Thursday, August 27, 2015

Embarrassing Email Leak Exposes Indy Star Publisher's Plans to Use Newspaper to Advocate for LGBT Agenda

Thomas Rose, writing for Breitbart news, breaks an embarrassing breach of journalistic ethics by Indianapolis Star Publisher Karen Ferguson Fuson:
Breitbart News has exclusively obtained an email sent by the President and Publisher of the Indianapolis Star. It invites “community leaders” to help plan and coordinate an aggressive, highly orchestrated campaign to “persuade” the Indiana state legislature to adopt sweeping special protections for Indiana’s gay, lesbian and transgender communities.   
Karen Ferguson Fuson,
Publisher & President, Indy Star
The email, sent personally by Karen Ferguson Fuson, President and Publisher of the Star, was sent early this morning to an undisclosed list of business and media elites, together with gay rights activists. It pulls no punches in its scope or its goals. The email, in its unedited entirety reads as follows:
Dear Friends:  
The IndyStar is preparing this fall to launch an ambitious and aggressive Editorial Board campaign designed to persuade the governor and state lawmakers to expand Indiana’s civil rights law to include protections for sexual orientation and gender identity. 
We would like to privately brief you on our plans for the campaign, to explain ways in which you and your organization can partner with us, to answer your questions, and to hear your thoughts and possible concerns. Please join us for a meeting with community leaders on September 22, from 8:00 – 9:30 am at our offices, 130 S. Meridian St.  
We believe that it is critical for all of us to work together to drive this important change and to further the recovery from damage done to our state by the RFRA controversy.
Please join us as we prepare to continue this vital conversation about the future of Indiana. To RSVP, email [redacted]. 
Karen Ferguson Fuson,  
Group President, Gannett Domestic Publishing,  
President & Publisher, IndyStar
In reporting on RFRA this Spring, the Star continuously repeated the "license to discriminate" line of the law's opponents on its news pages, spreading the misinformation that RFRA was about denying service to the LGBT community and not about protecting religious freedom.  This was done despite a 22 year history of the national government and 30 states having RFRAs (by statute or judicial decision) in which RFRA had never once been used to overturn the application of an anti-discrimination law.   Now that RFRA passed, the Star's agenda has turned to attacking supposed damage to the state by RFRA, repeated as fact in the newspaper's pages without a shred of evidence in support of the claim.  In the email, Ferguson Fuson repeats claim as a rallying point to push for LGBT rights.

In the Society of Professional Journalists position paper on political involvement by journalists, the SPJ states that its members are to "remain free of associations that may compromise integrity or damage credibility."  Ferguson Fuson shreds this ethical standard;  her email not only suggests association to promote a political agenda, she expressly says she will help organize support for LGBT protections in the state's civil rights law and will use the resources of the newspaper to promote the group's agenda. 

Ferguson Fuson shreds any semblance of journalistic ethics by expressly using her role as President and Publisher of the Indianapolis Star to organize and lend assistance to one side of a public policy issue that the Star regularly reports on.  That she doesn't leave the issue on the State's editorial pages is evidenced by her newspaper's extremely biased reporting on the RFRA and LGBT issues.  It is further evidenced by the Star's refusal to report critically on taxpayer subsidies for the Indiana Pacers.  Ferguson Fuson divorced her husband and married Pacers Sports & Entertainment CEO Rick Fuson after relocating to Indianapolis.

Monica Boyer of Not on My Watch first brought the story to my attention.  She offers these tips at the conclusion of her article.
  1. Immediately drop your subscription to the Indy Star. Without readers, they have no advertisers. The number to call is 317-444-4000. Tell them you’ve decided to find other sources of news and their service is no longer needed. Not another dime to the Indy Star.
  2. It’s time to cut off the funding. Send us a list of their advertisers. ‪#‎cutoffthefunding‬ It’s time to see who is paying for this kind of bullying.
  3. Call your lawmaker. Tell them to get tough skin and prepare to do the right thing when they head to Indianapolis. Tell you will stand by them in support if they stand up for Religious Freedom. Tell them you will pray, call, email and whatever it takes. Sexual Orientation/Gender Identity laws are DANGEROUS to Religious freedom.  Several lawmakers have already said special rights for certain groups are more important than the First Amendment. It’s time to let them know we are watching.
  4. Become a Citizen Journalist. Make the Indy Star irrelevant by reporting the news yourself. It’s time to up our game and play offense instead of defense. Learn Social Media!!! If we got off the bench and into the game, they wouldn’t be able to bully our lawmakers like this. It’s easy, and it takes just minutes a day. It’s time to become citizen journalists and activate our social media skills. Email me if you are interested in setting up a class in your area.
  5. Pray for your Lawmaker. He/she will be going into a spiritual battle unlike many of them have seen. Call your prayer groups and churches and surround them with prayer.  It is NOT easy standing in this cesspool of anger and manipulation. Pray for them.
Gary Welsh of Advance Indiana also has an excellent article on the subject.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Free Speech Legal Expert Says Indiana State Fair Ban on Confederate Flag is Unconstitutional

Earlier this year, the Indiana State Fair announced it was banning exhibitors from displaying or selling the Confederate battle flag.  I warned at the time that that is a content-based restriction of speech and is very much unconstitutional.  In a Washington Post editorial published today, UCLA Law School Professor Eugene Volokh, an expert on free speech law, concurs with my assessment:
Recent news stories report that Indiana and Kentucky state fairs are barring exhibitors from selling or displaying the Confederate battle flag, or products containing that flag; Ohio seems to have done the same, and other fairs are considering it. But such bans violate the First Amendment.

Government-run fairs are “limited public fora,” see Heffron v. ISKCON (1981)), when it comes to the “exhibitors … [who] present their products or views, be they commercial, religious, or political” through the fair. This means the government can impose reasonable content-based restrictions on speech in those places, but not viewpoint-based restrictions. See Christian Legal Society v. Martinez (2010); Cornelius v. NAACP Legal Defense & Educ. Fund (1985). A ban on display or sale of Confederate flag merchandise is based on the viewpoint that many people perceive the Confederate flag to express.


But the Court in Walker reaffirms that even speech on government property can still be private speech, as to which the viewpoint-neutrality rule applies. For instance, the Court noted, “advertising space on city buses” is treated as involving private speech on government property; that was labeled a so-called “nonpublic forum” rather than a “limited public forum,” but the same viewpoint neutrality rule applies here. Fair booths are at least as much traditional places for private speech, even on public property, as are advertisements on buses. What the Court said in Walker about bus advertising — “the messages were located in a context (advertising space) that is traditionally available for private speech” and “the advertising space, in contrast to license plates, bore no indicia that the speech was owned or conveyed by the government” — is at least equally true for booths rented from a state or county fair.

Nor can the state avoid the problem by demanding that exhibitors enter into contracts promising not to display a Confederate flag. The limited public forum and nonpublic forum doctrine provides that the government may only impose reasonable, viewpoint-neutral restrictions. It can’t impose viewpoint-based restrictions, whether by ordinance, rule, or contract. I don’t know whether there are court challenges being planned to the fairs’ restrictions on Confederate flags, but if such challenges are filed, I think they will prevail.

Not only will a challenge to the Confederate flag ban likely prevail, Indiana taxpayers will be out hundreds of thousands of dollars defending an unnecessary lawsuit.  It is not sure if the Indiana State Fair officials consulted legal counsel before imposing ban, but they should have. The ban needs to be lifted before next year's fair.

Paul Attacks Trump for Supporting Use of Eminent Domain to Seize Private Property for Business

Kentucky Senator and presidential candidate Rand Paul's op-ed piece on Breitbart is a must read:  
I remember having a conversation with a local city official in Kentucky when the Kelo Supreme Court decision came down. Conservatives, myself included, were outraged that the Supreme Court had wrongly allowed using eminent domain to take private property from one private property owner and give it to another private owner.    
Conservatives in my community came together with a local resolution to prevent this from happening. I’ll never forget the response from the local official, who told me: “But you know me, I would never use eminent domain that way.” I responded: “The law isn’t
Senator Rand Paul (R-KY)
about you—it’s about when we get bad representatives and must have the law to restrain them.”
Where was Donald Trump during this debate? He was busy using eminent domain to take a little old lady’s home and flatten it for a parking lot to park limos at his casino.    
When asked about the justice of using this bully force against property owners, Trump replied that he had no problem with it and that he supported the Kelo decision. 
Of course Trump did—the Kelo decision allows more crony capitalism. It puts big business and big government more and more in bed together, with ordinary Americans left out.
I ran for office in 2010 after spending my life outside of both big business and politics. I ran as a member of the Tea Party who was sick and tired of it all. Of the politicians. Of the people who sought to buy the politicians. Of the entire Washington machine.
Donald Trump cannot fix our problems because he is an integral part of the problem. From using government to seize property to enrich himself, to hiring lobbyists to get what he wanted, Donald Trump has bought access to government at all levels and exploited that access for personal gain. 
Now he wants you to give him power. We should ask ourselves—why?
Donald Trump is a fake conservative. Don’t let him destroy the limited government movement with chicanery and bluster. Frankly, you are not a conservative if you support this abuse of eminent domain, or the crony capitalism it enables.
Add Trump’s support for Obamacare and a single-payer government-run healthcare to his support for higher taxes, and you have nothing that is really conservative at all. Will Trump now change his opinion on the Kelo decision? Perhaps, but do we really want the leader of the ostensibly conservative party to be a fraud?
I think we deserve the real thing. A real conservative reformer who ran for the same reasons you would—for real change, not for power.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal Screens Planned Parenthood Videos for Protesters

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal had a classic response when Planned Parenthood supporters showed up at the Governor's residence to protest his canceling the state's Medicaid contract with the organization.  Governor Jindal set up big screens on his law to show PP supporters the Center for Medical Progress' videos detailing Planned Parenthood activities.  Needless to say, PP supporters were so horrified by the videos they moved their protest to where they couldn't see or hear the videos.

Bottom line is Planned Parenthood suckers a whole lot of well-meaning people who believe the opposition to PP is about opposition to women's health services.  No, it is about the fact PP is the biggest provider of abortions in the country, a good quarter of those abortions are gruesome second term abortions.  PP's real goal is to continue its near monopoly on government grants for such services, a monopoly that squeezes out other non-profits which could provide such services to women, sans abortion.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

My Take on the Presidential Candidates Appearing at the Defending the American Dream Summit

This weekend I had a chance to attend the Americans for Prosperity Defending the American Dream Summit held in Columbus, Ohio.  As my liberal friends will be quick to point out, AFP is funded by the Koch brothers, those "reactionary" billionaire brothers who fund conservative/libertarian causes and candidates.  Let's forget there are liberals on the other side - George Soros ring any bells - who do the same thing.

The summit was attended by, according to organizers, 3600 plus people who came from all 50 states.  AFP focuses on economic issues, particularly removing regulations and allowing the marketplace to operate without impediment.  An example would be fighting state and local taxicab regulations that are being used to try to shut down private enterprises like Uber.  Lest anyone thinks these are uncontroversial issues that Republicans can win on, AFP has also promoted right to work laws  and challenges to prevailing wage laws.  Those issues split off some labor supporting Republicans and GOP politicians.  Most notable among those is Republican Ohio Governor John Kasich who was criticized by some presenters at the convention for his failure thus far to support right to work and other labor reform measures.

Five presidential candidates appeared at the forum and spoke:  former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, Florida Senator Marco Rubio, Texas Senator Ted Cruz and former Texas Governor Rick Perry.

Bush's reception was polite.  He spoke entirely in front of the podium, going from one side of the crowd to another.  The presentation came across as a bit over rehearsed.  Unlike every other speaker, Bush didn't talk about the humble circumstances of his family's background - undoubtedly because he didn't have that background.  He threw a little red meat out to the crowd on some social issues, like the Planned Parenthood controversy, but avoided topics that might be divisive with the crowd.  Behind me a woman would periodically yell out "What About Common Core?" the nationalized education standards Bush supported that have become anathema to many conservatives.    Bush's speech didn't gain any supporters in the crowd, but it probably didn't lose what little support he had in the crowd before he started.

Next up that first day was Governor Jindal.  Jindal started out slowly. talking about his Indian immigrant parents and how they embrace the United States because of the opportunity this country provided them to succeed via hard work.  Jindal talked about his record in Louisiana in terms of economic development.  Jindal then turned to social issues, talking about his unwavering support for religious freedom.  The one that won over the crowd was Jindal's reporting what happened just a day or two earlier.  A crowd of Planned Parenthood supporters had showed up at the Governor's residence. to protest Jindal's cancelling of the state's PP contracts.  Jindal responded by setting up big TVs to screen the Center for Medical Progress' Planned Parenthood videos for them.  Needless to say the PP supporters couldn't stomach watching the videos so they moved further away from the residence.  By the end of Jindal's speech he had won over the crowd.  People rushed the stage to shake his hand.

On the second day the opening speaker was Cruz.  Cruz was easily the most popular presidential candidate at the convention.  He spoke entirely in front of the podium and connected well while dishing out red meat to the conservative audience, telling them all he would do on his first day in office.  Cruz sometimes comes across as a bit dowdy on the campaign trail, but when given the opportunity to talk at length he is a dynamic speaker.

Texas Senator Ted Cruz
Next up was Rubio.  The Florida Senator talked about his own humble beginnings.  He threw out the conservative red meat on economic and social issues that the crowd liked.  Because of his involvement in trying to work an immigration compromise, I had heard a lot of complaints about Rubio before the speech.  Rubio didn't address immigration in his speech, probably a wise move.  He won over a few people in the crowd, certainly more so than Bush, but I get the feeling he might not be seen as not quite ready for the presidency.  Unlike the others, Rubio has a tendency to come across more as a policy wonk type guy.  He also suffers from the unfortunate (at least for politics) affliction of looking ten years younger than his 44 year old age.   Even though Rubio and Cruz are the same age, Cruz for some reason seems older.

Last up was Perry.  The ex-Governor from the Lone Star state started out talking about his own humble background.  He then spoke about the economic success Texas had when the rest of the country was struggling through the Great Recession.  Perry took some jabs at unnamed Republican Governors running for President (undoubtedly Walker and Bush) who supported certain things in office and something else entirely on the presidential campaign trail.  Perry consistently tied his views to his record, for example saying he was opposed to Common Core and accepting federal Race to the Top money from the beginning.  Perry then started telling touching personal stories of his talking to WW II veterans and viewing where U.S. soldiers landed on Omaha Beach on D-Day.  When Perry did that he left the podium to walk toward and reach out to the audience, a move that gave his comments greater impact than if he had stayed behind the podium the entire time or never used it at all.  Of all the speakers, I would rate Perry the best with Cruz second and Bush last.  Perry certainly won over many in the crowd. Unfortunately for Perry though it is probably too late to save his campaign.

The presidential candidate discussed the most at the conference was Donald Trump.  I heard a considerable number of favorable comments about Trump.  But I also overheard numerous conversations of attendees trying to educate other conservatives on Trump's numerous statements on economic and social issues which demonstrate Trump was a liberal in the not so distant past.  I left with the impression that half the conservatives at the event (almost all of whom are very much anti-GOP establishment) wanted Trump as the nominee, while the other half will support anyone but Trump as the nominee.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Pointless Anti-RFRA Campaign Spurs Revival of Indiana Religious Conservative Political Power

Remember this spring when Governor Mike Pence and the Republican legislature were being ripped over the Religious Freedom Restoration Act?  Opponents of the RFRA, including Freedom Indiana, had disingenuously and successfully billed the proposed law as a "license to discriminate."  The media, chief among them the Indianapolis Star, helped spread that nonsense despite the fact that not once in 22 years has a RFRA at the national or state level (and 30 states have RFRAs by statute or by judicial fiat) been used to override an anti-discrimination law.

Governor Mike Pence
When the well-orchestrated and last minute attack on RFRA took place, Indiana religious conservatives were caught flat-footed.   They were at home certain that what they expected was a non-controversial bill protecting religious freedom would sail through the legislature.

In RFRA's aftermath, Indiana political experts on such programs as Indiana Week in Review opined that the RFRA public relations slaughter signaled a new age in Hoosier politics.  They argued that the LGBT forces were the new power players in politics while religious conservatives no longer reigned supreme. We were told Governor Pence's political future was over as were other Republicans who signed on to RFRA.  

At the time, I felt like the lone wolf howling in the woods.  I argued that Indiana RFRA politics were being seriously misjudged.  I claimed that the attacks on RFRA would spur a backlash from religious conservatives who would be spurred to get off their rears, get re-organized and back into the political game.  

I also made the point that the LGBT community made a huge mistake in going after RFRA, which was completely irrelevant to that community's cause of expanding Indiana's anti-discrimination laws.  In contrast to its same sex marriage campaign, Freedom Indiana and its corporate allies took a very negative approach to RFRA, targeting and threatening any Republican who dared to support religious freedom.    The approach, I argued, burned a lot of political bridges.  While not advancing LGBT rights one bit, Freedom Indiana's political strategy set their cause of a statewide anti-discrimination law to include sexual orientation back considerably.

Sunday, March 29, 2015, RFRA Fallout: Expect Freedom Indiana's Vicious PR Tactics to Re-Energize Conservative GOP Base

Saturday, March 28, 2015, Freedom Indiana's Vile, Pointless Anti-RFRA Campaign Greatly Undermines Goal of Passing Sexual Orientation Anti-Discrimination Law

This is the column in which I get to say I was right and they were wrong.

The precursor to the Indiana 2016 General Assembly is taking place all across the state, in places like Goshen, Elkhart and Carmel. Those cities' attempts to enact local human rights ordinances that include protections for sexual orientation have been met with fierce resistance from religious conservatives.  Just this week, an estimated 5-1 public turnout against the Carmel ordinance forced
Mayor Jim Brainard and council members to back down on the plan to fast track the proposal and send the proposal to committee.  Mayor Brainard also discussed amending the measure to protect religious freedom from being trampled by the anti-discrimination proposal, a far cry from his earlier statements suggesting people need to leave their religion at the church door.  While no one expects Carmel elected officials, almost all of which can be classified as RINOs, to abandon their efforts completely to pass a local HRO, the fact that the City's fervent supporters of the measure have had to blink several times at the fierce opposition is already a victory for opponents.

The fallout from the anti-RFRA campaign is that religious conservatives have become re-energized and better organized.   The changing political winds will undoubtedly help Governor Pence and Republicans going into the 2016.   While religious conservatives are still mad about the "fix" (which in my opinion and that of other attorneys had no legal effect whatsoever), I think they will gladly back Pence over Democrat John Gregg who during the RFRA debate made the political miscalculation to oppose protections for religious freedom.   

NOTE:  In an earlier column, I mentioned Carmel Councilor Sue Finkam's emailed retort to Carmel resident Betty Johnson Harvey that she would help her find a mover since the constituent opposed the Carmel human rights ordinance.  Finkam publicly apologized for the comment at Monday's Carmel Council meeting for the comment.  That was a classy and appropriate thing to do. 

Monday, August 17, 2015

Hillary Clinton's Polling Numbers Continue to Slide

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton
For the first time in over 2 1/2 years of polling, support for Hillary Clinton among Democrats has dipped below 50%.  In a Fox News poll released this weekend, Clinton polls at 49%. Also, for the first time a Democratic challenger - in this case Bernie Sanders - has closed within 20%.  Sanders is polling 30% of the Democratic electorate.  Just two weeks a Fox News poll had him at 22%. 

The Fox News poll also has some interesting head-to-head matchups.  Clinton leads Donald Trump nationally 47-42, a significant narrowing of that contest. Meanwhile Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio lead Clinton by 2% while Carly Fiorini trails Clinton by 7%.

Of course, these national numbers are not nearly as important as the numbers from early primary/caucus states.

Information on these polls can be found at Real Clear Politics.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Political Activist Schools Carmel Mayor Jim Brainard on Meaning of Religious Free Exercise Clause

I was meaning to sit down and write a piece saying why Carmel Mayor Jim Brainard limited view of the Free Exercise Clause (only protects "right to worship"), but I found that political activist Monica Boyer, who is not attorney but knows a heck of a lot more about the First Amendment than Brainard who once worked as an attorney, had done the work for me:

In support of the Carmel human rights ordinance, Mayor Brainard stated:
I feel it is important that we recognize there is a distinct difference between how we worship our God in our churches, our homes and our hearts versus how we live, play and
Carmel Mayor Jim Brainard
conduct business in the melting pot of mixed faiths and passions that we call America. 
Boyer alertly and correctly pointed out that Mayor Brainard is flat out wrong in how he believes the Free Exercise Clause works:
In our churches?  In our hearts? I think it is time for the Mayor Jim Brainard of Carmel Indiana to have a lesson on the First Amendment and what it really means to Hoosiers.   
There is a great big difference between “Freedom of Worship” (the term Mayor Brainard is speaking of), and “Religious Freedom” intended by our founding fathers.   
Let me give a him a quick lesson.  The Obama Administration has already done this.  Early in his presidency, when Mr. Obama was on one of his apology tours in Cairo, he began to replace the term “freedom of religion” with “freedom of worship.”  I’ve even heard the term “freedom of worship” tossed around by my own peers!  This is dangerous! Very dangerous! Let me tell you why.
Redefining the terminology allows the government to redefine what it protects.
Religion centers on a core belief system. Worship is just ONE factor of that. Many countries, such as Romania and Saudi Arabia, have the “freedom of worship,” but their people have no freedom of conscience, no freedom to spread the Gospel or practice religion in the public square. This is one of the main commandments of the Christian faith. Jesus said to go and make disciples of all nations in Matthew 28. The church is NOT a building. The church is the PEOPLE living in the public square. 
So when Mayor Brainard says we need to recognize there is a distinct difference between how we worship our God in our churches, our homes and our hearts versus how we live, play and conduct business in the melting pot…he is stripping you of the freedom to live your faith in the public square. That is not religious freedom and directly flies in the face of the First Amendment of our Constitution. 
It’s about time we start paying attention to the fine print! 
Let me translate his quote above: If you are a person of faith, go to church on Sunday and shut the door. Do what you need to do. When you leave the church, you will serve the god of the State. In other words, play church on Sunday, shut up on Monday and Tuesday. 
Mayor Brainard may make himself feel better with his “moral preening” and feel good ordinance, but quite frankly, he needs to be more concerned about protecting our Constitutional rights. Starting with the 1st Amendment.
Boyer is exactly right.  The Free Exercise Clause does not just protect one's right to worship, but the right to PRACTICE one's faith, including outside of the Church's walls.  Brainard is flat-out wrong that the Free Exercise Clause only protects the right to worship.

Boyer's piece goes on to address the Carmel ordinance.  It is a must read.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Carmel City Council Schedules Quick Vote on Controversial Human Rights Ordinance

The Carmel City Council has scheduled a quick vote on a proposed human rights ordinance. While I haven't seen the exact wording of the ordinance introduced on Monday, according to the Indianapolis Star the measure protects the following classes from discrimination:
gender identity or expression and sexual orientation as well as race, color, religion, national origin, gender, disability, family or marital status, ancestry, age and veteran status
The ordinance opens the door to applications its supporters probably never thought about.  What about men's or women's clubs or groups that limit membership by age?  Or companies that prefer veterans over non-veterans, or try to hire the disabled?  What about a Carmel Chuck E' Cheese that wants to boot out an older person hanging around the kids?  

What the sponsors of this measure, and Mayor Jim Brainard do not understand is that these types of measures have to be carefully written because often in the course of trying to eliminate discrimination you can open the door to more discrimination.

Carmel Councilor Sue Finkam
Of course, unforeseen problems could be made foreseen through the committee process, with public testimony and other constituent input.  The council and the Mayor obviously are not interested in public input as they have scheduled a vote on the measure next week, barely a week after it was originally introduced.

That Carmel elected officials are dismissive of the public's opinions on this HRO is evident from Councilor Sue Finkam's highly snide retort to her constituent Betsy Johnson Harvey.  When the Carmel resident expressed strong objections to the ordinance, Finkam replied that she would help her find a mover.

At least Finkam's response was coherent. Mayor Brainard's legal justification for the ordinance ...not so much:
The ‘free exercise of religion’ guaranteed to U.S. citizens in the First Amendment to the Constitution does not give one the right to discriminate. If one were to claim that their religion allows discrimination in treatment of certain groups does it not follow that one can then be exempt from being charged with murder, robbery, theft and other crimes so long as it is done under the auspices of some ‘religion?
There is just so much wrong with this statement.  Unfortunately I don't have time to address all the problems.  Obviously Mayor Brainard's long abandoned legal practice did not include dealing with constitutional law.

Why Aren't Liberals Demanding that Wal-Mart End Racial Segregation of Its Book Shelves?

Target recently decided to stop segregating toys by gender, i.e. male and female toys.   That returned me to a subject I discussed a few years on Facebook but I had not blogged about - racial segregation of the Wal-Mart book section.

I was walking through my local Indianapolis northwest side Wal-Mart in 2011 when I came across the store's book section.  I could not believe it.  All the black authors or books with black people on
the covers were in one section. The white authors and books with white people on them were in another section.  We're not talking about an African-American history section.   Both fiction and non-fiction, regardless of subject, were placed on shelves according to race. 

It turns out this particular store on Lafayette Road is not the only Wal-Mart that does this.  The September 2010 issue of the CleveScene discussed an article that an Akron Beacon Journal columnist did on the subject:
Wal-Mart is in the business of making money. The process by which it does so is attracting a certain brand of consumer and keeping things simple. 
This goes for selling books just as much as it does for hawking economy-sized packages of tube socks.
Grouping books together by general topic and genre for easy perusal is how the book world operates. It's convenient, tried and true, and intuitive even to the book-shopping novice.
Ohio Wal-Marts take it a step further, putting works by and about African Americans in a section by themselves and not including them in their larger categories.
Make sense? No, but that's what Akron Beacon Journal columnist Bob Dyer discovered.
Because it's not enough to separate books like every other bookstore in America, breaking up fiction, history, self-help, sports, art, music, etc.
Obviously a young white male interested in sports wouldn't want to have any sports books involving African Americans mixed in with the rest of the offerings. And if you're a black female looking for a book about religion, you certainly wouldn't want to peruse any book written by a white pastor.
At the Walmart on Arlington Road in Springfield Township, you'll find two fancy, hardcover books by people who are household names in professional football. Drew Brees, quarterback of the 2009 Super Bowl champion. 
New Orleans Saints, smiles on the cover of Coming Back Stronger: Unleashing the Hidden Power of Adversity. Tony Dungy, coach of the 2006 Super Bowl champion Indianapolis Colts, smiles on the cover of The Mentor Leader.
But you won't find those books side by side. Why? Because Brees is white and Dungy is black. 
The black guy goes in the black section. After all, who other than a black person would want to read a book by an insightful, ethical, inspirational football coach?   
At the Walmart in Montrose, Storm Warning, by hugely popular white pastor Billy Graham, can be found in the religion section. But Life Overflowing, by hugely popular black pastor T.D. Jakes, is in the black section, along with Dungy and Obama and Sister Souljah and Adrienne Byrd and all those other people whom Walmart believes are pretty much the same.
I am not aware of any other store in the country that segregates books by race.   Yet remarkably, liberals who successfully demanded that Wal-Mart not sell the confederate flag in its stores, seem to have no problem with blatant racial segregation of books within the store.  I wonder if liberals would be offended if Wal-Mart installed "white" and "colored" drinking fountains?  Probably not. 

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Black Lives Matter Protesters "Take Over" Seattle Rally for Bernie Sanders

The organizers of these rallies need to get better security.  You can bet Hillary Clinton would have never allowed protesters to "take over" one of her events.  And rightfully so.  Free speech does not include the right to interrupt someone else's speech.  Sanders looking sheepishly on from the background does not look very presidential.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

On Eve of Debate Governor Scott Walker Signs $450 Million Corporate Welfare Bill for Milwaukee Bucks

Today Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker will sign a bill obligating Wisconsin taxpayers to contribute nearly half a billion dollars to subsidize the NBA Milwaukee Bucks in building a new arena.   That Walker would do such a thing in the midst of a presidential run, and on the eve of the first major debate, shows how clueless he is about the toxicity of corporate welfare among tea party types as well as mainstream conservatives.  Not so surpisingly, Governor Walker attempts to spin the deal as good for taxpayers:
"It's critical not only for those who love sports, but the main reason I got into it was because it protected state revenues," Walker said last week, citing the income taxes Wisconsin would lose if the team leaves the state. "That just creates a big hole for everything else. ...This was really about protecting the taxpayers of the state." 
Gov. Walker makes the case for the stadium
(Photo Credit:
Walker's statement is pure nonsense.  The subsidization of professional sports teams, which are invariably owned by billionaires, has been panned as a terrible investment for taxpayers in virtually every academic study ever produced.  Neil DeMause, author of Field of Schemes, destroyed Walker's argument that it is cheaper to keep the Bucks in a piece published by Vice Sports:
Walker's office has put out a slew of charts claiming to show that the Bucks arena would be a good deal for taxpayers, charts that have gotten recycled a ton in the print and web media, because charts. For example, who can argue with this?

Chart courtesy of Fox6NOW
The tower on the left is bigger than the one on the right! And in color! No one could possibly be afraid of a pleasing taupe!
So what, exactly, do those "No Arena" loss numbers mean? The top one is the simplest to understand: It's the $120 million that the governor estimates it would cost to maintain the Bucks' current home, the Bradley Center, for another ten years. 
Those estimates, though, don't exactly match reality. First off, $20 million of that is existing debt on the Bradley Center, which the state would have to pay off regardless. Likewise, the state would have to pay for maintenance and upgrades on a new arena as well if the Bucks stayed—something that's yet to be negotiated, but could be substantial, given that a new building would have more expensive things that could break. And finally, the Wisconsin legislature's own independent legal advisers say the state wouldn't be on the hook for any upkeep if the Bucks left. So trim that green rectangle down to a thin slice.
The red and blue  are both parts of another Walker-concocted number: The future income taxes to be paid by Bucks players and staff. The bottom slab, $130 million, is what the state would bring in from team income taxes over the next 20 years if NBA payrolls stay the same. The top slab, $169 million, is projected earnings from future increases in player salaries. 
An offer the  state can't refuse, right? There are two problems here. First off, as we've discussed here in the past, you can't just total up all of the taxes paid by a sports team and assume they'd disappear if the team left, for the simple reason that then people would spend their money somewhere else, a somewhere else that might well pay Wisconsin income taxes....
And as for Walker's future revenue projections, I previously calculated that for his income tax numbers to come true, the average NBA salary would have to reach $33 million by the year 2046. And while that's plausible given current salary trends, it also envisions a future where our children are paying $1000 a month for their cable bill, which means any taxpayer windfall could easily be wiped out by the increasingly-likely downsizing of the Sports Cable Bubble, and/or the Cable Riots of 2045.
There's another argument that keep-the-Bucks-at-any-cost types have been making, and it's best summed up as: A new arena will lead to lots of other stuff getting built, whereas the Bucks leaving would leave Milwaukee a rubble-strewn wasteland! This is the focus of the Bucks' incredible promotional video in which a magic basketball unleashes a glowing green shock wave of redevelopment that turns all of Wisconsin to color. (Clearly somebody on the Bucks marketing team has a thing about The Wizard of Oz. Or maybe Wrath of Khan.)  
It's one of the core arguments in the I'm-a-billionaire, so-buy-me-a-stadium playbook, and remains so even as economists continue to find zero evidence that it's worked anywhere ever. The classic study here was conducted way back in 1987 by Lake Forest College professor Robert Baade, who compared several cities with and without teams and found zero evidence that new sports venues do squat for increasing per-capita income in their home cities. Other economists have looked at the same question from different angles—what if we look at income in every major city? What about during strikes and lockouts? What about sales tax receipts?—and similarly found nothing, to the point that there are relatively few new studies on the subject, because most economists consider the question asked and answered. 
But none of these is quite what we're looking for: a city that lost its team and how it fared afterwards. A recent paper by Brad Humphreys and his West Virginia University colleague Adam Nowak looked at one of the more notorious recent NBA relocations—the Seattle Sonics' flight to Oklahoma City in 2008—and examined yet another marker of economic health: condo sale prices. According to their findings (which involve a lot of math with Greek letters, so tread at your own risk), after the Sonics left Key Arena, nearby property values around Key Arena rose faster than those farther from the now-NBA-free arena, leading the authors to conclude that people don't actually want to live near NBA arenas thanks to the "traffic, crowds, noise, trash, and other activities associated with NBA games." 
Humphreys, who is currently working on yet another paper looking for any sign of a surge in new restaurants and bars around sports venues (SPOILER: He couldn't find any), says he thinks it's time to conclude that losing a sports team has no economic costs for a city. "I keep trying to tick off all the boxes," he says: per-capita income, employment, economic activities during strikes, none have shown any measurable impact from sports teams' presence. "I don't think there's any support whatsoever to the claim that a city's economy is going to suffer when a team leaves."  
So what does that mean for Wisconsin and the piles of cash it just foisted upon Edens and Lasry? Simple: if there's really demand for tons of downtown development in Milwaukee, the city could probably take advantage of it and build stuff with or without a new arena—or the team itself. In fact, when economist Geoffrey Propheter studied NBA arenas in particular, he concluded that arena builders are more often seeking out areas ripe for takeoff rather than revitalizing rundown zones—or as he put it, "professional sports are not the cause of development so much as they are the effect."
Walker is right on a lot of issues, but on corporate welfare he's dead wrong.  What is most troubling is that the research is out there almost universally condemning professional sports subsidies, yet Walker chooses to ignore it in favor of handing over the tax dollars of hard working men and women to billionaire sports team owners.  Is there a credible argument for why Walker should be allowed anywhere near the federal treasury given his position on the Milwaukee Bucks bill?

Governor Pence End Questionable BMV Contract, Calls for an Investigation

The Indianapolis Star reports:
Gov. Mike Pence is canceling a Bureau of Motor Vehicles contract with private license branch operator Express MVA and requesting a formal ethics investigation into a top BMV official who took a job at the company after allowing it to charge customers a “convenience fee” whose legality has been questioned.
“This Administration is committed to a government that is as good as our people,” Pence
Governor Mike Pence
said Monday. “After this matter was brought to my attention, I called for the contract with ExpressMVA to not be renewed when it expires in October. I also asked for an investigation by Indiana’s Inspector General to ensure that state government adheres to the highest levels of transparency and full disclosure.”
Those moves come in response to an Indianapolis Star investigation published last week. The Star found that former BMV Chief of Staff Shawn Walters allowed a relatively small contractor called Express MVA to open a private license branch complete with BMV-issued workstations and access to the BMV’s computer system.
The arrangement cost the state no money, but allowed the company to charge customers — including auto dealerships — a so-called “convenience fee” for title and registration work traditionally provided by the BMV. Those fees can double the cost of the services and are often passed on to car buyers, who may not realize they could save money by going to a local license branch.
Walters then took a newly created executive job with Express MVA without seeking an opinion from the state’s ethics commission.
State law requires a one-year cooling-off period for employees who want to take a job with a company that does business with the state. The law is intended to prevent private companies from using lucrative jobs to entice or reward state officials who have the power to award them contracts.
This BMV fiasco dates back to the administration of Governor Mitch Daniels.  Unfortunately, Governor Daniels ran a very loose ship when it came to his office supervising the work of the state's administrative agencies.   It is good to see Governor Pence take a more aggressive approach to his role as the state's chief administrator.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

As Hillary Clinton's Campaign Falters, Democratic Establishment Sends Joe Biden to Warm Up in Bullpen

The Guardian reports on the increasing likelihood that Vice President Joe Biden will make a run for the Democratic presidential nomination:
Vide President JOe Biden
The vice-president, who has twice mounted runs for the White House, signaled he was still open to exploring a third presidential bid this weekend when longtime aide Josh Alcorn joined the Draft Biden Pac. This was the first official link between Biden’s close-knit circle of loyalists and the effort mounted by fans of the vice-president to encourage him to jump into the 2016 campaign.
Those close to Biden emphasized to the Guardian this week that the vice-president has still not made a decision about whether to run for president. Instead, they noted that Alcorn’s move should be read as a signal that Biden hasn’t ruled out a run and that his supporters should not yet sign on with other campaigns.
Biden has long indicated to supporters that he would make a final decision about a presidential campaign at the end of the summer. While this would be a very late start for a presidential campaign by modern standards, it would still allow Biden to appear in the first Democratic debate as well as to speak at the Iowa Democratic party’s annual Jefferson-Jackson dinner, which is a major event on the primary calendar.
While Biden’s late son Beau reportedly urged his father to run for White House from his deathbed, it is unclear whether all members of the Biden family share this enthusiasm. A third presidential campaign for Biden would be an uphill fight against former secretary of state Hillary Clinton, who has locked up significant support from the Democratic establishment. However, amid the constant drip of scandal surrounding her use of a private email server, her campaign has been marked more by acquiescence to a seemingly inevitable candidate than genuine enthusiasm.
It has become increasingly apparent that Hillary Clinton has enormous trust issues.  Besides the email fiasco, there is also questions regarding the Clinton Foundation and whether Hillary Clinton used her position as Secretary of State to aid fundraising for the Foundation. 

But besides the trust issues, the real problem with Hillary Clinton as presidential candidate is she lacks the personality and skill set to be a good presidential candidate.  She is thin-skinned, secretive, and testy when challenged. On the campaign trail she refuses to address basic issues, such as whether she supports Keystone Pipeline or the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement.   Although those issues are deeply divisive among Democrats, her "solution" to not express an opinion strikes of naivety.

Bottom line is, when it comes to political skills,Hillary Clinton is no Bill Clinton.

The Democratic establishment may well have made a mistake to put all their faith in a candidate who has never proven herself to be a strong campaigner.  Let's not forget in 2008, when Hillary Clinton had all the institutional advantages her party could offer, she lost the presidential nomination to a first term Senator from Illinois.

Republicans would be wise though to not celebrate Hillary Clinton's 80 mile an hour fastballs down the middle of the political plate.  The Democrats have called on VP Joe Biden to warm up in the bullpen.  Biden, for all his gaffes and goofiness, is a much more skilled politician than Hillary Clinton ever thought of being. His willingness to speak his mind, often embarrassingly so, would be a powerful draw for an electorate begging for candidates to be authentic and talk straight to them.

Friday, July 31, 2015

Will the "Settled Science" of Anthropogenic Global Warming Theory Go the Way of Newtonian Physics?

John Steele Gordon has penned an excellent column in the Wall Street Journal discussing how saying something is "settled science" and beyond challenge is, in fact, unscientific:
Are there any phrases in today’s political lexicon more obnoxious than “the science is settled” and “climate-change deniers”?
The first is an oxymoron. By definition, science is never settled. It is always subject to change in the light of new evidence. The second phrase is nothing but an ad hominem attack, meant to evoke “Holocaust deniers,” those people who maintain that the Nazi Holocaust is a fiction, ignoring the
Isaac Newton
overwhelming, incontestable evidence that it is a historical fact. Hillary Clinton’s speech about climate change on Monday in Des Moines, Iowa, included an attack on “deniers.”
The phrases are in no way applicable to the science of Earth’s climate. The climate is an enormously complex system, with a very large number of inputs and outputs, many of which we don’t fully understand—and some we may well not even know about yet. To note this, and to observe that there is much contradictory evidence for assertions of a coming global-warming catastrophe, isn’t to “deny” anything; it is to state a fact. In other words, the science is unsettled—to say that we have it all wrapped up is itself a form of denial. The essence of scientific inquiry is the assumption that there is always more to learn.
Gordon then proceeds to talk about another scientific theory that for nearly a quarter of a millennium was accepted as true, only to be proven incorrect:
[T}here has never been so settled a branch of science as Newtonian physics. But in the 1840s, as telescopes improved, it was noticed that Mercury’s orbit stubbornly failed to behave as Newtonian equations said that it should.
Albert Einstein
It seems  not to have occurred to anyone to question Newton, so the only explanation was that Mercury must be being perturbed by a planet still closer to the sun. The French mathematician Urbain Le Verrier had triumphed in 1846 when he had predicted, within one degree, the location of a planet (later named Neptune) that was perturbing Uranus’s orbit.
He set out to calculate the orbit of the planet that he was sure was responsible for Mercury’s orbital eccentricity. He named it Vulcan, after the Roman god of fire. Once Le Verrier had done the math, hundreds of astronomers, both amateur and professional, searched for the illusive planet for the next few decades. But telescopic observation near the immensely bright sun is both difficult and dangerous. More than one astronomer injured his eyesight in the search.   
Several possible sightings were reported, but whether they were illusions, comets, or asteroids is unknown, as none could be tracked over time. After Le Verrier’s death in 1877 the hunt for Vulcan slacked off though it never ceased entirely.    
Only in 1915 was the reason no one could find Vulcan explained: It wasn’t there. Newton had written in the “Principia” that he assumed space to be everywhere and always the same. But a man named Albert Einstein that year, in his theory of general relativity, demonstrated that it wasn’t always the same, for space itself is distorted by hugely massive objects such as the sun. 
When Mercury’s orbit was calculated using Einstein’s equations rather than Newton’s, the planet turned out to be exactly where Einstein said it would be, one of the early proofs of general relativity.
Einstein was able to professionally challenge Newton precisely because, back then, the phrase "settled science" was considered an oxymoron.  A scientific theory, by its nature, is never settled and always open to challenge.   Today though Einstein would suffered professional and political ridicule for challenging Newton and had his funding cut.

The models used to predict anthropogenic global warming are increasingly being proven to be inaccurate. Is it possibly time to consider those scientists predicting an ever increasingly warmer planet that will doom mankind to a horrible future might just be wrong? 

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

After Supporting Wasteful and Likely Illegal Blue Indy Deal, Why Should Indy Conservatives Vote for Brewer for Mayor?

Chuck Brewer, Republican candidate for Indianapolis Mayor, has thrown the full weight of his campaign behind Mayor Greg Ballard's electric car sharing program, Blue Indy.


It has been alleged that scores of laws were violated in the enactment of the Blue Indy contract.  Republican Gary Welsh of Advance Indiana has written extensively about the subject:
Thursday, July 23, 2015, Council's Attorney Tells Council Members Everything About
Chuck Brewer
Blue Indy Deal Is Illegal
Saturday, July 18, 2015, A Franchise Agreement For Blue Indy? 
Thursday, July 16, 2015, Ballard Stealing More Valuable Downtown Public Parking Spaces For Blue Indy
Saturday, July 11, 2015, Council Resolution Seeks Towing Of Illegally Parked Blue Indy Cars
Friday, July 03, 2015, More Blue Indy Madness 
Wednesday, June 24, 2015, More Problems Ahead For Blue Indy
Friday, June 19, 2015, Expert Who Discovered Blue Indy Was Non-Compliant Told To Butt Out By City Officials   
Tuesday, April 28, 2015, Ballard Stealing Parking Meter Revenues To Pay For Electric Car Sharing Program  
Brewer apparently is unconcerned about the fact that the Ballard administration did not follow the law in the enactment of the Blue Indy contract.  He also is unfazed about the lack of transparency in the Blue Indy deal and that valuable parking spaces before downtown businesses are being taken for charging stations.  (We may well owe compensation for those lost metered spaces under the 50 year parking meter privatization deal entered into by Ballard.)  Does the fact that Brewer is willing to overlook a lack of legal compliance and transparency on the Blue Indy deal suggest he would follow similar practices if elected Mayor?

A couple days ago, a friend of mine Matt Stone published on his blog Indy Student a comparison of the Los Angeles electric car sharing deal with the Blue Indy agreement:
NBC Los Angeles reports that the state of California has awarded a $1.6 million dollar grant for Los Angeles to launch an electric car sharing program. The program will launch in some of its more diverse and low-income areas, including South LA and Koreatown. The pilot intends to add a fleet of 100 cars, with residents being able to sign up and pay a monthly membership or pay on a per-hour basis. While exact rates are still being worked out, officials are saying they hope it to be lower priced than car sharing services such as Uber and Lyft.
While the report doesn't specifically say what type of electric car infrastructure that LA already has, I'm going to guess the answer is little to none. You can see some shots of charging stations being constructed in the background if you watch the news report clip on NBC-LA's web site. All in all, this works out to about $16,000 per car.In contrast, the electric car sharing program BlueIndy is costing nearly $50 million for 500 cars. That cost likely doesn't take into account the millions of dollars of lost revenue when Dictator Mayor Greg Ballard (R) unilaterally removes hundreds of parking spots from public use to turn them over to the exclusive use of a for-profit company. Or the massive fines ParkIndy, the private operator of our public parking meters, will levy upon the city for the permanent removal of the parking spaces. Despite the $6 million dollar in help from city taxpayers, don't expect that to make it any cheaper to rent one of these cars. A 2014 estimate puts the estimate at $15 for an hour, or membership fees at $10-15 for a week or an annual membership costing about $15 a month. 
Total costs work out to about $98,000 per car.
$50 million for 500 electric cars in Indianapolis compared $1.6 million for 100 similar cars in Los Angeles.  That's $98,000 per car in Indy versus $16,000 per car in Los Angeles.   It is disheartening that Republican Brewer is endorsing a program that is such a colossal waste of taxpayer money.  This is exactly why conservatives who are angry at Mayor Ballard for 40 plus tax and fee increases as well as limitless one-sided corporate welfare deals that fleece taxpayers are unlikely to turn out and vote for Brewer who is promising more of the same.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Judges' Refusal to Defer to Legislative Bodies a Product of Intellectual Elitism

Yesterday I had a conversation with a misguided attorney friend (MAF) when our conversation wandered into the area of the death penalty.  MAF declared that the death penalty was abhorrent and should be abolished.  He talked about how society had evolved since the Constitution was originally adopted.  I told him that was fine - that state legislative bodies can always proscribe the death penalty in their jurisdictions.  That is not good enough for MAF.  He wants the 8th Amendment prohibition on "cruel and unusual punishment" redefined to ban the death penalty across the country.  

Of course, the Constitution and its amendments three times refer to capital punishment so it is crystal clear that the Founders never intended for the Eighth Amendment to ban the death penalty.  MAF doesn't care.  He believes that judges should be able to redefine constitutional provisions to keep up to date changing societal mores.  His philosophy is that the Constitution is a living document that judges can change the meaning of whenever they see fit.

I have asked MAF exactly what limits he there should be on judges simply rewriting the Constitution to incorporate their own beliefs.  He assures me that the actual written words of the Constitution still would provide some guidance and judges would still be bound by precedent.  But when it come to the Supreme Court, the justices on that body are not bound by precedent.  They can make things up, finding new rights that nobody had found before.  Just this past year, the justices found for the first time in nearly 150 years that the 14th Amendment barred states from defining marriage as solely being between a man and a woman, enshrining same sex marriage as a new civil right.

Of course, the Court could have simply found the Constitution was silent and left the issue of whether to redefine marriage to state legislatures.  But many in the legal community take it for granted that judges, usually the unelected federal variety, should follow and sometimes lead public opinion by redefining the Constitution.  No need to wait around for the democratic process to play out when we have learned men and women wearing black robes that can impose by judicial fiat "good law."

Such an attitude is nothing more than intellectual elitism, an idea that those who don black robes are bestowed with knowledge superior to average men and women.  I noticed that intellectual elitism during my first days of law school.  During a Constitutional Law class, I argued that since the Constitution was silent on an issue it should be left to the state legislatures to decide.  One of my classmates dismissed my assertion, saying that important public policy issues should not be left to the "pig farmers" elected to state legislatures.

Having grown up in a farming community, I certainly know better than to dismiss the wisdom of farmers and others who choose to make a living with their hands instead of their minds.  Having worked three sessions in the Indiana Senate, I also knew that, despite the messy nature of the legislative process, there exists a collective wisdom in the legislature that often far exceeds that of individual judges.   That judges should defer to legislative bodies, which represent the will of the people in free and fair elections, is exactly the way our system was intended to operate. 

Unfortunately, MAF remains an enthusiastic believer in intellectual elitism.  He is perfectly fine being ruled by unelected federal judges instead of the elected representatives of the people.  I'm not sure there is any cure for his terribly misguided thinking.  There is still hope for others, however.  We need, however to do a better job of educating law students, and judges to be, on the important role legislatures play in our constitutional system.

Even With Unaccredited Indiana Tech Law School Offering Free Tuition, Cost of Legal Education May Still Be Too High

The Wall Street Journal Law Blog reports:
A law school in Indiana is offering students an unbeatable price — a year of law school tuition free. 
Indiana Tech Law School in Fort Wayne, which opened its doors two years ago, is waiving the more than $30,000 it normally charges tuitionand fees, promising a full one-year scholarship to any student who enrolls this fall.   
Students have to cover room and board but the rest is on the house. To stay eligible, they 
Indiana Tech Law School
don’t even have to maintain high grades, as long as they stay in good academic standing, according to its dean.
There is a catch, though.   
*Graduates of the school may not be able to take the bar exam and become a practicing lawyer.    
The American Bar Association last month refused to grant Indiana Tech provisional accreditation for reasons neither the school nor the ABA will disclose. That means at least until next spring, enrolled students will be stuck in law school purgatory.
Most states, including Indiana, don’t let students take the bar exam unless they graduated from a law school accredited by the American Bar Association.
It is not clear that even a free law school education is a good value.  While such an education might be useful background for a lot of non-legal jobs, employers generally are underwhelmed with prospective non-lawyer employees showing up at their door with a J.D. in hand.   A J.D. tends to pigeonhole law school graduates into narrow "lawyer" openings and overqualifies individuals for non-lawyer positions.  If Indiana Tech gets its ABA accreditation then that puts the schools graduates out in a saturated attorney job market which has, according to one study, nearly attorneys competing for every legal opening.

Thanks to the Indiana Law Blog which has closely followed Indiana Tech Law School developments.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Planned Parenthood's Attempt to Spin Undercover Videos as "Hoaxes" Falls Flat

The last couple weeks featured the release of undercover videos of luncheon meetings starring Dr. Deborah Nucatola, senior director of medical services of Planned Parenthood, and Dr. Mary Gatter, the medical director at Planned Parenthood Pasadena and San Gabriel Valley. Gatter is also President of the Medical Directors' Council, the central committee of all Planned Parenthood affiliate medical directors.    In the videos filmed by the Center for Medical Progress, Nucatola and Gatter are shown discussing selling aborted baby body parts with undercover investigators posing as officials with a biotech company that acts as a middleman to sell aborted baby body parts to universities and other places that conduct such research.

When the Nucatola video was first released, the response of Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards apologized for the tone of the meeting, but also claimed Nucatola had her facts wrong and that if what she said was true then Planned Parenthood did violate laws and as well as ethical guidelines.  Then the Center for Medical Progress released the Gatter video repeating much of what Nucatola had said.  So Planned Parenthood decided to take another tact seeking to sell the spin that the videos were elaborate "hoaxes."

What is the basis for the "hoax" allegation?   Does Planned Parenthood claim that CMP used actors to portray Planned Parenthood officials?  No.  Does Planned Parenthood claim that CMP altered their representatives voices, to make them say things they did not actually say?  No.  The ENTIRE basis for PP's claim that the videos are hoaxes is that in addition to making the entire several hour long  videos available on YouTube, they also created an edited 8 to 9 minute versions.  Does the edited version focus on the more objectionable things PP officials were saying?  Absolutely.  That does not make the videos a hoax no more than it makes every TV news story a hoax because the station edits the footage to focus on what is most interesting to viewers.   CMP has made the full length videos available to anyone who wants to view them in order see whether content changes the meaning of what the PP officials were saying.

The content doesn't help Planned Parenthood  Yes, in the full length video there are disclaimers by PP that the organization can only legally recover costs, but Nucatola also talks about clinics wanting to do better than break even on the selling of fetal body parts.  Nucatola also says the price depends on the demand for the organ. Meanwhile Gatter is openly haggling over the price of those fetal body parts.  The behavior of Nucatola and Gatter are completely inconsistent with the notion that PP does not sell fetal body parts and recovers costs only.  If just costs are recoverable, then those costs are calculated and quoted.  There is no change in price depending on the demand for the tissue or organs.  There is no haggling over the price.  And there is certainly no clinics trying to do better, as Nucatola suggests, than break even on costs, a direct admission that the law is being violated.

Planned Parenthood's protestations that the disclaimers that the organization can only recover costs is not on the edited version is akin to an FBI sting operation in which an elected official is caught taking a bribe but the video being shown on the evening news doesn't include the official saying he won't take a bribe...before he proceeds to do exactly that.

In both the Nucatola and Gatter videos, the doctors discuss their willingness to change the abortion procedure to produce "intact specimens."  Nucatola said that some abortionists will even "change the presentation" of the fetus so it is breech (feet first) which allows the life to be terminated without damaging fetal organs and other tissue that might be in demand.  This admission could also constitute a legal violation and certainly ethical violations.

What is most damning about the Planned Parenthood videos is not that it exposes the organization for selling fetal body parts, but it exposes the world to the gruesomeness of what takes place during an abortion.  Abortion rights supporters depend mightily on being able to cloak what happens during an abortion in euphemisms that belie what actually takes place.  They will assure everyone that the fetus is just a blob of cells, a "product of conception."  They insist that a woman should be able to "control her own body."

When Nucatola talks about crushing above or crushing below to preserve fetal body parts it is clear to everyone that those euphemisms are not reality.  The abortion issue was never about a woman being able to control her own body, but whether and when to allow the termination of the life of a developing living human being.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

New Poll Shows Hillary Clinton Trailing Republican Rivals in Swing States of Colorado, Iowa and Virginia

Doeg Schoen Forbes reports on a growing crisis reflected in likely Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton's latest polling numbers:
Quinnipiac University’s latest polling results indicate a sharply diminished outlook for Clinton. For the first time, she is trailing her top GOP rivals in the critical swing states of
Colorado, Iowa and Virginia. And her honesty and trustworthy ratings are in free fall.
Clinton is now lagging behind Senator Marco Rubio, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and former Florida Governor Jeb Bush in head-to-head match-ups by widening margins of two percentage points up to nine points. More specifically, the Republican front runners lead Clinton by the widest margins in Colorado and Iowa, by five to nine points, and are slightly ahead in closer races in Virginia by two to three points.
But the bad news doesn’t end there. In all three states, Clinton’s rating a strong leader has dropped by between four and ten points compared to earlier data. Clinton is barely above 50 percent in this key category in Colorado, Iowa, and Virginia, underscoring voters’ perception of her questionable leadership abilities.
Brutally negative favorability ratings in each critical state, 35% favorable to 56% unfavorable in Colorado, 33% to 56% in Iowa, and 41% to 50% in Virginia, reflect poorly on her candidacy thus far.
I am a bit amazed that the Establishment Democrats are not more concerned.  While the Bernie Sanders phenomenon appears to have maxed out support among Democrats, unfortunately for Democrats that doesn't seem to be because Clinton has strengthened her campaign.
Schoen goes on to discuss the need for Clinton to answer questions and do a better job of engaging voters and the media.
Given the bleakness of Quinnipiac’s latest polls, voters have resoundingly indicated that they expect a higher level of responsiveness out of the candidate. The process toward achieving this will surely involve some change in Clinton’s style. I know as well as anybody that she won’t do a complete about face, but even a little more openness will go a long way with voters who are questioning her trustworthiness and honesty. She owes Americans that.
And if the media is going to write more approvingly of her candidacy she needs to be more open, accessible and available. It’s just that simple.
I just don't think Clinton can pull off the transformation.  Hillary simply does not have the extrovert personality or political skills of her husband. 

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Angie's List Posts Another Quarterly Loss; Is Membership Decline Due to Former CEO's Attack on Religious Freedom?

The Indianapolis Star reports:
[Angie's List]  reported revenue of $87 million in the quarter, 10.6 percent more than a
Former Angie's List CEO Bill Oesterle
year ago but short of Wall Street expectations of $89 million, according to a survey of analysts by Zacks Investment Research.
The company posted a loss of $8.3 million, or 14 cents a share, an improvement over a loss of $18 million a year ago but slightly worse than analysts' average forecast for a loss of 13 cents a share.
As of writing this, Angie's List is currently trading at $4.88 a share, down nearly 20% from yesterday.  Angie's List has never turned an annual profit in nearly 20 years of existence.

Earlier this year, Angie's List CEO Bill Oesterle led a fight against Indiana's RFRA, a law that protects religious freedom  Apparently Oesterle's leading role in attacking religious freedom came at a price.  Membership revenue fell by 9% during the second quarter of 2015.  Angie's List added 24% fewer members in the second quarter than it did in the second quarter of 2014.   One has to wonder if Oesterle's departure as CEO is tied to religious people no longer wanting to do business with Angie's List because of the company's CEO.

Nonetheless, even with Oesterle's departure Angie's List may not have seen the end of the backlash.   Oesterle's attacks on religious freedom helped land Angie's List on the American Family's Association's"Bigotry Map."  According to the AFA's description of the company, "Angie's List opposes religious liberty laws, which force Christians to violate their faith or face punishment by government."

I would add that it is not just Christians. The RFRA legislation Oesterle opposed protects people of all religious faiths from being compelled to act in a way contrary to their faith.  Fortunately it appears that religious conservatives are finally organizing to stand up to corporate bullies like the Oesterle and Marc Benioff of SalesForce who in one breath preach tolerance while engaging in the worst sort of intolerance when it comes to respecting people's religious beliefs.  If the leaders of these companies find that attacking religious freedom comes at a price, they'll be less inclined to do so in the future.