Friday, October 31, 2014

Quotation Of The Day: Governor Daugaard Should "Stop Making Fun Of Philosophy And Read Some Philosophy" Edition

The quoted part of the post's title comes from this Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry piece in The Week The guts of the argument:
And at the level of our society, there is a dramatic pragmatic stake in philosophy. We live in enormously complex, technologically advanced societies where we have the power to do a great deal of harm and a great deal of good. Our societies are built on complex institutions (such as "democracy," "the free market," and "science"), which are in turn premised on ways of looking at the world and on ideas about the world and humanity — in other words, on philosophy.
But we have become like people in a Star Trek episode whose planet is ruled by a benevolent artificial intelligence, and who live such charmed lives as a result that, over generations, they have forgotten how the computer works, so that when it breaks down, they are completely powerless to repair it, and have to call the Enterprise for help. Our entire civilization is built on technology called "philosophy" that, in many ways, we are losing a basic understanding of. . . .
. . .
Serious philosophy is valuable in itself. It is worth studying for its own sake.
But it is also the case that our society is built on ancient philosophy, and that if we forget how it works, very soon, we will break it — or it will break us.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Republicans Will Likely Sweep On November 4. So What?

South Dakota voters will likely give Republicans the key to every statewide office on November 4, 2014.  The Democrats will continue to hold a few seats in the legislature but are unlikely to make any measurable gains. For the foreseeable future Republicans will have complete political power within South Dakota. Although the political landscape may change dramatically, it's likely that Republican Senator John Thune and Republican Representative Kristi Noem will will re-election in 2016.

Republicans have no real reason to celebrate. The R next to their names on the ballot provided an automatic advantage. Democrats ran no one for attorney general. Susan Wismer's campaign was lackluster. Corinna Robinson's campaign for the House of Representatives and Angelia Schultz's campaign for South Dakota Secretary of State were nonexistent. Mike Rounds should feel a sense of relief because he dodged the consequences of his actions as governor, but he can also feel a small sense of satisfaction that he defeated Rick Weiland who ran a first-rate campaign

Human nature has not changed since the factual or metaphoric Eden. Lord Acton was correct: power corrupts and absolute power corrupt absolutely. Single party dominance means South Dakotans will continue to see sweetheart deals like those of EB-5 that stretch the law beyond recognition. It will be like the South during Long era. The Longs had the virtue of being characters; their South Dakota equivalents will be no less corrupt but much more boring.

Another fact that history illustrates is that concentrated power tends to breed inertia. South Dakota is famous for granite faces and low wages. That situation will remain constant for the foreseeable future.

Finally, I will keep blogging about politics. It's a great way to vent. That said, I agree wholeheartedly with this Rod Dreher sentence on his blog at The American Conservative: “I no longer believe that politics is capable of addressing the core of our social and cultural problems.” I also agree with this Ryan Booth statement from the same post.

As a former GOP political operative and activist who has come to the same conclusion, I am now trying to come with new standards for deciding whom to vote for. One thing that I have decided is that I don’t want to vote for any “Christian conservative” who expresses hatred for liberals, as I now believe such people hurt my witness as a Christian. If someone is running as a Christian, I want to see evidence of Christian love. So, my witness now comes first.
On social issues, I see a very interesting dynamic emerging. Whether they admit it or not, the GOP (and especially the Religious Right) has basically given up on America. Their idea of America has nothing in common with the depth of community Tocqueville found. It’s rather a vision of a lone family, left alone by government and everyone else, in the woods with their guns.
I suspect South Dakota politics will see much more of the latter paragraph before it sees any of the former.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Forget The Who Would You Want To Have A Beer With? As A Test For Supporting A Candidate.. . .

. . . Or yet another reason not to vote for Mike Rounds.

During every election cycle some talking head will claim that voters wind up voting for the candidate that they want to have a beer with. If the pundit it correct, I shouldn't vote. I don't recall any politician for statewide or federal office that I would want to have a beer with.

I propose, therefore,a new criterion to apply to the 2014 South Dakota Senate race: which candidate do you trust to help you if your child runs into trouble in a foreign country?

I believe Rick Weiland would do everything in his power to help me in that situation. I believe Larry Pressler would do everything in his power to help me in that situation. I believe Mike Rounds would not lift a finger to help me. He'd take time to take a phone call from Joop Bollen, but my problem would never appear on his radar.

Because one of the young'uns actually resides in a foreign county, this is not an academic question for me. It strikes at the core, and convinces me that there is no policy reason or personal reason to consider voting for Mike Rounds.

A Modest Proposal For South Dakota Democratic Voters: Leave The Attorney General Line Empty

One need not be named Cassandra, Sybil, Tiresias, or Edgar Cayce to have visions of South Dakota Attorney General Marty Jackley rummaging through Lowe's or Menards in search of a measuring tape to size the windows in the governor's office for new drapes in January 2019. He is going to be re-elected as attorney general. The only open question is whether setting the over/under at 87.49% is too low.

Democrats have turned incredibly average politicians like John Thune and Kristi Noem into juggernauts by not opposing them or running weak candidates against them.  They run the same risk with Jackley. They fielded no candidate to oppose him in this election, and his pseudo-Libertarian opponent Chad Haber may be the least qualified candidate in South Dakota history to seek the attorney general's office.

I, therefore, offer Democrats the following modest proposal: leave the attorney general line blank. Jackley will use his 75% or 85% or 93% of the vote number as a reason to support him in 2018. If, however, he earns tens of thousands fewer votes than other Republican, Democrats will have a small wedge to counter the fact they didn't oppose him for attorney general during this election cycle.

The emphasis should be on the word "small" or perhaps "minuscule." If, however, one has no wedge, obtaining even a tiny wedge is good first step.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Quotation And Chart Of The Day: You Shall Always Have The Poor With You Because It's Easy To Keep Them Poor Edition

From this Matt O'Brien post in the Washington Post:

Even poor kids who do everything right don't do much better than rich kids who do everything wrong. Advantages and disadvantages, in other words, tend to perpetuate themselves. You can see that in the above chart, based on a new paper from Richard Reeves and Isabel Sawhill, presented at the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston's annual conference, which is underway.
Specifically, rich high school dropouts remain in the top about as much as poor college grads stay stuck in the bottom — 14 versus 16 percent, respectively. Not only that, but these low-income strivers are just as likely to end up in the bottom as these wealthy ne'er-do-wells. Some meritocracy.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Mike Rounds And The Big Lie: Ending Waste, Fraud, And Abuse

If I understand Republicans correctly, they view government as being filled with "waste, fraud, and abuse." They contend that if government has any legitimate reason to exist, these irregularities must be eliminated. Further, they claim that because Republicans fulminate the two prior contentions, they deserve to be elected to whatever board, commission, legislature, or executive office they seek.

EB-5 may be a complicated mess, but it's a prime example of wasting millions and abusing any system of adequate checks and balances. Whether the legal definition of fraud occurred may be an open question, but the whole affair has the stench of corruption.

EB-5 occurred under Mike Rounds watch. Republicans allege ending "waste, fraud, and abuse" is their raison d'ĂȘtre. If a Republican enabled such practices rather than ended them,,one would hope voters would end that Republican's, in this case Mike Rounds, career.

A Midlife Crisis??

Blogging has been really slow since school started. I seem to be running out of time and feeling more tired than I've ever felt. Those feelings have prompted me to wonder whether I am going through a late mid-life crisis.

The stereotype of someone suffering a midlife crisis is the person overcoming ennui by buying a motorcycle or going off to Tibet to meet the Dali Lama. (The stereotype neatly skirts the fact that the Dali Lama now resides in India.)

I, on the other hand, am experiencing nostalgia for things I can only vaguely remember, using a double-edged razor along with a shaving brush and writing with fountain pens. The brush feels good and the pens write well, but neither is a Harley. I must have spent a lot time living wrong.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

A Minor Musing About The Wismer Candidacy

Last Monday, Cory posted a provocative question: "Wismer Not Winning Women’s Vote, Losing Third of Dems to Daugaard—Why?"

At my most cynical, the answer is people lie to themselves frequently. A sizable minority of South Dakotans who call themselves Democrats can more accurately be described as "anti-Republican." They may tell a pollster that education is one of their priorities; it may be a priority but there are 17 priorities above it.

And yet, there is a little fact that the cynic in me can't ignore That fact was driven home by a conservation I had during the weekend. An acquaintance who has recently attended a Susan Wismer event asked me my opinion. I hedged. My hedging led to the acquaintance's simple assessment: "She is . . . ahm . . underwhelming."

In South Dakota, an "underwhelming" candidate with an "R" behind the name can win local contests. An underwhelming candidate with a "D" behind the name is going to lose, badly.

Friday, October 10, 2014

A Minor Musing About Protest Votes

PNR recently put up a thoughtful post about voting for a candidate as opposed to voting against a candidate. If I am reading him correctly, the following sentences express his thesis.
Regardless, when you go into the voting booth, you don't get to vote against a candidate.  You can vote against ballot initiatives, amendments, etc., but not a candidate.  You have to either vote for or abstain.
PNR is writing about the Howie/Pressler/Rounds/Wieland Senate race. In that particular race, if reliable polls continue to show Rounds at 35% or lower, he is correct. Placing a check in the oval next to Weiland's or Pressler's name may indeed be a vote for them because they have a chance to be elected.

The rest of South Dakota's statewide races, however, are not competitive. In those races, marking the oval for someone other than Daugaard, Noem, Jackley. Krebs et al. can indeed be a protest vote. I fully intend to darken the oval by Emmett Reistroffer's name for no other reason than South Dakota third parties need support. Krebs is going to win that race easily, and all votes for someone other than Krebs are protest votes of one sort or another. Nearly every South Dakotan voting for someone other than a Republican is fully cognizant of that fact.

The ovals I will darken for someone other than Daugaard or Noem are just that, a vote indicating I don't believe those people will adequately provide South Dakota the service it needs. The vast majority of South Dakotans have made it clear that an "R" next to a name is all that is necessary to earn a vote.

If one is in a purple state or a competitive district in South Dakota, dissatisfied voters need to vote for the lesser of the the two evils. If one's electoral geography ensures that the winner is determined long before election day, one can vote against the evil of two lessers without indicating and indicate only opposition not support.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Are South Dakota Republicans Like John Boehner Or Do They Have A Plan?

Speaker of the United States House of Representatives John Boehner or one of his staffers send out the following inartful tweet.

In fairness to Boehner, the tweet does contain a link not just five blank lines. I have to wonder, do South Dakota Republicans, who will likely control the governor's office, increase their margin in the state house of representatives and the state senate, have any plan for jobs or anything else? Keeping wages low doesn't count really count as a plan.

Statistic Of The Day: U.S. Senate Control Will Be Determined By Less Than 4% Of U.S. Population Edition

From The Week:
34 states will have Senate elections this year, thanks to the rotating system of Senate terms,* But only about eight states have hotly contested races that will decide whether the GOP retakes the Senate: Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado, Iowa, Louisiana, Kansas, New Hampshire, and North Carolina.* Just 11 million people are likely to turn out to vote for Senate races in those states this November,* which means that roughly 3.4 percent of the total population of the United States will decide who controls the Senate in 2015.