Hey, New Yorkers! Want a reason to be a bit miffed at South Dakota? Try reporter Joe O'Sullivan's list of the states that got the most Homeland Security dollars per resident in 2011. New York, where al-Qaeda terrorists killed 2,977 Americans and ushered in the police-state era, ranks tenth, at $4.70 per person. South Dakota, where terrorists haven't killed anyone since, well, ever (AIM debate, anyone?), ranks sixth, at $6.20 per person.

O'Sullivan notes that we'd have a hard time proving to our New York neighbors that South Dakota is really combatting terrorism with all that anti-terrorism money:

All that spending came in a state that arguably has very little threat of terrorism. According to a 2010 Washington Post report, South Dakota is one of 15 states that federal intelligence agencies ruled has "no specific foreign or domestic terrorism threat."

...a federal government report released in May has questioned South Dakota's ability to even measure whether the homeland security money is being put to good use.

"We were unable to determine the extent to which the [federal homeland security] grants enhanced the state's ability to prepare for and respond to disasters and acts of terrorism," according to the Department of Homeland Security Office of Inspector General Report. "The state does not have a system to measure preparedness" [Joe O'Sullivan, "State Gets Millions in Homeland Security Grants, But Where Does It Go?" Rapid City Journal, 2014.06.08].

We have a state government demanding more tests and more accountability before they'll deign to give schools any more money. But scare us with terrorism, and we'll throw all sorts of money at the police and never ask for proof that that money is addressing real threats and making us safer.

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I read the following lead and thought I'd have a bone to throw Rep. Jim Bolin and the anti-Common Core lobby:

The board of the state's largest teachers' union voted unanimously Saturday to denounce the controversial Common Core standards and call for the removal of New York education commissioner John King [Jessica Bakeman, "Teachers' Union Bails on King and Common Core," Capital New York, 2014.01.26].

A teacher's union from New York offering Tea-flavored protesters support that they can't get from their own South Dakota teacher's union, which thinks Common Core is hunky-dory? How tantalizing! How exciting!

How about I read to the end of the article to get the full story?

New York State United Teachers don't really have a beef with Common Core. They have a beef with the state education commissioner's obstinate management of Common Core implementation. They want more money to pay for teacher training on Common Core and improvements in distributing test results. They want to wait three years before tying Common Core student test results to teacher evaluations.

But the New York teachers' union still wants "to ensure all students have an equal opportunity to achieve the Common Core standards." NYSUT wants more time "to correctly implement Common Core." They aren't denouncing Common Core. They are denouncing specific policies that get in the way of Common Core.

Sorry, Jim! Remind your supporters at the Capitol Wednesday not to lobby legislators with the argument that New York teachers have turned on Common Core.

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The fantasy-grand jury league continues its game-playing around the state. Stephanie Strong sends the media an update implying that her fellow vigilante-litigationists are using as a guide the tactics of a New York group that pretends to be the "Unified New York Common Law Grand Jury."

Included in Strong's e-mail are two writs of mandamus, sent last week to trouble New York Judge Charles M. Tailleur and court clerk Michelle Carrol. There two poor folks stand accused of high treason against the King (the people? Elvis? what's the difference?). UNCLGJ (Uncle Gidge? Who knows, since the writ is filed anonymously, with an inscrutable signature from its "Administrator") demands that Clerk Carrol respond directly and not talk to any lawyers (all conspirators against the King). UNCLGJ orders Judge Tailleur to pay a fine of 100 ounces of silver. Apparently the judge is supposed to fax that silver to UNCLGJ, since UNCLGJ's writs provide no contact information other than fax number 888-891-8977.

The common law grand jury movement is a dangerous combination of stupidity and terrorism. UNCLGJ blows a smokescreen of quotes and arcane legal citations, makes absurd demands in all capital letters, and intimidates people with accusations of treason, the sort of absolute charge that inflames passions and rouses less thoughtful adherents (yes, the rubes showing up to shadowy weekend meetings to forward their delusions of tri-corner hat granduer) to dangerous action.

Using UNCLGJ as a guide is the last thing we want South Dakota citizens doing. Stephanie, please tell your neighbors to drop this fake grand jury posturing and concentrate on honest, practical citizen activism. Call your legislators, lobby in Pierre, write letters to the editor, run for office... but for Pete's sake, don't run around calling public servants traitors and shaking them down for silver.

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What? ObamaCare is working? For New Yorkers buying their own insurance on the perilous individual market, you bet:

Individuals buying health insurance on their own will see their premiums tumble next year in New York State as changes under the federal health care law take effect, state officials are to announce on Wednesday.

...State insurance regulators say they have approved rates for 2014 that are at least 50 percent lower on average than those currently available in New York. Beginning in October, individuals in New York City who now pay $1,000 a month or more for coverage will be able to shop for health insurance for as little as $308 monthly. With federal subsidies, the cost will be even lower.

Supporters of the new health care law, the Affordable Care Act, credited the drop in rates to the online purchasing exchanges the law created, which they say are spurring competition among insurers that are anticipating an influx of new customers. The law requires that an exchange be started in every state [Roni Caryn Rabin and Reed Abelson, "Health Plan Cost for New Yorkers Set to Fall 50%," New York Times 2013.07.16].

Rabin and Abelson report that small businesses already enjoy lower rates, so their cost savings won't be as dramatic. However,

...small businesses will be eligible for tax credits, and the exchanges will make it easier for them to select a plan. Roughly 15,000 plans are available today to small businesses, and choosing among them is particularly challenging.

“Where New York previously had a dizzying array of thousands upon thousands of plans, small businesses will now be able to truly comparison-shop for the best prices,” said Benjamin M. Lawsky, the state’s top financial regulator [Rabin and Abelson, 2013.07.16].

The GOP wants to scare Democrats into running away from ObamaCare, the way they did in 2010. Ask Stephanie Herseth Sandlin how well that worked for her. Don't fall for that trick, Dems: trumpet the fact that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act will save regular Americans money on health care.

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The South Dakota Legislature still has only one gun bill in the hopper, the rotten Otten-Lautenschlager House Bill 1010, which would castrate our concealed-weapons laws and make it harder for cops to stop gun violence. Coming soon is a bill that would allow school boards to authorize untrained teachers and janitors and perhaps darn near anyone else to carry guns on school grounds, despite overwhelming opposition from superintendents to the idea of more guns at school.

Meanwhile, New York has swiftly enacted strong gun safety regulations:

The measure expands the definition of banned assault weapons, creates a state database for pistol permits, reduces the maximum number of rounds in a magazine and requires background checks on all gun sales, including those between individuals.

"You can overpower the extremists with intelligence and with reason and with common sense," Cuomo said Tuesday afternoon in the Red Room, which was filled with reporters as well as law enforcement officials, including Albany County Sheriff Craig Apple and city of Albany Police Chief Steven Krokoff [emphasis mine; Casey Seiler, "New Gun Law Offers Reply to Mass Killings," Albany Times Union, 2013.01.16].

Overpower extremism with intelligence, reason, and common sense—someone ought to make that a blog motto.

But where intelligence, reason, and common sense fail, maybe we just need stock prices. New York state government sold off its pension fund holdings in Smith & Wesson four days after the Sandy Hook shooting; yesterday, New York's comptroller Tom DiNapoli announced he's freezing the state's investments in publicly traded firearms companies:

In a statement, DiNapoli — like Cuomo a Democrat — insisted that the decision was not political, but strictly business.

"After the terrible events in Newtown," he said, "it is clear that the national movement toward greater regulation of firearms manufacturers will impose significant reputational, regulatory and statutory hurdles that may affect shareholder value" [Seiler, 2013.01.16].

Commercial pressure, moral pressure, evidentiary pressure—we'll need all those tools to beat back the myth-based pro-gun legislation the South Dakota Legislature seems doomed to debate.

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