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Tag: kristi noem

Responding To Charges That She Abused Power, Noem Plays The Victim

Reprinted with permission from DailyKos

South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem knows that to gain national prominence and have a shot at the presidential or vice presidential nomination, a Republican governor has to be particularly terrible, not just on policy but as a human being. She's giving it her best shot. Bolstering her credentials this week is the Associated Press report that Noem leaned on state officials to certify her daughter as a real estate appraiser.

Noem's 26-year-old daughter, Kassidy Peters, was initially denied the certification, according to a letter from her supervisor—though no official record of a denial exists. Days later, Noem summoned Sherry Bren, the head of the licensing agency, to a meeting along with the state labor secretary and a host of lawyers. As if that doesn't look suspicious enough, Peters herself was at the meeting.

Peters got the certification months later, and days after that, state Labor Secretary Marcia Hultman demanded Bren's retirement. Bren filed an age discrimination complaint and got a $200,000 settlement. The settlement, though, bars her from disparaging state officials, and she limited the details in her account of the meeting to the AP. But she did say that the letter from Peters' supervisor complaining that Peters had been denied her appraiser's license was brought out at the meeting. Which, again, Peters, the governor's daughter and would-be certified appraiser attended.

So: Peters was either denied certification in a way that there's no record of, or her supervisor thought she had been or would be rejected. The supervisor wrote a letter complaining. The governor, Peters' mother, summoned the responsible official and her bosses and top lawyers in the governor's office for a meeting that included Peters and at which the letter complaining about her rejection was discussed. Peters got her license. The head of the agency responsible for the licensing was forced into retirement by someone at that original meeting, at the cost to South Dakotans of a $200,000 age discrimination settlement.

And … Noem is playing victim.

No, Noem. When you abuse your power to get your kids—in this case your grown-ass 26-year-old adult offspring—things they didn't earn, it's news. Because when you, the governor and aspiring Republican primary candidate, abuse power, it is news.

Here we've got Noem trying to make a story about a politician's child into a story about that politician even though as far as we know, President Joe Biden never convened a major government meeting with multiple top officials because he was upset about someone not giving Hunter a job. Yet even without the president having done anything wrong on that front, his son's career and struggles with addiction have been thoroughly aired in the media, in a presidential debate, in an impeachment.

There should be one standard. And it should apply not just to Hunter Biden and Kassidy Peters but to Ivanka Trump and Don Jr. and Eric, too. But the real story is Kristi Noem, governor and wannabe nominee. If she was trying to show that she can be as self-serving and nepotistic as Donald Trump … it's a start, anyway.

‘Have At It’: Biden Defiant As Anti-Vax Governors Threaten To Fight Mandates

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

President Joe Biden has a stern message for Republican governors ready to challenge his "vaccine-or-weekly-testing mandate" as a means of mitigating COVID-19.

On Friday, September 10, the president spoke at a Washington, D.C., middle school where he shared details about his next initiatives to mitigate the spread of the virus in schools. At one point during his speech, Biden addressed Republican governors who have railed against the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and public health recommendations to combat COVID-19.

Toward the end of his speech, one reporter echoed concerns of the president's opponents who oppose his latest attempts to mitigate the virus. According to Mother Jones, the reporter noted that some have deemed Biden's initiative as an "overreach" as they vow "to challenge it in court."

In response to the reporter's remarks, Biden said:

Have at it. Look, I am so disappointed that particularly some Republican governors have been so cavalier with the health of these kids, so cavalier with the health of their communities. We're playing for real here. This isn't a game. And I don't know of any scientist out there in this field who doesn't think it makes considerable sense to do the six things I have suggested. But you know—let me conclude with this:

One of the lessons I hope our students can unlearn is that politics doesn't have to be this way. Politics doesn't have to be this way. They're growing up in an environment where they see it's like a war, like a bitter feud. If a Democrat says right, everybody says left….I mean, it's not how we are. It's not who we are as a nation. And it's not how we beat every other crisis in our history. We got to come together. I think the vast majority—look at the polling data—the vast majority of the American people know we have to do these things. They're hard but necessary. We're going to get them done.

Of the Republican governors vowing to fight back in court, Gov. Kristi Noem (R-SD) has released a statement on her opposition to the Biden administration's efforts. Speaking to Fox News, Noem insisted that her legal team is already working to push back against what she describes as an "unlawful mandate."

"This is not a power that is delegated to the federal government," Noem said. "My legal team is already working. And we will defend and protect our people from this unlawful mandate."

The United States is facing an accelerated spread of COVID-19 as the Delta variant continues to ravage many states across the country, particularly in areas with lower vaccination rates.

Republicans Push Texas-Style Abortion Bans Across Country

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

Last week, the U. S. Supreme Court let stand a Texas law that is the most restrictive abortion law in the nation. With that green light, other states are lining up to pass similar laws, and at this time, there isn't much way to stop them.

Anti-choice legislators in four states — Arkansas, Florida, South Carolina, and South Dakota — have already stated they will follow Texas's lead. They're planning on introducing bills that will mirror both the restrictive nature of Texas's law — a ban on abortion at six weeks — and the unique enforcement mechanism, which allows any citizen to sue someone who aids or abets an abortion. Several other states, including Nebraska, Kentucky, Louisiana, Oklahoma, and Ohio, will likely be considering similar laws.

In Florida, Ron DeSantis, the anti-abortion GOP governor, said his state would "look more significantly" at the Texas law and that he found it "interesting." In South Carolina, Larry Grooms, a GOP state senator, said the state would "move to pass legislation that would mirror what Texas did."

Jason Rapert, a GOP state senator in Arkansas who is mounting a lieutenant governor bid in that state for 2022, immediately posted a model bill from his organization, the National Organization of Christian Lawmakers. Rapert has stated he will file a Texas-style bill in his state immediately.

Rapert's Twitter feed makes clear that some legislators pushing bills that functionally outlaw abortion no longer feel tethered to whether those bills are good law under existing Supreme Court precedent. Instead, Rapert tweets about how the left has an "unrelenting demand for the innocent sacrifices of unborn children" and repeatedly refers to abortion as a "demonic force."

One day after the Texas law took effect, GOP Gov. Kristi Noem of South Dakota tweeted her office would "immediately review the new TX law and current South Dakota laws to make sure we have the strongest pro-life laws on the books in SD."

Noem's tweet is emblematic of the approach being taken by many abortion-hostile states. There's no discussion of what the voters might want. There's no belief that the existing restrictive laws might be enough — even in a state like South Dakota with only one clinic that offers abortions only twice per month. Rather, there's a rush toward imitating the Texas law simply because it is the most restrictive that has yet succeeded.

The states that have announced their intentions to replicate the law so swiftly may be taken by the notion that since the Texas law offloads enforcement from the state to private citizens, it insulates the state from lawsuits. States likeSouth Carolina and Arkansas just saw courts block their highly restrictive abortion laws. However, if they took those laws and "piggybacked" the Texas enforcement scheme onto them, a court might have to let the law stand, given that the Supreme Court did so in Texas.

There exists a chance that the Texas law will be overturned once it is completely litigated, as what happened at the Supreme Court was only that the court refused to block the law from taking effect. Indeed, some anti-abortion groups have stated they will continue to focus on the Mississippi 15-week pre-viability ban that the Supreme Court is set to hear this term. However, all that really means is that anti-abortion activists have more than one opportunity to utterly undo Roe v. Wade.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

Virus Cases Spiked 500 Percent Since Sturgis Rally Promoted By Noem

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

The number of new coronavirus infections in South Dakota rose by nearly 500 percent after Republican Gov. Kristi Noem allowed the state's annual Sturgis motorcycle rally to take place.

Despite ongoing concerns about the virus, Noem actively encouraged attendance at the rally and appeared at a charity event held there.

South Dakota reported 3,819 new virus cases in the past two weeks, up from 644 cases in the previous 14 days. The Sturgis bike rally took place from August 6 to 15.

The rally and the subsequent rise in virus transmission numbers mirrors what happened in the state in 2020. A report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that people attending the 2020 rally had spread the virus, including to people in other states.

Medical experts expressed concern ahead of the 2021 event, which was held even though the vaccination rate in the area is only 44 percent for people age 12 and older.

On August 8, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told NBC's Meet the Press that he was "very concerned" that a COVID surge would be associated with the rally. Organizers did not mandate masks or vaccines for attendees.

A few days later, appearing on Fox News, Noem lashed out at Fauci and the Biden administration.

"It's shocking to me that he continues to pick on Republican governors, people who love their freedoms, and he ignores what's happening at the border," Noem said of Fauci. She also said Fauci "has discredited his entire profession by the positions he has taken during this pandemic."

Since Noem's statement, South Dakota has had the largest percentage increase in virus cases in the United States.

Dr. Shankar Kurra, vice president of medical affairs at Monument Health in Rapid City, South Dakota, told the Daily Beast, "It happened last year. It was just playing a reboot of last year pretty much."

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

Judge Shoots Down Gov. Noem Over Mt. Rushmore Fireworks

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

A federal judge has rejected South Dakota GOP Gov. Kristi Noem's attempt to circumvent safety rules and hold a massive Independence Day fireworks show at Mount Rushmore. He said her request amounted to asking for "judicial activism."

"This country could use a good celebration of its foundational principles of democracy, liberty, and equal protection of law," wroteRoberto Lange, the chief judge for the U.S. District Court for the District of South Dakota.

But, he wrote on Wednesday, it would "be improper judicial activism for this Court to disregard settled law" for him to force the U.S. Parks Service to grant a permit for a July 4, 2021, show, as Noem demanded.

Noem blasted the ruling, again asserting that "The Biden Administration cancelled [sic] South Dakota's Mount Rushmore Fireworks Celebration on completely arbitrary grounds," and writing, "I am disappointed that the court gave cover to this unlawful action with today's decision." She vowed to appeal, in hopes of having fireworks next year.

The Park Service, part of the Department of the Interior, said in March that it would not grant a fireworks permit this year for South Dakota Department of Tourism for the Mount Rushmore National Memorial.

"Potential risks to the park itself and to the health and safety of employees and visitors associated with the fireworks demonstration continue to be a concern and are still being evaluated as a result of the 2020 event," it explained. "In addition, the park's many tribal partners expressly oppose fireworks at the Memorial."

Fireworks had been banned at the national park between 2009 and 2019, due to objections from Native American tribes (on whose sacred lands the monument was built) and concerns about wildfires. In 2020, Donald Trump and his administration ignored those — and coronavirus safety measures — to hold a massive Independence Day fireworks show and political speech at the site.

Noem sued Interior Secretary Deb Haaland in April, demanding a permit and falsely claiming that it was a purely arbitrary decision not to give her one.

"There was no reason given as to why we can't host the fireworks events. It wasn't based on environmental issues, it wasn't based on staffing issues or fire danger issues, it was just because they didn't want us to have it," she told reporters on May 3.

Just weeks before, Noem had declared "dangerous fire conditions" in the state.

Since becoming governor in January 2019, Noem has earned a national reputation for aggressively ignoring public health and safety.

She was one of the only governors who refused to issue any stay-at-home order as the COVID-19 pandemic hit her state in early 2020. As the situation worsened, she was also one of just a handful of governors who refusedto issue any mask requirements. More than 120,000 of her constituents tested positive — nearly 15 percent of the state's population.

In November, she railed against "absolutely false" claims by "some in the media" that her state had the highest number of new coronavirus cases per capita. At the time, her state had the second-highest number of new coronavirus cases per capita.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

Fox News Anchors Insist That Infrastructure Isn’t Really ‘Infrastructure’

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters

Fox News is mounting a rhetorical push against President Joe Biden's infrastructure plan announced on Wednesday and is trying to declare that a number of projects mentioned in the bill aren't "infrastructure" — even when they obviously are.

According to Fox's purported "news side" personalities as well as segments from opinion hosts, only roads and bridges actually qualify for the label — which leaves out the following: The electrical grid, broadband internet, building construction, plumbing networks, and who knows what else.

On Thursday morning's edition of America's Newsroom, Fox News anchor Bill Hemmer asked Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg why only a portion of the spending money was "dedicated to roads and bridges," instead highlighting the bill's investments in "electric grid improvements, broadband, water systems, and on and on it goes."

Buttigieg then explained what was wrong with this argument: The electric grid, broadband internet, and other technologies are part of the infrastructure of a modern economy.


This line of argument, suggesting that various areas of technology don't really count as "infrastructure," began even before Biden delivered his speech. And it also becomes clear that Fox's goalposts have kept on moving.

On Wednesday's edition of Your World with Neil Cavuto, Fox News White House correspondent Peter Doocy said that there are "still some infrastructure priorities in this package," such as money for roads and bridges, as well as to replace all the lead pipes still being used in the country, and $213 billion for environmentally sustainable housing.

But other items, shown in a list on screen, included "$174 billion to 'win' electric vehicle market" — as if the emerging market of electric vehicles doesn't require a public strategy.


But then in the very next hour on The Five, co-host Jesse Watters contrasted the problem of potholes on the highways with building "a lot of electric car charging stations for all the Tesla drivers," though the bill also includes basic money for roads. He also complained about the environmental improvements to buildings, casting it as wasteful: "If they retrofit every single building here in Manhattan, I'm going to have a headache with all the hammering. It's enough already."


Similarly, Sean Hannity remarked on Wednesday night that a large portion of the bill would be dedicated to such purportedly non-infrastructure projects as "retrofitting millions of homes and hospitals and other buildings in an environmentally conscious way and other funds would go towards building new green schools."


Hannity also brought on South Dakota Republican Gov. Kristi Noem, who declared: "I was shocked by how much doesn't go into infrastructure. It goes into research and development. It goes into housing, and pipes, and different initiatives, green energy, and it really is not an honest conversation we're having about what this proposal is."


The next morning, Fox & Friends co-host Ainsley Earhardt reaired the clip of Noem's comments. Keep in mind, of course, that Doocy's earlier segment had included the replacement of lead pipes and housing improvements as part of the genuine "infrastructure" components of the package. But now, the network will run that clip of Noem as a serious statement, even after it was widely reported and lampooned the night before.

Far Right Turns On Gov. Kristi Noem, GOP’s Rising Star

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem appeared to be a rising Republican star. She'd gained national notoriety among the Republican Party and her relationship with former President Donald Trump only made her more popular among conservative voters in and around her state. But, now it appears that is changing because she is drawing ire not only from her party but also individuals on the other side of the political aisle.

According to The Daily Beast, Noem initially seemed to anticipate signing the state's controversial new piece of legislation targeting transgender athletes' rights. In fact, on March 8, the Republican governor tweeted her anticipation. "I'm excited to sign this bill very soon," Noem tweeted at the time.

However, it's been weeks since her tweet, and the bill has still gone unsigned as she continues to slowly back away from it. Days after the tweet, Noem's office noted that the bill was being evaluated as the governor sought subsequent changes to the bill's verbiage.

"I've heard from individuals, not businesses, and not particularly from the NCAA," Noem said during a press conference.

When top business and sports officials, including the Greater Sioux Falls Area Chamber of Commerce and the Sioux Falls Sports Authority, began to express their disdain about the piece of legislation and its possible financial impact, Noem did as well.

The publication reports that while the bill was being evaluated, "instead of targeting drafting errors, she wanted two sections of the bill tossed out and two other parts revised. In this new version, transgender athletes could play college sports."

So why the changes?

In states where similar laws have been passed, there has been some blowback. For example, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) withdrew from a number of events scheduled in North Carolina when the state passed a similar piece of legislation back in 2017.

While sweeping anti-transgender legislation has become has passed in multiple states, it does not look like Noem is sure about South Dakota being added to the list. Over the weekend, she unveiled the "Defend Title IX Now" an initiative to reform the 1972 gender equality sports law to approach the situation differently.

While she has expressed concern about girls and women being able to compete fairly in sporting events, the potential business impacts appear to have her rethinking the legislative effort. She released a statement explaining the rights of the NCAA as a "private association."

"The NCAA is a private association—that means they can do what they want to do," Noem said. "If South Dakota passes a law that's against their policy, they will likely take punitive action against us. That means they can pull their tournaments from the state of South Dakota, they could pull their home games, they could even prevent our athletes from playing in their league."

On Monday, Noem also said, "I'm still excited to sign the bill," she said on Monday. "We saw some things that needed to be corrected that can be done with a style and form revision. The part we needed to fix were a trial lawyer's dream."

However, lawmakers have criticized her remarks. According to State Rep. Fred Deutsch, a conservative Republican, Noem did not "have her eyes on the ball," the publication reported.

"My take only: She got into this situation because it was a historic year with COVID, marijuana, money, and more," Deutsch told the Daily Beast. He also noted that her team should have been involved from the preliminary stages of the proposed bill. "That led to her tweet that she looked forward to signing the bill even though she apparently hadn't yet read it," he said.