On ‘Bump Stocks’, the Second Amendment, and Liberty

Friends I must apologize, in the wake of the Las Vegas shootings, I replied to a friend’s Facebook post agreeing that I thought bump stocks should be outlawed. Bump stocks are the, still legal, accessory that allows modern sporting rifles to achieve high rates of fire mimicking automatic weapons. Indications are that the Las Vegas shooter used one or more bump stocks during the crime to achieve and maintain a high rate of fire. It is possible that the bump stock added to the death toll.

Therefore my thinking went something like this:

Bump stocks are really a novelty in the firearms world. While they increase the rate of fire, they also make a rifle harder to control and potentially less  accurate. Nobody really needs a bump stock. But they do look a lot of like fun 🙂

If the NRA was willing to compromise on bump stocks, then so was I.

In my defense, at the time I was in the hospital recovering from open-heart surgery, sleep deprived, overcome with anger about the attack, and taking a narcotic (oxycodone) for pain relief.

The problem was that I, like many in this current debate, was not asking the right question. I was asking,

What can we do, what could we have done, to prevent tragedies like this from occurring in the future or at the very least to minimize their possible effects

Therefore, I took aim at bump stocks. Why not? Bump stocks are an easy target. After all, if bump stocks had simply never existed, I don’t think I would care. So, if outlawing them saves even one life, my reasoning was … it would be worth it.

A week later, after much reflection and no longer on opioids, I have changed my mind. Does this mean that I no longer care about the loss of life in crimes like Las Vegas? Not at all! It means that I am now asking the question I should have been asking in the first place. The question is,

What can we do, what could we have done — within the framework of our Constitutional Republic, where the government is established to be the guarantor of the natural rights of the people, where the right to keep and bear arms is specifically enumerated — to prevent tragedies like this from occurring in the future or at the very least to minimize their possible effects

I was looking for the most efficacious solution while failing to consider how it might impact the government’s ongoing commitment/willingness to continue to guarantee all of our rights. If we allow the government to infringe a portion of our Second Amendment rights, even a seemingly trivial non-essential portion, we run the risk of losing the essentials as well.

Activists from ANTIFA and BLM to the Alt-Right do agree on one thing … some of our rights are in danger.  In this environment, I cannot support any action that would further endanger our rights.

So, when it comes down to brass tacks, 

If preemptively outlawing bump stocks could have prevented 59 deaths and 527 injuries in Las Vegas would I have done it?

My answer must always be a resounding NO!

Many of you know that I was a reluctant Tump supporter, but I am no Trump apologist. In recent days I have heard many say that the president (and all our elected officials) primary job is to ensure the safety of the American people. I agree that this is crucial! But the oath that these people (and our military) take all speak to supporting and defending or preserving, protecting and defending The Constitution of the United States.

I would rather live a free man with the friction of our constitutional republic than enjoy safety as a slave under tyranny!

I may need to ‘un-retire’

The Republican Party of Iowa

The Republican Party of Iowa

Many of you know that in 2016 I decided not to stand for re-election to the Republican Party of Iowa State Central Committee. At the time some speculated that I was planning to run for RPI Chairman, National Committeeman, or even Linn County Central Committee Chairman. Truth is, I knew that I would be looking for work and there was a possibility that I might end up moving and I knew I would need heart surgery at some point probably sooner rather than later. As I just announced on Facebook, I will be having open heart surgery in about a week and a half. I would appreciate your prayers!

I haven’t even been retired from the SCC for a year yet and today they went and did a power grab. The SCC took the selection of At-Large National Convention Delegates away from the grassroots! As I have posted numerous times on this blog, the most contentious part of the caucus-to-convention process in Iowa is the selection of national convention delegates. As an SCC member, I have been intimately involved in shaping the delegate selection process in Iowa. While I do not believe that our process is perfect, I have always worked hard to make it more transparent and put the power in the hands of the grassroots — the delegates to the district conventions and state conventions. I am pretty sure that I do not have the ideal solution. In fact I have often solicited solutions from my readers on this site.

One thing I know for sure — nobody was suggesting that the solution was to take the decision away from the grassroots and give the power to the SCC!!!

But that is precisely what the SCC did today by an 8 to 9 vote. This is a copy (transcribed from a friend’s notes) of what was passed:

DISTRICT DELEGATES

1. Those interested in running to serve as either a delegate or alternate delegate must complete a “Declaration of Candidacy” (DOC) form prior to the District Convention to be included in the tabloid for delegates to review before election. The DOC should be available at the caucus, county convention, on the RPI website and RPI will also email County Chairs with information about the process including the DOC.RPI will determine the appropriate due date depending on the date of the District Convention and their deadline to include all the DOCs in the tabloid.The due date for the DOC will also be the final date for submission of interest in running.

2. Candidates Must have been elected and have attended one of the following conventions in that election year: County, District or State.

3. In the case that the elected delegate/alternate did not attend one of said conventions, that seat will be given to the next highest vote getter.

AT LARGE DELEGATES

1. Replace the Nominating Committee with 8 members, 2 from each district in the current SCC along with one of either the National Committeeman and National Committeewoman for a total of 9. Members shall determine amongst themselves who their representatives shall be.

2. Candidates must complete the same DOC that the District Delegates and Alternates delegates must complete. The due date for the DOC will also be the final date for submission of interest in running.

3. Candidates must have been elected and have attended one of the following conventions; county, district or state.

4. In the case that the elected delegate/alternate did not attend one of said conventions, the seat will be given to the next highest vote getter.

5. A “courtesy invitation” to serve as a delegate would be extended to the Governor, Lt. Governor, U.S. Senators and U.S. Representatives. These elected officials shall be exempt from the attendance to convention requirement rule.

Here is how the vote went down.

CD 1
N: Chelle Adkins
N: Eric Rosenthal
Y: Jennifer Smith
*Note: Bethany Gates resigned two weeks before the meeting

CD 2
Y: Marianette Miller-Meeks
N: David Hartsuch
Y: Judy Davidson
Y: Jared Klein

CD 3
N: Brenna Bird
N: Ernie Rudolph
N: Bill Gustoff
N: Heather Stancil

CD 4
N: John Thompson [[correction: John voted no]]
Y: Andy Cable
Y: Gary Nystrom
Y: Craig Williams

National Committee
Y: Steve Scheffler
Y: Tamara Scott

A little inside baseball. I see some on social media saying that the Team Branstad did this. The way the votes went down is very interesting. Consider that all of the CD3 reps voted against the measure including Brenna Bird (who is often linked closely with Branstad.) In CD1 Jennifer Smith (one of the more libertarian members) voted in favor. Perhaps the strangest result is that Andy Cable and Steve Scheffler voted on the same side of the issue! It doesn’t look like this vote followed traditional SCC coalition lines at all!

I have heard from some members that the SCC Organization Committee brought this proposal to the floor without giving it to the entire SCC in advance. In fairness, I am told some voted for this in hopes to spark a discussion, believing that it can be changed before we next select national delegates in 2020. Let me humbly suggest that the way to change this is next year at district conventions we drain the SCC swamp!

As a member of the SCC I always fought for more transparency and openness. I fought to give more power to the grassroots. Looks like after my surgery I may need to ‘un-retire!’

“Repeal Now — Replace Later” is not the Answer!!!

To my Republican friends. I am strongly opposed to Obamacare and the lies on which it was founded. [Read my posts here and here.] I will grant you that more people are now covered, but know from personal experience:
 
1) You can’t keep your doctor
2) You can’t keep you health plan
3) You won’t save on average $2500
 

Even so ‘repeal now — replace later’ is not a solution for Obamacare. The system has been in place for too long, disrupted too much and made too many people dependent upon it to repeal it without a replacement of some sort. (N.B. That’s why these things must be fought before they are enacted!) 

It is wistful thinking to believe that we can simply return to ‘status quo ante!’

 
When Democrats held the Senate and the Presidency, House Republicans voted more than fifty times to either fully or partially repeal Obamacare. Now that we have Republican majorities in both houses and the presidency we can’t seem to get it done.
 

Most of you know my Republican bonafides. Years of involvement in my local party, lots volunteering for candidates, parades, lit drops, 4 terms on the board of directors of the State GOP, chaired the last 1st District GOP Convention, served on county, district, state and national platform committees, delegate to to Republican National Conventions …

Our Republican leadership in Washington reminds me of the dog who chases a car every day it passes his house but can’t catch it because of the fence. One day the fence is left open and the dog chases the car and catches it … now what?

Some of my friends may say, ‘Dave, why are you being so harsh on Republicans? It was the Democrats who gave us Obamacare!’

I agree but we (Republicans) have had seven years to figure it out. We told the American people that if they elected us … we would fix it. On election day, from the court house to the White House, all across America,  we showed that we could win.

Donald Trump was right, ‘I am now tired of winning — I want to see us govern! 

Preexisting Conditions, Health Insurance, and The ‘Company Store’ — A Cautionary Tale

I was lamenting recently to my friend Roxann about my experience with Obamacare. She is an insurance professional and one of the most intelligent, well read people I know, I explained to her my personal trials with Obamacare.  I told her that my premiums and deductibles for the year were going to be about $40,000. We talked about how the two largest providers in the Iowa exchange were dropping out for 2018 and that the the third was probably going to leave as well. I shared my fear that it may not even be possible for an individual to buy health insurance in Iowa in 2018. When Roxann and I discuss issues we tend to get down to root causes. She summed it up nicely and said, “the problem is that health insurance is essentially the Company Store.” It was a brilliant analogy and reminded me of the chorus of Tennessee Ernie Ford’s song 16 Tons:

Saint Peter don’t you call me ’cause I can’t go — I owe my soul to the company store …

I have long believed to be the systemic problem with health insurance in the United States is the fact that most Americans get their health insurance through their employers  — from the Company Store.

The Company Store in the song refers to the company stores set up by mining companies to serve their employees living in remote company towns. Many employees did not have cars and they couldn’t just go online and order their groceries from Amazon.com so the company store was the only place to shop. Employees could make purchases on credit since the company could withhold the payments from their paychecks. With no competition the company could set both prices and wages. Therefore, in the song Tennessee Ernie Ford complains that he can’t go to heaven because of his debt to the company store.

Because of the current health insurance crisis in the United States and Iowa in particular, I have just taken a grown up job. When I was applying for jobs, just like everyone else, benefit plans were part of the search criteria. So, I have experienced, getting health insurance though my employer and purchasing health insurance as an individual. For the majority of my adult life I have gotten insurance through my employer just like the majority of Americans. So, why do I think this is a problem?

You are not the customer

Unlike any other insurance product you purchase, you are not the customer. I have homeowners insurance, auto insurance, liability insurance, and business insurance. In each case I am the customer. My agent and the insurance company both have am interest in keeping me happy because I can take my business elsewhere.With my health insurance (which starts in 30 days), my employer is the customer. My employer is a huge Fortune 50 company. So, the insurance company will bend over backwards to keep them happy. On the other hand I am just one of over a quarter million employees. Do the math.

There is no incentive for you to consider cost

Because I have a large family, most years we hit our insurance deductibles and the out-of-pocket maximums. So once we cross this threshold we don’t pay anything for services. In this system, there is no incentive for me to compare the cost of services.

You cannot choose your provider

You employer determine which heal insurance providers and plans are available to you. You may have choices but they are pre selected for you.

You do not see the actual cost

Most employee health insurance plans are highly subsidized by the employer. It is considered part of the real cost of your employment. If for some reason you have health insurance through another source (e.g. spouse’s employer) this is money that is left on the table during salary negotiations.

There is no portability

This last point is perhaps the most insidious. Employee health insurance is not portable. Since you are not the customer, if you change employers, you have to change plans. Since 1986, the federal government has mandated that employers make their plans available to employees who leave the company for up to 18 months. This program, called COBRA, allows people who transition between employers to keep insurance.

Of course under COBRA your costs will normally go up because the company is not required to continue subsidizing your insurance.

In the discussion about the healthcare plan just passed by the US House, the focus this week has been on preexisting conditions. Preexisting conditions are something that any health insurance proposal must deal with. I will close this blog post with my take on the subject.

Several of my Facebook friends have posted recently about preexisting conditions. Most have said that insurance companies face an undue burden because they have to cover people with preexisting conditions. Others have pointed out that this allows consumers to be irresponsible and only purchase insurance after an expensive diagnosis. Sort of like buying homeowners insurance after a fire.

Unfortunately, buying insurance in the Company Store has made this a problem for consumers. The Obamacare mandate that employers of a certain size must provide health insurance benefits has only made the situation worse.

My experience with preexisting conditions and health insurance is anecdotal but it is personal and true. I was laid off from a great job last year after the contract I was working on for a third party client was completed. The job had excellent insurance benefits and when I was laid off I continued them under COBRA. I was working for myself (something I have done before) but at the first of the year the price for COBRA almost doubled.

Fortunately, because we have several preexisting conditions in the family, we were able to get insurance under Obamacare. Unfortunately, the premiums and deductibles came to about $40,000 a year — completely unsustainable — so I have taken a grown up job.

So what about the preexisting conditions? My daughters have chronic medical conditions that require medications costing over $10,000 a year each. Before they were diagnosed and started a treatment regimen, they both missed almost half a year of school. The medicines are necessary to keep functioning with some semblance or normalcy. In my case, in the next few years I will need a heart procedure in order to stay alive.

So, is it fair that an insurer has to cover me and my family with our very expensive health issues? Not, really. On the other hand is it fair that when I was laid off from my last job, or voluntarily quit a previous job that I could not keep my insurance plan?

That’s right I could not keep the plan. COBRA would have let me keep it for 18 months but after that I would be forced to seek a new plan. The problem is that for most Americans, their health insurance is tied to their employer. So even if you (and your parents) are responsible and have had insurance continually since you were born, you may find yourself in a situation without insurance and with preexisting conditions.

Putting our employers between us and the insurance companies has not helped to keep health insurance and healthcare costs affordable. Obamacare putting the government in the mix has only made things worse.

So in my opinion the root of the problem is the fact that we owe our (health insurance) souls to the company store. I am really good at pointing out problems. I wish I had a solution.

I’ve been screwed by Obamacare and I am mad at both Democrats and Republicans!

The so-called Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare)  started with a noble idea –provide health insurance for those unable to afford it and make it more affordable for everybody. We were also told that Americans could keep their doctors.

Unfortunately, it was a lie! While Obamacare has provided subsidies to make insurance available to the poor, the cost of individual policies for the rest of us — the ones who are paying the subsidies — have skyrocketed. And,

No Virginia, you do not get to keep your doctor!

Let me share my situation as an example of why Obamacare is a disaster. For the last couple of years, like most Americans, I have purchased health insurance for my family through my employer. In September, the contract I was working on was completed and after 30 days on the bench, I was laid off. I immediately reached out to my industry contacts and started accepting IT training gigs as an independent contractor. I was getting my health insurance from my previous employer through a COBRA plan.  I applied for full-time jobs but I was getting lots of training work so I decided to be self-employed. I have been self-employed before so I knew how to do it and knew I could make a living at it.

In January, I had to shop for health insurance plans. So I went to the Obamacare exchange for Iowa. I was looking for a plan to cover myself, my wife, my college age son and two daughters in High school. Ultimately, I had to select two different plans because of different doctors we saw and medications needed by various family members.

As an independent trainer and consultant I am able to keep busy and make a good living with a comfortable 6-figure salary. Some of you reading this may be asking, “Then what do you have to complain about?”

The problem is not my income it is how much I have to pay for health insurance.

In 2017, I will pay around $25,000 in health insurance premiums and approximately $15,000 in deductibles!

When you take $40,000 off the top, that salary is not nearly as impressive. So, being self-employed I have to make $40,000 up front for medical before I can even worry about other little things like, mortgage, food, clothing, school expenses, car insurance, etc. In addition, being self-employed, I also have to pay about an extra 7% of my income in ‘self-employment’ taxes. Even though the Obamacare plans are high-deductible they do not qualify for Health Saving Accounts, so I can’t even pay the deductibles with pre-tax dollars.

Because of some chronic illnesses, between medications and doctor visits, we meet our deductibles early every year. Another problem with Obamacare is that there is no incentive for me, or anyone, to be concerned about cost. In fact income ways it is better to pay a lot and meet our deductibles and out-of-pocket maximums early since insurance covers the rest.

So, I am mad at Democrats for creating Obamacare. I am even more mad at Republicans for passing numerous repeal bills when they knew they would be vetoed, then when we have a Republican president failing to get rid of Obamacare.

Then, the two largest insurers in the Iowa Exchange, Wellmark Blue Cross & Blue Shield and Aetna announced that they will not be offering individual plans in 2018. That leaves only one small insurer who has not yet committed to offering 2018 individual plans in Iowa. I am not sure what will happen next year but if I can even buy health insurance it will likely be much more expensive.

At the end of the day, because of Obamacare, my working as an independent trainer/consultant is just not sustainable. I guess I will just have to look for a grown up job 🙁

 

I am a Homeschooling Father of Eight and I Oppose ‘School Choice!’

Let me start with my bonafides. I am a Christian, a deacon in a Baptist Church, a Bible teacher and sometime preacher. I do not like the label evangelical but it probably fits. I started homeschooling before it was cool. 29 years ago, in St Louis, my oldest son was getting ready to start school. Not sure what we were going to do, we visited the local public school and a nearby Christian School. We registered our son at both and waited until the last minute to make a decision. In the end we decided to homeschool. At the time homeschooling was pretty unusual. I don’t even remember if we knew any homeschoolers. I am sure that our families were wondering what we were doing to their grandson! Since then we have had seven more children and all of them have been homeschooled for some portion of their education.

I am not a conscientious objector — I am not opposed to public school!

Every year we have looked at each child and each school and have made decisions about what we felt was best at the time. Sometimes it meant homeschooling, sometimes it meant private school, and sometimes it meant public school.

With the nomination of Betsy DeVos for Education Secretary and Republicans taking control of the Iowa Statehouse there has been a lot of talk about making vouchers or tax credits a reality.

So, why am I … a Christian, conservative, Republican, homeschooler … against school choice. In reality I am not! I believe strongly in school choice. Unfortunately in today’s political lexicon, school choice has come to mean tax credits, vouchers, or both.

Let’s look at some of the arguments for so-called school choice

1. Homeschool (and private school) is too expensive

Having homeschooled eight kids I know that homeschool (or private schools) is expensive. In addition to the actual costs, there is the opportunity cost of having my wife not be employed outside of the home for all these years. Some of you might be saying,

Dave, you are an engineer with a family income in the top 10% nationally, of course you do not need financial help homeschooling.

My response would be that I know what the struggle is like. When you consider my income vs family size (per-capita) the numbers look much different 🙂  When we started homeschooling I was an assistant manager in a restaurant and I moonlighted delivering newspapers in the early morning to make ends meet.

So I agree, homeschooling is expensive and not everyone can afford to do it.

2. I already pay for public school

Yes you do. So does my neighbor who has no kids. If you get a break shouldn’t he? As long as we have taxpayer supported public schools, we should support them. Whether we should have government schools is another discussion.

3. Competition will make the public schools better

Many advocates for school choice believe that this is their most compelling argument. It certainly follows the maxim that competition improves quality.

On the other hand there is a downside. Vouchers are the government (state or federal) taking your money laundering it and returning a portion to you … for which they expect you to be thankful! Tax credits are the government giving you permission to spend your own money …. for which they expect you to be thankful!

Worse, it is naive to think that if the government education and tax bureaucracies get together to do anything that it will be successful. Wherever government money goes, government strings follow.

I know, there’s no such thing as government money. The government gives nothing that it has not first taken away

One of the things that makes private schools or home school great is that there is little or no government interference. (Someone please tell State Senator Matt McCoy!!!) As a Christian, I know that by accepting 501(c)3 status churches have voluntarily accepted government control over their ability to shape debate in the public arena.

At our GOP Conventions I am the guy who always speaks against the credit/voucher/choice plank. My speech always end with:

Keep the government out of my private school, keep the government out of my parochial school, and keep the government out of my homeschool!

Coming to grips with voting for Trump

I am going to be on the road at a client site out of state on election day. Therefore next week I am going to cast an absentee ballot for Donald J Trump for president of the United States.
 
Since Trump became the nominee, I have wanted on many occasions to say to the candidate and his supporters,
Could you please throw me a bone here? I am a Christian conservative and I am really trying to support you and encourage my friends to do the same, but you guys are not making it any easier
With the recent release of the ‘Access Hollywood’ video let me say to the Trump camp,
Don’t bother.  I can not in good conscience use my influence to encourage my brothers and sisters in Christ to vote for Donald Trump.

Now, I have seen a number of Trump apologists say that this was a conversation between ‘the guys’ that happened to be captured on a live mic. Well, it was a mic that Trump was wearing and given that there was a cameraman walking along with him, it is disingenuous to suggest that he didn’t know he was being recorded.

I am still casting a vote for Donald Trump for President. Why? Because regardless of what I think of them personally the next president of the United States will be either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton. I am choosing to vote for the lesser of two evils — Donald Trump. But I have run out of arguments to use with my friends who plan to stay home, vote 3rd party or even vote for Hillary. Well I guess I can still argue with those who want to vote for Hillary 🙂

Some will be quick to say, “The lesser of two evils is still evil” or “Would Jesus have voted for the lesser of two evils?” My response would be that Jesus wasn’t really into republican or democratic (small ‘r’, small ‘d’) government. He seemed to favor hereditary monarchies 🙂

I do have a perfect biblical  response to this election based on Revelation 22:20,

Come quickly Lord Jesus!!!

Coming to Grips with Ted Cruz at the National Convention

I was not planning on being a delegate to the 2016 Republican National Convention. But when Ted Cruz won Wisconsin, and it looked like Donald Trump would go into the convention with less than the 1237 delegates necessary to win the nomination, I decided to run for a delegate slot. I ran hoping that there would be no decisive winner and that I could be part of a movement to elect Ted Cruz as our nominee and then president of the United States. I was not and am not a part of the #NeverTrump movement. Donald Trump is the nominee. While I would describe myself as libertarian-leaning I find the Johnson/Weld ticket to odious to consider and I am most definitely #NeverHillary.

I was on the floor of the convention when Ted Cruz gave his speech. It was a great speech, perhaps the speech of the convention. He spoke of those ideals that not just Republicans, but all Americans should share. I was up on my feet cheering so often that I finally decided to remain standing. But as he wound it down it became clear that he was not going to do the thing he had pledged to do — he was not going to endorse Donald Trump.

I Ted Cruz affirm that if I do not win the 2016 Republican nomination for president of the United States I will endorse the 2016 Republican presidential nominee regardless of who it is. I further pledge that I will not seek to run as an independent or write-in candidate nor will I seek or accept the nomination for president of any other party.

I think there could have been two good outcomes to this.

1) Ted Cruz could have challenged Donald Trump to a duel. Perhaps pistols at dawn by the lake at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Duels have certainly been fought over less. As Iowans we evidently support duels since in 2015, we repealed Article I, Section 5 of the Iowa Constitution, the stricture preventing people who participate in duels (even as seconds) from holding office in Iowa!

2) Ted Cruz could have called a press conference about his endorsement before the convention and given the speech (OK the important part is the Q&A at the end) he gave to the Texas delegation on Wednesday morning. In other words he could have explained why he could not endorse. He could have been out front and owned it regardless of the consequences.

I like Ted Cruz, I wanted to go to Cleveland to help him become the next president of the United States, I just wish he had done in this case, what he has done so many times before — taken the issue (the pledge) gotten out front, owned it, and let the chips fall where they may!

The course of action that Ted Cruz took, by not endorsing at the convention, and then having to explain it to his home state delegation afterwards almost seemed like damage control.

The Walkout That Wasn’t!


The Whips at work on Marlys Popma

One of the  nice things about being retired from the Republican State Central Committee is that I do not have to parse my words. Since I am no longer in leadership, I don’t have to worry about people thinking that I speak for the Republican Party of Iowa. I never did and I do not now.

Imagine my surprise when at the convention, several reporters came up to me and ask me about the walkout by the Iowa delegation. I opened up Facebook and saw several posts either congratulating or excoriating the Iowa delegation for this action. The problem is:

There was no walkout – I was there on the floor

Do not believe what the media is telling you. There was no walkout. Let me tell you the real story.

First a disclaimer. I voted for Ted Cruz in the Iowa Caucuses.was elected by the Republicans of the First Congressional District to be a delegate here in Cleveland.  I made no secret of the fact that if Donald Trunp did not get 1237 delegates, I was going to try and help Ted Cruz win the nomination. But I also resolved that I did not want the RNC changing the rules to bring in a white knight candidate someone like a Romney or Ryan to be the nominee. I have been consistent I  am #NeverHillary, not #NeverTrump. I believe that the Iowa delegation is bound to vote according to the bylaws of the Republican Party of Iowa and I helped craft those bylaws.

So, what happened today? I was part of a movement to call for a Roll Call vote on the Rules. Let me be clear, I do not want to unbind the delegates. But I have concerns about the rules. A lot of it is minutiae but some issues like encouraging states to hold closed primaries, continuing the tradition of making rules committee members available to their constituents, not consolidating power in the RNC or chairman. But all of these are important.

In order to make this happen supporters got signatures from a majority of delegates in 11 states including Iowa. The picture above is the Trump and RNC team whips working to get delegates to withdraw their signatures. In the vote on the rules, the chairman took a quick vote and ignored calls for a roll call and then left the stage for some time. Then the chairman came back and said that 3 states had rescinded their signatures and there were not enough states supporting the motion for it to be considered. Then the chairman did something totally inappropriate … he toke a voice vote on the motion that he had just told the convention was out of order. Then he declared that they ‘ayes’ had prevailed. Thats when thing really got crazy.

I have chaired portions of numerous state, district and county conventions and I can tell you that as a chair it is very difficult to tell the out come of a close voice vote. The problem was THE VOTE SHOULD NEVER HAVE OCCURRED IN THE FIRST PLACE!!!


Empty seats in the Iowa Delegation

As for the walk out, Wes Enos and I did indeed walk out shortly after the vote. The reason is, we’d been in the hall since the beginning and the rules vote was the only significant business of the morning session. We both went to seek out alternate delegates and trade credentials to give them a chance to get on the floor.

Now there may be pictures (like this one) of empty seats in the Iowa Delegation. Obviously there were several empty seats. But they do not tell the whole story. I actually think there were three reasons for those empty seats:

  1. Several of the most well known leaders in the party were (perhaps rightly) concerned about being on TV or in still pictures in the middle of an apparent revolt.
  2. Some of the high-ranking folks who supported the roll call were elsewhere in the hall negotiating with the Trump team.
  3. Chairman Kaufmann said in the Des Moines Register that ranking delegation members were meeting with the RNC to preserve First in the Nation.

There were empty seats but there was no walk out.

[[Note: I have been told that two delegates did walk out. I do not know who they are and they did not make a fuss about it because I was on the floor and had no idea that it happened.]]

The Iowa Civil Rights Commission and the First Amendment

I saw in my Facebook feed this week that one of my Facebook friends Pastor Michael Demastus and his church, the Fort Des Moines Church of Christ have filed a lawsuit against the commissioners of the Iowa Civil Rights Commission among others. The suit is over a church’s right to

… to stop the government from censoring the church’s teaching on biblical sexuality and from forcing the church to open its restrooms and showers to members of the opposite sex.

I should probably toss in a disclaimer here, in 2010 I applied to serve on the Iowa Civil Rights Commission. When it was made clear to me that the Democratic leadership in the Iowa Senate would fight my confirmation, I withdrew my application.  One of my friends, knowing that I am very involved in Iowa politics sent me an email about the lawsuit asking for my opinion. My friend sent me link to a Fox News article

and the following quote:

Does this law apply to churches? Sometimes.  Iowa law provides that these protections do not apply to religious institutions with respect to any religion-based qualifications when such qualifications are related to bona fide religious purpose. Where qualifications are not related to a bona fide religious purpose, churches are still subject to the law’s provisions. (e.g. a child care facility operated at a church or a church service open to the public.

I have to admit that I did not read the article before responding. I had already been reading about the suit so I looked at the quote he sent. I quickly replied:

I am not sure where the examples in the e.g. came from. I have trouble believing that the Iowa Civil Rights Commission used the language ‘church service open to the public’  as an example of something other than a bona fide religious purpose.

I was certain that he was quoting someone’s opinion. The idea that a church service open to the public could be considered anything other than a bona fide religious purpose seemed absurd. It must be hyperbole on the part of Pastor Demastus or his allies. Imagine my surprise when I found  the Iowa Civil Rights Commission’s pamphlet online, Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity, A Public Accommodations Provider’s Guide to Iowa Law

.

The text my friend had sent was a direct quote from the pamphlet! While churches in Iowa are exempt from this law with respect to any religion-based qualifications when such qualifications are related to a bona fide religious purpose the problem is that the Iowa Civil Rights Commission is the one that gets to decide what qualifies as a bona fide religious purpose. The pamphlet suggests that a church service open to the public is somehow not a bona fide religious purpose!

Public church services are core to the mission of churches of nearly every denomination. Considering this along with the definition of harassment from the pamphlet, it is very likely that my pastor in our public services and I as a Bible teacher in our adult Sunday School have both been in violation of Iowa law.

We have long been asked, “what do you have to fear from granting special rights to homosexuals?”

This.