Thursday, July 31, 2014

Kristi Noem Must Hate Reagan and Bush Lawlessness

Kristi Noem is in full support of the lawsuit against the President.  She voted for it and stands fully behind it.  Yesterday she was quoted in the Mitchell Daily Republic saying:

"We've got a lawsuit we voted on that I believe is one of the constitutional tools the House is entitled to," Noem said. "When we see the president unilaterally circumventing the laws this country has established, it's time for the judicial system to weigh in." 
Noem said it is the House's duty to uphold the nation's laws and to hold the executive branch accountable.
President Barrak Obama has created 183 executive orders.  Boy, that sounds like a lot, but when you look at other two term presidents of Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush, they ended with a lot more.  George W. Bush ended with 291 executive orders.  In 2009 Slate Magazine posted the top ten controversial executive orders that should be overturned.  

Then of course there is Ronald Reagan, the demi-god for many conservatives.  He faced a opposing legislature and went to the executive orders to accomplish his agenda:  LAWLESS Noem and Boehner would shout!  

Ever wonder how the NSA got the power to spy on citizens and basically do what ever they want to do?  You can thank executive order 12333 from Ronald Reagan.

It was President Reagan’s infamous Executive Order 12333 (referred to as “twelve-triple-three”) that established and handed to the NSA virtually all of the powers under which the agency  operates to this day—allowing the agency to collect the data that so many now find to be so offensive. 
McClatchy describes Executive Order 12333 as follows:  “It is a sweeping mandate that outlines the duties and foreign intelligence collection for the nation’s 17 intelligence agencies. It is not governed by Congress, and critics say it has little privacy protection and many loopholes.”
It was Reagan that used the executive order to ban the use of government money to groups that support or use abortion for family planning in foreign countries, not Congress.  It was George W. Bush that used the executive order to use "enhanced interrogating techniques" and not Chuck Norris, Kiefer Sutherland, or Congress.  

Madville Times offers the following questions for Robinson to ask in a debate:

Question #1 for Kristi at her upcoming debates with Corinna Robinson: "Tell us, Congresswoman, how does suing the President to force implementation of a law that you want repealed and that you say will increase costs for businesses practically benefit South Dakota?" 
Question #2: "How much will your lawsuit cost the taxpayers?" 
Question #3: "Barack Obama won two Presidential elections and is in the sixth year of his Presidency. Are you willing to acknowledge this fact and move on?"
 I would offer another question, would you have supported a similar lawsuit against Ronald Reagan?  The last question is simply, do you think that Congress would be able to get more accomplished if it ended it partisan bickering and tried to focus the needs of America and South Dakota before they become a crisis?

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

There Is Nothing to See Here (Part 2)

Today the GOAC decided to hold a hearing about EB-5 without doing any real work.  Susan Wismer, the only Democrat on the committee, tried to push the committee to take some kind of action to get down to what really happened.  The committee leader gaveled her down and would not let her continue to make the point that the legislature should actually do its job of oversight involving government funds.  

What I find interesting is that the only reason in my mind not to push harder for investigating into EB-5 is that there may be something they don't want people to find out about.  I am not actually saying that there is something that would derail Mike Rounds, Dennis Daugaard, or other GOP members, but the mere idea that something may pop up is reason enough to play the role of the rookie cop assigned to simply announce to the public, "Nothing to see here, move along."  

Today during the 100 Eyes broadcast on the Argus Leader, Patrick Lalley argues that the reason for not really investigating by the SD GOP is laziness and "inertia" in the GOP status quo.  

The problem is that there is clearly something to see, but many in the legislature refuse to do there job and challenge the executive branch.  They choose to simply follow marching orders.  

The South Dakota GOP allowed their new mouth piece Dick Wadhams to make a statement that everything is okay and Wismer is "bizarre" and should "stop playing politics."  In other words, belittle your opponent and make it clear that no one should even bother with investigating how lives in Aberdeen and other places were hurt thanks to Mike Rounds and Dennis Daugaard's use of funds and support of EB-5.

Susan Wismer released a press release pointing out that she doesn't believe that GOAC and the legislature should be shackled by Governor Daugaard when doing their job.  They should do their job!
“After the Government Operations & Audit Committee meeting today, I've come to believe that this committee is not faithfully executing the charge our legislature gave us under HCR 1010. The resolution gives us the right to seek additional information, yet we have sought no information outside the parameters dictated by the Daugaard administration,” said Rep. Wismer. (Via Madville Times)
It should not matter if the governor is a Democrat or a Republican when it comes to fighting corruption.  We can't afford to take the attitude of letting rookie cops protect our interests by telling us that there is nothing to see.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Time to Change the US Corporate Tax System

There is a new term that is becoming part of America's daily vocabulary: "inversion."  Investopedia explains corporate tax inversion as:
Re-incorporating a company overseas in order to reduce the tax burden on income earned abroad. Corporate inversion as a strategy is used by companies that receive a significant portion of their income from foreign sources, since that income is taxed both abroad and in the country of incorporation. Companies undertaking this strategy are likely to select a country that has lower tax rates and less stringent corporate governance requirements.
Most recently we have seen the Walgreens company is planning on becoming a non-citizen.  They plan to take the money that they earn in the United States and hold onto it as non-American citizens:
Walgreens, the USA's largest drugstore chain, with more than 8,500 stores, soon will decide whether to take advantage of a loophole in U.S. tax law that would allow it to save billions of dollars by moving its headquarters to Europe, where it is on the verge of acquiring controlling interest in Alliance Boots, a Swiss-based company that operates drugstores in Britain. 
Other companies that are no longer US citizens include Pfizer and Medtronic.  
Pfizer is one of the most aggressive U.S. companies reporting income in countries with lower tax rates than the U.S. as a way of reducing their effective tax rate, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The drugmaker had the second-highest amount of profit kept overseas, $63 billion, behind only General Electric Co., according to securities filings as of March. 
USA Today reports on Medtronic:
In one recent high-profile "tax inversion," Medtronic, a venerable Minneapolis-based medical device manufacturer, agreed last month to buy rival medical-device maker Covidien PLC for $42.9 billion. Covidien has its "headquarters" in Massachusetts but is "domiciled" in Ireland, which has some of the lowest corporate tax rates in the world at 12.5 percent. The U.S. corporate income tax rate is 35 percent, the highest in the world. 
"When you invert, it makes it easy to strip income out of the U.S. and put it into a tax haven," said Martin Sullivan, chief economist at Tax Analysts, which provides analysis of tax laws and current events for tax professionals and the business community. "U.S. tax rules treat U.S. income and foreign income differently. When that is the case, the states would almost certainly lose revenue because when income is stripped out of the U.S. federal tax base, it is also being stripped out of the state tax base." 
Ken Santema from SoDakLiberty suggests that the reason behind the inversions is simply that the corporate tax rates are too high.  
If the US is serious about ending corporate inversion the current tax rates must be lowered. Unfortunately that isn’t likely to happen any time soon. Too many people think corporations aren’t taxed enough and too many politicians have been bought by big business to provide special tax breaks. In such an environment it is unlikely anyone will look at the obvious answer: cut corporate taxes to a flat rate with no special deductions.
That may be part of the problem, but the corporations are providing less and less to the US Federal Revenue:
America is broke,” declared House Speaker John Boehner a few years ago. But clearly the country is not broke; we are just being robbed, as many corporations create ways of avoiding, dodging, shirking and generally not paying their taxes. The share of federal revenue coming from corporate taxes has dropped from around 32 percent in 1952 to 8.9 percent now. As a share of gross domestic product, it has fallen from about 6 percent of GDP then to less than 2 percent now. Meanwhile the rest of us — including small domestic companies that don’t have armies of tax consultants — have to make up that shortfall, either through increases in things like payroll taxes, or through cuts in the things government does to make our lives better. 
The reality is that the corporate tax rate is not too high, but we have created a system that benefits the powerful lobbyists hired by these corporations and ignores the smaller corporations.  While Walgreens is getting a tax break, Lewis Drug has to cover Walgreens leaving.

What to do about it?  First, I say that these corporations can no longer give to political campaigns.  They are "persons" according to five Supreme Court Justices and it is illegal for foreign nationals to donate to political campaigns.  They should also restricted on their ability to lobby in Congress.  All of the CEOs and other top officials should renounce their citizenship and be required to apply for green cards to live in the United States. 

Another idea is to do something like Mr. Santema suggested.  Make it a level playing field and then you don't have to have such a high rate.  Instead of a flat rate, because companies like Pfizer will still hide profits, one idea is to make their profits more open and establish a Sales Tax Apportionment of Global Taxes.  This idea recently has been pushed in a study by Michael Udell and Aditi Vashist (this is a PDF) to make all companies (US based and Foreign based) pay taxes on sales done in the United States.  The idea would allow for more companies paying their fair share and it could allow for the decrease of the tax rate, helping those companies like Lewis Drug.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Suffer the Little Children

But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come to me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven -- Matthew 19:14 (American King James Version)
There has been a lot to talk about  providing relief and support for undocumented children.  21 children have been placed in South Dakota and the Governor is none to happy about it.  Daugaard complains in a press release about his anger that the federal agency didn't clear it with him.  Then he tries to use fear and xenophobia to label the children as threats. 
“It is disappointing that, despite assurances from federal officials, these children have been placed in South Dakota without notification to the state,” said the Governor. “Although federal officials indicate that these 21 children have been screened and vaccinated, we will be asking for more information so that the state can be sure that these children pose no risk to South Dakotans.”
A lot of people have been discussing this response.  Over at Madville, Cory pointed out the silliness of bringing up a lack of vaccination for the children as a major threat to South Dakota.  The Displaced Plainsman cites the Bob Mercer and points out that all this freaking out over 21 children shows that lack of foresight and planning that is the SD GOP (and national GOP in my opinion).  Over at Dakota War College, you are getting statements from GOP rank and file like these:

SpencerThe National Guard should be called out NOW to remove these kids and their illegal families. Are we really going to wait for Obama to handle this? Take them to the nearest blue state and dump them. No damage or harm to South Dakotans? Really? Illegals are syphoning education and Medicaid dollars away from every other South Dakotan among a multitude of other services and resources while some fools sit there wondering if there is a down side to taking these illegals. Wake up South Dakota!
Charlie HoffmanThere is a Win-Win in this politically nationwide for the GOP but fear is killing the initiative needed. 
DNA ID every child and photo fingerprint them onto the Federal database. Then get a judge to put a secrecy cloak on their location and status. No news going out to further illegal importations. Instead of Obama and Company shoving kids into Gestapo type barracks we put them in homes clearly identified as Pro-American. The adults/parents here illegally gave up their parental rights years ago when they left their children in the slums while they high tailed into the USA whenever they could. 
While politicians and other bicker over these children, we forget that these are children.  Children whose life has been one of hell and suffering.  Whose parents were so desperate that there children could have a better life, or in some cases a life period, that they allowed them to go.  Not everyone of the SD GOP thinks the same as Daugaard and others.  Rep. Steve Hickey (R) makes a fair point on the comment section of Dakota War College:
Steve HickeyWow. Lighten up Spencer. Kids aren’t political footballs to kick back to some other state. I’d like to meet them and hear every single one of their stories. Don’t misread me, I think we can and should shut down the border. But that’s not happening. We have room in SD to love on 21 more kids – it’d actually do us some good. Political leaders can sort it out without tossing kids back and forth. Hopefully it’s not true that SD cares more about stranded cows and wet river communities than it does the children of the world....
We do have room to love on 21 children.  We should have room to love on all of our children.  When you see footage of grown up adults screaming "Not our kids, not our problem!" and those asking, "why can't we just ship them back," I think John Stewart summed it up best: "What the f*** is wrong with you?"

Sister Janet Horstman shared a story in the Argus Leader about what is facing many of these families:
Horstman cited a 2012 case that illustrates the consequences of deportation decisions. Parents from El Salvador sought residency for their children, ages 19 and 15, who had arrived illegally. 
"These two young men were being recruited by gangs and threatened, so they decided to leave. The oldest, who was 19, was sent back." Three or four days later, Horstman said, he "was killed because he had tried to run away."  
The paper hinted at a plan by McCain and Flake being brought up to handle refugee status in the home country.  When trying to see exactly what the plan would do, the focus seems to be on getting these illegal children out of here (still wrapping the language in xenophobia).  However, I did find some information that shows the Obama administration (this might cause it to fail since Obama supports a GOP idea) is considering such a move.
Kevin Appleby, director of Migration and Refugee Services at the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, said the plan would be welcome, as long as it does not substitute for protections Central American children currently receive under American law. 
“This program would certainly be a formal acknowledgment by the administration that these children are refugees,” Appleby said. “That’s huge, because they have yet to utter that word.” 
When a similar plan was adopted in Haiti, as a way to keep people from taking to the high seas, he said, it was ultimately criticized because Haitians already in the United States did not receive help. 
“It ended up being counterproductive to the goal,” Appleby said. 
Stacie Blake, the director of government relations for the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, an advocacy group, said the processing of potential refugees in Central America could be handled by the U.S. government or by the United Nations, which makes refugee determinations in many other countries. She said some of the people designated as refugees in Honduras could end up in countries other than the United States. 
“It’s a way to help folks avoid life-threatening escapes and journeys,” Blake said. “It’s a good idea. It’s a tested idea.”
Whatever happens in the future to try and get a better handle on the issue, let us not ignore treating the children that are here with some dignity and compassion.  Don't automatically assume that they are evil.  Maybe we could learn to be a little more like Jesus and let the children come to us.  Not to be ridiculed and seen as threats, not to be viewed as pawns, and not to be viewed as unbearable burdens and annoyances, but instead to look upon them as innocents and to reach out and provide a little relief in a difficult and harsh world. 

UPDATE: Rep. Kathy Tyler posts about South Dakota's need for immigrant labor and the complexity of immigration laws and the need to remember the children.

Friday, July 25, 2014

A SLO video for all the teachers out there

I former teacher posted this on Facebook about SLO.  It is a parody of "Let It Go," but before you groan and ignore another Frozen parody, you should listen.  I went through the SLO training about a week ago.  I know many other teachers have SLO training to come.  Enjoy:

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Politicians and Plagiarism

It is just a few weeks until school starts, and a news story involving Democratic Senator John Walsh pops up reporting that he plagiarized his Master Thesis from U.S. Army War College.
Walsh submitted his thesis, titled "The Case for Democracy as a Long Term National Strategy," to earn his Master of Strategic Studies degree in 2007, nearly two years after he returned from Iraq and about a year before he became Montana's adjutant general overseeing the state's National Guard and Department of Military Affairs. 
The paper includes a series of unattributed passages taken from the writings of other scholars.
The first page borrows heavily from a 2003 Foreign Affairs piece written by Thomas Carothers, vice president for studies at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, and a 2009 book by Natan Sharansky with Ron Dermer called "The Case for Democracy: The Power of Freedom to Overcome Tyranny and Terror."
There are several other sections that were plagiarized throughout the paper.  The part that bothers me the most is that he is trying to use PTSD as an excuse:
Walsh told The Associated Press when he wrote the thesis, he had PTSD from his service in Iraq, was on medication and was dealing with the stress of a fellow veteran's recent suicide. 
"I don't want to blame my mistake on PTSD, but I do want to say it may have been a factor," the senator said. "My head was not in a place very conducive to a classroom and an academic environment."
Now, before you start with any partisan statements,  remember that politicians on both sides are responsible of this crime.  Conservative politician Rand Paul has been accused of plagiarism several different times.  It is also not specific to United States politicians.  Recently, several German politicians have been found to have committed plagiarism.  Even John McCain and Barack Obama have been accused of plagiarism.

Every it seems, I deal with plagiarism in my class despite severe warnings.  Students always act surprised when I tell them that they will be redoing their paper and receiving a significant grade deduction.  They claim that they didn't do it, despite the fact that they are using words they have never heard or I show them copies of the websites that they copied.  Despite that I catch students, I know that some are able to sneak it past me.

The reason usually for plagiarism is the student put of doing the assignment until the last minute and doesn't want to do the real work.  I think that Senator John Walsh should do a PSA on why plagiarism is wrong, redo the thesis paper (by himself without any staffer being able to assist him), take a 20% grade deduction and be stripped of any honors he may have received.  

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

A Reminder That the GOP Celebrates in Taking Healthcare Away From People

The GOP is still trying to kill Obamacare since they can't to it through electing officials, since they have already lost in the Supreme Court, but they won't stop.  A recent 2-1 ruling from the D.C. Circuit Court  (2 very conservative justices), ruled against the subsidy portion for states that use the federal exchange.  The South Dakota GOP immediately jumped on the ruling to link the ACA to Rick Weiland.  Posted on South Dakota War College:
“President Obama and his loyal foot soldier Rick Weiland were given an emphatic ‘no’ today by the D.C. Court of Appeals on their failed Obamacare law,” said Dick Wadhams, spokesman for the South Dakota Republican Party. “The court ruled on what the Obamacare law actually says, not what President Obama and Rick Weiland say it says....”
 “The current Obama-Weiland health care law is bad enough but Weiland actually wants Obamacare on steroids,” Wadhams said. “Weiland would dramatically expand Medicare and make that federal health care program for seniors available to everyone. Weiland’s Medicare/Obamacare expansion proposal would destroy Medicare as we know it for seniors.”
It will be interesting to hear what the GOP will say when the ruling is reversed.  It seems that the two judges wanted to ignore precedent and ignore the whole context of the law (2,000 pages) based on one line.
The Fourth Circuit in Virginia upheld the subsidies—indicating the government had the better argument, but regardless applying the longstanding rule that when a statute is not clear, courts defer to the agency administering the statute (in this case, the IRS). The D.C. Circuit, however, ruled the other way, reading one provision of this massive and complex federal law out of context. That opinion not only misinterprets the statute—with enormous practical consequences—but also does a deep disservice to conservative jurists and lawyers who have spent the last 30 years arguing that text-based interpretation is sophisticated, not literalistic, and serves democracy....
It is true, as the plaintiffs argued, that a single provision of the statute provides that subsidies shall be available to exchanges established by states, and that that provision does not also mention the federal government.But it is also emphatically true that the rest of the statutory text makes quite clear that the subsidies were also intended on federal exchanges. Another provision of the statute requires reporting to the IRS of subsidies doled out on federal and state exchanges alike—and that provision expressly mentions the federal exchanges. The statute also, in several other places, mentions state exchanges in ways that clearly are intended to refer to exchanges operated by the states or exchanges operated by the federal government for the states.

So the realistic probability of this argument continuing is actually slim.  It does serve as a reminder that the South Dakota GOP and Mike Rounds looks forward to increasing the number of people that are uninsured.  (Remember that Daugaard is hoping to use the ACA foe health insurance for state employees.)  We are reminded that the ACA is working to lower uninsured rates the United States.  That South Dakotans of all ages are benefiting from the law.
·         92,000 uninsured South Dakotans will have new health insurance options through Medicaid or private health plans in the Marketplace. 
·         In the first ten months of 2013, 8,200 seniors and people with disabilities have saved on average $714 on prescription medications as the health care law closes Medicare’s so-called “donut hole.” 
·         9,000 young adults have gained health insurance because they can now stay on their parents’ health plans until age 26.

Americans for Prosperity Here for Rounds Or the Minimum Wage

The Koch Brothers have decided that South Dakota is not anti-worker enough for their tastes and have decided to open an office in Sioux Falls.  This has caused the Senate candidates to start discussing concern (as reported on South Dakota Public Radio) over the influence they might have on the election.  Weiland called for candidates to back away from outside influence and raised the biggest concern:
"Their approach to politics is pretty straight-up. If you have a big enough checkbook, you can literally buy yourself a government," Weiland says. "And if they follow their usual pattern here in South Dakota, they could spend literally millions of dollars on this Senate seat."
Pressler and Howie also have concerns, but don't think a calling to prevent outside money from influencing South Dakota politics is going to work:
Independent candidate Gordon Howie says he believes outside money is bad for the campaign, but he’s not going to make a declaration. He says money from outside the state already influences South Dakota politics. 
"For me to be presumptive enough to think that, by me just calling for big money to stay away, that they’re going to listen to me, are we kidding ourselves? Big money has a real interest in this South Dakota Senate seat," Howie says. 
I agree with Pressler and Howie.  Rounds obviously is not concerned, but there will be no way to keep out outside money from trying to buy the election.  The only problem is I think the Koch brothers will be more focused on fighting minimum wage than helping Mike Rounds maintain his crony capitalism support for big oil, EB-5, and other business friendly practices.  I think they will be major players in fighting minimum wage initiative.

The Koch Brothers plan for a major spending spree across the nation to influence politics the way they think all of us should live.

The Koch brothers’ main political arm intends to spend more than $125 million this year on an aggressive ground, air and data operation benefiting conservatives, according to a memo distributed to major donors and sources familiar with the group. 
The projected budget for Americans for Prosperity would be unprecedented for a private political group in a midterm, and would likely rival even the spending of the Republican and Democratic parties’ congressional campaign arms.
The Koch Brothers view a minimum wage as a major barrier to allowing businesses to take advantage of human beings to make sure that they can make more money.  They feel all regulations on businesses are evil and wrong.

The point of it, Koch said, is that he believes prosperity grows where economic freedom is greatest, where government intervention in business affairs is kept to a minimum. He hopes his ideas will help the country grow, he said. In his interview he emphasized several times that he believes his ideas on economics will help disadvantaged people. Government regulations – including the minimum wage law – tend to hold everyone back, he said.
This is the same guy that thinks if you are living on $34,000 a year, you should be thankful.   You are one of the richest people in the world!  You are one the 1%!

The video, available on YouTube, starts by saying that if you earn more than $34,000, “you are one of the wealthiest 1 percent in the world.” Koch, one of the richest men in the world, acknowledged that assertion might be pounced upon.
The only way to cut through the upcoming AFP disinformation campaign is to fight back with activity and providing real facts.  It is wrong that any single individuals can have so much influence on a campaign.  The difference is that critical thinking people can overcome the money the Koch Brothers will be throwing against the Minimum Wage campaign and Rick Weiland. 

Read more here:

Monday, July 21, 2014

GOP-More Proof of No Need To Worry About Teacher Shortages

The back to school specials can only signal one thing: Christmas specials will be starting in about 4 weeks.  It also means that parents are eagerly looking forward to sending their children back to school and the teachers that are starting to worry about getting everything ready in time for the start of the new year.  That is if there will be a teacher at the school for the teacher.

Leo Kallis posts several tweets reflecting concern of superintendents all over South Dakota worried about find the best applicant to teach your child.  They are some scary statements.  Superintendents from small schools and big school, from East River and West River, from elementary level concerns to high school staffing concern are voicing huge red flags about the state of the teaching profession in our state.  

A few of the tweets include:
-RC Supt. @tmitchell212 said one elementary in his district has had 5 offers declined by teacher applicants because of salary.
-DeGroot [from Brookings] said he has to "convince" applicants to take a job. Added that applicants used to be giddy to be hired.  
-Timber Lake Superintendent Jarod Larson said all teaching positions are "hard to fill" not just certain academic areas.  
The problem is compounded by the fact that more people are getting out of the teaching profession altogether.  A report on NPR stated:
"Roughly half a million U.S. teachers either move or leave the profession each year," reads a new report from theAlliance for Excellent Education, an advocacy group. And this kind of turnover comes at a steep cost, not only to students but to districts: up to $2.2 billion a year. 
It is clear that something has to be done.  I know that this may come as a shock to basically no one except several member of the South Dakota GOP.  Remember that in January of this year a special education committee reported that there is a teacher shortage crisis in our fair state.
According to a resolution approved on a 10-4 vote by the interim education funding formula study committee, “teachers are in short supply in this state, and that school districts of all sizes are now struggling to retain qualified teachers and to fill teacher vacancies.”  
The resolution suggests the Legislature explore tuition-reimbursement programs, other programs or policies “that could help attract more good people into the teaching profession in South Dakota and to keep the good teachers that are already here.” 
The resolution points out that teacher salaries are higher in neighboring states and some teachers are leaving South Dakota for those jobs. 
The resolution also argues that “fewer and fewer” college students are seeking education degrees with plans to become teachers. 
Ernie Otten and Isaac Latterell, District 6 members of the South Dakota Legislature, voted against the resolution.  They chose to ignore a clear study that was done and that also had no specific mandates included in a resolution to say "Hey, teachers will be just fine."  Isaac Latterell never made his reasoning clear behind his vote (because why bother with the little people of his district that he likes to visit when it is time for re-election).  Ernie Otten's reasoning was very troublesome.  He didn't want to be put in the corner in the future when someone might ask for more money.  To put it another way: This is going to be really hard and might require me to do something to find funds or be clever to deal with a real problem facing the people of South Dakota.

It is time to start realizing the fact that something must be done.  We need to stop treating teachers as villains and support them.  The South Dakota legislature can make a positive impact towards restoring faith in our teachers.  It will require courage.  It will require out of the box thinking.  It will require people who are not afraid to embrace the problem.  It will require someone other than Ernie Otten and Isaac Latterell. 

Friday, July 18, 2014

Every English Teacher Should Have This Song

Weird Al Yankovic is a genius in my mind.  I love his comedy.  He is right on target with the issues of the day.  He is also releasing what he says will be his last true "album."  To celebrate the album, he has been releasing eight videos in eight days.  The song "Word Crimes" was the second video released and is based on Robin Thicke's "Blurred Lines."  It is amazing and shows the importance of actually learning grammar rules to the texting generation.  Here it is for everyone to enjoy.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Mike Rounds New Campaign Advertising Team

You remember the kerfuffle that Marion Mike Rounds got into a bit of egg on his face with a commercial based on stock photos and France.  Marion Mike Rounds has claimed that he will repeal ACA when elected and that he would shut down the Department of Education because that is what the primary voters wanted to hear, but he probably won't do that.  I think that he has found the person that fits his campaign style perfectly: Gil Fulbright, the "honest" politician.  The video is below for you to enjoy.  When I saw it, all I could think of was Teflon Mike, his fake South Dakota video, and all his comments about things he really won't change.  Enjoy!

SD GOP "Nothing to See Here."

The other day I was listening to Minnesota Public Radio and a report came in about how China is trying to tackle the air quality problem in the country.  The reporter commented that the problem is incredibly severe much like many of the large cities during the 60's.  As the reporter tried to interview people about the problem, the state officials and those that strongly support the state government had a basic response:  "There really is no air pollution problem.  Things are just fine in our beautiful country."

This, in many ways, is the response staunch GOP leaders and their supporters take when it comes to the danger of corruption and lack of transparency in South Dakota government.  Several months ago a report was released that studied the potential and level of risk in state governments.  South Dakota ranked eighth.  The South Dakota government, lead by the GOP, prefer everyone to "keep moving, there is nothing to see here."

Over at South Dakota War College, the response was basically come on, there is no real problem.  It is all wonderful here.  Which Pat Powers wrote:
So, South Dakota is ranked the 8th most corrupt state in the nation, because there was maybe 1 state employee in the ten years of the study who was a bad actor? One as in a single person? But let’s not forget it’s also based on where the study authors think states should be spending money, further biasing it against a small state like South Dakota. 
Look, South Dakota state employees are a pretty good lot, often doing fairly difficult jobs in less than ideal conditions. When you see this kind of nonsense, it really does them a disservice.
There is no denying that many, many of the people that would for the state are a "pretty good lot."  It still doesn't mean that there may be some misuse of funds, unknowingly accepting bids that are just a little too high, or misleading the voters of South Dakota.  

Who is this one person that Pat refers too?   He must be talking about Mike Rounds.  Who, as the governor, endorsed and encouraged the privatization of the EB-5 program, who misused state funds for airplanes, handing over no bid contracts to family members and hiring other family members.  Pat Powers himself was under scrutiny while working in the SOS office.  Don't even get me started on the problems with Jason Gant as SOS.

The response should have been, "I don't know if I agree with the report, but I know that there are several things we can improve on when it comes to openness of government and fighting corruption on all levels."  However, when it comes to the SD GOP, we are not likely to hear that from the majority.  If they claim that they want an open government, start with the EB-5 scandal.  Get them to agree with Susan Wismer and Kathy Tyler to honor their promises to give us a clear and open account of the handling of the EB-5 program under Rounds and Daugaard.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

The SD GOP Will Be Impeaching Daugaard Soon

We all know that the South Dakota GOP is so focused on hating any executive that issues orders to alter or shape the way the laws operate that they have called for Obama's impeachment when designing the party platform.   I guess their hatred of executive orders will now be brought down upon Dennis Daugaard.  Daugaard has constantly flaunted the law time and time again in creating executive orders.  

Three times in 2012, Daugaard waived the law to allow the transportation of over-width livestock feed on our roads.  In 2013 he lifted the rules over propane haulers.  In 2012 he also issued an executive order to expand his economic council.  In 2011 he created a task force to lure trust companies to South Dakota by helping them hide money. In 2011 he also created a task force to form a Department of Tourism.  In 2014 he signed an executive order to release of some state financial information.  Most recently he has done another executive order in the face of GOP animosity asking his Bureau of Finance and Management to speculate the economic forecast an additional two years in the future.

(The thing that gets me about this latest executive order is that this is the same group that has trouble accurately predicting the economic outcome less than one year in the future, now he wants them to take on another two?)

If you have not been able to read the sarcasm in the above thinking, you should now I am not asking for an impeachment of Daugaard.  He has made several mistakes: continued support for NBP, Manpower, gutting education, and many, many more that Dems and Repubs could list.  This is why the South Dakota GOP and many other GOP members are looking silly.

When going to the polls the November, we need to ask ourselves if we want to have responsible and thinking people whose main concern is doing the work to improve the lives of the people that elected them, or are they going to play at political theater and continue to make moves to embarrass us all. 

Friday, July 11, 2014

Turns Out Republicans like ACA, Maybe Now Daugaard Can Expand It.

Unfortunately the Republicans treat anything prepared and offered from President Obama the same way my children respond to something that is healthier than chicken nuggets or hot dogs.  

Children: "Eww, no way.  That is totally gross!"  

Me: "It is called lettuce.  It tastes good and is good for you."
Children: "I'm not touching that.  I can already tell it is going to be gross."

After they find the courage to give it an honest try, they are usually okay with it and may find out that they like it.  It turns out that this is true for Republicans and the Affordable Care Act according to a Commonwealth Fund study.

What was more surprising is that people who got the new coverage were generally happy with the product. Overall, 73 percent of people who bought health plans and 87 percent of those who signed up for Medicaid said they were somewhat or very satisfied with their new health insurance. Seventy-four percent of newly insured Republicans liked their plans. Even 77 percent of people who had insurance before — including members of the much-publicized group whose plans got canceled last year — were happy with their new coverage. (New York Times July 9, 2014)
The law is actually working to reduce the number of uninsured significantly.  Time focuses on the impact of the law:
The report from the Commonwealth Fund, published Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine, credits President Barack Obama’s health reform law with an estimated 20 million enrollments as of May 1. The report looks at both people who gained coverage through insurance marketplaces, and people who gained coverage due to provisions in the Affordable Care Act (such as those qualifying for Medicaid and those now covered through the Children’s Health Insurance Program).  
While Daugaard wants to keep working South Dakotans who would qualify from expanded Medicaid, he seems to have no problem letting the state use ACA instead of dealing with its own increases:
The anti-ACA meme is getting harder and harder for South Dakota's leading Republicans to sustain.  A few days ago I noted that Wellmark, South Dakota's Blue Cross Blue Shield provider, is joinng the ACA-created insurance exchanges because, like so many other companies doing the same thing, it sees money to be made in a program that's likely to remain a fixture of American life.  Now comes this news that the South Dakota Health Plan is leaning on ACA as a way of getting better deals for state retirees.  South Dakota GOP leaders are painting themselves into a tight little corner on this issue, so much so that their intransigence, which they probably think, delusionally, passes for political determination, is beginning to take on the look of plain old-fashioned foolishness.  (The Constant Commoner, June 11)
This seems to be exactly what the Republicans feared: people actually happy with the ACA once they get to use it.  

Don't forget, Mike Rounds stands for taking away people's insurance access and for encouraging China to buy South Dakota through the EB-5 program.  

If you elect Susan Wismer, you can have someone that will support a program that improves the lives for South Dakotans and the economy of South Dakota.  So, let's not be afraid of our vegetables and fruit.  It is time to expand Medicaid in South Dakota!

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

The Pat Powers Hyperbole Machine

Pat Powers limited skills at writing often force him to rely on hyperbole and leaving out information.  His most recent attempt to attack Rick Weiland is to link him with unions, gun-control groups, and Nancy Pelosi(?)  Despite the fact that Mr. Powers seems to have failed civics and Weiland can't really help Nancy become speaker again, this is nothing more than partisan speak.   

Is it any surprise that Democrats donate to other Democrats?  Yes, Rick Weiland has received money from union groups.  According to Open, Weiland has received about $90,000 dollars from various types of union groups.  Just under the $98,000 Rounds has received from commercial banks.  He has received over $350,000 from just the financial sector and insurance groups.  Mike Rounds has taken in over $339,000 from business PACS.  Rick Weiland: $4,636.

Mike Rounds has also taken $10,000 from NextEra Energy, Murry Energy, and another $43,000 from oil and gas companies.  Rick Weiland's reported amount on Open Secrets: $0.

Mike Rounds is the guy that still supports EB-5.  Mike Rounds is the guy that bragged he could raise $9 million.  Mike Rounds is the guy that has raised 95% his money thanks to PACs and large contributors.  (Weiland's percentage is 68% with 20% coming from small contributors.)

So based on the information from this cycle (not going back to 1996), let me try my hand at a hyperbolic headline:


Wow, that is kind of catchy.  To bad that more of that statement is rooted in reality than Pat Power's attacks on Weiland.

Monday, July 7, 2014

The Pay For It Yourself Crowd on Insurance

One of the biggest responses to those upset about the Hobby Lobby decision and how it limits access to contraceptive services is that the people should just pay for it themselves.  Over at P&R, he makes that claim:
Let's clear one thing up, and it bears clearing.  Neither this ruling, nor Hobby Lobby's objection, nor anything else connected with this case has the slightest impact on the availability of abortion, abortifacient drugs, contraception of various sorts, or other medical treatments.  The issue has nothing to do with availability.  The issue is who pays for it.  A woman working at Hobby Lobby can obtain an abortion today.  She can have an IUD implanted.  She can buy birth control pills and morning-after pills just as she could yesterday.  The only thing she cannot do is send the bill to her employer and demand he pay for it if that employer has religious objections to the type of birth control she wants.
 Over at Breitbart a writer suggests that a woman simply go work somewhere else, or pay for it herself.  She also writes:
With all due respect, Justice Ginsburg is distorting the message of empowerment for women. The high court’s decision does not prevent “legions of women” from gaining “access to contraceptive coverage.” They can buy it for as little as $3.77 per month. Even women on food stamps can afford it.
 All of these claims overlook one basic reality: the vast majority of people impacted by this ruling are already paying for insurance.  I know that I pay a sizable chuck from my paycheck for our family insurance.  Yes, I recognize that my employer also pays a significant portion of the insurance, but why does that mean that they can simply exercise their religion for something I am also paying for in the process?

In South Dakota, the average worker pays over $4,500 a year for family health insurance.  That amount is significantly less than the $10,000 a employer pays as part of a compensation package for the worker (in lieu of increased salary); however, Hobby Lobby's owners get to dictate how their employees portion of health insurance is utilized.  When you add the additional news about the injunction involving Wheaton College to prevent the government from even paying for the insurance, you have control by one individual over another.

This is not an issue of moral agency which is in part an argument made by Wheaton College and over at P&R.  As a moral agent, we can make choices and will be held responsible for those choices.  If you choose to use the contraceptive, you have made a moral choice, but being a moral agent does not allow me to actively prevent others from making that choice.  My money that I pay for health insurance (as well as that of my employer) goes into a pool, but it does not mean endorsing how a person uses such insurance.  As a moral agent, I may find that it is my responsibility to not support a war, but I can't avoid paying taxes.  The taxes I pay also pay for a wide range of things others might find objectionable (food stamps, executions, EB-5).  I can't scream moral agent to be able to impose my will and prevent others from making a choice.  

The only logical conclusion of the "Pay it yourself" crowd is that there should be no group insurance anywhere, or there should be universal insurance and you can choose to access the services that best meet your beliefs.  Because, I like millions of others with group insurance, already pay into that insurance.  

The Hobby Lobby Decision Just Keeps Getting Worse

I hate to say you were told so, but many people warned that the Hobby Lobby decision was not really a narrow decision.  As Law Professor Renee Cramer wrote after the ruling:
This seems to be a narrow ruling, as it only allows employers to refuse to cover contraception. And, the majority opinion stresses that the ruling will not allow racial discrimination in employment, nor other forms of discrimination from which we have statutory protection. We are supposed to find comfort in that narrowness, I suppose; but I do not. The Court has, in a five member majority, has declared that contraception – and women’s access to it – is unimportant. Women’s health care decisions are less than compelling, less than important.
Senate hopeful Mike Rounds loves the fact that corporations now can control your access to birth control based on his take on religion:
“Today’s ruling is a tremendous victory for business owners and for those who believe in religious freedom in America,” said Gov. Rounds.  “It’s encouraging to see that the Supreme Court agrees with our belief that this failed healthcare policy goes too far, and family business owners should not be forced to give up their constitutional liberties and religious freedom to comply with bad policy.”
Many people claimed that this was dealing with only a few limited forms of birth control that Hobby Lobby believed could possibly be used as abortion causing agents.  A few days ago the Supreme Court made clear that wasn't actually the case:
On Tuesday, the Court said the ruling covered all 20 forms of contraception protected through the Affordable Care Act, despite the fact that Hobby Lobby’s lawsuit only covered 4 of the 20. By what rationale did the conservative majority reach this expansive conclusion? I believe it’s called the “because we said so” rule of American jurisprudence. 
The court also claimed in the original Hobby Lobby ruling that the waiver used by non-profits provides justification for  allowing for-profit companies to not cover certain forms of birth control (now expanded to all forms of birth control).  However it now appears that there is no means for the government can cover people if the non-profit doesn't want them too:
In fact, that accommodation was one of the reasons Justice Samuel Alito cited to justify his Hobby Lobby decision – words Sotomayor threw back at him in the dissent. Under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, the government has to show it has pursued the least restrictive means to accomplish its goal. Alito claimed that because the nonprofit accommodation exists, that means the government has other ways to get women access to contraception that respects religious liberty. Yet only a few days later, he ruled that the nonprofit accommodation – again, signing a form – is also a violation of religious liberty.
So let's be clear.  Mike Rounds and South Dakota GOP loved the Supreme Court ruling in Hobby Lobby which now makes it legal for 90% of all corporations to deny ANY form of birth control that they feel violates their own personal religious beliefs even though it may not be even used for birth control reasons.  Even if you want affordable access to birth control while working for a non-profit group, you can now be denied that. 

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Dan Lederman Representing IOWA

Dan Lederman is a Republican with a dream of higher office some day.  As a state Senator in District 16, he has always focused on one main group: him.  He is very focused on the issues of North Sioux City, but beyond that, he has little time for the rest of district that includes such towns as Canton, Beresford, Worthing, Elk Point and more, but Lederman has a singular focus only like to stay in North Sioux City and south to Iowa.  That may be part of the reason he is so enamored of Steve King.  

On July 1 held a fundraiser/ campaign kick off with his close friend, Steve King.  The big question must be why Dan Lederman, a person that helps run the Rushmore PAC, wants to focus on what an Iowa republican has to say?  Shouldn't he be getting South Dakotans to come and support him?  It might be that his business is located in Iowa.  The fact that he grew up in Iowa.  Or it could be that he truly believes in the things Iowa Representative Steve King has too say.  

Lederman must believe in calling immigrants dogs:
King comparing immigration laws to picking a dog: “You put out a beacon like the Statue of Liberty and who comes here? The most vigorous from every country that has donated legal immigrants to America. The cream of the crop. We’ve always had bird dogs around our place. In our family there’s a black lab and white lab, a yellow lab, and my brother has a chocolate lab. Well, you go in and you look at a litter of pups, and you watch them. You watch how they play — they run around a little bit — and what do you want? You want a good bird dog, and you want one that’s gonna be aggressive? Pick the one that’s the friskiest, the one that’s in games the most — not the one that’s over there sleeping in the corner. You want a pet to sit on the couch, pick the one that’s sleeping in the corner. That’s — so, you get the pick of the litter, you got yourself a pretty good bird dog. We got the pick of every donor civilization on the planet because it’s hard to get here; you had to be inspired to come. We got the vigor from the planet to come to America. Whichever generation it was, and then we taught our children that same thing.”
We know that Lederman hates laws limiting certain dog breeds and enjoys  MMA fighting.  Maybe he stands with Steve King that dog fighting is an acceptable form of entertainment.

King made the remarks during a tele-town hall meeting last month, in response to a constituent who asked why King had voted against a legislative measure that would make it a federal crime to allow a minor to attend an animal fighting event. In his statement, King likened watching animal fighting to sports such as boxing, and said: 
"When the legislation that passed in the farm bill that says that it’s a federal crime to watch animals fight or to induce someone else to watch an animal fight but it’s not a federal crime to induce somebody to watch people fighting, there’s something wrong with the priorities of people that think like that."
He is a candidate that doesn't believe there is a teacher shortage, supports discrimination of LGBT, and loves having the state pay for him to attend ALEC events that allow him to write laws to support his business.

You can instead vote for a person that has lived in Union County for more than 40 years.  Her husband in a third generation dairy farmer living in Union County.  She attends and travels to communities in the entire District 16 (instead of only staying in North Sioux City).  She works to protect the family farmer, education, and all of the people that live in the district.  She is not going to use a win to discriminate, she is not going to support tax payers money going to partisan trips, she is not going to support the continued attack on South Dakota education.  Ann Tornberg deserves your vote District 16.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Rick Weiland Goes Cruising

Every year the night before the Fourth of July, Lennox has a cruise night.  Simply an event in which people take their cars out and cruise around town.  This is an event that my boys (and this grown boy) loves.  We love seeing some of the old cars cruise around.  I get to reminisce about growing up in a small town and cruising for hours taking the Dell Rapids loop from one side of town to the other side of town jamming to Billy Joel, Billy Idol, and the B-52's.  This night was a little different as the Lennox Historical Society celebrated a historical marker dedicating Harvey House which is now the Lennox Area Museum.  My boys and I went to the dedication because they wanted to check out the museum.  (They enjoyed the music room and the military room the most.)  Also present this year for cruise night was US Senate Candidate Rick Weiland.  

This is one of the reasons that Weiland has a strong chance to win despite the fact that Rounds has more money and there are more registered GOP voters in the state.  He works incredibly hard.  This is something every candidate should do and something every single Democrat must do if they hope to win.  

I saw Rick speaking with dozens of people (well over a couple of hundred by nights end) and really talking with them.  Connecting on issues of politics, talking what's going on for the Fourth, and talking about life in towns like Lennox or Madison.  It was impressive to see someone really working for your vote.  Someone willing to do the walk and not assume that your vote can be bought.

Dedication of the Harvey House Historical Marker.

Rick pressing the flesh as he goes down Cruise Night

Rick Weiland posing with my two boys at the Lennox Area Museum

Rick Weiland taking some time to talk to my two young ones.

A few gratuitous car shots from cruise night.