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Williams Offers Reasonable, Debatable Policies; Spin Blog Offers False Marginalization

Jay Williams
Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Jay Williams

Faced with a challenge to his sponsor Senator John Thune, Pat Powers feels compelled to portray sensible policy statements from Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Jay Williams as “crazy”, “weird”, “unfathomable”, and “lunacy”. But in his interview this week with that Sioux Falls paper, Williams didn’t really say anything that shocking or unthinkable… at least not to regular citizens who live outside the atrophied thinking of a Republican blog on life support.

[Note: I cite and respond to the words Powers attributes to Williams rather than citing the source material, because life is too short to wait for that Sioux Falls paper’s video to load.]

Williams apparently ventured into state politics, saying that South Dakota is undertaxed and that a state income tax would be useful. This issue isn’t a voting issue for a Congressional candidate, but it’s not a radical idea. 43 states consider income tax a good idea. So does Congress, which does the exact opposite of South Dakota by collecting income tax but no sales or property tax. I’d say it would be far more radical for South Dakota Republicans to universalize their tax maxims and advocate replacing the federal income tax with a federal property tax and federal sales tax. Any takers… or would such a proposal be “utter lunacy”?

Williams apparently described Bernie Sanders as “a moderate. He’s not a European Liberal, He’s an American Liberal…. He’s a progressive guy….” Again, Williams is right on the money: what passes for liberal in South Dakota is really center-right European politics.

Williams apparently said transporting fossil fuels is a problem. The Keystone leak at Menno should suffice to prove that point entirely fathomable. Williams further said that we should rid ourselves of fossil fuels. I will grant that doing so right now, shutting off every coal- or oil-powered machine and plugging all of our gear into alternative power sources by lunchtime is both economically and infrastructurally impossible. But Williams is enunciating a long-term policy that acknowledges a simple truth: we consume fossil fuels faster than fossils can turn into fuel. We may and our children definitely will see us run out of usable oil; coal is more plentiful but similarly finite. No matter whom we elect or how much oil and coal we use, some day we will completely rid ourselves of fossil fuels. That’s not green liberal fantasy; that’s geology and math.

Williams apparently wants to subsidize rooftop solar installations. If that’s crazy, then India must be crazy: they want to double their rooftop solar power generation, with the potential to install enough rooftop solar to produce nearly half of the country’s electric power needs. Australia must also be crazy: financiers there just issued $50 million in green bonds to promote rooftop solar.

Williams apparently said we should get electricity from “wind, solar, and ocean tides.” Powers snorts that South Dakota can’t get power from ocean tides, but tell me what’s so nutty about advocating tidal power to juice the 39% of Americans who live by the coasts and thus conserve and make cheaper power resources for us inlanders? Williams is no crazier in proposing tidal power as a national power solution than Peter Norbeck and Karl Mundt were for proposing hydroelectric power.

Williams apparently said cap and trade “is a pretty good idea.” Powers doesn’t even bother to provide an argument for his tacit mockery… probably because cap and trade really is a pretty good idea, as demonstrated by President George H.W. Bush’s Clean Air Act of 1990. Again, where’s the crazy?

Williams apparently said we should go with an inevitable national trend to legalize recreational marijuana. While I disagree with Williams on this point, his position is far from shocking or marginal: a Gallup poll last October found 58% of Americans support legalizing marijuana.

Williams apparently accepted adding a dollar in tax to gasoline. That proposal seems radical in the context of average federal and state taxes of 53 cents per gallon, but Canada puts $1.25 on each gallon of gas, and the average among the 34 advanced economies of the OECD is $2.62 pr gallon.

Wear a shirt and tie at a nudist camp, and you’ll be called weird. But sport that look in town, and folks will just say you’re dressed for civilized society.

Powers speaks from the nudist camp. His hyperbole is standard GOP spin blog fare, trying marginalize any policy or person who strays from the narrow, isolated Republican party line. We can debate whether Jay Williams is right, but his statements are not crazy, weird, unfathomable lunacy; the statements above are all reasonable and well-precedented.


  1. Don Coyote 2016-04-28 10:52

    I see that Jay “Short Straw” Williams is still confused over what constitutes an EV and Hybrids (plug-in or otherwise). And I’m still not sure what Short Straw plans to use for base load generation of electricity. Maybe hamster cage wheels?

  2. Porter Lansing 2016-04-28 11:00

    Attn. SoDak Republicans ~ There are many more Americans who think like Mr. Williams than think like John Thune. That’s why President Obama won two landslide victories against your best and we’ll do it again in 2016. You can cling to your guns and Bibles and hope for an “authoritarian” to keep you from having to change (your habits and diapers) but USA is moving on without your undocumented, doom and gloom, fear based rhetoric. South Dakota Dems are proud to be part of USA and you can sit and spin with your older, angry, white male political party.

  3. leslie 2016-04-28 11:09

    funi cory. Reagan was certain it was crazy to get a head start on solar panels on the WH. he wasn’t about to wear a sweater as a world leader.

    and check out coy’s adverb-infrastructure. wow. creative. german?

    have republicans ever made good decisions? the party of Lincoln-my ass.

  4. Steve Sibson 2016-04-28 11:52

    “Williams apparently described Bernie Sanders as “a moderate. He’s not a European Liberal, He’s an American Liberal…. He’s a progressive guy….” Again, Williams is right on the money”

    No he is not on the money. Bernie Sanders is a Marxist, Hillary is the progressive who wants to use big government to fund big business, and that is liberal corporate crony capitalism.

  5. Bill Dithmer 2016-04-28 12:19

    Mr Williams is saying everything he needs to say to attract liberal voters, but nothing new. Where is the hook that he needs to get some of those other voters that he will need to get elected?

    Green energy, no matter what kind of green, is only a part of the energy solution, it isnt the answer, but it is a part of the equation. Unless you are willing to invest in the things that compliment green energy, your just wasting money.

    We need way more education starting at an early age in green techniques. Like it or not the only way for green to be successful is by spending vast somes of money. That includes the feds, the states, and most of all individuals willing to put their own money where their beliefs are.

    If your throwing solar panels on the roof of an old house expecting to live a better life, that aint gonna happen unless you you are willing to do the things to help those panels all you can. Insolation, geothermal, new and better windows, all should have been done before you ever consider producing green.

    Most of all Williams needs to lear about the grid. Until the US comes to some understanding of how close we are to a total shutdown, this green conversation is just that, a conversation.

    I’m going to tell you a truth about green energy. Right now in the state of South Dakota, the best use of green energy is the same as the windmill of the past, pumping water. Thats it, after all this time, thats all the farther we’ve come.

    If you are waiting for any of the governments in this country to pay for your solar panels or wind generation, thats a long long ways down the road.

    Williams talks talking points without even venturing into real discussion, but then he wants to be a politician, and thats par for the course.

    The Blindman

  6. private richard 2016-04-28 12:23

    The U.S. is many years behind European-style social-democracy. European governments can support social goals, i.e., education, and universal healthcare better than the U.S. because they don’t go around the world looking for wars, and tax more, the wealthy included. Overall, I think it is better government and a better social environment for the citizenry. Europeans are also mostly secular in viewpoint, much advanced over the neanderthal religious-right thing we have going in this country. They will now have many problems from the recent heavy influx of refugees due to proximity to the middle-east.

  7. leslie 2016-04-28 14:34

    your welcome. mine is 2016, yours is 1989. shall I open it?

  8. John Kennedy Claussen 2016-04-28 14:59

    PP is constantly criticizing or trying to belittle Mr. Williams’ candidacy. Why is PP doing this if he thinks Mr. Williams’ candidacy is not credible? It is probably because given the mood of this country right now and the popularity of Bernie, Trump, and Cruz with their unconventional non establishment messages, that politicos like PP are scared about candidacies like Mr. Williams’ and they should be….. Go get them Jay!

    And while you are driving around the state in your Red Volt do not forget to tell the voters that Senator Thune voted to lift the ban on the export of domestic oil production. A ban that had been the law of the land for over 40 years and without it, it means your gas prices will be going up in the future…. Thanks a lot Senator Thune…. Thanks a lot…..

  9. Jeff Endrizzi 2016-04-28 16:36

    Williams will gain no traction in South Dakota. Everyone knows, and most admit, he will have trouble clearing 35 percent in the election. By Porter Lansing’s assessment, Williams will lose by more than a landslide.

  10. mike from iowa 2016-04-28 16:54

    Why is that,Jeff? Who is everyone knows and who are the most that admit?

  11. Troy Jones 2016-04-28 17:31

    2014 election

    Dem Voter Registration: 33.38% (Currently 32.15%)
    US Senate- Weiland: 29.51%
    US House- Robinson: 33.47%
    Governor- Wismer: 25.43%

    The drama in this election is whether Williams and Hawks can hold serve and get support equal to the Democrat registration percentage.

  12. Don Coyote 2016-04-28 19:28

    @JFC: “And while you are driving around the state in your Red Volt do not forget to tell the voters that Senator Thune voted to lift the ban on the export of domestic oil production. A ban that had been the law of the land for over 40 years and without it, it means your gas prices will be going up in the future”

    What difference does it make? If Short Straw get’s his wish and keeps the oil in the ground then prices will rise anyways due to 1) less supply and 2) increased costs due to maintaining an infrastructure running far below capacity. And of course Short Straw’s red Volt will cost more to run since the majority of electricity it uses will still come from carbon generated electricity and from the gas he is burning when it’s not in electric mode. Environmental free-riders like Short Straw always seem to be a tad myopic when they dress in their cloaks of sanctimony.

  13. John Kennedy Claussen 2016-04-28 19:42

    Well, since we are all talking congressional and not gubernatorial here – and there is a difference in those two politically in South Dakota. Then you factor in that half of Senator Pressler’s voters were potentially Weiland supporters in ’14 and that Robinson who never went on TV with any ads still garnered 33% of the vote in a none presidential year, I would say the Democrats have already surpassed the Democratic registration percentage in contemporaneous times.

    Now that we have settled that. Let us now talk once again how Senator Thune wants to sell domestic production on the world oil market, which will potentially raise oil prices in the future in America (not everyone can afford to just go out and buy a Volt overnight you know) and return America to a greater dependency upon MiddleEast oil and the Saudi hegemony which runs with it in dealing with the continual complex problems of the MiddleEast situation, which further fueled with the by-products of the Bush Doctrine could lead to more American lives being lost in the MiddleEast in the future and further financial costs to our country as well…. Thanks again Senator Thune…. Tanks (I mean Thanks) Again……

  14. John Kennedy Claussen 2016-04-28 20:24

    Donald, I know the thought of Trump as your party’s nominee is still very disturbing to you and many other good Republicans, but trust me Republicans like you and all of the Democratic Party will get through this disturbing reality together overtime, trust me, we will.

    Now to your response to my comments, let me just say that if Mr. Williams “get’s his wish” then higher oil prices will not matter because we will then all eventually be driving around in “Tesla mobiles,” but since most people cannot afford them yet, it then forces most of us to live in Senator Thune’s world of higher gas prices at the pump.

    As far as your subjective comments on the usefulness of the Volt or cars like it and the costs involved. Let me just say that as both a contemporaneous and futuristic example the Telsa vehicles for instance can be recharged for free for the consumers; and as far as “the gas he is burning when it’s not in electric mode,” well, not all electric cars have that issue (Tesla) and the Volt is a transitional concept unlike living in a never ending world of fuel based vehicles dependent upon rising oil prices thanks to the senatorial votes of leaders like Senator Thune…..

    Yep, Senator Thune is raising your gas prices…. It is obviously striking a nerve with some of our GOP friends and it should…. They better hope prices do not keep raising into the fall…. I remember when gas was 1.399 last winter. Now it is already 2.099….. What’s next fellow South Dakotans?….What’s next?

  15. private richard 2016-04-28 23:52

    i admire Jay Williams because he is not stupid and not a republican, and he must enjoy trying to get the votes of a majority of idiots. I know he will not win in sd because a majority of sd voters are stupid, moronic, little christians that vote republican because they’re stupid moronic little christians. simple math. the state will continue it’s republican path. thank god for repubs… we get over on entitlements. oh well…Krispy Kritter…Trooper…and Round About will continue the reign. What more could we want???

  16. barry freed 2016-04-29 09:40

    Mr Coyote,
    One of a few possibilities for our base load of energy could be Hybrid cars. Since we have to drive so much in this State, we could run our house when we are home by using our Hybrid cars. Fed into the Grid and reimbursed at a fair rate by the electrical monopolies, cars could be started and shut off by the Grid according to need and availability at the moment. Or as Germany has done:

    “The plan is to install miniature gas-fired power plants based on internal combustion engines in homes, which would collectively produce electricity equivalent to two nuclear reactors over the course of year. Providing heating, hot-water and electricity would be the generator’s main job, and excess power would be relayed back into the local grid for use elsewhere.”

  17. leslie 2016-04-29 09:56

    Obama administration…policies like the government handouts to “green” energy companies, the moves to shut down coal production, the auto bailout, and the like….Sklar … argues are a high-tax, protectionist, and slow-growth program. Those of Republicans, in contrast, were based on a lower-tax, low-cost energy, “high-growth/job stimulus” program, and are not “ensnared in the green business/academia lobby agenda of high-cost energy,” which would work to both restrict economic growth and workers’ incomes.

    sklar’s theme seems to be: capitalism created a social order that “recognizes individual liberties and rights embedded in and protected by constitutional and statute law” against the power of government that operates against those rights.


  18. barry freed 2016-04-29 10:11

    Please explain to the Glaucoma victim how marijuana prohibition is Constitutional? Why they will be bound and gagged at their trial for possession if they try to utter the words: Medical Necessity.

    Then explain to the parents of a baby having seizures that their child has to suffer and die without ever uttering the word: “momma” because people find the high pleasurable.

    Then explain to the 60% of prison inmates that their incarceration for pot possession has nothing to do with their skin color and the racist roots of prohibition are no longer related to current law; but they are taken from their families and jobs, incarcerated, and their lives destroyed, for their own good.

  19. Don Coyote 2016-04-29 11:04

    @barry freed: Not to pop your bubble but I believe conventional hybrids cars use regenerative braking to capture the kinetic energy of the moving vehicle to charge the batteries. That’s why hybrids gets such great mileage in town. It’s all the stop and go traffic. On the highway…not so much. In fact a engine only car will get better mileage because it doesn’t have to carry the extra weight of the battery system. Back to the drawing board!

  20. jerry 2016-04-30 07:23

    Troy, in the same context that you provided for Democrats in the 2014 election, what were the the Independents only and Republican only numbers for these candidates?

  21. barry freed 2016-04-30 07:38

    Don’t have to go to the drawing board, I have already done it. Mission accomplished. Now I just need a fair price for the power put back into the power lines I bought for BHP.

  22. jerry 2016-04-30 07:38

    So then, what about the “old Europe”? I would bet they are still playing marbles with rabbit turds on this socialistic lunacy of renewable energy. You know it is cold there too, so they must burn a lot of coal to stay warm and cool on those warm days. How are they doing? Is Sweden’s climate much like Miami Beach? WTH, how can you have both healthcare for all and be fossil free for your energy? Lunacy? Hardly, this is how to actually improve standards of living for all. Bonus!! You help your mother first and foremost. We are falling behind kids, and will continue to do so until we develop courage.

  23. caheidelberger Post author | 2016-04-30 09:38

    Bill Dithmer, I understand that Williams will need to win votes from all sides to beat Thune in November. But isn’t it logical that a newcomer to state politics might start by establishing his credibility among the base, reactivating a lot of the South Dakota Democratic base that has sat out for a few elections, and then proceeding from that base toward the broader outreach?

  24. caheidelberger Post author | 2016-04-30 09:39

    And if, as Jeff says, the current wisdom says Williams would lose by a landslide, that seems all the more reason to start by winning the base he needs to climb up from landslide margin to competitive-race margin.

  25. caheidelberger Post author | 2016-04-30 09:41

    …because yes, we need to stave off the embarrassment we’ll get if we don’t at least rise to Troy’s minimal voter registration threshold. Make sure you’ve got the base (which serves the party and the state by rebuilding a competitive two-party system) and work up from there.

  26. caheidelberger Post author | 2016-04-30 09:43

    “Cloak of sanctimony”?! Good heavens! Then you’ll hate my bike shorts of sanctimony: my dream will be to get a Tesla that I can charge at home by hooking it up to a bicycle generator. As a Democrat, I believe in people power. :-)

  27. caheidelberger Post author | 2016-04-30 09:51

    Barry, to glaucoma victims, parents of epileptic kids, and incarcerated victims of a racist criminal justice system, I first review what I said above: “Williams apparently said we should go with an inevitable national trend to legalize recreational marijuana. While I disagree with Williams on this point….” Hmm, it would seem I didn’t say anything impinging on any of the examples you cite. I don’t support government restrictions on doctors giving their patients proven, effective treatments for what ails them. I don’t support laws or law enforcement practices that discriminate against racial minorities.

    But I also think doing drugs wastes money and brain cells. I am not interested in investing political capital in making it easier to get high.

    Reconciling those positions is complicated, and I welcome Barry’s and the rest of the comment section’s guidance in that reconciliation.

  28. leslie 2016-05-02 12:33

    right now kristie is making excuses for DC being slow legislatively, whereas SD is fast. she can’t get anything done because she is the only rep., not like the 50 reps. in California. NPR or sdpb

    she is a light-weight, largely unqualified for her job.

  29. caheidelberger Post author | 2016-05-02 14:47

    Leslie, remind me, how fast was Kristi Noem able to pass legislation to raise teacher pay when she was in Pierre?

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