrats Paula Hawks and Frank Kloucek called for a party shake-up last November; Democrats have spent five months mulling this possibility. I’d argue that, as a party that should have been implementing a vigorous and visible multi-pronged recovery and resistance plan since November 9, the South Dakota Democratic Party doesn’t have time for much more deliberation. If we need upheaval (and heading toward an election in which we will be calling for wresting power from the Trump/Daugaard/Lederman regime, we need to use upheaval as a good word!), we need it right away. Think of “sudden” as an acronym for “Should’ve Undertaken Democratic Doings Earlier than Now!” (Yeah, I had to stretch for that.)
Planning a snap election for new Democratic Party leadership on McGovern Day is not sudden, last-second upheaval. It does not show “bad taste.” It shows courage, inclusiveness, and good timing… all of which are good characteristics for a Democratic Party leader.
The Iowa City Police Department on Wednesday released the preliminary results of Wieseler’s autopsy. The cause of death was determined to be a gunshot wound and the manner of death was determined to be homicide, authorities said.
Police do not have anyone in custody, but believe Wieseler’s death is an “isolated incident,” they said in a news release [Lee Hermiston, “Police: Jonathan Wieseler Was Shot to Death,” Cedar Rapids Gazette, 2017.04.26].
The Iowa City PD statement suggests the shooting took place between 10 p.m. Saturday and 3 a.m. Sunday. It also notes that the FBI is participating in the murder investigation. Why would the FBI be involved in investigating a single, isolated murder in Iowa?
The Bureau concentrates on crime problems that pose major threats to American society. Significant violent crime incidents such as mass killings, sniper murders, and serial killings can paralyze entire communities and stretch state and local law enforcement resources to their limits. And particular investigative emphasis is put on criminal street gangs, crimes against children, child prostitution, bank robberies and other violent robberies, carjackings, kidnappings, fugitives and missing persons, crimes on Indian reservations, and assaults and threats of assault on the president and other federal officials [“What We Investigate: Violent Crime,” Federal Bureau of Investigation, retrieved 2017.04.27].
Murder can be a federal crime in various circumstances, including murder for hire and murders related to rape, child molestation, sexual exploitation of children, drugs, and bank robbery
Justice Department guidelines say “The FBI may provide investigative assistance to state, local, or tribal agencies in the investigation of matters that may involve federal crimes or threats to the national security, or for such other purposes as may be legally authorized.” Federal law authorizes FBI cooperation with state and local agencies in investigations of…
Quite a few years of lifehave strengthened my convictionthat each and everyone’s existence is deeply tied to that of others:life is not time merely passing by, life is about interactions.
So much for rugged individualism.
As I meet, or lend an ear to those who are sick,to the migrants who face terrible hardshipsin search of a brighter future,to prison inmates who carry a hell of pain inside their hearts,and to those, many of them young, who cannot find a job,I often find myself wondering:“Why them and not me?”I, myself, was born in a family of migrants;my father, my grandparents, like many other Italians,left for Argentinaand met the fate of those who are left with nothing.I could have very well ended up among today’s “discarded” people.And that’s why I always ask myself, deep in my heart:“Why them and not me?”
First and foremost, I would love it if this meeting could help to remind usthat we all need each other,none of us is an island,an autonomous and independent “I,” separated from the other,and we can only build the future by standing together, including everyone.We don’t think about it often, but everything is connected,and we need to restore our connections to a healthy state.
Even science – and you know it better than I do –points to an understanding of realityas a place where every element connects and interacts with everything else.
And this brings me to my second message.How wonderful would it beif the growth of scientific and technological innovationwould come along with more equality and social inclusion.How wonderful would it be, while we discover faraway planets,to rediscover the needs of the brothers and sisters orbiting around us.How wonderful would it be if solidarity,this beautiful and, at times, inconvenient word,were not simply reduced to social work,and became, instead, the default attitudein political, economic and scientific choices,as well as in the relationships among individuals, peoples and countries.Only by educating people to a true solidaritywill we be able to overcomethe “culture of waste,”which doesn’t concern only food and goodsbut, first and foremost, the peoplewho are cast aside by our techno-economic systemswhich, without even realizing it,are now putting products at their core, instead of people.
The story of the Good Samaritan is the story of today’s humanity.People’s paths are riddled with suffering,as everything is centered around money, and things, instead of people.And often there is this habit, by people who call themselves “respectable,”of not taking care of the others,thus leaving behind thousands of human beings, or entire populations,on the side of the road.Fortunately, there are also those who are creating a new worldby taking care of the other, even out of their own pockets.Mother Teresa actually said:“One cannot love, unless it is at their own expense.”
Yes, tenderness is the path of choicefor the strongest, most courageous men and women. Tenderness is not weakness; it is fortitude.It is the path of solidarity, the path of humility.Please, allow me to say it loud and clear:the more powerful you are,the more your actions will have an impact on people,the more responsible you are to act humbly.If you don’t, your power will ruin you, and you will ruin the other.There is a saying in Argentina:“Power is like drinking gin on an empty stomach.”You feel dizzy, you get drunk, you lose your balance,and you will end up hurting yourself and those around you,if you don’t connect your power with humility and tenderness.Through humility and concrete love, on the other hand,power – the highest, the strongest one – becomes a service, a force for good.
“The future of humankind isn’t exclusively in the hands of politicians,of great leaders, of big companies,” says Pope Francis in his conclusion. However, his message about true strength in tenderness and solidarity should prove very useful in the hands of politicians, veteran and rookie, who can use it to critique the ills of the current American regime. Sharing and living Pope Francis’s words is part of making America human again.
Today’s guest is Renée Wise, candidate for Aberdeen school board. Wise talks about her interest in dyslexia, classroom technology, and personalized education. Then Wise answers some questions about gifted education, extracurriculars, open enrollment, and other school board issues.
But first, co-host Spencer Dobson and I recap the March for Science, discuss the impact a government shutdown could have on South Dakota tourism (perhaps averted since our recording by Trump’s skillful caving), and review why it stinks to be poor and transgender or Muslim and armed in Sioux Falls.
And did I mention the Dakota Free Press Tip Jar? Click that link or the lovely Tip Jar in the right sidebar, send some money through PayPal, and we’ll use your contribution to keep the show going… and maybe even make it better! Thanks for listening!
Epp forgets: South Dakota is already the gulag for Democrats. Pass the butter, comrade!
Epp appears to share my concern that, amidst calls for new leadership in the SDDP, no one has publicly offered names or plans for that new leadership. (Remember the names of the guys who overthrew Gorbachev? Neither do I!)
If the Night of Long Butter Knives actually occurs, it could put the state party in a better position. God knows we can’t do any worse, could we? But as is often the case for South Dakota Democrats, just when you thought it wasn’t possible to go any lower, we sink deeper into the prairie gumbo because we will have no chair and no plan and just a bunch of ticked off Democrats [Epp, 2017.04.26].
A friend of the blog asked me this morning to envision the best possible outcome of Saturday’s votes. The best possible outcome is not a person but a plan. We’ve talked about all sorts of components of a serious Democratic offensive on this blog—voter registration, letter-writing, field offices, clear messaging on kitchen-table economics. Based on some notes I took and shared after the election, here’s a plan of action for reviving the South Dakota Democratic Party:
Split the office: instead of concentrating in Sioux Falls, base the exec there, then base other staff in field offices in Rapid City and Aberdeen. All staff have same job: field organizing, building county parties in designated region, fundraising, and registering voters.
Give each field office some level of autonomy for regional activities.
Organize party dinners in every county as an opportunity to (a) register new voters, (b) give Democrats an opportunity to get face time with voters and the press (yes, the events should be open to the press), and (c) raise money.
For every fancy, big-ticket fundraiser like McGovern Day, hold two low-ticket/no-ticket hot dog picnics or spaghetti feeds to attract students, blue-collar workers, retirees, and other regular folks who find $100 a plate too pricey for any meal. Recruit big-name Dems like Keith Ellison, Al Franken, and Bernie Sanders to come speak at those low-ticket events as surely as we recruit them for banner events like McGovern Day and the convention. And at the door, register voters.
Deploy multiple visible, forceful leaders to demand media coverage every week. These don’t all have to be candidates, just a team of local experts in each newspaper/radio market who can speak to various issues in the media. Send that list of local experts to TV and each local paper and radio station and say that every time they quote Thune/Rounds/Noem/Daugaard/Krebs/local GOP legislators, these Democratic experts are available for comment to provide balance to every story.
When the local press don’t call us, we call them: those local experts put at least one letter in the local paper every week.
Include these local leaders in regular, short, punchy videos boosted on Facebook: strong 30-second/1-minute content with real faces selling our platform, policies, people, and brand.
Pursue ballot measure synergy:
Get behind one winning initiative petition in 2017 and conduct strong, attention-grabbing petition activities from the new Democratic field offices in conjunction with voter registration drives and other activities.
Be on alert for opportunity to refer one law from 2018 Session and continue visible, attention-grabbing petition activity in spring 2018 alongside primary activity.
Encourage gubernatorial and legislative candidates (and, if relevant to the sought office, SOS/AG/etc. candidates) to campaign on the Democratic-endorsed ballot measure(s).
Make the voter database available to every filed candidate; pay for access with state-level fundraising.
Recruit candidates from Governor and U.S. House on down who are committed to the idea that they can win in November 2018 and who will throw punches to do so. No caution, no triangulation—we choose candidates who build the Democratic brand and run on it without apology.
Organize early (start week of early voting) targeted door-to-door campaigning for candidates in every urban district.
Organize early targeted phone-banking for candidates in every rural district. Goal: ensure contact with 5,000 voters in every district.
Renew tribal outreach with fundraising pitches aimed specifically at funding specific projects like GOTV buses and chili feeds on the reservations.
Target every RV mailbox center in South Dakota with direct mail and/or calls.
That’s a lot of action (and I can think of more), but Democratic revival here in Siberia won’t happen by itself.
Who emerges from McGovern Day as Democratic Party chair matters far less than what our chair, executive board, and central committee are willing to do to win in 2018. The best possible outcome is that everyone meets, speaks, and departs as allies united around a common plan of action. Anyone who talks about anything other than our practical goals and action, anyone who gripes and moans about personal grievances, should be slapped back to reality or, if they keep griping and moaning, thrown out as snacks for the David Horowitz wolves that the Lederman spin blog is so sweatily and effectively pitching. Gripers and moaners add no value to the party; doers do.
Butter your bread, Democrats, and let’s get to work!
Speaking of good Christian behavior, the Union Gospel Mission of Sioux Falls works hard serving the poor in our eastern Queen City. The shelter describes its mission with this poem by longtime supporter Tony Javurek:
Union Gospel Mission is a Haven of Trust Needful and shielding when life seems unjust. Its workings inspired by God’s Holy Word Obeying when cries for assistance are heard No one’s denied its offering hand…
[Tony Javurek, 1985, posted on ugmsf.com]
Well, no one except folks management thinks shouldn’t be wearing dresses:
A transgender woman asked to leave the Union Gospel Mission said she’d hoped to find more acceptance.
Isabella Red Cloud went to the Mission on Saturday for breakfast, but was told she needed to change out of her dress and into male clothing before being served.
“I was told I could come back when I was dressed appropriately,” Red Cloud said.
Red Cloud went live on Facebook after being asked to leave. She said she was depressed about the situation until the following day, when she saw a steady stream of support from her Facebook friends.
At the urging of her friends, she returned to the mission with them and broadcast live once again, as the same unidentified employee escorted her out.
“I don’t know a thing about a woman being turned away,” director Fran Stenberg told LGBTQ Nation in a phone interview. “It was a man that was turned away,” he said, and confirmed he understood what the term “transgender” means when informed Red Cloud identifies as a transgender woman [Dawn Ennis, “Transgender Woman Denied Food at Shelter Because She Was Wearing a Dress,” LGBTQ Nation, 2017.04.24].
Stenberg says Red Cloud’s presence in a dress at the Mission creates division:
“It’s not about transgender, it’s about what’s in the heart and soul of a man. God created you as a man,” Stenberg said.
Stenberg said that visitors to the kitchen who rebel against the expectations – including sobriety and a peaceful demeanor – “create division,” which means they’re asked to leave.
“We’re more concerned with how you’re being than how you look,” Stenberg said, noting that the Mission had crossed paths with Red Cloud before [Hult, 2017.04.24].
Ah—so transgender status is equivalent to being drunk or starting fights.
“We need to, first of all, make sure that it is a safe place because we have women and children here. Sometimes certain situations bring about animosity and so we have to eliminate that and sometimes that causes us to have to make the decision to deny a service, “says Executive Director of Union Gospel Mission Fran Stenberg [Rebecca David, “Transgender Woman Speaks Out After Being Denied Service at Union Gospel Mission,” KDLT, 2017.04.24].
Does this mean that when gubernatorial candidate Marty Jackley gets done putting Ehab Jaber through the wringer of overhyped, under-evidenced terrorism charges, if Jaber is down on his luck and goes to the Mission for a meal, the Mission will turn him away because he’s Muslim and his faith “brings about animosity” from others? Who really creates division, the person who does not conform to majority expectations, or the majority who respond with disruptive animosity toward the non-conformist?
This isn’t about illegal discrimination. The people who run Christian shelters have every right to be bigots, and South Dakota has no law preventing discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. But the Christians don’t deserve a reputation for being kindhearted and magnanimous when their generosity only extends so far. If they can kick you out for wearing a dress, then let’s not pretend they actually care about helping the “least of these.” Their love is very, very conditional [Hemant Mehta, “Christian Shelter Director Ejects Transgender Woman for Wearing Dress: ‘God Created You as a Man’,” Patheos, 2017.04.25].
Union Gospel Mission has a right to control entrance to its property. It has a duty to maintain a safe environment for all whom it serves. But the Mission also professes a duty to serve all who cry for assistance. The Mission serves and was even founded by people who have done much worse than wear a dress. Ennis notes that the Union Gospel Mission was founded by Thomas F. Morse, who served time for shooting a man in Sisseton. Red Cloud just got out of prison for stealing a car. Red Cloud’s crime doesn’t disqualify her from assistance; neither should wearing a dress.
Annette Bosworth famously posed for a cheap campaign photo with a gun and a Bible in her hands. Ehab Jaber walked into the anti-Muslim propaganda fest in Sioux Falls with a Koran in his hand and a gun on his hip (and possibly in a sock holster). Hickey isn’t cutting Jaber slack (he labels Jaber a terrorist when the evidence does not support that conclusion), but…
I’m not all that convinced what he did is all that different from what a lot of flag/gun waving Christians do. This meme illustrates the point.
If the book the gal on the left is holding up says don’t kill the other person, why is she holding that gun? Here’s why? Because since Constantine, the Church has embraced a grave heresy to find justifications to do the very opposite of what Jesus taught. The gal on the left believes her book gives her justifications to kill the other JUST LIKE the gal [referring to another meme] on the right believes her book gives her justifications to kill the other [Steve Hickey, “Our Opportunity to Love on Our Local Terrorist,” The Other Cheek, 2017.04.26].
Neither Bosworth nor Jaber actually made any threat to kill anyone. However, Hickey seems to support my basic contention that carrying and displaying a gun is in itself an expression of a willingness to use deadly force. And Hickey and I agree that such an expression does not fit with the teachings of the Nazarene carpenter.
But then Hickey preaches some real radical Christianity and recommends local Christians love Jaber by bailing him out:
Second, I think it is high time Christians start acting like Christians and that means we start acting like Christ. That means we figure out a way to love this enemy. Missionaries do it all the time… they reach out to those who are hostile to them and who have even tried to kill them. That’s when the Gospel is most powerful. That’s when we are most like Christ. As is this guy is sitting in jail thinking hundreds of local Christians at an event hate him. I hope that is not true. He needs to know Christians love Muslims even though they take issue with Islam.
So how do we love on our local (alleged) terrorist? My suggestion is that we post his $2500 bond and I’ll put forth the first $250. He needs to know there are people who care about him and that they are they very people who he views as enemies. This gesture would send this guy a message in a way that sending him a Bible wouldn’t. It would send him am important message that so far we have failed to communicate to him and others like him.
…But I really ONLY want these donations to come from people who are “friends of Jesus” and preferably Conservative Christians only – it needs to come from us. Mr Jaber needs to think about the fact that he was bailed out by friends of Jesus [Hickey, 2017.04.26].
Now I still have a problem with Hickey’s exhortation to love. He’s still stuck in some contractual love—bail Jaber out, and maybe he’ll realize the Christians at the anti-Islam rally are really great people and Christianity is a superior religion. The truest, most radical Christian loves for love’s sake, with no thought of recompense.
But Hickey’s call to spring Jaber is a more coherent and confident expression of Christian love and faith than any of the Trumpy fearmongering offered at the April 9 anti-Islam event that Jaber found so appalling.
Jaber, like Bosworth, isn’t a terrorist. Jaber, like Bosworth, is just a bit nuts. Hickey isn’t perfect, either, but his Christian advice is worth considering.
“ARYAN”—can you put that on a license plate? Not in Maryland, where “ARYAN” is one of 4,900 terms banned from vanity plates (also out in Maryland: “OLD FART” and “BEDWETR”… which could be synonyms for the Hitler Youth praiser).
Duffy, who has worked on key civil rights cases involving American Indian voting issues, said action by the state means that any personalized plate must be recalled because of a single complaint, no matter what the message.
“What this means is that every atheist can now wipe out anything that seems to refer to God,” Duffy said. “Will vanity plates for members of the armed forces suddenly be declared offensive if they offend a single pacifist? It’s absolutely preposterous.”
Even obscenity must be judged by the mores and standards of a community, not just one offended individual, Duffy said.
“Here, all we need is one lone citizen who is apparently invested with the complete authority to determine what is good taste and decency for all the rest of us,” he said. “It seems a little tyrannical to me” [Kevin Woster, “State Looks to Pull Anti-Bush License Plate,” Rapid City Journal online, May 3, 2007].
So, for your evening civics discussion, should the state allow apparent declarations of racist sentiment on its license plates?