If Billie wins, South Dakota wins

You may have seen my endorsement on other blogs or in the news. I’m sharing the full statement here with you. I hope that you will join me in supporting Billie, because if he wins, South Dakota wins.

I am announcing my endorsement of Billie Sutton to be the next Governor of our great state.

I am a lifelong Republican and have supported five Republican governors as a member of their transition teams.  However, I have always held a belief in people and performance over party, and that we are South Dakotans first.  That’s why I’m supporting Billie Sutton.

Billie Sutton is a man who keeps his word and leads with integrity and heart.  I’ve seen it happen day after day in his service as a legislator.  He is a person who sacrifices personal gain to benefit his constituents.  He has a gift of listening and analyzing policy and appropriations to prioritize the needs of our state, not just the wants.  He has worked with legislators of all political stripes to promote the best policies for our state.  I believe that he will continue to do that as our governor and lead our state forward.

Conversely, I’ve watched his opponent stake out self-serving and inconsistent positions throughout her political career.  During her race for Congress, she touted her ag experience and promised to be a leader for us on the important Ag Committee, but at the first chance, she jumped to promote herself to a more prestigious committee and left us without representation for agriculture.  She campaigned on her commitment to represent us in Washington, but announced her run for governor just days after being elected to Congress, simultaneously transferring $1.6 million in political contributions.

As a young Lieutenant, I was taught that leadership means to be at the front of the battle, to stand for core values, and to face a challenge head on.  I look at the values of who we are as a state, the values that I hold dear as a Republican, and I feel compelled to support Billie Sutton as the next governor of South Dakota.

At 86, almost 87, I am concerned about my party’s same-old-same-old, refusal to change, and blind support of their team.  I encourage you to examine your team loyalty versus your values, and remember that the future of our state isn’t a game.  In this election, we have the opportunity to vote and support someone who truly represents South Dakota values as opposed to someone who is just looking for a new job.  Please join me in voting for Senator Billie Sutton as our next Governor.

It’s time for Noem to take action for the sake of children

Sunday, I sent the following rather brief and easily answered message to our Congresswoman Kristie Noem’s Rapid City and Washington, DC offices. No meaningful answer has been received, just a canned reply, and she has not signed on to the discharge petition to forcea vote—which only requires two more Republican names to bring to the floor this critical humanity issue.

While we served in the state legislature together, she may have forgotten my name just as she has forgotten what is important to caring South Dakotans.

Dear Kristi

The article below actually makes me physically ill. That a British newspaper would reveal these facts is beyond unacceptable!

It was not very long ago that Jews were put into cages.  While there are not many Jews in South Dakota, there are tens of thousands ELCA Lutherans who have expressed the same disgust.

Do you support any of the immigration bills that are now being proposed in the house?  If the answer is yes, please send me the specific language that refers to the elimination of separation from parents of children?

If  the answer is no would you please explain to me why not?!”

It would seem to me that Ms. Noem is much more concerned with following our presidents inhumane action, to curry his favor, for some reason—or perhaps she agrees with his cruel choices.

What in the world has happened to my party nationally and, in her case, in our magnificent state in which most of us believe “under God the people rule”?

Please contact Ms. Noem’s office to urge her to take action on this important and urgent issue. You can email her through her website or call her offices at the numbers below.

Washington, D.C.
Toll-Free Phone: (855) 225-2801
Phone: (202) 225-2801

Sioux Falls
Phone: (605) 275-2868

Rapid City
Phone: (605) 791-4673

A Mother’s Day tribute to a refugee mother

75 years ago my  children’s mother arrived on the last refugee ship from Europe in New York City, after fleeing for 18 months.  Her parents, herself and brother and sister were barred by a quota – not very different from a quota now proposed.

That quota, then as now, limited people from certain countries, supposedly, regardless of religious faith.  But meant to reduce immigration of Catholics and Jews from Poland where they represented majorities seeking freedom.

At the last moment, the family received a special visa exception.  Two years later they went to Canada for a few hours, and came back as immigrants or citizenship – since the quota from Poland had now opened – and their families left behind in Europe perished.

Two of her two sons, born in freedom, committed their careers two public service.  Her oldest, a West Point graduate, Special Forces Lt. Col. and senior staffer for Sen. Mike Rounds; her youngest a Commissioner of the US Federal Communications Commission, as well as director of the Rural Utilities Service.  Two US SD US Senators, of different parties told me that they were the most effective and committed members of their staff.

Who might be those gifted servants of America, never to be born, because their mother was not permitted to enter this promised land of freedom.

Changing the outcome of this election

I want desperately to change the outcome of this election–one that could be a disaster for our county. We have a chance. Please listen.

Attacking a patriot mother’s tears

A heartfelt speech is given by the father of a fallen soldier as his wife, a Gold Star Mother, stands at his side. A presidential candidate’s responds by attacks them.

We cannot accept this.

Donald Trump suggested the heartfelt presentation by Khizr Khan, the father of U.S. Army Captain Humayun Khan who was killed in Iraq, was written by a Clinton speechwriter—despite Mr. Khan’s clear expression that it was from his heart.  In fact, Mr. Kahn specifically stated that he had been offered and refused professional help in writing his speech.

Trump suggested that Ghazala Khan, a Gold Star Mother, was silent because her faith wouldn’t allow her to speak, when in truth it was her deep grief for a beloved son that silenced her. When anyone watching her could see that, should she try to speak, tears would fill any space intended for words. (Read Ghazala Khan’s op-ed in response to Trump’s attack here.)

How are we supposed to vote for a presidential candidate who suggests that a bereaved father is a liar and who defies any human decency in his response to a mother’s tearful inability to speak? A man who has behaves in a manner so appalling that staggers and numbs our collective consciousness. Many Republicans have watched their party seized by a demagogue who in no way represents their spiritual, political, or constitutional values.  How are we to now elect this man as our president?

(Click here for my post about how “it” could happen here.)

In a presidential election year when both major party candidates are so unsuited for the position, many of us are wishing for another option. Fortunately there is one: Gary Johnson, former Republican Governor of New Mexico, and his running-mate William Weld, former Republican Governor of Massachusetts.

The Johnson-Weld ticket will appear on the ballot in all fifty states for the Libertarian Party. In Johnson we have opportunity to vote for a leader whose values are in-step with our own. With Johnson on our ballot we can enter the voting booth with excitement to cast our vote for a president with the experience, heart, and judgement that this country needs.

This is the first of a series of blogs that will discuss how South Dakota can once again change the outcome of a presidential election.  Please share this post and help to make a difference in this small bastion of true American values that we all love!

Could it really happen here?

When Donald Trump decided to run for president his rhetoric seemed familiar to me, like I’d seen this kind of leader before—and I had. Only it wasn’t in real life, it was in a book I’d read at three memorable points in my life: Sinclair Lewis’s 1935 novel It Can’t Happen Here.

I first read It Can’t Happen Here was in high school, when, like so many Jewish boys, the fear of what had happened in Germany resounded in my head. The second time was after visiting Israel and being repeatedly asked, “What makes you so sure that what happened so many times in the past can’t happen in the United States?” (My reply was that it couldn’t. More on my response below.) The last time was after first being elected to the South Dakota Legislature as the first Jewish person in thirty years—and only the third ever—to serve in that capacity.

The book was meaningful to me at these points in my life as it warned what could be if we give up some of the central values we hold so dear in the United States. It tells of an authoritarian leader, Berzelius “Buzz” Windrip, who campaigns for and wins his bid for president. Once in office he implements a totalitarian government in which dissent is outlawed. Windrip is described as “…vulgar, almost illiterate, a public liar easily detected, and in his ‘ideas’ almost idiotic….” But he captivates supporters, addressing them as if “he was telling them the truths, the imperious and dangerous facts that had been hidden from them.”

The hero book’s hero, Doremus Jessup, is an aging, small-town newspaper editor who joins the resistance writing and publishing articles about governmental abuses of power. When his actions are discovered he is sent to a concentration camp and his family terrorized in his absence. Jessup realizes in the book that, yes, “it can happen here.”

It seems that I’m not the only one who recognized the similarities between Trump’s “leadership” style and that of Windrip. Carlos Lozada did too in his Washington Post article “How does Donald Trump stack up against American literature’s fictional dictators? Prety well, actually.” It opens:

“Americans have seen this leader before. Boastful, deceptive, crudely charismatic. Dabbling in xenophobia and sexism, contemptuous of the rule of law, he spouts outlandish proposals that cater to the lowest instincts of those angry or frightened enough to back him. He wins the nation’s top office, triggering fears of an authoritarian, even fascistic U.S. government.”

The article continues. (The article is well worth you reading in its entirety, which you can do by clicking here.)

“…features a populist Democratic senator named Berzelius “Buzz” Windrip who wins the White House in the late 1930s on a redistributionist platform — with a generous side order of racism — and quickly fashions a totalitarian regime purporting to speak for the nation’s Forgotten Men.”

“Reading these works in this moment, it is impossible to miss the similarities between Trump and totalitarian figures in American literature — in rhetoric, personal style and even substance. Yet the American-bred dictators are not the true protagonists. Ordinary citizens, those who must decide how to live under a leader who repudiates democratic values and institutions, are the real story. They must choose: Resist or join? Speak up or keep your head down? Fight or flee”

“If Trump is elected and the fears of those crying “fascism” materialize, it is those characters and their choices that become especially relevant. In Donald Trump’s anti-America, what would you do, and who would you be?”

Who would you be?

At the end of the article Lozada observes:

“Even now, whether or not Trump wins this election, whether or not he builds his walls and subverts our laws, he has set loose passions and compelled choices that will long mark us.”

I encourage you to read to pick up a copy of It Can’t Happen Here, give it a read, and think about who you would be. (The audio book can also be checked out through the Rapid City Public Library website). I hope you will share your answer in the comments below.

I know who I would be: I would resist. I would speak up. I would fight.

P.S. My reply when asked, “What makes you so sure that what happened so many times in the past can’t happen in the United States?” was that these United States have had a two-hundred-year commitment to a political concept and almost universal pluralistic support of differing religions, races, and ethnic origins. Trump has been blatant in both his challenge both the Constitution and ignorance of the operation of our government.  An obvious challenge to the Constitution was the statement that the U.S. Armed Forces would do whatever he told them—even if it meant breaking the law. His ignorance of the operation of our government was shown in ordering elected members of his party to “keep quiet.” How dare he order the Speaker of the United States House of Representatives to be “quiet.”

Click here for a summary of It Can’t Happen Here’s plot.

While others served—Jensen wouldn’t wear our country’s uniform

In South Dakota have great pride in those who served their country—volunteering to serve or stepping up when called—and we have a great appreciation of what this nation stands for. We welcome soldiers home. We take aging soldiers on honor flights. We gather to celebrate those who live and to mourn those who have passed. So it catches my attention when someone wants to make the laws of our state, but they refused to wear our country’s uniform when called. Someone like Phil Jensen.

Uncle Jack who died during WWII.

Uncle Jack who died during WWII.

My family’s story is like many in South Dakota: an immigrant family, a fierce sense of patriotic duty, and a strong history of military service. My immigrant grandmother homesteaded in Kadoka and her son, my father, enlisted in the Army during WWI. All of her grandsons old enough to serve during WWII did so, including my cousin Edmund Mizel who delayed his wedding until after the war out concern of leaving behind a widow. On my mother’s side, Uncle Jack, my mother’s only brother gave the ultimate sacrifice during WWII. It was my great honor to serve in the military and the tradition has continued. Our family’s military service it is more than a tradition, it is part of us—it is woven through our very being.

So I was staggered when I learned that Phil Jensen replied, “no,” when called upon by his country. During the Vietnam War, while his peers stepped up when drafted doing their duty in combat and non-combat roles, Phil Jensen objected to serving in the military. But Phil didn’t just object to combat—he wouldn’t wear the uniform at all, not even in a non-combat role (that was an option, there was a classification for that). He answered no and was assigned community service in a parking garage safe at home.

Jensen-draft dodger selective service classification form

Well, it’s time we said no to Phil Jensen. It is time that we told him no, we won’t give him our vote. No, he can’t put up a sign. He chose a legal avenue to avoid the draft, and that was his option. It is our option to tell him we don’t want him representing us in Pierre. Let’s tell him no.

Violence as a method to win a nomination?!

When I have compared Trump’s campaign to Adolf Hitler’s ascension to power, almost everyone insists that is a ridiculous association!

Yet Hitler came to power after receiving more votes than the other candidates—not a majority of the votes—and the violence that followed led to his appointment as being appointed Chancellor. We all know the rest.

Today we have this authoritarian from New York who warns that “bad things will happen” if he isn’t automatically chosen as the Republican Party’s candidate.

Having represented South Dakota at conventions—a threat like his goes against the very political process in which we believe.

In 1952 Barbara Bates Gunderson, our then National Committee Woman, convinced the South Dakota delegation to switch to General Eisenhower, and the rest is history!

Yesterday’s New York Times article, “Donald Trump Warns of ‘Riots’ if Party Blocks Him at Convention” quotes Trump as saying:

“I think we’ll win before getting to the convention, but I can tell you, if we didn’t and if we’re 20 votes short or if we’re 100 short and we’re at 1,100 and somebody else is at 500 or 400, because we’re way ahead of everybody, I don’t think you can say that we don’t get it automatically,” Mr. Trump said. “I think it would be — I think you’d have riots. I think you’d have riots. I’m representing a tremendous, many, many millions of people.”

Where will Trump get the Brown Shirts to do this?

What do you think? Please follow the link above to the read the entire New York Times article and share your thoughts.

Announcing a press conference on education funding

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

January 5, 2016

Stanford Adelstein to Hold Press Conference
to Announce Method to Fund and Pass the
$75M Needed in New Education Funding

WHO:       Former State Senator Stanford Adelstein

WHAT:     To hold press conference to announce the method to fund the $75 million needed in new and ongoing education funding to increase teacher salaries to competitive levels, including how the legislature can pass the proposed funding source during the upcoming session.

DATE:      Thursday, January 7, 2016

TIME:       11:00 am

WHERE:   Rapid City Public Library, Downtown
Meeting Room B

####