My co-host Spencer Dobson and I talk about Neal Tapio’s pro-Trump/anti-refugee resolution, the Legislature’s drone control bill, Governor Daugaard’s protest quashing bill, and the medical marijuana and industrial hemp bills. We also spend a little time talking about how I got out of being a Republican and into blogging.
For those of you reading along, here are the notes for today’s show:
SCR 15, a Resolution “Commending President Donald J. Trump in his commitment to keeping the country safe from radical Islamic terrorism”
SB 95, an Act to “add cannabidiol to the list of Schedule IV controlled substances and to exclude it from the definition of marijuana,” and HB 1204, an Act to “authorize the production and sale of industrial hemp”
The Senate put a cork in Senator and paid Trump consultant Neal Tapio‘s pro-Trump/anti-Islam grandstanding yesterday. After allowing Watertown’s Trump spokesman his eight minutes of pathetic rhetorical stemwindings (complete with a tearful breaking voice as he declared serving “the most courageous President in a generation… an honor of my life”) over SCR 15, the Senate heard Senator Ryan Maher’s motion to table the resolution. A tabling motion is not debatable, so it is the quickest way to shut down debate and move on. The Senate voted 20–15 to drop Tapio’s false fearmongering and get on with not raising teacher pay.
My Trumpy District 3 Senator Al Novstrup voted against the tabling, evidently wanting to spend more time on this useless grandstanding resolution. The more sensible Republican Senator Deb Peters was among those saying enough already:
If you recall the Bible and the story about the Good Samaritan’s parable and how you should treat your neighbors… that has always been the way that my husband and I have been raising our family, that’s how I was raised, and so I felt like it was not in concurrence with how I was raised, and so I did vote no on that [Senator Deb Peters, in Dan Peters, “Statement Supporting Trump Dumped by South Dakota Lawmakers,” KSOO, 2017.03.07].
Senator Tapio came armed to the verbal teeth for the SCR 15 battle with his prepared remarks and a press packet.* Bob Mercer observes a small irony:
Interviewer: You travel to countries where the Islamic State has a hold on many areas. Rumor has it that ISIS is getting funded by Western states like the US. What do you have to say about that?
Dogan: Yes, that is the truth. When it comes down to it, it is all about the oil. While travelling, I met several persons all saying that they had witnessed the US helping the Islamic State in different ways. One thing stood out because there have been so many people who had remarked on it: When the US dropped aid and weapons over the Iraqi city of Mosul that had been in the hands on ISIS since 2014. They simply said that they had made a mistake. The people I have spoken to, soldiers fighting ISIS in that area, told me that they had witnesses similar things around 8 times.
That the minorities that get attacked like they do in Iraq, are of course partly because of religions differences. But mostly it is because there are substantial amounts of oil in the areas where they live. Therefore it is very important for the US to divide as much as possible, making the areas unstable in order for them to come in and “rescue” the situation. This we saw in Libya, and we see it all over again in Syria. The US would like to tell us that they only want the “bad Bashar al-Assad” out, but it is not about that. Everything is about who controls the oil.
I spoke to a Turkish truck driver from north Iraq who said that he and four other drivers drove trucks full of weapons from Europe to the Islamists in Mosul. The weapons he told me was from Germany, but whether the German government has any knowledge of that I don’t know. But it is worrying when you hear such things over and over again [Sanna Hill, “Aid Worker Hatune Dogan: ‘ISIS Is Getting Help from the West,” Free West Media, 2017.01.03].
The mission of (Abu Bakr) Baghdadi, of ISIS, is to convert the world completely to the Islamic religion and bring them to Dar Al Salaam, as they call it. And Islam is not peace, please. Whoever says ISIS has no connection to Islam or something like this is, he’s a liar. ISIS is Islam; Islam is ISIS [Sister Hatune Dogan, in Erick Stakelback, “Nun: ‘Islam Is ISIS. Whoever Says Otherwise Is a Liar’,” Christian Broadcasting Network, 2016.01.02].
Jensen and Dogan display the kind of fear, exaggeration, and willful falsehood motivating many of our Republican legislators.
On another front, Governing data maven Mike Maciag deems the link between immigrants and high crime rates “mythical“:
To shed light on this contention, Governing conducted an original analysis using recently released metro area population estimates from the Pew Research Center for “unauthorized immigrants” — people who crossed the border illegally or overstayed visas. The analysis not only found no link with violent crime, but indicated concentrations of unauthorized immigrants were associated with marginally lower violent crime rates. A statistically significant negative correlation was also shown for property crimes. For every 1 percentage-point increase in the unauthorized immigrant share of a metro area’s population, average property crime rates dropped by 94 incidents per 100,000 residents.
…Our analysis of the Pew data, while limited to a narrow time period, mirrors findings of broader academic research dismissing a relationship between foreign-born residents, regardless of legal status, and higher crime rates.
“The literature is pretty clear,” says Robert Adelman, an associate professor at the State University of New York (SUNY) at Buffalo. “Results are strong and stable across time and place” [Mike Maciag, “The Mythical Link Between Immigrants and High Crime Rates,” Governing, 2017.03.02].
Maciag notes that misperceptions persist be
“There’s a long history in our country of immigrants being scapegoated for all sorts of things,” says Monica Varsanyi, a John Jay College of Criminal Justice associate professor. “They are easy targets” [Maciag, 2017.03.02].
SCR 15 is not on today’s Senate calendar, but Senator Tapio will shortly get his chance to work up his tears and false fears and bracket our Islamic neighbors with “radical” and “terrorism” on behalf of his patron the President. (According to FEC filings, on September 21, 2016, the Donald Trump campaign paid Neal Tapio $5,537.84 for “field consulting.”)
I don’t spend much time seating Legislative resolutions. They enact no policy; they mostly just scratch itches in our legislators’ dark and damp places.
But some resolutions expose the most vile impulses of some of our Republican legislators. In Senate Concurrent Resolution 15, Trumpist Senator Neal Tapio (R-5/Watertown) lures 20 co-sponsoring Republicans (including my entire District 3 delegation) into insulting refugees and Lutheran Social Services.
SCR 15 would issue “a vote of no confidence in the refugee resettlement program, and the administration thereof.” Tapio lacks the courage and honor to name Lutheran Social Services; the key Whereas clause only tags “the United Nations, the United States Department of State, and an unelected nonprofit organization” as “solely responsible for implementing the refugee resettlement program.”
Besides maligning good neighbors doing good work, Tapio fills SCR 15 with offensive rhetorical flailings.
The resolution opens with puffy phrases about our “open and pluralist society” and the “hope and freedom” we offer to “those living in fear and tyranny,” then proceeds to peddle Trumpist fear and signal that South Dakota doesn’t want refugees.
Tapio squeezes in his theocratic urges, claiming “America… constitutionally protects each person’s God-given freedom to think, believe, speak, and act….” Um, Neal? “America” as an open and pluralist society makes no official claim that freedoms are given by any one religion’s deity. The Legislature cannot do so without running afoul of one of those Constitutional protections, the Establishment Clause.
Tapio also sneaks in some bang-bangery, including as a Whereas, “these freedoms are so important, the United States Constitution provides the right to bear arms in order to protect those freedoms.” At best, that’s rambling, ungermane to the subject of LSS’s refugee resettlement efforts. At worst, it’s a veiled threat: You refugees get out of line, and we’ll shoot you!
SCR 15 asserts that “the State of South Dakota has ceded the state’s authority and has no direct influence on the implementation or administration of the refugee resettlement program.” What, did Tapio himself vote for Senate Bill 124, the formal ceding of that authority, just to give himself another Whereas? And does Tapio really believe states have any authority to cede in the properly federal issue of immigration?
SCR 15 puts on the record this wild generalization about every country from which refugees come:
…the societal impact of accepting refugees from countries where ninety-eight percent of females undergo forced female genital mutilation, where practices of honor killings and dancing chai boys exist, and where other cultural practices antithetical to freedom and liberty are exercised is unknown… [2017 SCR 15].
FGM is not concentrated in a majority of the countries from which our refugees came in 2016. And perhaps the proper policy response to this horrid practice is not to blacklist all people from those countries but make clear we offer women safe haven from this abuse.
As for “dancing chai boys” (the proper term appears to be bachabaze, an exploitative practice, banned by the Taliban but resurging since their fall) in which usually wealthy men force boys into sexual servitude), one would think refugees are more likely to be the disempowered victims of such abuse, not the powerful status-seekers who perpetuate it. And if Tapio wants to Legislatively pronounce an entire country suspect because of the pedophiliac practices of an elite few, then I look forward to his follow-up resolution warning the world about American visitors due to pedophile Catholic priests.
If anyone deserves a vote of no confidence, it’s not Lutheran Social Services, which works every day to help new Americans. It’s Trumpists like Tapio, Curd, and Novstrup, who tarnish the Legislature and South Dakota with insulting, ignorant measures like Senate Concurrent Resolution 15.
After hearing numerous supporters doggedly avoid stating the real anti-LGBT intent of SB 149, Libby Skarin, policy director for the American Civil Liberties Union of South Dakota, intelligently explained how SB 149 uses “broad and sweeping language” to “allow religion to be used to discriminate against loving, qualified parents who wish to open their homes to kids without them” (start listening at 79:20 of the SDPB audio). She said SB 149 would allow any child placement agency (not just faith-based or entirely private agencies—read the definition!) to turn away prospective parents based on “explicitly religious criteria” excluding “not only same-sex couples, but also people who have a different religion [from] the agency, single parents, interfaith couples… families that don’t attend church weekly, servicemembers or gun owners… based on the agency’s moral conviction regarding pacifism, all while children in need of homes languish in foster care and await permanent families. This bill even authorizes agencies to deny a child placement with a close relative and instead place that child with strangers if that relative is of the wrong religion….”
As the smartest, clearest speaker in the room Wednesday, Libby Skarin also pronounced her name clearly at the beginning of her testimony: the last name is /skreen/.
Demonstrating at the very least that they weren’t listening closely to testimony, Senator Neal Tapio and Senator Phil Jensen both mispronounced Skarin’s name (Tapio: /SKAR-kin/; Jensen: /ka-RIN, KA-rin/).
Senator Tapio asked Skarin (104:08) if an adoption agency can discriminate against prospective parents with a religious belief in female genital mutilation. Senator Jensen asked Skarin if a known pedophile should be allowed to adopt a child. Skarin said neither such placement would be in the best interest of the child. Senator Jensen said such denial is a “judgment call.” Yet both Senators miss a crucial point: the behaviors they describe are felonies under state law (female genital mutilation: SDCL 28-18-37; pedophilia, Chapter 22-22). Tapio and Jensen are equating felony behavior with behaviors the state cannot punish, like not going to a certain church or any church or not being married to a person of the opposite sex.
In other words, Tapio and Jensen are saying that if you don’t fly right with their church, you might as well be a criminal.
SB 149 passed committee 5–2 (thank you, Chair Deb Soholt, for joining Senator Kevin Killer in voting nay). On the floor Thursday, Senator Billie Sutton invoked Rule 5-17, delaying consideration of SB 149 until this Wednesday, February 22, which gives decent folks plenty of time to e-mail Tapio and Jensen to misspell their names, then contact other, more sensible legislators and get them to vote no on this attempt to wedge Sharia for Jesus into our adoption laws.
At yesterday’s crackerbarrel in Watertown, rookie Rep. Neal Tapio (R-5/Watertown responded to a question about getting rid of Medicaid by saying (timestamp 54:35), “I want to kill it altogether.”
Three minutes and fifteen seconds later, in response to a follow-up question about how we proposes to take care of elderly, children, disabled, and other folks currently on Medicaid, Rep. Tapio said, “I’m not saying that we get rid of it.”
Even without Silvis or a replacement, there will still be a vote in the District 5 House race: Republicans Hugh M. Bartels and Nancy York still have to wrassle Democratic candidate Michele “Shelly” Alvine* and remind their neighbors not to slip and check Independent crank Charles “Chuck” Haan.
But barring mail surprises today, the Senate seat is decided: conservative Republican Neal Tapio will assume Ried Holien’s seat next January. And who better than a Republican who faces no challenge in November to be the South Dakota face of Donald Trump? The GOP spin blog reports that Tapio has been chosen to be the South Dakota State Director for the Trump Pence campaign. According to a Facebook screenshot offered by DWC, Tapio says he “will be happy to explain why Donald Trump will be the next President of the United States.”
“When Republicans play nice and lose the presidential elections or very big elections I don’t like seeing that because we have serious issues to face,” Holien said. “Playing nice didn’t do any good for (John) McCain or (Mitt) Romney, so at least Trump is a fighter. If he’s going to stand up for himself, he’s going to stand up for America” [Anne Burleson, “Watertown’s Republican Sen. Ried Holien Supports Trump in Race,” Watertown Public Opinion, 2016.08.11].
Watertown, what mind-altering chemicals are seeping out of Lake Kampeska into the city water supply? We’ll keep Trump out of the White House, but when will you stop sending Trumpists to Pierre? (And Codington County Democrats, when will you find the challengers tough enough to take the Trumpists out?)
Correction 15:25 CDT: Oh! Shame on me! As Codington County Democrat Kay Solberg rightfully upbraids me, I missed Shelly Alvine’s name still hanging tough on that candidate list. I am very sorry, Shelly, to have left you out! Go get ’em… and hang their unopposed Senator’s mad Trumpiness around their necks!