Wednesday, July 23, 2014

A Minor Musing About South Dakota Ignoring Third Parties

Both Madville Times and South Dakota Liberty have posts about Secretary of State Jason Gant's refusal to allow Independent Mike Myers to replace Caitlin Collier, his original choice for Lt. Governor, with Lora Hubbel. Gant justifies his denial by noting no statute exists to allow him to sanction this change. Such adherence to the rule of law would be more laudable if one didn't notice that no provision of the law precludes Gant from sanctioning this switch. Madville reports the Myers campaign will challenge Gant's ruling.

On the specific issue at hand, Myers made a terrible choice in picking Hubbel and it would be best for his campaign if no one knew she is his running mate.

The larger issue, however, is that third parties in South Dakota and elsewhere face challenges they need not face. In this situation South Dakota Republican and Democratic gubernatorial candidates may change their running mates. I would bet more than half the acres of the proverbial farm that those writing the law didn't think about looking at the statute for Independents because they took for granted that every race would be a two party race.

No one wants to make it so easy to get on the ballot that people like me start running. On the other hand, large independent groups enabled by the Citizens United decision will soon have as much influence as the two dominant political parties now have. In fact, they soon will probably have more. Laws will need to change and reflect that reality. Whatever happens in the Myers/Hubbel v. Gant situation, South Dakota's legislators should no longer take the two party duopoly for granted.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Quotation Of The Day: The Need To Shut Down Edition

The digital age brings with it many blessings, especially in terms of ready information and instantly accessible research, but the most seductive are the instant connections we make on social media. Those who make a living in online media thrive in this environment. We can know about the smallest developments on the most arcane stories and issues in real time, communicate them to our friends and colleagues, and get instant feedback on what the broader community believes it means.
That's surely not all bad, but it's not all good, either. More and more, all of us live under the expectation of constant connection. We barely get time for sleeping, let alone having regular intervals of the quiet solitude needed to process all of this data to find its meaning. Ubiquitous connection rarely goes unused, either by those looking for people who are taking a break, or more so by the break-takers themselves. We feel compelled to post to social media when we should be socializing with family and friends, and tweeting life as observers instead of living it.
It's easy to feel victimized by this, but it's really a self-inflicted conceit. We become the center of our own worlds, with the constant connection a validation of our own importance. The removal of that connection does not disturb anyone else, but the removal of that validation makes it clear that the world spins on without us. And when we return, we discover that not much really changes in the time we spent away from social media, away from the office, and even away from friends and family.

Spying, Politics, And Crowd Shots

Over at Dakota War College, Pat Powers is attempting to create a tsunami in a teacup by pointing out that a longtime Republican is seen talking to Rick Weiland in Wieland's new campaign video. The gentleman claims he didn't know cameras were rolling while he was talking to Weiland, a candidate the Republican gentleman obviously doesn't support.

As political incidents go, this seems to be one of failing to pay attention to detail not one of malice. On the other hand, Steve Benen reports that Michigan Republicans have undertaken "repeated efforts to record Democratic gatherings with a spy camera mounted to eyeglasses." Benen doesn't undertake speculation about whether Michigan Republicans eschewed Google Glass because the product is still too expensive or because they consider it passe. These spies are not "trackers" that every campaign expects to shadow them. Instead the people with the spy glasses are told "misrepresent themselves when attending events."

Benen concludes,
. . .what’s striking is the operation itself. Parties on both sides may rely on trackers as a matter of course, but it’s highly unusual – indeed, it’s arguably without precedent – for a state party to launch a deliberate spying operation, get caught, and accidentally leave behind evidence documenting the scope of that operation. [Benen 7/21/14]
Weiland's people should have edited the video more carefully. Weiland, however, certainly did not claim to be anything other than a Democratic candidate for the United States Senate, and  I'm pretty sure nobody was filming with spy glasses.

Robocalls Attacking Weiland In July?

This tweet came across my timeline a few minutes ago.
I don't doubt the report is accurate, but the timing strikes one as curious. First, few people really pay attention to politics until Labor Day. Late July seems very early.

Further, negative ads this early smack of desperation. Rounds is a prohibitive favorite. He smiled throughout a Republican primary that saw Stace Nelson hit him with harder shots than Weiland has used so far. Going negative when one has a big lead makes one doubt the strength of the lead or wonder what the frontrunner is worried about. Either way, the veneer of inevitability seems to be being scraped away.

By way of looking at all options, I doubt that any group tied to Pressler would attack Weiland for being too close to Reid. Of course, a group not associated with the Rounds campaign might be making these calls, and everyone knows that such a group's activities can't be coordinated with the official campaign. That convenient fiction still leaves open the questions "Why now?" and "What's Rounds worried about?"

Monday, July 21, 2014

Superintendents Speak About South Dakota's Teacher Shortage....

And I bet the legislature will do nothing during the 2015 session even though there's now little doubt that there is a shortage and that low pay is part of the problem.

Parenting, Policy, And The Need To Act On An Oxymoron

A who's who of conservative writers are taking up the subject of parenting, more specifically what they call  the criminalization of parenthood because of several high profile cases in which parents have been arrested for endangering their children who skipped church or played unsupervised in a park.

These Michael Brendan Dougherty paragraphs sum up their angst:
My own childhood seems to have become illegal. I was the son of a single mother. During summers I would explore my neighborhood, visit friends' houses, walk to a pond to fish, ride my bike from our home in Bloomfield, New Jersey, to the abandoned lots of Newark, and jump it over curbs. I could be unsupervised from 10 in the morning until 8:30 at night, when the streetlights started coming on. If I was home with my grandmother, sometimes she would leave me alone to do grocery shopping.
As early as seven years old, I was allowed to walk over a mile to school. I traveled long commercial streets like Bloomfield Avenue, and went under the overpass of the Garden State Parkway, all during a time when violent crime rates were much much higher than they are today. The worst that ever happened to me was that I got punched in the the head by a junkie. But I told my D.A.R.E officer, spent an afternoon looking at photos of local junkies and ne'er-do-wells, and got over it, having learned the valuable lesson that I could take a punch in the head. [Dougherty 7/21/14]
Gracy Olmstead offers a big picture summary:
This is the unfortunate result of living in a world where parenting is no longer supported and bolstered by private association and community. If only there had been a family member, friend, or church member who had volunteered to watch Harrell’s little girl. If only the “good samaritan” at the dollar store had considered calling Justin’s father, or offered to take the boys home. We live in a society that neglects the sort of private stewardship that could foster truly safe environments for our children—and unfortunately, when parents are thrown into prison, it hardly seems to create more safe surroundings for these kids [Olmstead 7/17/14].
Each writer, however, is pretty vague on solutions.In fact, they seem to be resigned to bemoaning the status quo or describing how the country came to this state. Radley Balko offers no solutions at all; he merely decries the situation:
You needn’t approve of the parents’ actions in any of these cases to understand that dumping them into the criminal justice system is a terribly counterproductive way of addressing their mistakes. (And I’m not at all convinced that three of the four stories were even mistakes.) The mere fact that state officials were essentially micromanaging these parents’ decisions is creepy enough. That the consequences for the “wrong” decision are criminal is downright scary.
It doesn’t benefit these kids in the least to give their parents a criminal record, smear their parents’ names in their neighborhoods and communities and make it more difficult for their parents to find a job.[Balko 7/14/14]
Ross Douthat wants to require work, ensure liberty, and avoid a police state without saying how such a miracle can happen.
And then finally there’s a policy element — the way these trends interact not only with the rise of single parenthood, but also with a welfare system whose work requirements can put a single mother behind a fast-food counter while her kid is out of school.
This last issue presents a distinctive challenge to conservatives like me, who believe such work requirements are essential. If we want women like Debra Harrell to take jobs instead of welfare, we have to also find a way to defend their liberty as parents, instead of expecting them to hover like helicopters and then literally arresting them if they don’t.
Otherwise we’ll be throwing up defenses against big government, while ignoring a police state growing in our midst.[Douthat 7/20/14].
Dougherty believes restoring community is impossible and conservatives should, therefore, seek to reform the state:
There are two ways to solve the dilemma. The first is a return of those communities, something that seems less likely in an America that is more mobile and more influenced by immigration, which results in constant neighborhood flux. The other is to reform the state's institutions so that they might actually assist parents — not just punish, shame, and harass them. [Dougherty 7/21/14]
Olmstead points out that Robert Nisbet who Dougherty describes as a "communitarian libertarian" predicted the phenomenon but offers no real ideas to correct it.
Nisbet predicted that, in a society without strong private associations, the State would take their place — assuming the role of the church, the schoolroom, and the family, asserting a "primacy of claim" upon our children. "It is hard to overlook the fact," he wrote, "that the State and politics have become suffused by qualities formerly inherent only in the family or the church." In this world, the term "nanny state" takes on a very literal meaning. [Olmstead 7/17/14]].
I don't know what a society based on "communitarian libertarianism" would look like. Having read Appiah and Nozick, I'd suggest the term is a classic oxymoron. Still, arresting a parent because a kid acted like a kid and skipped church gives the state too much power, and the parents who hover like an AH-64D Apache Longbow may be a bit too individualistic to allow a community to thrive. It may not take a village or a superhero but an oxymoron to raise a child. Good luck on getting people to accept policy options based on those premises.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Scripture And Song For The Week: Numbers 12 Edition

3 (Now the man Moses was very meek, above all the men which were upon the face of the earth.)
4 And the Lord spake suddenly unto Moses, and unto Aaron, and unto Miriam, Come out ye three unto the tabernacle of the congregation. And they three came out.
5 And the Lord came down in the pillar of the cloud, and stood in the door of the tabernacle, and called Aaron and Miriam: and they both came forth. 
6 And he said, Hear now my words: If there be a prophet among you, I the Lord will make myself known unto him in a vision, and will speak unto him in a dream.
7 My servant Moses is not so, who is faithful in all mine house.
8 With him will I speak mouth to mouth, even apparently, and not in dark speeches; and the similitude of the Lord shall he behold: wherefore then were ye not afraid to speak against my servant Moses?
9 And the anger of the Lord was kindled against them; and he departed.