Ballots and Bullshit

Aside from all the (quite appropriate) angst over our Presidential choices and control of the U.S. Senate, voters in my state of Indiana will be faced with important local decisions. On my  ballot (I voted early) there were three important measures, only one of which was (in my opinion) a “slam-dunk.” That was the referendum for a very minor tax increase to support a very major improvement to our city’s terrible mass-transit, and as I have written previously, it deserves our support.

The other two issues require some background, and the ability to cut through spin and propaganda. (Okay, bullshit.)

The first is a state constitutional amendment supported primarily by the NRA, that would make hunting and fishing a constitutional right.

The Journal-Gazette said it best:

First, it’s completely unnecessary. Like the U.S. Constitution, the Indiana Constitution guarantees the right to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” That covers hunting, fishing and a myriad other activities, as long as those pursuits don’t infringe upon other rights.

Not only does placing hunting and fishing rights alongside such core protections as freedom of speech and religion trivialize the Constitution, it threatens to undermine legitimate laws and regulations. If the right to hunt and fish is needlessly elevated above other kinds of concerns, who knows what kind of bizarre legal challenges to environmental, safety or endangered-species regulations could clog the state’s courts? Judges need to balance freedoms and responsibilities in a broad array of situations – one reason constitutional rights have traditionally been expressed in broad principles rather than narrow specifics.

Finally, there is this not inconsiderable point: No sentient human being can believe that the state of Indiana would actually ban hunting and fishing. From the beginning, this proposal has been a colossal waste of time and energy whose passage could work costly mischief with courts and regulators and trivialize a magnificent document.

Environmental groups opposing the measure also point out that it would make hunting and fishing the “preferred method of wildlife management” in Indiana, placing hunting legally ahead of non-lethal forms of wildlife management (relocation, fencing, contraception, etc.) and threatening to interfere with future efforts to find new ways to manage our wildlife.

And of course, the amendment would be one more nail in the coffin of local control; it would limit the ability of local municipalities to pass their own laws to protect wildlife in their jurisdictions as they see fit.

The second are school board elections. In my district, that has gotten very ugly.

As Abdul recently noted in the Indianapolis Star,

With respect to IPS, the district has come a long way since the dark days of Emperor Eugene White. Long gone are the days of the district spiraling into a fiscal abyss, and a board whose majorities of members were more concerned about employing adults and placating unions than educating children. And if there wasn’t a headline about the state getting ready to take over another failing school, we would have thought we were reading the wrong newspaper.

Looking objectively as to where the district is as opposed to where it was a few years ago, you can only see that progress is being made and things are going in the right direction.

He followed that introduction with objective data confirming the “right direction” assertion. I encourage readers to click through and review that data.

Now, people can differ about change, and everyone who disagrees about particular reforms isn’t a conspiracy theorist. But some are. (This is apparently the season for conspiracy theories.)The incumbents running for re-election–the people who are finally steering the ship in the right direction–are stridently opposed by a couple of “groups.” (The quotation marks are because at least one of these groups appeared pretty much out of nowhere, and has been anything but transparent, so for all we know, it’s three parents pissed off about something.)

Now, I am hardly a dispassionate observer; my stepdaughter serves on the Board, and although she is not one of those running for re-election this year, she has regularly shared Board policies and debates; furthermore, I personally know all the members who are on this year’s ballot. Agree or not with their actions or priorities, but they are good people, earnestly trying to do what is best for IPS children–and they don’t deserve to be called “child molesters” and “pawns of the plutocracy.” They don’t deserve to have their motives questioned and their honesty impugned.

Evidently, 2016 is the year for unhinged conspiracy theories, outright lies, demeaning insults and vulgar language. In my view, people who engage in these sorts of behaviors–from Trump to “Our IPS”–are for that reason alone unfit to serve.


  1. Sheila: I hate to be nit-picking, but wouldn’t the title of the post be better as BULLSHIT AND BALLOTS? I know it’s the same kind of argument as what comes first…… the chicken or the egg. But, in the U.S. now, isn’t BULLSHIT the supreme ruler, not the ballot?

  2. Is there any chance you would be a special out that would discuss various candidates and what they stand for? “insider edition” so to speak. Judges, even dog catchers, down ballot from the governor’s race?

  3. Other than the NRA shills (republicans), I have not read anybody supporting the hunting and fishing amendment.

    Actually, the comments I’ve caught on social media were surprise, because even political followers have just heard about the amendment. The press has not covered the amendment and who funds it. I suppose when you consider that our NRA loving Gannett, who owns most of the papers in Indiana, it makes sense.

    The shills believe the Humane Society of the United States is planning an assault on hunting and fishing, so I’m assuming they believe the federal government is going to ban hunting while they come and take our guns. Not sure why the NRA has to scare people about that nonsense when you consider our country (even democratic leaders) love killing people with guns and drones. We even sell weapons to dictators for use on their people while arming terrorists (rebels) to overthrow foreign leaders. 😉

    But don’t go verify my words on Wikileaks, because CNN says, “It’s illegal to read Wikileaks website.”

    I believe most of the “conspiracy theories” are created by the “American media”.

  4. Depending on the local newspaper for information about state and local races can be a very difficult proposition. I’ll be sending this link to people I know so they can be aware of what’s happening. Thank you.

  5. Why is it that the conservatives are always offering solutions to problems that don’t exist? Like voting fraud. Like this amendment for hunting and fishing? Never mind.

  6. How many school board candidates in the more than 9 jurisdictions in Marion County will stop funding Charter Schools and spend taxes only on public schools? Religious schools should not receive taxes. Non-religious Charter Schools have not improved education of of our children.

  7. For this insane amendment to even get a spot on the ballot I imagine the NRA used ALEC. It is worded in such a way that voters who have no idea what it is about will tend to vote Yes.

    My state rep Dave Wolkins is the ALEC chair in Indiana. He and his challenger will be having a local debate soon. I plan to attend and hope to get the chance to ask a couple questions. Voters in this area really have NO idea what ALEC is and how it is controlling our legislature.

  8. In respect to the school board elections, I’ve learned that you NEVER support a school board candidate with a negative agenda. It’s like a jar of poison at the breakfast table dressed like jam. You are always sorry that you included it.

  9. If we were a third world country, the United Nations would have already sent in troops to keep the peace. That’s how fucked-up we are. Does anyone disagree?

  10. Pete,

    Is this the year that Indiana leaves the race to the bottom?

    Yeah, I’m afraid you’re right. By the way, what part is Pence playing in the routine? Is it Heckle or Jeckle?

  11. Pence I thought was setting up for Presidential run in 2020. I think that’s a miscalculation though. He and his cronies are history.

  12. Or, Marv, with “The Donald”, Mike and Rudy do we have Larry, Curly and Moe. Rudy appears even crazier during his rants than Trump; how far he has fallen from being “America’s Mayor”.

    I have never understood why people need hunting and fishing licenses – are hunters tested for their shooting accuracy and fishermen and women tested for baiting hooks. I’m sure this is simply another way to take money from the public. Fortunately we do not have to pay for our voter registration…maybe they haven’t thought of that yet.

  13. Opportunity costs include what we fail to get done while doing things that do not need to be done. What other problems in the State of Indiana needing attention did not get attention because of the time spent spinning your wheels to give the majesty of constitutional provision to a right already ensconced in that document by necessary implication? Are there environmental, tax equity and other such problems that could have been discussed and progress made, or are we to be spending precious legislative time on hunting and fishing and choice of toilets? What a waste!

  14. John; that would probably require both hunting and fishing licenses. If the state provides deer to be hunted in an enclosed area will they provide fish in a barrel? Are fish from Indiana waterways still safe to eat?

  15. As I understand the constitutional amendment on hunting and fishing, that would eliminate the right of local government to enact ordinances which prohibit hunting with firearms too close to residential neighborhoods. Is that correct?

  16. I feel much better. We can now do away with all military weapons. They will be called hunting weapons. The term military will be substituted with the word “hunters.” For example: “my son has just joined the Hunters” or more like in Nazi Germany, “my son has just joined the S.S.”

    I’m just joking…..sort of.

  17. The mention of Rudy Guilani reminds me what a pathological liar he has always been. And Chris Christy and Rudy are Trump’s Lhasa Apsos, nothing more.

  18. I disagree that the transit referendum deserves support. Those who are in favor of improving public transportation generally, which includes me, also are forced to support the operation of Red Line, which I don’t support. The two questions were put together on the ballot on purpose: so that IndyGo could sell the entire package as “social justice”. Improving public transportation is social justice. Red Line is not.

    Without first asking the citizens of Indianapolis, IndyGo applied and received approval for a FTA grant for Red Line in the amount of $75 million, most of which would be spent tearing up College Avenue to install a median and bus stations stuck in the middle of the street. Parking would be restricted for 300 ft either side of intersections where bus stations are. This will eliminate the remainder of parking that Blue Indy hasn’t already taken, and will force those small businesses whose customers rely on street parking, to close.

    Red Line turns west at 38th Street, disenfranchising the majority of College Avenue bus riders, and eliminates 75% of existing bus stops along College and Meridian, which will make it harder for the elderly and disabled to use the bus. The reason given for this system, instead of curbside pickup, is to protect the investments of developers who own properties along College Avenue and who want to qualify for government “transit oriented development” grants.

    If the referendum is voted down, IndyGo would be forced to prioritize spending. The majority of public transit-dependent people don’t live on College Avenue, Meridian Kessler or in Broad Ripple. They live on or near Washington Street, east and west, and adjacent to 38th St., east and west. If $75 million is going to be spent on a bus rapid transit system, these areas should receive priority. That’s why you should vote “NO” to IndyGo.

  19. Natacha; the Red Line route is the city version of I-69, a political route to nowhere, serving no one in particular. This reminds me of that old joke line, “You can’t get there from here.” Except no one is laughing in either case but those who will make money on these transportation deals.

  20. Pete, regarding Mr. Pence and his ambitions, I think it’s important not to underestimate his power to deny reality and view everything in a shallow way. Once he thinks he “sees” it, he is simply right. If he actually thinks he has a chance at 2020, I don’t think anyone will convince him otherwise. He is on a mission, after all.

    The last debate was a demonstration of that characteristic. Though not addressed by anyone I read, it revealed a significant and important difference between Kaine and Pence. When asked when they struggled with their faith as governors, Kaine provided a thoughtful answer revealing his disagreement with the death penalty and his job as governor. “Our” guy? His biggest problem was getting others to see the abortion issue like he sees it. No struggle there. He knows and any disagreement is our problem to cross the divide, not his. Absolutely no evidence of any struggle or deep thought about any weighty issues. So superficial and rigid that he doesn’t even reach the “pharisaical” bar. If he decides to go for it in 2020, for anyone who disagrees, it will be their problem, not his.

  21. We never liked bullshit bosses or teachers, professors either, and all the Indiana schools for students have polite social language standards and measures of class performance ranks. The School systems provide a lot of income resources for construction and staffing corporations, non-profits especially, for those with opportunities to commute to Indianapolis for budget sessions. All of the city-county constituents labeled minorities have the same monetary-power problems. If they concentrate resources enough to elect representatives by apparent physical traits,they do not have enough votes for distribution and allocation of funds for all the members. So the insulated residents use any grant money for ‘enrichment’ and the suppressed families — often in quarters or towns — have to use theirs for essentials and now office machines in each classroom. Then they can read ahead and see what their best and brightest role models think of each other, and consider the wirth of bullshit education.

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