Sunday, August 21, 2016

Is Senator Thune For Or Against Federal Overreach?

     Our Senator John Thune has been going off on the Black Elk Peak name change for a while.  In an RCJ piece last Sunday he complained that the federal naming board's redesignation was
Please, Senator Thune
End The Guessing Game
the act of a "bunch of un-elected, unaccountable bureaucrats waving a magic wand."  The Journal reported that Thune is "exploring ways" of keeping the board from making similar, arbitrary decisions, but that "Thune does not know what action, if any, he will take."  

     I doubt that any substantive action on this will be taken by Thune, but his politically  reflexive whining  about the matter does superficially burnish his "anti-fed" credentials.  Thune's website touts him as a leader "in the fight against overreaching federal regulations," so his complaint that the feds ignored South Dakota's recommendation to retain the name of the well-documented mass murderer General William Harney on the peak in the Black Hills seems consistent with that position and mindset.  But Thune's grousing notwithstanding, the Senator's options are to like it or lump it.  By contrast, our Governor Daugaard wisely and pragmatically decided to go along with the feds on this, choosing to focus on other, more substantive matters that our state has to deal with.  End of story.
     But for all that, it's really the nature of Thune's response that gets my attention. It's redolent of political opportunism and rhetoric.  His blustery vow to rein in the naming board has "appeal to your base" written all over it--and gratuitously so, considering that he's in a reelection campaign that should be handily won.  Thune has gotten much mileage out of his persona as a fed fighter, considering that "federal overreach" is probably the most common little couplet in his political vocabulary.  What's inconsistent about Thune's reaction to the federally-driven decision is the way he ignores his pledge to fight "federal overreach" in other matters when political convenience or imperatives dictate.  For example, last Spring Thune had no hesitation about bringing the weight of the federal government to bear on a private social media company's handling of its news reports. Thune thought Facebook's news feed had a liberal bias to it.  The Facebook Trending Topics flare-up was exactly the opposite of Thune's self-designation as a fighter against federal intrusion and overreach.  Thune's sternly worded statement that Facebook "must answer" and "hold those responsible" if there has been "political bias" in FB's news feed had the ominous tone of a government Leviathan, not to mention a serious disregard for the Bill of Rights.  Happily, Thune's hyper-ventilation on that issue went nowhere.
     On a more spectacular level of inconsistency is Thune's alliance with a presidential candidate, Trump, who promises a substantial increase in presidential power and federal authority.  Thune has endorsed a presidential aspirant who has repeatedly told his followers that he'd use government as a tool to improve their lots in life.  That includes interfering in free markets by punishing private enterprises (including our farm sector) for pursuing global opportunities, increased police patrols in Muslim neighborhoods, federally instigated revitalization of blighted urban districts, punishment for women who have abortions . . . the list goes on. If  this isn't federal overreach, what is?  I wish Thune would get his story straight.  


  1. In the hope the Universe, and all the planetary bodies, cooperate, and accede to your plea for ideological consistency from our senior senator, I am sending positive thoughts upwards through the firmament!

  2. From John Wrede, transposed from Facebook with his permission: "The "Trash the Federal Bureacracy" is and has been the primary theme for all three of our Congressionals ever since they left for Washington. And we're gullible enough to believe that dishonest ad hominem. It's a limp wristed substitute for failure to accomplish anything in their own forum. None of them will acknowledge that the bureaus at all levels of government are simply implementing law made by congress and in most cases, their accusations and bluster are aimed at things they didn't vote for or wern't in office when the law was passed. All three of them bash the EPA for trying to enforce provisions of the Clean Water Act, Clean Air Act and so on. (laws promulgated by congress). All three of them bash the USF&WS for strict adherence to provisions in the ESA to list the Greater Sage Grouse as endangered. All three of them bash the Department of Education for all sorts of transgressions. Thune and Noem regularly bash USDA for everything from conservation practices to ag subsidy issues and Thune doggedly hounded them until he got his way with corn ethanol which continues to line his pockets with campaign money.. Now Thune bashes a non-descript and largely inconsequential sub-group in USGS for doing something that it has been doing routinely for a decade or more without the slightest bit of interest from people like Thune. All three of them appear at Dakota Fest in panel discussion and villify federal agencies as public enemy number one. That is not statesmanship. It is just pure sophomoric vindictiveness. As it is said in government circles, it is always easier to get forgiveness than it is permission......... And that includes congressional legislation that makes sure the EPA doesn't regulate farm dust. Pandering to the voting block using scapegoat tactics that hide their own ineffectiveness has been the drill for a long time. Blaming and bullying bureaucrats is a lot easier and publicly appealing than actually getting something done by communicating, compromising and finding common ground and purpose."