More free books: Political bosses and dreamers

This seems at first glance to be an oddly grouped bunch. But if you give a little thought you can see how the pieces fit.

Bosses: LaGuardia in Congress, by Howard Zinn; All The King’s Men, novel by Robert Penn Warren; Earl K. Long, by Michael Kurtz and Morgan Peoples; Congo Square in New Orleans, by Jerah Johnson; The Kingfish And His Realm, by William Hair; The Last Hurrah, novel by Edwin O’Connor; The Rascal King, biography of Micheal Curley by Jack Beatty; Fire on the Prairie, biography of Harold Washington by Gary Rivlin; American Pharoah, biography of Rchard J. Daley by Adam Cohen and Elizabeth Taylor; The A.F. of L. From The Death of Gompers To The Merger, by Philip Taft; and Hoover’s FBI and the Fourth Estate, by Matthew Cecil.

Dreamers: La Follette’s Autobiography, by Robert M. La Follette; The La Follettes and The Wisconsin Idea, by Edward Doane; A Godly Hero, biography of William Jennings Bryan; True Compass, autobiography of Edward Kennedy; Everett Dirksen and His Presidents, by Byron Hulsey; Raising Hell For Justice, autobiography by David Obey; The Future, by Al Gore; Frank, autobiography of Barney Frank; and Hubert Humphrey, biography by Carl Solberg.

Same deal: If you want one, email and make a small donation to an organization in your community or buy a used book at the next AAUW sale.

More free books: U.S. political thought

If you want one of these, send an email to and I’ll get it to you. Again, same as before, all I ask is that you make a small donation to a local organization in our community or buy a used book at the next AAUW book sale.

Slavery by Another Name, by Douglas Blackmon

The Nation of Islam, by Martha Lee (story of the Islam split in the U.S.)

Race and History, by John Hope Franklin

A Great and Noble Scheme, by John Faragher

Reconstruction, by Eric Foner

Parting the Waters, by Taylor Branch

Pillar of Fire, by Taylor Branch

Eyes on the Prize, by Juan Williams

The Promised Land, by Nicholas Lemann

W.E. Dubois, by Virginia Hamilton

The Longest Debate, by Charles and Barbara Whalen

Promised Land: The South Since 1945, by Harlan Davidson

Mirror to America, by John Hope Franklin

Darwin’s Sacred Cause, by Adrian Desmond and James Moore

The Cycles of American History, by Arthur Schlesinger

The Politics of Rage, by Dan T. Carter

Upstream: The Ascendance of American Conservatism, by Alfred Regnery

The Ethics of Dissent: Managing Guerrilla Government, by Rosemary O’Leary

Rads, by Tom Bates (story of 1970 protest bombing of Army math center at University of Wisconsin)

A Gift of Freedom, by John Miller (story of Olin Foundation’s effect in modern conservative U.S. politics)

Richard Hofstadter, by David Brown

The Rise of Southern Republicans, by Earl Black and Merle Black

Let Them Call Me Rebel, by Sanford Horwitz (biography of Chicago political organizer Saul Alinsky)

Why I Am A Reagan Conservative, edited by Michael Deaver

Tom Watson: Agrarian Rebel, by C. Vann Woodward

Rules For Radicals, by Saul Alinsky

Reveille For Radicals, by Saul Alinsky

Radicals in Urban Politics, by Robert Bailey (study of Alinsky methods)

The Paranoid Style in American Politics, by Richard Hofstadter

Hardball, by Christopher Matthews

The Lunkers restaurant case

If you like a lake view and a great location on the shore of Lake Kampeska and a 1960s-supper club vibe, you would understand why I like Lunkers restaurant just outside Watertown. It’s a fixture as restaurants go, but it proved impossible to sell under duress when it stood at the center of a divorce case that the South Dakota Supreme Court decided this week. The court’s 15-page opinion tells the story of a difficult break-up but it also tells the story of a difficult way of life. Successfully running a restaurant long ago passed dairy farming as the hardest way to make a living legally in South Dakota.

Being a judge in a divorce case isn’t simple either, as the history of this matter shows. The justices sent the case back to the circuit court:

“Because the August 2015 order improperly modified the June 2014 property division, we reverse the circuit court’s order to the extent it converted Jeffrey’s property obligation to alimony and awarded Jeffrey the business free and clear of Kelly’s interest. However, we affirm the order to the extent Jeffrey must pay Kelly a $100,162 property-equalization payment under the court’s installment terms.”

And then there is this, too:

“The record reflects that the court entered no findings of fact on any elements of contempt: contempt is mentioned only in an insubstantial manner in two conclusions of law. Jeffrey contends that the lack of any findings on the elements of contempt requires reversal of the court’s decision. We agree.”

The justices remanded the case to circuit court for those contempt findings of fact to be added to the record. As a related result on the contempt matter, the justices reversed the circuit court’s denial of appellate attorney fees and awarded $7,592.13 to her and zero to him.

When a business comes apart, and a marriage comes apart, the people often come apart too, without much of anything left at the end. So much for living the dream then.

U.S. Senate debate was solid

Some quick impressions about the SDPB debate tonight between the U.S. Senate candidates…

Democrat Jay Williams did well. He was honest about the need to increase taxes if spending cuts aren’t sufficient and they haven’t been since Bill Clinton was president. Williams didn’t shy away from his call for a carbon tax as a way to reduce use of carbon-based fuels and protect the environment.

Republican incumbent John Thune mocked the carbon tax and in that sense was his usual self. He sees economic growth as the answer. His formula is lower taxes and tax reform fueling growth. Thune emphasized the importance of the Farm Bill’s safety net for western South Dakota producers.

The two men took after each other, aggressively but cleanly, on the Iran nuclear treaty deal. Jay Williams, a Navy veteran, accused John Thune of near treason for urging the Iranian leaders to stop negotiating with President Obama. Thune said Iran is the leading funder of terrorist groups in the Middle East.

Their expressions throughout the 50-some minutes were very different. Williams looked happy and energetic in his answers and looked attentive during Thune’s answers. Thune often looked down at his hands during Williams’ answers and acted like the debate was something he didn’t want to do.

John Thune clearly was more candid and forthcoming when he said both of the major presidential candidates are “deeply flawed.” Jay Williams relished beating on Donald Trump but wouldn’t concede on Hillary Clinton’s difficulties with honesty. Williams rang hollow there.

John Thune didn’t give any reason for Republican voters to turn against him. If the debate was judged on energy, Jay Williams won this night. But we all know what to expect Nov. 8 in a Republican state that didn’t elect Thune just once in six elections from 1996 through 2010.

John Thune didn’t have an opponent six years ago. Now he has to answer for the past 12 years since he took out Senate Democratic leader Tom Daschle. Williams clearly enjoyed raising those questions without being Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton. And Williams might have given Democratic voters a reason to consider him as their candidate for governor in 2018. But then he wouldn’t be a non-politician any more.

More free books: Modern presidents

I voted in only one presidential election in my life. It was in 1976, I was 18 and I think my vote went for Jimmy Carter. (I haven’t voted since then as a matter of principle as a reporter.) So this morning, as I prepared to list another round of free books, I realized I don’t own a biography of Carter or any book at all specifically about him. There’s something for analysis. I also don’t own a good biography of George H.W. Bush, although I recently borrowed from our local library the new book by Jon Meacham and recommend it. I do have A World Transformed, the excellent foreign-policy book by Bush and Brent Scowcroft, but that volume bears the president’s autograph and was a gift, so I’m not listing it here.

Today’s listing covers biographies and books about U.S. presidents who have served during my lifetime from Eisenhower through Obama (with the exception of Carter). Same offer stands: If you want any of these, send an email to and I’ll ship it to you free. The only thing I ask is you make a small donation to a local organization or buy another used book at your local AAUW sale or similar sale next time.

Here we go:

Dwight Eisenhower — Eisenhower, Volume II, by Stephen Ambrose; and Eisenhower In War and Peace by Jean Edward Smith.

John Kennedy — Counselor, by Ted Sorenson; Four Days In November, by The New York Times staff; Kennedy Assassinated! The World Mourns, A Reporter’s Story, by Wilborn Hampton; and An Unfinished Life, by Robert Dallek.

Lyndon Johnson — The three volumes by Robert Caro; Flawed Giant, by Robert Dallek; and The Exercise of Power, by the columnist team of Evans and Novak.

Richard Nixon — The two volumes by Stephen Ambrose; The Nixon Years photography collection by Fred Maroon; The Price of Power, by Seymour Hersh; and How The Good Guys Finally Won, by Jimmy Breslin.

Gerald Ford — The American Presidents Series volume by Douglas Brinkley.

Ronald Reagan — The Acting President, by Bob Schieffer and Gary Paul Gates; Reagan’s America, by Garry Wills; The Role of a Lifetime, by Lou Cannon; In His Own Hand, a collection of Reagan’s writings; and Dutch, by Edmund Morris.

Bill Clinton — First In His Class, by David Maraniss; The Breach, by Peter Baker; The Survivor, by John Harris; and Living History, by Hillary Rodham Clinton.

George W. Bush — Decision Points, by George W. Bush; and What Happened, by Scott McClellan.

Barack Obama — From Promise to Power, by David Mendell; Believer, by David Axelrod; The Audacity To Win, by David Plouffe; and Confidence Men, by Ron Suskind.

And there are various books by Bob Woodward about the Nixon, Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Clinton and George W. Bush administrations; They include Veil (about William Casey and Reagan); The Man Who Would Be President (about Vice President Dan Quayle, written with David Broder); The Agenda (about Clinton); The Choice (about Clinton); Plan of Attack (about George W. Bush); The War Within (about George W. Bush); and Shadow (about the legacy of Watergate for Ford, Carter, Reagan, George H.W. Bush and Clinton).

Workers’ compensation insurance is optional

South Dakota doesn’t require employers to have workers’ compensation insurance. Lawyer James Leach of Rapid City, who represents injured workers, would like state government to consider the effects. He brought the issue to the state’s Workers’ Compensation Advisory Council on Tuesday. He has asked the lawyers who serve on the worker-comp committee of the South Dakota State Bar Association to consider the matter. The temporary position offered Tuesday by Lt. Gov. Matt Michels, who chairs the state advisory council, was to wait and see what the bar committee recommends.

The proposal brought by Leach to the advisory council Tuesday was to deny a state sales-tax license to a business unless there is proof of worker-comp insurance. The immediate response was the argument used to fight against requiring motorists to show proof of insurance when they register their vehicles: Insurance on that day doesn’t guarantee it will be kept in place. Leach said in his written comments to the advisory council that he isn’t married to his sales tax idea, but he urged something be done to reach the employers who don’t carry worker-comp insurance and therefore don’t afford their employees that guarantee of care in case of injuries.

The South Dakota Retailers Association’s executive director, Shawn Lyons, was the only person to testify on the Leach proposal Tuesday, although there were other insurance lawyers and business lobbyists at the meeting. Lyons said his members likely wouldn’t support the sales-tax idea but his board hasn’t taken an official position at this point. “I don’t see the need,” Lyons said.

James Marsh, director for the state Division of Labor and Management, said he hasn’t found an approach in any other state that “impresses” him. “It’s a problem everywhere,” Marsh said. He offered that “thousands” of businesses in South Dakota likely don’t carry workers-comp insurance. He based his estimate on the number of businesses that participate in South Dakota’s unemployment insurance program, and the taxes paid on worker-comp insurance policies. He said the tax numbers suggest there are about 19,000 businesses carrying worker-comp insurance and there are approximately 30,000 in the unemployment insurance system. That’s a difference of approximately 10,000.

One of the areas where worker-comp insurance frequently seems to be lacking is in reservation country where legal jurisdiction by state courts or tribal courts isn’t always clear cut. Another group of employers is described as “fly by night” businesses that move into an area, such as places hit by catastrophic weather. There are others that simply take the gamble.

How many people who work for uninsured employers are injured? Marsh said his office doesn’t have that data.  The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration doesn’t require the injury data to be submitted. He said deaths are tracked but in an anecdotal fashion: When a death is noted in a news account, for example, officials try to find out if the employer had worker-comp coverage.

Michels, a lawyer for Avera Healthcare in his private life, knows his way through the thickets of worker-comp insurance. It would be interesting to see whether Michels and Marsh and Leach can come up with something that works better for South Dakota during the two years remaining in the Daugaard administration.

Vermont’s painful lesson on EB-5

South Dakota might have been able to do some things differently and better with its EB-5 immigrant investor program had state officials known what was unrolling with Vermont’s state-run EB-5 program. Bloomberg Businessweek has a well-reported and interesting story on the criminal behaviors that have transpired within Vermont’s EB-5 program. South Dakota didn’t take some of the safeguards that the federal government said would have helped in Vermont.

Meanwhile, the federal government’s sanction against South Dakota on EB-5 remains in place while the federal agency appeals its own finding. Tony Venhuizen, the chief of staff for Gov. Dennis Daugaard, said Tuesday morning there’s nothing new in the federal proceeding at this point. State Attorney General Marty Jackley has a criminal case pending against Joop Bollen, the outside administrator and then-state employee that the Rounds administrator contracted to run the South Dakota program. Bollen is accused of illegally borrowing money from a state EB-5 account, using it for his private purposes and repaying it several times.

The man who signed the contracts with Bollen was Richard Benda, then the state secretary of tourism and state development in the Rounds administration. Benda was facing imminent arrest by Jackley in fall 2013 on matters related to EB-5 when Benda was found dead. Jackley determined that Benda committed suicide by shooting himself with a shotgun at a relative’s farm near Lake Andes on Oct. 20, 2013. Benda went to work for Bollen in the EB-5 program after Benda wasn’t retained as a Cabinet member by new Gov. Dennis Daugaard in January 2011.

Here’s hoping more hunters head out

I haven’t purchased my 2016 license for hunting pheasants and of course I didn’t go to any public lands to hunt pheasants on Saturday or Sunday. They were the opening days of the residents-only season for pheasants on public land in South Dakota. Today is the third and final day of that special limited season. The main opener for all land, public land and any private land where hunters have permission, is this coming Saturday. The unknown is whether we’ll see more South Dakotans back in the fields this season.

Not since 1938 has South Dakota seen fewer than 60,000 residents hunting pheasants, according to the state Game, Fish and Parks Department historical data. That is, until 2013, when just 57,677 residents bought licenses. That marked a modern low. Numbers bounce year to year as shown here but South Dakota has been in a gradual slide since 2009. From 1944 through 2008, South Dakota never dipped below at least 70,000 residents licensed for pheasant hunting. But in 2009, the number dropped to 69,941. The number bounced back to 72,465 in 2010. But from 2011 through 2015, the number never reached 70,000 again.

The severe drop in 2013 was followed by two years of small corrections: From 57,677 to 61,776 in 2014 and then to 65,135 in 2015. Those are the three worst years for resident hunters since the Depression, according to the GFP’s historical listing. Will 2016 be better? Here are the resident license numbers through Oct. 3, leading to the residents-only opener on Saturday, that were provided to the Game, Fish and Parks Commission at its meeting last week in Mobridge.

Combination licenses (fishing and small game such as pheasants) had risen to 45,374 from 44,394 in 2015. Junior combinations increased to 7,127 from 7,042. Senior combinations rose to 8,078 from 7,404.

Small game decreased somewhat to 5,824 from 5,948. And youth small game stood nearly steady at 2,718 from 2,722.

The general decline since 2009 suggests a decrease of satisfaction and confidence among resident pheasant hunters. Yet GFP’s estimated population for pheasants since 2009 has been at least 6.2 million and as high as 9.8 million, far larger than in many, many years when more residents headed to the fields. And the harvest estimates likewise are reasonably large in recent years. But as I’ve written here before, something truly changed in South Dakota in 2002, when non-residents exceeded residents for pheasant licenses for the first time. That has remained true, through the big years and the slimmer years, each autumn since 2002.

There hasn’t been any public consideration at the commission meetings, and there haven’t been any public recommendations by the Wildlife Division staff, for changes that might shift the balance. The Wildlife Division loves the revenue from non-resident pheasant licenses. In 2015 GFP sold 84,901 of non-resident licenses, or nearly 20,000 more than GFP sold to residents. There isn’t a cap on the number of non-resident licenses available for pheasants, and there aren’t pheasant management units, as there are for big-game species, with specific license numbers allocated by unit. There isn’t any yearly adjustment in pheasant licenses for non-residents either, regardless of what the August brood route surveys indicate. There isn’t any limit on the number of landowners who can offer their property for paid hunting, and there isn’t any limit on the amounts that can be charged for paid hunting. A lot of landowners make important revenue from non-resident pheasant hunters. If residents are willing to pay the rates, they too can hunt those private lands. That’s the box we’re in.

Trump received 67 percent in SD primary

How quickly we forget Donald Trump was the overwhelming choice of South Dakota Republican voters in the June primary. He received 67 percent, ahead of Ted Cruz at 17 percent and John Kasich at 16 percent. In fact Trump won every county in South Dakota outright with at least 50 percent in all of them and finished with less than 60 percent in only Brookings, Clay, Deuel, Jerauld and Todd.

Given those results and that South Dakota’s general-election ballot can’t be changed at this point (and write-in candidates aren’t allowed in South Dakota), the decisions by U.S. Sen. John Thune and Gov. Dennis Daugaard to call for Trump’s resignation as the Republican nominee didn’t make procedural sense. Hundreds of South Dakota voters likely have already cast absentee ballots for Trump, too.

The Republicans’ trump card to keep Trump out of the White House is the Electoral College. The electors from each state are the people who actually elect our nation’s presidents and vice presidents. The popular vote in each state selects the electors in each state. Electors don’t appear to be legally bound to their party’s nominee.

The three Republican electors in South Dakota are Gov. Dennis Daugaard, Lt. Gov. Matt Michels and state Attorney General Marty Jackley. The 2016 official certification is here. For a good summary of the Electoral College system go here. The question now isn’t whether South Dakota’s top Republican elected officials want Trump to be gone. It’s whether the three Republican electors would be so bold as to pick someone else.