Thursday, January 19, 2012

Gubernatorial Candidate Rupert Boneham Announces Birthday Money Bomb

Libertarian Gubernatorial candidate Rupert Boneham has announced plans for a money bomb style fundraiser.  Designed to be part of his 48th birthday celebration, the campaign plans has set a goal to raise $48,000 by his January 27th birthday.

Boneham's campaign is trying to capitalize on the success of money bombs by other politicians.  Most notably, Presidential candidate Ron Paul has had extreme success with his many money bombs.

In the most recent filings, Boneham submitted numbers well behind the major party candidates.  From the beginning, though, Boneham's campaign admitted the challenges to being a Libertarian candidate.  Part of that challenge, they admitted, was making the most of the funds they have.  Attention was pointed to the Rupert's Kids charity, which Boneham has ran with great success for many years without ever accepting a single government dime.

If you'd like to help Rupert out by contributing to his money bomb, you can do so by clicking here.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Tell Your Legislators to Stop SOPA

Please contact your Senators and Representatives and tell them that you want to stop the path of internet censorship.  Please tell them to oppose SOPA.

If you do not know how to contact them, you can visit Wikipedia today and simply enter your zip code to get started. You can also, at any time, begin your search at

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Indiana Youth Group to Offer Nation's First LGBT Awareness License Plate

In a sign that things are continuing to, slowly, become better for LGBT awareness, Indiana will become the first state in the nation to offer a specialty license plate for an LGBT group.

Indiana Youth Group, according to their website, was founded in 1987 and focus on programs for education and career development, character and leadership development, personal development, social development, and information and referral.

The group has twice before had their application for a specialty plate denied because of concerns for how the group would apply money received for the plates as well as a supposed lack of a statewide benefit for the program.  After addressing the concerns and filing a lawsuit against the state, with the help of Indiana's ACLU, the plate was approved.  IYG has since dropped the suit.

The BMV already has the plate listed among it's available specialty plates. The plate will cost an extra $40, with $25 of that being support directly given to the group.  The lowest number plates will be available through a large donation to the group.

If you are not interested in a plate, but would like to make a donation to IYG, you can do so through this page of their site.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Senate Bill to Ban Alcohol and Lap Dances at Strip Clubs?

One of the benefits to being a person who keeps an eye on politics is that you have lots of friends and acquaintances that keep their eyes on politics, too.  That means that when there's a lot going on, like there is right now with the bills introduced in the Statehouse, you have others catching things that you might have otherwise overlooked.  That was the case with my posting yesterday, and it's the case with this post.  Thanks to Audrey Miller-Queckboerner for posting a link to this bill in the open-to-the-public Libertarian Legislative Thinktank on Facebook.

Today, I'm taking a peek at SB 183, authored by Senators Jim Banks, Dennis Kruse, and Scott Schneider.  This bill requires a little bit more deciphering than the one I covered yesterday, as it is a little bit more complicated in the number of issues it covers.  I did contact Senator Banks seeking explanation in clear language of exactly what he hoped to accomplish with this bill, but have not yet heard a response. (That message was only recently sent, and I will update here if I hear back from him.)

Jim Banks (R)

SB 183 consists of several small pieces, and they seem to ultimately have one goal in mind:  Shut down the state's strip clubs.  Sure, the bill doesn't specifically call for strip clubs to close, or for them to be made illegal.  But the bill does seem to take aim at many of the features of strip clubs, which would doubtless cause most of them to close.  Let's take a look at the bill, starting with the synopsis.

Synopsis: Sexually oriented businesses. Defines "sexually oriented business". Prohibits the sale or use of alcohol at a sexually oriented business. Establishes certain requirements concerning persons who own a sexually oriented business, and prohibits the establishment of a sexually oriented business in certain locations. Provides that a person less than 18 years of age may not enter a sexually oriented business, prohibits an employee who is regularly in a state of seminudity from touching a patron, and establishes requirements concerning the design, size, furnishings, and hours of operation of a sexually oriented business. Specifies that a sexually oriented business that repeatedly violates certain requirements is an indecent nuisance and is subject to abatement in the same manner as other indecent nuisances.

Right off the bat, one thing sticks out to me.  This bill prohibits the sale or use of alcohol at a "sexually oriented business."  Wait a alcohol at strip clubs?  Are you serious?  The idea is so laughable that on first reading I believed that the bill's definition of a "sexually oriented business" surely was more geared around adult bookstores than strip clubs.  Reading further into the bill, though, I'm forced to believe that the bill includes both.

Scott Schneider (R)

"Establishes certain requirements concerning persons who own a sexually oriented business."  Depending on what requirements lie within, this doesn't seem so bad.  There are plenty of industries that have requirements as to who can own or work for them.  If these requirements state things like pimps and prostitutes cannot be the owners, then I do not object based on the current illegality of those jobs.  Not having pimps or prostitutes own a strip club seems like a reasonable step to keep those clubs from becoming brothels. That does appear to be the way the bill is written, so I won't dwell on it further.

"Provides that a person under 18 years of age may not enter a sexually oriented business."  No problems with that.

"Prohibits an employee who is regularly in a state of seminudity from touching a patron" This seems to be directly aimed at lap dances.  The definition of semi nudity according to the bill involves the showing of any part of the female breast below a horizontal line drawn across the top of each breast's areola.  So, basically, not only would nude breasts qualify, but so would "side boob" and "bottom boob."  I've never understood why the bottom of the boob was somehow dirtier than top, but it seems to be a common thought. 

In the case of this bill, not only would a stripper with her top off be unable to give a lap dance, but even if she left her top on during the lap dance, but took it off while she was on stage.  The bill specifically states:

An employee who regularly appears in a seminude condition in a sexually oriented business who knowingly or intentionally touches a customer or the clothing of a customer while on the premises of the sexually oriented business commits unlawful touching at a sexually oriented business, a Class C misdemeanor.

So lap dances are allowed only if the stripper keeps her clothes on both during the lap dance and while dancing on stage.  So, really, lap dances are not allowed.

Beyond lap dances, the bill also addresses some of the specifics of stage dancing.  As noted, if stage dancing is allowed, lap dances are not.  In addition, stage dances can only occur if the club is >600 sq ft (probably not an issue to most clubs), if the stage is at least 18" from the floor (again, probably not much of an issue), and if the dancer is at least 6 feet from all patrons when in a "semi-nude" state.  This basically means that the "front row" seating in most strip clubs instantly becomes illegal, as does any dancer having her top off while walking through the general seating area of the club, even immediately after completing a stage dance.

The law goes on to state that all "sexually oriented businesses" must close by midnight each day. I'm really not sure what could possibly be going on after midnight that isn't possible before midnight, but it's still part of the bill.

The biggest concern most clubs will have from the bill, though, is undoubtedly the alcohol provision. 

Dennis Kruse (R)

Sec. 11. A person who recklessly, knowingly, or intentionally sells, furnishes, barters, uses, or consumes an alcoholic beverage on the premises of a sexually oriented business commits use of alcohol at a sexually oriented business, a Class C misdemeanor.

That's right.  As I pointed out earlier, this bill would ban alcohol in strip clubs.

Give me a break, Senators.  This bill is not about doing anything but putting all strip clubs in the state out of business.  You've not had any luck making the clubs themselves illegal in the past, so now you try to get rid of them by dismantling them from their foundation up.  No alcohol + No lap dances +No nudity in proximity of attendees = No strip clubs.  We know what you're up to, here.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Why Are We Wasting Our Time With The Lord's Prayer?

My good friend Bryce Palmer is a Baptist Pastor.  I've always had the utmost respect for him because (unless he's secretly Dexter) he lives the life he preaches about.  I fully admire people that can be committed to living the lifestyle they hope you would live.  It somehow doesn't feel like an intrusion when they aren't hypocrites.

Yesterday, on Facebook, Bryce made a great comment regarding prayer in school and why it is a bad idea.

"Religious people in America think they want prayer in schools and government, that is, until it's a prayer to Allah or any other religious god."
And he's right.  For the most part, supporters of prayer in school don't truly support prayer in school, they support Christian prayer in school.  Can you imagine the outrage if prayer in school was allowed, and little Sally and Johnny came running home telling their parents that they prayed to Allah that day?  All hell would break loose (pun intended.)

And that's exactly why prayer in school and government has been regularly ruled as unconstitutional.

 Nonetheless, State Senator Jim Tomes has introduced SB251, which allows public schools to require the Lord's Prayer be recited each day. Specifically, the bill states (emphases mine):
"In order that each student recognize the importance of spiritual development in establishing character and becoming a good citizen, the governing body of a school corporation or the equivalent authority of a charter school may require the recitation of the Lord's Prayer at the beginning of each school day."
The wording above goes to prove my above point that supporters of prayer in school only care about Christian prayer in school. If this bill was solely about building a basic spiritual development, then why would you write a bill calling for a very specific Christian prayer given to us by Jesus in the Christian Bible? If generic spiritual development was your goal, why not just call for prayer in general?

Senator Tomes (R)
The answer, of course, is that Tomes isn't interested in schools having prayer in general.  He's interested in the schools having Christian prayer.

All that is moot, though.  My question is why is Tomes bothering with this bill to begin with.  Even if it this bill should be passed, it's a waste of time and money.  As I've recently stated on another issue in another blog, this bill would have absolutely zero chance of withstanding a court battle.  Introducing this bill is introducing a bill that has no chance of ever being a standing law, and would almost definitely lead to court battles that cost the taxpayers lots and lots of money.

Amusingly, this bill has had a fiscal impact statement written for it.  It states:

"There could be some minor impact in deciding the version of the Lord's Prayer to use..."
LOL. I know it's not the job of those writing these statements to weigh in on the potential costs of court battles due to the legislation, but I still somehow find it hilarious that this sentence is used to describe the costs involved.

Senator Tomes, I agree with you that our children can use a little bit more spiritual recognition in their lives.  Let's accomplish that by encouraging parents to discuss their religion and spirituality with their children.  Let's accomplish that by being involved in our houses of worship and supporting ministries to get kids involved with.

But, please, let's not do that by introducing legislation that has no chance of being anything but a drain on taxpayers' time and money with no chance of ever being law.  C' know better.

  • Thank's to Masson's Blog for tipping me off to this bill's introduction.
  • If you live in the Evansville, Indiana area and are looking for a church to call home, please look Bryce up.  I'm sure he'll be happy to help you in your search.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Expanded Smoking Ban Would Cover E-Cigarettes? Why?

Tonight the new Democratic City-County Council begins it's four year journey.  First and foremost, I hope that they can make it through the next four years without selling off billions of dollars worth of our city for pennies on the dollar, and being known for high levels of corruption and insider back-scratching like the Republican council of the last four years was.

Tonight's meeting will have plenty to accomplish in the form of Council logistics, but won't be tackling to much in the form of legislation.  For the umpteenth time, though, the Council will have a new and improved smoking ban put before it.

The Council and the Ballard administration spent the last few years passing laws that didn't make much sense unless you believed they were trying to kiss the NFL's butt for the Super Bowl.  Nonetheless, both branches completely denied the big game was the motivating factor behind the proposals introduced.  Now, though, after an expanded smoking ban has met with repeated demise, there is no hiding it.  Despite the fact that expanding the smoking ban died in the Council as recently as last month, once again it is being introduced.  The State General Assembly is tackling the issue, too.  This time, though, they at least admit that they are trying to rush the legislation through so that it is in place before the February 5th game.

There is a ton of argument about the smoking ban, on both sides of the issue.  I don't want to discuss that here and now, though.  At least not most of it.  What I want to talk about is e-cigarettes.

One of many styles of e-cigarettes
E-cigarettes are designed as a method to help people quit smoking.  They use little cartridges in a battery-powered tube to give those trying to smoke a puff of nicotine to help calm their addiction.  They are approximately the same size as a regular cigarette, and unlike other smoking cessation methods help the smoker with the physical habit that accompanies their addiction, as well as the nicotine addiction.

Tonight's expanded smoking ban proposal, Prop 18, includes banning the use of e-cigarettes anywhere where the use of regular cigarettes are banned.  My question is: why?

E-cigarettes may have a similar size and shape as a normal cigarette, but the similarities pretty much end there.  When a user takes a drag of an e-cigarette, they exhale a breath of water vapor.  It's initial appearance is similar to a puff of smoke.  Unlike exhaled cigarette smoke, though, the exhaled e-cigarette vapor is completely odorless and dissipates quickly.  There is no odor being absorbed in your hair and your clothes.  There is no second-hand smoke.  There is simply a little puff of nothing that almost immediately disappears.

E-cigarettes are also being widely reported as one of the most successful smoking cessation tools.  Since it tackles the physical habits that accompany the addiction, it feels more proper to a smoker trying to kick the habit.  If one of the points of a smoking ban is to eventually lower the number of smokers, then adding similar bans to e-cigarettes as there are on regular cigarettes means you are telling those trying to kick the habit that one of the most successful ways to do so is simply not acceptable if you have to look at it.  Banning e-cigarettes in restaurants and bars is the equivalent of telling those that want to quit smoking that you would rather see them smoking a real cigarette outside than use an unintrusive and successful cessation tool inside.  Basically, you would rather them kill themselves than have to watch them try to save themselves.

Banning e-cigarettes is all about image and nothing about danger. It has nothing to do with the smell.  It has nothing to do with the dangers of smoking.  It has nothing to do with the reports of dangers of second-hand smoke.  It's all about whining about something simply because you don't want to look at it.  And it puts smokers in harms way.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Let's Ban Novelty Lighters and Any Different National Anthem Singing! It's Important!

Every year the State Legislature is flooded with a ton of new bills.  Every year there's a decisive one or two that seems to fill the news coverage of what those bodies do.  Aside from those, though, there's always a mess of bills introduced that the public en masse don't pay any attention to, and the media doesn't bother mentioning.

Some of those bills are worthwhile additions to the Hoosier State, but get little attention because they aren't controversial, they pass easily, and thus there isn't any "news" to them.  Others, though, are a waste of time.  Laughable, really.  Let's look at a couple of those.

Rep. Randy Frye (R)
First on today's docket is Randall Frye's HB 1056.  HB 1056 is a bill introduced to ban the sale or distribution of novelty lighters.  It also charges the State Fire Marshall with "to identify and publish a list of novelty lighters."  Identify and publish a list of novelty lighters?  Really?  Is this what we want our State Fire Marshall spending his time and our tax dollars on?  Can you even fathom the enormous number of varieties that novelty lighters come in?

I'm sure I know this bill's origin.  Somewhere out there in Hoosierland, some kid picked up a novelty lighter and played with it like it's a toy.  The result: a home was destroyed.  Maybe someone was hurt.  Perhaps killed.  I'm not in any way trying to say that is not tragic.

The problem, though, is this bill blames the lighter for the fire.  It's the same flaw in most gun legislation: someone was irresponsible with proper gun safety and storage and someone got hurt.  Is it the irresponsible person's fault?  Of course's the gun's fault.  Let's ban them.

So now poorly thought out gun law comes around and is used to attack novelty lighters.  It's not the responsibility of parents or babysitters to keep dangerous items away from's the responsibility of the manufacturers to stop making them in the first place.

And why just novelty lighters?  I'd bet good money that if you looked at how many fires were caused by novelty lighters, and how many were caused by regular lighters or matches, regular caused more many, many times over.  Let's ban ALL lighters and matches...duh.

And while we're at it, let's make sure that no one ever, ever, ever sings the National Anthem in ANY way except for the way that we are used to hearing it.  That's exactly what Evansville Senator Vaneta Becker is proposing in SB 0122.

Senator Vaneta Becker (R)
Becker's bill requires all public schools and universities to be legally required to enter into a contract with anybody ever singing the national anthem at one of their events.  The contract must stipulate that the singer will not deviate from legally set requirements on the music and singing style used or face a (oh noes!!) $25 fine.  The institution would be required to record the performances and keep those recording for at least two years, in case there is a complaint filed.

Again, don't get me wrong here.  I know exactly what Becker is TRYING to accomplish....she's just horrible at accomplishing it.  She doesn't want anybody to get up in front of an audience at one of our public institutions and intentionally destroy the Star Spangled Banner.  It's happens, and there are very few among us like it when it does.

But sometimes a singer out there deviates from the traditional presentation of the national anthem and the audience says, "wow!  That was amazing!"  Such performances would also be illegal under this bill.

There's another side to this issue that is the main reason I think it is a total waste of time.  The First Amendment.  Frankly, if this bill were to be passed it would have absolutely zero chance of surviving a court battle based on the First Amendment.  The courts have ruled over and over again that even things like flag burning are protected free speech.  To think that legally requiring a very specific style of singing to be entered into by contract and fine those that do something else has any chance of staying law for very long at all is just naive. And those court fights are expensive.

These bills are a waste of time, and would lead to a waste of taxpayer money. These are the kinds of bills that go through our legislature every year, mostly unnoticed.  These are the people we elect to office.  These are the kind of things that they think are important enough to pass laws on.

These are the kind of things that make me horribly disappointed in those that represent us.

Friday, January 6, 2012

"Right to Work" Will Cause Both R and D Incumbents to Lose in November

I don't know what the motivation of the State Representatives is when it comes to right to work.  It could be a grudge match that they are finally willing to throw down on.  It could be that both sides just truly believe that right to work is such an important issue that it's worth stopping all other business for.  I only know one thing for sure...they sure aren't battling it out because the people of the state give a crap...because we don't.

Don't get me wrong.  There are some extremely vocal supporters on both sides of the issue. And I'm not saying I don't have my own opinion on right to work, because I do. But an independent survey on the issue by Ball State's Bowen Center said that, for the most part, we Hoosiers simply do not care about right to work.

The survey shows that approximately the same number of Hoosiers are for right to work as are against it.  Both those numbers come in right around 25% (27% for, 24% against, within the surveys margin of error.)  The remaining half of us?  Well they either don't know or don't care about the issue.

What's that mean for those representing us at the Statehouse?  I suggest it means they better get their acts together and either and pass or shoot down the bill - and quickly.  With this many Hoosiers apathetic to the issue, anything that happens on behalf of this bill that slows down or halts other legislation will simply be considered intolerable.

It's only been three days right now, but there is currently no end in sight for the Democratic walkout.  Democratic Minority Leader Pat Bauer has made several statements indicating that there is no current plan for the Dems to leave the state, or that the walkout will last as long as the one last year. Simultaneously, signs of hope for their return are currently few to none.  They are demanding the GOP agree to several statewide hearings on the issue, but there has been no indication from Speaker Bosma that he is willing to put the vote on the back burner while such hearings take place.

The Democrats have since announced that they will have their own hearings on the issue.  There has not been any statement as to whether they will return after they are completed.  One would assume that they would, but depending on the time frame of those hearings, it may be too late for their careers.

Simply, if the Representatives on both sides continue this childish fight for very long at all, the large number of Hoosiers that don't care about the issue will vote accordingly.  Not against Republicans.  Not against Democrats.  They will vote against incumbents.  If the Representatives cannot, for the second year in a row, reach enough compromise to even get business started, then this election year will be one full of kicking people to the curbs.

I'd like to add that there's something almost good about this...almost.  Politicians being so committed to an ideal they believe is truly for better of all, and willing to risk their jobs in support of that ideal (on both sides), is a rare thing.  I don't believe for a second though that either side is so committed to their side because of some great feeling of the better good.  Let's be real about this...this is nothing but politics as usual.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Dems Don't Show, GOP Cries Foul; I Make Predictions...

Surprise! Okay, not really.

For the second day in a row, the Indiana House Democrats have stayed "in caucus" on what was supposed to be the second day of the legislative session.  Really, it's just a fancy term to say they didn't show up to do business.  They didn't head out of state and stay in a motel (yet), but they decided to not show up for work all the same.

And the issue?  Yep.  Right to work legislation being proposed by the Republicans.  It's deja vu all over again.

The Dems say they are only filibustering, and are arguing this year that the Republicans are trying to "cram through" the legislation.  An interesting point of view on a topic that's been on the agenda for two sessions now. Nonetheless, the Dems are demanding that the Republicans allow public hearings around the State on the issue before heading into the House chambers for a vote.

The Republicans are crying foul.  They say the Democrats are failing to show up for the work they were elected to do, and are stalling the completion of other important pieces of legislation as well.

Minority Leader Bauer
House Speaker Brian Bosma and Minority Leader Pat Bauer have been, as you might expect, the faces of the two sides of the argument.  Bauer, as part of his statement that these actions represent a filibuster, also stated that the Democrats do not intend to leave the state.

The statement seems to indicate that the Democrats are, at least currently, considering returning to the Chamber soon.  Failure to do so could not only begin building a $1,000 per day fine (something the Dems are not scared of, since the tab would likely be picked up by unions, like last years for the most part was,) but also potentially lead to the legislators arrest.  Fear of arrest is exactly why they left the state last year, and why they may again in 2012.

Speaker Bosma
I have my thoughts on right to work, and they lie somewhere in between the Democratic and Republican sides of the issue.  In lieu of an argument here, I'll lay out my predictions for the future.

  1. The Democrats, as they have announced, will continue to deny a quorum in the House. 
  2. Sometime between a week and two weeks into this, Bosma and Bauer will reach an agreement "in the interest of getting business done" that will allow for some of the public hearings on the matter. 
  3. Bauer and the Democrats will call for a large number of these to take place in heavily unionized towns like Kokomo.  Bosma and the GOP will call for a small number in towns that are hardly unionized at all.  There will end up being about 10 of these forums and they will be in a mix of union and non-union towns.
  4.  The turnout at these hearings is going to be 90%+ against right to work in the union towns, and 75%+ against right to work in the non-union towns. 
  5. The Democrats are going to shout from the rooftops that this is a clear indication that public sentiment is strongly against passing right to work. The Republicans are going to point out the fact that the reason the anti right to work turnout was so strong was because unions, both from Indiana and other states, flooded the cities where the forums were taking place and skewed the numbers.  They're going to make a note of the fact that many of the participants were paid by the unions to make the trip and be there.
  6. The GOP will point to a handful of public polls that will have been done that show the public as a whole supports right to work. 
  7. They will return to the Statehouse and vote the right to work legislation into law.
  8. (unless the Dems walk out again realizing that the legislation is still going to pass...a definite possibility.)

I'm interested in how you think this will play out.  Please leave your thoughts on how this will in the comments section below.