Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Happy New Year

After a long hiatus, I want to wish all a Happy New Year. I hope to return to more regular blogging.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Quotation Of The Day: Intelligence, Education, And Insults Edition

Indeed, the biggest insult to the intelligence of American teachers is the idea that their intelligence doesn't matter. “The teaching of A, B, C, and the multiplication table has no quality of sacredness in it,” Horace Mann said in 1839. Instead of focusing on students’ mental skills, Mann urged, teachers should promote “good-will towards men” and “reverence to God.” Teachers need to be good, more than they need to be smart; their job is to nurture souls, not minds. So Garret Keizer’s first supervisor worried that he might have too many grades of A on his college transcript to succeed as a high school teacher, and Elizabeth Green concludes her otherwise skeptical book with the much-heard platitude that teachers need to “love” their students.
Keizer is offended by comments like that, and he has every good reason to be. Do lawyers have to love their clients? Must doctors adore their patients? What American teachers need now is not love, but a capacity for deep and disciplined thinking that will reflect—and respect—the intellectual complexities of their job. It won’t do to simply strip away our insipid accountability systems and leave everything in the hands of present-day teachers, who are mostly unprepared for the tasks we have set before them. The US badly needs to design and develop an entirely different system of teacher education, stressing cognitive skills above all else. Anything less will leave our teachers languishing in “intellectual stagnation,” as Elizabeth Cady Stanton told Susan B. Anthony, and our schools mired in mediocrity.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Wars And Rumors Of Wars: It's Still The Economy

I've just finished teaching a short Norse myth unit. Ragnarok is fresh on my mind. Coincidentally, PNR has an interesting post contending that Obama's foreign policy ensures a 21st Century World War. I have little doubt that there will be another war before my 80th birthday. Laying the blame on Obama's foreign policy which, by and large, is a continuation of the policies of previous administrations means that one should also blame every post Cold War President including Bush I, Bush II, and Clinton.

The reason for war will not be foreign policy. Writing a short post for The Week, William Falk sums it up well:
Wage stagnation — and the resulting erosion of the middle class — is this country's biggest problem. When hard work no longer produces upward mobility for workers who lack elite skills, America's implicit promise is broken. At National Review, conservative Maggie Gallagher complains that "for more than a decade Americans have been losing ground financially, and the GOP has yet to address the issue." In The Washington Post, liberal Harold Meyerson grouses that "the Democrats have had precious little to say about how to re-create…widely shared prosperity." Perhaps that's because the standard liberal and conservative nostrums (Tax the rich! Eliminate regulations!) won't address the fundamental problem: Globalization and technology have devalued both labor and workers, and made companies more ruthlessly competitive. Here's a scary thought: Neither party is offering a remedy because there isn't one.
When hard work produces disillusionment not advancement, governments will distract the populace with foreign adventures. Given that nations' economies are becoming entwined in a Gordian Knot, the distraction will be monstrous.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

A Minor Musing For South Dakota's Democrats

Over at Madville, Cory has spent a lot of time working through strategies for the Democrats to regroup and grow. Pat Powers has shed a few nostalgic crocodile tears about a time when Democrats were competitive. I'll add my two cents to the discussion.

First, to play Captain Obvious, elections matter. Legislative elections during sessions that determine redistricting matter more than most. Republicans won elections and did a great job of creating districts that marginalized Democrats. Democrats need to win elections that will allow them to control either the state senate or the state house before the next redistricting.

Second, conservatives in 2014 are more conservative than Ronald Reagan and liberals in 2014 are more liberal than George McGovern. Moderates in 2014 are an endangered species unless one counts pragmatism or the overhyped political term triangulation as a moderate principle.

Third, Matt Varilek and Rick Weiland prove that former staffers will likely not win.

Fourth, campaigning on education is a fool's errand. Voters may claim to care about education. They may actually care about education, but in the voting booth other issues dominate.

Fifth, winners win. Right now, Democrats have won about twenty legislative seats, a Sioux Falls mayor, and a former congresswoman whom the party may or may not wish to reject. Democrats need to win city, count, and school board elections. (Let's leave aside for the moment the fiction that those elections are non-partisan.)

Sixth, politics is played by competitive people. If Democrats provide no competition, Republicans will turn on themselves. That event, while entertaining, is also likely to produce some terrible policies.

I don't have any real answers for Democrats, but it took them a long time come to this state, It will take them a long time to rebuild.

Monday, November 3, 2014

2014 Election Night Over/Under Line

It's going to be a depressing night. South Dakota voters will grant Republicans more job security than the Soviet Union gave to members of the Politburo. I'd feel the same depression if South Dakota were a blue state, and Democrats were going to sweep. Single party rule is a disaster waiting to happen.

The only race that might prove interesting the United States Senate race, but even that race indicates that Republicans have come together to ensure a Rounds win. The real question is the voter margins with the following numbers

In the gubernatorial race, I'll set the number at 67.5% for Daugaard. 

In the disaster that is the U.S. House race, the number is 73.5%.

The most interesting race is the the United States Senate Race. I think Rounds will win. The number for the over/under bet is 45.9%. I know Bob Mercer has opined that Rounds will get 50%. As noted earlier, he Republicans are coming home to back the boy wearing an R on his jersey, but I don't think it's going to be enough to put Rounds over 50%.

The Secretary of State race should have been close; it won't be. The number here should mirror the U.S. House race. 73.5%.

The Democrats didn't nominate anyone for attorney general. Chad Haber is, well, he's Chad Haber, the husband of Annette Bosworth. I don't believe anyone will get over 90% in a general election but Jackley could come close. I'll set the number at 87.8%.

The rest of the constitutional offices share a 69.5% number.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Scripture And Song For The Week: I Samuel 8 Edition

1 When Samuel grew old, he appointed his sons as Israel’s leaders. 2 The name of his firstborn was Joel and the name of his second was Abijah, and they served at Beersheba. 3 But his sons did not follow his ways. They turned aside after dishonest gain and accepted bribes and perverted justice.
4 So all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah. 5 They said to him, “You are old, and your sons do not follow your ways; now appoint a king to lead[b] us, such as all the other nations have.”
6 But when they said, “Give us a king to lead us,” this displeased Samuel; so he prayed to the Lord. 7 And the Lord told him: “Listen to all that the people are saying to you; it is not you they have rejected, but they have rejected me as their king. 8 As they have done from the day I brought them up out of Egypt until this day, forsaking me and serving other gods, so they are doing to you. 9 Now listen to them; but warn them solemnly and let them know what the king who will reign over them will claim as his rights.”
10 Samuel told all the words of the Lord to the people who were asking him for a king. 11 He said, “This is what the king who will reign over you will claim as his rights: He will take your sons and make them serve with his chariots and horses, and they will run in front of his chariots. 12 Some he will assign to be commanders of thousands and commanders of fifties, and others to plow his ground and reap his harvest, and still others to make weapons of war and equipment for his chariots. 13 He will take your daughters to be perfumers and cooks and bakers. 14 He will take the best of your fields and vineyards and olive groves and give them to his attendants. 15 He will take a tenth of your grain and of your vintage and give it to his officials and attendants. 16 Your male and female servants and the best of your cattle[c] and donkeys he will take for his own use. 17 He will take a tenth of your flocks, and you yourselves will become his slaves. 18 When that day comes, you will cry out for relief from the king you have chosen, but the Lord will not answer you in that day.”
19 But the people refused to listen to Samuel. “No!” they said. “We want a king over us. 20 Then we will be like all the other nations, with a king to lead us and to go out before us and fight our battles.”

Friday, October 31, 2014

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

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

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Republicans Will Likely Sweep On November 4. So What?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

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

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

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

Monday, October 20, 2014

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

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

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

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

A Midlife Crisis??

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

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

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

Sunday, October 19, 2014

A Minor Musing About The Wismer Candidacy

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

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

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

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

Friday, October 10, 2014

A Minor Musing About Protest Votes

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, September 26, 2014

Will South Dakota Follow Where Kansas Has Gone?

Governor Sam Brownback will sign a proclamation designating October as Zombie Preparedness Month Sept. 26 at 11 a.m. in the Governor’s Ceremonial Office in the Kansas Statehouse.
"If you’re prepared for zombies, you’re prepared for anything," is the theme of Zombie Preparedness. 
"If you’re equipped to handle the zombie apocalypse then you’re prepared for tornadoes, severe storms, fire and any other natural disaster Kansas usually faces," said Devan Tucking. "This is a fun and low-stress way to get families involved, and past turnouts have proven it to be effective."
A Zombie Apocalypse resolution should be the only resolution taken up in the upcoming session by the South Dakota Legislature, a body too fond on nonbinding measures.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Daugaard The Sophist?

This was a post I wanted to get to last week, but given Governor Daugaard will likely continue to condemn philosophy and the liberal arts, it remains timely.

Madville Times does a great job of refuting South Dakota Governor Dennis Daugaard's latest erroneous contention about the value of philosophy. If fact, Cory does such a great job that I would not even have bother with this post if Daugaard had not put out a weekly release with this sentence: "Everything is relative, of course."

The numbers Daugaard is referring to in the press release may need context, but they are not relative. Given Daugaard's distaste for liberal arts, one should not be surprised that the Governor is imprecise in his language use. All of us are at times, but no one in the South Dakota blogosphere has a paid staff hired to ensure usage is precise. It is more troubling that Daugaard sees nothing wrong with the phrase "everything is relative. In fact, not everything is relative.

Let's turn to philosopher Simon Blackburn.
Then, fortunately, there are countless small, unpretentious things that we know with perfect certainty.  Happiness is preferable to misery, and dignity is better than humiliation.  It is bad that people suffer, and worse if a culture turns a blind eye to their suffering.  Death is worse than life; the attempt to find a common point of view is better than manipulative contempt for it. –Simon Blackburn, Being Good, 134.
Terry Eagleton provides and even stronger statement:
All truths are established from specific viewpoints; but it does not make sense to say that there is a tiger in the bathroom from my point of view but not from yours.  You and I may contend fiercely about whether there is a tiger in the bathroom or not.  To call truth absolute here is just to say that one of us has to be wrong.

If it is true that racism is an evil, then it is not just true for those who happen to be its victims.  They are not just expressing how they feel; they are making a statement about the way things are.  ‘Racism is an evil’ is not the same kind of proposition as ‘I always find the smell of fresh newsprint blissful.’  It is more like the statement ‘There is a tiger in the bathroom.’  One could imagine someone murmuring consolingly to the victims of racism that he understands just why they feel the way that they do; that he understands just why they feel the way they do; that this feeling is of course entirely valid for them – indeed, that if he were in their shoes he would doubtless feel just the same way; but that in fact he is not in their shoes, and so does not consider the situation to racist at all.  This individual is known as a relativist.  He might conceivably be known, less politely, as a racist. – Terry Eagleton, After Theory, 106 
Off the top of my head, I can think of only two schools of philosophical thought that would accept "everything is relative" as true: the ancient sophists and their descendants, the postmodern deconstructionists. For whatever reason, Daugaard doesn't seem like one of the latter. 

Perhaps the Governor would know that if he brushed up on his philosophy instead of condemning it and trumpeting his wisdom about philosophy without understanding the subject. The latter quality does mark him as a sophist.

Just in case I didn't make it clear earlier: not everything is relative

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

The First C Of Political Survival: Campaign

I have become quite fascinated with the 5 Cs of survival: cutting tool, cover, container, cordage, and combustion. The idea of 5 alliterative essentials is an excellent mnemonic device and, dare I say, a workable organizing principle.

It with that spirit in mind that I offer Democrats the first C of political survival, campaign.

Professor Jon Schaff believes "Weiland has run an almost perfect campaign," and "Rounds is in trouble." I agree with Schaff that Rounds is merely bruised not bloodied. Further, in blood red South Dakota, Weiland needs a knockout not merely a knockdown to win. Those caveats aside, Weiland still has a chance because he is running a campaign.

It is difficult to imagine every Democrat running for statewide office having the energy to do Weiland's statewide tours. In addition Rounds may have bigger flaws and have more negative baggage than most other Republicans seeking statewide office. That said, Susan Wismer's campaign has provoked skirmishes but falls far short of full scale political guerrilla warfare necessary to win. There's little evidence than any other Democrats are running for statewide office.

Campaigns matter and only one Democrat running statewide seems to be running a complete one.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

I Left For A Week And Nothing Changed

I had to take a week to learn more about oceans for the policy debate topic, read Things Fall Apart as a teacher rather than a reader, survive homecoming activities and few other real life nuisances, so I maintained blog absence for most of the past week.

I was worried that I may have missed something, but a quick scan of Madville Times shows that Democrats are still trying to hang the EB-5 albatross around Mike Rounds neck. Meanwhile, Dakota War College continues it efforts to show Democrats to be incompetent or duplicitous or both.

Other stories of interest remained stable Attorney General candidate Chad Haber still does weird stuff and Brad Ford continues to write the weirdest posts in the South Dakota blogosphere. Oh yeah, South Dakota teacher pay is still the worst in the nation.

Regular blogging here will hopefully soon resume

Monday, September 15, 2014

A Minor Musing On EB-5 And Logical Fallicies

Over at Madville, Cory has been beating a consistent drum about the irregularities in the EB-5 program that lost millions. His posts point to malfeasance that illustrates a culture of corruption under the Mike Rounds administration

PNR has been more circumspect when posting about this matter, but this post has him concluding that Mike Rounds may have been guilty of mismanagement.

Normally, I would reject the either Rounds is either a crook or an incompetent argument as an either/or logical fallacy. Rounds, however, has not offered a plausible alternative to either scenario, so until he does, one is left concluding that a vote for Rounds represents support for corruption or incompetence or both. I not sure why anyone would want to cast that vote.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Scripture And Song For The Week: Colossians 4 Edition

1 Masters, give unto your servants that which is just and equal; knowing that ye also have a Master in heaven.
2 Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving;
3 Withal praying also for us, that God would open unto us a door of utterance, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am also in bonds:
4 That I may make it manifest, as I ought to speak.
5 Walk in wisdom toward them that are without, redeeming the time. Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

A Minor Musing About Mixing Knives And Jesus

While he lived on the farm, my father always carried a pocket knife. My mother had a butcher knife that she was particularly fond of when it came time to butcher chickens. To prevent my wife from yelling at me, I will confess only to having not a few full-sized folders and multi tools along with an equal number of the keychain variety. Further I am willing to hold forth for an extended period of time about my conviction that the Cold Steel company's Triad locking mechanism is one of the best locking mechanisms ever invented for a folding knife. All of this is a long way of saying that I have no problems with knives and and an admission that I probably own too many.

I have no problem with Jesus. He died to save the human race from sin. Jesus was seemingly ambivalent about sharp objects. He told his disciples to have some  swords with them, but he wasn't too keen on swords being used in a particular garden, The scriptures seem silent on His view of locking or slipjoint folding knives.

This post is prompted by my discovery of Overcomer Knives, maker of custom knives including Roman Samurai Slayer and the Israelite. Some of the offerings include rams horn scales. The company's website homepage references Luke 22:36-38, the passage that has Jesus telling his disciples to be sure to have swords:
36 Then said he unto them, But now, he that hath a purse, let him take it, and likewise his scrip: and he that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one.
37 For I say unto you, that this that is written must yet be accomplished in me, And he was reckoned among the transgressors: for the things concerning me have an end.
38 And they said, Lord, behold, here are two swords. And he said unto them, It is enough.
On the About Us page contains the following paragraph:
Until a bar stock piece of steel is shaped, heat treated and formed into its Master’s image it will not overcome. Once this steel is made into a knife it becomes an overcomer. It will overcome trials and adversity in the hands of its Master. WHY CHOOSE AN OVERCOMER KNIFE? Jesus Christ is put at the forefront of Overcomer Knives. A samurai sword is highly esteemed by many in this world. It is a religious experience for the sword maker, when making a samurai sword. The sword maker prays to a false god until the completion of the sword. Here at Overcomer Knives, I pray to the true living God, the Lord Jesus Christ, until the completion of a knife. I am self taught and have done extensive research on what type of steel is the best to use. All of my knives are made of air quenched steel, A2, CPM 3V and CPM 4V. All heat treating and tempering is done in my shop with a digital kiln. No two knives are exactly alike. I make my knives as the Spirit of the Lord leads me. The Scandinavian people are true outdoorsmen. This is seen in many of their knife grinds and designs. All of my knives come with a Scandinavian type grind. This is my favorite grind and is ideal for sharpening. I also add an additional edge on top of the Scandinavian grind for added strength. All of my knife designs are original and unique. I make my knives with the Spirit of the Lord leading me. Take a close look at my Roman Samurai Slayer. The Lord gave me this design from an ancient concept of catching an opponent’s blade. This knife can save your life from a Samurai sword attack in a last ditch effort. I test each knife personally with a real Samurai sword to make sure the knife can catch and deter it. All of my knives are guaranteed for life or until the return of Christ, whatever comes first, and against defects in workmanship or materials. A Born Again Christian overcomes through the blood of Jesus Christ. I will build a knife for you that will help you overcome anything the enemy can dish out.
 If I am reading the paragraph correctly, I am supposed to buy a knife from this company because the design came from God and the design will allow me to overcome any pagan samurai I encounter, especially that rare breed of samurai based in Rome. Further, the knifemaker's faith expressed in his prayers apparently will accompany the knife as the new owner takes possession of it and uses it to vanquish the enemy. Given the tone of the passage, it's not quite clear whether the enemy is a physical samurai or the devil taking the form of a "roaring lion seeking whom it may devour." It's also unclear how the company will honor its warranty if Jesus doesn't return until the year 2525.

I don't have a problem with Saddleback Leather including a tract in their briefcases. I'm fine with business owners' claiming that their faith dictates that they close on Sunday. This effort, on the other hand, turns faith into a weird niche marketing tool that equates Christianity to preparing for the Zombie Apocalypse. If I am going to spend hundreds for a single knife instead of shop for the best value under $50, I'll spend a lot of time praying and buyChris Reeve Small Sebenza

Sunday, September 7, 2014

All Hat No Cattle

That's the image that this Yankton Press and Dakotan photo screams to me.

Kelly Hertz photo in September 3rd Yankton Press and Dakotan
A general definition of the idiom for non-South Dakota readers can be found here.

Scripture And Song Of The Week: Psalm 46 Edition

Psalm 46
1 God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.
2 Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea;
3 Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof. Selah.
4 There is a river, the streams whereof shall make glad the city of God, the holy place of the tabernacles of the most High.
5 God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved: God shall help her, and that right early.
6 The heathen raged, the kingdoms were moved: he uttered his voice, the earth melted.
7 The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah.
8 Come, behold the works of the Lord, what desolations he hath made in the earth.
9 He maketh wars to cease unto the end of the earth; he breaketh the bow, and cutteth the spear in sunder; he burneth the chariot in the fire.
10 Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth.
11 The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Quotation Of The Day: The Problem With The Economy Is Big Business Edition

From this James Pethokoukis post at The Week:
The missing link in the anemic, five-year-old recovery has been business investment. And big business itself deserves a lot of the blame for that. Instead of using record profits to buy new equipment or build factories — and boost the economy — corporate America has been sitting on nearly $2 trillion in cash. Corporate balance sheets are stuffed.
When CEOs do put money to work, it's almost always to help shareholders, through higher dividends and stock buy-backs that boost share prices. More recently, companies have been using some of that dough for a tricky financial technique known as an "inversion," buying an overseas rival to take advantage of lower international tax rates. Never have companies spent such a tiny share of the cash they generate on capital investment, according to economist Andrew Smithers.
Even worse, argues Harvard's Clayton Christensen in a recent paper, much of that investment is directed toward making existing products or delivering existing services more efficiently — often with fewer workers — rather than innovating new products or services that create new, high-paying jobs. This plague of risk-averse "short-termism," as Nobel-winning economist Edmund Phelps writes in Mass Flourishing, reduces the total "supply of innovation" in the U.S. economy, resulting in slower growth and job creation.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Quotation Of The Day: America And God Edition

From this Religious News Service interview of Matthew Paul Turner:
Throughout our history we've branded God into a deity that works for us, one that mixes well with American values, one that agrees with our wars, and one who not only adheres to our way of life, in many cases, our way of life is God’s ideal, which we often suggest is one of the reasons he blesses us with prosperity. The biggest issue perhaps is that many of us are so comfortable with our American God, so certain of his ways, that to believe that we might be wrong is impossible.

Monday, September 1, 2014

I Thought Blogging Might Hurt My Teaching Career

But now, I'm really glad I didn't try writing novels. From this blog post at Reason:
A Dorchester County, Maryland, teacher was taken in for an "emergency medical evaluation," suspended from his job, and barred from setting foot on another public school. Authorities searched his school, Mace's Lane Middle School in Cambridge, for weapons. As classes resumed, parents worried that their children were in danger, so police decided to remain on the premises to watch over them.
What happened? The teacher, Patrick McLaw, published a fiction novel. Under a pen name. About a made-up school shooting. Set in the year 2902.
Go read the whole thing. The final paragraph sums up the situation as presented quite well.
For those who are curious, a link to one of McLaw's two books can be found here. This book, The Insurrectionist, features a school shooting. As one Reddit user writes: "It isn't what I'd call good, but it is a novel. I hope they needed more than bad writing to get a warrant." 

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Scripture And Song For The Week: I Peter 5 Edition

1 The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed:
2 Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind;
3 Neither as being lords over God's heritage, but being examples to the flock.
4 And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away.
5 Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble.
6 Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time:
7 Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.
8 Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:
9 Whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world.
10 But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you.
11 To him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

What Would Happen If An Orthodox Christian, A Taoist, And An Ancient Pagan Walked Into A Bar

I teach a short unit on Dante in my world lit class, so I have been following big boy blogger Rod Dreher's American Conservative posts about Dante with interest. (He has far too many to link to) Because I also teach a unit on Taoism, his most recent post provoked some musings that I still haven't sorted through completely. This paragraph, which explained the events that prompted the post struck me as rather interesting:
This week, I stumbled across a book that gave me real insight into this problem. As you know, we moved to a new house recently. The moving process unearthed, so to speak, books of mine that have been out of sight and out of mind for a while. One of them is a book I bought five years ago, when I was reading about Taoism and its parallels to Orthodox Christianity. The contemporary Orthodox priest-monk Damascene wrote a book called Christ The Eternal Tao, in which he interprets the basic Taoist message in Christian terms. The basic idea is that outside of the Hebrew tradition, Taoism is the most complete understanding of what Christianity teaches, and, rightly understood, prepares one to accept the truth of the Gospel. The book by no means teaches syncretism, but rather identifies aspects of Taoist thought that correspond to the way Orthodox Christianity understands the spiritual path. Tao simply means “the Way”; in Chinese bibles, Jesus’s words, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life” come out as, “I am the Tao, the Truth, and the Life.” For Taoists, yielding to the tao is the path to restoring harmony between body, soul, and the cosmological order, which isn’t necessarily deistic.
Something about that paragraph and the tone of Dreher's post reminded me of these passages from C.S. Lewis's "Myth Became Fact" which I have in an old paperback version of The Grand Miracle.
Now as myth transcends thought, Incarnation transcends myth. The heart of Christianity is a myth which is also a fact. The old myth of the Dying God, without ceasing to be myth, comes down from the heaven of legend and imagination to the earth of history. It happens--at a particular date, in a particular place, followed by definable historical consequences. We pass form a Balder or an Osiris, dying nobody knows when or where, to a historical Person crucified (it is all in order) under Pontius Pilate. By becoming fact it does not cease to be myth: that is the miracle. I suspect that men have sometimes derived more spiritual sustenance from myths they did not believe than from the religion they professed. To be truly Christian we must both assent to the historical fact and also receive the myth (fact though it has become) with the same imaginative embrace which we accord to all myths. The one is hardly more necessary than the other…We must not be ashamed of the mythical radiance resting on our theology. ....
...Those who do not know that this great myth became Fact when the Virgin conceived are, indeed, to be pitied. But Christians also need to be reminded - we may thank Corineus for reminding us - that what became Fact was a Myth, that it carries with it into the world of Fact all the properties of a myth. God is more than a god, not less; Christ is more than Balder, not less. We must not be ashamed of the mythical radiance resting on our theology. We must not be nervous about 'parallels' and 'Pagan Christs': they ought to be there - it would be a stumbling block if they weren't. We must not, in false spirituality, withhold our imaginative welcome. If God chooses to be mythopoeic - and is not the sky itself a myth - shall we refuse to be mythopathic? For this is the marriage of heaven and earth: Perfect Myth and Perfect Fact: claiming not only our love and our obedience, but also our wonder and delight, addressed to the savage, the child, and the poet in each one of us no less than to the moralist, the scholar, and the philosopher.
To answer the question posed by this post's title, I think they'd all have a beer and some good conversation. I'll leave it to others to prove Lewis and  Damascene wrong. I still have much musing to do.

Quotation OF The Day: Reading History Edition

From this Adam Gopnik piece in the New Yorker:
The real sin that the absence of a historical sense encourages is presentism, in the sense of exaggerating our present problems out of all proportion to those that have previously existed. It lies in believing that things are much worse than they have ever been—and, thus, than they really are—or are uniquely threatening rather than familiarly difficult. Every episode becomes an epidemic, every image is turned into a permanent injury, and each crisis is a historical crisis in need of urgent aggressive handling—even if all experience shows that aggressive handling of such situations has in the past, quite often made things worse. 
As a side note, I'd guess that not reading history produces a similar misguided optimism: the present successes have never been equaled nor can they ever be surpassed.

Friday, August 29, 2014

So If Republicans Complain, No EB-5 Questions Will Be Asked?

A few days ago, Pat Powers complained that South Dakota Farmers Union President Doug Sombke was too biased to moderate today's gubernatorial debate because Sombke tweeted "northern beef plant has a suspicious history...."

Today, Carrie Law moderated the debate. That may have been the intention all along. David Montgomery reports Ms. Law saw no need to ask any questions about EB-5 and, presumably, the beef plant.
One of the most intense topics at last week's Dakotafest debate was the EB-5 program, which South Dakota has used in the past to recruit foreign investment for local projects. Most of the EB-5 support came under Daugaard's predecessor, Gov. Mike Rounds, but Democrats have criticized Daugaard for not investigating the program aggressively enough.
None of the audience-submitted questions chosen by the moderator addressed EB-5. Wismer said after the debate that she respected that and didn't try to shoehorn it in. The only mention of EB-5 was from Myers in his closing statement.
With the caveat that correlation does not equal causation, it beggars belief that no one in the audience submitted an EB-5 question. The results of the event leave the impression that Republicans complained and the debate hosts and moderator caved to the pressure. Even if one grants that there are other issues more important than EB-5, public events worthy of being called debates cannot avoid uncomfortable issues.

If EB-5 was not discussed because Republicans complained, then, as the young'uns say, it's time to throw the BS flag because those sorts of expectations of elite privilege belong only in a banana republic.

All The Political World's A Stage: Shakespeare Allusions Abound

And all the politicians merely players who strut and fret their hour making their exits and their entrances; and most in their time play many parts.

During the next few weeks political junkies can anticipate the grand performance at the September 24 (Government Operations and Audit Committee) GOAC hearing. Chairperson State Senator Larry Tidemann has invited Joop Bollen to attend and explain how money went through his non-banks and disappeared into the ether. Democrats have invited Governor Dennis Daugaard and former governor Mike Rounds to explain their roles in EB-5, Norther Beef Packers, and expensive but guaranteed visas.

Susan Wismer has sought to recuse herself from the proceedings to avoid even the appearance of political evil. Some have opined that the lady doth protest too much.

The next few weeks will be full of sound and fury. Alas, the buildup will likely be better than the final staged performance. Bollen will decline the invitation. Rounds and Daugaard will submit letters full of legalese and jargon signifying nothing.

And those who want the truth will be left to mutter curses, not loud but deep.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

A Minor Musing On Anger, Scandal, and Political Dominance

PNR wonders if and when people will respond to the IRS the way the residents of Ferguson, Missouri responded to that city's police force. I'd like to broaden the question a bit. What does it take to prompt voters to actually decide to limit the power of South Dakota's dominant party?

Cory succinctly sums up the Rounds/Daugaard record of governance and economic development:
. . . the bankrupt beef plant, the bankrupt dairy, the lost jobs, the lost tax dollars, the lost investments, the bank franchise tax evasion, the profit-seeking privatization of a state function, the lack of oversight and the abuses of power.
Moving beyond the EB-5 fiasco, Darrell Solberg's letter to the editor points to other Republican failures.
. . . South Dakota [has] the dubious honor of being one of the top 10 most corrupt states.
Lack of government openness and transparency led to questionable practices, pay to play, tax rebates for oil pipelines and no-bid contracts.
Increasing the number of state employees, many of whom were relatives or friends, increased the state’s expenses and dependency on federal dollars.
Failure to properly fund education left our teachers last in the nation in pay, — $8,000 lower than North Dakota, the next lowest state — and kept the state near the bottom in state funding of education.
Their lack of attention and commitment to education funding has caused a severe teacher shortage in the state.
College tuitions are on an upward spiral; South Dakota college graduates have one of the highest educational debts upon graduation, forcing many to leave for better paying jobs.
In a sane political universe, that record should be enough to motivate voters to give the other party the keys to the executive offices for at least one term. South Dakota is not Richard J. Daley's Chicago  or the Long's Louisiana yet, but a single party dynasty is the quickest way to approach those levels of malfeasance.

Going a step further, Republicans themselves admitted that Secretary of State's office needed to experience a return of integrity and their nomination of Shantel Krebs to replace Jason Gant was seen as rebuke to Gant. Once again, a sane political universe would contain enough voters who would believe that it would take both a different person and a different party to avoid the same problems.

I don't disagree that people should take to the streets more than they do, although my best pitchfork and pike days are behind me. Before folks get angry enough to duplicate Ferguson, I'd prefer they'd get angry enough to show and vote for different people from different parties.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

A Minor Musing: Democrats, Shanghaiing, And Bush-League Edition

When I was young, people who were pressured into doing something they would have preferred not to do claimed that they had been shanghaied. Used informally, the verb means to "coerce or trick (someone) into a place or position or into doing something:" Another word one doesn't often hear is the term "bush-league." Maybe only old  baseball fans keep its usage alive when they want to refer to an action or event that is "of an inferior class or group of its kind :  marked by a lack of sophistication or professionalism."

If true, this "skuttlebutt" from Northern Plains News provides a classic example of both words being put into action.
  • Heard through the grapevine that several Sioux Falls area Democrats who were on the ballot for legislative races as placeholders asked for but received no help from the state party to get off the ballot. My source indicated this was the idea all along.
Having been a teacher for a long time, I have learned through hard experience that some folks need to see the definition along with an example, and they also need to see the words used in a sentence that explains the example. I offer the following:
When South Dakota Democrats ask someone to help out and serve as a placeholder but then fail to assist the placeholder who seeks to remove his or her name from the ballot, they are, in effect, shanghaiing the person into serving as a candidate. These actions epitomize bush-league behavior and weaken efforts to be taken seriously as a party. 
 I'm not a Democrat, but if I were and discovered the rumor to be accurate, I would be calling for someone's head over this rude bungling.

My Father Should Have Been A Campaign Consultant, Part 1

I want political competition in South Dakota. The natural laws that govern the gaining and use of power remain the same as they were when Madison warned about power's coercive effects in The Federalist Papers. The Republican monopoly on the governor's office and most constitutional offices will, if left unchallenged, develop into a political cancer.

I was in high school 40 years ago when Nixon resigned. If I recall correctly, I was helping my father install a hoist on a truck when President Ford was sworn in. We listened to the ceremony on an old transistor radio.

I don't remember if may father said anything about the events, but I'm sure he expressed something in the form of an aphorism or biblical allusion. It was his way. When I was a young man, I found my father's aphorisms rather tiresome. I was a kid. Now, I find they contained wisdom that serve me well and would serve South Dakota candidates well.

For example, he would say, "when you're in the basement, stop digging holes." Angelia Schultz could listen to that advice. She already has a reputation for not returning press phone calls. She is continuing that behavior to the degree that Pat Powers believes he can crow about it.

More importantly, my father repeatedly told me, "it's far better to have people think you're a fool than to open your mouth and remove all doubt." I'll listen to anyone willing to discuss NSA abuses. People talking about the government using robotic bees on the other hand should heed my father's advice.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014


FoDoM is the acronym that I came up with for "Friends of Dennis (Daugaard) and Mike (Rounds)." I'm not a friend of either man, but I was getting ready to teach a unit about Aristotle's concept of friendship and Daugaard's disdain for philosophy came to mind. That led to musings summarized below.

Aristotle breaks friendship down into three categories:
In Book VIII of his Nichomachean Ethics, Aristotle categorizes three different types of friendship: friendships of utility, friendships of pleasure, and friendships of the good. Friendships of utility are those where people are on cordial terms primarily because each person benefits from the other in some way. Business partnerships, relationships among co-workers, and classmate connections are examples. Friendships of pleasure are those where individuals seek out each other’s company because of the joy it brings. Passionate love affairs, people associating with each other due to belonging to the same hobby organization, and fishing buddies fall into this category. Most important of all are friendships of the good. These are friendships based upon mutual respect, admiration for each other’s virtues, and a strong desire to aid and assist the other person because one recognizes their essential goodness.
When it comes to education, the past and current governors' collective efforts have produced little utility, pleasure, or good. Rounds created and Daugaard exploited a situation in education funding that, at best, brings to mind another acronym FUBAR. If one goes beyond funding, HB 1234, which was thankfully repealed, epitomizes the concept of FUBAR in the legislative and executive branch.

I have to do more reading to be certain, but it strikes me that Aristotle would consider those who vote for a candidate friends of utility. The candidate gets the votes he or she desires and voters get the policies they desire. I'm sure some contributing FoDoM gained utility from their friendship with Daugaard and Rounds. The FoDoM who are hunting or drinking or golfing or whatever friends of pleasure one might be doing also likely gained something from their friendship. As for the rest of us, I'm hard pressed to think of any utility or pleasure arising from the Rounds or Daugaard tenures.

More importantly, government should be about protecting the good. The idea that these two men as governors actually protected the good or created enough utility to justify their re-elections or elevation to the United States Senate is, to continue using an apt acronym, FUBAR.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

About That ALS Challenge Thing

Warning: The following video contains images of me and one will actually hear my voice if one hits play

I was challenged by a young man named Nathan. We're tight, so I did the ALS ice bucket challenge. I will still donate some cash. Careful listeners who are not frightened by the image of me or by hearing my voice may note that I say that I will keep talking after the ice. I did, but Tom cut the camera for a second or two and I sounded angry when I really wasn't, so I haven't decided whether to upload that part.

What I said was that I wasn't going to challenge any South Dakota bloggers or fellow teachers. I hoped no classes or homerooms would challenge each other. The people with ALS need the money more than they need to see average folks pouring ice water on themselves.

I was also challenged by a former student named Lacey H. A couple of people told me about it. If one of you would be so kind as to contact her on the malware that is Facebook and send her this link, I'd appreciate it.

Scripture And Song For The Week: I Samuel 7 Edition

I Samuel 7
4 Then the children of Israel did put away Baalim and Ashtaroth, and served the Lord only.
5 And Samuel said, Gather all Israel to Mizpeh, and I will pray for you unto the Lord.
6 And they gathered together to Mizpeh, and drew water, and poured it out before the Lord, and fasted on that day, and said there, We have sinned against the Lord. And Samuel judged the children of Israel in Mizpeh.
7 And when the Philistines heard that the children of Israel were gathered together to Mizpeh, the lords of the Philistines went up against Israel. And when the children of Israel heard it, they were afraid of the Philistines.
8 And the children of Israel said to Samuel, Cease not to cry unto the Lord our God for us, that he will save us out of the hand of the Philistines.
9 And Samuel took a sucking lamb, and offered it for a burnt offering wholly unto the Lord: and Samuel cried unto the Lord for Israel; and the Lord heard him.
10 And as Samuel was offering up the burnt offering, the Philistines drew near to battle against Israel: but the Lord thundered with a great thunder on that day upon the Philistines, and discomfited them; and they were smitten before Israel.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

From Macabre To Ridiculous

I like guerilla theater more than most, but macabre performances of prose hould be left to junior high oral interpretation participants not candidates for governor and lieutenant-governor. Mike Myers and Lora Hubbel should have enough social awareness to know that publically re-enacting a death that has been ruled a suicide is beneath the offices they are seeking.

News of their performance provoked a nervous chuckle that often accompanies dark humor.  Marty Jackley produced the equivalent of a dark humor spit-take when he responded to Bob Mercer's suit to gain access to records surround Richard Benda's death with this sentence: "I chose the route of openness and have been nothing but criticized for that."

I don't know what Jackley's standard of openness is, but unless he's comparing himself to the Warren Commission, I doubt anyone would recognize what he's doing as open government.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Wadhams Response to Democrats' Press Conference Prompts A Few Questions

Yesterday South Dakota Democratic party leaders held a press conference to demand further investigation of EB-5 cash for visas and failed meat plants affair.
At a Sioux Falls news conference Tuesday, five Democratic legislators said GOAC{Government Operations and Audit Committee] should question [Joop}Bollen, [Dennis] Daugaard, [Mike]Rounds and other top officials as part of its investigation.
Republicans quickly responded and Dakota War College dutifully posted the press release. Republican spokesperson Dick Wadhams screamed scandal-mongering.
“Today’s farce that masqueraded as a news conference tells South Dakotans everything they need to know about the South Dakota Democrat Party and their failed candidates for governor and senator. Rick Weiland and Susan Wismer have nothing to run their campaigns on but to smear two of South Dakota’s most respected leaders.”
Usually, these faux outrage announcements contain assertions that the persons involved have fully cooperated with investigations and have nothing to add. There is also a protestation of innocence of any wrongdoing whatsoever.

Interestingly, Wadhams did not say that Rounds and Daugaard had done nothing improper in their management of EB5. More importantly, he did not assert that Rounds, Daugaard, and Bollen  can provide no new information that would clear up the matter.

Sometimes what's unsaid is more interesting that what is said. In this case, where are those standard denials?

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

South Dakota Has Turned A Deeper Shade Of Republican Red Over The Past 20 Years, one of my favorite sources of sci-fi and superhero geekery, posts this animated gif showing political polarization. In particular, the middle of the country seems to be turning a deeper shade of red. South Dakotans probably didn't need to see this gif to discern that fact.

Although red seems to be expanding geographically, one needs to remember that the major population centers are blue.

For South Dakota's Democrats, it seems to show a trend that will be difficult to overcome. Certainly,  the normal political combination of message and smart candidates not  seems as if it will not be overcome the past 20 years.

Political Polarization From Washington Post Originally

Monday, August 18, 2014

A Musing About The Minor But Predictable Gordon Howie Civil Unions (Or Not) Imbroglio

On Saturday, Pat Powers published two posts about United States Senate candidate Gordon Howie's views on same-gender marriage. In the first post, he does his best to place Mike Rounds, Powers's preferred candidate, to Howie's right.
"Apparently Gordon Howie is closer to RIck Weiland and Larry Pressler on the issue of gay marriage than Mike Rounds."
Getting to Howie's right on anything requires political maneuvering that, were it a military effort, would require the combined military genius of Sun Tzu, Alexander the Great, Napoleon, and George Patton. As a political matter, one should question the efficacy of attempting to move to Howie's right, but that's a subject for a different post.

Perpetually angry Bob Ellis gave his obligatory angry retort: the "liberal media" and RINOs have written "defamation articles" "to distort what they hate," which involves marriage, family, and apparently, although Ellis doesn't write about them in the post, puppies, angels, and apple pie.

Ellis then gets to the matter at hand.
Sure enough, when I read the articles and carefully separate the quotes from the author’s “interpretation” of what was said, I find that nowhere in the article was Gordon Howie quoted saying he supported “civil unions” (which are nothing more than mimicry of marriage), much less supporting “gay marriage” (i.e. counterfeit marriage)....
Howie supports–as I do–allowing homosexuals continued access to the same rights that every American enjoys regardless of sexual practice and proclivity.  In other words, if a homosexual wants to leave his property to his homosexual partner upon his death, that is a legal right any American enjoys, so why should the same right be denied to the homosexual?  If a homosexual wants his homosexual partner to be able to visit him in the hospital, and he makes prior legal notice of that–just as any American can do–then why should he be denied that right?
Coincidentally, Rod Dreher has a post this morning on the American Conservative website that is more thoughtful than Ellis's and points to some major problems with Ellis's conservative agenda that purports to mix Christianity with political action. Dreher writes,
1. Traditional Christians should quit lying to themselves (ourselves) about the possibility that politics can adequately address the core problems we identify in American culture. It’s not that politics are inconsequential, but rather that what can be achieved through politics is limited. It always was, of course, but now it is especially so. . . .
Do we think we are Christians because God has blessed us with material things and liberty? What use have we made of these blessings? Because we build megachurches, bishops’ palaces, McMansions for our own homes? Is it possible that God is judging us? I ask of all Christians, not just traditional ones? I ask it of myself.
2. If the core of our problems are moral and spiritual, then we must build the institutions and communal structures that will address those problems, and attempt to solve them. No politician, Republican or Democrat, saved anyone’s soul. Again, this is not to say that our religious beliefs do not have political consequences. They do. But it is to say that we have to keep straight in our minds what our goals are, and what the means to reach them are.
3. As a Christian and conservative, I have become interested in voting for the candidate who can most be trusted to work for the maximal protection of religious liberty and an autonomous sphere within which traditionalist Christians (and others) can work to build our own institutions (churches, schools, voluntary associations) that enable us to live out in common our conception of the moral life. This means that I will support a candidate who favors gay marriage rights if I believe that that candidate can be trusted to fight for religious liberty, and if that candidate is the most viable rightward candidate.
Dreher, I think points to three things that all voters need to think about as we enter the campaign season that will be full of short TV ads and charges and counter-charges of lying, defamation, and despising all that is good and holy.

First, Americans over most of my lifetime have done a rather poor job of "adequately address[ing] the core problems we identify in American culture" and have lived under the mantra, spoken or unspoken: "It's the economy, Stupid.". Since Madonna sang about  being a material girl in a material world in the 1980s, we haven't even bothered to mock ourselves and our emphasis on securing the material at the expense of nearly everything else.

Second, politicians have really lost the ability to think long term. Everything is about issues, tactics, and the horse race. Voters trust them to deliver on their promises at the voters' peril. More importantly, the difficulty Madison enunciated the Federalist 51 remains: humans are not angels.

Third, focusing on the hot button issues at the expense of the bigger issue, in this case preserving religious liberty, is counterproductive. Also, going for an all or nothing political approach is likely to gain the latter.

One wonders what the political and social landscape would look like now if, in the 1990s, Ellis and his conservative cohorts had pushed for a law that extends to gay and lesbian couples the civil benefits he claims to support with the caveat that churches could marry or not marry anyone they chose.

I don't have the answers, and I don't know where the lines should be drawn, but Dreher's approach makes a lot more sense than Ellis's

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Chad Haber Becomes Twitter Officially Notorious

When the young'uns talk about romances, they tell me nothing matters until it's "Facebook official." As one who agrees with those who assert that Facebook is malware, I have never checked to see which of the young handholders in lust populating the school's hallways are official.

There seems to be another kind of social media official. For the purposes of this post, let's call it "Twitter Officially Notorious"; one gains this notoriety when one is worthy enough to get a parody account. (It's unclear if they become TONners once they gain such status. I will be applying for trademark status if no one else has)

South Dakota has had fake accounts for Kristi Noem and Governor Daugaard. The newest to merit such an account is Chad Haber, attorney general candidate. Congratulations Chad. I hope the tweets do you justice.

Those so inclined can follow ChadNotALawyerHaber @AttorneyGeneral.

Two quick observations,  Ididn't set up the account, and I'm surprised @AttorneyGneral was still available.

Quotation Of The Day: Why The Country Needs A Few More True Libertarians Edition

From this Conor Friedersdorf piece in The Atlantic:
I do think that, if libertarians had wielded more power in bygone years, America would not have passed the Patriot Act, started the phone dragnet, or allowed the Department of Defense to send military equipment to police in places like Ferguson, Missouri. 
On issues where libertarians have a somewhat realistic chance of winning over their fellow citizens—reining in the NSA, eliminating the most inane professional licensing laws, insisting on due process in the War on Terrorism, avoiding foolish wars of choice, ending the war on drugs, reducing the prison population and the militarization of the police—a "libertarian moment" would have a salutary effect on American life. . . .

Scripture And Song For The Week: Deuteronomy 31 Edition

Deuteronomy 31
5 And the Lord shall give them up before your face, that ye may do unto them according unto all the commandments which I have commanded you.
6 Be strong and of a good courage, fear not, nor be afraid of them: for the Lord thy God, he it is that doth go with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.
 7 And Moses called unto Joshua, and said unto him in the sight of all Israel, Be strong and of a good courage: for thou must go with this people unto the land which the Lord hath sworn unto their fathers to give them; and thou shalt cause them to inherit it.
8 And the Lord, he it is that doth go before thee; he will be with thee, he will not fail thee, neither forsake thee: fear not, neither be dismayed.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Vocab Words For The Week's News

Yeah, I'm going through the teachable moment phase of the year. It should end by Wednesday or Thursday.

assiduous (adjective): showing great care, attention, and effort
dither (verb): be indecisive

Had Chad Haber been assiduous about changing his voter registration from Republican to Libertarian, it's likely Secretary of State Gant and Attorney General Jackley would not be dithering about whether Haber should be allowed to be on the general election ballot.

rack (verb): to cause physical or mental pain
ambivalence (noun): the state of having mixed feelings or contradictory ideas about something or someone.

I was racked with ambivalence as I read about looters and the militarized police force in Ferguson, Missouri.

blasé (adjective) unimpressed or indifferent to something because one has experienced or seen it so often before

I am blasé about annual celebratory parades and politicians like Rick Perry being indicted for allegedly using their office to settle a personal grudge. Neither the parade nor the indictment will produce a long term result.

Saturday Morning Nostalgia: Ringo Starr Edition

Ringo Starr officially became a Beatle on this date in 1962. He apparently considered this song his best drumming effort.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Tweet Of The Day: Dealing With Annoying Internet Denizens Edition

What If Question: Politics And Government And Copying Nebraska And North Dakota Edition

Students will walk through the classroom door next week. Math problems and essays will be assigned. Young'uns will be enjoined to show their work and support their answers. In order to get back in practice, I came up with the following question:

North Dakota has no voter registration, and Nebraska has a unicameral legislature. Would South Dakota's politics and government be better if the state abolished voter registration and adopted a unicameral legislature? Support your answer.

Bob Ellis Apparently Supports Brad Ford's Equating The Misquoting Of The Bible With Properly Identifying Neo-Nazis

Let's review. Ford uses this chart.

The chart is immediately followed by this paragraph:
Yes, anything can be taken out of context–even the Bible–then twisted to mean something different.  Political spinsters make a living by hoodwinking the gullible on television.  One local “news” spot made the German “Immortals” marching for ethnic “identity” come across as a neo-Nazi demonstration. [Emphasis mine]
The German "Immortals" are neo-Nazis, so no facts are being twisted or taken out of context as the scriptures being cited obviously are.

In the comment section, however, Ellis supports Ford's RINO hunt without any mention of Ford's factual error and the false equivalency it perpetuates.

I'm fine with Ed Randazzo's snark in posts like this. The point is provocative. Ford's rarely are, and Ellis's support of those ramblings without pointing out the errors is as strange as U.S. Senate Candidate Gordon Howie giving Ford a platform without a disclaimer of any sort.