More thoughts on the Bosworth trial

Circulators Oath on the SD Nominating Petition.
Circulators Oath on the SD Nominating Petition.

Yesterday after day one of the Annette Bosworth trial I posted a brief summary. I also indicated in that post I feel she is guilty from the evidence I have seen and the people I’ve spoken with (including Ms Bosworth). This morning I’ll post some other random thoughts about the Bosworth trial. Honestly I am doing this post due to a deluge of emails mad at me for not supporting Bosworth and asking me to explain myself.

First, the ancient proverb “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” just doesn’t ring true to me. Many Bosworth supporters appear to be supporting her because she is taking on the establishment, and most notably Attorney General Marty Jackley. I’m no fan of Jackley, but to be fair I’m no fan of any Attorney General because that position generally continues to push the failed drug war that has put too many people into prison for victim-less crimes. I also feel he has turned a blind eye to native children being taken from their families and placed into bad homes so the state can make money. Yet at the same time Jackley has made vast improvements in the Consumer Protection Division and has worked hard to fight against consumer fraud in South Dakota. Yes, I disagree with much of what he does, and agree with other parts of what he does. But none of that has anything to do with this trial. This trial is about a person that lied on their nominating petitions.  Just because I don’t like much of what Jackley does, it doesn’t mean I should support anyone that goes against Jackley’s office.

Second, there is no apparent misuse of power against Bosworth. A main talking point of Bosworth supporters is that the political machine in Pierre is punishing her for trying to take on the establishment during the 2014 election. I find this to be an odd accusation. Bosworth had almost no impact on the election. She only got about 6% of the vote in the primary. The Rounds campaign was not running scared from her. Actually for the most part the Rounds campaign was trying to ignore her. Additionally they were not embarrassed by her high dollar amounts raised. Everyone that was paying attention knew she used a company that utilizes ethically questionable methodologies. The Rounds campaign understood that little of the money raised actually would go to the Bosworth campaign. There is no logical reason for anyone to believe Rounds would send his buddy Jackley after Bosworth for daring to take him on in the primary.

Continuing on that thought, Jackley never wanted to take on this case. If anything it always appeared Jackley was going to ignore the fact that Bosworth was in the Philippines while she was supposedly in SD witnessing signatures. It was only because of Cory Heidelberger and Steve Hickey that the AG’s was forced to take action. This isn’t the type of trial that will end up as any sort of win politically for Jackley and his staff. The potential political backfire from prosecuting such a case greatly outweighs any political gain that could be had for Jackley and Rounds. Again, it just doesn’t make logical or political sense for Jackely to take on the case.

Another claim is that “everyone else does it”. Well, not everyone passes petition around without witnessing all signatures. But there is some validity to the claim, because a lot of politicians have been known to pass petitions around at events such as Lincoln Day Dinners. That is also wrong. It is also harder to prove and investigate because someone has to actually come forth and bring a case. With the Bosworth case it was clear that she was acting illegally. She had used social media to bring attention to the fact she was in the Philipines while she was supposedly witnessing signatures in South Dakota. As far as I know, no other SD politicians were out of the country while they swore an oath saying they were witnessing signatures. Even at Lincoln Day Dinners the circulator is at least in the same room. Comparing the two situations as if they are the same is just a misdirection.

Finally, I don’t think Bosworth’s medical license should be taken. If she is found guilty and convicted of a felony it is likely her medical license will be taken. I find it very hard to believe the AG’s office didn’t offer a plea bargain to a misdemeanor offense. Yes, twelve felony counts is overkill. But does anyone think she will actually get the full extent of the law thrown at her if found guilty? There is no way the prosecution would allow such an overwhelming sentence. Personally I wish Bosworth had said “my bad, I didn’t mean to do it and I won’t do it again”, then worked with the prosecution on reducing the charge to a misdemeanor. But since that didn’t happen her medical license may be taken for a bad decision made by her. And yes, the bad decision was made by her. Right next to where the circulator signs the petition very clearly states “that each signer personally signed this petition in my presence”. Many areas of law are ambiguous. This one isn’t.

Today I will likely continue to watch the trial. I’m not really sure why. The first day looked horrendously bad for Bosworth, and I can’t imagine today will go any better…

Bosworth Trial Day 1 is over

Annette Bosworth speaking at her US Senate Campaign launch. Photo by Ken Santema 07/26/13
Annette Bosworth speaking at her US Senate Campaign launch. Photo by Ken Santema 07/26/13

Day one of the Annette Bosworth trial is completed. Live coverage of the trial has been provided by KELO. I really, really, really, really, wanted to stay away from this. There are so many more blog posts I need to complete (many drafts I have to finish). But this is an important trial, and accordingly I will do posts about it.

First, I will say that I think Bosworth’s actions make me see her as guilty. That does not mean she will necessarily be found guilty in a court of law. But I have seen the evidence against her and feel she willfully lied. Last summer I had the opportunity to speak with Bosworth about the charges. Anytime I asked her a straightforward question about the allegations against her she would redirect with questions. Not once would she to my face admit what she did. If she had admitted what she did and tried to make the case that the punishment was too harsh for the crime I would likely be on her side. But that isn’t the case.

Now, on to a brief summary of the trial today. The defense seems to be trying the tactic that Bosworth did indeed break the law, but it was the fault of Sioux Falls lawyer Joel Arends. The state on the other hand seems to be taking the tactic of proving what Bosworth did, and let her be convicted of that.

The best part of the trial was the State bringing former Secretary of State Chris Nelson to the stand. Most of his testimony I found quite irrelevant to the actual proceedings. But he provided a great inside view of how the Secretary of State office works. He also made it quite clear that the petition states that the circulator is signing under oath that all signatures were personally witnessed.

The worst part of today’s proceedings came from the playing of an interview Bosworth did last year on the Greg Belfrage radio show. It was a trainwreck of an interview. I didn’t do a blog post about the interview at the time. But summaries can be read on the Dakota War College blog and the Madville Times blog (Madville Times is now known as Dakota Free Press).  It seems odd to me that the defense didn’t try to stop that audio from being played. Most of the interview is irrelevant to the case. Also, in my opinion the audio makes Bosworth look less than sane. I don’t think that will help her with the jury.

I think that is enough blog space used on this topic. I will follow the trial until its conclusion. My prediction is she will be found guilty and get the lightest sentence possible. She will also lose her medical license (for a felony). After that she and husband Chad Haber will move on to another state and try to find new gigs…

PS. The picture in this post was taken by me in the summer of 2013. Looking at it reminds me of how very long that election season was…

SD Board of Education adopted science standards today

SD Board of Education meeting in Aberdeen. Photo by Ken Santema 05/15/15.
SD Board of Education meeting in Aberdeen. Photo by Ken Santema 05/18/15.

Today the South Dakota Board of Education held its regular scheduled meeting in Aberdeen, SD. Included in item seven of the meetings agenda was the final public hearing for the proposed science standards. The proposed standards going into the meeting can be read on the SD Department of Education (DOE) website.

Below is a brief rundown of the science standards proceedings. I withheld most editorializing in this post. I will follow-up with editorial comments tommorow. This post will focus on reporting what I thought were key points of the proceedings.

Proponent Testimony – Sam Shaw, DOE

Proponent testimony began with DOE employee Sam Shaw. In this meeting Mr Shaw was focused on giving updates. To begin with he went through some of the public comments and the workgroups responses.  There were four comments that had come in since the last meeting. They were each presented as their own documents as exhibits 42, 43, 44, and 45.

Mr Shaw then categorized the four new comments plus previous verbal testimony into five categories and provided responses:

  1. Course pathways. Mr Shaw explained the architecture of the standards will be arranged to allow grade and course level standards. The grade levels were split into middle school (6-8) and high school (9-12).
  2. Equity for transient populations. Mr Shaw explained that if the standards are followed there is more of an emphasis on doing science and core ideas; as opposed to learning facts. By taking this route it is believed local students should do better when moving between schools.
  3. Missing Topics. Mr Shaw says the science concepts from the new standards “do not stray” from those present in the prior standards. He said the main difference is that the new standards focus on core ideas that will be developed over the K-12 progression.
  4. Controversial topics. Some commenters wanted to make sure balance and/or objectivity was presented in the standards for dealing with controversial topics. There was a suggestion to add “for and against” to critical thinking skills. The workgroup did not accept that proposal because they feel each standard is already built with science standards. They felt changing the language would change the classroom from being a discussion to being a debate.
  5. Parental involvement. There were suggestions that parents should be involved in the process. Mr Shaw did note there was originally a parent involved, but had to stop involvement for personal reasons.

Proponent Testimony – Mark Iverson, Watertown Teacher

Mark Iverson, a Watertown teacher and member of the workgroup, then gave some proponent testimony. Mr Iverson believes the standards create good local control. Most notably he believes the new standards will foster learning and critical thinking, while the old standards focused upon memorization and regurgitation of information.

Proponent Testimony – Josh Hall, Assistant Superintendent, Sioux Falls School District

Mr Hall spent his proponent testimony time touting the support he has seen in Sioux Falls in support of the science standards.

Proponent Testimony – Ruth Wegehaupt, Retired Teacher

Ruth is a retired teacher from the language arts field, but has great interest in the science field. She was there to represent a group called Climate Parents. With her was a stack of petitions that were circulated in support of the standards. She also wanted to verify the difference between a scientist using the word theory, and how it is generally used by others. She said the “evidence of climate change produced by global warming caused by human activities is considerable.” Further she noted that scientists have “very high confidence” in human caused climate change. Ruth said that means the statement with that much confident is about 90% true, because scientists cannot say anything with 100%. She explained that terms which sound vague to the normal person, are actually specific when used by scientists.

The bulk of her testimony appeared to be in support of the climate change portion of the standards; which have been a controversial inclusion.

Proponent Testimony – Alice Wegehaupt, 96 Years Old

Alice said “I am evident proof of a change in climate.” Alice grew up on a farm near Aberdeen and has lived in various places since then. When coming back to SD she can assure people that the climate here has changed.

Opponent Testimony – Mary Scheel-Buysee, South Dakotans Against Common Core


Mary Scheel-Buysee testifying
Mary Scheel-Buysee testifying before the SD Board of Education. Photo by Ken Santema 05/18/15

Mary kept her testimony short, she has testified against the various standards many times. She noted she didn’t come to testify against any particular standard. But, she also noted that when she was in high school back in the 70’s that “by now we were supposed to be frozen over”. That appeared to be a retort to ever-changing talking points from climate-change groups.

Mary then said she was speaking not to speak only about the science standards, but all the standards. She asked “if we don’t adopt these, whats the harm?” She noted language arts and math Common Core standards were adopted without proof they work. Further, Mary looked at shifts in pedagogy of math in other countries and the math scores falling. She wants to know where the empirical evidence is that the pedagogical changes will work. Instead of adopting the standards unproven, Mary said SD should wait and see how it works out for others states. If the changes work well for other states, then South Dakota could adopt the standards. Either way, she says the students will continue to learn science.

Mary summed up her stance by saying “please slow down this train.”

Proponent Phone Testimony –  Todd Brist, Principal, Watertown Middle School

Mr Brist listed off four reasons to support the science standards:

  1. Expertise. Mr Brist believes the standards were vetted by local teachers. He acknowledges the standards come from the Next Generation Science Standards, but contends they were vetted by local experts.
  2. South Dakota values. Mr Brist believes the proposed standards are based on South Dakota values, as the previous ones were.
  3. Standards versus curriculum. Mr Brist then took a moment to reiterate that there is a difference between standards and curriculum, and that curriculum is where the controversial topics are actually addressed. He noted decisions on the controversial topics will always be done at the local level.
  4. Implementation. Mr Brist says that the implementation of the standards will have enough flexibility to easily be implemented with local control.

Comment Testimony – Burt Tulson, District 2 State Representative

Rep Burt Tulson testifying
Rep Burt Tulson testifying before the SD Board of Education. Photo by Ken Santema 05/18/15

Representative Burt Tulson (District 2) took a moment to comment on the standards. He noted that his testimony was neither proponent or opponent. Rep Tulson wanted to make a statement. He wanted to make sure that the students taking the test for the standards being proposed be given latitude because of different sides to certain topics. He wanted to note that scientists don’t agree and wanted to ensure that is accounted for in the standards.

Rebuttal – Sam Shaw, DOE

Mr Shaw wanted to say that the new standards are not education reform. He said a lot of research has been done since the last standards were passed, and the new standards are being based upon the new standards. This was in reply to Scheel-Buysee saying SD should slow down. Mr Shaw said the previous standards had a design flaw that didn’t include science practices in the standards.

Rebuttal -Jacqueline Omland, workgroup member

Ms Omland noted she has taught science since 1978. She noted that she hated science in high school, because of how it was taught through memorization. She then noted that she has lived and taught through many science standards; and that she thinks this new set of standards is how she should have been teaching the whole time. “It is not reform, it’s just change” is what she had to say, which mirrored what Mr Shaw said earlier.

Comments – Melody Schopp, Secretary of Education

The Secretary of Education, Melody Schopp, then took a few moments to comment. She believes the public hearing process has made the DOE better by forcing them to change how they do things. Going forward, Schopp believes the DOE has to keep parents involved in the process.

Schopp then noted she will ask the board to take action. There have been two standards that have caused a lot of public comments, and believes something needs to be called out because of them. She believes it is important for parents to be engaged in the tough conversations on those topics with their kids.

She then passed out a statement that she feels is important to be added to the introduction of the standards. Here is the statement that was later amended into the standards:

Through he public hearing process related to adoption of the South Dakota Science Standards, it is evident that there is particular sensitivity to two issues: climate change and evolution. The South Dakota Board of Education recognizes that parents are their children’s first teachers, and that parents play a critical role in their children’s formal education. The South Dakota Board of Education also recognizes that not all viewpoints can be covered in the science classroom. Therefore, the board recommends that parents engage their children in discussions regarding these important issues, in order that South Dakota students are able to analyze all forms of evidence and argument and draw their own conclusions.

She said this intro is asking the classroom to be about the science for topics that are “controversial in the State of South Dakota.”

Standards Adopted

There was a recess as the above words were amended into the standards. After the recess the board voted unanimously to accept the amendment. The board then unanimously passed the adoption of the science standards for South Dakota. The science standards as adopted can be read here.

Tomorrow I will post an editorial of my thoughts about the proceedings of the science standards adoption in South Dakota.

GOAC meeting in Pierre on Tues May 19

On Tuesday, May 19, 2015, the SD legislative interim Government Operations and Audit Committee (GOAC) will be meeting in Pierre. The agenda can be viewed here.  There are also a lot of documents that can be viewed in relation to the meeting; the documents can be viewed here.

The meeting will begin at 9:00am and has the following nine items on the agenda. I’ll only  comment on a few of the agenda items:

Item 1 – Department of Social Services

The DSS portion of the meeting has three bullet points in the agenda:

  • To provide an update on the Medicaid management information system project
  • Discuss the sources and uses of funds in Blue Book – Company 3079
  • Discuss Medicaid recovers

Item 2 – Juvenile Corrections Monitor Semi-Annual Report for the period July 1, 2014 through December 31, 2014

The JCM SAR has seven investigative reports. I find some of these reports to be quite troubling. Most notable was the first investigation:

Investigation #1 – This investigation was generated as a result of a youth’s note to the JCM. The youth alleged a staff had used “boot camp” tactics on several occasions. The tactics involved public humiliation, physical exercise as punishment, and an inappropriate marching cadence. The investigation revealed that the allegations were found to be true via an admission by the accused staff as well as other evidence gleaned during the investigation. This staff’s actions 0 5 10 15 20 25 30 35 40 45 50 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 Public Section – 9 – January 1, 2015 violated conditions under the DOC Juvenile Discipline System but this incident was deemed unsubstantiated abuse or neglect as defined in the JCM Statute.

This investigation led to a staff member retiring and a policy review. My biggest question would be how far did this staff member go? And who else knew about the staff members actions? Was the staff member allowed to retire in order to cover up more issues at the Patrick Henry Brady Academy.

Independent gubernatorial candidate Mike Myers speaking with Brady Folkens mother Dawn Van Ballegooyen. Photo by Ken Santema 8/29/14.
Independent gubernatorial candidate Mike Myers speaking with Brady Folkens mother Dawn Van Ballegooyen. Photo by Ken Santema 8/29/14.

I am particularly interested in this part of the agenda because of the death of Brady Folkens in the State Treatment and Rehabilitation (STAR) Academy. I spoke with Brady’s mother, Dawn Van Ballegooyen,  during the 2014 election; but unfortunately I did not have time to research both sides of the story and investigate the issue for a blog post. Over at Dakota Reporter there is an 18 minute video with Brady’s mother telling her side of the story. JCM cleared the state of any responsibility. It is situations such as that with Brady that should make GOAC extra vigilant in their duties dealing with JCM.

Item 3 – Department of Corrections – Report on Abuse and Neglect in Private Placement Facilities for the period July 1, 2014 through December 31, 2014

Item 4 – Bureau of Administration – To discuss the insurance programs called for in HB1185, HB1186, and HB1187, 2015 Session

HB 1185 (SoDakLiberty Posts), HB 1186 (SoDakLiberty Posts), and HB 1187 (SoDakLiberty Posts). Here is what part of what I had to say about these bills after they passed:

This bill appropriates $4,000,000 to “the Bureau of Administration for the purpose of making a grant to a captive insurance company controlled entirely by the state to fund property and casualty loss coverage.” Daugaard has mentioned this before. It makes sense for an entity as big as the state to take such an approach to insure property owned by the state…. But…… Is this really a priority right now? The state has gone 125 years without a captive insurance company. That four million could be better spent on infrastructure or education.

My thoughts remain the same. I find it odd that the state suddenly had to insure buildings that have gone for decades without insurance. HB 1186 adds another $2.5 million to the $4 million mentioned above. That is money that could have been better spent in other areas. Sadly the bills passed and they money will apparently be spent…

Item 5 – Obligation Recover Center – To discuss the new program created by HB1228, 2015 Session

This Obligation Recovery Center was originally called a state debt collection office. But that made it sound bad, so they renamed it……

HB 1228 (SoDakLiberty Posts) is a successful attempt by the Republican SD state legislature to grow the size of government. Apparently the state has been losing money using third parties to collect debt owed to the state. This new debt collection center is supposedly going to do it at a lower cost, and have more powers than a private company would. This is a bad situation all around, and a topic I still plan on blogging deeper about this summer. But my main problems with the new debt collection center revolve around the following items:

  • State government grows in size and power.
  • State government will compete in a private industry.
  • The debt collection legislation and the upcoming program are the brainchild of the same company responsible for the Obamacare website…

Too bad South Dakota couldn’t some day get a conservative majority to stop legislation such as this in the future.

Item 6 – Brand Board to review the 2014 annual report

Item 7 – Department of Legislative Audit to review the Single Audit Report for the fiscal year ended June 30, 2014

Item 8 – Department of Legislative Audit to review the audit report for the South Dakota High School Activities Association for the fiscal year ended June 30, 2014

The South Dakota High School Activities Association (SDHSAA) has gotten a lot of attention this year. The history, authority, make-up, and oversight of the SDHSAA is the topic of a summer study approved by the Executive Board.  Of course the true reason so much attention is being placed on the SDHSAA is the transgender policy that was adopted by the organization.  HB 1195 (SoDakLiberty Posts) passed the House to try removing the policy, but failed to pass Senate Ed; and then also failed a smokeout. A companion bill HB 1161 (SoDakLiberty Posts) to limit the authority of the SDHSAA also passed the House, but failed in Senate Ed. At the end of session there was then a hoghouse done on SB 140 (SoDakLiberty Posts) to resurrect HB 1195, but that also failed.

Personally I think the legislature should give up on the one issue, and listen to the many athletic directors in school districts around the state that believe the SDHSAA has gotten too powerful. Instead of focusing on a single issue, focus on bring the organization back to working for the schools.

Item 9 – Committee discussion of future topics and the next meeting date

This should be an interesting meeting to listen to….

Interim executive board meeting in Pierre on Mon May 18

On Monday, May 18, 2015, the SD legislative Executive Board will have its third meeting of the 2015 interim session.  The subcommittee meetings will begin at 7:00 am. The full board meeting is scheduled to being at 10:00 am.

One thing to possibly keep an eye on in this meeting is the Midwestern Higher Education Compact (MHEC) budget and exec board appointments. MHEC seemed to be a sore spot in the last meeting.

The minutes from the April 27 meeting can be read here.  Here are a few notable items from the April  meeting:

  • There was talk about why the legislature paid for dues in the  Midwestern Higher Education Compact (MHEC). Further talk was had around how to get out of the compact. Apparently it would take a legislative fix and two-year wait. The big question appears to be whether the State of SD gets enough out of the compact compared to the benefits.
  • 80 interim study survey responses were received from legislators. I fail to see why all 105 legislators couldn’t be bothered to fill these out….
  • Study H, “A review of the functions of county government, laws and regulations regarding counties, county revenue and expenditures, and alternative funding solutions.”, was chosen as a 2015 interim study.
  • Study I, “The history, authority, make-up, and oversight of the SDHSAA,” was also chosen as a 2015 interim study. This apparently had the highest number of responses.
  • It was discussed that the Legislative Planning Committee would not need to study education because of the Blue Ribbon Task Force. An attempt to create a workforce development study failed. This item will be taken up again in the May meeting.


SD Board of Education will have public hearings on content standards in Aberdeen on Monday, May 18

No SBACOn Monday, May 18, the South Dakota Board of Education will have holds a meeting at the NSU Campus in Aberdeen. Those involved in the battle against Common Core should definitely take note of this meeting. The agenda for the meeting can be viewed here.

Here is item 7 on the Agenda:

Public Hearing – Standards – fine arts, K-12 educational technology, science, and social studies – Becky Nelson and Sam Shaw, DOE

This will be the last chance for anyone to attend a public hearing for a few of these standards. Here is what was written in the Governor’s Office press release that brought attention to the meeting:

Public hearings will be held related to content standards adoption in the areas of science, social studies, fine arts and K-12 educational technology. This will be the final public hearing for the proposed fine arts, K-12 educational technology and science standards. There will be one additional hearing for the proposed social studies standards.

I will admit I haven’t been following these standards. But if someone in the Aberdeen area has been following these standards I believe this would be an important meeting to attend.

Another interesting item on the agenda is number 14:

Public Comment (with prior notice) – Smarter Balanced/standardized tests – Mary Scheel-Buysse, public

Mary Scheel-Buysse has been a tireless champion in the battle against Common Core in South Dakota. On the South Dakotans Against Common Core website there is a list provided of why parents should refuse the SBAC assessment.  Personally I believe SBAC is fundamentally flawed because it is a direct attack upon local control.

Right now I don’t believe I can make the meeting (I am triple booked for important meetings tomorrow). If I am somehow able to attend I will take notes and pass on any information I find important.

For anyone that wants to attend here is the info about the meeting:

Time: 8:30 AM

Location: Northern State University, Student Center Centennial Rooms A & B West, 1200 South Jay Street, Aberdeen, South Dakota

Conference call access: 1-866-410-8397 (conference code 8381998525)

Agenda: PDF

After the meeting: At the conclusion of the meeting, the Board will tour the Aberdeen Technical Education Center (A-TEC), 2200 S. Roosevelt Street, Aberdeen. The public is invited to attend.

Michelle Malkin speaking against Common Core in Brookings

Michelle Malkin speaking in Brookings, SD. Photo by Ken Santema 05/02/15.
Michelle Malkin speaking in Brookings, SD. Photo by Ken Santema 05/02/15.

On Saturday, May 2nd, political blogger and author Michelle Malkin was the keynote speaker for the 2015 SDSU College Republican Convention. She spoke at length about the experiences that led to her becoming a nationally recognized conservative blogger. Her full story is well worth hearing for anyone that has a chance to hear her speak. It is a very inspiring story. But for this post I want to focus on the one topic she reserved quite a bit of time to speak about. Common Core is that issue!

Malkin noted there are a lot of conservatives who have “been bamboozled by the Common Core racket”. She did acknowledge that some of the conservative Common Core supporters do truly believe the standards will help improve academic achievement. To address those who believe Common Core would improve academic achievements Malkin had this to say:

That may be true at the margins. However, those of us who have fought the education battles over the long haul realize that this is just another federal juggernaut to expand Washington’s role in educational decisions that are best left to parents, teachers, local school districts and administrators.

Malkin then went on to note Common Core is juggernaut that is being pushed by the testing industry, the educational technology industry, and the textbook industry. She didn’t come out and say it directly, but is seemed she was trying to say that Common Core puts these juggernaut industries ahead of local control  in education.

When speaking about the standards, Malkin notes these standards were “cobbled” by lobbyists in DC and behind closed doors.  Looking at the history of Common Core, she believes the roots of these standards go back to the Clinton era with Goals 2000. But she said that whether it was called Goals 2000, No Child Left Behind, outcome-based education, or any other “marketing euphemism”; at its root it is just an attempt to take over the local classroom.

Malkin noted she had moved from DC to Colorado some years ago in part because of the educational opportunities there.  But after moving there she found out the charter school there was implementing a Common Core aligned text-book. Malkin said the old text-books were being thrown away so these new “shiny” textbooks could be used. There was no actual thinking about how the results of changing methods would so dramatically impact anything. At that time states were signing onto Common Core, without reading them, thanks to the federal government dangling federal dollars in front them via the Race to the Top program.

Malkin believes it is a conservative principle to look at the consequences of decisions and change course if necessary. She noted that many states are looking at those consequences and changing course. Jeb Bush’s Florida was mentioned. That was interesting because there were Jeb Bush supporters in attendance. Jeb Bush has been a very vocal supporter of Common Core, and yet his state of Florida is now rejecting these standards. Many times during Malkin’s speech there were pauses for clapping. After she mentioned Jeb Bush supporting Common Core and his state of Florida rejecting the standards, there was a noticeable silence…

Michelle Malkin speaking in Brookings, SD. Photo by Ken Santema 05/02/15.
Michelle Malkin speaking in Brookings, SD. Photo by Ken Santema 05/02/15.

Going on, Malkin noted that some of the math pedagogy has been taught in a certain way for years, even centuries. She spoke about progressives using Common Core as a way to remove all traditional teaching methods (even if they work) with newer methods that are “more stimulating”. Of course many of these newer methods are untested, or were only meant as an alternative. Malkin didn’t say it outright, but she made it sound like Common Core is a great experiment being performed by progressives on the youth of America (those are my words summarizing what I believe her point was).

Malkin had some other points about Common Core. But what I’ve covered so far was enough to give some audience members pause. This crowd was a very conservative group that often gives money to and helps the campaigns of Republicans running in South Dakota. It appeared difficult for some of them to hear that Common Core could be bad, especially when the Governor of South Dakota is a Common Core supporter. Part of me wonders if Malkin coming to speak in 2014 may have impacted Daugaard’s public stance regarding Common Core during his re-election bid. It would not have impacted the election, but it may have prevented the Governor from stopping any anti-Common Core legislation this year.

Overall I am very pleased the College Republicans were able to get Malkin to speak at an event. Some of the conservative groups within South Dakota have had a hard time getting the Republican Governor and Republican super-majority Legislature to even openly discuss Common Core. Having a respected conservative author coming to South Dakota and speaking about Common Core in a way they understand may have more impact. Hopefully going into the 2016 election enough conservatives heard Malkin’s words and will at least make Common Core one of the driving issues.

I guess I won’t look at the issues on Hillary Clinton’s website

Hillary Clinton official portrait when serving as Secretary of State.
Hillary Clinton official portrait when serving as Secretary of State.

As a feature of the 2016 Presidential election I’ve begun looking at the issues listed on candidates websites. In doing this I am trying to see what each candidate feels is important, get some possible insight as to what they believe in, and compare their stances with my own libertarian-leaning beliefs. So far I have done a post on three of the candidates that have entered the Republican Primary: Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, and Marco Rubio. Now I thought it would be time to look at a few candidates that have thrown their hat into the Democrat Primary. The obvious place to start from the Democrat side is with Hillary Clinton. Sadly she does not have a section of her website dedicated to issues, or stances, or vision.  So I guess a post on her basic stances will have to be skipped over.

It actually appears that at this point most of her campaign is centered around fundraising and email list building. That isn’t necessarily the wrong way to do things, but it sure makes it hard for people who actually want to find out what stance she is going to be taking in her campaign.

In the end it probably doesn’t matter if she has issues on her website. It appears she is trying to run more as a personality than as someone who will promote any particular issues for the Democratic Party. Plus being able to skip over Hillary will leave me more time to look at the issues of other Democratic entries in the primary that the mainstream media have ignored. Democrats that have thrown their hat in the race include people such as Lincoln Chafee, Martin O’Mally, and Jim Webb. These candidates are at least willing to post stances on their campaign websites!

PS. It’s almost sad… I’ve spoken to many Democrats who believe Clinton and Bernie Sanders are the only two currently looking at the Democrat’s Presidential candidate nomination.

COOL supporters at Obama’s Watertown visit

COOL supporters rallying in Watertown, South Dakota. Photo by Ken Santema 05/08/15.
COOL supporters rallying in Watertown, South Dakota. Photo by Ken Santema 05/08/15.

During President Obama’s visit to Watertown South Dakota there was a group of COOL supporters in attendance. COOL stands for country of origin labeling. The groups organizing this rally was the South Dakota Farmers Union (SDFU).

Before going into what the COOL supporters had to say it important to get a cliff notes overview of COOL. Here are a few bullet points as to what COOL is and what has happened with it:

  • COOL was first enacted into law in Title X (pdf, page 103 & 104) of the 2002 Farm bill.  Here is an excerpt from the USDA’s explanation:

    The 2002 Act states, with few exceptions, a retailer may use a “United States country of origin” label if the product is from an animal that was exclusively born, raised, and slaughtered in the United States. The Secretary of Agriculture is directed to issue guidelines for voluntary labeling by September 30, 2002, and to promulgate requirements for mandatory labeling no later than September 30, 2004

  • Regulations the USDA to implement COOL came out in Aug 1, 2008; Aug 31, 2008; and May, 24, 2013. The regulations entered into the Federal register on 2013 is the latest version of COOL.
  • Mexico and Canada were not happy with COOL. In 2014 the World Trade Organization (WTO) ruled against mandatory COOL.
  • In Jan 2015 Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack began to back away from COOL and suggested Congress may have to change the law if the appeal to the WTO doesn’t go in favor of COOL.
  • In April 2015 Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack submitted a report to Congress, which basically said it is time to get rid of mandatory COOL because it isn’t giving any economic benefit.

The last two bullet points above are important. When speaking with Doug Sombke, President of SDFU, Vilsack’s name came up quite often. In fact Mr Sombke repeatedly said COOL was not about economic benefit or cost. From his viewpoint COOL should be mandatory for safety reasons. He says other countries simply don’t have the regulatory protections for food safety that the United States has. Sombke believes the safety that mandatory COOL provides should outweigh the reports Vilsack uses to back away from COOL.

Additionally, Mr Sombke says that the SDFU feels betrayed by Secretary Vilsack. SDFU spent around $250,000 to help Vilsack promote COOL. Now Vilsack is backtracking and abandoning groups such as the SDFU. Sombke contended that Vilsack ignored the recent report (pdf) by Auburn University economist C. Robert Taylor.

Here is an excerpt from the report referenced by Sombke:

This study uses more robust data sources to assess the impact of COOL on market access and found that COOL has not had a significant negative effect on the price paid for imported slaughter cattle relative to comparable domestic cattle, COOL has not had a statistically significant negative effect on imports of feeder cattle relative to U.S. feeder cattle placements, and COOL has not had a negative impact on imported cattle for immediate slaughter

Mr Sombke contends that Vilsack was using outdated information in his retreat from supporting COOL. He believes the Auburn University report shows that COOL is not negatively impacting the industry.

COOL supporters rallying in Watertown, SD. Photo by Ken Santema 05/08/15.
COOL supporters rallying in Watertown, SD. Photo by Ken Santema 05/08/15.

Karla Hofhenke, Executive Director for SDFU, also spoke with me briefly. Here is part of what Ms Hofhenke had to say when I asked about her reasons for supporting COOL:

“We can find out where my shoes come from and we can find out where my shirts come from. But something that is so important to people, something that goes into people’s mouths and feeds your body, we can’t know.”

Hofhenke says that the US has protections in place to protect against diseases such as Mad Cow or Foot in Mouth. She believes people are getting better at caring about what goes in their mouth. At the same time she says producers are proud of their product and would like to give them the ability to show their product comes from the US.

Now I will editorialize a bit. I did ask Mr Sombke and Ms Hofhenke whether companies are allowed to place the country of origin on meat without COOL. They both said it could be done, but it isn’t done by everyone if it isn’t mandatory. This the main problem I have with mandatory COOL. As a consumer I also prefer to know my protein comes from the US, but I see no reason to make it mandatory. I believe groups such as the SDFU should be putting pressure upon the meat packers to ensure the labeling is done, instead of pushing for federal mandates.

Overall I would say the SDFU did a great job of rallying for their cause in Watertown. I may not agree with mandatory COOL, but I am glad they are working hard to support their cause. Perhaps they will try to hold another rally at the SD Ag Summit in Deadwood. I doubt the Lodge at Deadwood would allow a rally, but maybe they could do some sort of event downtown Deadwood in the evening to bring attention to their cause.

Time to look at the Issues on Marco Rubio’s website

Senator Marco Rubio. Official picture from Rubio’s Senate office website.
Senator Marco Rubio. Official picture from Rubio’s Senate office website.

So far I’ve looked at the Issues listed on the Cruz and Paul campaign websites. Now its time to look at the issues listed on the Marco Rubio campaign website in his bid for the Republican candidate as President in the 2016 election.

Marco Rubio has a list of 18 issues on his website. Over his tenure in DC I have been supportive of Rubio on many issues, but at times he seems to be too quick to join the establishment when he really doesn’t need to. Below is the list of his eighteen issues and what I think about them. These are done in the order they appear on the issues page (which is actually multiple pages that have to be browsed through). Some of these appear to be op-eds he published in mainstream media sites. But since he has the section labeled as “issues” I will treat it that way.

Rubio’s plan for Europe

Here is part of what Rubio has to say on this page:

A more robust response to Russia’s ongoing aggression in Ukraine would reflect the same shared values that emerged victorious 70 years ago today. That victory was not just about the defeat of an enemy; it was also about the spread of a sacred ideal. As is written on the World War II memorial in Washington, D.C.: “Americans came to liberate, not to conquer — to restore freedom and to end tyranny.”

I really wasn’t sure why this section was labeled as his plan for Europe. He made references to WWII and the continued US involvement in Europe since then. But overall it appears he wants to ensure that the US does something about the Ukraine situation. Personally I would say Europe should take the lead in any efforts (although if Europe comes up with a good liberty-oriented plan I wouldn’t be opposed to helping them out). With this issue it appears Rubio is trying to get the veteran vote by giving a nod to WWII vets; and still keep the war hawks in the Republican Party happy by making it seem he would potentially use action against Russia if necessary.

Iran Nuclear Deal

Here is part of Rubio’s Iran Nuclear Deal section:

This was seen most recently in the White House response to Iranian demands that all sanctions be lifted on day one. Even though the Obama administration has long assured deal skeptics that sanctions would be lifted only on proof of good behavior, Obama’s State Department reiterated that sanctions relief will only begin “after Iran has completed its major nuclear steps.” This position is itself a concession that could provide Iran with significant financial relief within months even before it comes completely clean about its past illicit activities.

Rubio is definitely going after Obama; something that most of the Republican Party has been doing. I truly wish Rubio and other mainstream Republicans would rethink long-term sanctions. They don’t work. They have never worked! All long-term sanctions do is hurt the average citizen in the country that is being ‘punished’. Those in charge do not feel the pain. In fact those in charge of countries such as Iran use the pain caused by sanctions to promote anti-American hatred. Instead of sanctions I would prefer a Presidential candidate propose the opposite. Instead of cutting off trade, lets promote trade. Especially for cultural items! Lets give the average citizen in countries such as Iran access to our cultural and literary items so young minds can be opened to new ideas.

No Tax Increase Pledge

Here is a short section from this issue:

Earlier today, Marco made a written commitment to the taxpayers of the United States that as President, he will oppose and veto any and all efforts to increase taxes.

I know many conservatives love the no tax increase pledge. I don’t. The No Tax Increase pledge does nothing about spending and there are built-in loopholes where “revenue enhancements” can be used. I won’t hold taking this pledge against anyone (including Rubio), but at the same time I don’t see it as a plus. It is just a campaign gimmick in my mind.

Same Sex Marriage

Here is part of what is quoted from Rubio on his website:

There is no federal constitutional right to same sex marriage. There isn’t such a right. You have to have a ridiculous reading of the U.S. constitution to reach the conclusion that people have a right to marry someone of the same sex. There is no such constitutional right. Can a state decide to change their laws? Yes, but only through the political process…

“They [advocates of same sex marriage] want to stigmatize, they want to ostracize anyone who disagrees with them as haters. It’s very simple. This is not a policy against anyone. I believe, as do a significant percentage of Americans, that the institution of marriage, an institution that existed before government, that existed before laws, that institution should remain in our laws recognized as the union of one man and one woman.”

I will give Rubio partial credit on this one! I believe he is correct in that the US Constitution does not give the right to same-sex marriage. But then it also doesn’t give the right to opposite-sex marriage. It is when talking about State laws where Rubio loses me. He acknowledges that the institution of marriage has existed before government and laws. That would have been a good point to make the case that government should not be involved in the institution of marriage at all. Instead he believes the institution of marriage should continue be lawfully kept as between a man and woman. I don’t care one way or another about same-sex marriage. But I do care about government continuing to intrude on the institute of marriage. Sadly Rubio is following the establishment mainstream Republican stance of continued government intrusion into people’s religious right to marry.

Student Loans

Here is part of what Rubio has in this section:

Students and their families need to be equipped with the information necessary to make well-informed decisions about which majors at which institutions are likely to yield the best return on investment. This is why Marco has authored and championed the “Student Right to Know Before You Go Act,” which aims to give students reliable data on how much they can expect to make versus how much they can expect to owe.

Some of what he says in this section makes sense. Many students are not looking at how much of a return on investment they will get for their College experience. I just wonder about his “Student Right to Know Before You Go Act.” It seems like this will add yet another administrative cost to College. Also, this method would mean that Colleges would essentially try predicting future job trends based upon current wages. That doesn’t seem like a good solution to the current problem with overpriced higher education. I would have rather seen a solution from Rubio to reduce government subsidies that drive up the cost of higher education. Also, just because a certain degree doesn’t offer a return on investment doesn’t mean it is wasted. There are gains that can be gotten from any path taken in higher education. It just seems odd to try pushing students towards “wanted” areas.

Biggest issues facing our generation

Rubio actually has a lot to say in this section. I will highlight just to pieces of it. First:

If we reform our tax code, reduce regulations, control spending, modernize our immigration laws and repeal and replace ObamaCare, the American people will create millions of better-paying modern jobs.

This looks good to me. It looks like he truly wants to head towards a free-market approach to the economy. That is an approach many people (including myself) believe would lead towards economic prosperity in America.

But then he also says this:

And if America accepts the mantle of global leadership, by abandoning this administration’s dangerous concessions to Iran, and its hostility to Israel; by reversing the hollowing out of our military; by giving our men and women in uniform the resources, care and gratitude they deserve; by no longer being passive in the face of Chinese and Russian aggression; and by ending the near total disregard for the erosion of democracy and human rights around the world; then our nation will be safer, the world more stable, and our people more prosperous.

I’ve already covered some thoughts on Iran earlier. But to say that our military has been “hollowed out” shows he is willing to pander to the war hawks that want to continue nation-building around the world. His statements outright ignore the fact that defense spending has gotten out of control. Like most Americans I do believe a strong military is needed for defense. But that doesn’t mean money needs to continue to be wasted propping up the military–industrial complex. For once I would like to see a Republican (or Democrat) candidate that is willing to talk about creating a new more efficient military. But that is unlikely. Too many politicians owe their candidacy to military–industrial complex special interest groups.

Help the veterans

I’ll just pass on this section. No candidate is going against the veterans as an issue…

Stand against ISIS

Here is part of Rubio’s solution for ISIS:

First and foremost, we need to move now to degrade ISIS’s capabilities. The President’s decision to send 300 advisers to Iraq is a good first step, but their ability to deter ISIS will be limited unless we eventually engage in airstrikes to target their leaders as well as the supply lines that they use to transfer weapons and fighters between Syria and Iraq. We know where these supply lines are, we should not hesitate to halt the ISIS resupply to their strongholds in Anbar, Ninawa and Salah ad-Din.

Yep. Rubio wants to continue the precedence set by Presidents Bush and Obama in the “War on Terror”. The War Hawks in both parties should be happy about that. Sadly the only winner in the War on Terror is the military–industrial complex. The very act of fighting the War on Terror creates more terrorists, thus the military–industrial complex can continue to grow in power and increase the battle capabilities for the War on Terror. The war hawk way has created a loop of defense spending and nation building that will make the cold war look like a small undertaking.

Concessions to Cuba

Here is part of what Rubio has to say:

Obama made concessions, with nothing in return – giving Cuba’s government more resources to continue its dangerous actions toward the U.S. and against freedom-loving people throughout the Western Hemisphere.

I won’t spend a lot of time here. Just as with Iran, I feel lifting all sanctions and trying to export our culture to Cuba will do more than anything that has been done over the last half century.

Protecting life at every stage

He doesn’t have a lot in this section. Here is what I found most relevant:

I believe that Roe v. Wade was not only morally wrong, but it was a poorly decided legal precedent and should be overturned.

I won’t spend a lot of time here either. Personally I find abortion appalling (with a few exceptions). But at the same time such an issue as “when life begins” cannot be proven because the definition of “life” varies for different portions of Americans. This will continue to be an issue I feel the federal government should NOT be involved in at all.

Stand with Israel

Here is how Rubio starts this section:

We have a national security interest in making sure Israel is strong, and we have a moral obligation to keep the promise made in the wake of the Holocaust for a safe and secure nation for the Jewish people.

My biggest problem with the US support of Israel is how we are using different standards for the different sides of the conflict in the Middle East. It seems that we overlook any transgressions from Israel that we hold their enemies accountable for.  I do believe Israel does need the US. But I don’t believe US politicians continue to be involved with Israel for a “moral obligation”. The US continues to be involved with Israel because it makes the war hawks happy.

Stand against Iran

I’ve already covered this. But here is part of what Rubio says here:

Let me be clear – I stand with Israel and its Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on any nuclear agreement with Iran containing an unambiguous Iranian recognition of Israel’s right to exist.

I don’t see any reason to write anymore on this subject in this post.

Three part plan for post-Obamacare

This was actually a long section for Rubio. Here is the part of this page that actually has his three-part plan:

First, we should provide an advanceable, refundable tax credit that all Americans can use to purchase health insurance. The value of these credits should increase every year, and we should set the tax preference for employer-sponsored insurance on a glide path to ensure that it will equal the level of the credits at the end of the decade. This will prevent large-scale disruptions and reform one of the most significant distortions in our tax system.

Second, we must reform insurance regulations to encourage innovation. Americans with pre-existing conditions should be able to find coverage through their state’s federally-supported, actuarially-sound high risk pools. Americans living in high-cost states should have the opportunity to purchase coverage across state lines. Consumer-centered products like health savings accounts should be expanded. And under no circumstances should taxpayers be asked to bail out an insurance company that loses money, as is currently the case under Obamacare.

Third, we must save Medicare and Medicaid by placing them on fiscally sustainable paths. Without reforms, these programs will eventually cease to be available for those that need them. I believe we must move Medicaid into a per-capita cap system, preserving funding for Medicaid’s unique populations while freeing states from Washington mandates. Medicare, meanwhile, should be transitioned into a premium support system, empowering seniors with choice and market competition, just like Medicare Advantage and Part D already do.

I might have to do a whole post on this. But Republicans are often attacked because they have no plan to replace Obamacare. And to give credit Rubio has a high-level plan. Here is a brief though about each of the three parts of this plan:

  1. I have a hard time believing tax credits are the solution to eliminating a tax as large as Obamacare. Either way it is using tax code to interfere into the free market.
  2. Not allowing cross state purchase of insurance has always boggled me. Rubio at least understands that allowing insurance to be sold over state lines could go a long way to reduce the actual cost of insurance.
  3. Medicare and Medicaid are non issues in every election. Yes, they are always brought up as issues. But in reality there will likely never be any meaningful reforms done to these programs until it is too late. Perhaps that would be better than trying to push for a system that has almost zero political potential to pass.

I will give Rubio props for having an ideal for what he thinks should happen after Obamacare would be repealed.

Eliminating the debt

This is another issue page that is quite long. Rubio has two solutions for eliminating the debt. First:

First, we need to reduce spending. This begins by reforming the two biggest drivers of our debt, which are a pair of vitally important programs: Social Security and Medicare. If left unreformed, these programs will be bankrupt by the time my generation retires, and they will bankrupt our nation in the process. We need to reform Social Security and Medicare to save them for future seniors, and we need to do so without affecting the benefits of current seniors or those nearing retirement.

To reduce spending, we’ll also need a balanced-budget amendment to compel Washington to live within its means, as well as smaller-scale solutions such as the REFUND Act, a bill I am reintroducing today that will give states the ability to return unused federal funds for the specific purpose of paying down the debt.

As I stated earlier, I don’t see Medicare being truly reformed any time soon, and the same is true for Social Security. But I will address the balanced budget amendment. Almost every proposal I’ve seen for the balanced budget amendment focuses only on the bottom line, meaning taxes increases could be used to create that balance. Plus the Federal Reserve can control the monetary supply in ways that make it appear the government is in fiscal balance, when that is in fact far from the truth. I do like the idea of states giving money back to the feds though. It would be interesting to see how many Red states would be willing to do so (my guess is none would).

Second Amendment

I won’t bother with this section either. No Republican is going to come out against the Second Amendment.

Defense spending must grow

Here is part of this VERY long section:

We need to heed the bipartisan warnings of our nation’s military leaders and get back on track toward a defense budget that reflects the realities of the challenges we face and is worthy of our brave men and women in uniform. In the end, it is they who will suffer the most if sequestration is not reversed and our readiness and equipment continues to degrade. As members of Congress, we have a sacred obligation to ensure that they have the best possible training and equipment so they can successfully complete their missions.

Spoken like a true politician that is trying to make the war hawks happy. Who would dare oppose something being done “for our brave men and women in uniform”. Sadly Rubio wants to throw more money at the military-industrial complex. He mentions the shortfalls in the defense budget. But yet he fails to mention the money that is wasted on defense spending that does nothing to increase the defense capability of the United States; instead much of this money goes to support programs that are unnecessary yet are kept alive for political reasons. Without addressing the waste of defense spending it is hard to believe that any more money needs to be spent on the defense budget.

Cut Taxes

Here is part of what this section says:

The current tax code taxes too much, taxes unfairly, and conspires with our outmoded welfare system to trap poor families in poverty, rather than facilitate their climb into the middle class. Our reforms seek to simplify the structure and lower rates. How? By consolidating the many existing income tax brackets into two simple brackets—15% and 35%—and eliminating or reforming deductions, especially those that disproportionately benefit the privileged few at everyone else’s expense.

Here is a section I can agree with. Any simplification of the tax code would be an improvement! And reducing the number of tax brackets would make it less painful to climb the ladder of success. The current progressive tax code actually penalizes people for trying to do better for themselves. As poor people begin to climb the brackets they find themselves almost burdened down as they reach certain financial thresholds.  Too bad the Republicans didn’t make this their top priority when they had the majority during the Bush years….

Net Neutrality

Rubio ends with a topic that is very important to me as a blogger and former Network Engineer: Net Neutrality! Here is a little piece of what Rubio has to say:

By labeling ISPs as public utilities, an extraordinary amount of power over the Internet, including case-by-case discretion, would be given to an unelected, unaccountable board that every lobbyist, lawyer and crony capitalist with a vested interest in the Internet will seek to manipulate.

Many foreign governments are watching these moves closely as they pursue their goal of greater international control over the Internet. The move won’t turn America into China or Cuba when it comes to government control over our online lives, but it will give federal bureaucrats a foot in the door to start unseating market forces. And never once has the government gotten a foot in the door of any industry and been satisfied to stop pushing its way in.

This is probably the issue I would support Rubio the most on. I can understand why a lot of people are afraid of big corporations controlling Internet access. But I just can’t see allowing unelected bureaucrats the power to control the Internet as being the answer. Plus, the whole Net Neutrality issue came up because of a battle between two large corporations, which have since then resolved their differences without government intervention. It just boggles me that people think the federal government should be involved in regulating the greatest source of open information ever created.


Going into this I expected Rubio to be a pretty good candidate from a liberty standpoint. I knew I would disagree with some of his issues… But after going through Rubio’s issues it appears very little of what he stands for falls within my definition of liberty. I really can’t see any libertarian-leaning individuals supporting him in the Republican primary.

South Dakota political blogging from a libertarian-leaning individual

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