Monday, December 20, 2010

Indiana Citizens Redistricting Commission Formed

I am pleased to announce that I am participating as a member of the Indiana Citizens Redistricting Commission. The gerrymandering of electoral districts and the need to redraw maps with districts without political considerations is an issue I have been pressing for several years, including with my 2006 run for Indiana Secretary of State, and through the present with the lawsuit against the town of Fishers.

The Commission was assembled by Common Cause Indiana, and true to the organization's name, Commission members represent a range of political perspectives. There are Democrats, Republicans, and yes Libertarians represented here. From the Fort Wayne News-Sentinel:
A citizen panel backed by the League of Women Voters and AARP will hold public hearings on the redistricting process and will monitor the drawing of new maps by the Indiana General Assembly.

The Indiana Citizens Redistricting Commission, co-chaired by former lawmakers Dave Crooks of Washington, a Democrat, and Republican Bill Ruppel of North Manchester, says it wants to ensure the redistricting process emphasizes competition and fairness, not incumbent protection and partisan advantage.
Points I made with regard to the numbers of unchallenged races were carried by the Muncie Star Press report:

The citizens commission said a politicized redistricting 10 years ago, when Democrats controlled the House, resulted in the northwest Indiana city of Chesterton, with a population of about 8,000, being divided among three Indiana House districts and the towns of Frankton and Rockport, each with populations of about 2,000, both being divided between two House districts.

It said 17 of 100 Indiana House candidates and five of 25 Indiana Senate candidates faced no opponents in the general election.

Libertarians represented the only challenge to 11 more Indiana House races, and 1 of the Senate campaigns. The Libertarian Party of Indiana has for years recruited candidates specifically in the unopposed races so as to keep issues alive through November in these districts. Without a challenger, the incumbent is done with the May primary, and doesn't have to talk issues at all. The accountability of unopposed candidates is nil.

Link to the Common Cause statement.

We have seen that redistricting can happen without politics, with Marion County being the best example. The county shows a narrow Democratic majority of voters, and since redistricting, the county went from Republican domination on the City-County Council to slim majorities that tip back and forth, which is vastly more representative of the people in the county.

And that's how elections should be. Government should be representative of the people. Sure, politically I might wish it to be a Libertarian government, just as Republicans and Democrats would prefer their party to rule the day. But elections shouldn't be foregone conclusions, thanks to deals between political bosses that protect certain incumbents and certain seats. It's time to draw the map in compact geographical districts and let the chips fall where they may.
Members of the citizen panel agreed to serve at the request of the Indiana chapters of the League of Women Voters, AARP, the political watchdog group Common Cause/Indiana and the Downs Center for Indiana Politics at Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne.

Other members of the commission include Barbara Bolling, president of the Indiana conference of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People; AARP Indiana President Clyde Hall; Executive Director Gil Holmes of the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana; Mike Kole, chairman of the Hamilton County Libertarian Party; and Briana Dines of the Indiana University student group Democracy Matters.
I am honored to have been invited to participate in this Commission, and look forward to gathering input from voters from around the state.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Sue Everybody! Punitive Damages!

The title is a reference to an early Jerky Boys crank call, where they called a lawyer and made an absurd claim ending with the caller wanting to sue everyone, including the lawyer on the line. This new suit against McDonald's by a California woman over Happy Meals isn't exactly as stupid, but close. From CNN:
Parham, a 41-year old state employee, says her kids repeatedly ask for Happy Meals, mainly for the toys. "We have to say no to our kids so many times and McDonald's makes that so much harder to do. I object to the fact that McDonald's is getting into my kids' heads without my permission and actually changing what my kids want to eat."
I'm 42. I have a 5-year-old and a 2-year-old, so I have some basis for comment here. There is no word in the English language they hear more than "no". It is a word I am happy to issue. Kids are Want Machines. Parents guide children by saying "yes" to things they approve of, and "no" to things not approved of. Any parent is, in my opinion, abdicating the most basic role of the parent when they decide saying 'no' is too strenuous an act for them to carry out on an ongoing basis. Lovely, but typical for our times.

In the Kole house, the kids know better than to ask Dad for McDonald's. It ain't happening, with one significant exception. When we are doing a long drive, I will take them to a McD's with a "Playplace" in it. That way, they can stretch their legs and generally be kids in a way being cooped up in a car for hours denies. Isabel has been to McDonald's less than 10 times in her life, despite two of their restaurants within a mile of our house, either of which we will drive past, depending on which way we're headed out of our neighborhood.

I hope this mother does what we did here, and remove the TV from her house. If one would give up so easily to McDonald's commercials, it's going to have a lifetime of frustration. Suits will undoubtedly have to follow to toy makers like Mattel, and then later Anheuser-Busch, and General Motors. Not sure what recourse you'll have if the kiddos are introduced to cocaine and gangs.

This is a frivolous lawsuit as Exhibit 'A'.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Balanced Budget, Explained With Pork

It seems the public perception is that balancing the budget would be impossible, that it would require a Herculean amount of political courage to cut out all the fat necessary to end deficit spending.

Alas.'s Nick Gillespie trims the fat to show just how absolutely huuuuuuuge the cuts would have to be:

No reason not to cut to at least the balancing point. Heck, maybe even get into that deficit. Congress Critter, you can even leave your leather jacket on.

Monday, December 13, 2010

New Podcast Almost Ready

Now that the nature of the thing has been decided, I've begun assembling bits for the first episode of "This Podcast Could Be Your Life".

I interviewed Steve Wainstead as my first guest, drank a beer, and discussed some Bucket List stuff. In the next day or two, I'll have it in finished form. Stay tuned!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Podcast Decided

I've come to a conclusion about a podcast direction. It's going to be a personal thing, and hopefully entertaining to listeners.

I'll call it "This Podcast Could Be Your Life". That's a tribute to The Minutemen, and their great song, "History Lesson, Part 2". I took a great deal of inspiration from them, and specifically this song, over the years for the DIY ethic, and in particular the line, "Punk rock changed our life".

The plan is to simply talk about and play things that are important to me. Old WCSB pal Keith Newman and I share an outlook on great radio- it's personal and at least a wee bit obsessive. People get drawn into the lives of great radio personalities on the basis of the things they can relate to, and to the passion the host has for these things. Howard Stern is my favorite case in point, at least up until he got divorced.

So, I have a minor format that I've been working on. "Minor" because I don't want it set in stone. I like having features that recur, but not every time, and not in a set order.

Big Respect. I want to give a nod to someone important to me in each podcast. The title is a tribute to Mike Watt of the Minutemen. Watt has his own lingo, and when he speaks glowingly of someone, he often says "Big respect to...".

Musical Rediscovery. In going through old radio show tapes and in ripping old 7" records to digital files, I've rediscovered some great music, and want to share it. I'll focus on one artist each time.

Bucket List Report. No, I'm not dying, but I like the concept of the 'Bucket List'. It keeps me focused on goals. When I'm not striving for something, I get listless, so I'm making it an active priority to continuously put some goals out there. The first things I'll cover are travel related.

Radio Days Flashback. Those old radio tapes have some real gems. There was a lot of crap, too, but I'll spare the world and myself, acting like the latter never happened.

Mike Kole Drinks a Beer. Once upon a time, I was a home brewer, and even wrote articles about beer. Sometimes I even got paid for it. I really enjoy craft beers, and have missed beer over the last 8-10 years. Isn't that strange? I'm actually making a podcast as a tool for enjoying a beer once in a while. Well, when I'm a candidate for office, I feel I always have to be 'on', and I never drink. Throw in Lyme Disease, and I really just can't handle very much alcohol, so I've stayed away from it. But I do miss the enjoyment of one really good one now and then, and I've learned how to manage the symptoms of Lyme, so why not bring it in? Sad thing is- and this will annoy my drinking friends- I rarely even drink the whole thing. I get my fill in 4-6 ounces anymore. Go ahead- tell me I'm old. It's cool.

Mike Kole Drinks a Root Beer. Over the past decade, I discovered root beer as a lovely substitute for beer. Plus, with a horrible kidney stone episode in 2006, I learned I had to stay away from sodas with phosphoric acid, which means all colas. No Coca-Cola! I really am getting old. Funny how diet gets shaped by disease.

People In My Life. This will be the best thing. At least, this is the thing I'm most looking forward to: Interviews with friends. I've been taking stock of my friends and family and really getting to how great they are, with fantastic stories to share.

Beyond these, I figure there will be reports on family, travel, hockey, Where's George?, and yes, political opinion.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

One-Eyed Views Of Economics

I swear, the willful ignorance is growing and growing. There are two ways to balance budgets: increase income, and decrease spending. In any responsible person's personal budget, the first thing one does when the income sags is to cut spending. Not borrow and spend. Cut. Then, after stabilizing the budget, look for other sources of income.

Well, I used the word 'responsible'. So, here comes the 'Chart of the Day' from Reuters.
Oh, I love the one-eye blind preaching in the article:
This chart should be ingrained in the mind of anybody who cares about fiscal policy. The main things to note:
  • Federal taxes are the lowest in 60 years, which gives you a pretty good idea of why America’s long-term debt ratios are a big problem. If the taxes reverted to somewhere near their historical mean, the problem would be solved at a stroke.
Here's the foil, because one good chart deserves another, and because I care about policy, without taking the belief that all we're spending on right now is good, necessary, and proper:And, using the above Reuter's paragraph as a building block, here's the other side of the coin:

"Federal taxes are spending is the lowest highest in 60 years, which gives you a pretty good idea of why America’s long-term debt ratios are a big problem. If the taxes spending reverted to somewhere near their historical mean, the problem would be solved at a stroke."

So, let's end with an update to their conclusion:

If you were structuring a tax code budget from scratch, it would look nothing like this. But the problem is that tax hikes budget cuts seem to be politically impossible no matter which party is in power. And since any revamp of the tax code budget would involve tax hikes cuts somewhere, I fear we’re fiscally doomed.

Federal fiscal policy goes like this: We're committed to spending, so let's figure out ways to get the money. Why are we committed to spending what we're spending? Anyone have any interest in that? Why are so many elected officials, and worse, pundits, willing to accept that all spending is good, and must, I mean MUST, be underwritten?

This position is the extreme on one end. I'm not the extreme on the other. I'm not saying 'Cut it all!" I'm saying, "Let's cut to the historical mean." That's a moderate position.

Note to my Democratic friends: Look at the spending as % of GDP chart. Remember the Clinton years? You know, the ones that were so glorious, at least as heard told during the 2008 campaign season? What did federal spending do during that shining era of surplus? Yeah. It went down. Then, it went up sharply in the middle of the Bush years, and continued upward sharply into the Obama Administration. Over to the tax chart, you'll notice that taxes went up during the early Bush years, and then down in the middle and into Obama's term.

Friday, December 03, 2010

Seminar On Gerrymandering Upcoming

The gerrymandering of districts is the act of drawing a map with political boundaries that serve to assure that the party in power stays in power. Libertarians, myself included, have long campaigned against this practice, urging instead for districts that are compact and geographical in nature, thereby allowing voters to more accurately select representatives that reflect the geography.

Common Cause Indiana is hosting a lunch seminar that addresses these issues.

When: Friday, December 17, 2010, 11am - 1pm
Where: Senate Chambers, Indiana State Capitol
Panelists include The Honorable Theodore Boehm, Indiana Supreme Court; Dr. Michael McDonald, Associate Professor of Government and Politics at George Mason University; and Virginia Martinez, Esq., Legislative Staff Attorney for the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF).
Register via this link. I'll be there. Look for me!

This is extremely timely, as the Indiana Legislature is charged with redrawing the map this year once the 2010 Census data is released. The release is expected to happen in February 2011, and the Legislature will be looking to act quickly. Proponents of an honest redistricting need to be active right away.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

OK Tea Party, Have At 'Er

I hope this causes incredible cognitive dissonance for many. From the Indy Star:
Operators of the popular Creation Museum in Northern Kentucky are seeking state tax incentives to build a creationism theme park at a nearby site -- a project that Gov. Steve Beshear officially will announce today.
That's a nice test for those who believe in Creationism and limited government. But, this item really has something for everyone:
Advocates for church-state separation question whether the tax incentives would raise First Amendment issues.

Louisville attorney David Tachau, who successfully sued over a state appropriation for a religiously affiliated pharmacy school, said he would have to further research the issue.

"It certainly sounds as if the mechanism for supporting a particular religious dogma would violate the establishment of religious prohibitions in the state and federal constitutions, but there may be slippery ways this could pass muster," he said.
There are some days I wish I did talk radio. Hmm... There's that podcasting...

A Complete Herbert

One of my favorite 'new' hobbies is Where's George? You've seen dollar bills stamped with the website and messages like 'track this bill'. Yeah, I do that. I've always been fascinated with currency and coins, thanks to the influence of my Dad, who has been a lifelong coin collector. It isn't just inflation and the Federal Reserve policy that holds my interest regarding Federal Reserve notes.

Here's my Where's George profile, for your amusement. The dynamic map is pretty great. Put your cursor over any state and you will see how many of my bills have been tracked there. Click on the state and you will see in which counties.

The diaspora are interesting. I can recall trips by some hit clusters (Niagara Falls, NYC), and you can see how I've beaten a path between Indianapolis & Cleveland by way of Columbus. Almost a perfect line on I-70 from Indy to Columbus, then up I-71 to Cleveland.

Some 'Georgers' are complete Herberts. They go to the bank every day and get straps of $1 bills, mark them, and conduct all of their transactions in ones. The last thing I need are my friendly bank tellers thinking I spend all my time at strip joints.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Thinking About Podcasts

I've generally enjoyed the experience of producing the LPIN's podcasts, but have been thinking of doing something more creative, probably in place of the LPIN one. The last thing I really need is another project. I'm looking to reduce projects, not take on more.

So, there have been two ideas I've been tossing around. One involves interviews with members of the Cleveland punk/underground/indie rock scene. The other is some kind of, dare I say, variety show?

The punk show is pretty straightforward. It occurred to me that the scene is getting elderly in a hurry. The bands I have in mind are generally not current ones, having played from the mid-70s to early 90s. There are a lot of fascinating characters in that scene, and a lot of stories to document. I know that many of these folks aren't going to be writing these things down. That's too much like work. Talking for interviews is easy and fun besides. Now, it has also occurred to me that I don't live in Cleveland. No big deal. I wouldn't want to be the only one doing the interviews. There are better connected people who have interviewing skills that can also do them.

The variety thing... Well, that's not straightforward. I have a lot of interests, and also am not a fan of regimenting or formating a show in a rigid fashion. Why not talk about hockey, root beer, politics, music, and have an interview with a friend all in one show?

The punk thing would be for posterity. The stories are invaluable, and I would work as a sort of archivist. The variety thing would be my favorite kind of 'radio'- totally idiosyncratic, where the process is the fun, and bonus if anyone listens. I'm sure my Libertarian / political friends would push me to continue the LPIN podcasts. Preferences?

Monday, November 22, 2010

Sad News - David Nolan, R.I.P.

Libertarians across the country were saddened to learn that a co-founder of the Libertarian Party, David Nolan, had died suddenly Saturday night. The Libertarian Party was actually formed in Nolan's living room. There are many articles in response. Here's a small sampling:

Independent Political Report - the comments are loaded with tributes

David Nolan was on the current Libertarian National Committee, and just recently ran for US Senate against John McCain. He invented the "Nolan Chart", a later version of which is now used by the Advocates For Smaller Government, which we all use for outreach at events.

Greg Noland administers 'The World's Smallest Political Quiz', which incorporates 'The Nolan Chart". Photo from recent Good Earth Festival in Atlanta, IN.

David was apparently driving to an event to support the Advocates. He had created a fundraising event for his upcoming birthday - Tuesday - asking Facebook friends to support the Advocates as a birthday wish. Link to the page to donate in David's memory.

I had the opportunity to meet with David at several LP national conventions. My lasting impressions of him are of his calm demeanor at the microphone during heated platform arguments, as the voice of reason, but as one deeply respected by each of the various factions within the party. The room always got respectfully quieter when David Nolan began to speak.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Better Off Without TSA

I would rather go back to the days of no screening whatsoever in airports. It's a whole lot of cost, invasion of privacy, loss of decency, and hassle for very little in return. Are we safer? I don't think so. Interesting discussion from Bob Greene at CNN:
The atmosphere at the airport is as free-and-easy as in a public park. The official assumption is that the people around you pose no threat; from the moment you walk through the front doors of the airport until the moment you step onto the plane, not a soul will stop you or ask you a question.

Would you feel safe? Would you want to live in such a country?

You did, if you were a citizen of the United States before the 1970s.
He's right that the people who are working the jobs are bewildered. They probably believe in what they are doing. But their belief doesn't change the invasive nature of what they do, and it certainly doesn't eliminate the possibility that some lunatic can think of another way of commandeering a plane that doesn't require any metallic object.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Indy Tax Dollars

I can't imagine why the great Indy Tax Dollars hasn't been on my blog roll and "Hot Off The Press" feature. Fred McCarthy's writings have been excellent, and I've followed them for at least five years.

Big oversight on my part, corrected today.

TSA & My Market Response

The "Don't Touch My Junk" event has interestingly had both left and right speaking out against the TSA's invasive searches. Hopefully something will come of it. I used to love to fly. Not anymore. It's a real drag anymore.

My favorite experiences flying came about 10-12 years ago, back when I lived in Cleveland and a close friend moved to New York City. Cleveland and Newark, New Jersey are hubs for Continental Airlines, so I signed up for their frequent flyer program and their email sale alerts. On Tuesdays, Continental sent emails with weekend deals. Depart this Saturday, return on Monday. Gave you no time to plan, but they had planes to fill, and I could jump on it, taking the 6am flights in both directions. I would roll in to the airport with a small carryon bag around 5:15, and would have plenty of sitting around time. I would show up for work Monday at 8:10, and sheepishly say, "Sorry I'm late."

I wouldn't try that anymore, even if I were still single. Now you need to be in the airport at least two hours before the flight. Coming home from Manhattan, I took the Grey Line bus that picked up at the Javits Center near Madison Square Garden. I'd wake up at 4 and get on the bus at 4:30am, 12 years ago. It was hellish, but then I could function on 4 hours sleep. Now I'd have to get up at 3am, shower and pack, and probably get a cab around 3:20 in order to get to Newark at 4am. Forget that! That extra hour makes a huge difference, especially to someone who can now only barely function on 8 hours sleep.

When I travel today, I have a load of things I bring in one backpack, necessitating the use of six bins. They want the shoes in one bin, then the belt, wallet, coins, and lip balm in another. The jacket in another. The laptop in another. The cameras and associated gear in another. The podcast gear in another. A total pain to repack it all.

I had one goofy experience with a money belt. I was going to Ecuador for a month and was bringing $1,000. That's not the kind of money I want in my wallet, so I had the lion's share in a money belt inside the pants. This was 2008, so the scourge of TSA was upon us, and I had to request a private screening. TSA wanted to know why. This was getting stupid. I didn't want to say, "BECAUSE I HAVE A HIDDEN MONEY BELT THAT I DON'T WANT MY FELLOW PASSENGERS TO SEE", so I told him I couldn't say. That raised his suspicions, and brought out two supervisors. Once behind a closed door, I told him about the belt, and my reluctance to announce it. Heaven only knows what they were thinking I had as we went to the private room.

It's all a nuisance to me. I used to happily jump on a plane in favor of a four-hour drive, even if I had to rent a car. Not anymore. The line is now 10 hours. The airfares are expensive, the hassle is irritating, and I'm not interested in some TSA peon groping my kids. They actually travel pretty well by car, so if I didn't get the tickets for our upcoming flight to Costa Rica via frequent flyer miles, I would be vastly more interested in driving there- and that's taking into account the need to rent a 4-wheel drive to deal with Costa Rica's horrible roads. That's about what it takes for me to want to fly- free airfare.

There are substitutes. I love road trips and I love trains (not that the latter go anywhere I want to go out of Indy), so there are alternatives. As usual, the market provides choices, and I have to believe this latest episode is going to hurt the airlines some more.

So, may both sides of the political spectrum continue to complain about TSA. In the scheme of things, I'd like to see TSA abolished before the repeal of Obamacare.

Monday, November 08, 2010

Jonesy's Jukebox Is Back!

Sex Pistols' guitarist Steve Jones hosted some of the most entertaining radio over a 4-5 year run on LA radio station Indie 103.1, until the station suddenly changed formats. Jones did a perfectly freeform show, playing songs he wanted to play, telling stories about his bands' good ol' days, jamming impromptu riffs on his acoustic guitar or even whistling tunes, and fantastic interviews. I loved listing to the podcast versions when I had lengthy car travel for work, and was quite saddened when Indie 103 vanished.

Now Jonesy's Jukebox is back! It's on legendary LA station KROQ-FM, 106.7, and yes home of Rodney Bingenheimer's "Rodney On The ROQ" show.

It does not appear that the show is available in podcast form yet, but you can listen live or to archived bits via the station's website. The show airs live every Sunday from 7-9pm Pacific (10-midnight locally) and can be streamed live.

Many, many thanks to Bryan Stumpf for tipping me off to the new show!

Horns of the Burnout/Excitement Dilemma

When it comes to politics, I go through cycles of excitement and burnout, and usually it's an either/or proposition. Not now. This time, it's both.

I was wholly burned out up until I saw the results of the elections the following day. But, seeing Chard Reid get more than 7% in his US Congress race, and 9.45% here in Hamilton County really picked me up. Seeing our base on the federal races go from 1-2% to 4-8% in every single Indiana congressional district is positively uplifting.

But, I'm still burned out. I'm tired of politics. I'm very interested in re-broadening my horizons again. I've missed music, and want to buy a guitar and bass, and play in a band again. I want to play with my kids more.

I'm not at all excited about the Republicans winning office. Sure, I'll probably get gridlock, which is usually my best bet for limiting government. History tells me the Republicans won't cut anything, but slow the growth rate. Sorry, that's not the real deal. Watch what happens when they confront the debt ceiling. That will tell you whether the commitment is to maintaining the size and scope of government, or to sustainable government.

Add to this the remaining staggering idiocy. I was reading a leftward blog this morning and saw a post suggesting that... Hold on. I have to quote it, just to capture the sheer stupidity in its full essence:
Had we just devalued the dollar to about 70 percent of the current worth, and at the same time devalued all property, wages and prices by the same amount, we would be super competitive in the world, we could afford to produce and sell products worldwide instead of sending our jobs overseas, and people could afford to stay in their homes.
In context, that line is about class warfare. This is one person's suggestion that would presumably improve the lives of the lower and middle classes.

Inflation improves the lives of exactly one class of people- landlords. The rents go up in pace with inflation, while the landlord pays off the mortgages with less valuable dollars. Everybody else pays higher prices for everything: food, gasoline, rent, cars, everything. So, who can best afford to pay the difference when gas goes from $2.50/gallon to $3/gallon, as it did this week? Why did the price go up? Because the Federal Reserve bought a bunch more of our debt, thus weakening our dollar. This continues the trend of monetizing debt that began in August. It hasn't weakened by 70% yet, as the genius on Masson's Blog desires. That's probably only going to be good for 1 or 2 point increase in the inflation. I figure the guy who makes a quarter million a year can better afford to shell out an extra $5 at the pump each week, an extra $25 at the grocery store, etc. If I wanted to crush the poor, the BEST tool I could think of would be inflation.

So, with this kind of idiocy running rampant, I get torn on the consideration of forging on or giving up. Yes, libertarians have momentum, but stupidity that willfully ignorant seems impossible to overcome.

Friday, November 05, 2010

More Unofficial Returns

I've done some analysis on the basic numbers for all races involving Libertarian candidates in Hamilton County. Here's the link.

In Summary: Our numbers are going up despite our candidates not having huge advertising budgets. We do a fantastic job of taking advantage of earned media. The base of the Libertarian Party in Hamilton County is growing at all levels, but most significantly at the top of ticket, where voter confidence was previously very low. The key now is to translate more votes into more candidates for future ballots, and more volunteers to walk neighborhoods and work phone banks and polling places. We may be getting near to Malcolm Gladwell's tipping point, where we start electing officials to office in Hamilton County!

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Unofficial Returns

Unfortunately, I did not win in my bid for County Council. That's okay- I'll take stock in the positives:

I enjoyed going door-to-door to talk issues with my neighbors. I know that more people have an understanding of what a Libertarian would do in office if elected, and dispelled some misnomers.

We found where some of our supporters are. I am hopeful this will result in more people active with the Libertarian Party.

The support of friends was tremendous! Many, many thanks to friends who braved the cold to pass out palm cards on election day, including Jim Hurst, Mark Kolovrat, Craig Witt, Lars & Pami Noldan, and Matt Mulder.

The unofficial returns have me getting 6.9% of the votes, with the Democrat getting 24.8%, and the Republican 68.3%. This was the first time this Council seat had a three-way race. It was unchallenged in 2006 with the Republican unopposed, and in 2002 Libertarian Gregg Puls got 11%, but there wasn't a Democrat in the race. Now we know where the baselines are for this area.

The best Libertarian showing in a three-way County Council race was in 2002, when Terry Baker got 8% in the district that includes Noblesville.

The turnout was really low. Just 44% of registered Hamilton County voters appeared at the polls. That's disappointing, but consistent. 4 years ago, the turnout was also just 44%. It just goes to show that even though there is more media buzz and more commercials on TV, the result isn't necessarily translating into more voters.

More later on the Libertarian numbers for Hamilton County and across Indiana. Very encouraging!!!

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Ready To Vote!

I'm up early and ready to vote. I hope you will be voting too! The votes we cast are crucial in getting policies that will grow our economies, or our governments. In my Fishers precinct I will be voting for:

Rebecca Sink-Burris, US Senate
Chard Reid, US House of Representatives, District 5
Mike Wherry, Indiana Secretary of State
Eric Knipe, Indiana Auditor
Mike Kole, Hamilton County Council, District 2

The rest will largely be a lot of blanks. Why? I won't vote for a candidate who doesn't represent my views in a high percentage. I don't expect 100% agreement. I know that isn't possible. But nor will I vote for someone I agree with less than half of the time, just because they are 'the lesser of two evils'. The lesser of two evils? Now that's a wasted vote!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Congratulations, Chard Reid!

Chard Reid is the Libertarian candidate for US House of Representatives in District 5. Reid is seeking to replace Republican Dan Burton, and his chances just got a healthy boost as the Indianapolis Star has endorsed him! From the Star endorsement article:
Reid, a young economics teacher at Plainfield High School, has taken the fight to Burton on taxes and the deficit. He maintains that the 14-termer has not worked for systemic change despite his conservative persona. Reid also offers thoughtful ideas for cutting spending, simplifying the tax code and reforming entitlements.

Reid represents the best of Libertarian small-government ideals. He would be a refreshing departure from the incumbent's complacency and cavalier attitude toward ethics.
I couldn't be more proud of Chard! Every Hamilton County voter will be able to vote for Chard, as the 5th District covers our county entirely.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Audio On Fishers Lawsuit

I was recently interviewed by Chris Spangle, Executive Director of the Libertarian Party of Indiana, for the party's podcast. The lawsuit against the Town of Fishers is discussed in detail.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

The Grown-Ups In The Room

I've been watching the debates for Congress across Indiana and one thing keeps striking me: The Republicans and Democrats sling mud at each other and dance around the questions, and the Libertarians are the grown-ups in the room. From Indiana Public Media, on the first US Senate debate:
Both Democrat Brad Ellsworth and Republican Dan Coats were on the offensive during last night’s Senate debate in Indianapolis… while Libertarian Rebecca Sink-Burris remained more focused on questions and responses.
Absolutely, I'm going to prefer the Libertarian candidate's answers 95 times out of 100, and Rebecca is a friend. But the glaring difference in demeanor gets me. I can understand the Democrats going negative. They're trailing in the polls by and large. I don't get the Republicans taking the bait. When you're in the lead, you dismiss the negativity and go on about what you're about. For all the money these guys spend on their campaigns, precious little goes towards training and solid advice.

But hey, their idiocy is our gain. I love the coverage Scott Wise got on a Fort Wayne TV station along these lines:

Rebecca Sink-Burris will debate two more times with fellow candidates for US Senate. Well, she will debate. The others will sling mud. I hope she tells them to knock it off and behave.

Fri Oct 22, at Fort Wayne
Mon Oct 25, at Vincennes

These should be widely televised again. If you missed the first US Senate debate, see it by clicking here.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Poor Coverage

I was really miffed to read an Evansville Courier & Press article on the Indiana Secretary of State's race. It was bad enough that it read like a paid advertisement for the Democratic candidate and not filed under 'Opinion'; but it also failed to mention Libertarian Mike Wherry at all.

So, I wrote a letter to the editor. It follows:
I found it ironic and unfortunate to read Sunday's article on the Indiana Secretary of State race. Ironic that the article quoted one of the candidates about not forgetting those with a right to be heard. Unfortunate, in that the Libertarian candidate, Mike Wherry, wasn't even mentioned.

The Secretary of State race is crucial to the Libertarian Party, as its' candidate needs to secure a minimum 2% finish in this race in order for their party to remain on the ballot for the next four years.

But more to the point of the article, regarding whether or not paperwork irregularities make a candidate fit for office or not, it is incredibly ironic that Republican's errors are commented on, while the Democrat, who has also committed plenty of irregularities, was given a pass.

Both parties have slung a fair amount of mud at their traditional foes, and both parties are fairly convincing when they both make the case that the other is unfit to be Secretary of State.

Libertarian Mike Wherry stands heads and shoulders above this. He is a veteran US Naval officer, having served on the USS Indianapolis. He is on the ballot and is an eminently qualified candidate. He should have had equal consideration in the recent article on the basis of being a balloted candidate alone, but when you consider the relative merits of his paperwork, perhaps he should have been the feature.

Sincerely Yours-
-Mike Kole
Libertarian Candidate for Secretary of State in 2006
I'm fond of this clip:

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

On WXNT Wednesday Morning

Be sure to tune in to 1430-am Wednesday morning at 7am to hear me on the Abdul In The Morning show. I will be Abdul's guest to discuss my lawsuit against the Town of Fishers regarding failure to put the 'City or Town' question on the November ballot.

Where: 1430-am in Central Indiana
When: Wednesday, 7-7:30am

Monday, September 20, 2010

Oh, What A Relief

I feel so much better on this news from CNN:
The Great Recession ended in June 2009, according to the body charged with dating when economic downturns begin and end.

But the news is little comfort to the millions of Americans still out of work, underwater on their mortgages or uncertain about the future.
Yeah, that's a great comfort. I've been "working" in my chosen field the past year, but if I clear more than 15% of what I cleared in 2007, I'll be astonished. I'm employed, but I'm underemployed, and the current political climate wherein business owners lack confidence in the economic recover such that they are not expanding has greatly impacted me. I began looking forward to new budgets for 2011 in February of 2010.

I hope the people on the margins like this are enraged by the news and show up at the polls to punish incumbents. I'm obviously motivated enough without this kick in the pants, but it does feel like insult to injury.

Speaking to a town hall meeting in Washington, President Obama said the announcement about the end of the recession is further proof that steps taken early in his administration, including the economic stimulus package, were the right ones. But he cautioned it does not mean that the economy has recovered.

"Obviously, for the millions of people who are still out of work, people who have seen their home values decline, people who are struggling to pay the bills day to day, [the recession is] still very real for them," he said.

Thanks for the acknowledgment, Prez. Now, if you could send some kind of signal, anything at all, that businesses aren't an ox to be gored, maybe, just maybe, we'll start to see the kind of confidence enter the picture that you thought a "stimulus" package might engender. Alas.

This tells the story on whether or not stimulus was the 'right move'.

Friday, September 03, 2010

Ballot Discrimination In North Dakota

I was infuriated at seeing this item in the news. From the Forum of Fargo-Moorhead:

A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit against Secretary of State Al Jaeger that was filed by three Libertarian candidates for the North Dakota Legislature who sought placement on the November ballot.

Richard Ames of Wahpeton, along with Grand Forks residents Thommy Passa and Anthony Stewart, argued that North Dakota’s ballot access requirements are unconstitutional because they require candidates to get a minimum number of primary election votes, even if they run unopposed.

It isn't a partisan outrage. If these were Socialist candidates, I'd feel the same way. I detest the judge's reasoning:

In an order issued today, District Court Judge Ralph R. Erickson wrote that states can require candidates to demonstrate a certain degree of support in a primary election.

Primary elections serve as a mechanism to “winnow out and reject all but serious candidates,” and ballot requirements allow states to avoid voter confusion, overcrowded ballots and frivolous candidates, Erickson wrote.

He concluded that North Dakota’s ballot requirements for the general election are “non-discriminatory and serve a compelling state interest.”

That's bullcrap. What exactly does an 'overcrowded ballot' look like? And, what is a frivolous candidate? That's for the voters to decide!

We have to work hard to make sure Mike Wherry gets his votes here in Indiana so that the Libertarian Party can maintain its ballot access for four more years. It isn't safe to leave the matter in the hands of judges, as this example in North Dakota shows, and as we're aware affected the Libertarian Party in Ohio for several years.

(h/t: Patriot Paul)

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Big Surprise! IndyGo Does Want More Tax Money

To no surprise whatsoever, the bus system that requires some 80+ of its funding to come from taxpayers, now wants even more. From the Indy Star:
IndyGo, another agency dependent on property taxes, also adopted a 2011 budget Monday, and it, too, will pursue a shortfall appeal as expected.

If approved by the City-County Council, the appeals would bring in $1.8 million for the library and $1.5 million for IndyGo. But for most homeowners, the increase combined would be only a couple of bucks.

The one-time levy, which would not increase the actual tax rate, would increase taxes by $1.21 for a $100,000 property, said library Chief Financial Officer Becky Dixon. The IndyGo increase would be roughly $1 per $100,000.
And just as typical is the Republican response:
Angel Rivera, a Republican who initially expressed opposition to the move, said because the increase was small, he "would give it a lot more consideration," though the council is still exploring other options.

"I don't like tax raises," Rivera said. "But if it's $2.50 per parcel, I think we'd have to seriously consider it."
Republicans are against tax hikes, until they are for them.

There are too many other things the Library and IndyGo can still do to generate revenue. They can charge their users for the services they use. Hike the fares, charge more for overdue videos, and charge to use the internet. Is this so hard to figure out?

I suppose it's easier to simply claw at the community as a whole.

Monday, August 30, 2010

IndyGo "Could" Nick The Taxpayer?

Way to go Indy Star headline writer! You gave me the chuckle that will carry me through this Monday! It read, "Action by IndyGo and library could nick taxpayers".

No kidding! Could nick the taxpayer? Bwaaahahahaha! That's about the only thing IndyGo does with any consistency!

As pointed out many, many times on this blog, IndyGo is heavily subsidized, with taxpayers making up a minimum of 80% of the bus service's funding. Fares, on the other hand, make up less than 20%.

As pointed out many times before, this represents a transfer of wealth from those who don't ride to those who do. What's that old saw about the sum of good government being not picking my pocket or breaking my leg? How's that go? Not IndyGo, that's for sure.

So here's the trick, per the Indy Star:
Municipal corporations that receive less tax money than expected can file what's called a shortfall appeal with the Department of Local Government Finance. If approved, that will raise how much the corporations receive the next year, but it also will raise property taxes for those who are not paying the maximum under the tax cap.
It's time to scale back our empire building. No, I'm not talking foreign policy in this case. I'm talking the empire of government. The money is not there. When the property tax reassessments happened a few years back, we were not in the midst of a down economy. Hit people now, with a 10% unemployment rate? For buses people don't ride?

Here's an idea: Raise the fares. Let the people who use the services pay for the services. Either that, or scale them back just as surely as families have scaled back on eating out or grilling t-bone steaks.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

No More Free Speech for Philly

Got a blog in Philadelphia that maybe runs some Google ads for chump change? Then the city wants you to pay $300 for a business license. From the Philadelphia CityPaper:

For the past three years, Marilyn Bess has operated MS Philly Organic, a small, low-traffic blog that features occasional posts about green living, out of her Manayunk home. Between her blog and infrequent contributions to, over the last few years she says she's made about $50. To Bess, her website is a hobby. To the city of Philadelphia, it's a potential moneymaker, and the city wants its cut.

In May, the city sent Bess a letter demanding that she pay $300, the price of a business privilege license.

This blog has never earned a penny. It is a hobby for me. If I were sent a bill, I would probably do one of three things- close the blog, ignore the bill, or build coalition with every other blogger or any stripe to go on the attack against the City on 1st Amendment grounds.

Yeah, the latter. Business licensing is plain wrong, and this case illustrates it as well as any. Who is protected by running out small-time blogs? Yeah, local governments.

(h/t: Josh Gillespie)

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Indy Star Reports on Kole Campaign

Indianapolis Star reporter Carrie Ritchie interviewed me recently about the campaign and about Hamilton County politics. Here's a link to the report.
Though Republicans have a strong grip on county offices, Kole thinks he can take some votes from Levine on Nov. 2.

"I think I'm a little more aggressively fiscally conservative and I can step to the right on economic issues," Kole said.

Kole worries the county spends too much money and believes it could make deeper cuts, especially now that it's struggling to balance its budget.
The budget and number of county employees has always been too high. Now that the county cannot afford to keep a bloated payroll, it should be obvious to anyone that the time to cut deeply is now.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Campaign logo unveiled

My new campaign logo for this year's campaign is ready. Feast your eyes:Ready for use on literature and yard signs!

It's a departure from my 2006 image in that the colors are now in line with the broader Libertarian Party branding.

(h/t Chuck Grienert)

Friday, July 23, 2010

Photocopies = Housing Fund?

Stuff like this drives me crazy.

In my work, I often have to get copies of the deeds and easements of record that encumber a property. My current project is an acquisition of easements on 39 parcels on a run in Lorain County, Ohio. I get these documents because they detail any potential conflicts for the areas of land I am trying to gain rights to.

I'm a captive audience. I have to pay the fee, whatever it is, because I need the information.

In my home state of Indiana, copies are $1/page for deeds. In Ohio? They are $2/page.

Does it intrinsically cost more to make a copy in Ohio than in Indiana? Of course not. Look at the itemization on the receipt:

That extra dollar goes into something called the 'Ohio Housing Trust Fund'. Well, isn't that nice. Here I am, coming to get documents, not even an Ohio resident, and I am taxed to pay for someone's housing in Ohio. If this isn't taxation without representation, I don't know what is.

I guess I can console myself in the knowledge that Cook County Illinois (Chicago) charges $10/page. Yes, that's right 1-0, ten dollars per page. It used to be $50! No kidding. Apparently, Cook County figured out that for that money, you'll go to the title companies for copies, since they have extensive files in-house. The heavens only know what that money is going towards there. But to record a document in Cook County, they nail on a $10 fee for support of rental housing. Anything these governments can do to redistribute wealth, they will do.

I can also console myself that I am reimbursed on this cost. So, get off it, right? Well, that cost is passed on to my client, a utility, who will then pass the cost on to you, the consumer. This is about as hidden a tax as I can think of. It will never show up on any balance sheet. So many ways the state finds to make doing business more expensive- for a good cause, sure- but more expensive all the same.

Sunday, July 18, 2010


One reason I don't like government dictating business policy- It makes mistakes.

Sure, business owners make mistakes too, but when it happens, it's on them. Nowhere to point the finger but at themselves. How about the auto dealerships that were hastily closed in trade for bailouts of the parent corporations? From CNN:
"Treasury made a series of decisions that may have substantially contributed to the accelerated shuttering of thousands of small businesses ... potentially adding tens of thousands of workers to the already lengthy unemployment rolls," said the report, released by the Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program (SIGTARP), Neil Barofsky.

GM and Chrysler were both required to submit restructuring plans to the Treasury's Auto Team in February of 2009, but the plans were rejected because Treasury deemed that the car makers weren't moving to close dealerships at a rate fast enough to keep their businesses viable.

So the auto manufacturers accelerated the process, with the help of bankruptcy laws that let them cancel dealer contracts. Chrysler terminated 789 dealerships last summer and General Motors announced plans to wind down 1,454 dealerships by October of 2010.

I'm all about the austerity and cost savings, wherever they may be found. Were the dealerships losing money?
Dealerships weren't axed to save money: The audit also found that dealerships weren't axed for the sake of saving money but for "far more amorphous reasons."

"Key members of [Treasury's] Auto Team stated ... that they did not consider cost savings to be a factor in determining the need for dealership closures," the report said.

It would be interesting to learn what those 'amorphous reasons' were. I don't like an amorphous government. It just doesn't breed confidence.

Sure, the automakers made the deal with the devil, and had to take Treasury's terms to get the money. But actions should have some reasons underpinning them.

If the government is acting to save jobs, this was a complete idiot's way of doing it.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Candidate Blog Posted

I had previously mentioned cutting back on posts here until I posted a campaign blog. That blog is up and running, with a handful of posts specific to the campaign. Please have a look, and if you like what I'm running on, please become a follower of the blog, or subscribe to the RSS feed.

I am running for Hamilton County Council, District 2. It's a large district, covering all of Delaware & Fall Creek Townships (Fishers, mainly) and Wayne Township (part of Noblesville). Map.

Now, back to posts of a more random nature here at the Kole Hard Facts.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Mystery Funding, Coming To Central Indiana

When the evidence shows us that things are done a certain way, in what rational world would we begin to think that it would be done differently, if only done here?

In California, they have the wonderful light rail transit that so many County Commissioners and central planners in Indiana drool over. Some of them at the same time think of themselves as 'fiscal conservatives'.

Nowhere does light rail make a profit. In fact, nowhere does light rail break even. The closest to break even is NYC's MTA, which recoups about 50% of its operating budget via fares, advertising, and other revenue. The rest is tax money. Indianapolis' IndyGo recoups about 20% of its' operating budget via fares. The rest is a transfer of wealth from taxpayers. Fiscal conservatives should run screaming from light rail faster than from virtually any other conceivable project.

President Obama's light rail showcase is in California. Tim Cavanaugh has some interesting takes of the whole phenomenon of light rail funding, "budgeting", and dreaminess.
The project is a high-decibel example of the magical thinking that takes hold when people talk about trains. A few years ago, when the rail bonds were being debated, I participated in the quaint ritual of an editorial board meeting at the Los Angeles Times in which we debated how to “weigh in” on this critical issue. While I, the team’s only mass transit rider, had the handicap of knowing what I was talking about, I was nonetheless pleased at the group’s readiness to acknowledge that the high-speed rail project offered only anemic ridership levels, endless subsidies, and a strong likelihood of never happening. But in the end, of course, we ran with an editorial titled “Believe in the Bullet Train.” The piece complained that “critics…base their arguments on the past, not the future.”

Here's the part that reminds me most of Indiana. The Metropolitan Planning Organization has been talking about this light rail boondoggle for the eight years I've lived in Indiana. While I am eternally grateful that it hasn't been built, nor does the bugger go away. From Cavanaugh:
Finally, the bullet train is a case study in the immortality of a bad idea. While the train itself may never become a reality, sheer political will makes the train project impossible to kill. “The project has been fighting every year to stay alive,” says Elizabeth Alexis, co-founder of Californians Advocating Responsible Rail Design, a watchdog group that supports a rail project in principle but is critical of the Authority. “So they did what they had to do to stay alive, because that’s better than being dead.”

After 14 years of no life signs, how can you tell the difference? Amtrak used to try and lure riders with the slogan “There’s Something About a Train That’s Magic.” In reality, we know that magical trains exist only in cartoons.
As ever, The Simpsons' "Monorail" episode is instructive.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

The High School Reunion I Will Never Have

Old friend Jim Lanza put on the weekend reunion show of my lifetime. I ran around in the Cleveland music scene as a young man and felt greater kinship with the folks in that bands and the supporting scene than with I did with my high school associates.

Jim assembled a showcase of around 10 bands that played this past Friday & Saturday nights in a dive called Now That's Class. The musical highlight was seeing Doug Gillard's guitar wizardry on display in Children's Crusade. Here's a great song of theirs called "Blue Venus Aflame".

Keep this in mind: While vocalist Fraser Sims wrote the lyrics to the songs, Doug wrote and recorded all of the musical parts. Everything, including the bass guitar and drums. Obviously, he couldn't pull that off live, and back in the day, Tom Miller played bass for CC, and Sean Saley played drums, as they did this night.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Jon Stewart Notices Bush's 3rd Term

I've been calling Barack Obama's Administration "Bush's 3rd Term" for about 15 of the 18 months of its existence now, due to the incredible continuity and expansion of Bush's policies by Obama. It's so obvious now that even Jon Stewart can no longer let it pass.

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Respect My Authoritah
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical HumorTea Party

Now, will Democratic supporters do what they criticized Bush for, namely, give their man a free pass?

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Dialing Down A Bit

The frequency of the posts is down again, not because I'm burned out or have less to say. A couple of things:

After seven months without any new work, I finally have a job interview next week. I'm very excited, to say the least. It's a one-off project, but with enough to do that if I get the position, I'll be busy through about the end of the year. My focus has been on prep for this interview. It will restore my finances to where I can live in the manner I am accustomed to.

I'm pleased with my budgeting skills. I did not apply for unemployment, though I certainly could have added to the statistic. (President Obama, you owe me.) Despite having made half in 2009 of what I made in 2008, which was half again of what I made in 2007, I made my money last during that time, and did not suffer. A little anxiety, sure, but we still ate and generally carried forth. Well, no vacations, but then, I never felt owed a vacation. In fact, I'm itching to work. Itching.

Plus, I'm a candidate again. While the campaign is not as intense as my 2006 run for Indiana Secretary of State, I feel that my public comments need to be more germaine to the office I seek. That narrows things down quite a bit. I'm running for Hamilton County Council, in District 2. The County Council manages the county's finances, levying taxes and funding operations, so I feel I should be talking about such things, first and foremost. Foreign policy, monetary policy? These are important, but have not much to do with the County Council.

So, look for me to launch a campaign blog shortly. After I do so, I'll begin again posting things here that are of the usual random nature.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

It Hurts To Watch

I love today's media tools. YouTube is such a beautiful thing. We see all the minute details that led to catastrophe, preserved forever.

Shame on me. When President Bush talked about the 'ownership society', I only caught the soundbites, and not the full substance. I liked hearing Bush say that our country would be better if more Americans owned their own homes. Who could argue?

Well, the details. The pesky details. I feel shame. This YouTube clip shows President Bush talking about broadening government involvement in making it so. Remember when the bubble burst and so many tried to lay all blame at the feet of the free market? It kinda surprises me that they weren't more eager to lay blame at Bush's feet. But then, the commitment is to government expansion, even more than attacking George Bush. The commitment is to pretending and lying about the existence of a free market. Crazy suicide. Government causes problems, so were going to solve those problems with more government. Yeah!

Wince as Bush talks about spending tax money to take away the requirement for higher downpayments. Watch the collapse begin!

Then, a few years later, Bush talks about how people bought homes they couldn't afford! Well, damn! Who encouraged that with nearly half a trillion dollars of taxpayer dollars? The free market?

Get a load of the first minute, talking up the strength of the economy. Please- get me a bucket.

Friday, May 21, 2010

When Economic Reality Steps In

IndyGo, Marion County's government owned and operated bus line, is not immune from dealing with fiscal reality. This is a remarkable statement when you consider that generally, IndyGo gets some 80% of its operating budget not from rider fares, but from government subsidies.

I'll give credit to IndyGo on this: With tax revenues down, and therefore their operating budget short, the bus line has decided to cut routes and hike fares. This is a sensible reaction, unless you can have a stable of unicorns pull the busses or fill the gas tank with fairy dust.

IndyGo has been holding public meetings, and the riders showed up in force to bitch. Reading the Indy Star account kind of reminds me of hearing my 4-year-old whine when I turn the TV off.

But in the end, emotion -- not figures -- seemed to rule the day.

Several riders shared stories about how they depend on the bus to get to work, school, grocery stores and doctors' offices.

"It took me an hour and a half to get from my house to Washington (Street to catch the bus)," said regular IndyGo rider Nora Wright, her voice shaking with anger. "I don't think that's right."

Another asked in amazement: "You expect us, the poor and disabled, to pay more while you actually make the service worse?"

I remind my little girl, "You just got a gift of watching some TV. You should be saying 'thank you', not stomping your feet and pouting".

The vast majority of citizens do not ride the bus, yet all pay taxes to subsidize the rides of a few. I don't think I've ever seen an example of a bus rider acknowledging the gift they get from the taxpayers. Not a gift? Pay for the full cost of your fair share of the operation, and it ceases to be a gift, when the riders pay a fare such that the operating budget requires zero tax dollars. Here's the telling quote:
They explained that the door-to-door paratransit service, known as Open Door, is far more expensive to operate than fixed-route service -- $35 per passenger versus about $4.

So, what are the fares for these rides? Per IndyGo's website:

Single ride: $1.75 (free ride of $2.25 per ride)
Half fare for those over 65, disabled, or under 18: $.85 (free ride of $3.15 per ride)
Open Door: $3.50 (free ride of $31.50 per ride!)

So, IndyGo is proposing to raise the fares? Great! It's about time. IndyGo loses money every time somebody hops aboard. Time to go the whole route towards fiscal solvency and sustainability. Pay for what you take.

Either that, or acknowledge the gift the taxpayers are giving and quit acting like 4-year-olds. This entitlement attitude is killing our country.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Oh, Schadenfreud, Mr. Souder!

I went through a long period of time where I did not enjoy revelling in the misery of others. Maybe I'm becoming an old man. Get off my lawn! See?

But today's news that 'Family Values' Republican Mark Souder, A US Representative from District 3 in Indiana, has me snickering. From Fox News:

Eight-term Rep. Mark Souder will announce his resignation Tuesday after it came to light that he was conducting an affair with a female aide who worked in his district office, Fox News has learned.

Multiple senior House sources indicated that the extent of the affair with the 45-year-old staffer would have landed Souder before the House Ethics Committee.

Elected as a family values conservative as part of the Republican revolution in 1994, Souder survived a tough re-election challenge in 2008 and survived a contested primary two weeks ago.

(Wait! This report came from 'Faux News'. It therefore cannot be true!!! Shouldn't we dismiss it out of hand?)

So why am I enjoying? Well, if you get elected on something I don't care for- legislating morality- you had better damn well be squeaky clean. I hate hypocrisy, from Al Gore's environmental crusade launched from a ginormous mansion via private jets, to this kind of thing. In and of itself, an affair is his personal problem, and in my opinion doesn't necessarily make one unfit to legislate. But I love the speed and finality that is apparently closing out this hypocrite's political career. It just makes me feel that there is some poetic justice in the world.

Now, if only Charlie Rangel had this kind of 'backdoor integrity'.

While the Republicans scramble to put somebody on the ballot, I'm pleased to note that Libertarian candidate Scott Wise is running. A former County Commissioner, he would serve northeast Indiana ably- and would NOT legislate morality.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Left Doesn't Walk The Walk, Disappointingly

By the miracle of Facebook, I've been catching up with a lot of old friends, some of whom are folks left off with in Cleveland, from 2002 (when I left for Indiana) or earlier then that, as lives changed. Some of these same friends are somewhat alarmed by my libertarian politics, for a variety of reasons. This has caught me somewhat off guard, since I've been plainly advertising myself as a Libertarian since 1995, and was doing a libertarian radio show in that year, and then again 2001-2002.

My experience has long been that those on the left think of libertarians as far right wing, despite vast shared interest in things like civil liberties and at times, foreign policy. Meanwhile, those on the right think of libertarians as being far left, despite common ground on economic issues or the 2nd Amendment.

But most of my 'old' friends are left of center, as I once was. My best guess is that the reaction is thanks to Glenn Beck, who often calls himself a libertarian. He's moving in my direction, but I wouldn't call him one yet. I like that he admits that he knew nothing about our country and its founding, and then read up on it. That's rare. But he's a lightning rod, and the left hates on him. I mean, HATES.

And that's one of the things that gets my reaction. I react against people on the left for using hateful speech about Beck, Limbaugh, Hannity, et al, because the left likes to play the role of being on the high road will identifying hate speech. Problem is, too frequently, the left doesn't walk the walk. Plenty of talk, but I only really care about substance. Sure, we're human, and we have passions, but decent people will retract or at least acknowledge the passion of the moment. I find too little of the actual high road in the left these days. I find too much justification of the hypocrisy, and I just don't take that well.

Do I hold the left up to a higher standard? Heck, yeah I do! That's because I was there once upon a time, and was betrayed. Wasn't ever betrayed by the right, since I was never there. It hurts more when you feel hurt or attacked from inside your own camp, as opposed to from the outside, where attacks are what you expect.

The first betrayal was Tipper Gore and the PMRC, with their attack on music lyrics. When I was a young man, the issues that mattered to me were few: 1st Amendment, no draft, an end to interventionist foreign policy. So, when the wife of Al Gore was on the attack on music I liked? I felt totally betrayed. I couldn't believe it. Messed up the black & white picture I had created where Democrats were the good guys, and Republicans were the evil, repressive bad guys.

Over time, my confidence in the Democrats in particular, but also the left as a whole, was eroded in many strokes. But each time, it was a hypocrisy that got my goat. Clinton promised a middle class tax cut, then didn't following through, the Brady Bill, the Americorps 'volunteers', and then taking us to Bosnia? I was done with the Democrats politically. The more I started to see, hear, read and learn, the more I discovered that I was not really well suited to the left, and especially the Democrats. I was a huge fan of Thomas Jefferson, and had simply accepted that his party was still classically liberal, which I was. Alas. Wow, did I learn.

I learned how the left couldn't help but being what it decried. Sure, dislike Rush Limbaugh, or now Glenn Beck, but the vile hatred I've heard over the years directed at Limbaugh- by the people who decry hate speech?

Now I've seen the left, which was all about the anti-war protests while Bush was in office, but not so much once Obama was inaugurated. The plain, political opportunism was revealed at the expense of principle. I've seen this over and over again, and so, I've simply come to the conclusion that the left is completely full of it.

But hey- prove me wrong. Show me that you are holding the feet of your own to the fire about the wars, about indefinite detention, Gitmo, the Patriot Act, the war on drugs, spying on US citizens, and a host of other things that were allegedly important to you before January of 2009, and I'll begin to think better of your side of the spectrum, and even more so if you will take those on your own side to task for saying things like, "I'd like to see that Limbaugh (or Beck, Hannity, etc,) dead". Squash your own hate speech and racism, and I'll take your protests on it seriously. But not until.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Random Thoughts on the BMV

I got an email reminder from the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV), advising that my vehicle registrations will expire soon. About 40 flashes of irritation zipped through my mind.

I mean, I have to give them credit for automating the system. I greatly prefer doing the registration online, rather than standing in line at a BMV branch, burning time like it has no value. That said...

I was greatly irritated when I came to this line:

Choose a specialty plate to support your favorite college, not-for-profit group, or military organization.

I detest these plates. First of all, government shouldn't be a middleman for any non-profit organization. Seperation of church & state? Yes! But don't stop there. Seperation of non-profit organization & state sounds like an excellent idea, too. If someone wants to support a non-profit, great! Just do it entirely, 100% on your own. No state assistance.

Then, stop treating license plates like bumper stickers. The bumper is in remarkably close proximity to the license plate, so let the bumper be home to the propaganda, and let the license plate do it's job as an essential. If I were a law enforcement officer who dealt with traffic, I would be enormously irritated with the proliferation of license plates. There must be thousands of variations to get to know. I can't even tell all of the Indiana ones when I see them.

Lastly, and predictably perhaps, I resent the hell out of registering my car with the state. What makes it so special a piece of property that it has to be registered? What's the purpose? Do we just want the state to know? And, why does a registration expire? The car certainly doesn't expire on a given date. Is this anything more than make-work for BMV employees? I am not aware of any particular value I get out of the process. So, what does the state get out of it? Because if I don't get any value, and the state doesn't get any value...

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Observations At One Polling Place

This morning, I worked a Pike Township polling place for Allison Maguire and Paul Ogden, both of whom are running for School Board in the northwest corner of Marion County. I observed some things about the volunteers staffing the polls that I found interesting. The polls opened at 6am.

5:55 - I am the only volunteer present. I have my Ogden & Maguire t-shirt on, and have a stack of palm cards ready to go.

6:00 - A second volunteer shows up, for a Republican candidate. He has no materials. His local precinct chair hasn't run the materials to him yet.

6:05 - A third volunteer shows up, for a non-partisan school board candidate.

6:10 - The voters start to arrive in earnest. Three more volunteers for school board candidates arrive.

7:00 - Two volunteers show up to promote the slated Democratic candidates.

7:15 - Three more volunteers show up to promote the slated Democratic candidates.

8:00 - The AM rush is over.

8:05 - I begin to leave my post as scheduled. Five volunteers for Republican candidate for US Senate John Hostettler show up. I make a point of saying to the volunteer who still doesn't have his materials, loudly enough for the Hostettler folks to hear, "Now that the morning rush is over, I'll be leaving."

So, to sum up: The Libertarian is early and prepared. The Democrats are late, and then over-staffed. If the Republicans are on time, they're unprepared. If they're prepared, they're hopelessly late.

Reminded me of life in general.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Allison Maguire Needs Your Help!

Speaking of School Board contests, my friend Allison Maguire is running for School Board in Pike Township, in northwest Marion County.

Allison is a fantastic Libertarian. She organized and ran what was arguably the most successful- certainly most profitable- LPIN State Convention last weekend. She is the District 7 representative to the LPIN Central Committee, so we know she can manage money in an environment best described as herding cats. She brings a solid plan of fiscal responsibility to the table, and will ably represent all of the taxpayers of her District.

If you are available to work the polls for Allison on Tuesday, May 4, contact her by email or phone:

phone: 317-410-1988

Your boost at a polling place could be the difference between this good Libertarian being elected and falling just a whisker short.

It's an open field- the top 3 vote getters are elected, field of 13. Allison has differentiated herself by opposing the $21 million referendum on the basis that the buildings have been intentionally neglected so that the big money infusion could be passed. When trees grow out of the buildings' gutters, you know the management is just asleep at the switch.

Friday Funny

I love Radley Balko's take on Florida governor Charlie Crist dropping out of his state's primary election so that he can run as an independent. Holy duplicity, Batman!
For both parties: I know what you’re thinking. “Are the American people really so stupid and blinded by partisanship that they won’t realize we were making precisely the opposite arguments just four years ago?” The answer is: Yes! Yes they are!


Thursday, April 29, 2010

Primary Voting For Libertarians

I've been asked about voting at Indiana's Primary Elections May 4 as a Libertarian, so I thought to post some pointers.

Most Libertarians will want to ask for a 'School Board Ballot'. This ballot will not have any partisan 'R' or 'D' voting attached to it, only the non-partisan school board candidates, and any local issues. This is what I will do.

Some Libertarians may be tempted to vote on the Republican or Democratic ballot, for a variety of reasons. Be advised of this: If you pull a partisan ballot, you are making a legal statement. Pulling a partisan ballot legally commits you to vote for a majority of that same party's candidates in the General Election in November.

So, if you take a Republican Primary Ballot in May, and you vote straight ticket Libertarian in November, you will be guilty of perjury, by law.

Also, if someone at the polling place recognizes you as a Libertarian, and you are asking for a partisan 'R' or 'D' ballot, and they challenge your affiliation, you may be barred from taking that partisan ballot, or reduced to casting a provisional vote. Only a member of that party can challenge you, but they can in the interest of protecting their party's private business.

See: Indiana Code 3-10-1-9.

Why is the challenge possible? Why can't people just vote however they like? Some think it is merely rhetorical when Libertarians declare the Primaries to be largely private, partisan political party business. This law is the proof that it is not mere rhetoric. Republicans and Democrats see fit to foist the cost of their business onto all of the taxpayers. They wrote it into the law as a bi-partisan effort.

There is no Libertarian ballot. We conducted our business at our county convention, at our expense. The law also dictates that, but as a matter of principle, that's the way we think it should be done.

So, look into your school board candidates. See if there are local issues. Please vote in the May 4 Primary Election.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Wherry & Sink-Burris on Radio Wednesday Morning

Be sure to tune in to WXNT 1430-am, and the Abdul In The Morning Show to hear Libertarian Secretary of State candidate Mike Wherry, and Libertarian US Senate candidate Rebecca Sink-Burris.

When: Wednesday, 8am
Where: 1430-am in Central Indiana

Mike Wherry needs at least 2% to maintain automatic ballot access for The Libertarian Party of Indiana and its' candidates through 2014.

To think- In 2006, this would have been my interview. I'll listen from the comfy confines of my home!

Monday, April 26, 2010

LPIN Convention Notes

I had the pleasure and privilege of serving as a Delegate from Hamilton County to the annual convention of the Libertarian Party of Indiana this weekend. I was honored by State Chair Sam Goldstein's personal request that I should open the convention with a reading from the Declaration of Independence. I had to stave off the emotion when I got to the phrase,
"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness."

The important business of the convention was to nominate candidates for the ballot. I am happy and a bit relieved to pass the baton to Mike Wherry, who was nominated our candidate for Secretary of State. As was the case when I ran, Mike will have to achieve a minimum of 2% statewide in order to retain automatic ballot access for the Libertarian Party through 2014.

Mike Wherry's campaign website.
My podcast interview with Mike Wherry.

While all the races are important, the Secretary of State race is crucial to the Libertarian Party. The difference between having ballot access and not is the difference between real political party and supper club. It's huge. All Indiana Libertarians need to line up behind Mike Wherry and promote him. We need to plan to be at our home polling places on election day to hand out Wherry literature. The 2% result cannot be taken for granted.

Rebecca Sink-Burris won the nomination for US Senate, defeating Tamyra D'Ipolito in the contested race. When Evan Bayh announced he wasn't seeking re-election, it changed the thinking about that US Senate seat from 'safely blue' to 'up for grabs'. No doubt there will be much scrutiny paid the US Senate race. Rebecca has been an excellent Libertarian candidate in the past, and I am confident that she will do a great job once again.

Rebecca Sink-Burris' campaign website.

In the 5th Congressional District, high school economics teacher Chard Reid won the nomination. I had the opportunity to sit down with him for several hours prior to the convention to vet his views on Federal issues, and was very satisfied that he will be a solid candidate. He already has students that wish to walk door-to-door for him, which excites me a great deal.

I interviewed Rebecca and Chard for the podcast, and will post those as they are completed.

The Party has a candidate for all nine Congressional Districts, plus the Senate seat. Not all of the Indiana House & Indiana Senate positions were filled, which was a bit disappointing, but the Part leadership will continue to recruit candidates to fill vacancies.

Indiana's delegate count at the convention made the event the largest such in the USA. Indiana had more Libertarians in the room than even California or Texas had! A very good show of growing strength in every way this weekend!