Tag: South Dakota

My list of America’s top 10 state parks

While our national parks contain some of America’s most prized natural features, some of America’s most beautiful landscapes and historical landmarks are located in state parks. Sadly, our nation’s state parks are often unappreciated by the public and by politicians, as many states have severely cut, or even eliminated, public funding to state parks in recent years.

I’m going to list my ten most favorite state parks in the entire country. In order to qualify for consideration for this list, a “state park” is a park, forest, recreation area, historical site, or other type of area administered by a state government agency that is responsible for the operation of state parks.

#10: Bethpage State Park, New York

Bethpage State Park, located near Farmingdale, New York on Long Island, is not your typical state park. Instead of natural beauty, Bethpage consists of five 18-hole golf courses. Bethpage’s Black Course, one of the most difficult golf courses in the entire country, hosted the 102nd and 109th U.S. Open golf championships in 2002 and 2009, respectively. In addition to golf courses, Bethpage State Park also has a polo field.

#9: Crater of Diamonds State Park, Arkansas

Arkansas is home to the only publicly-accessible diamond-bearing site: Crater of Diamonds State Park, located in the Ouachita Mountains near Murfreesboro, Arkansas. Tourists can search for diamonds in 37.5-acre plowed field in the park.

#8: Starved Rock State Park, Illinois

Located along the Illinois River near North Utica, Illinois, Starved Rock State Park is proof that Illinois has some impressive natural wonders. Outcroppings of soft sandstone provide some very impressive geography, including cliffs, canyons, and waterfalls.

#7: Custer State Park, South Dakota

Named after U.S. Army Lt. Col. George Armstrong Custer, who was killed at the Battle of the Little Bighorn in 1876, Custer State Park includes some of the majestic terrain of South Dakota’s Black Hills, the scenic Needles Highway, and a heard of free-roaming bison.

#6: Lost Dutchman State Park, Arizona

While Arizona’s Superstition Mountains are located in a federally-administered national forest, you can get an impressive view of the mountains from nearby Lost Dutchman State Park. The park includes desert scenery and hiking trails that lead into the national forest. The park gets its name from the legend of the Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine.

#5: Washington Monument State Park, Maryland

Believe it or not, there are actually three monuments to George Washington, our nation’s first president. The most famous Washington Monument is run by the federal government and located in Washington, D.C., and there’s also a Washington Monument in Baltimore, Maryland. However, a lesser-known Washington Monument is located west of Boonsboro, Maryland, in Washington Monument State Park. The Boonsboro Washington Monument is the oldest of the three, having been completed in 1827, The monument sits near the top of Monument Knob, one of many peaks on South Mountain, a long ridge that extends from Maryland into Pennsylvania.

#4: Red Rock Canyon State Park, California

Located at the southern end of the Sierra Nevada near Cantil, California, Red Rock Canyon State Park provides some of the most beautiful desert scenery you’ll find anywhere. Cliffs, buttes, and rock formations provide a spectacular landscape that has been featured in many movies.

#3: John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, Florida

Located near Key Largo in the Florida Keys is John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, an underwater state park in Florida. Named after conservationist John Pennekamp, the park features coral reefs and associated marine wildlife.

#2: Blackwater Falls State Park, West Virginia

Located near Davis, West Virginia, Blackwater Falls State Park provides some of Appalachia’s most splendid scenery. The park gets its name from the 62-foot Blackwater Falls, where the tannic acid-darkened water of the Blackwater River flows into Blackwater Canyon.

#1: Copper Falls State Park, Wisconsin

While Wisconsin Dells and Door County state parks are far more famous, Wisconsin’s Copper Falls State Park, located near Mellen in the northwestern part of the state, is what I consider to be Wisconsin’s most beautiful state park, and my favorite state park in the entire country. The Bad River and Tylers Forks, a tributary of the Bad River, flow over a series of waterfalls within the park. The park also includes Loon Lake, trails, a campground, and a ton of opportunities for recreation.

State parks provide this country with natural scenery, historical landmarks, and wonderful recreation opportunities. They deserve more funding and public support.

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Ending workplace discrimination against LGBT people should be the next fight in the LGBT rights movement

Thanks to a 5-4 U.S. Supreme Court decision issued earlier today, same-sex couples across the entire United States of America can now enjoy the same legal right to marry that heterosexual couples have long enjoyed. To put it mildly, this is a huge victory for love and equality in America.

However, in 32 states, some, if not all, LGBT workers, can legally be fired simply because of their sexual orientation and/or gender identity:

  • In 21 states (Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nebraska, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wyoming), all workers can be fired on the basis of sexual orientation and/or gender identity.
  • In 3 states (Arizona, Missouri, and Montana), state employees cannot be fired on the basis of sexual orientation, but state employees can be fired on the basis of gender identity, and private-sector workers can be fired on the basis of sexual orientation and/or gender identity.
  • In 5 states (Idaho, Kentucky, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Ohio), state employees cannot be fired on the basis of sexual orientation and/or gender identity, but private-sector workers can be fired on the basis of sexual orientation and/or gender identity.
  • In 2 states (New Hampshire and Wisconsin), all workers cannot be fired on the basis of sexual orientation, but all workers can be fired on the basis of gender identity.
  • In 1 state (New York), state employees cannot be fired on the basis of sexual orientation and/or gender identity, and private-sector workers cannot be fired on the basis of sexual orientation, but private-sector workers can be fired on the basis of gender identity.

If the source I linked to above has inaccurate and/or outdated information, please leave a comment on this blog post with accurate information for a particular state.

While it is a huge victory for the LGBT movement to secure marriage equality in all 50 states, the fight for full equality for gays, lesbians, bisexual people, and transgender people is far from over. The next big fight in the LGBT rights movement should be to push for laws prohibiting public and private employers from firing people based on sexual orientation and/or gender identity.

My thoughts about the 47 Republican Senators who signed the traitorous letter in an attempt to undermine U.S. diplomacy with Iran

I find it highly outrageous that 47 members of the United States Senate, all Republicans, signed a letter in a blatant attempt to undermine attempts at negotiating a deal with Iran to prevent them from developing nuclear weapons, apparently violating the federal Logan Act in signing the letter.

The 47 Senators who signed the Cotton Letter are as follows:

  • Richard Shelby of Alabama
  • Jeff Sessions of Alabama
  • Dan Sullivan of Alaska
  • John McCain of Arizona
  • John Boozman of Arkansas
  • Tom Cotton of Arkansas, the ringleader of the effort to undermine diplomacy with Iran
  • Cory Gardner of Colorado
  • Marco Rubio of Florida
  • Johnny Isakson of Georgia
  • David Perdue of Georgia
  • Mike Crapo of Idaho
  • Jim Risch of Idaho
  • Mark Kirk of Illinois
  • Chuck Grassley of Iowa
  • Joni Ernst of Iowa
  • Pat Roberts of Kansas
  • Jerry Moran of Kansas
  • Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Senate Majority Leader
  • Rand Paul of Kentucky
  • David Vitter of Louisiana
  • Bill Cassidy of Louisiana
  • Roger Wicker of Mississippi
  • Roy Blunt of Missouri
  • Steve Daines of Montana
  • Deb Fischer of Nebraska
  • Ben Sasse of Nebraska
  • Dean Heller of Nevada
  • Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire
  • Richard Burr of North Carolina
  • Thom Tillis of North Carolina
  • John Hoeven of North Dakota
  • Rob Portman of Ohio
  • Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma
  • James Lankford of Oklahoma
  • Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania
  • Lindsey Graham of South Carolina
  • Tim Scott of South Carolina
  • John Thune of South Dakota
  • Mike Rounds of South Dakota
  • John Cornyn of Texas
  • Ted Cruz of Texas
  • Orrin Hatch of Utah, the Senate President Pro Tempore
  • Mike Lee of Utah
  • Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia
  • Ron Johnson of Wisconsin
  • Mike Enzi of Wyoming
  • John Barrasso of Wyoming

All 47 of those individuals who I named are traitors to this country who are more interested in starting World War III by undermining the sitting President of the United States and allowing Iran to develop nuclear weapons that they could use to bomb the United States and our allies than doing anything that would actually be productive, such as fixing crumbling roads and bridges, making it easier for Americans to go to college, helping the private sector create more good-paying jobs, and so on.

Also, regarding the so-called “pro-Israel” lobby’s support for the Cotton Letter, the Cotton Letter puts Israel, as well as other U.S. allies and the U.S. itself, of even greater danger of an attack by Iranian forces, since the Cotton Letter is designed to undermine efforts to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons that could be used by Iran in an attack on the United States and its allies.

I’m calling for the U.S. Justice Department to bring up all 47 of the senators who signed the Cotton Letter on federal criminal charges for violating the Logan Act, which legally prohibits U.S. citizens who are not authorized diplomats from negotiating with a foreign government.

South Dakota Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Rick Weiland blasts Republican challenger for selling EB-5 cards to the highest bidder

Rick Weiland, the Democratic candidate in the U.S. Senate race in South Dakota, is running this ad blasting Republican candidate Mike Rounds, a former governor of South Dakota, for a scandal in which the Rounds administration in South Dakota sold EB-5 visas, which are given to foreigners who invest money in the United States, to the highest bidder:

Unlike Mike Rounds, Rick Weiland believes that government shouldn’t be for sale to the highest bidder. That’s why Weiland is visiting every town in South Dakota at least twice, meeting with South Dakotans, and listening to their concerns. Weiland will fight to end the culture of corruption in this country’s political system by getting big money out of politics.

While Harry Reid and the rest of the Democratic establishment doesn’t understand Weiland’s populist appeal to South Dakotans, I believe that he can win on November 4. If he wins, he’ll be a wonderful representative of the people of South Dakota.