Wednesday, May 31, 2006

George Bush and many of our politicians should be ashamed of themselves and voted out of office as soon as possible

I am 100% appalled that George Bush and many Republican and Democratic elected officials along with the main stream media have already "convicted" a group of United States Marines of killing innocent civilians in Iraq.

Our Marines are innocent until prove guilty. Period.

It is not complicated.

Sometimes I feel that murderers, rapists, and criminals have more rights then anyone else.

The Marines involved in the incident in Haditha have already been "convicted" by the media and a bunch of our politicians; and not just liberal politicians, Republicans including President Bush have responded horribly to this accusation.

Things like this often make me wonder where my country is going...

I am VERY disappointed in President Bush.

Very disappointed.

Mike Sylvester

The newest Republican tax in Indiana

Do you remember back when The Republicans wanted to cut spending and taxes?

Tomorrow the new fireworks tax takes effect in Indiana. We now have to pay a 5% tax ON TOP OF THE SALES TAX.

This new tax was implemented by a Republican Indiana House, a Republican Indiana Senate, and a Republican Governor.

This tax has been called a "public safety fee."

Who do they think they are fooling?

Tax, Tax, and Tax some more...

Small government Republicans are an endangered species in Indiana...

Contact me and help be grow The Libertarian Party of both Allen County and Indiana...

We will make a difference...

Mike Sylvester

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Guard the borders Blogburst, May 30th 2006

by Heidi at Euphoric Reality

WHAT THEY DON'T WANT YOU TO KNOW ABOUT SENATE BILL S. 2611

The new immigration bill (the most "sweeping reform in 50 years") S. 2611 is an amalgam of petty causes, illogical provisions, unstructured "solutions" with zero allowances for implementation, and self-contradictory language. Despite the mess, it was passed by self-righteous politicians who repeated the mantra "it's better than doing nothing." This from the same gaggle of do-nothings who outright rejected the House's law enforcement bill.

The Senate bill has our President's full support - this same bill is a derivative of one structured by Ted Kennedy and John McCain, and supported in full by the majority of Democrats. That alone ought to give one pause - President Bush, a Democrat?

Peggy Noonan says, "The disinterest in the White House and among congressional Republicans in establishing authority on America's borders is so amazing--the people want it, the age of terror demands it--that great histories will be written about it."

She opines that it is possible that..."the administration's slow and ambivalent action is the result of being lost in some geopolitical-globalist abstract-athon that has left them puffed with the rightness of their superior knowledge, sure in their membership in a higher brotherhood, and looking down on the low concerns of normal Americans living in America.

I continue to believe the administration's problem is not that the base lately doesn't like it, but that the White House has decided it actually doesn't like the base."

S. 2611 is less about law, and more about a weird, mutant agenda that melds licentiousness with an utter disregard for the end result. There are quite a few details in S. 2611 that the media has ignored and that the legislators would rather you know nothing about. Some were provisions germane to the original Kennedy-McCain bill or the pseudo revision of Hagel-Martinez, the rest are amendments that required separate votes to accept or reject. Here's what you need to know about the Senate's fiasco.

NATIONAL SECURITY

The Senate failed to pass an amendment that would've made amnesty contingent on effectively securing the border. Their priorities are completely opposite those of the American people, who have repeatedly made it clear that our borders must be secured before anything else. Furthermore, buried in Arlen Specter's manager's package, an amendment proposed by Dodd makes it mandatory for our government to consult with Mexico before taking any security action along the border, to include building any barrier or any enforcement along the border. This includes everything from federal troops, and state-mobilized National Guard, down to local law enforcement. In other words, even if a county sheriff mobilizes a posse to guard the border, he must clear it first through Mexico. This effectively gives the Mexican government veto power over our national security concerns!

We've heard a lot about the 6,000 National Guard troops, assigned to help with back-up duties in order to free up Border Patrol agents. Unfortunately, that will make only 500 additional agents available to apprehend and detain lawbreakers at the border.

The White House adamantly insists that Guard troops take no role in law enforcement, even though, so long as they are under the command of their governors—as they will be under the president’s proposal—they are allowed to do so. Republicans worry that when the Guard shows up for duty, Lou Dobbs’ cameras won’t be far behind, recording their impotence as they merely alert border agents to the whereabouts of entering illegal immigrants whom they must passively watch.


"Merely alert border agents to the whereabouts of entering illegal immigrants?" Sound familiar? The National Guard will, at most, be performing Minutemen duties. But wait! I thought the Minutemen were "vigilantes", Mr. President.

A tiny concession to border security was passed (Sessions, R-AL, amendment #3979) which allows for the increase of fencing and vehicle barriers along 370 miles of the southwest border of the United States. Unfortunately, existing hardware - including rancher's broken cattle fences - would be counted towards this paltry total.

What's most appalling is that a Democrat tried to push through an amendment (Leahy, D-VT, amendment #4117) that would revise the existing ban on granting refugee status to aliens who have provided "material support" to a terrorist organization! Fortunately, the motion was killed, but the fact that it was even considered and proposed is deeply troubling! Who can take these guys seriously?

EMPLOYMENT

Ted Kennedy passed an amendment (#4066) that makes it unnecessary for any illegal alien to have an employer attest that they are employed when petitioning for permanent legal residence, and "self-employment" is sufficient. Plenty of room for fraud and corruption there!

Now here's where the whole argument for "cheap labor/doing jobs Americans won't do" flies out the window. Barak Obama (D-IL, amendment no. 3971) passed an amendment that extends the Davis-Bacon Act's "prevailing wage" levels to all temporary guest workers. That puts them ahead of American workers, who have this protection only on federal job sites:

So guest-workers (but not citizen workers) must be paid Davis-Bacon wage rates for jobs in the private sector if their occupation is covered by Davis-Bacon. Presumably because Senate Democrats' union bosses thought this provision too modest, an amendment by Senator Barack Obama, approved by voice vote, extended Davis-Bacon wages rates to all private work performed by guest workers, even if their occupations are not covered by Davis-Bacon.


There goes their precious "cheap labor" - this provision will effectively price many guest workers out of the market. "Guest workers" will have legal status and visas that entitle them to real wages, overtime, deductions like unemployment and social security, and workers’ rights that legal workers now enjoy. Illegals will still be cheaper. Thus, twenty million illegals will be amnestied right out of the job market. Then what do we do with them when millions of new illegals flood into the country to take their place?

Now enter the litigation factor: foreign guest farm workers, admitted under the bill, cannot be "terminated from employment by any employer . . . except for just cause." In contrast, American ag workers can be fired for any reason.

TAXES

We've been assured time and again that newly amnestied "guest workers" will have to pay back taxes for the years that they lived here illegally - except that they really won't. A loophole in the new bill provides that only two years of back taxes will need to be filed. I don't know any American citizen that can just choose not to pay taxes for years! Additionally, the Senate has now provided for illegal aliens to apply for the Earned Income Tax Credit. Our government will end up paying them!

SOCIAL SECURITY

Senator Ensign (R-NV) tried to remove the provision allowing illegal immigrants who receive legal status under the legislation to receive retro-active credit for Social Security benefits for time that they worked before receiving legal status. Arlen Specter killed it. The bill allows illegal aliens to receive Social Security benefits for the years that they worked illegally, even if they paid into Social Security under a false number or using a stolen identity! As an American citizen, if I were caught stealing someone's identity or forging documentation to avoid paying taxes, I'd go to jail. Not so illegal aliens! There are NO penalties for breaking those laws - only retro-active rewards. The longer they broke the law, the bigger the pay-off.

VOTING

Senator McConnell (R-KY) sought to add to the bill a requirement that all voters in federal elections be required to present a valid photo identification.

"It is nonsense to suggest that somehow a photo ID for one of our most sacred rights should not be protected by a requirement that is increasingly routine in almost all daily activities in America today," said the Kentucky lawmaker, second-ranking Republican.

But Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass., likened the proposal to a poll tax or a requirement for voters to pass a literacy test. "Now is not the time and this is not the place to consider an amendment that may disenfranchise a million or more poor, minority, disabled, and elderly voters -- all of them American citizens," he said.


The proposal barely passed on a vote of 49-48, but unfortunately, it remains in limbo, evidently doomed by arcane rules now that the Senate has voted for cloture.

What the bill DOES provide for is a Bureau of the Census report to Congress on the impact of illegal immigration on the apportionment of Representatives in Congress. Of course, they need to count them - they are, after all, their newly bought electorate!

"GUEST WORKER" STATUS - NOT TEMPORARY AT ALL

Here is a perfect of example of self-contradictory language within the bill itself. The bill supposedly protects American workers by ensuring that new immigrants will not take away jobs. However, the bill's own definition of "United States Worker" includes temporary foreign guest workers, so the protection is meaningless.

Senator Kyl (R-AZ, amendment #3969) attempted to ensure that temporary workers stayed temporary by removing the bill's provision allowing guest workers to apply for permanent residency. The Senator from his own state, McCain, killed the amendment.

Also, thanks to Senator Santorum (R-PA) the bill expands the visa waiver program (Immigration and Nationality Act, Sect 217) to numerous additional countries. At this point, why even bother with a visa? Waive it all!!

BUDGET

Senator Allard (R-CO), concerned by the incalculable administrative costs of implementing S. 2611, raised a point of order about the budget. Such a move is allowed under the Budget Act when the projected cost of legislation under consideration exceeds a certain level. If the point of order is upheld, the legislation cannot proceed. The Senate irresponsibly waived the protective rules under the Budget Act, rejecting the point of order 67-31. Apparently, no cost is too great.

THE "GO BACK TO THE END OF THE LINE" FALLACY

Bush's former chief economic adviser Lawrence Lindsey blows the whistle on the "end of the line" fiction being used to sell the Bush/Senate immigration reform:

At present, there are hundreds of thousands of people around the world who are waiting to immigrate legally to America. They have already waited in line to get their first appointment, then to submit the paperwork, then been called back to answer more questions. And still, they wait. In places like Hong Kong, the waiting time may be as long as 15 years. Most of these people have relatives--cousins or grandchildren, for example--who live and work and pay taxes in America and even have become American citizens.

While the process isn't pretty, there is no good alternative. Permission to reside in America is very valuable....

Comprehensive immigration reform promises that people already in the United States illegally can apply for citizenship, but requires them to "go to the back of the line." But a key question is, the back of which line? The reform bill before the Senate doesn't require illegal immigrants to go back home--to, say, Hong Kong, to the end of the 10-to-15-year line there--to get a green card. Instead, it allows the current illegals to receive their green card immediately--having, in effect, jumped the line at the U.S. consulate abroad. Then, like other green card holders, they will be able to work here, collect government benefits like food stamps and Medicaid, and travel as freely as if they had a U.S. passport.

The line the current illegals will go to the back of is the citizenship line. Under the proposed law, current illegals, newly minted green card in hand, will have to wait six years, then get in line to apply for citizenship. But even after six years, they will be years ahead of many people who have gone through the legal process and are waiting overseas for a consular official to let them come here. Once those who have been playing by the rules all along get here, they too have to wait six years before getting in line for citizenship.

If we really mean "the back of the line," that should be behind everyone who is already in the pipeline to come here legally.


Let's be real: this bill allows those who come here illegally to gain a huge advantage over those who follow the rules. This, in effect, creates an irresistible incentive for others to ignore the rules and come here illegally. Fast track it by going illegal - there's no reason not to!

ZERO PROVISIONS TO MAKE IT ALL WORK

Lindsey has further concerns about the utter non-viability of the Senate's bill:

In 2004, the INS issued 946,000 green cards and naturalized 537,000 people. The proposed immigration reform anticipates giving green cards to up to 11 million people [likely closer to 20 million] in one fell swoop and making them eligible for citizenship six years later. It is inconceivable that the INS could handle an eleven-fold increase in its workload. Do we really intend to pass a bill that purports to document these 11 million people without setting up a system capable of providing them the promised documentation? If we don't, everyone else who is already here legally but needs a visa update, or has adopted a foreign-born child, or wants his aging mother to join him in America, will get swamped by the tsunami of newly legalized people seeking documentation.



VDare concurs and says that the guest worker program is an administrative catastrophe in the making: "Already, there are backlogs of millions of applications with CIS [Citizenship and Immigration Services] for the various immigration benefits. If any guest worker program or amnesty is enacted, the sheer amount of work in processing, receiving and vetting applications and the assorted work that goes with them (interviewing, fraud investigations, verifying documentation) will without a doubt delay any application already pending—even if additional staff are added. This includes, of course, those innocents who bothered to apply to enter the U.S. the right way." No wonder, legal immigrants are so upset with this whole thing!

I do not understand how the Senate has been so willfully blind to the will of the people and so determined to ignore the future costs of their folly:

The approved bill would send the U.S. population skyrocketing towards a billion people by the close of the century -- with no analysis done of the impacts of this mass population explosion on housing, congestion, overcrowding, education, the environment and the overall quality of life. Local communities have not been consulted, and virtually no preparation has been undertaken to provide for the enormous burdens this legislation would entail. It reflects the degree to which the Senate is completely out of touch with the average American.

Nor does the bill take any serious steps that would improve immigration enforcement -- especially in the interior. It merely continues a cycle of rewarding lawbreakers and clothing a loss of border control with the patina of legality. Rather than face the reality of today's immigration crisis, the Senate has enacted a terrible bill that once again puts the interests of the American people last. The bill's cost is staggering, the administrative burdens crushing and the consequences for the cohesion of the future American nation -- no longer bound by a common destiny of the rule of law -- are severe.


_________________________________

This has been a production of the Guard the Borders Blogburst. It was started by Euphoric Reality, and serves to keep immigration issues in the forefront of our minds as we’re going about our daily lives and continuing to fight the war on terror. If you are concerned with the trend of illegal immigration facing our country, join our Blogburst! Just send an email with your blog name and url to euphoricrealitynet at gmail dot com.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Memorial Day and what it means to me

As many of you know I am a Libertarian.

As many of you also know I am a military veteran. I served on active duty in the USN for six years. I served from 1989 - 1995 on a nuclear powered attack submarine. I was an Electronics Technician and Reactor Operator.

I come from a family of military veterans. I only know of two males in my direct family that did not serve at least one tour in the active military (My brother Dave and my Uncle Mac). All of my male relatives who served in the military served between 4 and 8 years.

My father served 8 years in the US Army. His parents lied about his age so he could join the army early. He joined the army in 1945. He was in Communications in The Field Artillery initially. He served in communications for about five years in Germany as a member of The Army of Occupation. He never saw combat. He had some great stories about West Germany.
He then was transferred to Eniwetok Atoll in the Pacific. He was in charge of communications on the atoll during some of the nuclear testing. Some of his stories about this were horrifying to me after I spent eight years working in nuclear power myself. My father told me that they used to sit off the atoll on navy ships and watch the bombs blow up. Young sailors were sent topside while all the Geiger counters were going off and they hosed the radiation of the decks. My father died of cancer. I have always imagined it is very possible he got this cancer due to his involvement in the early nuclear bomb testing in the Pacific. He was an E-7 when he got out (At the time the highest enlisted rank).

Both of my father's brothers served in the army at a young age as well. Uncle Bill served in the army during World War Two and served one tour I believe. Uncle Bill did not see combat. He was an aircraft mechanic. He spent time as a police officer and as a vocational teacher after he got out. My Uncle Howard also served in the army. He served two combat tours in Korea. Uncle Howard was a paratrooper. He was part of a unit that helped retrieve downed pilots. Uncle Howard got many decorations including a Silver Star. To the day he died Uncle Howard did not talk about the two years he spent in Korea. Uncle Howard was a police officer when he got out.

My mother had two brothers. Uncle Mac was about 20 years older then my mother and never served in the military. Uncle Omar served in the United States Army during most of World War Two. Uncle Omar was part of General Patton Headquarters Unit and had a lot of interesting stories. He used to get REALLY mad at me when we argued about Patton. Uncle Omar saw very limited combat duty since he was in a headquarters unit. Uncle Omar worked as a supervisor in a meat packing plant after he got out.

There is a lot of military tradition in my wife's family as well. Both of her Grandfather's served in World War Two. Grandpa Nelson was in the navy. He joined the Navy on December 8th, 1941. He had been married less then six months. He served until after the war was over. He never saw combat. He went about three years without seeing his new wife... Grandpa Nelson was a banker and ended up as Vice President of a bank. Grandpa Ilardi served in the army as well. He served in Europe and was stationed in France. He joined in 1944 and did not see combat. Grandpa Ilardi retired as a supervisor for New York City's sanitation department.

We were all enlisted men. While all of the people listed above have died, none were killed on active duty. We all joined voluntarily; none of us were drafted. None of us made a career out of the military or served more then 8 years.

On Memorial Day I reflect on all of those men who were killed serving their country. So many men have made "The ultimate sacrifice."

I get so mad at our current batch of citizens and politicians. Patriotism seems to be a thing of the past.

I love my country. I just no longer trust my government to make the right decisions...

I hope that the members of our military in the future are well led, well equipped, and only used in actions that are just.

I love America! I have a profound respect for those who have served and for those who are serving in The United States Military.

Mike

My diet

When we got back from vacation my wife and I started a diet. We started last week on Monday, May 22nd. Weight in day for us is every Monday.

I weighed 218 pounds before the diet. My goal is to weigh 175 pounds by Dec 31st 2006.

I plan on posting weekly updates on this blog.

I was 211 pounds this morning. I lost 7 pounds the first week. I have went on several diets inthe last few years. he first week I generally lose 5-7 pounds...

It is easy when my normal calorie intake is almost 3000 calories per day when not on a diet. In the beginning of the diet I cut down to about 2000 calories per day... That is not hard...

Mike

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Parking NIGHTMARE at Jefferson Pointe Shopping Mall

My brother-in-law and sister-in-law were in town for the weekend. They live in Hawaii and go to The Indianapolis 500 every year. They spent two days at our house and then went down to Indianapolis Saturday night.

We took them out to dinner at my favorite Fort Wayne restaurant, The Flattop Grill at Jefferson Pointe. I truly love the Flattop Grill. It is a great restaurant...

I do not go to the Flattop Grill very often because of its location. I live on the north side of Fort Wayne and I generally stay on the north side of Fort Wayne. I also hate hate the parking situation at Jefferson Pointe. Whoever designed the parking lot at the mall should be prosecuted for gross incompetence.

One of the things that I NEVER do unless I absolutely have to is drive around looking for a parking place. I generally park far away and walk. I do not mind walking and hate "trolling" for parking spaces.

I ALWAYS have a hard time parking at Jefferson Pointe. Some moron decided to build a bunch of restaurants in that area as well as a movie theatre. I ALWAYS have to "troll" for a parking space. There are no outlots that I can park in at Jefferson Pointe.

On another note I was actually shocked how many people were at Jefferson Pointe Friday night. The stores were full, the restaurants were full, and there were a lot of people enjoying the weather and walking around.

I know that there are some politicians in Fort Wayne who think we should spend tens if not hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars to create a similar environment in downtown Fort Wayne... They just do not understand economic development... If we ever build up downtown this will hurt places like Jefferson Pointe and Glenbrook. I call these schemes "Economic Re-arrangement."

There is a fairly fixed amount of money that is spent in Fort Wayne. There are only three ways to increase the money spent in Fort Wayne:

1. Increase the income of those who live and shop in Fort Wayne. The ONLY way this can be done is to have a vibrant local economy with a lot of high paying jobs. This is hard to accomplish and certainly has NOT been successful to date. The best way to do this is to lower the tax rates and do away with our archaic tax abatement system that almost solely benefits large companies.

2. Attract people to Fort Wayne who normally go somewhere else to spend their money. The easiest way to do this would be to build a casino in downtown Fort Wayne. That would draw people from 100 miles away and give a HUGE boost to the local economy.

3. Lower the tax rates in Fort Wayne and downsize the government. The less money the government "takes" from us in taxes the more of our own money that we spend in the local economy.

Mike Sylvester

Friday, May 26, 2006

Press Release from Mike Kole, Libertarian candidate for Secretary of State

May 23, 2006 Contact
For Immediate Release Rob Place 317-776-1042

Primary Election Turnout Embarrassing

Kole Questions Secretary of State’s Priorities

Fishers, IN- It looks like the Secretary of State’s Office put the cart before the horse, spending $1.2 million on Voter ID education. It begs the question, why educate people on how to do something they aren’t likely to do?

The statewide turnout for the 2006 primaries was 23%. Several counties had shockingly low turnout numbers: Hamilton, 17%; Allen, 16%, Marion, 14%; Monroe, 13%, St. Joseph, 13%.

“I would be embarrassed by the primary turnout numbers, if it happened like this on my watch,” said Kole, adding, “Voter ID is a fine idea. Getting people to vote is an even better idea. As Secretary of State, I will make it a priority to encourage all Hoosiers to vote- regardless of political affiliation.”

Voter ID was an important part of the Republican legislative agenda in 2006, so it came as no surprise that current Secretary of State Todd Rokita, a Republican, made a big production out of promoting the Voter ID, spending $1.2 million on TV, radio, and print ads in all 92 counties1.

But, was the advertising the best use of taxpayer dollars, especially given the light turnout at the recent primary elections? Shouldn’t Rokita have spent that money and energy encouraging all Hoosiers to vote? Libertarian candidate Mike Kole thinks so.

“As the state’s top elections official, encouraging voter turnout should be the Secretary of State’s top priority,” said Kole.

It can’t be said that Rokita made no effort to encourage turnout. It’s just that it wasn’t directed at Hoosiers.

“I was floored when I saw Rokita’s press release encouraging Katrina evacuees to vote in Louisiana2,” said Kole, adding, “I didn’t realize voters from Louisiana were the Indiana Secretary of State’s responsibility.”

But there wasn’t even as much as a press release urging Hoosiers to vote, let alone an ad campaign.

Kole asks, “Why did a handful of people from Louisiana merit more attention than a few million Hoosiers? Why was Voter ID education more important than actually getting Hoosiers to the polls so they could show their Ids? These are big mistakes. The people of Indiana deserve better,” said Kole.

Hoosier voters are the priority. Let’s get Hoosiers to the polls first.

Having an ID isn’t that tricky a concept, and didn’t merit $1.2 million in taxpayer dollars spent.

Mike Kole will have his priorities in order as Secretary of State.

1 http://www.in.gov/sos/press/2006/03152006.html
2 http://www.in.gov/sos/press/2006/03222006.html

#####

A high-resolution headshot photo of Mike Kole is available upon request.

Mike Kole is available for comment. Call Campaign Manager Rob Place on 317-776-1042 to arrange an interview.

Mike Kole’s media presence includes his campaign website: www.mikekole.com, and his blog, “Kole Hard Facts: www.kolehardfacts.blogspot.com.

Paid for and authorized by the Committee to Elect Mike Kole. Ken Johnson, Treasurer.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Thieves and my vacation...

My family and I have been on vacation the last couple of weeks. We rented a minivan (gasp) and spent a week in Canada and then a week in The Adirondack Mountains in upstate New York.

This was a great vacation. We all had a great time. Realize that my daughter Kayla is almost 5 and my son Graydon is almost 3 and a half...

My kids were great. There were four days where we did a lot of driving. The fourth day we drove straight through from New York (780 miles) and my kids did not complain at all. They are great... (No, I did not drug them.)

The minivan did have a small DVD player and this helped quite a bit. We too six DVD movies. They watched each one once and they watched two of them twice... We drove a total of 2400 miles on this vacation.

I plan on posting some information about this vacation over the next few days as I do not want my entire blog to be political.

Saturday May 6th we drove up to Niagara Falls. On the way to Niagara Falls I had to stop and get gas. Believe it or not, the Dodge Caravan that I rented got about 22 miles per gallon, I was quite pleased. We stopped at a full service gas station in a small town. Full service gas stations are much more common in Canada then the United States.

I do not like full service gas stations myself. I stopped at one because I needed gas and could not find anything else on May 6th...

A young Canadian (Maybe 20 years old) came out and pumped my gas. I got out and talked to him while he pumped the gas. He was a friendly young man.

I glanced at the pump before we went inside so I could pay for the gas, so did the young man. When we got inside I found out that they would not accept my Discover card. Over the next 15 days I found out that most places in Canada would not accept my Discover card. I also found out that many places in The Adirondacks no longer accept Discover either.

He rang up 77.63 (Canadian dollars) on my Mastercard. I was pretty sure that the correct total was 72.63 and I told him so. He ran outside, looked at the pump, and came back inside and told me that he was right. After this verification I signed the receipt and paid him 77.63 (Canadian) on my credit card.

I left the gas station and decided to look at the total owed on the pump myself before getting back in the van and heading on down the road to Niagara Falls. Guess what?

I was right, I owed 72.63 and this young Canadian was trying to steal 5 Canadian dollars from me.

This obviously irritated me.

I went back inside the gas station and pointed his mistake out to him a second time. He came back outside with me and went and looked at the total on the pump a third time. He agreed with me that he had been incorrect.

We went back inside the gas station. He opened up the cash register till and asked me if I had 5 Canadian dollars. I did and I gave it to him thinking he would then give me 10 Canadian dollars and we would be even.

Instead the moron closed the cash register drawer and told me we were even.

This obviously irritated me even more... There were only two possibilities:
1. This young man was a thief and a stupid one to boot.
2. Canadians understand math far less then the average American.

A fairly long conversation ensued. He went and got his boss and they both argued with me. We spent a couple of minutes arguing and they eventually opened the cash register till and paid me 10 Canadian dollars so we were even.

I hate thieves...

They were thieves...

P.S. On average, I paid almost 4 US dollars per gallon for gasoline when in Canada.

Mike Sylvester

Mike Sylvester is back and posting again!

I want to thank Mike Kole for posting on my blog for the last couple of weeks. Mike Kole did a great job and I cannot thank him enough.

All of the posts from May 6th - May 22nd are from Mike Kole.

Mike Kole is the Libertarian candidate for Secretary of State. I hope that many of you learned more about him and I hope that all of you vote for him in November.

You can always find out more about Mike Kole at his blog (linked on my sidebar, Kole Hard Facts) or at his campaign website.

If Mike Kole resonated with you as a voter please consider contributing to his campaign!

Mike Sylvester

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Guard the borders Blogburst, May 22nd 2006

by Heidi at Euphoric Reality

Our Open Borders Will Be The Death Of Us Yet

I live in Texas, and sometimes I think people don't truly grasp the fact that the chaos on our borders is not a border state issue - it threatens them directly, no matter where they live. The fact is that our border chaos is directly linked to our national security. Terrorists already have and continue to illegally cross our border, blending in with illegals from Mexico and Central America, or brazenly crossing over with an armed escort of gang members or even the Mexican military.

Watch this video of an ongoing investigation done by the news team from KGRV TV serving
Harlingen-Weslaco-McAllen -Brownsville, Texas. (Video will open in your media player - it's a news segment.) It is part of an ongoing series highlighting the culmination of months of investigative research into the flow of terrorists over our borders. Fred Burton, a counter-terrorism expert of Stratfor, was interviewed on camera. He stated that now is the perfect time for terrorists to sneak across the border. Escalating violence and an unprecedented flood of illegals is distracting law enforcement and stretching it thin. Zapata County sheriff, Frederigo Gonzales Jr. says that as for WMDs, it is not a matter of "if", but "when".

About one in every 10 caught border jumpers is an Arab. I don't think I need to point out that if they are sneaking into the country illegally, they fit the profile and are probably terrorists. Unfortunately, we only catch about 25-33% of the flood of illegals, and estimates are that we absorb 3 million illegals (Time Magazine, September 2004 and Bear Stearns July 2005) that do make it through each year. That could mean that about 10% of the illegals that DO make it across are possible terrorists. Do the math: that's potentially 300,000 terrorists making it into our country free and clear. Let's get really skeptical and downgrade that so we feel better about it - let's say only 1% of those that make it through are possible terrorists. That is only 30,000 - per YEAR. Is that OK? Considering it took 18 terrorists to wreak the terror of 9/11, is 300,000 or even 30,000 terrorists OK with you?

If that's a reasonable risk for you, then consider the percentage of potential terrorists that have already crossed the border and are living among us - sleeper cells in our own neighborhoods. The low estimate of illegals inside our border is 20 million, the high is 29 million. What's 10% of that figure? Is a few million potential terrorists a reasonable risk?

For some strange reason, the smaller number of 30,000 is almost scarier to me. Maybe it's just easier to grasp a few thousand insane killers bent on our destruction, instead of an army of millions. Maybe it's because we can do still something about thousands - IF we act swiftly and ruthlessly - but a few million is an almost insurmountable...and it's possibly far too late. Fred Burton agrees with that assessment – he said the numbers of terrorists that have been caught is nothing compared to those that have made it through – those numbers are huge.

If you are an open borders type and think it's wrong to build any barrier along the border, or in any way militarize our border; or if you think illegal immigration is just about nice, poor people who want jobs, you need a wake-up call. Let's look at some of the issues raised by the investigation in the video above as well as some others I've written about in the past year.

1. Several months ago, according to KGRV TV, two IEDs and components for 33 more were discovered in Laredo. It won't be long before we face here in America, what our brave soldiers face every day in Iraq. And IEDs may be the least worrisome. If it's a simple matter to smuggle 3,000 pounds of drugs across the border, as the sheriff mentioned, how much easier is it to carry across a suitcase bomb - a dirty nuke?

“Several al-Qaeda leaders believe operatives can pay their way into the country through Mexico and also believe illegal entry is more advantageous than legal entry for operational security reasons,” Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security Admiral James Loy testified on February 16 before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. “At home, we must prepare ourselves for any attack, from IEDs (improvised explosive devices) to Weapons of Mass Destruction…from soft targets like malls to national icons.”


2. A terrorist jacket, with patches depicting an Arab military and 9/11, was found in Hebbronville, TX. Finding terrorist garb is nothing new. In 2005:

Ms. Garner, who grew up here in Naco, population 7,000 says..."It is more dangerous and pernicious, with a growing number of people of different nationalities coming across the border, including from the Middle East, India, and Afghanistan."

The evidence of that comes in Islamic prayer rugs found in the desert dust, Arabic literature left by still-warm campfires, and Afghani head garb caught on cactus quills. The FBI also recently found a drug tunnel beneath the bedroom of a schoolmate of one of the Garner girls, with $250,000 cash hidden inside.


3. In November 2005, a confirmed al Qaeda operative was arrested near the Mexican border and turned over to the FBI. He had been living in Mexico for six months and making notes of the movement of people and police officers.

4. Also in November of last year, A congresswoman from NC went on the record as noting that three al Qaeda operatives were being held in a jail in Texas, after being apprehended on the U.S.-Mexican border.

5. In 2005, in southern Texas alone, 51 suspected terrorists were captured while crossing the border [from the KGRV news report]. They came from countries such as Iran, Egypt, Syria, Iraq, and Pakistan, and were arrested on various charges of gun smuggling and illegally wiring large sums of money. We do not know where they are today. That's a problem.

6. In 2005, 10 Egyptians were arrested in Douglas, Arizona.

7. In 2004, a high-level al Qaeda operative (comparable to Khalid Sheik Mohammed, the mastermind of 9/11) was arrested in McAllen, Texas attempting to make her way to New York after illegally crossing the border by swimming the Rio Grande. Though she was on a terrorist watch list, she had illegally entered into America at least 250 times before being caught!!!

8. In September of 2004, Action 4 News in Harlingen, Texas, learned that Al Qaeda cells - each group having from seven to fifteen suspected terrorist members were found just across the Rio Grande Valley in Mexico.

"We know from intelligence reports that there are middle easterners that are making their way in our direction," said U.S. Congressman Jim Turner during a news conference at the Veterans Memorial International Bridge in Brownsville.

"We don't know their purpose, but we do know that they are there and those reports are coming in increasing numbers. So it should be a wake-up call."



9. In July of 2004, Adnan El-Shukrijumah, a high-ranking Al-Qaeda leader and one of the most wanted terrorists in the world, was spotted in Honduras meeting with members of the MS-13 gang. By August, he had may his way north and was spotted in north Mexico.

By the way, if you need proof that al Qaeda is working hand-in-glove with Latino gangs, go here - there's plenty of reading.

10. In October of 2004, an intelligence report supplied to the Department of Homeland Security by Russian security services said that a group of 25 backpack-carrying Chechen terrorists - all white - illegally entered Arizona by way of Mexico last summer.

11. In September 2001, 10 Yemenis were arrested by Mexican police before trying to cross from Agua Prieta into Douglas, Arizona. They were released and they returned to Agua Prieta to try again, where they were joined by several other unidentified Arabs.

12. In November 1998, over 100 Iranians were apprehended in Arizona because of a tip called in by a border rancher.

Those are just a few examples. Our border security is non-existent, and our enemies are well aware of that fact.

While entry into the U.S. is their primary goal in establishing a base in Latin America, Islamist terrorists -- well-aware of the allure Marxism once held for many south of the border -- also see the region as a potential breeding ground for Islamic converts due to its poor economic and social conditions and corrupt governments.

For instance, the Shia terrorist group Hezbollah wields a strong presence in the tri-border region, a lawless, crime-ridden area where Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay intersect. Both Osama bin Laden and 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed are also said to have spent time there, during the 1990's.

It was Mohammed who in 2002 encouraged alleged dirty bomber Jose Padilla to 'enter the United States by way of Mexico' in order to carry out attacks on U.S. targets, according to Deputy Attorney General James Comey.

Ironically, before converting to Islam and volunteering his services to Al-Qaeda, Padilla belonged to the Chicago chapter of the Latin Kings -- like MS-13, a violent Hispanic criminal gang.

Although U.S. agents were able to collar Padilla before he could carry out a terrorist attack, the U.S. border strategy, as presently construed, may one day soon yield a much less savory result.


Hm, do you think so???

Nevertheless, as stated in the KGRV news report, our government does not want us to know of the terror threat flowing over our border. Homeland Security refused to respond to KGRV's requests for an interview on the subject. And the government is doing everything they can to shut down the citizens who were once the greatest intelligence asset to to the Border Patrol in stopping terrorists crossing the border: American ranchers living along the border.

Perhaps the most valuable asset that the Border Patrol has is the aid of rural Cochise County (AZ) citizens. Many have attempted to help, in accordance with Arizona law. Through that legal process, landowners may execute a citizen’s arrest for individuals or groups trespassing on their property. However, even that has been nullified.
[...]
Rural citizens here have met with savage recriminations for exerting their legal rights. Immigration advocacy groups howl in protest, as does the Mexican government. Their lawyers have demanded that the ranchers be prosecuted for false arrest, kidnapping, intimidation, criminal assault and violation of civil rights...Illegal immigrants have now sued some Cochise County citizens in American courts.
[...]
Ben Anderson, a retired U.S. Army colonel who lives in Sierra Vista, Ariz., has made a detailed study of the border danger since the flood of illegals began through Cochise County in 1997.

“There is only one way to handle this,” the colonel says firmly. “In a world now filled with biowarfare agents, backpack nuclear devices and chemical weapons like Sarin gas, we must militarize the border. There is no other way to stop the flow.”


Congressman John Culberson (R-TX) concurs:

FBI Director Robert Mueller had previously "confirmed" in testimony before [a Congressional] committee "that there are individuals from countries with known al-Qaeda connections who are changing their Islamic surnames to Hispanic-sounding names and obtaining false Hispanic identities, learning to speak Spanish and pretending to be Hispanic immigrants."

"And these are clearly Arab terrorists," Rep. Culberson added, "from countries like Yemen, Iraq and Saudi Arabia. They're crossing the border, pretending to be Hispanic immigrants, and then disappearing."

Rep. Culberson said news of al-Qaeda’s penetration of the U.S.'s southern border has him worried that the next terrorist plot could involve setting off simultaneous truck bombs in major urban centers.

"The day they blow us up," he predicted, "the border will be sealed tighter than the Berlin Wall and you'll have armed United States military forces" enforcing immigration laws.


That will be too late.

_________________________________

This has been a production of the Guard the Borders Blogburst. It was started by Euphoric Reality, and serves to keep immigration issues in the forefront of our minds as we’re going about our daily lives and continuing to fight the war on terror. If you are concerned with the trend of illegal immigration facing our country, join our Blogburst! Just send an email with your blog name and url to euphoricrealitynet at gmail dot com.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Discuss Amongst Yourselves

Here's one of the latest cartoons to hit the New Yorker's pages. Certainly, you will have something to say about it.

-Mike Kole

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Busybodies in My Area - Coming to You Soon?

Back when I was working for county government as a permit inspector, I would frequently take calls from citizens wanting to rat out their neighbors for encroaching into the county drain easements. Mainly, if someone didn't like the neighbor's new fence, tree, pole barn, or kiddie playset, rather than talk to their neighbor about it, they would try to sic the government on them.

This is one way I kept myself sane while working in county government. I would ask the complaintant if they were asking me to enforce the easements in the area. They would say yes. I would reply that we would be starting by looking at their property, and then get to the neighbor. Invariably, the complaintant would become indignant. Mainly, they had encroachments, too.

When those without sin cast the first stone, few rocks fly. Undeterred in Carmel, where some people have far too little to do, housewives are now shooting radar and taking license plate info. From today's Indy Star:
Stahly and Heck -- stay-at-home moms and part-time community activists -- are recruits in a growing campaign against that ever-constant source of anxiety in America's suburbs: the speeding neighbor.

None of the dozen or so drivers they record going faster than 25 mph will get a ticket. But they will get a friendly letter from the Carmel Police Department, reminding them to slow down in the neighborhood.

It's great if people want to take action to get people to behave a little more responsibly where a real problem exists. Are people zipping through 25 mph zones at 60? Sure, get their attention by flagging them down. But become an extention of the Police Department? I'm not alone with raised eyebrow:
Also, some legal experts question the wisdom of extending even limited police powers to the public.

"I think it is a little bit offensive," said Indianapolis attorney Will Gooden, whose criminal practice includes defending clients fighting traffic citations. "I just have a general concern about extending the police power. It's sort of a slope you start down. What will regular citizens do next for the police?"

Check out these exchanges. It really smells of busybody rat-out-your-neighbor nonsense that belongs in the fading memories of the Soviet Union:
"Red van going 33," said Stahly. "Blue van, too. Is that Nancy again?"
Heck looked up from her clipboard.
"No, that's Pam. And she knows what we're doing."

and

Stahly said she plays no favorites as she aims her radar gun down the block. A familiar white vehicle is speeding in her direction.

"Oh, look. He's going 32. The mailman is going 32," she said. "I didn't think they go that fast."

Heck was excited.

"I'll get him. It's a government vehicle. The police like getting them."


Great. Well, they say my home town of Fishers in considering this program. I'd really love to see the day when our officials leave police work to police, and where neighbors actually talk to each other about perceived problems rather than relying upon police power to do all the talking for them. For my money, I'd rather see the Fishers polic doing something about all these robberies at local gas stations and pharmacies. I guess that's just how I prioritize things.

It will be intersting if this program comes to suburban Fort Wayne. It never exists anywhere but the suburbs, because in most cities, they have real crimes to solve.

-Mike Kole

Friday, May 19, 2006

The "Joy" of Regulated Monopolies

My May water bill was pretty ridiculous. The amount due was $6.81. I wish it were that amount every month, but because it isn't, I started looking over the bill. I found that the amount of water consumed in the billing period was -1 cubic ft.

-1? If I didn't consume any water, why I am being billed?

I called the 1-800 number. I'm always very polite with the phone staff because they're just doing their jobs and aren't the ones setting policy. So, I finally got a live human being and began asking questions.

Q: Why is my consumption -1?
A: Because the previous month's bill was an estimate. They were so far off with the estimate that you consumed less in two months than they figured you would in one month.

Q: So, if it's -1, why am I getting a bill?
A: Because you have to pay the base charges.

Q: Fair enough. What are the base charges?
A: Meter rental, taxes, regulatory fees.

Q: Fair enough. So I am renting my water meter?
A: Yes.

Q: OK, it seems that a water meter should cost about a hundred bucks. At $6/month, I'm paying for a water meter a year, which is ridiculous. I'd like to purchase my water meter. How do I do that?
A: You can't do that.

Q: What do you mean I can't do that? I've got the money. Let me buy the meter.
A: We do not permit customers to purchase a water meter.

Q: So, I am compelled to rent it, even though that's costing me money for no good reason?
A: Yes.

Q: You know- I don't like that one bit.
A: I know, sir. People tell us that all the time.

So, I thanked her for her assistance. She doesn't set policy for Veolia/Indianapolis Water. The water company does that with the blessing of the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission, and in this case, does so knowing that I have virtually no other choice, unless my property can support a well. But then, I'm living within municipal limits, and I am compelled by municipal code to have city water.

$6/month =
$72/year =
$720 / 10 years, in exchange for no particular value, and because the water company not only is absent competition, but granted authority by law to set rates and policies in this way.

While $6/month may not seem like a lot, factor $6 x 100,000 customers for Indianapolis (there are probably way more than that in a city of 800,000+, and you can see the scale of the theft that is taking place.

It wouldn't be this way if multiple water companies were operating and offering their services in competition, because the first one to allow me to buy the meter would get my business on the basis of the savings. The water meter used in my house can be purchased online at a cost of $153.06, I'd recoup in 26 months. After that, I'm money ahead. Since I plan to live in my house for a long time to come, I would do this in a heartbeat.

Alas. We see that it doesn't matter whether a monopoly is a market creation or a government creation. Limited choice always harms the consumer.

-Mike Kole

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Where is the Libertarian Party Going? Part 2

Leo Morris recently blogged his thoughts on Ryan Sager's recent Real Clear Politics article on the Libertarian Party. Interestingly, Leo says:

It's astonishing, really, that libertarians have split themselves almost 50-50 between the two major parties. If they both advocate big-spending government, I suppose it doesn't really matter much who libertarians let themselves be marginalized by.

He's absolutely right.

If you believe in libertarian principles but are voting either Republican or Democrat, you are wasting your vote. Look to Mike Pence as the prime example.

Pence took a completely libertarian position on federal spending- it's out of control, it's too much, and it's his party that needs to change things because they control majorities in both the House & Senate, plus they have the Executive branch and the veto power.

So what happened? the GOP leadership took Pence to the woodshed, smacking him down hard. Republicans are addicted to spending.

Mainly- why should elected Republicans change their behavior if the small government people keep giving them their votes? Answer: They have no reason to. They keep getting the votes.

Unless and until small-l libertarians vote capital-L Libertarian, Republicans can take fiscal conservatives for granted. Of course, this equally applies to the small-l libertarians who vote Democrat because they seemingly line up on many social issues.

I understand that one of the most powerful reasons small-ls vote major party is to vote against the major party they fear the most. However, voting for something that's half awful in order to prevent something that's completely awful still yields something half-awful. Do half-awful frequently enough, and you get something completely awful anyway.

As for the Sager article, I don't deny his assessment of the Libertarian Party overall. Indiana is one distinctly different state, as compared to the national party and most state affiliates. I really wouldn't expect him to single out Indiana as an exception in a generalized, short article.

Indiana is setting the example for the national party and state affiliates by taking an incremental rather than absolutist, utopian position. We have listened to the concerns average voters have about the utopian positions. Heck- listening to the public is something the major parties' officials ought to do more of. We have a well-organized party, we run a good number of qualified candidates, and we are talking about issues that matter to people- not merely our pet issues.

I hope Libertarians across the country read the Sager article and take heed. There is much to learn from criticism, and Sager's is fair.

I also hope small-l libertarians take heed of Morris. There is much to learn in his criticism of small-ls who vote major party.

Thanks to Jeff Pruitt for pointing out the Morris post!

Update: Pew's research is analyzed by the Cato Institute's John Samples, who blogged thusly:
One-third of Pew’s libertarians are between 18 and 29 years of age. Libertarians are thus fifty percent more likely to be found among the young than in the population as a whole. They are also much more likely to be found among the youngest cohort than are conservatives or populists.

So the present may seem bleak for libertarians. But just wait. Help is on the way.

Indiana Libertarians have already discovered this trend. One of the most successful outreach areas has been the numerous College Libertarian groups statewide. I have visited the Notre Dame and Indiana Wesleyan groups, and they draw numbers that exceed their Democratic and Republican counterparts on campus, and even some county party organizations. Our first Libertarian Collegiate Conclave in February was well-attended despite dreadful weather. It's very promising!

-Mike Kole

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Check Rex Out

My favorite Hoosier Libertarian writer is Rex Bell. He reminds me of the late Mike Royko in a lot of ways. Rex writes in a very distinctive voice, and his writing reflects his real-life experiences.

Rex's blog, the Bell Curve, is always a delight, but check out two of my favorites: You Say You Want a Resolution, Thanks Mom, I Needed That and Stinky Wilmont Rides Again.

Rex is Chair of the Libertarian Party of Wayne County. His wife, Susan Bell, is an elected Libertarian judge in Hagerstown.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Both Sides Are Correct

It's amazing how parallel Indiana can often be in reflection of national politics.

When Democrats controlled the executive branches under Clinton and Kernan, Republicans railed about the Dems' shoddy ethics.

Now that Republicans control the executive brances under Bush and Daniels, Democrats rail about the Republican's shoddy ethics.

Well, consider me convinced! Democrats and Republicans are weak on ethics! What's the alternative? Libertarians, of course.

AP's Mike Smith has a column with a laundry list of recent lapses within the Daniels Administration.

-Mike Kole

Monday, May 15, 2006

Border Fences

Here come the premises: I am against illegal immigration. I am in favor of legal immigration. I want our borders to be as open as possible, to encourage free trade and to encourage people to vote with their feet, choosing the United States as the best location to make one's home. Illegal immigration has become a serious problem, and must be addressed. I am with Teddy Roosevelt, who decried the phenomenon of "Hyphenated Americans". I believe that all official documents should be in English only- otherwise, we should have begun having official documents in English and German in the 1850s, and dozens of other languages in between then and now. No- that's a recipe for chaos. So...

When I think of fences at borders, none comes to mind before the Berlin Wall. It was symbolic of all that was wrong with Communism and the Soviet Union. The relatively open borders of the United States stood in stark contrast, perhaps more symbolically than in reality, but that symbolism was powerful, and defining.

It is why Ronald Reagan famously declared, "Mr. Gorbechev, tear down this wall". It was symbolic of the difference between liberty and repression.

So now President Bush considers building a wall- with the Guard today, and perhaps bricks and mortar tomorrow.

I am deeply concerned about the possibility of erecting a wall on the Mexican border. Obviously, the walls being talked about aren't meant to keep our people in against their will, as the Berlin Wall was. I suppose this is to be a sort of one-way wall, that allows anyone out, but only citizens and authorized visitors in.

Still, it stands in contrast with the words on the Statue of Liberty: "Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed, to me: I lift my lamp beside the golden door."

The wall is going to be a great expense, if it is to be built. In the short run, the Guard stationed at the border will be a great expense. Problem is, a wall or Guardsmen can only affect supply, not demand. There is obviously demand for the services of illegal immigrants, or they wouldn't be coming here. What are the root causes?

Employers are desperate to avoid paying the myriad taxes that are levied against them when they hire citizens or legal guest workers. Employers are desperate for good workers at a low rate of pay. The demand for cheap labor won't go away once a wall is built. However, if the tax burden is lowered, more employers would feel real relief, would be less tempted to break the law by hiring illegals, and could begin to consider paying more for American labor. Obviously there is great reward for employers to run the risk of hiring illegal employment, or they wouldn't engage in the practice.

Illegal immigration is also very much a compliance issue, like so much else in America. Make it easier to become a legal immigrant, and more would take that path, just as simplifying the tax code would yield greater compliance, just as marginally lowering tax rates results in greater revenue yields.

But a wall, because it is symbolic, strikes accord across the political spectrum on a visceral level. It is not a rational solution.

No, after the wall is built, employers will still have high tax burdens, and therefore, the demand for illegal immigrants will still exist. Will we have to build a wall around Canada then? Will we have to build seawalls in the oceans?

Public policy on immigration must not merely address the fact of the immigrants. It must get to the root of the problem, which is our enormous tax burden.

-Mike Kole

Refreshing Discourse

There are two phrases you don't hear enough of in politics- "Thank you" and "I'm sorry". Okay, also add, "I screwed up".

So, it was refreshing to read New Haven Mayor Terry McDonald's letter in the Friday News-Sentinel:
On Tuesday evening, after the public hearing held by the Fort Wayne City Council, Councilman Sam Talarico Jr. and I had a heated conversation regarding our differing opinions on government consolidation. I wish to make a public apology to Councilman Talarico.

You might ask, why don’t you do this privately? Well, my remarks were public, so therefore my apology should likewise be public. I apologize to the councilman for the tone of my voice and my calling him arrogant. To those persons who heard our exchange, please accept my apologies. My comments were made during a lively exchange, and my comment and tone were uncalled for.

A little more of this would make the process far more appealing to far more Americans.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Where is the Libertarian Party Going?

Thanks to Jeff Pruitt for asking about where the Libertarian Party fits in to the bigger political picture. This is something I have given an awful lot of thought to over the years, for reasons Jeff pointed to in his comments a few posts back.

Jeff's right- it is frustrating to be a third party within a society that expects a two-party system. So why bother? Because I am a libertarian, and the Democrats and Republicans do not represent my views. My next best choice might be to not participate in the process at all. That's not going to bring things my direction, so I get involved.

In terms of political activism, when I lived in Ohio, I chose not to be terribly involved with the Libertarian Party. Mainly, the ballot access laws in Ohio are incredibly restrictive. For automatic ballot access in Ohio, a party must earn 5% in the presidential contest. Plus, Ohio's Secretary of State Ken Blackwell actively worked to deny ballot access to any third party. Unable to run for office, I opted for talk radio. It was the way I felt I could best be effective in getting Libertarian ideas to the public.

Here in Indiana, with less restrictive ballot access (2% as tied to the Secretary of State race) and a solid, active party (more than 100 candidates statewide each cycle, electoral wins to lower offices, functioning county party affiliates), I decided to get involved with the party upon moving here.

The Libertarian Party of Indiana stands in contrast to the Green Party. The Greens are struggling to gather the necessary signatures so that they can run a Secretary of State candidate in 2006, in the hopes that they clear the ballot access threshold for automatic ballot access through 2010. The Greens are an incredibly top-down party. There's Ralph Nader, and then virtually no party below. There are maybe five county affiates of the Green Party in Indiana. It's ironic to consider their party structure after you listen to Greens speak. I wish them well, as I believe in full ballot access, but I'm afraid they are going to fail.

No third party is going to start by being elected at the top, so Indiana Libertarians have deliberately focused more on running for local office. We comment on local policy, we run for local office, we have an impact on local policy. Mike Sylvester is a good example of this, despite his recent loss in the school board race.

We have had impressive success at the local level. Phil Miller ran for Greenfield city council some years back, and defeated the incumbent Republican- who happened to be the GOP's County Chair! Susan Bell was elected judge in Hagerstown, defeating an incumbent Republican. Libertarians in Hagerstown currently serve on the board of zoning appeals. Libertarians have helped to defeat smoking bans in a number of communities in the interest of the business owners' property rights. We are the only party to take the side of residents fighting forced annexations, and are winning backers as a result.

Mainly, we have changed our approach from running very high-minded philosophical campaigns to running campaigns on issues that deeply affect people where their view of the issue coincides with our philosophy. Again, property rights is the biggest one, whether on the forced annexations, eminent domain abuse, as well as zoning and permitting abuses. We find that people become more interested in some of our high-minded postions once they see we agree on something that is very important to them.

The 2007 municipal cycle is going to be very interesting. In three-way races, 35% is a winner, and with the effort Libertarians are putting in at this level, we are going to win many municpal seats- probably in smaller towns first. This has been our experience thus far. Mainly, it's easier to go door-to-door to the entire district in a Hagerstown or a Greenfield than it is in a Fort Wayne or Indianapolis. It's easier for the candidate's reputation to be known in small towns than in big cities, where reputations are often completely unknown, and candidates win because of expensive TV ads.

This year, our legislative candidates will be working to put pressure on the Republican Party in ways the Democrats cannot credibly do so. The GOP says it is for smaller government and lower taxes, but fails to deliver. Very, very few Democrats are for this, so it is almost impossible for them to credibly attack Republican hypocrisy in the area. Libertarians can do it, and are. We have moved away from our radical calls for cuts and instead take a very moderate postion, calling for a 1% budget cut in the next session. If the Republicans fail to cut 1% with majorities in the Statehouse and with the Governor's office, it will be because they lack the will. In short, Libertarians are becoming more strategic and political. Third parties rarely have a legislative agenda. Anymore, it is rare that the Democrats or Republicans do, as they often work to have no clear position on anything.

Libertarians have to deal with the Wasted Vote Syndrome, so we're taking it head-on. I hear endlessly that people like a lot of Libertarian positions, but they are afraid that if they fail to vote for the party that is next closest to them, the party that is furthest from them will win. To them I say:

  • If you voted Republican hoping for smaller government and lower taxes, you wasted your vote.
  • If you voted Democrat hoping for wider civil liberties and less intrusive government, you wasted your vote.
  • If you keep voting for parties that fail to deliver on what you expect, you are sending the message that it's good for them to take you for granted.
  • In fact, the only way to begin to make Democrats and Republicans stop taking you for granted is to put something at stake for them. Unless they lose votes and financial support, they believe they are doing right by you.

It's crazy. If someone went to McDonald's three times for a Big Mac, and three times they got a Filet O'Fish, they wouldn't go back to McDonald's again. And yet, despite the Ds & Rs failing to deliver, Americans go back over and over again. Consumers don't think twice about ditching an unresponsive restaurant. Why do voters go back to unresponsive parties?

Libertarians are taking on the obstacles before them and offering reasonable answers. The trick now is to raise the money necessary to get the message out. We're working on that, but finding it easier and easier to raise money from people who see us as the only party directly defending them.

In 2000, I believed that the Libertarian Party would grow in about 20-25 years into a significant player. As it grew, I believed that it would suffer the co-opting of its issues. Watch my race this year. If I start polling around 15-20%, my opponents will have to ask why I'm doing so well. When they identify my winning issues, they will steal them in the hopes of knocking me down a few pegs. This will happen repeatedly, but will have the effect of moving policy in a Libertarian direction. It will also focus on the distinctions between the three parties.

Just as the Socialists had great success getting their policy ideas co-opted into law in the first half of the 20th Century, the Libertarian Party will do likewise. Like the Socialists, I believe that the Libertarian Party will become large enough to focus the distinctions of the three parties sharply enough to split the LP off to the other two parties.

With the developments at the state and federal levels since 2000, I believe the timeline for change will be shortened. Here's why:

Whether here in Indiana or federally, we have Republican majorities in both House & Senate, and Republican executives. It is clear that when this happens, budgets and spending grows. Taxes grow. Government gets larger.

The amount of sniping at Republican office holders coming from Republicans and conservative pundits is astonishing. They have noticed that the GOP fails to walk the walk. Here are the distinctions of the three parties:

  • Democrats believe in government solutions to societal problems. They believe in bigger government and higher taxes. They are fiscally and socially liberal.
  • Republicans have moved towards government solutions to societal problems. Despite the rhetoric, they have moved towards bigger government and higher taxes. They are fiscally liberal, but socially conservative.
  • Libertarians believe in private solutions to societal problems. They believe in smaller government and lower taxes. They are fiscally conservative and socially liberal.

Interestingly, Libertarians and Republicans are opposites in actual practice. The idea that Libertarians take votes from Republicans is bunk.

I believe that the Democrats and Republicans will eventually shift and reshape along the following lines:

  • Democrats will absorb big government Republicans, including social conservatives. I don't think it curious at all that Howard Dean and Hilary Clinton are courting the religious right at the moment. The religious right wants to use government to set societal norms as a matter of law. Democrats will be focused sharply as the party of collectivism.
  • Either the Republican Party or Libertarian Party will be left standing, as the other falls. Democrats who believe in freedom of speech and non-interventionist foreign policy will gravitate here. The resulting party will be focused sharply as the party of individualism.

I think the transformation could take place within 10 years if the national LP and a number of the states identify the opportunity and better organize and raise money. It's probably a 15 year timeline right now, unless there are sweeping reversals in majorities in the upcoming general election.

I don't see these reversals happening, despite the atrocious approval ratings of President Bush and Governor Daniels. Mainly, the Democrats haven't been offering ideas as counter-agendas. All they offer are magic words like "Haliburton" and "Abu Ghraib", and point to Republican ethical lapses. In Indiana, Dems point to things they don't like, but fail to offer a plan of their own.

The magic words aren't any solution. Americans can see the problems there, so Democrats, what's your solution? Crickets. Americans can see the ethical lapses, but what about your own ethical lapses?

If the Dems put forth a coherent agenda- even an awful one- they would sweep the elections with tremendous gains. They've had years to put forth an agenda, and have failed to do so. It's incredible to me.

As for my part, I will put forth a Libertarian Plan for Indiana. We aren't going to be attacking personalities as the Democrats do. We are going to identify policy problems and offer counter-proposals. I believe it is going to be very effective. People are looking for genuine alternatives. We going to give them a solid one.

After that, it's up to the people to decide.

-Mike Kole

Friday, May 12, 2006

Allen County Primary Results?

Beuller? Beuller?

10 days after the primary election, the Secretary of State's office still does not have a posting of the numbers from Allen County. Go to the website, and it's still a bunch of zeroes.

The Allen County wesbite has no posting yet for the primary election.

Interestingly, the News-Sentinel's website has numbers, but not the turnout figures. Makes me wonder where they got the numbers from.

There are many reasons voters are turned off from voting, or simply disenfranchised. Here are two interesting reads:

Geralyn Miller's article on her recent voting experience, in the News-Sentinel. Of course, the poll workers don't know who they are insulting if they make fun of a voter. Sometimes it happens to be an IPFW prof who has written about voting.

My blog post from 2003, when I worked the polls in support of Libertarian candidate for Indianapolis City-County Council Brad Klopfenstein. I found rampant cheating, that was laughed at.

What surprised me was that I thought that cheating occurred in places where one party might be weak, trying to shore up returns. It's the opposite. Parties shave down the minority parties in majority-dominated precincts. It's flawless cheat logic: The other sides already concede this precinct due to natural advantages. But, if we change the margin of victory by a few votes to take the #2 candidate's finish from a 30% to a 20% finish, times however many precincts we can do this in, we reduce the totals for our countywide and statewide opponents by a significant amount.

In this regard, moving from the paper ballots was probably a very good thing. It was easy to look at the old paper ballots and know exactly how someone voted. With the touch screen, the partisans in the room lost the opportunity to raise a question with the voter by glancing at the ballot.

Now all we need are machines that generate a verifiable paper trail- like Ohio has.
-Mike Kole

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Is Consolidation Samller Government?

Lucky you, Fort Wayne! You have your elected officials pondering the consolidation of Fort Wayne and Allen County into something to resemble Indy's Uni-Gov.

Consolidation is very much a political trend of late, with Indy's further consolidation in the merger of the police and Sheriff's departments, and with Governor Daniels recommending the elimination of most of the Township level of government.

Libertarians have been expected to get right on board with these mergers. Libertarians talk about smaller, more efficient government, and consolidation is supposed to be the way.

Caveat Emptor, my friends.

Sure, merger at least theoretically eliminates a layer of management. In practice, it hasn't quite panned out that way. There is still an Indy Police Chief and a Marion County Sheriff, for instance. But, if you want to make sure government is more distant and less responsive, consolidate it and eliminate the Township offices.

Because politics is about power, the larger the governmental body, the less significant any one common person becomes. If you live in Marion County's Perry Township, you have your township officials who are elected by the relatively small population within that Township. If Township government vanishes, you now have your county officials, who in Marion County are elected by the people of yours and eight other more populous townships. They have to be responsive to you, why? In Allen County, plug in Eel River Township.

Also, political power tends to center in the most populous township. With consolidation, all other townships in Marion County are subservient to Center Township. In Allen County, 19 townships ought to get ready to be subservient to Allen Township.

There are all sorts of unintended consequences. Leo Morris blogged these with regards to the merging of laws.

Worth pondering.
-Mike Kole

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Secretary of State Issues - Elections

Since we just conducted primary elections in Indiana, and the Secretary of State is the statewide chief of elections, I'll start here. Look at these turnout numbers, per the Secretary of State's website:

Statewide = 23%
Allen County = unavailable as of posting time, one week after the election
Adams County = 17%
DeKalb County = 21%
Huntington = unavailable as of posting time
Noble County = 17%
Wells County = 21%
Whitley County = unavailable as of posting time

Makes you glad that the Secretary of State's office spent more than a million dollars to educate Hoosier voters on the Voter ID law, doesn't it? Per the Secretary of State's office news release, dated March 15, 2006:
In addition to the website, the Secretary of State's office is spending $1.2 million of state and federal dollars on television, radio and print ads encouraging Hoosiers to register to vote, bring ID to the polls, and provide general answers to voting and accessibility questions. Currently, print ads and six television and radio spots cover all 92 Indiana counties. Reminders to bring photo ID to the polls are also being placed on the inside and outside of transit systems in major metropolitan areas as well as at bus stops in order to target voters who may not drive or have a driver's license.

Maybe some effort should have been made to encourage people to get out and vote. It seems pretty pointless to have spent this kind of money advising people how to do something they weren't going to do.

Maybe the problem is that the primary elections are too much the private domain of the Republican and Democratic parties, and not inclusive enough to be of interest to more voters.

Should taxpayers really be funding the election of Republican & Democratic precinct committemen? That is obviously private party business, and should be eliminated from the primaries.

Should taxpayers really be funding the election of Republican & Democratic delegates to the parties' statewide conventions? That is also quite obviously private party business, and should be eliminated from the primaries.

Did you know that when you take a Republican or Democratic primary ballot, doing so is the legal equivalent of making the statement that you intend to cast the majority of your votes in the general election in November for that same party, under threat of perjury. People who do know this, and know themselves well enough to know that they scratch vote across the map, tend to stay away.

People who like to scratch vote often stay away.
People who vote Libertarian often stay away.
People who are independents, or Greens, or Socialists, or anything else have only exclusively Republicans or Democrats to choose from, so they often stay away.

In sum, the primary election process is a structural disaster, and an expensive one at that. As long as it is going to serve as the private domain of the Republican and Democratic parties, let them pay for it. Spare the taxpayers the expense, because it isn't anything like a public function.

These are things I want Hoosiers to consider, because I have a deep interest in fair elections and in high levels of participation.

The turnout for the Indiana primaries is embarrassing. Unfortunately, you can't count on a Republican or Democratic candidate for Secretary of State to raise these issues, because doing so might be seen from inside the parties as an assault on their well-built mousetrap, and they can't risk a loss of support, even in the name of more inclusive elections.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

The Substitute is In

Many thanks to Mike Sylvester for the opportunity to fill in while he's gone fishin', in Canada and the Adirondacks. I'm jealous!


Mike Kole and his Rough Riders in the Adirondacks: From left, Steve Wainstead, MK, Ame Langmack, and Greg McNair

As he mentioned, I am a Libertarian candidate for Secretary of State. Here's the primer on that:

Running for Secretary of State is a two-headed proposition. At once I am running for SoS, but I am also running for the Libertarian Party of Indiana's ballot status.

For reasons untold, the Republicans and Democrats set the rules of the game in such a way that ballot status for all Indiana political parties is tied to each candidate's outcome in this race. There are statewide and countywide implications in these outcomes.

A candidate for SoS must receive a minimum of 2% in order for his party to gain automatic ballot access for the next four years. The Republicans, Democrats, and Libertarians each achieved this. If the candidate receives at least 10% of the vote, his party is declared a Major Party in Indiana. The Libertarians did not achieve this status in 2002. It is my secondary objective, next to winning, for 2006 that I earn Major Party status for the Libertarians.

Ever wonder why Libertarians aren't in the primaries? Only parties with Major Party status are required (yes, required) to participate. We're happy not to participate in taxpayer-funded primaries. We prefer to self-fund our private business. Of course, if I get that 10%, the Libertarian Party will be compelled to participate in the primaries. I have a feeling that if we get it, the Ds & Rs will want to quickly re-write the rules. The people who take partisan 'D' or 'R' ballots are a good source of volunteers and financial supporters for the parties, and they probably won't want to share this exclusive tool with the Libertarians.

Ever wonder why in Allen County the Republican candidates are listed first on your general election ballots, followed by the Democrats, then the Libertarians? It is because that is how the 2002 SoS race completed. Top placement is one of the spoils of winning a county. So, in Lake County, where the Democrat finished first in the SoS race, despite not winning the election, earned top placement in that County's ballots. In fact, a candidate can conceivably get around 8% overall, yet finish first in a given county. In such a case, that candidate's party would be listed first on the ballots there. But there's more!

Where there are boards or commissions with appointed partisan members throughout the county, the SoS race determines who gets the majority of appointments in any given county, along with who gets the minority appointments. It will be an interesting scenario to witness when I win first or second in some counties. Should this happen, the Libertarian Party would share appointments with either the Democrats or Republicans. The other party would be relegated to the sidelines.

Think the Ds & Rs might want to change the rules?

Strategically, I'm very interested to see if a party that has a large majority in a county- such as the Dems in Lake, or the GOP in Hamilton- might be interested in quietly sending some support my way, just to see their traditional foe cast out of the game in some way. Why not? While Republicans and Democrats seem eager to prove that they are polar opposites rhetorically, Libertarians don't mind letting you know that we have common ground with both parties. The local majority party might enjoy working with a #2 party that shares common ground.

And, we haven't even begun to talk about Secretary of State issues, or even Libertarian Party issues. Well, we didn't write the rules. We were given them by the other parties and told to follow them. So, we run campaigns for Secretary of State accordingly.

Look for future posts on Secretary of State issues, Libertarian issues, and things I find of interest in Fort Wayne over the next few days until Mike S. returns.

For more of my stuff, please visit my blog, Kole Hard Facts, and my campaign website http://mikekole.com.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Vacation tomorrow...

We are leaving early Saturday morning for vacation. We rented a mini van and will be spending the 6th - 12th in Canada. We plan on hitting Hamilton, Niagra, maybe Toronto for one night, and Montreal.

The 13th - 21st we will be at a fishing cabin in The Adirondacks... It is the same cabin we rented four years ago. The fishing was great last time...

I plan on taking a lot of pictures.

I am not going to access the internet at all. No blogs, no email, etc...

Mike Kole, The Libertarian Party's candidate for Secretary of State will be posting daily on my blog while I am gone. Mike runs a great Indiana Blog called Kole Hard Facts of Life:
http://kolehardfacts.blogspot.com/

Mike is a great candidate and I think you will enjoy his posts...

See you all in a couple of weeks. (I will return late on the 21st of May)

Mike

More information on Fort Wayne's shameful abuse of Eminent Domain against Aqua Indiana North

Eminent Domain is a power that Fort Wayne has a long history of abusing. After filing a Freedom of Information Request with The City of Fort Wayne I have even more information about The Aqua Indiana case.

Facts:

The Resolution to steal Aqua Indiana North with Eminent Domain is Resolution 89-183-6. This resolution unanimously passed The Fort Wayne Board of Public Works on July 12th, 2002. This resolution basically says that "Citizens would receive higher quality, lower cost water and wastewater utility service if they were customers of The City." The resolution was voted in favor of by all three members: Ted Rhinehart, John Suarez, and Denise Porter-Ross. (Note City Council has delegated its authority to oversee these matters to The Board of Public Works.)

Per recent articles in the newspapers The City of Fort Wayne has spent about 1.2 million dollars in just the last three years to Indianapolis lawyers to pursue this theft.

Per recent articles in the newspapers The City of Fort Wayne MAY have spent a total of about 2.5 million in lawyers fees on this process, all to Indianapolis law firms...

The Journal Gazette (And Mike Sylvester) filed a Freedom of Information Request to force Fort Wayne to disclose the legal fees it has paid. The City refused. This went in front of City Council. On Party lines The City Council revealed the legal fees... The Republicans all five voted to reveal the fees; all four Democrats voted to hide the fees from the taxpayers.

The Aqua Indiana Case has been heard by The Indiana Supreme Court. A verdict can come at any time. This verdict may well allow Fort Wayne to steal Aqua Indiana North, a private company...

IF The Indiana Supreme Court decides that Fort Wayne can steal Aqua Indiana North and sets a price that Fort Wayne will pay, then The City Council will have to vote to authorize the expenditure. So realize this, if the City Council were to vote AGAINST this use of Eminent Domain (And it clearly should)we would have WASTED millions of dollars in legal fees!

What bothers me about this abuse of power:

1. Who says that I will receive a higher quality and lower cost service? I am The President of my Neighborhood Association. I am a current Aqua Indiana customer. I have talked to about 20 other people in this area and not one of them wants Fort Wayne to take Aqua Indiana North over. All twenty either do not care, or favor Aqua Indiana...

2. The City just raised its water fees by 25% and its stormwater fees by 65%... How is this cheaper service?

3. The City did not conduct a survey of residents. I might feel differently if a MAJORITY of residents in this area wanted the City to seize the utility... I certainly do not feel that very many citizens in this area want Fort Wayne providing our water service...

4. The City seems to have spent ABOUT 2 - 2.5 million in legal fees SO FAR to steal a private company. How is this a good use of taxpayer money?

5. Why on Earth did Fort Wayne hire Indianapolis lawyers to handle this case? There are several HUNDRED qualified attorneys in Fort Wayne. Lets spend our money here... I maintain that Fort Wayne has NO CONCEPT of economic development. They prove it every week.

6. Why has our City Council delegated The Board of Public Works to spend 2 - 2.5 million dollars in legal fees WITHOUT a specific vote by our City Council?

7. Why is there not more outrage about this in Fort Wayne? What will we do if Fort Wayne decides it can run schools or taxis or law firms?

8. Why did all four Democrats feel that we should hide the fact the Fort Wayne has WASTED millions of dollars in legal fees?

9. Why did the Republicans on City Council allow this to occur in the first place? They should pay attention to what The Board of Public Works does since they have delegated them authority...

What I think should happen:

1. We should vote in a lot of new City Council members and a new mayor.

2. We should consider appointing three new members to The Board of Public Works
immediately...

What do you think?

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Interview with Tom Hayhurst, Candidate for the 3rd Congressional District

Let the General Election commence! There is not currently a declared Libertarian Candidate for Indiana's 3rd Congressional District.

The voters of the 3rd Congressional District will have two choices for Congress in November, Tom Hayhurst and Mark Souder.

I spent two hours talking with Tom Hayhurst about why he is running for Congress and what he hopes to accomplish. I started writing this as a long dialogue. The dialogue came out as an 18 page interview and that is just way too long for my blog. I may consider posting some audio interviews in the future...

I have decided to write a synopsis instead, it is below:


Tom’s Experience:
Over 30 years as a Doctor in this area.
Three years spent as a Doctor on active duty in The USAF 1969-1971.
Co-founded the Matthew 25 Health and Dental Clinic’s free pulmonary clinic.

What Tom is doing currently:
Tom currently works weekly at The Allen County Tuberculosis Clinic.
He works weekly for the smoking cessation program at Lutheran Hospital.
He works monthly at the free pulmonary clinic at Mathew 25.
He is a City Councilman in Fort Wayne (Elected in 1995).

General items Tom said in the interview:
1. As a Congressman he plans on asking himself the question “Will this benefit
working Americans” before he votes on each bill.
2. He believes in “Incrementalism.” He thinks we should make incremental
rather then drastic changes to programs.
3. Tom thinks we need to protect the environment for the sake of future
generations.
4. Tom has already taken an active role trying to save The Fort Wayne Veterans
Hospital. He wants to ensure that we fulfill the promises we have made to
our veterans and he wants to ensure they receive high quality medical care.
5. He believes in a strong military.
6. Tom thinks we need more control of our borders and that we need to limit
illegal immigration; while significantly increasing legal immigration.
7. He feels that politicians in Washington DC need to focus on the people
rather then special interest groups.
8. He feels that we need to protect jobs and we need to enact legislation that
will support job creation by businesses.

Specific items Tom wants to implement:
1. He wants the Federal Government to start bargaining with the drug Companies
and securing bulk discounts similar to those the Veterans Administration is
able to negotiate for the prescription drugs they purchase. This would
effect over forty million people on Medicare.
2. He wants to implement laws that will allow many smaller companies to pool
their employees together to purchase health insurance at a cheaper rate.
3. Tom wants to encourage exports and he wants to stop allowing foreign
countries to take advantage of America. Tom believes that International
trade agreements should provide for both worker and environmental protection
laws for the other country to help “level the playing field” for our working
families. Tom feels that this will protect American jobs.
4. Tom wants to see more children enrolled in Federal Programs for which they
are already eligible.
5. Tom wants to stop unfunded Federal mandates. As a City Councilman he has
specific experience dealing with these unfunded Federal mandates.
6. He does not want to make employers responsible for law enforcement in
regards to the illegal alien problem. He feels that The Federal and State
governments should secure the borders.
7. Tom is against Amnesty for illegal aliens; however, he is in favor of a
significant increase in legal immigration.
8. He does not want to lay-off employees if there are mergers between the City
of Fort Wayne and Allen County. He wants to allow attrition to downsize the
workforce.

To learn more about Tom Hayhurst please check out his website at:
http://www.tomhayhurstforcongress.com/

Mike Sylvester