Wednesday, July 31, 2013

It Seems South Dakota Republicans Are Just Like National Republicans

From this Pew Poll report:
Yet while Republicans may agree on the scope of the problem, there is little consensus over the party’s future course on either policy or strategy.
Move in a more conservative or moderate direction on policy? By 54% to 40%, Republican and Republican-leaning voters want the party’s leaders to move further to the right. Not surprisingly, conservatives and those who agree with the Tea Party overwhelmingly favor moving in a more conservative direction, while moderates and liberals would like to see the party take more centrist positions. Yet the more moderate wing of the party is a minority generally, and makes up an even smaller share of the likely primary electorate.
Has the GOP compromised too much, or not enough? Republican voters are divided: 35% say the party has compromised too much with Democrats, 27% say not enough, while 32% say party leaders have handled this about right. On this tactical question the Tea Party stands apart: about half (53%) think party leaders have already compromised too much with Democrats, compared with just 22% of non-Tea Party Republicans.
These results don't seem to differ markedly from those one would get counting the charges and denials of RINOism in the South Dakota blogosphere.

The fact that conservatives make up a large block of the primary voters does indicate that the next 10 months will feature more conservation questioning Mike Rounds conservative credentials. It will be interesting to see if the charges gain real traction.

A Pop Culture Reminder For Political Tweeters Like @RinoMikeSD

The following came through my Twitter time line this morning:

Kryptonite, for the comic book illiterate, is an ore that emits a radiation that weakens Superman. The material does not harm humans. It originated from the planet Krypton, Superman's home world. The material is used by super villains like Lex Luthor to weaken and endanger Superman who always finds a way to escape the effects and defeat the super villain at the end of the story arc.

The word kryptonite is now commonly used to refer to a person or thing that weakens someone. For example, chocolate chip cookies are the kyptonite to every diet I undertake. That usage presupposes kryptonite is something dangerous that defeats something good.

Either way,  @RinoMike's analogy seems odd. If Stace Nelson is kryptonite, he's an alien material being used by powerful but evil people to harm Mike Rounds who, as the Superman in this analogy, has historically stood for truth, justice, and the American way. In the end, Rounds will win.

I doubt that's the message that Nelson's supporters want to send.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Pop Culture And Great Literature Meet: Ozymandias - As Read By Bryan Cranston: Breaking Bad

HT: @k8am

A Tweet That Reveals That Stace Nelson May Have Missed The Point

Earlier this morning, David Montgomery reported on an "oppo drop" Team Rounds did on Larry Rhoden. Stace Nelson responded with the following tweet:

Nelson's tweet reveals a couple of things. First, Nelson has been performing an entertaining political version of the"Dance of the 7 Veils," but this tweet is the equivalent of wardrobe malfunction that leaves no doubt that he's running against Round, Rhoden, Bosworth, and anyone else for the Republican nomination for the United States Senate.

Second, Nelson has watched Bull Durham and listened to Crash Davis. He's been working on his cliches. This tweet has "tax," "spend," small government, a carefully phrased Rino charge, and "deficit," not bad for 140 characters.

Finally, Nelson's effort to preserve the illusion that he's still deciding about whether to run and his desire to use every base-pleasing buzzword he has available have caused him to miss the point. Team Rounds has been doing oppo research on the relatively quiet Rhoden and found dozens of votes to use in their effort to convince voters Rhoden is  not who he says he is. They likely have found some Nelson votes to use. Further, Nelson is anything but quiet, so the Rounds team has been combing social media and political blogs for poorly phrased tweets and comments that they can use to paint Nelson as an extremist or bull that brings down the whole china shop or a hot head who lacks the demeanor necessary for the U. S. Senate or something else that captures their political need. It'll take more than buzzwords to deal with the oppo reasearch hits he's going to take.

Poverty, Stress, And Loss Of Control

Any foray into the far-right blogosphere necessitates contact with Ayn Rand inspired rhetoric that assures readers that all can easily pull themselves up by their bootstraps with a little willpower and elbow grease.(Those posts frequently mix more metaphors than the previous sentence does.) The New York Times reports on a study that shows that poverty takes away many tools that the well off take for granted, especially a sense of control:
That sense of control tends to decline as one descends the socioeconomic ladder, with potentially grave consequences. Those on the bottom are more than three times as likely to die prematurely as those at the top. They’re also more likely to suffer from depression, heart disease and diabetes. Perhaps most devastating, the stress of poverty early in life can have consequences that last into adulthood.
Even those who later ascend economically may show persistent effects of early-life hardship. Scientists find them more prone to illness than those who were never poor. Becoming more affluent may lower the risk of disease by lessening the sense of helplessness and allowing greater access to healthful resources like exercise, more nutritious foods and greater social support; people are not absolutely condemned by their upbringing. But the effects of early-life stress also seem to linger, unfavorably molding our nervous systems and possibly even accelerating the rate at which we age.
The early effects last throughout an individual's life:
Scientists can, in fact, see the imprint of early-life stress decades later: there are more markers of inflammation in those who have experienced such hardship. Chronic inflammation increases the risk of degenerative diseases like heart disease and diabetes. Indeed, telomeres — the tips of our chromosomes — appear to be shorter among those who have experienced early-life adversity, which might be an indicator of accelerated aging. And scientists have found links, independent of current income, between early-life poverty and a higher risk of heart disease, high blood pressure and arthritis in adulthood.
If there is an ongoing class war, it looks as if the rich will win by attrition.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

The NSA Debate Summed Up In 140 Characters

From Conor Friedersdorf:

The GOP establishment: Obama is a tyrant, except in the areas where we want to give him sweeping unilateral power to exercise in secret.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Quotation Of The Day: Country Life Is Dangerous Edition

Apparently speeding and giving youngsters and oldsters guns is hazardous to one's health if trauma centers are understaffed; who knew?
Contrary to what many believe, living in the city is far less risky than in the country, according to a study released on Tuesday that takes into account all major forms of death from injuries.
Although homicides in cities far outpace those in rural areas, overall the risk of dying from some form of accident or injury is 20 percent greater in the most rural counties of the United States than in the nation's biggest cities.
Later in the article:
The most common causes of injury-related deaths were motor vehicle crashes, which occurred at more than twice the rate in rural areas as they did in cities. Overall, car crashes caused 27.61 deaths per 100,000 people in most rural areas and 10.58 per 100,000 in most urban areas.
That may be because people in rural areas are more prone to drive on highways at high speeds, and some studies have shown people in rural areas are less likely to comply with seatbelt and child restraint laws than are individuals in urban areas.
When the team looked at firearm-related deaths, they found no significant difference in the overall risk of death between urban counties and rural counties, but there were significant differences in the trends by age.
In rural areas, for example, children aged up to 14 and adults over 45 had the highest risk of dying from a firearm injury, but among adults aged 20 to 44, the risk of a firearm-related death was much higher in urban areas, and the risk was about the same for youths aged 15 to 19, regardless of where they lived. 

The Minimum Wage And Budgeting Advice From McDonalds

As usual, Stephen Colbert says it better than anyone else.

Monday, July 22, 2013

The Zimmerman Case As Political Barometer

Nate Cohn makes a strong case that how one reacts to the George Zimmerman verdict closely aligns to how one voted in the last Presidential election. Conceding that the results are less partisan than the election results, Cohn contends
Compare today's poll on the Zimmerman verdict with Pew's final poll of the 2012 presidential campaign. When it comes to the national result, race, gender, and age, the differences between the presidential race and the Zimmerman trial are negligible and largely within the margin of error.
Cohn provides this helpful table

For what it's worth, Cohn's analysis squares with my my Twitter time line. Conservatives I follow are satisfied with the verdict and tended to side with Zimmerman. Democrats tend to want a Justice Department pursue the case.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Scripture And Song Of The Week: Job 40 Edition

Job 40
6 Then the Lord spoke to Job out of the storm:
7 “Brace yourself like a man;I will question you, and you shall answer me.
8 “Would you discredit my justice? Would you condemn me to justify yourself?
9 Do you have an arm like God’s, and can your voice thunder like his?
10 Then adorn yourself with glory and splendor, and clothe yourself in honor and majesty.
11 Unleash the fury of your wrath, look at all who are proud and bring them low,
12 look at all who are proud and humble them, crush the wicked where they stand.
13 Bury them all in the dust together; shroud their faces in the grave.
14 Then I myself will admit to you that your own right hand can save you.
15 “Look at Behemoth, which I made along with you and which feeds on grass like an ox.
16 What strength it has in its loins, what power in the muscles of its belly!
17 Its tail sways like a cedar; the sinews of its thighs are close-knit.
18 Its bones are tubes of bronze, its limbs like rods of iron.
19 It ranks first among the works of God, yet its Maker can approach it with his sword.
20 The hills bring it their produce, and all the wild animals play nearby.
21 Under the lotus plants it lies, hidden among the reeds in the marsh.
22 The lotuses conceal it in their shadow;the poplars by the stream surround it.
23 A raging river does not alarm it;it is secure, though the Jordan should surge against its mouth.
24 Can anyone capture it by the eyes, or trap it and pierce its nose?

Saturday, July 20, 2013

South Dakota Is An Outlier, But In A Good Way

The Daily Beast reports on a CDC study that looks at life expectancy in all 50 states. According the the study, residents of Hawaii have the longest life expectancy and those living in Mississippi the lowest. The states with the lowest life expectancy are mostly in the South. They also share other traits:
Whether causation, correlation, or just coincidence, according to a Daily Beast analysis of the CDC data against other population and quality-of-life metrics, the states where Americans can expect to live the longest, healthiest lives are also largely states that lean left politically and whose residents rank highest in overall happiness. Likewise, many states where the CDC found people are expected to live shorter and less healthy lives are politically conservative states with low happiness listings and low median incomes.
While sharing many of the traits of low life expectancy states, South Dakota ranks among the top states in life expectancy:
Residents of Florida, Washington, Oregon, Utah, Arizona, Colorado, Minnesota, South Dakota, Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island, as well as Hawaii, have healthy life expectancies of 15 years or more after the age of 65, according to the CDC.
Ten of those 13 states voted for President Obama in the 2012 presidential election and are considered politically liberal states, with the exception of Utah, South Dakota, and Arizona.
The cynic in me wants to speculate that we're a state of masochists, but since South Dakota is 11th happiest state, it appears happiness does act like a medicine.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Worst Governors In America: Daugaard Doesn't Make The List: Rounds Did

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) has released its list of the 18 worst governors in the United States. The group used eightncriteria including corruption, cronyism, self-enrichment, and transparency. The group uses public records to compile its reports:
To create this report, CREW initially conducted research into all sitting state governors. CREW’s researchers searched the Internet and the Nexis database for any credible allegations of misconduct against each governor. Researchers reviewed a wide variety of sources including news reports, personal financial disclosures, lobbying records, campaign finance reports, records maintained by state ethics bodies, state government websites, and state-based government watchdog groups. CREW consulted information compiled by the Center for Public Integrity, among other sources, for information about state ethics and transparency laws in each state. CREW also relied on campaign finance data compiled by the National Institute on Money in State Politics at
This year's 18 member list is includes Rick Perry (R-TX), Rick Scott (R-FL), and Rick Snyder (R-MI). It also includes some usual suspects: Jan Brewer (R-AZ) and Scott Walker (R-WI). Democrats Andrew Cuomo (NY) and Steven Beshear (KY) are also on the list.

South Dakota's Dennis Daugaard doesn't appear in the report. The only regional governor to make the ignominious cut is Iowa's Terry Branstad (R).

In 2010, Mike Rounds did make CREW's list of worst governors. CREW faulted Rounds for lack of transparancy, neopotism, and frequent flying:
  • Resisted efforts to promote government transparency and frustrated public access to information
  • Used his office for personal benefit
  • Abused state authority for the benefit of friends and family
  • Used a state plane to travel to his son's basketball games
The group's full report along with their documentation can be found here.

Technology As Religion: An Annotated Quotation Of The Day

I frequently bore folk by making the relatively unoriginal observation that Apple, Google, and Microsoft are the technological equivalent of Catholicism, Protestantism, and Orthodoxy.  Edward Mendelson makes the point far more poetically:
. . . as everyone knows, the world-religion of the educated and prosperous in the twenty-first century is Apple, with its Vatican in Cupertino and its cathedrals in the light-filled Apple Stores that draw pilgrims gripping iPhones and iPads like rosaries. Apple’s flock is secured against heresy by censors who rule the online App Store; only applications with Apple’s imprimatur are allowed on an iPhone. Programmers risk excommunication—with all their works condemned to being listed in an Index of Prohibited Software—if they violate canon law by bypassing Apple’s banking system or ignoring its infallible doctrine. Rebellious heretics can “jailbreak” an iPhone and induce it to accept software anathematized by Apple, but a heretic’s phone is refused communion when presented for repair at the Apple Store.
The closed world of the iPhone and iPad is, however, only one branch of Apple’s empire, the branch that values centralized doctrine, visible works, and universal rituals. This same branch rules over most—but not all—of the world of Apple’s desktop and laptop computers, its MacBooks, iMacs, and other varieties of Macintosh. Though the OS X operating system that drives these machines is very different from the iOS system that drives iPhones and iPads, it performs many of the same functions, such as sending mail and navigating the Internet, and it incorporates the most important rules and protections that keep iOS secure against heretics and intruders.
Given the NSA revelations, it might be better to be a technological atheist, but in the 21st Century, that choice is becoming increasingly impossible. Maybe Bob Dylan will update his underrated "Gotta Serve Somebody."

Thursday, July 18, 2013

A Minor Musing About Rick Weiland's Town Hall

Earlier this afternoon, I decided to venture out in public and attend the local Rick Weiland town hall meeting. So as to avoid embarrassing myself, I found a shirt and khakis that had no food stains. I even wore matching socks.

If I were Weiland, I would be pleased that over 40 people attended a 4 pm town hall 16 months before the 2014 election. If I were Weiland, I would also be worried that half of these potential voters would be dead before the election. Outside of Weiland's daughter and a local reporter, I doubt that anyone in the crowd was under 50. Seventy percent of those attending have passed the Biblical threescore years and ten.

Weiland is an earnest speaker. His style seems well suited to retail politics. I want to believe the man.

Unfortunately, I don't know if Weiland knows how to go for the jugular. When asked a question about ALEC, he demurred that he wasn't running for governor instead of pointing out that ALEC epitomized all of the ills of big money in politics, the first subject of his stump speech. He also stumbled through his answer to a question about moving military sexual assault cases outside of the chain of command. If he's going to "take it back," the speech better tell me what the "it" is. This speech didn't.

Weiland used a line about Rounds being a $9 million dollar man. It's a nice jab, but he needs to find some phrasing to make to make the punch hurt. Even if he finds that phrasing, he needs to be careful. His "Donate $9 to help defeat a$9 million" has some punchy parallelism. The sentence also caused me to think of Herman Cain's 9-9-9 plan. Reminding people of Herman Cain is detrimental to every political career.

Over at Madville, Cory reviewed Weiland's Madison town hall meeting here. (He also showed that he's a better blogger than I am because he stuck around to get an interview. I left before the pie was served.) Maybe the pies baked in Madison produced a better result for the Madison native. The local crowd certainly didn't give him much to work with, but being asked discursive, unfocused questions does not give any candidate permission to give discursive, unfocused answers.

Mike Rounds has always struck me as being so plastic that he makes Reed Richards look as fiery as Johnny Storm and as solid as Benjamin J. Grimm. (It's San Deigo Comic Con Week, what analogies did you expect?) To his credit,Weiland is anything but plastic, but his performance today doesn't provide any reason to believe that he can beat Rounds.

Quotation Of The Day: Technology And Education--Do As I Say, Not As I Do Edition

From this Alan Jacobs post:
But most important, as Newstok points out, the very same technology mavens who insist that excellent education can be provided, via MOOC, to people dispersed all over the world — “The changes ahead will ultimately bring about the most beneficial, most efficient and most equitable access to education that the world has ever seen” — do not themselves act as though physical proximity to smart, gifted, exciting people is a matter of no significance. Rather, they consistently pay premium prices in housing to live in one of the handful of places in the United States — Silicon Valley, Seattle, Brooklyn, Austin, Cambridge — where they can count on a critical mass of like-minded people being present. They clearly believe that not just their personal well-being but also their intellectual sharpness depend on regular face-to-face encounters with others like them. Yet they proclaim that for hoi polloi none of that matters.
If physical presence is as important in education as the technologists’s actions say it is, then perhaps their energies are misapplied. Instead of looking for ways to eliminate or bypass brick-and-mortar schools — and, not incidentally, making a hefty profit for themselves in doing so — maybe they should bend their considerable intellectual powers to the more challenging, less destructive, and far more meaningful challenge of making college education more affordable for everyone who can truly benefit from it.

A Minor Musing About U.S. Senate Races

Last evening, Chris Hayes interviewed Reason's Matt Welch. Both spoke English, but, given their radically divergent political views, I'm not sure they always understood each other. (The full clip is below.) During the discussion, Hayes referenced, the following Rand Paul statement as reported by Politico:
Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul mocked Liz Cheney’s newly announced Senate campaign Tuesday, questioning her Wyoming residency in a barbed statement.
“When I heard Liz Cheney was running for Senate I wondered if she was running in her home state of Virginia,” Paul said.
Hayes and Welch agreed this contest represents an effort by the neocon element of the Republican party to elevate Liz Cheney, a neocon rising star. Welch pointed out that this is the first time in recent memory neocon wing of the party has initiated a primary fight.

The discussion made me wonder if the Wyoming Republican primary is going to drive national media attention away from the the South Dakota Republican primary. Both races seem to be a struggle between two wings of the party. Both feature rather boring folk and some that might be called forces of nature.

If one looks at the establishment figures, Mike Rounds, a two-term governor, has less national cachet than Cheney who has her father's fund raising arm at the ready. Likewise, Mike Enzi, the incumbent has a much larger national presence than Stace Nelson, Larry Rhoden, or Annette Bosworth.

Given that number crunching guru Nate Silver gives Republicans a 50/50 chance of winning control of the U.S. Senate and that money loves celebrities, Cheney's move might mean that Rounds, Rhoden, Bosworth, and possibly Nelson will all have a tougher time raising money and getting free national media attention.

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Sunday, July 14, 2013

Scripture Song For The Week: Zechariah 7 Edition

Zechariah 7
And the word of the Lord came unto Zechariah, saying,
Thus speaketh the Lord of hosts, saying, Execute true judgment, and shew mercy and compassions every man to his brother:
10 And oppress not the widow, nor the fatherless, the stranger, nor the poor; and let none of you imagine evil against his brother in your heart.
11 But they refused to hearken, and pulled away the shoulder, and stopped their ears, that they should not hear.
12 Yea, they made their hearts as an adamant stone, lest they should hear the law, and the words which the Lord of hosts hath sent in his spirit by the former prophets: therefore came a great wrath from the Lord of hosts.
13 Therefore it is come to pass, that as he cried, and they would not hear; so they cried, and I would not hear, saith the Lord of hosts:
14 But I scattered them with a whirlwind among all the nations whom they knew not. Thus the land was desolate after them, that no man passed through nor returned: for they laid the pleasant land desolate.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

What Happened To @RLCSouth Dakota?

Earlier this morning I was writing a draft of post and wanted to link to an @RLCSouthDakota tweet. I got an "internal server error" screen. I got the same screen a few minutes ago.

I haven't paid close attention, but I don't recall any tweets since they helped muck up the Stace Nelson non-announcement announcement. If one follows the link to David Montgomery's coverage and clicks on the link to @RLCSouthDakota's Twitter feed, one gets a "Sorry, that page doesn't exist!" screen.

Anyone know what happened? Are they really ceding the anti-Rounds ground to @RinoMikeSD?

Friday, July 12, 2013

Quotation Of The Day: The Effect Of The Sequester On Native American Tribes Edition

From this New York Times article:
The tribes contend that the federal government does not just disburse money to them through federal programs. It meets its nation-to-nation treaty obligation to provide certain services to American Indians. Viewed in that light, a cut is not just a cut but a broken legal promise, and one in a long line of them.
“The tribes in this country, the federally recognized American Indians and Alaska Natives, have the world’s first prepaid health plan,” said Stacy Bohlen, the executive director of the National Indian Health Board, an advocacy organization based in Washington that has argued vocally against the cuts to Indian health programs. “They paid for it with their lives, and their land, and their culture, and the forced abrogation of their future.”
But on the reservations, a sense of resignation has set in.
“It’s one more reminder that our relationship with the federal government is a series of broken promises,” said the Rev. George Winzenburg, the Catholic priest who serves as president of the Red Cloud Indian School. “It’s a series of underfunded projects and initiatives that we were told would be funded to allow us to live at the quality of life that other Americans do.”

Microsoft As An Evil Empire

I really didn't need a reason to despise corporatism, but the new revelations about Microsoft's eager desire to give away their customers privacy did make the morning coffee taste bitter. (I missed it yesterday.) From this Guardian article:
The documents show that:
• Microsoft helped the NSA to circumvent its encryption to address concerns that the agency would be unable to intercept web chats on the new portal;
• The agency already had pre-encryption stage access to email on, including Hotmail;
• The company worked with the FBI this year to allow the NSA easier access via Prism to its cloud storage service SkyDrive, which now has more than 250 million users worldwide;
• Microsoft also worked with the FBI's Data Intercept Unit to "understand" potential issues with a feature in that allows users to create email aliases;
• In July last year, nine months after Microsoft bought Skype, the NSA boasted that a new capability had tripled the amount of Skype video calls being collected through Prism;
• Material collected through Prism is routinely shared with the FBI and CIA, with one NSA document describing the program as a "team sport".
Of course, Apple and Google are just as bad:
In June, the Guardian revealed that the NSA claimed to have "direct access" through the Prism program to the systems of many major internet companies, including Microsoft, Skype, Apple, Google, Facebook and Yahoo.
I suppose the companies will soon want a law making it illegal to unplug from the grid. 

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Has South Dakota Politics Been Reduced To Pro Wrestling?

Pat Powers has published too many posts to link to postulating Rick Weiland is a placeholder candidate for a big name South Dakota Democrat not named Stephaine Herseth Sandlin. Yesterday, Cory Hiedleberger posted the thesis that Larry Rhoden is a heat shield for Mike Rounds.

I wasted too many years of my life watching pro wrestling; both theories remind me of basic pro wrestling story lines. The Weiland theory reminds one of the wrestler who has been given a title shot even though many fans believe him or her undeserving. The wrestler will suffer an injury, frequently under mysterious circumstances, and a fan favorite will get the title shot during a Wrestlemania 437 pay-per-view. It's story overused in wrestling and certainly won't work in politics.

The Rounds/Rhoden thesis reminds one of the classic situation where three rivals--Smiling Mike Rounds, Cowboy Larry Rhoden, and Stace "Sgt. Slaughter Was A Wimp" Nelson--are in heated rivalry until the Cowboy and the Smiling One engage in skulduggery to take out the Marine. Of course, pro wrestling has a second act that features the Smiling One turning on the Cowboy after the Marine's challenge has been eliminated.

Machiavelli was an optimist when it comes to human nature. I doubt the "most-politicians-are-noble-people-who-just want-to-serve" doctrine that many espouse. Politics in contemporary America is about power: gaining, protecting, and projecting. If "service" ever comes to mind, it's about serving those of like mind. That nature of power and the desire to possess it make it prohibitively unlikely that all of these nefarious games are afoot. More importantly, politicians can get a second chance for nearly every indiscretion known to humanity except revealing to the voters that the politician believes the voters stupid. Few things will make voters believe they're being treated like chumps than recycling pro wrestling plots.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

When Principles Conflict, Ignoring The First Amendment Should Not Be The Default

Indiana not only makes same-sex marriage illegal; it also penalizes those who perform same-sex marriages:
The law also penalizes a clergyman, judge, mayor, city clerk or town clerk-treasurer who solemnizes a marriage between two people of the same gender. Those who conduct a gay marriage ceremony can be charged with a Class B misdemeanor, punishable by up to 180 days in jail and a fine of up to $1,000.
If the Roman Catholic church does not want to perform a same-sex marriage until the end of time, the church should be allowed to go with God and be happy. If the Episcopalians want to create a special same sex marriage ceremony, they too should be allowed to go with God and be happy. The state can regulate the contractual nature of the union to regulate how property is passed on or who can share insurance benefits. State legislatures, like Congress, should make no law regarding the practice of religion nor regulating the free exercise thereof.

Writing at The American Conservative, Rod Dreher sums up the shortsighted nature of this law:
This is a religious liberty issue — and Indiana conservatives are on the wrong side of it. If we conservatives don’t want the state telling our churches we have to marry same-sex couples, then we should stand up for the right of liberal churches to follow their own consciences within the confines of their communions. We may believe these churches are in serious error about same-sex marriage, but our own religious liberty depends on defending their right to be wrong. If we aren’t willing to stand up for them now, they won’t take seriously our future attempts to defend our own autonomy on religious liberty grounds.
I have a strange feeling in the pit of my stomach that the South Dakota legislature will see a similar law in the hopper in January, especially since over half of the state's residents oppose same-sex marriage.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

The Country May Be Totally Screwed

I seriously hope that this video has been edited to make a right wing point about Obama, If it's an accurate representation of any gathering of citizens, it may well be time to buy a bunker.

Quotation Of The Day: Force Feeding Headline Edition

From the Miami Herald:
Guantánamo prison to synchronize force-feedings to Ramadan fast
The U.S. prison at Guantánamo has sufficient military medical staff to synchronize forced-feedings to the Ramadan fast and will only feed hunger strikers after sunset and before dawn, a prison spokesman said Tuesday.

Rhoden's La Mancha Moment

Larry Rhoden will apparently announce tomorrow that he will challenge Mike Rounds for the Republican nomination for the United States Senate.

I'm a fan of Don Quixote and David and Goliath tales, and this candidacy will have echoes of both. Perhaps, someone may make a Biblical allusion with phrasing like "out of Union Center cometh no United State Senator."

Rhoden claims he's not worried about the $9 million front runner Mike Rounds plans to raise. Rounds will probably have about a third of that total available for the primary. It's possible that Rhoden has an unknown financial Sancho Panza. If I were to bet an over/under, however, I'd bet Rhoden will have less than $1 million available for a primary challenge.

Rhoden may surprise. Perhaps, he has planned a series of ironic hipster web ads that put Jeff Barth's 2012 effort to shame. It's unclear, however, how Republican primary voters will respond to ironic hipster advertisements. Even if the South Dakota Republican party has a silent majority composed of hipsters, it's doubtful Rhoden will galvanize the right-wing base just because he's not Mike Rounds.

In short, West River windmills probably face more risks from a Rhoden candidacy than Mike Rounds does.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Map Of The Day: Corporate States Of America Edition

Steve Lovelace created the above map. He explains,
This is a map of “The Corporate States of America“. For each of the fifty states (and the District of Columbia), I selected a corporation or brand that best represented the states. My criteria are subjective, but in each case, I picked a brand that a) has ties to that state and b) is still in business (as of 2013).
HT: Andrew Sullivan

Brad Ford: Christian Jihadist

I should just start ignoring Brad Ford's ramblings at Gordon Howie's blog, but some posts begger belief. Today, Ford's post offers a defense of the Muslim* Brotherhood and the following jaw dropping paragraph:
We can imagine a Christian concept of jihad if that means simply (according to the online dictionary) “a war or struggle against unbelievers” or a “the spiritual struggle within oneself against sin.”  Sure, we can can call attention to extreme expressions of Islamic practices which are overboard, but can’t they do the some with our Jim Jones and his People’s Temple?
First, there is no Christian concept of jihad, Ephesians 6:12 points to a higher struggle: For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.

I'm fairly certain "unbelievers" are composed of "flesh and blood"; therefore, they don't seem to be the ones Christians struggle with.

Further, Romans 12 offers the following injunctions:
9 Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good.
10 Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another;
11 Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord;
12 Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer;
13 Distributing to the necessity of saints; given to hospitality.
14 Bless them which persecute you: bless, and curse not.
15 Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep.
16 Be of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits.
17 Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men.
18 If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.
 I really doubt that "jihad" as commonly understood or defined by Ford includes "peaceably with all."

Finally, if there's a point to the last comparison, it's illogically stated. If Ford is implying that Jones was somehow Christian, Ford is in error.

In light of this post, I expect Ford, and by extension Gordon Howie, to oppose any of the Sharia Law bills that will come before the South Dakota Legislature next session. After all, religions should not be pitted against each other.

*The post originally identified the Egyptian group as the Islamic Brotherhood.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

A Misanthrope, An Elementary Student, And Something Archie Comics-esque But Dark And Dirty

I never was cool. The young'uns now frequently remind me I'm old. Some have taken to asking me what it was like when I was "alive." On the other hand, I still don't know what I want to do when I grow up, and I need to know what the young'uns will be talking about, so I pay attention to weird elements of pop culture. I'm betting that I'll be listening to many discussions about two new Fox animated series.

According to the New York Times, Fox will add two new animated series to its summer line-up.
The block will have its debut with two new shows: “Axe Cop,” an anime-influenced series based on a Web comic written primarily by an elementary-school-age boy (with his older brother’s assistance), and “High School USA!,” which takes an Archie Comics-esque exterior and infuses it with dark, dirty humor. (The first episodes of each will be broadcast the Sunday before, July 21.)
The anime series may draw only the the usual suspects as viewers, but High School USA! features art that hews close to the classic Archie series may develop a more devoted following; the young'us are fond of "dark, dirty humor."

Fox's version of Archie, Betty, and an apparently blonde Veronica (From NYT)
Fox will also gain viewers by giving up some control:
In contrast to typical network series, Fox owns this content, which also means it free to distribute it however it like, or to let viewers do so. A signature of the High-Def Web site will be a simple GIF maker so fans can put together their own clips of the shows and share them on social media. Plenty of television shows do well in the GIF ecosystem, but generally those GIFs are made illegally.
But High-Def writers and animators are working with these sorts of sharing opportunities in mind — “moments inside the shows that become GIF-able moments,” Mr. Weidenfeld said. He speaks about the form like a zealot (“I have a vision for how our audience can engage with our content”) as well as an industrialist (“Especially because there’s no audio, it’s just an ad — all it is, is a promotional tool”).
No word on whether Fox will base broadcast episodes on fans' clips. Unless, young'uns change drastically between now and the first broadcast, the fans' creations may be too risque for network TV.

I will spend some time watching both because I'm certain students will. I'm not sure I'll do a lot of laughing.

Alternate History And Something That Should Be

Catching up on political reading, I came across this tidbit at Politico.
”Christian Nation” is a new novel from lawyer Fred Rich that wonders what would happen if the Republican ticket won in 2008. But Rich goes even further than that, plotting a would-be Palin presidency after McCain passes away in the novel.
And although it’s fiction, Rich is dead serious about what a Palin presidency would mean for the country. As the title suggest, Rich is concerned about how religious extremists on the right could upend society.
I would humbly suggest that Palin's biggest problem is her incompetence, but I'm fairly certain a Palin administration would be a disaster.

Meanwhile, in something that should happen only in the most bizarre alternate universe, Dennis Rodman wants the Nobel Peace Prize:
“My mission is to break the ice between hostile countries,” Rodman says. “Why it’s been left to me to smooth things over, I don’t know. Dennis Rodman, of all people. Keeping us safe is really not my job; it’s the black guy’s [Obama's] job. But I’ll tell you this: If I don’t finish in the top three for the next Nobel Peace Prize, something’s seriously wrong.”

Scripture And Song Of The Week: II Corinthians 4 Edition

2 Corinthians 4
18 While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.

Friday, July 5, 2013

A Song For Those Sitting Around Philosophizing On A Friday Night

Either that or a song for those who are sipping a beverage of choice and musing excessively.

What I Learned At Debate Camp 2013

I spent the past week helping out at a debate camp on a campus in the 5th most livable small town in the country. The campus may lead the nation in construction activity. I should also note that the Twins lost every time I saw an  advertisement featuring a certain blogger while a game was being telecast. I know correlation doesn't equal causation, but the trend was troubling. I should also add that the sample size is pretty small, I saw only parts of two games.

The dozen policy debaters spent time working out positions to affirm and negate "Resolved: The United States federal government should substantially increase its economic engagement toward Cuba, Mexico, or Venezuela." The bakers dozen Lincoln Douglas debaters spent most of their time dealing with "Resolved: Compulsory inclusion of non-felons' DNA in any government database is just."

Listening in on a few lectures and talking with the young'uns about their cases reaffirmed the principle "simple ain't easy."

More importantly, it history has a long arm. The U.S.'s relationships with Cuba and Mexico have unresolved issues that go back more than 50 years.

Finally, an excellent lecture about performance debate, a form that most South Dakota coaches find anathema, provided an important reminder that passion, art, and literature speak in ways that statistics cannot.

Regular blogging to resume shortly