South Dakota Top Blogs

News, notes, and observations from the James River Valley in northern South Dakota with special attention to reviewing the performance of the media--old and new. E-Mail to

Sunday, December 28, 2014

No access to Congress for Aberdeen

An aspect of Congressional offices that is never mentioned in campaigns or accounts of representative’s and senator’s service is the work their staffs do for constituents.  Senator Tim Johnson’s office went through the closing process this month.  It won’t be replaced.  His successor as U.S. senator for the state will not have a field office in Aberdeen. 

Rep. Kristi Noem does not maintain a service office in Aberdeen, either.  She has a staff member who comes to Aberdeen occasionally, but she does not have any staff members who consult with constituents and  on their behalf to resolve issues.  Sen. John Thune has an office in Aberdeen, the one vacated by Tom Daschle’s staff.  However, that office was literally forced on him.  As a congressman, Thune decided not to have an Aberdeen office, but prominent members of the Republican party in the Aberdeen region were incensed by
his neglect of their part of the state.  He was opposed to or showed no interest in projects for developing this part of the state.  Party members dragged him into the area and “educated” him on the projects and insisted that he have a functioning line of communication that a field office provides for the Aberdeen area. 

In contrast, the Democratic congress people have had fully staffed and very busy offices in Aberdeen.  My spouse worked on the staffs of Sen. Daschle and Rep. Herseth Sandlin.  While staff members worked on legislative business in representing their employees, a huge part of their job was helping constituents navigate the government bureaucracies. Such help might range from someone encountering visa problems in a foreign land and needing action by the state department, someone needing help in solving a social security problem, a farmer needing advice and assistance with a conservation program matter, or someone who has encountered confusion and difficulty with any aspect of government.  Often people seek federal help in coordinating matters involving state and local government.

After Tom Daschle and Stephanie Herseth Sandlin lost elections and their offices were closing down, the staff members spent days shredding the case files the offices had accumulated working in behalf of constituents.  Staff members not only worked in their offices to be available to constituents, they were assigned counties which they visited regularly to represent their  Congressional employer and meet with people to answer questions or offer assistance.

The question in the operation of the field offices is not a matter of big government.  It’s a matter of making government work for the people and providing direct communication between constituents and their elected representatives.  For 8 hours a day, the offices were busy with people who needed consultation or assistance from Congressional representatives, and the phones were ringing constantly.  As one who volunteered for work in the offices,  I was often asked to fill in when the staff members had to be out of the office at staff meetings or constituent business to take messages so that staff members could get in touch with any constituents who came to the office or called.  The staff members conscientiously followed up on all inquiries and concerns.  The field offices were incredibly busy and productive in providing information and services to constituents and making government work for the people. 

The GOP congress people make nominal staff appointments of people who occasionally visit the county, they don’t believe in providing the vigorous service that actually solves problems and otherwise makes government work for the people.  The difference between the parties is most starkly apparent in they way they regard and treat their constituents.

When Democrats were in office, Aberdeen had three offices carrying on the business of government.  Now it is down to the one office that John Thune grudgingly established when his party supporters insisted that he have a presence in our part of the state. 

Noem has never offered much in the way of response or service to this part of the state.  Rounds has indicated he will follow her lead. 

The voters ultimately get what they ask for.  In the cases of Noem and Rounds,  nothing. 

Monday, November 24, 2014

How do you build a progressive political party in a state that the smart people leave?

As the steward of a list of Democrats who contributed to the county Democratic party with funds and organizational support, I have been alarmed at the rapid shrinking of that list.  I have often mentioned it and have offered evidence from it to indicate that a factor in the decline of registered Democrats in South is that intelligent, talented, and educated people leave the state, and those who stay withdraw from social and political interaction.  Brown County has been a Democratic stronghold, contributing leaders like Tom Daschle and Stephanie Herseth Sandlin to national politics, but has shown a decidedly Republican drift in recent years. 

Attrition accounts for a great deal of the names that vanished from that list.  Many long-time Democrats have died; many have moved to gentler climes to live their senior years, and many have left to pursue more rewarding jobs, and many have left for more vital and sustaining cultural climates.  Loyal South Dakota Democrats resist facing the fact that many people, even those raised and schooled here and with family connections here, do not like South Dakota.  And their dislike extends to the people.  Many people who have been raised in South Dakota want out.

John Tsitrian who writes The Constant Commoner blog examines a study from Drexel University which analyzes the outmigration from South Dakota.  The statistics show:

  • In 2012,  47 percent (488,000 persons) born in South Dakota live in other states.
  • Of 1.03 milllion people born in the state, 570,000 remain, making it among the lowest ranking states in terms of birth residents who have remained in the state.  
  • Although, 262,000 people have migrated into the state, they are heavily weighted toward people with high school diplomas, while those leaving are heavily weighted toward those with  college and post-graduate degrees.

After the drubbing Democrats took in the national and state elections, efforts are being made in South Dakota to rebuild the party.  The problem these efforts face is that the people who incline toward liberal and progressive politics have left or want to leave the state.  Many people who habitually vote Republican are in the economic class that is harmed and discriminated against by Republican policies.  They are not intellectually inclined to examine how GOP policies and political schemes affect their lives, but rather think their Republican votes makes them part of the managing class. 

The harsh fact is that educated people leave the state, while the semi-educated vote for the people and policies that regard them as serfs whose virtue lies in their docile acceptance of low wages and suppressive work rules. 

Rebuilding the Democratic Party in South Dakota will have to involve educating and then giving voice to a constituency that is held in economic bondage, but does not understand how their “right to work” limits their opportunities and their standard of living.   The question is, if you can educate them about their plight, will they leave the state, too?

Monday, November 17, 2014

Why America is not the greatest nation in the world anymore

Kristal Nacht

Faulty link below has been repaired.  *An edited transcript of the video link is included at the end of this post.

The terrorist attacks of 911 were a huge success.  They succeeded in exercising control over the minds of Americans and pushing a plurality into a state of incoherent fear and confusion.  The attacks sparked a campaign of events that sent Americans into a state of mindless rage which reduces them to a helpless babble as those who would exercise power over them manipulate the strings of propaganda and make them incapable of an effective response.

With every beheading of innocents by Islamic mass murderers, with every mass killing by so-called jihadists or Mexican drug cartels, and with every school shooting or killing in the name of self-defense on our own streets, Americans slip further into mental dysfunction and respond only to commands from their chosen masters.  They can only respond to rage-induced resentment and hatred, and many have become incapable of discerning facts from fantasies composed solely to feed their rage and their mindless obedience to those attitudes to which the propaganda directs them.

This month on the ninth marked the 75th anniversary of Kristal Nacht, the night that launched the Holocaust in Germany.  It was a night of rage against the Jews during which synagogues were burned, Jewish businesses and homes were attacked, leaving the German streets covered with shards of broken glass. After the U.S and its allies defeated the Nazis and liberated the Jews who had not been killed, they vowed to never let such an atrocity happen again. 

One of the results of that vow was the intensification of the study of rhetoric and propaganda in our schools and colleges.  Kristal Nacht was instigated and led by Hitler’s regime, but the German people turned out massively on the streets to take part in attacking and capturing the Jewish people.  That participation was the result of a propaganda campaign by Joseph Goebbels and his propaganda ministry.  Goebbels was overwhelmingly successful in manipulating the people to think and do as he determined.  Americans and other western countries were convinced that a people educated in the differences between good rhetoric and false rhetoric and propaganda were a powerful antidote to appeals to political and racial hatred.  During my freshman year in college, we had a textbook for English composition that rigorously analyzed the false premises of propaganda and logical fallacies in rhetoric.  In high schools and colleges, the  techniques of legitimate rhetoric and the discipline of critical thinking were a feature of curricula up until the 1970s. 

Most Americans today are not equipped with educations that make them capable of critical analysis of the blizzard of communication they find themselves in from those who try to control their thinking.  Business corporations see such knowledge as a barrier to the success of their advertising effectiveness.  Political factions see it as a barrier to their indoctrination.  In response to these objections, school boards and many college administrations have eliminated courses in the language arts and humanities which expose students to critical thinking skills and the analysis of good language and literature.  As school boards no longer function as conduits of information between the public and the professional teaching staffs but as corporate boards of directors that dictate curriculum and policies, the curriculum has been reduced to preparing students to be docile, obedient employees.  Their learning achievements are measured by standardized tests used to determine how well schools are performing in their role of creating docile, obedient automatons who will not resist or protest if they are assigned to the class of impoverished serfs that America’s corporate managers want as a workforce.  A large portion of Americans have been rendered mentally defenseless against even the most crass propaganda ploys used to control them.

The denials of climate change and the baseless accusations against Barack Obama of being born in Africa and of being Muslim demonstrate the severe intellectual deficiencies that possess many Americans.  The conservative war against liberalism, as conducted by Rush Limbaugh and his imitators, uses the hate-based false accusations as Joseph Goebbels and his minions used them against the Jews.  A plurality of Americans are mentally incapable of recognizing and dealing with the recognizable falsehoods and appeals to religious and racial hatreds used to control them.  The war against public education has taken its toll in America.  In no category of excellence can America be saidto be the greatest country in the world anymore.  In large measure, that is  because of the way education has been compromised to serve a managing class, not the people. 

These factors in what has been called America’s culture war dominate politics.  There is little honest debate over the problems that afflict the American people and solutions to those problems.  Politics is all about character assassination and false accusations.  And the American people tolerate it all as business as usual.

In 1935, Sinclair Lewis wrote a novel, later made into a drama, titled It Can’t Happen Here,  in which he explored and satirized how what Hitler was doing in Germany could happen in the USA. In his literary work, Lewis explored those weaknesses and defects in American society that undercut democracy and tended toward social and political oppression.  The political party that takes over the country is called The American Corporate State and Patriot Party.  As in all of  Lewis’ satire, there are a significant number of people who embrace a gullible ignorance and a placid stupidity as a mode of life.  The attacks on education have produced that kind of constituency in our time.

Another book that foreshadowed what has happened to American education is Neil Postman’s 1971 Teaching as a Subversive Activity.    If the nation is to resist  being manipulated into its own versions of Kristal Nacht,  the liberals will need to abandon the dysfunctional government and focus on education, even if they have to go underground to accomplish it.  Our young people are our best chance of trying to restore freedom, equality, and justice as  the nation’s operating principles.  They need and deserve a chance to be educated in how our nation overcame oppressions and gave people respect and freedom.

South Dakota is a prime case in point of a state that has deteriorated into intellectual dysfunction.  It has been ruled by one political party which has withheld from the voter-taxpayers information about government transactions and the right to knowledge about what officials are doing.  It has allowed education to be neglected in its funding and tampered with in its function.  It has developed an uncurious and disinterested attitude toward government corruption.  In an instance that is defined with documents and the testimony of participants, the Benda-Bollen-Rounds EB-5 scandal, it has chosen to dismiss hard evidence and embrace the mendacity of its deniers.  It has lost the ability to function mentally and examine the evidence in a suspicious death, the misdealing in state funds, the vicious ripping off of foreign investors, and the incompetent, devious mismanagement of the Northern Beef Packers plant.  Instead, the people endorsed the perpetrators of the fraud and overwhelmingly elected them to control the state.  South Dakota has strongly defined itself as a corrupt state  by the will of the people.  And it demonstrates the reasons why Americais not the greatest nation in the world anymore.

A corrupt political system does not provide the means for decency to prevail.  Those who care will have to devise their own means to provide genuine education and make another try for a new world. 


We're seventh in literacy, twenty-seventh in math, twenty-second in science, forty-ninth in life expectancy, 178th in infant mortality, third in median household income, number four in labor force, and number four in exports. We lead the world in only three categories: number of incarcerated citizens per capita, number of adults who believe angels are real, and defense spending, where we spend more than the next twenty-six countries combined, twenty-five of whom are allies.

We sure used to be. We stood up for what was right! We fought for moral reasons, we passed and struck down laws for moral reasons. We waged wars on poverty, not poor people. We sacrificed, we cared about our neighbors, we put our money where our mouths were, and we never beat our chest. We built great big things, made ungodly technological advances, explored the universe, cured diseases, and cultivated the world's greatest artists and the world's greatest economy. We reached for the stars, and we acted like men. We aspired to intelligence; we didn't belittle it; it didn't make us feel inferior. We didn't identify ourselves by who we voted for in the last election, and we didn't scare so easy. And we were able to be all these things and do all these things because we were informed. By great men, men who were revered. The first step in solving any problem is recognizing there is one—America is not the greatest country in the world anymore

Thursday, November 6, 2014

The Rounds-Benda-Bollen EB-5 scandal is not going away

As it became apparent Tuesday night that the Democrats were headed for a debacle, some of nature’s malevolent twits crawled out from under their rocks to put on display their magnificent characters and intellects at Cory Heidelberger’s Madville  Times. Here are a couple of examples:

Dave D.
What an ASS kikkin these Liberals are getting tonight!! Well deserved!!! The people HAVE SPOKEN!!!

Tom w
I learned bully talk from kathy tyler, shes real good at it.
Did u sleep at all cory or r u just stunned that the rounds won by so much. Ppl dont care bout  eb5 stuff that u have been wasting ur time writing bout for the past 6 momths

Models of intelligence and literacy.

The term “liberal” in the posting above refers to those radical people who don’t think that secrecy, subterfuge, and graft are the way business should be done in government or anywhere else.  They, indeed, took a beating and this election defined  the kind of thinking and people who dominate the culture of South Dakota.

Other states, such as Illinois, have corruption, too.  But they expose it, make the misdeeds public, and put the culprits in jail.  In South Dakota, the misdeeds are kept secret, denied, and the perpetrators are voted back into office. In this election, the plurality has defined itself:  it condones secrecy, subterfuge, fraud, and embezzlement as the standards for doing business between government and corporations.

The case against Mike Rounds is not a political contrivance by the opposing political party.  It is a case revealed by official documents which have been made public and by his own testimony.  Even the state’s major newspapers made that point in their denials of endorsement for him.

The Rounds-Benda-Bollen scandal over the handling of EB-5 investments will not go away.  There is much more to be made public.  The FBI has indicated that an investigation into the affair is taking place.  If its investigation is thorough and detailed, all the information will be revealed.

South Dakota does not have a freedom of information law.  Its legal code gives public officials discretion about releasing information about their indiscretions committed as official acts.

The federal government has Freedom of Information Act based upon the premise that the public has a right to know what its elected officials and appointed bureaucrats are doing and have done.

When the U.S. justice department  completes its investigation, the public will know  the facts about the Rounds-Benda-Bollen affair.  And it will know a lot more names complicit in it. 

Monday, November 3, 2014

EB-5 is not the problem. What South Dakota did with it is.

The EB-5 program is not a great idea.  It came at a time when outsourcing jobs and wealth to other countries by major corporations seemed to need a balancing factor.   EB-5 invited foreign investors to put money into American business.  There are examples of where the investments did launch sound businesses.  However, the program was a very minor factor until the great recession.  Although U.S. corporations were rescued and benefitted from stimulus efforts through which they accumulated capital, they held on to the money rather than make investments in enterprises and jobs which would bolster the economy.  The reluctance of corporations to invest in America caused developers to do some serious recruiting of EB-5 investors.

The major defect of the EB-5 program is that it did not provide any regulatory means to vet would-be developers of business or to assess their competence and honesty.  Consequently, the program attracted the usual contingent of connivers and schemers with business plans that were suspect from their inception.  South Dakota’s handling of EB-5 projects is among the most flagrant for its fleecing of investors with shoddy business schemes. 

The bankruptcy of Northern Beef Packers triggered an examination of the EB -5 program in South Dakota and produced the revelations of a graft scheme between state government and business interests.  The beef plant scheme was shady and conniving in its origins.  Originally, the beef processing plant was to be a subsidiary operation to the turkey plant in Huron.  For a number of reasons which were never disclosed because of the secrecy with which business and government operates in South Dakota, the plan was canceled.  One of the reasons in circulation was because the governor, Mike Rounds, took issue with the people who were trying to promote the plant.  Then the promoters took their plan to Flandreau, where money invested by the Flandreau economic development and the South Dakota Farmers Union for planning was lost when the planning company sort of evaporated.   The schemers then contacted people in Aberdeen who revived the plan for a beef processor.

The plant was beset from the beginning by poor planning, the number of grafters who are always attracted to money schemes like flies on a dung heap, and a bevy of incompetents who had not the foggiest idea of how to build any legitimate business, let alone one as complex as a beef processor.

However, beef producers in the region saw a regional beef processor as a potential boon for their operations.  The challenge was to find a niche in a market that is dominated and controlled by the Big Four beef producers in the U.S., who control over 80 percent of the market.  There were smaller operations that found successful business, particularly those that were offering hormone and anti-biotic free beef and were also specializing in grass-fed beef, which was earning a premium price in high-scale restaurants.  Promoters of the beef plant, particularly Richard Benda, indicated that the plant was being set up to serve that specialty market, but there did not seem to be anybody developing the market.  NBP was signed up with a marketing organization to distribute its beef, but the agreement was canceled because of the bumbling and constant delays in the construction of the plant.  When the plant finally was operating, it produced boxed beef, the ordinary cuts of meat found at grocery cases.  Word was that this beef was shipped to Korea.  If that was the case, it meant that NBP did not have a U.S. market, no place in this country to sell its beef.  When it began layoffs leading up the bankruptcy, the company said it did not have funds with which to buy beef.  But generally, if a processor has a market to serve, it can find funds to buy the beef to process.  It appears that NBP lacked the most essential element for a viable business:  a market to sell its product.

The financing of NBP was a mess, covered up by business and governmental secrecy.  One must conclude that operation was doomed by incompetence, ignorance, and scamming schemes from its outset, and the people who understood the market did not have enough influence to establish the firm in a way that gave it a chance to succeed.

While EB-5 is not a well-conceived and administered program,  it has had its successes, but its failures are cases of incompetents posturing as business successes and fraud.  EB-5 is a negative title in South Dakota because of what the collusion between state officials and purported business interests did with.

As people go to the polls in the state, they need to remember that EB-5 in South Dakota is what the state made it.  They have a chance to change the way politics and business has worked.  By Tuesday night, we’ll know if the people of the state want to eliminate the secrecy and fraud, or if it will be business as usual. 

Sunday, November 2, 2014

The South Dakota GOP blew its Wadhams

It is hard not to notice that contemporary politics is no longer about building a country based upon principles of freedom, equality, and justice.  It is about tearing people down and holding power over them which is used for personal advantage, not the well-being of voter constituents. 

South Dakota has embraced the politics of personal attack, even if the personal defamations, not the actual concerns of people become the dominating order of business.  Much of South Dakota’s drift into meanness and calumny can be attributed to Dick Wadhams, who was John Thune’s campaign advisor in 2004 and is now devoting his malevolent talents to Mike Rounds.  As a politic strategist, Wadhams’ tactics seem limited to slanders and cheap, contrived defamations.  He does understand the constituents who like to have their own prejudices and malignancies fed, and as proven by John Thune’s defeat of Tom Daschle, defamation, no matter how contrived and false, has broad appeal in South Dakota.  John Thune, who accrued a remarkable record of fecklessness and insouciance as a congressman, merely dutifully recited the script Wadhams gave him and won.  Daschle’s performance as a leader inspired that resentment that many South Dakotans have for anyone who is good at what they do and are recognized for it outside the state.  Wadhams was able to cater to and intensify that resentment.

Wadhams is a creature of the great perversion of American politics.  The very people who decry same-sex marriage, force incarceration on those who have treated ebola patients, and want to impose a Christian sharia on the nation, are devoted to the political perversion of personal destruction.  The political shift to the right is, in fact, a repudiation of democracy.  Progress in civil rights, in negotiated legislation, and in personal liberties is stalling.  In many ways, the objectives of 911 are being met as people cling to hysterical notions that government wants to take away their guns, the instruments they need to protect against a predatory government.  Meanwhile, predatory corporations are funneling the nations wealth and earning power to a class of CEOs who could not care less about the people who work for them or working people in general.  What attention they give working people consists of moving jobs to cheap-labor China and maintaining a workforce that increasingly does not earn enough to cover itsd necessities.

At this writing, I am in Denver and am reading accounts of expected voter turnout.  According to the reports, Democrats are not voting.  People are quoted about how tired they are of politics.  A strong subtext in the accounts is the politics has mired down so deeply in petty attacks on personality thoat many people have become convinced that what politics has disintegrated into makes it impossible to run a country that serves freedom, equality, and justice.  It has devolved into an unprincipled grab for money and power. 

A political scientist I know in Colorado—a real scholar of politics, not a political hack who uses his title to advance an agenda, has been tracking the Occupy Wall Street movement.  He says that while the press has, happily, reported that this revolt against the predations of American capitalism has seemed to fail, the people who supported this movement have retreated into a penetrating examination of American politics.  He points out that the loss of belief in the ability of current politics to govern is the motive behind lack of interest in voting.  A significant segment of the population has concluded that voting in the current political climate is a sham exercise in democracy.  The serious examination of policy has been so degraded by the personal attacks that it has obscured the fact that the real choices offered the voters are between oligarchy and democracy.   And a plurality of the constituency has been so indoctrinated by corporate culture that it chooses oligarchy. 

The examination of the failure of American politics to serve democracy has spawned an examination into the failure of communism, and the failures come from essentially the same source.  European communism failed becabuse the power was concentrated in the Kremlin and its self-serving ideology.  American democracy has failed because the power is concentrated in global corporations that serve only the upper 10 percent—an oligarchy.

American politics and voting will not restore the priorities of freedom, equality, and justice.  It will take a revolution to do that. 

And so, South Dakota labors under the personal destructions of Dick Wadhams while the country slides into an oligarchy in which  freedom, equality, and justice are heresies. 

Monday, October 27, 2014

The seeds of corruption produce bumper crops in South Dakota

In South Dakota, there is a corruption pandemic.

I was talking to a friend about where to buy some protective bags for storing things, and he recommended a place, adding that by buying there, one knew was one dealing with a Democrat.  The comment was not made out of petty political spite, but out of recognition that the Republican party has adopted a stance that enthusiastically defends and endorse criminality.  And being the dominant party in South Dakota, it defines the people of the state in a way that Democrats are loathe to admit: the values supported  by the GOP are the values of corporations.  Anything that makes money and creates power is good.  It’s the way business operates, and the corporate conniving and oppression is the religion the plurality  of South Dakotans believe and practice. 

Cory Heidelberger expresses the dilemma of Democrats in the state: “I love South Dakota. I want to say good things about South Dakota.”  But to say good things about the state, one must ignore the badness that is its dominating characteristic.  That badness is expressed through the support of a plurality of South Dakota voters who think that supporting those powers who gull and fleece them puts them in the managing class.  This attitude fixes on Make Rounds, the poster boy for denial, dissembling, and outright fraud. 

People in the state speak of being “South Dakota nice,” which is the fa├žade of bonhomie which covers a resentful insularity toward  people who don’t conform to and endorse the South Dakota  attitude.  The so-called EB-5 scandal, which should  properly be called the South  Dakota tradition of corruption, produces the response of many people that they are tired of hearing about it. Some simply do not want to face the fact that there is a huge blemish of corruption on that face of niceness.  Others, a plurality, support, endorse, and enable those who practice the creed of greed, power, and corrupt relationships with their corporate gods.  They cannot or will not face the looming fact that dominant culture in the state supports and enables corruption, nor can the plurality accept the fact their attitude bears final responsibility for promulgating and protecting the corruption.  The corporate gods beam down on them through Mike Rounds’ smile.

The dedication to corrupt obeisance to corporations was established by Bill Janklow and the credit card companies.  The state was receiving funds from its corporate arrangements, but Janklow refused to tell State Treasurer Dick Butler how much and where it was banked.  Butler was prevented by Janklow from carrying out his duties as state treasurer.  Butler tried to initiate investigations into the hidden funds and said they were needed, but Janklow got his Republican cohorts in the legislature to craft and pass a law that would make it a criminal offense if any state officer revealed that any investigation was being made into state government.  As a leader in the state legislature, Mike Rounds dutifully herded the bill through, and Butler was faced with criminal charges if he carried out his duties and was accountable to the public, the people who voted him into office. 

The corruption of Rounds extends back to the henchman duties he undertook for Janklow.  As governor, he carried on in that tradition, hiding behind a legal code that authorizes secrecy in government and enforces unaccountability to the citizens of the state.  Rounds’ own testimony and actions in regard to the EB-5 program in the state establishes a remarkable record of nonfeasance, misfeasance, and malfeasance during his terms as governor.  And thereafter.

When one encounters a campaign on a private lot, one is looking at the roots of corruption:  the owners who support Rounds and what he stands for are the ones ultimately responsible for making South Dakota one of the most corrupt states in the nation. 

The attorney for the bankrupt Northern Beef Packers, which was so heavily financed through EB-5 money, blithely writes that the transactions that fleeced millions and millions from Chinese and Korean is nothing to be concerned about.  It is the customary way government and corporations do business in South Dakota.  He dismisses the idea that any scandalous actions are involved as misrepresention by the media and political commentators.  He praises Rounds’ leadership and insists that tradition of corruption displayed in the handling of EB-5 investments is the way business is done.  And the polls indicate that a plurality of South Dakota voters like and endorse that tradition.

There are many good people in South Dakota who do not think the business of government is to scheme and connive and engage in chicanery.  But they are a minority, and do not shape the character of the state.  And this boils done to the fact that the culture of South Dakota is nasty.  It is not a place of decency and ehonesty and upstanding moral character.  And for those who are decent and honest, it Is not a good place to live.

The corruption and corporate morality in the state has produced a demographic shift in that people striving for decency and honesty leave the state, while those who worship the fruits of corruption move in. 

A person who left the state after rejecting offers of support to run for U.S. senator a few years back, notes that the plurality in South Dakota is against big government but depends on federal dollars for the state to operate.  He is convinced that the plurality should be permitted to live by what it preaches and the taxpayers of the U.S. should be relieved of supporting places like South Dakota.  If the polls do predict the outcome of the election, the legislators representing South Dakota will all be members of the tradition of corruption.  He points out that the good people will not be represented, but they still have influence in Congress.  They can support representatives and senators from other states, and ask them to put restrictions on federal dollars sent to other states that would directly benefit public education, infrasstructure, and prevent state legislatures from using it for their own connivance. 

Honesty and integrity cannot be legislated, but perhaps corruption can be controlled.  At least until the good people find a decent place to live. 

Friday, September 5, 2014

A portrait of the South Dakota GOP

Sorry.  Link has been broken.  Site hacked.


Thursday, August 7, 2014

Why people leave or stay in South Dakota

This story in the Washington Post may provide insight into why working-age people are leaving South e Dakota and what accounts for the decline in Democratic voter registration.  The rural slump into poverty is basis for the problems examined in this story. 

Here are some pertinent quotations:

It’s the kind of poverty that can affect anyone who finds themselves in a place when the native industries disappear, as they have in Southeast Colorado and other rural areas across America.

“I think it’s more of a place-based poverty than it is demographic,” says Tracey Farrigan, an economist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture who is studying how rural poverty has spread. “People are moving to areas where they can afford to live, which are areas with less support for them. It’s kind of a cycle. So the places are poor, and the people are poor.”

“You could ask ten people what they think of the area, and nine of them would say they can’t stand it, but they never leave,”

Most of their kids have already left town, for good reason.

Boredom, it turns out, is a dangerous thing. Without so much as a skate park, an arcade, a movie theater, or even a nearby mall to hang out in, kids find less wholesome activities: Drug use and early pregnancy are everywhere.

Poverty in early childhood is correlated with significantly lower incomes down the road, as well as higher incarceration and pregnancy rates, behavioral problems, and depressed educational achievement.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Listicles and goat testicles

“I noticed that all the prayers I used to offer to God, and all the prayers I now offer to Joe Pesci, are being answered at about the same fifty percent rate. Half the time I get what I want, half the time I don't...Same as the four-leaf clover and the horseshoe...same as the voodoo lady who tells you your fortune by squeezing the goat's testicles. It's all the just pick your superstition, sit back, make a wish, and enjoy yourself...”  George Carlin

I don't post much of late..  I do not apologize because I am not presumptuous enough to think that people anxiously await my next blog post.  And it isn't that there are no potential postings in the draft folder of  It is because as blogging has evolved, it is a degraded activity. One of the original bloggers for the Beacon was asked why she no longer blogged.  She said for the same reason she doesn't frequent biker bars. It contributes more to human degradation than to any valuable or thought-provoking dialogue.  If you look at blog posts and their comment sections or the comment sections in even the most reputable news sites,  you find that the majority of comments are recitations of the mindless slogans of political hacks, or the uninformed expressions of the petty and peevish and ill-willed.  And they nearly always descend into personal attacks and insult among the commenters.  While the Internet provides valuable access to information sites,  its interactive features display the mental and moral failures of humankind and show a horde of people busily engaged in degrading human life.  Although, they are either too self-adsorbed or stupid to realize it.

Groping goat testicles to see if one can elicit  some kind of personal affirmation is not about engaging in an informing conversation that can produce understanding of other perspectives.  Most blog posts and commentaries do not engage in the journalistic or rhetorical purpose of convincing us to consider different viewpoints.  The reaction they generally produce is to suggest that much of the human race is flirting with idiocy as a way of life. 

Much of the problem comes from the major media's attempts to attract readership.  The Huffington Post is probably the biggest practitioner, although Salon is right up there with it, in its attempts to compete with the social media for inane trivia and puerile obsessions.  It has people actually working on posts that concern themselves with getting a glimpse of celebrity boobs.  

There are two aspects of the new media that tend to reduce literacy in its audience.  It does not concentrate on providing accurate and verified information, but focuses on diverting attention so that the advertising and entertainment function becomes its primary concern.  And, as teachers and writers have known for some time, digital information reduces reading comprehension—teachers and editors find that that the cut-and-paste  and Internet search processes often lead student writers and readers  to manipulate words with little knowledge or understanding of what they actually say.

Threads of comments abound with the hackwork slogans and platitudes of politics, but most threads demonstrate that very few people can stay on topic.  Most respond to blog statements by reciting their favorite bits of cant, whether or not it has any merit of veracity or knowledge of the subject.  So many people are conditioned like Pavlov’s dog salivating at the ring of a bell.  Their responses are conditioned patterns of behavior, not the result of comprehension through actual cognitive activity.

This matter of the illiteracy of so much of the public is a symptom of the real problem in education.  For many years, people in the conservative movement have criticized public education when it does not condition students to think and say  and do things that conform to the dogmas of the conservative mentality.  Any educational activity that motivates independent and original thought is a regarded as a threat.  Teachers are evaluated not on how they teach students to use and develop their thinking skills and their learning habits, but on how they indoctrinate students into a canned set of dogmas as measured on standardized tests.  The constant preparation for standardized tests limits the classroom activity and content  to teaching to the test.  Teachers are evaluated on how well they have done their indoctrinating and the schools are ranked on well they enforce the indoctrination process.  No individual thinking and things that inspire it, such as literature, is allowed.
The new illiteracy is catered to by the social and legacy media in their quests for audience.  No form of writing illustrates that quest more than the listicle.  A listicle is an article based upon a list of some kind.  Examples are:

The first problem with listicles is the matter of ranking things.  Were the ilthings listed derived from criteria established by some comprehensive, scientific process  Or were they the product of some writer contriving some lists that might grab some readers’ interests.  The basis for ranking things is the assumption that some things are better than others.  For people, it denies the idea of equality.  And many people are devoted to the notion that some things are better and superior to others.  Most listicles operate on the belief of inequality.  And that is dangerous mental territory. 

While many listicles may seem trivial and entertaie ning, the format of the listicle reinforces that notion that underlies mass, standardized testing.  That ntition is that the premise of the universe is inequality and things can be ranked so that the lowest of things on the inequality scale have earned negative  discrimination.  Under the rules of inequality, teachers can be found ineffective and fired; schools can be designated for condemnation and closure; some races as inferior; some people as unworthy of life.  The listcle reinforces that notion the all things can be defined and ranked on some criteria of worthiness,  denying the premise of our decomcracy that all people are created equal.

The criteria of most listicles is derived from groping those goat testicles.  In this age of inequality,  they are all we-ve got.  Unless you are a very discerning reader.  And our education system is designed to rank them as unworthy. 


Saturday, August 2, 2014

When politics no longer work, try boycotts

The art of the boycott

For a number of summers when I was an undergraduate, I worked at the East Moline plant of International Harvester Co., which made harvester threshers and corn pickers.  One summer I worked in the traffic department, which routed shipments of the machinery and assigned orders to specific rail cars and trucks.  I got to know many truck drivers and companies.

Years later when I was released from active duty in  the Army, I went back to work at the IH plant on a correspondence desk.  I was drafted during the time when the military services were ordered to desegregate, and one of the biggest battles during the Cold War years involved a race war.  Some members of the military acted out against blacks and latinos and anyone who associated with them.  There were incidents of overt hatred and violence, and those of us who had instructional duties were often involved in dealing with racial conflicts.  When I was released from active duty and went to work for IH, I made contact with civil rights organizations through church and educational organizations.  I and some people I worked with were approached by people in these organizations about a project they were working on that involved boycotts of some businesses in the south.

Many Afro-American people lived in communities that were segregated and where discrimination was a condition of life.  That discrimination was part of business practices.  While the merchants sold their goods to black people—they did not mind taking their money—they overcharged and often held black customers in debt where credit was involved.  There were instances in which blacks could barely afford the food they ate, let alone any of the conveniences of life at the time.

One of the concerns was some merchants who sold household appliances were charging so much and literally held black customers in debt-bondage.  Members of a civil rights organization worked out an arrangement with an Afro-American church in which ranges, refrigerators, and washing machines could be made available at discounted prices with the church providing delivery and financing.  One of the members of the civil rights organization worked for a large appliance sales company which had a warehouse full of used, scratch-and-dent, and superseded model appliances that the company was willing to sell at a hefty discount.  The problem was how to ship the appliances to the church in the south which would act as distribution point.

As I had experience in a traffic department, I was asked what would be the best way to ship these appliances to the south.  I rode home on the train after being processed out of active duty at Fort Sheridan with another veteran whom from my home area that I knew slightly.  We chatted about our experiences in the Army including the desegregation problems.  When he got home, he was returning to his job as trucker with his father, who worked on contract for a freight company that hauled machinery for International Harvester.  I looked him up and called him about how he would recommend shipping the appliances to the church in the south.  He came up with a plan.  He often hauled trailers that were not fully loaded, particularly during heavy shipping seasons for farm equipment.  He said the appliances, as long as they were carefully crated, could be hauled at a discount as partial loads on trucks headed south.  Over a period of about a month, we managed to ship a very large inventory to the church in the south by trucks that dropped off their partial loads as they passed through the town where the church was located.

As time went by, regular shipments of household appliances were made to the church.  The leaders of the church organized a boycott against the appliance dealers in their region, and helped black families get working kitchen and laundry appliances without having to go to the dealer.  The dealers felt the impact of the boycott to the point that they had to scale back on their inventories and deal with the fact that their market had shrunk.

The civil rights organization also worked with churches in setting up food pantries at which African-Americans could purchase food without having to pay exorbitant prices and deal with the discriminatory practices of the merchants.
Those pantries quickly evolved into food co-operatives.    

The boycotts had two effects.  They made life easier for the people, and they showed the merchants that their discriminatory practices were putting their businesses in jeopardy.  When black people found a way around segregation and developed their own resources for necessities, the merchants began to soften their attitudes about past business practices. 

Ultimately, boycotts became a significant factor in the civil rights movement.  What could not be achieved through political means was achieved through economic strategies.  They weakened the forces of segregation while strengthening the movement toward civil rights. 

However, the boycotts were very quiet affairs.  They were not publicized.  People simply stopped patronizing those merchants who extorted their money and treated them with disrespect.

When the communities realized that the African-Americans had obtained a degree of independence, the more racially intolerant in those communities were enraged, and some attempted to stop it.  The church that took charge of distributing the appliances and food was accused of dealing in stolen goods.  A team of lawyers was dispatched to the community with inventories, invoices, and bills of sale and demanded that the accusers come forth with their evidence.  That charge was withdrawn, but the anger and rage continued so that some of the segregationist practices were intensified.  But they were met with massive demonstrations and publicity as the civil rights movement gained momentum.

People do not understand the power of the boycott.  In a capitalist country,  it strikes at the economic heart.  It is a way for people to manage their own lives rather than be part of oppressive and devious schemes of the corporate mindset.  Many people find themselves doing business with companies they don’t like because those companies seem to hold a monopoly on items that the people need.  A boycott works only when people have an alternative source for the things they need.

Like those people who were paying ransom to merchants for the things they needed like food and household appliances, many people find themselves purchasing products  in oppressive circumstances because they have no other choice.  The key to a successful boycott is to create other choices.

We have lived through three decades when corporations, which want to be regarded as persons, have been horrible citizens.  They spurned American workers by outsourcing production to other countries with cheap labor, mostly China.  Now they are practicing “tax inversion” by which they evade American corporate taxes by registering the headquarters of their companies off shore in countries that have a lower tax rate.  They use the American infrastructure to market their products, but they don’t want to pay for it.

It is apparent that our tax code needs revision, but that is no excuse for corporations to renounce their citizenship while exploiting the American markets.  Conservative folks are raging about the influx of immigrants that are coming to the U.S. for jobs, but they ignore the fact that corporations have sent jobs overseas and are becoming  the corporate citizens of other countries while exploiting the American marketplace. 

If they want to take their companies offshore, let them find their markets offshore.  Don’t buy their products.  As long as they base their corporations elsewhere, the idea of buying American is rendered pointless.  Buying American no longer contributes to the national economy.  It supports companies which take the buyers' money and funnel it into the exorbitant salaries and bonuses that have reduced workers’ wages and created a situation where a minor percentage of  people hold the nations wealth and earnings.  They are the creators of wage inequality and the growing ranks of the poor.  Every dollar spent on their  products creates more poverty in the ranks of those who actually do the nation’s work. 

The Financial Times reports that “In 1960, the US was home to 17 of the world’s 20 largest companies. Fifty years later, only six were headquartered there.”

Some of the companies, according to Wikipedia, that have inverted are:

While the brands and services offered by some of these countries are buried in subsidiaries, some, such as Walgreens, Fruit of the Loom, Chiquita, are familiar.  For me, they are a place to start.  I will not patronize a Walgreens, buy Fuirt of the Loom t-shirts or skivvies, or a Chiquita banana anymore. 

If enough willpeople begin to understand how these companies are  betraying them, they  boycott them and their products and let them know that as they have chosen to leave America, they should find their markets in their new homes, not in ours. 

 Conservatives are in a rage about illegal immigrants, but they allow their corporate masters to take out corporate citizenship in other countries and siphon American dollars for their own benefit and that of their new countries.

We have a civil right to do business with those who do not abuse us.  One of the ways to take America back is to shun those who bilk and betray us. 


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Aberdeen, South Dakota, United States