Missile parades? I'm confused. Aaron's the one who brought up NASA. Sniffle.
Aaron Heidelberger We pay 700 Billion in interest every year (to china, japan and big banks) How much would it cost to save NASA? about 3 Billion per year. Hmmmm......just think what our country could do if they could save 700 billion a year in interest payments.
Wednesday, March 31, 2010
Interestingly, he finds that, while Canadians pay a higher proportion of their lower national income into taxes, each American writes a larger check to government than does each Canadian.
Yes, you, Joe Tea Bag, pay more in taxes than Gordon Maple Leaf.
Want to pay less taxes? Move to Canada, our big socialist neighbor with the single-payer health care system. Go figure.
Thank you everyone! In 96 hours we orchestrated, energized and executed a statewide petition drive that recruited over 120 volunteers gathering nearly 4000 signed and notarized petitions. We should all be proud. The South Dakota progressive movement is alive and well. I cannot begin to thank you enough! This was a true grassroots movement "Kevin for South Dakota" Facebook page, 2010.03.31].
It's tough to be a gracious quitter:
With the Republican Legislature hammering education to balance our mismanaged state budget, you'd think every school would be cutting expenses and praying for rain. Not West Central in Hartford. They're spending half a million dollars to buy 430 Macbooks to equip every high school student with a laptop.
I agree with West Central Principal Mark Hofer that issuing each student a laptop is better than scheduling and hauling computer carts around between classrooms. My main question: are Macs really worth it? These Apple machines cost over a thousand dollars apiece, more than twice the price of PC laptops. In perhaps some injudicious editing, KELO's Katie Janssen justifies the cost by pulling this quote:
"With MacBooks, they have* iMovie, iDVD, Garage Band,” Hofer said. “Some classes are project-based, so they can use all those tools to show their knowledge in an innovative way."
That rustling sound is the bushy eyebrows of parents and taxpayers elevating at the mention of Garage Band as a curriculum tool.
I dig digital media and the whole idea of making students producers, not just consumers, of online media. But in the current budget situation, are Macs really necessary? Remember, for the price of one Mac, you can buy three or four netbooks. And there's a strong argument to be made that for most classroom activities, even a piddly little netbook is all the computer students need.
If, of course, you think students need computers in the classroom in the first place....
*Bonus Grammar Quibble! Principal Hofer's quote exemplifies a grammar problem I've seen creeping into writing and speech recently. "With Macbooks, they have..."—why open with that prepositional phrase? Why not just say, "Macbooks have..."? The prepositional phrase and subsequent pronoun create a superfluous delay in conveying meaning. I hear similar constructions with by ("By studying grammar, it helps you...") and occasionally in (usually in citations in high school speeches: "In this article, it states that..."). Drop the preposition, the comma, and the pronoun—tighten those sentences!
- The Obama Administration is likely to take antitrust action against Monsanto by the end of this summer. The Microsoft of agriculture, Monsanto has worked its patented biotech into 90% of the U.S. soybean crop and two thirds of our corn and cotton. The corporation uses lawsuits, intimidiation tactics, and unfair business practices to stifle competition and innovation and drive up seed costs for farmers. (Tell me again, corporate front-man Troy Hadrick, who's the real enemy of agriculture?)
- The University Tech Fellows saved their program before the Appropriations Committee in Pierre yesterday. Members of this valuable program actually changed some minds on the committee and got legislators to cut rather than eliminate the campus service. (But the $500K restored for Tech Fellows still gets whacked elesewhere out of the Board of Regents budget. Education is still absorbing most of the serious blows in this budget. Ugh!)
- Kudos to our Pierre press bureau, David Montgomery and Bob Mercer, for wall-to-wall, post-to-tweet insta-coverage of yesterday's budget-o-rama in the State Capitol. Those intertubes sure come in handy for keeping an eye on our government!
Tuesday, March 30, 2010
Rapid City physician Kevin Weiland has ended his late-starting campaign to challenge U.S. Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin in the Democratic primary.
Weiland said late Tuesday afternoon in a joint news release with Herseth Sandlin that he decided not to run after the congresswoman assured him that she would not vote to repeal the health care reform plan approved recently by Congress [Kevin Woster, "Kevin Weiland pulls out of race, won't challenge Herseth Sandlin," Rapid City Journal, 2010.03.30].
Woster reports Weiland had 3800 signatures ready to submit. I collected 20 signatures for Weiland. One of my neighbors tripled my count. A friend in Mitchell reported collecting 67. That's three guys with 12% of the signatures Weiland needed. Literally thousands more people got worked up, called and e-mailed and Facebooked and went several extra literal miles (my Mitchell friend says one lady drove from Lake Andes just to sign), just to be told "Thanks for nothing."
If you gathered signatures for Weiland, put your name and total in the comment section. Let's hear it. If we can't have the conversation about the direction of the South Democratic Party, if the Blue Dogs win by default, we can at least stake our names to one fast and furious petition drive that ought to tell our incumbent Congresswoman something... and apparently sending a message is all the satisfaction we get. Grrrr!
(Sorry: I was so mad, I couldn't even read past the first two paragraphs of Woster's report, had to come back and edit. Stay tuned: more commentary to come after I sleep on it!)
Yeah, those Muslims are known for celebrating Passover Seder:
When Passover begins at sunset on Monday evening, Mr. Obama and about 20 others will gather for a ritual that neither the rabbinic sages nor the founding fathers would recognize.
In the Old Family Dining Room, under sparkling chandeliers and portraits of former first ladies, the mostly Jewish and African-American guests will recite prayers and retell the biblical story of slavery and liberation, ending with the traditional declaration “Next year in Jerusalem.” (Never mind the current chill in the administration’s relationship with Israel.) [Jodi Kantor, "Next Year in the White House: A Seder Tradition," New York Times, 2010.03.26
I leave the nutty conspiracy theorizing to you, gentle readers.
We Dems may have all sorts of fun choices on the ballot come June 8. Locally, though, the GOP seems to be lagging, with only one candidate, Patricia Stricherz, planning to campaign for District 8 House and no other local GOP primary challengers in sight. But the day is yet young. Stay tuned!
Update 17:05 CDT: Green light for Nicole Schlueter for Lake County auditor! Nicole e-mails me and says she got the signatures and is in the race for real. Let's rumble—oh, wait, this is county auditor. Let's have a civil neighborly conversation about bookkeeping, tax levies, running elections, and posting the County Commission minutes and ordinances online! (as searchable text, not PDFs, please!)
- Since program inception in 2004, a smaller percentage of students in our public universities have needed remedial math and English courses.
- More South Dakota HS grads are scoring 24 or better on the ACT.
- Our universities are keeping more high-achieving students into their fourth year of studies.
|Participating Institution||BHSU||DSU||NSU||SDSMT||SDSU||USD||Total Regental|
|6 Year Total||322||228||264||503||2501||1249||5067|
|6 Year %||5.24%||3.71%||4.30%||8.19%||40.71%||20.33%||82.47%|
|6yr% of RegSys||6.35%||4.50%||5.21%||9.93%||49.36%||24.65%||100.00%|
Recipients Funded Across First Five Academic Years
Source: South Dakota Board of Regents
I dug up the fall enrollment numbers and found that DSU has the second-lowest proportion of Opportunity Scholars among this year's freshmen. Only Black Hills State has a smaller percentage of Opportunity Scholars among the class of 2013.
as Percentage of Incoming Freshmen
In a survey of Opportunity Scholarship recipients from the first two years of the program (the ones who've had time to graduate and head for the real world), 68% of respondents said they were staying South Dakota for work or grad school. The state drawing the largest chunk (5%) of our sharpest grads is Nebraska (mostly thanks to grad school at UNL or Creighton). But 32% of our Opportunity Scholarship recipients who get South Dakota degrees go elsewhere.
Student perceptions of the impact of the Opportunity Scholarship give a mixed picture. Consider the responses to these two questions in the BOR survey:
- Receiving the Opportunity Scholarship was a critical factor in my choice to attend an institution in South Dakota.
- Disagree: 104(20%)
- Neutral: 127(26%)
- Agree: 268(54%)
- I would have attended an institution outside of South Dakota without the financial support I received from the scholarship program.
- Disagree: 254(51%)
- Neutral: 141(28%)
- Agree: 104(21%)
Actually, they just told Gordon Howie to shut up. Yesterday a big majority of our state Senate agreed with me that the Legislature has much more important things to do than to suspend its rules to reconsider Howie's grandstanding, nullificationist legislation that it already killed and killed hard in February.
The vote against reconsidering Howie's health care nullification bill wasn't even close: 14–20, and he needed a two-thirds vote (24) to suspend the rules. David Montgomery suggests that the passage of federal health care legislation won Howie three more votes than the February 11–23 defeat. But let's not give the bill too much credit: there is a difference between voting to let Howie through a few more rhetorical crumbs to his Tea Bag followers and actually voting for costly and unconstitutional legislation.
The nay votes included Senate Majority Leader Dave Knudson and fellow Republican Senators Tom Hansen and Jean Hunhoff. Senator Howie will surely whine than his own party leadership is out to get him. Paranoia, persecution complex, and paucity of practical policy: that's the fuel that keeps Tea Bags like Howie running.
In the biggest response I can recall to one of my polls, you said yes in a big way:
- Yes: Send him to DC: 131 (60%)
- Yes, he'll make SHS stronger: 12 (6%)
- Yes: he'll help the GOP win! 34 (16%)
- No: we want Stephanie! 41 (19%)
As always, you should take blog polls with a grain of salt (or a big dang cowlick). It is possible that this poll found all 131 Wellstone Democrats in South Democrats, and that the other 194,657 Dems will show up on June 8 to say, "We love Blue Dogs!"
But the count that matters will take place under Secretary Nelson's watchful eye in Pierre today and tomorrow. And I can guarantee he'll see more than 131 signatures from folks agreeing with the majority in my little poll.
Monday, March 29, 2010
Whoo-hoo! Lake Herman is open... mostly! 60° Fahrenheit, big bright sun, and 20–30-mile-per-hour south wind have pounded the local ice cap apart (click pix to embiggen!):
The view from the porch: lake wide open toward the north! The white on the far shore is the ice heaved up by the wind onto the rocks.
Looking east toward the state park, we see some ice still hung up along our shore in "Cottonwood Cove."
South side of the lake still socked in. Tomorrow's seventies and more south wind ought to fix that.
Of course, what's a beautiful day like today without a bike ride! I stopped by Lake Herman Auto, where my neighbor Dan Uthe has had a 2008 Smart fortwo on display this month. dan didn't pay me to stop by to do an ad; I just wanted to compare the Smart to my favored mode of transportation:
The Smart is a little longer than my Burley, although if I were riding in long-wheelbase mode, it would be close. It cost me $900 to get my Burley six summers ago; Dan's asking $13,998 for the Smart. On dollars per inch, I think I got the better deal.
But if my bike had a car rack, I'd have bungeed that Smart to the back of my bike and brought it home.
That's what voting Republican gets you in South Dakota: a Legislature and Governor who can't find money to keep their promises to students, but who can find comparable millions to hand to a multi-billion-dollar foreign oil corporation to thank them for building a pipeline acorss our roads and fields. In the SD-GOP's eyes, students are an expense, but dinosaur fuel is an investment.
I'm all about Ms. Buhl. We've had some pleasant blog conversations. She's also a real mover and shaker, involved with good and gutsy projects like Equality South Dakota. She'll be a great advocate for the rights of women and minorities (well, heck, for everybody!) in the South Dakota Legislature. Go, Angie!
Both Stephanie and Hildy fully understand that Federal elections in South Dakota are won in the center, hence why the Congresswoman has been moving to the Center. Hildebrand while his positions are more liberal than the Congresswoman’s, and he desperately wanted to deliver her vote for his ex boss, The President, certainly does not want the South Dakota seat to go into GOP hands in 2010. Thus Hildebrand is taking action to move Stephanie further to the center. Kevin Weiland is acting as his foil. Having a primary allows Stephanie to start campaigning with her Independent message now rather than wait until the Fall [Joel Rosenthal, "Crazy like a Fox," South Dakota Straight Talk, 2010.03.28].
Could the primary get any more X-Filesy? Steve Hildebrand plays Cancer Man, manipulating us Mulder Democrats who want to believe into strengthening the very Blue Dog hand that we want Weiland to fight. In Rosenthal's world, Hildebrand knows we angry libs are a minority even in our own party, and our vocal primary challenge will only provide a backdrop against which SHS can better prove her centrist-Republican cred. (Expect campaign ads featuring Stephanie eating feedlot steak.) In Rosenthal's world, the Hildebrand campaign has whipped up volunteers across the state in less than a week all for a chess game in which we will checkmate ourselves.
Rosenthal at least rejects the notion that Hildebrand is working in concert with the Herseth Sandlin camp to arrange a primary dog and pony show. That would be too much conspiracy theory for me.
But even Rosenthal's main thesis seems a too much of a stretch to concoct a man behind the curtain. I've been arguing that a primary will make the winner stronger, but do professional politicos like Hildebrand believe that? If Hildebrand (along with a fair number of the Dems who have rearranged their schedules to canvas neighborhoods on short notice) is really backing SHS, would he really go to all this trouble? It would seem there are easier and cheaper ways to highlight a candidate's centrist leanings than to manufacture or at least fan the flames of a primary challenge that will cost the favored candidate money.
So you tell me: are we being tricked? Is Hildebrand really part of an Obama plot to co-opt leftist populist (leftipop?) anger the same way Dick Armey and the Republicans are gaming Tea-Beck populist anger to support their political status quo?
Or could it be things are what they are: a lot of South Dakota Dems are fed up with a Democratic Congresswoman who acts like a Republican, Steve Hildebrand backs Kevin Weiland, and we are going to have a straight-up discussion about the direction of the South Dakota Democratic Party.
Occam's Razor, anyone?
p.s.: Evidence suggests a good hot primary is more likely to be good for the winning Dem.
Conservatives like to argue that health care is not a right. But, in fact, it is. For years, federal law has required most hospitals to accept patients into their emergency rooms whether or not the sick and injured have the means to pay. If you run your car off the road and break your leg, the EMTs don’t demand to see your insurance card or ask, “credit or debit?” They trundle you off to the nearest hospital--which must fix you up.
This care is, of course, not free. Those of us who are insured pay for it. Indeed, the medical business survives on the black art of cost-shifting—that is to say, spreading the costs of those who can’t (or won’t) pay to those who can [Howard Gleckman, "Health care reform forces you to buy health insurance. That's fair. Here's why," Christian Science Monitor: Tax Vox, 2010.03.25].
Gleckman argues that, to be consistent, AG Jackley and fellow nullificationists ought to fight to overturn the E.R. mandate as well. It's unconstitutional to make hospitals care for anyone who doesn't have money, right?
That assumption—that we should only help people if we can get paid—underlies Jackley's lawsuit and much of the other defeated opposition to health care reform. That assumption, says Michael Moore, is the fundamental evil that health care reform has yet to challenge:
And the healthcare bill that was passed ultimately will be seen as a victory for capitalism, because it protected the capitalist model of providing healthcare for people. In other words, we’re not to help people unless there’s money to be made from it. That is so patently disgusting and immoral, but that’s the system. That’s where we live [Michael Moore, interview with Sharif Abdel Kouddous, "Michael Moore: Healthcare Bill 'A Victory for Capitalism'," Democracy Now, 2010.02.23].
We still have an inefficient and immoral health care system. We still need to work for an efficient and just single-payer system, like what we give our soldiers, veterans, and old folks.
Update 2010.03.29 08:25 CDT: Aberdeen American News agrees with me that AG Jackley should "cool his jets." Down, Mainstream Media, down! Keep agreeing with this blog, and you'll make me look bad. ;-)
Sunday, March 28, 2010
The Senate already killed Howie's unconstitutional bill in February on an 11–23 vote. But, true to his professed Teabaggery, Senator Howie doesn't let numbers stop his futile sloganeering. Senator Howie even plans suspend the rules of the Legislature to ram his bill back onto the agenda.
What?! cry conservatives. Changing rules? Using parliamentary tricks? We're outraged! Nancy Pelosi can't subvert the hallowed rules of—wait. It's one of our guys? Oh, uh....
There's a fair argument that screaming Repeal! all year might alienate voters who are sick of the health care debate and want to get on with other issues. Gordon Howie and his fellow Republicans might do better to quietly admit defeat and turn their attention to jobs and the economy... and the state budget.
It's foolishness like this that explains why Gordon Howie would make a terrible governor. All posing, no pragmatism. Now that Ken Knuppe has his petitions in (good work, Ken!), expect Howie to place fifth in the GOP primary.
p.s.: Gordon, if you're going to waste the Legislature's time, waste big: why not attach an amendment to SB 137 banning the expulsion of God from South Dakota as well?
Sara Horowitz, founder and director of the Freelancers Union, said that as a result of the shift, "more (workers) [will be] in the driver’s seat about organizing their career than in the past."
FOXBusiness: What do you see as being the biggest impact freelancers should expect from the health-care changes?
Horowitz: Right away, of course, is the pre-existing condition changes. This will be the big thing. For lower income freelancers, they will see they are able to get certain subsidies in the next few years.
...FOXBusiness: Do you think the health-care legislation will lead to more innovators taking the leap to the driver’s seat?
Horowitz: I do. It will enable people who stay in a job for health care to get out. People are going to have to be more nimble and more mobile. Not having your benefits tied to your employment will clearly help people be nimble [Suzanne Zionts, "How Health-Care Changes Impact Self Employed," FOXBusiness, 2010.03.26].
I told you so. Now Fox has, too.
The data offer estimates of every county in the Union from 2000 to 2009. What do the data tell us about South Dakota?
- South Dakota's population grew 7.6% over those nine years, from 754,835 to 812,383.
- 20 counties gained population. 46 lost.
- 90% of our population growth came from five counties: Minnehaha, Lincoln, Pennington, Union, and Brookings.
- Biggest population gain by number: Minnehaha County, up 34,781. (Minnehaha has seen double-digit percentage growth every decade since 1900.)
- Biggest gain by percentage: Lincoln County, up 70.7% (with growth since 1970).
- Biggest loss by number: Hutchinson County, down 951 people. (Hutchinson hasn't posted a decade of population growth since 1930.)
- Biggest loss by percentage: Campbell County, down 24.6%. (Also no growth since 1930.)
- The statewide increase was a bit sluggish at the beginning of the decade, inching along at 0.4% in 2001 and 2002. Things picked up between 2003 and 2004. In four of the last six years, we've seen population growth of 1% or better.
Gubernatorial and legislative candidates, pay attention: the majority of our county and city governments are facing declining populations. Even if campaigning focuses your attention on the population centers, governing will require attention to the population fringes, where every year there are fewer people to generate the economic activity and tax revenue necessary to maintain services and infrastructure designed for more people.
Positive statewide numbers should not obscure the fact that we have a lot more Detroit than Phoenix on our hands in South Dakota. Dennis Daugaard's "small-town specialists" may work to help small communities grow, but they will also need to confront decline with pragmatic policies like county consolidation.
Web Bonus: Google's public data machine offers this interactive graph of state and county population since 1980! Click! Explore! Learn!
Saturday, March 27, 2010
And while challengers typically seek as many debates as possible with incumbents, Weiland hadn't decided Thursday whether he would challenge the policy-savvy Herseth Sandlin face to face.
"I'll have to talk to my senior adviser about that first," he said, referring to Steve Hildebrand, a nationally recognized political strategist who helped President Barack Obama claim the White House in 2008 [Kevin Woster, "Kevin Weiland says it's not about political payback; 'I can win'," Rapid City Journal, 2010.03.26].
What you talkin' about, Weiland? Debates are free publicity. Standing next to the incumbent on stage, on camera, is instant cred that marketing can't buy. When someone asks if you want to debate a sitting Congressperson who can coast to victory on money, name recognition, and earmarks, the correct answer is "Yes, yes, YES!!!"
Take the hint from Woster: call for debates now. Make SHS answer hard questions face-to-face with you and the rest of us. The primary conversation about the direction of the South Dakota Democratic Party is exactly what your petition signers want.
Further support for the argument the student loan reform is one of the most obvious good things about this week's legislation comes from McClatchy's David Lightman:
Students and their families should find the student loan process simpler, and lower-income students should find more financial help, under the sweeping changes tucked into the health-care legislation that Congress passed this week.
The measure, aimed at taking banks and other private lenders out of the lucrative federal subsidized student-loan market, also would lessen the burden for some graduates as they pay back their loans.
Currently, certain students with low incomes and large loan balances don't have to pay more than 15 percent of their incomes each month on the loans. The new law will lower that to 10 percent [David Lightman, "Student loans should be simpler under new law," McClatchy via Yahoo News, 2010.03.26].
Exactly as Tony stated, students still have total choice to seek private student loans; banks offering such loans simply won't get federal subsidies. As Senator Tom Harkin explains, why should we support contuinuing "a subsidy to the big banks in this country?... We take that money and give it to students in ."
In the same article, fellow liberal Pedro de la Torre of the Center for American Progress says, "We've known for decades that subsidies are unnecessary and expensive, and special interest lobbying has kept these provisions on the books."
Even if good conservatives like Linda and Rod question giving grants to students or anyone else, they can certainly support bucking special interests and eliminating unnecessary and expensive federal subsidies to big corporations... can't they?
Update 12:19 CDT: But now over half the universities in the country to switch over their financial aid computer systems by July 1. Disaster waiting to happen, right?
Some aid administrators whose schools have converted said the transition was painless. It involved, they said, computer system adjustments and making sure that student borrowers submit a new promissory note.
"The process is very simple," Walter O'Neill, assistant vice president for financial aid at Roosevelt University in Chicago, said Thursday. "I can't even come up with an example of a hiccup."
Anthony Erwin, senior director for university financial aid and scholarships at Northeastern University in Boston, said that he had encountered "overly burdensome" rules and regulations in some past contacts with the federal government but that the university's move to direct lending in 2008 went off without a hitch -- "an absolutely different experience" [Nick Anderson, "Colleges scramble to adjust as student loan overhaul nears passage," Washington Post, 2010.03.26].
Additionally, Matthew Blake calls student loan reform, in theory, "unassailable."
Friday, March 26, 2010
The Madison Area Arts Council is bringing South Dakota poet laureate* David Allan Evans to town on Monday, March 29. Evans will offer a presentation on "Midwestern Themes in Art and Literature." He'll also sign copies of his latest book of poems, This Water, These Rocks. And if you ask really nicely, he might even read a poem or two, like his classic "Pole Vaulter."
Evans himself was a pole vaulter before he was a poet. He attended Augustana College on a full-ride football scholarship. He taught for years at SDSU, teaching writing and poetry to honyockers like me who derived a bit too much mirth from the last line of Maxine Kumin's "Excrement Poem."
Monday night—show starts at 6 p.m. at the Madison Public Library. Be there for some heavy-hitting poetry and intelligent conversation about art, literature, and our land!
*laureate: that's an honored person, not a lasso.
But you know, AG Jackley, as you and your mostly Republican pals sue Uncle Sam, keep in mind the following:
- You'll also have to argue against something your own party, big business, and the insurance industry have been asking for for years.
- Paging Mitt Romney (and other socialists): "We insist that everybody who drives a car has insurance. And cars are a lot less expensive than people."(Perhaps Romney's defense of the insurance mandate can be included in the amici curiae for the federal government.)
- John McCain floated the idea back in the early 1990s... but back then it was a convenient rhetorical device to offer in response to the Clinton health care plan. Funny how (a) the Republicans never followed up when they retook Congress in 1994 and (b) how the Republicans consistently define their position by taking whatever the Democratic President proposes and prefixing not.
- Tom Schaller of FiveThirtyEight says you're wrong... unless you plan to annul some of our favorite social insurance mandates, like Medicare and Social Security.
- This post from a Con. Law prof linked by Mr. Woodring says you have an uphill fight.
- Your main argument seems to be that the health insurance mandate is a tax on living, a requirement to take part in commerce. You argue it differs from auto insurance mandates in that people can choose not to drive and thus not have to buy insurance. Well, people have been known to choose not to live....
- "Just like people are required to have car insurance, they could be required to have health insurance." Tommy Thompson, HHS Secretary under GW Bush, Sep. 2008.
- But the government already does mandate coverage on every living person: I have to buy clothes, don't I? (Oh, wait: I could knit... ;-) )
Badlands Blue notes with satisfaction that Mr. Bendo, Sioux Falls landmark and drunk-driving victim, has a greater Facebook following than GOP gubernatorial candidate Dr. Scott Munsterman.
In that spirit, consider these numbers:
- U.S. House candidate Dr. Kevin Weiland put his Facebook page up on Wednesday. At 06:17 CDT Friday, he has 497 fans.
- Congresswoman Stephanie Herseth Sandlin has two Facebook pages (Congresswoman and just plain Stephanie—the former is more in first person). The latter has been up for at least three and a half years and has 2431 fans. The former: since last year March, 681 fans.
|Candidate||Fans||Apparent Creation Date||Fans per day|
|Congresswoman Stephanie Herseth Sandlin||681||2009.03.01||1.7|
|Stephanie Herseth Sandlin||2431||2006.09.15||1.9|
|Dr. R. Blake Curd||975||2009.10.01||5.5|
Kristi Noem bragged at the beginning of March about winning the "Facebook primary" with her quick fan accretion. Let's see whether those numbers on both sides have any correlation with results in June.
South Dakota’s 8th grade reading scores on the National Assessment of Educational Progress rank among some of the highest in the nation. Only three states or jurisdictions – Massachusetts, Vermont and the Department of Defense – had better scores.
While South Dakota’s 4th grade reading scores also are higher than their peers across the nation, the gap appears to be closing.
“South Dakota continues to fare well nationally,” said Secretary of Education Tom Oster. “Our students have scored above the national average since the state began participating in the NAEP. We’ve got a solid track record, and we’re especially pleased with those 8th grade scores” ["NAEP reading scores released, South Dakota ahead of national average," State of South Dakota press release, 2010.03.24].
Now, the national take:
Reading scores for American children have barely budged over the past two years, a new federal report says, an assessment U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan calls sobering.
...Rhode Island, Kentucky and the District of Columbia are the only three jurisdictions to see improvements in fourth-grade reading, while scores in Alaska, Iowa, New Mexico and Wyoming dropped, according the report. Alabama, Connecticut, Florida, Kentucky, Missouri, New Mexico, Pennsylvania and Utah posted increases in their eighth-grade reading scores.
Reading performance has improved only slightly since the 2002 enactment of the No Child Left Behind law, despite the infusion of billions of dollars into early reading programs, according to The Washington Post.
“We’ve had a real focus on reading and we’re stuck,” Susan Pimentel, a member of the National Assessment Governing Board, which oversees the tests, told the newspaper. “I think students aren’t reading enough. And I think they aren’t reading enough of the good stuff” [staff, "Reading Scores Stall," Stateline, 2010.03.24].
We can interpret the NAEP numbers from different perspectives. Yes, South Dakota's fourth graders beat the national average reading test score by two points, 222–220. But every adjoining state beat the national average, and all but Iowa beat us. Our eighth graders beat the national average by eight points, 270–262. We tie Minnesota and Montana for top scores in the region.
An interesting demographic note: if you break the test scores down by race, our white kids score below the national average for whites in fourth grade, but above the national average in eighth grade. Our Hispanic fourth graders score much better than the national Hispanic average. Our American Indian kids in both grades do worse than the national average for their cohort.
Check out the full report, see for yourself whether the reading glass is half full or half empty.
Better yet, let's spend less time reading national reports (not to mention "intergrating technology into the classroom") and more time reading good books.
Thursday, March 25, 2010
The latest Madville Times poll asks a simple question: "Do you want to see Kevin Weiland on the ballot for U.S. House?" Click your answer here in the right sidebar. Voting is open until Tuesday morning, 7:00 a.m.... by which time folks voting affirmatively had better hope Dr. Weiland is on the road to Pierre with a big box of petitions!
GoDaddy is demonstrating admirable virtue in their dealings with China. In response to China's new invasive identification requirements for all individuals pruchasing domain names, GoDaddy just announced it will no longer register domain names in China. GoDaddy notes that the Chinese government was retroactively requesting additional information on existing domain registrants. GoDaddy general Counsel Christine N. Jones says the company has also seen an increased number of attacks on Chinese customer sites that carry content on the Tiananmen Square massacre, human rights, and other topic Beijing finds objectionable.
Worth keeping in the file for next year if South Dakota legislators resurrect the Blog Control Acts:
Arvind Ganesan, business and human rights director at Human Rights Watch, said China's new rules are yet another example of the country tightening its censorship policies and undermining the ability of U.S. companies to operate freely.
"The underlying intent is, if you're engaging in political speech, we want to know who's engaging in it and what Web site is behind it," Ganesan said. "This is a way the Chinese government can send a chilling message to people that they shouldn't speak freely online. It's forcing us companies to be both the censor and the spy on behalf of the Chinese government."
..."We decided we didn't want to be agents of China," [Jones] said [Ellen Nakashima and Cecilia Kang, "In response to new rules, GoDaddy to stop registering domain names in China," Washington Post, 2010.03.25, p. A13].
GoDaddy and Google appear willing to stand up to China on freedom of expression. I look forward to seeing whether this private economic sanctions effort wins more support and effects change in China.
The bad news: we're digging out of a hole. For the whole year, South Dakota personal income dropped 3.5%. Per capita personal income dropped 4.4%. Only Wyoming and Nevada saw their personal income drop more sharply.
Overall, South Dakotans made a billion dollars less than they made in 2008. What happened?
- Farming took the big hit, making up almost all of the decline. Farm personal income dropped 3.50%.
- Next biggest drop was in durable goods manufacturing (that's Gehl and Terex), down 0.59%.
- Drops in personal income in wholesale trade and construction were barely more than 0.1%.
- All other sectors stayed virtually the same. Of course, not making more than you did last year isn't progress when your insurance premiums go up 23%.
- Almost all of the drop came in Quarter 1. Our personal income went up a titch in Q2, down a similar titch in Q3, then jumped in Q4. That jump, like the earlier drop, came largely from farming, as every other sector stayed flat.
Don't believe the nonsense that the offenders are a minority who have attached themselves to well-meaning protesters.
On this day they were clearly the majority and everyone cheered them on when they performed these miserable acts.
Making all this even more reprehensible were the actions of many Republican members who took to appearing on a balcony overlooking the legislature's lawn and urged on the chanting crowd
...I've seen these crowds before. In the 1960s in the American South when I was reporting on the growing civil rights movement.
But never did I expect to see this kind of uncontrolled anger in a cosmopolitan city such as Washington, at the foot of the Capitol building no less [Henry Champ, "The Dark Side of American Protest," CBC News, 2010.03.24].
Such rage is possible only when we dehumanize our opponents. Republicans are doing their best to dehumanize President Barack Hussein Obama, assigning him to categories that strain credulity but make it easier to wave posters of nooses and coffins. The Daily Beast reports a Harris poll that finds that among Republicans...
- 67% think Obama is a socialist (not that there's anything wrong with that)
- 57% think Obama is a Muslim (not that there's anything wrong with that)
- 45% think Obama was not born in the U.S. (Hawaii, 1961... hello?)
- 38% equate many of the President's actions with Hitler's (o.k., even Hitler brushed his teeth)
- 24% believe Obama "may be the Antichrist" (not that... oh, wait... liberal tolerance circuit breakers go off: being the Antichrist would be bad)
Update 12:01 CDT: Kudos to Republican Congressmen Mike Pence and John Boehner for decrying the intimidation tactics.
Update 2010.04.17: Ah, but the Harris poll was sloppy. There probably aren't as many people as this poll indicates who believe such nutty things about the President. But the poll still found people who need a whack upside the head with the reality stick.
Wednesday, March 24, 2010
Question #1, from Michael Black: "All of South Dakota wants to know why the budget was put off until the last couple days of the session. It's the most important job of the legislature yet it seems that it received the least amount of attention. How can you justify weeks of inaction? By devoting more time to the budget could we not come up with a better package in the end?"
Rep. Lange: "The budget process is long and tedious with every agency, department, and university presenting their cases for more resources. Revenue estimates are projected, but never certain. Federal expenditures are especially unpredictable this year. That's why we are spending an extra day next Tuesday for wrap-up and vetoes. There has been 'action' on the budget throughout the session. Some bills have been run, like the one to fund the Homestake Mine experiments. We Democrats prevented the two-thirds majority required for this special bill because we objected to the source of that funding. It will be funded in the general bill, but not from moneys we thought should go to education and health care. Your concern, Mike, is a perennial one. Thanks for asking."
Question #2, from Neal McIntyre: "Why put off the decision on the budget in anticipation of possible bailout by the federal gov't once again? This only makes the state more dependent on the federal gov't. Call the bluff of the federal gov't, streamline our budget, and live within our means."
Rep. Lange: "Similarily, Neal, we agree that delay and dependence on the federal government is not good policy; the alternative, to tax ourselves is considered even worse by the powers that be here in South Dakota. 'Living winthin our means' makes sense for us who grew up with that ethic, but times have changed, I'm afraid, with the credit card and pay-day loan mentality prevelant now."
Question #3, from Steve Jacobsen: "I'm curious about the amendments to cut the budget of South Dakota Public Broadcasting. Do you know which lawmakers introduced these amendments? Why is this such a difficult thing to find out?"
Rep. Lange: "Steve, it should be on record who decided to cut SDPB. Probably happened in the Appropriations Committee or the Governor's office. It has happened before, along with proposed cuts in the Arts Council, but were later recinded. The public has to 'howl' loudly to get our attention. Threatening retaliation in the fall might work, too!"
Question #4, from Linda McIntyre: "Why did no one address no bid contracts?"
Rep. Lange: "Linda, ending 'no-bid' contracts is a key plank in Sen. Heidepriem's platform, endorsed by all of us Dems."
Question #5, from Steven Kant: "I would like to know if the legislature was aware that they would be expected to finance the Sanford Science Lab to the tune of over 5 million dollars while the State and the Federal agencies worked their magic! Seems like a huge amount of money to be allocated while all levels of education are experiencing freezes and cuts."
Rep. Lange: "Steven Kant: I think we were aware of the needs at the Sanford Lab, but, in our view, money should have been no problem. There are plenty of economic development funds available which are constantly revolving as businesses pay back their loans. If we could get our incarceration problem under control, the five million for the new prison in Rapid City would have been better invested in research."
Question #6, from Curtis Price: [see separate post!]
Question #7, from Chris Francis: "The Madison Area Arts Council has been vocal advocates of the Arts, and we've been actively serving our community for well over 40 years, providing for and improving the quality of life for everyone within the Madison Area and beyond. What do you see as the Arts & Cultural needs of the Madison Community, and surrounding communities within your district, and how do you think that this programming should be supported, from the private sector, from the city, or more from the state and federal levels?"
Rep. Lange: "Chris Francis, my belief is that a civilization defines itself by the level of arts it is willing to support. The decision by the Chester school board to teach the violin to fourth graders illustrates what visionary leaders can do for a community. (I've been talking it up trying to get something started here.) Madison, too, is on the cutting edge, but does not get the support it deserves. Enhancing the arts should be the mission of all levels of government, reinforced by private philanthropy, of course. Like Andrew Carnegie said, 'any man who dies rich dies disgraced!' ....something like that. "
Question #8 from Cory Allen Heidelberger: "The Madison Daily Leader reported last week that the proposed budget includes cuts in tech spending for the schools, including the DDN videoconferencing network and the K-12 Data Center. Please shed some light on just what these tech cuts will eliminate and what impacts that will have on the state budget, on local schools, and on DSU (which is involved in managing the k12.sd.us domain and services).
Rep. Lange: "Cory: 'YOU CANNOT BE SERIOUS!' There'll be a blood bath this fall if all of these vital program are cut...or at least, there ought to be that 'moment of truth' for any politician so myopic as to shift this state into reverse at a time like this!"
In case there was any doubt, let's hear straight from the candidate, Dr. Kevin Weiland:
I have authorized friends and supporters across the state to circulate petitions on my behalf as an independent-Democratic candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives in the June Democratic primary.
I am a lifelong resident of South Dakota, born and raised in Madison. I am an Internal Medicine Specialist and health care advocate. My wife Laurie and I live in Rapid City with our three children.
For too long, Washington has been broken. The influence of big money in politics and the power of corporate lobbyists have damaged public policy and what is right for the people of our state and nation. In the recent debate on health care reform, millions of dollars was spent by insurance companies making PAC contributions to members of Congress, handed out by the very lobbyists trying to sway their votes. It’s one of the most egregious examples of why we need to rid big money from politics and implement stricter rules on the nearly 14,000 registered lobbyists in Washington. I’m ready to take on these fights in Congress on behalf of the people of South Dakota.
My immediate priority is getting the 1200+ signatures that are legally required by March 30. I realize that this may be hard, but I have never walked away from a challenge simply because it looked difficult [Kevin Weiland, press advisory, 2010.03.24].
Yup, it's on. Madison friends, get ready to hear some door-knocking! Stay tuned....
...and don't just sit there; get a petition! Sign! Make it happen!
Update 16:05 CDT: via Badlands Blue, Steve Hildebrand says Weiland is ready, too. Looks like Hildebrand has found a way to hold SHS accountable for her Blue Doggery after all. This promises to be an energizing primary!
Update 17:35 CDT: Bill's right! CNN thinks Weiland is big news. Let's get some reporters here renting cars and buying sandwiches! :-)
...and by the way, Mitchell readers, Rod Hall wanted me to let you know you can come over to his place to sign for Weiland if you like. Rod said give him a call or come see him later Thursday or through Friday at his house: 1424 S. Miller, Mitchell, SD.