Thursday, June 30, 2011

I'm Running for City-County Council

These last several weeks, I've thought long and hard about my role in the political process. While I've never been one to long for the spotlight, I feel like there's more I could do. But between working and an upcoming fall semester of academics, I'm not sure how much I can commit.

But I think a good first step would be to get out there and help support others who I feel are doing good work in the city.

I e-mailed the Libertarian Party of Marion County a couple of days ago to inquire if they needed someone to run in council district 7, where I reside. They didn't, and after a quick chat with Chairman Matt Wittlief, I've been appointed to their open slot in district 7. I'll be running against incumbent Maggie Lewis (D) and Sahara Williams (R).

This election won't be easy. I don't think I'm fooling anyone in that I'm running against an incumbent Democrat in a district that heavily leans Democratic in it's voting patterns. But if I'm able to get even a few people to consider libertarian solutions to the issues facing Indianapolis, that by itself will be a victory.

Deadline: Indianapolis is Highly Recommended

For anyone who would like a brief history of recent (1960s and on) history of Indianapolis, Dick Cady's book Deadline: Indianapolis is an excellent read. I'm only a 100 pages in or so, but it showcases both how far this city has come, but at the same time, shows how many of the same challenges and struggles still exist.

It looks like the Kindle version can be purchased via Amazon. It's my understanding that the publisher won't be making a second printing, but maybe Mr. Cady himself can answer on how to obtain a physical copy of the book.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Three Bits of News

Remember the controversy surrounding the Transportation Security Administration and their "enhanced" pat downs and use of full body scans for airport security? Well, another "enhanced" pat down is making the news where they forced a 95 year old woman to remove her adult diaper to complete the procedure. The woman's daughter contacted the TSA and filed a complaint, but the TSA said that protocol was followed. Thank the lords they're protecting our airwaves.

Former journalist for the Indianapolis Star, Ruth Holladay, has been providing excellent coverage of the 80+ positions that were recently eliminated at the Star. Check out her blog here and review the past half a dozen entries or so.

Finally, I'm leaving town for a few days. I'll be in San Diego, California, attending the CCHS conference. CCHS is the short term for the neurological/pulmonary condition I have, and these conferences are so the families can network. Speakers, mostly medical researchers and medical doctors, share research that they've done on CCHS. It's good because I really only see these people once in a blue moon, and I've never been to the west coast before. Should be fun.

Blogging will be kept to a minimum, if any, but you can always keep up with me on Twitter or Facebook.

Take care, all, and try to behave while I'm away.

Hoosier Access Takes Down Post Calling for Charlie White to Resign

Conservative blog Hoosier Access recently had a piece by pundit Jacob Perry titled "Sorry Charlie, It's Time to Go". Perry lays out an argument which leads him to believe that Secretary of State Charlie White should resign, saying that "Indiana deserves better than to be served by someone who so utterly disrespects her."

White's go-to defender on the blogs and interwebs, fellow blogger Paul Ogden, posted several responses, all of which were dismissed by Perry.

But the more interesting comment was posted by someone claiming to be Charlie White, in which he lays out the Secretary of State's duties and, multiple times, offers to meet or talk with Perry about exactly what his office does and to clear up what White sees as misconceptions about the alleged voter fraud charges and the duties of the Secretary of State. White heavily emphasizes that the office of the Secretary of State has very little to do with elections.

The post, after being up for a few days (and being posted via Hoosier Access' Facebook page and Twitter feed).

Taking down a blog post is something many bloggers do, but it's rare for a post to linger for several days and then get taken down.

Not making any accusations or anything, just found it interesting.

The full post, including White's comment on the post, can be found via Google Cache.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

New York Legalizes Same-Sex Marriage

As you may have heard, New York's state legislature recently passed a bill that would legalize same-sex marriage. A similar bill was attempted in 2010, but didn't pass the Republican controlled state Senate. This year, 29 Democrats and four Republicans voted for the bill. One of those four Republicans was one of the leaders in killing the bill in 2010, and another of those four is a freshman Republican.

While this is a historic time for marriage equality, my fear is that a victory such as this might motivate the opponents of marriage equality into an all out frenzy. Last I checked, 30 states have passed state constitutional amendments prohibiting same-sex marriage, and most of the remaining 20 are in the process of passing them. This victory in New York could become a rallying point for the Moral Majority crowd out there, and lead to not only getting these amendments on ballots across the country, but turning it into a national issue during a Presidential election year.

And before someone comes along and tells me the latest polling saying that most Americans support marriage equality, I think it's a bit misleading. While that might make a good case for general society's acceptance of the LGBT community, that doesn't necessarily correlate with political reality. I suspect that the shifting attitudes in same-sex marriage and other LGBT related issues comes from polling young people, 18-20something and either in or just out of college. If a poll is taken of registered voters about same-sex marriage, I suspect it would be different than what it would be than if you polled the general population.

CORRECTION: I originally wrote that "all" Democrats in the New York state Senate voted for the legalization of same-sex marriage. While I haven't reviewed the exact roll call, reading over various articles from New York media, a handful of Democrats did vote against it.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Domain Name Hilarity

Earlier in the week, I was browsing a political discussion forum and someone had noticed that had a site up on it. However, it was not being run by Jon Huntsman, the former governor of Utah, or his political action committee. Instead, someone put up an image of a letter Huntsman sent to President Barack Obama, thanking him for appointing him ambassador to China. The background of the site makes it actually look like a love letter.

Huntsman is expected to announce his intentions to run for President of the United States and enter the Republican primary sometime next week.

This enforces my belief that if you even have a little fame or notoriety, you should buy up your full name as a domain name, even if you never use it. Former Mayor Bart Peterson made the same mistake in 2007, and it became an anti-Peterson site.

And it appears the folks at the Greg Ballard for Mayor re-election campaign aren't taking any chances either. As the Bart Lies site has noticed, and have been purchased. re-directs to Ballard's re-election site, while doesn't seem to go anywhere at the moment. Both are registered with the Indiana Republican Party.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Nobel Peace Prize Winner Sued for Violating War Powers Act

Today, a lawsuit was filed by a bi-partisan group of Congressmen (including Indiana's own Dan Burton) challenging President Barack Obama's war in Libya, which Obama has avoided getting any type of Congressional approval for. The congressmen are represented by Jonathan Turley, a constitutional scholar who often appears on MSNBC as a legal analyst and also blogs over at Turley wrote about the lawsuit earlier today, which you can read here.

From my admittedly poor understanding of the legal challenges, Obama has stated he doesn't need Congressional approval under the War Powers Act (which means Congress needs to approve the troop presence after 90 days or the troops must withdraw) because it is a NATO operation. In my non-legal mind, the last time I checked, the US basically is NATO as far as military presence.

I think it's absolutely disgusting that the Obama administration is circumventing the process for getting approval of continued military action. By bypassing Congress, they're essentially saying the representatives of the people aren't worth listening to. For anybody who considers themselves anti-war, they should keep Obama's pro-war ideology in mind when casting their ballot in 2012.

You can view the Obama administration's side of the argument here. Not surprising, one of the chief defenders of Obama's war in Libya was a harsh critic of President George W. Bush on similar policies.

And on another note, Shepard Smith wants to know what happened to all the anti-war liberals.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

IndyGo to Offer Free Rides June 16

IndyGo, which runs the bus system in Indianapolis, will be participating in "Dump the Pump Day" on June 16. IndyGo will be offering all of their routes without charging riders for the day, with the exception of the Green Line route which goes between downtown Indianapolis and the Indianapolis International Airport.

While I was still attending IUPUI, I was given a IndyGo pass as part of some deal the university struck with IndyGo. While I sometimes rode it to get around downtown, I used it a lot a couple years ago when I was between cars. I experienced the best and the worst of IndyGo that way.

The best? It is really easy to get around downtown Indianapolis, especially during traditional business hours. Even without a schedule, the routes are pretty instinctive and buses are constantly coming and going.

But it's when you try going outside of downtown Indianapolis that it becomes a bit more complicated. At the time, I was living in Broad Ripple. As you get later in the day, buses only came once an hour in either direction. So if you missed a bus, it'd be another hour before you could catch another.

Once, when I was trying to catch a bus to the Glendale area, the bus stop seemed to basically be in the middle of someone's yard! Most of the bus stops I used didn't have any type of bench or covered area to wait in.

Of course, IndyGo's main problems are the service it provides outside of downtown. In my current residence within Pike Township, the closest IndyGo bus stop is a bit over two miles away. That's not too bad for someone who has a bike, like myself, but I don't think a two mile walk would be all that great for the elderly or disabled.

So start planning out your routes now. And if you have one, dust off your bike! Save a day's worth of gas for Friday, and try this IndyGo thing out. Who knows, if ridership increases, maybe some decent funds will be given to them to get some new routes going.

You can read the full press release, along with links to routes and phone numbers, here.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

County GOP Largely Abandon Indy Pride

Mayor Greg Ballard (R) has an interesting history with the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered community, at least for a Republican. He won the endorsement of The Word, the largest LGBT newspaper in the state, and Gary Welsh, a gay Republican, wrote extensively about Ballard back in 2007. And unlike previous Republicans, he didn't campaign on divisive issues, even publicly stating that he wouldn't try to repeal the Equal Rights Ordinance that a bi-partisan group of City-County councillors passed and former Mayor Bart Peterson (D) signed into law. The Equal Rights Ordinance granted similar discrimination protections that are often given to those based on gender, age, religion, and disability.

Fast forward a few years later, and Ballard's relationship with the LGBT community is pretty cold. He has avoided every Indy Pride since he was elected, and only made a brief, unscheduled appearance at this year's event (Welsh has more on that subject here). Ballard hasn't even bothered to write a welcome letter, which is a common practice when elected officials can't make it to cultural events. Governor Mitch Daniels and Ballard's predecessor, Peterson, have previously written welcome letters for Indy Pride.

Just like last year, various Democrats (both elected and those campaigning for office) made appearances, as well as several Libertarians. The token Republican this year, outside of Ballard's late afternoon appearance, was AJ Feeney-Ruiz. Ruiz is running for the open seat in council district 15, pitting him up against Vop Osili.

I'm not exactly sure why Republicans are so afraid to be seen at this event, especially those seeking municipal offices. It's just like several other cultural celebrations this city has throughout the year. And it's not like Micah Clark, Eric Miller, and their ilk are doing a whole hell of a lot to actually help your campaigns right now. I've reviewed the campaign reports, and I'm pretty certain I didn't see donations from them in any council races. And the hot-button issues they love so much are so rarely a part of municipal governance. So why are you all so afraid of being seen there?

To Mayor Ballard's credit, his brief appearance at this year's event is more than former Mayor Peterson ever did. Peterson, in his eight years as mayor, never actually went to Indy Pride, despite making appearances at nearly every other (and sometimes, smaller) cultural festival in the city. I suspect Ballard genuinely wants to attend the event, but his handlers think it'll hurt the appearance with the GOP base. If you ask me, the county GOP have done a bang-up job on demoralizing their base as it is, and attending a gay pride festival couldn't possibly make it worse.

Friday, June 10, 2011

More on Bike Lanes

Hat tip to Zach Adamson for posting this on Facebook.

Apparently, this isn't an isolated incident. The YouTube user txup has posted several videos from a 2010 Critical Mass ride where some cyclists hold up a ticket saying it's for not riding in the bike lane. Several videos portray New York City police following the cyclists for extensive periods of time.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

What is Mitch Thinking?

Local pundit Abdul Hakim-Shabazz has recently been reporting that Mitch Daniels is considering supporting former Utah governor Jon Huntsman in the 2012 Republican primary for President of the United States.

Assuming that Abdul isn't making stuff up again, I find this quite odd for a number of reasons.

Jon Huntsman, who most recently was ambassador to China under the administration of President Barack Obama, has only been back in the country for about a month. He hasn't declared his candidacy, or even formed an exploratory committee. Of course, with the late entry of many of the candidates, this might not be too odd. But Huntsman isn't a well known figure like Mitt Romney or Sarah Palin is, and probably can't afford to wait. In fact, in a recent Public Policy Poll, only one person (out of 481) ranked Huntsman as their top choice.

And that's just one side of the issue. Huntsman is known as a moderate Republican, and differs from conservative Republicans like Daniels in several areas. He has stated that the stimulus package that was passed should've been larger, floating the idea of a payroll tax exemption or a cut in the corporate tax rate for small and medium sized businesses. He supports civil unions for same-sex couples. He previously supported cap and trade before changing his position. Combine all that, along with his most recent job working for President Obama, and it makes it an odd choice for Daniels to throw his support to Huntsman.

It's also worth noting a majority of the Students for Daniels chapters have chosen to endorse Huntsman.

Andrew Breitbart Becomes Kanye West of Politics

This is exactly how press conferences should work. When someone holds a press conference, their opposition should crash the stage, take to the microphones, and trash the person or organization holding the press conference!

And that's exactly what happened when Andrew Breitbart, a notorious conservative blogger, did when he attended a press conference being hosted by Representative Anthony Weiner. You can watch Breitbart's portion of the press conference over at CBS' YouTube account here.

Brietbart's actions today reminds me of a certain rapper's stunt a few years back on an MTV awards show.

Monday, June 6, 2011

What's Going On at the Department of Public Safety?

Frank Straub, the current head of the Department of Public Safety, has taken a hands-on approach during his time at the department. He has vastly increased the department's control over the departments it oversees, including expanding DPS' actual office and the staff. Straub has constantly been in the headlines since before his tenure began. Initially, some in the Marion County Republican Liberty Caucus, including it's founder Elizabeth Karlson, opposed Straub's nomination due to some pro-gun control comments he has made and the mysterious circumstances he left his previous job in White Plains, New York. Karlson later found that she was persona-non-grata within the county GOP with her ward chairmanship yanked by Carmel resident and then-Washington Township Chairman David Brooks. Karlson has since left the Republican party and now works as a ward chairman within the Libertarian Party of Marion County.

Straub's name has been in the headlines moreso than probably all of his predecessors combined, and that's because he doesn't understand the purpose of the department, which is purely administrative and is supposed to communicate the needs of DPS departments to the 25th floor. Instead, he has used it to essentially micromanage each department, including the horribly underfunded Animal Control and the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department. Initially, Straub was confirmed by the City-County Council 27-0. In late 2010, he narrowly was re-confirmed by the City-County Council. In a year, the support for Straub (or at least the benefit of the doubt) has completely evaporated. He has bungled everything he has touched. It's like he's Mayor Ballard's version of Mitch Roob, who has screwed up several projects working at the state level for Governor Mitch Daniels.

Both Gary Welsh and Terry Burns have articles detailing the exodus of workers coming out from the Department of Public Safety. I wonder when the mainstream media will start talking.