Trying to distract from the facts

Ann Boehm is by far the best candidate on the ballot for Monroe County Auditor, which is why Leftists are desperately trying to distract from the discussion of qualifications for that office to anything else, including (and especially) engaging in personality conflicts.

I had a letter to the editor published last week supporting Boehm. The comment section for my letter, as always, attracted people who hate me personally on a visceral level. It speaks volumes that some of my critics are completely incapable of addressing a single argument I made or a single fact I presented in my LTTE.

The problem here is obvious. Monroe County government does not have a qualifications problem. Monroe County government has an integrity problem. This is why Boehm is focusing on integrity, transparency, and best practices. She has the accounting experience needed for this job. Boehm knows any elected official is only as good as his or her staff, which is why she has pledged to end the practice of firing employees without cause. That has happened far too often. With a good staff, one that is not afraid of vindictive firings, the Auditor’s Office can be brought back to where it needs to be.

“Independent” candidate Therese Chambers cannot be trusted to do that. She admitted in the Herald-Times that she needs to “restore trust, honesty and integrity to the office” but has totally failed to do that as chief deputy under Amy Gerstman and Steve Saulter. Why should we trust Chambers to do that as elected Auditor? Simple: We cannot. Cathy Smith’s management of the Treasurer’s Office has been so inept that it cost county government a truckload of cash to fix and resulted in the county commissioners writing a letter to the county bonding agency expressing no confidence in her leadership.

Ann Boehm is the only choice for county auditor. If a human resources director was faced with these three candidates as the candidates for the job, the other two would not even get an interview. Voters need to look past partisanship and instead look at the best person for the job. It does not matter of that person is a Republican, a Democrat or a Democratic “independent” candidate. The auditor does not set public policy. The auditor’s only job is to keep track of the county’s finances and stand against theft and corruption. Boehm can be trusted to do that. Her opponents cannot.

Ending at-will employment for government

The Indiana State legislature needs to add an exception to Indiana’s “at-will” employment law to make it illegal for government at all levels (city, county, township and state) to fire employees without cause. This would better serve taxpayers and protect employees who are doing a good job.

Yes, civil service protections can be problematic and a permanent bureaucracy is not the answer. We have all heard the horror stories about government employees who cannot be fired and continue to be paid on the taxpayers’ dime despite the fact that they lack the competence, professionalism, integrity and skill set needed to do their work. But because they were hired, it is nearly impossible to remove them.

But the way government operates now is not sustainable, especially as the workload becomes more complex. An elected office changes hands and all of the employees are frightened for their jobs. Employees are terrified to point out wrongdoing because they are afraid to lose their jobs, so outright theft happens without anyone trying to do anything about it or even letting the proper authorities know about the crimes. Elected officials remove qualified employees and replace them with people who cannot do the job through nepotism, cronyism and patronage. This is a system that does not serve the taxpayers at all.

The solution, then, is to professionalize local and state government by implementing basic best practices. If local government cannot be trusted to do this voluntarily, then the state legislature needs to force them to do it. Best practices includes removing bad employees, after progressive discipline and good-faith efforts to bring under-performing employees into line. (Obviously, there are some things that require immediate termination.) Leave the politics to the legislative bodies while focusing administrative offices on actually serving the taxpayers instead of serving their political parties.

Fortunately, we have an opportunity to move in that direction by casting the right votes in the general election. Republican candidates for office – specifically auditor candidate Ann Boehm and treasurer candidate Ann Collins – have pledged to end the “at will” nonsense in their offices and follow basic “best practices” with their staff. Electing Boehm and Collins would help, but that will only help those two offices in one of the state’s 92 counties. The rest of the state needs the legislature to intervene.

#NeverTrump Republicans need to vote in November

The worst thing ‪#‎NeverTrump‬ Republicans can do in this election is stay home. Even if you can’t vote for Donald Trump, there are a ton of down-ballot Republicans who are principled conservatives and well qualified for the offices they seek.

Whether it be county government positions like commissioner or Auditor, state representative, U.S. Senate or governor, there are many good candidates who should not lose votes because #NeverTrump Republicans don’t turn out at all.

Get out there and vote for good candidates, no matter what you do at the top of the ballot.

Use discernment before sharing on social media

Before you share something online (on social media or elsewhere) you should think about what you are sharing. Asking yourself the question “does this make sense?” will prevent you from sharing things that are false and may save you some embarrassment in the future. Recognizing how your inherent biases may make you more susceptible to being hoaxed will help too.

Unfortunately, I speak from personal experience. Someone showed me this YouTube video a while back and I thought it was hilarious. In my foolishness, I shared it. However, while the video is real the way it is presented is not. Obama was not being snubbed. He was introducing someone to a group of people. Yes, I got hoaxed. No, that is not the only time I have been hoaxed. It is far from it, and far from the only time I really should have known better. I will probably get hoaxed again and will allow myself to be hoaxed because of my own foolishness and complete lack of discernment.

If I had used even the tiniest, un-measurable amount of discernment my nonsense detector would have been blaring when I saw that video. Would a group of people really disrespect and snub the President of these United States? Sure, one person may do that, but would a whole line of people do that? No. Even if people do not like the individual, they will not disrespect the office of the President like that. It was stupid for me to be taken in by this. I should have known better, and I should have known better from the second I saw the video. I did not think about it. Worse yet, I allowed my own anti-Obama bias to reinforce my foolishness. I cannot stand Obama, so obviously this is real, right? Wrong!

This brings me to a fabricated tweet where Tim Kaine said he and his wife are in an “open marriage.” Now, do what I did not do with the “snubbed” video, and think about this for a minute. If a sitting U.S. Senator and the former governor of Virginia were to Tweet this via his official account this would be a huge story. It would be all over every cable news channel, every mainstream news website, the lead above-the-fold headline on every newspaper and the lead story on the nightly news. If the first place you’re hearing about this is some anonymous Facebook page, and the source is a very obscure website, how likely is it that this is legitimate?

Here’s a hint: It is probably a hoax. And what makes this particular hoax so very bad is while it does reflect badly on Tim Kaine, it is much more harmful to his wife. It is one thing to attack a politician or to attack that politician’s high-profile supporters. It is another thing entirely to spread a smear about a politician’s family. While everyone gets hoaxed from time to time, this is an area where extra caution is required and extra humility is needed when you are discovered to be wrong.

Yet some people are so slavishly devoted to Donald Trump that they are predisposed to believe nearly any claim advanced by his surrogates, especially negative claims about Hillary Clinton or Tim Kaine. I did a quick search on Facebook and a lot of people have shared this article – and that is just the public posts I can see from people who are not my friends. I can imagine how many times that article has been shared by people who are not my friends and are sharing it only with their friends. Things can spread quickly when all you have to do to blast it to three hundred people is click one button.

You do not even need to fact-check every post before you share it. If you see an outlandish claim, think about it and use some of the discernment that we all have. If the claim is really outlandish, fact-check it before you share it. If you are called out on it, be humble and admit you made a mistake – something that I recognize is very difficult to do. And no, let’s not blame Facebook for this. Before Facebook, this stuff would get spread around via e-mail or newsgroups. (Remember those?) E-mail hoaxes are what created Snopes. If Facebook never existed, this would spread via Google Plus, MySpace or Yahoo 360. The root of the problem is the people sharing, not the platform used to share fake stories.

Ann Boehm is the only choice for county Auditor

Bloomington Herald-Times, August 25, 2016

To the editor:

Is there any option other than voting Republican this November for county Auditor? The following statement in the August 10 Herald-Times caught my eye:

“According to a letter from the commissioners’ office to the elected officials’ bond agencies, both former county Auditor Steve Saulter and current county Treasurer Cathy Smith failed to properly perform their duties as laid out in statute.”

Smith, of course, is the Democratic candidate for Auditor. If anything shows that she is not qualified to be Auditor, this is it. Therese Chambers, the “independent” candidate, was chief deputy during this time and during the failed administration of Amy Gerstman. She admitted in the Herald-Times that she needed to “restore trust, honesty and integrity to the office.”

Why has she not done that as chief deputy? More importantly, why would we continue this failed leadership?

Fortunately, we have a highly qualified candidate with the relevant experience and, most importantly, the integrity needed to manage this department. Ann Boehm is the Republican candidate for Auditor.

We need to elect Ann Boehm in order to break with the failed leadership (and corruption!) of the past. Electing Democrat Cathy Smith, or “independent” Democrat Therese Chambers, will not get that done.

Tim Kaine should not cave on military force

“The president does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation.” — Barack Obama, 2007

One of the worst things about politics is the assumption that people must abandon their principles for the good of the party. Taking a position at odds with your party’s candidate for whatever office damages that candidate and you must fall in line. That is why it will be interesting to see how the Tim Kaine deals with the War Powers Act as Hillary Clinton’s running mate. In the Washington Post earlier this month, Democrats said that Kaine “must adhere to whatever posture Clinton takes on this issue.”

Why?

This represents everything that is wrong with politics and why so many people do not trust or respect politicians.The view is they have no principles and will say whatever it takes to get elected. Sometimes those principles articulated in the campaign are adhered to, and sometimes those principles are discarded – like with Obama’s statement in 2007 that he disregarded in his aggression against Syria.

Kaine had taken a principled stand in favor of restoring Constitutional authority over war to Congress, away from the executive branch that has continually broadened its powers when occupied by both Republicans and Democrats. Kaine had taken a position that is popular with his party’s base and is echoed by many on the Right who worry about executive overreach and the rule of law. For Kaine to adopt Clinton’s position would be a betrayal of his own principles and his supporters on both ends of the ideological spectrum.

There is no good reason why Kaine has to adopt Clinton’s position on this issue. His stance was well known before he was ever nominated and it would be good to know that there is a moderating influence on Clinton’s warmongering ways if and when she is elected President. Allowing Kaine to maintain his principles would show the Democratic Party welcomes differing viewpoints, respects those who disagree with the nominee, and is thoughtful about matters of policy. All of that also applies to Republicans in cases where their vice presidential candidate has differing opinions from the party’s nominee.

Wake up Republicans! A 93% ally is not a 7% enemy!

Demands for absolute purity and total party loyalty need to stop. This is something I have been saying for many years now, but it is at the forefront more this year than at any time in my memory. Cultists are destroying the Republican Party with these unreasonable demands, driving voters, volunteers and candidates away either to the Democratic Party or out of politics altogether. This is foolish.

Between county, state and federal elections, there will be 14 Republicans on my ballot in the general election. I plan on voting for 13 of those Republicans. Moderates have been telling me for years that a 70% ally is not a 30% enemy. In my case, I am a 93% ally of the Republican Party, or at least I will be when I walk into that voting booth. But for far too many people, it is not enough that I am standing with the party 93% of the time. No, I must be 100% pure or I am all kinds of depraved things and I am responsible for the destruction of my nation and my family.

This is what I mean when I talk about cult-like behavior. I have always faced this attitude to some extent, but it is far worse this year thanks to the cult following of Donald Trump, who far too many Republicans view as some sort of messiah. I imagine it would not be much different talking to Branch Davidian cultists before their compound burned to the ground in 1993. This time, it is not a cult’s compound that is burning to the ground, but a political party that controls both the U.S. House and the U.S. Senate and a majority of governors and state legislators.

I said on Facebook last week that I will be so glad when this blasted election is over. This is the kind of year that makes me want to be permanently done with politics. I am tempted to completely drop out of doing anything for candidates, never write another letter to the editor, never comment on anything political on Facebook or any website comment section, expunge all political commentary from my Facebook and Twitter profiles and take down my blog and website archives. This has been, by far, the most frustrating year I have had in 20 years of being politically active.

When will the Republican Party stop immolating itself and start respecting that not every single Republican has identical convictions and may not agree 100% with everything the GOP wants and every single candidate the GOP puts forward? The Republican Party can be perfectly unified, with absolute purity, but it will no longer be a major political party. The choice the Republican Party now faces is between relevance and purity. Choose the former.

The wicked idolatry of Trump cultists

I saw this image on Twitter and as a Christian it angered me.

In Trump we trust? Like “In God we Trust?”

Really?

This what I mean by cult-like behavior. There are good arguments to be made for Trump, but treating him like some sort of messiah is pure idolatry and terribly wicked.

Trump cultists look at Trump the way the Branch Davidians looked at David Koresh. This idolatry must be rejected and rebuked.

I should not have to say this, but this disclaimer is needed anyway for hypersensitive crybabies who see this post: Most Trump supporters are not cultists. But some absolutely are.

And yes, there were Obama cultists and there are Hillary cultists. There most certainly were Bernie cultists. There were Bush cultists and Reagan cultists.

I am condemning ALL cults. I am condemning ALL fanatical devotion to a single person. We are NOT to worship human beings. We are to worship God.