Bank settlement and impending EB-5 trial in Vermont, EB-5 felony plea bargain in South Dakota… we have proven waste, fraud, and abuse in American immigration policy, yet a President who won votes by shouting about immigration reform doesn’t notice, and Congress persistently resists reform. Maybe distraction and inaction are the best we can hope for—maybe the distraction of this week’s kamikaze budgeting will lead to inaction on EB-5 and a quiet, overdue expiration of a bad immigration program.
Rep. Mark Sanford, the former South Carolina governor, said on CNN’s “State of the Union” that White House budget director Mick Mulvaney, a former fellow congressman from Sanford’s home state, delivered the threat to him from President Donald Trump.
“He said, ‘The President hopes you vote against this because he wants to run somebody against you if you do,'” Sanford said.
I don’t have any plans to endorse anybody at this point. I think we’ve got two very good declared candidates in Kristi Noem and Marty Jackley. They’re going to be very credible candidates [Gov. Dennis Daugaard, transcribed from audio, “No Endorsement from Gov. Daugaard in Race for Governor,” HubCityRadio.com, 2017.04.19].
Daugaard also repeats in this interview that he’s choosing retirement (he’ll be 65 next year), the farm, and grandkids over running for any more offices after he finishes his second term in the Governor’s office. But Daugaard still has lots of money to talk for him: as of February 6, his campaign account still held $1,132,008.80. His year-end report shows $36,000 spent on Legislative candidates, $55,000 against the nonpartisan open primary amendment, $26,325 on his own party, and a few thousand in spare change on big county parties, GOP PACs, and $250 for Rapid City Right to Life.
My response: The President took an impulsive, expensive action without any vision or strategy. Military action taken outside of a coherent strategy only weakens the country in terms of materiel and geopolitical capital. It makes us look like reckless rogues, not reliable, deliberate allies.
The Republicans who’d like to replace Noem did speak up on Trump’s cruise missile attack on Syria last week. Speaking at the Yankton County GOP dinner the night after Trump’s attack, both Dusty Johnson and Shantel Krebs expressed qualified support:
On foreign policy, Johnson said the United States needs to act against atrocities such the gassing of Syrian refugees.
“We are at war (against terrorism), but I’m not a big fan of sabre rattling,” he said. “Any use of force needs to be part of a broader strategy. It’s not something that we do just on a whim.”
…Krebs supported President Trump’s response to President Assad’s use of chemical weapons on his own Syrian people.
“President Assad did horrific things, and we needed to answer,” Krebs said. “However, Congress also needs to be involved (with U.S. military responses)” [Randy Dockendorf, “It’s Party Time,” Yankton Press & Dakotan, updated 2017.04.09].
Johnson wants broader strategy, not saber-rattling—star that in your talking points, Representative Noem.
On this week’s show, Spencer Dobson and I discuss Aberdeen’s anti-anti-Islam protest, Kristi Noem’s vanquishing of pine beetles, fishing and private property, and Head Start. Then Spencer and I interview Angie Albonico, leader of an initiative to make it legal for terminally ill South Dakotans to get life-ending drugs from doctors. Have a listen… and if you enjoy the show, help us do more by ringing the Dakota Free Press Tip Jar!
Accomplishment—as in, something she accomplished, made happen.
When I brought U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell to view the damage firsthand in November 2013, it was clear that we had the tools to combat the pine beetle, but we weren’t able to apply them on a large enough scale. Reforms on the federal level were needed [Noem, 2017.04.11].
I’m feeling post hoc ergo propter hoc coming on….
Months later, we saw those reforms become law through provisions I helped write and fought to include in the 2014 Farm Bill [Noem, 2017.04.11].
Good thing Noem dilly-dallied for a year-plus on the Farm Bill she was supposed to get done in 2012 so she could include pine beetle measures in the delayed final product in 2014.
When the legislation passed, we were able to cut through environmental red tape, get boots on the ground faster, and allow the Forest Service to work on the scale this epidemic required. Around one million acres of the Black Hills National Forest benefited from the provisions. Additionally, we were able to prioritize the funding needed to help beat the beetle, which brings us to today [Noem, 2017.04.11].
Translation: Government spent more money, and that’s good!
Note also the code: a million acres “benefited”… but does that mean exclusively “got rid of pine beetles”?
While the epidemic has technically ended, years of damage have turned much of the Black Hills into a tinder box. Additional efforts are needed to restore this National Forest and ensure it is resilient toward such threats in the future [Noem, 2017.04.11].
We are fortunate to have so many dedicated foresters working in the Black Hills throughout this time. I’m proud to have been able to score some victories in support of their efforts and I remain dedicated to protecting the Black Hills [Noem, 2017.04.11].
The mountain pine beetle is a native species to the Black Hills. The first recorded epidemic in the Black Hills occurred from the late 1890s through the early 1900s. Epidemics also occurred in the 1930s, 1940s, 1960s, and 1970s, each lasting 8-13 years. This most recent epidemic may have been the worst and lasted for the past 20 years [Mark Watson, “BH Nat. Forest: Pine Beetle Epidemic Is Over,” Black Hills Pioneer, 2017.04.01].
The recent pine beetle infestation lasted at least three years longer than past infestations before the first action Noem says she took in 2013. Even with her action, this round of pine beetles lasted twice as long as average. If that’s a victory, I’d hate to see what a Kristi Noem defeat looks like.
In Congress since 2011, her fight against Obama’s policies will likely be the crown jewel of her campaign. But in recent weeks, a problem has emerged. Republicans fell on their face trying to make good on a years-long promise to repeal and replace Obamacare. Now, there’s a real danger that they end up accomplishing zilch in terms of grand policy goals, even though they control the legislative and executive branches of federal government. It would be a historical squandering of political power, and one that would leave Noem vulnerable to criticism that she was among a band of GOP loafers who couldn’t get anything done even when they had numerical superiority [Jonathan Ellis, “Guerilla Warfare in GOP Race for Gov.,” that Sioux Falls paper, 2017.04.08].
With her President trying to take away South Dakotans’ air service, rural water, and food security, Kristi Noem is going to have to spend a lot of her gubernatorial campaign trying to make South Dakotans forget about all the time she’s spent in Washington. Her primary opponent, Attorney General Marty Jackley, has been here in South Dakota, deeply involved in day-to-day South Dakota issues. How does Noem overcome her detachment from South Dakota?
Aside from not doing the job we elected her to do, Noem will probably look for a good South Dakota running mate who doesn’t have Washington on the brain. Specifically, she’ll probably look for an old pal from her Legislative days to serve as her Lieutenant Governor.
Another possibility is Representative Larry Rhoden from Union Center. Rhoden was Noem’s majority leader during her rookie term in Pierre; he then bounced over to the Senate to serve as whip. Rhoden would bring statewide campaign experience to the Noem ticket: he finished an arguably surprising second in the 2014 U.S. Senate primary over a more voluble, base-stirring Stace Nelson on a relatively thin budget. Rhoden would make the perfect cowboy partner for Noem’s ongoing cowgirl act.
Of course, having run for D.C. before, Rhoden might be a harder horse to tame than Gosch for a Pierre sidekick spot. A genuine West River rancher, he might outshine Noem’s part-time, pageanty spurs; she might prefer to be the country girl complemented by Rapid City lawyer Gosch.
Noem doesn’t need to make this choice until and unless she beat Jackley in the 2018 primary. However, if the race is tight, Noem might derive some advantage from naming her lieutenant early, to court allies and prove she can pick good people to help her do the job. Whether Gosch, Rhoden, or someone else, Noem will need someone with Pierre experience to fill in the gaps in her memories of Pierre. And for this executive position, she’ll need someone who, unlike Noem, is used to accomplishing something beyond simply winning an election.
Hearing this news at yesterday’s Brown County Commission meeting, Commissioner Duane Sutton said we’re screwed:
Economic development in rural communities will likely be stunted without new water hookups, Commissioner Duane Sutton said.
“Counties rely on new growth, and if we start stifling rural development, all they have is agriculture development. It’s a huge hit to the counties. Especially the rural, smaller counties,” he said [Shannon Marvel, “WEB Water Places Moratorium on New Bulk Service,” Aberdeen American News, 2017.03.29].
So if Trump kills funding for rural water, and if rural water is necessary for rural jobs, then Trump kills rural jobs, right, Commissioner Sutton? Maybe when Trump’s coal jobs prove illusory, he can send those disappointed Appalachian miners to dig water wells on the prairie.
Sutton said WEB users need to “send a letter to our representative,” but WEB GM Wendy Hammrich suggests our Congressional delegation isn’t helping:
By visiting with local government boards like the Brown County Commission, Hammrich is hoping to attract local, state and federal attention and support for rural water systems.
“We’ve tried to reach out and continue to reach out to our leaders or their field staff. It’s usually us making that connection. It kind of feels like we’re out here on our own,” Hammrich said [Marvel, 2017.03.29].
Add rural water to the list of things Sutton and his fellow Brown County Republicans can discuss with Kristi Noem at the Lincoln Day Dinner April 20.