Tuesday, December 31, 2013

What If Pope Francis Had Merely Quoted The Bible?

The Pope has hurt some rich folks' feelings:
Billionaire Home Depot founder Ken Langone has a warning for Pope Francis.
major Republican donor, Langone told CNBC in a story published online Monday that wealthy people such as himself might stop giving to charity if the Pope continues to makestatements criticizing capitalism and income inequality.
Langone described the Pope's comments about a "culture of prosperity" as "exclusionary" statements that may make some of the rich "incapable of feeling compassion for the poor."
One wonders what Langone would do if the Pope had merely quoted I Timothy 6:10:
For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.
Langone might have felt more excluded if Pope Francis has read only Matthew 19:23-24:
Then said Jesus unto his disciples, Verily I say unto you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven.
And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.
The Epistle of James is also rather pointed in chapter 2:
Hearken, my beloved brethren, Hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he hath promised to them that love him?
But ye have despised the poor. Do not rich men oppress you, and draw you before the judgment seats?
Do not they blaspheme that worthy name by the which ye are called?
Revelation Chapter 3 has these verses:
And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God;
I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot.
So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.
Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked:
On a side note, I'm not Catholic, but isn't threatening to cut off the Pope unless he preaches a sermon one likes considered blackmail or, at the very least, bad form?

2014 Political Predictions: South Dakota Politics Edition

Any look at South Dakota politics must acknowledge the truth behind Kevin Woster's recent analysis: "The Republican machine in South Dakota . . . . doesn't care much for outsiders. It also doesn't lose very often." That fact means that Governor Daugaard will get nearly everything he wants during the legislative session. That fact also means opponents on either the right or left are generally reduced to futile gestures. Here, in no particular order, are my predictions for establishment victories and futile gestures in 2014.

1. During the session, the far right will force a vote on some bizarre piece of legislation designed to show that their opponents lack patriotic virtue. The cynic in me believes the vote will be over something totally empty like amending the Pledge of Allegiance to read "with liberty, justice, and guns for all" or making Duck Dynasty the official TV show of South Dakota.

2. Bosworth's lack of competence will prevent her from breaking 12% in the Republican primary. Her hubris will keep her from dropping out.

3. Pressler's effect on the South Dakota U.S. Senate race will be minimal.

4. The Sturm und Drang over Common Core will be mildly entertaining but produce nothing.

5. South Dakota citizens will see an increase in some user fees. There will be a business tax reduction that proponents claim will be necessary to recruit new businesses.

6. Reverend Hickey's effort to repeal the death penalty will fail. I doubt it will get past the committee level.

7. The most competitive statewide race will be Corinna Robinson vs. Kristi Noem. Robinson will be the only South Dakota Democrat to break 47%.


Monday, December 30, 2013

A Minor Musing About ALEC

Cory points out that Representative Betty Olson will carry some ALEC legislation against net metering. Politico has an interesting piece about ALEC's efforts to rebrand itself. Part of that rebranding includes a nod towards transparency:
As part of what it calls a move toward more transparency, the group has decided to post online all the “model legislation” it develops so that lawmakers, the public and the press will be able to see exactly where ALEC stands.
Giving voters a chance to see whether their local representative has had an original idea or is like a high school student buying a research paper online is a step in the right direction.

On the other hand, the Politico piece contains the following analysis that seems to put the organization in the proper light:
ALEC opponent Chris Taylor, a Democratic state representative from Wisconsin, says she joined the organization to be able to attend its meetings to see firsthand what she was up against. She said she was curious where certain bills introduced in Wisconsin had originated, including one similar to Florida’s stand your ground law.
“Sure enough, some of these come from ALEC, so I wanted to see what ALEC was about, and I have to say, I was both horrified and fascinated by the system,” said Taylor, who attended the group’s meeting in August. “It’s a three-legged stool: You have these corporations, the right-wing think tanks that are in every single state, and the third leg of the stool are the lawmakers who are tasked with going out and getting these laws passed, and in exchange they are promised campaign donations.”
Its neither shocking nor nefarious that right wing folks develop a group with a plan to advance their agenda.

The zeal, however, seems more problematic. It's ALEC uber alles. The article also links to a leaked document that points to an oath for ALEC state chairs will "act with care and loyalty and put the interests of the organization first." There doesn't seem to be any mention about legislators considering the needs of their constituents.

Catching Up A Bit

The best-laid schemes o' mice an' men
Gang aft agley,
An' lea'e us nought but grief an' pain,
For promis'd joy!

--Robert Burns "To a Mouse"

I had hoped my ability to juggle debate season and blogging would improve during December. I was wrong. In fact, December gave me less time to read blogs than November did. Further, I had hoped to pick up blogging last week, but a nasty cold/flu bug knocked on my backside for most of the week. I do hope to have a regular blogging schedule for the legislative session.

I won't bemoan the fact that I missed the opportunity to discuss the Duck Dynasty stupidity or the new entrants in the South Dakota Senate race. Instead, I'll try to look forward a bit.

The legislative session will begin soon, and one can expect a heady mix of pablam and inane proposals. A prime example of the former, comes from HCR 1001 which concludes:
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, by the House of Representatives of the Eighty-Ninth Legislature of the State of South Dakota, the Senate concurring therein, that the South Dakota Legislature supports and appreciates all the collaboration that is already taking place among the state's school districts, and encourages further cooperative efforts to provide all the state's students with the best educational opportunities possible.
More importatnly, the resolution contends that cooperation is necessary because many schools lack resources:
WHEREAS, school districts across the state, and especially those in remote, rural areas, sometimes lack the staff and resources needed to provide students with the course offerings, co-curricular activities, or other educational services or opportunities that are necessary or would serve to enhance the students' learning and educational experiences; and
WHEREAS, by working together, school districts can overcome many of the challenges they face by sharing programs, equipment and other resources, and staff, including administrators, teachers, and counselors
I suppose one should be thankful the resolution doesn't contain a self-congratulatory note that the legislators commend themselves for resolving to return education funding to levels it had five years ago.  One wonders, however, if if the authors are saving their support for the opinion that pictures of puppies, kittens and angels should be considered cute for a separate piece of legislation.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Scripture And Song For The Week: Genesis 8 Edition

20 And Noah builded an altar unto the Lord; and took of every clean beast, and of every clean fowl, and offered burnt offerings on the altar.
21 And the Lord smelled a sweet savour; and the Lord said in his heart, I will not again curse the ground any more for man's sake; for the imagination of man's heart is evil from his youth; neither will I again smite any more every thing living, as I have done.
22 While the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease.

Friday, December 6, 2013

SDHSAA Oral Interp Festival 2013

I have been to many SDHSAA speech and debate events, but I thought this one might be different. Based on recent press reports, I expected to encounter Mafioso exchanging envelopes filled with cash when I arrived this morning. No cash filled envelopes were in sight. I then looked for some shady characters trying bribe young'uns to perform poorly. I didn't see anyone doing that, nor did I spot any leg breakers. SDHSAA Executive Director Wayne Carney and Assistant Executive Director James Weaver are on hand, but no one has addressed them as Godfather. They aren't carrying around two sets of books or talking about today's number either. I am sorely disappointed.

Scott Walker and the rest of the Watertown High School coaching contingent along with some of their students are doing an excellent job of running registration. Scores of students are excited to perform their humorous, prose, and dramatic selections. I expect a few students to actually learn. That outcome, of course, doesn't generate headlines like sour grapes complaints do.
posted from Bloggeroid

Monday, December 2, 2013

Quotation Of The Day: Young Texters Don't Like Periods Edition

Apparently the punctuation mark indicates anger. From The New Republic:
This is an unlikely heel turn in linguistics. In most written language, the period is a neutral way to mark a pause or complete a thought; but digital communications are turning it into something more aggressive.
“Not long ago, my 17-year-old son noted that many of my texts to him seemed excessively assertive or even harsh, because I routinely used a period at the end,” Mark Liberman, a professor of linguistics at the University of Pennsylvania, told me by email. How and why did the period get so pissed off?
It might be feeling rejected. On text and instant message, punctuation marks have largely been replaced by the line break. I am much more likely to type two separate messages without punctuation:. . . .
“The unpunctuated, un-ended sentence is incredibly addicting,” said Choire Sicha, editor of the Awl. “I feel liberated to make statements without that emphasis, and like I'm continuing the conversation, even when I'm definitely not.”
Other people probably just find line breaks more efficient. An American University study of college students’ texting and instant messaging habits found they only used sentence-final punctuation 39 percent of the time in texts and 45 percent of the time in online chats. The percentages were even lower for “transmission-final punctuation”: 29 percent for texts and 35 percent for IMs. The same is likely true of Twitter, where the 140-character limit has made most punctuation seem dispensable.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

A Minor Musing About The South Dakota Legislature And Frat Movies

Via Madville, I learn the shocking totally predictable news that Governor Daugaard will offer a 1.6% increase for K-12 public education. Daugaard is content to "do the minimum." Meanwhile Pat Powers predicts "this next legislative session is going to spend an inordinate amount of time on common core."

Doing the "minimum" and spending an "inordinate amount of time" on situations that likely will not change reminds me of being a college student. For the legislature, the comparison is perhaps more apt; the legislature often seems like little else but fraternity for folks who should have left frat life behind when they turned 22.

The two best movies about frat life are Animal House and the under-appreciated PCU. Both movies contain quotations that predict what will happen during the upcoming session. First, from PCU,
These, Tom, are the Causeheads. They find a world-threatening issue and stick with it for about a week.
The only question is what eccentric "world-threatening issue" will dominate discussion each week. The issues about funding and other important issues will be dealt behind the scenes.

Of course how the issue is dealt with is often as important as the issue itself. From Animal House,
I think that this situation absolutely requires a really futile and stupid gesture be done on somebody's part.
The only question is what "really futile and stupid gesture" will be proposed to solve the "world-threatening issue" du semaine.

Scripture And Song For The Week: II Peter 3 Edition

II Peter 3
8 But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. 9 The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.