100 Blinded eyes at the Argus Leader?

Has anyone else noticed that the Argus Leader political show “100 Eyes on Politics” has been off the air for the past 3 or 4 weeks – which is pretty unusual for a political show, given there’s a severe bout of politics going on.  Has the Argus decided to change the name to “100 blinded eyes on politics?”  The show talking about politics hasn’t been seen since much web time since September.

Just today, I’m starting to hear rumors floating about of another major newsroom upheaval. And we haven’t seen much of Argus “Content Strategist” Patrick Lalley in the paper since early October.

And there’s also this profile page for Lalley which doesn’t seem to be there anymore.

Given all the chaos at the state’s flagship newspaper, maybe they need to open a few of their eyes… and clue the public into what’s going on.

SDGOP hits Heidelberger again, reminding people that he considers “Blue Lives matter” as a rebuke.

And the GOP brings us week #3 of “Heidelberger’s biggest hits.” This week’s golden oldie refers back to his recent diatribe (in July) against people saying “Blue Lives Matter.”



If you recall his anti-police rant:

If police officers constituted an aggrieved class disempowered by systematic, institutional bias, appropriating the Black Lives Matter slogan to express one’s concerns about police safety might be a valid act of protest.

It is a direct rebuke to those fighting to rectify genuine imbalances in America’s power structure.

Read that here.


The completely partisan “non-partisan” Ballot Measures

If there was any doubt in your mind how utterly and completely partisan Slick Rick Weiland’s troika of ballot measures are, check out the latest fundraising push from Weiland’s group “Takeitback.org.”


Dear <Redacted>:

The two of us were both first elected in 1978—Tim to the South Dakota House, Tom to the U.S House—and a great deal has changed in the intervening years.

By far the biggest change, though, is the need for political reform.

“Big Money” dominates our elections at all levels, gerrymandering continues to load the election dice, and polarization and hyper-partisanship increases to new levels every year creating dysfunction and gridlock.

It’s easy to get discouraged, to just throw you hands up in the air and give up.

But that, of course, is exactly what the anti-reform forces want us to do.

Here’s the good news, however: Two of our good friends and former senior aides—Rick Weiland and Drey Samuelson—have come up with a bold and innovative plan to use state ballot initiatives to fix our broken politics, first in South Dakota, and then on to other ballot initiative states next election cycle.

Without drowning you in details, these initiatives will establish reforms of state government that include; reforming SD campaign finance rules, establishing an ethics commission; placing restrictions on gifts that lobbyists can give legislators; establishing a nonpartisan commission to fairly draw our legislative boundaries; and creating nonpartisan elections where ideas prevail, not party propaganda. Imagine the South Dakota Legislature moving from partisan governance to nonpartisan governance, the same as Nebraska has successfully had for the past 82 years.

This Trifecta of Reform linked here for you to review includes Amendment T (non-partisan redistricting), Amendment V (non-partisan elections), and Initiated Measure 22 (anti-corruption).

However, not one of these excellent proposals would have a prayer of being passed into law in Pierre, the state capital, but because they’re ballot initiatives, all they need is a majority vote this November. Best example was passing an increase in the minimum wage using a ballot measure in 2014 when the legislature refused.

And that’s why we’re writing.

Because we believe that these reforms represent virtually the last real hope – at least in our lifetimes – for real political reform.

Every one of them is polling ahead, and every one of them will make profound changes if they pass. South Dakotans – like people across our country – are hungry for change. They simply need to be informed about what these initiatives do, and they’ll do the rest.

But it takes money in order to educate folks and time is of the essence.

Because if we don’t pass these initiatives – Amendments T, V, and Initiated Measure 22 – reform in South Dakota won’t be happening anytime soon.

And that would be tragic.

So what we’re hoping you’ll do is make as large a contribution as you can afford TODAY—as there is still time for it to be effective.

The truth is this: we have a chance – a real chance – to pass reforms that will fix our broken political system and, while we can’t return to 1978, to ensure that our children will inherit a better world.

With your help, we can make it happen!

U.S. Senator Tom Daschle                                        U.S. Senator Tim Johnson

P.S. Please don’t close this email out without sending whatever you can afford, even if it’s just a few dollars. We can win these initiatives—we know it—Rick and Drey just need the resources necessary to make their final push.

I’m not sure it gets much more partisan than Tom Daschle and Tim Johnson.

SDEA Voter Guide out. Heavily Dem, but they still couldn’t support Jay Williams.

The unabashedly left-leaning SD-EPIC – the political wing of SDEA has now issued their voters guide for the 2016 election.  And while they have a few token Republicans who they are sucking up to, predictably, at the state level, they went heavily Democrat. In their voter guide, they offered an endorsement of Paula Hawks.

And then they walked back from the precipice of ridiculousness, by going neutral in the US Senate Race Yes, despite being a former School Board member, they could not bring themselves force their membership to swallow an endorsement of Jay Williams, choosing instead to take a pass.

You can read all about it here.

And in case you’re wondering who they endorsed at the State Legislative level:


What if there was a big election, and no one spent any money with the media?

I can’t help but wonder if the mainstream media is spending an inordinate amount of time promoting election related ballot issues such as Amendment V and Initiated Measure 22.  In most normal years, they would have paid them little to no mind. Now, we see a couple stories a week.

This seems to be coinciding with another phenomenon I’ve noticed. We’re literally at two weeks before the election, and what haven’t we seen? Any significant ad buys from statewide candidates. I’ve been looking at some of the public files available to review, and there’s a definite lack of state candidates spending money with media outlets this year.

Chris Nelson has some cable TV ad time purchased on Midco cable systems. But have you seen John Thune ads around KELO-TV News? Or any significant number of Kristi Noem ads? We know Jay Williams doesn’t have any money, and while she might have a couple of youtube videos up on social media, Paula Hawks doesn’t have anything noticeable either.

What are you seeing locally? Are candidates running tight this year, or is this just a state race phenomena?

US Senator John Thune’s Weekly Column: A Monumental Milestone

thuneheadernew John_Thune,_official_portrait,_111th_CongressA Monumental Milestone
By Sen. John Thune 

Few monuments or landmarks in the United States are more iconic or offer greater patriotic symbolism than does Mount Rushmore. Beginning in 1927, Gutzon Borglum helped transform a seemingly innocuous rock face in the Black Hills into the stoic and easily recognizable faces of Washington, Jefferson, Roosevelt, and Lincoln, which millions of visitors travel each year to see. Over 14 years of hot summers and cold winters, and with the help of 400 workers using chisels, jackhammers, and dynamite, Mount Rushmore was completed 75 years ago on October 31, 1941.

More than 2.1 million people from around the world visited Mount Rushmore in 2014. And over the last 75 years, U.S. presidents, celebrities, families on spring or summer vacation – people from all backgrounds and all corners of the globe – have flocked to the Black Hills to see firsthand the six-story granite faces of some of America’s greatest leaders. That diversity is emblematic of just how important Mount Rushmore is to South Dakota and to the rest of the United States. 

The monument is symbolic for obvious reasons, but also because of the time period over which it was carved. Using both public and some privately raised funds during the Great Depression, the monument was completed by hard-working Americans who scaled hundreds of steps every day to clock in, put in a hard and dangerous day’s work, and clock out. While some workers put their lives on the line every day – dangling from the mountain’s edge – not a single person lost their life over the 14-year project. 

I have a lot of memories at Mount Rushmore. I can remember traveling through the Black Hills and to Mount Rushmore as a kid. There’s nothing quite like taking that curve on Highway 244 at which point the stone faces start coming into view. Once I became a parent, Kimberley and I took that same drive with our girls and have returned time and again for lighting ceremonies, firework shows, and other events. I still return when I get the chance, because visiting Mount Rushmore never gets old. Earlier this month, I stopped by with Bill Nelson, Florida’s senior senator and my Democrat counterpart on the Senate Commerce Committee, during a recent trip through the Black Hills. And thanks to the decades-long public-private partnership with the Mount Rushmore Society, the monument has been and will continue to be a top destination in the United States.

Borglum did more than create a national treasure for the American people. He created a lasting tourist attraction that continues to be a boon for the local economy. Thanks in large part to state and national parks and memorials like Mount Rushmore, of which South Dakota is home to dozens, tourism is one of the state’s top industries. Tourism supports more than 50,000 jobs in the state, generates billions of dollars in economic activity, and accounted for $270 million in state and local tax revenue in 2015 alone. South Dakotans are proud of their state parks and the national park system, now in its 100th year, and they go above and beyond to provide a world-class experience for anyone who passes through.


US Senator Mike Rounds’ Weekly Column: October is Cyber Security Awareness Month

Rounds Logo 2016 MikeRounds official SenateOctober is Cyber Security Awareness Month
By Senator Mike Rounds

The Internet is a platform on which many of us live our daily lives. Some of us share personal thoughts and photos on social media, we send emails to communicate with our families, colleagues and friends, and we even manage our bank accounts and financial transactions online. Some of us put our credit card information, home addresses, passwords and even social security numbers online. While technology has made our lives easier and more convenient, it also poses a serious threat as hackers increasingly find ways to access this information. In 2015 alone, nearly half of U.S. adults had their personal information exposed by hackers.

With all the sensitive information we put online, it is important to always remain mindful of the possibility that a computer hacker may target you and attempt to compromise your online accounts and personal information. Hackers will target vulnerable accounts. They don’t care if it’s a government server, a personal computer or smartphone or a server from a big corporation. The federal government experienced a massive cyber breach in 2015 that compromised the personal information of nearly 22 million federal employees.

The Department of Homeland Security has dubbed the month of October “National Cyber Security Awareness Month” to encourage Americans to protect online accounts from harmful cyber-attacks. There are a few tips we can use to protect ourselves from a cyber hack. First, it’s important to use strong passwords and avoid using the same password for multiple websites and online accounts. Make sure to lock your smartphone and computer when you’re not using them. If you receive a suspicious email, do not open any links or attachments that it may contain and delete the message immediately. You should also be cautious if you get a phone call or email from someone claiming to be a friend, family member or IRS representative asking for you to wire them money. Lastly, avoid accessing online banking accounts or other sensitive accounts on public Wi-Fi or from a public computer, as hackers can more easily access your information when you’re on a public network that is not secure.

Protecting our personal accounts from a cyber-attack is important, but we also must recognize the significant effects of a cyber-attack on our national infrastructure. An attack on our air traffic control towers, our dam systems, electrical grid or the New York Stock Exchange, for example, could result in a national security crisis. It could also dramatically impact our economy if we lose confidence in our financial institutions’ ability to transact business in a secure manner. In the Senate, I continue to work on cyber policy to make sure attacks like that are prevented, and that bad actors face consequences if they perpetrate such an attack.

During the month of October, I encourage all South Dakotans to take extra steps to protect themselves online. National Cyber Security Awareness Month provides us with an opportunity to reflect on the damage that can be caused by a cyber-attack and do everything we can to prevent it from happening. We can’t stop all attacks from happening, but we can take measures to help protect ourselves from cyber criminals that wish to do us harm.


Congresswoman Kristi Noem’s Weekly Column: Human Trafficking in Our Backyard

noem press header kristi noem headshot May 21 2014Human Trafficking in Our Backyard
By Rep. Kristi Noem

It’s hard for me to really grasp how something like this happens in South Dakota.  The website promised to connect “sugar daddies” with “sugar babies,” which is repulsive in its own right. But that’s the website where, according to recent press reports, an area doctor appears to have met a young girl and arranged for her to travel from Georgia to Sioux Falls for sex.  He was brought up on trafficking charges earlier this month.  It’s another stark reminder that human trafficking isn’t just happening worlds away. It’s happening in our backyards. 

Over the last few years, we’ve taken great care in writing comprehensive legislation to strengthen the law when it comes to cracking down on the purchase and sale of our children, while also increasing the support offered to survivors.  

I was honored to be part of that process, uniting congressional women around this issue through the Bipartisan Women’s Caucus, which I co-chair, and authoring provisions that help give survivors a safe place to go and offer anti-trafficking groups more tools to go after traffickers in a collaborative, evidence-based manner.

We also took on websites that knowingly engage in human trafficking like Backpage.com – whose offices were raided and CEO arrested for trafficking recently – and included additional protections to those within the foster care system, as these young people often face a greater risk of becoming trafficked.

 The provisions we championed were thorough, thoughtful and bipartisan, and I was extremely humbled to see them signed into law earlier this year.

 But more must be done. Over 87 percent of trafficking survivors come into hospitals having experienced violent and unusual trauma, yet fewer than 3 percent of healthcare workers have been trained on identifying and treating trafficking victims.  That’s why Congress has put forward the SOAR to Health and Wellness Act, which would provide additional support in this area.  I’ve also co-sponsored legislation, which would provide similar training to flight attendants, something that could make a difference for girls like the young woman recently flown from Georgia to Sioux Falls.

 Additionally, each of us can play a role in building greater awareness.  You may have seen signs posted recently warning out-of-state hunters that South Dakota is serious about human trafficking.  That kind of awareness around any large event is critical, but so is the work that is happening because of community-based groups throughout the state. The more people we have looking for signs of trafficking, the more opportunities we will have to combat this criminal industry.

 The Polaris Project, a nationwide anti-trafficking organization, highlights a few things we should be on the lookout for: Has someone you know indicated they aren’t free to come or go as they wish? Are they overly fearful, anxious or depressed? Do they lack proper healthcare or show signs of physical or sexual abuse?  If you have concerns that you or someone you care about is at risk of being trafficked, please contact the National Human Trafficking Hotline immediately at 888-373-7888.

 Human trafficking can – and does – happen, even in South Dakota. I know it’s a difficult topic to discuss with your kids, friends or neighbors, but I encourage you to do so anyway.