Monday, June 30, 2014

Wadhams Hire Prompts Curiousity

This David Montgomery tweet and this Dakota War College post report the South Dakota GOP has hired Dick Wadhams as a senior political consultant. Wadhams gained fame as a key member of John Thune's 2004 campaign when Thune defeated Tom Daschle.

That victory notwithstanding, this decision seems odd.  Most recently, Wadhams served as a consultant for Mike Rounds during the 2014 Republican primary season. In that campaign Rounds' opponents were Larry Rhoden, a pale imitation of Rounds; Stace Nelson, a candidate with a concrete low ceiling; Annette Bosworth, a woman whose videos and public appearance made reality television seem to be serious art and Jason Ravnsborg, a candidate who gave new meaning to the term novice. Rounds won easily because of his weak opposition not Wadhams's advice.

In the general election, Democrats did not nominate candidates in the attorney-general, state auditor, and commissioner of school and public lands races.Further, Republicans are heavy favorites in each of the contested races, so Wadhams seems equally superfluous for this campaign

The hire prompts a variety of questions. Are the Republicans so flush with cash that they feel the need to spend some just for the sake of spending? Perhaps Wadhams is demanding a sinecure because he believes he was not properly rewarded in 2004 and the Republicans are obliging him. Neither rationale, however, seems to be one a fiscally conservative party would consider.

Perhaps party leaders are worried about some scandal coming to the fore, but Rounds, the person most likely to be harmed by known imbroglios, is in a four-way race and doesn't need to worry about capturing 50%. Is this an effort to marginalize the party's right wing? Wadhams history with the tea party is complicated to say the least.

Whatever the reason for the Wadhams hire, it illustrates that South Dakota politics is a trip that will get curiouser and curiouser as one stumbles throught the rabbit hole until the November elections

Paper, Flesh And Blood, And The Supreme Court

A little over a year ago many conservatives were contending that the Supreme Court was an agent of hell out to destroy religious liberty for all. In fact the same-sex marriage rulings were enabling the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse to give their steeds  free rein in the land of the free and the home of the brave. The stock price of sackcloth and ashes shot through the roof. Supporters of same-sex marriage, on the other hand, hailed the Supreme Court as a bastion of liberty and the guarantor of freedom to pursue happiness and live the American Dream to be married, have a family along with a car in every garage and a chicken in every pot.

Today, if my Twitter feed is any indication, conservatives believe the Supreme Court's decision in the Hobby Lobby case is a victory for religious liberty sure to usher in the next Great Awakening or a 21st Century miracle equivalent to that recorded in the second chapter of Acts. Liberals on the other hand seem to see today's decision as proof that the majority of the Supreme Court justices are the equivalent of  cheap streetwalkers providing sordid favors for corporations. (Hyperbole is the best way to deal with blessings and curses coming out the same mouths in such rapid order.)

Enough comments will be made about the how the rulings constrain or enable sexual and religious practices. I have no problems with either sex or religion. Those so inclined can insert their own joke about being naked in the public square here.

I am more interested in the status of flesh and blood persons as they relate to corporations. Today's ruling applies to "closely held corporations." The Wall Street Journal notes that closely held corporations have a limited number of stockholders and that the vast majority of corporations in the United States could be considered closely held corporations.
Closely held companies are owned by a relatively small number of investors, typically including their founding families and management. Roughly 90% of all companies in the U.S. are closely held, according to a 2000 study by the Copenhagen Business School.
If I understand today's ruling correctly, corporations, which are pieces of paper,  have the status of persons that are immortal and can act on their conscience with limited legal liability.  Flesh and blood humans die and are generally fully liable for their acts of conscience.

This ruling seems to create two classes of separate and unequal persons with the corporate persons having more rights and privileges than the flesh and blood persons. Today conservatives are cheering today's ruling because they view it as the victory of a corporate conscience over acts of individual licence.

I suspect today's blessings will turn to curses when this decision becomes a precedent that allows a future court to privilege the religious rights of a piece of paper over those of a devout flesh and blood Christian. When that happens, I expect many sermons to begin with Lamentations 3:15-18:
15 He has filled me with bitter herbs
    and given me gall to drink.
16 He has broken my teeth with gravel;
    he has trampled me in the dust.
17 I have been deprived of peace;
    I have forgotten what prosperity is.
18 So I say, “My splendor is gone
    and all that I had hoped from the Lord.” 

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Another Tool To Track Who Contributes To Congresspersons And Senators

OpenSecrets.org may be the gold standard when it comes to checking  political contributions, but Lifehacker.com points out that a new site, Contribution Explorer, reorganizes some of Open Secrets' data into an easy to read format:
After you put in a name, the web site lists the total contributions and breakdown by industry. It presents the information in an overview format, so it won't break down the individual or company contributions but it's good for a quick glance. Contribution Explorer pulls data fromOpen Secrets, which has more details, but Contribution Explorer is much easier to read. If all you want is a general sense of how much money a politician has raised and from what sources, check out the link.

Open Secrets has far more details, but it takes some work to ferret all of them out.

Senator John Thune's Page on Open Secrets
Contribution Explorer allows basic information to be readily accessible.

John Thune's Page on Contribution Explorer
According to this Dan Nosowitz post, voters will soon be able to follow the money:
The next phase of the project will include the voting record of each member of Congress alongside their contribution history, and the industries that publicly support/oppose the legislation. Once I have this, I can then begin to determine the relationship between when contributions are coming in and when votes are occurring.

I should add that I got an error message several times as I tried to access Contribution Explorer to write this post. I'm guessing the Lifehacker traffic caused a bit of an overload that should die down in a few days.

Quotation Of The Day: Physicist Explains Why Governor Daugaard Is Wrong About Usefulness Of Philosophy

Sean Carroll concludes his post "Physicists Should Stop Saying Silly Things about Philosophy" with the following:
The point, I take it, is to understand how nature works. Part of that is knowing how to do calculations, but another part is asking deep questions about what it all means. That’s what got me interested in science, anyway. And part of that task is understanding the foundational aspects of our physical picture of the world, digging deeply into issues that go well beyond merely being able to calculate things. It’s a shame that so many physicists don’t see how good philosophy of science can contribute to this quest. The universe is much bigger than we are and stranger than we tend to imagine, and I for one welcome all the help we can get in trying to figure it out.
Governors should also stop saying silly things about philosophy. Those who wish to be reminded of Daugaard's condescending attitude toward philosophical inquiry should read this Madville Times post. An earlier quotation of the day illustrating Daugaard's lack of critical analysis is here.

Scripture And Song For The Week: Isaiah 46 Edition

Isaiah 46
NIV
3 “Listen to me, you descendants of Jacob,
    all the remnant of the people of Israel,
you whom I have upheld since your birth,
    and have carried since you were born.
4 Even to your old age and gray hairs
    I am he, I am he who will sustain you.
I have made you and I will carry you;
    I will sustain you and I will rescue you.
5 “With whom will you compare me or count me equal?
    To whom will you liken me that we may be compared?
6 Some pour out gold from their bags
    and weigh out silver on the scales;
they hire a goldsmith to make it into a god,
    and they bow down and worship it.
7 They lift it to their shoulders and carry it;
    they set it up in its place, and there it stands.
    From that spot it cannot move.
Even though someone cries out to it, it cannot answer;
    it cannot save them from their troubles.

2014 Midyear Blog Review

First, the past six months have reaffirmed my belief that published posts take on a life of their own. I never thought this post documenting a poster that combined Common Core with common double entendre would receive more clicks than any other post published during the past six months.

Second, my proofreading skills have deteriorated. Some posts have been very sloppy. I apologize and will attempt to do better.

Third, my New Year's Eve predictions about Annette Bosworth as a candidate and Steve Hickey's effort to repeal the death penalty were both proven true. My snarky prediction about the Susan Wismer/Joe Lowe primary contest was shown to be incorrect.

Fourth, I had hoped to average two posts per day. I'm not even close. I think I'll settle for beating last year's total.

Fifth, I've tried several, but I still haven't found an Android app for Blogger that I like. I would like to do more posts while away from home and free Wi-Fi. I would also like to avoid buying a mobile hotspot.

Sixth, I have done too many recent posts as lists. I need to get back to regular paragraphs.

That's probably enough naval gazing for today.


Opposition To NSA Surveillance Should Be A Bipartisan Issue That Unites Steadfast Conservatives And Solid Liberals

A recent Pew Research Center poll reports that both ends of the political spectrum oppose NSA surveillance.

Opposition to NSA Surveillance Unites Conservatives, Solid Liberals

Yet, congressional gridlock prevents Congress from taking action to protect Americans civil liberties. It is a strange albeit welcome sign that the Supreme Court can overcome its ideological divide and provide a unanimous ruling protecting digital privacy. It is not a welcome sign, however, that an unelected court is better able to bridge its ideological divide than those elected to represent all citizens. 

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Mega Post About 2014 South Dakota Democratic Convention

I had wanted to break some of this down into two or three posts but WiFi in the meeting area was spotty. I probably should have written a post or two instead of taking notes last night during the banquet. Rookie mistake. Here in condensed form are observations that would have been made into whole posts had the tech gods and my inexperience at blogging live events not prevented it.

First, R.T. Rybak's speech last night indicated that Democrats, at least on the national stage, have developed a way to speak about values naturally without sounding defensive. In fact, R.T. Rybak's speech could easily have been turned into a standard Lincoln-Douglas debate case. (in South Dakota high school debate, Lincoln Douglas debate is about values and principles.) Rybak began by valuing the social compact, offered a criterion of communitarianism, followed by the contention that the fundamental reason one has for becoming a Democrat is the belief that in tough times people come together whereas Republicans believe that one must go it alone during tough times. Arguing that the Democratic belief represents South Dakota's real values, Rybak contended that those values belong in Pierre. It was a simple, clear case that was eloquently delivered

Second, I expected to see more anger or more red meat. Rick Weiland alluded to an anger on the prairie in his speech, but that was the only mention. Instead there seemed to be a bit of self recrimination that the party had strayed too far from the practices of George McGovern and needed to return to first principles. No speaker offered a concrete "how" unless one takes Rybak's injunction to talk to voters in "real English." Perhaps that's just as well. The issues that anger me the most, the national security state or top down education policies that are unproven and untested, have had bipartisan support.

Third, The argument that current economic policies are causing young people to leave the state and not return seems to have a special salience for South Dakota Democrats. Many seem to believe those who leave and permanently reside elsewhere tend to be Democrats or at least sympathetic to Democratic issues.

Fourth, I can see why party leaders believe Angelia Schultz is a rising star. She has energy and charisma. She is able to provide her extensive resume without sounding as if she's bragging.  Further, she's able to deliver powerful lines within a speech, especially parallel constructions, without sounding forced.  Most importantly, the simple message that electing Krebs means the office will be headed by a different person but will have the same problems should gain traction. I retain the concerns I expressed here.

Fifth, I was a little surprised that most speakers had trouble delivering parallel constructions in a way that sounded natural. That sort of rhetoric has been around long before President Kennedy delivered his "Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country . . .:  When those phrases are delivered well it's effective. A couple of Weiland staffers did an enthusiastic high-five after Weiland nailed his conclusion.

Sixth, Pat Powers protestations to the contrary, this was not a collection of elitists unless one considers South Dakotans from all walks of life elitists. The convention had a low turnout. I was just an observer, so I don't know why numbers were down.

Seventh, conventions need to do away with the resolution process. The platform needs to be discussed and debated, but  I watched the eyes of every person under 30 glass over as the resolution process continued. Given that the Republican debate on resolutions made their convention run hours late last weekend, I suspect more than a few eyes glassed over there as well. I'm very proud of several former students who were active with Democrats this week. I am equally proud of any who may have participated in the Republican convention last weekend. South Dakota needs smart young leaders. Spending hours on resolutions that have no direct policy impact, or worse, resolutions that make it seem that the state is led by vindictive, small-minded political hacks (yes, I'm talking about the impeachment resolution) need to go the way of the dodo. If the issue is important find a way to work it in the platform. One debate about language and procedure per convention is more than enough.

Eighth, if the Democrats made any unforced errors this weekend, it was leaving the state auditor race and the state attorney general race uncontested. A minority party should always fight for watchdog positions. Uncontested races in general are problematic, but a majority of voters within the state probably don't know there's a commissioner of school and public lands.

Earlier posts about the 2014 Democratic convention can be found here and here

South Dakota Democratic Party 2014 Banquet: A Minor Musing With A Boxing Metaphor Edition

I suspect there will be two stories that will dominate discussions of both Republican and Democratic true believers in the morning. The first is Tim Johnson's $200,000 gift to the South Dakota Democratic party. The second is Rick Weiland's decision to challenge Mike Rounds on EB-5.

Neither event should surprise anyone. Tim Johnson, who tonight reminded the audience that he is South Dakota's longest serving Democrat, likely doesn't want to be the last Democrat South Dakota elects to the United States Senate. The EB-5 imbroglio is a chink in Rounds's armor, and Weiland would be foolish not to attempt to exploit it. Tonight, he did a fairly good job of simplifying the story as well. Weiland took on the program not just alleged mismanagement of the program: "To sell residency to rich foreigners, as my opponent aggressively advocated throughout his tenure as Governor, and in a debate just this Spring, is not economic development, it is government enabled extortion, and it is wrong," Weiland said.

The major question I had this morning as I sat down to begin taking notes during Bernie Hunhoff's address was simple: can any of the Democrats at the top of the ballot give themselves a puncher's chance? In fact, I was wondering if any of them even knew how to throw a punch, let alone one that landed and would be scored.

Tonight Rick Weiland, Susan Wismer, and Corinna Robinson convinced me that each can deliver a solid, effective punch.. 

Weiland, Wismer, and especially Robinson need Ann Tornberg to put on her speech and debate coach hat and work with them on their delivery a bit. (When Tornberg coached at Beresford, she produced some of the best orators I have ever judged in my 20 years on the South Dakota high school debate circuit.) Robinson did, however, convince me that she knows how to tell her story in a way that will prevent Kristi Noem from reprising the sorts of ads and YouTube videos she used to mock Matt Varilek. Robinson was particularly effective in dismissing the  difficulty of unseating Noem when she said "tough is hugging your sons good-bye before going on yet another deployment."

I generally hate politicians' use of a friend or relative to tell an Horatio Alger story or a "win just one more for the Gipper" tale. Susan Wismer, however, delivered that sort of anecdote and I didn't start cursing. In fact, I found the story of a church full of people returning from out of state to honor a man at his funeral rather telling. Further, Wismer was able to simply categorize Governor Daugaard's economic development efforts as "bringing in out-of-state companies with an out-of-state work force."

Weiland seems much more comfortable in his own skin and much better able to deliver the populist rhetoric than he was last summer. Weiland mentioned his appreciation for the late Paul Wellstone and Wellstone's skills as a campaigner. Tonight, however, Wieland reminded me of another United States Senator from Minnesota, Hubert Humphrey who was called "The Happy Warrior." Weiland seems to be thoroughly enjoying the campaign.

Each of these candidates is still an underdog and each will have to hope that their Republican opponent makes an unforced error or two. Before this evening, I was fairly convinced that none of them could take advantage of any error their opponents might make. After their performance tonight, I believe each can.

My favorite political color is purple. I'm certain that some Democrats in Hawaii or California display the same hubris and sense of entitlement that some South Dakota Republicans exhibit. I'm also not an optimist by nature. Every glass I own is half empty and cracked. There will not be a blue tide in November, but Democrats have a puncher's chance of preventing a blood red November.That's a better chance than I thought they had this morning.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Tweet Of The Day: The Distinction Contemporary Education Misses Edition


Quotation Of The Day: A Republican Candidate With More Issues Than Annette Bosworth Edition

From this Eric Lach post on Talking Points Memo:

South Dakota Democrats Begin Convention With Quiet Determination. . .

And a bit of defiance.

Deb Knecht, South Dakota Democratic Party Chair began the breakfast session challenging the conventional wisdom that South Dakota Democrats face totally unwinnable races in November. Claiming to relish the challenge posed by those who claim something can't be done, Knecht saved a pointed barb for national groups that have written off South Dakota. "They don't know the kind of people we are in South Dakota, Knecht said. They don't know how hard we work."

In the session's main address, Representative Bernie Hunhoff, South Dakota House of Representatives Minority Leader told conventioneers, "South Dakota can do better. We have to do better."

Giving a brief history lesson, Hunhoff reminded delegates of recent party successes such as the effort to repeal HB 1234, Governor Daugaard's effort to alter the state's education system. and the Building South Dakota program. Using those efforts as a predicate, Hunhoff predicted that Medicaid expansion will happen in South Dakota and that Republicans who recently voted en bloc against it will vote en bloc for it.

Hunhoff drew a contrast between the small group of Democrats in the legislature and their Republican counterparts. "Those in power are cautious and timid," Hunhoff said. "It's not power, not the way they use it."

Hunhoff began his speech saying government contained two kinds of people; those who want to make things better and those who keep their hands on the brakes. He returned to that idea to conclude his speech by saying the South Dakota Republican Party's resolution advocating President Obama's impeachment was an example of that party "not trying to improve South Dakota." It was, Hunhoff said, "another example of the party in power keeping their hands on the brakes."

I hope the above paragraphs suffice for those like Joe Friday who want "just the facts." Having never attended a political convention before, I was unsure what to expect. Like most South Dakotans, these Democrats are a friendly and welcoming group. In fact, they take pride in the fact that their legislative caucus meetings are open to the public. In a few brief remarks before sending delegates off to committee meetings, Ann Tornberg, a convention co-chair, made it point to contrast that practice with the Republicans' closed sessions.

Granted these are folks are true believers, but there was a sense of confidence that predictions of a bleak November could be proven wrong. (I suppose I could have titled the post Heidelberger not the only optimistic South Dakota Democrat.)

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Is Bob Ellis The Love Child Of Darth Vader And Al Gore?

I ask because Ellis, the angriest man in the South Dakota blogosphere, favorably quotes interesting phrasing in his latest diatribe. It's not his conclusion:
As is always the case with liberals (in both parties), all the burden is on conservatives.  “Compromise” means “conservatives do what liberals want.” “Tolerance” means shut up and agree with liberals.” And “unity” means get behind the most liberal candidate available, regardless of party.
That's standard Ellis fare: "Liberals hate all that's good. Everyone who disagrees with me is a liberal because I am all that's good." Every time I read an Ellis column, I wonder what would happen if he were in a room with a dozen real liberals. I'm betting on spontaneous human combustion, but I digress.

The part of Ellis's post that prompted the question in the post's title was his use of this Steven Deace statement:
This will be a day long remembered. The day eyes were opened to the inconvenient truth . . . [italics in original]
It struck me as odd that a conservative crusader wouldn't recognize a quote from a Hollywood classic, conservatives believing Hollywood to be a liberal bastion of scum and villainy. It doesn't take a pop culture nerd to recognize that the first sentence was most famously uttered by Star Wars uber villian Darth Vader: "This will be a day long remembered. It has seen the end of Kenobi, it will soon see the end of the Rebellion."

As to the second part, surely all true conservatives remember An Inconvenient Truth was the documentary about Al Gore and his efforts to make climate change a major policy issue.

Maybe, I went too far with the love child question. It would take some weird cloning to create a love child from Gore and Vader. It's just as likely that Ellis is a closet RINO. Hollywood and Gore sure sound liberal to me.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Five Reasons This Election Cycle Looks Bleak For The Democrats

I hope I'm wrong because Democratic gubernatorial candidate Susan Wismer is correct: politics and government work better when true competition exists. At this moment, however, the elements necessary to provide that competition are woefully lacking.

First, abortion and sex education, arguably the nation's most divisive social issues, became the blogosphere's top talking points less than eight hours after Susan Wismer announced Susy Blake as her running mate for Lieutenant Governor. At Madville, Cory praised the Blake choice, in part, because "Blake pointedly fought South Dakota's offensive, misogynistic abortion restrictions. A short time later,  at DWC, Pat Powers produced a two-year old Aberdeen American News paraphrase that has Blake advocating sex education beginning in kindergarten. South Dakotans voted against an abortion law that was going to waste tax payers money for legal fees, but South Dakota's pro-lifers outnumber South Dakota's pro-choicers, and the former are more motivated on that single issue than the latter. If these issues dominate the debate, Daugaard's over/under approaches 70%.

Second, Democrats seem to have forgotten that everyone needs a foil on her side. This point should be obvious because the Democrats have a solid national example. In 2008, President Obama gave the impression of being young, eloquent, and cerebral. Joe Biden added the appearance of maturity and a bit of working class bluster to the ticket. Cory writes, "Blake looks and talks like the South Dakota mom next door. She's someone with whom any South Dakotan can envision chatting at the grocery store." I had to read that sentence twice to make sure he wasn't talking about Wismer.

On the Republican side Matt Michels produces a genuine smile whereas Governor Daugaard sneers and smirks. That distinction is clear and obvious. I really don't know what distinguishes Wismer from Blake. As a side note, it would not shock me if Daugaard doesn't have a couple of his lower level Mayberry Machiavellis in a basement creating a silly and cruel version of My Two Mommies to mock the Wismer/Blake ticket. It would, of course, be passed along only to the most judicious and discreet.


Third, the future isn't always now. Angelia Schultz may well be a rising star. Democrats believe she's embarking on a "political career that has a lot of potential." She also impressed Libertarian blogger Ken Santema who opines Schultz "may be one to watch out for in SD politics for years to come." Garnering positive reviews from both Democratic insiders and Libertarians is no mean feat. That said, one wonders about the wisdom of putting a political novice, no matter her potential, in the Secretary of State race that, thanks to Jason Gant's frequent missteps, will receive more attention than usual. If Schultz wins that tough race, her political future is secure. On the other hand, nothing crushes potential faster than losing two political contests in less than six months.

Fourth, Democrats seem to have a problem communicating. Schultz may be "logical" and possess "energy," but she apparently doesn't return phone calls. On another side note, Democrats haven't  sent me a return email about my requests to blog the Democrats' convention in Yankton this weekend. Ignoring the writer of a small blog is understandable; failing to return reporters' phone calls is not.

Fifth, Democrats, with the exception of Rick Weiland, apparently haven't read Sun Tzu.
Now the general who wins a battle makes many calculations in his temple ere the battle is fought.The general who loses a battle makes but few calculations beforehand. Thus do many calculations lead to victory, and few calculations to defeat: how much more no calculation at all! It is by attention to this point that I can foresee who is likely to win or lose.
Weiland has a recognizable strategy: be the everyman who's gone everywhere in South Dakota. I eagerly await someone explaining to me what the rest of the party is doing.

Quotation Of The Day: Republican Party Dichotomy Summed Up In One Sentence

In his American Conservative blog Rod Dreher sums up the Mississippi Republican U.S. Senate runoff. 
I am just glad I didn’t have to choose between Cochran, the exhausted establishmentarian, and McDaniel, running to be the Senator from Talk Radio. Shame they both couldn’t lose.
The description fits most Republican politicians. All one needs to do is change the names. For example, one could replace Cochran with Rounds and McDaniel with Howie.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

South Dakota Worst State In Region To Earn A Living

I doubt that South Dakota Governor Daugaard has ever given an interview in which he did not mention that South Dakota is a great place to do business. One could be forgiven if one believed that Daugaard stays up nights finding new ways to paraphrase Herbert Hoover: "The business of South Dakota is business."

I was off doing debate coach stuff for much of the past two weeks, so I may have missed Daugaard's reaction to MoneyRates.com's rankings of the best states to earn a living. (I also apologize if I missed other South Dakota blog posts about this study.) The criteria were pretty simple:
This study's rankings are based on each state's Compensation and Quality Factor, a proprietary metric based on these factors:
Average salary, according to figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
Cost of living, based on data from C2ER.
Employment rate, based on BLS data.
Workplace conditions, based on the "Work Environment" component of the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index.
South Dakota wasn't first on this list. That honor went to Washington state. South Dakota didn't make the top 10. Neighboring Minnesota ranked 3rd, North Dakota 7th, and Nebraska 10th. Scrolling down the list, two of our other neighbors were in the top twenty: Iowa ranked 15th and Wyoming 17th. Montana made it into the top 50 half of states coming in at 22.

South Dakota didn't make the top half. When it comes to earning a living, South Dakota is the best of the worst, coming in 26th. I'm not a marketing guru, but I doubt most people respond well to invitations to be "art of the best of the worst". Further, "Come Work in South Dakota; Earning a Living Here Is Only Slight More Difficult Than It Is In Montana" doesn't have much of a ring to it and it doesn't fit on a bumper sticker.

Businesses apparently appreciate a state that has a bunch of people willing to work hard for low pay. Workers on the other hand see the benefits of neighboring states that pay more, have better working conditions, and a cost of living that doesn't eat up the paycheck like Daugaard and his apologists claim those places do.

Given that business recruitment has been mediocre at best, some policies that make life better for workers might be in order.

Quotation Of The Day: Sean Hannity And Glenn Beck To Appear In Anti-Christian Film Edition

This Elizabeth Stoker article does an excellent job of illustrating Ayn Rand's hatred of Christianity and asks why those who believe there's a war on Christians would participate in a film based on Rand's Atlas Shrugged:
Contrary to Randian logic, a third and final installment is due in September, and to drum up viewership, producers have indulged in a bit of novelty casting. Ron Paul will be metastasizing from the small screen to the silver screen in his acting debut in the upcoming film, and will be joined on screen by Glenn Beck and Sean Hannity, evidently in an effort to draw out the audiences each of them already commands. For the film itself, it's an embarrassing move, underscoring the painful degree to which Atlas isn't quite able to interest viewers on its own merits; for Hannity, Beck, and Paul, however, it begs a more profound moral question.
One can imagine the collective shriek of indignation that would come from right-wing pundits like Hannity if a left-wing politician and pundits summarily elected to appear in a film with a dubious moral message. If Joe Biden and Rachel Maddow were to announce joint appearances in a stylish remake of Caligula, for instance, the outrage would likely be intense and instantaneous. So why the sanguine agreement on the part of three outspokenly Christian political players to appear in a film so deeply and totally antithetical to Christian ethics?

Stoker concludes:
But Buckley, like Chambers, didn't capitulate to Rand and her philosophy; they understood correctly that there is no room for Objectivism in a coherent, genuine Christianity. While Rand's ideal human is self-interested and self-sufficient, the Christian person is devoted to serving others and is always in need: of God, forgiveness, grace, mercy, and the love of Christ. The ideal Randian person, on the other hand, is entirely capable of managing and perfecting his own satisfaction, a far cry from the Christian understanding of a person as perfectable, but not through his own means.
Of course, that aspect of Christianity is a problem for those who prefer to think of themselves as John Galt-esque supermen. Indeed, the disturbing trend of trying to force Christianity to accommodate Rand's antithetical philosophy is likely a result of her seductive appeal to the very egoism Christianity warns against. It's a shame conservatives like Paul, Beck, and Hannity have lost the courage of conviction that motivated Buckley and Chambers (among others) to call a spade a spade when it came to Rand; the resulting 'philosophy,' if it can be called that, amounts to a vitiated version of Objectivism as well as a pathetic Christian testimony. That Paul, Beck, and Hannity intend to peddle this mess to their broad audiences bodes poorly for a right wing that once knew better.

Monday, June 23, 2014

A Modest Proposal To Guide South Dakota Democrats As They Respond To South Dakota Republicans Formally Calling For President Obama' s Impeachment

The fact that South Dakota Republicans in convention assembled called for President Obama's impeachment has caused no small stir. Earlier today, reporter David Montgomery tweeted that the Argus Leader story about the impeachment has been shared over 40,000 times.
Republicans clearly believe they are on the side of the angels. After all, at least one delegate is offering to pray for those who cannot see the need to impeach President Obama.

Last week, I had the opportunity to speak with a life-long Democrat who opined that Republicans' dislike of the President stems from the fact that Obama is a black man who is a President not a waiter. I suspect that not a few Democrats and left-leaning independents share that view and believe that this resolution is racially motivated. They may even believe that a Republican delegate contemplated giving a speech similar to one that Homer Stokes makes in this scene from O Brother Where Art Thou. Given the nature of the resolution, the speaker would, of course, change the word "hang" to " impeach." (Those of you who hate watching YouTube Clips should go to the 50 second mark or click on the Homer Stokes link to read the speech.)



Because so many Democrats believe that Republicans hate Barack Obama merely because of his race, South Dakota Democrats will likely be sorely tempted to issue a strongly worded resolution condemning their Republican neighbors for lacking charity for all while possessing malice toward one.

Such a resolution would no doubt be satisfying but counterproductive. It would certainly be expected. Because Democrats are a minority party within South Dakota, they need to move beyond the expected. I modestly suggest that they, in the spirit of bipartisanship, echo the call for impeachment if said impeachment proceedings are accompanied by war crimes trials for former President George W. Bush and former Vice-President Dick Cheney.

Now some Republicans who backed their impeachment resolution might take umbrage at the fact that prisoner exchange not sanctioned by Congress differs greatly from starting a war under false pretenses. The blood and treasure lost by latter pales in comparison to that lost by the former. There are,however, ways to get them to support this resolution if the Democrats propose it.

To put South Dakota Republicans at ease, South Dakota Democrats should call for the impeachment trial and the war crimes trials to be held in South Dakota. Surely, there can be no better backdrop for an impeachment trial than Mount Rushmore. The Crazy Horse Monument would be an equally impressive site for a war crimes tribunal.

Further, one would suspect that more than a few Republican and Democratic business owners who derive most of their income from tourist dollars might worry that the Republican impeachment resolution will cause a small backlash. These trials would likely bring thousands of tourists, many of them rather wealthy high rollers, to the state.

I suppose some on the political left might be ill-mannered enough to point out that two of the faces on Mount Rushmore honor slave holders and that Native Americas were truly the victim of war crimes. They might vociferously point out that historic grievances are being overshadowed for the sake of political spectacle. Surely, a beautiful backdrop would cover multitude of such minor sins.

Only the most rabid partisan could object to a plan that promotes bipartisanship and increases South Dakota's tourist trade, so I can see few objecting to this modest effort to heal any harm that the Republican's prayerful effort has caused.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Tweet Of The Day: South Dakota Republicans Support Tying Teacher Pay To Test Scores Edition

 David Montgomery gives the numbers.:

I'm pretty sure this falls under the if you aren't against it, you're for it category.

Quotations Of The Day: Political Ignorance Edition

From this Salon post:
This rising tide of [political] ignorance threatens the very foundation of American democracy. Bertolt Brecht, the 20th century German playwright and poet, wrote, “The worst illiterate is the political illiterate, he doesn’t hear, doesn’t speak, nor participates in the political events. He doesn’t know the cost of life, the price of the bean, of the fish, of the flour, of the rent, of the shoes and of the medicine, all depends on political decisions. The political illiterate is so stupid that he is proud and swells his chest saying that he hates politics. The imbecile doesn’t know that, from his political ignorance is born the prostitute, the abandoned child, and the worst thieves of all, the bad politician, corrupted and flunky of the national and multinational companies.”
. . . .“The United States is a country that is increasingly defined by a civic deficit, a chronic and deadly form of civic illiteracy that points to the failure of both its educational system and the growing ability of anti-democratic forces to use the educational force of the culture to promote the new illiteracy. As this widespread illiteracy has come to dominate American culture, we have moved from a culture of questioning to a culture of shouting and in doing so have restaged politics and power in both unproductive and anti-democratic ways,”
In other words, when Republicans say there is no such thing as gravity, and Democrats reply that gravity is real, CNN and the like say, “Look, Democrats and Republicans are fighting again,” which not only exacerbates the nation’s anti-intellectualism and anti-rationalism, but also increases the likelihood of extremist views and falsehoods taking hold in the national electorate.

Scripture And Song For The Week: Mark 13 Edition

KJV
7 And when ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars, be ye not troubled: for such things must needs be; but the end shall not be yet.
8 For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be earthquakes in divers places, and there shall be famines and troubles: these are the beginnings of sorrows.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Using Sex Appeal To Sell The Common Core.

This poster is attached to a stall door in a men's staff  restroom of a Kansas City middle school. Perhaps it's ironic. If not, it does seem to illustrate the truism that lower quality products or ideas have the highest need to sell with sex or at least double entendre.

Common Appeal for Common Core

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Kansas City Nationals Playlist

Later tonight, some of the young'uns and I will be going to Kansas City, Kansas to participate in the National Speech and Debate Association National Tournament.. I believe it would be impolite if I were to carry around Thomas Frank's What's the Matter with Kansas, so I decided to pick out a little road trip music with Kansas or Kansas City connections.

Eagles guitar player Joe Walsh is a Kansas native. The guitar solo on "Hotel California" is still one of the best I've ever .



Yeah, it's cheap but Kerry Livgren, the lead singer for Kansas is actually from Kansas. Besides, Mother Plainsman prays for peace for her wayward son every night.



Martina McBride is a Kansas native. Although this song is not one of her country classics, most debaters have "Suspicious Minds."


Jennifer Knapp recorded an album entitled Kansas. This is one of my favorite songs from that album.


Friday, June 13, 2014

The David Brat Victory Has Produced Good Results

The Brat victory and some reactions to it have led to this Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry column "It's Urgent To Put The Liberal Arts Back At The Center Of Education" in  Forbes. Contra South Dakota Governor Dennis Daugaard, Gobry asserts that education ought not exist solely to crate workers:
Nobody stops to ask what education is for, because the answer is implicitly accepted by all: an education is for getting a job. It is, in other words, for being a cog in the giant machine of post-industrial capitalism. It is, in other words, for the opposite thing that our forefathers wanted for us. I do not use these words lightly, but it is against–in the sense that a headwind is against a ship–the very foundations of our liberty and our civilization.
Before reaching this conclusion, Gorby runs through a brief primer on a liberal education and virtue. Did I mention this post was on the Forbes website?

Back to David Brat, apparently he wrote an academic paper asserting that the state retains a legitimate monopoly on violence. At the National Review Charles Cooke runs down the outraged reactions (PNR is off to other duties this week, so it falls to me to be the member of the South Dakota blogosphere who posts an NRO quotation .)
“Unusual” and “eye-opening” was the New York Daily News’s petty verdict. In the Wall Street Journal, Reid Epstein insinuated darkly that the claim cast Brat as a modern-day fascist. And, for his part, Politico’s Ben White suggested that the candidate’s remarks “on Neitzsche and the government monopoly on violence don’t make a whole lot of sense.” As is its wont, the progressive blogosphere lost its collective marbles too: One contributor sardonically described Brat’s claim as a “doozy,” while another contended that such opinions were sufficient for “one to question his, shall we say, cognitive coherence.”
Cooke then goes on to take these reporters to task for not understanding a relatively basic concept enunciated by Max Weber. Cooke also rightly faults both ends of the political spectrum for using language imprecisely:
To refuse to subordinate language to politics is the first and most important duty of the free man. Alas, both Left and Right too often lean toward imprecision and pretense when it suits their ends, shooting sharpened daggers at plain-speaking sorts who dare to express the less pleasant truths of our society in harsh and unlovely language. The Left reacts with particular exasperation when one observes that taxation is forced confiscation of property; the Right when one points out that firearms are lethal weapons whose purpose is to kill.
Brat's candidacy has brought about a column discussing the nature of government and a column explaining that education ought to create citizens not workers. Apparently, he also defeated an arrogant ass. If only he could just get rid of that Ayn Rand fetish.

I Offer Gordon Howie Unsolicited Campaign Advice

Gordon Howie has run for statewide office more than I have, but he apparently has learned little from his experience. I'm going to try to keep this simple. In order to defeat Mike Rounds Howie has to get tens of thousands more South Dakotans to vote for him than he did in his last campaign. He seems to be on track to drive off everyone who did not vote for him last time.

Let's start with this clip art that graced a campaign post about Eric Cantor's defeat.


First, some might consider using this image to celebrate the defeat of Jewish candidate bad form at best anti-Semitic at worst. Let's leave those discussions aside for the moment. This image might bring scores of people to a mega-church; it's going to bring zero voters to the campaign. Mistakes happen, but this image needs to go back to the clip art file for the rest of the campaign.

Second, a good campaign would politely tell @RiNOMikeSD to STFU!

Every South Dakotan who follows politics and most who don't  know Howie loves God and guns. Some may question whether he loves the deity more than weapon, but none doubt his devotion.. Some cynical folk may even read the tweet to indicate that Howie believes he's a god among men. If that phrase becomes part of the Howie campaign talking points, Howie will lose every undecided voter whose politics are to the left of Atilla the Hun.

There's my free advice. Nothing too drastic, but it may keep Howie about 2%.

What's The Difference Between A Politician And A Jerk?

Based on this Eric Schwitzgebel unified theory of jerkitude, probably not much.
I submit that the unifying core, the essence of jerkitude in the moral sense, is this: the jerk culpably fails to appreciate the perspectives of others around him, treating them as tools to be manipulated or idiots to be dealt with rather than as moral and epistemic peers. This failure has both an intellectual dimension and an emotional dimension, and it has these two dimensions on both sides of the relationship. The jerk himself is both intellectually and emotionally defective, and what he defectively fails to appreciate is both the intellectual and emotional perspectives of the people around him. He can’t appreciate how he might be wrong and others right about some matter of fact; and what other people want or value doesn’t register as of interest to him, except derivatively upon his own interests. The bumpkin ignorance captured in the earlier use of ‘jerk’ has changed into a type of moral ignorance.
Some related traits are already well-known in psychology and philosophy – the ‘dark triad’ of Machiavellianism, narcissism, and psychopathy, and James’s conception of the asshole, already mentioned. But my conception of the jerk differs from all of these. The asshole, James says, is someone who allows himself to enjoy special advantages out of an entrenched sense of entitlement. That is one important dimension of jerkitude, but not the whole story. The callous psychopath, though cousin to the jerk, has an impulsivity and love of risk-taking that need be no part of the jerk’s character. Neither does the jerk have to be as thoroughly self-involved as the narcissist or as self-consciously cynical as the Machiavellian, though narcissism and Machiavellianism are common enough jerkish attributes. My conception of the ‘jerk’ also has a conceptual unity that is, I think, both theoretically appealing in the abstract and fruitful in helping explain some of the peculiar features of this type of animal, as we will see.

A Minor Musing About The State Auditor's Race

Unless South Dakota's Democrats have developed a campaign strategy that copies the time travel strategy of Charles Xavier and Magneto from X-Men: Days of Future Past, incumbent governor Dennis Daugaard will easily defeat Democrat Susan Wismer and Republicans will easily maintain dominance of the South Dakota legislature.

Given that reality, Democrats should make taking the State Auditor's office a priority. The website for the current Republican Auditor asserts
The State Auditor serves as the taxpayers' watchdog. It is the State Auditor who scrutinizes the manner in which state tax dollars are being spent. Simply stated, the Office of State Auditor is constitutionally the office of "checks and balances" of state government.
Quite frankly, it should be an easy sell that the party that controls the executive branch and the legislature should not be allowed to monitor itself. The EB-5, or whatever one wishes to call it, debacle should be all the proof that one needs to see state funds have not always been used properly.

The candidate would have to craft the message carefully; conceding that many of the other Democrats running for state office are going to lose is not the best way to build confidence or insure that the party will have a complete slate of candidates during the next election.cycle. That said, most South Dakotans know that Republicans have dominated the state for recent decades. If a candidate runs as a reformer who will make every effort to ensure that a little sunlight will shine on the darker areas of state spending, that campaign should resonate with voters.

Last night, Pat Powers sneered at idea that Democrat Angelia Schultz would run for the State Auditor position. She may not be the right person for the job, but Democrats are on the right track by creating the impression that that they believe this office is a priority.

Weiland's Populist Rhetoric May Catch On

Rick Weiland may be on to something with his "I'm a populist" rhetoric. Democratic strategist Doug Sosnick senses that the country is ready for some populist leadership:
There is a pent up desire for dramatic change that has been shaped by a confluence of major events in the United States and around the world. In the last 10 years the country has fought two wars, faced the greatest worldwide economic meltdown since the 1930s and experienced the most significant technological transformation since the Industrial Revolution. The nation has also undergone a major demographic makeover, shifting from a majority white country to an increasingly multicultural society. Throughout this period our leaders have failed to manage the pace of all this change and to face up to the severity of our challenges, resulting in disillusionment and deep divisions among the public by race, age and income.
Writing at the National Journal, Ron Fournier sums up Sosnick's analysis and adds some concrete examples:
Populists from the right and the left—from the tea party and libertarian-leaning Rand Paul to economic populist Elizabeth Warren—are positioning themselves among the insurgents. Sosnik pointed to six areas of consensus that eventually may unite the divergent populist forces:
  • A pullback from the rest of the world, with more of an inward focus.
  • A desire to go after big banks and other large financial institutions.
  • Elimination of corporate welfare.
  • Reducing special deals for the rich.
  • Pushing back on the violation of the public's privacy by the government and big business.
  • Reducing the size of government.
Thinking about traditional Republicans going on tilt over a fusion ticket combining Rand Paul and Elizabeth Warren may make me smile for the rest of the summer. (The quotation doesn't mention a fusion ticket, but a blogger can dream.

The populist agenda that Sosnick and Fournier outline should make Weiland smile as well. Weiland can take that agenda for his own, but Rounds cannot, even if one counts eliminating the Department of Education as a serious effort to reduce the size of government.

Rounds, of course, will spend nearly all of time trying to tell voters that Weiland will increase the size of government and hope that they will not notice that the former governor will maintain the status quo on the the other five issues

The devil, as always, is in the details, but quite frankly, this would be a platform worth supporting. If Weiland can craft the details carefully, the race  may become much more competitive,

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Chart Of The Day: Americans View Members Of The Opposite Political Party As Threats to The Nation Edition

After reading the results of this Pew Research Center Poll, it would be fun to make a snarky comment about Democrats and Republicans just not being that into each other, but this split seems a bit too serious for snark.


Andrew Sullivan contends the nation is in a cold civil war. At times Sullivan tends toward hyperbole; however, if over a third of Republicans believe Democrats are a threat to the nation's well being while over a quarter of Democrats feel the same about Republicans, then one must question if the nation has now become a house divided against itself.

The Hardest Working Candidate In South Dakota Is Supposed To Quit?

This morning Bob Mercer, presumably fully dosed on coffee and Red Bull, suggests that Rick Weiland should drop out of the United States Senate race in order to give Larry Pressler and Gordon Howie a chance to defeat Mike Rounds. Predictably, Cory Heidelberger takes umbrage while Pat Powers chortles. Were Weiland to act on Mercer's suggestion, Rounds's over/under in the November election would move from 48.5% to 69.5%.

Mercer points out "[n]o candidate for statewide office worked harder than Rick Weiland did in the past year." Therein lies the proverbial rub. The Democrats have their hardest working candidate race that will be the most difficult to win. The party rejected its second hardest working candidate Joe Lowe in favor of Susan Wismer in the gubernatorial race. In the United States House race, Corinna Robinson has been the political equivalent of Susan Storm Richards, Marvel Comics Invisible Woman. So far the party has no announced candidates for the attorney general or secretary of state races.

In a state filled with people who pride themselves on their work ethic, it is ironic that a respected political commentator would seriously urge the hardest working candidate to withdraw. Those of us who want a functioning two-party within the state find it depressing that minority parties within the state have so few candidates willing to emulate Weiland's Sisyphean efforts.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Quotation Of The Day: Professor Schaff Shows Governor Daugaard Is Wrong Factually And Philosophically Edition

From Professor Schaff's latest Pierre Capitol Journal column:
It is worth noting that in the influential study Academically Adrift, Richard Arum and Josipa Roska show that humanities and social science majors learn the most in college.  According to LeBar, the  Educational Testing Service, which runs some of the best known standardized tests in the nation, has data showing, “liberal arts students score significantly higher than any other field in both the verbal and analytical writing sections of the GRE [the entrance exam for most graduate programs], and philosophy students outperform accounting students in the quantitative section.”
Also, as reported by Carolyn Gregoire, according to the Association of American Colleges and Universities “humanities and social science majors earn a similar amount as pre-professional majors do over a lifetime.” Gregoeire notes that David Rubenstein, co-founder of the Carlyle Group, recently said that “career-specific skills can often be learned on the job -- whereas critical thinking and problem-solving skills are invaluable benefits of a humanities education -- as demonstrated by the many Wall Street executives who studied humanities in college.”
So why do we consistently push our “best and brightest” into STEM subjects and focus financial resources in this direction?  One cannot deny the value of mathematics, for example, which concerns about half of what our brains do.  But an overemphasis on what are deemed more “practical” subjects has distracted us from cultivating the whole human person, and our economy may pay the price.
The whole column is worth reading.

Eric Cantor, Mosul, And The February 5, 1973 Issue Of Newsweek

Two events occurred yesterday that should keep the entire blogsophere and cable talking heads busy for a long time. First, Mosul, Iraq's second largest city, fell to insurgents. Second Eric Cantor, the Republican leader in the House of Representatives.was defeated in a Republican primary.

If I grudgingly give in to my cynical nature, the former event makes me glad we have eliminated cable from our household because I will not have to listen to Lindsey Graham and other neocons advocate unrealistic, bellicose responses. The latter event will give me further reason to believe that the Tea Party has an Ayn Rand fetish that borders on obscene. If, after reading these compiled analyses and this comment section about another subject of controversy, I give my cynicism free rein, I might conclude that some on the far right will accept that humans cause global warming if those humans happen to be undocumented aliens living within the United States.

Today, however, I will hold on to the few remaining better angels in my nature and muse that that yesterday's big stories may cause us to miss something equally important. For evidence, I offer the February 5, 1973 issue of Newsweek.


As the cover would indicate, the issue devotes 9 of its 92 pages to the Viet Nam War's end. Lyndon Johnson's death and funeral earn 8 pages. The Roe v Wade Supreme Court decision rates 2 pages of coverage. The combined Agnew/Nixon scandals receive about 1 1/2 pages. In one week, America saw the end of one battle in the cultural war, the beginning of a new one, and the end of the New Deal era while the 20th Century's largest political scandal simmered. It was not a slow news cycle.

Given those historic events, readers should be forgiven if they missed an italicized, funny sounding word on the last line of page 61, jihad. That concept,or a complete perversion of that concepts, and American reaction to it have dominated American foreign policy, cost untold losses of blood and treasure, and given rise to an Orwellian national security state.

Perhaps yesterday's events aren't hiding a word or event that will dominate public discourse decades from now, but the February 5, 1973 issue of Newsweek ought to serve as reminders that historic events often hide the seeds of events that dominate the next generation's political and cultural zeitgeist.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Five Questions About South Dakota Politics

I spent the day working with young debaters who have qualified for the National  Speech and Debate Association National Tournament. The were arguing about NATO intervention in Ukraine or whether the United States should emphasize national security at the expense of citizens' digital privacy.

I guess the practice rounds at Brookings High School must have caused me to believe the school year was still in full swing because I started to think about, for lack of a better term, essay questions about South Dakota politics.

Answer whichever one of the following  you choose in the comments. As with all essay questions support your answers with concrete examples and verifiable statistics.

Question 1: Will South Dakotans ever elect a pro-life Democrat or a pro-choice Republican to statewide office? (Debate coaches, that does sound a lot like an extemp question, so no triangles in the comments.)

Question 2: Although South Dakotans are open about a great divide between East River and West River residents, a far wider gulf seems to exist between Native Americans and those of European decent. What should be done to address those stark divisions? Bonus question: why do so few discuss the issue?

Question 3: Given that Republicans have maintained what amounts to a super-majority in the state legislature and the executive branch even though Democrats and Independents outnumber Republicans within South Dakota, what policy initiatives should Democrats initiate to gain the support of Independent voters?

Question 4: Question : Can a South Dakota politician be successful in a statewide race if he or she openly claims to dislike hunting and fishing?

Question 5: Why have those South Dakotans who claim the Second Amendment is under threat and who oppose background checks or a ban on assault weapons focus exclusively on firearms? Doesn't the right to "keep and bear arms" include all knives or collapsible batons which some localities restrict?

Monday, June 9, 2014

What Good Is $100 Million For Security Without An MRAP

Like others, I wondered why South Dakota needed more money per-capita than New York for homeland security. 

As a South Dakotan used to my state getting its fair share or more of the federal government's security largess, I was, therefore, greatly troubled to learn that South Dakota is one of a handful of states that has not received a Mine Resistant Ambush Protected armored vehicle. This handy chart from the New York Times shows that all of our neighbors have at least one such vehicle.

NYT chart. Click to enlarge
On a slightly more serious note, the article also points out that the sheriff's department North Dakota's Walsh County has 40 silencers that they apparently were unaware of.  One wonders what military equipment South Dakota's law enforcement agencies possess wittingly or unwittingly

 Its worth questioning whether most police departments need military equipment. The equipment does seem to give rise to responses that are much more muscular than necessary:
The equipment has been added to the armories of police departments that already look and act like military units. Police SWAT teams are now deployed tens of thousands of times each year, increasingly for routine jobs. Masked, heavily armed police officers in Louisiana raided a nightclub in 2006 as part of a liquor inspection. In Florida in 2010, officers in SWAT gear and with guns drawn carried out raids on barbershops that mostly led only to charges of “barbering without a license.

Taken in that light, lack of an MRAP is probably a positive for South Dakotans' safety unless Montana,Wyoming, North Dakota, Nebraska, Iowa,and Minnesota coordinate an invasion.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Tweet Of The Day: Political Parties Frequently Mirror Images Of Each Other Edition

I Am Going To Vote For Terry Winter

The preposition in the post's title is important. It's been a long time since I voted for someone.

In November, I will mark a box that indicates I chose Rick Weiland, Larry Pressler, or Gordon Howie to be South Dakota's next United States Senator. Whichever candidate I select, my vote likely will not be for him, It will be against Mike Rounds who created budgets that allowed his successor to decimate education funding in South Dakota and who will likely support every effort to increase the scope of the national security state.

I will also mark a box indicating support for Susan Wismer or Mike Myers. That vote will certainly be a vote against Dennis Daugaard, a smiling Machiavellian who will pursue policies that guarantee "the least of these" continue to get less.

To her credit, Kristi Noem has taken to issuing press releases on the evils of human trafficking, but her vapid mouthing of red meat talking points will leave me not choice but to vote against her by checking the box next to Corinna Robinson's name. (I confess that I fear Robinson, whom I once had high hopes for as a candidate, will prove herself to be so ineffectual on the campaign trail that I may not vote for either one.)

When I mark the box next to Terry Winter's name, I will be voting for Terry Winter for District 18 Representative for the South Dakota House of Representatives. This vote will not be against incumbent Mike Stevens or Jean Hunhoff who is seeking this state house seat while Bernie Hunhoff runs for the state senate.

Terry will bring an understanding of what all of the polices imposed by Pierre have done to the average classroom teacher. Most importantly, he will fight for those Rounds, Duagaard, and the rest of the state's power structure have ignored. He will bring a sharp intellect and well honed wit to floor debates. Terry will speak truth to power with the wisdom of and, if one can trust Hollywood, the physical features and voice of an Old Testament prophet.

I have few illusions. Mike Stevens will have a campaign that's better funded than Terry's, and Stevens has conservative bona fides that ensure him a large base. Jean Hunhoff is part of a family dynasty; she too will have more than enough financial support; further, any vulnerabilities she may have lie to her right flank, political ground Winter does not occupy. For all I know, this endorsement may cost him a vote or two, although by November, most will have forgotten the post.

I am a realist and know that, if elected, Terry will cast votes I disagree with. Thankfully, he marches in lockstep with no one. It will be refreshing to vote enthusiastically for someone rather than against the status quo. Besides,anyone who can make less cynical about the political process, deserves to be elected.

Scripture And Song For The Week: Ecclesiastes 7 Edition

Ecclesiastes 7
NIV
29 This only have I found: God created mankind upright, but they have gone in search of many schemes.”

Saturday, June 7, 2014

South Dakota YouTube Channels?

I believe this post constitutes a bleg. I recently discovered that regular Madville Times commenter Stan Gibilisco has a rather extensive YouTube channel. Does anyone know of any other South Dakota YouTubers who produce content independentof the South Dakota blogosphere?  Please let me know in the comments.

Developing South Dakota's Democratic And Independent Candidates' Personas: Marvel Universe Edition

It's Saturday morning. The primary season made some folks testy and gave others a headache. There's going to be a long, hot, humid summer before Labor Day and then we will be bombarded by too many bad commercials and too much noisy campaigning between Labor Day and election day. It's time for a little levity.

The South .Dakota Republican candidates are prohibitive favorites in each of the statewide races that have been determined by primary: governor, United States Senate, and United States House of Representatives. It, therefore, behooves fans of both politics and comics to look at what Marvel Comics personas the Loyal Opposition, a motley but plucky collective who will be opposing the Republican nominees, should adopt.

In the United States Senate race, the Republicans have nominated Mike Rounds who seems protected by Teflon and Kevlar. He will be opposed by Democrat Rick Weiland and Independents Larry Pressler and Gordon Howie.

Having visited every town in South Dakota, loyal opponent Rick Weiland has showed he has plenty of endurance, one of 'Wolverine's powers. All Weiland needs to do is add adamantium claws and mean streak to cut through both Teflon and Kevlar.


Gordon Howie wants to bring true conservative thunder to the race. Quite frankly, the best fit for anyone trying to bring that thunder is Thor, the Norse god of thunder. Taking on the persona of a pagan god might also allow Howie to show that he's willing to be inclusive of those beyond his conservative Christian base.


Former Senator Larry Pressler has been out of the public view since he left office in January of 1997. Captain America was on ice from the end of World War II until the Avengers revived him in the early 1960s. Captain America uses his age to bring to the fore good old-fashioned American virtues; Pressler has video of his ability to avoid the vice of greed. Rounds association with EB 5 program and its assorted irregularities may make him vulnerable on that front. More importantly Pressler has political history that is being mined for for weak spots. Cap's shield may come in handy if Rounds decides to run a a few attack ads.



In the gubernatorial race, incumbent Dennis Daugaard will face loyal opponents Democrat Susan Wismer and Independent Mike Myers.

Conventional wisdom has it that Wismer needs to bring a little lightning to her campaign. No female superhero can do that job better than Storm.


Myers is the longest of long shots who needs to dramatically alter all known laws of probability. Fortunately, the Marvel Universe has a relatively unknown character with the proper name and probability altering powers, Longshot.


Finally Corinna Robinson needs to demonstrate strength and intellect to defeat incumbent Republican Congresswoman Kristi Noem. Although the individual titles have been played for laughs, She-Hulk's appearance is assorted team books demonstrate the character has the necessary power, intellect, and wit that Robinson will need to dispatch Noem.


There you have, The Loyal Opposition. The name doesn't have the ring of The Avengers, but should Democrats and Independents adopt these personas, the races might be a little closer and a little more interesting.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Governor Daugaard Studies At The Judge Soggy Sweat School Of Rhetoric

Via Madville, I see that Governor Daugaard has taken a strong stand issued some words that mean nothing about uranium mining in the Hills.
If you feel strongly about Powertech, I hope you’ll consider attending future hearings. They are a good way to learn more about the proposal.
I am occasionally asked if I “support” or “oppose” this project. This question misunderstands that our state and nation have very sound, comprehensive processes to consider proposals like this one. Through these processes the merits and impacts of the project must be evaluated. Under this system I am confident the important questions will be discussed and addressed, and the right decision will be reached.
I'm not a student of political rhetoric, but I thought I recognized the phrasing and cadence of Daugaard's pronouncement. It didn't take long to remember that I was this speech that I first heard John Grisham deliver on C-SPAN a year or two ago. It was originally delivered by Judge Soggy Sweat, a Mississippi politician, on  the subject of prohibition within that state.
My friends, I had not intended to discuss this controversial subject at this particular time. However, I want you to know that I do not shun controversy. On the contrary, I will take a stand on any issue at any time, regardless of how fraught with controversy it might be. You have asked me how I feel about whiskey. All right, here is how I feel about whiskey:
If when you say whiskey you mean the devil's brew, the poison scourge, the bloody monster, that defiles innocence, dethrones reason, destroys the home, creates misery and poverty, yea, literally takes the bread from the mouths of little children; if you mean the evil drink that topples the Christian man and woman from the pinnacle of righteous, gracious living into the bottomless pit of degradation, and despair, and shame and helplessness, and hopelessness, then certainly I am against it.
But, if when you say whiskey you mean the oil of conversation, the philosophic wine, the ale that is consumed when good fellows get together, that puts a song in their hearts and laughter on their lips, and the warm glow of contentment in their eyes; if you mean Christmas cheer; if you mean the stimulating drink that puts the spring in the old gentleman's step on a frosty, crispy morning; if you mean the drink which enables a man to magnify his joy, and his happiness, and to forget, if only for a little while, life's great tragedies, and heartaches, and sorrows; if you mean that drink, the sale of which pours into our treasuries untold millions of dollars, which are used to provide tender care for our little crippled children, our blind, our deaf, our dumb, our pitiful aged and infirm; to build highways and hospitals and schools, then certainly I am for it.
This is my stand. I will not retreat from it. I will not compromise.
Grisham's rendering is here, but I prefer this one delivered with a more pronounced drawl.



I think I will pour a few fingers of Templeton Rye to better contemplate Daugaard's language.