Monday, September 29, 2008

$700 Billion Reasons to Love André Carson

Today, André Carson did something perhaps a freshman Congressman shouldn't do. He stood up against his own party's wishes and helped to sink the $700 billion "economic rescue" bill. By doing so, Carson (and five other Indiana colleagues including Visclosky, Hill, Buyer, Pence, and Burton) stood up for taxpayers and home owners in his district.

It just goes to show you how much this current economic crisis has split our country. Carson said in a press release that he wanted more protection for home owners...especially in cities like Indianapolis. He said he understood the need to do something, but he felt this bill wasn't it.

So, Congress goes back to the drawing board. It's a strange day when I agree with Dan Burton, Steve Buyer, or Mike Pence, but I do today. This bill is nothing more than a Wall Street bailout. I'm just antsy about buying all of this debt. I don't think our country can handle it. It's scary!

I'm not sure what the answer is, but I don't think it was this bailout. I thank Congressman Carson for standing up for me and all taxpayers.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

The Great Debate

I think John McCain just ended any chance he might have had to get any of the minority vote. By making a concious effort to not look at Barack Obama at last night's debate, he may have inadvertently or purposefully have ticked off an entire block of voters.

This is just my opinion, but I thought McCain's actions were completely distasteful and just plain odd. How can you not look at your opponent? It just makes no sense.

Of course, Senator McCain's actions over these past few weeks make no sense. He has said repeatedly that the fundamentals of our economy are strong. He has said he would fire the SEC chair...something for which a President has no authority to do. He has "suspended" his campaign to go to Washington only to stay in New York City for almost an entire day while his campaign went on. When he got to Washington, he didn't speak to Chris Dodd, the Senator negotiating a bailout deal for the economy. The deal fell apart. He said that he hadn't read the three page document outlining the White House's bailout deal after he indicated that he had read it a few days before. His campaign refused at first to let reporters in on Sarah Palin's meetings with world leaders. He left Washington to go to Mississippi without a bailout deal...something he said he wouldn't do. The list goes on.

So, is this the guy we really want as President? A guy that won't recognize an enemy? A guy that during negotiations might not even look or talk to someone. COME ON JOHN!

Show Obama some respect! He might just be your President soon, Senator McCain.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Revisionist History

Many Democrats are running around pushing against the referendum to eliminate elected township assessors by saying that this is a Republican power grab and that it is only now coming to fruition because Democrats hold the majority of the township assessors offices in Marion County. I say they are rewriting history.

About four years ago, someone first put forth this plan for smaller, more efficient government. His plan would consolidate city and county services such as police and fire departments. The plan also was to eliminate township assessors, township trustees, township advisory boards, and township constables and finish Unigov (with the exception of the excluded communities and the airport authority). You might think the author of this plan was a Republican bent on ending Democratic rule...if you said that, you're wrong. This is the Indy Works plan of one Mayor Bart Peterson.

Mayor Peterson took his plan to the State House, and the Republican-dominated legislature along with our Napoleon Mitch Daniels fought him tooth and nail. They dissected the plan and passed parts of it on to local governments to decide but gave the authority to the City-County Council to consolidate the police department. Soon after, IMPD and the Marion County Sheriff's Department were relaunched as IMPD. Township Fire Departments are starting to consolidate led by Washington and Warren Townships.

It was only after the property tax issue festered into a full blown infection and after hearing the advice of a bi-partisan commission led by former Governor Joe Kernan and Chief Justice Randall Sheppard that Mitch Daniels and the Republicans became smaller government reformers and suddenly started pushing a plan...TO ELIMINATE TOWNSHIP GOVERNMENT!

In short, no. THIS WAS NOT A REPUBLICAN POWER GRAB. IT WAS MAYOR BART PETERSON'S INDY WORKS PLAN...and...it makes sense!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Township government is not necessary! It is wasteful, and it adds taxing districts and dollars to your property tax bills! Township government was created in the days where it might take you a half day to hike into town to settle a fence dispute. It's the reason why many states have gotten rid of township government. Mayor Peterson's plan did carve out some leeway for large townships such as Center.

The same people now arguing against the plan are saying that Mitch Daniels wants to consolidate everything under appointed offices. If you read the plan, the Governor wants to consolidate everything under ELECTED COUNTY OFFICIALS. You know where I stand in the Gubernatorial race. I will not vote for Mitch, but I have to give the man credit. He's right on this particular issue.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The Gubernatorial Debate

I didn't get to hear or see it all, but what I heard of last night's debate between the three Gubernatorial candidates makes me wonder if Mitch Daniels doesn't have more than just Jill Long Thompson to worry about.

Andy Horning easily gave the best debate performance running circles around the two major party candidates with his down home charm and one liners. Horning has done this before having been the Libertarian candidate for Congress and Governor in the past. He also ran on the Republican ticket for Congress in 2004.

Horning is truly a bright, nice guy that comes across so well on the screen. While Mitch was busy putting lipstick on the pig (and I don't mean Becky Skillman) that is his record and Jill Long Thompson was trying to jab Mitch long enough to get his guard down so she could hit a haymaker, Horning just kind of stood there...smiling...and pointed out the relative hilarity of it all.

If Horning gets some cash, he will siphon some votes away from Mitch. These are the folks that would never vote for a Democrat but that aren't happy about Mitch either. Horning provides them a solid alternative. That means...a vote for Andy is like a vote for Jill...but don't tell them.

Despite the evidence to the contrary, Governor Daniels continues to come across as Polyanna. Perhaps Nero...fiddling while Rome burns around him. If Daniels passes gas, it must smell like roses. If he were a painter, I'd expect floral scenes. Mitch, as Dennie Oxley likes to say, is living on "Fantasy Island," and he's managed to even hypnotize Matt Tully into praising his record as Governor.

Regardless, the best line of the night did belong to Daniels, who after saying Jill Long Thompson wanted to return to past policies that he believes aren't moving the state forward (like his are?) that Andrew Horning would be looking "even further back then that."

Horning, unruffled by the Governor's one-liner, said he did want to go back to the past to get back closer to the Constitution. He shot back a glowing endorsement of the Constitution as, I believe he said, "The greatest thing humans have ever done."

With Horning in tow, this thing could still get interesting. Jill Long Thompson still has yet to go hard negative in her ads. This is something Joe Kernan never really did. Mitch doesn't like to have shots thrown in his way, and I think there's big potential for him to have a meltdown and call Long Thompson a "car bomber" or something like that. I think he already used that line, though.

The Momma Vote Watch

Well, after writing a few weeks ago about how my mom was going to vote for Barack Obama, she's returned to the John McCain column. She said essentially that she just can't trust Obama and that McCain is the known commodity.

She said her mind is still open to what happens at the debates, though.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

And now...a public service announcement

Well, in case you didn't hear, NFL player Chris Cooley, a tight end for the Washington Redskins revealed two pages of his playbook and...how do we put this delicately...well...his "little friend?"

There's nothing political here. Just a little humor in this tough economic time.

It was apparently a complete mistake that Cooley did not realize until well after he had posted it. It may say something about him that the mistake was apparently not easy to see. I'll let you fill in the joke from here.

Bottom line...if you're blogging and taking pictures. Don't hold something on your lap when you are unclothed. I promise to uphold this simple rule.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Mitch on Education

To watch Mitch Daniels' latest series of ads, you'd think our schools were out of control places where teachers are afraid to discipline students and are full of not necessary non-teaching positions. The situation on the ground is quite different, I think.

Mitch and his Superintendent of Public Instruction candidate, Tony Bennett, and Fuzzy Zoeller's brother, the AG candidate, appear in an ad talking about this crazy discipline free place called a school. I'm in the trenches every day at the state's largest and one of the most schools, and I've never been afraid to break up a fight or discipline a student. Not once.

You see, what Mitch fails to realize is that we have something called a teacher's union. We pay dues to this union to help defend us in the event a parent sues us. Mitch is advocating a state law to "put discipline back in the classroom." He hasn't been clear about what that means. I feel I have all the tools at my disposal to keep my class under control.

The biggest way you keep a class under control is not through discipline. It's through caring, building relationships, and making students realize that you respect them. Now, every once in a while, you need to get in there and remind students that you are in charge. It requires what Dan Fogelberg calls in his song Leader of the Band, "A Thundering Velvet Hand."

His other claim is that 46 percent of positions in public schools are teachers. The rest he doesn't get really specific about. I can't tell you what the ratio is at BD, but if you added up all the administrators, all the custodians, all the bus drivers, all the secretaries, all the paraprofessionals, all the security officials, all the others, too...you probably would be close to a 50-50 split.

Please realize, I'm not being critical here of our administration. They are doing what they can under what cards they have been given. I just want to point out what's actually happening in our schools under Mitch Daniels' leadership. Currently, Ben Davis is short staffed in the custodial and secretarial pool. We are short on lunch servers. We have one maintenance person assigned to four buildings. We have two full time computer technicians responsible for two buildings. We are teaching six classes as teachers. Secretaries are working for multiple administrators. And, yes, we have cut back there too! We have fewer administrators today than we have had in a while. Departments have been combined reducing the number of department chairs. Still, there's a huge budget shortfall coming up. Where do you cut? You can't have one custodian, one lunch lady, one secretary, and one principal for a building of 3,500 kids...that's what our governor seems to want.

Is the MSD of Wayne Township like every district? Probably not, but I think our district has done a tremendous job trying to survive in this hard economic time. Contrary to what Mitch believes, it does take administrators, custodians, secretaries, IT people, security, etc. to run our schools.

Mitch wants to focus on discipline. The Democratic candidate for Superintendent of Public Instruction, Richard Wood wants to focus on students. "Student Learning is Job One" is his slogan. Dr. Wood has it right. Mitch, Tony Bennett and the Republicans have it wrong.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

9/11

I love news. I crave it. I watch it. I talk about it. I'm a news junkie, but there's one day a year that I can't bear it.

That day is September 11. It's not that I don't respect what happened that day, but it's because I am someone that can't really handle seeing the footage of that fateful day over and over and over. I still jump when I see the fireball at the World Trade Center, and I've avoided the specials that tell about why the towers fell. I still see the smoking Pentagon and the crater in Shanksville, PA. I don't need old news footage to remind me of the cloud of dust and running crowd both kicked up by the falling towers. I can still see it all in my head.

I didn't see the planes hit live. I was at Ben Davis High School on hall duty. ISTEP testing was taking place. I was grading papers and putting things in my gradebook. The choir secretary walked up and asked me if I had heard what was going on in New York. She said something about a plane hitting the World Trade Center towers.

I thought it must have been a small plane that somehow became lost and off track, but she said that it was a jet liner. I immediately thought that certainly something must have been wrong. Something must have caused the jet liner to get off course and run into the building. Certainly, it must have been pilot error or mechanical problems. Of course, we now know that it was not.

I sat there for a few more minutes. I noticed some commotion down the hall at the bookstore. I walked down the hall, and the bookstore people were crowded around the radio there. I asked if they were getting updates about the accident at the World Trade Center. By that time, the second plane had hit. I knew that this was no accident now.

Briskly, I walked back and gathered my things. I asked to be excused from hall duty and returned to my post. While I enjoy blogging, my job as the General Manager of WBDG at Ben Davis High School pays my bills. I thought that if any day would be the day to activate the Emergency Alert System that this just might be it.

On the way back to the station, I saw our principal, Mr. Dave Marcotte. He was in his first few weeks as principal at Ben Davis, and I just kind of shook my head to him and asked him if he could believe this was happening. He informed me that the Pentagon had been hit and that the White House and Capitol Building had been evacuated. My mind started to wander to other things as I walked to my office in the station. What would happen if they started attacking state capitals? Who was responsible for this?

I made a couple of phone calls on arriving back at the station. The first was to my house to wake up my roommate. He worked late and had been sleeping in. The second was to my parents in California. They had been visiting my cousin and had tickets to fly out that night. Of course, all airline traffic would soon be grounded.

It was about that time that I heard the South Tower of the World Trade Center had collapsed. I remember asking myself if this could be true? A mighty tower like that one had collapsed? Certainly, I thought, it couldn't have all the way collapsed. I pulled out an old TV left from the old TV Studios at Ben Davis.

We were under construction, so my only option was to try to get an over the air signal. The only thing I could find that I could pick up was Fox News Channel. Once I got the TV situated for a clear picture, I was shocked. The Twin Towers were now no longer twins. The smoking North Tower was the only one standing.

I cut normal programming about this time without realizing that one of the last songs to play before I cut normal programming was "Fly Away From Here" by Aerosmith. As I was describing the scene to the listeners by watching it on TV, the North Tower fell. I remember saying with almost a deadpan delivery, "It's falling. The North Tower is falling right now."

Shortly thereafter, I noticed at the bottom of the screen that another plane had crashed in Pennsylvania. This, of course, was United Flight 93.

For a while, I'd play a song or two, pull copy off the Associated Press wire, and go on the air. I was the only person in the station because our juniors and seniors would not arrive until after ISTEP testing ended. So, I did that for a while. That was until the AP offered the opportunity to join a telephone update feed. We did that at about 11:00 a.m.

When the kids arrived, I stationed one student in the studio to monitor the phone feed. Then, I set up the TV, and we just watched the story unfold. One student had a grandmother that worked in the Pentagon. Luckily, she wasn't in the crash zone and was fine.

The rest of the day passed in a blur. I just remember the silence in the air. I have lived near the airport almost all my life, and there were no plane sounds…none in the air…nothing. It was eerie. Driving home, I remember seeing people lining up at gas stations.

What I remember most was the uncertainty. Where will we go? What does this mean? Will we ever recover?

I'd have to say that I haven't really recovered from 9/11. It changed me. The image I still see in my brain is the tight shot of the top of the North Tower starting to move downward. I see it like it was yesterday.

In my mind, I sometimes imagine what it must have been like for the passengers of the planes. I sometimes imagine being in the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, or in that Pennsylvania town watching these jets coming at you. It's still an open wound all these years later on my psyche. I'm sure I'm not the only one, but 9/11 will always seem to me like it happened yesterday.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

I'm Back...McCain & Palin Reactions

After throwing up a little in my mouth while listening to Fred Thompson drone on for what seemed like hours, Joe Lieberman drone on for what seemed like more hours, and Rudy Guiliani deride community organizers throughout the land, my expectations for the speeches of John McCain and Sarah Palin were pretty low. I was actually kind of impressed.

Still, the Republicans are good at pointing out that this year's election is about more than just speeches. The speeches of the two at the top of the Republican ticket, in restaurant terms, were long on appetizers and short on main course.

John McCain said some good things. I appreciated his willingness to seemingly take on his own party. We saw flashes of a Maverick that Goose would be happy to see. Still, Goose is dead. And, this Goose could be cooked. McCain needs to get heavy on specifics. I think that his speech laid out a very good start for him. It took a somewhat moderate and adult tone that soared in spots but hit enough of the Republican talking points to make me nervous. No one can deny that McCain has a very strong personal story, but I think he missed his moment by eight years.

Sarah Palin may have her moment in eight years, but her speech, while well delivered, showed she has a long way to go to sit in that big chair of the #2 in the West Wing. Touting her credentials as a small town mayor and a small town governor do nothing for me. Then, she derides Obama's experience as a community organizer. What are her qualifications for the job? Conservative? Mother? Mayor? Governor? I respect her as a mother. I can respect her as a Conservative. I can't respect her credentials as a small town mayor and small state governor. It was hard to watch her speech with a true straight face. That said, she showed that, after she loses this race, she will be a force to be reckoned with in the future. She is eloquent and can deliver a great speech...wait...does that sound familiar?

The fun begins soon. The debates are on tap. Can't wait! Let's get this thing on!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

On Hiatus

The blog is going on hiatus for a few days while its owner attends to some family issues in Florida. We should return soon! Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Sarah Palin-the Unvetted Trump Card

Sarah Palin is John McCain's trump card, but who knows if he has played it correctly or whether the card is high enough in the deck to trump Obama's ace.

She no doubt has some strong personal positives. She's young. She's a maverick (when it comes to bucking the party establishment). She's conservative (which will play well in the Republican Party). She's apparently tough. She's a mother who is dealing with a full plate right now with five children. She seems to be in a loving relationship with her husband.

All positives aside, she's unvetted, untested, inexperienced, and potentially the worst VEEP pick in the history of VEEP picks. She's potentially John Tyler...an unknown quantity.

In his own way, Tyler ended up being something good for the country when he became President. He was supposed to be just a part of the slogan "Tippecanoe and Tyler Too," but the Whigs quickly found out they had issues. When President William Henry Harrison died, the Whigs scrambled to try to install a new President because the Constitution was fairly unclear and ambiguous as to what Tyler's role was to be early on. Those loopholes have, of course, been pretty much closed by subsequent amendments. Still, the Whigs found out that John Tyler was a guy that was more than just "Tyler Too" with his own agenda and thoughts about his Presidency.

"His Accidency" as he was known ended up firing most of his cabinet and being run out of the Whig Party. He was not renominated, and one of our greatest Presidents that no one knows, James K. Polk became the Commander-in-Chief on a rare one term only pledge. Polk worked himself nearly to death as President dying just a few months after leaving office. That's another story.

Still, you get the feeling that John McCain may or may not know what he's gotten this country into...just like Old Tippecanoe. Now, I don't expect Senator McCain is going to be giving an hours long inaugural address without a coat and hat, but, at 72, you could argue that he perhaps should have picked someone that could step into the office on day one if necessary. I don't wish him ill, but you just figure that he should have spent more than one meeting and one phone call to Palin to see if she wanted the job. Maybe he did.

Still, I just don't believe that anyone knows exactly who Sarah Palin is. We haven't met her. We don't know her. She's not a household name. She was Governor of the least populous state in the U.S. One that is probably most unlike any other state in this country.

All of that doesn't mean that she won't make a good Vice President. After all, for most of its existence, the VEEP sits around and waits for something bad to happen. There have been very few Al Gores or Dick Cheneys in history. Heck, Aaron Burr shot and killed Alexander Hamilton when he was Vice President. I don't think Sarah Palin will be challenging anyone to a duel.

Still, she might. She remains the largest question mark in the history of modern politics. Someone with less big time political experience than even Dan Quayle. It's a risky choice that makes Obama and Biden look like the tested ticket. I can't imagine casting a ballot for McCain/Palin. I can't trust McCain's judgment, and I can't even think about Palin a heartbeat away.

She will be once she accepts the nomination Wednesday night. In the unlikely event of a Republicans win, I'll be praying that John McCain's lapse in judgment doesn't cost us all.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Jill Long Thompson's New Ad

Have you seen Jill Long Thompson's new ad?

The ad starts off with Jill talking about the promise of the state and how it's being deferred. Then, the real star of the ad, a mock-up of Mitch Daniels' RV-1 drives through the screen while real Hoosiers talk about problems in the state. The last screen shows RV-1 heading for the hills as someone asks something like "How come that RV never stops where there are problems?"

Is the ad clever? Yes. It may be too clever for its own good. Maybe I've left the reservation and am in the wilderness, but if you replace Jill with Mitch, it could be seen as a Mitch Daniels ad. The Jill Long Thompson campaign seems to be in denial that the Governor is trying to portray himself as a change agent this time around. If you don't see the whole ad (like most people that flip back and forth through commercials) you might think the ad was a spot for Mitch.

I say let's hold Mitch accountable for what he says in his own ads. When he's sitting at the kitchen table thumbing his coffee cup talking about how taxes haven't gone up, let's get that footage...turn it black and white...and tell the truth to the voters. Jill Long Thompson knows how to go negative, and I just don't agree with this ad's tone or the decision to go this route.

I really like Jill Long Thompson, and I really believe she would make a great Governor. We simply don't need this kind of kitschy style. It's serious business, and Jill Long Thompson is a serious candidate. I believe her to be much more effective taking on Mitch Daniels head on. I just feel like we need to challenge him with what he's said and done. How he sat while knowing the inventory tax repeal would put the burden of taxes on the property owners. How he sold off our state's assets one by one. How you actually NEED two jobs to replace the one you lost.

Maybe more of these ads are coming later, but this style of ad...needs to go. If you're going negative, don't go cutesy.