Belfrage laughed at #4, then explored further Sutton’s chances in the gubernatorial race. I say that any Democrat in this state could base a campaign entirely on the fear that Donald Trump will take away our health insurance. With GEAR UP now piled on top of EB-5, Belfrage sees corruption as a more potent issue for Democrats to campaign on in 2018 than they could in 2014.
Belfrage then turned our conversation to a big story on his list, the nonmeandered waters issue a Legislative committee is prepping today for consideration at a special session.
As if Podcast #13 wasn’t enough audio for one week, I’m going on the radio Friday morning! KELO Radio’s Greg Belfrage has invited me on air for another swing at his Friday Final Four segment, in which we each will name our four top stories of the week!
As you can say, I’m writing just before midnight. I have a list in mind, but I’m going to sleep on it and see if the world changes or if any new Democrats announce for Governor while I’m snoozing. If you’re up before the show, I welcome your suggestions in the comment section. Then tune in for our discussion during the 8:30 section (after the news and ads, probably around 8:40) on KELO Radio, 1320 AM or 107.9 FM in the Sioux Falls area, or live online at KELO.com!
Don’t forget: I’m speaking Wednesday at the NSU Noon Forum, at the Beulah Williams Library, alongside Dr. Jon Schaff and lobbyist Julie Johnson on the effects of the 2016 election. Bring your questions!
Dakota Free Press hits the airwaves again tomorrow! The Greg Belfrage Show has invited me to come on air Friday morning after 8:30 to talk about the Legislative Session. I expect we’ll talk about campaign finance, free speech, child support, guns, and maybe more… all in 20 minutes! If you have any other suggestions for topics, let me know in the comment section below, and I’ll prep for them!
One staple of every radio talk show was, of course, the bias of the mainstream media. This was, indeed, a target-rich environment. But as we learned this year, we had succeeded in persuading our audiences to ignore and discount any information from the mainstream media. Over time, we’d succeeded in delegitimizing the media altogether — all the normal guideposts were down, the referees discredited.
That left a void that we conservatives failed to fill. For years, we ignored the birthers, the racists, the truthers and other conspiracy theorists who indulged fantasies of Mr. Obama’s secret Muslim plot to subvert Christendom, or who peddled baseless tales of Mrs. Clinton’s murder victims. Rather than confront the purveyors of such disinformation, we changed the channel because, after all, they were our allies, whose quirks could be allowed or at least ignored.
I have never tried to make the media out to be bigger liars than Donald Trump or Ben Carson. I don’t want people to take an either-or approach to mainstream and alternative media; I want them to go both-and. In my ideal modern media model, we all still get news from the networks and the big newspapers, but we read critically, and we augment our reading with the independent commentary we can find in a blogosphere and podcastosphere that provide factual information from good-faith neighbors. I want mainstream and alternative media that work together, that are transparent with the backgrounds and biases, and that say to readers with sources and hyperlinks, “Here, see for yourself.”
By recognizing the media gap that his industry opened for liars and schemers, Sykes helps us recognize that our mantra in alternative media must not be, “Trust no one but me.” That’s Donald Trump’s line, and that’s totalitarianism. Our mantra must be, “Trust no one. Check, cross-check, and trust many.”
Owen DeJong is retiring from SDPB Radio this month. DeJong, who, among other things, used to teach high school English (represent!), has hosted Morning Classics on our public radio stations since 1997. For twenty years, I’ve been able to switch on my radio on weekdays and count on one blissful island of non-commercial, non-talk radio, where the only crap colliding with my ears are the occasional dissonant orchestral works of the 20th century and the inevitable earworming Domingo/Brightman “Time to Say Goodbye” on all-request Wednesdays and Fridays (made up for by Barber, Ravel, and Gershwin, which you can play for me every day).
Beginning Monday, January 2, 2017, SDPB will broadcast On Point with Tom Ashbrook, a live, 2-hour interactive news and culture program, weekday mornings from 9am-11am CT (8-10am MT). Also beginning Monday, January 2, SDPB’s Dakota Midday will expand and return as In the Moment with Lori Walsh – a two-hour news, arts, and culture magazine program featuring extended news coverage by a team of beat reporters throughout South Dakota. In the Moment will broadcast weekdays from 11am-1pm CT (10am-noon MT) [Katy Beem, “Morning Classics’ Owen DeJong to Retire from SDPB,” SDPB.org, 2016.11.28].
Lori Walsh is doing fine work, and I look forward to more local news content, especially during Session.
But I can only take so much talk. And thirteen hours, from the time I switch on Morning Edition to the end of Fresh Air, is too long to wait for my daily jazz respite.
I can’t read with news and talk on the radio. I write better to music. It’s more fun to work in the garage to music.
I know, we have the Internet. SDPB will still play the national public radio 24-hour classical music feed online (and, apparently, on something called HD radio, which I honestly don’t even know if I have). Kids may not get this feeling, but I still find some unique pleasure in turning on my radio and hearing music chosen, introduced live, and played by someone I know, someone in my community.
But I guess that, just as I do without TV, I’m reaching the point where I can do without a separate audio receiver. I can switch on my browser or an array of apps on my phone, catch the news at breakfast, lunch, or supper, and then, when I’m ready to get to work, switch to the classical feed or The Current out of the Twin Cities (which isn’t much farther away than the SDPB Vermillion studio) or blessed CKUA up in Edmonton.
Thank you, Owen DeJong, for two decades of good morning study music.
Pre-Game Warm-Up: For weeks, Al had balked at Briscoe’s invitation to this joint interview. He first said he wasn’t sure he could commit. Then last week he asked Briscoe to find a different moderator or a second moderator to ensure fairness, something no candidate asked Briscoe for in previous interviews this year or in past election years. I pressed Al publicly this week to join the program and address the negative attacks the South Dakota Republican Party is spending thousands of dollars on to save his seat in the Legislature.
Finally, yesterday, minutes before the program, Al showed up unannounced at the studio. He commented on my clothes, then argued with Briscoe on the way into the studio about whether he’d demanded a different moderator or not.
If there was any cause for concern about moderator fairness, perhaps I should have thrown the flag when Briscoe opened the show with a joke calling my fellow Democrat Hillary Clinton a continual liar. But hey, I’ll talk to anyone. And I don’t go around making demands of the media. If they want to have me on, I’m happy to fulfill my obligation to talk to the voters.
Negative Novstrup: After a brief note on campaign finance, Briscoe turned right away to Al’s negative attacks on me. I can say Al’s, and not just the South Dakota Republican Party’s, because Al came armed with a folder full of the SDGOP postcards and print ads, along with numerous printouts of Dakota Free Press blog posts. Those negative attacks were almost all Al talked about throughout our hour on the air. Al thus owns the negative attacks. (For what it’s worth, the only materials I brought with me to The Don Briscoe Show were my campaign card, which I handed to Briscoe and producer Les Cummings before we began. Al said he already had my card.)
Taxes: Briscoe asked about Al’s frequent attack on my policy statements on taxes. I summarized the responses I offered here on the blog the day that attack came out, October 18: yes, I support using progressive taxes (for example: it would be fairer to tax farmers on their actual income than on the fantasy earnings of the current productivity assessment model) to replace and reform our woefully regressive taxes. My proposal to discuss sales tax exemptions wasn’t the simple clueless money grab that Al falsely portrayed it as; it was a response to blog readers’ desire to discuss the hundreds of millions of dollars in breaks that we give lots of special interests on sales tax. (That shows my ability to listen to constituents and invite serious policy conversations.) And as for Al’s contention that we should only raise taxes in emergencies, his creative excuse for the enormous tax increases he has supported over the last two years, I replied that instead of twiddling our thumbs in Pierre until emergencies happen, good legislators anticipate problems and act before trucks get stuck in ruined roads and teachers leave the state in droves due to low pay.
Local Interests: A caller asked about what we candidates will do for Brown County. Al focused on his work to bring funding to Northern State University. I agreed that NSU is vital to our community and all of northeastern South Dakota as a driver of cultural and economic development. Al said legislators need to build relationships and trust to win support for NSU; I responded that my honest, fact-based blogging has helped me develop exactly those relationships and trust with policymakers around the state and that all legislators should be able to put the public interest above any personal concerns.
A later caller asked about refugees from “terrorist countries that vow to kill Americans.” Producer Les asserted that some of the Founding Fathers were refugees. I recalled that the United States took pride in taking refugees from the Soviet Union during the Cold War.
Bang Bang—Cory’s Reasonable, the NRA’s Crazy: Briscoe asked about the charge that I refused to state my position on the Second Amendment. I said I support all of the amendments—Second, First, etc.—and noted it was funny that, given all the blog articles Al hauled into the studio, he couldn’t take the time to find my numerous public statements on gun policy, which I said the SDGOP doesn’t want to talk about, because it turns out I’m pretty reasonable on gun policy. Briscoe himself said he loves guns but said people don’t need high-capacity magazines and said the NRA has gone crazy.
Humor in the Trenches: A woman called with a question for Mr. Heidepriem, but the time warp closed before she could pose her question to the 2010 Democratic candidate for Governor. Al and Don both laughed at my historical reference.
A Brief Gleam of Agreement: Another caller asked about increasing the state’s share of video lottery revenue. I said I’m open to that policy conversation, but video lottery is a rotten way to fund a state, another regressive shift of tax burdens to low-income folks. Al appeared to agree, mentioning the untallied social costs of addiction and crime linked to gambling.
Youth Minimum Wage: Briscoe asked each of us to ask our opponent one question (not about taxes, since he felt we’d done enough on that topic. I asked Al why he voted to overturn the will of the voters by cutting the minimum wage for young workers. Al recited his son’s standard propaganda that cutting kids’ wages is about giving kids more opportunity. He said that 80% of kids are unemployed, so “you can’t cut their wages; they’re already zero.” How offering even lower wages will persuade any of those kids who are choosing (with parental support) not to enter the workforce escapes me.
The Central Personal Attack of This Campaign: I posed my question to Al in 12 seconds. He took over a minute to pose his final question to me. He rehashed the “boycott” complaint that he inartfully crowded onto the end of his closing remarks at our only other joint appearance during this election, the League of Women Voters forum on September 24. He said he was one of 46 House members who voted for Rep. Rev. Scott Craig’s bill this year on “religious freedom,” which, Al said, was about making sure that “we’re not going to force anybody to violate their religious beliefs.” Al noted that I had proposed boycotting the businesses of those 46 House members and that I had called those members “bigoted, they’re intolerant, they’re lacking character, and they’re lacking intelligence.” Al said that many of those 46 members will be in the Capitol next Session. He asked how I will be able to represent Brown County and work with those legislators whom I have called such names.
Here’s my response:
I’m glad you asked this question, Al, because the bill you were supporting was bigoted and uninformed and unintelligent and I’ll stand by every word I’ve said about the nature of that bill and the people who supported it, including you. The bill actually would have given businesses like yours the right to basically boycott certain customers whose religious beliefs—[Al attempted a Trumpist interruption here; I had to tell Al to pipe down]—Your bill gave employers the right to discriminate against people based on their religion. I simply said goose for gander: if you want to discriminate against customers, how about customers discriminate against you? If you’re so offended by that, then you’ve learned your lesson, and you should know how the people you target with your discrimination would feel about that kind of legislative discrimination that you want to use the force of the state to impose on people that you don’t like [Cory Allen Heidelberger, radio interview, KSDN AM 930, 2016.11.04, timestamp 1:00:08].
At this point, the station manager came in and gave Briscoe permission to extend the program past the news break. I thus had the opportunity to move beyond explaining Al’s false representation of 2016 House Bill 1107 (which one commentator called “Sharia for Jesus”—ironic given Al’s false fears of Sharia Law elsewhere) and address the idea that my criticism of HB 1107 somehow precludes my ability to work with other legislators on other bills.
The issue of relationships with legislators with whom I’ve had passionate disagreements: That’s where my skills are best suited. I would say this. I’ve made my living as a teacher, as a debate judge, as a debate coach. I’m used to having spirited disagreements about issues. I’m not afraid to have those disagreements.
But when we sit down to talk policy, I’m ready to put the people of South Dakota first. So I can forget the personal slights that Al and his Republican pals have thrown on me over the past several years. When we get to Pierre, I’ll look them in the eye, I’ll say, all right, we’re here to do a budget. I’ll say, all right, we’re here to do good policy. Let’s make it happen. I can be the grown-up in the room.
If Al is telling me that there are legislators in Pierre who can’t get past a little personal disagreement and are going to hold that against the people of South Dakota, that’s alarming. Because when I go to Pierre, it’s not Cory Heidelberger going to Pierre. When Al goes to Pierre, it’s not Al Novstrup going to Pierre. It’s the people of District 3 going to Pierre in the form of their representative. And agree or disagree with various issues, we still have to get work done at the end of the day. That’s what matters [CAH, 2016.11.04, timestamp 1:03:40].
Al complained that I was filibustering and demanded the short answer. Fine.
When Al attacks me for “name-calling,” he’s actually attacking himself and the GOP club in Pierre. Al is saying that he would put taking revenge for some personal slight over working together on practical policy for the general good of the people of South Dakota. He’s projecting that same petty, immature attitude onto other legislators of his party. If legislators like Al can’t get past their personal grievances, that doesn’t indict my character; that tells voters we need to elect better legislators who care about the people more than about their own egos.
Job Recommendation: In the middle of our discussion of Al’s character attack on me, Don Briscoe made this comment:
On your blog, you say this…: “I teach as I write, to get people thinking and talking.” This is just an aside, it just so happens both my grandchildren had you as a practice teacher, and they said he was one of the best teachers we’ve ever had. Id like to see you be a full-time teacher in this town, but I thought I should add that because, unprovoked, they both came home and told their parents we had this wonderful practice teacher [Don Briscoe, radio interview, KSDN AM 930, 2016.11.04, timestamp 1:01:44].
Pig P.S.: Al alleged that I called a Mitchell legislator a pig in a blog headline. I can’t find that post to verify Al’s claim, but he deemed calling someone a pig disqualifying for legislative service. I take it that Al will spend this weekend knocking down all the Donald Trump signs that stand next to his in Aberdeen.
Our media appearances are likely done—now it all happens online, at the doors, on the streets, and, most importantly, at the polls.
More media—Don Briscoe has invited both of us District 3 Senate candidates to his program for an hour-long discussion of our policies ahead of Tuesday’s big election. I’ll be there; will Al? Tune it at 4 p.m. on KSDN AM 930 or online at HubCityRadio.com to find out!
You can listen to our 14-minute conversation about Clinton’s trouncing of Trump and more ballot measure fun on KELO.com. You can also tune in this Friday, October 7, at 8:05 a.m. CDT for more liberal blogging on the radio, as Greg Belfrage grills me about Referred Law 19. Listen on KELO AM 1320, FM 107.9, or online live!