Thursday, June 30, 2016

Masson's Right...It's About Who Will Govern Best

In the blogosphere, there are few bloggers that I respect more than Doug Masson.  He as well as Sheila Kennedy always write posts worth reading.

He's been at it a long time, and he always finds a way to be the adult in the room even when he disagrees with you.

I read Abdul-Hakim Shabazz's Indy Politics post on John Gregg's state-paid insurance, and I decied to respond by pointing out that Mike Pence's Congressional record (for which he will qualify for a pension, by the way) was less than stellar compared to the $1.97 million in salary he took for his 12 years in Congress.

Granted, it was a big of a reach, and I wrote it to be a bit absurd but to also remind folks about Pence's work in the legislature.  

Anyway, enter Doug Masson.  Masson read both of our posts and wrote an excellent post that kind of took both of us to task without really taking us to task.  You can read the entire blog post here, and I hope you do.  It's worth your time.

Masson points out that Gregg's insurance cost nor Pence's Congressional salary should mean much in the grand scheme of things.  As Masson put it, "Neither ought to be a huge factor in a voter’s decision — the voter should be deciding which person would do a better job governing the state."

That's a way to refocus this whole kerfuffle.  Voters have to pick through all of these noisy voices out here to decide which candidate has the best vision for the state.  Last time around, no matter how I dislike it, 49.6 percent of Hoosier voters thought that was Mike Pence.  

Polling shows that Pence and Gregg are close again this time around.  I'm more convinced than ever that this year it's John Gregg.  From his plans and thoughts on education to jobs to equality to bipartisanship, Governor John Gregg needs to be hired in November and inaugurated in January, but that's my opinion.  I think many agree with me.  You can tell that Mike Pence is gravely concerned as are his allies.  It almost feels like John Gregg is the incumbent the way he's being attacked.  

It's your mind to make up, and I hope that you'll cut through all the claims and blubber and make the right decision with your vote for you.  This is just the start of the campaign, and it's going to get a lot nastier.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Reminder: Pence Took $1.97 million in Salary; Sponsored No Enacted Legislation in Congress

Governor Mike Pence
My friend Abdul-Hakim Shabazz published a report on his Indy Politics website yesterday that stated the Democratic nominee for Governor John Gregg has received $200,000 in health care from the state of Indiana through a pension plan enacted while he was Speaker of the House.

The plan has since been dropped by the General Assembly, but Gregg is apparently one of two dozen or so former legislators that continues to draw from the fund.  The others were not named.

The Fort Wayne Journal Gazette published an article on essentially the same topic.  It will be up to the voters to determine if this makes a difference because you can bet the Republican Governors Association is coming off the top rope with this one in their next negative ad.

Gregg's campaign essentially says what I say telling the Journal Gazette that this was an insurance plan available at the time Gregg left the House.  It was passed in a bi-partisan manner, and he took it.

I'd just like to point this out.

Mike Pence went to Congress in 2001.  Below are his salary amounts (without any possible extras for his benefits or his leadership roles).

2001 $145,100
2002 $150,000
2003 $154,700
2004 $158,100
2005 $162,100
2006 $165,700
2007 $165,700
2008 $169,300
2009 $174,000
2010 $174,000
2011 $174,000
2012 $174,000
Total: $1,966,700

Number of bills Mike Pence sponsored, 2001-2012: 63
Number of bills Mike Pence sponsored that were passed into law: 0

Now, I'm not saying he didn't do anything in Congress.  I'm sure Pence did constituent services and other things to earn some of that money.  He may have even worked hard.  I'm just saying...0 for 63 on a $1.97 million investment.  Pence also missed over five percent of the votes.  According to GovTrack, that's "much higher" than the median of 2.6 percent over the lifetime of a representative,

Combined with Pence's abysmal record as Governor and penchant for pushing the wrong issues, it kind of puts John Gregg's insurance issue in perspective.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

In Memoriam: Pat Summitt (1952-2016)

Coach Pat Summitt
Photo from Twitter
Besides failing health, I think one of the toughest thing about getting older is watching those around you go away.  It's watching family, friends, and heroes grow older and then have to say goodbye.

It is, however, a part of life.  No one makes it out alive.

One of my personal heroes, Pat Summitt, passed away today at the age of 64.

Five years ago, Pat was a fearsome competitor stalking the sidelines at the University of Tennessee as the head women's basketball coach.  Then, the unthinkable happened.  One of the toughest minds ever made, in my opinion, was invaded by early-onset dementia.  Alzheimer's.

Coach Summitt stayed on for one more year leading her team to the NCAA Elite Eight.  She retired at the end of that season with an amazing record of 1,098 wins and only 208 losses.  Coach Summitt won eight National Championships and was inducted into the National Basketball Hall of Fame in 2013.  I could list her accolades for hours here.  Possibly most impressive is her 100 percent graduation rate, especially in this day and age of college sports.

No one did more for women's college basketball to bring the sport where it is today than Summitt.

Probably her most dogged and determined fight, though, has been the way she has fought Alzheimer's.  She did it with her head held high and without hiding.  Her fight was public, and she showed that you can still make a difference no matter the odds.  As she was fond of saying, "It is what it is so make it what it will be."

I used to hate that quote, "It is what it is."  Summitt's addition to that quote changes the meaning entirely.  It puts you in the equation.  We can't stop what happens to us, but we can make something out of it.  She certainly did her entire life.

Pat was a great coach, a devoted mother, and a fierce competitor.  As a teacher, I'm not sure there was anyone better in college sports.

It's really hard to believe, but Pat Summitt is gone at 64.  Too soon.  My condolences to her family, her son, Tyler, and her many friends.

Let's cure Alzheimer's Disease.

RGA Drops Mint on Pence

A few weeks ago, a poll came out that showed Governor Mike Pence with a four point lead over John Gregg in the race for Governor of Indiana, 49-45 with five percent undecided.

The poll came out shortly before the Indiana Primary Election, and it was sponsored by WTHR and Indiana political analyst Brian Howey.

The polling news was followed by the revelation that John Gregg had outraised Governor Pence in campaign contributions.  It's another indicator that things aren't so hunky dory for the state's highest executive.

Yesterday afternoon, Matt Tully tweeted out another chilling fact for Mr. Pence in the Governor's race.

That's right, the Republican Governors Association has jumped into this race in a big way. I don't get the feeling that the money drop by the RGA has changed this race in any great way.  They've largely wasted this money on repeating negative attacks from 2012 in an effort to define John Gregg.

Still, Pence hasn't had to spend his own cash, which is nice.  Gregg, with no comparative support as of yet, has been spending his own campaign's money to try to fight off the attacks.  It's going to take a lot more cash to get to November.

I'm really interested to see what the next poll shows in this race.  My feeling is that it's going to be close all the way to November.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Buzzfeed Takes on Mass Shootings

Please watch this video from Eugene Yang and Buzzfeed.  It's truly worth your time.  When it's over, demand action.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Proud To Be Me; Be Proud To Be You

June is LGBTQ+ Pride Month as most of you know by now, and today marks the one-year anniversary of marriage equality in the United States.  It was one year ago that the Supreme Court stated that gay people could not be discriminated against based on who we love.

Just last week, President Obama celebrated the Stonewall Inn in New York City by naming it a National Monument.  It is the first national monument of its kind dedicated to the LGBTQ+ community's struggle for civil rights.

That fight for my community continues, by the way.  Nothing ended one year ago, but neither did life as we know it.  The sun came up on June 27, and we've passed the one year mark without the apocalypse happening.

In the spirit of the internet's own "Proud to Be" campaign which started on YouTube and has spread to many other types of media, I thought I'd take this moment to stand up and show my pride.

This is not an activity that I've always felt comfortable doing.  As I've written before on this blog, I've always known I was different than other people.  I just didn't know exactly what that meant.

I was always a little taller and a little bigger than most of my classmates.  I was always a little more awkward, and it took me until I got to high school to realize who I was.  It took me until my senior year of college to admit it, and it took me several more years to feel comfortable in the world.

Now, I'm very comfortable with the man I've become, and I look back and wouldn't change a thing.  Sure, I wish my parents were still alive, and I miss other family members who have passed.  The thing is that I have great friends and wonderful family now.  Those friends know who I am and accept me for who I am.

"If You Don't Know Me By Now..."

My cards went on the table many years ago, and that began the process of fully becoming the person that I have become.  The pressure of being outed or being exposed as gay has gone away.  Now, it's become a part of who I am, but it doesn't define who I am.

Truth is that cliche about standing up and being proud is so true.  It's because we our proud to be who we are that others come to understand us.  The last thing we should do is hide away.  When we hide, we let those that would oppress win.  It's a lot tougher to oppress someone when they look you in the eye or when they work with you or when they teach your kids or when they are your doctor or maybe even one day, your President.  Who knows?

We have to be proud of who we are.  We also have to understand that we're all in this together.  Pride without empathy is dangerous.  We've seen how destructive that can be.  Yes, I'm a proud gay man, but I understand that you may be different from me.  That's okay.  It's also what makes our country great.  I'm not the first to say it, but I'm proud of our great American tapestry.  I'm proud of being one small part of the many pieces that make up our country.

Warts and all, I'm proud of my country.  I'm proud to be an American.  I'm proud to be a resident of the world.  I'm proud we are living here at the same time.  Think about that.  We could have been born at any time, but we're here, together, right now.  Amazing isn't it.

Take stock of who you are, and be proud to be that person.  When you get to that point, life is truly amazing.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Some Notes for John Gregg's Campaign

John Gregg and Christina Hale
Photo from Gregg for Governor
on Facebook
So far the John Gregg campaign for Governor hasn't stepped wrong in 2016.

The former speaker is on message, on track, and maybe on the way from Sandborn to the Governor's Mansion in November.

I think Gregg has done a nice job reintroducing himself to the voters as well as raising money.  He needs to continue hitting voters with his bio because of all the things he's done in public and private life.  He has many different kinds of experiences that make him a very good candidate for Governor of Indiana.

If I were sitting in the campaign war room, there are three ads that I might shoot and put in my back pocket for later.

First of all, Mike Pence and his cronies at the Republican Governor's Association continue to hammer Gregg by exaggerating parts of his record as speaker of the house and associating him with the failed energy company, Enron.  I think Gregg has hit back nicely, but it might be good to have a "let's talk about it" kind of ad.  John is good at slamming the door on his opponents, and this might be a good way to shine a light on his problem and show how completely weak the attacks are.

The second ad I would shoot and file away for later is an ad that shines a spotlight on the bright light of Christina Hale.  Like Vi Simpson was in 2012, Hale is an amazing choice as a running mate.  Highlighting her personal story as well as her professional accomplishments would show voters what a tremendous asset she will be as Lieutenant Governor.

Finally, a third ad I would shoot would go for the jugular.  It would attack Pence's weaknesses.

I would have Gregg directly address his evolution on same-sex marriage, but I'd also incorporate Pence's penchant for wanting to come between a woman and her right to have domain over her own body as well as attacking Pence on RFRA.  You would have to be careful of the tone of the ad, but I would again make this a very personally-driven ad with Gregg on camera.  I think he can connect with the hearts of voters.

Again, these are just suggestions.  I know Gregg has smart people like Tim Henderson driving his campaign, so I can imagine we'll see some good stuff as the summer season continues to march toward fall and November.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Johnson, Weld Get Their Close-up

CNN gave the Libertarian Party a huge boost last night by highlighting its ticket in a town hall forum.

It wasn't letting the two former governors in the debates, but it was a big step by a major network for the party that will or will come closest to having 50-state ballot access.

You probably know by now that former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson leads the ticket.  He selected former Massachusetts Governor William Weld as his running mate.

Johnson is running for President of the United States for a second time. Along with Judge James Gray, Johnson, a former Republican, scored 1,275,821 votes or nearly one percent of the total vote back in 2012.  That was good enough to finish third.

This time around, he's polling in double digits in some polls and is even polling higher than Hillary Clinton among independents in some as well.  Personally, I think it's too early to declare anything nationally, but it has to be an encouraging sign for the Libertarians.

While Johnson, who describes himself as a social liberal and a fiscal conservative, has an impressive background, his best asset might be the man he chose as his running mate.

William Weld's bio reads as one of the most interesting men in politics.  The two-term Governor of Massachusetts served in many capacities within the Republican Party.  He resigned as Governor to become Ambassador to Mexico under Bill Clinton, but he fell victim to the late Jesse Helms who blocked his nomination in the U.S. Senate.  That's a badge of honor to be opposed by Jesse Helms.

Weld moved to New York and ran for Governor of that state, but he lost the nomination to John Faso who then lost the General Election to Eliott Spitzer in 2006.  Before his political career, Weld was a successful attorney and federal prosecutor.  He also served as an Assistant Attorney General under President Reagan.  Weld has been an author of fictional novels, an actor, and now a Vice Presidential nominee.

If I'm being honest, I thought Johnson gave a so-so performance in the town hall.  He's a bit awkward, but he does have an endearing quality about him.  I think he's more than capable of serving as President.  Johnson indicated that he and Weld would be more of a matched set than a President and Vice President.  Johnson repeatedly deferred to Weld, who seemed much more at ease, during the forum.

While I believe Hillary Clinton is still the best and most presidential candidate in the race, Johnson and Weld make a very good team, and it's easy to see why Libertarians are excited about the two.  They far exceed the prospects of a President Donald Trump Administration.