- Associated Press - Thursday, October 13, 2016

American News, Aberdeen, Oct. 11, 2016

Party loyalty trumps disgust for some

Gov. Dennis Daugaard this week executed what seems to be a perfect flip-flop.

On the one hand, Republican Daugaard joined a chorus of other GOP-ers over the weekend who said their Republican nominee for president, Donald Trump, is not fit to lead and should drop out of the race.

On the other hand, Daugaard Monday said he will vote for Trump.

Come again?

Daugaard’s switch from indignation to voting for the man he just denounced might be the most local example of the problem many in the Republican Party are facing given Trump’s disgusting comments about women caught on tape in 2005 and released on Friday. In the recording (Trump was wearing a live microphone and talking with “Access Hollywood” host Billy Bush, so this is no “gotcha”) Trump uses vulgar language when talking about sex assaults and bragging how easy it is for him to “do anything” to women because he is a star.

This put politicians like Daugaard and Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., in an awkward position: They clearly cannot stand behind Trump, but their loyalty to their party and hatred of Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton is so strong that they are willing to cast a vote for a man who does not represent the best of America.

The “last straw,” as Daugaard called the assault remarks, came on the heels of these Trump gems, as reported by the New York Times:

- On undocumented Mexican immigrants: “They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists.” (June 16, 2015)

- On Sen. John McCain: “He’s not a war hero. He’s a war hero because he was captured. I like people that weren’t captured.” (July 18, 2015)

- Mocking a disabled New York Times reporter: “Now this poor guy, you ought to see this guy.” (Nov. 24, 2015)

- On protesters at his rallies: “So if you see somebody getting ready to throw a tomato, knock the crap out of them, would you?” (Feb. 1, 2016)

- On an American judge of Mexican descent: “I’ve been treated very unfairly by this judge. Now, this judge is of Mexican heritage. I’m building a wall, OK? I’m building a wall.” (June 5, 2016)

- On hacking Clinton’s emails: “Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing.” (July 27, 2016)

- On the parents of a U.S. Muslim soldier killed in Iraq: “If you look at his wife, she was standing there. She had nothing to say. She probably - maybe she wasn’t allowed to have anything to say. You tell me.” (July 30, 2016)

- On Clinton as president: “If she gets to pick her judges, nothing you can do, folks. Although the Second Amendment people - maybe there is, I don’t know.” (Aug. 9, 2016)

These are not misstatements - these are Trump’s core beliefs. This is who he is.

None of these comments have struck Thune or Daugaard as beyond the pale or represented “the last straw.”

They clearly know something is wrong enough to withdraw support, but not wrong enough to withdraw their votes. This is a difficult trip, to take both the high ground and the low road.

Even worse: Rep. Kristi Noem has doubled down on her support of Trump, saying Monday she would be voting for him. Sen. Mike Rounds has called the comments “deplorable and indefensible,” but that’s it.

Perhaps the biggest regret Thune and party leaders have is that Trump was found out. Republicans had hoped, privately and publicly, that Trump at some point would “pivot” away from his bombast and into more substantive talk.

They hoped the leopard would change its spots.

In a tweet Tuesday morning, Trump said, “It is so nice that the shackles have been taken off me and I can now fight for America the way I want to.”

Makes one wonder what kind of back peddling Thune and Daugaard will need to do in the coming days and weeks.

And calls into question: Is party loyalty the highest, the only, calling?


Rapid City Journal, Rapid City, Oct. 11, 2016

Amendments for victims, schools unnecessary

When one considers proposed Amendments R and S, the first question that comes to mind is why do technical schools and a victims’ rights measure need to be in the state Constitution? In one case, the Legislature already has the authority to address whatever problems there might be; in the other case, the Legislature already has a law addressing the issues raised in the proposal.

Proposed Amendment R

Since 1965, the state’s four technical schools - in Rapid City, Sioux Falls, Mitchell and Watertown - have fallen under the jurisdiction of local school districts, an arrangement that many agree needs to change.

Now, the Legislature wants voters to allow lawmakers the freedom to create a new state board to manage the four technical institutes. The proposed amendment also explicitly prohibits the Board of Regents, which oversees public colleges, from managing the technical institutes.

In making the case for Amendment R in a Rapid City Journal op-ed piece, the former president of Mitchell Technical Institute, Greg Van Wald, wrote that it allows “technical institutes to have an independent and direct voice in the state budgeting and policy process.”

In other words, much like the Board of Regents that now asks the governor for an additional $122 million for the upcoming fiscal year, we will have another party at the budget table. A new board at the state level - South Dakota now has more than 120 boards and commissions - also creates a need for board members, staffs and attorneys as well as money for travel and conferences. In the end, it is just another way to grow government - and we know who pays for that.

While we believe that technical institutes should be removed from the jurisdiction of school districts, we don’t believe their status should be protected or further empowered by the Constitution. The Legislature needs to go back to the drawing board as it has the authority to determine how technical institutes should be managed without making it part of the Constitution.

The Journal editorial board recommends a “no” vote on Amendment R.

Proposed Amendment S

The proposal more widely known as Marcy’s Law, which is being financed by a California billionaire who wants to see the measure enacted in every state in the nation, is filled with good intentions and that makes it seem easy to support.

The problem, however, is that South Dakota already has a law in place that lists 19 crime victims’ rights, including the right to be notified of bail hearings, preliminary hearings and trials and to be informed when a defendant or inmate is released from custody or escapes or goes on parole.

Yet despite this an individual who has never participated in our state’s legal system nor will have to bear the burden of any future costs associated with this amendment wants voters to approve a measure that opponents - which includes the South Dakota State’s Attorney Association and the state Bar Association - say will impose additional costs on counties, further clog the court system and possibly lead to a violation of the Fourth and Fifth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution that guarantee defendants due process and a speedy trial.

Marcy’s Law requires prosecutors to treat the victims of even petty crimes the same as victims of violent crimes. In taxing their limited resources in such a manner, prosecutors claim it will make it more difficult to actually prosecute those charged with the most serious crimes.

And since Marcy’s Law would be part of the state Constitution and in potential conflict with the U.S. Constitution, it is not improbable to think that it would someday be challenged in federal court, a cost that would be borne by taxpayers.

A proponent for the measure claims South Dakota has some of the weakest crime victims’ rights laws in the nation but provides no specific examples in the argument for the measure on the Secretary of State’s website.

Since victims’ rights are already addressed in state law, Marcy’s Law is not needed. The Journal editorial board recommends a “no” vote on Amendment S.


The Daily Republic, Mitchell, Oct. 6, 2016

Age to purchase tobacco should be 21

We all know the effects of smoking.

There’s no doubt it causes cancer, it’s addictive and rather costly.

But for some reason we’re still allowing young, impressionable adults to purchase cigarettes and other tobacco products and then taken over by nicotine.

The age to buy to tobacco products should be raised from 18 to 21. A group of more than 2,500 South Dakota medical professionals is weighing the benefits of raising the health concerns versus the freedom to purchase tobacco products at 18.

What’s positive is our nation has made great strides in informing people of the harms tobacco can cause. But it’s still not good enough.

According to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, more than 3,200 people under 18 smoke their first cigarette, and approximately 2,100 youth and young adults become daily smokers. Additionally, nine of 10 smokers start before the age of 18. And, just as troublesome, 15 percent of high school boys use smokeless tobacco.

Our view on raising the minimum age for using tobacco products is mainly because of health concerns for young adults. We believe many people would make better decisions to avoid tobacco when they’re 21.

We respect the fact that 18 is the legal age of adulthood, but we regulate the age to purchase alcohol at 21 because it can be a health hazardous if used incorrectly. That’s why tobacco should fall under the same category.

Aside from the health concerns, tobacco products are terribly nasty for those who don’t use them.

Second-hand smoke is awful and is a health hazard in itself, and cigarette butts and used chewing tobacco are often littered.

Raising the minimum age requirement to purchase tobacco would mean fewer people buying and using the products.

So, we hope this discussion by South Dakota medical gains some progress. Less smoking and fewer people using tobacco is beneficial for everyone.



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