Thursday, July 31, 2014

Quotation Of The Day: We Live In A Pink Police State Edition

James Poulos, an underappreciated public intellectual and social commentator, makes that case that most of dichotomies that we use to discuss politics and government such as public and private or liberal and conservative no longer apply because we live in a "pink police state" that equates justice and health. His analysis also illustrates that every bogeyman buzzword is likely obsolete
. . . .in the new regime, two separate logics and cultures rule two separate, but co-dependent, realms of life. This state of affairs transcends “partisan ideologies” as we know them. The shared neoconservative and neoliberal affinity for enforced health and safety, and their shared fear and loathing of the realm of illness and unquantified risk, plainly shows that one need not identify as a Democrat, liberal, or Progressive in order to champion the new officialdom. The issue is not, as it was with the military-industrial complex, what the elites think policy should be; it is what the elites instinctively think politics is.
Sticking with this line of inquiry allows us to get beyond the many interesting but contending and partial definitions of the relevant elite in America—the “new class,” the “ruling class,” the “country club,” the “crony capitalists,” the “1 percent,” the “east-coast power corridor,” and so on. These are all manifestations or avatars of the only elite that, analytically speaking, suffices as a unit of analysis, because only this analysis indicates what everyone is struggling to surmise, namely, the character of the new American regime.
The new regime is not totalitarian, fascist, socialist, capitalist, conservative, or liberal, according to the accepted and common definitions of those terms. It is not even adequately described as corporatist, although corporatism is very much at home within it. The “pink police state” is not a police state in the sense that George Orwell would be familiar with, but one in which a militarized, national policing apparatus is woven into the fabric of trillions of transactions online and off. Nor is it a “pinko commie” regime in the sense of enforcing “political correctness” out of total allegiance to Party; rather, it enforces the restrictions and permissions doled out by its sense of “clean living.” To invoke Michel Foucault again, ours is an age when governance is inseparable from hygiene in the minds of the elite that rules over both the private and public sector. To them, everything is theoretically a health issue.

Are You Human?: A Little Reminder That Being Alive Means Being Flawed

I think I'll play this on the first day of school for my "Oh my God if I don't get an A I'll never get into the right college and die an old cat person in a house featured on Hoarders!" students.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

A Post Wherein I Try To Help Both Jason Gant And Angelia Schultz

South Dakota Secretary of State Jason Gant has shown once again that he's a partisan hack not a statesman.

When Independent gubernatorial candidate Michael Myers charged that Gant refused his request to replace Caitlin Collier, his original choice to be his running mate as a candidate for lieutenant governor, with Lora Hubbel, because "[t]he secretary of state is used as a party to advance the interest of the dominant party," Gant called the charge "absurd and pathetic" and a "sad attempt of publicity,”

Were he even a D- level leader, Gant would have responded to the charge with something simple:
"I'll just repeat what I said before. Nothing in the law allows Mr. Myers to replace his original choice. I hope the South Dakota legislature uses the upcoming session to change the law to ensure that Independents receive the same treatment as Republicans and Democrats." 
Instead, he made a churlish response that does nothing but give credence to Myers's claim that Gant is a "a hit man for the Republican machine in Pierre."

Meanwhile, Angelia Schultz, the South Dakota Democrats nominee for Secretary of State should have issued a press release and used social media to criticize Gant's surly responses. The statement could have been rather short.
Although I support and will be voting for Susan Wismer, I agree with Mr. Myers's that an Independent candidate should be on a level playing field with major party candidates. The only sad and pathetic part of today's events is Mr. Gant's belittling of the Myers campaign's efforts to achieve fair treatment. When I am elected as the next South Dakota Secretary of State, I will do everything in my power to run the office in a non-partisan manner.
The worst thing that could happen to Schultz would be that Dick Wadhams would use his trite phrase generator to tell her to stop playing politics,

Tweet Of The Day: Fox News Reports 110% Of American Oppose Obama

I didn't vote for Barack Obama in 2012, but I didn't think everyone, and I must repeat EVERYONE, disapproves of the job he's doing. Actually, more Americans than actually exist oppose Obama's policies. I don't know how that lack of support can be possible, but Fox News has the numbers: 110% of Americans oppose or strongly oppose Obama's performance on the job.

Follow the link for clarification.

The Weiland Campaign's Sisyphean Task

Rick Weiland has released a pair of well-done new ads. They reinforce a major campaign theme that big money is bad for politics, and they show Weiland as a happy prairie populist warrior. Well done and fun should be a winning formula

And yet, Weiland still faces a long, uphill path to victory. Cory Heidelberger tweets that the Weiland campaign today released poll that showed Weiland within 10 points of Mike Rounds. That's much closer than other recent polls.

A lot of things have to happen for Weiland to catch Mike Rounds

If all things stay as they are now, Weiland needs to get two out of every three of the undecided voters. I really don't know if that feat is possible for any Democrat in South Dakota. Mike Rounds is not going to bleed voters. He is going to get some undecided to swing his way on name recognition alone. He may get some Gordon Howie and Larry Pressler voters to return to the GOP fold as well

Further, Pressler and Howie can't take any of the undecideds who would otherwise vote for Weiland. Howie may have peaked, but Pressler may still win some of the undecideds to his column. The Weiland campaign has to see every undecided that goes to Pressler as going to Rounds. It's one more vote that they need but won't get.

Perhaps a perfect storm will happen. A scandal may stick to Rounds. Pressler may withdraw and endorse Weiland, but in late July 2014 those occurrences are as unlikely as the mythological Sisyphus being able to get the boulder to sit still on top of the hill.

South Dakota Republicans Key Part Of White House Scam

That's the logical conclusion based on the facts at hand. During their convention, South Dakota Republicans passed a resolution supporting impeaching President Obama. John Boehner calls that idea a "scam."
“No, no, no, no,” Congressman Greg Walden, who chairs the National Republican Congressional Committee, told Politico when asked whether the House would initiate impeachment proceedings. Boehner told reporters on Tuesday that there were “no plans” to remove Obama, calling the idea “a scam started by Democrats at the White House.”
Let's deconstruct this situation a bit more. South Dakota Republicans believe Obama to be feckless, but the Republican Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, the person who will become President should something happen to both Obama and Vice-President Biden, has said they got duped by White House Democrats.

If Boehner is correct and South Dakota Republicans have been played by someone they consider inept, what does that say about their political skills? It's unlikely that all those who voted for impeachment are all political ne'er-do-wells.

If the South Dakota Republican party is not full of incompetents, and their electoral success suggests that they are not, how did they get fooled by a person they consider beneath contempt? Could it be that they are willing participants in the "scam"? If that's the case, then the whole right wing of the South Dakota GOP is filled with RINOs. It's a wicked web one weaves when one first plans to deceive.

Next time you talk with a South Dakota Republican, ask him or her about impeachment. If the person support it, he or she is a RINOs willing taking part in “a scam started by Democrats at the White House.” Don't take my word for it, take Speaker of the House John Boehner's.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Quotation Of The Day: Are Angry Conservatives Really Conservative Edition?

Andrew Sullivan looks for "a conservatism of joy." In his quest, he quotes Aaron Taylor who remembers Michael Oakeshott who asserted that conservatism is “not a creed or a doctrine, but a disposition":
The real foes of conservatism are not socialism and liberalism, but the reactionary and innovating mentalities. Neither the reactionary nor the innovator share the joie de vivre of the conservative mind—its natural inclination to rejoice in and savor what is. They are restless and tormented if things are not in a state of perpetual flux, if “progress” is not being made either backward toward an imagined age of innocence, or forward toward an imagined age of future liberation. If nothing is changing, then nothing is happening. Reactionaries and innovators eschew what Oakeshott calls the conservative mind’s “cool and critical” attitude toward change, advocating instead a radical overhaul of society and its refashioning in the image of a golden age which is either imagined to have existed in the past or lusted after as a possible future.[italics in original]
"[C]ool and critical" over angry and unthinking? What would Bob Ellis, the angriest man in the South Dakota blogosphere say?

In South Dakota Politics The Enemy Of My Enemy Is Likely My Enemy's Enemy

Tara Volesky hopes that I and everyone else will support Independent candidate for lieutenant-governor Lora Hubbel because Hubbel fights the GOP establishment. I don't like established churches or political oligarchies. I'm not sanguine about South Dakota being a single-party state. The ruling clique has far too many Mayberry Machiavellis in its number. More importantly, South Dakota gets an F from the Center for Public Integrity and is the eighth most corrupt state according to an Indiana University study.

Lee Stranahan has promised South Dakotans "better media." Stranahan claims the improved coverage will happen because he is "going to keep it real about the REAL ISSUES facing South Dakota." It's disheartening to know that South Dakota has fewer statehouse reporters.than any other state. Further, South Dakota's television news departments do more press release reading than actual journalism.

I should, therefore, wholeheartedly rejoice because an "advocate" like Hubbel and an intrepid "reporter" like Stranahan are in South Dakota. And yet, there exists a strong feeling that, in this case, the enemy of my enemy is . . . something other than an ally.

To date, Stranahan seems to write about only two subjects; neither involve improving South Dakota's political news coverage. First, he serves as the chief apologist for Chad Haber's and Annette Bosworth's efforts to lead as many as possible down a political rabbit hole to a bizarre wonderland that makes Lewis Carroll's look pedestrian. (Much of Stranahan's concern in the Mette rape case has been connected to Attorney General Marty Jackley's prosecution of Annette Bosworth.) Second, he reprimands the two leading South Dakota political blogs, Madville Times and Dakota War College, for criticizing Haber and BosworthLike Sibby before him, Stranahan seems particularly fixated on Madville's Cory Heidelberger. With all due respect to DWC's Pat Powers and Heidelberger, far more South Dakotas get their political news from KELO or KSFY than from Madville and DWC, a fact Stranahan blithely ignores.

A single-party state that is gaining infamy for having too few reporters and too much corruption is hardly on its way to becoming Utopia. The political leadership and those who have failed in their watchdog capacity deserve censure. On the other hand, Hubbel has a history of being a political bomb thrower with an uncertain aim, and Stranahan seems to share that tendency. Their histrionics will only cause collateral damage and damn by association those who expose corruption and champion carefully formulated reform efforts.

Giving someone the choice of supporting the political status quo or supporting a political reality envisioned by Stranahan or Hubbel, is like giving someone the choice to killed by a firing squad or lethal injection. The end result is the same. Given the available options, I'll opt for remaining politically displaced.

A Final (I Hope) Musing About Sign Counting

Mrs. Plainsman took her required World Language Student Learning Objectives (SOL SLO) Training in Rapid City last Thursday and Friday. We then went north through some hills and plains to grandmother's house before returning home.

Despite my previous protestations about the importance of signage, I decided to add sign noticing to the usual deer dodging that occurs on such trips.

A lone Stace Nelson sign was the only one we noticed from Newell to Faith to Lemmon. We saw around 10 Rounds signs from Selby to Pierre to the Interstate. Half of those signs had weeds or wheat covering everything but the name on the sign. Gordon Howie became a presence on the Interstate. We saw no Wismer, Weiland, Robinson, or Noem signs. We also saw no signs for any of the gubernatorial candidates.

The two most logical conclusions one can draw from the signage we noticed is that most of the Rounds signs were placed for the primary not the November election. Lack of a primary opponent would explain the dearth of Weiland, Robinson, and Noem signs.

More importantly, the relatively small amount of signs indicates most voters have likely not started thinking about the general election. Given the fact that this has been one of the most pleasant summers in recent memory, that lack of attention speaks well for their sanity.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Quotation Of The Day: South Dakota Government In A Nutshell Edition

From this important Bob Mercer post:
While there is some ado of late about 21 immigrant children being placed secretly in South Dakota by the federal government, there is very little focus on the changing population dynamics of South Dakota as a whole and there is very little looking ahead at what the changes mean for education, workforce and public services.
One would need to work hard to develop a better description of the practices of South Dakota's Republican-dominated political leadership over the past decade. Make an "ado" about a minor event; use the minor event to excoriate political opponents, but refuse to properly prepare for the future by creating policies necessary for successful governance.

Scripture And Song For The Week: II Corinthians 12 Edition

II Corinthians 12
9 But he said to me,“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.
10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

A Minor Musing: Best Month Ever Edition

I just checked the stats Blogger provides and discovered that July 2014 is officially this blog's best month ever. The total surpasses the previous record number of visits that occurred in April 2012. While these totals pale in comparison to Madville's or DWC's, it still feels good to see that a few more people are finding their way over to this little corner of the Interwebs.

I'd like to thank those who have stopped by to read these musings. I hope a few posts contained evidence of coherent thought. I will continue to endeavor to  improve my keyboarding and proofreading skills.

I will spend most of the next few days in a car going hither and yon. Posting will be erratic.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

A Minor Musing About South Dakota Ignoring Third Parties

Both Madville Times and South Dakota Liberty have posts about Secretary of State Jason Gant's refusal to allow Independent Mike Myers to replace Caitlin Collier, his original choice for Lt. Governor, with Lora Hubbel. Gant justifies his denial by noting no statute exists to allow him to sanction this change. Such adherence to the rule of law would be more laudable if one didn't notice that no provision of the law precludes Gant from sanctioning this switch. Madville reports the Myers campaign will challenge Gant's ruling.

On the specific issue at hand, Myers made a terrible choice in picking Hubbel and it would be best for his campaign if no one knew she is his running mate.

The larger issue, however, is that third parties in South Dakota and elsewhere face challenges they need not face. In this situation South Dakota Republican and Democratic gubernatorial candidates may change their running mates. I would bet more than half the acres of the proverbial farm that those writing the law didn't think about looking at the statute for Independents because they took for granted that every race would be a two party race.

No one wants to make it so easy to get on the ballot that people like me start running. On the other hand, large independent groups enabled by the Citizens United decision will soon have as much influence as the two dominant political parties now have. In fact, they soon will probably have more. Laws will need to change and reflect that reality. Whatever happens in the Myers/Hubbel v. Gant situation, South Dakota's legislators should no longer take the two party duopoly for granted.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Quotation Of The Day: The Need To Shut Down Edition

The digital age brings with it many blessings, especially in terms of ready information and instantly accessible research, but the most seductive are the instant connections we make on social media. Those who make a living in online media thrive in this environment. We can know about the smallest developments on the most arcane stories and issues in real time, communicate them to our friends and colleagues, and get instant feedback on what the broader community believes it means.
That's surely not all bad, but it's not all good, either. More and more, all of us live under the expectation of constant connection. We barely get time for sleeping, let alone having regular intervals of the quiet solitude needed to process all of this data to find its meaning. Ubiquitous connection rarely goes unused, either by those looking for people who are taking a break, or more so by the break-takers themselves. We feel compelled to post to social media when we should be socializing with family and friends, and tweeting life as observers instead of living it.
It's easy to feel victimized by this, but it's really a self-inflicted conceit. We become the center of our own worlds, with the constant connection a validation of our own importance. The removal of that connection does not disturb anyone else, but the removal of that validation makes it clear that the world spins on without us. And when we return, we discover that not much really changes in the time we spent away from social media, away from the office, and even away from friends and family.

Spying, Politics, And Crowd Shots

Over at Dakota War College, Pat Powers is attempting to create a tsunami in a teacup by pointing out that a longtime Republican is seen talking to Rick Weiland in Wieland's new campaign video. The gentleman claims he didn't know cameras were rolling while he was talking to Weiland, a candidate the Republican gentleman obviously doesn't support.

As political incidents go, this seems to be one of failing to pay attention to detail not one of malice. On the other hand, Steve Benen reports that Michigan Republicans have undertaken "repeated efforts to record Democratic gatherings with a spy camera mounted to eyeglasses." Benen doesn't undertake speculation about whether Michigan Republicans eschewed Google Glass because the product is still too expensive or because they consider it passe. These spies are not "trackers" that every campaign expects to shadow them. Instead the people with the spy glasses are told "misrepresent themselves when attending events."

Benen concludes,
. . .what’s striking is the operation itself. Parties on both sides may rely on trackers as a matter of course, but it’s highly unusual – indeed, it’s arguably without precedent – for a state party to launch a deliberate spying operation, get caught, and accidentally leave behind evidence documenting the scope of that operation. [Benen 7/21/14]
Weiland's people should have edited the video more carefully. Weiland, however, certainly did not claim to be anything other than a Democratic candidate for the United States Senate, and  I'm pretty sure nobody was filming with spy glasses.

Robocalls Attacking Weiland In July?

This tweet came across my timeline a few minutes ago.
I don't doubt the report is accurate, but the timing strikes one as curious. First, few people really pay attention to politics until Labor Day. Late July seems very early.

Further, negative ads this early smack of desperation. Rounds is a prohibitive favorite. He smiled throughout a Republican primary that saw Stace Nelson hit him with harder shots than Weiland has used so far. Going negative when one has a big lead makes one doubt the strength of the lead or wonder what the frontrunner is worried about. Either way, the veneer of inevitability seems to be being scraped away.

By way of looking at all options, I doubt that any group tied to Pressler would attack Weiland for being too close to Reid. Of course, a group not associated with the Rounds campaign might be making these calls, and everyone knows that such a group's activities can't be coordinated with the official campaign. That convenient fiction still leaves open the questions "Why now?" and "What's Rounds worried about?"

Monday, July 21, 2014

Superintendents Speak About South Dakota's Teacher Shortage....

And I bet the legislature will do nothing during the 2015 session even though there's now little doubt that there is a shortage and that low pay is part of the problem.

Parenting, Policy, And The Need To Act On An Oxymoron

A who's who of conservative writers are taking up the subject of parenting, more specifically what they call  the criminalization of parenthood because of several high profile cases in which parents have been arrested for endangering their children who skipped church or played unsupervised in a park.

These Michael Brendan Dougherty paragraphs sum up their angst:
My own childhood seems to have become illegal. I was the son of a single mother. During summers I would explore my neighborhood, visit friends' houses, walk to a pond to fish, ride my bike from our home in Bloomfield, New Jersey, to the abandoned lots of Newark, and jump it over curbs. I could be unsupervised from 10 in the morning until 8:30 at night, when the streetlights started coming on. If I was home with my grandmother, sometimes she would leave me alone to do grocery shopping.
As early as seven years old, I was allowed to walk over a mile to school. I traveled long commercial streets like Bloomfield Avenue, and went under the overpass of the Garden State Parkway, all during a time when violent crime rates were much much higher than they are today. The worst that ever happened to me was that I got punched in the the head by a junkie. But I told my D.A.R.E officer, spent an afternoon looking at photos of local junkies and ne'er-do-wells, and got over it, having learned the valuable lesson that I could take a punch in the head. [Dougherty 7/21/14]
Gracy Olmstead offers a big picture summary:
This is the unfortunate result of living in a world where parenting is no longer supported and bolstered by private association and community. If only there had been a family member, friend, or church member who had volunteered to watch Harrell’s little girl. If only the “good samaritan” at the dollar store had considered calling Justin’s father, or offered to take the boys home. We live in a society that neglects the sort of private stewardship that could foster truly safe environments for our children—and unfortunately, when parents are thrown into prison, it hardly seems to create more safe surroundings for these kids [Olmstead 7/17/14].
Each writer, however, is pretty vague on solutions.In fact, they seem to be resigned to bemoaning the status quo or describing how the country came to this state. Radley Balko offers no solutions at all; he merely decries the situation:
You needn’t approve of the parents’ actions in any of these cases to understand that dumping them into the criminal justice system is a terribly counterproductive way of addressing their mistakes. (And I’m not at all convinced that three of the four stories were even mistakes.) The mere fact that state officials were essentially micromanaging these parents’ decisions is creepy enough. That the consequences for the “wrong” decision are criminal is downright scary.
It doesn’t benefit these kids in the least to give their parents a criminal record, smear their parents’ names in their neighborhoods and communities and make it more difficult for their parents to find a job.[Balko 7/14/14]
Ross Douthat wants to require work, ensure liberty, and avoid a police state without saying how such a miracle can happen.
And then finally there’s a policy element — the way these trends interact not only with the rise of single parenthood, but also with a welfare system whose work requirements can put a single mother behind a fast-food counter while her kid is out of school.
This last issue presents a distinctive challenge to conservatives like me, who believe such work requirements are essential. If we want women like Debra Harrell to take jobs instead of welfare, we have to also find a way to defend their liberty as parents, instead of expecting them to hover like helicopters and then literally arresting them if they don’t.
Otherwise we’ll be throwing up defenses against big government, while ignoring a police state growing in our midst.[Douthat 7/20/14].
Dougherty believes restoring community is impossible and conservatives should, therefore, seek to reform the state:
There are two ways to solve the dilemma. The first is a return of those communities, something that seems less likely in an America that is more mobile and more influenced by immigration, which results in constant neighborhood flux. The other is to reform the state's institutions so that they might actually assist parents — not just punish, shame, and harass them. [Dougherty 7/21/14]
Olmstead points out that Robert Nisbet who Dougherty describes as a "communitarian libertarian" predicted the phenomenon but offers no real ideas to correct it.
Nisbet predicted that, in a society without strong private associations, the State would take their place — assuming the role of the church, the schoolroom, and the family, asserting a "primacy of claim" upon our children. "It is hard to overlook the fact," he wrote, "that the State and politics have become suffused by qualities formerly inherent only in the family or the church." In this world, the term "nanny state" takes on a very literal meaning. [Olmstead 7/17/14]].
I don't know what a society based on "communitarian libertarianism" would look like. Having read Appiah and Nozick, I'd suggest the term is a classic oxymoron. Still, arresting a parent because a kid acted like a kid and skipped church gives the state too much power, and the parents who hover like an AH-64D Apache Longbow may be a bit too individualistic to allow a community to thrive. It may not take a village or a superhero but an oxymoron to raise a child. Good luck on getting people to accept policy options based on those premises.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Scripture And Song For The Week: Numbers 12 Edition

3 (Now the man Moses was very meek, above all the men which were upon the face of the earth.)
4 And the Lord spake suddenly unto Moses, and unto Aaron, and unto Miriam, Come out ye three unto the tabernacle of the congregation. And they three came out.
5 And the Lord came down in the pillar of the cloud, and stood in the door of the tabernacle, and called Aaron and Miriam: and they both came forth. 
6 And he said, Hear now my words: If there be a prophet among you, I the Lord will make myself known unto him in a vision, and will speak unto him in a dream.
7 My servant Moses is not so, who is faithful in all mine house.
8 With him will I speak mouth to mouth, even apparently, and not in dark speeches; and the similitude of the Lord shall he behold: wherefore then were ye not afraid to speak against my servant Moses?
9 And the anger of the Lord was kindled against them; and he departed.

Koch Brothers To Open Permanent Americans For Prosperity Office In South Dakota

From this Washington Post article:
Americans for Prosperity, the on-the-ground wing of the network of conservative organizations spearheaded by the billionaire industrialists Charles and David Koch, will open new state chapters in South Dakota and Alaska in coming weeks, the group’s president said.
I confess this report surprises me. I thought the Koch brothers group already had a permanent office wherever South Dakota Republican legislators caucus in the Pierre.

RIP James Garner

The New York Post reports James Garner has passed away. He was 86.

He was one of my favorite actors whether in his iconic roles in The Great Escape, television's Maverick, or the classic Rockford Files or smaller films like Murphy's Romance.

The pop culture stars of my youth continue to slip away.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

A Minor Musing And Musical Interlude Concerning Signs

Bob Mercer is sign counting. By Mercer's count, Mike Rounds and Gordon Howie are winning the political signage battle in South Dakota's United States Senate race.

@RinoMikeSD seems to have a fixation with signs.
I wish Wieland and Pressler had more signs up. In politics, out of sight is out of mind. I suspect that the ability to place signs indicates a well-organized, well-staffed campaign.

That said, I have yet to meet anyone who has voted for someone based on signage. In fact, I suspect that the number of signs a candidate has out has about as much to do with the candidate's success as the number of Twitter followers a candidate has. (Democrats better hope that thesis is incorrect. As of this posting, Rick Wieland has 3,490 followers whereas the Mike Rounds campaign account has 1,197 followers.)

Of course, It may be that I have my aversion to caring about signs only because this song was popular during my formative years.

I Try To Chart South Dakota Republicans' Worldview

School will soon be starting. I try to learn to use a few online tools each summer. This morning I looked at For practice, I decided to try to organize South Dakota Republicans' worldviews and trace the connections. It's a work in progress.

South Dakota Republicans' World View
Click to enlarge.

Friday, July 18, 2014

A Short Take On John Thune And 2016

Over at Madville, Cory has begun speculating about John Thune's plans for the White House.

Can we all stipulate that Senator Thune, Representative Noem, Governor Daugaard, and U.S, Senate candidate Mike Rounds are such plastic politicians that it's a miracle South Dakota Republicans haven't all mutated or died of leukemia from drinking the BPA laced  Kool-Aid they dish out by the gallon?

In fact that miracle is so profound that were I advising Gordon Howie of God, Guns, and Gordon fame, I'd tell him to stop talking about God and focus solely on guns. (The only Gordon candidate Howie should talk about is the Barenaked Ladies album. Breathe deeply and return to the subject of the post.)

Thune looks like a movie director's ideal politician, a tall thin man with good hair and a smile ready made for a toothpaste commercial. Those physical features and a plastic nature may make him attractive to South Dakotans. Thune's plasticity does, however, make him cautions.

In a post on his New York Times blog, Ross Douthat, with only a bit of hyperbole, claims conservatives want a magic pill to have the Dow reach 35,000 and a federal budget that reduces spending to levels that existed before the New Deal. Thune may pay lip service to such bromides, but he is unlikely to feature them in a campaign. Nor is he likely to accept anything that Douthat calls "reform conservatism," especially if that reform leads to this result:
A dramatic de-cronyization and de-rentierization of public policy, extending across agriculture and food, energy and housing, higher education and high finance.
A South Dakota Republican running against cronyism would likely be read out of the party.

In short, I don't see Thune running in 2016. That race will feature Republicans using Obama's name like chum to froth up the waters in a manner that makes Sharknado seem as calm as a tiny goldfish bowl. Thune will be too cautious to embrace any idea that will move him stand out of such a Republican presidential candidate pack.

Besides, I'm betting he has a staffer or two telling him that the map looks bad for Republicans in 2016 but that no party has held the White House for more than three terms since Roosevelt and Truman held office from 1933 until 1953. The smart move might be 2020. Even then, Thune will likely advocate an agenda that in Douthat's words "is too modest to matter" rather than one that's "too immodest to succeed."

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Will Republicans Give A Warm Fuzzy To An Atheist Who Drinks Welch's?

Scoff if you will, but the question posed in this post's title may decide how every political question is answered during the next year.

According to a recent Pew Research poll, Jews, Catholics and Evangelicals earn warm rankings from Americans.
Jews, Catholics and evangelical Christians are viewed warmly by the American public. When asked to rate each group on a “feeling thermometer” ranging from 0 to 100 – where 0 reflects the coldest, most negative possible rating and 100 the warmest, most positive rating – all three groups receive an average rating of 60 or higher (63 for Jews, 62 for Catholics and 61 for evangelical Christians). And 44% of the public rates all three groups in the warmest part of the scale (67 or higher).
Hindus and Buddhists are viewed neutrally, but atheists and Muslims don't fare as well.
The public views atheists and Muslims more coldly; atheists receive an average rating of 41, and Muslims an average rating of 40. Fully 41% of the public rates Muslims in the coldest part of the thermometer (33 or below), and 40% rate atheists in the coldest part.
Meanwhile, BrandIndex finds that Americans are united by an inexplicable common affection for some popular brands.
The brands that feature in the top ten for all three political affiliations seem mostly to relate to house and home. Craftsman, Clorox, Dawn, Johnson and Johnson, Home Depot and Cheerios appear in all three lists as well as online mega-retailer Amazon. Home Depot was a new entry for all three lists.
The BrandIndex report, however, shows that Democrats are alone in having Google, PBS, and Dove as part of their top 10 brands. Independents are alone in their top 10 love for the Discovery Channel while Republicans are alone in their newly discovered top 10 taste for Welch's. (It is a positive sign for the American Republic that Fox News has dropped out the Republican top 10.)

These two totally different surveys do point to a way out of gridlock. To the best of my knowledge there are no avowed atheists or Muslims in the Republican leadership. President Obama is a Christian. If the Republican leadership in the House of Representatives and the President would all go to Home Depot, stock their carts with everyone's favorite tools, bleach, and dish soap, go to the checkout lane staffed by a Hindu clerk, and then break open a communal box of Cheerios, some issues might not seem so intractable.

I suspect, however, the political atmosphere has become so noxious that the politicians would soon begin to argue about who had purchased the biggest hammer and whether skim milk is un-American.

Bonus charts for visual learners.

Original Found Here

Original Found Here

A Minor Musing About What Happens When South Dakota Liberals And Conservatives Converse

Spending the past few days recovering from debate camp, dealing with the vagaries of international travel, and participating in the annual family gathering with Mrs. Plainsman's family didn't provide an opportunity to keep up with normal blog reading or write a post.

The reading I did provided two narratives about the practices of those who govern South Dakota. The first, if I may be allowed some poetic license, reads as follows:

In the beginning was the Janklow and he came and went as it pleased him and only him. And we said that it was good. Then came Rounds who begat Daugaard. It matters not who Daugaard will beget because the Dusty and the Marty are of the same cloth, the Gant having been shown to be unworthy.

The other narrative is a little less optimistic. South Dakota lacks transparency. It has ceased to be a government of, by, and for the citizens. Rather it is a government that exists to serve those who govern.

Given that non-Republicans outnumber Republicans and the Republicans right flank is dissatisfied, it should be possible to change a few of the players and create a new narrative. There is, however, one major problem: the political left and the disaffected right do not seem to speak the same language.

I think this is what those on the political right hear whenever liberals speak.

On the other hand, progressives hear this every time conservatives open their mouths.

Until those dissatisfied with the status quo learn to hear what is actually said instead of what they believe is being said, the South Dakota mainstream Republican narrative will likely always end with the following sentence:

And yea verily, it shall be this way forever and ever and it shall always be good for us and those like us. Amen.

Friday, July 11, 2014

A Minor Musing About Conservatives, Dictators, Sean Hannity, And Immigration

If I understand conservatives properly, they believe that too many undocumented immigrants are illegally entering the United States. This influx, according to conservatives, is causing moral and fiscal harms; therefore, the best plan is to close the borders. Since the federal government is not acting; Texas Governor Rick Perry and conservative talking head Sean Hannity have taken up arms to illustrate the correctness of the conservative cause.

On the other hand, many conservatives also believe the federal government has grown dangerously large and powerful. Many believe that President Obama is a dictator.

Given the latter beliefs and given that a closed border guarded by vigilantes like Sean Hannity or legitimate border patrol agents can keep people in as well as keep people out, why would conservatives want to close off an avenue of escape from a dictatorial regime? Creating such a situation doesn't seem conservative. It might even be less prudent than letting Sean Hannity on the river with a gun.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Unless One Is Starving, Many Things In Education Are More Important Than School Lunch

I really shouldn't have to point out the claim this post's title makes. The fact should be rather self-evident. Unfortunately, Representative Kristi Noem (R-SD), seems fixated on school lunches.

Tweets are supposed to be short, but Noem used only 115 of her allotted 140 characters, so let's go through a short list of "issues that impact SD schools" Noem could have emphasized with a similar number of characters.
25% new superintendents
SD's teacher shortage
Students in poverty
DoE usurps federalism (It's possible I missed the memo that conservatives no longer support federalism or that Noem has renounced conservative principles.)
Testing = corp welfare (I suppose I shouldn't expect Noem to discuss this issue. Corporate welfare is the onlywelfare she supports.)
Arne Duncan's failures (Why is he the only member of the Obama administration Republicans won't criticize?)
Frankly, school lunches should have been part of the tweet only if Noem has evidence that school lunches are composed of Soylent Green. She could have edited other parts of her tweet to make room for"Soylent Green is people!.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Quotation OF The Day: An App About Nothing Edition

When one is debating Resolved:Inaction in the face of injustice makes an individual morally culpable, people of a certain age automatically think of the classic television series Seinfeld. Now there's an app for that:
"A couple of Seinfeld enthusiasts have submitted a free app to the Apple store that turns iconic characters and jokes from the show into emojis. . . .
"If approved, the app would let users send puffy shirts, junior mints, and vacuous-eyed Kramers — Kragnor, in the world of Seinfeld Current Day — to each other. No word on whether the emoijs shrink after spending time in a pool."

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Chad Haber's Candidacy And Moral Quandaries

I am working with some young public forum and Lincoln-Douglas debaters at the South Dakota Debate Workshop being held on the South Dakota State University Campus in beautiful Brookings, South Dakota. I haven't had the time to check the news as much as I usually do because I've been giving a few lectures on debate basics,  cross-examination, and Kant's Categorical Imperative. Tomorrow the young'uns and I will discuss virtue ethics as they prepare to debate Resolved: Inaction in the face of injustice makes an individual morally culpable.

The astute reader may wonder what all of this has to do with Chad Haber's newly announced quixotic candidacy for South Dakota attorney general. Mr. Haber and Lee Stranahan are exploiting the suffering of children for political purposes.  The best analysis of Annette Bosworth's   campaign indicates that Bosworth and Haber basically view their Facebook friends and every other human as a means to financial gain not as an end unto himself or herself.

South Dakotans are, therefore, witnessing injustice and a violation of the categorical imperative.  Hence, one should question what moral duty one has to confront the injustice. One also has to question what one can do. Bosworth and Haber may have lost the necessary sense of shame that will allow them to change.

On a personal level I have a another quandary.  Do I tell the young'uns about this candidacy tomorrow and how it fits the resolution or do I say nothing because giving them the facts of Haber's candidacy will confirm their belief that politics is a circus and government is a joke?

Perhaps the best action one can perform under the circumstances is to pray for this particular circus act to be retired to the political oblivion it so richly deserves.

(Experimenting with new phone app. I apologize for formatting and other errors. I will correct later.)

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Scripture And Song For The Week: Proverbs 1 Edition

Proverbs 1
20 Out in the open wisdom calls aloud,
    she raises her voice in the public square;
21 on top of the wall she cries out,
    at the city gate she makes her speech:
22 “How long will you who are simple love your simple ways?
    How long will mockers delight in mockery
    and fools hate knowledge?
23 Repent at my rebuke!
    Then I will pour out my thoughts to you,
    I will make known to you my teachings.
24 But since you refuse to listen when I call
    and no one pays attention when I stretch out my hand,
25 since you disregard all my advice
    and do not accept my rebuke,
26 I in turn will laugh when disaster strikes you;
    I will mock when calamity overtakes you—
27 when calamity overtakes you like a storm,
    when disaster sweeps over you like a whirlwind,
    when distress and trouble overwhelm you.
28 “Then they will call to me but I will not answer;
    they will look for me but will not find me,
29 since they hated knowledge
    and did not choose to fear the Lord.
30 Since they would not accept my advice
    and spurned my rebuke,
31 they will eat the fruit of their ways
    and be filled with the fruit of their schemes.
32 For the waywardness of the simple will kill them,
    and the complacency of fools will destroy them;
33 but whoever listens to me will live in safety
    and be at ease, without fear of harm.”

Saturday, July 5, 2014

A Response To Senator Tim Begalka's Rant

Over at Dakota War College, state senator Tim Begalka went off on a rant. According to Begalka, being a "humanist and a feminist" equates to a belief that "one is all knowing and important, and God isn't." According to the senator, announcing one's belief in humanism means one is "mocking God." Humanists, he contends, condone " lying, cheating, and cover-ups" They also support a foreign policy that "coddles [and] empowers" Muslim terrorists "all the while ignoring and suppressing the torture, murder, and discrimination of Bible-believing Christians around the world." Begalka concludes with scripture: “Woe to those who call good evil and evil good.”

I don't want to put words in Begalka's mouth, a courtesy he did not extend to Democratic Secretary of State candidate Angelia Schultz whom Begalka blithely derides without a shred of evidence. The senator should, therefore, feel free to stop by and correct me in the comments.

Begalka strongly implies that faith in God is prerequisite to morality and effective public service. That view seems odd; James 2:19 states, "Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble." One hopes that Senator Begalka would not vote for a Republican trembling demon over a human Independent atheist. (I'm trying to be kind and not force him to consider voting for a Democrat. Promoting such extreme cognitive dissonance might be dangerous.)

Begalka's list of grievances implies that he would consider himself a Constitutional conservative. If so, one wonders how he squares the view that only believers should hold office with the Constitution. Article VI, paragraph 3 states,
The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States. [Emphasis mine.]
Scholar Stephen Prothero considers Atheism one the world's eight great religions, so banning atheists from holding elected office seems to violate the religious test clause.  Even if one discounts scholars like Prothero, Begalka is on shaky ground advocating support for only believers in God as office holders. One can be a Buddhist and not believe in any deity. A guy on a bar stool can scream that he wants no atheists in government. He has a First Amendment right to do so. An elected official ought to have more discernment as he undertakes the effort to support the Constitution. It would not be a large stretch in logic to claim Begalka supports a religious test. At the very least, one has more grounds for inferring such support from Begalka's words than he has for implying that Angelina Schultz actively mocks God and supports the murdering Christians based on the word "humanist."

Like Begalka I oppose torturing Christians. I oppose torturing anyone. Let's hope that nothing which can remotely be considered torture is going on at Guantanamo Bay and  that the United States is not rendering prisoners to governments who have no qualms about torture. That said, it's confusing why Begalka thought to include the subject in his rant. it's unclear what the South Dakota Secretary of State has to do with foreign policy about torture. The simplest answer would be that ranting rarely is conducive to logical thought.

Finally and most importantly, Angelia Schultz has never claimed to be an atheist nor has she said she supported impiety or atrocities committed against Christians abroad. Senator Begalka apparently believes he has the omniscience to know she possesses those beliefs.

Implying one is omniscient could be construed as asserting one is godlike. Were I Begalka, I would now go on a rant about hubris leading to destruction and the desire to be like God being the reason humans suffer and die. I'll forego that rant. Instead, I'll ask that everyone quit focusing on tweets and stop asserting candidates have beliefs that they likely don't hold. Again, Schultz said nothing about holding any of the beliefs or supporting any of the positions that Begalka accuses her of implicitly supporting

If everyone moves past minutia, the South Dakota Secretary of State race can be decided on the issues and the candidates' qualifications. An election held under those circumstances might qualify as a miracle and increase everyone's faith in God. At the very least, it will show that we're capable of treating our fellow humans with respect.

**Post originally read Angelina Schultz not Angelia Schultz. I apologize for the error

A Minor Musing About Education, Religion, Literature, Pat Powers, And Larry Kurtz

There's no way this post is going to make anyone happy.

This week, I started reading Cormac McCarthy's All the Pretty Horses and James K. A. Smith's How (Not) To Be Secular. This reading has caused abstract, unconnected ramblings about place and spirit to come to mind frequently. These abstractions may infect this post. I've also been reading a lot of blogs and spending a lot of time on Twitter. (Please pray for my wife's sanity because I sometimes tell her what I'm reading on the blogs and in the comments.) Now, let the metaphors and allusions begin.

A few education reforms ago, in a South Dakota education galaxy that seems far, far away, South Dakota teachers were sat down before computers, directed toward a website called Techpaths, and instructed to create curriculum maps. (To the best of my knowledge many, if not most, South Dakota districts abandoned Techpaths when the original funding disappeared.) Techpaths requires curriculum cartographers to develop essential questions as the initial step in map creation.

I rather enjoyed creating essential questions. The essential questions one creates determine how one approaches most situations, so they allow for a little introspection and guide how one constructs a unit or a full course. The asking of different essential questions also explains how different religions and philosophies can come up with radically opposed tenants. David Berge's succinct summation of Stephen Prothero's God is Not One helps make the point:
To investigate these eight religions, Prothero interrogates them with four questions: (1) what’s the problem? (2) what’s the solution? (3) how do we get from problem to solution? (4) who are some exemplars of this path?
Christians would answer these questions: (1) sin (2) salvation through Christ (3) faith and good works (4) the great saints of the church. A Buddhist would answer these questions: (1) suffering (2) nirvana (3) the Noble Eightfold Path (4) arhats, bodhisattavas, or lamas.
As this comparison makes clear, Christians and Buddhists aren't just different embodiments of the same human response to the “divine” as the Perennial Philosophers say, they are different diagnoses of the deepest problem of humanity and how it can be solved.
Blogs in the South Dakota blogosphere seems to be guided by essential questions as well. Reading Pat Powers tweets and his Dakota War College blog convince me that Powers believes that South Dakota is, or can become, a Republican Eden. His essential question seems to be "How can I keep the non-Republican serpents out this South Dakota garden paradise?" By asking how he can keep the serpent from infecting this place, he has taken on himself to do what the Almighty could not, always a risky endeavor.

Powers is diligent and not an ineffective gardener. Humans, however, are notoriously poor at maintaining, let alone creating, a paradise; we are much better at creating parking lots. Powers, therefore, serves up lots of what he claims to be apple pie made from trees in his paradise. He has numerous taste testers who proclaim it the best pie they've ever eaten. Some skeptics claim that the offerings remind them of mock apple pie composed primarily from Ritz crackers. Still, voter registration numbers indicate that South Dakotans are not being tempted by fruit Republicans hope to keep forbidden or at least difficult to obtain.

If I read Larry Kurtz's tweets and his interested party blog correctly, he sees South Dakota and his purpose far differently. With due apologies to Flannery O'Connor, Kurtz is asking "How can I reclaim 'territory largely held by the devil?'" O'Connor chose to shock: in her stories, the Misfit kills the family including the garrulous grandmother; the fraudulent Bible salesman steals the nihilistic philosopher's leg and leaves her stranded in the hay loft, and a bull gores Mrs. Greenleaf. It should be noted that O'Connor, who died in 1964, lived in a more genteel age.

Like O'Connor and the best contemporary performance artists of our decidedly more aggressive era, Kurtz has chosen to shock rather than sympathize, cudgel rather than comfort. Audience members may not like the performances, but when one has chosen to fight  the devil, one is engaged in a street fight not a bout conducted under the Marquis of Queensberry rules.

Yesterday, PNR enjoined us to enjoy the holiday:
So celebrate the Fourth of July, the gift this nation has been to us and to the world.
We can fight again on the fifth.
As the arguments begin anew, it seemed worthwhile to discern  how and why some folks in South Dakota blogosphere fight the way they do. Herein endth today's metablogging

Friday, July 4, 2014

Dear Susan Wismer, Please Fix Your Campaign Logo

Ken Santema is South Dakota's foremost Libertarian blogger. He may well be South Dakota's only Libertarian blogger, but let's put that discussion off for another day. I get over to Santema's corner of the interwebs rather frequently and find him to be a thoughtful commentator about South Dakota politics. He's covered live debate events and has given good reviews to Angelia Schultz, so he's not a hyper-partisan.

Today, while I sat at home and fed my cats Cheetos, Santema showed himself to be a better American than I. He went to a parade, took some pictures, posted some commentary, and made a mistake. That mistake is not his fault; the blame lies with the Wismer campaign,

Ken took and posted the following picture.

Ken Santema Photo of South Dakota Dems in Brookings Independence Day Parade
Santema then made the following observation:
One thing I found quite odd is the lack of signage for gubernatorial candidate Susan Wismer. There were at least three for Lt Gov candidate Susan Blake, plus a few who had Susan Blake shirts on. But I didn’t see any sign of Wismer. Perhaps this was just an oversight… It just seemed very odd that the Lt Gov candidate would get support; and the Gov candidate wouldn’t even get a sign on a truck
The Susan for South Dakota signs are for the Wismer/Blake ticket. Apparently, someone decided that it's self-evident that the "Susan" on the sign refers to Susan Wismer not Susy Blake. If these signs are confusing a South Dakota voter who pays more attention to politics than 98% of the state's residents, the signs need to go.

When I teach basic speech, I tell the young'uns that communication occurs when a sender sends a message, and a receiver understands the message. If the message sent is that Susie Blake has support, but Susan Wismer doesn't;that's a problem the campaign should fix. I'd suggest that people start working to fix it tonight, but this post is going up late and most normal people will be watching fireworks. Monday will be soon enough.

Look, Adele, Cher, Madonna, and Kesha can all get away with using only their given name. Those names are also a lot less common than Susan. Further, the only one of those women to be part of duo was Cher. That duo was Sonny and Cher. The members' names were far easier to differentiate than Susan and Susy.

In addition to letting people know who's on the top of the ticket, a good South Dakota Democratic strategy might include not allowing Pat Powers to say "I told you so."

I know I'm coming off snarky. I'm sorry, but I want a two-party system in the state. I have never voted straight ticket, but I really would like it if a vote for a Democrat in a statewide race were not a wasted vote.

Because Mike Larson Didn't Really Like My Last Playlist . . .

I decided to do another one with a little punk, a little folk, a little country and the Boss.

Tweets Of The Day: Presidents On Mount Rushmore Editions

Thursday, July 3, 2014

This Independence Day Be A Patriotic American: Watch A Movie About Nazis

I'm serious. Take some time to watch Conspiracy, an HBO dramatization of the Wannsee Conference, a two hour meeting that created the framework for what became known as "the final solution."

If nothing else, the film is a firm and frightening reminder of what happens when those in power actively act against the principle "that all . . .are created equal and . . . endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights. . . " It took less than ninety minutes to begin the process that took six million lives.

I also found Colin Firth's portrayal of Dr. William Stuckart, co-author of the Nuremberg Laws, compelling and chilling. His demand that laws be created so that the property of Jews killed by the regime could be legally transferred is shocking. More jarring, however, to the sensibilities of one inculcated with the belief that no one is above the law is the ease that the participants had in dismissing the need for law altogether.

Finally, the film ends with General Reinhard Heydrich retelling a story allegedly told to him during the conference. Briefly, a man loved his mother but hated his father. When his mother died, the young man could not weep or mourn. When the father died, the man became inconsolable because because hatred had given him a reason to live and now the object of hate was gone.

A recent Pew survey showed Americans developing a deep antipathy toward members of the opposing political party:
More than one-third of Republicans and just over a quarter of Democrats see the other party as a “threat to the nation’s well-being,” reflecting a widening partisan division in the country that has congealed into animosity and distrust.
Through two decades of political battling across the presidencies of Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama, the ideological divisions among Americans have deepened. The percentage of Americans who hold consistently liberal or conservative views has sharply increased, and the antipathy between the two groups has shot upward.
Among those with a high level of political engagement – consistently voting in elections and following government and politics carefully – nearly half say they would go so far as to describe the other side as a threat to the country.
Given those results, it seems long past time to rein back contempt toward those who hold a different political view.

The movie is available for streaming on Amazon Prime. I stumbled across a YouTube copy the other night. I have no idea of the legal status this version. Use your own judgement,

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

A Way For Conservatives To Build On The Hobby Lobby Decision

Andrew Sullivan has spent quite a bit of time telling folks to chill on the Hobby Lobby decision. This post succinctly sums up his view: "[w]hen I see the panic and near-hysteria among some liberals in response to the Hobby Lobby ruling, I have to wonder what America they think they’re living in."

Yesterday, he asked a rather pointed question of conservatives:
It might be worth asking various figures on the evangelical right if they are outraged by the decision today by the European Court of Human Rights to uphold the French ban on the public wearing of the full-face veil:
It's a question worth asking. One also wonders what conservatives will do with China's ban on fasting during Ramadan:
Students and civil servants in China's Muslim northwest, where Beijing is enforcing a security crackdown following deadly unrest, have been ordered to avoid taking part in traditional fasting during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.
Statements posted Wednesday on websites of schools, government agencies and local party organizations in the Xinjiang region said the ban was aimed at protecting students' wellbeing and preventing use of schools and government offices to promote religion. Statements on the websites of local party organizations said members of the officially atheist ruling party also should avoid fasting.
"No teacher can participate in religious activities, instill religious thoughts in students or coerce students into religious activities," said a statement on the website of the No. 3 Grade School in Ruoqiang County in Xinjiang.
Similar bans have been imposed in the past on fasting for Ramadan, which began at sundown Saturday. But this year is unusually sensitive because Xinjiang is under tight security following attacks that the government blames on Muslim extremists with foreign terrorist ties.
Nearly every conservative claims to love religious liberty. Conservatives look askance at Europe and share an particular antipathy toward the French. They also view China as a threat. (Do I really need links for those statements?)

Given this confluence, I eagerly await Mike Rounds, John Thune, Kristi Noem, Gordon Howie and conservative leaders across the state issuing condemnations of the the European court's veil decision and China's ban on fasting during Ramadan. It seems like the most consistent position they can take, so why do I believe I'll be waiting for a long time.

Public Service Announcement: Always Follow The Links

Pat Powers gleefully quotes the following passages from this Washington Post article about the South Dakota U.S Senate campaign:
After all, Weiland, a Democrat, was not the first — or even second — choice for the national party. He last ran for office in 1996. His positions on issues such as abortion and the Keystone XL pipeline have led some to conclude he may be too liberal for a state that is trending Republican at the federal level.
Weiland was far from the national party’s first choice in a state where convincing conservatives and moderates to vote for the Democratic candidate is a necessity. Former congresswoman Stephanie Herseth Sandlin was heavily recruited by national Democrats and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), but decided not to run. So was Johnson’s son, South Dakota U.S. Attorney Brendan Johnson, who also chose not to jump into the race.
Weiland is decidedly liberal. He is pro-choice, against Keystone, supports universal background checks for guns and is against the federal subsidization of big agriculture, which he believes is killing family farms.
The passages certainly fit the narrative Powers has worked hard to create: Wieland will lose because he's too liberal for South Dakota and national Democrats don't care if he wins.The quoted passages, in the main, fit the tone of the article, but the article does show Weiland to be an optimistic hard working campaigner.

Also left out is the fact that one could, if one were so inclined, go to the same article and produce the following headline: Rounds Wasteful and Scandal Plagued Campaign Fails To Excite Conservatives."
Rounds has raised $2.8 million and has spent the vast majority of the money.
Rounds ticked off his conservative credentials; he has, however, been criticized by some conservatives for tax increases.
Rounds is also dealing with continued fallout over a scandal involving a program that offered immigrant investors visas. It was found that the state lost money on the program, records were destroyed and state and federal authorities are investigating.
Always follow the link

Quotation Of The Day: The Elephant Commons? Edition

Josh Gelernter makes the suggestion:
So, overhunting did in our ancestral American elephants. Just as it did in our bison. But our bison are back. Why not bring back the elephants?
In the 1980s, when political strife threatened Africa’s Jews, Israel airlifted them, en masse, to Israel. Far be it from me to compare (my fellow) Jews to elephants; this isn’t a perfect metaphor. But airlifting some elephants to our National Parks System would solve some big problems.
The species could be saved. African elephants aren’t doing well; Asian elephants are on their last legs. And America needs elephants: They don’t always do well in zoos, and captive breeding is far below the rate of replacement.
We have climates for elephants — in the southwestern desert, the southeastern forests, and the great plains in between. We have the space, and I don’t doubt we have the required enthusiasm; Americans love animals. Carefully and selectively introducing elephants to these United States might seem like a radical notion, but in the end, the choice will boil down to this: We can let elephants dwindle toward extinction, or we can watch herds of them sweep across the fruited plain.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

If You Thought The World Cup And The Independence Day Holiday Weekend Would Promote Political Unity. . .

You'd be wrong, especially if you were in Maine:
Maine Gov. Paul LePage (R) is denying allegations that, during a series of meetings he held with far-right "Sovereign Citizen" activists — a set of groups considered by the FBI to be a domestic terrorist movement — they reportedly mused together about arresting the Democratic leaders of the state legislature and hanging them for treason.
The governor denies he was in the room when the words "execute,"  "execution," "arrest," or "hanging" were said. The article does not report the governor denying that he believes Democratic legislators to be guilty of treason. That sort of denial makes one think that the governor was in the kitchen getting a beer from the fridge and talking with folks in the living room who were watching Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin impersonate Nelson Eddy and Jeanette McDonald.

The article doesn't report report if anyone asked an important follow up question: how can a sitting governor consider legislators elected by the citizens of his state treasonous while he is having a "series of meetings" with a group the FBI considers "a domestic terrorist movement"?

Angry Image Of The Day

This image came across my Twitter feed. I traced a few retweets back to what I think is the original source.

Most observers will probably dismiss it as the failed efforts of a few 8th graders to be clever beyond their years, but this image seems to illustrate a simmering anger that politicians ignore at their peril. One can hear this sentiment in both tea party and left-wing populist rhetoric. The only difference is whether the plutocrats in question are the Koch brothers or George Soros. Its unclear what will happen if the angry left and right go beyond the "he's a rich jerk but he's our rich jerk" mindset and start viewing both the Kochs and Soros as jerks who are opposed to their best interests