And the MAC v PC battle continues.

So, I keep struggling with the possibility of switching, as I’m not happy with my PC continuing to lock up. Is it a power issue? Is it heat? Who knows. I’m simply tiring of dealing with it.  And to add insult to injury, my Real Estate office PC – which is quite important to me to have running – happened to take the opportunity to absolutely die in the middle of a Win10 update.

As in died so badly that I need to take a day and re-install everything from scratch.

So, one PC down hard. One ailing enough to require attention. Something has got to change. The question is… to what?

My current configuration is (roughly)  as follows…

CPU: AMD FX-8350
MOBO: Gigabyte 990FXA-UD3
RAM: 16gb DDR3 Ram
Video: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 970
PS: Corsair HX650  (circa 2012)
Plus, 2 optical drives, about 5 Hard Drives, and a SATA add in card.
And for monitors, a 28 inch Samsung 4k UE590 and a 27 inch Samsung SynchMaster T27B350

It could be I’m asking too much of that 4 year old 650 Watt power supply, but regardless, it leaves me facing the question of whether to put $500 – 1000 into a PC that I’ll have to build for an i7 CPU, or do I drop $1800 into a MAC (including Apple care). I do have my eye on a refurbished MAC with the following specs..

Refurbished 27-inch iMac 3.2GHz Quad-core Intel Core i5 with Retina 5K display (Originally released October 2015)
27-inch (diagonal) Retina 5K display with IPS technology; 5120‑by‑2880 resolution
8GB memory
1TB hard drive
AMD Radeon R9 M380
Built-in FaceTime HD camera
(and I think I can hook my 4k monitor into the MAC for use as a second monitor)

As a PC guy, I’ve always looked at MACs as underpowered, but there’s something to be said for just working.  If I go PC, I’ll probably start largely from scratch, with the exception of the video card and some useful parts. If I go MAC, it’s a whole other story.

I had my finger on the “buy” button today for the MAC, but…. jeez. That price….. And those specs.   That’s what I was running 4 years ago!

But, those machines are pretty dominant in the graphic art industries.

SD Senate District 8 Candidate Jordan Youngberg out hitting it on the 4th of July!

I think I’ve mentioned it at least once that Jordan Youngberg in District 8 is worth keeping an eye on. He was nice enough to share some pictures from the parades this past weekend where he and his crew went and manged out 2 or three parades.

Candidates – Something to keep in mind when you’re hitting these – pull in as big a crew as you can, as it helps cover the parade route (and shows how well you’re supported).

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I asked Jordan what he thought of the parade circuit, and he noted “was great for me as far as getting turnout and what a great way to shake people’s hand and reach out!”

Thanks for sharing – and Candidates – feel free to share your photos with me here.

Noem, Cramer, Peterson Introduce Legislation to Address Wetland Determination Backlog

noem press header kristi noem headshot May 21 2014Noem, Cramer, Peterson Introduce Legislation to Address Wetland Determination Backlog

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Representatives Kristi Noem (R-SD), Kevin Cramer (R-ND), and Collin Peterson (D-MN) today introduced the bipartisan Wetland Determinations Efficiency and Transparency Act.  This legislation aims to address the backlog of wetland determinations and enact permanent reforms that make the determination process more efficient, accountable, and transparent.

“Part of promoting sustainable conservation practices is ensuring programs and processes work for the producers who use them,” said Rep. Noem.  “Waiting years before knowing whether a person can improve their land without jeopardizing a wetland or their participation in farm programs is an unacceptable and costly delay.  Together with Reps. Cramer and Peterson, we are offering real reforms that can help eliminate the backlog and ensure timely and accurate determinations are made from here on out.”

“Not since the 1990s has there been serious discussion about Swampbuster, at least not with landowner and producers’ best interests in mind,” said Rep. Cramer. “From streamlining wetland certifications to due process reform, this bill is a package of common-sense improvements which will benefit not only landowners and producers, but also the environment.  With the next Farm Bill on the near horizon, I look forward to working with Kristi and Collin, and engaging with our stakeholders, to help make these reforms reality.”

“This bill starts the conversation about how we can help address the wetland determination backlog facing producers in our region,” said Rep. Peterson.  “I will continue to work with my colleagues to give producers the tools they need to make improvements on their land which can increase yields, reduce the risk of flooding, and improve water quality, as well as make it easier to stay in compliance with conservation rules.”

The National Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is responsible for determining whether land qualifies as a wetland, and therefore, is protected for conservation purposes according to so-called “Swampbuster” rules.  If property is determined to be a wetland, certain changes – such as laying drain tile in a field – are not allowed without a landowner losing the ability to participate in federal farm bill programs and crop insurance.  In recent years, producers have faced a significant backlog in wetland determination.  As of June 1, 2016, 3,086 requests were outstanding in the Prairie Pothole Region – 1,374 of which were made in South Dakota, 757 in North Dakota, and 325 in Minnesota.

“Many Farmers in South Dakota are experiencing challenges in receiving timely and accurate wetland determinations from the NRCS. We’ve been calling for increased transparency, timely determinations including a fair and efficient appeals process for many years,” said Jerry Schmitz, farmer from Vermillion and President of the South Dakota Soybean Association. “We want to thank Representatives Noem, Cramer, and Peterson for their leadership on this critical issue, and for their strong support of farmers across the U.S. This legislation will make a real difference in the lives of thousands of farmers within our state.”

“Several years of waiting to get optimal production out of a piece of property can have serious financial consequences for a producer,” said Scott VanderWal, President of the South Dakota Farm Bureau.  “A more timely and transparent process will help landowners better understand if the use of water management practices to enhance the soil for crop production is available to them.  We’re grateful to Representatives Noem, Cramer, and Peterson for offering a solution that makes the determinations process more efficient and accountable.”

“We are grateful to have someone like Representative Noem and her colleagues recognize how crucially important it is to make the wetland determination process easier for producers,” said Doug Sombke, President of South Dakota Farmers Union.  “While the backlog has decreased this year, it gives us a critical opportunity to move reforms forward before requests spike again.”

“The South Dakota Corn Growers have supported farmers using the best stewardship practices available,” said Keith Alverson, President South Dakota Corn Growers Association.  “It is important that farmers have answers to these wetland determinations and congresswoman Noem’s legislation helps address those issues.  We appreciate her efforts on this.”

More specifically, the Noem-Cramer-Peterson legislation would:

  • Ensure timely determinations. The USDA would be given 60 days to make wetland determinations, after which producers would be protected from penalties during a transition period to come back into compliance.
  • Make the appeals process more efficient.  If a producer believes a determination is incorrect, they would be given the option of either going through the administrative appeals process or appealing directly to the federal district court.
  • Allow third parties to be better used as a resource to shrink backlog and ensure timely determinations. The USDA would be able to utilize approved third-party data and technical assistance when making a final certification, leveraging outside expertise without a cost to taxpayers.
  • Improve transparency. Clarifies in law the NRCS’s responsibility to share any and all information used for the determination with producers.  Additionally, the legislation puts the burden of proof to the federal government, rather than the producer.

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Noem Leads Lawmakers in Introducing Comprehensive IHS Reform Bill

noem press header kristi noem headshot May 21 2014Noem Leads Lawmakers in Introducing
Comprehensive IHS Reform Bill

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Rep. Kristi Noem (R-SD) – along with Reps. Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE), Brad Ashford (D-NE), Adrian Smith (R-NE), and Kevin Cramer (R-ND) – today introduced the Helping Ensure Accountability, Leadership, and Transparency in Tribal Healthcare Act (HEALTTH Act), which offers comprehensive reforms to the crisis-stricken Indian Health Service (IHS).

“The government is required by treaty to provide healthcare to tribal communities. IHS has failed to uphold that duty,” said Rep. Kristi Noem.  “The problems are pervasive, but this legislation is comprehensive.  From care delivery to hospital administration, the bill aims to dramatically improve the quality of healthcare while making the system more efficient, cost-effective, and accountable.”

“We cannot sit idly by and watch an entire healthcare system remain, at best, inadequate—or worse harm persons and communities,” said Rep. Jeff Fortenberry. “This bill is another important step in addressing the health care needs of tribal members in Nebraska and throughout the nation.”

“Access to quality health facilities is an important factor in the growth of tribal communities in Nebraska and across the country. We have an obligation to improve care for Native Americans, and we cannot, in good conscious, stand by and do nothing. I am proud to cosponsor legislation that will support Nebraska tribal communities by investing in healthcare,” said Rep. Brad Ashford.

“While neighboring practitioners and hospitals are happy to assist when IHS facilities are unable to provide care, it also places serious strains on small, rural providers,” said Rep. Adrian Smith. “This legislation is an important first step in ensuring tribal communities can access the care they deserve while providing predictability for nearby rural communities.”

“No matter where you live, everyone deserves access to quality healthcare,” said Rep. Kevin Cramer. “The HEALTTH Act will make meaningful reforms at the Indian Health Service in order to support a better quality of life on our Indian reservations.”

The HEALTTH Act offers critical structural changes to how IHS operates, addressing both medical and administrative challenges.  More specifically, Noem’s legislation:

+ Improves IHS’s ability to secure long-term contracts for hospitals in emergency conditions by allowing for a partnership among IHS, tribal communities and healthcare stakeholders to collaborate throughout the contract negotiating process, rather than leaving those decisions solely to IHS.

+ Addresses the current recruitment problem – for both medical staff and hospital leadership – by putting provisions in place to:

  • Allow for faster hiring.
  • Make the existing student loan repayment program tax free, as an added incentive for high-quality employees.
  • Provide incentives to attract competent and well-trained hospital administrators as well as medical staff.

+ Reforms the Purchased/Referred Care (PRC) Program by, among other things:

  • Requiring IHS to develop a new formula for allocating PRC dollars. Under Noem’s bill, IHS would be required to develop a formula based on need, population size, and health status to ensure those areas that have the greatest need receive a greater portion of the funding.
  • Requiring IHS to negotiate Medicare-like rates for services it pays for with private providers.  IHS currently pays a premium for PRC services.  Noem’s proposal would bring payments in line with what Medicare pays to stretch every dollar further.
  • Requiring IHS to address the backlog of PRC payments to private providers.  Private hospitals in the Great Plains Area have long expressed concern because IHS has failed to pay their bills.  Noem would require IHS to put a strategy in place to get these hospitals paid what they are due.

+ Restores accountability through strategies, such as:

  • Require IHS to be accountable for providing timely care.
  • Require the Government Accountability Office to report on the financial stability of IHS hospitals that are threatened with sanction from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

A section-by-section summary of the legislation can be found here or you can access the full text here.

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A detailing of Democrats’ affirmative action delegate requirements.

A detailing of Democrats’ affirmative action delegate requirements. From the Argus:

Soon after the state’s Democratic presidential primary ballots were counted last night the South Dakota Democratic Party sent out a list of 14 of the delegates who will vote at the national party’s convention in Cleveland.

and…

And the process of selecting them isn’t simple. Affirmative action goals dictate that the group must be gender balanced, include eight people under the age of 35, at least two Native Americans, three LGBT people, three people with disabilities and at least one African American, one Hispanic and one Asian American.

Read it here.

In South Dakota, they should be more concerned with people who show up.

Primary 2016 House races: A little bit old, a little bit new

Arguably, you might have been able to call the 2016 GOP Senate Primary races last month with the exception of Sly/Jensen. The House primary races? That’s a horse of a different color, as results seems to have come out all over the place.

While they largely leaned towards the familiar, they weren’t afraid to try something new if the candidate showed that they were willing to go out after it.

District 3 –  Dennert & Kaiser over Kolden.
District 11 – Karr & Willadsen over Landry.
District 14 – Holmes and Zikmund over Zimbeck
District 16 – Jensen and Anderson over Shorma
District 19 – Schoenfish and Peterson over Osborn
District 23 – Lake and Gosch over Werner & Hoffman
District 25 – Hunt and Pischke over Ecklund
District 28B – Marty over Wagner
District 30 – Frye-Mueller & Goodwin over Oakes, Mounce and Lasseter
District 31 – Johns & Turbiville over Weyrich
District 32 – Conzet and McPherson over Ericks
District 33 – David Johnson and Howard over Buckingham

If anyone has any thoughts on a universal explanation as to why the house races went as they did aside from the efforts the candidates put into it, I’m open to discussion. I don’t think there’s any unifying theme other than going out and doing the hard work.

More scuttlebutt in District 19. Lots has happened over the last week, and there are rumors of things yet to come…

While the nattering nabobs of negativism in District 19 are busy calling their opponents RINOs (at the same time they’re crying to the far left liberal democrats), I’m hearing things. Maybe not everything, but, I’m hearing quite a bit.

There’s a lot going on in the Southern parts of the South Dakota’s James River Valley.

To recap the last week or so, I’m hearing about a bunch of mail being dropped in the District in a couple of races…

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and

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… Which was quickly followed up by more advertising….

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And that was surprisingly followed up by an unsolicited postcard from a neighboring legislative district, which you saw earlier, where a sitting legislator took one of the other candidates to task for his negative campaigning & the bad things his political allies said about other people

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Of course, that solicited a bizarre response where Stace Nelson couldn’t stop fixating on panties, and going hard negative when he claimed he wasn’t being negative….

(…Because everyone wants to hear a baritone voice talk about panties over and over during Sunday Dinner.)

And while Stace was recording his angry panty robocall, and an unknown house candidate was perseverating over an advertising piece,

other candidates were out hitting the bricks with a volunteer crew…

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And the next day while the angry candidate spent their day being angry guy, blasting away at people that made him angry on social media…

…I’m hearing that while he was tweeting away, his opponent was busy matching him ad for ad on Radio, if not exceeding his radio buy.

And yet, most surprising of all, I’m hearing through the grapevine that…..that’s still not all.   I’m hearing that there’s yet more to come, and things are swirling around in the background this evening.

If you haven’t  noticed, there’s a distinct difference in style between groups of these candidates. There’s a hard-edged angry negative force that yells at people who call them out on it. And there’s the polar opposite who have just run their own race, talked to voters, and moved forward in a positive manner.

But really, all the talk on blogs is just chatter. What we think doesn’t amount to a hill of beans. It will be all up the to voters of District 19 tomorrow, from 7am to 7 pm, to decide the type of people they want representing them in Pierre.

Do they want people who can work together and accomplish things? Or do they want ineffective angry people who are there for themselves, and care little for their district, because they’re going to Pierre with an agenda.

We’ll find out tomorrow.

I’m curious as all get-out to find out what’s still coming in the race. No one is fessing up yet! And I won’t find out for a while, as I have to go write a bail bond.

Why did Leonardo DiCaprio tweet about Dakota Access? What is the Obama administration feeding the environmental lobby?

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Pipeline and other energy infrastructure projects across the country have been shelved or significantly delayed because of new regulations, local environmental opposition and a drop in energy prices, according to a piece in recent Wall Street Journal.

If the liberal environmental activists had their way, the same scenario would be playing out right here in South Dakota. Thankfully, South Dakotans tend to have a bit more sense.  But that hasn’t stopped others from trying to jump in on the action.

Last month, Hollywood actor Leonardo DiCaprio weighed in on the project.

The tweet at first appears to be something of a coincidence given his environmentalist tilt, and his recent movie that allegedly takes place in South Dakota, but was actually filmed elsewhere. But in the world of the left’s opposition to our country’s energy infrastructure, tweets like that don’t just drop out of thin air.

Mr. DiCaprio has worked for many years with EarthJustice, an environmental advocacy group with a long history of suing federal agencies to stop critical infrastructure projects.  In particular, EarthJustice is known for publicly opposing this specific project. Their most recent endeavor was working in tandem with the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe to promote a sister petition to the cleverly named “Rezpect Our Waters” petition advocating against the pipeline to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

The 1,100 mile Dakota Access Pipeline Project carrying U.S. crude oil from the Bakken has received approval by four state regulatory agencies including South Dakota’s own Public Utilities Commission and this week could receive clearance to begin construction in Iowa.  Yet national environmental interests have mobilized in a last ditch effort to slow or stop a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers permit for a mere 3% of the overall pipeline route.

So, where does Leonardo come in? A recent email shared with SDWC shows that a federal entity under the Obama Administration called the “Advisory Council of Historic Preservation (ACHP)” sent an email to a list of U.S. Army Corps staff, State officials, and tribal leaders on the proposed pipeline project.

Oh. And they included a hippie liberal group for good measure:

Earthjustice

*Click to Enlarge*

Buried among the necessary regulators and tribes in South Dakota and other states was the email address of a staff attorney at Earthjustice, “JHasselman,” or Jan Hasselman from what I can tell.  Hasselman calls Seattle home and has made a living opposing energy infrastructure projects from coast to coast, such as the Constitution Pipeline in the northeast and coal export terminals in Washington State.

While this particular e-mail went out after the tweet, the question has to be asked about what information was regularly being provided to them as the project went along? Because it’s doubtful this was a one-time occurrence.

It doesn’t take a leap of logic to consider that e-mails, which appeared to have been intended for public officials (except for Earthjustice) are quickly disseminated and are passed from them to the highest profile celebrity in their quiver of Hollywood elite in an attempt to try to manipulate public sentiment.  Groups like Earthjustice, Sierra Club and the Natural Resources Defense Council all have friends in high places, with billionaire foundations funding many of their programs and efforts to block these sorts of projects.

And who suffers? Not Leonardo, who can afford to fly jets to receive self-congratulatory environmental awards.  But the farmers and ranchers and run of the mill taxpayers who depend on cheap energy to go about the tasks of their daily lives.

At the end of the day, when will these groups stop hurting states’ sovereign right to approve and allow important energy infrastructure projects like Dakota Access?

The South Dakota PUC along with other states have already deemed the project safe and beneficial. Yet we’re stuck with groups likes Earthjustice and celebrities like Mr. DiCaprio to co-opt our right to make decisions here at home and prevent thousands of jobs and millions of dollars in tax revenue.

It’s time these groups stop interfering with the legal regulatory process and let us work our way towards energy independence.