Tuesday, August 14, 2018

South Dakota's Farmers Are Not A "Bargaining Tool."

    For a while there, South Dakota Republican candidate for Congress Dusty Johnson put
From Cory Heidelberger
At Dakota Free Press
some distance between himself and President Trump when it comes to Trump's passion for tariffs.  
Last May during his primary fight Johnson differentiated himself from his GOP opponents, who strongly supported Trump's trade policies, telling the Sioux Falls Argus Leader that "government should be cautious" when it comes to trade agreements, and that "access to international markets for South Dakota producers is critical."  The Argus-Leader went on to note that Johnson said he would push back on those who would aim to pass trade policies that could cause problems for South Dakota producers.  At about the same time, Johnson, in a Rapid City Journal op-ed piece complaining about my treatment of him in my column there, stoutly declared "I would ask the President to keep these markets open to the best . . . row crops in the world--South Dakota's."
     But, revealing the dependable Trump-enabler that better suits his compliant nature, the full-of-it Dusty emerged. Johnson just did a one-eighty on his misgivings about the tariff war that Donald Trump has declared.  In an interview published yesterday by the Madison (SD) Daily Leader, the candidate who would "push back" against policies harmful to South Dakota's farmers and at least "ask the President" to keep markets open to our farmers, fell into line with the White House.  According to Johnson, Trump is most likely using tariffs on imported goods as a bargaining tool.  Never mind that collapsing soybean prices are part of the bargain.  Said Johnson, "I'm hoping that will mean better things for producers and manufacturers."  In the heart of row-crop country, Johnson effectively told farmers there that they are bargaining tools for President Trump's trade gambits, as useful as pawns on a chess board.  The two dollars per bushel that markets have shaved off the price of soybeans since they became Trump's "bargaining tool" amounts to an eighty dollar hit on every acre. You have a thousand acres of soybeans?  You just lost eighty grand.  For South Dakota's soybean farmers in total it comes out to half-a-billion bucks.  Some "push back."
     Johnson correctly noted in the Daily Leader piece that the United States is still a principal supplier of high-quality soybeans to the world, and in this incredibly high stakes faceoff with China, that status might get us through, short-term.  But long term?  A much different outcome seems likely now that China and the rest of the world understand that the American bargaining chip dubbed "soybeans" can be produced elsewhere on this planet.  The most common story threading through agriculture media around the world is the pace at which China is becoming more self-sufficient in food production, even while it develops new suppliers elsewhere.  Just as America's dangerous and foolhardy dependence on foreign oil supplies set off a massive effort for our country to finally become self sufficient in energy production, China will take the same approach to soybean production.  We're stupid to let this happen, and Dusty Johnson is an unwitting political tool for going along with it.

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Warehousing People In South Dakota's Prisons Isn't Working

     It's just crazy how South Dakota's prison population has grown so rapidly during the past
40 years.  In 1977, our state's total prison population was about 500 inmates while today it is more than 3,900, a 750% increase.  That represents a growth rate more than 30 times our state's overall population increase during the same period.  It's also more prisoners per capita than every state we border.  Retired South Dakota circuit judge and current Democratic candidate for the state's Congressional seat Tim Bjorkman wrote a study for the University of South Dakota's Law Review ("A State In Shackles:  The Effect Of A Dysfunctional Childhood On Crime And Imprisonment"), published in 2017, that documents these and a trove of similarly grim facts. 
     That our community at large needs to be protected from a fair number of criminals, namely the violent, is self-evident enough, but more than half the state's male prisoners and 75 % of the female prisoners are there for non-violent crimes.  Quoting liberally from Bjorkman's study, two-thirds lack a high school diploma, and about 90% suffer from a substance disorder, many of those with a co-occurring mental disorder.  A substantial number grew up fatherless and in poverty, and many--including more than half the women--are childhood abuse survivors.  Subjecting these people to mass incarceration doesn't seem to be much of an attempt at confronting what is essentially a social problem, not a crime wave that demands more prison space than ever.
     Setting aside the altruistic impulse to help these people for a moment, consider the cost of housing and caring for nearly 4,000 prisoners every day.  In 2014 (most recent number I could find from South Dakota's Department of Corrections) it cost $54.00 a day to incarcerate an inmate. That comes out to more than $70 million a year--and we're just talking about the state prison system, not country or other local jailhouse facilities.  If most of those prisoners, say 60% extrapolating from Bjorkman's numbers, are non-violent, you have to wonder if the money used to imprison them wouldn't be better spent trying to get these troubled people some help. 
     That conclusion dawned on our state's elected leadership in 2013,  when Senate Bill 70 (the Public Safety Improvement Act) was signed into law by Governor Daugaard.  The bill passed with strong bi-partisan support. It was based on the premise that only those prisoners who had to be sequestered for the public's protection should be incarcerated, while the rest would receive community supervision and treatment, paid for by the money saved from not imprisoning them.  Some early successes weren't sustained, though, and by the end of 2017, the prison population was back to that 3,900 level.  Bjorkman notes that there were concerns "among many who work with the court system that the state has not fulfilled its promise to provide enhanced treatment and supervision for offenders."  I haven't been able to find any analyses on the implementation of SB 70 and invite a response from state government officials to Bjorkman's critique.  Meantime, our prisons are as crowded as ever.
     South Dakota's American Civil Liberties Union has recently decided to call attention to this problem in a unique way.  Janna Farley, ACLU Communications Director.  announced a few days ago that the organization is putting up billboards in Sioux Falls and Rapid City proclaiming "People, Not Prisons."  Considering that Governor Daugaard and a bi-partisan legislature supported just that concept with SB 70 five years ago, it seems like a message that shouldn't have to sold to the general public.  What gives on that front, Governor? 
   
   
   
   
   

Friday, August 3, 2018

Yeah. Tax Cuts Pay For Themselves. Yeah. Right.

     Memo to South Dakota Republican Senator John Thune:  Your contention that Trump's
Thune, Rounds, Noem
Why Are These People Laughing?
tax cuts will pay for themselves was nutty in its projections last December and just as nutty now that the bills are coming in. 
More than halfway into the first year of President Trump's fantasy-driven scheme that you wholeheartedly supported by claiming that "even a modest amount of economic growth could cover the cost of this bill," the facts are saying otherwise.  Our junior senator, Republican Mike Rounds, echoed your party's line on the subject, claiming the increased growth created by the tax cut would "grow the economy at a faster rate," thereby creating enough new revenues to reverse steady increases in the national debt. In late 2016 our Republican Congresswoman Kristi Noem actually made the fatuous claim that the Republican tax reform package would result in an economic growth rate of 9.1 percent.  Yes, she really did.   According to this GOP-scripted scenario, the 4% GDP growth that Republicans have been whooping it up about  (slightly better than "modest," at least for the most recent quarter) should have created a gusher of government revenues.                                            But has it?  Nope.  CNBC reported yesterday that "tax and withholding payments from individuals and corporations so far this year have come in about $17 billion below the same point in 2017."  The result is that the Congressional Budget Office is now projecting the federal deficit to hit nearly $1 trillion next year and reach $1.5 trillion by 2018.  These annual deficits continue to add to the overall federal debt of more than $15 trillion, which is still at ultra-high post-WW II levels in relation to the nation's economy.  Financing that debt has continued to grow, even as tax revenues are declining.  What on earth our congressional delegation was thinking when they collectively made their rosy predictions is the story of political intimidation overwhelming established reality.  Both history (Reagan's tax cuts nearly doubled the federal debt, GW Bush's increased it by a third) and a huge majority of the nation's leading economists warned about the negative effects of the tax cuts.
    Meantime, the cost of servicing all this debt has been steadily putting upward pressure on interest rates.   Reflecting the frustration a lot of us are feeling about this, Greg Valliere of the mega-investment firm Horizon Investments, said in his note to clients last week "booming economic growth has not been sufficient to lower the budget deficit.  In fact, the deficit and Treasury borrowing are headed sharply higher, and virtually no one in Washington seems to care."  South Dakota's congressional reps, who often complained about the "unsustainability" of federal debt prior to Trump's election, seem cowed into silence and submission now that they and their Republican cohorts have only worsened the situation.  If President Trump is indeed the "King of Debt" that he once claimed to be, Senators Thune and Rounds, along with Congresswoman Noem, are his compliant vassals.

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

In South Dakota, Trump's Deal-Making "Art" Is All About Surrealism

     If President Trump's deal-making skills are the "art" form he claims them to be, they
What?
Us South Dakotans Worry?
would most certainly fit nicely into the category of "surrealism." 
For those unfamiliar with the genre, Dictionary.com defines surrealism as a style consisting "of visions and dreams that are free from conscious rational control." Could there be a more apt representation of how Trump, aided and abetted by South Dakota's all-GOP congressional delegation, has handled the economy-shattering effects of his tariff fixation?  First, these so-called Republicans have abandoned their party's historic commitment to free trade, which has been the foundation of our state's ag economy for many years.  Then these so-called Republicans have socialized the financial pain of South Dakota's farmers by promising them part of the $12 billion that the Trump administration will dole out to make up for the losses created by the looming trade war.  And lately, these so-called Republicans are subscribing to the laughable notion that Trump's trade war-mentality is designed to force abandonment of tariffs altogether.  That our state's economy is getting crushed by the process reminds me of what I often heard when I was a Marine fighting in Vietnam:  "We had to destroy the village in order to save it."
     And now, as if the collective loss of "conscious, rational control" within the Republican party hasn't done enough damage to our state's ag economy, we're confronted with another bit of headstrong nonsense aimed at South Dakota's tourism sector.  President Trump announced over the past weekend that if he can't get the funding he wants for his border wall by September that he'll do what he can to shut down the government altogether.  I have no doubt that I'm speaking for many of my counterparts in the tourism biz (which is how I make a buck), when I say that  this crazy and surrealistic nonsense has to stop.  Why?  Because the last time we had a fiasco like this, during October of 2013, the government shutdown instigated by the GOP-dominated U.S. House of Representatives led to the closing of our national parks, monuments and caves--just in time to wipe out the lucrative Autumn tourism season that is so important to our local economy.  Talk about unintended consequences.  The Rapid City Journal headlined in its story on the subject that South Dakota's economy was "reeling" from the effects of the shutdown.  My peers and I shared stories about constricted bottom lines and staffers whose paychecks were severely cut just as the holiday shopping season was getting into gear.  That shutdown lasted for the first two weeks of October, but the aftereffects lingered throughout the month as news about the national park and monument closures drastically cut down business for the rest of the season.  October 2013 sales tax receipts in Keystone, the town adjacent to Mt. Rushmore, were down 32 percent from the previous year.  If there's an "art" to this, it won't get much appreciation from those who have to deal with the replay of a government shutdown.
 

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Only In South Dakota Could Billie Sutton Pass For A Democrat

     Nobody expected Democrat Billie Sutton's campaign for governor to be driven by his

Sutton
Can He Ride Herd On The Economy?
desire to create a new society for us South Dakotans.  Lately though, even his credentials as an agent for modest but meaningful change seem shaky.  He's stuck on the status quo and he made that clear enough during a seven minute interview with Todd Epp on KELO-radio last week.    His identification with Republican-majority dogma is already well known.  Sutton has a strong anti-abortion voting record, his 80% rating by South Dakota Right To Life speaking for itself.  Ditto his 79% rating by the National Rifle Association.  Siding with those organizations 4 out of 5 times makes him more than just "safe" when it comes to which side he's chosen in the "culture wars."  He's a full-blown ally of the GOP.  Like it or not,  Democrats have to swallow their pride and accept Sutton's affinity with Republicans on abortion and guns, and his party faithful seem to be doing so with a pragmatic shrug.
  All that has been a given up to now, but Sutton's KELO interview revealed an even more Republican-like attitude toward the ultra-important matter of taxation.  When quizzed about a state income tax, Sutton unequivocally said, "I'm opposed."  This was the politically realistic response, no question, but his reasoning behind that position was programmed and reminiscent of the hackneyed rhetoric that has supported the repeated failure of Republican government in South Dakota to move this state forward economically.  When asked why our state shouldn't be taxing income, Sutton supported the present and disdained the future by saying that "we are attracting more people here and attracting businesses here.  We have a very good welcoming business community and culture here in South Dakota.  We want to keep it that way."
     Keeping it "that way" is a woefully poor standard to maintain in South Dakota.  Even Sutton's opponent, Republican Kristi Noem, acknowledged as much last Spring when she declared that "our economy is falling behind." Our state's economic performance relative to the United States and the surrounding region has been awful.  More pointedly, "that way" has been surpassed by our surrounding states, most of whom have an income tax.  The management and consulting behemoth McKinsey and Company just released a table comparing economic conditions by state, using rates of in-migration of millenials as the standard for comparison.  Published in U.S. News and World Report last May, it ranks South Dakota behind the five of our immediate neighbors (Minnesota, North Dakota, Montana, Iowa, and Nebraska) that have a state income tax.  We're at the back of the pack, along with Wyoming, another state with no income tax.  Sutton's politically obligatory reasoning for opposing an income tax in South Dakota is understandable enough, but there's no way to claim that it has something to do with attracting more people and businesses when the comparisons say otherwise.  Promising to be a caretaker of the "same-oh, same-oh" makes Sutton's comfort level with South Dakota's economic status quo unnerving in a state that consistently has trouble keeping up with the rest of the country.
   
   
 
   

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

South Dakota's Republican Leaders Are A Complacent Lot

    What is it about the idea of bold leadership that makes South Dakota's Republican
What Does SD's GOP Have
Against Elephants?
officials run for cover?
  On the state level there's a bridge between the functions of management and leadership that I don't think has been traversed since, like him or not, Bill Janklow was governor about 20 years ago.  Last Monday Governor Dennis Daugaard was celebrating the state's $17 million surplus--South Dakota's seventh consecutive year in the black--by claiming that a structurally balanced budget "was my number one priority when I took office and it still is as I finish my term as Governor."   I don't get how the modifier "structurally" has any relevance in a state where ongoing revenues are impossible to predict, given the volatile nature of the commodity markets that dominate our state's agriculturally-dependent economy. Laudable as it may sound, Daugaard's commitment doesn't mean much in a state that has had a balanced-budget amendment in its Constitution since 2012.  Basically, Daugaard is congratulating his administration for adhering to the state constitution.  Rather than sending his lame-duck governorship off with gratuitous fanfare, a requiem for Daugaard's years in the statehouse seems appropriate.  Consider that on a per capita basis, South Dakota's GDP growth has persistently lagged the nation and the region.  Daugaard gets some credit for navigating the revenue shortfalls that have plagued this state in recent years, but on providing the strong and visionary leadership it takes to advance South Dakota's economy forcefully enough to keep up with the rest of the country, he rates a "meh."
     On the federal level, the situation is much the same.  Our GOP trio of Kristi Noem in the U.S. House and Mike Rounds and John Thune in the Senate are mired in complacency.  They seem helpless to do anything about the looming financial catastrophe that will strike South Dakota farmers as President Trump's trade war unfolds.  Noem meekly said recently that falling commodity prices "are very concerning to me."  His Trump-deference in full view, Mike Rounds was on Meet The Press last week telling Chuck Todd that South Dakota farmers "need to share and continue to share their concerns."  A month ago John Thune was belaboring the obvious by telling Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross that a trade war would have a "harmful effect" on farmers.  Apparently, expressing concern and telling farmers they have to speak up for themselves is the closest the three of these can come to pushing for congressional action that might offset President Trump's potentially ruinous trade shenanigans. As for Republican Congressional candidate Dusty Johnson, he's part of the do-nothing cabal.  He told the Sioux Falls Argus Leader last week that "congressional involvement, at least at this time, is going to inject more politics into it."  To Johnson fending off the collapse of farm commodity prices is a political event, to be shunned by our state's elected officials . . . "at least at this time."  So when is the "right time" to act?  Johnson doesn't have a clue.  The wussiness goes on.   Our congresspeople need to live up to their job description as "representatives."  Their wordplay hasn't stemmed the financial slaughter occurring in our ag sector.  Political intimidation from the Trump administration has paralyzed our federal reps.
   
   

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

In South Dakota, We're All Soybean Farmers

     The South Dakota Farm Bureau doesn't have much in the way of moxie these days.  Its president, Scott VanderWal was on KELO-radio last Friday acknowledging the devastating potential of President Trump's tariffs on our state's corn and soybean farmers.  He sounded the appropriate call for alarm by noting that "if we disrupt trade like we are now with the farm economy in poor shape . . . it's going to be economically devastating."  The prospect of farmers selling this year's crop at prices a good fifteen to twenty percent lower than what markets were expecting last Spring, just before Trump's trade war-fixation turned into policy has walloped South Dakota's farmers.
     "Devastating" was certainly the right word to describe the situation, but that's where the
SD Farmers Talk Soybeans To China
August, 2017
strong language ended. 
The logical follow-up to VanderWal's alarming prognosis would seem to have been a call to action but what we got instead was a call to timidity.  He said South Dakota's farmers need to make their voices heard in Washington, "but we have to be careful how we do that because he (Trump) doesn't respond to attacks very well, or perceived attacks." That squeamishness is probably the reason our politically wimpish congressional delegation hasn't been more forceful in criticizing, if not altogether condemning, Trump's tariff gambit.   Maybe it's just me, but it seems like a much more muscular response to the president's threat of financial devastation to South Dakota's farmers is in order.  With Trump, vapidity won't get it.  If the Farm Bureau's approach to the financial armageddon predicted by VanderWal were limited to its members, there wouldn't be much reason for the rest of us South Dakotans to stick our noses into their business.  But as we've heard relentlessly for the past few years, persistent softness in farm income has hurt the state's overall economy.  To a real extent, all of us in South Dakota are farmers, dependent as we are on the condition of our crops and the money they bring in to the state.
     South Dakota's current soybean crop has experienced a $500 million paper loss since last Spring's market peak.  That's a lot of pain for a small state like ours to absorb.  We all have a stake in this.  What's more, the need for getting through to Trump about the "devastating" potential of his trade policies isn't just a short-term thing. There are long-term urgencies to contend with.  Agricultural media have been bursting with news about how China, the world's largest soybean importer, is making it a national policy to build domestic supplies by subsidizing its farmers heavily and seeking new suppliers, including Russia, to replace an American source that has suddenly turned toxic in a geo-political sense.  Considering that about half of the U.S.A.'s annual soybean harvest of 4 billion bushels is exported and that two-thirds of those exports go to China, we're talking about a serious game-changer here.  Even if China's rapacious demand for soybeans forces the country to take a while before it weans itself away from American supplies altogether, we run the risk of this game of tariff-chicken becoming a catalyst for changes in Chinese buying behavior that in turn creates a new network of suppliers for Americans to compete against. In that scenario, the downward pressure on prices will be persistent and painful.

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

From The Z To Belle Fourche, An Old Warrior Remembers

     On the Fourth of July I'll be marching proudly with a contingent of Marines in the Belle
Immigrant Milking Cows
Turner County, SD
Fourche parade
.  So many pungent ironies will be running through my mind.  Fifty one years ago on the Fourth I was a radioman near the Demilitarized Zone in Vietnam, about to get airlifted into a desperate fight nearby, the scuttlebutt being that I was replacing one of the many  radiomen in the field that were dead.  I cursed the war.  I cursed Lyndon Johnson.  I cursed the Halls of Montezuma.  Not yet twenty, I knew I was going to die.
     But it wasn't meant to be.  Enough air cover came in to drive the enemy back to their sanctuary in the Z (short for DMZ, aka the Demilitarized Zone), where we couldn't chase them, allowing the hostilities to come to a pause.  I got reprieved.  Though there were plenty of fights before and after (OMG, you should've seen September 3, 1967, at Dong Ha.  OMG.), that particular engagement, where I never even came within shooting range of the action, scared me the most.
     It was a tough way to become a citizen of the United States, but become a bona-fide, card-carrying American, I did.  Having come over from the shambles of post-war Europe in 1950 with my parents and baby sister, I probably was naturalized along with them a few years later.  Just to make sure, though, I enlisted in the Marines to pick up an automatic naturalization via that route.  For all these many years since then I never gave the fact of my naturalized status a second thought.  Then along came Trump.  I just about couldn't believe it when he made a point last February about  wanting an immigration policy that favored educated and skilled emigres.  If that were the policy back when I checked in at Ellis Island, my barely educated family of eastern Mediterranean (Greek and Armenian) "po' folk" would have been locked out.  And that would have been a shame, because, all modesty abandoned, I doubt that a more proudly American family could have been nurtured by this country, native born or not.
     More specifically, I doubt that the state of South Dakota could have turned out a more productive and contributing family.  I often wonder if most South Dakotans know how many immigrants are a part of the modern fabric of this state.  According to the American Immigration Council, twelve percent of our state's manufacturing workers are immigrants.  Ten percent of our state's building maintenance workers are immigrants.  Turkey processors in Huron now employ several hundred ethnic-Karen refugees from Myanmar.  Given the nature of the work, I'm sure many of these people don't have education and skills levels that would conform to an immigration policy that shuns the untutored.  According to the AIC, nearly 60% of South Dakota's immigrant population has a high-school diploma or less, the "or less" faction making up about 35% of the new arrivals.  Keeping these people out of South Dakota's labor pool would make a tight situation even worse for employers who chronically struggle to deal with our labor shortage.
     And, writing as the son of those in the "or less" category, the children of these families stream into the general population with educations and ambitions that have made this country what it is. Sorting out the good from the bad is one thing, a mandatory thing,  but to deny the U.S.A. its historic source of energy by being overly restrictive about who gets to enter this country is a rejection of a success story that is the American experience. 

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

South Dakota Senator Mike Rounds Plays Word Games While His State's Farmers Get Bashed

     As if the pummeling that South Dakota's row-crop farmers have been taking from
Why Is This Man Laughing?
Farm Prices Are Plunging, Senator Rounds
President Trump's calamitous trade policy isn't bad enough, our state's junior senator, Republican Mike Rounds, makes the future of this debacle look even murkier with his namby-pamby reaction to the catastrophes that are the corn and soybean markets. 
Rounds was on Bloomberg Television last week splitting rhetorical hairs over whether the trade tensions started by Trump are a "war" or a "dispute."  Rounds said that "right now it's a dispute," but acknowledged that "it's impacting our markets."  Despite the negative impact, though, Rounds went on to say that "we'll allow the administration the time to put together their plan."  Could he have made an utterance that is more feeble, more naively presumptive?
     Why feeble?  Because our state's soybean crop is in the ground and maturing into a market that this week that has traded in the $8 per bushel range (Chicago prices), which is where soybeans were priced when I was brokering and trading commodity markets during the 1990s.  The corn trade is in much the same shape.  Rounds understands that time is of the essence when it comes to raising and marketing crops but is content to wait and see where the tariff imbroglio takes us.  How tough is it for our trade-dependent soybean industry?  It's brutal.  Soybean prices have come down by $2 per bushel since last Spring and a good $3 per bushel since 2016, when Trump was elected.  Given the 250 million bushels of soybeans that South Dakota's farmers produce every year, current price levels will see the disappearance of more than a half billion dollars from South Dakota's economy.  Meantime, Senator Rounds expects us to wait for the  Trump administration to put together a "plan."
     And that gets us to the "presumptive" part of Rounds' politically measured reaction to the collapse in the soybean market.  Our junior senator's attempt at acknowledging the damage being done to South Dakota's farmers without overtly annoying President Trump actually assumes that Trump has a "plan" to move this game of tariff-chicken forward. That's absurd on the face of it.  Last Monday's news that because of new tariffs Harley-Davidson is moving a substantial amount of its production overseas got a surprised reaction from the White House.  Trump apparently doesn't get that this trade war of his actually impacts American manufacturers in ways that are unforeseen and unintended.  The president was caught off guard by his make-it-up-as-you-go-along "policy," which doesn't look like much of the "plan" that Senator Rounds patiently awaits.
     As to our senior senator, Republican John Thune, there hasn't been much from his office about the collapse in corn and soybean prices.  He did, however, post an op-ed last week with  a homily about the nobility of farming.  Lovely as the epistle was, Thune was essentially replacing a hard-headed examination of the pricing crisis with a sentimental wave of condescension.  Both Thune and Rounds are coming up short in their responsibilities to be powerful voices for South Dakota's interests in Washington.  As we so often heard from Pierre during the past few years when state tax receipts were hurt by low crop prices, South Dakota's economy is too dependent on our ag sector to let a commodity price crisis go unaddressed.
   

Thursday, June 14, 2018

South Dakota's Democratic Gubernatorial Ticket Just Got Interesting

     Michelle Lavallee is South Dakota Democratic Gubernatorial nominee Billie Sutton's
Lavallee
 She's Good
choice to run as his Lieutenant Governor in November. 
She seems like a great pick from every angle I can think of.  No doubt a lot our state's Dems are muttering a bit about the fact that Lavallee has up until recently been a registered Republican, but having ditched my GOP registration last Fall to register as an Independent because I couldn't identify with the party of Trump anymore, I find common cause with any former Republican who in recent months did the same thing.  I hope the brilliant and highly accomplished Lavallee ends up sending the same message to our erstwhile party-mates as I did:  You Pubs have gone off the deep end.
     No doubt my former Republican comrades have brushed me off as blithely as they would a few loose threads on their clothing, but losing a star-quality player like Lavallee should make GOPers wonder if their No-Longer-So-Grand Old Party isn't turning away many of its best and brightest.  Lavallee's creds are right up there with the best of 'em.  I can especially relate to the Northwestern University-Kellogg School MBA that Lavallee, a 4th-generation South Dakotan, sports.  I frolicked (if you can use that verb to describe the cutthroat business of trading stock options) among many of those folks during my dozen years as a market maker at the Chicago Board Options Exchange.  Some of the sharpest minds on that trading floor were honed at Chicago's Kellogg School.  South Dakotans are lucky that this favorite daughter of theirs has chosen to put that top-drawer education to work right back here at home.  
     As to the political value of pairing with Sutton on the Gubernatorial ticket, it's significant.  There's plenty of tactical shrewdness in Sutton's country-boy demeanor.  He understands that Lavallee is urbane, financially sophisticated and has a private sector track record through her consulting firm that puts her in league with some of the biggest enterprises in South Dakota. Lavallee's grasp of finance and economics  will appeal to many in our state's business community, who probably scan the track record of recent Republican administrations with some serious dismay.  GOP stewardship of South Dakota's economy has kept us so far behind the national and regional curves for so many years that voters must be pondering whether it's time to change.
      As a solid professional combo blending agricultural smarts with business finesse, the Sutton-Lavallee team will likely prevail over the usual skepticism aimed by culture warriors at a Democratic campaign in South Dakota.  Why?  Because this isn't your "usual" South Dakota Democratic ticket.  Sutton himself is avowedly anti-abortionSouth Dakota Right To Life gave him an "A" in 2016.  And his 80% rating on South Dakota Citizens For Liberty's gun rights scorecard in 2017 is probably sufficient enough to cast him as an ally on the Second Amendment front.  I know a lot of Democrats will chafe at his values, but Sutton is who he is.   I believe the few Dems who abandon him will be more than offset by a large body of Republicans who can feel comfortable and maybe even enthusiastic about the prospect of modifying, if not altogether replacing, the political culture in Pierre with a ticket that any mainstream South Dakotan, regardless of party, can abide and support.  

Monday, June 11, 2018

South Dakota Congressional Reps? Yoo-hoo, Where Are You?

     I wonder why South Dakota's congressional delegation hasn't been more vocal
It's A War
And Farmers Got Drafted
about tariffs these days.
 
Our soybean farmers have been whipsawed by trade war news for months now, with no let-up in sight.  It's tough to make planting and marketing decisions when one day the trade war is on and soybean sales to China will suffer, then the next day tempers cool off and soybeans look to have their markets intact.  Soybean farmer Lindsay Greiner, the incoming president of the Iowa Soybean Association was no doubt speaking for many of his counterparts here in South Dakota when he talked last weekend  about China's threats to reduce purchases of American soybeans.  "One week you get good news and the next week you get bad, and that makes markets go up and down.  That makes farmers anxious."
     Fluctuating commodity markets create more than enough anxiety for farmers, but this new dose of uncertainty over trade has to be especially unsettling in a state that went for Donald Trump with more than 60% of its vote.  Soybean prices have given up nearly all the gains they made after Donald Trump was elected, falling below the psychological benchmark of $10 a bushel (per the Chicago Board of Trade) at the end of last week, when China said that "all trade promises are off if the U.S. imposes tariffs." That news took nearly a dollar off of soybean prices in a matter of days.  Considering that last year South Dakota farmers harvested about 250 million bushels of soybeans, the effect of a price move like that doesn't just affect the farmers.  This entire state will feel the economic aftereffects of a quarter billion dollars disappearing from our economy.
     Not to be ignored, hog farmers are similarly affected by the Trump administration's tariff-provoking rhetoric.  Last week Mexico added 10 percent to its tariff on American pork, which only adds to the uncertainty among hog producers, who in South Dakota produced 1.2 million pigs last yearIowa Farm Bureau Director of Research Dave Miller told NBC last week that since the trade war talk "heated up,"  hog prices went from being "slightly profitable to the point where most producers are losing money."
     Meantime, there doesn't seem to be much concern, let alone anger and outrage, over the looming trade war among our Trump-enabling Congressional delegates.  Their collective wimpiness on this belies their concern for South Dakota's number one industry, agriculture.  If you google "agriculture groups that support free trade," you'll find every mainstream ag organization in the country opposes Trump's tariff-spree.  That opposition spills over to other industry groups as well.  Reuters reports that 45 trade groups "representing some of the largest companies in the country" have urged Trump "not to impose tariffs on China."  The supposedly pro-business Republicans representing our state in Congress seem helpless, if not altogether indifferent, when it comes to vigorously defending the interests of the private sector they profess to adore. Lame duck Congresswoman Noem is out of the picture and irrelevant, but it would be nice to see Senators Thune and Rounds make a forceful case against tariffs.  In the process of finding their voices, they might actually end up doing their constituents some good.

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Election Day Glitches In Rapid City Concern Janette McIntyre

ELECTION INTEGRITY?   Janette McIntyre


The recent Primary election held on June 5th saw some unusually frustrating moments.

As a candidate for the District 34 House race I want to say congratulations to both Jessica Olson and Michael Diedrich for their win.  This isn’t about contesting the race in any way shape or form.
McIntyre
What I would like to address is the concern others and I have in the integrity of the system that we have in place.
No one watches the campaigns, filing deadlines, opponents’ yard signs and ultimately the vote tally on election night more than a candidate.  That’s pretty understandable.  
So when I received a call early Tuesday morning from a friend who was turned away from Southwest Middle School saying she was unable to vote I was concerned.  How could this happen?  She was told there was an internet problem and that a technician had been called but everyone would have to come back later to vote.  What if they can’t?
A few minutes later KOTA confirmed that indeed they now had heard about SW Middle school and the Calvary Lutheran polling place having trouble as well.  I got a call from a 2nd friend who received the same instruction.  He said he would “try” to go back on his lunch hour to vote.  What if the lines are too long and he runs out of time?
I ask my friend if she had been offered the opportunity to “give her name and show ID and vote with the poll worker taking her name.”   She said, “No.”   At SW Middle School it was also noted that there were no ballots actually there until after 8:30am.  How were people supposed to vote from 7:00am-8:30am with no ballots in the first place regardless of the registration internet glitch?
It was also reported that with the approximately one hour and forty five minute delay the solution to the problem was to use the books and keep the polling places open for an additional period of time.  I called the Auditor’s office and asked how late they were going to be open.  I was told 8:45pm.   SW Middle School did not stay open until 8:45 but closed at approximately 7:30.
Now we wait for results.    I’m anxious as usual and watched the Secretary of State website at my desk at home.  I’m not much of a partygoer so chose to pick up signs and watch the results at home.   Others who went to the gathering called and when talking to them the SOS posted that in District 34 8 of 8 precincts had reported and indeed I had won coming in 2nd with 29% of the vote.  The congratulations and cheers could be heard over the phone!  Wow I had won.
I looked at my computer and sure enough I had the bold face print on my name with the checkmark declaring me the winner!  Amazing.
But still on the phone with my friend I said, “This just doesn’t look right.  There are not enough votes.”   She agreed.  We decided to be cautiously optimistic.   I went about picking up my yard signs until about 11:30 and came home to the computer to find that now only 2 of 8 precincts have reported and although I’m still ahead it was a slim margin.
I waited and watched refreshing my computer every few minutes as the SOS website says they will update with results every 5 minutes.   I was up by a few percent, then I was behind by a few percent as 3 of 8 then 5 of 8 precincts reported.   Then it got to 6 of 8 precincts reporting and I was at the total 1488 and 2nd place was at 1730.   My optimism was draining away and I saw a loss coming.  I waited.  It was a quite some time, well after midnight, but I thought 2 precincts might make a difference.  Maybe I could still pull off a win. 
All of a sudden the website flashed 8 of 8 precincts reported.  I looked and to my surprise, and frankly dismay, the vote totals didn’t change.  The vote tallies were exactly the same!  How can that be?   If the totals were 1488 and 1730 at 6 of 8 precincts how could they be the same at 8 of 8 precincts?    That would mean that no one voted in 2 precincts because the numbers didn’t change.  Not sure who, but it would seem someone has some “splaining” to do.
Technology is a wonderful thing.  The thought of handwriting poll books as my mother used to do or counting ballots by hand is not an option but can we be assured that all of the signals are reaching the right place at the right time?  Did a lightening bolt suddenly hit the cloud?  Numbers reported on the KOTA and KELO websites were both different at times from the SOS website!
Integrity in our voting system is vital.  It’s not enough to have free and fair elections, they have to be accurate and we have to have faith in them.
The SOS office and the local auditors that dealt with this latest nightmare have to be wondering if the voter’s faith can be restored.  Here in Pennington County there has been ongoing criticism of the office. 
I don’t write this with malicious intent to the SOS office or auditors but solely to bring to the attention of anyone reading it that if there are problems with the office or with the hardware/software they need to be addressed yesterday and any fixes need to be in sooner rather than later.  November will be here before you know it.
Short of that I plan to pet my dog, walk in the woods, write a book and blame my loss on the Russians!

Monday, June 4, 2018

Is South Dakota Tourism Experiencing A "Trump Slump?"

     Tourism is my biz, so I'm naturally sensitive to trends as they develop in the industry.  Lately I've noticed that the phrase "Trump slump" has become part of the trade's shop-talk. Given that the industry, both locally and nationally, had a so-so 2017,  there's some reason for it. The tourism numbers are soft.  What does that mean for South Dakota generally and here in the Black Hills/Badlands region specifically?  Something definitely noticeable. We all have a piece of this action, given the size of our visitation market in western South Dakota.  Statewide, tourists spent about $4 billion here in 2017, generating more than $6 billion in overall business sales.  That supports 9% of the jobs in South Dakota.  More locally-focused numbers are just as impressive, considering that the $140 million spent by the three million tourists who visited Mount Rushmore in 2016 support two thousand jobs in the region.  Total spending by visitors to the Badlands, Jewel Cave and and Wind Cave accounts for another $150 million in spending in the immediate vicinity of those parks. The numbers pile on when you add the impact of our state-operated facilities,  including Custer State Park here in the Black Hills.
We Have Built It
Will They Continue To Come?

     But nice as these numbers are, the trend since last year hasn't been so positive. Visitation numbers were largely static during 2017, at least in terms of our national park data, which nationally were down by a fraction of a percent.  Locally, national park visitations last year were up a bit, with Mt. Rushmore accounting for a gain of less than one percent.  On the spending front, South Dakota's tourists accounted for an annual increase of 1.2% in 2017.  A gain is a gain, of course, but in context of overall consumer spending growth in the United States of 2.7%, our local tourism industry's take lagged far behind the national rate.
     Is there an actual "Trump slump" going on?  Travel Weekly Magazine thinks so, blaming President Trump and his bellicose "America first" rhetoric and policies for a drop of 7.4 million foreign tourists annually, which the U.S Travel Association translates into a loss of about 100,000 American jobs.  
    So far in 2018, the softness in national park visitation has continued.  The downtrend has accelerated, actually, with national visitation numbers down 8% for the year, a number matched almost exactly through the end of last May at Mt. Rushmore and the Badlands. Considering that just about all other elements of the U.S. economy are showing gains, these contra-indicators are cause for some concern throughout the travel industry.  No doubt the strengthening U.S. Dollar has probably had some effect on foreign visitors, making an American visit more expensive than it has been in recent years.  Then there's the recent uptick in gasoline prices, along with interest rates.  The reasons are myriad and the effect is measurable.  Are Trump and his policies to blame?  In my view, not entirely, but the leading experts in my field aren't quite so hesitant.  They're the ones that have unabashedly labelled it a "Trump slump." Considering how softly 2018 has started in the National Park system, they might be on to something.

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Brad "Murdoc" Jurgensen says "Yes" to the new arena

The decision to vote yes or no on the Civic Center vote is clear and obvious. I ask citizens of Rapid City to do more than just read some social media headlines and comments from the crowd. Please take some time and educate yourself on both sides. I ask you all to ignore the antics of the extremes and really take 5 minutes to dig in. Ignore the smear tactics, negativity, ignorance, and instant hatred that comes with not doing some research. It’s easy to be against things. It’s harder to look at a nuanced and complicated issue and form your own opinion from the hard work of smart people. Take a second and realize that smart people have been putting in a lot of hard work. The lack of vision of the opposition and the scare tactics being used are nearly shameful, in my opinion. You'll find that this vote comes down to the following: Larger economic impact into the community, a better quality of life, no tax increase, and less dependence on other revenues. To the hordes of "I don't even attend" and "It was good enough for Elvis" commenters - you simply don't have the experience in this industry to weigh in on that opinion. That  doesn’t mean you aren’t qualified to hold your own opinion - but anybody who has 10 minutes of event and concert experience knows this is an easy yes. Don’t just assume a comment on Facebook has any merit or actual experience. Talk with people who have been involved in this subject for years. Mayor Allender has given nearly 60 presentations on this subject. There are videos online, and miles of data on a few websites. With all due respect to the “Plan C” direction – it’s not a viable option. Decisions like Tuesday’s vote are the decisions that truly shape the future of communities like Rapid City. I urge you to take some time to reflect on the future you want to leave to future generations of this wonderful place to live. We owe a huge thanks to everybody who has been donating time, money, sweat, and effort to help be a part of the positive solution. I ask you to be a part of the future and vote Yes on Tuesday, June 5.


Note to readers:  I invite guest posters to weigh in on the new arena for Rapid City, which comes to a vote Tuesday. 500 words max, I'll edit for grammar, spelling and punctuation. Easiest way is to e-mail the copy to tsitrian@gmail.com The only parameters are good taste. My standard is that if I wouldn't want my old-fashioned God-fearing Greek grandma to see it, it ain't gonna get posted.  Thanks, John Tsitrian

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

John Wrede says "No" to the new arena

   “In for a Penny, in for a Pound is a 17th century English idiom that seems to describe the new Rapid City Arena ballot proposition delivered to city residents by a task force appointed by the Mayor and ratified by the Rapid City council.  It is an either/or proposition that affords no middle ground and no compromise.   It’s just the same old political strong- arm, special interest game of “my way or the highway” that has brought us to where we are.  There is a significant absence of long term perspective and failure to recognize the obvious.  People don’t complain about utility and public service deficiencies just to hear themselves talk.   Our problem is not sequestered in business economics in Rapid City sufficient to justify construction of a new arena to keep up with the Jones.    Our problem is tethered to homogenized business enterprise, over-dependence on public assets to include tax revenues, short term thinking, situational awareness and a paucity of long term planning. 
      There has been no discussion or evidence presented to show that a scaled down or even modest remodeling of the Barnett Arena will not accomplish the same thing as proponents of the grandeur/opulence desire.  Abstract speculation has been the only contradictory response to what is being labeled “Plan B.”  Allegedly the infrastructure of the roof and interior arrangement of the Barnett discourages renowned performers from appearing in Rapid City, yet Country Music Superstars  Sugarland and Luke Bryan  will appear in the  Ice Arena complex in June and  September respectively.  If we can field those acts in a smaller venue than the Barnett, we don’t need to build a bigger facility.  We have two annual events that come close to filling the venue each day of the events;  yet more space is needed based soley upon speculation and ill-described preliminary discussions.   We’re confusing “want” with “need”.  Now the Rush is beginning to fade like the Rapid City Thrillers, the Rapid City Red Dogs, and the Rapid City Flying Aces.  More dependence on municipal gratuity to keep an activity in business.  Newness wears off over time but the associated expenses grow with time, inflation, wages, costs of utilities and materials etc.   None of that is factored into this proposal.    
      In December 2016, at the end of the last 5 year Vision Fund Cycle, the City Council approved $6.5 million dollars for 10 Vision Fund Projects.  Alderman Jerry Wright argued vigorously that the council should wait for two weeks before making a decision saying: “My concern is, we’re not addressing a single one of our infrastructure needs.”  Alderman Scott said; “there is not enough of a cushion for contingencies if a project goes over budget.”  Those arguments are, perhaps more valid today than they were two years ago.  
     The Vision Fund has never held enough money to fund all the worthwhile, civic minded projects proposed.  The Fund is intended to be used for the good of the greatest number of our city residents, not economic development to serve the Visitor Service industry.       

Note to readers:  I invite guest posters to weigh in on the new arena for Rapid City, which comes to a vote Tuesday. 500 words max, I'll edit for grammar, spelling and punctuation. Easiest way is to e-mail the copy to tsitrian@gmail.com The only parameters are good taste. My standard is that if I wouldn't want my old-fashioned God-fearing Greek grandma to see it, it ain't gonna get posted.  Thanks, John Tsitrian

Adam McLean says "Yes" to the new arena

Sue Cook’s cattle argument is completely baseless.

All over the country, bigger facilities require overflow parking locations further from the arena than the closest parking. And it should come to no one’s surprise that most every facility like ours offers VIP parking for people who want to pay for premium spots. Not just here in Rapid City, but [if you can imagine it] even in Denver.

Sound arguments have been made that a bigger facility would allow the most popular performers (who draw the biggest crowds) a legitimate business opportunity if they stopped here, instead of passing through our town in the middle of their tour. So, Sue’s complaint about the current facility being empty too often completely misses the mark.

There are no ‘country roads’ (as Sue says) between the Civic Center and the interstate. So, I can’t give her words any weight, at all, on that.

A bigger city needs bigger entertainment facilities. Now is the time for Rapid City.

People like Sue Cook confuse gaslighting with rational conversation.



Note to readers:  I invite guest posters to weigh in on the new arena for Rapid City, which comes to a vote Tuesday. 500 words max, I'll edit for grammar, spelling and punctuation. Easiest way is to e-mail the copy to tsitrian@gmail.com The only parameters are good taste. My standard is that if I wouldn't want my old-fashioned God-fearing Greek grandma to see it, it ain't gonna get posted.  Thanks, John Tsitrian

Sue Cook Says "No" To The New Arena In Rapid City

How are we such cattle?  Just let someone really want something, perhaps on which to put his name, (Like a headstone.) And a big percentage of us say ok.  Do people ever notice that parking now is bad because the city allowed a hotel to build in the parking lot, and now shares limited parking with the civic center (CC);  the CC schedules multiple events for the same times, days, perhaps not every event but enough;  don't forget new building at the high school that has impacted parking;  not providing sufficient parking in new plans; suggesting that parkers should walk, pay for shuttles, pay extra to park closer,  and show no plans for better traffic access to a bigger facility. 
  Somehow it makes no difference that in statements made by the mayor the old facility sits empty too often but doesn't  compare how often this will change. This was one of the reasons to not build more parking for the existing CC.  
  One of my biggest objections is that the city's  voters have been lied to about the hockey team and the fact that it can't fill the stadium, needs to be bailed out financially taking monies from who really knows where and the whole condition of the city structure needs to be repaired.  No more bandaids for repairs.  How about fire the city managers that cover up and lie to support their own agenda.
  Looking at concert/shows/event demographics,  this area of the country doesn't support the numbers of people to attend en masse and make a new arena feasible.  
  Then transportation into and out of the city.  Essentially east or west.  North and south are pretty much li'l country roads, making an amazing impression on performers who never communicate with each other.
   I think one reason people don't attend events now is the backwards reasoning to profit by charging more rather than charge less and provide the service/program for more individuals.  Fill the seats.  Adapt the existing structure to code and prove that this structure can be filled with consistency.  Build parking.  Support the community now, rather than some maybe group that might come.  This tack might gain community support.--Sue Cook.


 Note to readers:  I invite guest posters to weigh in on the new arena for Rapid City, which comes to a vote Tuesday. 500 words max, I'll edit for grammar, spelling and punctuation. Easiest way is to e-mail the copy to tsitrian@gmail.com Only parameters are good taste. My standard is that if I wouldn't want my old-fashioned God-fearing Greek grandma to see it, it ain't gonna get posted.  Thanks, John Tsitrian

I'm soliciting guest posts, pro and con, about the new arena in Rapid City, coming to a vote on Tuesday

 I invite guest posters to weigh in on the new arena for Rapid City, which comes to a vote Tuesday. 500 words max, I'll edit for grammar, spelling and punctuation. Easiest way is to e-mail the copy to tsitrian@gmail.com Only parameters are good taste. My standard is that if I wouldn't want my old-fashioned God-fearing Greek grandma to see it, it ain't gonna get posted.

Friday, May 25, 2018

Jackley Won The KELO-TV Debate Against Noem Last Night

     South Dakota Attorney General Marty Jackley debated Congresswoman Kristi Noem on
Jackley Won
KELO-TV last night. 
The contenders for the GOP nomination for Governor in June's primary were prepared and articulate, but in the end Jackley successfully drew a contrast between his state experience versus Noem's Washington, D.C.-centered years in the U.S. House of Representatives, where she's been since 2011.
     Understandably enough, Noem claims that her years in Congress were fruitful to South Dakotans, but I doubt that most of us who live here are buying it.  She acknowledged that our state's GDP growth has been among the worst in the nation, yet continues to insist that she delivered for South Dakotans.  For reasons that I can't fathom, Noem thinks being part of the team that passed the 2014 Farm Bill has been the centerpiece of her representation, yet farm income across the country since 2011 has fallen by 26% according to USDA dataSouth Dakota's farmers fared much, much worse, watching their incomes fall a staggering 76% from 2011 through 2016.  The decline in SD's farm earnings continued through last yearMost relevant to our western South Dakota producers, calf prices since last Fall's marketing season have fallen by 20%, mirroring the downtrend in finished cattle prices.
     Going by prices and income, farmers in South Dakota have every reason to wonder why Kristi Noem touts her association with the 2014 Farm Bill as having had some positive effects on the ag economy, both nationally and here in her home state.  More pointedly during the debate, she touted her allegiance to all things Donald Trump, which is even more of a headscratcher.  The common experience of farmers having to deal with the whipsaws of Trump's trade policies has become a daily fixture in ag commodity markets, which wonder from one White House news release to the next if American farm products will have reliable overseas markets after they're harvested this year.
     Marty Jackley effectively tied the D.C. albatross around Noem's neck.  Then, to make sure that Noem's disconnect from day-to-day life in South Dakota during her congressional years is a potentially fatal political liability, Jackley called attention to the fact that Kristi Noem wants nothing to do with direct citizen input should she become Governor.  It's actually kind of mind-blowing, but Noem continues to insist that voluntary citizen panels composed of private-sector South Dakotans giving advice and insight about matters that affect their personal and professional lives represents growth in government.  This is more than a disconnect.  This is walling off the very people Noem wants to serve.  Jackley has and probably will continue to call attention to this cavalier approach to governing.  Noem's aloofness compounded by years of a lackluster tenure in Congress should make Republicans think twice about who they send up against Billie Sutton, probably the most formidable Democrat to run for Governor in many, many years.
   
   

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Markle Sparkle?

Guest Poster Janette McIntyre of Rapid City Has Some Thoughts On Resplendence And Royalty In This Day And Age:

     Every little girl dreams of a beautiful wedding and Cinderella was our first story
McIntyre
that cements this image of Prince Charming.
We all hope this will someday be the end to our own fairy tale.
     The media have touted the latest Royal wedding as just that.   Fairy tales come true for so many reasons and on so many levels.  There’s the American British angle.  There’s the racial angle and the barrier that appears to have been broken.  And last but not least there’s the love conquers all angle no matter what the issue.
     Two factions emerge in the latest Royal spectacle.  There are those who love a good love story complete with multimillion-dollar pageantry and those that wouldn’t spend a nano second watching such a ridiculous waste of time and money.  They tout the idea that we won that war and don’t have to look back. 
      The bride most definitely had the wedding of a lifetime.  Not many weddings will reach the 100 million dollar mark, streets filled with well-wishers as you are driven by in a white horse drawn carriage, one of many from the stable of the queen.  And don't forget wearing a borrowed tiara worth hundreds of thousands of dollars too.
      Gone are the days of leaving the crown for true love as Edward VIII and Wallis Simpson did.   No, what the Royals have done is prove that all of our freedoms, so hard fought for, have been tossed aside and the Royal chains have been put on.  And put on an American under the guise of being progressive!  Wow!
      Think about a different angle.  Where are the pink hat feminist American women who value their independence and are still working toward equal pay for equal work?  Here is an example of a woman sacrificing a career that she aspired to, independence of thought/actions and freedoms that she will never see again.  And she willingly agreed to it!
      Maybe he’s worth it.  Does she feel that she has made a giant stride for African American women with the British’s most eligible bachelor prize?   She may have purposely left out the term “obey” in her vows but you can be assured she will follow the agreed upon rules. 
       If history is any indication, the tabloids are salivating.  I’m sure there will be ample opportunities for salacious pictures and stories to come.
      All of the multimillion-dollar pomp and circumstance plus the title of Duchess of Sussex will never equal American freedom.