Monday, April 30, 2012

Rupert Campaign Unveils RV to Tour the State With

The campaign of Libertarian Gubernatorial Candidate Rupert Boneham today introduced an RV that Rupert will use to visit all 92 Indiana Counties.

Boneham's campaign manager, Evan McMahon, said the RV was chosen because,

"We don't have millions of dollars in corporate sponsors, like the establishment candidates do.  Instead of bombarding TV and Radio with poll tested sound bites, Rupert is going on the people can really understand who he is and what he stands for.  Face to face with Hoosiers in their communities."

No word yet from the campaign where the RV might make its first appearance in its tour around the Hoosier State.  According to the campaign's Facebook page, though, you can make a donation to the campaign to help cover gas costs and other expenses at their Donate Page.

Sarah Palin Endorsement Only Relevant for About a Week

Sarah Palin has endorsed Richard Mourdock for Senate.  John McCain endorsed Lugar.

Neither of those endorsements are particularly surprising.  McCain endorsed his long-time friend.  Palin endorsed the Tea Party favorite.

Right now we're hearing a lot about the Palin endorsement.  So much so, in fact, that Mourdock, while thanking another group for their endorsement, went out of his way to again address the Palin endorsement.

Why?  Because Palin is incredibly popular among uber-conservatives.  And those are the people the Lugar and Mourdock are fighting for right now.  So as we get much closer to the May 8th Primary, I wouldn't be surprised if we continue to hear Mourdock tout the importance of the Palin endorsement.

One way or another, though, I bet that ends May 8th.  If Lugar wins, of course it ends along with Mourdock's campaign.  If Mourdock wins, though, as is looking more likely every day, I doubt he continues to brag much about the Palin endorsement.

Why?  Because the voters he's fighting for will change dramatically.  Today he's fighting for right-wingers and is proud to display his endorsement by someone right-wingers adore.

But starting May 9th, Mourdock will have the right-wingers' votes locked up.  If he wins the primary, the Republicans are going to vote for him in November.

So starting May 9th, Mourdock is fighting for the votes of independents and swing-voters.  And that crowd aligns themselves more with the Democrats when it comes to attitudes towards Sarah Palin.  Their feelings range from a great dislike toward her, to outright hating her.

So while you see Mourdock proudly wearing the Palin endorsement today, I wouldn't expect that trend to continue for more than another week.  Then it gets filed away as a campaign hindrance. 

Saturday, April 21, 2012

"Indy Bar Owners: You've Been Had" OR "How the Government Tricks You Into Supporting Something You Hate"

'When it comes to controversial legislative issues that have no chance of ever passing in their fully intended form, it's not uncommon for legislators to pit those that oppose them against each other.  This most commonly happens through what I call "the baby step game."

What is the baby step game?  Simple.  Our laws are currently at step A.  The legislators have determined that we should be at step D.  Unfortunately for our legislators, though, they know there is no way that their constituents would ever support a jump straight from A to D.  So, they break it down into pieces.  Instead of going from A to D, they go from A to B, then wait a little bit and go from B to C.  Finally, they make the step from C to D.

Each step seems a little less harsh, and thus is less likely to receive the level of criticism that would cause the legislators to reconsider it.  It's a trick that our government uses against us very, very regularly.

The worst part of this government trickery is that, by breaking it down into stages, our legislators are sometimes able to turn the very people that were originally all on the same side against each other.  By doing so, they turn what were originally their enemies into their supporters.  And our legislators are so successful at doing this that most times the sides that have been turned into unwilling supporters have no idea it's happening to them.

The most recent example of this is with the smoking bans.  The advocates of smoking bans wanted an all-encompassing ban from day one.  The legislators pushing for a ban, though, knew that there was absolutely no chance of moving from no ban on public smoking to a full ban on it.  So, they started by focusing on restaurants.

When they first went to ban smoking in restaurants, they knew it would be a battle. It was just restaurants, though, not bars.  Just the place that the kids could go.  It was a fight, but a fight "for the kids."  Slowly, they gained the support that they needed to pass the ban.  Restaurants, bars, cigar bars, private clubs and more all were against the ban.  It was spun as a compromise, though, and eventually they were able to get it passed.

After passing the restaurant smoking ban, it felt like it was all over for a while.  Restaurants complained that they were unfairly focused on and were losing smokers' business to bars and private clubs.

After a few years, the angst of restaurants started to take hold.  Suddenly, the fully acceptable compromise that only restaurants would be impacted became obsolete.  Now, the attack turned to bars as well.  No longer was protecting the kids the focus, though.  Now, the attention was turned to protecting the employees.  Now it was important to ban smoking in bars, too.

So, the legislators fought again.  This time, they fought to ban smoking in bars.  Eventually, they again reached a compromise.  This time that compromise meant that bars would now also be prevented from allowing smoking in their businesses.  That compromise, of course, eventually passed and was signed into law.

That compromise that was signed into law prevents Indianapolis bars from allowing smoking in their establishments.  Cigar bars, hookah bars, tobacco shops, and private organizations, though, are still continued to allow smoking.  For now.

The first steps towards the next expansion of the smoking ban are already in motion.  Since the passing of Indy's latest smoking ban, several bar owners in town are now calling for a comprehensive smoking ban.  They are, justifiably, worried about losing business to low cost private organizations that may be near their businesses.  Organizations that, in many cases, are just a glorified bar.  Organizations that now allow smoking while the traditional Mom & Pop bar can't.

While I see where the bar owners are coming from (they're just trying to protect their business), I worry about what this means for the future.  You see, the Indy bar owners are now just playing into the legislators' hands.  They WANT the bar owners to complain and, in lieu of being able to allow smoking themselves, will fight for no smoking for anybody.  It is the first step to the next step.

Trust me, Indy bar owners, the legislators are listening.  And at each step along the way, they will meet less resistance.  It may be very soon, considering Indy's recent history, before the next step is introduced.  Like each step along the way, it will be unlikely to meet with success at its first stop.  Within a couple or three tries, though, the ban of smoking in private establishments will definitely pass.

Following that will be the cigar bars and hookah bars.  Maybe even the tobacco shops.  Again, it will take two or three tries, but it will pass.

After that, we'll see a push against smoking in cars or our homes.  It probably seems silly now, and it will seem silly when it's first introduced.  Within a few tries, though, it will pass.  Our yards may follow.  And cigarettes as a whole, the original goal, will be banned within most of your lifetimes.

Indy bar owners:  I understand your angst and your anger right now.  I hope you'll understand, though, that you are playing right into their plan.  Your desire for the next step to take place will only make it one step closer to the next step after that.

You have been turned into a pawn for the anti-smoking crowd.  Exactly as they planned just from the beginning.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Rupert Makes Pledge to the LGBT Community on Marriage Equality

One of the more divisive issues in our communities today is the future of LGBT rights.  Marriage is at the forefront of this issue.  Whether you are for or against the rights of homosexuals to marry, the topic is hotly debated in just about every political arena.

Other issues the LGBT community are fighting for include inheritance rights and hospital visitation rights.  Without the ability to marry, if one partner in a homosexual relationship dies, then the surviving partner doesn't have the tax benefits on the inheritance that a similar heterosexual couple would have.  And if a LGBT partner is hospitalized, the other partner may not have visitation rights if the family disagrees...something that would obviously never be possible to happen against a spouse in a heterosexual marriage.

Over the last few years the fight for LGBT rights has become the civil rights issue of the generation.  There have been great advances in the fight.  A handful of states have started to allow gay marriage.  Hate crimes laws now include acts against homosexuals.  The public attitude has become welcoming enough that many that formerly would have stayed in the closet for their entire life are now comfortable coming out at an early age.

The obstacles yet to overcome far outweigh the advances, though.  While many now feel comfortable coming out that may not have, by doing so they face the potential to face dangerous bullying issues...especially while still of school age.  Entire segments of the population still fight against homosexuality; they fight over things like why people are gay and they fight over what rights the LGBT community may have.  They do everything they can do to "keep the gay away."

In politics, the fight is just as grand.  The Republicans, with little exception, fight with all their might to prevent LGBTs from having any kind of benefits at all.  For the most part, the gay community responds by rarely voting Republican.  And who can blame them?

Confusingly to me, though, the LGBTs turn their support to the Democrats.  While the Democrats don't go out of their way to fight against gay rights, they sure don't go out of their way to support them, either.  It feels like  the LGBTs just choose to vote for the lesser of two evils.

Examples?  Let's start with the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).  Which Republican signed this bill that defines marriage as between one man and one woman, and also keeps states from having to recognize a gay marriage performed in another state (despite the constitutional requirement to do so)? No Republican at all.  The bill was signed by Democrat Bill Clinton in 1996.

And what Republican signed into law Don't Ask, Don't Tell (DADT)?  Again, none.  The bill was signed into law guessed it...Democrat Bill Clinton in 1993.

But, wait!  Democrat President Barack Obama got rid of Don't Ask Don't Tell, didn't he?!?  Yes, he did.  But let's look at how he did it.  Throughout the 2008 Presidential campaign, he indicated that getting rid of DADT was a priority to him. But how much of a priority did he make it once he took office in January 2009?  The answer is he didn't make it a priority at all.  In fact, after he was elected we never heard him mention it again for about 18 months.

Why did he wait for 18 months to bring it back up?  He had the majority in the House and the Senate.  If it was REALLY a priority for Obama, all he had to do was tell his friends in Congress to get the bill on his desk, and it would have been law in very short order.

Instead, though, Obama used the LGBT community to his political advantage.  He only made an issue out of it when he felt he could pick up a few votes with it.  He campaigned on its importance in 2008 to get votes.  Then he ignored them for nearly two years.  Then it suddenly became important again in 2010 when he could again use it as leverage for votes.  In the meantime, LGBTs spent two years either choosing to not serve in our military, or serving and hiding who they are.  Obama made them suffer for all that time so he could pick up a few more votes for he and his party.

The same attitude is going on right now in Indiana and it's Gubernatorial race.  Ask a member of the gay community what they think of Mike Pence and they are likely to despise him.  After all, Pence openly fights against gay rights.

But then ask LGBTs who they're going to vote for this fall and they are likely to say John Gregg.  Why?  Not because he's on their side, but because he's the lesser of two evils.

As my friend an fellow blogger Mike Kole recently wrote on his blog The Kole Hard Facts of Life, John Gregg is no friend to the LGBT community.  When it comes to LGBT issues, Gregg is suspiciously silent.  If he does support LGBT rights, he sure isn't saying so. And he may very well be against those rights...we just don't know.

If Gregg does support LGBT rights, why would he keep quiet about it?  There's only three possible reaons: A) He's embarrassed by his position;  B) He feels his position could harm him politically; or  C) He doesn't really support LGBT rights.

If you are LGBT, which of those makes you comfortable voting for Gregg?  Do you want to vote for someone who's embarrassed to support you?  Do you want to vote for someone whose principals are so low he'd hide his support for you to gain political advantage?  Do you want to vote for someone who is against you?  I bet the answer is "No!" to all three.

There is an Indiana Gubernatorial candidate that isn't John Gregg or Mike Pence, though.  And guess what, LGBTs, he's made a public pledge to support marriage equality and LGBT rights.

That's right, Rupert Boneham is a friend to the LGBT community.  He's not embarrassed by it.  He stands by his principals and admits it.  He will fight for you.

As we head into the fall elections, I hope you will remember that.  Of course, there are many more issues than just LGBT rights.  Rupert will be making several trips around the state in the next several months.  He makes himself very accessible and is always happy to talk policy with Hoosiers.  If you will be attending Circle City IN Pride this year, Rupert plans to be there all day at the Libertarian Party booth.  Please stop by.

The Bisard Case and The Integrity of Our Police Force

It's hard to be a cop.  Harder than I can imagine.  I have a few friends that are cops.  I wouldn't want to trade places with them.

One of the hardest thing about being a cop has got to be the lack of respect shown to you by different segments of the population.  Mostly, I'm sure this comes from people that are up to no good and the presence of a police officer means they have to delay or abort their nefarious plans.

Sometimes, though, the lack of respect comes from those who are mostly good and would never consider doing harm to another.  Maybe that lack of respect comes out of anger; a person was speeding or rolled through a stop sign and got a ticket.  Angry over the ticket, even though that person broke the law, they have a show of disrespect to the police officer.  Hey, they're just doing their job.

But then there's another side.  There's the side of  "cops taking care of their own."  This is the side that would really piss me off if I was a cop.  The majority of police officers do their jobs and live by operating above and beyond the demands of the law. They understand that when all eyes are on them, they have to go above and beyond to earn and keep the respect of the citizens. A few, though, ruin it for the rest of the force.

One of the ways that cops operate above the law is speeding.  That's one that really gets on my nerves.  The speed limit on I465 around Indianapolis is 55mph.  I regularly set my cruise control at somewhere between 63 and 65.  Plenty of people pass me, including off-duty police in squad cars moving at 70mph or more.  I may not literally see it every day, but I see it several times a week.  Sometimes the officers are on duty, too.

Hell, on-duty officers never follow the speed limit.  They are always going at least 63 on I465.  What's my motivation to follow the speed limit if they can't?

I just lost some respect.  IMPD and the State Police regularly give people tickets for going 70 on I465.  But these officers aren't scared, because they are in a police car.  They're not getting pulled over for going 70, so they just cruise along with no worries.

People like me who appreciate the police and respect them for the job they do get saddened by stuff like this.  A big sigh and a "c'mon, guys!" I know that, even though I didn't mean to, I just lost a little respect for the badge.

As I stated, the officers should, especially when on-duty or off-duty but in a squad car, follow the law to a T.  Maybe even go beyond it's requirements.  I shouldn't see officers going above 55 except when their is a call for them to do so.  It's just the right thing to do.  (And, whether I would like it or not, I bet the average speed on 465 would come down a few mph if all the cops were going 55.)

Same deal, but exponentially bigger,  with the Bisard case debacle.  The first blood draw was taken at the wrong facility and thrown out.  The second blood draw was "accidentally" removed from refrigerated storage and is now compromised.  The FBI has been asked to come in and investigate whether there has been criminal intent in these situations.

If I was one of the majority of the officers out there that are good, I'd be pissed.  This is the kind of stuff that just made the entire IMPD, as well as police officers everywhere, lose respect from the masses.  The whole "a few rotten apples" cliche at its grandest.

I love my police officer friends.  I respect you and your job; it's one of the most difficult in the world.  I just hope that you and your fellow officers remember that "protecting your own" means much more than protecting an individual officer that has done wrong.  It means protecting your department and what your badge stands for.  It means having integrity above all else because all eyes are on you and the slightest misstep is amplified and ripples out to those all around you.

To protect your own doesn't mean to turn a blind eye to misdeeds.  It does not mean to do shady things to let one of your badged brothers get away with wrongdoing.  Protecting your own means holding yourself and your fellow officers to the highest of standards at all times.  You earn respect that way.  You keep respect that way.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Smoking Bans: Can We Please Stop Pretending It's About Health?

I don't write much about smoking bans.  I know, as a political blogger, you'd think it is some kind of prerequisite.  I choose not to talk about smoking bans, though.  It's not that I don't have strong feelings on the issue, because I do.  I choose not to spend time on it because: A) I think smoking bans are inevitable, and B) There's plenty of blogs out there talking about it and I'd just be noise.

So today, the day after the Indianapolis City-County Council has, for the second time this year, passed a enhanced smoking ban, I guess I'll touch on the issue a little.

I don't really want to talk about the ban itself, though.  I'm not going to focus on what's included, what's not included, who's applauding the vote, and who's upset with it.

Instead, I want to talk about why people want a smoking ban to begin with.  And let me tell's not about health.  Not about the health of patrons.  Not about the health of employees.  It's not.

And I'm not going to get into whether or not second-hand smoke is dangerous.  Or third-hand smoke, which I've started to see little bits and pieces of mentioned in stories.

I'm not going to talk about any of those things because that's not why people want a smoking ban.  Some people are concerned about those things, but that's still not why they want a smoking ban.

People who support a smoking ban want a smoking ban for one simple reason: the smell.  They hate the smell of cigarettes.  They don't like going to bars and having to put up with the smell.  They don't like coming home and smelling the smell in their clothes.  They don't like feeling like they need a shower to get the smell off of them.

I get that.  There is a non-smoking bar near my house that I enjoy going to because I don't like coming home smelling of cigarettes. (Although I will sometimes smoke a cigarette or two while I am in a bar.)  But I don't pretend I go there because it's better for my health. I go to avoid the smell.

Why do I believe that it's the smell and not the health that is why people want a smoking ban?  A couple reasons.  First, that's what people bitch about.  The smell.  Not the impact on health, but the smell.  Second, there are plenty of other things that are plenty dangerous to people's health that you here very few ramblings about.

I'm not saying no one cares about the health aspects.  I'd bet, however, that if cigarettes were odor-free, then this argument would be a much quieter one.  I just wish that smoking ban advocates would be honest and say they don't like the smell.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Tax Day Thoughts...

There's a lot of different thoughts on taxes, even among Libertarians. There are few, if any, that believe our current tax rates are appropriate. There are those that are nearly anarchists and think taxes in general are a bad thing. There are those of every level in between.

That's where I find myself. While I don't necessarily believe that an income tax is the best way to tax our citizens (I'm a fan of a spending tax, but that's a talk for another day), I don't think near-zero is exactly called for either.

I'm also not one of those Libertarians that pitches a fit every time tax season rolls around. I'm happy to pay my taxes...I just don't think that I should be paying so much of them.

So how should we be taxed and what should our taxes be used for? The scope of government is far too grand, even in a reduced tax and reduced spending environment, to cover that topic in detail within the boundaries of this blog. So I'll hit a few highlights.

I don't believe that our tax money should be funding undeclared wars. We've been at war pretty much nonstop for longer than any of us have been alive. Since World War II, not a single one of those wars has been properly declared by Congress as the Constitution mandates. That's a problem that has cost us Trillions of dollars.

And presidential candidates like Ron Paul are getting chastised for being “isolationist” when he says he wants to correct this problem. He's not saying that he doesn't want to get involved...he's just saying that if it's necessary for us to go to war then we need to get a Congressional Declaration of War. It's not isolationist, it's mandated. We just forgot.

Some Libertarians think that tax money shouldn't even be used for things like roads. That's an extreme I don't buy into. I think that there are certain pieces of infrastructure that Government should be involved in. That includes roads. That does not include the internet.

I don't think our Federal tax dollars should be going toward education. Not that I don't believe that education is important. I think that by the time your tax dollars get filtered through the bureaucratic red tape at the Federal level, then your tax dollars would be better served by being collected by the State. Not to mention that the Department of Education doesn't exactly have a track record of accomplishing, well, anything.

On the other hand, I don't really have a problem with State tax dollars being collected for education. Education succeeds better when handled locally. At the State level, though, I believe it is important for schools to have to meet the demand to improve that is created by competition. For the reason, I am a big fan of voucher programs.

Mostly, though, when it comes to to taxes I think that the discussion needs to be focused on spending.  And sacrifice.  The fact that we're fighting over who gets taxed and in what amounts is only successful in doing one thing: turning us against each other.  For Big Government, that's good news because it means we're not turning our attention towards the other details that add up to so much of what our government does and spends.

The truth is that, no matter how much we tax, we can't overcome our deficit woes with our current spending levels.  The only way we can ever begin to ease the pain of our deficits is by dramatically reducing our spending. We all need to agree to sacrifice to accomplish this.  Not just the rich.  Not just the poor.  Not just the middle class.  If eveyone is not on board, then we are doomed to fail.

So on this tax day, I ask you to not just look at the amount of the refund you may be getting.  Don't just look at the amount of money you had to fork over.  Also look at your legislators.  Reach out to them and let them know that you've had enough.  Demand spending cuts from them, and let them know that you're willing to sacrifice a little to help us all out in the future.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Tully Misses Key Points in His "Why Vote in the Primary" Column

A reader wrote to the Star's Matthew Tully and asked him to pen a column on why it important to vote in the primary.  Tully did so in his column today and, for the most part, I agree with the points he's made.  He did leave out a couple bits of information that I think are important to know about the primaries, though.

First, it is important to remember that the primary votes are actually closed party business.  They are open to the public and taxpayer funded, but when you vote in a primary you are declaring yourself to be a member of that party.  This isn't a problem for lifelong Democrats or Republicans.  For the majority of people that declare themselves independent of a party label, though, you are making a statement of affiliation by voting in a primary.  

Actually, it may even be illegal for you to vote in a primary in certain situations. Although impossible to track and enforce, you are legally only allowed to vote in a party's primary if you the majority of the votes you cast in the last general election were for that party, or if the majority of the votes you intend to cast in the next general election are for that party.  Again, this is not possible to enforce, but like using the honor box in a parking garage, it's just the right thing to do if you are a person of integrity.

Second, you are giving the parties a LOT of information about yourself when you vote in the primaries.  In a world where everyone throws a fit every time Facebook changes their privacy policies, you should consider the information that you are giving the political parties each time you vote.

No, they don't know exactly who you vote for when you step inside the ballot box.  But it is a matter of public record which party's ballot you pull, how often you vote, and which elections you vote in.  For the purposes of marketing their candidates to you most effectively, the parties consider this some of the most valuable information they have and they use it a lot.  And I mean a LOT.

Every one of you that has ever voted is on a list that the political parties has.  And you are categorized.  Based on the information above, the parties label you in many ways.  "Hard R."  "Soft D."  Whatever.  Did you ever wonder how your neighbor got one mailer for a candidate, and you got a completely different one?  It's based on your voting histories.  Your neighbor votes more, or votes less, or never votes in the primaries, or always pulls the same party's ballot, or never pulls the same parties ballot, or whatever.  

Based on that information, the parties know to send the mailer that bashes a candidate to the voter they deem most susceptible to that message.  And the happy message to the voter that will respond to that.  And the Hard Rs and Hard Ds probably don't get much money wasted on them for mailers at all, because their votes are so predictable that no mailer will swing them.  It's voter profiling, and it happens constantly.

Third, if you are a member or supporter of a third party, such as the Libertarian Party or the Constitution Party, then you don't get to participate in the primaries at all.  The two major parities have crafted it this way through legislation.  They don't want the third parties to be able to participate in the primaries because they don't want the third parties to know who their voters are.  The voter profiling that the two major parties do constantly and completely rely on is a benefit they don't want to give to anyone else.  They abhor competition.

So think about this before you go vote in a primary.  I'm not telling you to not cast your primary vote, I'm just saying that you should be aware of what you are doing when you do. You are saying "I'm a Republican, world!" or "Hey, Public! I'm a Democrat!"  You are submitting yourself to a world of intense profiling.  You are opening yourself up in ways you probably didn't want to know.

(As an aside, if there is a school board race or other non-partisan vote taking place along with the primaries, then you can always ask for a ballot that only includes those non-partisan races.  By doing so, you can submit your vote in those important races without making a party declaration.)

Thursday, April 12, 2012

No State Fair Train This Year? Boooo!!!

The Indiana State Fair Train is a pretty neat concept.  Since 1983, riders could board a train in Noblesville and enjoy a stress-free trip to our great State Fair.  Avoid the city traffic, avoid the parking, avoid the walk, and provide a unique experience for kids and families to add to their memories.  Many families have made it a tradition to ride the train to the State Fair each year.

But maybe not this year.  For the first year since the concept was introduced, reports the Star, their may be no State Fair train to ride this year.  Not because of a lack of popularity, but because of gas lines.  The Hoosier Heritage Port Authority has indicated that they believe that Citizens Energy has improperly installed some gas lines inder tracks and has ordered no trains travel on a segment of track because of it.

From the Star article:
The Hoosier Heritage Port Authority has issued an order that trains no longer may travel on the tracks south of 62nd Street after learning that the lines installed last fall at 62nd Street and 56th Street by Citizens Energy Group may not have been properly done. 
Citizens Energy disputes the claim that the lines were improperly installed and say they have been working with the Port Authority -- which operates the tracks on behalf of the city of Noblesville, town of Fishers and Hamilton County.

It would be a shame if the State Fair Train were unable to run.  Admittedly, I have not ridden the train since I was a child and due to the location of my home and unlikely to in the near future.  Still, I remember riding the train as a kid and remember thinking it was one of the neatest things ever.  The conductor even let some kids blow the train's whistle.  I hope that more kids have the opportunity to create a memory like mine, and that this situation is resolved before this year's Indiana State Fair.

Netflix has NOT Formed Pro-SOPA PAC

Several stories began to hit the news over the last 48 hours that DVD-mailing and TV/Movie streaming service Netflix has created a new PAC to support the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA).  The story was circulating rapidly because of the enormous popularity of Netflix and the fact that SOPA is one of the most universally hated pieces of introduced legislation in recent memory.

Forbes and other are now reporting that the story is not true.  While Netflix has created a new PAC, it has nothing to do with supporting SOPA.

From the Forbes article:

Netflix has issued an official statement saying that neither SOPA nor PIPA is behind their formation of the PAC. 
“PACs are commonplace for companies that lead a big, growing market and Netflix is no exception. Our PAC is a way for our employees to support candidates that understand our business and technology.  It was not set up for the purpose of supporting SOPA or PIPA.  Instead, Netflix has engaged on other issues including network neutrality, bandwidth caps, usage based billing and reforming the Video Privacy Protection Act.”

This is good news.  I love me some Netflix.  I hate me some SOPA.  If a service that I loved as much as Netflix was going to support something I find as evil as SOPA then I was going to seriously have to consider dropping them.  For now, it looks like that's not going to be something I have to consider.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Broad Ripple Parking Garage Gets a Few More Days

Indianapolis Business Journal is reporting that the request by the Broad Ripple parking garage developers is going to get a few more days before a decision will be made in its request for a zoning waiver to allow the garage to be built four feet below flood level.

The garage has met with a slew of controversy since its introduction.  The developers have asked for an unusual location for a garage its size, have asked for the parking spaces to be smaller than normal, have asked for unusual allowances for retail spaces on its ground floor including difficult-to-navigate drive-thrus, and have asked for allowances for signage that will extend beyond traditionally allowed space above the sidewalks and streets.  Basically, the garage doesn't meet the requirements of any standing zoning regulations, but is hoping for an asinine number of zoning waivers to allow it to be built anyway.

Monday, the Metropolitan Board of Zoning Appeals was scheduled to meet to consider yet another request for this building to be allowed despite the law.  This time, the request was to allow the garage to be built several feet below the flood zone.

When Monday's request came before the Board of Appeals, though, they asked for more time.  Why?  Well, it's not exactly clear.  According to the IBJ report, it's so the garage's developers can meet with members of the Department of Public Works about the new levee to be constructed along the White River.  The levee, with should change the flood plain in the proposed garage area, still leaves the garage in below flood level, though.

From the IBJ article:

Keystone has argued that the levee system will provide enough protection from floods, even though the parking garage would be built on property that lies four feet below the flood plain. 
But the staff of the city’s Department of Metropolitan Developmentrecommended in a letter last week that parking garage proposal be reworked in order to raise its first floor above the flood plain.
Keystone officials have countered that idea would make the additional cost of the now-$15 million project too expensive. 
The 350-space parking garage at 6280 N. College Ave. would be partially financed with $6.3 million from parking meter revenue, which would normally flow into city coffers.
Keystone’s petition for a zoning variance will now be heard on April 17. However, it will be heard by a different set of board members than the ones that granted the delay Tuesday. The zoning board has three sets of members that attend weekly meetings.

I find the fact that the appeal will be heard by a different set of members interesting.  Like your ability to pick which township your small claims court hearing is heard in, I'm forced to wonder if the timing of this request didn't have as much to do with who would ultimately hear the request as it do with working out the details of the request.

Abdul Attacks Ogden

I'm just not sure what is going on with journalist, blogger, and former radio personality Abdul-Hakim Shabazz lately.  Abdul has always been a bit of a Republican fan boy, but he seems to be really over the top with it here lately.

Abdul just posted a quick blog that did little but attack fellow blogger Paul Ogden.  But why?

I would normally post a quick little blurb from the post I am referring to, but in this case Abdul's post is so small that I simply ask you to follow the link.

This attack seems so forced and out of the ordinary that it makes me ask why Abdul posted it.  What in the world is going on behind the scenes here?

Abdul and Ogden are both known to comment on this blog.  I hope they'll both submit their thoughts below.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Governor Daniels Also Nonchalant About Misplaced Half-Billion Dollars

The other day I wrote about how I found it disturbing that Abdul-Hakim Shabazz seemed rather dismissive about the importance of the state finding what now totals to be over $500 million in just a few months.  Apparently Abdul is not alone.

The Star's Matthew Tully has reported that Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels, too, is being completely nonchalant about the enormous mix-up as well:

Not that he's apologizing. When the state realized it had misplaced $320 million several months ago, Daniels treated it like a joke, talking like a college student who'd just found $20 worth of beer money in an old pair of jeans, as if important budget decisions hadn't been made on the faulty numbers.
And on Thursday the state put out a news release that downplayed the newest mistake, writing of "programming errors" and mentioning not the $206 million but the smaller "$13 million per month" mistake. That's like Tiger Woods telling his wife, "Hey, I averaged only one affair a month!"

I just don't get it.  I understand that the state is charged with handling an incredible amount of money and that sometimes there will be some change that falls through the cracks.  This isn't just pocket change, though.  This is more than half a billion dollars of hard-earned Hoosier taxpayer's money.  To treat this issue as anything but severe not only downplays the enormous sums of money involved, it also downplays the value of a dollar to the taxpayers to whom the money truly belongs.

Daniels, Abdul, and everyone in the state should be calling for heads to roll for these pieces of terrible financial mismanagement.  I hope they revisit the issue soon and reword their attitudes on the subject.

Monday, April 9, 2012

First Detailed Numbers Released on Super Bowl Costs

Shortly after the Super Bowl, I wrote about the possibility for Indianapolis to get an ROI on their hosting of Super Bowl XVI.  The newest report on the cost associated with that event seem to make the possibility of an ROI more plausible.

According to a Sunday Star article by Jon Murray, the CIB now believes its loss from hosting the Super Bowl will be approximately $350,000.  Previous estimates had that number as high as $800,000.

From that article:

The Capital Improvement Board says it spent just over $3 million on items ranging from labor to service contracts to equipment for snow removal -- a precaution that, because of balmy weather, didn't end up being needed.

But reimbursements from the National Football League and its contractors, already mostly in, are expected to offset nearly $2.7 million of that.

That leaves about $350,000 that will be footed by the CIB's budget -- better than the $810,000 loss that was projected based on estimates compiled last summer.

Indianapolis did a spectacular job hosting the Super Bowl.  That $350,000 has the possibility to be easily made up through the extra revenue brought in over the next several years should Indy's convention business get a significant spike due to it.

I fear, though, that readers of the Star's article will reach the conclusion that the CIB was the only organization that spent significant money to host the Big Game.  Several other significant expenses, such as the Georgia Street project, would never have been incurred were we not hosting the Super Bowl.  Those expenses need to be included in the total profit/loss statement for the city.  As I stated in my previous article, we are unlikely to ever have the complete expense of hosting the Super Bowl revealed to us.

5 Reasons to Believe 2012 is Going to be a Big Year for Libertarians

Libertarians have been around long enough to have had good years and bad years.  They've won a few elections here and there, and have been appointed to plenty of offices.  People have shown an enormous interest in their political philosophy, but just haven't got around to voting for them in big numbers yet.

Still, the Libertarian Party has seen considerable growth.  Indiana represents one of the stronger Libertarian states in the nation and is often (not regularly, but often) included in main stream news stories about what's going on in politics around the area.

2012, though, represents a year that has the potential to really see the Libertarian Party explode.  If things come together right, this year has the makings to create a perfect storm for Libertarian growth.  It may not be the year that they win a ton of big elections, but it could very well be the year that sets them up for big wins down the road.

Here's five reasons why the LP just might make the leap into the mainstream this year:

1) Ron Paul - The longtime Texas Congressman is running for President.  He, for all intents and purposes, is a Libertarian.  He was even the Libertarian Party's presidential candidate back in 1988.  He's held office as and is running as a Republican, but has made no secret over the years that he is strongly committed to libertarian ideals.  People on both sides of the aisle, love him or hate him, have made comments that he is the most principled and consistent member of Congress in the last 30 years.  He also brings with him one of the most passionate and engaged group of supporters you'll find in a candidate.

But let me let you in on a little secret....Ron Paul is not going to win the Republican nomination.  And at the point where that is made official, either by his dropping out or by it becoming mathematically impossible, all of those hardcore Ron Paul supporters are going to have to turn their energy elsewhere.  Which brings us to...

2) Gary Johnson - The former New Mexico Governor also held office as a Republican.  He, too, was running for President as a Republican, but dropped out of the race after being excluded from early debates and not grabbing any real support from the GOP.  Even as a Republican, Johnson was also very libertarian-minded.  He cut costs and refused to sign any bill that increased taxes.  In fact, he refused to sign pretty much any bill that ever extended the size or scope of government.  Over his two terms as New Mexico's Governor, Johnson vetoed over 750 bills...a number that Johnson proudly states was more than all other governors at the time...combined.

Johnson doesn't have enormous name recognition across the nation, but he arguably has better name recognition than any of the Libertarian presidential candidates of the last several election cycles. According to a recent Public Policy Polling poll, Johnson is currently polling at 7% versus Obama and Romney.  

Seven percent doesn't sound like an important number, but is is.  You see, to qualify for participation in the Presidential debates, there are a handful of prerequisites.  Most importantly, you have to be on enough states' ballots to mathematically be able to win a majority of the electoral votes.  Being a Libertarian candidate, Johnson will qualify easily for that.  Another debate participation requirement is polling at at least 15% in five major polls leading up to the debates.

So why should you believe that Gary Johnson has a shot at polling at least 15% heading into the debates?  For that answer, we refer back to my #1...Ron Paul.  You see, when Ron Paul publicly acknowledges that he will not be the Republican nominee, he'll have to make a big decision about who, if anyone to endorse.  He could endorse Mitt Romney.  Since Paul will no longer be a Republican Congressman, something tells me his ideals may keep him from throwing his support that way.

Paul may choose to endorse no one...definitely a possibility since there are no Republican candidate will truly match with his political ideology.  But if Paul wanted to endorse the candidate that most shares his views, he'll be endorsing Gary Johnson.  And with Ron Paul's endorsement comes the possibility of gaining the support of a large chunk of Ron Paul's followers.  If enough of the Paul supporters begin to follow Johnson, Johnson will easily eclipse the 15% support number to find himself in the national debates.  

Making it into the debates will bring a lot of attention to the LP from people that have never considered them before.  Making it to the debate, for many who are skeptical about a third party, suddenly makes them viable.

3) Mitt Romney and Barack Obama - There are two kinds of Obama supporters...those that will support him no matter what, and those that supported hope and change in 2008 and find themselves disgusted with him today.  Those that are die-hard supporters will be voting for him in November no matter what.  Those that are disgusted are looking for another option.  

On the Republican side, it looks like that option will be Mitt Romney.  Hardcore Republicans will be supporting Romney because he has an "R" next to his name, but other other voters are unlikely to find Romney to be a refreshing option.

Those disgusted with Obama and not finding Romney refreshing are, in any other election year, those that are just going to stay home on election day.  If Gary Johnson can prove to them that he represents the change they want to see, then they just may be willing to go out and vote for him.  If not out of thinking he can win, then perhaps out of a statement of principle.

4) Rupert Boneham - It's taking a while for many members of the voting public to warm up to the idea of voting for a former reality TV star for Indiana's Governor, but it is happening.  When Rupert first announced he was considering an Indiana gubernatorial chase as a Libertarian, many, including this author, were unsure if it was a good idea.  A lot of people worked very hard for a lot of years to grow the positive public perception of the Libertarian Party, and letting a celebrity run for the state's top spot seemed a dangerous gamble with the potential to throw it all away.

After looking beyond his television past and furry beard, though, people are beginning to see Rupert's strong philanthropic side and sensible ideas for running the state.  Many skeptics are meeting with Boneham and walking away saying, "Hey, this guy is for real.  He's worth giving a listen to."  Really, in politics, getting people to open their ears to you is where it all begins.

But even if Boneham doesn't put a dent in Indiana politics, he's already increasing name recognition for the Libertarians.  From the second he announced he was running, there have been countless national news stories on the campaign.  Win or lose, the fact that Rupert Boneham running for Indiana Governor is great news for a Libertarian Party that has often had trouble getting into mainstream news.

5) Ross Perot - Whhhhaaaaaaaa?!!?  How in the hell, you ask, can Ross Perot help the Libertarians in 2012?

The simple answer is that he can't.  Ross Perot isn't going to directly do anything to help the Libertarians in 2012.  But he has the unique position of having provided a historical precedent that we all need to remember.

I'm old enough now that I have to consider that many of my readers don't know much about Ross Perot.  Perot is a Texas billionaire that ran for president as an independent in 1992.  He polled very strongly throughout most of the race, participated in the presidential debates, and ended up taking down about 20% of the popular vote in that year's election.

So what does an independent candidate from 20 years ago have to do with us today?  It has to do with the overused argument that people just aren't ready yet to vote for a candidate in a major race that isn't a Republican or Democrat.  Ross Perot, I submit, is evidence not only that we are ready to vote for such a candidate, but also that we have been ready to do so for at least twenty years.  Perhaps we've just been waiting for the right candidate to present themselves.

So does all this mean that 2012 is the Year of the Libertarian?  Maybe, maybe not.  It definitely has all the right pieces to make it happen, though.  It is going to be very interesting to see if the pieces will come together.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

City Waiting for More Riders in Dangerous Bike Lanes

The Star's Jon Murray has an article this morning on the miles and miles of new bike lanes the city has created.

"You may have heard the grumbles throughout winter as Indianapolis drivers navigated around slivers of streets marked off for miles and miles with freshly painted bike lanes. And, often, not a bicyclist in sight.

"As prime cycling weather takes hold --and as motorists grapple with what the sometimes-confusing markings and sympointbols all mean --now comes the test for the city's newly expanded 64-mile network of on-street bikeways: Will bicyclists start using them?"

I wouldn't count on it. Most cyclists I've spoken with are planning on avoiding the routes. The term "death trap" has often been used to describe the new paths. As the Star article points out, the paths are confusing, especially to motorists. That confusion is bound to increased car vs. bicycle police reports being completed.

Read the whole article here:

Now that it has built the bike lanes, the city is waiting for the riders to come | Indianapolis Star |

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Abdul Resorts to a Complete Spin Approach to Half a Billion Dollars in Lost Money

I'm not naive.  Blogs are not pure and unbiased journalism.  They are sources of commentary. People read blogs for the ideas more than they read them for the news.  That being said, sometimes you read a blog and can't help but shake your head and say, "are you serious?!?"

Today is one of those days.  It's no secret that I am a fan of journalist/blogger and former Indy radio personality Abdul-Hakim Shabazz.  He's got a bit of an ego about him, but that's what makes him fun.  And when you are around him in person, he just brings an energy and aura with him that's rather contagious.

Sometimes, though, Abdul is just over the top when it comes to being a homer for various Republican administrations.  Today, on his Indy Politics website, Abdul posted a blog about how the $500 million dollars in misplaced taxpayer money that has turned up just isn't that big of a deal.  Embarrassing, he admits, but really nothing to worry about since we're not in the financial bind that other states are in.

From that blog:

Although I write about Indiana government and politics I spend a lot of time paying attention to other state governments, I’m kind of a dork that way.  And when I look at the current financial situations in other states, I am willing to bet the $529 million in total revenue the state misplaced and tell you there are a lot of other places that wish they had Indiana’s problems. 
In other words, in Indiana, the problem may be missing money, in more than two dozen other states, money isn’t missing, it’s just not there.  According to theCenter on Budget Policy and Priorities, 30 states have projected shortfalls for next fiscal year and have had to engage in drastic spending cuts or raise taxes over the 2011-2013 budget years.

Okay, Abdul...I see where your going here.  At least we can misplace a half a billion dollars and still have a surplus.  Your spin on the stories really make it sound like you don't care, though, about the misplacement of such an enormous sum of taxpayer money.  That's just silly.

Yes, many other states are having a budget disaster.  No, Indiana is not one of them.  Comparing what is going on there to what is going on here, though, is apples to oranges.  Instead of saying "I'd rather have our problem than their problem," you should be saying, "both these problems are completely irresponsible and cannot be tolerated."

In fact, Abdul, you are one of the first ones to pipe up about the hypocrisies of the statements made by people on the left sometimes.  I find myself wondering how your story would have sounded if this had occurred in a Bayh or O'Bannon administration.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Tully: Rupert a Welcome Voice in Gubernatorial Chase

The Indy Star's Matthew Tully today wrote an interesting piece on Rupert Boneham. He makes the point that, although Rupert may not have millions in his warchest, he is a legitimate candidate and is the only one talking real issues right now.

Matthew Tully: Rupert Boneham plans to win governor's seat | Indianapolis Star |