Planned Parenthood should not get corporate welfare

My latest post on Hoosier Access:

But this was not just a defeat for Indiana’s legislation. This was a defeat for state sovereignty and another expansion of federal power at the expense of the states and the people. Once again, the federal government is telling us how we must manage our own affairs and is taking away a little more of our right to self-government.

Read more at Hoosier Access.

Observations on Yahoo buying Tumblr

Yahoo created quite a bit of interest when they announced they were buying Tumblr. Yahoo has tried to get into the social media game before, with the aborted Yahoo 360 effort, but that fizzled quickly and was never a serious threat to the supremacy of MySpace (which has since declined) and Facebook. Tumblr is a popular service, especially with Millennials, so Yahoo is obviously hoping that this will launch them back into the top tier with Facebook and Google.

Here are three things that Yahoo can do to improve Tumblr:

  • Add a native comment system. Tumblr users can install Disqus, but there is no native comment system for the platform. Yahoo already has comments enabled for their Yahoo News articles, so this is the most obvious solution. Now that Google has enabled Google Plus comments for Blogger, this would be a step to help Tumblr compete.
  • Add a “Theme Builder” so users can design a theme without knowing HTML or Tumblr’s specific code for various types of posts. Google’s Blogger already has this feature if you upgrade your blog to the new format. WordPress.com, another popular blog hosting service, only allows users to pick from a series of templates. Pre-built templates, a theme builder application and allowing users to build their own template by hand would be a perfect storm of features.
  • Allow Tumblr blogs to import posts and comments from other blogs so people who have been blogging for some time with another service do not lose their archives when they move to Tumblr. Other blogging services already allow this, and more people using other services might make the jump to Tumblr if they did not have to start from scratch.

Tumblr is a unique blogging platform, combining features of Twitter and Facebook with a traditional blogging service, plus multiple different types of post templates (text, video, links and pictures) and an easy-to-use interface. Adding a few more features could make it a big plus for Yahoo. Hopefully, they will not drop the ball.

County government throws $22,000 down the drain

On May 17, the County Commissioners approved a request by the Monroe County Council to pay a former county employee $22 per hour for 1000 hours of work as a contract employee working on the county budget.

It could have been worse, and the attention paid to it by members of the public has probably been a factor in mitigating the damage. The council originally wanted a full-time staff position. The salary for that would certainly be significantly more than $22,000 a year and would also bring in costs such as unemployment insurance, retirement benefits and health insurance. None of that is the case here, and that is a good thing.

But this is still an unnecessary, wasteful expense and I am very disappointed in the two Republicans on the council for voting for it. I realize they cannot stop it but they need to vote like Republicans rather than go along with this wasteful spending. If they do not oppose things like this, what is the point of electing Republicans at all? (In fairness, the two of them are generally solid votes for fiscal sanity. Both of them completely dropped the ball here, though.)

The underlying problem is that the county council (with a 5-2 Democratic majority) clearly does not have confidence in the Democratic Auditor to fill the need they have for budget analysis, despite the fact that this is a basic responsibility of the Auditor’s Office. Under the previous two Democratic Auditors, this was certainly justified. But this position was being debated when the newly-elected Auditor had been in office for less than two months. I have been very critical of Steve Saulter (and I stand by that criticism) but let’s allow him a chance to fix the problems in his office before we wastefully throw money at the problem.

It has been said that the Auditor is underpaid relative to similar positions (such as Bloomington’s city controller) and that reduces the number of qualified candidates willing to run for the position, especially given the charged partisan nature of elections and the personal attacks on candidates. But this position should not be elected at all. No reputable private business hires a CFO based on the results of a partisan election. They hire the best person for the job after a thorough vetting process. The structure of county government is stuck in the 19th Century and badly needs reform.

Cancer prevention and celebrity worship

On May 14, a famous actress wrote an editorial in the New York Times about her decision to have a preemptive double mastectomy to avoid breast cancer. While I applaud this actress for sharing her story as a means of educating the public about this procedure and the genetic abnormality that put her at a higher risk for cancer – discussing one’s medical issues in public is not an easy thing to do – I am disappointed (but completely unsurprised) that the news media has focused on her as a celebrity instead of the issue itself.

The issue itself is an important one for the media to cover, and educating the public about it can save lives. Women carrying the BRCA1 genetic abnormality are at a dramatically increased risk of breast cancer and it is good for the media to educate the public about it. The subject is not the problem – the focus is.

What this represents is our culture’s idolatry of celebrity. The “news” stories have downplayed the medical issue and relevant details about it – such as what research is being done into cancer prevention and public policy that is addressing it – in favor of discussing the medical history and personal life of a popular actress. The news media has done a disservice to viewers and readers by doing this.

Of course, the reason that this important issue is being covered as a celebrity story instead of a medical story is because celebrities are the gods of modern American culture. It is a failure of the church that we are not warned against and taught about how idolatry involves much more than simply bowing down before a carved wood or stone image. As is the case with so many of our public sins, the blame for it can be laid directly at the feet of pastors and church officers who simply refuse to put God’s no alongside His yes.

Does Barack Obama realize he is the President?

After being interrupted by a Code Pink protester during a speech on national security, President Barack Obama said this:

Look at the current situation, where we are force-feeding detainees who are being held on a hunger strike. I’m willing to cut the young lady who interrupted me some slack because it’s worth being passionate about. Is this who we are? Is that something our founders foresaw? Is that the America we want to leave our children? Our sense of justice is stronger than that.

Seriously, President Obama?

Seriously?

Are you campaigning for office, or are you the President of the United States? You could end the force-feeding policy with the stroke of a pen, yet you speak about it as if it was still 2008, when you were a U.S. Senator running for President instead of a President who was re-elected to a second four-year term in November of last year.

Take some responsibility for your policies, man!

Disclosing money in politics is good for democracy

My latest post on Hoosier Access:

Because so-called “Super PACs” and other groups have been a larger part of the last few election cycles – and will likely expand their influence in 2014 and 2016 – it is important for voters to know who is funding these groups as elected officials will be influenced by the support they are getting from those groups, either in the form of negative or positive campaign advertisements. This is true even though campaigns are usually prohibited from coordinating with outside groups – it is human nature to view your supporters in a favorable light.

Read more at Hoosier Access.

Of course Rush Limbaugh is still relevant.

Dean Obeidallah asks if Rush Limbaugh is still relevant, and the answer to that question is obvious – yes. This is a silly question. Limbaugh is the most popular radio talk show host in the nation with millions of viewers daily and an estimated 20 million people tune into Limbaugh’s program at some point during the week. (It would be interesting to see how many people listen only electronically – I have listened via my Rush 24/7 subscription exclusively for the past four years.) Someone with an audience of that size is not irrelevant.

Limbaugh is far and away the most popular radio talk show host in the country. President Obama whined last week that Republicans are afraid to work with him for fear of what Limbaugh will say about them. Obama has spent a lot of time whining about Limbaugh for the last four years, much like the previous Democratic President, Bill Clinton. When the President of the United States is whining about your criticism of him, you can be assured that you are anything but irrelevant.

Leftists have been fantasizing for years about Limbaugh being marginalized or even forced off the radio. When Clinton was elected, Leftists squealed with delight that it meant Limbaugh would me marginalized, and when George W. Bush took office people wondered what Limbaugh would complain about. Limbaugh has continued to be Limbaugh, and he has maintained his loyal audience. While a sustained campaign by Leftists against Limbaugh’s advertisers has had an effect, it is obvious that advertisers who drop Limbaugh are doing so for political rather than business reasons – Limbaugh’s audience numbers are proof enough of that.

In fact, if Limbaugh was not relevant you would not see people like Obeidallah “questioning” (actually fantasizing about) Limbaugh’s relevance. The reality here is that a large number of Leftists are intolerant of any dissent and are desperate to silence those who dare oppose them and their agenda. They have not been able to do with federal action because the First Amendment has so far blocked their path, so they have tried other means. They won’t succeed – and that drives them to distraction.

Homelessness is not the new civil rights struggle

My posts at Hoosier Access are going to be exclusive to HA from this point forward.

Putting advocacy for the homeless on the same level as fighting for civil rights for blacks is absurd and insults the memory of those who fought for those rights. Yet modern-day activists in Bloomington see themselves as the heirs to the civil rights struggle and are determined to stand against “oppression” from “The Man.”

Read more at Hoosier Access.