Thursday, February 27, 2014

Is Rounds Beginning A Campaign For Junior High Student Council President?

Let's get two things straight off the top. First, I can foresee few instances that will allow me to vote for Mike Rounds. Second, South Dakota Legislators should debate and pass or defeat legislation that can become law not resolutions that have no practical effect.

Until yesterday, I thought Rounds voters could justify their vote for Smiling Mike because he is a slick politician. In fact, one might have argued that he is slick enough to play the Washington game like a Washington insider. Were he to use that skill to benefit South Dakota, a highly questionable but not totally unbelievable hypothesis, a South Dakotan could vote for Rounds and still sleep at night.

Yesterday, the Rounds camp showed that they are confused what office they're running for. Tim Rounds and Brian Gosch's procedural moves with Stace Nelson's "Let's Praise Ron Paul Because I Like Him Alot Resolution" is far closer to political games played by junior high school student councils than the political games played by politicians seeking to elect someone to the United States Senate.

Using a blood relative play "Poke the Stace And Get Him Mad" because it's so much fun is a bush league move. Are you all going to get together to see if you can make him cry when you walk home from school too?

I've got no reason to vote for Nelson, but there's one less reason to think about voting for Rounds. If one is going to build the campaign on one's ability to be a polished, competent insider and by extension paint one's most vocal opponent as an inept, loud bumbler, the one should have surrogates who don't play junior high politics.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

A Minor Musing About Online Polling And Perception

Over at Madville, Cory has a poll asking his readers to pick South Dakota's best choice for governor. As I begin this post, Joe Lowe leads Susan Wismer 98-39. 

Let's be clear, if online polls were baseball players, their accuracy average would be well below the Mendoza Line. In this case, I doubt there's a groundswell of support for Mr. Lowe. Were I a gambler, I would bet a few Republican bloggers are spending the afternoon clearing their browsers' history and voting in the Chicago manner, early and often. (If they're using their laptops, they should use CCleaner ever so often. It's a free download that I highly recommend.)

These polls mean little. Still, Wismer made her announcement with South Dakota's Democratic establishment, such as it is, as props. If the Wismer people can't find a 12 year old to sit in front of his or her computer and keep her ahead of Joe Lowe in an online poll on the most Democratic blog in the state, they don't really understand the power of perception or organization. Appearing inept is sometimes worse than being inept

Oh by the way, Lowe now has 101 votes to Wismer's 39. A vote a minute is a pretty good online pace.

A Modest Proposal That Should Allow Businesses To Refuse Service To Anyone

I thought we were through with religious freedom/we don't want gay customers legislation after it met defeat in Kansas and South Dakota, but PNR brought up the issue yesterday and Cory responded. More importantly, Arizona is waiting for Governor Jan Brewer to decide what to do with Arizona's version of the bill*, so I guess this post is still timely.

First, let me say that I feel a bit sorry for my conservative businessperson friends. They spend their lives preaching the doctrine of self-reliance, but when a few gay people want to use their services or shop at their stores, they have no recourse but to beg for government assistance in order to refuse service. I can't imagine the angst that this conundrum must cause.

I, therefore, offer a modest proposal to ease the emotional distress: create your own religion. For example, one could establish the First Church of The Wedding Photographer and Baker. Some bakers might have problems with traditional Christianity. Jesus multiplied those loaves and Elijah helped the widow with the oil and flour. Neither miracle could have been good for the local bakers' bottom line. Photographers have, from time to time, had to deal with those folks who contend that photographs are nothing more than two-dimensional graven images.

Appropriately, there is a business set up to provide ordination credentials. Doctrines also exist that should serve these businesschurches: the concept of moral therapeutic deism should work well for most businessclergypersons. (That title might need a bit of work but being a blergyperson just doesn't have a good ring to it.) The doctrine's chief tenets are pretty straightforward.
1. A god exists who created and ordered the world and watches over human life on earth.
2. God wants people to be good, nice, and fair to each other, as taught in the Bible and by most world religions.
3. The central goal of life is to be happy and to feel good about oneself.
4. God does not need to be particularly involved in one's life except when God is needed to resolve a problem.
5. Good people go to heaven when they die.
Given that the term was first used in Soul Searching: The Religious and Spiritual Lives of American Teenagers  published in 2005, these businesschurches should be a hit with the coveted 18-29 demographic. Businesslogians (or is it theonessians) will have the thorny problem of determining whether coveting a demographic breaks the 10th commandment, but I doubt those concerns will affect their advertising campaigns adversely. More importantly, it doesn't seem to differ much from the discounted grace preached by megachurch luminaries like Joel Osteen.

This is too short of a post to deal with the tax issue, but I'm sure bureaucrats can work it out fairly quickly. Once that issue is solved, each businesschurch (I suppose they could be called busurches) can set up its own membership criteria and provide services to members only. As long as they don't get stupid and make everyone wear those jackets from the 90s, no one should complain.

*the post originally called the legislation a law, but Governor Brewer has not signed it. I should have been more careful.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Do South Dakota Republicans Really Want Someone To "Care For" Them?

Via Dakota War College, I see that Annette Bosworth has put out a campaign video that is as confused as her finances.

Let's ignore the Freudian undertones of an attractive woman in white lab coat offering to "care for you" and focus on the politics.

Bosworth, Larry Rhoden, and Stace Nelson are all attempting to position themselves to the right of front runner former Governor Mike Rounds. To be fair, that's the only viable strategy any of them have. The South Dakota Republican party has no primary voters to Rounds's left.

That fact makes this commercial odd. One would think sending someone to Washington to "take care of" South Dakotans would strike Republicans as nanny statism. Perhaps, the few holdouts who still yearn for the George W. Bush administration would see "compassionate conservatism." Neither philosophy seems to be something South Dakota's Republican base is clamoring to hear.

Maybe the tea party and libertarians have grown old and soft, but being taken care of by someone in Washington doesn't seem to make one think of the rugged individualism that South Dakotans claim to possess. If this year's legislative measures are any indication of how South Dakotans want to be taken "care of", all South Dakotans want are few more guns to carry into every building in the state.

Having someone in the U. S. Senate to "care for you" should have been a Rick Wieland tag line. Rounds, Rhoden, or Nelson should have no trouble using this ad to show libertarians and tea party members that Bosworth has no political core philosophy. Then all they have to do is overcome the voters' Freudian impulses.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Quotation Of The Day: Why The Death Penalty Needs To Be Abolished Edition

From this Andrew Cohen piece in The Week:
Last week was a memorable one in the annals of American justice. The national Exoneration Registry announced that 87 people were exonerated last year, a new record. From Brooklyn,The New York Times reported on a wrongful conviction scandal its editors called "a tidal wave that could dwarf other exoneration clusters." In Louisiana, Jerome Morgan walked out of prison after 20 years when a state judge found his murder conviction to be marked by "deception, manipulation, and coercion" on the part of the New Orleans Police Department. And an appellate court in Texas told death row inmate Larry Swearingen that he had no right to DNA test the murder weapon used in his case.
All of these stories, the good and the bad, remind us of the arbitrary and capricious nature of our nation's justice systems. Whether you are executed or not, whether you are wrongly imprisoned or not — it doesn't just depend on the evidence against you. It depends on your race and the race of the victim, on the political predilections of your prosecutor and your judge, on the honor of police detectives, on the accuracy of the eyewitnesses testifying against you, on the skill and competency of your defense attorney, and on the mercy of the governor who makes a judgment on clemency. Oh, and it depends on which state you live in and which county in that state.
Read the whole thing and then tell your legislator to support Rep. Steve Hickey and his efforts to repeal South Dakota's death penalty with HB 1138.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

What Headlines Will Bosworth's Campaign Receive In Traditional Media?

Messrs. Montgomery, Heidlebeger, and Powers have all illustrated that the Bosworth campaign bears a stronger resemblance to the film The Grifters than it does to Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.

The open question about her "interesting" finance report is whether it will affect the other Republican candidates. That answer will depend on the KELO, Argus, and Journal headlines. If the headlines read "Bosworth Raises $350,000," then candidates Nelson, Rhoden,  and Rounds need to worry. The total, even if it's been spent, will make Bosworth appear to be a legitimate candidate and the boys will have to start raising cash fast. 

If the headlines read "Bosworth Campaign Broke," Rounds can relax while Rhoden and Nelson fight over who will come in a distant second. 

There May Not Be Enough Of A Shrinking Middle Class To Gamble In Deadwood

The optimistic Representative Reverend Steve Hickey recently tweeted:
Perhaps he's correct: there's powerful magic in the words "If you build it they will come." Deadwood may have been constructed near a wormhole that connects to a corn field in Iowa, and people who travel through that wormhole may pay to watch Ray Kinsella play catch with the ghosts of his father and Shoeless Joe Jackson.

On the other hand, a recent Pew study shows there aren't as many middle class folk to come to Deadwood.
The proportion of Americans who identify with the middle class has never been lower, dropping  to 44% from 53% in 2008 during the first months of the Great Recession, according to a survey conducted Jan. 15-19. The share of the public who says they are in the lower or lower-middle classes rose by 15 percentage points, from 25% in 2008 to 40% today.
Further, many do not believe their lives will get better.
A Pew Research Center analysis of government data found that, since 2000, the middle class shrunk in size, fell backward in income and wealth, and shed some — but not all — of its characteristic faith in the future. 
Seth Michaels points out businesses seem to be ahead of the game.
As politicians and pundits in Washington continue to spar over whether economic inequality is in fact deepening, in corporate America there really is no debate at all. The post-recession reality is that the customer base for businesses that appeal to the middle class is shrinking as the top tier pulls even further away.
Businesses answer is to take steps to shrink the middle class even further.
As an employer like Darden Restaurants — owner of Olive Garden and Red Lobster — sees profits falling from their mid-priced outlets, it’s easier for them to shift focus to higher-end restaurants than pay Olive Garden employees enough to afford to eat there.
Deadwood is an indicator of a far larger problem that South Dakota's legislators seem willing to blithely ignore because it's easier to throw red meat about the evils of sin or seek simple solutions like selling more booze.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Scripture And Song For The Week: Habakkuk 2 Edition

Habakkuk 2
6 “Will not all of them taunt him with ridicule and scorn, saying,
“‘Woe to him who piles up stolen goods
    and makes himself wealthy by extortion!
    How long must this go on?’
7 Will not your creditors suddenly arise?
    Will they not wake up and make you tremble?
    Then you will become their prey.
8 Because you have plundered many nations,
    the peoples who are left will plunder you.
For you have shed human blood;
    you have destroyed lands and cities and everyone in them.
9 “Woe to him who builds his house by unjust gain,
    setting his nest on high
    to escape the clutches of ruin!
10 You have plotted the ruin of many peoples,
    shaming your own house and forfeiting your life.
11 The stones of the wall will cry out,
    and the beams of the woodwork will echo it.
12 “Woe to him who builds a city with bloodshed
    and establishes a town by injustice!
13 Has not the Lord Almighty determined
    that the people’s labor is only fuel for the fire,
    that the nations exhaust themselves for nothing?
14 For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord
    as the waters cover the sea.

Friday, February 7, 2014

An Issue South Dakota Republicans Should Not Debate

Mike Rounds is the prohibitive favorite, but I really don't care who wins the Republican primary for U.S Senate in South Dakota. I hope the Republican candidates and their surrogates discuss issues, but I am willing to let the candidates politically dismember each other in some gory re-enactment of a sacred king ritual.

Whether Rounds was a corrupt governor who engaged in nepotism is a substantive issue. Whether Stace Nelson has the temperament to serve is a valid issue. Likewise partisans can argue about Larry Rhoden's voting record as a Democrat or whether Annette Bosworth is indeed South Dakota's version of Christine "I am not a witch" O'Donnell. Both conversations have merit,

The substance of the following tweet, however, does not.

Ronald Reagan may well have been a better President than anyone who has been sworn in during the 21st Century. He may have made an iconic statement when he said "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!" That said, the rams horns didn't blow right after Reagan uttered that phrase and the walls didn't fall of their own accord. The way some conservatives venerate Reagan, one would believe that there's verses in the Bible that read:
And yea verily, when Reagan's word went forth, then did Gorbachev command that many Russians don fur hats and remove stones a great distance thence.
And so it was written and so it was done. Then all of the lands on the Earth celebrated and the finest meats and cheeses were brought to every table.
There's no "Revelation of St. Ronald the Conservative Icon" in the Bible. That arms for hostages trick was pretty shady, so that omission is understandable. Less understandable is the fact that conservatives violate Reagan's "Thou shalt not speak ill of another Republican" commandment with no remorse.

If I am going to vote on anyone's ability to remember a birthday, I'll vote for the candidate whose spouse vouches for the fact that the candidate has never forgotten the spouse's or their children's birthdays.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Sibby Provides Me With A Reason To Vote For Larry Pressler

I love teaching mythology. The young'uns appreciate the stories. They also appreciate the fact that myths or the remnants of myths surround them. For example Goodyear uses of Hermes' winged sandal in the company's logo. 

The snark beginnth now. That said, the myths remain buried in ancient history until yesterday when Steve Sibson elucidated a glorious possibility:
More on the Germanic Neopagans:
Germanic neopaganism, also known as Heathenism,ÁsatrúOdinismForn SiðrWotanismTheodism, and other names, is the contemporary revival of historical polytheisticGermanic paganism. Precursor movements appeared in the early 20th century in Germany and Austria, and a second wave of revival began in the United States, Great Britain, Iceland, Australia, and other places in the late 1960s. Dedicated to the ancient gods and goddesses of the North, the focus of Germanic neopagans varies considerably, from strictly historical polytheisticreconstructionism to syncretist(eclectic), Jungianoccult or mysticist approaches. Germanic neopagan organizations cover a wide spectrum of belief and ideals.
Now we should understand the pagan source of the 1960s New Age movement. Now we have Larry Pressler ....
If Sibby is correct and Larry Pressler is indeed a Germanic neopagan, he may eschew being sworn in on the Bible. We've already had a Muslim United States Congressman sworn in on a Koran; Pressler could find true neopagan symbols such as a branch of Yggdrasil or a representation of Mjolnir to swear on.

If Pressler confirms he is indeed a neopagan and indicates that he will use Mjolnir as part of his swearing-in ceremony, he has my vote. The sight of Thor's war hammer in the United Senate chamber would be a sight to gladden the heart of any mythology teacher even if Ragnarok is sure to follow

Herein endth the snark.

South Dakota Education Legislation: February 6. 2014 Edition

If all education bills being heard in committee today pass, SB 101 and SB 112 will allow teachers to discuss how an intelligent creator formed a fetus within the womb, but SB 131 will give students a free pass to skip class.

Given that outcome, I believe that an intelligent designer created the universe; I doubt the same can be said for these pieces of legislation.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Scripture And Song For The Week: Super Bowl Sunday Edition

Acts 9
5 And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks.