Disgraced former Democratic county auditor Steve Saulter claims he "accidentally" used his official county government credit card to make several hundred dollars worth of purchases last year. Does he actually expect anyone to believe that this was not intentional? One or two transactions can be brushed off as a mistake. Fifteen transactions cannot be easily dismissed:
Former Monroe County Auditor Steve Saulter was charged Tuesday with felony fraud and official misconduct for using his county-issued credit card 15 times in the fall of 2015 to purchase food and medicine.
It is not all that unusual to pull out the wrong card - whether accidentally using a business card for personal use or using a personal card for business use. (The latter, obviously, is better.) But using a county government card fifteen times is an obvious pattern of misconduct.
If this scandal shows anything, it is that the two Democrats running to replace the incumbent Democrat cannot be trusted to serve as county Auditor. Current county auditor and "independent" candidate Therese Chambers (who was selected by the Democratic Party to fill the rest of Saulter's term) said she wanted to "restore trust, honesty and integrity" to the office. Chambers served as chief deputy under Saulter and Amy Gerstman, who also committed credit card fraud and (like Saulter) did not run for re-election. Why did Chambers not "restore trust, honesty and integrity" to the office when she was chief deputy?
Official Democratic Party candidate Cathy Smith cannot be trusted either. According to the Herald-Times, "there were four months where daily bank account updates were not kept. And according to an Indiana State Board of Accounts audit, more than $194,000 was needed to balance the accounts in December of that year." Do we really want someone who cannot balance the books as Treasurer to serve as county Auditor?
It is obvious that the only viable choice in the general election is Republican candidate Ann Boehm. Democrats have controlled the Auditor's office for twelve years through three separate one-term Auditors and have left a legacy of financial mismanagement, official misconduct and criminal behavior. Voting for Smith or Chambers will only be more of the same. We need a change. We need honesty, integrity, high ethical standards, and a commitment to serving the public. We need Ann Boehm as Auditor.
Following up on my last post, Twitter does need to be more aggressive with abuse of women but their policy also needs to be fair, consistent and understandable. That was not the case with Twitter's ban of Milo Yiannopoulos, who was banned after a campaign of racist harassment against actress Leslie Jones. I have researched the story and in everything I have read I have not seen any solid evidence that Yiannopoulos targeted Jones for harassment or directed anyone to harass her.
He did criticize her, and tell her everyone gets hate mail. (Yiannopoulos has gotten death threats himself and has had people leave dead animals on his front doorstep.) But by Twitter's nebulous standard on targeted harassment, I could be permanently banned for my criticism of Donald Trump, especially when I mention @RealDonaldTrump by name. Twitter needs to make that standard much more clear.
As for Yiannopoulos, yes he is a troll. He is a jerk. He makes a living being intentionally offensive and needlessly insulting people. I am not defending him as a personality. My problem with the ban is it was so dishonest. Had Twitter simply said that Yiannopoulos is more trouble than he is worth, or even that they just feel like banning him, I would be fine with it. Twitter has every right to ban anyone for any reason.
But Twitter did not do that. They falsely accused Yiannopoulos of leading a campaign of targeted harassment. That is why so many Yiannopoulos' fans (and some of his non-fans) reacted negatively to the ban, and why #FreeMilo started trending immediately. Had Twitter just been honest, this controversy would have caused them a lot less trouble.
I have said this before, but it is worth repeating: Never post anything on Facebook (or any other social media service) that you would be horrified to see on the front page of the newspaper, the lead story on the nightly news, the lead headline on your favorite news website or as a viral meme on a clickbait site.
Is it possible for the "alt right" to disagree with a woman on Twitter without becoming obscene and threatening rape and murder? Can they disagree with her without calling her an obscene four-letter word for female genitalia? Or are some of them so dim-witted that they cannot come up with a coherent argument?
On October 7, a "social justice warrior" on Twitter said something silly and ignorant about Hurricane Matthew: That the fatalities from the hurricane were the result of "environmental racism." It is appropriate to laugh at that Tweet, or to point out all the ways it is wrong. Threatening to rape or murder a woman because you disagree with her politics is sick and depraved. It is beyond deplorable. It is evil.
Here is the problem. There are so many times a "social justice warrior" will say something silly. We on the right should not simply allow these things to go unchallenged. Yes, laugh at them and point out they are indeed silly. But there are many people who take this stuff seriously, and are not just ranting. They have arguments and they are convincing people, so that needs to be refuted.
But when a reasonable refutation of politically correct SJW are lost in a sea of misogynistic hate speech and threats of violence the message is obliterated. In some cases, "alt right" trolls have stooped to "doxxing" women, exposing their home address, phone number and so forth along with rape and death threats. It is creepy and frightening.
It is really simple: Ridicule has always had a place in politics, alongside a reasoned refutation. Threatening to rape or murder someone (especially when combined with doxxing) must not be tolerated. Twitter needs to be much more aggressive in suspending and banning accounts that threaten violence against others. One does not have to strangle the "wild west" atmosphere of free speech on Twitter in order to stop this kind of nonsense. While other social networks (and online debate generally) have this problem, it is especially bad on Twitter and they need to get it under control.
We know Donald Trump is a liar. That much is obvious and has been undeniable for a week.
Eleven years ago, Trump was recorded bragging about sexually assaulting women. He said last weekend that the actions never happened and that he was just mouthing off. Trump has emphatically denied allegations from various women that he sexually assaulted them.
Again, Donald Trump is a liar. The question is this: Was Trump lying in 2005 or is he lying today?
His bragging in 2005 and his denials today cannot possibly both be true, so one of those times Trump was lying. That is undeniable, even for the most devoted and the most fanatical members his cult. Own it.
Christopher Clugston was convicted of a crime he did not commit. While he was in prison he was gang raped and infected with AIDS. (In other words, he was murdered.) Bernard Baran was convicted of a crime he did not commit and was raped dozens of times in prison. The Central Park Five were convicted of a crime they did not commit. One of them still showers in his clothes. What do you think happened to him in prison?
These are just three cases, where seven innocent men went to prison for crimes they did not commit. These cases and many others like them are glaring reminders of why we need criminal defense attorneys. This is why we need due process. This is why we must never compromise on civil liberties and this is why we must reject demands to take away or limit the rights of accused and convicted criminals to an aggressive defense. Even convicted criminals are sometimes innocent.
The right of someone accused of a crime to have an attorney is a fundamental right in our system of government. The Founding Fathers understood this and passed the Sixth Amendment. We have due process for a reason: Sometimes prosecutors can be corrupt and seek to frame innocent people. You can look at disgraced, disbarred ex-prosecutor Mike Nifong as an example. Other times, mistakes are made even without malicious intent. Perhaps law enforcement was too zealous or tunnel visioned to see the truth.
This is why the Republican Party is wrong to attack Tim Kaine for working as a criminal defense attorney. I am not saying that every single thing Kaine did was 100% honorable, but serving as a criminal defense attorney is in and of itself am honorable and necessary thing.
The anti-Kaine commercial has been compared to the infamous Willie Horton commercial from 1988. This is a flawed comparison. First, the Willie Horton ad was 100% true and fair. Second, there is a world of difference between letting a convicted murderer out on furlough and serving as a defense attorney. Releasing Horton was dangerously stupid and irresponsible. No one disputes Horton's guilt. Serving as a defense attorney is, as I explained above, a necessary component to our criminal justice system.
The nation deserves better than the shamefully anti-American agenda of this commercial, and Republican voters deserve better. Most importantly, the Constitution deserves better.
The tape of Donald Trump bragging about grabbing women, forcibly fondling their genitals, kissing them without their consent (all of which meets the legal definition of sexual assault) and trying to have sex with a married woman is 11 years old. However, I knew about the tape 30 years ago. How is this possible? Because I am cursed with discernment. I know who and what Donald Trump is. And here is a dirty little secret about the tape: Everyone else knew about it 30 years ago too.
You see, I know Trump's character and that is why I am not surprised. I expected this kind of thing to be revealed. If you say you are surprised, then you are a liar. Every single person who says he is "shocked" by the tape is a liar, and I am dead serious when I say "every single person."
Furthermore, if Trump loyalists are backing out now, after knowing this man's moral character for decades, they are two-faced, fork tongued hypocrites. This is absolutely not a surprise. This is not new. We have known for decades that Trump is a deeply sexually immoral man. Stop feigning ignorance about him and his depravity, you bunch of liars, cowards and hypocrites.
I have never been and will never be a Trump supporter. For those who are, his decades-long history of sexual immorality and debasement of women was well-known and well-documented. If that was not enough to prevent you from "supporting the nominee" when he won the primaries, then this new tape that reveals what we have known about the man for decades should not be enough to force you to end your support for him now. If it is, you are a liar, a hypocrite and a coward.
I also find it very interesting that some of the same people who wanted to throw Todd Akin overboard in 2012 because of his remarks about abortion and rape are now determined that the party must stick with Trump. While I can at least respect their consistency in their support of Trump, supporting him and not Akin is crazy. Now, let's be clear: What Akin said was stupid and ignorant. But Akin on his worst day was and is infinitely better than Trump on his best day.
What was "revealed" over the weekend (which, again, we all knew about 30 years ago) makes it clear that every single person who voted for Trump in the primaries effectively voted for Hillary Clinton to be President. Congratulations, because you are about to get what you voted for in the primary. You could have had any of over a dozen well-qualified, experienced candidates who are much more qualified, much more knowledgeable about policy and are not complete moral reprobates, but you had to vote with your "anger." Now you get to live with President Hillary Clinton.
I used to be a hypocrite, a liar and a coward regarding the reason I oppose abortion. I still sin in many ways, but this is one area where I have repented of the sins of my youth.
In my younger days, when I was challenged on my pro-life views by people who say I just want to "force my religion" on people, I would say no, this is not about religion. This is about human rights. This is about equality under the law. This is about defending the oppressed from being killed. My arguments are purely secular arguments. While these are all valid reasons to oppose abortion and they are good arguments to use against it, I hid the real motivation for my opposition to abortion because I lacked the faith, courage, and honesty to say what I actually believed. To some extent, I had deceived myself into believing my own lies.
The reason abortion is wrong is not for secular "human rights" reasons. The reason abortion is wrong, and the reason all murder is wrong, is because human beings are made in the image of God. Killing a human being, then, is an affront to something that bears the image of our Creator. God calls us to defend the innocent and rescue those being led away to death. That is why anti-abortion groups are almost exclusively Christian.
When Christian Citizens for Life was being formed, the people at those early meetings wanted it to be explicit that we were a Christian group. (I actually was not at that particular meeting when the name was chosen, so I cannot take credit for this.) This is because opposing abortion is the way we are called to serve God. We know from places such as Leviticus 20 how much God hates child sacrifice, and how He commands we oppose it. What is abortion but the modern-day version of Molech worship, except to the false god of "reproductive choice" instead of a dead stone idol?
No, this does not mean that I believe that every aspect of the Old Testament Law (much of which was fulfilled by the death of Jesus Christ) should be in our criminal code. I actually have a very strong libertarian streak and I do not want government micromanaging where we can live, what we can eat and drink, or how we run our businesses. For the most part, we should be free to make our own choices.
But when it comes to things like abortion, rape and murder - things that violate the rights of other human beings - I am unapologetic that the reason I want these things to be illegal is because God commands that they should be illegal. I am not seeking to impose my personal values on anyone. I am instead submitting to the authority of the God who created me and then died for me when I sinned against Him.
If you want to get Christians to start brawling with each other, start a discussion of dating and courtship and which one is better. Both sides will start swinging pretty quickly. Each side has good arguments, but before moving forward we need to agree on three things about dating and courtship.
The Bible gives no clear commands either way regarding which system is better.
Both advocates of dating and courtship are people of good conscience who want what is best for people in their teens and twenties.
Dating and courtship are both infinitely superior to the "hook up" culture, which often involves a series of anonymous one night stands.
When I was in high school, the way the teachers and administrators talked to us about dating had similarities to what we know today as courtship: Heavy parental involvement, accountability, avoiding unnecessary temptation, and so forth. The courtship culture did not really ramp up until I was out of high school and into college, and by the time I started reading about it I was already married. Nonetheless, I am thankful it has given me things to think about many years from now when my sons are old enough to be dating.
Different things work with different people, as well as different families. While I think overly-legalistic courtship procedures can be too overbearing, greater parental involvement in a young person's pursuit of a mate is almost always a good thing. Furthermore, some young people are wiser and more committed to sexual purity than others, while others are more impetuous and less disciplined.
Whichever system you prefer, Christians need to respect each others opinions on dating and courtship. Since there is no clear Biblical commandment at stake here, we must not judge each other for how we believe. Where no clear Biblical commandment exists, Christian liberty must be respected.
If someone is not a Christian, the most hateful thing you can possibly do is tell him that he is a Christian. Someone who is on his way to Hell does not need assurances he is OK. He needs to be called to repentance.
By assuring someone who is not a Christian that he actually is a Christian, you are literally damning him to eternal Hell Fire. I cannot think of anything more cruel and hateful.
Monroe County Democrats are trying to make county government elections all about Donald Trump. It is a strategery that deserves to fail, but it may well work. Voters should not fall for it. Taxpayers, voters, and county employees deserve better than Democrats' efforts to reduce elections for Monroe County government to Donald Trump's controversial statements or his policy proposals.
In a comment on my letter to the editor last week, someone said that he would not vote for Nelson Shaffer for county commissioner because Shaffer supports Trump. How can I, as someone who does not support and has harshly criticized Trump, justify my support of Shaffer?
The answer is easy: Vote for local office based on local qualifications. The topic of my letter was transparency and open government. Shaffer's opponent (Julie Thomas) is using her personal e-mail to conduct official county business instead of the county's e-mail server. At best, this is unethical and unprofessional. At worst, it's an effort to hide what she's doing from the people who pay her salary. Shaffer has promised to use the official county government e-mail server. Character matters.
Pointing to Trump is a transparent way to excuse corruption, massive financial mismanagement, credit card fraud, theft, and hiding county business from the taxpayers. All of that has been perpetrated by Monroe County Democrats, and none of that has anything at all to do with Donald Trump. The issue is who will better serve us as a county commissioner. The issue is who has the better policy proposals on planning and zoning. The issue is who is committed to transparency and open government. The issue is who actually respects and will listen to taxpayers. On every one of those issues, Nelson Shaffer is far better than Julie Thomas.
"Three evenings of listening to (mostly) the rants of the developers, farmers-who-wanna-be developers, realtors, and Republicans etc. to watching 15 hours of Fixed Noise (ie Fox News.)" -- County Commissioner Julie Thomas, Democrat.
It seems that everyone is focused on the Presidential election, but the real action is the down-ballot races. The closer government is to the people, the more your vote matters - and the more directly government impacts your life. One of the ways it matters most is land use policy, also known as planning and zoning. Can you subdivide your property? Can you modify the exterior of your home? Will the local officials who decide for you what you may and may not do with your property take you seriously if you show up to speak on their policy?
For Julie Thomas, we know the answer to the last question is an emphatic "NO!"
Thomas' attitude is nothing new, of course. One Democrat who serves as a township trustee shamelessly equated people concerned about property rights to slave owners who did not want to lose the human beings they "owned" - an incredibly offensive and racist statement equating a human being made in the image of God to a plot of land. It is bad enough when animal rights extremists equate humans with animals, but this Democrat was equating black people with inanimate dirt.
Thomas may not have thought her little rant in the comments of another elected official's blog would have attracted attention, but it did. Thomas exposed what she really thinks of the constituents who pay her salary and have elected her to public office twice. She simply does not care what you think - she just wants you to obey her pronouncements about what you are allowed to do with your property.
This November, we have the opportunity to tell Julie Thomas that this attitude is not acceptable. We have the opportunity to tell her that those who dismiss their constituents will no longer be representing those constituents. We have the opportunity to tell her that she represents us, but does not rule over us. We can do that by voting for Nelson Shaffer for Monroe County Commissioner.