Monday, October 28, 2013

The South Dakota United Senate Race: All Risk All The Time

The Constant Commoner looks at the Republican primary and concludes the frying pan is preferable to the fire:
For all the intra-party intrigue, though, to me the race is still about who can best protect this seat from being influenced by the Republican Party's death-wishers, aka the Tea Party.  Former Governor Mike Rounds' comments (albeit after the fact) about the futility of  the Tea Party-orchestrated U.S. Government shutdown and near default on the federal debt give him the inside track as far as I'm concerned, so for now--I like Mike.  This doesn't mean I can't go into "I used to like Mike" mode.  I intend to stick with the candidate who will be utterly committed to South Dakota's, not the Tea Party's, best interests.  That mantle is still up for grabs.
Over at Madville, Cory has reached a similar conclusion:
I've complimented Rounds's pragmatism before. That pragmatism keeps him from signing silly pledges like Grover Norquist's no-new-taxes pledge. (And, again as Toby noted, even Norquist prefers Rounds's pragmatism to Cruz's/Noem's/Rhoden's/Nelson's/Bosworth's suicidal ACA obsession.) That pragmatism would have kept Rounds from casting what could have been the most destructive vote of the 113th Congress... a vote every Republican challenging him would have cast.
There are many reasons I could encourage my Republican friends to nominate someone other than Marion Michael Rounds. The uninspiring Larry Rhoden would be easier for Rick Weiland to beat. Stace Nelson would provide much more exciting debates with Weiland. Annette Bosworth's spontaneous combustion would make for much easier blogging.
But if Rick Weiland gets a record deal and moves to Nashville, Marion Michael Rounds is the safest, sanest choice for Senate.
I think I agree with both assessments. Watching and listening to Ted Cruz orchestrate the shutdown and show no concern for the harm caused must give one pause. Cruz having another syncofant in the United States Senate is a worrisome possibility. The United States will not well served by another elected official who cares only about repealing Obamacare.

And yet there exists a lingering doubt. Rounds is nothing if not a consummate insider, the epitome of an establishment politician. It was members of the establishment who created the system of trading derivatives and mortgage tranches that caused America to experience an economic downturn that the country had not experienced since 1929. The idea that Rounds would support efforts to keep his fellow elites from repeating that destruction is ludicrous.

I wish I could be sanguine about voting for rational destruction over irrational annihilation. I may have to do it, but the vote will make me queasy.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Scripture And Song Of The Week: Galatians 3 Edition

Galatians 3
1 You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? Before your very eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified. 2 I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by believing what you heard? 3 Are you so foolish? After beginning by means of the Spirit, are you now trying to finish by means of the flesh? 4 Have you experienced so much in vain—if it really was in vain? 5 So again I ask, does God give you his Spirit and work miracles among you by the works of the law, or by your believing what you heard? 6 So also Abraham “believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.”

Does The Tea Party Want To Win On The Issues Or Does It Want To Insult Liberals?

Constant Conservative has a recent post entitled "The Common Core is about Power." I have no quarrel with the title. I agree that the Core is about established elites maintaining power. The post has a video of someone named Bill Whittle, whom I had never heard of, asserting that the Common Core will produce cookie cutter students. Again, I agree with the assertion. Whittle urges conservatives to look at the big picture and not elements of the standards that they find personally objectionable. Here again, I agree.

Whittle, however, seems more interested in tossing red meat sops to his tea party audience than he does stopping the Core. In fact he acts more like a stereotypical smarmy insurance or used car salesman than he does in making the case against the Core. Washington DC is a den of "scum and villainy." Liberals are stupid, and Whittle is so much smarter than anyone else. Throughout the video, Whittle seems more intent on skewing his political opponents than making the case against the Core.

Whittle's desire to place slime above substance and ConCon's proclamation that Whittle's video makes the case in "excellent fashion" prompts a simple question: does the tea party want to produce policy or does it want to skewer political foes?

The answer is important because there are issues including NSA abuses and the Core that could have broad support across the political spectrum. The recent NSA march in DC had both liberals and libertarians. It seems, however, that some tea party conservatives don't want to win. They just want to insult perceived political foes.

A Quiz To Determine How Displaced You Are

Time  has a 10 question quiz to determine the state that best matches a person's personality. Apparently, I belong in Indiana. I'm not only politically displaced; I'm geographically misplaced.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Tweet Of The Day: What Politicians Don't Do Edition

@jamespoulos: Every politician demands we emphasize growth. Some demand emphasizing liberty. None demand emphasis on seeing one another as fellow humans---but if we do begin by seeing each other clearly that way, our radical freedom, always already present, comes dramatically into focus. Hmmm Shared via TweetCaster

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Let's Stop Playing What's The Politician's Faith?

Via Madville, I see that Reverend Hickey unable to "detect" any "evidence" of President Obama's "Christian faith." I have no idea whether Reverend Hickey claims to possess the gift of discernment or how one discerns the sincerity of the faith of a politician one has never met.

I can remember more than a few good Christian folk who were upset that Jimmy Carter lusted in his heart and had an evening glass of scotch even though he taught Sunday school. Many of those same folks loved Ronald Reagan who rarely darkened a church door.

Bill Clinton broke both the adultery and false witness commandments. The second Bush took the nation to war under dubious pretenses. Obama is far from perfect, but I haven't seen any evidence of his committing similar, shall we agree to call them, errors.

I didn't vote for Obama in 2012; I haven't been satisfied with a President since Eisenhower, and I was three when he left office. I'm, therefore, not going to trust my personal memory on his second term.

From my displaced point of view, it seems that one's view of a public figure's faith is colored not by the public figure's faith and works but by beholder's political views.

When I was a young'un my mother used to read me the story of Samuel coming to Jesse to anoint one of Jesse's sons the new king of Israel. That son was the future King David who at the time was a runty, ruddy youth. The key verse of the story was I Samuel 16:7
But the Lord said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart.
I'm fairly certain that no human can can see another's heart. Perhaps, it would serve us all to refrain from commenting on the faith of public figures be they Presidents, U.S. Senators, or Popes. Those comments reveal more about the speaker than the public figure, and they rarely reflect well on the speaker.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Will SCF Santa Deliver For Rhoden, Nelson, Or Bosworth?

"Now that the Obamacare showdown is over, we will begin making candidate endorsements for the 2014 elections. Our goal is to elect true conservative leaders to the U.S. Senate who have the courage to stand up to the Washington establishment. If there is a lesson from the Obamacare debate, it's that we need more principled leaders in Washington who will listen to the voters and fight for their values.
"We have enjoyed working with Ted Cruz, Mike Lee, and Rand Paul on several policy issues this year, but we won't be asking them to support our candidates. These are our endorsements, not theirs, and it's time for Americans to take the lead and use the political process to change Washington." [italics in original]
Since SCF is checking its naughty and nice list, Stace Nelson, Larry Rhoden, and Annette Bosworth are likely hanging their endorsement stockings by their respective PAC endorsement chimneys with great care in hopes that an SCF endorsement soon will be there. The candidates likely can't sleep with all of the visions of sugar plum cash dancing in their heads.

Of course there's always the risk of either empty or coal filled stockings. All three candidates, but Nelson in particular, must also be hoping beyond hope that the SFC is not the Grinch that The Hill anonymously sourced last month:
While multiple conservative groups confirmed they’ve met with both Nelson and the other most prominent conservative challenger in the race, state Sen. Larry Rhoden, representatives privately admitted they’re not thrilled with either candidate.
“Stace probably shares our views, but [it’s] hard to see him being a credible candidate at this point,” one adviser to a national conservative group told The Hill.
SCF Santa has already endorsed Chris McDaniel in Mississippi and Matt Bevin in Kentucky, so the South Dakota candidates must be experiencing an excruciating wait.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Scripture And Song For The Week: I Kings 17 Edition

I Kings 17
Some time later the brook dried up because there had been no rain in the land. Then the word of the Lord came to him:“Go at once to Zarephath in the region of Sidon and stay there. I have directed a widow there to supply you with food.”10 So he went to Zarephath. When he came to the town gate, a widow was there gathering sticks. He called to her and asked, “Would you bring me a little water in a jar so I may have a drink?” 11 As she was going to get it, he called, “And bring me, please, a piece of bread.”
12 “As surely as the Lord your God lives,” she replied, “I don’t have any bread—only a handful of flour in a jar and a little olive oil in a jug. I am gathering a few sticks to take home and make a meal for myself and my son, that we may eat it—and die.”
13 Elijah said to her, “Don’t be afraid. Go home and do as you have said. But first make a small loaf of bread for me from what you have and bring it to me, and then make something for yourself and your son. 14 For this is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘The jar of flour will not be used up and the jug of oil will not run dry until the day the Lord sends rain on the land.’”
15 She went away and did as Elijah had told her. So there was food every day for Elijah and for the woman and her family.16 For the jar of flour was not used up and the jug of oil did not run dry, in keeping with the word of the Lord spoken by Elijah.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Quotation Of The Day: We Have A Moral Obligation To Vote Against Every Politician Who Doesn't Read Fiction Edition

Look around you: I mean it. Pause, for a moment and look around the room that you are in. I'm going to point out something so obvious that it tends to be forgotten. It's this: that everything you can see, including the walls, was, at some point, imagined. Someone decided it was easier to sit on a chair than on the ground and imagined the chair. Someone had to imagine a way that I could talk to you in London right now without us all getting rained on.This room and the things in it, and all the other things in this building, this city, exist because, over and over and over, people imagined things.
We have an obligation to make things beautiful. Not to leave the world uglier than we found it, not to empty the oceans, not to leave our problems for the next generation. We have an obligation to clean up after ourselves, and not leave our children with a world we've shortsightedly messed up, shortchanged, and crippled.
We have an obligation to tell our politicians what we want, to vote against politicians of whatever party who do not understand the value of reading in creating worthwhile citizens, who do not want to act to preserve and protect knowledge and encourage literacy. This is not a matter of party politics. This is a matter of common humanity.
Albert Einstein was asked once how we could make our children intelligent. His reply was both simple and wise. "If you want your children to be intelligent," he said, "read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales." He understood the value of reading, and of imagining. I hope we can give our children a world in which they will read, and be read to, and imagine, and understand.
Please, read the whole lecture.

Hubbel Announcing Candidacy; Sibby Blogging Again; Coincidence?

Perhaps.  To be fair, Sibby's two recent posts, his first since July 23, have been traditional Sibby fare: Fabian Socialists, the national debt, and the Madville Times comment policy will bring about an disaster involving eschatological plagues.

It does seem curious, however, that Sibby resumes posting at the same time that Lora Hubbel publicizes her intention to challenge incumbent incumbent Republican Dennis Daugaard for the South Dakota GOP gubernatorial nomination.

Bob Mercer provides a timely reminder that Hubbel and Sibby have, to paraphrase the young'uns, campaign history:
Hubbel also was one of the forces behind a ballot-measure group in 2008 that received secret sources of funding. She was one of the directors for an organization called the South Dakota Conservative Action Council. The group provided about 80 percent of the money in 2007 to a committee, South Dakotans for Open and Clean Government, that put an initiated measure on the 2008 ballot (65 percent of voters rejected it). The Conservative Action Council wouldn’t reveal its sources for most of the funding that it passed along to the ballot committee. Americans for Tax Reform, Americans for Prosperity and the National Taxpayers Union were active in South Dakota supporting the effort. The other two directors for the Conservative Action Council were Lee Breard, whose political roots were in Louisiana before he moved to South Dakota to establish the organization, and Steve Sibson of Mitchell, a conservative blogger. None of the three- Hubbel, Breard or Sibson — would disclose the council’s sources of money or the amounts.
Further, campaigns seem to increasingly use bloggers. Most recently, Stace Nelson announced that Ken Santema of South Dakota Liberty. In that light, Sibby serving as Hubbel's official blogger doesn't seem like a big stretch.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Does Rick Weiland Really Believe Mike Rounds Will Actually Use The Classic Political Pivot?

Kevin Woster reports that Rick Weiland believes Mike Rounds is attempting to perform the classic political pivot. Weiland is quoted as saying Rounds is "going to the right to win the nomination, and then he’s got to try to go back to the center again. We’ll see if he can get there.”

Woster then notes a key point Weiland seems to ignore; running the political pivot in South Dakota is a far different game than running the pivot in other places, Woster writes, "finding the center in a U.S. Senate race in South Dakota is not like finding it in the presidential campaign. The middle is farther to the right here, and the voting public more forgiving of well-known Republicans."

Woster is given to understatement rather than hyperbole, so he can be forgiven for failing to note that South Dakota's left was decimated, in the sense that it was reduced by one-tenth, when Cory Heidelberger and his wife left South Dakota so that Erin could complete her pastoral internship.

I don't get every Republican email blast. Facebook update, or tweet, but there's little evidence Mike Rounds is running to the right. Running to the right in South Dakota entails swearing fealty to Grover Norquist, something Rounds has chosen not to do. In the current climate, running to the right entails bowing before a Ted Cruz idol, shutting down the government, and risking default unless Obamacare is defunded. Once again, Rounds has taken stances that have avoided those extremes. Running to the right in South Dakota may also entail declaring Barack Obama the Anti-Christ for having the temerity to win the presidency twice. So far Rounds has also been silent on that possibility 

Given that South Dakota's right would likely read William F. Buckley out of the movement, I have a weird expectation that Stace Nelson or Annette Bosworth will turn to turn to Rounds and do a Joe McCarthy impersonation by asking, "Are you now or have you ever been a member of the Communist party" if the Republicans hold any debates.

Angry right-wing protestations to the contrary, Rounds is not a creature of the left. He is the epitome of a pragmatic politician who knows that he has greater name recognition and more money than his primary opponents. He's occupying a political center that most other places would consider a right flank. More importantly, he also knows that Democrats have little chance of running a successful campaign for the open U.S.Senate seat. The Democrats' odds will diminish if Weiland believes that a successful strategy involves exposing Rounds's attempt of a political pivot that Rounds likely will not make.

Noem Completes Hypocricy Trifecta

No one should be surprised that Representative Kristi Noem voted to keep the government shut down. That vote completed a hypocrisy trifecta  Vegas of course would have taken that bet off the board; betting that Noem would cast a vote with consistent with principle is the definition of a sucker bet.

Let's review Noem's accomplishment. First, there was the vote to give the NSA carte blanche to violate the Fourth Amendment. Noem claims to be a small government conservative. The NSA may be many things, but small government is not one of them. If one wants to vote like a big government neocon, one should own the label.

Her vote to give corporate welfare to herself and her friends while cutting funding for food stamps is the second stage of her trifecta. One who votes for welfare for everyone may be a spendthrift. One who votes for welfare for no one may be hard hearted. One who votes for welfare for me but not for thee is hypocritical.

Those two votes set up last night's hypocritical vote. If one casts a vote to support big government spying on American citizens and for welfare payments that benefit oneself, one cannot logically claim to be anything other than hypocritical with a vote to keep the government shut down.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Noem Will Have An Opponent; Thank God

Jonathan Ellis is reporting that Corinna Robinson, who has spent 25 years serving in the United States Army, will seek the Democratic nomination to challenge incumbent Republican Kristi Noem for South Dakota's lone seat in the U.S House of Representatives.

According to Ellis,
Robinson, a Democrat, said she was prompted in part because of a dysfunctional Congress that has resulted in furloughs, a partially closed government and threats to veterans.
"It’s very discouraging," she said. "It just seems like the parties can’t work together."
Ellis's Argus colleague David Montgomery provides a necessary caveat:
As far as potential Democratic recruits go for the U.S. House, Robinson seems like a pretty good catch. That’s not to say she’ll win (plenty of candidates who are impressive on paper end up flopping) but she has a pretty impressive resume.
That caveat notwithstanding, I have a rather low bar for casting an anybody-pleasedearGod-letmevoteforanybody-i'mbegginghereGod-anybodybutKristiNoem ballot. In fact, I think there are only three criteria. First, this person should not be Kristi Noem. Second, this person should be able to express a clear thought cogently.Third, this person should not have been convicted of hitting a woman with a belt or any other similar offense.

Robinson will be able to utter one sentence that doesn't contain a vapid talking point, so she meets all three criteria. Further, her service in the army will, one hopes, prevent Noem from running a version of this ad touting her winning awards from the Watertown Jaycees and soybean growers as noteworthy achievements. Surely, even Kristi Noem doesn't have the chutzpah to run this sort of ad against against someone who spent 25 years in the military.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Quotation Of The Day: Tea Party Idiocy Edition

Conor Friedersdorf does the honors:
Tea Partiers should nevertheless understand that, fairly or unfairly, they're saddled with a reputation for unusual recklessness. Voters aren't sure whether they can be trusted to govern. That's why their behavior in the debt-ceiling standoff is so idiotic. Paul and Amash, whose principled stands [on drones, civil liberties, and opposing war in Syria] I frequently cheer, and Senator Ted Cruz, whose phony affect makes me mistrust him, could demonstrate themselves to be staunch fiscal conservatives and fight for small government in any number of ways. They could embark upon any number of long-term strategies for reforming public policy in line with their beliefs. Among all the fights they could pick, why choose the debt-ceiling?
Stupid, stupid, stupid! 
A refusal to raise the debt ceiling isn't a conscientious stand on a matter of principle, like religious liberty or due process or preventing the deaths of innocents. This particular stand will do nothing to solve America's fiscal problems or to persuade the public that small-government solutions are preferable. The very best scenario, if you're a fiscal conservative, is for the debt ceiling to be raised after President Obama concedes some significant decrease in spending,  . . . If the debt ceiling isn't raised, the threat of which is the only Tea Party leverage, it could cause significant harm to the country's fiscal standing, putting the United States even deeper in the hole.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

A Short Post Wherein I Make A Prediction

Before July 1, 2014, the same people who shut down the government and who are currently endangering the United States's credit rating and the dollar's standing as a reserve currency will begin impeachment proceedings against President Obama. Most charges will be political not substantive.

Tweet Of The Day: Protesting With The Confederate Flag Edition

The South Dakota US Senate Race And Bad But Accurate Poetry

Dorthy Parker was one of America's finest wits. Her poem "Resume" has always been one of my favorite bits of weird verse.
Razors pain you;
Rivers are damp;
Acids stain you;
And drugs cause cramp.
Guns aren’t lawful;
Nooses give;
Gas smells awful;
You might as well live.
With apologizes to Ms Parker, I offer the following verse as a review of the South Dakota 2014 US Senate race to date.
Rounds is a plastic plutocrat;
Nelson blindly follows Cruz;
Weiland's an unelectable Democrat,
And Rhoden's views are old news.
Bosworth's effort makes no sense
As she copies Kristi Noem.
Love to elect a mensch,
but I may have to stay at home.
I don't want to be cynical without some verification. Line one seems blindingly obvious. If one doubts the veracity of line two, I refer you to Representative Nelson's Twitter feed. Those who doubt line three can check South Dakota voter registration numbers. For line four, I offer Rhoden's Wikipedia page:
Rhoden is running for a United States Senate seat in 2014, calling himself a "conservative voice for limited government." Rhoden opposes abortion, same-sex marriage, "career politicians," "activist judges," and immigration "amnesty."
That language could have been used by a Republican candidate who ran in 1976, the first year I could vote. Line five comes from here and line six from here. As for lines seven and eight, I'll vote; I just won't be happy about it.

Quotation Of The Day: Classic Film And Political Foolishness Edition

“THEY told me,” Martin Sheen’s Willard says to Marlon Brando’s Kurtz in “Apocalypse Now,” at the end of a long journey up the river, “that you had gone totally insane, and that your methods were unsound.”
His baldness bathed in gold, his body pooled in shadow, Kurtz murmurs: “Are my methods unsound?”
And Willard — filthy, hollow-eyed, stunned by what he’s seen — replies: “I don’t see any method at all, sir.”
This is basically how reasonable people should feel about the recent conduct of the House Republicans.

Scripture And Song For The Week: Proverbs 16 Edition

7 When a man's ways please the Lord, he maketh even his enemies to be at peace with him.
8 Better is a little with righteousness than great revenues without right.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

A Few Questions Prompted By Political Ineptitude

The past two weeks have illustrated how inept politicians can turn a superpower into a laughing stock. In such times one must turn to the Joseph de Maistre wisdom that has become a cliche: Every nation gets the government it deserves. To reach that conclusion, de Maistre drew this bit of Shakespeare wisdom to its logical conclusion: "The fault . . . is not in our stars,//But in ourselves, that we are underlings."

Applying both quotations to the situation at hand, one must conclude the American people are as politically inept as the people the elect.I have no answers, just questions that hopefully illustrate the point.

Question 1. Americans who watch Fox and listen to Limbaugh or Beck disagree with those Americans who watch CNN and listen to NPR not only about interpretation of facts but also what details constitute fact. Is it possible to govern when no one agrees what the facts are?

Question 2: There is no logical reason that a voter can not be both pro-life and pro-gun control. The two views are not mutually exclusive, and it's not inconceivable that a voter could believe that these are the two most important issues on that voter's personal agenda. Which political party can that hypothetical voter join? How about a voter who supports enhancing programs like food stamps but opposes the Affordable Care Act?

Question 3: Why do so many of the right excoriate liberals and so many progressives excoriate tea partiers but neither right nor left worries about the plutocracy that seems to be filling the political void?

Question 4: Does anyone really doubt that I'll be able to re-post these questions five years from now and they'll still apply? Actually let me rephrase this question, does anyone really doubt that America may have reached the point of no return and that five years from now the divides will be sharper, equally bizarre, and more angrily enunciated?

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Quotation Of The Day: Conservative Advice Tea Partiers Will Likely Ignore

I may disagree with John Podhoretz, but no one should question his intellect. I fear conservatives will ignore his advice and analogy:
Meanwhile, Boehner is basically the face of the US Congress in the eyes of the public. John Boehner is also the effective head of the Republican Party. And the US Congress is viewed favorably by . . . 11 percent of Americans. 
Eleven percent.
When I interact with these conservatives, they say they don’t care about the GOP; what they care about are conservative ideas.
They’re right not to assign special glory or power to a political organization and to hold ideas above party. But here’s the condundrum: There is only one electoral vehicle for conservative ideas in the United States — the Republican Party.
It’s one thing to refuse to waste your time buffing and polishing the vehicle so that it looks nice and pretty; that’s what political hacks do, and ideologues have every right to disdain such frippery.
But if, in the guise of making the vehicle function better, you muck up the engine, smash the windshield, put the wrong tires on it and pour antifreeze in the gas tank, you are impeding its forward movement. You’re ruining it, not repairing it.
It may not have been a very good vehicle in the first place, and you may think it couldn’t drive worse, but oh man, could it ever. And it’s the only one you’ve got.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Quotation Of The Day: The Rich Don't Hate You; You Don't Matter To Them At All Edition

From this New York Times article:
A growing body of recent research shows that people with the most social power pay scant attention to those with little such power. This tuning out has been observed, for instance, with strangers in a mere five-minute get-acquainted session, where the more powerful person shows fewer signals of paying attention, like nodding or laughing. Higher-status people are also more likely to express disregard, through facial expressions, and are mo:re likely to take over the conversation and interrupt or look past the other speaker.
Bringing the micropolitics of interpersonal attention to the understanding of social power, researchers are suggesting, has implications for public policy. . . . 
. . .
 . . . research finds that the poor, compared with the wealthy, have keenly attuned interpersonal attention in all directions, in general, those with the most power in society seem to pay particularly little attention to those with the least power. To be sure, high-status people do attend to those of equal rank — but not as well as those low of status do. 

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Some Republicans Need To Grow Up

Attacking a former senator and secretary of state's record is fair game. Attacking that person's appearance crudely is another matter. Just sayin'.

Original photo from here.

Quotation Of The Day: South Dakota U.S. Senate Candidates And Insurance Protection Law

From this Bob Mercer column:
During the Legislature’s 2013 session, Rounds’ two main campaign advisers -- both former top aides from his time as governor -- lobbied for a new state law.
The law requires that Obamacare policies can be provided only through South Dakota insurance producers. It also requires that normal commissions must be paid.
The law gives insurance business people in South Dakota further reason to support one of their own. . . .
State Sen. Larry Rhoden of Union Center, state Rep. Stace Nelson of Fulton and Dr. Annette Bosworth of Sioux Falls are going great distances to drive their stakes deep among the most conservative of Republican primary voters.
Rounds’ Obamacare statement puts him with them opposing it. The insurance protection law? Rhoden and Nelson helped co-sponsor it and voted for it.

A Couple of Other Things About Lora Hubbel's Common Core Concerns Event

In my post last night, I forgot to mention a few thing.

First, Stace Nelson was the only candidate for any office to have literature there. Someone photocopied a letter on Nelson letterhead referencing South Dakota Republican Party Platform Plank 4.3 and touting his support for HB 1204 during the past session.

Second, although several speakers mentioned getting support from teachers and public school parents, all of the sign up sheets were for parochial schools, private schools, and Christian schools.

Third, handouts bemoaning the graphic nature of The Bluest Eye were on the tables. They apparently were a hard copy of this blog post.

Scripture And Song For The Week: I Timothy 2 Edition

I Timothy 2
1.I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people—
2 for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.
3 This is good, and pleases God our Savior,
4 who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.
5 For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus,
6 who gave himself as a ransom for all people.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

SHHH! Don't Tell Anyone, But Lora Hubbel Let A Non-Conservative Attend Her Common Core Concerns Event

This morning, my long-suffering wife had errands in Sioux Falls and Brandon, so I donned my dressiest chambray shirt and blue jeans and had her drop me off at the Lora Hubbel organized Common Core Concerns event. To blend in, I put my laptop and some quizzes that I wanted to correct in my Liberty Manics NSA field bag. (I really need to work on live blogging.)

I arrived fashionably late, but in time hear Dr. Sandra Stotsky, one of five people on the Common Core's Validation Committee who refused to sign off on the standards. Stotsky hit on many of the concerns that I've expressed about the Core in other posts. She won me over by telling the 100+ in attendance that the Core will reduce the teaching of fiction. She also correctly asserted literary texts are necessary for writing and critical thinking skills.

In addition, Stotsky also pointed out that the claims about the Core being international benchmarked and research based are specious. The standards have not been field tested. More importantly, she asserted rather convincingly that the math standards and English standards are not necessarily more rigorous than those that preceded them because the Core standards are divorced from content. She pointed out that the standards ask high school students to discern theme, but one can discern theme in both The Cat in the Hat or Moby Dick.  Finally, she pointed out that the standards were not developed by math or English teachers or college professors who teach those subjects. They were developed by testing experts and textbook publishers. In the main, Stotsky's presentation echoed concerns raised by Diane Ravitch and other educators who have concerns about the Core.

If Stotsky presented a prima facia case that the Common Core will likely do more harm than good, Jenni White, President of Restore Oklahoma Public Education (ROPE) confirmed some of my worst fears about the conservative Core opponents. While White did not invoke the UN, she went through various ways that the Core is part of a federal government effort to data mine and data bank family and student information. I started correcting mythology quizzes during her speech, but had to give up when she violated Godwin's Law and invoked Hitler as an early fan of data collection. She also told the crowd that opposing the Core is her Christian duty. I'm all for folks doing their Christian duty, but opposing these standards seems to fall under a civic obligation. I'm not sure if it was White's high energy approach, her Hitler comparison, or her call to Christian civil disobedience, but the crowd responded to White more enthusiastically than they did Stotsky.

During the breakout sessions, Representatives Bolin, Stalzer, and May discussed a bit of legislative history and the need to revisit the Core during the upcoming session. Some in the audience seemed eager to begin an initiated measure. Several other legislators, including Manny Steele, spoke from the audience.

To sum up, I'll give a few random observations. First,attending the event reminded me of being a visitor at a small town church. Many seem to have been together for other political and cultural battles. They had a certain comfort with each other and felt confident that everyone there would share not only the goals but also the underlying reasons for those goals. As one who is politically displaced, that atmosphere felt a bit cloying.

Second, I regret missing the opportunity to meet Steve Sibson whom Lora asked to help with one of the other breakout sessions. I should have been more social, but the farm boy that's still in me just doesn't do the social well.

Finally, however correct and well-intentioned those attending audience may be or not be, the effort to have the South Dakota Department of Education reverse the Core's adoption is a long shot at best.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Quotation Of The Day: Loving My Little Pony A Little Too Much Edition

Apparently a guy got fired for having My Little Pony as his computer desktop background. Cory Robin sums up what the firing reveals:
Regardless of what buttons are being set off by this guy, the story just confirms a point some of us have been making over and over again: the American workplace is one of the most coercive institutions around. It’s a place where, whatever the niceties and pieties of our allegedly tolerant culture may be, bosses and supervisors get to act out—and on—their most regressive anxieties and fears. It’s a playground of cultural and political recidivism, where men and women (but more often men) are given the tools to inflict and enforce their beliefs, their style, their values upon their employees. . . .
. . .
Here’s the bottom line: in most American workplaces, the boss can fire any brony who loves My Little Pony. It’s totally legal. And that’s the problem.

A Minor Musing On Jim Bolin's Decision To Concentrate On Opposing Common Core

I'm a day late with this, but I wanted to muse a bit about Jim Bolin's decision to abandon his bid to be elected Commissioner of School and Public Lands in order to concentrate on opposing Common Core implementation.

Jim is both honest and passionate, so I take him at his word when he says he "put aside personal desires for political advancement [to] instead concentrate on matters of greater lasting impact."

As one who has concerns about the Core, I welcome Bolin's engagement on the issue. That said, this new campaign seems quixotic.

First, the bureaucrats know that that they can quiet the populace by instituting the same standards under a new name. Perhaps they will be called the "Mundane Marrow Standards" that have been designed to help students get the meat of education and more. (Apparently all standards must now be alliterative.)

Second, whatever citizens think about their local schools, they all agree that education needs to be "reformed." It matters little if the reforms being considered have been developed by testing companies and billionaires instead of education experts. People like reform even if it's merely for the sake of reform.

Third, some of the Core opponents are too fond of recycling their "The UN is coming!  The UN is coming!" chants. Jim is a conservative of the Russel Kirk tradition. Many of the anti-Core folk claim conservative credentials, but they are imprudent and demand a cloying uniformity. Further, they may possess the conservative distrust of government, but they give too free of a rein to passion.

Finally, I remain convinced that the Core will be replaced in four or five years so that textbook publishers and testing companies can sell new textbooks and tests. If the Core is stopped in 2013, it will be instituted in the new textbooks and tests in 2017.

Even with these concerns, I am reminded of a Star Trek: The Next Generation Episode "All Good Things . . ." Captain Picard was passing through various possible futures and landed on a ship captained by Beverly Crusher Picard, who in this particular timeline was Picard's ex-wife. During the episode, Crusher Picard says, ". . .he's Jean-Luc Picard, and if he wants to go on one more mission, that's what we're going to do.

Jim Bolin spent a lot of years being a great educator. If he wants to go on one last campaign to prevent educrats, bureaucrats, and billionaires from doing more harm than good, then I wish him well.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Quotation OF The Day: You Can't Get What You Want If You Don't Know What You Want Edition

"We're not going to be disrespected, We have to get something out of this. And I don't know what that even is."
-- Rep. Marlin Stutzman (R-IN), quoted by the Washington Examiner, on the government shutdown.

The Only Things We Have To Fear Are No Guns, An Obama Dictatorship, Sharia Law, Skull & Bones, And Electronic Currency

Politics used to be the art of the possible. Now, it seems to be the art of manufacturing a crisis. Crises depend on and create fear.

According to these PPP results, nearly half of the members of one political party willingly allow fears run wild. If fact, these people believe our current crises are only the tip of the proverbial iceberg. Many Republicans believe that President Obama and Muslims are out to destroy all the nation holds dear. To paraphrase Lincoln, I'm not sure that any nation that that conceives of crisis and paranoia as a governing principle can long endure.
Overall, 36% of Americans and 62% of Republicans believe that the Obama Administration is secretly trying to take everyone’s guns away; just 14% of Democrats believe the same. 
One in four Americans say that President Obama is secretly trying to figure out a way to stay in office beyond 2017 –including almost half of Republicans (44%). 
And 26% of Americans think that Muslims are covertly implementing Sharia Law in American court systems, while 55% don’t think so and another 19% aren't sure. There’s a huge partisan breakdown on this one as well – 42% of Republicans fear Sharia Law making its way into America’s courts while just 12% of Democrats agree.
13% believe that the U.S. government engages in so-called “false flag” operations, where the government plans and executes terrorist or mass shooting events and blames those actions on others, 70% disagree. Republicans (21%) are more than twice as likely as Democrats (9%) to believe this theory.
19% say there is a secret society such as Skull and Bones that produces America’s political and financial leaders to serve the wealthy elite. 
And 17% of voters said they think a group of world bankers are slowly eliminating paper currency to force most banking online – only to cut the power grid so regular citizens can’t access money and are forced into worldwide slavery. Nearly one in three Republicans (27%) believe the electronic currency theory while just 10% of Democrats agree.
If the PPP poll is close to accurate, Republicans and Democrats may soon be unable to agree about black and white. 

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Tweet Of The Day: Rep. Stace Nelson Makes A Friend Edition

I was under the impression that campaigns weren't supposed to communicate with political operatives who likely worked for some sort of PAC or super-PAC. Pseudonyms truly must change everything.

Government Shutdowns And Pop Music

During the last shutdown, it was Hootie and Blowfish.

During this shutdown, Darius Rucker, the Hootie and the Blowfish lead singer, has gone country and is on his own.

Other than that, nothing about the government shutdowns seems to have changed.

A Minor Musing About Backmasking and Subordinate Clauses

That's how my last class ended. The young'uns had heard that Justin Bieber's song "Baby" allegedly has Satanic messages when played backwards. (I refuse to link to anything Bieber.) I wanted to talk about subordinate clauses, so all of my examples had to deal with backmasking. They'll probably all download Abby Lane and use Audacity to hear whether Paul is truly dead.

Before the trip down memory lane, we discussed the The Life of Pi and wonder, faith, rationality, secularism, and modernity. Earlier young policy debaters researched Mexican narcotics interdiction, assisting Cuba or Mexico in efforts to safely explore for and extract oil, and how to use drop box to store information. The day started with discussions about Midas and Narcissus.

After school, Lincoln-Douglas and public forum debaters started tearing about new resolutions on attorney-client privilege and the NSA.

After a really good day like that, listening to a bunch of politicians making pompous promulgations that they are acting for the good of the country seems more than silly.