Thursday, December 5, 2013

Bill to Eliminate Straight Ticket Voting Introduced

Senator Mike Delph has introduced a bill to eliminate straight ticket voting at the general election ballot box in Indiana.  Straight ticket voting does very little or nothing to support the strength of the voter in Indiana.  Instead, it gives uncanny amounts of support to political parties, since the masses of uneducated voters will often choose to simply pull a straight-party vote rather than taking time to learn about the candidates they are voting for.

Of course, this bill was instantly met with resistance (and by instantly, I mean I've only HEARD that it's going to be SB 35 because the General Assembly doesn't even have information about the bill up on their website as of this typing).  The prevailing attitude among those that are opposed to this legislation is that it tells voters how they can or cannot vote.  Frankly, that is simply wrong.

Fellow blogger Jon Easter, of the Indy Democrat Blog was seen commenting on at least a couple of threads on Facebook regarding this issue.  This comment, in particular, stood out to me:

If I wish to vote straight ticket, then I should have that choice. He assumes that I don't know what I'm voting for when I choose to use the straight ticket choice. I don't use it every time, but, when I do, I know what the heck I'm doing.

 First, even without straight ticket voting available, you, as a voter, still have that choice.  All you have to do is go down through the ballot and vote for those members of the party you choose to support.  Second, I trust Jon Easter to be an educated voter and know "what the heck" he's doing...but frankly, I don't trust most voters to do the same.

Don't get me wrong here.  I'm not saying that voters are stupid or idiots or anything of the sort.  I'm only saying that, for the average voter, many of the small local races don't feel important to them.  Few voters choose to research those races and discover which option they truly support.  And if that voter chooses to vote straight ticket rather than doing that research then they just might vote for someone they don't at all believe in, or quite possibly disagree with wholeheartedly.  

Of course, eliminating straight ticket voting doesn't eliminate that problem outright.  But it may go a long way in beginning to slow it down.  You see, many of those straight ticket voters may not vote in every race that is on the ballot the way they currently are.  They may look down the ballot and say, "you know what, I don't know anything at all about this race or its candidates....I'm gonna take a pass."  Or, they might say, "You know, I know nothing about this race or its candidates.  I'm gonna check them out and try to learn some more before heading to the ballot box."

Either way, we, as voters and citizens, win as a whole.  I think everyone should vote.  I think everyone should make themselves as informed as possible and vote on every race they can.  But I also believe that voting blindly for candidates in races that you neither know, care about, have researched, nor understand does you no favors.  It does no other citizens any favors, either.

Not every voter is Jon Easter.  They don't all live and breathe politics and politicians.  And if they can't even bother to learn more about the offices they are voting for, or the candidates in those races, then I don't think that making them at least scroll down the ballot for their name and/or party identity is really that bad of a thing.

P.S. - Just in case you were wondering, straight ticket voting has been on a very steady downturn over the last few decades.  According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, there are only fourteen states that still have straight ticket voting.  Indiana is one of them.  Let's not let this issue turn into another Sunday alcohol sales...let's not become the laughing stock of the nation by being the last state to get it right.

***UPDATE*** While I was typing this post, Jon Easter also posted on Indy Democrat Blog about this topic.  Check out his post "Delph Wants to Spoil Ballot on Straight-Ticket Voting."  Jon has a very high quality blog that is definitely worth a few minutes of your time each day.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Indiana Libertarian Party's Facebook Page Deleted; Facebook Has Few Answers

If you follow the Libertarian Party of Indiana (LPIN) on Facebook, maybe you noticed that they weren't
appearing in your news feed lately.  Maybe you were one of the people interested  enough to try to find their page and look over it, but had no luck doing so.  Well, there's a reason why:  it's gone.

Sometime Friday the LPIN's Facebook page just disappeared.  Upon learning of the missing page, party leadership began looking for answers as to why the page was gone, and who was responsible for its disappearance.  The party reached out to Facebook for answers, hoping the missing page was just a glitch and that could be easily remedied.

Facebook is notorious for being a difficult company for getting direct answers to real people, and this case was no different.  Despite reaching out early to Facebook, it was Monday afternoon before LPIN Chair Dan Drexler was able to speak to a representative about the issue.

Drexler's conversation with Facebook didn't provide many answers, though.  The conversation also, unfortunately, didn't leave much hope for the return of the page.

Facebook informed Drexler that the LPIN page was somehow breached.  Whether breach was defined as an intentional hacking of the page or a virus or some other intrusion was not clear, as there were some specifics that Facebook would not reveal.  When the breach occurred, though, the page was unpublished.

LPIN Chair Dan Drexler
The most somber news from Drexler's conversation with Facebook was that the company doesn't have a magic switch they can throw to turn the page back on.  Apparently, once the LPIN's Facebook page was unpublished, it was gone for good.

Despite the content of the page being lost forever, there is still a small glimmer of hope for the LPIN.  The page was one of the most "Liked" State Libertarian Party Facebook pages in the nation, and had more than five thousand followers.  Facebook indicated they will be working this week to see if there is still any way for those "Likes" to be salvaged and then incorporated into whatever new page the LPIN starts.  Drexler will be speaking with Facebook representatives again later this week to learn what they found.

In the meantime, the LPIN is trying to stay focused on business as usual.  Chairman Drexler was in Newburgh, just East of Evansville, last night for the official affiliation of the Warrick County Libertarian Party.  The Party is also remaining committed this year to the Double the LP campaign, geared towards growing their membership.

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Five Real(?) Impacts of a Government Shutdown

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Five Real(?) Impacts of a Government Shutdown

You want to prove that a government "shutdown" is really a misnomer and that hardly anything that really matters gets affected?  Perhaps you should look around at the major media reports of what is going to happen.

For example, you might want to take a look at this story form Elizabeth Hartfield of ABC News.  She penned this article Saturday, and it seems that she wants to convince you that a government shutdown is a horrible thing to endure. Her tone implies that she believes a shutdown should be avoided at all costs.

But why does she believe that?  Why does she have such a concern about a government shutdown that she would write an article for a major news source titled "Five Real Impacts of a Government Shutdown,"  an article whose title alone seems to imply fear about even considering the idea?  Well, of course, we're lucky enough to have her spell those reasons out to us.  I think you'll find, though, that those reasons might surprise you.

You see, Hartfield goes back to the last real government shutdown, in late 1995 and early 1996, and examined what REALLY happens when the government is shut down.  She points out that she fears the current lawmakers that are considering a shutdown may not really remember the impact of the shutdown that occurred back then.  And, as you might imagine, in order to prove her point, she picks out some of the biggest things that were impacted.

And that's where I find the point that a government "shutdown" isn't really all that bad at all.  Let's take a look at the five things she mentions.

Suspension of Approval of Applications for Small Business Loans

Don't get me wrong here...I love small business.  I believe that small businesses are truly the driving force of America.  But I am not convinced that suspending approval for small business loans for some indefinite, but probably short, time is necessarily all that bad.  In fact, I'm not even sure that it's the government's job at all.  I'm not completely against the idea of these loans, but there's no way you can convince me that a temporary suspension of these loans is going to have have some horrible impact on our country as a whole.

Museums, Monuments and Parks Would Shut Down

So what?  Again, don't get me wrong, museums, monuments, and parks are all great.  I do believe that there is some benefit in our government archiving our history and our arts.  I do believe that there is benefit to having some areas of land set aside for us to be able to enjoy the beauties of nature.  But I also think that if the government is in dire straits, these should be the first things to go.  And considering the reality that any government shutdown is going to be short-lived, no harm done.

Medical Research Interrupted

So this one sounds pretty bad.  But that's just SOUNDS bad.  Truth is, it sounds worse than it is.  It makes it sound like all medical research in the world would come to a screeching halt, and that simply isn't the case.  Plenty of private organizations are doing medical research and plenty of government funded research has already received its money.  You're going to hear plenty of people try to spin this like the cure for cancer will somehow now be lost forever, but that simply isn't the case.

Passport Services Suspended

Well, except in case of emergency.  A passport is good for ten years.  Unless you're a traveler that has procrastinated, then no worries.  This will impact like 0.001% of people.

D.C. Residents, Start Composting

So apparently residents of the District have trash pickup as a government service.  Since Congress must pass the D.C. budget, things like trash service would probably be suspended.  But I'm sure there will probably not
be any shortage of private companies coming to save the day by offering trash pickup to the city.  As a resident of a city that takes care of trash pickup, I wouldn't mind the option to shop for the best service myself.

So Does That Sound So Bad?

Take a second and just look back over that list of five things above.  Try not to chuckle when you do so.  Go ahead...I'll wait.

Now ask yourself, was there anything on that list that really concerns you at all?  I mean, even if you would like to keep the above things going, don't you think it's not going to hurt anything if they are all put on pause for a bit?

And don't forget that this list came from an article that was written to scare you.  It was written to convince you that a government shutdown is unbearable  She says she's afraid you don't remember or weren't around for the last shutdown and went back and did research to remind us of all the bad things that will happen.

But mostly don't forget that, after all that trouble, the above list was all she could come up with when it was time for her to write down the top five reasons a shutdown should scare us.  Yep...that's the five worst things she could find.

I think I can live with that.  How about you?

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Why the Starbucks Gun Carrying Statement Doesn't Bother Me at All, and Why Gun Advocates May be to Blame

Army's "Information Dominance Center" Designed to Look Like the Bridge of The Enterprise

Friday, September 20, 2013

IMPD Officer Killed in the Line of Duty

We are saddened this morning to hear of the death of IMPD Officer Rod Bradway.  Officer Bradway was killed in the line of duty while responding to a domestic disturbance call in the area of 46th St. and I-465.

Our thoughts and prayers are extended to Officer Bradway's family and friends, as well as to the entire IMPD community.

Please stay tuned to your favorite local news source for updates on this story.


Thursday, September 19, 2013

Why the Starbucks Gun Carrying Statement Doesn't Bother Me at All, and Why Gun Advocates May be to Blame

Well here we go.  Again.

If you follow anything resembling politics at all, you have undoubtedly heard by now...Starbucks says no guns.

You know how it all started...a few months ago some patrons at a Starbucks felt uncomfortable in the presence of another Starbucks customer that was legally open carrying their firearm.  (For those that may be unaware, open carrying refers to carrying a firearm in plain view of others around you, similar to the way a police officer carries a firearm.)  Those patrons complained to Starbucks, and Starbucks issued a statement that said that they would not interfere with patrons operating lawfully within their establishments.  Basically, if it's legal where you are at then you can open carry, and if it's illegal then you can not.

Gun advocates celebrated the statement.  Especially since so many conservatives were very anti-Starbucks due to some false stories floating around the internet about Starbucks not supporting our troops, this was an especially interesting turnaround regarding public perception of the Starbucks brand.

The gun rights supporters took it too far, though.  They organized "Starbucks Appreciation Days" in which lawful gun owners would flood the stores with groups of open carrying gun owners to thank Starbucks for their position.  They would often go above and beyond traditional open carry, and bring shotguns and rifles with them and pose for pictures.

In return, the anti-gun lobby responded equally loudly.  They would also stage events at Starbucks locations to show that they disagreed with the positions that Starbucks had put forth. They despised the fact that Starbucks wouldn't make a strong stand in their favor, and just tell gun owners to take their business and their firearms elsewhere.

Well, that all came to an end yesterday, when Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz issued a new statement on guns via a blog posted on the coffee giant's website.

" we are respectfully requesting that customers no longer bring firearms into our stores or outdoor seating areas - even in states where "open carry" is permitted - unless they are authorized law enforcement personnel."

Aaaaannnnndddd cue the outrage.

As you might imagine, the immediate response from people on both sides of the issue was overwhelming.  Those that were celebrating the original Starbucks statement were suddenly irate that the company would ever go down this path.  Protesters of the original Starbucks statement were suddenly strong Starbucks supporters again.

But what did Starbucks REALLY say with each statement???

Basically...they just said to leave them alone and leave them out of the discussion.

The reality is that everything would be better for gun advocates if, after Starbucks' first statement was released, they would have just left Starbucks alone.  Instead, gun advocates stomped on Starbucks' original statement as some broad statement of support that it was not.  Starbucks basically said they don't want to get involved, and gun advocates paraded the statement as if Starbucks had said they were on their side.

But the simple reality was that neither side was properly embracing what Starbucks wanted.  Starbucks had, for all intents and purposes, only said one thing: " long as your legal we don't care...but, PLEASE, leave us out of this.  We don't want to be involved."

And, of course, the anti-gun advocates leaped out in response.  The gun owners were having their open carry events, and the anti-gun crowd was bound and determined to have their rallies at the same places and at the same times.  Suddenly, Starbucks' locations everywhere were being turned into political battle grounds.

So, now, Starbucks has done what was left for them to do.  And that is where we truly are with them today.  They just want left out of this.  They said, "if you're legal it's ok, just leave us alone."  But they weren't left alone...they were turned into a 2nd amendment warzone.

So, now, they've come out and said, "Eff you.  We asked to be left alone, and you instead turned us into a political pawn.  We're not going to ban bringing guns in, but, please, just leave them outside.  Please, just leave us alone."

And, really, that's all I think that Starbucks is saying.  And I think it is all they have been saying from the beginning.  Their original statement simply said they don't want involved.  But instead they were made a focal point of the gun rights war, so they replied.

"we know we cannot satisfy everyone. For those who oppose “open carry,” we believe the legislative and policy-making process is the proper arena for this debate, not our stores. For those who champion “open carry,” please respect that Starbucks stores are places where everyone should feel relaxed and comfortable. The presence of a weapon in our stores is unsettling and upsetting for many of our customers."

Really, I don't think that I can blame Starbucks for their recent position.  And truthfully, I think Schultz handled it rather well.  He even said that they weren't banning guns, they were just asking nicely for you not to bring them inside.  He stated that they wouldn't be asking you to leave if you carried, just that you please respect their wishes to not do so.

 Of course, no matter what side of the gun debate you are on, you are free to respond how you wish.  If you are a gun owner, maybe you stop going to Starbucks.  Or try to find somewhere else first.   And if you hate guns, then maybe you pop into Starbucks a little more often to show support.  I rarely open carry, but I am a gun owner and I do carry concealed.  Nonetheless, I will still go to Starbucks once or twice a week, just as I did before now.

In the end,  other than a possible little hiccup for the first few days, I don't think Starbucks business will be too drastically affected by this statement. Nor do I think it should be.

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Army's "Information Dominance Center" Designed to Look Like the Bridge of The Enterprise

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Army's "Information Dominance Center" Designed to Look Like the Bridge of The Enterprise

Well, specifically the Enterprise-D.

Daily Mail Online is reporting that when NSA Director Keith Alexander was the head of Army's Intelligence and Security Command, he had the "Information Dominance Center" he ran the show from designed to look like the bridge of the Starship Enterprise from Star Trek: The Next Generation.  That's right, folks...that's the kind of trust we can give for people that are the stewards of our tax dollars.

Pic from Daily Mail article
The room is decked out in chrome and stainless steel.  It is divided into control stations you could just see Commander Data sitting at.  It has a huge monitor on the room's forward wall.  And, perhaps most importantly, it has a very obvious Captain's chair that is the center and focal point of the entire room.

Now, don't get me wrong...I'm not saying that the design couldn't have merits, and that the similarities between that design and the bridge of the Enterprise could possibly be coincidental.

Oh, wait...

Designed by a Hollywood set designer to mimic the famous ship's bridge...

Okay.  Wow.  That seems a bit much.  But, just because you're hiring a Hollywood set designer to design
Pic from Daily Mail article
the Army Intelligence and Security Command's "Information Dominance Center" doesn't mean it was a total waste, right?  I mean, the design and some designer couldn't have real-world advantages, couldn't it?  I mean, it's not like you went COMPLETELY over the top.

Oh, wait...

Just like in the Star Trek series, the doors to the so-called Information Dominance Center made a 'whoosh' noise as they opened.

You mean they added sound effects?  Now that's just being silly.  Thankfully the irresponsibility ended there.  It's not like they played Star Trek with other government officials or anything.

Oh, wait...

Lawmakers and other important officials took turns sitting in the leather 'captain's chair' in the center of the room...
Everybody wanted to sit in the chair at least once to pretend he was Jean-Luc Picard.

This is just disgraceful.  Don't forget, folks, this is something that YOU paid for.  Things like this should be reserved for movie studios, or theme parks, or super rich people that want to add a bridge or a Bat Cave or a secret passage in their house.  This kind of thing has no business being a part of our government's expenditures.

But, alas, they are something our government spends money on.  Why?  Because our government has become so ridiculously huge that what oversight there is has no chance to really look over everything.  And that equates to government agencies getting blank checks written to them and saying, "now spend it wisely."

It's so huge and so sad that when I saw this article, I wasn't really all that surprised.  And even worse, voters will keep electing the same people that make this happen.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

FDA to Investigate "Any and All" Caffeine Added Products

Mayor Bloomberg is probably skipping around his office throwing confetti and thanking whatever god(s) he thinks are on his side.  The federal government is stepping in and taking the first step towards another NYC style banning.  This time....caffeine.

Reason Magazine and others are reporting that the FDA has announced they will begin investigating caffeinated products.  Not energy drinks.  Not caffeine gum.  But EVERY caffeine added product.

That's right.  The FDA will, in fact, be investigating energy drinks and caffeine gum.  But they will also be investigating Diet Coke and Mountain Dew.  They will investigate the coffee drinks that have an "extra boost" in them.  They will investigate products that you didn't even realize had a little caffeine added to them.

And, let's be real about what the outcome will be here.  This is the government.  Even worse, this is the FDA, one of the most sold out areas of the government.  A government agency that makes decisions based on many, many things other than what's acceptable for our people.

This will end badly.  I fully anticipate that the FDA will step in and put severe limits on how much, if any,
caffeine can be added to a product.  You know, because we are fully incapable of deciding what we want to consume.

And if this happens, you need to be ready for the price of coffee to jump up drastically.  This will happen for two reasons.  First, if caffeine limitations will be in place for products that artificially add them, them consumers will be forced to turn to coffee for their caffeine.  Supply and demand will dictate that the price of coffee will go up.

Second, coffee is the major source of caffeine for caffeine added products.  When coffee producers remove caffeine from coffee to make decaffeinated coffee, they sell that caffeine to other companies to add to their sodas and energy drinks, etc.  Without the revenue generated from selling as much of that caffeine off, then the price of coffee will have to be raised to compensate.

Pay attention to this as it develops, folks.  There's a whole lot more freedom of choice that's about to be limited...again.  Yay.  Go government.

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Indiana Sheriff Vows to Not Enforce Future Gun Laws

FOP Ends Support of Bisard...Why Were They Financing Him in the First Place?

Friday, May 3, 2013

FOP Ends Support of Bisard...Why Were They Financing Him in the First Place?

Unless you've been living under a rock, you've heard that David Bisard got another DUI.  Not uncommon for a person with one DUI to get a second one, really.  Many do.

But the Bisard case is a little different.  Bisard was a cop.  Bisard killed someone (allegedly).  Bisard was drunk (allegedly).  There was very suspicious mishandling of blood testing.  There was very suspicious mishandling of blood evidence. The whole thing was just...well...suspicious.

And his defense costs?  Yeah, they were being picked up by the Fraternal Order of Police.

What the hell?  I understand the being a police officer is a brotherhood.  They love to protect their own.  Okay, fine.  I can understand brotherhoods.

I can also understand the FOP wanting to pick up the tab for the defense of many police officers that are facing crazy litigation from over-zealous criminals that are just looking to screw over a cop.

But this wasn't that kind of case.  The evidence against Bisard appears to be overwhelming.  Even though much of the evidence might have proven inadmissible due to the horrendous "oversights" by other members of the department, there is little doubt among the masses that Bisard did this.

So if the evidence against Bisard is so damning, why would the FOP want to defend him?  Again, I understand brotherhood, but brotherhood is for the benefit of all the brethren.  If a member of a brotherhood fails to uphold their end of the bargain, if they do something that could do serious damage to the brotherhood as a whole, then it is acceptable for the brotherhood to expel him.  And even if expulsion is not the right step, it is also acceptable for the brotherhood to remain neutral.

But that didn't happen in this case.  For Bisard, despite all the damning evidence, the FOP chose to step up and pay for his defense.  Why?  Who knows.  But you can bet your paycheck they are regretting it now.

Hilariously, FOP president William Owensby is quoted in today's Indy Star article about the FOP's recent decision as saying Bisard's arrest, "reflected discredit upon the lodge."

Guess what, Mr. Owensby, the discredit upon the lodge was caused by it's decision to pay for his counsel in the first place.

Indiana Sheriff Vows to Not Enforce Future Gun Laws

Sheriff Bradley Rogers
Elkhart County Sheriff Brad Rogers is no stranger to media attention.  Since his campaign, he has not been scared to speak out loud about his position on laws and their constitutionality.  

That attention is surrounding him again.  On Sunday, Sheriff Rogers told a crowd in South Bend that he refuses to enforce any further gun legislation handed down by the federal government.   This position is not new for Sheriff Rogers, nor is it new for him to discuss it (he's been on CNN talking with Anderson Cooper about his views).  Nonetheless, the media, including this Indy Star article, has grabbed the story and pounced on it.

It's an interesting question....where does a sheriff's loyalties lie?  Is he to blindly enforce any laws that are passed?  Is that his duty?  Can a sheriff prioritize the laws he enforces based on the resources he has available?  Or, as Sheriff Rogers indicates, does his oath of office to uphold the constitution mean that if he finds a law unconstitutional that he is not obligated to enforce it?

Surely a sheriff can not be required to blindly pursue each and every law that is passed.  The reason is resources.  No sheriff has unlimited resources.  Every sheriff is forced to create a budget based on the resources available to them, and thus be forced to prioritize what areas they will focus their enforcement on.  That makes perfect sense.

But where does prioritizing enforcement potentially turn into abandonment of enforcing a law at all?  And is a sheriff that believes a law to be unconstitutional required to not enforce it based upon their oath to defend the constitution?

Myself, Miah Akston, and Sheriff Rogers
These are not easy questions to answer.  Especially as nullification becomes a more common part of society, with states readily nullifying federal laws right now, it becomes harder to answer, and also more controversial.

Personally, I applaud Sheriff Rogers.  He is still confined by a system of checks and balances.  If his community does not support the actions of this first term sheriff, they will guarantee that he never has a second term of office.  As long as those checks and balances are in place, then the sheriff's oath to uphold the constitution comes first and foremost.

Sheriff Rogers recently spoke at the Libertarian Party of Indiana's State Convention.  Although I do not have audio of the excellent speech he gave, Miah Akston and I were lucky enough to have the opportunity to interview him for our show on, The Uncontrollables.  Here's that interview.  It runs about 21 minutes.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Libertarian Party of Marion County Statement on SB 621

Libertarian Party of Marion County Urges 
Governor Pence to Veto SB 621

The Indiana General Assembly has passed SB 621, a law which would eliminate all At-Large City-County Council seats in Marion County and give the Mayor unrestricted control over the budget. The Libertarian Party of Marion County stands against this legislation.

SB 621 has correctly been described as the “power grab” bill. It is an obvious attempt by the Republican super majority in the General Assembly to strip the power of the vote from the citizens of Marion County.

By eliminating the four at-large seats on the Council, the General Assembly is stripping away the combined voice of The People. While the LPMC is not convinced that the current structure of the Marion County government is necessarily the most productive and efficient model available to our citizens, we also do not believe the General Assembly should be dictating that model to us. Instead, we encourage the state legislators to introduce legislation to turn the authority to decide what model works best for Marion County over to the people of Marion County. The representatives of the other 91 counties should not be deciding how people they do not represent should be able to govern themselves.

SB 621 also gives the Mayor of Indianapolis unheard of authority to control the City budget in whatever way he seems fit. While the Council would still vote on the budget, the Mayor is given the almost unbelievable power to change that budget on a whim. The people of Marion County deserve a system of checks and balances, and this bill eliminates that.

To make matters worse, the General Assembly simply did not take the proper time to listen to the thoughts of the people of Marion County, the only county impacted by this legislation. Instead, the legislature chose to push through this bill and enforce it on us without our say.

We urge the citizens of Marion County to join us in calling on Governor Pence to reject this partisan power grab by vetoing SB 621.

Friday, April 26, 2013

LGBT Couples Benefit Greatly From Elimination of Inheritance Tax

Fellow blogger Paul Ogden makes a great point in his blog about the inheritance tax.  LGBT couples might be the biggest winners.

You see, a spouse was previously tax exempt from the inheritance tax.  But since Indiana doesn't recognize gay marriage, even lifelong couples only at best qualified as a friend, and had am enormous tax burden because of it.

Although I sincerely doubt there were any intentions of this law being to help gay couples, in many ways they benefit the most. No longer does it matter who you spent your life with when or comes to the amount of inheritance tax you pay.  A gay couple now pays the same tax treasure as a straight couple does, at least in this area.

That's a win.

Ogden has some interesting math in his big showing just how much the tax could impact a gay couple before.  Make sure you check out his blog for that info, and more details on this story.

Indiana Legislature Set to Hand Same Sex Marriage Advocates Biggest Victory Ever by Eliminating Inheritance Tax

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Fireworks Used in Boston Bombs...Prepare Yourself for Ridiculous New Fireworks Legislation

Well, here we go.  It was only a matter of time until some portion of the Boston bombing story surfaced that will be used as a catalyst for ignorant, over-reaching panic legislation.  And if it didn't appear before Wednesday, it's sure here now.

Throughout the day Wednesday, news began surfacing that the Boston bombing suspects used gunpowder scavenged from fireworks to create the deadly bombs used to terrorize this year's Boston Marathon.

I'm willing to bet that before next week is out, there is a minimum of one state making lots of news because it's legislature is going to begin considering strict new fireworks legislation because of this.  That's the way it always happens with these tragedies.

  1. Something horrible happens
  2. Something the vast majority of people use safely in their lives is found to be involved
  3. Legislators panic and make rash decisions about what can be done to prevent tragedy again
  4. Mostly safe item has crazy new restrictions placed on it or is banned
  5. Hardly anyone, if anyone at all, is saved while millions deal with ridiculous new regulations

It happens every time.  Every. Single. time.  And you can bet your hind end it will happen again here.  Lawmakers across the nation are going to put new fireworks legislation in place in the name of preventing terrorism, or saving lives, or preventing fear, or whatever.  And no one will really benefit.  But many, many people will have to deal with the negative repercussions of the new laws.

Here's what I expect to see lawmakers suggesting across the nation:
  • Styles of fireworks allowed to be purchased limited to only those with the smallest amounts of powder
  • Number of fireworks purchased to be severely limited
  • Anyone attempting to buy large amounts of fireworks to have police called on them
  • Every fireworks purchaser to have their name recorded along with the contents of each purchase
  • Digital connectivity required between different fireworks resellers so that attempts to buy large amounts via small amounts purchased from several retailers will be thwarted
  • Fireworks purchaser license required
  • Background checks required for fireworks purchasers
  • Fireworks safety courses required before anyone is allowed to purchase fireworks

And who knows what else.  Trust me, here.  You are going to see at least one state proposing some of these laws within the next ten days, and a whole lot of states following suit within the next year.

Please don't misunderstand what I am saying here.  The bombings were a real tragedy.  And my thoughts and prayers are with each and every person either directly or indirectly affected.

But our states and federal governments rarely react properly to these events.  They normally jump straight into poorly thought out legislation because the public is crying for blood and they can get just about any law passed they want if it is supposedly written in the name of justice and/or prevention.

When you begin to hear about the legislation that will be proposed because of the Boston bombings, I want you to think about whether it is good legislation or forced through bad legislation.  I want you to think of the Patriot Act and the TSA and the Department of Homeland Security.  I want you to think about whether the legislation actually helps us prevent any tragedies, and even if it does, at what cost to the rest of us?

And I want you to ask your representatives to please slow down, take a deep breath, and make sure they are passing legislation because it is the right thing to so.  I want you to make sure that they aren't passing laws in the name of revenge.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Rhode Island Republican Senators Unanimously Support Gay Marriage

Yep.  You read that right.  An entire Republican caucus has voted in favor of legalizing gay marriage.

Sure, it's a small number of legislators, but the importance of the word "unanimous" still shouldn't be lost on you.  Especially on this topic.  Especially from Republicans.

And it's not being done without political backlash, as you might imagine.  The National Organization for Marriage has vowed to unseat at least one of the Senators, Dennis Algiere, because of his vote.

Thanks to The Washington Post for tipping me off to this story.  For more information, including links to other stories, please check out their article here.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Ballard's New Cricket Venue...Even the GOP is Fired Up

At a time where Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard is receiving even more scrutiny than normal because of the apparent power grab he is making via the General Assembly, you would think he would perhaps lay low for a bit.  But that is definitely not the case and even his own party seems upset at his dismissive attitude towards checks and balances.

Last week, Ballard announced that Indianapolis was going to be building a $6 million cricket venue.  The project had apparently already been in the works for at least two years, but the administration had been keeping it hush hush.  To make things even more interesting, the first announcement of the plans didn't come to the residents of the City of Indianapolis, or even to an audience here in the Good Ol' US of A.  Instead, when Ballard decided to make these plans public, he did it in Hyderabad, India.


That's right, Ballard kept plans to spend six million taxpayer dollars on the down low for years, and waited until he was halfway around the world to make the information public.  And he did so with some utterly suspect quotes, obviously planted in his head by whatever group convinced him this was a great idea.

Cricket is not exceptionally strong in the U.S. right now.  I need to change that.

When people from around the world think of cricket, I want them to think of Indianapolis.

Can't you just hear the ego flowing out of those statements?  HE needs to change that?  Are we to believe that Ballard is some huge cricket fan that has been secretly putting together these plans in some grand scheme to make the citizens of this country suddenly believe that cricket is God's gift to the sporting world?  And does he really believe that the way that will happen is by putting a handful of fields on Post Road?

The answers, of course, are a resounding no.  Ballard doesn't care about cricket.  And making this
announcement in India shows that he doesn't really care about Indianapolis, either.  I'd be willing to lay good odds that we are going to find out that the builders of this project are somehow well-connected to Ballard, and are going to profit a healthy amount because of it.

And now things are getting even more interesting for Ballard, as his own party is expressing dismay in what is going on.  According to an article in Monday's IBJ, the City-County Council plans to discuss the matter and request more information from the Ballard administration on it.

The Council knows it is powerless to stop the park at this point, but they are seeking some specific projections on its cost and potential revenue.  Republican Councillors Ginny Cain and Janice McHenry, and Democratic Councillor Pam Hickman are quoted in the article as having expressed specific concerns. Cain and Hickman both address the budget woes the parks are already facing...among which include potential lay offs and reducing maintenance.  McHenry, who serves on the Council's Parks Committee, noted that the administration never even bothered to bring the plan before them.

As you might expect, though, spokespersons for the administration are rushing to the plan's defense.  Public Works Director Lori Miser believes that the project will be a revenue generator for the parks department.  She also believes that maintenance can be arranged through public-private partnerships.

Um...a revenue generator?  Really?  Let's just pretend that the venue can fill 10,000 spectator events (and don't get me started on where those people are going to park in that area,) and that each person's presence generates $20.  That means that it will take 30 capacity events to just break even at this location.  And that's if there are zero costs involved, which is obviously not the case.

And public-private partnerships taking care of the maintenance?  Right.  Because the Ballard Administration has such a strong track record of those partnerships working out to the taxpayers' advantage.  **cough water company cough**  **cough parking meters cough**

The truth is, this is some idea that was spoon fed to Ballard by a person or persons that stands to make a lot of money off the deal.  Just like so many other of this administration's projects, an insider is ready to make a mint off of Ballard's corrupt management of the City.  I said I'd lay good odds to that fact, and I mean it.

In fact, my money's on the soon-to-be-richer insider being David Ladd.  The IBJ article closes saying,

Ladd, a former business acquaintance of Ballard's, said the mayor first raised the idea in 2009...
Ladd agreed to help.

Keep your eye on this one, folks.  Whatever news is allowed to surface is sure to point in corruption's way.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Mitch McConnell Wants to Legalize Hemp

Criminy. It's about time we had a little bit of common sense talk frim Republicans about hemp.

You see, hemp and pot aren't the same thing. But they are treated by the government like they are. No one wants to go out and get high of industrial hemp.  It's the smoking equivalent of getting drunk on rubbing alcohol.

But nonetheless, hemp has remained illegal.  And with it, one of the most versatile and useful plants in the world.
The strangest part of this conversation may be the ass backwards way in which it is coming about.  Several states have legalized medical marijuana smoking, and two states have legalized it altogether. Hemp, though, the most useful member of the cannabis family, has remained a hush topic in the legislative world.

With this news, though, that does appear to be changing. Not only is government talking legalization, but the FEDERAL government is.  Not only is a Republican talking about it, but Mitch McConnell is.  Progress comes in weird ways.

GOP Senate leader supports bill to legalize hemp production

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Jon Easter Says IMS Giveaway Makes Sense

To listen to Jon Easter, of the Indy Democrat Blog, you would think that anyone that has provided significant tax revenue is due to receive a big check cut to them.  That is a large part of his argument in his recent blog that seems to support giving $100 Million to the Speedway. IMS is an organization that, until asking the state for these funds, has always been proud of having never taken a single government dime.

I find it especially interesting when Democrats, a group known for arguing against giving any money to the rich for anything, somehow think it is ok to give billionaire owners of sports-related organizations millions upon millions of dollars. Especially since the members of the party seem to also be against just that...except when it impacts their own city.

Where exactly, then, do we draw the line between what rich people can get tons of our tax dollars thrown at them? Obviously, it isn't when those rich people own a business that provides hundreds or thousands of jobs, and provide plenty of essential products and services beyond those jobs.

So is the threshold when the rich people provide us sports stuff to yell and scream about? Is the threshhold really set by what we can rally around?

Indy Democrat Blog: Tax Relief for IMS (Done Properly) Makes Sense

What Do You Call an Ex-Pope?

Seriously...what DO you call an ex-pope?

I'm not Catholic. Even if I was, I doubt there is precedent set....since it hasn't happened in more than 600 years.

I've got to assume that, like a president, the title follows you for the remainder of your days.  But does your "Pope name?"

I mean, does he stay Pope Benedict, or does he go back to being a Ratzinger?

These are the kind of things that need discussed.