Category Archives: Democratic

Video of the Brown County Dems Front Porch Forum

Front Porch Forum hosted by Brown County Democrats. Photo by Ken Santema 110515.
Front Porch Forum hosted by Brown County Democrats. Photo by Ken Santema 110515.

On November 5, 2015,  the Brown County Democrats held a Front Porch Conversations Community Forum in Aberdeen. This was a chance for the public to interact with various Democrat personalities. The forum was moderated by Sharon Stroschein, who was a long-time staffer for Senator Johnson and perhaps could also be called a local Democrat celebrity.

The Front Porch panel consisted of the following five individuals:

  • Cory Heidelberger – Dakota Free Press blogger
  • Ann Tornberg – South Dakota Democratic Party (SDDP) Chair
  • Susan Wismer – 2014 Democrat gubernatorial candidate and former District 1 State Representative.
  • Kathy Tyler – Former District 4 State Representative.
  • Sen Billie Sutton (D, Dist 21) SD State Senate Minority Leader

Due to other events going on I won’t likely have any time to blog about the front porch event. But I was able to attend and capture the event on video. The event can be viewed on YouTube or in the embedded video below.

PS. Going forward I may end up posting more videos like this. Especially for events where traditional media doesn’t show up.

Guess who won the Brown County Democrats raffle for a gun?

Brown County Democrat chair Jennifer Slaight-Hansen presenting a gun to libertarian blogger Ken Santema.
Brown County Democrat Chair Jennifer Slaight-Hansen presenting a gun to libertarian blogger Ken Santema.

At the Brown County Fair the Democrats booth had one heck of a raffle drawing. The prize in this raffle drawing was a Ruger Red Label Over Under 12 Gauge shotgun. Last year the gun being raffled was a Stevens Model 512 Gold Wing 12-gauge shotgun. That gun was won by Brown County Republicans Chair Jason Williams. This years the raffle drawing was won by none other than the author of this blog!

The Chair of the Brown County Democrats, Jennifer Slaight-Hansen, was very gracious about the fact that a Democrat once again failed to win the drawing. When I received a voice mail from Slaight-Hansen earlier this week I figured it was to let me know about a candidate event coming up. Nope instead it was to let me know I had won the raffle and a time needed to be setup so the gun could be transferred to me.

And yes, being a good Democrat she made sure a licensed dealer handled the transfer and made sure I am legally able to receive the gun.

Now I have proof for my wife that it pays off to hang out in the political booths at fairs!

PS. To make this even more of a coincidence with last year. Jason Williams happens to be my wife’s cousin. It is a small world.

PPS. Too many jokes about the Democrats arming a libertarian came to mind…

Brown County Democrats Dollar-a-Month Club Meeting on Sept 12

Louie Liebig & Dennis Feickert at the Brown County Fair. Photo by Ken Santema.
Louie Liebig & Dennis Feickert at the Brown County Fair. Photo by Ken Santema.

Since I tend to bring attention to Brown County Republican events I thought it would be only fair that I bring attention to Brown County Democrat events as well.

Tomorrow, September 12, the Brown County Democrats will be hosting their Dollar-a-Month Club Meeting at the Pizza Ranch in Aberdeen. This luncheon will start earlier than normal, candidates will begin speaking at 11:15, so if you are attending I would plan on being there at 11:00. The special guests at this event are three Democrats running for Brown County Commissioner: incumbent Tom Fischbach, incumbent-like Paul Dennert, and newcomer Louie Liebig. This is a race to watch on the county level. Dennerts entry into the race makes it very competitive for the Democrats.

I would urge Aberdeen area voters that support Democrat candidates to attend this event. Actually I would imagine they would welcome anyone willing to listen to their candidates. The political process works best when more voters are actually engaged!

Brown County Democrats holding a meet and greet fundraiser with a full lineup of candidates

Democrat gubernatorial candidate Susan Wismer speaking in Brookings
Democrat gubernatorial candidate Susan Wismer speaking in Brookings

This upcoming Tuesday, June 24, the Brown County Democrats are holding a Meet and Greet Fundraiser that includes a full lineup of candidates running for office this fall. I think this a great chance for those of us living in the NE portion of the state to meet with some of the candidates. It is also a chance to show support (give money) to candidates that are worthy. I plan to attend the event and hope to see a good crowd show up to hear from the candidates. I may not support many (if any) of these candidates; but I do support people getting involved in politics and actually interacting with candidates. I’m hoping the Brown County Republicans can do a similar event this summer!

Here is the info released by the Brown County Democrats:

You’re invited to the Brown County Democrats General Election Campaign Kick-off Meet and Greet Fundraiser

Tuesday, June 24th
5:30 – 8:30 pm
at the Eagles Club
316 S Second Street, Aberdeen

No admission will be charged.
Instead we ask that you contribute to the individual candidates.

The Eagle’s Grill will be open for you to order of the menu.

We will bring the dessert!
Candidates will be addressing the group beginning at 7 pm.

Please stop by to wish them well, give them some political advice, or talk about the issues facing South Dakota.

These wonderful candidates are up for the challenge but they will need your help!

If you cannot attend the kick-off, please mail your campaign contribution. If you make checks to individual candidates, we’ll distribute them for you. Or write one check to the Brown County Democrats and we’ll divide it among the candidates.
Mail checks to:
Brown County Democrats
PO Box 1092
Aberdeen, SD 57402

Candidates expected to attend include:
Susan Wismer, South Dakota Governor Candidate
Chuck Welke, Incumbent State Senate, District 2 Candidate
Natasha Noethlich, State House, District 2 Candidate
John Graham, State House, District 2 Candidate
Mark Remily, State Senate, District 3 Candidate
Burt Ellliott, State House, District 3 Candidate
Pat Hale, State House, District 3 Candidate
Tom Fischbach, Incumbent, Brown County Commission Candidate
Paul Dennert, Brown County Commission Candidate
Louie Liebig, Brown County Commission Candidate
Maxine Fischer, Incumbent Brown County Auditor Candidate

The regular monthly meeting of the Brown County Democrats will precede this event beginning at 5:00 pm at the same location.

What political professions do people think are more honest

Gallup has posted some interesting poll results relating to honesty and ethics for professions. There are results for 22 professions broken down by party line and also broken down by age. The whole list is interesting but I will highlight a few political professions I think are worth noting.


There is a 24% difference in the honesty/ethics of police officers between Republicans (68%) and Democrats (44%). It isn’t surprising that many view police officers as being dishonest. Over the last few years there has been a notable increase in the number of stories about police raids gone wrong, places such as New York City doing stop and frisks on minorities, and police unions protecting officers when they are caught doing wrong. Personally I believe most police officers are honest and truly wish to serve and protect the public. I don’t find it surprising then than Republicans would generally believe police officers are more honest. Yet I am surprised that so many Democrats find officers to be dishonest or ethically lacking. Police officers do not make laws or create the system that is abused by a few amongst them. The job of police officers is to enforce laws and ordinances created by bureaucrats within the very government that Democrats profess to want more of. I find this probably the most interesting divide in this poll.


The difference between local officeholders and state officeholders in another interesting poll finding. But in this case I would focus more on the independent numbers. Independents are more likely to think any local or state officeholder is dishonest. This is especially true for state officeholders. Only about one in ten independent respondents believe state officeholders can be trusted. It would be interesting to see this poll done in South Dakota with the current GOED/EB-5 investigation going on? I wonder if even 10% of independent or Democrat respondents would have faith in the honesty of state officeholders. Also worth noting is that people age 55 and older are less likely to believe local and state officeholders are honest.


The last response I would like to look at is members of Congress and lobbyists. The difference between the groups isn’t as interesting as the overall low numbers both groups get. I do find it odd that Independents would have a little more faith in the honesty of Congress members. This is counter to how they feel about local and state officials. Neither Congress or lobbyists are particularly trusted by these results. There are more Democrats that trust the honesty of lobbyists. I find that odd as I sit here and listen to Senate Democrats deride the new budget deal (which they have already said they will vote for) because it doesn’t remove tax breaks for special interest groups. I know the DC politicians of both party’s understand where these tax breaks come from, but do that many average Democrats not realize these tax breaks come from lobbyists? I find such trust for lobbyists from Democrats to be the most disheartening result found in this Gallup poll. Finally I would note that younger people are more likely to trust both members of Congress and lobbyists.

Overall I would say it is interesting that Republicans are more likely to trust police officers and local politicians. While Democrats are more likely to trust members of Congress and lobbyists. These results mirror the general perception that Democrats support a large central government while Republicans support more local control. It will be very interesting to see this poll again in a year after the 2014 election has completed. Will the divide be greater at that time? If I were a betting person I would put money a much larger divide after a very heated election.

Too bad Obama didn’t follow the Libertarian Platform on International Affairs

logo_web_gifSince President Bush Obama is riddled with scandals, it appears time for him to enter the United States into a war we have no business getting involved with. It’s not a new move from Presidents. Things are looking bad at home so the President enters the country into a foreign war that will keep all of the Mainstream Media busy reporting on the war. While it may not be a bad move for him politically, it definitely is morally the wrong thing for Obama to do at this time!

For all those in the Democrat party that are tired of war-mongering Presidents I would offer an alternative path. Below is the Libertarian Party Platform excerpt for International Affairs. Notice how different this approach is from that of Bush/Obama:

3.3 International Affairs

American foreign policy should seek an America at peace with the world. Our foreign policy should emphasize defense against attack from abroad and enhance the likelihood of peace by avoiding foreign entanglements.  We would end the current U.S. government policy of foreign intervention, including military and economic aid. We recognize the right of all people to resist tyranny and defend themselves and their rights. We condemn the use of force, and especially the use of terrorism, against the innocent, regardless of whether such acts are committed by governments or by political or revolutionary groups.

Notice how it starts: American foreign policy should seek an America at peace with the world. Peace, it seems like a strange concept. At the very least it is a foreign concept to our current President. Oh well, maybe we will get someone truly worthy of a Nobel Peace Prize elected in 2016.

Democrat opposition to the Working Families Flexibility Act favors public over private employees

faceless_familyA little over a month ago I posted about the House passing the Working Families Flexibility Act of 2013 (HR1406). The bill passed with a very partisan vote. Almost all Republicans voted Aye while almost all Democrats voted No. Personally I think this bill takes the wrong approach. Instead of increasing labor law I believe it would be better for employees and employers to reduce labor regulations; thus allowing greater flexibility for employers and employees to come up with such agreements on their own. However since that is not likely I think this bill should pass to equal labor law between the private and public sectors.

I happened to be at a payroll law seminar today and was quite surprised how few people realized this is an option for public sectors. (I’m sure it was a an accidental omission that those speaking out against the Working Families Flexibility Act usually fail to mention public sector employees have this option. Right?) There seemed to be a lot of confusion in this seminar as to why public sector employees should get this flexibility when private sector employees do not. To me there are two possible reasons Democrats are fighting against the Working Families Flexibility Act:

  1. Democrats believe public sector employees are a higher class of citizen and thus get more rights
  2. Democrats are using this bill as a political opportunity to fight against “evil business owners”

I don’t believe the first scenario to be true. However even if Democrat politicians don’t believe that public sector employees are a “higher class” than private sector employees; by the very action of voting against this bill they are continuing the unintended consequence of giving public sector employees more rights.

I do believe the second scenario is true. If Democrat politicians truly believed compensatory time was so “exploitative” of employees they would work to repeal section 7(o) of the Fair Labor Standards Act (pdf). That would remove this exploitative behavior used on public sector employees. Why aren’t Democrat politicians doing so? Because the backlash from public sector employees that use this right would be tremendous. No, Democrat politicians opposing compensatory time for private sectors is not about saving exploited workers. Rather it has everything to do with getting political points from their base by “fighting evil business owners”. What better way is there for Democrat politicians to gain political points than by standing up to “the man”. The fact Democrats have been opposing private sector compensatory bills for over a decade gives them a continuous issue to raise political points.

The bill is current stuck in the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions. I don’t really expect the bill to gain any traction soon. The Democrat controlled Senate simply cares more about gaining political points with its base than actually offering more flexibility to the private sector employees and employers that help build the economy.

Democrat and Republican politicians come together to fight civil rights

PrismAs a libertarian I have often tried to find common ground between the liberty movement and the two big parties. Theoretically a libertarian should be able to agree with either the Democrats or Republicans half of the time. Theoretically. In reality the liberty movement has very little in common with what either party has become. The current PRISM scandal is perfect example of this. In particular the demonetization of the whistle-blower Edward Snowden shows neither party is about civil rights.

First lets look at the Democrat Party. In theory this party stands for civil rights. However, in reality libertarians such as myself have given up on the Democrat Party, any semblance of social rights has been mutated by the progressive movement. Apparently part of the progressive movement is the belief that government is never wrong. During this PRISM scandal Democrat leaders have reinforced beliefs that  the progressives big governments agenda is more important than the civil and privacy rights of citizens. To this end Democrat leaders have been attacking Mr. Snowden as a traitor. Instead of talking with US citizens about the actual issue of spying on their own people, Democrat politicians have decided to ‘shoot the messenger’. Here are a couple samples from Democrat politicians:

“I don’t look at this as being a whistleblower. I think it’s an act of treason,” the chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee told reporters.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA)

I’ve seen many mirror Senator Feinstein’s charge of treason. Treason is such an easy word to throw around; especially when you are trying to draw attention away from why PRISM exists and if it should go away.

“He should be extradited, arrested and prosecuted,” Wasserman Schultz told the local CBS affiliate. “I mean that’s exactly what should happen to him, because he violated the law, he violated America’s trust, he jeopardized millions of Americans.”

Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL)

Oh really Debbie? Mr Swanson “violated America’s trust”? I think America’s trust was violated by the very fact the government was found spying on everyone!

But what about the Big Guy? Does the top Democrat, President Obama, have anything to say on this issue? So far there have only been chirping crickets from the White House about this issue. Ironically Snowden admitted he was thinking about whistle-blowing back in 2008. However when Obama won the Presidency it left Snowden hoping the new Democrat President would stick by his campaign promise of transparency. Just think, if President Obama had stuck with his campaign promise this whole scandal may never have happened.

OK, that covers the worthlessness of top Democrat politicians on this issue, but how about Republican leadership? The red side of the aisle has been no better. For many years the Republican party has been more than happy to trade civil and privacy rights for ‘security’ in the ‘war on terror’. This scandal is no exception. Here is what top Republican leaders are saying:

“He’s a traitor,” he said. “The president outlined last week that these were important national security programs to help keep Americans safe and give us tools to fight the terrorist threat that we face.”

Representative Boehner (R-OH)

Well, I guess this shows Boehner can cross the aisle and embrace Obama. It also shows Boehner has little or no respect for the very Americans he is trying to keep safe.

“If Edward Snowden did in fact leak the NSA data as he claims, the United States government must prosecute him to the fullest extent of the law and begin extradition proceedings at the earliest date,”

Representative Peter King (R-NY) (chairman of the House homeland security subcommittee)

Again, here we have a DC politician wanting to attack Snowden with the “fullest extent of the law”. Yet King avoids talking about whether the government has the constitutional or moral right to spy on Americans.

But there is some hope from the liberty wing of the Republican Party.

“I think it’s a complicated issue,” Paul said  on “CBS This Morning.” “I think when people choose civil disobedience, they’re at their wit’s end and think there’s no other choice. We’ve had civil disobedience in our history, sometimes they turn out that we laud them and other times we say they went too far. I personally am trying to work within the law and change the law, I think that’s what my job is and I think we can challenge the president on this, particularly his hypocrisy. I’m reserving judgment on Mr. Snowden, but I think he felt like something like this was so wrong — millions of phone records being looked at.”

Senator Rand Paul (R-KY)

Since Rand is likely to run for President in 2016 he gave a very careful answer. However notice he acknowledged Snowden’s whistle-blowing as an act of civil disobedience, and NOT as treason. But then he turns his statement back to the important issue: millions of phone records being looked at! Snowden is not the issue here, and Rand knows it. The issue is whether the government should be doing this level of spying upon Americans.

If not for the liberty wing of the Republican party there would be no hope in DC for civil/privacy rights. The leadership for both the Democrats and Republicans have shown nothing but disdain for civil liberties and demonize any that dare expose government spying upon citizens. I guess if nothing else it shows there is more bi-partisan support in DC than usually reported; sadly this bi-partisanship comes at the cost of liberty.


PS. The media has made demonizing Snowden a primary focus. But the worthlessness of mainstream media is a different issue.

Hold political leaders accountable, ESPECIALLY if they are on your side!

rpzboray_ostrichIt’s that time again, the White House is entwined in a series of scandals and attacks from opposition. This has happened during every administration in my lifetime. It doesn’t matter if its Republican or Democrat, the results are always the same. The opposing side will latch on to each little scandal, mistake, misstep, or bit of confusion. These situations allow the opposition to show how the current administration is the most corrupt evil ever!

Then the supporters of the current administration will step in. They will say things such as “but President X isn’t as bad as President Y was, that guy was really evil!”. That’s the point I get pissed off during these events. Is that really how a political party wants to be represented? Is being “not as bad as the other guy” the attributes people should strive for and count upon in leadership?

There is only one way to stop this never-ending cycle (which will continue when a Republican becomes the next President). People within each party must hold their leaders accountable for all actions! Let me repeat that: People within each party must hold their leaders accountable for all actions! The two parties do not “balance” each other like people think they do. For political leaders to truly change their ways it is up to their supporters to let it be know when something is wrong. This means uber-partisan supporters must be honest and forthcoming when their elected officials do something wrong. These very same uber-partisan supporters must also be honest with themselves. They must acknowledge their bias and try to determine if they are being blinded by their support for a cause; as opposed to supporting what they actually believe in. Then these supporters must hold their leaders accountable to their individual morals and beliefs.

Sadly I don’t see this changing within the two parties anytime soon (There are some notable exceptions on both sides, but sadly they are outliers; it is too early to call these outliers a ‘trend’).  Apparently people are OK with politicians that are “not as bad as the other guy”.

Another avenue for the future is the current trend of people leaving the two big parties. Modern voters are registering  as Independent and vote that way. If this happens enough we will start to see real change in politics. If nothing else it may force the two parties to reconnect with their bases.



Part of me feels I should have kept my original working title for this post: Grow some frakkin balls you partisan pansies!

Obama likes to party with Congress, but not work with them!

Anonymous_Roadsign_Falling_rocksThis morning I decided to take an hour out of my life to watch Obama’s Press Conference live. Overall I would say it was NOT worth watching. The President had nothing new to say. At most he solidified what we already knew about his stances.

When talking about the debt ceiling he repeatedly said he is open to conversation.  However within the same breath he stated there would not be compromise on the debt ceiling. So, if I understand this right he is willing to talk about the best policy going forward as long as his policy is chosen. I don’t think he sees the contradiction between his statements.

More than once Obama mentioned his current course was set this last election. It was pretty clear he feels the country is 100% percent behind him, but those darn Republicans in Congress are obstructing his mandate. Actually a noticeably large part of this Press Conference revolved around the President blaming everything on Republicans. I am not one to defend either Democrats or Republicans, but as someone who doesn’t align with either party it sure looked like Obama was trying to vilify the Republican Party and create more of a divide.

The only real interesting part of the Press Conference happened during the last question. Obama was asked to address the lack of diversity in his new administration and isolationist approach the White House has taken. To address diversity Obama mentioned over half of his staff is women. I don’t think that is what the reporter was asking, but the President seemed pretty pleased by his own answer.

To end the Press Conference Obama address the isolationist accusations. Mr. President mentioned how he was well-loved and liked to party when he was a Senator. He also went on to state how he loved to have gatherings with people from Congress at the White House.

So to sum up this presser: President Obama loves to party and talk with members of Congress, but he will not debate fiscal policy he disagrees with.