Unless the Senate follows the lead of the House and votes to repeal the 2.3 percent medical devices excise tax contained in the Affordable Care Act, Cook Medical will not build any more plants in the U.S.
(Cook Medical President Kem) Hawkins said if the tax goes into effect next year, as scheduled, the private, family-owned company based in Bloomington will be forced to use revenue that would have financed expansion to preserve the jobs of current employees.
I have said previously that I think Todd Akin should step down and allow another candidate to take his place in the effort to unseat Claire McCaskill. And while I think the Republican Party would be better off with a different candidate, some of the hysterical freaking out about Akin's comments (for which he apologized, by the way) has gotten silly.
Right now, Akin is the Republican candidate for U.S. Senate in Missouri. If he does not drop out by the deadline in September, he will be the Republican candidate in November, and Republicans should support him. Republican groups and the party establishment yanked support from Akin in an effort to convince him to drop out, but if he does not drop out some of that support should be restored.
Obviously, depending on how the race looks in late September, the level of support should be reasonable and money should be allocated in the way it can make the most impact. What Akin said was stupid and counterfactual, but right now he is our candidate and if he does not drop out he will continue to be our candidate.
What is most infuriating is this nonsense about a third party run, floated by Sarah Palin last week. That is completely irresponsible and would hand the election to the Democrats. This is something no Republican - moderate or conservative - wants to see happen. We cannot win a three way contest between an "independent" Republican, the official GOP nominee and McCaskill. The best we could hope for is having McCaskill win with a plurality.
Palin's irresponsible suggestion of a third party run by her chosen candidate is 100% pure ego. If she supports a third party candidate, she will prove that her personal ego is more important to her than her principles.
This is not to say that third party challenges are never appropriate. If a Republican is opposed to conservative principles, a third party challenge may be necessary to give conservative voters a true choice. If a Republican candidate is corrupt, it is necessary to challenge him as well.
Neither of those is true with Todd Akin, who will be a reliable conservative voice and vote should he be elected to the U.S. Senate. While he made a boneheaded and counterfactual statement that demonstrates he is not an effective advocate for the pro-life position, there is no indication of scandal in his life.
What I find amazing is the hypocrisy of the Democratic Party on this issue, regarding the Democrats' support of Planned Parenthood. After all, PP has been caught on tape on numerous occasions trying to cover up cases of statutory rape. City and county government in Bloomington, Indiana even gave a grant to Planned Parenthood to give birth control to girls as young as thirteen years old, despite the fact that any and all sexual contact with anyone thirteen or younger is a felony under Indiana law.
Shelli Yoder, Democratic candidate for Congress, said in an e-mail to supporters that "rape - by any definition - is forcible." Actually, that's not true. Statutory rape is not necessarily forcible rape and the victim may even "consent" to the sexual contact, but statutory rape is punished by law anyway (as it should be) because we as a society have determined that those under a certain age are not capable of granting informed consent.
This leads to an important question. Is Shelli Yoder saying that statutory rape is not rape? Voters of the Ninth District deserve an answer, especially given her party's support for Planned Parenthood.
When will Democrats answer for their support of Planned Parenthood and PP's efforts to cover up of the sexual abuse of young girls? Will the mainstream media actually cover this issue, and will media in the Ninth District challenge Yoder's bizarre statement? Somehow I doubt that will ever happen.
Again, Todd Akin should drop out of the race so a stronger replacement can be chosen, but as long as he is the Republican candidate he should be supported by Republicans. The people freaking out need to cool off, take a deep breath and recognize this "third party" fantasy for the foolishness it is and the guaranteed defeat it will bring - and Sarah Palin needs to let some air out of her overinflated ego.
Abortion-rights advocates love to jump on ill-considered statements by pro-lifers in order to distract from the primary issue of abortion, and the controversy surrounding Todd Akin is no exception. But this should not be a surprise. After all, if I supported killing unborn children, I would want to distract from it too.
This is not to defend what Akin said. It was an astonishingly stupid, offensive, and anti-factual thing to say. If a U.S. Senate candidate is going to make an argument about a highly controversial social issue where highly motivated people on both sides will be combing over everything he says, then he needs to be sure what he is saying is factually accurate. That's not what Akin did. There is no evidence that women who are raped are less likely to get pregnant. Women who are raped have about a 5% chance of getting pregnant - the same percentage as women having consensual sex without using contraception or birth control.
But let's not fool ourselves here. The discussion of whether or not there should be an exception for rape if we restrict or outlaw abortion is a distraction, nothing more. According to the Guttmacher Institute (the research arm of Planned Parenthood) only 1% - one percent - of all abortions are due to rape. The hard cases of rape, incest and life of the mother account for a tiny percentage of all abortions. Simply put, this is a non issue designed to cover up the fact that the vast majority of abortions are elective abortions.
Akin's policy position is certainly a defensible position, and virtually every mainstream anti-abortion organization (including the American Life League and the National Right to Life Committee) holds a position identical to Akin's position. The argument is simple: If you truly believe that abortion is the willful, intentional termination of a human life, then why would you allow that child to be killed for the crimes of his or her father?
The problem is that Akin does not appear to have the skills or knowledge necessary to articulately argue for the pro-life position without making himself look like an idiot, and this controversy over his foolish statement has become too much of a drag on the Republicans Party's hopes of capturing the U.S. Senate. He needs to step aside so that someone else can take his place in this election.
This does not need to be a compromise on pro-life principles - the GOP could easily pick someone who is just as pro-life as Akin, but able to articulate his position in a coherent and intelligent way. For the good of the party, the good of the country, and the good of the unborn babies Akin wishes to protect, he needs to step aside.
NBC Nightly News last night continued the whining about Bush and Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
"The Superdome, a symbol of official failure seven years ago..."
And of course Katrina is a pall over the GOP convention according to NBC.
Could they possibly be any more biased? Could they possibly be any more shamelessly political? Come on, NBC, can you at least pretend to be delivering the news instead of Barack Obama's talking points?
It would have been better if Lynn Beisner's mother had taken a claw hammer and bashed her skull in when she was five weeks old. A month-old baby sleeps a lot, so the fatal beating could have started when she was asleep and she never would have known the difference. It would have allowed her mother more opportunities in life and would have spared Beisner a lifetime of abuse and suffering.
I discovered Beiser's depraved rant though listening to the BBC, and the premise of her column is quite frankly evil.
I bypassed gestation altogether in my hypothetical scenario so that I could focus on the primary issue of abortion, the issue which makes all other arguments secondary. Is the fetus a human being or not? It is an nonviable tissue mass that we should not regard as worthy of protection, or are we dealing with a little boy or girl made in the image of Almighty God, who forbids the destruction of that tiny person?
With a five week old baby, we know that we have a person and we instinctively know that bashing this baby's head in with a claw hammer is evil. (Well, most of us do. Certain "college professors" such as Peter Singer have not figured that out yet.) But with abortion, most people see it as a little more nebulous. We have taken the murder of 1,200,000 people every year and made it very antiseptic, hiding it behind the walls of a "medical procedure" and lying to ourselves about the reality of abortion. This way, we can see, hear or speak no evil and feel no pangs of conscience about what is happening all around us.
Again, the key issue is whether we are dealing with a person or a nonviable tissue mass. If the former, what is the difference between an abortion and my claw hammer scenario? There is none.
Beiser explained to the BBC that the reason she wrote her personal story of self-loathing is that the pro-abortion movement needs to counter the personal stories that abortion opponents are using with their own stories of why abortion would have been better.
But do we really know her mom's life would have been better had she aborted her daughter? Are we sure she would not have been exploited and abused? Are we sure that she would have gone to college and been in a stronger financial position? Do we know she would have had other children when she was "ready" and given those children a better life? No, all of that is 100% pure speculation. It is more likely that her life would not have been much different, other than having blood on her hands and conscience.
The pro-abortion movement is a damnable lie. It pretends to want to "liberate" women by giving them the "choice" to murder their children. That is no choice at all - it is bondage.
I am frankly fed up with hearing Democrats whine about George W. Bush being fiscally irresponsible as a way to excuse Barack Obama's inexcusable budget deficits. The common complains are the two wars, the tax cuts and the prescription drug benefit. First, the budget deficit in 2008 was $458 billion. The budget deficits in 2009, 2010 and 2011 were all over a trillion dollars. There is no comparison between Bush's deficits and Obama's deficits. Furthermore, the whining is filled with hypocrisy.
First, let's examine the tax cuts. The premise that the tax cuts caused the deficit if flawed. Barack Obama's own website reveals the following facts about the tax cuts passed during the administrations of Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush.
Federal revenue in 1981 was $599 billion
Federal revenue in 1989 was $991 billion
Federal revenue in 2001 was $1.99 trillion
Federal revenue in 2008 was $2.52 trillion
The problem is not a lack of revenue. The problem is that spending outpaced revenue.
As to the two wars that Democrats whine about, let's examine the roll call votes for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Here are the Democrats in the Senate who voted for the war in Afghanistan:
Democrats in the House who voted for the war in Afghanistan:
John D. Dingell
Martin Olav Sabo
Wm. Lacy Clay
Eddie Bernice Johnson
Democrats in the U.S. Senate that voted for the war in Iraq:
In addition, 81 Democrats voted for the war in Iraq in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Frankly, given the wide bipartisan support for the prescription drug benefit as well as the wide bipartisan support for both wars, I am sick and tired of hearing Democrats whine about how the wars increased the deficit and debt. Democrats need to stop blaming George W. Bush for policies that a wide swath of Democrats supported - especially the Democrats who voted for those policies themselves.
Men who father children through the crime of rape should have absolutely no parental rights regarding that child. Period. It is nothing short of astonishing that so many states allow rapists to sue for visitation - allowing them to continue tormenting their victims and in effect rewarding them for their crimes.
Recognizing that there are false allegations of rape and recognizing that we must never compromise on the principle of innocent until proven guilty (anyone remember the Duke Lacrosse case?) rapists should have absolutely no parental rights. The first people in line to demand reform should be law and order conservatives
Outside of the pro-life community, this issue got very little discussion, and the McCain campaign would not touch it. But it is every bit as relevant now as it was four years ago, especially in light of Obama's mandate that employers provide contraception and birth control - including abortifacient drugs - to employees even if the employer has a religious objection to birth control, contraception or abortion.
As a side note, birth control and contraception are not the same, which is why I listed them separately. Contraception prevents the fertilization of an egg - it prevents a new person from being created at all. Birth control is a different matter, especially since even Planned Parenthood has admitted that the birth control pill can prevent implantation of a fertilized egg. If life begins at fertilization (and there is no other place where it could begin) this is unacceptable.
The last Democrat who served as President, Bill Clinton, was so extreme that he vetoed the ban on partial-birth abortion. We did not get a federal ban on this barbaric procedure until after George W. Bush took office. President Obama is even more extreme, even opposing efforts to protect babies that survive abortion and are born alive. It is absolutely critical that Obama is defeated in November.
At 2 a.m. Friday, excise police took an 18-year-old man to the hospital with a 0.285 blood-alcohol level before taking him to jail on preliminary charges of public intoxication and illegal consumption.
Early Thursday morning, officers found an 18-year-old woman lying on the ground and urinating next to a police car on 12th Street... A portable breath test was administered and the woman’s blood-alcohol content registered at 0.244.
This is insane. I am not a teetotaler, but what could possibly be exciting or fun about getting so blasted drunk that you're on the edge of death by alcohol poisoning? Do these people have a death wish, or are they just that stupid?
Would the problem be mitigated if legal adults were allowed to drink legally, bringing drinking out of the underground and into the light?
Olympic athletes are some of the healthiest, most well-trained, most well-disciplined people on the planet. They train their bodies for years to be the best they can be and compete against people from all over the world, so winning a gold medal is a major achievement. There are always great stories that come out of the Olympics, and one of the best this year was that of Gabby Douglas, a teenager who won a gold in gymnastics. In an interview with Jay Leno, Douglas explains that after her athletic accomplishment, she splurged on an Egg McMuffin.
For this she was scolded by First Lady Michelle Obama, who has made monitoring your diet her cause in this White House. See here and here for more on this story.
Some have suggested that Mrs. Obama was joking. She was not. The food police have been at it for many years now, going to the extreme of outright banning large soft drinks. There has been a lot of talk about how obesity impacts health care costs and how we should increase taxes on high-calorie foods in order to defray the costs to the government of providing health care. High-calorie food has been compared to smoking, which is a stupid comparison. Cigarette smoke itself is poisonous, but there is absolutely nothing wrong with any of the foods the nanny state ninnies want to tax or ban, provided they are consumed as part of a healthy, well-balanced diet.
This is why Barack Obama must be defeated in November. We have a group of statists running the White House who believe they can run your life better than you can, because they legitimately believe they are smarter, wiser and more compassionate than you are. This is a small window into what these people really are, but is a tremendous opportunity for people to learn about big government statists and what they think of your ability to run your own life.
This is as instructive as Barack Obama suggesting that someone who is elderly should not have a surgery to prolong her life but instead should accept palliative care including pain relief. Oh, no, there are obviously no death panels in ObamaCare! Why would you say that, you racist!
Mrs. Obama's scolding of Douglas is absurd. Most people would do well to be as physically fit as an Olympic athlete. Douglas cannot treat herself despite her discipline, fitness and health? She must be an example all of the time, or at least not speak of eating at McDonald's lest she damage the First Lady's message? This is insane.
What Michelle Obama and her husband need to understand (but what they will not understand) is this: What someone chooses to eat is none of your business. The First Lady was way out of line in scolding an Olympic athlete for treating herself after years of hard work. The scolding demonstrated statists view the "common" people.
PBS NewsHour reported last night that Barack Obama leads Mitt Romney 48% to 44% among registered voters. See, this is how you play with numbers to make the polls say what you want. A more honest poll would have likely voters instead, because it simply does not matter who someone supports if that person does not actually turn out to vote - and all indications are Republicans are more motivated this year than Democrats.
A couple weeks ago, I had a guest column published where I criticized the county commissioners for having their meetings when most people cannot attend. At least with the county commissioners, you know when their meetings are. That is not the case with the Perry Township Board.
The last time the Herald-Times announced when a meeting of the board would take place (at least in searchable HTO archives) was for a January 13 meeting. But on June 24, Perry Township Trustee Dan Combs mentioned a resolution passed by the board two weeks earlier. So obviously there has been at least one meeting of the township board since then.
Meetings are required to be legally advertised, and I don't doubt that the Perry Township Board has met the letter of the law in advertising their meetings - but that is not enough. We live in the Information Age. There's no reason that the meeting times and places could not be posted on a blog, or an official Facebook or Twitter page.
City and county government are regularly covered by the H-T, but township government operates with virtually no public scrutiny other than official reports that people can get either from the township's website or from the state. I understand the H-T may not have the resources to cover township government, but at the very least the meeting times and places should be prominent on HeraldTimesOnline.com so that people can know when to attend. In fact, someone might even report on the meetings for a blog.
But township government should not reply on the Herald-Times to get the word out about their meetings. As I said above, there is simply no reason these meetings cannot be advertised on the Internet where people can easily look it up - just like the city council, county council and county commissioners do already. Both the Perry Township trustee and township board are up for re-election in 2014. Republican candidates challenging the incumbent Democrats would be well advised to make this part of their platforms.
Monroe County Council member Warren Henegar passed away yesterday at the age of 85. Henegar had previously served on both the county council and county commissioners, but he lost his bid for re-election to the council in the May 8 primary when he finished outside of the top three.
Voters in both the primary and general election vote for up to three candidates. The top three candidates in each party's primary advance to the general election, and the top three candidates in the general election take their seats on January 1, 2013.
With this in mind, it is worth revisiting a very strange and morbid statement made by the husband of county council candidate Sophia Travis, who was running against and defeated Henegar in the primary. The husband of county council candidate Sophia Travis posted on HeraldTimesOnline.com as "GRT" in the spring and currently posts as "Nitpick" on HTO. He became very angry when I questioned whether she was campaigning in bad faith, and wrote the following:
Scott Tibbs is aware, because I told him in a private email, that Sophia Travis has a condition that, statistically, makes it possible, if not likely, that she would die in office and be unable to fulfill her term. She shares this status with my friend Warren Henegar who due to his age also has a high statistical likelihood of expiring while in office and being unable to complete his term.
If it is legitimate to question either candiate's suitability for office because they might come to live with me somewhere, sometime, maybe, maybe not then surely it is legitimate to openly question their suitability due to the likelyhood of death. I do not understand why Mr. Tibbs refuses to discharge his duty and inform his fellow democratic party primary voters that a vote for either Travis or Heneger could well be wasted due to rigor mortis (note that this condition is not disqualifying for Republican candidates)
This was in incredibly bad taste when it was posted, and with Henegar's tragic passing it is even worse in hindsight - especially since Henegar had battled cancer in his last year. For the husband of Sophia Travis to exploit a candidate's health problems in an attempt to win a primary election is shameful and despicable.
Sophia Travis should apologize to Warren Henegar's family for this incredibly dirty political attack. There was no excuse for it and there is no justification for it.
It's hard to watch the day-to-day developments in the governor's race and not ask a fundamental question: Is it over?
Although the question might be premature, it's also reasonable. After all, many key indicators, not to mention a general feeling among many political observers, suggest U.S. Rep. Mike Pence is on his way to an easy win for the state's top office.
I have been very critical of the Herald-Times' moderation of comments on HeraldTimesOnline.com to the point that I gave up on HTO comments at the end of June. I am going to resume posting on HTO comments. Why? Because the H-T has stepped up on comments and is doing a much better job dealing with the trolls that had turned HTO comments into an open festering sewer. HTO comments will always be heated, but the moderators have reigned in some of the Left's worst instincts.
And yes, I do mean "the Left" here. There is no question that it is Leftists that are by far the worst offenders on HTO.
I do not doubt that my critics will throw repeated hysterical temper tantrums when I resume posting, but that will only demonstrate their own hypocrisy. After all, not one single Leftist uttered a peep of disapproval when fellow Leftist Greg Travis (who posts on HTO as "Nitpick" and "GRT") stormed off HeraldTimesOnline.com comments in anger after I called out Sophia Travis for campaigning in bad faith. Less than a month later (May 24 to be exact) Travis returned under a different name - this time using "Nitpick" as his handle.
Meanwhile, "Marq" stormed off HTO on July 27 only to return on August 11 - just two weeks later. Not only did those two leave, but they canceled their subscriptions to HTO and publicly demanded a refund of the remaining balance on their accounts.
So yes, I did leave and loudly announce my intentions for doing so, and I am returning. However, I left for specific and concrete reasons - specifically the Herald-Times' failure to properly moderate their forum and enforce the Terms of Service agreement that paying customers are expected to obey. Since the H-T has done much better lately in actually enforcing that TOS agreement, the reason for my boycott is greatly reduced... though not completely eliminated. While I applaud the Herald-Times for improving their moderation, the moderators do have a way to go because there are things posted to HTO that clearly should not be permitted to stay according to HTO Terms of Service.
I still vehemently disagree with the policy of protecting anonymity, especially when anonymous posters are public figures, including candidates for elective office and people appointed to serve on various commissions in city and county government. The Herald-Times is engaging in a cover-up by fiercely protecting the identity of public figures, hiding the truth about what those people are saying from the voters of Monroe County. Furthermore, it is not explictly stated anywhere on HTO that "outing" posters is against the rules. It is an "unwritten" rule and the Herald-Times owes it to their paying customers to spell that out clearly and in a very public way.
However, while using the real names of anonymous posters may be "forbidden" on HTO, it is not forbidden elsewhere - especially not on this blog.
Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. - Exodus 20:4
What do Roman tyrant Nero, Soviet tyrant Joseph Stalin and Iraqi tyrant Saddam Hussein all have in common? All three had statues erected to themselves. Nero's statue was especially outlandish, measuring an estimated 30 meters tall. What do those three tyrants have in common with Joe Paterno, who presided over the Penn State "University" football program while his assistant coach brutally raped young boys? Again, the common thread is a statue.
In His Word, God commands us not to make graven images. The Nero statue was certainly a graven image, as he made an explicit claim to divinity. It is a little less direct with Hussein and Stalin, but both certainly led a cult of personality and demanded absolute loyalty - not unlike a god. But what about the Paterno statue? Does it qualify as a graven image?
I believe it does. There is no question to any Christian with the slightest hint of discernment that sports is one of the many idols of our day. At Penn State, the football program took precedence over protecting young boys who were being brutally raped on the "university" campus. It had become a god, and worship of that god overcame the fear of judgment by the One True God for allowing these atrocities to continue. The Paterno statue was the graven image at the heart of sports worship.
We live in a society where images are everywhere, and Christians need to be mindful of the sin of idolatry. Does anyone really believe that statues of sports "heroes"(like Paterno) are not objects of veneration in many respects, not just a way to remember the "accomplishments" of people like Paterno? Can anyone with discernment go to a big-time sports game or a concert and not see that the athletes and musicians are being held up as objects of worship?
Does this mean that all images are idolatry? Does this mean you should not have a painting in your home or pictures of your loved ones? No, it does not. Obviously, not all images are idolatry. If you read Numbers 21, you will see where God ordered Moses to make an image of a snake that the people could look on and be rescued from the venom of snakes that were afflicting the people. But in II Kings 18:4, Hezekiah destroyed that bronze serpent because the Israelites were worshiping it.
But there is no question that we live in an incredibly idolatrous age, and we need to be very aware of not only the idolatry that infects our culture but our capacity to deceive ourselves into believing that we are not committing idolatry after all. Remember, the heart of man is deceitful above all things (Jeremiah 17:9) and we can lie to ourselves as easily as we lie to others. May God be merciful to us in our sin of idolatry.
Here's why the ACLU lawsuit on behalf of Pennsylvania voters who do not currently have a photo ID is silly: Those voters have over eleven weeks to get a photo ID. There is nothing preventing them from voting. Go get your photo ID. There, problem solved. Stop whining.
And now for something completely different, here's a funny video.
Liberty, Constitution, liberty, Constitution, liberty, Constitution, liberty, Constitution, liberty, Constitution, Ron Paul, money bomb, money bomb, money bomb, liberty, Constitution, liberty, Constitution, liberty, Constitution, liberty, Constitution, liberty, Constitution, liberty, Constitution, Ron Paul, money bomb, money bomb, Mrs. Paul's fish sticks, Mrs. Butterworths, RuPaul. I win the debate.
The Herald-Times published a staff editorial following up on my guest column calling for the county commissioners to have meeting times that allow most members of the public to attend. I'm glad my guest editorial has prompted this much discussion of the meeting times and making sure the public can attend, but the H-T editorial has some major problems.
First of all, moving the meetings to 7:30 a.m. or 3:30 p.m. does absolutely nothing to fix the problem. Someone who has to be at work at 8:00 will be able to stay for all of fifteen minutes, if they can even stay that long or attend at all. An afternoon meeting is still in the middle of the work day and makes it difficult for most working people to attend the meetings.
The big problem was a glaring factual error in the editorial, that could have been easily fixed with less than fifteen minutes of work. That glaring factual error is the claim that department heads who attend commissioner meetings would need to be paid overtime or bank compensatory time.
This is simply not true.
County department heads, chief deputies and some other selected employees are classified as "exempt" employees under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), so they are not eligible for overtime at all. Exempt employees could literally work 50 hours and not see a penny of extra compensation or time off. (Keep in mind that most county employees work 35 hours per week.) A number of department heads are elected officials, so they do not get overtime or compensatory time either. The solution, then, is obvious: To the greatest extent possible, have exempt employees be the ones who are attending the evening commissioners' meetings.
In the case of non-exempt employees who need to attend a meeting, there is no reason that there would be an extra financial burden on county government because employees can bank compensatory time to take at a later date. Another possibility is for non-exempt employees to use flex time within the pay period so that no compensatory time is carried over into the future.
There is a legitimate concern about needing to move meetings of other county government bodies to accommodate holding commissioners meetings in the evening, but the important thing to consider here is that the county commissioners are county government's legislative body. When smoking bans, zoning ordinances and the like are passed, they are passed by the county commissioners. Of all of the meetings that need to be accessible to the public, the county's legislative and budgetary bodies should take precedence over other county boards and commissions.
The county commissioners meetings are technically are open to the public, but that is meaningless if the public cannot attend 99% of the meetings because they are in the middle of the work day. Shutting out the public by holding the meetings when they know the public cannot attend is just plain wrong. As I have pointed out repeatedly, the county council and city council meet in the evenings (5:30 and 7:30) so there's no legitimate reason the commissioners can't do the same. It is certainly more convenient for the commissioners and county employees as it is now, but county government is there to serve the taxpayers - not the other way around.
Accessibility of government meetings is something I have been complaining about for seven years now, and it is great to see the issue of open meetings finally getting some attention in the local media, and it is nice to see local elected officials addressing the problem. Now the question is whether the people elected in November will have the will to fix the problem. The voters deserve to know where the candidates stand.
On August 1, the Herald-Times published my guest editorial calling on the county commissioners to schedule their meetings at a time when the public can attend, instead of at 9:00 am on a Friday morning when people need to be at work. There were a couple objections to this suggestion.
Some suggested that there could be added costs to the county in the form of overtime payments to county employees who need to attend an evening meeting. This is not a problem. As I noted in my editorial, the county council already meets at 5:30 p.m. - a full 90 minutes after county employees go home. Employees who need to be at the commissioner meeting can either use flex time during the pay period or bank compensatory time to take off at a later date. There is no need to pay overtime.
Furthermore, most county employees work 35 hours a week, so even compensatory time earned is one hour off for every one hour worked over, as opposed to one and a half hours for employees who work a 40 hour week. In addition, some employees who would be required to attend commissioner meetings are exempt employees, so they do not get overtime at all.
When the H-T surprisingly endorsed my idea two days later, the editorial board suggested the meeting could be Friday evening or Saturday "if there are weekly reports that aren’t available until Friday." There is no "if" here. The reports need to be done by close of business on Thursday afternoon, with the checks printed and ready to be signed. That is not an issue. The commissioners should be approving payroll and AP claims before they are distributed anyway, so a Thursday evening meeting is better.
There are legitimate reasons why the commissioners may want to meet on Friday morning, such as convenience for employees who would need to work outside of normal business hours. However, there is no legitimate reason why they have to meet on Friday morning. Let me repeat, there is not one single legitimate reason why the county commissioners have to meet on Friday morning. None. The ability of the taxpayers to attend their meetings should trump reasons of convenience, as it does for the county council. After all, county government is here to serve us, not the other way around.
The commissioners' inaccessible meetings have been a problem for a long time, and both Republicans and Democrats are to blame for this situation. (It should be noted that the Democrats have had a 2-1 majority in 2007-2008 and a 3-0 majority since 2009 and have made no move to make the meetings more accessible.) There's no reason it should not be fixed. Nelson Shaffer has already endorsed this reform. The other three candidates for county commissioner should take a public position on this issue before early voting starts in October.
Following are previous articles I have written on this topic:
Planned Parenthood's last two requests for corporate welfare have been denied. Is this a fluke or a sign of common sense in local government?
For ten consecutive years between 1999 and 2008, Planned Parenthood went to city government to ask for a handout of the taxpayers' money. After not requesting a grant in 2009, PP got two more handouts from the Bloomington City Council in 2010 and 2011. Up though 2009, local pro-lifers had tried in vain to get the city council not to give PP a handout, with little success - and then it got worse. PP requested and got a handout from the Monroe County Council in 2009 and 2010. So now the welfare was flowing from both city and county government.
Then something very strange happened.
When PP requested a grant from county government last fall, they were not invited to present their case at the meeting where the other social service organizations explained why they needed a grant from county government's social services funding program. I attended the meeting and was surprised that Planned Parenthood did not present at all.
Then when PP requested another handout from the city for the 13th time in 14 years, I assumed it was a done deal. I would protest publicly as I always do, as would other opponents of this shameful corporate welfare. But when the council voted in June, it would pass 9-0, with even the one vote of opposition no longer on the council. Imagine my surprise when I discovered Planned Parenthood was not on the list of applicants getting money from the city.
This is certainly good news, not only morally but also financially. Pro-lifers oppose funding Planned Parenthood on moral grounds, but it makes no sense fiscally to fund PP. After all, Planned Parenthood of Indiana took in over $900,000 more than it spent according to its most recent annual report, and the city distributed $250,000 in 2012. Planned Parenthood's profit margin was over three times larger than the entire social services funding program.
So what does this mean? Is there a bit of sanity seeping into city and county government? For the last 12 months, that seems to be the case. We will see if it lasts, as the process for distributing grants via county government social services funding program should begin in September.
Barack Obama was spying on Muslimswith this program! And here I thought that Obama was going to be more respectful of civil liberties after so many liberals were so critical of George W. Bush's record on civil liberties.
When is an invitation to debate genuine and when is an invitation political theater? It all depends on whether the invitation is made in good faith, and Democratic candidate Shelli Yoder's invitation was not in good faith.
Last week, Yoder challenged incumbent Congressman Todd Young to a series of 13 debates, one in each county in the Ninth District. This is not an unusual request by any means. Challengers are usually the first to request debates, and challengers of both parties have often requested debates in every county of their districts. The problem is that Yoder's challenge was not delivered in good faith, as the Young campaign explained in a press release:
Our opponent delivered a letter to our office less than 15 minutes before sending out a press release, and that letter asked us to contact them even while omitting contact information.
Yoder's request was made for the purpose of getting media attention, not for the purpose of working with the Young campaign to set up a series of debates around the Ninth District. The fact that the Yoder campaign did not even include contact information in a letter delivered mere minutes before it was blasted to the news media should tell voters all they need to know about the sincerity of Yoder's challenge.
The problem now is that there is most likely a trust issue. I know if I were running for Congress and my opponent delivered a challenge in bad faith, I would be reluctant to work with her and would want to document every single exchange with that opponent's campaign. Yoder may well have damaged the Young campaign's willingness to work with her by delivering an insincere "challenge" that was only for the news media and not for the Young campaign itself.
Despite Yoder's bad faith challenge, Young should prove himself to be the bigger person by working with Yoder to develop a schedule where debates can take place. However, Yoder needs to prove herself trustworthy. Yoder needs to demonstrate that she is actually interested in discussing the issues with Young and providing contrast to the voters, not merely in getting media attention (especially in a sympathetic hometown newspaper) for its own sake.
My proposal to move the county commissioners meetings to the evening generated a front page article in the Herald-Times today. Wow. The H-T has latched onto this and it looks like it will be an issue in the election. I hope it will be. I wanted to address a couple thing in today's article.
County government department heads and other staff are often required to attend commissioners meetings, so they’d have to get comp time or overtime pay if they had to attend an evening meeting.
Department heads are classified as "exempt" employees, so they don't get overtime or comp time. That only applies to non-exempt employees.
Stoops said county boards of commissioners aren’t required to provide time for the public to speak at their meetings, but the Monroe County commissioners do every week. Citizens are welcome to discuss whatever is on their mind.
Stoops is speaking of a general public comment time here, but my understanding is that public comment is required when government bodies vote on legislative matters. The two are very different. I have been trying to find information on that and have thus far been unable to do so.
Rachel Maddow has been on a tear lately about how Republicans are "punishing rape victims" and "targeting rape victims" with anti-abortion legislation that does not allow for abortion in the case of rape. While anti-abortion organizations like the American Life League and the National Right to Life Committee have consistently opposed abortion in the case of rape, Maddow is correct that Republican politicians have been very reluctant to not allow for that exception... until the 2010 mid term elections.
Here is the issue. If you believe that abortion is the willful, intentional killing of a human being, why would you allow for exceptions in the case of rape? Would you allow a rape survivor to kill her three year old child because she has decided she does not want to be reminded of the rape any longer? If you truly believe that the unborn child is a person with the same rights as a three year old, why not offer the same protection to that unborn child that you provide to the three year old? Why should the child get the death penalty for the crimes of his father?
Of course, you would not make that exception. If the unborn child is a person who deserves protection of the law, then the crimes of his father should not matter.
ALL and NRLC's position is consistent with the belief that the unborn child is a human being and should not be killed. Those who allow exceptions for rape either do not understand the pro-life position (unlikely) or are simply making a craven political calculation because they do not want to be seen as "extreme" and lose votes because of it.
Maddow almost never actually addresses the arguments as to why there should not be an exception for rape. Instead, she whines about how rape victims are being "punished" or "targeted" by these laws. One of two things is going on here. Either Maddow legitimately does not understand the pro-life position or she is simply ignoring it and is therefore not presenting the issue honestly. Maddow is not ignorant or unintelligent, so it is almost certainly the latter.
Barack Obama's Consumer Product Safety Commission is doing its best to destroy another American business with burdensome overregulation. This time, it is the makers of BuckyBalls who have been targeted by Obama.
BuckyBalls makes powerful magnets that can be put together in various formations as an adult desk toy. Sadly, some children have swallowed the magnets. If the magnets attract each other inside the child's body, they can cause blood poisoning and pinch intestines. Children have required surgery and swallowing the balls can even be fatal.
Even from a libertarian perspective, government does have a role in ensuring that products on the market are safe. This derives from the basic libertarian principle that we should be able to live our own lives as we wish but should not be permitted to harm others. (Then we get into the most effective way to do that, which is another topic.)
But here is the most important thing: The product itself is not defective. This is not the McDonald's "hot coffee" lawsuit, where it was determined that the coffee was dangerously hot. (Coffee is generally served at about 140 degrees, but McDonald's served their coffee at 180 degrees.) BuckyBalls is a product that, used correctly, is not dangerous. The problem is that there are people who are not using the product correctly.
The CEO of BuckyBalls called into the Rush Limbaugh show to explain his side of the story. He made a very good point about the three groups that are responsible for product safety. The government's regulatory authority helps protect consumers, while businesses are required to follow the regulations. (Not to mention that an intelligent and ethical business would never knowingly harm its customers.) But the third leg of that stool is consumers, who should follow safety warnings and not use products improperly.
It was with the third group where we saw the failure here. While it is not possible to eliminate all danger, parents are responsible for making sure their children are reasonably safe. This includes placing boundaries and teaching the child to be safe. Just as no reasonable person would blame General Electric because a child burned himself by inappropriately touching a pan that just came out of the stove, no one should blame BuckyBalls for a child ingesting the product.
Is it unfair to blame Obama for this? No it is not. Barack Obama is the President, and as President he has the authority to step in and restore sanity. It is time for him to do that. But even if Obama does the right thing, the fact that this happened in the first place demonstrates why we need a more business friendly President.
Militant homosexuals and their supporters have no interest in tolerance, and the Chick-Fil-A controversy demonstrates it. They demand acceptance (which is very different from tolerance) and will viciously attack anyone who does not accept their sexual behaviors as normal and natural.
A little over a year ago, some "students" attempted to get Chick-Fil-A banned from two Indiana University campuses because of the owners' support for conservative organizations like the Family Research Council. The argument for banning the chain from IU campuses was to show that we are a "tolerant" community. (See here and here for more.)
That's right, in order to prove we are tolerant, we must discriminate. Chew on that for a while.
Now, the owners of Chick-Fil-A - a company that does not discriminate against homosexuals - are seeing their company under fire for saying they support having government recognize marriage only as the union of one man and one woman. They are under fire for holding a view that western society has held for centuries and has been a staple of the Christian faith since the time of the Apostles.
It bears repeating that Chick-Fil-A does not discriminate against homosexuals. They hire homosexuals and serve homosexuals. The owner holds a political view shared by the majority of Americans and, until very recently, President Barack Obama. In fact, the minority turnout to support Obama in California four years ago contributed to the passage of Proposition 8 banning same-sex marriage in the state.v
But that's not good enough for the mayors of San Francisco, Boston and Chicago. All three have said they do not want Chick-Fil-A operating in their cities, and there are moves being made to legally prevent the chain from opening stores. This is clearly unconstitutional. You simply are not allowed to discriminate against a business because you dislike the poltitical or theological views of the owner. Any move to block Chick-Fil-A from opening in any city will be struck down by the courts. It is a waste if time and the taxpayers' money.
But as I said before, militant homosexuals and their allies are not interested in tolerance. They want one thing and one thing only - acceptance. Militant homosexuals will spew vile burning hatred against those who disagree with their lifestyle, even if those people (or companies) do not discriminate against homosexuals. This is part of the reason militant homosexuals are so, well, militant about same-sex marriage in the first place, because there are serious and frightening implications for religious liberty if government officially recognizes same sex marriage.
Elected officials are free to speak against Chick-Fil-A and participate in private sector boycotts of the chain, but they may not use the force of government to punish the chain for the theological or political views of the owner. If you ask me, that should be a criminal offense.
The Dark Knight Rises is a fitting end to the Batman trilogy, and completes Bruce Wayne's character arc while leaving room for an expanded universe in the future.
First, it was nice to see Bane presented as a serious threat, after the character was criminally misused in Batman and Robin. Bane methodically wore Batman down before breaking his back and putting him out of action for an extended time in the "Knightfall" storyline in the 1990's, but Batman and Robin portrayed him as a mindless oaf who was easily defeated by Robin and Batgirl. In Rises, he is a legitimate big bad who takes Batman down.
Bane's Venom steroids should have been in the movie, as Venom is an essential part of Bane's character and it would have explained his super strength, including punching chunks of concrete out of pillars with his bare hands. The final fight scene would have made more sense as Bane was weakened when Batman broke Bane's mask.
We get that iconic scene in Rises as Bane brings Batman down across his knee to finish their fight. Batman put up much more of a fight than he did in "Knightfall" but that is understandable given the context. Bane tosses Batman into the prison where he languished for years, and we have one of the silliest scenes I have ever seen in a movie that is not an intentional farce. Batman has a ruptured disc in his back, so a "doctor" in the prison basically punches Batman in the back to put it in place.
No. You can't do that. The human body does not work like that. If anything, that sort of "medical treatment" would make Batman much worse. I would be willing to suspend disbelief if Batman took some of Bane's Venom steroids or had there been some sort of sci-fi explanation similar to the Bat Knee Brace we saw earlier in the movie. Dark Knight Rises loses a full letter grade due to that silly scene.
Christian Bale portrays Batman well, though the raspy voice he uses is still silly. He did not look terribly convincing in the fight scenes, which was not his fault. The problem is that the armor he wears in the movie which limits the mobility of the actor too much. Future Batman films need to find a good middle ground between the tights Batman wears in the comics and the armor he wears in the movies.
I do appreciate that Batman has respect for human life, even if it is inconsistent and often hypocritical. As great as Tim Burton's 1989 Batman movie was, having Batman straight up murder people is not consistent with the character. Yes, I understand that Batman often murdered people in the Golden Age, but that has not been part of the character since the Silver Age. In fact, one could make the argument that Batman is immoral for not killing the Joker knowing that the Joker will simply escape from Arkham and kill a lot more people.
The problem here is that Batman is not consistent. You cannot have the character take away Catwoman's firearm and scold her by saying "no guns" and then use guns when he is riding his Batcycle or his Batplane. He either uses guns or he does not use guns. You cannot have it both ways. As it is, Batman gets completely owned by Catwoman when she shoots and kills Bane with the Batcycle's cannons in order to save Batman's life and says something to the effect of guns being necessary sometimes. Batman is supposed to be the hero, but the movie does nothing to convince the audience that Catwoman was wrong and Batman is right.
I found the political undertones interesting, with Bane basically representing the terrorist arm of Occupy Wall Street and Batman as the hero of the one percent. When Bane threatened to obliterate Gotham with a nuclear weapon, the military said "call the President" to find out what to do. A friend remarked immediately "Are you kidding? Obama would be right in there with them." Of course, the President does cave to Occupy Gotham and gives them what they want.
One review I saw criticized the movie for having Bane and his partner (a plot twist I will not reveal here) leave Gotham before the nuclear weapon goes off, especially since they knew in advance that the city would be destroyed. I do not think this is all that unbelievable. After all, Muslim terrorists often sacrifice their own lives to slaughter innocent people, so it is not unusual to think that Bane and his partner would be so committed to "sanitizing" Gotham that they would be willing to die with the city.
There was a great scene between Wayne and Alfred where Alfred determines not to help Wayne kill himself that sets up the final scene perfectly, and Anne Hathaway was great as Catwoman. Tom Hardy was fine as Bane, but because Bane is so huge in the comics, it would have been better to have a bigger actor play Bane.
Having the police basically march to their death like lemmings toward the final confrontation with Occupy Gotham made no sense. Are we to believe that having three thousand police officers march down main street armed with batons to see the first several waves get mowed down by tanks and machine guns was the best strategy that Commissioner Gordon could come up with? This reminds me of the second Bunker level in Goldeneye on the Nintendo 64, where waves and waves of enemies charge into the room where Bond hunkers down only to be slaughtered.
Despite my criticisms, this was a good movie. Detective Blake, Commissioner Gordon, Selina Kyle, Wayne, Alfred and Bane were all written and portrayed well, and the mess that Occupy Gotham created was believable. I recommend at least renting it on DVD, bit this one is worth the higher price of the theater.
It is very interesting that in his article today, Mike Leonard did not mention the number of people who participated in the Kiss-In at the College Mall Chick-Fil-A last night. I have been told by someone who was there that no more than 12 were protesting. Why did Leonard not mention the numbers?
The $791 million Hoosier Lottery threw open bidding July 11 for a 10-year contract on marketing, sales and distribution services. The lottery wants to be among the fastest-growing in the country, and it’s looking to the gambling industry to help it reach that goal.
Marketing the lottery raises ethical problems, as Michelle Malkin explained in 2001:
The states spend an estimated $400 million a year on publicly-sponsored ads promising players that "everyone is a winner" and that you can "win every day" with "more prizes" and "better odds." To help ensure that lottery ads reach their at-risk target audience, state officials saturate the airwaves around the first of each month. Why? As an advertising plan for the Ohio Super Lotto explained: "Schedule heavier media weight during those times of the month where consumer disposable income peaks. . . . Government benefits, payroll and Social Security payments are released on the first Tuesday of each calendar month.''
Can you imagine if a tobacco company had a similar marketing plan and got caught with a memo telling ad execs to time their campaigns in order to entice welfare recipients and senior citizens?
Every two weeks, the Monroe County Commissioners meet to approve payroll and claims, and often they vote on legislation. This legislation includes signage ordinances, bans on smoking in public places and in your automobile, and land use regulations. They do this at a time when they know many members of the public cannot attend, thereby hiding their meetings from the taxpayers who pay their salary and fund county government.
The Bloomington City Council, meanwhile, meets at 7:30 on Wednesday evenings. Someone who works a traditional 8 to 5 schedule can easily attend a city council meeting, every week if he wants to. This schedule allows working people to serve on the city council, something that is not an option for people who might otherwise consider running for county commissioner. The Monroe County Council has moved its meeting times to later in the evening, from 4:30 to 5:30. It would be better to have the meetings at 6:00 or later, but it is better than it used to be.
But it is not only the county commissioners that have this problem. City government boards and commissions often hold their meetings in the middle of the work day. Here is a partial list of these meetings that are inaccessible to the general public:
♣ Utilities Service Board - 5:00 pm
♣ MPO Technical Advisory Committee - 1:30 pm
♣ MPO Policy Committee - 1:30 pm
♣ Housing Trust Fund Board of Directors - 3:30 pm
♣ Commission on the Status of Black Males - 4:15 pm
♣ Board of Park Commissioners - 4 pm
♣ Board of Housing Quality Appeals - 4 pm
♣ Historic Preservation Commission - 4 pm
The worst meeting time by far, though, is the county commissioners. Unlike the city's boards and commissions, the county commissioners have legislative authority, which is why their meetings need to be held in the most open way possible. Holding meetings when most people are unable to attend covers the business of the county commissioners in a cloud of darkness, something that should be unacceptable to elected officials who truly want to serve the public. There is no legitimate reason why they cannot meet on Thursday evenings. Payroll and claims are already done by that point, and it would make the meetings accessible to the general public.
We have two countywide races for Monroe County Commissioner this year. In one district, voters will decide between an incumbent and a challenger, while in the other district voters will decide the best choice for an open seat. All of those candidates should answer to the voters about whether they would be willing to change the commissioners' meeting time to be more accessible to the general public. The Herald-Times should aggressively pursue this matter, pressing those candidates for an answer.
Will the candidates commit to "change we can believe in" by embracing a more open and accessible meeting schedule? Will the H-T fulfill its responsibility to the public by aggressively seeking answers from those candidates? We are waiting for an answer to those questions.
Social networking sites have been filled with images mocking President Barack Obama over his "you didn't build that" remark, but Obama's argument actually does deserve to be addressed in a serious manner.
One of the points that Obama was trying to make, badly, was that business benefits from the infrastructure investments of government. This is true. The criminal justice system helps keep business relatively safe, roads and highways (and other infrastructure) allow transportation of goods, the patent system allows people to make money from what they invent by discouraging theft of intellectual property, and so on and so forth.
But what Obama and others are missing is that business did pay taxes for that, as well as other working people who benefit from that infrastructure. Those taxes are part of the social contract we have and what we established government to do. Business does pay its fair share in contributing to that infrastructure (physical and otherwise) and for all intents and purposes, nobody is objecting to taxes to pay for things like highways and our legal system.
(Never mind that taxes are a cost of doing business and are eventually passed on to the consumer.)
But Obama's argument is more about whether we should have government at all instead of what the proper role of government should be. We can agree on the basic structure of a civil society and have serious disagreements over how much is too much and where government should leave us alone. Basic food safety regulations prevent unethical people from taking shortcuts and causing harm to others by not following the proper procedures to ensure there are not harmful bacteria or chemical contamination. Nanny state ninnies, meanwhile, want to prevent us from causing harm to ourselves by consuming too much soda.
That is a critical distinction. Causing harm to others and causing harm to ourselves are two very different things and should be treated very differently by government.
Obama did not make distinctions between the roles and responsibilities of federal, state and local government. As President, he should only be concerned about the first item on that list, and not about the others.
Obama is correct in that government provides the safety and infrastructure to create and environment where business can go. But he oversimplifies with his "you didn't build that" remark. Yes, Mr. President, they most certainly did build that. It is not unusual for someone creating a small business to work 60 hours a week (or more) for either no salary or an extremely small salary while trying to build his business. In some cases, those businesses are very successful, and the hard work and sacrifice does pay off. Those people are paying their fair share.
So, yes, Mr. President, let's have that discussion about how government helps create a basic structure under which we can work hard, innovate and make a profit. That discussion should start with the role of federal, state and local government and what powers each should have, and how we can devolve federal responsibilities to state and local government. This is not necessarily to eliminate those things (although a lot of that needs to happen) but to make it better by having it be controlled by the government as close to the people as possible.