“I Want To Keep Science Science” — Rupert Boneham

Eric Bradner, writing for the Evansville Press, has an article on last night’s gubernatorial debate. The candidates were asked to answer a question hearkening back to last session’s SB 89 which attempted to mandate that schools teach creationism as science.

Creationism isn’t science because it doesn’t follow the scientific method. And it’s not even very good religion. It’s perversion of one, masquerading as another. Making me think of Jonathan Coulton’s song Skullcrusher Mountain where the mad scientist protagonist asks his kidnapped love interest in frustration:

I made this half-pony half-monkey monster to please you;
But I get the feeling that you don’t like it;
What’s with all the screaming?
You like monkeys, you like ponies;
Maybe you don’t like monsters so much;
Maybe I used too many monkeys;
Isn’t it enough to know that I ruined a pony making a gift for you?

Asked about whether it should be taught in class rooms, Mike Pence is in favor of allowing creationism to be taught as science if the locals vote to do it. John Gregg ducked the question but then apparently gave a better answer:

Democratic former Indiana House Speaker John Gregg deflected the question during the debate, instead focusing on other education initiatives, but said afterward he’d prefer to keep creationism in literature classes.

But, during the debate when it counted a little more, Rupert gave the correct answer:

And Libertarian Rupert Boneham said he wants to keep creationism out of public school science classes altogether. “If we want our children to just be taught creationism and not evolution, we should find those alternative schools,” he said. “I want to keep science science.”

Give that man a cookie.

Governor’s Debate #1

I have to confess that my attention during the debate was divided between the TV, household chores, and helping my son with his homework.

But, from what I saw, Mike Pence delivered a low energy performance, reminiscent of Obama last week. He’s playing not to lose and focus on his positions and past history won’t help him rise above the support he already enjoys going into the debate.

John Gregg had a strong performance. One thing is for sure; no one is going to out-Hoosier him. Talking about Pence “lightin’ around” in that pick up truck. Gregg even mentioned time zones and class basketball, so he knows what makes me tick. If he’d said something negative about the Old Confederacy, I might have swooned.

Rupert’s positions didn’t strike me as very libertarian; for example, pro-union, anti-Right to work. But he had a strong close — talking about how it was all well and good to talk about Indiana doing better than its neighbors, but that doesn’t at all mean we’re doing as good as we can.

Pence Sees Economy as a Morality Play

I’ve been seeing lately – mainly out of the Pence campaign – references to the keys to economic success: graduate from high school, work full time or go to college, and get married before having children.

He says that “strong families will mean a strong economy.” I think he has that backward. I think a strong economy contributes to strong families. For example, where a family can survive on one parent’s income, that family is going to be stronger than the one where both parents are working themselves ragged just trying to pay the bills with precious little time, let alone energy, to spend with each other or the children.

Personal relationships are going to be thin or toxic when your family only gets to see you at the end of the day, having given the best of yourself to the rest of the world, trying to earn enough to keep food on the table and a roof over your head. This doesn’t contribute to strong families.

This is just another round in the economy-as-morality play mentality. If you’re poor, it’s because you’re immoral, and if you’re rich, it’s because you deserve it. I think it’s popular because it requires that the comfortable expend no more effort than it takes to raise a hand to point a finger at the less fortunate.

Vi Simpson called out Pence on this business about not having kids until you get married; given that he has not been a notable champion of making sure women have tools for family planning. Don’t have sex if you’re single seems to be the beginning and the end of that discussion.

What, do you suppose, would be Rep. Pence’s reaction if the data show that right-to-work depresses wages and makes it more difficult for a family to afford to have one parent stay home with the kids? Or maybe failing to implement Obamacare’s health insurance exchanges increases insurance expenses and forces parents to work longer hours to pay for insurance? Probably he’d see such adversity as a wonderful opportunity for the parents to build character and demonstrate their moral fiber.

As to whether strong economies make strong families or vice versa, I expect there is a feedback loop involved; but I think you get started by getting more money into the hands of people who have to let family duties slide in order to pay for basic necessities.

Urbanophile Compares Mike Pence’s Economic Goals to Mitch Daniels’

Good post by the Urbanophile, entitled Mike Pence vs. Mitch Daniels. Gov. Daniels’ had a goal, not necessarily attained, of raising Hoosier incomes. Pence’s economic plan apparently abandons that goal, focusing solely on the number of jobs.

Using hyperbole to make a point – a slave economy tends to provide abundant and secure employment. But, of course, there is more to a job than just having work to do. You work to live; you shouldn’t live to work.

In the blog post, I liked the comparison of designing the economic conditions of a state to designing a neighborhood:

While everyone knows price matters when shopping for a house, I suspect few people live in the cheapest house or apartment they could find. Rather, they are more likely to live in the nicest house they could afford, in the best neighborhood, with the best schools, the nicest amenities, etc. Cost is a factor, but it’s not the only factor.

If your economic plan is designed to cater to those employers that are extremely cost sensitive, who won’t move in unless property taxes are rock bottom, for example; you aren’t likely to attract the types of employers that are able or willing to pay their employees very much.

Legislative History of Mike Pence

I posted this in a comment several months ago, but thought it might be of some interest for a more general post. Mike Pence has been in Congress for 11 years. According to GovTrack, he has sponsored 63 bills in that time. Most of those were introduced during his first term in Congress. Then, I guess, he just sort of lost interest in the whole legislation thing.

Let’s take a look at how he’s earned that $32,000 per year Congressional pension he will get when he hits 62:
2001 – 2002:
#34 bills to suspend tariffs on various chemicals — used in agriculture, if I’m not mistaken
#one bill to criminalize the use of domain names to attract kids to look at dirty pictures (again in 2003-2004); and
#one to posthumously give a promotion to an admiral.

2003 – 2004
#A bill to allow an illegal immigrant named Fatuka Kaikumba Flake to remain in the country. She was apparently a Muncie woman, originally from Sierra Leone, who had become a nurse at Ball Memorial.
#A bill to reduce individual capital gains taxes to 10%
#A bill to eliminate the requirement that health insurance issuers offering health insurance coverage in the small group market in a State to accept every small employer that applies for such coverage. (again in 2005-2006)
#A farm bill that would allow acres used to plant fruits and vegetables to be counted the same as oilseeds.

2005 – 2006
#Campaign finance legislation made it out of committee — would relax contribution limits and restrictions.
#A capital gains tax bill that would allow an inflation adjustment for determining capital gains (again in 2007)
#A child pornography bill.
#A journalist shield bill, the timing and content of which seems to have been designed to protect Judith Miller and Matthew Cooper from giving up Scooter Libby for leaking CIA information in the Plame affair. (I believe he introduced a similar bill in 2011).

2007 – 2008:
#A bill to prevent family grants to be given to an entity that provides abortions (Planned Parenthood defunding, I’m guessing) (a similar bill in 2009-2010, 2011-2012).
#An anti-Fairness Doctrine bill that would prevent the FCC from requiring broadcasters to air opposing viewpoints. (again in 2009-2010 and 2011-2012)
#An election law seeking to repeal disclosure requirements about disbursements for electioneering communications.

2009 – 2010:
#A bill seeking to restrict U.S. loans to the IMF where money would be used to support European countries with debt to GDP rations in excess of 60%.

#A bill seeking to repeal the sunset of certain tax cuts.
#A bill seeking to remove maximum employment as one of the goals of the Federal Reserve (stable prices and moderate interest rates would be the two remaining goals.)

Toll Road: With 90% of Lease Term Left, Money Almost Gone

Niki Kelly, writing for the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette, reported last week that the toll road money is almost gone. You might recall that, back in 2006, instead of proposing to raise the tolls ourselves, pay off the bonds, and owning the Indiana Toll Road outright, Gov. Daniels proposed a long term lease to a private consortium. (Mixing incompetence with pandering, the Democrats attacked the fact that the consortium was a foreign operation, sort of missing the point about what made this a questionable idea.)

I had a brother at Khe Sahn
Fighting off the Viet Cong
They’re still there, he’s all gone

The $3.8 billion payout for the lease was, according to Aaron Renn, a good trade; he knows more than I do about such things, so I’ll trust him on the price. But, the fact remains that the tolls remain much higher than they were, and we’ve lost control of the asset for another seven decades. And, according to Nikki Kelly, the money is mostly gone.

As of Jan. 1, the state had $1.7 billion still in the Major Moves Construction Fund.

But Will Wingfield, spokesman for INDOT, said several major projects are being awarded this year and next – obligating most of the money to be paid when construction is done in the next two years.

That means all the money should be spoken for at the end of June 2013.

That leaves two main questions: 1) Will the return on those projects be great enough to justify the higher tolls on the motorists of Northern Indiana for the next seventy years; and 2) What adjustments (higher taxes or more road deterioration) will be made now that the asset has been sold and the money’s all gone?

John Gregg is apparently favoring the deterioration option; advocating for elimination of the gas tax. Gregg says he’d pay for the shortfall by reducing government inefficiency elsewhere. But, I think by this time most people recognize “reduce government waste” as a candidate’s dodge; meaning they don’t want to alienate potential voters by saying they’d have to raise taxes elsewhere or by specifying cuts to a particular program which someone inevitably regards as valuable.

You can see a an overview of the distribution from gas tax revenues here (pdf – p.26), but a lot of it goes to maintain roads and highways. It’s easy for me to criticize John Gregg, because I expect him to be at least somewhat responsible about governing. I find myself being less disappointed in Mike Pence because I don’t even expect real solutions for governing from him – just vague conservative slogans and an indifference to whether application of those slogans actually improves the lives of Hoosiers.

At any rate, it looks like the roads are likely to get bumpier in Indiana in the near future.

Jon Easter on Donnelly and Marriage Equality

Jon Easter has a good post on Senate candidate Joe Donnelly’s position on marriage equality: Donnelly’s agin’ it. (So is gubernatorial candidate, John Gregg.) For what it’s worth, Libertarian gubernatorial candidate, Rupert of Survivor (blanking on his last name at the moment) is in support.

Maybe it’s a way of capturing the middle. And, in any event on this, I expect it’s simply what the various men believe. But, it seems year after year, the GOP does what it can to fire up its base while the Democratic Party does what it can to depress its base. Bold strategy. Let’s see how it works!

Becoming Governor is Expensive

Marybeth Schneider, writing for the Indy Star, has an article about fund raising in the campaign to be Indiana Governor.

The Pence campaign is awash in cash. The Gregg campaign has made a decent start but has a lot less of it than Mike Pence. Pence has about $5 million on hand. Gregg has about $1.5 million.

If you like Indiana but think that its laws are insufficiently socially conservative and you hear far too little about religion from your elected officials, this is good news for you. Otherwise, you might be inclined to help out the Gregg campaign.

Pence v. Gregg

On my trip home, I was riding with a friend who took residence in Indiana within the last few years. He looked slightly nauseous when I told him that Mike Pence had the same fiscal sensibilities as Mitch Daniels but was far more focused on social conservative cultural issues than Gov. Daniels. And, based on his electoral experience while he’s been in Indiana, he reasonably came to the conclusion that there is no way in hell that Hoosiers would vote for a Democratic governor.

I didn’t pitch a very optimistic line on that, but I had to reassure him that Indiana isn’t necessarily doomed to four or more years of Planned Parenthood demonization, righteous discrimination against gays, and ambient political Christianity. The smart money has to be on Pence right now. But, he had no idea that, from 1988 to 2004, the Republicans were unable to win the Governor’s mansion in Indiana.

John Gregg is as good a candidate as the Democrats have fielded for quite some time, and as a candidate and a lawmaker, Mike Pence is a mile wide, but an inch deep. If Hoosiers spend more than 20 seconds considering the capabilities of the two men, it’s going to be a race. It’s true that Hoosiers’ default setting is to vote Republican. And, Pence’s socially conservative catch-phrases are more likely to be reassuring than horrifying to the average Hoosier. But, Gregg is fairly conservative himself, and his “just folks” persona might be effective against the Pence choirboy image.

Whether their respective personalities come into play depends on how aware the public becomes of the two men. Can John Gregg penetrate the public consciousness? I don’t know. But, a Political Notebook piece in the Journal Gazette suggests that he’s making some headway. The Republicans are at least worried enough about Gregg’s criticism of the Daniels administration’s half billion dollar accounting goofs that they are trying to tag Gregg with budgeting problems with which Gregg’s involvement was muddled, specious, or non-existent.

John Good (a Democratic candidate for state House District 83) noted that the first independent polling of the Governor’s race had Pence up by 13 points. Again, this is much better news for Pence than for Gregg, but it’s hardly insurmountable if John Gregg can figure out how to get Hoosiers to know who the hell he is. And, maybe this is just me, but I think the more Hoosiers know about Mike Pence, the less they will care for him. He has a lot of name recognition, but I think most folks are a little vague on what he’s actually done or what kind of laws, specifically, he wants to impose and enforce or repeal. I think that, the more voters get to know Gregg and the more they get to know Pence, the more that 13 point gap will shrink. On the other hand, if voters never have cause to think much about this race, then Pence will win in a walk.

Brian Howey on the Slam Dunkery of Mike Pence

Brian Howey has a column suggesting that Mike Pence shouldn’t be measuring for drapes in the Governor’s office quite this early.

Sure, Pence has deep pocketed donors, a lot of name recognition, and the ability to talk; not to mention that Hoosiers are tribally more inclined to identify with Republicans these days. So, you can understand if he’d take things for granted and not feel the need to bother telling Hoosiers what he’d do if he’s chosen for the job. Just let him ascend to the pulpit office already.

And, Howey, acknowledges (as do I) that Pence has to be regarded as the favorite, he sets out a few challenges Pence has:

1. Pence is a Congressman, and Congress is about as popular as the plague right now. It’s less popular than Nixon during Watergate.

2. Pence might get caught up in either evangelical dislike of Mitt Romney or moderates distaste for Santorum.

3. Pence might be very unpopular with women given his attacks on Planned Parenthood – an issue which has suddenly become much more relevant with things like Bob Morris’ Girl Scout Communist, tactical arm of Planned Parenthood ravings or Santorum’s sugar daddy aspirin between the knees “joke” or Rush Limbaugh’s slut shaming of the student who wanted to testify about the importance of contraception.

4. Pence’s silence about the having or not having an agenda when he becomes Governor; other than some vague allusion to jobs. “Stay the course” on Daniels’ jobs agenda might be less viable to the extent that Daniels’ jobs record turns out to be illusory.

5. Pence’s tendency toward theocracy. Having one’s religion inform one’s policy decisions is one thing – it’s inevitable, and it’s not a bad thing. Having one’s perceived religious duties trump one’s civic duties is more troublesome in a public servant. And that’s the persona Pence has chosen to create for himself. If that’s also the reality of the man, so much the worse. Charlatans are less troublesome for a civic society than True Believers.

Finally, of course, his challenger is legitimate. I’m hard pressed to think of a state Democrat who is more viable than John Gregg. He was a fairly successful Speaker of the House, able to work pretty well with a Republican Senate from 1996 – 2003. And the man is a charismatic speaker. At LSA, we had closed circuit audio from the Floor of the House piped into the office. He was entertaining to listen to — has a folksy charm about him. I’m guessing he won’t be prone to the type of off-putting campaign rhetoric as Jill Long Thompson, such as her frequent reminder that she has a PhD. Gregg will be much better at connecting with the Hoosier Everyman.

That said, Gregg has to be regarded as the underdog. Pence has the advantage. But, if he fails to simply take the office by acclamation and has to reveal who he is and what he intends to do, I think he’ll start to struggle. In Congress, he’s been allowed to talk in generalities and not do anything specific for the last decade.