Friday, July 31, 2015

What's An "R" behind A Candidate's Name Worth In A South Dakota Statewide Election

Yesterday, Dakota War College called the 2016 South Dakota United States Senate race for Republican incumbent John Thune. In the comments, Troy Jones makes an observation more interesting that the post's prognostication:
I hope Thune has competition. I want to know how low the yellow dog line really is in SD. This would give us a definitive number. I think it is 27%. (75% of registered Democrats). Weiland just about got there with 29.5%. My gut says it is a bit lower.
If Jones is using the "yellow dog" term in its traditional sense, Democrats who will vote for an actual yellow dog before voting Republican, then Susan Wismer's 25.4% in the 2014 gubernatorial race is probably an accurate number. If, on the other hand, the term is being used to indicate voters who absolutely will not vote for a Republican even without a Democrat on the ballot, then Chad Haber's 18% in the 2014 attorney-general race is probably a good number to set as an over/under.

I would like to look at the situation from a different angle. In competitive two-candidate races, each candidate is alleged to start with a base that comprises 40% of the electorate and the battle is waged to get the majority of the remaining 20%. It's pretty that in statewide races, South Dakota's Democrats do not start out with a 40% base and Republicans start with a base well about 40%. That fact raises an obvious question: What is the "R" behind a candidate's name worth? 45%?, 48%, 50% + 1 vote?

I don't know the answer. but I do have one more question; if it's truly impossible for a Republican to lose a statewide race in South Dakota, how long will it take to see the absolute corruption that comes with absolute power?

Thursday, July 30, 2015

A Minor Musing About Political Coalitions

In the Rod Dreher column that provided Tuesday's quotation of the day, Dreher opines, "the postwar Republican coalition of social conservatives, economic libertarians, and foreign-policy hawks....[is] dead, or at least dying."

For most of my voting life, those groups have been better known as the Reagan coalition. Since 1980, economic libertarians have fared well. Even after the worst economic downturn since the 1930s, the Dow is over 17, 000. It was at 950.68 on the day Reagan took office. None of those responsible for the recession have been punished. The country club Gekkoites who celebrate greed have little to complain about.

The foreign policy hawks have had plenty of sabers to rattle and bombings and invasions aplenty. One wonders what more Republicans can do for the hawks who represent the military industrial complex Eisenhower warned against.

For a quick summer quiz, other than rhetoric what have Republicans provided for social conservatives who arguably have done more to provide Republicans electoral successes than any other part of the Republican coalition? For an essay question, what good reason do social conservatives have to remain in the Republican coalition?

While Dreher may have been commenting about the national Republican party in general and United States Senate Republican leaders in specific, South Dakota has its own example of a fraying coalition. Steve Hickey, a social conservative of good standing, has forcefully challenged South Dakota's usurers. They have responded by disrupting Steve Hildebrand's business, Hildebrand is Hickey's ally in the effort to limit usury in South Dakota. Meanwhile, the mouthpiece of the South Dakota's country club Republicans chortles.

The Democrat's coalition is  also in flux. The Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren wing of the party are certainly not fond of Hillary Clinton's Wall Street supporters. Further, one can ask what Hispanics, African-Americans, and labor unions have gained from their unwavering support of Democrats.

Were I to bet, an activity that social conservatives assail, I would lay money that the 2016 cycle will be the last cycle in which the 20th Century coalitions hold. This is not to say that social conservatives will support Democrats, but they may stay home or in state and local elections support third-party or independent options.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

I Learned A New Word On Twitter And It's Making Some Conservatives Very Angry

Scrolling through my timeline, I came across this tweet
Finding the Weigel piece, I confirmed that the word is what it sounds like, "a portmanteau of 'conservative' and 'cuckold.'"

I did not expect to discover that the term has it's origins in the white identity movement nor did I expect to discover that some very conservative folks have bee called cuckservatives. Weigel writes,
You might be one! The hashtag's targets are conservatives who seem to have made peace with elements alien to traditional white Americanism. That could mean the transgender movement; it could mean non-white immigrants. Certainly, criticizing Trump's visit to the border, saying he will alienate certain voters, is a trial run for cuckservative status.
"Just look at them!" said Spencer. "Glenn Beck, Erik [sic] Erickson, Mike Huckabee. They’re mediocrities, or sub-mediocrities. They’re grinning, obese doofuses. No person with a deep soul — no person who wants to take part in a moment that’s idealistic, that’s going to change the world — would want to be a part of 'conservatism.' In a way, the current 'cucks' are the residue of the Bush era. They were the 'conservative' and 'Religious Right' allies of the neoconservatives. They’re still around, for no apparent reason."

Erick Erickson at Red State responds
Despite the white washing by Breitbart.com (pun intended), the phrase “cuckservative” is a racist slur. It is used by racists in support of a racialist agenda. The people who use it are not opposed to illegal immigration, but are opposed to immigration in general. They are opposed to evangelical Christians who support interracial adoption. They are opposed to anyone who does not think in terms of the white race.
They hate Rush Limbaugh. They hate conservatives. They hate actual, practicing Christians. They claim they are conservatives and Christians and they are not.

For the record, Breitbart.com headlined the term as a ". . . A GLORIOUSLY EFFECTIVE INSULT THAT SHOULD NOT BE SLURRED, DEMONISED, OR RIDICULED"

Given that RINO has been overused, it's no surprise that that conservatives would look for a creative, new insult for less their less conservative fellow travelers. That said, I wonder whether the South Dakota blogosphere will side with Red State or Breitbart. More importantly, if some far right South Dakota bloggers do side with Breitbart, which one will be the first to use #cuckservative to attack a South Dakota blogger or politician?

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Quotation Of The Day: Whither The Political True Believers? Edition

That said, . . . , it makes me think that the Republican Party is like a church whose congregation really doesn’t believe anymore, but who keeps showing up on Sunday for lack of anything better to do.
Maybe Democrats see their own party like this too. I don’t know.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

I Am Tired Of Hearing About Flags

A young man murdered nine people in church, so Americans started discussing whether, how, and when to remove a Confederate battle flag from the South Carolina statehouse grounds. Another young man murdered four marines and one sailor. Some folks got really angry that the American flags were not lowered to half-staff quickly enough. Last week, an angry old man with a history of mental illness killed two people in a theater. He had a history of flying the Confederate battle flag, but we've already talked about that flag. Maybe someone will find a way to bring the Louisiana state flag into the discussion.

Granted, discussing flags, is much. easier that discussing why the American murder rate has risen dramatically in 2015. Discussing flags is much easier than trying to repair a mental health system that has been decimated. The flags discussion avoids settling old debates about the Second Amendment.

The battle flag may have come down from the South Carolina statehouse. Sunday morning church services are still the most segregated event in the country. The flags came down to half-staff, but no one has explained how  a war against an ideology can be successfully conducted, ideologies being nebulous entities notoriously difficult to shoot or contain militarily. Unlike repairing America's mental health system, talking about flags costs nothing. It doesn't accomplish much more.

Friday, July 24, 2015

This May Be The Most Frightening Political Tweet Of The Year

All I can say is Long Live the Republic!

I Think I Liked It Better When Churches Thought Technology Was The Mark Of The Beast

Using Gmail and  Blogger means I have to deal with Google's invading my privacy and the NSA getting data from a back door in Google's servers. I'm not sure I want churches to take a page from that playbook. From today's Washington Post:
Could Big Brother be coming to a church near you? One software company is now providing churches with facial recognition software to better track who shows up at their worship services.
Later in the article,
Greenshpan said about 40 churches have signed on, including eight in the United States, although he declined to name any of them. He also declined to say how much the churches pay for the software. He said the churches that use the software range in membership from 100 to 3,000.
A church will upload a database of photos of its members, and they usually use security cameras they already have in place to match the video with existing photos. Churches could use it to track regular attendance or see who’s missing.
“It’s simple to see if a member isn’t attending three or four events. Then they can give the member a call and say something like, ‘See you on Sunday,'” Greenshpan said.
I take it as an article of faith that God is omniscient and omnipresent. I also take it on faith that believers "are surrounded by . . .a great cloud of witnesses." I believe most Christians also hold those beliefs, so why do forty churches feel the need to track parishioners when God seems perfectly capable of doing that?

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Mall And Republicans And Terrorism, Oh My!

I really don't want to pick on John Kasich. In a Republican field that resembles March Madness more than a presidential primary, he stands out rather positively. Unlike Donald Trump, he is not a bloviating rabble rouser appealing to the lesser angels of our nature.  He has a resume that qualifies him to be president; Ben Carson does not. He isn't running because his father and brother held the office and now it's his turn. He also pays attention to detail; therefore, he will not utter "Oops" in the middle of a debate even if he doesn't wear the Clark Kent glasses Rick Perry suddenly favors.

Further, any Republican could have said the following, but since Kasich said it, he will have to own it.
First, it's not clear if shopping has become a Republican sacrament or their cure for terrorism. After all, George W. Bush recommended Americans undertake it shortly after 9/11. What should be indisputable is the fact that the United States has more important reasons to respond to ISIS than allowing Americans to continue to buy overpriced items at Hot Topic and eat at mediocre food courts.

More importantly, the statement reflects a Republican disconnect with the American middle class. People don't go to the mall as as they used to, and terrorism doesn't seem to be a reason as this US News article reports, "More than two dozen malls have shuttered their doors since 2010, according to Green Street Advisors real estate research company, and another 60 are particularly at risk of closure." The article continues
“If you’re a middle-class mall, and those are your anchors, what are you going to do?” asks Davidowitz, noting that "dollar stores" and stand-alone discount retailers like Walmart and T.J. Maxx have attracted traditional mall-goers who are now looking for cheaper alternatives. “The combination of e-commerce, what’s happening to the middle class and everything else is really bad news for the malls. It’s a tough business.”
Evidence of a “permanent shift in consumer behavior” is also mounting, says Neely Tamminga, a managing director and research analyst at Piper Jaffray & Co. investment bank and asset management firm.
“We talked to a thousand women on a panel every six months to gauge their spending behavior,” says Tamminga, who is involved in an ongoing research project through Piper Jaffray that began in the fall of 2013. “No matter how we ask the question, we are seeing an overall shift away from frequently going to the mall.”
Americans, in general, are not going to the mall because they are forced to look for cheaper alternatives or enjoy the convenience and affordability of e-commerce. Linking the mall to ISIS prevents any discussion about substantive ways to help the economy or contain terrorism.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Some Minor Cynical Musings About The 2016 Presidential Race

First, Ohio Governor John Kasich will become the 16th Republican presidential candidate today, a fact that is basically irrelevant to South Dakota. Granted South Dakota's Republicans will conduct their fantasy politician drafts, create a few office betting pools, and make a few donations to their favorite candidate. South Dakota will, however, support the Republican nominee, whoever that may be, with about 63% of the vote. 

Second, Hillary Clinton is the prohibitive favorite to win the Democratic nomination. To win the presidency, however, she faces several, for lack of a better phrase, demographic obstacles. 

In my cynical moments, I wonder if the American electorate is willing to elect the nation's first female president immediately after electing the first African American president. Further, since 1952, there has been only one time when a two-term president was succeeded by a member of his party. 

Finally, Hillary Clinton is nearly 14 years older than Barack Obama. The last time Americans elected new president of the same party who was that much older than the predecessor was prior to the Civil War when James Buchanan replaced Franklin Pierce. Both were Democrats. Since then, when Americans have elected someone more than a decade older than the previous president, the new president has been of a different party. By the way, Democrats who support Bernie Sanders need to remember that he is six years older than Hillary Clinton.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Quotation Of The Day: Joss Whedon And The Meaning Of Life Edition

At the recently completed San Diego Comic Con, Joss Whedon of Firefly, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Dollhouse, The Avengers, fame, responded to a question about the meaning of life with the following:
The world is a random and meaningless, terrifying place and we all — spoiler alert — die. Most critters are designed not to know that, but we are designed [uniquely] to transcend that. To understand ‘Oh, I can quote myself! This is fun!’ A thing isn’t beautiful because it lasts. What we have right now and right here has as much meaning as anything we’re afraid of. The way we’re designed to do this: The main function of the human brain is storytelling. Memory is storytelling. If we all remembered everything, we’d be Rain Man and wouldn’t be socially happy. We learn to forget. We learn to distort. And from the very beginning we’re learning to tell a story about ourselves. I’m hoping to be the hero of my story. But I’m the annoying sidekick, . . . [hyperlink additions mine for clarity and to help the non-nerds who happen by this blog]

A Post Wherein I Ask Random Questions

This first question needs a bit of a set-up

Kevin Woster profiles Steve Hildebrand's and Rev. Steve Hickey's efforts to take on South Dakota's usurers. These paragraphs illustrate the importance the issue has for Hildebrand:
“In my 30 years of political activity I’ve never done anything this important before,” he said.
But wait, that job as an upper-level campaign official for Barack Obama in 2008 was kind of important, wasn’t it?
“I love the president and I think he’s phenomenal,” Hildebrand says. “But in those candidate campaigns you end up putting your faith in the candidate to do it. In this instance, I’m doing it. ”
Given that Hickey plans to leave South Dakota for Scotland and that President Obama's popularity with South Dakota's dominant Republican party is likely near -20%, an obvious question arises: How many mass mailing and other media soundbites will include the phrase "the same people who brought you the socialist Muslim Obama now bring you more assaults on free enterprise"?

Second, Cory takes umbrage at the idea that incumbent Republican U.S. Senator John Thune is unbeatable. While I concur that Democrats cannot give Thune a second free pass, I am still left with a simple question: Do the Democrats have a viable candidate?

On the national level, this Ezra Klein tweet prompts a simple question: Is Klein right?
Finally, Pat Powers posts that "Daugaard says he doesn’t think there is a consensus on any approach to education funding. . ." Does this mean that South Dakota's Republican leaders' repeated and likely future decisions to do nothing about education funding do not represent a consensus?

Thursday, July 9, 2015

South Dakota Politics And Debate Camp: I Love It When A Plan Comes Together

Via Mr. Heidelberger, I note that the ACLU has challenged Attorney General Marty Jackley on his assertion that county clerks could refuse to issue marriage licences to same sex couples if the official's conscience or religious convictions so dictated, the recent Obergefell decision not withstanding. Jackley, who will almost certainly run for governor in 2018, likely anticipated this challenge and is probably planning campaign commercials  touting his quixotic effort, alleging that it was thwarted by a leftist, liberal, progressive, socialist, cabal of atheistic lawyers. (I hope I didn't leave out any current dog whistles.)

Meanwhile, at debate camp in beautiful Brookings, South Dakota, the young Lincoln-Douglas debaters are preparing cases on Resolved: In the United States criminal justice system, jury nullification ought to be used in the face of perceived injustice. The cynic in me wonders if Jackley will now appeal to the South Dakota Republicans of a more libertarian bent and advocate that juries be informed that they are judges of both the law and fact, at least in court cases involving weddings.

In other political news, Reverend Steve Hickey has announced he will be leaving the legislature and his pulpit to "study Christian ethics with an emphasis on surveillance in the modern world in the Bonhoeffer Studies program at the University of Aberdeen." In a serendipitous coincidence, the policy debaters are preparing to spend the next season debating Resolved: The United States federal government should substantially curtail its domestic surveillance.  My knowledge of Bonhoeffer is limited to knowing that he prophetically spoke against "cheap grace." If Reverend Hickey stumbles upon this blog, my students and I would appreciate his forwarding any reading lists about both Bonhoeffer and surveillance.

Finally, in one other debate camp and politics connection, I notice that Cory has created a debate tournament for the Republican Presidential candidates. I look forward to his format for quarters, semis, and finals.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Some Sardonic Musings For Independence Day

It's Independence Day in the land of the free. Some of my conservative friends will contend that it is land of the formerly free since the Supreme Court of the United States ruled same-sex marriage legal and upheld the federal government's Obamacare exchange. If the Republic is indeed on life support, I suspect its first infection began with the Constitution's three-fifths clause and was exacerbated by the fact that humans are not angels and angels do not govern mere mortals.

It's been more than a week since the SCOTUS decisions and the cynic in me notes that I have not seen a quartet of horsemen riding different colored horses and carrying sealed books. Likewise, if love truly won, I have yet to see a marked increase in patience, kindness, and self control among the general populace, nor I have a noticed a decrease in overweening pride, envy, or boasting, all qualities which are constituent elements of love. Perhaps it's a bit much to expect human nature to change in a week, but surely I should have seen at least one rainbow coated unicorn.

If the land of free is disconcerted, the home of the brave is also suffering a bit of an identity crisis. A nation that once had nothing to fear but fear itself now tells its citizens to be very afraid and live under the motto "see something say something." A government created, media led effort to create a panopticon of citizen informants who tell the state about any activity that might indicate one's neighbor has become a "radicalized lone wolf" has more than a little similarity to the East German Stasi:
For the 40 years of the Cold War the Stasi – 'The Sword and Shield of the Party' – kept a lid on dissent in East Germany through a unique method of surveillance.
They did not need torture chambers and rubber truncheons to keep people in line, but instead exploited the insecurities of members of the public, according to author Christhard Laepple.
Turning one in three of the German Democratic Republic's 17 million citizens into informers, the Stasi injected fear, uncertainty and suspicion into every walk of life, making sure few people ever uttered anything which might anger the regime.
It's Independence Day, a day that Alan Jacobs accurately describes in this tweet:

As one celebrates the civic holy day, one should remember that Ben Franklin's proverbs not only warned Americans we would have to work to keep the Republic but also that giving up liberty to gain security create a fool's paradise.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

The Post Office And FedEx Show I Am Warped

Yesterday, these two items were delivered to my house. I ordered both but seeing them side by side gives me pause

I don't think I have explain AntMan collectibles co-sponsored by Marvel and Funko.


According to Amazon, A Secular Age
offers a historical perspective. [Charles Taylor] examines the development in "Western Christendom" of those aspects of modernity which we call secular. What he describes is in fact not a single, continuous transformation, but a series of new departures, in which earlier forms of religious life have been dissolved or destabilized and new ones have been created. As we see here, today's secular world is characterized not by an absence of religion--although in some societies religious belief and practice have markedly declined--but rather by the continuing multiplication of new options, religious, spiritual, and anti-religious, which individuals and groups seize on in order to make sense of their lives and give shape to their spiritual aspirations.
It may well be too deep for me, but the ideas fascinate.