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Saturday, June 22, 2013 - 12:01 am

Partisan shift on our security

If this nation is to be kept safe, the government has to have enough information to stay one step ahead of the terrorists. But in collecting that information, officials must be careful not to violate the basic rights of all Americans.

It’s Patriotism 101 – a common search for that elusive line in just the right place between security and liberty. Surely that is something Red State partisans and Blue State partisans can agree on, even if they are bitterly divided on everything else.

Apparently not. According to a new Pew Research Center survey, there has been a “large partisan shift” in the way Americans view the National Security Agency’s surveillance programs, specifically the secret tracking of millions of phone calls. “Partisan hypocrisy, it would seem, infects members of both parties,” says The New Times.


A second chance for Paula Cooper

At the age of 43, Paula Cooper has walked out of an Indiana prison a free woman, and her story gives us the opportunity to consider calmly and thoughtfully a life-and-death debate that we usually engage in the heat of the moment.

If events had unfolded according to the original scenario, this conversation would not be possible. Cooper was, at age 16, the youngest person on death row in America after her conviction for stabbing to death 78-year-old Gary Bible teacher Ruth Pelke, robbing her of $10 and stealing her car. But there was international protest over the execution of someone so young, and the Indiana Supreme Court eventually downgraded her sentence to 60 years.

She got out after serving not quite 30.

By all accounts Cooper is not the same person she was at 16.


A curveball on Common Core

The headline on the website story asked, “Has Gov. Pence just saved the Common Core in Indiana?” and it seems a fair question. After receiving mounting criticism for being one of the 45 states to approve those national education standards, Indiana decided to adopt a one-year moratorium on further implementation so the issue can be debated.

Now Mike Pence has thrown a curve ball by deciding to keep two current Indiana Board of Education members whose terms were up as well as appointing six new members. The math is pretty simple: The 11-member board unanimously approved Common Core, and seven of that group are still serving. Even if all six new members are against the standards, they will have to persuade at least one old member to have a change of heart.

Perhaps they will.


He ain't heavy, just diseased

Carrying a few extra pounds there, chubby? Relax – you’re no longer considered a lazy, self-indulgent glutton. You’re just sick. The American Medical Association voted to upgrade obesity to “disease” status. Excessive eating now joins excessive alcohol intake as something to pity people for instead of judging them for.

Certainly there could be benefits to the disease model. Insurance companies might start paying for weight-loss treatments the way they pay for smoking-cessation programs now. The campaign to get junk food out of schools might get more support. Nutrition counseling might be taken more seriously. Doctors might pay more attention to patient’s eating and lifestyle habits. Fewer Americans might suffer from actual diseases such as diabetes and coronary heart disease.

But there is also a downside.


The BMV just won't give up

It has become clear that the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles does not want the Indiana Youth Group to have its own specialty license places. The BMV may say it’s not because of the group’s gay-and-lesbian-youth counseling mission, but the claim won’t ring true, if it ever did.

Certainly the state has the right and even the obligation to prevent itself to be used to publicize certain groups and messages – someone promoting something illegal, such as drugs, for example, or a hate group outside the bounds of decent society, like the KKK. But to block a lawful group with a lawful message just because it might be controversial is to attract a lawsuit likely to be lost.

The legislature tried to deal with the issue in the last session by streamlining the guidelines and installing rules on how many plates have to be sold to stay active.