Every six weeks, Republicans are finding a way to keep another million Americans insured. Keep working, Republicans! At this rate, by January 2020, you should be able to come up with a plan that breaks even with ObamaCare!
Rushmore PAC sure is proud of its partisan intervention in Watertown’s mayoral race. SDGOP chairman Dan Lederman’s personal political action committee posted this photo of the people it recruited to campaign around town for incumbent Mayor Steve Thorson Saturday:
Now I like kids getting involved in the political process—even though they can’t vote, they have to live with the decisions (and later clean up the messes) their elders make. But I see at least two people out front of the Cowboy Country Store—Dakota Dunes resident Dan Lederman in the middle of the back row, and next to him, Florence resident Fred Deutsch—who can’t vote because they don’t live in Watertown.
Of course, these two former Republican legislators (along with their fellow former GOP legislator from District 5 Ried Holien, next to Deutsch) are always proud, I guess, to come fight for a fellow Republican (the mayor’s race is supposed to be non-partisan, but Steve Thorson is a registered Republican, while his main opponent, Sarah Caron, is registered independent) who likes to keep taxes low. Unfortunately, Steve Thorson likes to keep his own taxes a little too low:
Just a little note to mayors: if you’re going to fight for federal tax dollars to fund your city’s amenities, like subsidized air service, you may want to protect your moral authority to make such a call by paying your federal taxes.
And a little note to the party of extreme vetting: if you’re going to make such a huge investment of partisan PAC resources in a simple nonpartisan mayor’s race, you may want to vet your chosen candidate.
A Pennington County GOP spokesperson didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment Thursday, but South Dakota Republican Party Chair Dan Lederman said the state party supports the Pennington County chapter’s sponsorship of the event.
“Unlike the Democrats who demand that the members of their party fall into lockstep, the Republican Party is a big tent party that allows our members to have different views,” Lederman told [that Sioux Falls paper]. “Many of our members believe that if we are able to concur or combat Islamic radicalism, we must understand the threat and that is exactly what we have helped with in Rapid City” [Dana Ferguson, “Muslim Group Asks GOP to Drop Ties to Controversial Speaker,” that Sioux Falls paper, 2017.06.15].
At past speaking engagements, Guandolo has claimed that every major Islamic center and organization in the U.S. is part of a massive terrorist network, and that growth in Muslim communities is evidence of preparation for a jihad on U.S. soil.
“When they build a mosque they’re claiming territory, now all they have to do is occupy it,” Guandolo said at a conference in Colorado last August. “So they’re calling Muslims to occupy the land.”
…and one prominent Muslim South Dakotan’s response:
The idea that all major Muslim organizations in the U.S. are part of an extremist conspiracy to destroy America is an example of “getting a little carried away,” said local developer Hani Shafai.
Shafai, who was born in Palestine and is a practicing Muslim, has lived in Rapid City for about 35 years.
“I love the people, I love the area,” Shafai said. “This is home. I’ll defend it against anybody, I don’t care if they’re Muslim, Jewish or Christians.”
“Every religion and every society has its bad apples and its radicals,” he added. “But there are a lot of good people in every society. There might be some radicals, but most Muslims, if not the majority of them, are just hardworking people who believe in God and believe in the books that God has sent” [Anderson, 2017.06.15].
It’s bad enough that Republican elected officials like Al Novstrup, Shantel Krebs and Marty Jackley have graced these anti-Muslim events with their presence. Now Lederman is shielding his party’s sponsorship of anti-Muslim rhetoric with a false reading of tolerance. Tolerance does not mean total moral relativism in which anything goes. We can tolerate difference—different religions, different races, different political views, different lifestyles—while rejecting harmful lies and bigotry, the way South Dakota Democrats do:
While reasonable people can disagree about immigration and refugee policy, conspiracy theories and bigotry targeting a minority population should have no place in our political debates. Republicans should denounce this type of hateful rhetoric, not embrace it. Since Mr. Lederman refused to take the lead in denouncing hate, I call Republican elected officials and candidates like John Thune, Mike Rounds, Kristi Noem, Marty Jackley, Shantel Krebs, and Dusty Johnson to show some important leadership and make it clear that this kind of hate does not belong in their party or our state [Ann Tornberg, South Dakota Democratic Party chair, press release, 2017.06.15].
KOTA Territory News was denied access into the event, but given a statement by ACT for America. It read in part:
“The Rapid City chapter of ACT for America has decided to keep the “Understanding the Threat” event private due to previous mis-characterization and inaccurate reporting by members of the media… Learning about Islamic extremism is relevant in this age of terrorism, and the media has used a specific and intentional agenda to depict our attendees as bigots.”
Anti-Muslim fearmonger organization “Act for America” is bringing another team of hucksters to whip South Dakotans into fear and donations. With the help of the Family Heritage Alliance, AfA is hosting self-professed jihad experts John Guandolo and Chris Gaubatz to present “Understanding the Threat” (that’s the name of these consultants’ website, too)—i.e., the “Global Islamic Movement” that’s coming to kill us all.
“Knowledge is power,” says Willson in her letter, but propaganda and conspiracy theories are just tiring… and that appears to be what Guandolo has to offer:
In congressional testimony and on conservative talk shows, Guandolo dishes up conspiracy theories involving a prominent Muslim professor and organizations, implying that they are enabling Muslim terrorists. In one Columbus, Ohio, training, he accused a local professor of having ties to terrorism. (A Columbus Joint Terrorism Task Force member and an FBI agent told attendees that this individual had absolutely no ties to any such thing.) He has argued that former CIA director John Brennan is a secret Muslim and that Barack Obama was in league with Hamas. He’s said that Muslims don’t have First Amendment rights. And when Cedar Valley College in Lancaster, Texas, canceled his signature three-day law-enforcement training seminar, Guandolo claimed it was the work of “suit-wearing jihadis” [Jessica Pishko, “This Islamophobic Conspiracy Theorist Is Training America’s Cops,” The Nation, 2017.03.28].
Guandolo also makes money training cops about jihad (because, you know, your local cops face far more jihad than speeding, shoplifting, or meth). What do Guandolo and his UTT employee Gaubatz tell cops?
The non-profit attempts to trace the roots of this specific strain of officially-sanctioned Islamaphobia and present a disconcerting picture of unaccredited, self-proclaimed “experts” (none of them are, say, students of Islamic studies or have PhD in religious studies) who take taxpayer dollars to spread hate.
The contents of the sessions themselves are kept largely under wraps, particularly since groups like the ACLU and CAIR have identified the trainings’ anti-Islamic message, and organized protests against many sessions. (Guandolo argues these protests show how important the trainings are.) But according to Guandolo’s website, the training provides necessary information involving the funding apparatus of terrorism as well as where to find potential people to profile for arrest. Many of Guandolo’s talking points in his recorded public appearances reiterate half-regurgitated facts that are misinterpreted and dipped in the poison of association and rumor. For example, Guandolo and his colleagues argue that the Holy Land Foundation trial provides evidence that CAIR and other American Muslim Associations are in some way associated with Hamas. These statements have been proven to just not be true [Pishko, 2017.03.28].
Notice Willson’s use of a superfluous exclamation point in her group’s name in the return address in her letter: “Act! for America.” Interestingly, fellow superfluously self-punctuating xenophobes’ club “Americans First, Task Force” is hosting these same shady fellows the day after their Rapid City show. AF,TF is distributing a similar UTT poster, but without the A(!)fA logo:
Under AF,TF’s Facebook post asking people to “*mark your calendar*” for the Aberdeen event, Amy Willson comments:
“Will do!”—sure… I think, “already did.”
If not their strange penchant for extra punctuation, then this communication, these posters, and these identical programs indicate that my local xenophobes are coordinating their efforts with (or having them coordinated by) Act for America and at least one well-connected branch of South Dakota’s Republican Party.
The reality is is I think I will be a much better congressman that I will be a candidate because I’m just not interested in only telling people what they want to hear. I’m an optimistic guy. I think our country has tremendous problems, but that they can all be solved by working together [Dusty Johnson, in Lee Strubinger, “Johnson Kicks off Congressional Campaign,” SDPB, 2017.05.17].
“I don’t criticize anybody for going,” Johnson said in a Journal interview. “I do think we should all probably understand more about Islam than we do. I wouldn’t generally shy away from an opportunity to learn more, but if I went to an event and thought it was a bad source of information, I would be unlikely to stick around” [Seth Tupper, “U.S. House Candidate Pledges ‘Different,’ Positive Race,” Rapid City Journal, 2017.05.17].
I only stepped into the strip club to say hi to some friends; I didn’t even see the naked dancers on stage! Sure, Marty. Sure, Shantel. If you have friends going to Klan-lite rallies, maybe you should talk to your friends about why attending such rallies does no one any good. And Dusty, if you want to play the truthteller, how about telling the truth about the ugly bigotry plaguing your party?
Related: If candidates need some cue cards on how to properly address the bigots in their midst, try this:
ACT! for America’s rhetoric and teachings are highly offensive, disparage the faith of millions of Americans, and promote biased policies that lead to the discriminatory targeting of individuals and communities based solely on religion and ethnicity without evidence of actual wrongdoing. The organization’s efforts foster fear and suspicion of American Muslims among the public, and such distrust directly correlates to a rise in discrimination, bullying, harassment, and anti-Muslim violence. By attending ACT! for America’s May 6 presentation in Rapid City, you both have only added more credibility and legitimacy to its work and mission, while signaling to your constituents that you support ACT! for America’s harmful animus-fueled beliefs. In this time of dramatic increase in religious-based hate crimes across the country, we strongly urge you both to publicly denounce ACT! for America and its hateful rhetoric. South Dakota Muslims—and all of its citizens—deserve the right to know that their public officials support them and our country’s bedrock constitutional guarantee of religious freedom [Juvaria Khan, staff attorney for Muslim Advocates, letter to Shantel Krebs and Marty Jackley, 2017.05.15].
So for the five of you readers who care about this tiff, let us turn to Powers’s Wednesday post (the only thing he wrote that day) responding to my analysis of the McGovern Day muddle and my recommendation that South Dakota Democrats focus on grassroots activism rather than further internal power struggles. What you’ll find, if you bother (and I really don’t recommend bothering, even though I’m about to), is that, much like what happens when Trump opens his mouth, Powers’s critiques of me are really exercises in Republican projection of their own insecurity and shame.
First, pictures. Powers keeps running a picture of me borrowed from KELO-TV in 2001. Powers seems to find this photo unflattering. He could more accurately portray my fall from youthful beauty by updating his photo box with any number of recent, publicly available photos:
Heck, even the fall 2016 photo he ran of me on my campaign bike to great chortlage and mockery more accurately depicts me in my current state than his old TV file photo:
But old photos are par for the course for Pat and his GOP pals. How old is Senator Mike Rounds’s Twitter profile photo?
Now to the headline: “Democrat Mouthpiece Finally Breaks News Blackout on Failed Democrat Party Revolt.”
The adjective is Democratic. Responsible writers do not write Democrat Party any more than they would Republic Party.
“News Blackout”? This from a Republican political blogger who, according to his own search engine, hasn’t mentioned the Republican President since March 20. When information about the snap election push became public, I discussed it a fair amount on these pages, because I wanted to offer analysis that people on all sides of the tussle could use to make their decisions. When that push failed, I took eleven days to talk to Democrats who attended McGovern Day, to read other responses, and to think about the next best course of action for the party. That’s not a news blackout; that’s thoughtful deliberation.
For someone who pretends to understand me, Pat Powers really doesn’t know me at all. Ann Tornberg has known me for 30 years. If she has an “inner circle”, she has yet to place me in it. But Ann can tell you, as can anyone else who knows me, that I have never really given a hoot about getting into anyone’s “inner circle”. Unlike Pat Powers, whose entire blogging career reads like one long fawning to atone for his past political gaffes and get back into the good graces of the Republican rich and powerful, I am my own man. I appreciate my friends, I respect their trust, but I do not chase favor. I report facts, I analyze and opine, and I let others throw whichever chips, poker or buffalo, they see fit.
The AHCA’s passage in the House serves as a news peg for us to move a number of Republican-held House districts into more competitive rating categories. That doesn’t mean the AHCA will be an anchor on GOP incumbents next year. It’s just too early to know, for reasons we’ll get into. But broader historical patterns suggest that the Democrats have a chance to win the House next year, and health care could be part of a potential winning message. This weeks’ changes align our ratings with our overall belief that the House is in play, even while noting that the true level of danger Republicans face is as yet unclear [Kyle Kondik, “House 2018: Health Care Vote Gives Democrats Another Midterm Argument,” Sabato’s Crystal Ball, 2017.05.11].
South Dakota’s at-large seat is not one of the shifters; it’s one of the 276 districts—141 Republican, 135 Democratic—that Sabato’s team considers ungettable.
It is within the remaining 159 districts, which make up about 37% of the House’s total, where majorities are won and lost. Of these districts — which includes Peterson’s even though his district is technically outside of the range specified above — Republicans control 100, and Democrats control 59. Putting as many of those 100 “on the table” is [DCCC chair Rep. Ben Ray] Luján’s goal. Democrats need to win about a quarter of those seats, 24, to win the House, while not losing any of their own seats in the process [Kondik, 2017.05.11].
But hey, Chris Martian, or other enterprising South Dakota Democrat, if you want to put South Dakota’s House seat into Sabato’s gettable column, Kristi Noem and Donald Trump are writing your campaign script for you.
The millennial generation believes in community, and they believe in inclusiveness, and that’s what the Republican Party is about [Dan Lederman, interviewed by Lee Strubinger, SDPB: In the Moment, 2017.05.01].
Democrats, your strategy against the Trump/Lederman GOP is clear: let Lederman talk, then when he’s done, just hold up a picture of Donald Trump and say, “Really?” Boom! 50-point win among millennials right there.
Republican blogger John Tsitrian agrees with me that the spectacular, tremendous triumph of ObamaCare over TrumpCare signals that South Dakota should finally get on with expanding Medicaid:
The general consensus is that about 50,000 South Dakotans will become eligible for Medicaid benefits under Daugaard’s expansion plan, which in the governor’s words last year had the support of “80 hospitals and clinics, as well as 50 other organizations in South Dakota.” There’s no organized opposition that I can find coming from the healthcare industry in the state. On the second front, political opposition seems to be focused on ideological and partisan issues, which on a broader scale turned out to be hopeless when the entire ACA came under consideration in Congress. The same was true when Medicaid expansion specifically was adopted by so many GOP governors, Pence of Indiana included, around the country. Rejecting literally billions of dollars of federal Medicaid disbursements that will support this plan over the next few years makes no sense to me, especially as our Governor Daugaard’s proposal makes it revenue-neutral for state budgeting purposes [John Tsitrian, “Okay, Back to Medicaid Expansion in South Dakota,” The Constant Commoner, 2017.03.28].
Tsitrian makes a good point about the lack of political consequences for Republicans who back ACA-Medicaid expansion. Republican governors who have expanded Medicaid have generally seen their party hang onto their governor’s seats post-expansion. Terry Branstad of Iowa, Rick Snyder of Michigan, Brian Sandoval of Nevada, Chris Christie of New Jersey, Susana Martínez of New Mexico, John Kasich of Ohio all expanded Medicaid and then won reëlection.
Voters have rejected some Republican governors who resisted Medicaid expansion. Republican Tom Corbett of Pennsylvania supported an alternate, limited expansion plan but then lost to Democrat Tom Wolf, who put in motion a standard, broader Medicaid expansion. Republican Pat McCrory considered but rejected Medicaid expansion, then lost last year to Democrat Roy Cooper, who is pushing expansion. After Republican Bobby Jindal refused to expand Medicaid, the state legislature passed a veto-proof expansion plan, and Louisianians elected an expansion-favoring Democrat to replace Jindal.
Dennis Daugaard is done running for office. But, beyond doing the right thing for health and the economy, if Daugaard wants to bolster his party’s nominee for his job win in 2018, he should take away one big stick from the Democrats and expand Medicaid.
A good fifteen months out from the 2018 Republican convention, we have three announced candidates for the SDGOP’s nomination for attorney general. Lawrence County state’s attorney John Fitzgerald announced Thursday that he wants the job Marty Jackley has held since 2009.
Fitzgerald has been a state’s attorney (Butte County first, then Lawrence County) for 37 years. McGuigan has worked in the A.G.’s office in Pierre for 26 years. Ravnsborg has held his part-time public prosecuting position in Union County since just last June.
One would think that the GOP delegates to next year’s convention would put experience first and choose either of the career prosecutors over a mostly political choice. But be careful, old guard: Fitzgerald, McGuigan, and any other Jackley wannabes sensing their moment could split the sensible vote, and the Trumpy core that made Saudi agent, Steve King pal, and former Union County commissioner Dan Lederman the SDGOP chair could stay united around Islamophobic saber-rattler Ravnsborg. Surrounded by GOP activists who can put fear and slogans over qualifications (see also 2016 Presidential election), Ravnsborg could beat two men who should beat him.
As a Democrat, I would much rather run against Ravnsborg than either of the experienced, qualified Republican choices for A.G. But come on, SDGOP: I’m counting on you to run the best people for the job, not the best rabble-rousers. McGuigan, Fitzgerald, you have 15 months to make nice and figure out who gets to be whose deputy.