Thursday, May 10, 2012

Obama's Gay Marriage Statement: Right Message, Wrong Reason...Again

President Obama declared yesterday that he now agrees that homosexuals should be allowed to marry.  In an ABC News interview, Obama stated that his views have been evolving and that now, "it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think same sex couples should be able to get married."

This is an issue I feel strongly about.  I applaud Obama for publicly making this statement.


This is the third time where Obama has seemed to only care about LGBT issues during a summer election season.  I'm glad he takes the stances he does, but I wish he didn't only do it when it was politically beneficial for him to do so.

You might remember that, in 2008, Obama campaigned on getting rid of Don't Ask, Don't Tell (DADT).  When Obama was elected, though, DADT was an issue that fell by the wayside.  Obama's Democrats had commanding control of both houses of Congress (57-41 in the Senate and 256-178 in the House).  Obama had the ability to, upon inauguration, get rid of DADT very rapidly and with no chance of losing.

But he didn't.  If DADT was really that important to Obama he had the strength to bat it aside and not look back.  Instead, though, after Obama was inaugurated you never heard about his dedication to ridding the military of DADT again.  That is, until election season in 2010.

Suddenly, with an important election looming, Obama was again vocal about his dedication to get rid of DADT.  DADT became a hot-button issue of the 2010 election.  Obama and the Democrats campaigned long and hard on the issue.

I'm glad they campaigned on the issue in 2010.  And I'm glad they were successful.  Readers of this blog will remember that, on more than one occasion, I questioned the sincerity of Obama and DADT because of the timing gap.  And I still do.

Since forgetting about DADT for almost two years before (re)making it an issue on an election year, Obama again forgot about LGBT issues.  It was something that wasn't mentioned at all for nearly two more years.  Until today.

Today, as another election season begins to steam ahead, Obama suddenly cares about the gay community again.  This time stating that he is now in favor of the rights of gays to marry.

Based on his history, I'll have to make a prediction on how this will unfold.  I believe this will be a hotly discussed topic for the remainder of the election season.  I believe Obama will most likely get re-elected.  Then, I believe, we won't hear much more about gay rights.  That is, until 2014.  During 2014, Obama and Company will again suddenly make LGBT rights and awareness an issue.

I don't doubt Obama's support for these issues.  I just wish he'd focus on them because he's dedicated to them and it's the right thing to do.  Instead, he focuses on them because he's dedicated to his Party and it's the right thing to do for Obama.

(FWIW, the Libertarian Party has been openly committed to LGBT rights since its founding.  Most Libertarian candidates, such as Presidential contender Gary Johnson and Indiana Gubernatorial candidate Rupert Boneham, have made pledges dedicating to fight for equality if elected.)

Monday, May 7, 2012

Lugar Asks Voters to Break the Law in Effort to Re-Elect Him

Dick Lugar is desperate to win in Tuesday's primary election.  How desperate?  He's publicly calling for people to break the law to help make it happen.

Indianapolis Business Journal is reporting that Lugar has sent out a call for Independents and Democrats to cross party lines and ask for a Republican ballot in the primary.  He asks they will then use their vote to help him defeat challenger Richard Mourdock.

The problem with that is that it may be illegal for voters to cross the party lines as Lugar is asking them to do.  According to Indiana law, you can only pull a party's ballot in a primary if you cast at least half of your votes for that party in the previous general election, or if you intend to cast at least half your votes for that party in the next general election.

Independents may not be breaking the law very often by pulling a primary ballot that they normally wouldn't.  Democrats and Libertarians who pull a Republican ballot for the sake of the Senate or Presidential race, or some other reason, are clearly in violation and are committing voter fraud.

Is that an enforceable law?  No, not at all.  The only way the law could ever be enforced is if we moved away from a secret ballot.  That, of course, is never going to happen.

But whether it is an enforceable law doesn't change the fact that it is the law, and Dick Lugar is asking people to break it for his own political gain.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Sunday Alcohol Sales: Hoosiers Now Alone

Connecticut just passed a bill that will allow retail alcohol to be sold in that state on Sundays.  This makes Connecticut the 49th state to allow Sunday alcohol sales.  That's right,'re the last man standing.

Sometimes it's good to be the lone wolf.  When you're blazing new trails or experimenting with a new idea, it is perfectly fine to be the only one doing something.  When you're the last one to move away from an arcane way of doing things, though, it just means you're the slowest to adapt to the future.  It means you are not willing to accept change and head into an inevitable future.

States are designed to compete with each other.  It was built into the design of our country via the Constitution.  When it came to free markets, the constitution supported them at that level.  The states were designed to be able to do pretty much whatever they wanted within a few simple federal guidelines.  By doing this, states would have good reason to come up with new and better ideas for running themselves.  People of a certain philosophy could gather into areas than ran the way they appreciated most.  States that ran the best would be a draw for new citizens.

The exponential growth of the federal government over the years has removed much of that ability for states to compete for the better of us all.  Still, in areas like alcohol sales, the states still have most of the control.  (It should be noted that the drinking age is not one of those areas.  While states officially can determine their own drinking age, the feds play a funding game with them that says if a state has a drinking age lower than 21, then they get less money.)

The biggest fighters of Sunday alcohol sales in Indiana may not be who you would think: liquor stores.  Liquor stores despise the idea of Sunday sales.  They believe many of them may go out of business if Sunday sales are allowed.

How does that work?  Well, in Indiana we're so accustomed to not being able to buy alcohol on Sunday that we go out on Saturday and get our "Sunday beer."  On Sunday, the liquor stores are closed for business.  No staff to pay.  No lights to turn on.  The furnace or air conditioner can be turned down for the day.

If Sunday sales are allowed, though, liquor stores will have a choice to make.  First, they can keep their bills the way they currently are by just being closed on Sunday.  But, since Sunday sales are available, they will probably lose their "Sunday beer" business on Saturdays to stores that are open Sundays.

If the liquor store opens up on Sunday, they'll have to pay the extra money for staff and lights, etc. But, since we've been so accustomed to getting "Sunday beer," then a lot of the Sunday revenue will not be increased sales, but just sales that shifted to Sunday from Saturday.

Plus, major retailers like Wal-Mart and CVS that are already open Sunday will now be able to sell alcohol on that day.  Unlike the liquor stores, though, there will not be an additional cost for them to do so.  They are already open Sundays, and thus already have a staff on duty, the lights on, and the temperature set.  There is no additional cost for them.

Yes, if Sunday sales are legalized here in the Hoosier State, some liquor stores may close.  Most, though, will still be there just as they are today.  It's the economics of a free market.  Not every business should stay open forever.  Inevitably, times change, and some grow from change while others stay still or go away.

Will Sunday sales potentially hurt some people?  Yes.  There's not a law you can enact that won't.  It's time for Indiana to get it together, though, and join the rest of the country in the 21st century on this issue.  It's time for Indiana to no longer be the last one grasping to the past.  It's time for Indiana to allow Sunday alcohol sales.

(And Sunday car sales, too...but that's another story.)

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Gay Student Told the Bullying He was Subjected to was His Fault for Acting so Gay

The Indy Star reported Wednesday that a Tech High School Student, Darnell "Dynasty" Young faces expulsion  for carrying a stun gun to school.  The expulsion hearing was set for sometime Wednesday afternoon.

I'm sure Darnell probably got expelled.  You carry a weapon like a stun gun to school and you're going to get expelled, no matter you're reasons.  Even if he felt he was in danger, the school has to take the "two wrongs don't make a right" approach and hand down a severe punishment.

But that's not what you should care about in this story.  You should care about the fact that the bullying was allowed to continue, without any apparent intervention.  You should care that the bullying was allowed to continue without any apparent investigation into it, despite the fact that the school was informed about it, at the bare minimum, 10 times.

But mostly you should care about the way Tech Principal Larry Yarrell handled the situation.  You should be outraged that, when confronted with information about the bullying, Yarrell turned the tables and told young Dynasty that maybe he should just "tone down" his gayness a little bit by not accessorizing his outfits as much.  You should be outraged that Yarrell, much like an uninformed masogynist saying that a raped woman was "asking for it" because of what she was wearing, seemed to think that Dynasty was somehow at least partly to blame for how he was treated at school.

In a world where the LGBT community is, albeit slowly, becoming more accepted by our society, you would think that a high school principal would know how to handle these situations just a little bit better.

Some of the quotes in the Star article from Principal Yarrell and the school are enough to infuriate and disgust you with his ignorance.

"If you wear female apparel, then kids are kids and they're going to say whatever it is that they want to say," Yarrell said.

 'If you're going to dress the way you're dressing, people are going to say things. If you could tone it down as much as possible, then people won't have as much to say.' 

His behavior and the way he dressed called attention to himself, they said. He accessorized his outfits with his mother's purses and jewelry. (second hand quote)

 Obviously, Yarrell is out of touch with how to deal with one of the most common causes of bullying in today's teen society.  If he is so out of touch that he can't properly deal with this major out of touch that he blames the victim...then Yarrell needs to consider another profession.

I hope you will join me in calling for the resignation or termination of Tech High School Principal Larry Yarrell.  Our youth don't need to be told that it's their fault.  Our youth don't need those leading our schools to turn such a blind eye to what's going on in their building that parents feel the need to arm their students to protect themselves.

Larry Yarrell is completely out of touch.  And he needs to go.

You can contact Tech High School, including Principal Yarrell, via the contact information on this page.

You can contact IPS via the information on this page. Their switchboard number is 317-226-4000.

Please also leave your comments on the Star article linked above.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Dick Lugar's Voting Record

Erick Erickson of Red State did a short, but interesting piece Monday on Senator Lugar's voting history.  He quickly chastises Lugar for complaining about Mourdock not having voted for John McCain in the 2008 Republican primary.  Erickson then goes on to obliterate Lugar's voting record, including:

  • To support a host of anti-gun legislation including a concealed weapons ban
  • To support the Bridge to Nowhere
  • To oppose school choice for victims of Hurricane Katrina
  • To oppose $13 billion in new mandatory spending cuts
  • To support raiding the social security trust fund to fund general budget appropriations
  • To oppose a one year earmark moratorium
  • To support adding $52 billion in new spending to Barack Obama’s stimulus bill

Make sure you don't just read the article, but also the comments.  Especially the first few.

Hat tip to Judy Morris of both The Judy Morris Report and The Humble Libertarian for making me aware of this article.

***  After I wrote this blog, but before I had it scheduled to post, the good people at United Liberty wrote a column on the Lugar/Mourdock race that also pointed out the Erickson info I linked to above.  The United Liberty writing is also worth your time.  ***

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

How Much is a Billboard Worth?

Apparently $189,000.

Indianapolis Business Journal reported yesterday on a deal that took place in Speedway.  Apparently, the City needed a quarter-acre of land to install a new roundabout.  The land owner had already sold the land to Speedway.

Clear Channel, though, had a lease on the property for a billboard they had on it.  When the City offered Clear Channel $165,000 for the board, Clear Channel refused.  After taking the company to court, the City and Clear Channel were ordered to accept a $189,000 transaction.

From the IBJ article:

"It's much less than what they had reuested in their counteroffer," said Scott Harris, executive director of the (Speedway redevelopment) commission, who declined to divulge the exact amount of Clear Channel's offer."

I guess maybe I just don't understand the economics of the advertising industry.  I know they can deal in big money.  Money beyond my comprehension.  Almost $200,000 for a lone billboard, though, just seems horribly steep.

Think about what you can buy for that kind of money.   I own a decent little 3-bedroom home in Indianapolis on about .7 acres. Two car garage.  Shed.  Central air.  I spent half that.  And, in today's housing environment, I would pay less, I'm sure.

I could take $100,000 around this town and probably have my choice of a half-dozen or more decent little bars for sale.  Make it $150,000 and I might have a serious choice to make from a ton of options.

So what in the world makes a billboard in Speedway worth $189,000?  Not the land, I remind you, just the board itself.  Are they really that kind of revenue generating machines?

I'm obviously in the wrong business.