Sunday, January 26, 2014

I Provide Conservatives With An Advertisement To Use If Secretary Of Education Becomes An Elected Position

Like Cory, I support Jim Bolin's proposed legislation to make the Secretary of Education an elective position. Cory's unabashed optimism shows through when he writes:
More lines on the ballot, more people to vote for, more public officials required to lead public conversations and win the mandate of the people—yes, yes, yes!
Cory, however, overlooks one predictable element of the public conversation that will be cringeworthy, the political ads.

In an effort to save my conservative friends time and money, allow me to provide the template for every commercial spot your candidates will run should this legislation become law in South Dakota.

I think I've hit everything: intimidating teacher stereotype, vulnerable student, liberals bad, conservatives good, and chalkboard nostalgia. Heck, I even have the flag in the opening frame. What more will a staunch conservative want?

Snark aside, South Dakota should have more elected positions. Making the secretary of education one of those positions is a good first step.

Scripture And Song For The Week: Leviticus 19 Edition

Leviticus 19
9 “‘When you reap the harvest of your land, do not reap to the very edges of your field or gather the gleanings of your harvest. 10 Do not go over your vineyard a second time or pick up the grapes that have fallen. Leave them for the poor and the foreigner. I am the Lord your God.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

A Minor Musing About The South Dakota Legislature, SB 67, And Prometheus

Serious conservatives, a designation that excludes the likes of Gordon Howie, Bob Ellis, the Prairie City Pistolier Representative Betty Olson, have frequently reminded me of the mythological Prometheus. They warn their political opponents and remind their supporters that nearly every political action has unintended consequences. Prometheus, for those who may have forgotten, warned Zeus that Thetis, a minor goddess Zeus lusted after, was destined to bear a son greater than his father.

Prometheus's foresight had some limits; he could not foresee details that affected him. He could see that humanity would benefit from fire, but he could not see what providing humanity fire would do to him. Prometheus, therefore, stole the forbidden fire, gave it to mortals, and, consequently, was chained to a mountain for millennia. He also got to experience the thrill of a vulture dining on his liver every day.

South Dakota Representative Rev. Steve Hickey, a usually serious person, has taken to the comments sections of The Madville Times and Dakota War College to defend the merits of SB 67. The main focus of debate has been Section 3 which allows all bakers and wedding planners to refuse to provide their services to gay couples seeking to get married.

The bill's second section, however, is much more troubling:
 Section 2. Nothing in the Act is intended to burden any person's or personal business' freedom of religion including the right of a person or personal business to deny services if providing those goods or services would be contrary to the person's or business' sincerely held religious beliefs, philosophical beliefs, or matters of conscience.
Unless there's a secret codicil I'm missing, this section opens the door to many unintended consequences. The atheist businessman, as a matter of conscience, can refuse service to anyone wearing religious symbols. The Klansman's philosophical beliefs can allow him to refuse service to any African-Americans. The pacifist Quaker can refuse service to any member of the military on religious and philosophical grounds. As a Lutheran, the sole grocer in a small South Dakota town can refuse to serve the Catholic priest because of sincerely held religious beliefs.

It seems that this bill designed to ensure the free exercise of religious liberty may well give free rein to bigotry; however, like Prometheus the folks who usually see unintended consequences that others overlook are missing this one because they are involved just like Prometheus was involved in bringing fire.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Scripture And Song For The Week: I Peter 1 Edition

I Peter 1
24 For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away:
25 But the word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Did Republicans Really Want To Stop Obamacare?

I have to ask because I don't want to commit a logical fallcy. In this instance, it would be the either/or fallacy: Either Republicans let the Affordable Care Act pass so they would have a political issue or they are just politically inept.

The question and the desire to engage in either/or thinking is prompted by this Marco Rubio Fox News editorial. Rubio opines:
Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius is in Tampa today, Monday, January 13, for an ObamaCare outreach event, and she owes Floridians an answer. Why should taxpayers have to bail out health insurance companies in the increasingly likely event that ObamaCare leaves them with financial losses?
The answer should be simple. Whatever larger differences we have about ObamaCare, we should completely eliminate any chance of a taxpayer-funded bailout for health insurers.
Unfortunately, this possibility exists and is growing more likely by the day.
Seriously? It has just dawned on Rubio that the Affordable Care Act could be renamed the Insurance Company Protection Act? When this legislation was originally passed, it never occured to Rubio et al that the country was weary of bank bailouts, auto company bailouts, and an insurance company (AIG) bailout? Instead of using a timely argument, they chose to have Sarah Palin swoop in on her broomstick, shriek "Death Panels" and fly off to Iowa to fail as a Presidential candidate. Did they seriously believe anyone to the left of Atilla the Hun was going to buy that argument?

Now, years after the fact and years after most of the bailout money has been repaid, they decide it's time to warn about insurance company bailouts. It does leave me wondering whether Obamacare is just a political issue not a real policy concern. I don't want to have hard evidence that national leaders are that politically inept.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

I Have Found Bob Ellis's Theme Song

Most Major League Baseball hitters frequently pick a song that the public address announcer plays as the hitter walks to the plate during a home game. Professional wrestlers have entrance music. Bob Hope was forever associated with "Thanks for the Memories." Bloggers don't seem to theme songs. However, reading Bob Ellis's quote bombs on this recent Dakota War College post makes me believe that he has adopted this country classic as his own.

And yes, I should be a better person, but this one is just too easy.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Excessive Poltical Cynicism On A Sunday

It's Sunday morning; in fact, it's the it's the First Sunday of Epiphany, so I should feel more generous, but I am having trouble finding my rose-colored glasses. In fact, I am relishing wearing thorn-rimmed spectacles.

I'd like to blame Chris Christie, but it's the reactions to Christie's traffic jam or the tone of this coverage really has my cynicism rising. (I suppose I could say the same about coverage of and reactions to South Dakota's EB 5 imbroglio.)

Caution: Shakespeare quotation and cliched expressions follow.

Off the top of my head, I cannot think of a major contemporary politician who is not like Shakespeare's Macbeth:  
. . . Luxurious, avaricious, false, deceitful,Sudden, malicious, smacking of every sinThat has a name. [Macbeth Act IV sc iii]
I know I'm supposed to believe that politicians are public servants out to serve the public good and forget that the political lexicon defines public good as rewarding political allies and metaphorically cutting the throats of political foes. If one is capable of that cognitive dissonance, I suppose one can be shocked that Christie or someone in his inner circle shut down a bridge to send a political message or that many Republicans are allowing Christie to twist in the wind or that others are wondering why the scandal of their choice--Benghazi, IRS targeting of political groups, NSA spying-- is not getting equal coverage.

This morning, I'm just angry that I'm asked to believe that this action isn't business as usual. I'm angry that I'm being asked to believe that the mayors of every large city, or every governor, or our current President gained office without metaphorically stabbing a few political foes in his or her party in the back or without trying to turn political opponents in the other party into political road kill.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Scripture And Song For The Week: Ephesians 4 Edition

1 I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called,
2 With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love;
3 Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
4 There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling;
5 One Lord, one faith, one baptism,
6 One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Plains Pops: Items That Warm The Heart On a Cold Night Edition

Representative Hickey's lucid explanation of why South Dakota's death penalty needs to be repealed. A pdf is here.

Adam Smith, the economist conservatives love, thought poetry important.
The role of language is an essential component of Smith’s moral philosophy because it is the fundamental connection between the individual and the community. In his Lectures on Rhetoric and Belles Lettres, Smith expounded on the virtue of both poetry and prose, which “provide the capacity for exchange and agreement” in different contexts of human relations. It is in the sections of Adam Smith’s Pluralism on the importance of language that Shaftesbury’s influence on Smith shines through the strongest, particularly with Shaftesbury’s stress on language as a vehicle for unifying “the good and the beautiful.”
On a less serious note, the Minnesota Twins will open Spring Training in about six weeks. Pitchers and catchers report on February 16. Although I'm a bit skeptical, some experts like the Twins off season moves. Hope springs eternal.

Finally, Andrew Sullivan posts this video of Peanuts going Punk.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Tweet Of The Day: Political Discussion Edition

Booze As Politics

Those reaching for a bit of hair of the dog this morning will probably reveal their political leanings. Someone reaching for Wild Turkey likely leans Republican; someone who leans Democrat may be looking for Absolut. The Washington Post provides the following useful chart.