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defense-budgets-world-america

(Selectively) Fiscal conservatives never want to cut the defence budget.

I do. (Actually it’s far more than a defence budget. America is on the offense more than not.)

Time to close Ellsworth Air Force Base and shudder half our overseas bases.

A politician in South Dakota who wants to close Ellsworth commits political suicide by saying so. When I was in elected office my private commitment to myself was to be willing to commit political suicide once a year to support the right thing.

Many of my Republican colleagues in the legislature were “fiscal conservatives” and would get loud and vocal about Washington DC’s inability to balance the budget. Yet we seemed so oblivious to the depths of cuts it would take to balance the national budget and what that would mean to a little dependant state like South Dakota, and of course an income tax would never be considered. Never was there talk of cutting Defence spending in DC, ever. And never would anyone support closing a base in our state that brought MONEY and JOBS and PEOPLE into our state – like it’s the Federal Government’s role to provide us any of those things.

Say goodbye to Ellsworth if you are truly a fiscal conservative and figure out how to wean South Dakota off Federal Dollars. It was established in 1941 in the ramp up to a World War and is no longer a spending priority.

Fifteen years after 9/11 and we are still bombing seven countries and only the oligarchy really knows why. How many Americans have died, and for what? Do we even know who we’ve killed, or the real reasons why? Is there anyone on the right side of the political aisle in South Dakota who is confident our Commander in Chief is even on our team? Why aren’t we impeaching the Nobel Peace prize President for all these unauthorised drone wars?

All this spending and all this war in the last couple decades and the world isn’t safer and there aren’t fewer people who hate us mobilising to harm us. In fact, there are more, far more. Maybe a total shift in foreign policy is in order because what we are doing is making all our problems much worse.

UPDATE #1: A Facebook friend points out how having the drone and bomber base makes our state a target for terrorism… “But you know what scares me? Someone from Yemen, Afghanistan or somewhere rolling a truck bomb into Rapid City Central High School or the School of Mines after an Ellsworth-based drone pilot targets a wedding party or religious service.

UPDATE #2.  This, made me think to pen this:

Got to be a way to re-purpose Ellsworth. Maybe put all non-violent prisoners on the base and relocate a vo-tech school there. If we are going to pay for these folks anyway let’s at least make it an investment in the possibility of introducing them to their dignity as human beings and producing good citizens at release. You finish your course program, you get to come home. Time to drop the felon stigma and let them vote.

The goal should be they leave saying prison was the best thing that happened to me, not the worst. Our present failed philosophy of retributive justice in our criminal justice system is not working and it’s making people madder and meaner and worse for society than before. Instead of bombing people from there we could build people right there.

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FROM THE DESK OF STEVE HICKEY

Yep, I do miss serving in Pierre– the people, the issues and the process. I’m still following the issues in our state closely and trying to stay as connected as I can. I offer the following to the new legislators who were elected in November. I’d welcome additions to my list. (My list has grown from a list former legislator and present lobbyist Matt McCaulley gave me a few weeks before my first term) ….

ON BECOMING A GOOD LEGISLATOR

  1. Morning prayer is more important than any other meeting of the day. Every day you’ll need a chill pill and morning prayer is just that. A few early, quiet moments with a passage of Scripture and a prayer will centre and focus you for the day, fill you for the day with the graces you’ll need that day, and keep you mindful of, humble before, and dependant on the One who entrusted you to govern in His stead. Remember, Solomon’s prayer his first day in office was for wisdom, not power or wealth.
  2. “Out do one another in showing honour” (Romans 12:10). When Rep. David Lust was Republican House Majority Leader he set this passage before the Caucus as the Scripture to guide our entire Session. Memorise it.
  3. Remember the block of wood. Your first day in office it is like you’ve been handed a block of wood. Each time you go back on your word, take the low road or a cheap shot, bend rules, treat people poorly… a shaving or chunk is cut away from your block. Some have left Pierre with only a toothpick remaining. Try to end your term with your block of wood in original condition.
  4. Have principles and try to vote consistently on those principles.
  5. Try not to take anything personally and don’t get personal in opposing others. Never question the motives of others and be careful making any assumptions about people.
  6. If you are a jerk on their bill, they won’t be friendly later with yours. It’s human nature. You will need everyone else there at some point or another. Remember this.
  7. Try to listen, understand and appreciate – the other view, the other person and other factors and dynamics at play.
  8. Stopping a bad bill or repealing a bad law is as important as passing a good one. Our law books are fat enough.
  9. Be careful co-sponsoring. Don’t be quick to sign on to a bill as for various reasons you may regret it later.
  10. Colleagues and lobbyists will try to nail down their vote count. Be careful in promising to vote a certain way unless there is no doubt your mind won’t change. Lobbyists talk among themselves about the legislators who are flippers and who can only be counted on to vote the way of the last lobbyist who spoke to them.
  11. Avoid signing pledges in the off season for how you will or won’t vote on issues. In doing so, you are in effect committing yourself to vote for or against bills you haven’t read yet or that haven’t even been written yet. For example; every “repeal Obamacare bill” isn’t strategically the best way forward or carefully drafted. You don’t want to be in a position to vote for a bad bill or the wrong bill to accomplish something.
  12. Avoid bills that seek to solve problems we don’t really have. Avoid reactive legislation– i.e. when something happens nationally and a flurry of bills are drafted in the states.
  13. Blogs and media- yes participate, but have a blind eye and deaf ear to what is said about you.
  14. Cracker Barrel’s – attend and engage.
  15. Alcohol and food in moderation. Course joking, flirting and gossip are beneath you.
  16. Interest group receptions – go to as many as possible and get to know the issues and the people.
  17. In your first year find, or ask for, one relatively easy bill to prime sponsor to help you learn the process.
  18. Remember you don’t report to the Second Floor.
  19. Make sure the juice is worth the squeeze.
  20. Be aware of being overheard or leaving things visibly on your desk.
  21. Don’t speak on every bill or people will soon roll their eyes each time you stand up to speak. As they say, keep your powder dry. Pick your battles. Be like E.F. Hutton, the one who brings the hush over the room when you stand to speak because you’ve earned respect for what you say and how you say it.
  22. Personally answer every email that comes from your legislative district. It’s okay to read and not reply to the others; though having a prepared short paragraph on heavy public feedback bill/vote to cut and paste as a reply for the rest is worth the effort.
  23. Publish your vote rationales.
  24. Return media calls.
  25. Breath mints. Hand sanitiser. The “Capital Crud” hits every year as people from every corner of the state bring their head colds with them as they come to champion their cause and shake your hand.
  26. Baby steps. Be strategic with legislation. Ten pro-life bills in a session may work against the pro-life cause.
  27. Reject poorly drafted bills even if you agree with what they are trying to accomplish. (Not every gun bill is a good gun bill.)
  28. Spend the off season studying issues and winning support for a bill among the stakeholders. Don’t surprise stakeholders with your dropped bill.
  29. Education by legislation is generally not a good thing. However, changing minds and turning the tide sometimes take multiple tries and multiple years and all is not lost in the years your bills die an early death.
  30. Smile and laugh, greet and be friendly even toward the lowliest people walking around or working around the Capital. Think of ways to remember and serve them.
  31. Reach across the aisle, especially if you are a member of the supermajority. Remember that the public is turned off by hyper-partisanship.
  32. Distance yourself from those who conspire.
  33. Distance yourself from those who are indifferent and hostile toward natives in our state.

Abeyance. Sounds a bit like obedience but it means practically the opposite. More Christians abey the teachings of Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount than obey them. Abeyance means a state of temporary suspension. It’s legal term for a temporary abeyance of a law or requirement.

Never would a Christian consider any sort of abeyance of Jesus’ teaching about lust or adultery. There is a never a situation where those are acceptable, even temporarily. However when it comes to not swearing to oaths, turning the other cheek, not-retaliating, not killing anyone… the compromised Church issues all sorts of abeyances.

Tolstoy puts it best:

Do the ministers of the Gospel believe the Sermon on the Mount, including the commandment of non-retaliation, to be of divine origin?… [do they] consider the Sermon on the Mount and the commandment of non-resistance obligatory upon a Christian…. Did Christ practically require his disciples to do that which he taught in the Sermon on the Mount…. May a Christian remain a Christian and still disobey the direct command of Christ; may he promise or conduct himself in a manner directly opposed to the doctrine of Christ, by entering into military service and putting himself in training to be a murderer?… How are we to reconcile those lessons of forgiveness, humility, patience, and love towards all mankind, our neighbours as well as our enemies, taught us by the Teacher, which dwell in the heart of each of us, with the necessities caused by military aggression against our own countrymen as well as against foreigners?  (36-37, The Kingdom of God is Within You)

The commandment against fornication they [clergy] acknowledge without reservation, and in no case will they ever admit that this sin is not evil. There are no circumstances mentioned by the clergy when the commandment against fornication may be broken, and they always insist that the occasions for this sin must be avoided. But in regard to non-resistance that is a very different matter. Every clergyman believes that there are circumstances wherein this commandment many be held in abeyance, and they preach accordingly…. Clergymen have never been known to advocate the breaking of any other commandment, but in regard to the doctrine of non-resistance, they distinctly teach that this prohibition must not be taken to literally, that so far from always obeying this commandment, one should on occasion follow the opposite course– that is, one should sit in judgment [on a jury], should go to war, and should execute criminals. (p 40-41, The Kingdom of God is Within You).

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