Indiana

The Impossible Successor

#PresidentRyan | ¿#WhatTheyVotedFor?

Republican U.S. vice presidential nominee Mike Pence speaks at a campaign rally, Oct. 22, 2016, in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

Amid everything else over the last week or so, we ought not forget this:

We’re left with an unsettling picture. Flynn told the transition team he’s the subject of an ongoing federal investigation, and either that information either reached Pence or it didn’t. If Pence was out of the loop, he was dangerously incompetent at his job. If Pence knew, and Flynn became National Security Advisor anyway, that’s worse.

Remember, as the turmoil surrounding Flynn grew more serious, the vice president said he was completely unaware of Flynn’s alleged misdeeds. In March, when Fox News asked Pence about Flynn having to register as a foreign agent, Pence said he was hearing the story for the first time.

Except, as Rachel has explained on the show, that’s literally unbelievable. Not only were there multiple news reports for months about Flynn’s foreign work, but Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) wrote to Pence’s transition team to make sure Team Trump was aware of this.

(Benen)

Because, quite frankly, it still cracks me up that once upon a time, when Rubio was fumbling for water, Paul was drowning in plagiarism, and Christie apparently had nothing to do with that bridge, we might have heard Mike Pence’s name whispered as the cyclical dark horse. The Indiana governor, by Republican accounts, was politically savvy and a dedicated conservative. And while others might disagree about the savvy, it seemed for naught when he signed a RFRA and failed to comprehend what happened next. Except, of course, his dramatic revitalization as Donald Trump’s vice presidential candidate, and then vice president. It was easy enough to joke that we might yet see a President Pence.

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Mike Pence’s Indiana (Register Objections)

Governor Mike Pence (R-IN) speaking at the 2015 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Maryland, 27 February 2015. (Photo by Gage Skidmore)

This is worth paying attention to:

On Sunday when Pence appeared on CBS’ “Face the Nation,” host John Dickerson asked him about Trump’s claims that the election is “absolutely rigged” and his calls for supporters to closely monitor polling places for voter fraud. “I don’t think any American should ever attempt to make any other American nervous” when voting, Pence responded.

Dickerson did not question Pence, however, about why Indiana State Police recently seized 45,000 voter-registration applications, most of them from black voters. So while viewers may have given Pence credit for seeming relatively reasonable compared with his running mate, alleged voter suppression in his own backyard went largely unnoticed amid the hoopla over Trump’s hysterical claims.

Indiana State Police last week raided the largest voter registration agency in the state because of just 10 confirmed cases amid 45,000 submitted voter-registration forms containing so-called fraudulent information.

Indiana’s Secretary of State Connie Lawson, a key sponsor of her state’s 2005 voter ID law (upheld by the Supreme Court), in September announced an investigation of the Indiana Voter Registration Project. On Oct. 4, state police detectives served a search warrant on the project’s Indianapolis office. The results of the search have not been released, and the affidavit and search warrant will remain sealed for 30 days, according to the Indy Star.

(Tesfaye)

The Star article from Justin L. Mack and Holly V. Mays reports of a “voter fraud case that spans nine counties”, and that the “growing number of involved counties leads investigators to believe that the number of fraudulent records might be in the hundreds”.

The real number is apparently ten, at this point. We’ll have to see what comes. Tesfaye notes:

In a Saturday statement, Pence spokesman Matt Lloyd called the voter-suppression allegations “beyond absurd.” Lloyd said, “The Indiana State Police has uncovered strong evidence of voter fraud by Patriot Majority USA.” He added, “Among Governor Pence’s top priorities is ensuring the integrity of the election and that every single Hoosier vote counts. He has full confidence in the Indiana State Police investigation to achieve this goal.”

This is important: If the idea of suppression is “beyond absurd”, then there had better be something significant going on with this group. After all, as the Star reports―

The search warrant was served Tuesday morning, police said. The results of the search are not being released, and the affidavit and search warrant will remain sealed for 30 days.

“An investigation of this nature is complex, time consuming and is expected to continue for several more weeks or months,” said a State Police statement. “Victims of the activities by some agents of the Indiana Voter Registration Project may not discover they have been disenfranchised from voting until they go to vote and realize their voting information has been altered. Such action may result in the citizen having to cast a provisional ballot.”

―mass disenfranchisement is unquestionably in play; Indiana law enforcement has acknoweldged that it is.

This is an important story.

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Image note: Gov. Mike Pence (R-IN) speaking at the 2015 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Maryland, 27 February 2015. (Photo by Gage Skidmore)

Mack, Justin L. and Holly V. Hays. “State Police raid Indy office in growing voter fraud case”. Indy Star. 6 October 2016.

Tesfaye, Sophia. “While Donald Trump talks of a ‘rigged election,’ Mike Pence may suppress the votes of nearly 50,000 African-Americans “. Salon. 17 October 2016.

Another American Tragedy

Detail of frame from FLCL episode 5, 'Brittle Bullet'.

This is an American tragedy:

A 6-year-old boy accidentally shot and killed his father Sunday night in Bartholomew County.

Investigators believe [James E.] Lonaker’s son picked up a 38-caliber revolver and fired a shot. Lonaker was apparently sitting on his desk and didn’t see his son pick up the gun.

And thus we reiterate the WRTV report:

Gun Safety - Indiana State Police [via WRTV]Indiana State Police have the following suggestions when it comes to gun safety:

• When not in use, firearm should be stored unloaded in a gun safe, lock box or other secure location, separate from the ammunition

• Make sure children and unauthorized users do not have access to your firearm or ammunition

• Before storing the firearm, ensure it is unloaded

• Always handle the firearm as if it were loaded

• Always keep your finger off the trigger until ready to shoot

• Always keep the firearm pointed in a safe direction

Our condolences and grief, of course, to the Lonaker family and Hartsville community. Be well. I mean, you know. As much as possible on days like these.

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McKinney, Matt and Katie Heinz. “6 year old accidentally shoots, kills father in Bartholomew County”. WRTV. 22 February 2016.

What Victory Will Mean

Detail of 'Tom the Dancing Bug' #1232, by Ruben Bolling, 2 April 2015, via Daily Kos Comics.And it’s Tom the Dancing Bug for the score. And the win, really.

No, seriously, just click the damn link.

Or the picture. That works, too.

And when you do, read. Understand. Get the point.

You know it’s the only way this can go.

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Bolling, Ruben. “Lo, in the land of Indiana …”. Tom the Dancing Bug. Daily Kos Comics. 2 April 2015.

What Folks in “Middle America” Call “Family Values”

Detail of FLCL episode 3, 'Marquis de Carabas'.

Okay, so, there is certainly a lot going in Indiana, but it seems worth checking in on this small point:

An Indiana pizzeria under fire for saying it would refuse to cater a gay wedding shut down on Wednesday after its owners said they received threatening messages.

However, a GoFundMe page set up for Memories Pizza in Walkerton has raised more than $40,000 in just six hours.

The pizzeria made national headlines this week when its owners called the business a “Christian establishment” and said the state’s contentious Religious Freedom Restoration Act would allow it to refuse to make pizzas for a hypothetical gay wedding.

That led to a flood of angry reviews on Yelp as well as the threatening messages.

“I don’t know if we will re-open, or if we can, if it’s safe to re-open,” co-owner Crystal O’Connor told TheBlaze, the news network run by conservative talk show host Glenn Beck. “We’re in hiding basically, staying in the house.”

The fundraiser was set up by Dana Loesch of TheBlaze, and Lawrence B. Jones III, a contributor to the network.

“Nobody should ever have to suffer or suffer alone for their faith, for standing up for Christian principles,” Loesch said on her broadcast.

(Mazza)

So you pick a fight on behalf of bigotry, and people send you money. This is the real face of “Middle America” and its “family values”.

Then again, this is Indiana, after all.

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A Note on an Abomination

"Governor Mike Pence Is an Abomination" ― Headline from Marc Leandro of The Huffington Post, 31 March 2015, in reference to the Indiana Republican signing into law a Religious Freedom Act intended to enshrine discrimination in state law.

There really is a reason for Marc Leandro’s headline, “Governor Mike Pence Is an Abomination”.

The situation in Indiana is upsetting for a lot of reasons. First among them is the overt discrimination against LGBT individuals the so-called Religious Freedom Restoration Act, as currently written, will protect under the law. And a close second is the utter venality displayed by Indiana Governor Mike Pence.

In the photograph taken of Pence at the bill’s private signing ceremony, he is surrounded by various religious figures, and some activists well known to the LGBT community in Indiana. Micah Clark, standing behind and to the left of the governor, has claimed publicly that homosexuality is a “disorder” that can be treated. Curt Smith, directly behind the governor, has equated gayness with bestiality and helped to write the bill the governor was signing. Eric Miller, to the right, was the man behind a flyer claiming falsely that if same-sex marriage was allowed in Indiana, religious figures might be imprisoned for preaching against homosexuality.

Again, this was a closed ceremony, and one has to presume that the governor had knowledge of who would be there. These are people that the governor is close to, who in at least one case helped to write the bill, and in two other cases have taken public stances against LGBT individuals. I take that back — publicly they might state that they love “the homosexuals” but hate their “sin”, a distinction as infuriating as it is dunderheaded.

This goes back at least a quarter of a century. Or, it was on already on fire when I arrived.

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Full Color Hatred

Detail of cartoon by Lalo Alcaraz, via Daily Kos, 1 April 2015.“Governor Pence swears [Senate Enrolled Act 101] was not created to allow religious conservatives to discriminate against gays. Trouble is, this bill’s most fervent backers are notorious homophobic anti-gay activists. Sheer coincidence! State sanctioned discrimination needs to stay in the 1950s, where it belongs.”

Lalo Alcaraz

Ouch.

Certes, Indiana will resent so pointed a hit, but those who might protest the basic notion of such a comparison would find themselves enlightened by certain wisdom offered nearly forty-five years ago:

Huey P. Newton, co-founder of the Black Panthers.Whatever your personal opinions and your insecurities about homosexuality and the various liberation movements among homosexuals and women (and I speak of the homosexuals and women as oppressed groups), we should try to unite with them in a revolutionary fashion. I say “whatever your insecurities are” because as we very well know, sometimes our first instinct is to want to hit a homosexual in the mouth, and want a woman to be quiet. We want to hit a homosexual in the mouth because we are afraid that we might be homosexual; and we want to hit the women or shut her up because we are afraid that she might castrate us, or take the nuts that we might not have to start with.

We must gain security in ourselves and therefore have respect and feelings for all oppressed people. We must not use the racist attitude that the White racists use against our people because they are Black and poor. Many times the poorest White person is the most racist because he is afraid that he might lose something, or discover something that he does not have. So you’re some kind of a threat to him. This kind of psychology is in operation when we view oppressed people and we are angry with them because of their particular kind of behavior, or their particular kind of deviation from the established norm.

Remember, we have not established a revolutionary value system; we are only in the process of establishing it. I do not remember our ever constituting any value that said that a revolutionary must say offensive things towards homosexuals, or that a revolutionary should make sure that women do not speak out about their own particular kind of oppression. As a matter of fact, it is just the opposite: we say that we recognize the women’s right to be free. We have not said much about the homosexual at all, but we must relate to the homosexual movement because it is a real thing. And I know through reading, and through my life experience and observations that homosexuals are not given freedom and liberty by anyone in the society. They might be the most oppresed people in the society.

And what made them homosexual? Perhaps it’s a phenomenon that I don’t understand entirely. Some people say that it is the decadence of capitalism. I don’t know if that is the case; I rather doubt it. But whatever the case is, we know that homosexuality is a fact that exists, and we must understand it in its purest form: that is, a person should have the freedom to use his body in whatever way he wants.

That is not endorsing things in homosexuality that we wouldn’t view as revolutionary. But there is nothing to say that a homosexual cannot also be a revolutionary. And maybe I’m now injecting some of my prejudice by saying that “even a homosexual can be a revolutionary.” Quite the contrary, maybe a homosexual could be the most revolutionary.

Huey Newton

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Alcaraz, Lalo. “Indiana, coloreds not served”. Daily Kos Comics. 1 April 2015.

Newton, Huey. “The Women’s Liberation and Gay Liberation Movements”. 15 August 2015.

The Shadow over Indiana

22 FEBRUARY 2015: Indiana Gov. Mike Pence appears on 'FOX News Sunday with Chris Wallace'.  Guest host John Roberts interviewed Mr. Pence regarding various issues, including his status as a 2016 'dark horse' for the GOP presidential nomination, and the Hoosier State's 'religious freedom' bill empowering discrimination, which Pence signed into law in late March.  (Image credit: FOX News)

“Indiana businesses can now discriminate against gay people because of the ACA’s contraception policy?”

Steve Benen

Perhaps it seems an odd question, but there is a reason, after all:

The Republican governor, and possible presidential candidate, published a Wall Street Journal op-ed overnight in which Pence outlined his plan to address businesses that exploit his new law to discriminate against gay consumers: “If I saw a restaurant owner refuse to serve a gay couple, I wouldn’t eat there anymore.”msnbc

As Rachel joked on the show last night, “So, if you were worried that gay people might be refused service by a business in Indiana now, don’t worry. That could never happen because the state has decided to wield the grave threat of depriving businesses of Mike Pence’s personal patronage.”

In the same piece, the Hoosier State governor suggested this whole mess can be traced back to Obamacare.

Many states have enacted [Religious Freedom Restoration Acts] of their own … but Indiana never passed such a law. Then in 2010 came the Affordable Care Act, which renewed concerns about government infringement on deeply held religious beliefs. Hobby Lobby and the University of Notre Dame both filed lawsuits challenging provisions that required the institutions to offer certain types of insurance coverage in violation of their religious views.

Last year the Supreme Court upheld religious liberty in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, based on the federal RFRA. With the Supreme Court’s ruling, the need for a RFRA at the state level became more important, as the federal law does not apply to states. To ensure that religious liberty is fully protected under Indiana law, this year the General Assembly enshrined these principles in Indiana law. I fully supported that action.

Hmm. Indiana businesses can now discriminate against gay people because of the ACA’s contraception policy?

This apparently wasn’t persuasive, either, leading Pence to announce this morning his support for a legislative “fix.”

The question persists: How did Pence not see this coming?

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Inevitable (¡Phleorg! Mix)

Detail of framegrab from FLCL episode 2, 'Firestarter'.

“It has nothing to do with God; I don’t have the balls to describe a god to anybody.”

Bill Levin

File under … um … you know … er … ah … dude, where’s the filing cabinet, again?

Indiana’s new “religious freedom” law has been widely criticized and condemned by many, but an innovative marijuana activist in the state is using the bill’s legal protections as a means to set up a new religious sect — the First Church of Cannabis, where members would aim to use marijuana freely as a sacrament in a state where the substance remains banned.

“It’s a new religion for people who happen to live in our day and age,” Bill Levin, the church’s founder, told The Huffington Post in an interview Monday. “All these old religions, guys walking across the desert without Dr. Scholls inserts, drinking wine out of goat bladders, no compass, speaking Latin and Hebrew — I cannot relate to that shit. I drive by Burger Kings, bars and corn fields. I cannot relate to an antique magic book.”

Just say 'No' to the War on Drugs.It’s, uh … you know, like somebody would have thought of it already, you know, like, in yo’ mama’s piehole! … I mean, er, right.

Sorry.

Couldn’t fuckin’ see that one comin’, eh?

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Ferner, Matt. “Church Of Marijuana Gets Boost From Indiana’s Anti-Gay ‘Religious Freedom’ Bill”. The Huffington Post. 30 March 2015.

The Gap in the Line

Detail of cover art for 'Glyph', by Floater.

Sometimes it is hard to know just how to respond. React. Perceive. Feel.

Author Peter Monn appears to be retiring from the fight:

I don’t claim to know or understand God. I know there is one and I’m not it. I don’t need to reinvent the wheel but I also believe in religious freedom. But this isn’t about religious freedom. What knowing LGBT person would want to spend their money or hire someone who so opposed who they are at their core? Not me.

But I’m tired of fighting. I’ve been fighting since I was 5 years old to have other people accept me for something I never understood in the first place. And if I couldn’t understand it then I know they certainly can’t understand. And I’m done trying. I’m tired of explaining to people who would never be affected by such a bill how it haunts me and once again makes me feel different; less than.

My life is probably more than half over anyway. This is for our children. I refuse to fight so that when I’m 80 I can have my picture taken for the local paper because it’s such an honor that they finally passed some ridiculous bill of rights that I should have had all along. Nope. I’m done fighting. And to me, that is freedom. It is obvious that my word is not important anyway. It is obvious that my life does not matter to those voting in fear, hiding behind religious freedoms that do not specifically affect their personal lives. The best that I can do is step away.

There must be something I’m missing, because the first thought to mind is bitter: “Go tell it to the headstones.”

To the other, many of us hid while others stood the line for us; it is hard to protest the desire to stop fighting and simply live.

There are others who will fill the gap in the line. This isn’t over yet.

Thank you for your service, Mr. Monn; we are all, truly, grateful.

Be well. You helped with the heavy lifting; we’ll take it from here.

And we will stand. We will speak. We will fight. And we will win. And then we can all get on with the business of living.

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Monn, Peter. “How I Will Express My Religious Freedom in Indiana”. The Huffington Post. 24 March 2015.