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.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

What I Saw At The Democratic And Libertarian Conventions, A Final Musing

I believe I'm the only person in South Dakota who attended both the state Democratic and state Libertarian conventions. I got to write a blog post or two about each, I met some people who really care about South Dakota.  Before anyone asks, I had to be out of state while the Republicans were holding their convention. Had I been able to attend, I would have inquired about attending that convention. Had they allowed me to attend, I expect I would have met a some Republicans who also have South Dakota's best interests at heart.

 In some ways, the conventions proceeded as a political observer would expect. The Libertarians were a little more free wheeling when it came to credentials. If one showed up and didn't threaten someone else, all was expected to go well. The Democrats had a formula and proportional voting based on that formula. It seemed convoluted enough that I didn't bother asking about the details.

As I said in the posts following each convention, I saw little anger. The Democrats showed a quiet determination while the  Libertarians seemed genuinely happy to find a candidate for each position.

I expected to see more politicians of the unctuously slick variety. Their numbers were, thankfully, very low at both events. On the matter of style, the Libertarians had more suits or sports jackets and ties per capita than the Democrats during the floor debate, an unexpected occurrence.

Moving beyond style, both conventions had fewer conventioneers than I expected. Democrats have around 175,000 members, so 107 credentialed delegates seems to be a pretty low number. The Libertarians have around 1300 members so 35 delegates might be about right, but it was an open convention and Bosworth and Haber seem to provoke a strong emotional response.

Because both have trouble recruiting candidates, each one is throwing some promising young people to the wolves. For example, Angelia Schultz and Emmet Reistroffer have the skills that should give them a bright future. Both, however, seem too young and inexperienced to be running a statewide race.

I may have mentioned this in another post, but neither party seems ready to articulate what constitutes a win in the current political environment whereas Republicans just expect to win. For example, Republicans certainly expect to win all statewide races. Even if they lose the United States Senate race, they can claim they had a winning election cycle. The Democrats will undoubtedly be happy Weiland won, but the night won't feel like a win. Given that it's extremely unlikely the Democrats are going to win a majority of the statewide races or dramatically increase their numbers in the state legislature, they need being thinking about what constitutes a moral victory. Libertarians also should be thinking about framing the situation that constitutes a win. Is it all candidates in double figures? One can't build a party going 0-6 or 1-8 in statewide races unless party leaders find a way to frame the situation in a positive light.

Finally, attendees at both conventions both claimed the Republicans had not come up with a new idea in decades. At each convention, it seemed party regulars wanted to paraphrase Shakespeare: Upon what meat doth these our Republicans eat/ That they are grown so great? No one at either convention seemed to have an answer.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Once Upon A Time There Was This Plan That Should Have Come Together But Then This Rabbit Hole Appeared

Older readers may remember hearing actor George Peppard say the following line during nearly every episode of the original A-team.

Politicians frequently plan. For example, a certain politician planned to become an attorney general candidate in South Dakota. He had a plan:
Haber’s plan the entire time was to get the Libertarian Party nomination. The convention will be in August in Sioux Falls. We hadn’t announced this because the details were still being worked out.
South Dakota's Libertarians certainly seem to want to make planning easy. David Montgomery reports,
"Our party always has been and always will be as flexible as we can to allow new people to join our party and participate,"[Party Chairperson] Reistroffer said. "We had no objection to people registering the day of. However, to be qualified to be nominated rested entirely on each candidate's own conscience as to whether they were qualified."
So, it appears all one has to do is register as a Libertarian, get a bunch of friends to register as Libertarians, and then get them to give up a Saturday in August. Oh yeah, if one wants these friends and family members to give up the Saturday, one should also pay the fee that allows them to participate in the convention.

Before going on to steps 2, 3, and 4, Most people would begin with step 1, especially if it's an easy step. Registering as Libertarian is relatively simple. All one needs to do is go to the county court house in the county where one resides and fill out a single sheet of paper. When I changed my registration, I filled out the form around 11 am and the Secretary of State's registration portal had the change later that day.

So, if one has a plan, a big plan, and everything is predicated on one simple task, how does this happen?
Two Libertarian candidates for statewide office could be booted off the ballot due to issues with party registration.
South Dakota Libertarian Party chair Emmett Reistroffer confirmed the report Wednesday, two days after the party submitted the results of its Saturday convention to Secretary of State Jason Gant.
At that Saturday convention, Chad Haber was nominated for attorney general and Ryan Gaddy was nominated for Public Utilities Commission. But the two men filled out the forms to register as Libertarians that morning -- which means the forms weren't filed with the county auditor until Monday.
I guess mistakes happen. It's not like the candidate's spouse ran for the United States Senate and then 24 hours after the primary was charged with election fraud. If something like a spouse getting arrested happened, a candidate would surely make sure that the plan involved having paperwork done correctly and turned in in a timely fashion. One would, of course be particularly careful if, the person investigating the spouse is "overzealous" and also happened to be the person one is trying to replace
Overzealous South Dakota Attorney General spared no expense in investigating Dr. Annette Bosworth for legitimate signatures of genuine supporters.
Oh, wait...Haber is Bosworth's husband? Ok. let's just take a page from Gordon Howie's playbook and blame it on RINOs.

A Naive Organizing Principle For Foreign Policy

PNR asks an important question:
The world needs a cop quite often.  What should dictate when we answer the call and when we leave it ringing?  What should principles should set the priorities among the competing calls that come in?
He has proclaimed "don't do stupid stuff" as insufficient. (I'm going to be in the first day of faculty meetings in an hour, so I'm trying to cut back on summer language.) One could contend that the aphorism is still a necessary element in any foreign policy principle or set of principles. The Princess Bride offered two pithy phrases, one of which the United States frequently ignores: "Never get involved in a land war in Asia" and "Never go in against a Sicilian when death is on the line." Those principles also seem  insufficient even though following the former might have have dramatically altered the history that has occurred during my lifetime

In light of the fact that most aphorisms, including "first, do no harm" will be found wanting, I humbly offer a rather naive principle with the accompanying plan.

Every time a foreign policy is presented to the President, he or she should ask the presenter(s) two simple questions.

First, will proposal x, plan y, act z help provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our posterity? (The phrases "form a more perfect union, establish justice, [and] insure domestic tranquility," seem better suited to domestic policy.)

Second, can you explain how it will do so in a manner that an 8 year old can understand?

Granted, Barack Obama and John McCain might answer the questions differently, but neither of them would agree about what constitutes stupid stuff.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Quotation Of The Day: What If Capitalism And The Welfare State Cause The Same Problem?

Ross Douthat prompts the question.
. . . it might be that both capitalism and the welfare state tend to weaken forms of solidarity that give meaning to life for many people, while offering nothing but money in their place. [Emphasis in original]
Related Reading: A guy from Think Progress takes up an idea that's not dissimilar from one Charles Murray suggested.

Does Bob Ellis Have Political Porphyria?

Porphyria is sometimes known as vampire disease.
One of the most interesting "vampire diseases" is porphyria. Porphyria is a rare disease characterized by irregularities in production of heme, an iron-rich pigment in blood. People with the more severe forms of porphyria are highly sensitive to sunlight, experience severe abdominal pain and may suffer from acute delirium. One possible treatment for porphyria in the past might have been to drink blood, to correct the imbalance in the body (though there's no clear evidence of this). Some porphyria sufferers do have reddish mouths and teeth, due to irregular production of the heme pigment. Porphyria is hereditary, so there may have been concentrations of sufferers in certain areas throughout history.
Bob Ellis, the angriest man in the South Dakota blogosphere, loves to toss out the blood red political meat to defend Gordon Howie.
Of course, there’s a whole lot of anti-conservatism and smearing of conservatives from liberals in the Republican Party these days.
This is far from the first time the pro-Rounds liberals have tried to smear Howie as “racist.” And Howie isn’t the only conservative to earn the “race card” from the liberals infesting the Republican Party. You may recall that they lied about South Dakota Senator Phil Jensen several months ago for trying to protect religious liberty from homosexual activists, like some of them smeared South Dakota Rep. Manny Steele as a “racist” a few years ago for trying to deal with illegal immigration.
And let’s not forget that the RINO establishment tried to smear Tea Party-supported Chris McDaniel in Mississippi as a racist recently, jumping into bed with Democrats in gross vote fraud. Liberals have long enjoyed repeating the lie of Tea Party racism.
Like typical liberals, they have no interest in the truth. Lacking any substantive defense of their liberal betrayals, they just keep repeating the same lies, trusting that people too busy or shallow to seek out the truth will buy their snake oil. Whether they are in the Democrat Party or the “Republican” Party, liberals are all the same: scorched earth politics, with no lie too low.
Those paragraphs have a lot of red blood cells: "smear," "lie," "race card," "liberals infest," "homosexual activists," "RINO establishment," "jumping into bed with Democrats," "typical liberals," "liberal betrayals" "people too . . . shallow to seek out the truth will buy their snake oil," "same scorched earth politics," "no lie too low."

If all of that blood red political ranting helps Ellis deal with his political porphyria symptoms, more power to him. The rants won't explain away Brad Ford.

Things That Made Me Go Hmmm And Then Hope I'm Just Being Paranoid

Yesterday, this happened:
Chad Haber, Libertarian candidate for attorney general, wants U.S. Rep. Kristi Noem to confront his opponent about what Haber calls a pattern of cover-ups in cases involving child welfare.
Haber, husband of former U.S. Senate candidate Annette Bosworth, delivered a report to the congresswoman's staffers Monday afternoon after a news conference on the boulevard outside Noem's Sioux Falls office.
This morning, this tweet came through my timeline.
A minute or two later I noticed this tweet.
Is it just me or is it very possible that a campaign that tweets about leaving a voicemail would try to stage some political theater at the end of a parade route in a community not that far from Sioux Falls?

Somebody please tell me I'm just being paranoid.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Brad Ford Says Pointing Out That A Neo Nazi Group Is A Neo Nazi Group Equates To Tabloid Blogging Akin To Twisting Scripture

I've tried to adopt a new personal practice about Brad Ford's writing on Gordon Howie's site: mutter a social media phrase--Wordpress Twitter Facebook--and move on.

Today, I went over to Ford's post, saw a chart about scripture phrases being taken out of context. It would behoove everyone blogging not to begin a post with Matthew 27:5 "Judas went and hanged himself" followed by Luke 10:37 "Go and do thou likewise." So far, no muttering.

Immediately following the chart, however, Ford offers the following 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]
If one googles "German 'Immortals,"' one gets what's pictured on the following screenshot.

Click to enlarge
If Mr. Ford doesn't want to cite Wikipedia, that's his prerogative. Many of my fellow teachers don't consider it a valid source. On the other hand, describes itself as "the voice of the new, embattled White minority!" I didn't read the entire set of posts on the Stormfront thread, but comments were nearly unanimous in supporting the Immortals, and not one objected to the group being called Neo-Nazis.

The article that began the thread was from London's Daily Mail. It begins,
A German neo-Nazi group is using modern technology to organise and showcase terrifying protests that have a chilling resemblance to the fascist torch rallies of the 1930s.
In one, hundreds of black-clad figures with white masks converged without warning on the streets of Bauzen, Germany, carrying torches and placards with extreme nationalist slogans.
A New York Daily News article that was the basis for the Daily Mail article reports,
The group uses an outdated word  - 'Volkstod' - on their signs, the newspaper noted, intentionally harking back to the days of the national socialism. It's a turn of phrase that neo-Nazis use to describe what they perceive as the degredation of the German race taking place under democratic government.
Lest one forget, the German government considers the group  to be neo-Nazis,
That is one of the reasons neo-Nazis now choose to be more inconspicuous. The second neo-Nazi dummy drives home that point.
It sports the dark scruffy clothes that are the typical garb of leftist agitators. In fact, Germany's far right is highly adaptable, embracing many subcultures such as rap and graffiti.
One group, the Unsterblichen (Immortals), uses social media to coordinate night-time processions, walking through towns with flaming torches and wearing masks to intimidate residents.
It's not "tabloid blogging" to call neo-Nazis what they are.  Calling the Immortals neo-Nazis is certainly not the same thing as taking Bible verses out of context.

At the risk of engaging in what Ford calls "tabloid blogging," I will ask a simple question: why does a candidate for the United States Senate use Nazi paraphernalia as props and give space to Ford's ramblings? It's a social media moment--Wordpress Twitter Facebook.

Chart of the Day: How America Ranks

Boing Boing has produced an "American Manifesto" which I have not completely read, but this graphic seems both accurate and troubling. (Sources are available at the end of the document.)

Not Number 1 in Everything
HT: A Progressive on the Prairie

Ten Questions About South Dakota Politics Prompted Mostly By The Libertarian Convention

First, Libertarians at the convention seemed interested in, if not enamored with, Todd Epp's proposal to eliminate the position of  School and Public Lands Commissioner. Will Republicans who claim to favor small government and Democrats who claim to favor government efficiency seriously take up the proposal in the 2015 legislative session?

Second, can Libertarians take a small step forward and get a bill dealing with industrial hemp passed in the 2015 legislative session?

Third, Libertarians are rightfully rejoicing in their ability to field candidates for six constitutional offices during an election cycle when the Democrats could not. They were, however, suffering from the bigotry of low expectations. Having achieved this victory, what event or achievement will constitute the next win?

Fourth, will  Libertarians begin to build the necessary party structure to recruit competitive candidates for the 2016 legislative races?

Fifth, Kevin Woster's profile of Mike Rounds illustrates that South Dakota politics is proving Herman Cain correct: the Tea Party is winning because it is pushing candidates to the right. How far to the right will South Dakota Republicans go before the remaining moderates and libertarian leaning members abandon the party en masse?

Sixth, if the current polls are proven to be correct and Democrats lose all statewide races and make no gains in the legislature, what can they do to create a win or the appearance of a win? Can they create an upset in a legislative race? (I know the easy answer is the minimum wage initiative, which if it passes, will be a win, so if that's the answer, how do Democrats build on that victory?)

Seventh, if Chad Haber runs an attack incumbent Attorney General Marty Jackley 24/7 campaign, will the Republican legislature pass a statute or begin the process to amend the South Dakota Constitution to require that the attorney general be licensed to practice law in South Dakota?

Eighth, the most interesting thing Haber said at the Libertarian convention was that a Jackley victory in November would be followed by a two-term Jackley governorship. Do Republicans believe Jackley is the chosen one?

Ninth, which independent will have the best showing: Mike Myers for Governor, Larry Pressler for U.S. Senate, Gordon Howie for U.S. Senate, Eric Leggett for South Dakota State House of Representatives?

Tenth, Republicans are on track to dominate South Dakota politics until at least the 2016 elections. Because politics is a fractious enterprise, filled with people firmly convinced of the correctness of their positions, Republicans will have some internal struggles during the next legislative session. Which issue(s) will be the most divisive?

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Ross Douthat Is Wrong About Star Wars And Guardians Of The Galaxy (Sort Of)

Ross Douthat has an interesting comparison of Star Wars and the recently released Guardians of the Galaxy. He concludes,
 . . .I still find the Vader-Tarkin combination as powerful as any subsequent pairing of genre bad guys, and with some exceptions I don’t find pure nihilism nearly as frightening as nihilistic means attached to a mix of utopian ends and ruthless political ambition. So “Star Wars” it still is for me, and if you’re sensible and not superhero-addled, “Star Wars” it should be for you as well.
First, as one who may well be something other than sensible, and an old man who is certainly superhero-addled, I agree with Douthat; Star Wars is superior to Guardians of the Galaxy, although the latter movie is excellent, well worth the price of admission, a watery soda, and an extra-large bucket of overpriced popcorn.

I will quibble with one element of Douthat's reason for declaring the movie superior: the antagonists' obscure motives. He writes,
the foregrounded bad guy is a religious fanatic in bad makeup who wants to destroy a planet using some kind of stone of power because of some kind of longstanding historical-theological grudge; the bigger bad guy, in the background, has perfectly-inscrutable motives if you aren't a reader of the comic books, and if you are, you know that his motives are, well, still pretty weird and near-inscrutable.
 Star Wars was released in 1977. The United States was dealing with the aftermath of the Vietnam War; the Cold War was being waged; the domino theory guided elements of foreign policy, and everyone knew who the good and bad guys were. The Soviet Union had enough missiles to destroy the world 10 or 20 or 40 times over, the numbers always varied. A villain who was more machine than human, a secretive emperor, and a Death Star made perfect sense to everyone

Two years after Star Wars release, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini came to power in Iran; the Soviet Union ceased to exist in 1991; terrorists destroyed the Twin Towers in 2001, and in 2014 a group of people who call themselves ISIS or ISIL want to establish something called a caliphate. Some of the group's rhetoric indicates that they are trying to refight the Crusades; As "historical-theological" grudges go, few are as "longstanding." Meanwhile, "pretty weird and near-inscrutable" may be the best description available for Vladimir Putin's motives.

Granted, the Guardians script was written and movie shot before the 2014 events occurred, but world events have led Americans as a whole discard or recycle their Cold War world views in the same way they discard their 3D glasses when they leave the theater. Films, comic inspired or otherwise cannot give Douthat the villains he desires. The contemporary audience will not recognize them.

Quotation Of The Day: Love And Understanding In A Politically Divided World Edition

The world isn't being destroyed by democrats or republicans, red or blue, liberal or conservative, religious or atheist — the world is being destroyed by one side believing the other side is destroying the world. The world is being hurt and damaged by one group of people believing they’re truly better people than the others who think differently. The world officially ends when we let our beliefs conquer love. We must not let this happen. . . .
. . .  
But the truth is, the world has always been and always will be on the brink of destruction. And what keeps it from actually imploding is our love for life and our deep-seeded desire not to die. Our love for our own life is inextricably connected to our love of all life and the miracle of this phenomenon we call "the world." We must give all of ourselves credit every day for keeping things going. It's an incredible achievement to exist at all.
So we must protect and respect each other, no matter how hard it feels. No matter how wrong someone else may seem to us, they are still human. No matter how bad someone may appear, they are truly no worse than us. Our beliefs and behavior don't make us fundamentally better than others, no matter how satisfying it is to believe otherwise. We must be tireless in our efforts to see things from the point of view we most disagree with. We must make endless efforts to try and understand the people we least relate to. And we must at all times force ourselves to love the people we dislike the most. Not because it's nice or because they deserve it, but because our own sanity and survival depends on it. And if we do find ourselves pushed into a corner where we must kill others in order to survive, we must fully accept that we are killing people just as fully human as ourselves, and not some evil abstract creatures.
(HT. Rod Dreher)

Saturday, August 9, 2014

The 2014 South Dakota Libertarian Convention: Some Preliminary Minor Musings

Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest enunciated a simple military strategy: get there first with the most men. Lee Stranahan, Chad Haber, and Annette Bosworth used the political equivalent of Forrest's doctrine. In a show up, register as a party member, and vote convention, they brought more voting delegates than the other candidates, so Lee Stranahan is now the South Dakota Libertarian Party's (SDLP) East River member on the SDLP executive and Haber is the party's nominee for South Dakota Attorney General. Both won a three person race with approximately half the total votes cast.

Although they do not have nominees for in South Dakota's gubernatorial race, U.S. Senate race, U.S. House race, the party did nominate a full slate for the South Dakota's other constitutional offices.

In addition to Haber, the party nominated Emmett Reistroffer for Secretary of State, Kurt Evans for Auditor, Ken Santema for Treasurer, John English for Commissioner of School and Public lands, and Ryan Gaddy for PUC. Long time Libertarian Bob Newland said this is the largest slate of candidates South Dakota Libertarians have had.

In addition to nominating candidates, the SDLP also began discussion on a state party platform and heard from Independent gubernatorial candidate Michael Myers, Independent U.S. Senate candidate Larry Pressler, and Eric Leggett, and independent candidate from District 15 for the South Dakota House of Representatives.

Herein endth the reporting portion of the post. I'll give some quick and dirty reflections that I had on the drive home and revise and extend some comments tomorrow.

First, the Libertarians were rightfully happy that they accomplished what the Democrats didn't; it bears mentioning, however, that only there were only thirty people in the room who voted in any contested nomination.

Emmett Reistroffer and Ken Santema are the two candidates who impressed me the most. Reistroffer is young and more polished than I expected him to be. He will certainly pick up votes from small government types who are looking for an upbeat, fresh face.  Quite frankly, the secretary of state race will feature each party's best young candidates for statewide office. Operating under the assumption that the Republican is a prohibitive favorite in each race, Democratic party officials would be wise to spend some time making sure the Angelia Schultz campaign kicks it up a notch or two. She'll need to be fully prepared for all public appearances and any debates that may occur. Reistroffer is smooth and competent. A depressed Democratic voter turnout and a poor Schultz performance could allow Reistroffer to make the race for second (note assumption above) closer than the Democrats want it to be.

Santema is well spoken and exudes a quiet confidence and competence. He will resonate with those who vote on the "this is the guy I want to have a beer with" paradigm.

English said he was an attorney licensed to practice in Wyoming but had just taken the South Dakota bar. He nominated himself and Newland seconded the nomination. I'm not sure how many South Dakota Libertarians know who he is or much about him.

Stranahan and Haber both mentioned PR and public perception several times during the day. I believe both mentioned it in relation to hemp, medical marijuana, and marijuana legalization. It will be interesting to see if the party's more assertive supporters of legalization and decriminalization will alter their rhetoric to improve public perception.

The convention broke up after concluding nominations even though there was unfinished platform business. The executive committee will take up the platform discussion, but building a party requires attention to details like the platform. It remains to be seen whether the party can develop the discipline to do the nuts and bolts work besides nominating candidates.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Quotations Of The Day: Ebola and Electrocution Edition

Raw Story reports that a radio talk show host wants people who do things he doesn't like or believe things he doesn't believe to contract the Ebola virus
A Christian radio host who enthusiastically looks for signs the world will end welcomed the Ebola virus as a cleansing force.
“This Ebola epidemic could become a global pandemic and that’s another name for plague,” said broadcaster Rick Wiles on his “Trunews” program.
“It may be the great attitude adjustment that I believe is coming,” Wiles continued. “Ebola could solve America’s problems with atheism, homosexuality, sexual promiscuity, pornography, and abortion.”
Meanwhile, Charlie Brown, who is the  Democratic candidate for governor of Tennessee and who may very well be a blockhead, wants to electrocute the incumbent Republican.
But if Brown were just some random guy who paid the filing fee and happened to win, we wouldn't be writing this. No, rather it seems what little we know about Brown's platform includes his desire to electrocute the man he's facing off against in November.
Here's a screenshot of what Brown apparently submitted to the Blount County Democratic Party in lieu of a candidate questionnaire. You'll notice toward the top, Brown says he would like to sit Gov. Bill Haslam (R) in an electric chair and give him "half the jolt."

A Post Wherein I Say Something Good About Lora Hubbel

I've been critical of Lora Hubbel for having the tendency to go off on tangents about babies being implanted with tracking chips while sleeping in incorrect positions in FEMA camps. (That's hyperbole, an accepted literary device for both fiction and non-fiction.) In this Common Core discussion with Tonchi Weaver, however, she stays does a good job of laying out some of the problems with how the Core has been implemented.

Republicans Are The GOP. Is The Tea Party The SOC?

Same Old Cronyism.

That's the conclusion Michael Brendan Dougherty draws in this article in The Week. He writes,
Earlier this year, The Daily Caller's Alexis Levinson reported that other Tea Party groups that had raised millions spent up to 80 percent of their money on operating expenditures, salaries, consultants, and mailing list companies, which were often owned by the people who ran the groups themselves. The Tea Party is essentially a landlord class; its fiefdom is the truly felt convictions of others.
In case one needs to be reminded, The Daily Caller  has never been called a liberal outlet. Dougherty concludes,
It's easy to write them off as just another bunch of opportunists. But the endemic corruption of this movement should trouble the American right, if not the American conscience. The conservative diagnosis of Washington's brokenness is that Americans have outsourced the task of self-government to a managerial class in Washington, a corruption that has transformed our nation's capital into "the Beltway," a shorthand for D.C.'s toxic culture of cronyism.
The populist right's instinctive response — the Tea Party — immediately became just another added layer of cronyism. A grassroots corruption. Really, a weed. If the American people have outsourced their self-government to Washington, the conservative movement made another dirty deal, allowing itself to be entertained in outrage carnivals run by for-profit activists. Excepting the exceptions, the populist right's response to dishonesty and graft was to generate another set of swindlers who wear flag-lapel pins, lie to their faces, and help themselves to the cash.
If the Republicans have taken the elephant as a mascot and the  Democrats have taken the donkey, it might behoove the tea partiers to adopt a mascot of their own: the pig. That animal might serve as a reminder that Orwell was correct. In Animal Farm, the pigs lead the rebellion that drives the humans off the farm, but by the end of the novella the pigs and the humans were impossible to distinguish physically or morally.
But they had not gone twenty yards when they stopped short. An uproar of voices was coming from the farmhouse. They rushed back and looked through the window again. Yes, a violent quarrel was in progress. There were shoutings, bangings on the table, sharp suspicious glances, furious denials. The source of the trouble appeared to be that Napoleon and Mr. Pilkington had each played an ace of spades simultaneously.
Twelve voices were shouting in anger, and they were all alike. No question, now, what had happened to the faces of the pigs. The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

I Want This To Be My Last Post About Annette Bosworth Because I Have Just One Remaining Question

I have been spending the better part of this evening reading Lee Stranahan's blog. It is, if I may quote the timeless Star Trek character Spock, fascinating. 

If I am reading Stranahan correctly, the following sums up the majority of his posts. 

Richard Mette was insufficiently punished for raping and beating foster children because Marty Jackley, either through an act of deliberate malice or witless incompetence, bungled the case. To cover this malfeasance, Jackley prosecuted Brandon Taliaferro, the attorney who began the Mette prosecution. Taliaferro was acquitted of all charges but remains too frightened of Jackley to defend Annette Bosworth on the perjury and fraud charges she faces. 

Readers are seemingly asked to infer that Jackley's prosecution of Bosworth is somehow linked to the Mette case. The only person who can right all of these wrongs is Chad Haber, Bosworth's husband, who will run for attorney general despite not being an attorney. Once elected after a campaigning as a Libertarian, Haber will expose Jackley's corruption which has been abetted by a silent media including South Dakotas two most widely-read blogs. All of these outlets have spent the past six to eight months demeaning Bosworth to draw attention away from Jackley and Mette.

I will not belittle Stranahan by claiming that this is a plot for a Spanish television novela nor will I accuse him of aping Dan Brown. I won't accuse him of blatantly attempting to turn Haber into the protagonist Raymond Chandler believed realistic detective fiction demanded.
But all this (and Hammett too) is for me not quite enough. The realist in murder writes of a world in which gangsters can rule nations and almost rule cities, in which hotels and apartment houses and celebrated restaurants are owned by men who made their money out of brothels, in which a screen star can be the fingerman for a mob, and the nice man down the hall is a boss of the numbers racket; a world where a judge with a cellar full of bootleg liquor can send a man to jail for having a pint in his pocket, where the mayor of your town may have condoned murder as an instrument of moneymaking, where no man can walk down a dark street in safety because law and order are things we talk about but refrain from practising; a world where you may witness a hold-up in broad daylight and see who did it, but you will fade quickly back into the crowd rather than tell anyone, because the hold-up men may have friends with long guns, or the police may not like your testimony, and in any case the shyster for the defense will be allowed to abuse and vilify you in open court, before a jury of selected morons, without any but the most perfunctory interference from a political judge 
It is not a very fragrant world, but it is the world you live in, and certain writers with tough minds and a cool spirit of detachment can make very interesting and even amusing patterns out of it. It is not funny that a man should be killed, but it is sometimes funny that he should be killed for so little, and that his death should be the coin of what we call civilization. All this still is not quite enough.
In everything that can be called art there is a quality of redemption. It may be pure tragedy, if it is high tragedy, and it may be pity and irony, and it may be the raucous laughter of the strong man. But down these mean streets a man must go who is not himself mean, who is neither tarnished nor afraid. The detective in this kind of story must be such a man. He is the hero, he is everything. He must be a complete man and a common man and yet an unusual man. He must be, to use a rather weathered phrase, a man of honor, by instinct, by inevitability, without thought of it, and certainly without saying it. He must be the best man in his world and a good enough man for any world. I do not care much about his private life; he is neither a eunuch nor a satyr; I think he might seduce a duchess and I am quite sure he would not spoil a virgin; if he is a man of honor in one thing, he is that in all things. He is a relatively poor man, or he would not be a detective at all. He is a common man or he could not go among common people. He has a sense of character, or he would not know his job. He will take no man’s money dishonestly and no man’s insolence without a due and dispassionate revenge. He is a lonely man and his pride is that you will treat him as a proud man or be very sorry you ever saw him. He talks as the man of his age talks, that is, with rude wit, a lively sense of the grotesque, a disgust for sham, and a contempt for pettiness. The story is his adventure in search of a hidden truth, and it would be no adventure if it did not happen to a man fit for adventure. He has a range of awareness that startles you, but it belongs to him by right, because it belongs to the world he lives in.
If there were enough like him, I think the world would be a very safe place to live in, and yet not too dull to be worth living in.
Reading Stranahan's blog does something more important than leaving a reader with the desire to compare the Bosworth/Haber story to fiction, It leaves one with a huge question that to the best of my knowledge has never been asked let alone satisfactorily answered. (I apologize if I missed this question  or have forgotten reading it elsewhere.)

If Bosworth and Haber are people motivated to expose corruption and see justice finally done in the Mette case, why did Bosworth run for the United States Senate instead of South Dakota governor?

The campaign for U.S. Senate is a poor platform to discuss a single criminal case, no matter how horrific. In a campaign for governor, one could make administration of criminal justice a central element of the campaign.

More importantly, if Bosworth had won the Senate campaign, Washington DC is a terrible venue for investigating the office of South Dakota's attorney general. If she had won the gubernatorial race, she could have conducted the investigation from the the governor's office in Pierre. Win or lose, running for governor would have been allowed Bosworth and Haber to better expose their concerns about the Mette case. So why didn't she run for governor instead of the U.S. Senate?

Again, I apologize if others have asked this question and it's been answered. Just give me the link in the comments.

Weiland Needs To Talk About His Rural Development Plan

I missed Rick Weiland's appearance and fundraiser yesterday.

I was in Brookings to meet with a few other debate coaches discussing how to limit the policy debate topic "Resolved: The United States federal government should substantially increase its non-military exploration and/or development of the Earth's oceans" so that freshmen don't drown in it. (Sorry for the bad pun.) The young'uns will discuss aquaculture, alternative energy limited to ocean specific options such as tidal or algae, and the exploration of and development of rare earth minerals.

The Weiland campaign could learn from topic limits. Like Weiland, I believe it's dangerous that those with unlimited coffers have more political speech than a poor person with good ideas especially when the former's political utterances likely involve advocating only ideas that will further fill their coffers.

I also think Weiland's visit everywhere in South Dakota twice twice is his only viable strategy against a former Governor Rounds.

That said, novice debaters have to discuss more than one issue.  If yesterday's press reports are accurate, Weiland spent most of his time rehashing the evils of money in politics.
One of the main issues Weiland has brought to the table on his cross-state tour is how money has gotten in the way of communicating with the voters.
“I've been talking about how big money has so gotten in the way of talking to the voters versus buying your way,” he said. “Big money has definitely influenced how these campaigns are run these days. I made the boast early on about visiting every town — I did that — and one of my opponents has made the boast that he was going to raise $9 million and most of it was going to come from out of state. I think there’s going to be quite a choice at the end of this campaign between someone who’s actually visited all of these communities and spent the time to sit down and talk to the voters versus someone who’s tried to raise all of this money from out of state who’s dominating the airwaves and print media.”
Weiland said one of his goals is to give people more influence.
One could argue Weiland is the only candidate actively campaigning. The music videos and the "talk fast" ads are fun and effective. Weiland is, however, in danger of sounding like one of Herman's Hermits biggest hit, "second verse same as the first."

Everyone who thinks the love affair between money and politics is the root of all evil. is likely in the Weiland camp by now. Weiland has a rural development platform. The plan has several planks but improving broadband and rebuilding infrastructure in rural areas should be especially easy planks to sell. Weiland needs to talk about those plans and get that message out.