Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Can A Two Party System Endure Without Two Parties?

David Montgomery engages in a thought experiment about using proportional representation to elect members of the South Dakota House of Representatives. He concludes:
South Dakota is part of a broader, stable, two-party system, and I don’t think this system would overturn that. It would make it easier for small parties like the Libertarians to impact public policy, and maybe in certain cases they might even hold the balance of power and be able to enter into coalition governments to run the House. But generally I expect we’d see a clear two-party system endure. [Emphasis mine]
The words "clear" and "endure" seem odd choices. First, state legislatures in general seem to be increasingly dominated by a single party:
Divided government still rules in the nation’s capital after Tuesday’s vote, but unity is increasingly the name of the game in Annapolis, Topeka, Concord, Little Rock and other capital cities.
In a little-noticed footnote to the elections, votes to fill legislative seats produced the highest number of states with one-party rule in 60 years. Democrats or Republicans now have sole control of the governorship and both legislative chambers in 37 state capitals.
The trend toward single party rule seems a recent national phenomenon:
The number of states with divided government is down from 31 just 16 years ago to 12 today, prompting speculation about the country’s evolving partisan geography.
South Dakota, however, has a much longer history of single party rule. The state has a 70 member House. Democrats haven't held over 25 seats in this century. The state hasn't had a Republican governor since 1979.

Montgomery acknowledges:
Democratic officials and candidates lament about how when voters don’t know enough about individual candidates, they default to the “R” — a tendency that would only be exacerbated here.
I've lived in South Dakota since the early 1980s; I haven't seen any evidence of an actual two party system. There's been the cult of McGovern and a few people with a historic family name but no real Democratic party, If a two party system is going to "endure," shouldn't it actually exist?

Perhaps someone within the Democratic Party hierarchy should do a thought experiment about how to create a sustainable party.


A Few Random Musings

It has been a hectic couple of weeks.

Musing one: This Ross Douthat column about the workplace is somewhat provocative:
There is a certain air of irresponsibility to giving up on employment altogether, of course. But while pundits who tap on keyboards for a living like to extol the inherent dignity of labor, we aren’t the ones stocking shelves at Walmart or hunting wearily, week after week, for a job that probably pays less than our last one did. One could make the case that the right to not have a boss is actually the hardest won of modern freedoms: should it really trouble us if more people in a rich society end up exercising it?
The answer is yes — but mostly because the decline of work carries social costs as well as an economic price tag. Even a grinding job tends to be an important source of social capital, providing everyday structure for people who live alone, a place to meet friends and kindle romances for people who lack other forms of community, a path away from crime and prison for young men, an example to children and a source of self-respect for parents.
Frankly, I have a pile of books I want to read, and I want to make homemade pastas better than I do now; I also want to learn how to make homemade sausage that tastes like the stuff my grandfather made, so a world without work sounds appealing.

Spending the past week asking for people to help judge public forum at the state debate tournament involved asking a lot of co-workers to ask their friends and family to help out, so Douthat's point about social capital is not without merit even if he too blithely dismisses drudge work that does not provide a living wage.

Musing two:  I heard my favorite response to the school pistolier bill. The bill is an effort to solve any problems in the state retirement system by giving more teachers guns and hoping they will commit suicide. Maybe I have been reading too many Steve Sibson comments on Madville, but it sort of makes sense in a tinfoil hat sort of way.

Musing three: I wish people would use the phrase "bet the question" properly. For example, "With Hagel now confirmed, it begs the question - was the Republicans' anti-Hagel crusade worth it? The Hagel fight prompts the question. Begging the question is a logical fallacy:
The fallacy of petitio principii, or "begging the question", is committed "when a proposition which requires proof is assumed without proof"; in order to charitably entertain the argument, it must be taken as given "in some form of the very proposition to be proved, as a premise from which to deduce it".[5] One must take it upon oneself that the goal, taken as given, is essentially the means to that end.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Quotation Of The Day: Political Labels And Historical Analogies Edition

From Scott Galupo in this post at The American Conservative:
President Obama is not a closet socialist or cunningly patient radical. What he is—or what he fancies himself—is a neo-Whig. The Henry Clay of the 21st century. He never tires of pointing out that the federal government in the 19th century midwifed the transcontinental railroad and land-grant colleges. In the 20th century, it developed a proto-internet and the global positioning system. In the 21st century? Obama dreams of a green-energy revolution. High-speed rail. A smart electrical grid. And more.
Does this mean Obama may actually have been born in the United States and he's not a Kenyan anti-colonialist? More importantly, does this comparison mean that Boehner is Calhoun? If that's the case, who the heck is the corresponding Webster?

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

The Problem That Treating Grammar As A Science May Soon Cause Me

The Oklahoma legislature is considering a bill that will prevent a student "in any public school or institution" from being "penalized in any way because the student may subscribe to a particular position on scientific theories."

I'm sure the intent of the bill is to allow students to express religious beliefs in science class. If some Oklahoma young'un wants to contend that the earth is only 6,000 years old, the biology teacher who is discussing evolution cannot penalize the student.

I'm not sure if Gus Blackwell, the bill's author has thought through the ramifications of the bill's language. Since some contend that grammar is science, that same Oklahoma young'un could turn in poorly written papers because grammar is a scientific theory with which she or he disagrees. The young'un may even try to use French sentence structure and Spanish vocabulary in an English class.

Of course, one could always contend that Yoda provided the only way to communicate. Overreach the problem frequently is.

Monday, February 18, 2013

South Dakota Is 7th Most Gay State In The US

Gordon Howie was disconcerted that South Dakotans were less likely to identify as conservatives than their neighbors to the north. I suspect this Gallup poll will make Gordon apoplectic. Based on self-identification, South Dakota has the 7th largest percentage of gay citizens. The state's 4.4% ties us with Massachusetts and is nearly a full percentage point higher than the nation's 3.5% average.

Quotation Of The Day: Political Anger Explained Edition

From this Matt K Lewis post at the Daily Caller:
Today, the level of a given person’s conservatism is directly tied to how angry they are (that — and a willingness to call Obama a socialist.) Thus, a pro-abortion lesbian who is really pissed off at Barack Obama will be deemed more conservative than, say, a devout traditional mother who is a philosophical heir to Edmund Burke (this isn’t a value judgment, as much as it’s an observation of how things have changed.)

Thursday, February 14, 2013

CISPA Proves Guns Never Will Be The Answer

PNR points to a story about an Amish farmer who was arrested by a SWAT team of federal agents because he dared sell raw milk. I must confess that I had no idea consuming raw milk was a crime nor do I know if I am a wanted criminal because I consumed thousands of gallons of raw milk from 1957 until 1975. I may have even delivered some raw cream for my mother who sold the dangerous product for the obscene sum of 50 cents a quart. I feel pretty healthy for a 55 year old. At any rate, I hope the statute of limitations has lapsed.

PNR uses the story not to extol the virtues of raw milk but to illustrate the need for the 2nd Amendment. According to PNR, the incident illustrates that citizens need guns to defend themselves from overzealous government officials.

Let's begin with some basics. the government doesn't need a SWAT team to take down Amish farmers. Armed citizens who shoot at federal agents will not fare well. I hope both statements are uncontroversial

More importantly, no gun will defend a citizen from agents acting under the ridiculously broad guidelines of CISPA, the Cyber Intelligence Sharing And Protection Act. When CISPA first came on the scene last year, Lifehacker reported:
Essentially, CISPA makes it possible for private companies to share potential cyber threat information with the government if the government concludes it needs it for cyber security information (and vice versa) immediately, without a complicated process.
That "complicated process" involves a minor thing called a warrant, something the SWAT team had, although the "no knock" component of the warrant in the Amish farmer incident is ludicrious. Lifehacker continues:
The privacy implications of the broadly defined "cybersecurity threat" is the cause for concern among CISPA's opposition. It's feared the information gathered would be released too easily and would violate the Fourth Amendment because it offers a simple, warrantless means to acquire personal data.
Several other advocacy groups echo this sentiment, including the American Library Association, which has this to say:
The ALA is concerned that all private electronic communications could be obtained by the government and used for many purposes–and not just for cybersecurity activities. H.R.3523 would permit, and sometimes even require, Internet service providers and other entities to monitor all electronic communications and share personal information with the government without effective oversight by claiming the sharing is for "cybersecurity purposes."
Today Computerworld reports that the legislation which was stopped last year has been re-introduced and reminds readers that the law protects both the government and Internet giants like Facebook:
CISPA also overrides existing privacy law and would grant broad immunities against lawsuits and liabilities to participating companies, EFF policy analyst Mark Jaycox wrote in a blog post Wednesday.

Importantly, there are few transparency provisions in the legislation, Jaycox wrote. Information collected by private companies and provided to the government would be exempt from Freedom of Information Act requests, he noted. There is also nothing in the bill that would require companies to inform users if their information is shared with the government, he said.
There are 310 million guns in the US. There's not a single one of them that will protect anyone from governmental overreach like CISPA. Of course the 2nd Amendment only crowd will continue to ignore encroachments on the 4th Amendment so they can protect themselves from roaming Latino gangs, an assertion that causes one to wonder if Wayne Lapierre could pass a background check.

Is The Deficit Shrinking Too Quickly?

This post from Investors Business Daily seems both counter-intuitive and troubling:
Here's a pretty important fact that virtually everyone in Washington seems oblivious to: The federal deficit has never fallen as fast as it's falling now without a coincident recession
To be specific, CBO expects the deficit to shrink from 8.7% of GDP in fiscal 2011 to 5.3% in fiscal 2013 if the sequester takes effect and to 5.5% if it doesn't. Either way, the two-year deficit reduction — equal to 3.4% of the economy if automatic budget cuts are triggered and 3.2% if not — would stand far above any other fiscal tightening since World War II.

Until the aftermath of the Great Recession, there were only three such periods in which the deficit shrank by a cumulative 2% of GDP or more. The 1960-61 and 1969-70 episodes both helped bring about a recession.

Far steeper deficit cuts during the demobilization from World War II and in 1937-38 both precipitated economic reversals.
No wonder economics is called the dismal science.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

A Minor Musing About Moderate Principles

Over at DWC, Troy Jones and SDJammer engaged in brief civil colloquy over whether one can have moderate principles.

In South Dakota, I'm apparently a liberal. In Europe, I'd probably be a reactionary. That irony allows me to think I can offer a few principles that might fit.
1. Extremism is a vice. That fact holds true for both Michele Bachman and Shelia Jackson Lee.

2. Intellectual underpinnings matter. Prefer Hayek to Hannity or Stiglitz to Schultz. (That's Sean Hannity of Fox and Ed Schultz of MSNBC for those of you who were wondering.)

3. Read the whole book. The Wealth of Nations praises capitalism. It also condemns joint stock companies, the corporations of Adam Smith's day. Both the praise and the warning should be given equal prominence if one uses Smith to justify or create policy.

4. People haven't changed. The same sort of people who became robber barons and abused their workers in late 19th and early 20th century still climb the corporate ladder. The same sort of folks who wanted to control the unions in order to line their pockets try to climb the union hierarchy. The laws necessary to stop both types of exploitation are still necessary.

5. People need to chill. There's no reason to spend the money to put the 10 Commandments in every classroom.  Likewise, if the county spent $2,000 for a fancy creche in 1946, no one is harmed if county officials put it up on the corner of the courthouse square.

6. The nation can have a strong defense but does not have to be the world's policeman. Further, the US should not engage in national building.

7. When in doubt prefer competence and qualifications to catchy slogans. In short, a Jon Huntsman is always a better choice than Herman Cain.

8. Avoid the jerks. Further, the jerk who says things that one agrees with is still a jerk. There's no difference between Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter, and Bill Maher. Bombast and smarminess are unseemly from both sides of the spectrum.

9. Both parties have valid ideas; neither has a monopoly on the truth, the spokespeople for both parties notwithstanding.

10 All 10 Amendments in the Bill of Rights matter. Conservatives love 2 and 10. Liberals love 9. That doesn't mean the rest aren't important.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Tweets Of The Day: Barbarism Edition

Tweets of the day:

Sunday, February 10, 2013

A Minor Musing About Fear And Normativity

Over at The Madville Times, PNR offers the following bit of wisdom: It's always easy to say my fears are realistic and yours aren't."

He's speaking about South Dakota's proposed school pistolier bill and other gun laws. Although I am positive that some bean counter buried deep within the catacombs of some insurance company can provide a statistical certainty that additional guns in school increase the risk of innocents being killed, PNR rightfully asserts likelihood of a school shooter or a sanctioned pistolier in South Dakota killing someone are relatively small.

If one goes a level deeper, the real fear is that cherished norms may soon be violated. Professor Terry Eagleton in After Theory presents one of my favorite analyses of normativity:
It is a mistake, however, to believe that norms are always restrictive.  In fact it is a crass Romantic delusion.  It is normative in our kind of society that people do not throw themselves with a hoarse cry on total strangers and amputate their legs.  It is conventional that child murderers are punished, that working men and women may withdraw their labour, and that ambulances speeding to a traffic accident should not be impeded just for the hell of it.  Anyone who fells oppressed by all this must be seriously oversensitive.  Only an intellectual who has overdosed on abstraction could be dim enough to imagine that whatever bends a norm is potentially radical.Eagleton, AfterTheory 15
A similar norm would be that first graders are not to be shot in cold blood. I had always believed that norm provided the reason that guns stayed out of a school building. For as long as I can remember, those who wanted to hunt after school locked their guns in their vehicle before coming inside.

Further, I had always thought it a norm that the freedoms enshrined in the Bill of Rights had a few limits. One cannot shout fire in a crowded theater if there's no fire. The longer the school pistolier bill discussion goes on the more I'm beginning to believe that the bill's supporters don't see any limits to the second amendment except the size of one's wallet. In short, the only thing preventing one from owning a predator drone is the damned drone is expensive.

Perhaps I've lived in my own personal echo chamber. I don't recall ever having a discussion with anyone about the priorities within the Bill of Rights, but threats to Amendments 1, 9, 4, 5, 6, and 8 worry me far more that real or perceived threats to Amendment 2. (For the record, I have never seriously thought about Amendment 3 and probably couldn't state its subject if I hadn't just looked it up. For the curious but lazy, it forbids housing soldiers in citizens' home without the citizen's consent.) I have also always believed that one should not sacrifice one of the enshrined freedoms to preserve another

I'm guessing here, but it seems that my concern that putting guns in school irrevocably removes an essential norm may be similar to the concerns that opponents of gay marriage or opponents or legalizing marijuana or opponents of a fence across border the express: sanctioning gay marriage, legalizing marijuana, or building that fence somehow irrevocably violates a norm. Hence, the heat generated behind each issue.

Perhaps the discussion needs to move beyond guns, gay marriage, marijuana legalization or whatever the hot button issue is; instead, the discussion should begin by asking what norms should govern our living together.

Quotation Of The Day: Everything That's Wrong With American Politics In Two Paragraphs Edition

From this Ron Unz column:
Similarly, over the last couple of decades, the economic well-being of America’s working- or middle-classes seems to have been relegated to an afterthought, not merely among Republicans and conservatives, but also among their Democratic and liberal opponents as well. The shocking truth that the average American family is probably poorer today in real terms than they were fifty years ago has been almost entirely ignored by both parties, and therefore ignored by the media as well, presumably under the theory that what people don’t know won’t really hurt them.
Meanwhile, the loud battles over Gay Marriage and Gun Control, whose outcome would directly impact an utterly negligible fraction of our total population, generates front-page headline after front-page headline, perhaps because these issues excite the people who write those headlines or those who fund our campaigns. As a leading Democratic political consultant in California once joked to me during the late 1990s, no wealthy liberals he knew had any interest in funding a minimum wage increase or any similar meat-and-potato economic issue of the traditional Left; instead, the ideal initiative for fundraising purposes would promise to “Save the Gay Whales from Second-Hand Smoke.”

Friday, February 8, 2013

Quotation Of The Day: Political Parties Edition

From this James Poulous piece:
But the real problem is thinking that an organization as dull and profane as a political party can have a soul at all. Parties are just collections of people, some of whom unfortunately let politics become an excuse to set aside their own soul, spirit, integrity, authenticity—whatever you want to call it.
Politics tends to paint us into a corner, a narrow space where we worry endlessly about what we know. “Change” tends to be limited to a supremely limited number of policy goals, usually targeted towards one interest group or another.

At Least South Dakota Is Not Idaho

I will thank the South Dakota Legislature for not proposing anything this inane:

John Goedde, chairman of the Idaho Senate’s Education Committee, introduced legislation Tuesday to require every Idaho high school student to read Ayn Rand’s “Atlas Shrugged” and pass a test on it to graduate from high school.
Goedde likes the book because it made his son a Republican. He also doesn't intend to push the legislation. Instead he is using the bill to threaten to those who have opposed other education initiatives that he has proposed. One could praise Goedde for living the values that Rand preaches, but that would also praise a foolish consistency.

Lest some South Dakota legislator begins to fear that Republicans are a minority or somehow thinks Rand's lengthy paean to selfishness a necessary read, The Daily Beast provides a reminder of review of Rand's magnum opus that I heartily endorse:
Writing in the pages of William F. Buckley’s National Review, Whittaker Chambers, a former communist turned vigorous anti-communist, offered what would become the most famous criticism of novelist Ayn Rand: “From almost any page of Atlas Shrugged, a voice can be heard, from painful necessity, commanding: ‘To a gas chamber—go!’”

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Quotation Of The Day: Obama's Kill List Memo Edition

From this James Joyner piece:
Even so, American citizens should nonetheless be wary of granting the president the power to single out citizens for killing based simply on his own judgment. Aside from being plainly unconstitutional, it's simply too much trust to place in a single individual. At the very least, the rules ought to be spelled out in legislation that has passed both Houses of Congress and survived judicial scrutiny for constitutionality rather than made internally.
Further, in addition to checks and balances, there has to be more transparency. The notion that the government can compile a list of citizens for killing, not tell anyone who's on it or how they got there, is simply un–American. Surely, a modern version of a WANTED: DEAD OR ALIVE notice could be publicly circulated, with a listing of the particulars. Maybe the named individual would turn himself in rather than wait for the drones to find him. Or maybe he'd hire an attorney to present evidence he's not actually an imminent threat to American citizens.
For centuries, civilized societies have understood that even wars must be fought according to rules, which have developed over time in response to changing realities. Rules are even more important in endless, murky wars such as the fight against Islamist terror groups. Currently, we're letting whomever is in the Oval Office pick and choose from among the existing rules, applying and redefining them based on hisown judgment and that of his advisors. We can do better. [emphais mine]
The bolded portions sum up my positions better than I could have written them.

Statistic Of The Day: Fair And Balanced Becomes Divisive And Distrusted Edition

The Daily Beast flags a Public Policy Poll about citizens' trust in television news. The results show an unsurprising divide.
Among Democrats, 72 percent trust PBS, with only 11 percent in the distrust category. Following next were NBC (61 percent trust, 16 percent distrust); MSNBC (58 to 19 percent); CBS (54 to 16 percent); CNN, . . .  (57 to 21 percent); ABC (51 to 16 percent), and—yes—Comedy Central (38 to 28 percent).
Among Republicans, 27 percent trust PBS and 48 percent distrust it. Following next were NBC (18 to 66 percent); CNN (17 to 66 percent); ABC (14 to 70 percent); MSNBC (12 to 68 percent); CBS (15 to 72 percent), and Comedy Central (8 to 66 percent).
According to the poll, 46% of the respondents mistrust Fox News; however, "Democrats trust most television news other than Fox, and Republicans don’t trust anything but Fox."

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Quotation Of The Day:Andrew Bacevich May Turn Me Into A Conservative Edition

From this post at The American Conservative:
Well, I’ll admit to prejudices, so let me lay them out.
(Fans of Ayn Rand or Milton Friedman will want to stop reading here and flip to the next article. If Ronald Reagan’s your hero, sorry—you won’t like what’s coming. Ditto regarding Ron Paul. And if in search of wisdom you rely on anyone whose byline appears regularly in any publication owned by Rupert Murdoch, well, you’ve picked up the wrong magazine.)
The conservative tradition I have in mind may not satisfy purists. It doesn’t rise to the level of qualifying as anything so grandiose as a coherent philosophy. It’s more of a stew produced by combining sundry ingredients. The result, to use a word that ought warm the cockles of any conservative’s heart, is a sort of an intellectual slumgullion.
Here’s the basic recipe. As that stew’s principal ingredients, start with generous portions of John Quincy Adams and his grandson Henry. Fold in ample amounts of Randolph Bourne, Reinhold Niebuhr, and Christopher Lasch. For seasoning, throw in some Flannery O’Connor and Wendell Berry—don’t skimp. If you’re in a daring mood, add a dash of William Appleman Williams. To finish, sprinkle with Frank Capra—use a light hand: too sweet and the concoction’s ruined. Cook slowly. (Microwave not allowed.) What you get is a dish that is as nutritious as it is tasty
Niebuhr and Lasch challenge and are as relevant today as ever. A student gave me a single volume collection of Henry Adams works. His life in politics was, to put it mildly, fascinating. I admit that I don't recall reading anything by Williams or Bourne. Further, Capra is cloying, but every thinking person should read O'Connor's short stories annually.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Let's Fold The Flag In The Applebee's Parking Lot

There once was a pastor in St. Louis who went to Applebee's as a member of a group of ten. The restaurant, as many do, added an 18% gratuity to the bill because the group was larger than six. The pastor then crossed out the gratuity on the bill and wrote that she gives God 10 percent, so the server should not expect more than God. The server's co-worker photocopied the bill and posted it on Facebook. She was subsequently fired at the pastor's urging. After the story broke, a bunch of people want to boycott Applebee's.

There was once a school janitor in Fort Pierre who got mad that a fellow custodian was not folding the American flag but rather leaving it in clump.  He claims to have complained to his superiors. After not getting a response he posted pictures of the flag on Facebook. He was fired.  A South Dakota blogger got mad became obsessed.

I have a 4 point modest proposal.

1. When tempted to post stuff online in order to get even, wait at least 24 hours before hitting submit or publish or whatever the heck Facebook asks you to hit so that the item gets published. (I have no Facebook account because I don't want people to find me, or I'm worried no one will want to find me. The reason changes daily.)

2. Play by the rules when out in public. There are rules for folding the flag and tipping. Both are published.

3. Read the Bible's book of James at least once a week, especially these verses from Chapter 1:
19 My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, 20 because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.
4. Listen to some Aretha

Quotation Of The Day: Politics And Christianity Edition

From C.C. Pecknold:
In our post-election reflections, Christians should be the ones asking the really substantial questions, not the ones asked at our very insubstantial presidential debates – but the questions we would want our children to ask: questions about existence, such as why there is something rather than nothing; about justice, and to whom it is owed; about truth, and making ourselves truthful; about the nature of goodness and how we can be formed in accordance with it. Questions like these are pre-political, but they matter for politics too. If these sorts of question whither, we will get the politics we deserve. Amongst ourselves as well as with others, we must be asking what it means to be a Christian in our excessive, polarized, political order.

HT: Rod Dreher

Sunday, February 3, 2013

The NRA Hates Hallmark

In Septemember, the NRA published an enemies list. The list includes dastardly folk like the American Medical Association and the American Psychological Association. I'm guessing both groups might expand the number of people deemed too mentally unstable to buy a firearm.

The list also includes Hollywood luminaries like Kevin Bacon whose character asked for a gun from the FBI on a recent episode The Following.

My personal favorite is a member of the list of Anti-Gun Corporations/Corporate Heads: Hallmark Cards. I'm guessing it's because Hallmark didn't publish a card with doggeral like

Roses are red
Violets are blue
We got shotguns at our wedding
And so can you

A Post Wherein I Try To Explain To Gordon Howie That Reading Skills Matter

Mr. Howie is alarmed that South Dakota is not one the ten most conservative states according to a recent Gallup poll:
This once conservative state simply seems to have disappeared. Even the respected Gallop organization reports that South Dakota is missing!!
In a study of top ten conservative states done by Gallop, South Dakota is simply NOT THERE. Some of our neighbors made the list. Wyoming, North Dakota and Nebraska made the top ten, but for conservatives in South Dakota… some sad news… You didn’t make it to the playoffs!
Conservatives in South Dakota are probably not surprised by this sad news. We have seen the expulsion and dismissal of conservatives escalating for the past few years.
Howie than goes on to castigate South Dakota's leaders for not being conservative enough:
Most South Dakota Republicans are still good, conservative folks. They just don’t seem to be watching while their leaders and elected officials take them farther and farther down the path of more government, more regulation and higher taxes. 
The Gallup poll that Howie refers to did not examine states' regulatory or tax policies; instead, it was based on residents' self identification:
Alabama, North Dakota, and Wyoming were the most conservative states in the union in 2012, with between 49% and 50% of residents in each identifying their ideology as conservative. Residents of the District of Columbia were by far the most likely to identify as liberal (41%), followed by Massachusetts (31%), Oregon, and Vermont (each at 29% liberal).[emphasis mine]
In short, South Dakota did not make the top 10 most conservative states because a smaller percentage of South Dakotans than North Dakotans say they are conservative. When it comes to policies North Dakota has a state owned bank; one can't get much more collectivist than that.

South Dakota didn't rank as one of the most moderate states:
Nor did it make the list of liberal states:
Had Howie bothered to go to page two of the Gallup report, he would have found that 41.6% of South Dakotans self-identify as conservative; 35.8% self-identify as moderate, and 19.9% self-identify as liberal.

Howie concludes:
While Gallup didn’t just survey Republicans, this alarming decline to the left has happened as moderates have taken control of the Republican Party.
It seems Howie doesn't have a problem with moderates or liberals; he has a problem with the idea of representative democracy. The poll indicates that moderates and liberals outnumber conservatives 58.4% to 41.6%. If South Dakota has become more moderate, a fact that Howie asserts but does not document, shouldn't the policies become more moderate as well?

I think Gallup's numbers for moderates are at least 5% too high, but that's the risk of relying on self-identification. What the poll doesn't show is South Dakota lurching to the left.
Update: Madville has a take here. I don't know who hit publish first. Cory probably did. I'm a lousy typist.

Friday, February 1, 2013

I Seriously Want An Answer To These Questions

The Second Amendment absolutists are out in full force at Dakota War College. I have asked these questions in other forums but never got a direct answer so I hope some Second Amendment absolutists will give me an answer here.

1. Why are so many gun rights advocates willing to go after Hollywood and the manufacturers of violent video games? Is the Second Amendment absolute but the First Amendment is not?

2. I find stands against government tyranny commendable. Where were all of the gun groups when the Patriot Act was passed? That act has done more to endanger freedom than any gun law.

3. In the same vein, where is the outcry over warrentless wiretaps of cell phone conversations? The 4th Amendment still requires a warrant doesn't it?

4. I have heard some Libertarians scream about the fact that we are engaged in two armed conflicts without a formal Declaration of War, but where's the broader conservative outrage? In fact, where's the outrage over the standing army that the Founders expressly wanted to avoid?

5. Why do gun rights folks think people like me unpatriotic when we ask questions about the Patriot Act, warrantlesswiretaps, undeclared wars, or standing armies but want to avoid leaving a world where everyone can conceal carry?