Mike Pence 2012: Governor or President?

Mike Pence has been a rumored candidate for President for a few years now. There were whispers leading into 2008, and those whispers got louder as he became a leading critic of Barack Obama after the 2008 elections. Since the 2010 election, there have been some different rumors: that Pence would run for governor of Indiana instead of President of the United States.

There’s no doubt Pence would be a great President, and is exactly what we need right now. He is a solid fiscal and social conservative, and we can count on him to be a strong advocate for our issues as President. He has a significant amount of grassroots support. But should he run?

History is not on Pence’s side. While a number of Congressmen have been President, only one sitting member of the House of Representatives has ever been elected to the Presidency: James Garfield of Ohio way back in 1880. Since 2012 will certainly be a crowded Republican field, will a sitting member of the House of Representatives be able to break away?

At this time, Pence should run for governor instead. He built a strong statewide organization and gained a lot of name recognition stumping for Republicans around Indiana. With Lt. Gov. Becky Skillman out of the 2012 primary race, Pence would be heavily favored to win the primary. Whoever wins the primary would likely cruise in the general election, as Mitch Daniels did two years ago.

As a governor, Pence would be able to run a more formidable campaign in 2016 or 2020. He would have the administrative experience of being a chief executive as well as a decade in the House.

Governors tend to do well historically, especially in the last 40 years. Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush were all sitting governors when they were elected and Ronald Reagan was a former governor. Four or eight years of experience as a governor would be an opportunity for Pence to continue to build his national name recognition for a Presidential race.

In addition to strengthening his Presidential ambitions, Pence is likely to win if he runs for governor. Both history and a crowded Republican field make the odds of winning the Republican nomination for President much tougher. If he runs for President in 2012 and loses, Pence is out of office. If he runs for governor in 2012, he will most likely win and will be in a stronger position in 2016 or 2020.

Our civil liberties are being shredded: Does no one care?

From Reason, here is another frightening article about the abuse of police power and the overuse of paramilitary SWAT teams to terrorize American citizens. We’re living in a police state, folks. This country’s founding fathers would never have tolerated the abuses that go on daily. Some people wondered why I was so critical of sobriety checkpoints last month. The reason is because sobriety checkpoints represent one more in a truly frightening line of abuses by law enforcement that are chipping away at our civil rights.

In August a team of heavily armed Orange County, Florida, sheriff’s deputies raided several black- and Hispanic-owned barbershops in the Orlando area. There were more raids in September and October. According to the Orlando Sentinel, barbers and customers were held at gunpoint, some in handcuffs, while police turned the shops upside down. A total of nine shops were raided, and 37 people were arrested.

By all appearances, these raids were drug sweeps. Shop owners told the Sentinel police asked where they were hiding illegal drugs and weapons. But in the end, 34 of the 37 arrests were for “barbering without a licence,” a misdemeanor for which only three people have ever served jail time in Florida. Two arrests were for misdemeanor marijuana possession. Just one person was arrested on felony drug and weapon charges.

(Emphasis is mine.)

This has to stop, people. We should not have to live in fear of our government.

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It’s not a free speech issue, Rush

Last week, Rush Limbaugh was complaining because a Louisiana State Senate employee who was “formally reprimanded and suspended” after sending a joke about President Obama from her work e-mail account to fellow employees. Limbaugh complained:

In other words, Ms. Crain-Waldrop’s real crimes were opposing Obama’s policy and, two, defending her opposition as nonracist. Now, of course such thinking can’t be allowed. It’s hate speech to deny that you can oppose Obama and not be a racist.

No, Rush, this is not a free speech issue and this is not about punishing dissent. Thanks to our wonderful First Amendment, you can say pretty much whatever you want and government cannot do anything about it. If you are a government employee, however, the government may place restrictions on what you say at work, especially if you are using a work computer. In this way, the government is just like any other employer, since most employers have policies governing personal use of company resources.

If we are going to advocate for free speech, we need to be discerning in what are actual free speech issues and which are not. Complaining about legitimate disciplinary issues does not advance our credibility.

More on the Community Reinvestment Act

I have posted about the Community Reinvestment Act before, but here is some more information on this incredibly short sighted and destructive law that played a huge role in the 2008 financial meltdown.

CUOMO: To take a greater risk on these mortgages, yes. To give families mortgages that they would not have given otherwise, yes.

Q: [unintellible] … that they would not have given the loans at all?

CUOMO: They would not have qualified but for this affirmative action on the part of the bank, yes.

Q: Are minorities represented in that low and moderate income group?

CUOMO: It is by income, and is it also by minorities? Yes.

CUOMO: With the 2.1 billion, lending that amount in mortgages — which will be a higher risk, and I’m sure there will be a higher default rate on those mortgages than on the rest of the portfolio…

Source: HotAir.com, October 12, 2008. See the video on YouTube.

So-called “community groups” like ACORN benefit themselves from the CRA through a process that sounds like legalized extortion. The CRA is enforced by four federal government bureaucracies: the Fed, the Comptroller of the Currency, the Office of Thrift Supervision, and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. The law is set up so that any bank merger, branch expansion, or new branch creation can be postponed or prohibited by any of these four bureaucracies if a CRA “protest” is issued by a “community group.” This can cost banks great sums of money, and the “community groups” understand this perfectly well. It is their leverage. They use this leverage to get the banks to give them millions of dollars as well as promising to make a certain amount of bad loans in their communities.

A man named Bruce Marks became quite notorious during the last decade for pressuring banks to earmark literally billions of dollars to his organization, the “Neighborhood Assistance Corporation of America.” He once boasted to the New York Times that he had “won” loan commitments totaling $3.8 billion from Bank of America, First Union Corporation, and the Fleet Financial Group. And that is just one “community group” operating in one city – Boston.

Banks have been placed in a Catch 22 situation by the CRA: If they comply, they know they will have to suffer from more loan defaults. If they don’t comply, they face financial penalties and, worse yet, their business plans for mergers, branch expansions, etc. can be blocked by CRA protesters, which can cost a large corporation like Bank of America billions of dollars. Like most businesses, they have largely buckled under and have surrendered to their bureaucratic masters.

Source: LewRockwell.com, September 6, 2007.

What I choose to take for my cold is none of your business!

Eighty Percent of the illegal meth in Indiana comes from Mexico, according to estimates from the Indiana State Police.

Eighty Percent!

So to crack down on twenty percent of meth use, “Republican” Rebecca Kubacki is proposing a law that would require a prescription for cold medicine containing pseudoephedrine. She is going to force me to:

  1. Go to the doctor’s office.

  2. Take time away from work.

  3. Clog up my doctor’s time with a completely unnecessary visit.

  4. Take attention away from people who legitimately need to see the

  5. Cost my insurance company money.

  6. Drive up insurance rates in the process.

  7. Line my doctor’s pockets with this corporate welfare mandate.

This is all because a busybody nanny state ninny wants to “do something” to crack down on 20% of meth use with a law that will do absolutely nothing to stop eighty percent of meth use in Indiana.

This woman obviously learned absolutely nothing from the conservative revolution last month. She clearly missed the memo, which read “Stay out of my life and my wallet.” She needs to be thrown out of office. What I choose to take for my cold is none of your business, Representative Kubacki!

I am fed up with politicians who feel the need to “do something” and restrict my liberty because some people are stupid. There will always be stupid people who do stupid things, whether it is getting high on condensed air used for cleaning electronics, overdosing on Tylenol or using Sudafed to make meth. It is wrong to restrict the liberty of those who have committed no crime and use pseudoephedrine properly because a small minority of people are stupid.

In justifying this intrusive and unnecessary law, Kubacki said “Kids will be hurt, there will be a crisis, and we’ll say, why aren’t we doing something?” As I said regarding the sobriety checkpoints, “do something” should not be the default. We should not seek to “do something” every time we have a problem in society, because that “something” could be worse than the problem itself. When government is taking away more of our liberties, that is always a bad thing. Frankly, I am much more afraid of my government than I am afraid of meth users – and with good reason.

The fact that it is a “Republican” who is proposing this abominable legislation adds insult to injury. When a “Republican” is getting this involved with a decision that should be between me and my pharmacy of choice, for a drug that poses absolutely no risk when used properly and has been approved by the FDA for over-the-counter sales, she’s acting in a manner that is as anti-conservative as you can get. To me, that makes her a RINO. She needs to stay out of my life and stop meddling in my personal health care decisions.

Genetic testing and abortion

Alasdair Palmer warns that new testing technology that identifies genetic defects more safely and easily than before “raises the spectre of an enormous proliferation of abortions.” Reminding us of the utterly wicked practice of murdering Down Syndrome babies, Palmer asks how the law could allow abortions for some genetic defects and not for others, how we decide and where we draw the line.

Placing that line should be easy: Don’t kill any babies, for any reason.

How can one argue that killing a child for convenience is acceptable and should be legal, but it is not allowable to kill a child because he will allegedly have a “poor quality of life” or will place an unreasonable burden on the parents? After all, “severe fetal deformity” has joined rape, incest and life of the mother as part of the “hard cases” used to justify abortions. How are we to define severe fetal deformity, anyway?

It is damning that we are questioning under what circumstances it is proper to kill babies, rather than recoiling in horror at the idea of killing babies in the first place. This really demonstrates how sick our society has become. We might as well be arguing over which groups of people the Nazis should be permitted to send to the death camps, rather than stopping them from setting up death camps in the first place.

Race in video games: Are game makers socially responsible on racial issues?

The machine-gun toting protagonists of Contra are “all-American” white males, killing legions of enemy soldiers, monsters and robots on the way to repelling an alien invasion. By contrast, the protagonist of Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas is a black man in a 1990’s Los Angeles street gang environment, participating in drive-by shootings against the rival “Ballas” gang and working with other black and Hispanic men to increase the territory of the “Grove Street” gang.

Are video games portraying racial minorities in a socially responsible manner? One could argue the answer, for the most popular games at least, is “no.” San Andreas was the top selling game of 2004. Other than sports games, comparable games in the top ten included Halo, Halo 2 and Spider-Man 2. In Marvel Comics’ officially licensed adaptation of Halo, the protagonist is a white male. (Marvel.com) Spider-Man is also a white male. Carl Johnson is the lone black male in the top ten, and he is a stereotypical 1990’s street thug.

The portrayal of minorities in video games is underscored by the fact that games are overwhelmingly white and male. Primary leads in video games are 89.5% male and 85% white. (New Scientist, 09/22/2009) Since black males are underrepresented and Hispanic males are almost nonexistent, is it socially responsible for the biggest selling game of the year to present a black man in such a negative light?

At least black men exist in video games. Of female characters, the landscape is almost exclusively white. “I don’t know how black people breed in these worlds,” says Morgan Gray, producer of Tomb Raider. (MTV.com, 4/8/2008)

Other black characters in video games have also sparked criticism for being racially insensitive. One such character is Cole Train from Gears of War. Gray said that while Cole Train on his own is not harmful, it is the trend he represents that is the problem. “Cole Train is basically like every other effin’ black character in a video game. Like here comes the urban stereotype,” Gray said in an interview. (MTV.com, 4/8/2008) Gray also criticized the developers for using stereotypical 1990’s street slang for Cole Train’s dialogue, which does not fit in a futuristic environment.

It is Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, though, that has sparked the most criticism of the way blacks are portrayed in video games. One of the reason for this is the disproportionate exposure blacks have to games. Black youths play video games an average of 90 minutes per day, over 30 minutes more than the average white youth. Because blacks play video games much more than whites, “it stands to reason that Blacks are the most negatively effected” by the images of blacks as thugs or criminals. (Black Voices 2/7/2007) If your race is always portrayed as killers and thieves, then that reinforces that image as how you should be, or that is the predominant feature of your race.

Video games are part of the wider culture, and influence and are influenced by that culture. The stereotyping of inner city black men as thugs and gangsters also feeds into racist stereotypes in the culture. “Whites see Blacks and Latinos as criminals,” wrote Richard Jones, which then influences the perception of black youths of themselves and their peers. (Black Voices 2/7/2007)

Gray argues that games setting blacks as criminals is more relevant because of the cultural context. San Andreas is a concern “because it’s basically what people think black people are.” (MTV.com, 4/8/2008) While Grand Theft Auto III portrayed the lead character as an Italian “Mafioso” gangster, there is no longer a cultural perception of all Italians as being players in the Mafia, Gray said. San Andreas, on the other hand, reinforces existing cultural stereotypes and biases that judge young black and Latino men as criminals. These games are too close to the hip-hop era, both in rap music and movies that portrayed the same stereotypes, Gray argues.

Gray’s statement about whites associating violent crime with blacks is backed up by statistical analysis. When participants in a study by Penn State University were asked to reconstruct the facial features of a suspect in accounts of a violent crime, they selected facial features for the suspects that “featured more pronounced African American” features, especially if the story was about violent crime. Furthermore, participants in the study readers “appeared largely unaware of their associations of violent crime with the physical characteristics of African Americans,” indicating how ingrained the stereotypes are. (Black Issues in Higher Education, 6/17/2010) This raises questions about the social responsibility of creating games where the primary character is a black gangster.

The black lead character of San Andreas as a racial stereotype raises some concerns when compared to the overtly racist games used as propaganda by white supremacist groups. Resistance Records released a gamed titled Ethnic Cleansing in 2002, two years before San Andreas was released by RockStar Games. Like San Andreas, the game featured ethnically stereotyped black and Latino characters, as well as Jewish characters. The goal of the game was much different, since the protagonist was a white male stalking urban streets and subway tunnels committing mass murder against minorities.(CNET, 02/21/2002) While San Andreas is certainly not overtly racist or meant to be Nazi propaganda, the fact that it relies on racial stereotypes can be seen as a disturbing parallel.

While Ethnic Cleansing was meant as white supremacist propaganda, other games not intended to be racist were nonetheless criticized as such. In 2008, Resident Evil 5 stirred up a firestorm of controversy when the main protagonist was a white male mowing down hordes of blacks charging him in an African village. Gamers quickly rose to the defense of the game, arguing that the subject matter was killing zombies, not killing blacks. Gray said that the game was “absolutely not racist” because it is to be expected that black zombies would exist in a place where the population is predominantly black. (MTV,com 4/8/2008)

An interesting contrast to the outrage over a white protagonist killing black enemies is the racial makeup of modern first-person shooters. Thomas Ricks compares the controversy created by Resident Evil 5 to the lack of protest over “games like Delta Force or Bad Company” where the player kills scores of insurgents or terrorists who are entirely of Middle Eastern origin. (ForeignPolicy.com, 4/15/2010) In games like America’s Army, players take the role of “the good guy” and their opponents appear to be “an Arab with a ski mask and shemagh.” This provides an interesting parallel to debates over racial profiling as a means of screening for terrorists.

As racial issues are examined and discussions of how to present minorities in a socially responsible manner become more prominent, the racial makeup of people making the games becomes an issue as well. It is commonplace for white game designers to be writing a character that is a black urban stereotype. Gray said that San Andreas is the only Grand Theft Auto game he did not complete because he became weary of hearing the word “nigger” written by “a bunch of white cats” and placed into the dialogue of black characters. (MTV.com, 4/8/2008)

One part of the solution to the treatment of minorities in games is for more blacks to get involved in designing video games, so that blacks themselves are writing black characters. About eighty percent of game designers are white, four percent are Latino and less than three percent are black. In the aftermath of the popular following of “thug” games such as San Andreas, National Public Radio host Mario Armstrong formed the Urban Video Game Academy with two black colleagues with the goal of changing this and influencing more positive portrayals of minorities in games. (MSNBC, 8/5/2005)

The institute was formed at the May 2005 Electronic Entertainment Expo in May, and then went on to hold workshops in Baltimore, Atlanta and Washington D.C. to teach young blacks the basics of game design. “There are good people in the ghetto,” said John Saulter, founder of one of the few black-owned video game companies, Entertainment Arts Research. Saulter hopes games will portray more positive inner-city black role models rather than relying on the “gangster” stereotype.

Journalist N’Gai Croal agrees that more visible minority representation in video game design would be helpful for black youths seeking to break into the industry. Croal told MTV that having Spike Lee as a prominent black filmmaker was a powerful influence on him, and he has gotten letters from black youths saying that seeing his picture in journalism has been an inspiration to them. “Visibility is definitely a part of what would boost people’s interest in games,” Croal said. (MTV.com, April 7, 2008)

What has led to the lack of minority representation on video game design? Economics has played a role, according to Croal. Given the economic disparity between blacks and whites that dates back to blacks being prohibited from owning real property, it is difficult for someone’s family to support him if he is going into an entry-level position in the video game industry (such as game tester) that pays poorly. (MTV.com, April 7, 2008)

Even if more minorities are represented as video game programmers, it is rare for programmers (minority or not) to rise through the ranks and reach a position where they are making decisions about what games do and do not make it to the market. The people making those decisions have been in the industry for two decades, and have “never been outside a middle-America environment.” (CNET.com, March 24, 2002)

Demographically, the United States will reach a point over the next 40 years where minorities will make up the majority of the US population. (CBS News, March 10, 2010) For video game makers, this means that representations of minorities in video games will need to become both more racially diverse and present minorities in a less stereotypical manner, in order to continue to appeal to the widest range of people possible. Can the video game industry meet this challenge?

They will need to be. As the United States inevitably becomes much more ethnically and racially diverse, a larger and larger portion of the video game market will be consumed by not only blacks and Latinos, but other races as well. Video games are no longer a “toy” but are a genuine hobby, and the age of the average gamer has increased significantly over the past 20 years. Just like other industries, the video game industry will need to reach out to minorities and to think more carefully about what games go to market and the way racial issues are represented in those games. The video game industry still needs to catch up to other entertainment media, including music and movies, in the manner it presents racial issues and racial stereotypes.

Gamers themselves, used to reflexively defending their hobby that is often misrepresented in the mainstream media, also need to turn a more critical eye to their entertainment of choice and pressure game makers to present racial issues in a more balanced manner while avoiding tactics that will stifle creativity and innovation in game play.

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It is put up or shut up time for the H-T

Imagine it is the middle of July, and you go outside to mow the lawn. You finish mowing, come inside, and sit in your favorite chair. After working in the hot sun, you are very thirsty. There is a freshly-poured glass of your favorite beverage, with plenty of ice, sitting next to your chair. Now you are holding the beverage in your hand. Rather than bringing the glass to your lips and quenching your thirst, you sit there whining because you are thirsty.

That’s the mentality of the pathetic column by Bill Strother on December 6. Once again, someone from the H-T is whining and crying because of the tendency to comment on stories anonymously.

The Herald-Times allows anonymous comments on news stories. They could ban anonymous comments right now if they wanted to It would be a very easy change to implement, especially since everyone has to pick a username. They could simply require that the username be the first and last name of the poster. Rather than actually do something about the problems created by anonymous comments, the H-T chooses to whine about it. The H-T is very thirsty, but won’t sip from the ice-cold beverage in its hand.

Of course, if the H-T actually solved the problem, they would not be able to write pathetic editorials crying about it.

I have an account on HeraldTimesOnline, and I post with my real name. I am convinced that the anonymity offered by the Internet is the single worst thing to happen to political discourse in the last 100 years. When there is no fear of being held accountable by name in a public forum, people will post all kinds of filth, including libelous personal attacks and engage in outright cyberstalking. I’ve written about anonymity many times, and I believe it is almost never a good thing.

Of course, that’s not the point of this post. The point is this: the crybabies in the H-T newsroom need to put up or shut up. Either ban anonymous comments, or stop crying because people are commenting anonymously.

The liar should be named and shamed

A month ago, an Indiana University student (not named by the Herald-Times) reported to police that she had been “raped” at knifepoint. On Friday, she admitted that she fabricated the story. It is understandable that she would not be named in the initial story, since it is common practice not to name alleged sexual assault victims. There is no reason to withhold her name in the second. After all, she is not a victim. She is a criminal.

Fortunately, the search for a suspect didn’t result in an arrest, so the liar didn’t cause as much harm as she could have. Had a suspect been arrested and named, an innocent man would have been smeared as a “rapist” in the newspaper while HTO commenters had a field day damning him for a phantom “crime” he never committed. We should at least be thankful that, unlike other cases, these fabrications did not destroy an innocent man’s life.

False allegations of rape are despicable not only because of the harm to an innocent man’s reputation, but also because fabrications like this make it more difficult for real rape victims to come forward. It is a despicable insult to legitimate victims of rape, to cynically exploit their suffering so this woman can get some attention. Furthermore, what if this student is legitimately raped in the future? How credible do you think her story will be? How much more difficult will the prosecution of the rapist be? You better believe any criminal defense attorney worth his salt will exploit this.

This woman should not be able to hide behind anonymity, and the Herald-Times should not protect her identity. She needs to be named and shamed for her despicable actions. She should also be prosecuted for the crimes she committed by fabricating this story and then punished to the fullest extent of the law.

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Baron Hill is still a hypocrite

Back in October, I pointed out that Baron Hill was a complete hypocrite when he was whining and crying that there is “too much money in politics.” After all, this is the same man who took $2.15 million in donations in 2008, compared to $1 million for his opponent. It gets better. According to the Herald-Times, Hill outspent Todd Young $2.15 million to $1.94 million. That’s not nearly as large as the difference in 2008, but the key statistic is below:

Of the $2.15 million Hill raised throughout the campaign, $1.18 million came from his political party and other political committees and about $890,000 was contributed by individuals.

Of the $1.94 million Young raised, about $220,000 came from his political party and other political committees and $1.72 million was raised through individual donations.


There’s too much money in politics Baron? Really? Is that why you loaded up your campaign war chest with PAC money while Todd Young collected much more in individual contributions? Hill’s margin of defeat shouldn’t be surprising looking at these numbers. After all, Young’s fundraising indicated he had much more grassroots support.

After the last two campaigns, I hope no one takes Hill seriously the next time he starts whining about money in politics. Republicans should not hesitate to point out just how much of a hypocrite Baron Hill is.