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All I Want for Christmas Is a Congressman…

…who can write a 55-page position paper on the impacts of family breakdown and drug abuse on crime and incarceration rates in South Dakota, with 346 footnotes.

Tim Bjorkman, from campaign Twitter, 2017.10.01.
Tim Bjorkman, writer, problem solver. From campaign Twitter, 2017.10.01.

Back in September, Kevin Woster mentioned the article that Democratic U.S. House candidate Tim Bjorkman was working on for the South Dakota Law Review. I just had the pleasure of reading Bjorkman’s article, “A State in Shackles: The Effect of a Dysfunctional Childhood on Crime and Imprisonment” (Update 2017.12.25 07:30 CST: PDF just posted online!). It’s not a light, cheery holiday read, but it is a well-researched, scholarly yet relatable paper that shows him to be intellectually and compassionately head-and-shoulders above the woman he would replace in South Dakota’s lone House seat.

In 55 pages, 346 footnotes, and over 28,000 words, Bjorkman expands on observations he made right out of the gate at his campaign announcement in July about the problems that drag too many South Dakotans to the wrong side of the law. He essentially previewed the thesis of his paper in his remarks to the press at that Canistota event:

Bjorkman’s first response, on why he’s running for Congress, reveals a deeply humanitarian, service-oriented motivation. He served the public for years as a judge. The problems he saw from the bench—mental health, drug addiction, health care in general—affect not just the defendants who came before him but their families and especially their children. Bjorkman speaks of kids in “highly dysfunctional” homes living “lives of quiet desperation in the shadows of our culture.” Without hope and guidance, those kids “fall into the patterns of their parents and experience poor educational outcomes,” and “all too often they’ll fall into alcohol and marijuana use” before their teens. Those children and their parents “need a counselor more than they need a guard. They need treatment more than they need jail or prison.” Bjorkman says he can’t get those people the help they need from the bench; thus, he feels compelled to seek solutions as a Congressman [CAH, “Video: Bjorkman Talks Universal Health Care & Minimum Wage, Challenges Reporters,” Dakota Free Press, 2017.07.14].

Bjorkman’s paper is chock full of statistics about our state’s high incarceration rate (growing 30 times faster than our population over the last 40 years) and the dysfunctional background of most prisoners (two thirds with no high school diploma, 90% suffering from a substance disorder, over half the female prisoners survivors of child abuse). Bjorkman ties these dysfunctions to income inequality (low-income students with high test scores are less likely to finish college than high-income kids with low test scores), poverty, and breakdown of family structure (more pronounced among low-income Americans). These disadvantages sabotage children’s development in multiple ways, turning even their own neurobiology against them:

…A child subjected to frequent and prolonged adversity tends to develop what academicians call toxic stress…. Children in such settings build up higher levels of cortisol, a vital stress hormone. As part of the body’s fight or flight mechanism, the child’s adrenal glands release cortisol in response to fear or stress.

For most people, once the immediate crisis has abated, the body’s coritsol levels return to normal. In a child exposed to continual stress, however, cortisol remains stored in the body, rather than dissipating. Those elevated cortisol levels interfere with one’s learning, memory and ability to concentrate, and can lead to depression, mental illness, [and] a host of other long-term health problems.

Exposure to constant stress in the home can disrupt executive functions and disturb the ability to follow directions and address basic challenges…. Perhaps worst of all, the hormone buildup attacks the last refuge of a child living in a toxic environment: resiliency, the ability to overcome life’s adversities [footnote citations replaced with links; Timothy W. Bjorkman, “A State in Shackles: The Effect of a Dysfunctional Childhood on Crime and Imprisonment,” South Dakota Law Review, Vol. 62, 2017, p. 227].

This is Tim Bjorkman talking. Not a campaign aide, not a press person, not a staffer in charge of researching children’s health issues. This is Bjorkman, the candidate himself, explaining how poverty and family instability can make life so hard that children’s own brain chemistry conspires against them.

That cortisol disadvantage may explain this fact from Bjorkman’s paper: “Children from lower-income families are two to three times more likely than other children to suffer a mental disorder.”

Mental disorders, drug abuse, lack of treatment—these are the problems that Judge Bjorkman saw trapping many of the defendants in his courtroom in poverty, pain, and prison. Bjorkman believes in personal responsibility, but he says the justice system can’t just sit back and wait for those oppressed by such stressful backgrounds to bootstrap themselves back to complete functionality:

We must not lose track of the role that individual agency plays in life. It is, after all, in the individual’s ability to improve her circumstances by good choices and effort…. Yet, for the vast majority of those who enter prison,… the core skills and virtues that enable one to act responsibly in society were neither taught nor modeled in the home. The challenge the justice system confronts, then, is how to rehabilitate an offender who lacks the basic building blocks necessary to live a stable, law-abiding life [Bjorkman, 2017, p. 250].

Bjorkman says South Dakota’s 2013 criminal justice reform effort, Senate Bill 70, includes some “well-intentioned and well-crafted” reforms that “hold promise for reforming offenders’ lives,” like our new drug courts and more uniformity in handling probationers. However, 2013 SB 70 has failed to reduce South Dakota’s prison population (3,641 in 2012, 3,977 in November 2017higher than the state projected 2013 SB 70 would achieve, but still lower than the projected population absent reform). More broadly, Bjorkman says 2013 SB 70 falls short in two key areas: providing “enhanced supervision and treatment” to offenders and tackling the “root of the problem: the profound, lifelong damage inflicted upon the children who grow up in dysfunctional families.”

Bjorkman does not write legislation here. He presents lists of policies to address each of these two main failings of our current criminal justice reform efforts. On rehabilitation, Bjorkman recommends the following policies:

  1. Hire more court services officers and intensive probation officers trained in helping offenders deal with mental health, addiction, employment, and housing issues.
  2. Establish “long-term, intensive treatment centers on each side of the state that will address both men’s and women’s addiction and underlying mental disorders” (he cites the Intensive Methamphetamine Treatment Unit at the Women’s Prison as a model).
  3. Adequately fund community mental health care facilities.
  4. Allow drug courts to exercise local control and take more offenders into their supervision (which the National Association of Drug Court Professionals says we should do).
  5. Develop a training program “modeled on the 1930s-era Civilian Conservation Corps and Job Corps” to help young probationers get diplomas and job skills.
  6. Prohibit bail practices that keep poor people in jail unnecessarily and easing up on the 2015 law that jails or yanks driver licenses from probationers who haven’t paid off their court debts.
  7. Reimburse counties for non-incarcerative programs like work release and alcohol and GPS monitoring.

Bjorkman says we need these policies but admits that such “end-of-line solutions… offer only limited promise because they do not reach the source of the problem.” He quotes Thomas More:

For if you suffer your people to be ill-educated, and their manners to be corrupted from their infancy, and then punish them for those crimes to which their first education disposed them, what else is to be concluded from this, but that you first make thieves and then punish them [Thomas More, Utopia, 1516]

Bjorkman thus recommends the following early interventions to save more young people from the social and neurological traps his paper identifies:

  1. Increase staffing at the Department of Social Services to identify and address more cases of child neglect and abuse;
  2. Provide more parental coaching, home visits, and other support for poor and struggling families (footnote #316 mentions, “The U.S. lags behind all other advanced nations in providing support for parents of babies, including parental leave and workplace flexibility” [links mine]).
  3. Fund birth-to-three screening, mandatory preschool testing, and quality pre-K education (we are one of six states that don’t).
  4. “Empower teachers” to report child abuse “more readily and without fear of recrimination” and produce annual reports of academically at-risk children.
  5. Expand civics courses to teach “personal agency”, parenthood, and addiction avoidance.
  6. Expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act to help low-income South Dakotans get timely health care.
  7. Provide “an enhanced family planning program that provides more accessible birth control for impoverished adult men and women” to, bluntly, lower the number of meth-addicted moms who get pregnant again “during the course of abuse and neglect proceedings, after losing Medicaid eligibility.”

Whatever legislative form these proposals may take, Bjorkman recommends lawmakers and enforcers form and execute those proposals with humility and compassion:

Those who pass laws and administer justice should do so with a dose of humility and compassion, for in nearly each case they were born into families far different than most who are sentenced to prison. None can really know what his or her own life would be like were the roles reversed [Bjorkman, 2017, p. 264].

Bjorkman’s 55 pages offer more humility, compassion, and thoughtful observation than a year’s worth of the sloganeering marketing materials our current Congressperson propagates. “A State in Shackles” isn’t a plea for votes or donations. It isn’t spin or focus-grouped talking points handed down from party leaders. It is an honest effort by an honest man to synthesize years of hard experience and study into policy solutions for practical public problems.

Put Tim Bjorkman’s problem-solving in my stocking any time. And next year, put Tim Bjorkman in Congress.


  1. Paul T 2017-12-24 09:36

    This is great stuff, thank you Cory. We are lucky to have a resource like Tim Bjorkman.

  2. mike from iowa 2017-12-24 11:13

    The candidate seems to have nailed all the reasons wingnuts demand every fetus be brought to term and then wingnuts abandon them to poverty, lack of insurance, drug addicted parents, take away educational opportunities so when a steady supply of troubled kids are old enough to jail, wingnut special interest groups- like private prisons cash in with a generous, never ending supply of $ signs coming down the pike towards them.

    Of course if they can funnel these kids to public tax supported religious schools, god can do the evil dirty work on these kids minds and souls and they still end up in private prisons and private/religious schools get in on the gravy train.

  3. Caroline 2017-12-24 11:14

    A worthy article to read as we ponder the Holiday spirit. There are so many organizations who are looking for additional funding in the form of Christmas donations so they can assist those individuals and families affected by the very issues discussed here. Perhaps Bjorkman is the gift we could give ourselves and society.

  4. mike from iowa 2017-12-24 11:17

    Speaking personally, Caroline, I won’t give a dime to Salvation Army (assuming I had one) for the simple reason under dumbass dubya the S A was allowed to discriminate in hiring practices. If memory serves correctly, that pretty much opened the barn door to allow religious groups to get public monies.

    I might be wrong and I am too lazy today to research this. Skol Vikings!

  5. Rorschach 2017-12-24 12:12

    Tim Bjorkman is head and shoulders above the typical politicians the other side puts up for office. I was optimistic about Shantel, but in typical politician fashion she seems to be sidling up to the deplorable elements of her party. I can’t tell if she actually means it or if she’s just pandering, but either way it’s a turnoff. I’m thankful that accomplished people like Tim Bjorkman are willing to step up to the plate and run for office as a Democrat despite the voter registration disadvantage. I’ll be throwing my shekels behind his campaign in the hope that he will be the honest and fair minded congressman that Washington needs more of.

  6. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2017-12-24 12:24

    Funny you mention fetuses, Mike. Bjorkman addresses abortion in footnote #315, under his discussion of the need to boost DSS’s efforts to identify and intervene in child neglect and abuse:

    South Dakota annually has the lowest numbers of abortions in the nation. Fundamental to the commitment to reduce abortion is the promise to care for those our laws protect through birth. The evidence—as seen in the DSS statistics and state’s prison populations—suggest that promise is largely an empty one [Bjorkman, 2017, p.259, n.315].

    Bjorkman’s ready for that discussion.

  7. Roger Cornelius 2017-12-24 13:16

    Tim Bjorkman is a solid candidate that has the ability to bring long overdue integrity and credibility to South Dakota.
    A CNN poll released this past Wednesday shows that among registered voters Democrats have a 18 point lead in mid-term matchups.
    It will be difficult for Tim to make this advantage happen in South Dakota, but combined with his intelligence and hard work by Democrats we can make it happen.
    As republicans and their leader Trump rejoice over the tax sham, we can rest assured that this law passed over the objections of the American people. The day the tax sham was passed polling showed that 76% of American opposed it.
    Democrats have 11 months to get our ducks in a row, the work starts now.

  8. Roger Cornelius 2017-12-24 13:22

    It would be great to give you the gift of a congressman for Christmas, but the NRA and wealthy corporations beat me to it.

  9. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2017-12-24 15:09

    18-point lead nationwide, Roger? That means it’s a dead heat here in South Dakota! Go, Dems! :-D

  10. jerry 2017-12-24 15:40

    While Democrats have that 18 point lead, it is incumbent upon them to take the facts of the tax scam to the people so they fully understand it. If this cannot be explained to them, they will not fully comprehend the screwing they are getting.

  11. jerry 2017-12-24 15:49

    What folks will understand is talking plain to them. Call this what it is A Pig in a Poke. The old timers will get that and explain it to the young fellers. This is for Mr. grudznick so he can stop drinking his eggnog to understand. “The English colloquialisms such as turn out to be a pig in a poke or buy a pig in a poke mean that something is sold or bought without the buyer knowing its true nature or value, especially when buying without inspecting the item beforehand.”

    To explain this term to others that might be from places like Germany or some other heritage here in South Dakota, there is this.

  12. mike from iowa 2017-12-24 15:49

    Drumpf told his friends in Drumpf Dump South that the tax bill made them all alot richer. But then, we all knew he was a pathological liar.

    I wish Mr Bjorkman would slip across the border and run against looney Steve King. I’d vote a hundred times for him.

  13. jerry 2017-12-24 15:54

    You could call for Tim, mfi. Call 100 times and each time you do think that you are kicking Steve King in the cojones. There, fixed it for you. Imagine each call giving him a severed bend over.

  14. Roger Cornelius 2017-12-24 16:05

    Mid-terms are state elections, there is no Electoral College to go against the will of the people as happened in 2016 general election.
    Repeal & Replace this tax sham is our rallying cry for 2018 and possibly 2020.
    republicans expecting to reap their rewards immediately will have a surprise coming and are already disappointed they can’t file their taxes on a postcard, as Trump promised.
    Throughout this election more and more republican promises will be broken and their lies revealed.
    We need to keep track of the promises broken and the lies told and use them as creative weapons against conservatives and lunatics.

  15. mike from iowa 2017-12-24 16:27

    King needs kicked in the backside, Jerry.

  16. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2017-12-24 16:48

    No, Mike, we get to keep Tim.

    Roger, don’t forget: we don’t have the Electoral College to foil the general will, but we still have gerrymandering. Nice that even that factor doesn’t apply to Bjorkman’s race.

    Jerry, Bjorkman could be that explainer. His 55-page paper is in a law journal, but it’s not a hard, scholarly read. I’m hoping we’ll hear Bjorkman on the campaign trail boiling this paper down into stump speeches that can get people thinking about practical problem-solving. I’m also hoping we’ll see Bjorkman put out a couple more papers like this… although I can imagine a campaign advisor saying, “Tim! In the weeks it will take you to right another paper that good, you could be out knocking on thousands of doors!” It’s too bad politicking takes away so much time that could be used for thoughtful reflection and writing.

  17. jerry 2017-12-24 16:51

    My bumper sticker, Krebs tax cut=pig in a poke

  18. mike from iowa 2017-12-24 18:06

    Certainly doesn’t take a lot to stump” wingnuts-speeches or not. I would like to believe there are at least a few decent right wingers out there. They are endangered and must hide their true identities, like Mr Roboto.

  19. Lewis 2017-12-24 19:20

    A person will stick up for the written glass a leader who will stick up for my earned benefits as social security and Medicare not on the table Thune rounds and estate queen

  20. Debbo 2017-12-24 20:09

    Mr. Bjorkman clearly paid attention when he donned a black robe. I’ve spent most of 50 years working with folks like he’s highlighting, including some years as a prison inmate case manager in SD. Bjorkman is exactly right about the circumstances of the large majority of inmates and he nails the solutions too.

    One thing Bjorkman doesn’t mention is that the programs and changes he suggested, unlike the GOP tax scam, really do pay for themselves. Carried out in full, over just a couple generations, they would result in a shrinking prison population, less need for probation and parole officers, fewer county social service needs, and less of most every service Bjorkman lists. While the need for the services would remain, the numbers requiring them would diminish. Early education, child care, well child and family healthcare and a few others would be the exception.

    In other words, Democratic Congressional Candidate Bjorkman`s policies are a big win from all angles for South Dakota. You need to vote for Tim Bjorkman everyone.

  21. Francis Schaffer 2017-12-24 20:36

    Did he ever mention the ACE survey? Adverse Childhood Experience survey is a 10 point questionnaire the higher the score the more adverse ones child hood was. It identifies a persons childhood trauma source and explains how they have arrived at their adulthood. Very encouraging as I read this post. I am encouraging the Spink County Coalition to become educated about the ACE survey and the trauma informed education which helps all people who contact the group of people Tim has seen in his work as a judge. I applaud his work and would love to read his 55 page policy paper. I am attaching a link to the questionnaire.

    I have an ACE Score of 7 so I kind of understand what he is saying and having adopted 6 children I understand that the trauma needs to be addressed or the children will lose their way. This encourages me for the first time in a long time about a candidate seeking to help solve problems.

  22. Debbo 2017-12-24 22:13

    Francis, you’re right about the ACE survey. It’s an important and informative tool that can help direct plans for each individual.

  23. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2017-12-25 07:28

    Francis, thanks for that link! Bjorkman does include that survey in his research:

    The CDC-Kaiser “ACE” Study, conducted from 1995 to 1997, explored the connection between childhood abuse and neglect and later health and well- being.109 Its goal was to quantify the degree to which an individual’s life may have been impacted by childhood trauma. The study’s results found a strong correlation between early adverse life experiences and poor outcomes in health and well-being in later life. The study resulted in questionnaires, which physicians and other care providers now routinely utilize, which explore the presence in one’s life of key Adverse Childhood Experiences (“ACEs”). As Nobel Prize-winning economist James Heckman has written: such ACEs correlate with bad outcomes for one’s lifetime and beyond, such as “poor adult health, high medical care costs, increased depression and suicide rates, alcoholism, drug use, poor job performance and social function, disability, and impaired performance of subsequent generations.” People who grew up in disadvantaged and dysfunctional homes frequently have encountered several such adverse life experiences by the time they reach adulthood [Bjorkman 2017, p. 228].

  24. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2017-12-25 07:58

    Deb, on costs, I think Bjorkman agrees with you. Bjorkman cites Daugaard (footnote 220, spanning pp. 240–241) on the long-term payoff of investment in “community corrections.” ON p. 251, Bjorkman notes that the $21K it costs to incarcerate one person can pay for supervising 18 probationers.

    On p. 253, on mental health care, Bjorkman writes, “The state pays a steep price for our failure to provide this care in added jail and prison costs, county care of the poor, and a host of other welfare costs for the families of the individuals, but the infinitely more important and incalculable costs are those related to its effects on children and the fabric of society.”

    On pp. 264–265, Bjorkman acknowledges that his proposals will cost money but represent a long-term investment (not to mention the moral thing to do):

    Even apart from the infinitely more important human aspect, enlightened self-interest should motivate us to aggressively pursue fundamental reform. That must begin with rethinking the precept that prison reform equates to cost savings—at least in the short term. Corrections budgets will only realize savings when entire wings are shuttered. The solution to our prison population crisis, forty years in the making, presents no cheap solutions or short cuts [Bjorkman, 2017, pp. 264–265].

    Bjorkman is ready to make the fiscal argument and the moral argument.

  25. Dana P 2017-12-25 08:02

    Thanks for highlighting Mr Bjorkman’s position paper, Cory. wow, wow, wow. Can’t say it enough. How refreshing to see a candidate that is so smart and so informed. Yes, he was a judge and saw these things first hand, but still — BUT STILL!!

    Someone who saw things first hand, was intellectually curious, learned from the experiences. And does believe (as I do also) that he can use what he learned and make a difference as a lawmaker. Not bought and paid for. So refreshing, so dang refreshing.

    Go Judge Bjorkman, Go!!

  26. Francis Schaffer 2017-12-25 19:05

    I am going to use Word so I can save my posts and just copy and paste so no more timing out. Thank you for posting the link to Tim Bjorkman’s position paper, I printed it and read it. Wow incredible, the system is rigged against the economically disadvantaged. I am currently reading a book entitled; ‘Childhood Disrupted’ by Donna Jackson Nakazawa. It has many of the statistics (findings) from the work of Dr. Vincent Felitti beginning in 1985 and collaborating with Dr. Robert Anda CDC in the 1990’s. Here are a few of the startling findings;
    People with an ACE Score of 4 are twice as likely to be diagnosed with cancer as a person with an ACE score of 0.
    People with an ACE score of 4 are 460% more likely to be facing depression than a person with an ACE score of 0.
    An ACE score of 6 and higher shorten a person’s like span by almost 20 years.
    People with an ACE score of 7 or higher who have never smoked, drank alcohol, aren’t overweight, aren’t diabetic and don’t have high cholesterol are 360% higher risk of heart disease than a person with an ACE score of 0.
    These are the findings, yet be reminded these are also our neighbors, friends, family and community members who do not need our judgement they need and deserve our help. It is in the financial interest of all of us to help them heal.
    I don’t particularly like the shortened life span of 20 years, so I need to work on my lifestyle so I can remain an active advocate for trauma informed education of society.

  27. CLCJM 2017-12-25 22:29

    So much good information based on fact based research! Wow, what concept, FACT BASED RESEARCH! Facts that prove that ignoring social ills only causes more social ills! Like I have said, creating conditions that cause poverty, disfunctionality, health problems and inadequate education outcomes will not be cheaper than investing in our kids, families and health care and schools! Nor will hating the people who are suffering from those conditions!

    Yet, in SD, that’s exactly what is being done! Have seen it in my own family because my, then 16 year old grandson had his Medicaid taken away last year because the executive branch (Daugaard) decided to add the income from my grandson’s fast food job to his mother’s income (she hasn’t been able to afford insurance for 12 years!) and decided he no longer deserves health care! With a previous diagnosis of ADHD, depression and asthma, it could have serious consequences! He has so far done remarkably well coping with the loss of his health care combined with many other challenges he’s dealt with in his young life! But I see some resentment starting to develop. Hoping with the support of those of us who love him that he’ll be able to continue to stay on track! But I worry!

    BTW, I did the ACE questionnaire for myself and wasn’t surprised that I scored a 7! I’ve tried to not let the abuse and trauma I experienced get carried down to yet another generation since I know it has affected at least three generations of my family already! But sometimes influences from others who were not able to overcome intergenerational trauma come to bear! Programs like Judge Bjorkman recommends could have helped me as a child and many others since so my grandson might have been born into a world that such trauma was rare instead of increasingly common!!!

    I firmly believe that we need people like Judge Bjorkman to be our duly elected officials to reverse the trend towards hating and abandoning our children and families to poverty, mental and physical illness and despair! Our people deserve a government that provides for “the general welfare” of it’s citizens, not billions in tax cuts for olegarchs like Trump!

  28. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2017-12-26 09:06

    Fact-based research—shall we make that the Democratic campaign slogan? :-)

  29. Darin Larson 2017-12-26 09:24

    CLCJM, your grandson’s case may be one of the thousands of real world stories of people that could have been helped in SD by Medicaid expansion. Daugaard and the Republican legislature have played politics with people’s lives and the state is worse off for it in so many ways.

    Had we expanded Medicaid the resulting dollars in the SD economy would have helped our lackluster sales tax collections tremendously. This may have saved us from the cuts that the state has had to make to education as well as under-funding many other areas including infrastructure, college scholarships, and county government. Our current austerity state budget program is not sustainable.

  30. Debbo 2017-12-26 15:28

    CLCJM, this is an outstanding line: “ignoring social ills only causes more social ills!”

    Can’t put it any better than that. It would make another excellent political slogan. It might be helpful, with conservative thinking in mind, to place the word “costly” ahead of “social” both times it occurs. May I borrow it?

  31. mike from iowa 2017-12-26 16:58

    Some on the right are blaming ACA for the drop in life expectancy and for fueling the opioid overdoses. Politifacts sez guess somemore. Orrin Hatch helped- With 63,000 people dead from drug overdoses last year, more than from breast cancer or the diseases of old age, he’s yet to follow up with action or hire a head of the White House to carry out the emergency office known as the Drug Czar. Trump’s first choice, former Rep. Tom Marino, was withdrawn after a 60 Minutes report showed that he, along with Sen. Orrin Hatch, sponsored legislation that gutted the government’s power to slow the flood of painkillers to the country’s most vulnerable communities. No one’s been put forward since.

    Yuppers, Hatch apparently wants drug deaths to continue by taking government regulation away. Fine upstanding kristian. Amirite?

  32. jerry 2017-12-26 17:05

    The main paper in Utah has demanded Hatch retire for destroying Bear’s Ears among other reasons. They say that he has so much money that no one can mount a challenge to him. Sounds like our boy Thune and his war chest or Rounds with his. No one really likes these thugs, it is just that we are stuck with them because no one has the 9 or 10 million laying around to challenge.

  33. bearcreekbat 2017-12-26 17:26

    jerry, Thune actually taught us that nobody is too rich or entrenched for a newcomer to beat. Tom Daschle had been in office for years and was at the peak of his wealth and power when Thune, coming off of a loss to Johnson, managed to upset Daschle.

    I think the trick was to tie Daschle into the hated national political establishment and argue that he no longer worked for SD or cared about our state. Thune’s strategy seems a workable weapon that can be turned against him, and in his case is factually accurate (as evidenced in part by every photo op with McConnell, Trump, Ryan et al. in which tall John Thune can be seen posing.)

  34. mike from iowa 2017-12-26 17:48

    And tall is about all you can praise Marlboro Barbie for being. As a senator, he ain’t much good. How did he get to be number three in wingnut circles?

  35. jerry 2017-12-26 18:53

    Duly noted bcb, sometimes it seems like the most obvious to me is the most distant. One thing that I remember is the attacks that started a year or so before the opening bell of the election season. One thing that Democrats do that roypublicans do not is to dump their candidates if they get beaten. Roypublicans tend to keep them in the stable.

  36. Drey Samuelson 2017-12-27 03:08

    This blogpost on Tim Bjorkman is a perfect example of two things: 1) why Tim should be elected to our at-large House seat in November, and 2) why this blog is so important. Not only was Cory’s commentary typically excellent, but also so were many of the comments that followed. For instance, I had never heard of the ACE survey (nor obviously how predictive its results are), but far more people need to be aware of it than currently is the case. Thank you, Francis Schaffer for bringing it to my attention. We ignore this issue at our own peril, and the peril of our state and nation.

    If anyone wants to help Tim Bjorkman win his election, you can go here and sign up to either help or make a donation, or both (!): Also, if you’re on Facebook, it would be great if you went to Tim’s FB page and “liked” it–it’s a great way to stay current with what’s going on with his campaign. And re-posting this article there would be great, too!

    Finally, I’d like urge folks to show a little love to Cory by leaving something for him in his tip jar; I can’t imagine how many hours a week he spends on this blog, but it’s a real service to those of us who read it, and to the State itself. He has bills to pay like the rest of us, and now would be a good time to send him a post-Christmas present!

  37. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2017-12-27 06:28

    Thanks, Drey! I share your appreciation of the really intelligent commenters who contribute to our knowledge here in the comment section.

    Deb and CLCJM hit on a key point of Bjorkman’s thesis: many of his proposals require investing in public services, but it costs us more to ignore the social ills that he identifies. Let fester the conditions (poverty, income inequality, drug abuse, lack of education, lack of caring adult role models) that trap families in the cycle of crime and violence, and we’ll see more of our wealth thrown down the black hole of prisons and the police state. Invest in helping every child grow up safe, healthy, and smart, and we’ll find far more resources available to us (financial and human) to build our civilization.

    Maybe we can rephrase the situation more coarsely: give rich people stuff, and things get worse. Give poor people stuff (not checks each month, but services, schools, health care, addiction treatment, child care, jobs), and things get better.

  38. Dana P 2017-12-27 08:41

    Speaking of Mr Bjorkman. Hot off the press, in the Rapid City Journal this morning, are his comments/op-ed ref to the dog whistling, fear based, ridiculous-ness (my word) that Krebs is pulling. AND he addresses this perfectly and using……common sense!! No dog whistling! (how many times can I say it? Bjorkman is the real deal)

  39. CLCJM 2017-12-29 00:49

    Appreciate the comments adding to my own. Darin, real world stories is so true. But our Republican elected representatives rarely if ever meet with us anymore because they can’t look us in the eye while they continue to take dark money from the big donors to sell us out! Conservatives would have us believe they’re fiscally responsible but when millions of dollars are wasted to keep people in poverty, we also waste so much potential for good in the world! Wish some of our judgmental supposed Christians would practice just a little of what Christ actually taught!
    Debbo, you may certainly use any of my comments you would like if it helps to make people aware of the truth! And I agree that adding the word costly as you proposed does add a lot!
    Cory, thank you for drawing a fine point on my comments. We do need to invest in our families, schools, etc. In fact, it’s called investment in human capitol! Investing in billionaires is not what grows our economy or makes our country great again! Investing in our people is what created the tremendous boom after WW II! We did invest in infrastructure which created jobs but mostly we helped more people with education and a social safety net and more equal opportunities! And that happened under Eisenhower, a Republican and Kennedy/Johnson, Democrats! In fact, the Republican party platform under Ike was as liberal as any Democratic candidate would run on today! There was a time that Republicans used to care about PEOPLE! Now it’s simply their campaign donors!

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