He keeps us laughing, sane, & most importantly, grounded in faith. Happy Father's Day, Bryon. And happy Father's Day to the dad's out there! pic.twitter.com/ZGQqmWYDQE
— Kristi Noem (@KristiNoem) June 18, 2017
Happy Father’s Day from your friends at Dakotawarcollege.com.
(I must have gotten my keen fashion sense from my dad!)
While I was doing some poking around for information on the Watertown Mayoral race in light of Rushmore PAC doing advocacy work for Mayor Steve Thorson, I came across an interesting Facebook post from Watertown City Councilman Mike Danforth taking the local newspaper, the Watertown Public Opinion, to task for what has allegedly been a trend of bias in the race against the mayor:
WHY DID SO MANY OF OUR COMMUNITY MEMBERS AND BUSINESS PEOPLE WHO SUPPORT MAYOR THORSON FEEL INTIMDATED IN SUPPORTING THE MAYOR PUBLICALLY IN THEIR OWN COMMUNITY, AND THUS SUPPORTED MAYOR THORSON VIA THIS PAC?
The answer: They were afraid of retaliation, and I don’t blame them. You see, the “Power of the Pen” per se, a.k.a. the Public Opinion, has been used historically and repeatedly against those that differ from their “Opinion”, which in most cases can be translated into “Agenda”.
Now, the Hypocrisy: How does the money from this PAC, with money from local community members, differ all that much from the manner in which the Public Opinion has supported Ms. Caron in her mayoral race against Mayor Thorson, and the obvious bias from the repeated and misleading articles from Mr. Johnson? The Public Opinion is owned by out-of-state interests. Is there a bias edict coming from Corporate? I would hope the answer is NO, but I don’t know that.
So it then comes down to local people working at the Public Opinion, trying to sell newspapers, and in the process, trying to persuade our voters on how to vote. How does that differ from the local community members trying to support their candidate of choice, without being retaliated against? These people are not used to the negative, misleading, and vindictive approach Ms. Caron has used throughout her campaign, nor are they typically politically involved to this extent, so they have used one of the few tools available to them (and legal by all means). And now, today, the Public Opinion calls “Foul”.
Well maybe, just maybe, the PAC isn’t the problem. Maybe in this case, it is our own local newspaper and the “Opinions” (a.k.a. Agendas).
Is the Watertown Public Opinion (or at least some of the people there) exhibiting an obvious bias? Are they being hypocritical in this case?
What are your thoughts?
If you see the story in the sidebar, South Dakota GOP Chair Dan Lederman’s long-time political organization is out working in the Watertown Mayor’s race in an effort to re-elect first term Mayor Steve Thorson:
Watertown Mayor Steve Thorson has been a driving force for growth and free enterprise. When community projects were in danger of floundering, Mayor Steve Thorson took notice, and made it happen.
Unfortunately, there are those who stand against progress. After being fired from her job with the city for insubordination, Sarah Caron took out petitions to run against the mayor, and has been engaged in a negative campaign, making unsubstantiated charges and allegations to gain traction.
Shortly thereafter, local Watertown residents contacted Rushmore PAC, and helped us spring into action to counter the attack politics of Caron which unfortunately have become more common in campaigns today.
With the encouragement of local residents, we’ve been running newspaper ads, radio ads, and a series of mailers highlighting Thorson’s positive record of growth through development and economic freedom.
The Watertown race represents the most recent local election we’ve been involved in, having previously been engaged in municipal races in Iowa & South Dakota, including the Rapid City Mayoral race, as well as a local Aberdeen election where we raised money to stop the most liberal Democrat in South Dakota, after he took out petitions only days after moving to the community!
Dan and Rushmore PAC are also out campaigning in the Watertown area today, as noted by this picture including former State Representative Fred Deutsch, and Former State Senator and current GOP National Committeeman Ried Holien.
We’re All on the Same Team
By Sen. John Thune
If you watch cable news, you might think Republicans and Democrats have irreconcilable differences – that at the end of the day, we retreat to our own corners to isolate ourselves from the other party. Nothing could be further from the truth, though. Political tensions are high these days, I’ll admit it, but if you asked just about any elected official, they would tell you that the “R” or “D” after his or her name means far less than the one overarching title that unites us, which is that we’re all Americans.
When all is said and done, it’s “American” that’s embroidered on our jerseys, because all 535 of us in Congress are on the same team. We were bluntly reminded of that after the recent shooting in Alexandria, Virginia. What should have been a fun morning spent with friends and colleagues at the ballpark quickly turned into a chaotic scene that ended with bravery and heroism.
If it wasn’t for the quick and selfless action of several Capitol Police officers who were there that morning, a bad situation could have been so much worse. It’s always amazing to think about, but when the bullets start flying, these men and women rush toward danger to stare it directly in the face. There isn’t a day that goes by that my staff and I aren’t unbelievably grateful for everything they do to protect us, whether it’s amid peace or chaos.
It’s unfortunate that in the cloudy political climate in which we live, it takes an event like this one to rattle us back to reality. The Capitol Hill community – members of Congress, all of our respective staff members who help us represent our constituents to the best of our ability, the Capitol Police, and everyone else who works or lives here – is like a family. Like any family, we have disputes from time to time, but we must remember that we can disagree without being disagreeable.
I’m not going to agree with my colleagues on every bill, but that’s okay. We can have honest disagreements about policy, whether it’s about health care or tax reform or you name it. We will have disagreements, and we should, frankly. That’s exactly what our democracy is all about. But we can and should do it in an honest and respectful way, which is what I hope we all take away from this recent act of violence.
Shortly after the shooting, I went to the Senate floor to reflect on what happened. I said it then, but it bears repeating. Good endures. Sacrifice endures. Heroism endures. Long after the names of the evildoers are forgotten, these things remain. It’s one of many reasons that America remains a beacon of hope around the world and why we – individually and collectively – must always remember that it’s our commonalities and not our differences that make us great.
Drought Relief is Needed
By Sen. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.)
Today in South Dakota, much of our state is experiencing a significant drought. Ranchers are struggling to feed their livestock and farmers are concerned about their crops. In many counties, the hay and forage being harvested is yielding one-third or less of normal production. Despite recent rainfall across much of the state, these dry conditions are expected to continue into the summer.
The drought underscores the importance of the farm bill, the primary ag and food policy legislation that directs U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) programs and is generally up for reauthorization every five years. The current farm bill runs through 2018, and ideas on how to improve the next one are already being discussed among many in Congress, especially those of us in rural states. Those discussions include the importance of safety net programs such as crop insurance and the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), which are designed to help farmers and ranchers during adverse times, such as during a drought.
I recently joined fellow South Dakota Senator John Thune in urging USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue to provide timely assistance to the South Dakota counties facing these extreme drought conditions. In our letter, we asked him to be ready to provide expedited assistance to counties that will likely soon be in extreme drought conditions and eligible for assistance from the Livestock Forage Program (LFP). We also requested that CRP acres be made available for emergency haying and grazing as soon as possible due to the substantial loss of grazing and forage for feed.
Because much of the state is already experiencing D2 category drought conditions, we asked that USDA be prepared to take LFP applications and issue payments as soon as possible if and when any county reaches D3 category. We also asked USDA to open up CRP acres for haying and grazing no later than July 15, 2017, which is several weeks earlier than normal. “Timely assistance is needed in order to preserve foundation grazing livestock herds in the drought-stricken areas of our state from further downsizing due to lack of feed and forage,” we wrote.
Most recently, Governor Dennis Daugaard declared a statewide emergency because of the ongoing drought conditions in South Dakota. As part of the State of Emergency, the state will ease haying and transportation restrictions to assist agriculture producers. I applaud these efforts.
In South Dakota, our farmers and ranchers are not immune to challenging conditions. They’ve persevered through adverse weather before, from floods and hail to drought and windstorms. This year, however, the challenges are being compounded by the sluggish ag economy in which net farm income has fallen 50 percent in the past four years.
During these adverse times, it is important we give our producers all the tools possible to manage these difficult conditions, so that they can continue to feed a growing global population. We will continue to closely monitor the drought. Additionally, I will continue working with my colleagues to make sure these important safety net programs are preserved and strengthened as the next farm bill begins to take shape. As always, if you have concerns or recommendations, please feel free to contact one of my offices.
A Common Country
By Rep. Kristi Noem
On June 14, Members of Congress, their staff, and Capitol Hill Police were fired upon while preparing for a charity baseball game. The incident left five victims with varying degrees of injury. Due to a fast response from law enforcement, however, dozens of lives were saved and I’m immensely grateful to them for that. My prayers have been with all those involved and their families, but also with our nation.
We are a country built on the freedom to disagree. Our Founding Fathers orchestrated a revolution to ensure their children and grandchildren would not be ruled by a monarch whose heavy hand eliminated the freedom of religion, speech, and press. Later generations embraced peaceful protest to protect liberties for all, earning women the right to vote and ending segregation. Our men and women in uniform have fought to protect these freedoms; their sacrifices ought not to be taken for granted.
None of this means that America hasn’t struggled with how to deal with disagreement throughout our 240-plus-year history. During the worst of times, the differences erupted into a brutal Civil War. But even as neighbor stood against neighbor, brother against brother, Abraham Lincoln turned his focus to what binds us together: “Let us at all times remember that all American citizens are brothers of a common country, and should dwell together in the bonds of fraternal feeling.”
Although the divisions today are nowhere near as deep as they were before our nation fell into the Civil War, many have come to feel complete disdain for those who have a different political view – a reality we see in our daily interactions on social media and elsewhere.
In the back-and-forth of issues we’re passionate about, I understand contempt can be an easy emotion to fall back on. But when things get heated, we must keep in mind that the person we’re debating is God’s creation too. That, in and of itself, demands civility.
So, I ask that you join me in praying for our ability to disagree on matters of policy, principle, and belief while maintaining respect for the “other side.” I also ask that you keep the president, members of Congress, and all elected officials in your prayers. Finally, I ask that you seek God’s comfort and strength for every family impacted by violence. I will be doing the same.
I wanted to close this piece with something I wrote after Democratic Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords was shot: “We are all South Dakotans and we are all Americans. Those are ties that will always remain stronger than any political affiliation or ideological viewpoint – no matter how strongly held.”
I am so proud to represent South Dakota and our diversity of viewpoints. Thank you for always surrounding my family and I with your prayers. It truly means the world to us.
Good Reason To Be Proud Of The SDNG
A column by Gov. Dennis Daugaard:
If you live out west or near Chamberlain, you may have noticed more individuals in uniform over the last week. That’s because the South Dakota National Guard is currently in the middle of its annual Golden Coyote training exercise. In its 33rd year, the exercise is held to prepare military members for overseas contingency operations and homeland defense.
Thirty military units with soldiers from 13 states, one U.S. territory and four foreign countries are participating in the two-week training. The 2,400 service members who are involved serve in the Army, Navy and Air Force, as well as the National Guard.
Through the exercise, the SDNG is providing service to the public. For the tenth year in a row, the National Guard and reserve soldiers are conducting a timber haul humanitarian mission. They are using hydraulic excavators to load timber onto trucks for delivery to members of the Pine Ridge, Rosebud, Standing Rock, Cheyenne River and Crow Creek tribes. This not only provides tribes with wood to use for heating, but gives soldiers experience in finding and delivering supplies – a job soldiers routinely perform overseas.
I am proud of the South Dakota National Guard for leading this successful operation each year, and also for continuously distinguishing itself.
I recently received word that South Dakota is leading the country in unit readiness. The National Guard Bureau annually designates “Superior Units” based upon personnel strength, meeting high training requirements and receiving excellent marks during inspections. This year, only 35 Army National Guard units in the nation earned this distinction: two from Iowa, 10 from Virginia and 23 from South Dakota. In total, the SDNG makes up nine-tenths of a percent of the nation’s Army National Guard. Yet, our units earned 66 percent of the Superior Unit Awards for training year 2016 – a truly incredible accomplishment.
And that’s not all. The SD Army National Guard was recently named the overall winner of the Army Communities of Excellence competition. This award recognizes performance excellence within U.S. Army, National Guard and Reserve installations and communities and their approach to systems management. After finishing runner-up last year, they outdid every other state in the nation this year, bringing home $100,000 to push organizational excellence even higher.
We have good reason to be proud of our soldiers and airmen. For over 155 years, this leading force has been dedicated to serving the citizens of South Dakota and the nation. They are among the most dedicated, capable, and reliable men and women I’ve ever known.
Thune: It’s Time to Move Forward With Self-Driving Vehicle Legislation
“While we look for ways to help self-driving vehicles get on the road quickly, we need to make sure that safety remains our number one priority.”
WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, this week discussed the future of self-driving vehicle legislation in a full committee hearing that explored automated vehicle technology and hurdles for testing and deployment in the United States.
“The transportation laws and regulations currently on the books did not contemplate the concept of self-driving vehicles,” said Thune. “Current federal motor vehicle safety standards do not address automated technologies, and in some cases directly conflict with them. We are looking for ways to address these conflicts in dated rules without weakening the important vehicle safety protections they provide. We also must be careful to avoid picking winners and losers in this space. Self-driving vehicles may employ different technologies, and their deployment may follow varying business models. So, it is important for Congress not to favor one path before the market figures out what really works best. While we look for ways to help self-driving vehicles get on the road quickly, we need to make sure that safety remains our number one priority.”
Thune, along with Sens. Gary Peters (D-Mich.) and Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), released principles for bipartisan legislation on self-driving vehicles ahead of this week’s hearing:
Self-driving vehicles have the potential to save tens of thousands of lives every year on our nation’s highways, improve mobility, and spur enormous economic activity. The legislation aims to direct strong federal leadership that ensures safe self-driving vehicles on the road and reduces regulatory conflicts to the safe and rapid testing and deployment of this transformative technology.
- Prioritize Safety: As with conventional vehicles, federal standards will be important to self-driving vehicle safety.
o Legislation must consider both the near-term and long-term regulatory oversight of these vehicles, recognizing that new safety standards governing these vehicles should eventually be set.
- Promote Continued Innovation and Reduce Existing Roadblocks: Currently, there is a body of regulations governing conventional vehicles, developed over decades, that does not directly address self-driving vehicles. Developing new standards takes significant time.
- Legislation must allow the life-saving safety benefits of self-driving vehicle technology to move forward as new standards development is underway.
- Legislation must find ways to preserve and improve safety while addressing incompatibility with old rules that were not written with self-driving vehicles in mind.
- Remain Tech Neutral: Self-driving vehicles are likely to take different forms, use diverse technologies, serve consumers with varying capability levels, and follow multiple business models.
- Legislation must be technology neutral and avoid favoring the business models of some developers of self-driving vehicles over others.
- Reinforce Separate Federal and State Roles: Traditionally, the federal government has regulated the vehicle itself, while states have regulated driver behavior.
- Legislation must clarify the responsibilities of federal and state regulators to protect the public and prevent conflicting laws and rules from stifling this new technology.
- Legislation must be based on the existing relationship between federal and state regulators and their current separation of authority, but make necessary targeted updates for new challenges posed by the current regulatory environment with respect to self-driving vehicles.
- Strengthen Cybersecurity: Cybersecurity should be a top priority for manufacturers of self-driving vehicles and it must be an integral feature of self-driving vehicles from the very beginning of their development.
- Legislation must address the connectivity of self-driving vehicles and potential cybersecurity vulnerabilities before they compromise safety.
- Educate the Public to Encourage Responsible Adoption of Self-Driving Vehicles: Government and industry should work together to ensure the public understands the differences between conventional and self-driving vehicles.
- Legislation must review consumer education models for self-driving vehicles and address how companies can inform the public on what self-driving vehicles can and cannot do based on their level of automation and their individual capabilities.
Thune Applauds Passage of Additional Iran, Russia Sanctions
“By imposing tough sanctions on Iran for its continued support for terrorism, prohibited arms transfers, and ballistic missile testing, this legislation sends a powerful signal that our nation stands firm against Iranian aggression.”
WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) issued the following statement regarding passage of the Countering Iran’s Destabilizing Activities Act of 2017, legislation that provides the Trump administration with the tools necessary to pursue a comprehensive approach for deterring threats from Iran and expands current U.S. sanctions on Russia.
“Iran’s hostile behavior is a threat to our national security,” said Thune. “Time and time again, the Iranian regime has proved it cannot be trusted, and the flawed nuclear deal the Obama administration made is not an excuse for failing to hold Iran accountable. Iran remains the number-one state sponsor of global terrorism and is a principal supporter of the Assad regime in Syria. By imposing tough sanctions on Iran for its continued support for terrorism, prohibited arms transfers, and ballistic missile testing, this legislation sends a powerful signal that our nation stands firm against Iranian aggression.
“The bill also expands sanctions against the government of Russia — a nation that continues to stir unrest in the Middle East. Russia’s continued aggression in Syria, its brazen cyberattacks and interference in elections, and its alarming human rights abuses must not go unchallenged. With passage of this bill, we ensure that Russia will face consequences for its actions.”