MITCHELL, SD – The Dusty Johnson for Congress campaign is pleased to announce the results of a public poll, conducted by Mason-Dixon Polling and commissioned by The Argus Leader and KELO-TV. The survey of 625 registered Republican voters showed that 41% of South Dakotans will vote for Dusty Johnson for Congress on June 5th. This is an 18 point lead over Shantel Krebs, who trails at 23%.

Other highlights from the poll include a regional analysis of the results that show Dusty Johnson commands a plurality of support across South Dakota’s Republican universe and that he has the highest favorability rating among the three candidates.

“This is incredible news for our campaign, our supporters, and South Dakota,” said Dusty Johnson. “It’s proof that South Dakotans are fed up with the negativity and gridlock that is crippling Washington. From the beginning, my candidacy has been solutions oriented and that will never change – it’s who I am. Even as my opponents have turned to mudslinging and character attacks as a last-ditch effort when they are behind in the polls, I have stood my ground and stuck by my pledge to run only positive, solutions-oriented ads. South Dakotans should know that I will always stand up for what is right in Washington, just as I have in this race. With less than a week until the primary, I remain committed to attacking only the issues like: pushing for fiscal responsibility, working on a new Farm Bill, and bringing much needed reform to our welfare system. If you support positive campaigning and believe that we need a problem solver representing South Dakota, I would be honored to have your vote on June 5th.”

Dusty Johnson grew up in a working-class family in Central South Dakota and graduated from USD Vermillion. A former policy staff member for Governor Mike Rounds, Dusty learned early on he had a passion for public service. After serving on the Public Utilities Commission, Dusty became Governor Daugaard’s Chief of Staff and helped lead the state out of a $127 million deficit. Dusty currently works as Vice President at Vantage Point Solutions in Mitchell where he helps telecommunications companies deploy fiber and broadband into rural communities.



President Trump personally urged the leader of the U.S. Postal Service to double the rates the agency charges Amazon and other firms for delivery packages in several private conversations in 2017 and 2018..

The Postmaster General, Megan Brennan, responded that the arrangements are bound by contracts and reviewed by an independent commission. She also argued to Trump the arrangements have benefits for the financially beleaguered Postal Service.

Trump has repeatedly accused the Postal Service of subsidizing Amazon, whose chief executive Jeff Bezos owns The Washington Post.  Read more »


PIERRE, S.D. – Attorney General Marty Jackley has joined an amicus brief filed in the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit by 16 Attorneys General and the Governor of Mississippi. The brief challenges a decision that enjoins a state statute that bans doctors from performing abortions solely because of the gender, race, or disability status of the unborn child and requires abortion providers to either bury or cremate the aborted remains of unborn children.

“The States have a right to prohibit the discriminatory elimination of classes of human beings and to ensure that human remains-including the remains of unborn children- are disposed of in a respectful manner,” said Jackley. “I will continue to forcefully protect the unborn and fight to ensure they are given proper respect.”

Commemorating the Birthday of the Disappeared Panchen Lama, Gedhun Choekyi Nyim

On April 25, we marked the birthday of the 11th Panchen Lama, Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, who has not appeared in public since he was reportedly abducted two decades ago by the Chinese government at age six. The United States remains concerned that Chinese authorities continue to take steps to eliminate the religious, linguistic, and cultural identity of Tibetans, including their ongoing destruction of communities of worship, such as the Larung Gar and Yachen Gar monasteries. We call on China to release Gedhun Choekyi Nyima immediately and to uphold its international commitments to promote religious freedom for all persons.

Heather Nauert
Department Spokesperson
U.S.Department of State

Open letter to the Aberdeen Community

Betty Oldenkamp
LSS President/CEO

Lutheran Social Services has been a part of the Aberdeen community since 1969. For the majority of that time we have offered hope and healing through Counseling Services, Adoption Services, Pregnancy Counseling, Disaster Response and New Beginnings Center. We have expanded the services based in Aberdeen to include the Community Resources Program and Kinship Services.

In recent years, Aberdeen has experienced people of ethnically and religiously diverse backgrounds moving into the community for employment. Contrary to what you may have heard, LSS does not recruit immigrants or refugees to move to Aberdeen and LSS does not transport immigrants or refugees by bus into the Aberdeen community.

LSS contracts with the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program to provide services to refugees who enter the United States legally and reside in South Dakota. As people with refugee status moved to Aberdeen, LSS was asked to provide assistance through consultation to civic leaders and community groups; offering case management, interpreter services and immigration services to eligible refugees; and collaborating with the school district, law enforcement and health services

The U.S. Refugee Admission Program is an embodiment of American values of compassion, generosity and leadership. You may not realize that refugees who come to the United States are among the most vetted immigrants in the world. The comprehensive process takes 18 months to two years and involves a series of security screenings, including biographic and biometric checks, medical screenings, forensic document testing and in-person interviews. A refugee’s identity is checked against law enforcement and intelligence databases. The Department of Defense, National Counterterrorism Center, FBI, Department of State and Department of Homeland Security are all involved. This past October, additional restrictions were put in place for refugees from geographic areas that pose significant security threats.

We acknowledge that refugee resettlement brings challenges. We also believe it brings great value that is difficult to quantify—adults who are eager to work; children who acclimate quickly and grow up to be teachers and doctors; youth who are exposed to language and culture that prepares them to learn, work and succeed in a global economy; communities that benefit from a diversity of culture; and ethnic businesses that enhance our landscape. Refugees make a significant contribution to the workforce and the economic growth of South Dakota.

In 1782, our founding fathers adopted the motto E pluribus unum as part of the Great Seal of the United States of America. E pluribus unum, out of many one, reflects the melting pot nature of our history—out of many people we become Americans. The rich tapestry of American life is woven from a diversity of cultural and religious traditions. Families pass their strong heritage from one generation to another—family recipes, holiday and religious celebrations, and most importantly work ethics, beliefs and values that brought our grandparents to America.

Continuing to live out this great motto starts with personally knowing others who are different from ourselves. Reach out, ask questions and gain a better understanding of our new Americans. Share a meal, volunteer, mentor a newcomer, or simply smile and introduce yourself. Learn why they fled their homeland; hear the story of their perilous journey. Ask them what it means to live in America. Don’t be surprised if you come away inspired by their resiliency and with deep gratitude for our freedoms as Americans.

LSS is a private non-profit human service agency. LSS serves people of all ages, races, faiths and economic levels with professional, confidential and affordable services. We believe it is God’s love that compels us to serve and to value all people.

For more information, visit LssSD.org.


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Stormy Daniels, an adult star, at a local restaurant in downtown New Orleans. AP Photo/Bill Haber

Kelsy Burke, University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Many commentators have pointed out the hypocrisy of Christian leaders who claim a moral high ground while supporting President Donald Trump. The latest scandal involving an alleged extramarital affair with pornographic film star Stormy Daniels proves no exception.

The Christian right that supports Trump has found ways to justify their support of the president, for example, with analogies of how God used King David, a man with personal flaws, for the greater good of the country.

All the while, however, evangelical leaders remain definitively opposed to pornography. In the words of an evangelical celebrity and outspoken opponent of pornography, Josh McDowell, it is “probably the greatest problem or threat to the Christian faith in the history of the world.”

As a sociologist who studies how evangelicals talk about sex,
I see evangelical Trump supporters’ reaction to the latest Stormy Daniels scandal as fitting right into how evangelical Christians have responded to pornography in recent history.

The Christian anti-pornography movement

Christian opposition to pornography has long been connected to larger efforts to impose Protestant morality onto American politics and culture. Sociologist Joseph Gusfield would call it a “symbolic crusade” – which is less about porn per se and more about broader social concerns over changing gender roles, sexual norms and family life.

in the 1980s, evangelical Protestants mobilized against the sexual revolution of the 1970s. One of their targets was the pornography industry that had grown with the invention of the VCR and led to pornographic videos entering American homes.

Along with other anti-pornography organizations, the fundamentalist Protestant political organization, the Moral Majority, supported efforts to enforce and increase obscenity laws to regulate and reduce pornography.

The Moral Majority’s platform linked pornography with their other concerns, suggesting that pornography, just like homosexuality or abortion, contributed to the moral decline of America.

More recently, evangelical and Latter-day Saints or Mormon politicians have been urging states across the country to pass resolutions declaring pornography to be “a public health crisis.”

All these political efforts sent a straightforward message: Porn is bad.

Evangelical self-help and sex advice

But the story is not so simple. In the 1970s, an evangelical self-help and sex-advice industry emerged that put a religious twist on a cultural obsession with personal and relationship satisfaction and happiness.

At the time, authors like conservative political activists Tim and Beverly LaHaye and Focus on the Family founder James Dobson acknowledged that porn was a problem that Christians (almost always men but on occasion women) faced. Their writing focused on how pornography harmed marital relationships and personal well-being. At the same time, however, it described how devout Christians may be pornography consumers.

While clearly opposing the consumption of porn, self-help and sex advice book authors also normalized it. In their book, “Pure Eyes: A Man’s Guide to Sexual Integrity,” evangelical writers Craig Gross (also founder of the anti-porn website XXX Church) and Steven Luff asked their readers directly,

“Are you ready to admit … that you struggle with something that almost any man could be tempted by?”

How evangelicals relate to porn

Today, there are evangelical books, websites, conferences and small groups to support evangelicals who are troubled by their own pornography use.

Such resources describe pornography as potentially “addictive” and a ubiquitous temptation in our technology-driven world. Indeed, as sociologist Samuel Perry finds, even conservative Protestants who believe pornography is “always morally wrong” are only “somewhat less likely” to consume pornography compared to other Americans. He calls this “moral incongruence” and explains how conservative Protestants’ “avoidance of pornography does not (and perhaps cannot) keep pace with their professed opposition to it.”

This moral incongruence has changed how evangelicals relate to pornography. The moral conviction against porn remains strong, but there is also sympathy for its consumers.

Evangelical logic supposes that giving into sexual temptations is part of the human condition. ruperto miller

Whereas non-evangelicals may observe a contradiction when it comes to supporting both Christian values and President Trump, I have found in my research that conservative evangelicals don’t have to see it that way. Their logic supposes that giving into sexual temptations is part of the human condition: People are prone to sin and must seek forgiveness and support.

The ConversationA man like Donald Trump, in other words, could benefit from the pages of evangelical self-help books. But his sexual failings needn’t get in the way of conservative politics.

This article was originally published on The Conversation.


Obamacare premiums rose 20 percent for South Dakotans this year, and I continue to hear stories of fewer health care options and out-of-control health care costs as a result of the ill-advised Affordable Care Act. While repealing Obamacare and replacing it with a consumer-driven, truly affordable system remains a top priority for me, we continue to take meaningful steps to provide Americans relief from this law.

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act helped relieve Americans from Obamacare, by including provisions to delay the Medical Device Tax and the Cadillac Tax for two years and by delaying the excise tax on health insurance plans for one year. Importantly, this legislation also repealed Obamacare’s individual mandate, so that nobody will be forced to pay a tax penalty if they don’t want to purchase health care coverage that they don’t want or need. The individual mandate was an unpopular tax in an unpopular law that disproportionately hurt low-income families. We’re glad to see it go away. We were also able to successfully repeal Obamacare’s Independent Payment Advisory Board, which is a special panel of unelected bureaucrats tasked with finding savings in Medicare by rationing health services for seniors.

The Trump administration has also taken steps to give states more flexibility in administering federal mandatory spending programs. Most recently, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced it will give states more flexibility regarding work requirements for certain Medicaid beneficiaries. This will allow governors and state government leaders to shape state Medicaid policies that work best for their state rather than following rules issued by Washington bureaucrats. Already, nine states have applied for work requirement waivers to implement these new flexibilities and two waivers have been approved, including South Dakota’s.

President Lyndon B. Johnson created Medicaid in 1965 as part of his War on Poverty. The intent of the program was to provide health services for low-income children, seniors in need, individuals with disabilities and pregnant mothers. It was designed to be a pathway out of poverty.

As Americans, we take care of the most vulnerable in our society—the very young, the very old and those who cannot take care of themselves. The Affordable Care Act opened up Medicaid to include healthy, able-bodied, working-age men and women, which has added to the high cost of the program. In 2015, an estimated 70 million people were enrolled in Medicaid. That is 21 percent of our entire population!

Medicaid and other mandatory spending programs like Medicare and Social Security are on an unsustainable path. In the long-term, Congress needs to reform the federal budget process so that it can exercise greater control over the sustainability of mandatory spending. In the short-term, giving states the flexibility to manage Medicaid in new, innovative ways will help make Medicaid more manageable.

These are important steps toward our goal of eliminating the unpopular aspects of Obamacare, but the fact remains that premiums are still too high, insurance companies are leaving the marketplace and millions of Americans have been forced off plans they liked. I will continue to work with my colleagues to relieve hardworking families from Obamacare’s perils as we seek to make health care truly affordable and accessible for all Americans.


WASHINGTON — U.S. Sens. John Thune (R-S.D.) and Tom Carper (D-Del.) this week introduced bipartisan, bicameral legislation to ensure that high-deductible health plans (HDHPs) used with health savings accounts (HSAs) can opt to cover care related to chronic disease management prior to a beneficiary reaching their plan deductible.

Recognizing the growing prevalence of HSA-eligible HDHPs, the Chronic Disease Management Act enables plans to offer coverage of high-value services to patients that can improve outcomes and reduce complications. The legislation creates a chronic disease prevention safe harbor, permitting the pre-deductible treatment of a medically complex condition that is substantially disabling, has a high risk of hospitalization, and requires specialized care.

“This bill is a win for patients and the health care system overall,” said Thune. “Importantly, it helps patients with chronic conditions access the care they need and expands the principles of value-based insurance design by promoting proper management of these conditions. Doing so will prevent the need for more costly treatments down the road.”

“Four in 10 Americans with health insurance have a high-deductible health care plan” said Carper. “This bill helps ensure those individuals with high-deductible plans can get better access to the basic care they need to stay as healthy as possible, without the fear of triggering their deductible.”

“We applaud the efforts of Senators Thune and Carper and Representatives Black and Blumenauer in authoring this critical legislation to ensure that patients with chronic illnesses have access to needed care and to help Americans get more health out of every health care dollar spent,” said Andrew MacPherson, co-chair of the Smarter Health Care Coalition. “We urge Congress to swiftly pass it.” The Smarter Health Care Coalition is made up of patient groups, employers, life science companies, health plans, and public sector purchasers.

In 2016, Thune and Carper pressed the U.S. Department of Treasury to improve the definition of the existing preventive care safe harbor in federal law to include preventive care related to chronic illness.

Companion legislation has been introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives by Reps. Diane Black (R-Tenn.) and Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.).


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How much has really improved for black people in the U.S. since 1968? Ted Eytan/flickr, CC BY-SA

Sharon Austin, University of Florida

On Apr. 4, 1968, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee, while assisting striking sanitation workers.

That was almost 50 years ago. Back then, the wholesale racial integration required by the 1964 Civil Rights Act was just beginning to chip away at discrimination in education, jobs and public facilities. Black voters had only obtained legal protections two years earlier, and the 1968 Fair Housing Act was about to become law.

African-Americans were only beginning to move into neighborhoods, colleges and careers once reserved for whites only.

I’m too young to remember those days. But hearing my parents talk about the late 1960s, it sounds in some ways like another world. Numerous African-Americans now hold positions of power, from mayor to governor to corporate chief executive – and, yes, once upon a time, president. The U.S. is a very different place than it was 50 years ago.

Or it is? As a scholar of minority politics, I know that while some things have improved markedly for black Americans since 1968, today we are still fighting many of the same battles as Dr. King did in his day.

That was then

The 1960s were tumultuous years indeed. During the long, hot summers from 1965 to 1968, American cities saw approximately 150 race riots and other uprisings. The protests were a sign of profound citizen anger about a nation that was, according to the National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders, “moving toward two societies, one black, one white — separate and unequal.”

Economically, that was certainly true. In 1968, just 10 percent of whites lived below the poverty level, while nearly 34 percent of African-Americans did. Likewise, just 2.6 percent of white job seekers were unemployed, compared to 6.7 percent of black job seekers.

A year before his death, Dr. King and others began organizing a Poor People’s Campaign to “dramatize the plight of America’s poor of all races and make very clear that they are sick and tired of waiting for a better life.”

On May 28, 1968, one month after King’s assassination, the mass anti-poverty march took place. Individuals from across the nation erected a tent city on the National Mall, in Washington, calling it Resurrection City. The aim was to bring attention to the problems associated with poverty.

Ralph Abernathy, an African-American minister, led the way in his fallen friend’s place.

“We come with an appeal to open the doors of America to the almost 50 million Americans who have not been given a fair share of America’s wealth and opportunity,” Abernathy said, “and we will stay until we get it.”

This is now

So, how far have black people progressed since 1968? Have we gotten our fair share yet? Those questions have been on my mind a lot this month.

In some ways, we’ve barely budged as a people. Poverty is still too common in the U.S. In 1968, 25 million Americans — roughly 13 percent of the population — lived below poverty level. In 2016, 43.1 million – or more than 12.7 percent – do.

Today’s black poverty rate of 22 percent is almost three times that of whites. Compared to the 1968 rate of 32 percent, there’s not been a huge improvement.

Financial security, too, still differs dramatically by race. Black households earn $57.30 for every $100 in income earned by white families. And for every $100 in white family wealth, black families hold just $5.04.

Another troubling aspect about black social progress – or should I say the lack thereof – is how many black families are headed by single women. In the 1960s, unmarried women were the main breadwinners for 20 percent of households. In recent years, the percentage has risen as high as 72 percent.

This is important, but not because of some outmoded sexist ideal of the family. In the U.S., as across the Americas, there’s a powerful connection between poverty and female-headed households.

Black Americans today are also more dependent on government aid than they were in 1968. Currently, almost 40 percent of African-Americans are poor enough to qualify for welfare, housing assistance and other government programs that offer modest support to families living under the poverty line.

That’s higher than any other U.S. racial group. Just 21 percent of Latinos, 18 percent Asian-Americans and 17 percent of whites are on welfare.

Finding the bright spots

There are, of course, positive trends. Today, far more African-Americans graduate from college – 38 percent – than they did 50 years ago.

Our incomes are also way up. Black adults experienced a more significant income increase from 1980 to 2016 – from $28,667 to $39,490 – than any other U.S. demographic group. This, in part, is why there’s now a significant black middle class.

Legally, African-Americans may live in any community they want – and from Beverly Hills to the Upper East Side, they can and do.

But why aren’t those gains deeper and more widespread?

Some prominent thinkers – including the award-winning writer Ta-Nehisi Coates and “The New Jim Crow” author Michelle Alexander – put the onus on institutional racism. Coates argues, among other things, that racism has so held back African-Americans throughout history that we deserve reparations, resurfacing a claim with a long history in black activism.

Alexander, for her part, has famously said that racial profiling and the mass incarceration of African-Americans are just modern-day forms of the legal, institutionalized racism that once ruled across the American South.

More conservative thinkers may hold black people solely accountable for their problems. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Ben Carson is in this “personal responsibility” camp, along with public intellectuals like Thomas Sowell and Larry Elder.

Depending on who you ask, then, black people aren’t much better off than in 1968 because either there’s not enough government help or there’s way too much.

In 1963, 250,000 people marched on Washington to demand equal rights. By 1968, laws had changed. But social progress has since stalled. United States Information Agency

What would MLK do?

I don’t have to wonder what Dr. King would recommend. He believed in institutional racism.

In 1968, King and the Southern Christian Leadership Council sought to tackle inequality with the Economic Bill of Rights. This was not a legislative proposal, per se, but a moral vision of a just America where all citizens had educational opportunities, a home, “access to land,” “a meaningful job at a living wage” and “a secure and adequate income.”

To achieve that, King wrote, the U.S. government should create an initiative to “abolish unemployment,” by developing incentives to increase the number of jobs for black Americans. He also recommended “another program to supplement the income of those whose earnings are below the poverty level.”

Those ideas were revolutionary in 1968. Today, they seem prescient. King’s notion that all citizens need a living wage portends the universal basic income concept now gaining traction worldwide.

King’s rhetoric and ideology are also obvious influences on Sen. Bernie Sanders, who in the 2016 presidential primaries advocated equality for all people, economic incentives for working families, improved schools, greater access to higher education and for anti-poverty initiatives.

The ConversationProgress has been made. Just not as much as many of us would like. To put it in Dr. King’s words, “Lord, we ain’t what we oughta be. We ain’t what we want to be. We ain’t what we gonna be. But, thank God, we ain’t what we was.”

Sharon Austin, Associate Professor of Political Science and Director of African American Studies, University of Florida

This article was originally published on The Conversation.





Democratic Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders speaks to a capacity crowd at Pine Ridge School on the Pine Ridge Reservation Thursday, May 12, 2016. Standing next to Sanders is Tatewin Means, Lakota Sioux Tribe Attorney General. Archive Photo/Custer Free Press

By Herb Ryan
December 26, 2017

Custer, SD – In 2020, Bernie Sanders will be 79, a prime example of an “old white guy” that needs to take the hint and get off center stage while he can still remember what he had for  breakfast. Other possible democratic candidates that are in the same category include former vice-president Joe Biden currently 75 and  U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren 68.

The average age of all 44 U.S. presidents when taking office is just over 54 years. The youngest was Theodore Roosevelt at 42 – that’s when he succeeded William McKinley after his assassination in 1901. John F. Kennedy was 43 when elected. President Barack Obama was 47. The current president Donald Trump is 71. It’s a difficult concept to accept that there are no qualified candidates to meet the minimum age of thirty-five to be eligible to run for the presidency and the average age of fifty-four anywhere in the nation.

The democratic control of both the house and the senate in 2018 as well as the 2020 presidential election is in the hands of the voters. Any protest votes or voter apathy just throws the election to the other party. Unlike the presidential election, state and local elections are won by popular vote, every single vote counts. You get the representation you vote for if enough people agree with you. The former Speaker of the United States House of Representatives Tip O’Neill is most closely associated with the phrase, “All politics is local”, and so it is. The groundswell for change needs to happen now.