Tag Archives: Jim Lucas

Indiana’s Fools Aren’t Just For April…

When it comes to politics in Indiana, one of the savviest observers is Jack Colwell, who writes for the South Bend Tribune. A recent column documenting reasons the Indiana General Assembly still deserves to be called the World’s Worst Legislature is a good  example.

After reading it, I decided that a discussion of our legislature would be appropriate for April Fool’s Day.

Colwell’s list–while not exhaustive–is illustrative. He began by noting that Indiana’s legislature has historically been ridiculous.

Indiana’s legislature long has been the subject of ridicule, going back historically to a time 134 years ago when violence among members forced the end of a session.

Later came influence of the Klan, influence of money that brought scandals and prison and decades of influence by naysayers who found progress too risky.

Sometimes it became a national joke, as with a bill to establish the state’s own definition of pi. Not pie, as in apple, cherry or pumpkin, but Indiana’s own mathematical value of pi.
 
In 2015, there were all those jokes by comedians on national TV about Indiana’s Freedom to Discriminate Act.

Colwell then enumerates the disaster that is the 2021 session: in the face of Governor Holcomb’s largely effective measures to contain the pandemic (whatever your “take” on the Governor’s efforts, it is undeniable that he has been more decisive–and effective–than most Republican Governors), the legislature has moved to remove his authority to act in a future emergency.

Colwell notes that “pressure from the Freedom to Infect Caucus” also has pushed Holcomb to end the statewide mask mandate a bit prematurely.

Speaking of the pandemic, some businesses have acted in ways that endangered the health–and lives– of their workers and others. Our General Assembly to the rescue–of the businesses, not the victims. It passed a. bill awarding COVID-19 civil immunity for businesses and prohibiting class action lawsuits against them. 

Is climate change a looming danger? The General Assembly–especially members who  develop real estate–  wants further limits on the protection of wetlands. (Who cares about the world their grandkids will inhabit? Or the purity of the water we’re all drinking now?)

Speaking of the environment, replacing  a significant amount of emissions by encouraging and enabling mass transit is one of the many, many reasons such systems are important. So our legislature is trying to destroy Indianapolis’ belated effort to create a workable and environmentally-friendly mass transit system. 

Has the nation recently been stunned by still more mass shootings? Indiana’s General Assembly wants to eliminate the need for a license to carry a gun. As Colwell says,

Why require unnecessary cost and bureaucratic delay for someone wanting a gun? Some law-abiding citizen might want a gun quickly for a visit to a spa. A new recruit of the Proud Boys should not be inconvenienced.

And then, of course, there’s the persistence of the “White Legislative Caucus.” Colwell notes the ugly episode during the current session, where Republican legislators booed their Black colleagues.

Coincidentally, the same day his column ran, the Indianapolis Star had a front-page report about Representative Jim Lucas, Republican from Seymour whose Facebook page has been the subject of numerous accusations of blatant racism. (Our daughter has previously told us that she had visited that page, and was horrified by the “out and proud” bigotry she saw.)

The Star article reported on a conversation between Lucas and a Black surgeon, which the surgeon experienced as racist. Lucas evidently feels that any rhetoric or action short of lynching isn’t really racist, but as the newspaper noted

Lucas has a history of making troubling comments. The Indiana State Conference of the NAACP has called for his resignation after past actions.

Last year, Huston removed him from two committees as punishment for other controversial Facebook posts. On Twitter there’s a hashtag used by some critics, “#LucasMustGo.”

I’m clearly not the only Hoosier who is mortified by the people elected to “represent” me.

Guns And Protests

The pandemic, the economy and the Black Lives Matter Protests have dominated news coverage the past few months, joined by politics as the Presidential campaigns begin in earnest–but although long-simmering public policy debates have received less attention, that doesn’t mean those issues have gone away.

Which brings me to one of America’s longest, nastiest and most intractable standoffs: guns.

In January, Bartholomew County, Indiana’s gun rights activists asked that county’s commissioners to declare Bartholomew County a Second Amendment “sanctuary.” According to The Republic, the local newspaper, 

The group, called the Bartholomew County Indiana 2A United Sanctuary, has sent a draft of a proposed ordinance to the Bartholomew County commissioners, Bartholomew County Sheriff’s Department and Columbus Mayor Jim Lienhoop, said Chris Imel of Ladoga in Montgomery County. Imel is the group’s organizer and a former Bartholomew County deputy coroner, serving in 2017.

As of mid-afternoon Tuesday, the private social media group had 4,471 members on Facebook. Imel said he created the Facebook page a week ago.

The group believes the “sanctuary” is necessary to prevent the enforcement of certain gun control measures that–in their opinions– violate the Second Amendment.

The measures that they assert “violate the 2d Amendment” include emergency protection orders, enforcement of gun background checks, and Red Flag laws. (Indiana’s Red Flag law allows authorities to disarm people who pose a danger to themselves or others; such laws typically include due process provisions allowing gun owners to retrieve their weapons through the courts if they can demonstrate they are mentally competent.)

The Bartholomew County Indiana 2A United Sanctuary group claims the proposed ordinance would allow local officials to “refuse to cooperate with state and federal firearm laws” perceived to violate the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, including any future proposed restrictions on clip capacity, silencers, bump stocks, bayonet mounts, among other items, according to the proposed ordinance.

In other words, the desired “Sanctuary” would direct law enforcement in the county to ignore pretty much any state law limiting firearms in any way. (It did make an exception for federal law.)

The Bartholomew gun group  is not, unfortunately, just an isolated group of rural Hoosiers who don’t understand how laws work. They have lots of company.

As of Jan. 7, more than 418 counties, cities and towns in 21 states have passed Second Amendment sanctuary ordinances, including locations in Illinois, Colorado, New Mexico, Washington and Virginia, according to Gun Owners of America, a gun-rights group.

On Friday night, Jennings County officials signed a resolution stating the county is now a Second Amendment sanctuary. There is no indication that the resolution signed in Jennings County was approved by any county or city councils or boards before it was signed by the sheriff and others, including Rep. Jim Lucas, R-Seymour.

If the sweep of this “Wild West” movement isn’t unsettling enough, the Brookings Institution recently issued a report titled “How Covid-19 is Changing the Gun Debate.

Starting in mid-April, anti-COVID-19 lockdown protestors stormed and shut down everything from statehouses to Subway restaurants with assault weapons and pipe wrenches. These protests are being framed around gun rights and free speech issues. Protests are allegedly about fully re-opening the economy following state-sanctioned shutdowns. Protestors appear to perceive that quarantine measures to keep them safe and reduce the spread of COVID-19 are violations of their civil liberties. In turn, they act out their frustrations through expressions of their 1st and 2nd Amendment rights. Anti-lockdown protests have now occurred in 31 states across the country and gun sales surged to nearly 2 million in March.

Not only have gun sales surged, but according to the report, they’ve surged in liberal states–despite the fact that the armed lockdown protestors are clearly Trump supporters. The researchers were unable to tell whether this data represents purchases by liberals (arming to protect themselves in the upcoming civil war?) or by conservatives living in liberal states (adding to their burgeoning armories?)

America is currently experiencing the simultaneous effects of the worst aspects of our cultural history: deeply-ingrained racism, an inadequate social safety net, a radical individualism that disdains even the slightest appeal to the common good, and the celebration of anti-intellectualism.

The racist and anti-intellectual elements gave us Trump–and his heavily-armed base.

 

 

 

It’s Jim Lucas’ Party Now

Indiana has a Republican state representative named Jim Lucas. Lucas has a history of quite overt racism (among other things, he’s posted a noose to a story about a black man accused of rape), and a few days ago posted to Facebook a truly disgusting picture of black babies, in diapers and with exaggerated features,  dancing and singing “we gon’ to get free money.” It was a meme straight out of the 1950s South–and so patently offensive that a few Republican officeholders (for the first time) offered tepid condemnations.

If Lucas was an aberration, that would be one thing. But he seems to be genuinely representative of his party and district. Our daughter says that when she needs to break out of her own Facebook “bubble,” she checks out Lucas’ Facebook page and is always appalled at what he and his constituents evidently feel is appropriate to post there.

Lucas is right at home in today’s GOP. As we see the 2020 Presidential race shaping up, it is impossible to ignore the evidence: the party of Lincoln has become the party of white supremacy.

Trump quite clearly intends to run on his “Obamagate” conspiracy theory, hoping that it will both distract from his disastrous bungling of the pandemic and once again solidify his racist base.

Let’s look at the signs.

When the FBI confiscated Richard Burr’s phone, pundits left and right saw it as the beginning of a justifiable effort to punish what was widely seen as Burr’s insider trading. They ignored the fact that there was no similar raid on Senators Loeffler or Feinstein, despite the fact that both had also made suspicious trades. Burr, however, had done  something far worse; he had presided over the Senate Intelligence Committee’s investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election–and had been instrumental in the issuance of preliminary reports confirming that interference.

Thanks to Barr’s Justice Department raid, Burr has now stepped aside, and his replacement will be selected by Mitch McConnell. It is widely anticipated that the final volume of the Intelligence Committee report will be “amended.”

Meanwhile, lapdog Lindsey Graham is conducting a separate Senate “investigation” of Trump’s “Obamagate” fabrications.

It’s true that Trump is unable to articulate exactly what he is accusing the Obama folks of doing, other than investigating Intelligence reports that found Russia had interfered with the election. It’s also true that there is absolutely no evidence that the investigation was in any way improper. Of course, the fact that Hillary Clinton had been cleared of any intentional wrongdoing–or any breach of security–didn’t stop “but her emails.”

And Obama’s black. Allegations confirmed!

Trump began his campaign with birtherism. He called Mexicans “murderers and rapists” at his announcement. He’s been endorsed by David Duke and Neo-Nazis. Ergo, you can expect “Obamagate” to be embraced by what is left of the Republican Party–the party of Jim Lucas.

Think I’m exaggerating? Think “nice” Republicans are distancing themselves from the racist messaging?

As the Indiana primary approaches, we’ve been “treated” to political spots from local candidates for the GOP nomination in the 5th district. (Some 14 candidates are vying for the GOP’s nomination in that district–it’s an open seat.) The candidate spots I’ve seen range from stupid to offensive. None are as overtly racist as Lucas; instead, they all include an explicit pledge of devotion to Trump–the current “dog whistle” for Trumpian bigotries. The absolute worst is one by a sanctimonious woman named Victoria Spartz, whose ad says she was born in the Soviet Union so she understands how awful socialism is (!), and touts her endorsements by both Right to Life and the NRA. Irony is dead.

The Republican Party I served for 35 years is also dead. The many good people I worked with have conceded defeat and abandoned the field, leaving the Cult of Trump to the Jim Lucases, William Barrs, Mitch McConnells and their clones.

In November, we’ll see whether Trump’s “Johnny One Note” campaign strategy–White Nationalism focused on his still-seething racist resentment of Obama–still works.