Monday, May 31, 2010

It's Memorial Day

By Jon E. Easter

My father was a teacher during the Vietnam era, and two of his students are immortalized on the Vietnam Wall. One of the most touching moments of my life was watching him find those two students' names on the wall and spend a quiet moment there with them.

It's Memorial Day. Let's remember those that have made that ultimate sacrifice, and let's hope there's a day that no one will have to give their lives in battle.

Few modern songs, in my view, do as good a job of expressing what it means to be an American soldier as much as this song by Toby Keith does. "American Soldier" tells the story of so many of our fighting men and women. They count up the cost and "know the sacrifice."

RIP Dennis Hopper

One of my favorite scenes in one of my favorite movies. RIP to a great actor.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Bob Woodward on Investigative Journalism

This piece doesn't have a political spin to it, but it is important when it comes to journalism. Journalism is one of my passions. It's one of the reasons I do this blog.

Anyway, here is an awesome piece from one of my heroes, Bob Woodward, on investigative journalism. It's worth a watch if you love journalism as much as I do.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Hamilton County Democratic Women Post Video of Crawford Meeting

By Jon E. Easter

Here is the video of Tim Crawford's visit with the Hamilton County Democratic Women last Saturday morning. To say it went poorly would be an understatement. This is the genesis of the "Resign Crawford" movement.

There are five parts...each is about 10 minutes. My commentary follows.

I don't want to seem like I'm defending Tim Crawford, but I've run a bunch of meetings. When people start jumping on your speaker, it's the job of the meeting chair to jump in and restore order. I have found myself doing this before. I always think that a speaker is giving his or her time for your club or organization. It's your job as meeting chair to make sure they are treated fairly. I don't feel as if Tim Crawford got a fair shake. That's my opinion. Things got far too personal. Things got, frankly, out of hand.

That said, Tim Crawford clearly is not ready to go to Congress. He has little understanding of the most basic issues important to Democrats. He was not prepared. He did not come across very well at all.

I will still say that 5th District Democrats brought this on themselves. Nasser Hanna was the better, more qualified, and more polished candidate. He was ready to serve from day one. Crawford is not. As the video confirms, primary elections and turning out the vote DO have consequences. Lack of voter education DOES have consequences. The 5th District Democratic organization seems to have failed in this regard. It forgot to educate voters that there's more to a candidate than just a name. That's how Dr. Nasser Hanna can lose to a guy like Tim Crawford.

Before we blame Hanna's loss entirely on name warfare, I have a short story for you. Tonight, while attending a Democratic meeting in the 5th District, I saw about 25-30 Nasser Hanna signs leaning neatly against a wall in the meeting room. The wires were not rusty, and it looked like they had not touched the ground at all...and we wonder why he lost?

Somebody needs to take responsibility for this. Who gets it? Dr. Hanna? The Democratic organization in the 5th District? Someone else?

You may be disappointed, but don't blame Tim Crawford. All he did was put his name on the ballot and get elected. Bob Kern, Pierre Quincy Pullins, Hippie Joe Stockett and others do it too.

Did you know that after his unsuccessful run against Andre Carson in the 7th District that Bob Kern was Brad Ellsworth's competition for the junior Indiana Senate seat? In terms of his upset victory over a party-backed candidate with a foreign-sounding name, Tim Crawford is 2010's Bob Kern. He won't slip by next time. I just find it interesting that Kern's Republican opponent was Dan Burton. This has happened before in this district. See a pattern?

Thursday, May 27, 2010

BREAKING NEWS: House Votes to Repeal Don't Ask Don't Tell

Just days short of Memorial Day and with public polls now backing the repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell by wide margins, the U.S. House of Representatives voted to take down the policy tonight, 234-194. Apparently, five Republicans joined most Democrats and voted for the repeal while 26 Democrats joined most Republicans in voting against the repeal.

This is a huge step forward. Now, the abyss called the U.S. Senate is next for the bill. Expect Republicans to draw battle lines and fight this battle. They may not win, but they're going to get their shots in on this one.

I Have Returned, But You May Hope I Go Away

By Jon E. Easter

I’m going to say something that might draw the ire of my Democratic friends. Tim Crawford won an election, and he should stay in the race. I am on three antibiotics, so it might be the medicine talking. Hear me out.

Tim Crawford may be an ex-Republican. Tim Crawford may be somewhat anti-Obama. Tim Crawford may have benefitted from being named Tim Crawford and not Nasser Hanna. Tim Crawford may be more conservative than even Dan Burton, but let’s face facts. The 5th District elected him.

True Democrats did not work hard enough for Nasser Hanna, so you got what you got.

So, lay off his case. Stop telling him to resign. It’s not his fault he won. If you didn't go to the polls and vote for Nasser Hanna, it’s your fault he won, 5th District Democrats. Maybe everybody saw it as a foregone conclusion, but the toothpaste is out of the tube now. There’s no going back.

From all accounts, Tim Crawford may be a disaster on the campaign trail, but, 5th District, he’s your guy now. You can’t rewrite history. Nope. Won’t happen. So, don’t ask me for sympathy or to support your cause to get Mr. Crawford off the ballot.

You had a chance to elect Nasser Hanna, and you elected Tim Crawford as your nominee. Deal with it.

Obama Failing Disaster Relief Test

By Jon E. Easter

You know what? The President of the United States has a tough job. I realize that.

President Barack Obama has had it tougher than many of his predecessors. Besides the fact that he prevailed in a divisive climate in Washington, he inherited a messy economy, two wars, a fractured nation, and a myriad of scandals. Slowly but surely, Obama has begun to tick off the campaign promise list. The progress has been more quick lately.

In the past couple of months the economy has begun to turn around, but things are still uncertain in the world. Problems in Europe have effected the stock market, and there is still uncertainty. Consumer confidence is up though. People are starting to get back to work.

The problem is that things keep popping up. These are the things a President hopes he (or eventually she) never has to deal with. Sure you have the scary prospect of the people that want to do us harm across the world by inciting terror. There are many. You also have the biggest terrorist: The Natural or Man-Made Disaster. On this front, I'm sorry to say, President Obama is more like President George W. Bush than President Clinton.

Nashville is still waiting for President Obama to tour its flooding damage that devastated that community. Now, the perception is that Republican Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal is going rogue because he can't get what he needs from President Obama. The truth really is that Jindal is part of the problem. Rather than act as a watchdog for his state, he praised President Bush for lifting the offshore drilling ban in 2008.

But, perception is too often reality in politics. The perception is that President Obama has been more hands off than hands on. That perception needs to change. The reality needs to change. He needs to do it now, and he needs to do it himself.

President Obama needs to use a full court press and name lead a blue ribbon, all star panel to find a solution and have a plan. I would suggest someone like General Wesley Clark. Someone that has the experience of deploying resources and military units in the field. Obama needs to get himself to Nashville. He needs to shake the hands and hug the victims.

After all, President Obama is not only the Commander-in-Chief, but he is the Comforter-in-Chief. While it's important to be in control of the situation in Washington, it's important to respond to the people in Tennessee and Louisiana.

If people are going to call these disasters Obama's Katrina, it's time for him to own this mess and realize that if you want something done, you have to do it yourself.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

36 Days and Counting (With Update)

By Christopher Jackson

Surfing the usual blogs and news sites today, I saw the best headline I've seen lately, "Obama to Aides: 'Plug the Damn Hole.'" This is the type of response that our President needs to be giving publicly. BP is conducting a half ass attempt to prevent this spill from getting worse than it already is (if it can even get any worse). It has been 36 days, with no end in sight. We need the government to step in and new, radical ideas to be presented.

Over at Daily Kos, the point is made:
So, here's the question: if no one knows how to stop such a disaster, why is anyone allowed to risk starting one, in the first place? If no one knows how to stop such a leak in such deep water, why is anyone allowed to drill there?
This question addresses the underlying issues of offshore drilling, but that is not the point of this post. A real discussion needs to occur about the most radical ideas that we have as options to solve the crisis, think Apollo 13.

Theres been talk about the government taking over the clean up operations from BP to attempt to solve this issue. That would be a good start. So to all the federal officials out there, DO IT! Its time to step up to the plate! Handling crises like this are what you are supposed to excel at, not allowing for a multinational corporation (MNC) to clean up a problem that they, themselves, created by cutting corners in the name of increasing profits. On top of this, I hope the Justice Department prosecutes the officials at BP for what they have done.

As for how to solve the spill, an idea I have thought about and then saw posted at FDL, albeit modified slightly, is to blow up the, excuse the French, damn well. As the author points out, why not use a bomb to blow up the well to seal it shut. The Christian Science Monitor article that the FDL links to, advocates the use of a nuclear bomb to do the job, as the Soviet Union did so in the past. Although I feel the nuclear-based part is not necessary, because we have conventional bunker buster bombs and others, this should seriously be explored as an option. BP has tried their funnel, their top hats, their milkshake straw, and now are back to trying another blow out preventer, after the fact that the first one didn't work. Everything should be on the table. I would rather have a very small pocket of radiation 5,000 feet underground and under the ocean, if the nuclear route were to be taken, than for more oil, now greater than the amount the Exxon Valdez spilled, to pour into the Gulf of Mexico, with no end in sight.

Please join me in boycotting BP and imploring the government to take true action to stop this continued destruction of our environment and to seek justice for BPs actions.

Update: Maybe President Obama should listen to his Nobel Prize winning, Secretary of Energy on the issue of offshore drilling.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Tim Crawford Changes Mind...Stays in 5th District Race

By Jon E. Easter

Tim Crawford sent out a personal and heartfelt e-mail this morning to bloggers and media regarding his run for Congress in the 5th District. It certainly puts a human face on someone we didn't know all that well so far. Here is the letter, unedited.


To whom it may concern,
My name is Tim Crawford. I am a 28 year old conservative American running for the United States House of Representatives in Indiana’s 5th district. I am writing this letter to provide voters and the media with knowledge, explaining what happened from my point of view. This is a chance for people to get to know me and make judgment righteously.

On May 22nd, 2010, I attended a meeting at the Fishers Public Library with the Hamilton County Democratic Women. I will be honest in saying I was not prepared. My mishap, in turn, has offered me a valuable and humbling lesson. I have taken some time to step back from the situation that arose, thinking about it with calmness and logic. This group of women invited me to their gathering to meet me. Eventually things got out of control, forming into a one sided show for disapproval of me.

After being bombarded by disagreeing group interjections, I was flustered and felt bullied. This led me to make an irrational and provoked response that I was dropping out of the race. I believe this was their agenda all along. Due to the situation, and my personal circumstances, my emotions had been building for a while and got the best of me on that day. After talking to friends, family and supporters, I am not dropping out of the race. This group did not support me personally or befriend me until I told them I would step aside. Why should I let their will and influence override my dream for our country? As I grow, while continuing to learn politically and personally, I must follow this candidacy through. I left college without a degree and it is more important to me to finish what I have currently started. I will not give up on the fight for a fair and noble existence. I am taking a strong stance against quitting and I pray this stand will not be in vain. We all need to be reminded that politicians are only human, mistakes will happen, and no one is perfect. I want the people who agree and disagree with me, to go through this campaign learning that the grass is not greener on this side. Then people might think before they bash, allow truths to prevail, and eventually bring media spin to a screeching halt. We have to start working together to achieve common goals, without breaking the vows of the United States Constitution, and stand up for the principle ideas the founding fathers have set before us.

First, I am hesitantly bringing a very personal fact to light. I hope it explains my recent lack of preparation and concentration, as well my emotional actions.

Recently, my mother was diagnosed in the final stages of pancreatic cancer. This cancer is usually found in its advance stages, often inoperable, and spreads, as it has in her case. Pancreatic cancer is terminal, painful, and she could have less than a year to live. During the downturn of the economy, in July 2008, I moved in with her after being let go from my job. I currently live with her now and I have become her caregiver. In the recent weeks, I have been driving her daily to radiation treatments at the IU Medical Center, helping her pick up prescriptions, and handling miscellaneous tasks such as grocery shopping, cooking, etc. I thank God we have family and friends that have also stepped in to assist in comforting an amazing women, and a great, loving mother.

She has both good and bad days that fill our daily routine. The Saturday morning of the meeting, she was having one of her bad days. While hovered over the sink vomiting and in pain, she stated she’d be fine and encouraged me to go to the meeting. My departing vision and emotional state, as I walked out the door that day, was obviously focused on my mother’s well-being.

There have been few moments of joy for my mom since our family has received news of this diagnosis. One was watching me win the democratic primary in early May. Another was finding out that my brother Jacob and his wife Megan are expecting a child in November. Lord willing, I hope my mother lives long enough to see her first grandchild and hopefully, me winning a position in Washington. I am asking everyone to pray for my mother. She and I both believe in miracles.

Mothers are typically the biggest supporter of their children. In this case, it is so. She is the first person I talked to about the scenario that happened at the HCDW meeting. The first thing she said was, “You can’t quit!” “Quitting is giving up on the people who voted for you, support you, and believe as you do.” And I totally agree.

My personal situation was something I originally did not want to bring into the mix of this election. I am not telling the public about my mother’s illness so I can achieve or obtain voters through sympathy. I find it to be unfair to the opposition. I just want people to understand my predicament. I am not a pity party person and I strive not to live a woe is me lifestyle. I want to run a clean campaign where the voters decide based upon character, intent, and beliefs. I want to be as bipartisan as I can be without jeopardizing morals and our American fundamentals.

Next, I would like to address the people I met at the Hamilton County Democratic Women meeting. I hope you can find forgiveness. I am setting aside ego and apologizing for going against what I told you. It was something I should have never said, and I hope we can all learn from this. I feel that dropping out of the race would be turning my back on the people who do support me and may support me in the future. Quitting is not the noble thing to do. I will take your advice and learn more of what your group stands for. Either common bonds will be found or evidences that point to the latter will be offered. Expect an update to the website soon. We may not always agree, but I wish you would continue your involvement and keep searching for the truth as well.

Everyone should keep in mind that there are times when people can get set in their ways. We must focus on the repercussions of our actions, as I have learned through this experience. As I try to keep an open mind, I implore others from all parties to do so as well. My ongoing mission will be to diligently investigate and gain all the knowledge I can. My duty is to prepare for this position and seek the best possible solutions for this nation’s recovery.

As an ex-republican, in order to voice the possibility of compromise, I am running under the democratic ticket to serve as a medium between parties. This is supposed to be the position of the President, Vice President and the Speaker of the House. I feel they, as well as many of our current elected officials, have failed in this task. The best way to battle failures in government is to keep the tree of liberty refreshed. A new generation of politicians needs to be voted into office now, and from time to time. This should help correct errors and overturn any wrongs that have been set before us.

I hope God’s grace is with us all, as we move forward as a nation, and in our individual lives. I thank you for your time.

Tim Crawford

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Crawford Rumored to Be Pulling Out of Race for Congress in the 5th District

By Jon E. Easter

OK, just like the Akula submarine in Crimson Tide, I'm getting off a blog post before I go down on hiatus. Let's hear it for obscure submarine movie references.

Anyway, the Cinderella campaign of "Democrat" Tim Crawford appears to be over. Crawford was the upset winner by a wide margin over Nasser Hanna in the battle for the 5th Congressional District Dem nomination. Crawford was to face Republican Dan Burton in the fall.

I have two independent sources on this story. One tells me that Crawford himself announced his departure from the race while meeting with the Hamilton County Women's Group and that it is on tape. The other source is Chris Worden's IPOPA blog.

This is yet another Congressional ballot opening for one of the major parties. District 3 is open right now for the GOP, and District 5 appears to be opening for the Democrats. By Indiana Code, this will create the need for a caucus of PC's in the 5th called by Indiana Democratic Party Chair Dan Parker which will happen within 30 days of the ballot vacancy. Interested candidates will file with the state party.

This may give Nasser Hanna a chance to run for the seat after all. Then again, any Democrat can run for the seat. Also, there is no residency requirement other than to be a citizen of Indiana. Past candidates like Katherine Fox Carr could conceivably make another run. That's total speculation, by the way. I'm sure this will be a story to watch over the next few days.

It is pretty head scratching as to why Crawford would choose to leave the race. Perhaps he received pressure to drop out from someone?

Incidentally, I e-mailed Crawford a few days after the primary, and I invited him to do a guest post explaining why Democrats should be enthused about supporting him given his views. He did not respond.


By Jon E. Easter

Well folks, as much as I'm enjoying the current political situation, life is interfering with me. Besides being the end of another school year this week, I have managed to pick up a nasty and persistent skin infection on my face right underneath my jawline.

While I am under the care of my doctor and two antibiotics, I have no idea where this is going to lead me. Hopefully, I start seeing improvement soon. Anyway, I am going to be taking some time away from the blog due to the work schedule and this darn persistent thing on my neck.

As Chris is still posting occasionally, I'm sure there will be plenty of posts here for your entertainment over the next few days. Thanks for your understanding! I appreciate your support!

Until next time!

Saturday Humor: Chickens for Checkups...Redux

By Jon E. Easter

Before she flew the coop and backed the innovative (in 1800) chickens for checkups health plan, Susan Lowden was ahead of Harry Reid by 10 points in the polls. Now, she finds herself down seven points, 42-35, to Reid in a May 11 poll. Time for a course correction, right? So, she seems to be trying to rewrite history and unsay what she said more than once on health care.

Looks like she trying to run around like a chicken with her head cut off to get back in the race. Sorry, that was clucked up.

From the Rachel Maddow Show on MSNBC

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

And the original Chickens for Checkups video.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Daniels Shoots Off Mouth...AGAIN

By Jon E. Easter

"It's easy to sit in the affluence of Bloomington or maybe Indianapolis and say, 'I got mine.'"

That was Governor Mitch Daniels' response to those individuals that are questioning his announcement to fast track the expansion of I-69.

The Governor of Indiana is trying to make these grassroots protesters into rich and elite. Well, I happen to know a few of the anti-I-69 crowd, and Governor Daniels, none of the ones I know are rich or elite.

Daniels could spend close to $300 million more than he tells us he's going to spend on the I-69 project. His advertised cost is $700 million, but cost overruns could push the amount to $989 million, according to the Indianapolis Star. Why would people want to question him?

Mitch Daniels was never held accountable for calling his General Assembly opponents, "car bombers," early in his term. He shot off his mouth after the voter ID bill was overturned by the Indiana Court of Appeals. About a year ago, Daniels encouraged skirting the federal rules for the construction of I-69 to keep cost down, "Throw away the rule book to the extent the feds will let you do it."

Now that he's a lame duck, I guess the Governor thinks he can say anything. Maybe he can, but he's dead wrong when it comes to opponents of I-69 and the folks watchdog-ing state government. He needs to be given a reality check on these folks.

Ellsworth Needs Quick Introduction to Voters

By Jon E. Easter

Congressman Brad Ellsworth's campaign has put together an excellent video to introduce him to Indiana voters at large, but, so far, it's only a web ad. As I write this, only 175 people have watched it.

If you go through Ellsworth's campaign ads and videos from previous runs, you can see that the video is cobbled together from several of those ads with a little bit of new stuff thrown in.

I would advocate that it's time for Brad Ellsworth to get loud and get out and meet the state. I know that he has been quietly campaigning and raising money for the seat nearly since it became clear that Evan Bayh was not running for re-election, but the time is now to define yourself or be defined by Dan Coats.

You see, Dan Coats is actually trying to portray one of the most conservative Democrats in the House as a liberal. He is taking Ellsworth's health care vote and trying to turn it into an entire campaign. It's time for Ellsworth to say stop it.

Right or wrong, Brad Ellsworth is not progressive. He defeated the ultra conservative John Hostettler for a seat in Congress in 2006 and has carved himself out a right center existence there. That is not my ideal Congressman, but he has been the right representative for the Bloody 8th. Stay tuned to the blog for an in-depth analysis of the 8th District race soon.

I think that he strikes some of the right chords in this web ad, but he needs to take his message to the voters through earned media and then perhaps even through a small media buy.

If I were advising Ellsworth, I would utilize the wonderful support he enjoys from the 8th Congressional District in my small media buy. Perhaps have conservative residents from the district talk about what Ellsworth has done for them and maybe how he's the first Democrat they've voted for. Utilize those testimonials from real Hoosiers to build your resume is what I would say. Julia Carson did it in the 7th, and I think it will work for Ellsworth statewide.

Earned media is important right now. If I were Ellsworth, I'd make sure I was on the evening news or in the papers on a regular basis between now and November. It's not free media; it's earned media. Ellsworth needs to be seen. That's one of his greatest advantages over Coats is that he's telegenic. Besides that, he has substance.

If Ellsworth stays quiet, he can raise a lot of money, but I'm not sure what that gets him. He will then have to fight harder to undo what Coats will certainly try to do to his record. Rather than define himself, Coats will define him for the voters, and that's not a good thing for Ellsworth.

I would also, if I were Brad Ellsworth, make this election about Dan Coats. Coats certainly arrives with five or six packed suitcases and a couple of carry-ons full of baggage. He's a current lobbyist with a record of all sorts of objectionable clients, foreign and domestic. It's time to tee off on Coats, too. The Sheriff keeping us safe from the lobbyist.

And, speaking of "The Sheriff", that seems to be the kind of campaign that Ellsworth wants to run. He apparently wants us to forget that he was a Congressman for these last three years. I get it. Congress isn't that popular right now, but I think it would behoove him to talk about what he's done to try to change the dialogue in the nation's capital. He has done this while Coats has been a lobbyist trying to keep that old time system afloat.

That's a long answer to the simple problem. It's time for Ellsworth to kick his campaign into gear with an earned media blitz and a small media buy. He needs to say, "I'm Brad Ellsworth, and this is who I am."

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Daniels Content to Finish I-69 While Schools Layoff Teachers

By Jon Easter

Governor Mitch Daniels made a bold proclamation yesterday. He said that the I-69 extension from Bloomington to Evansville will be completed by 2014. He plans to spend $700 million from the Major Moves deal to get the construction done.

Now, I understand that Major Moves was a highway deal, and the money must be used for highways. Still, you have to wonder why the Governor would be so ready to announce this type of spending while schools continue to layoff teachers.

Week after week after week, more school boards are forced to make tough decisions. While the Governor fast tracks I-69, his Superintendent of Public Instruction, Tony Bennett and conservative and moderate General Assembly members continue to systematically dis-assemble the Indiana Public School System. This crappy school funding formula is only one part, but the bigger nail in the coffin was the new property tax law which made my property taxes lower but made my school's funding crappier. If you don't believe me, just look at this website for further proof. Just yesterday, Anderson Community Schools announced they would lay off 163 school employees.

Now, they want to put these new property tax rules into the Indiana Constitution. If you care about schools, kids, and public education, this CANNOT happen. We don't know how all of this will ultimately effect schools. The early results don't look good. Not at all. I know what Mitch is thinking. He's probably thinking that all of these teachers that are not employed anymore can go to work to build I-69.

So, Mitch Daniels advocates for the fast track and on-the-cheap finish of a road but not for our schools? Mitch Daniels has his priorities all mixed up.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Field Already Crowding to Replace Souder

By Jon Easter

CQ Politics is reporting that several Republicans are now vying to succeed the resigning Mark Souder even before the ink on Souder's resignation letter is dry.

Among the competitors are State Senator Marlin Stutzman, longtime GOP insider State Rep. Randy Borror, Souder's Primary election opponent Bob Thomas, and attorney Phil Troyer. CQ reports that there will be a GOP caucus to determine a party choice. This, of course, was the same method followed when Julia Carson passed away in the 7th District in late 2007. The January 2008 caucus attracted several candidates for that seat.

I'm assuming there will also be a Democratic caucus as well. By virtue of the primary win, Tom Hayhurst is the Democratic candidate for the General Election in November. I do not know if he plans to run for the seat in a Special Election.

Indiana's 9th District Race Could Be A Barn Burner...AGAIN

By Jon E. Easter

Over the next few weeks, I’d like to spotlight and highlight a number of the Congressional races that are currently well underway as we climb towards the General Election in November.

Today, let’s take on the 9th Congressional District with the battle between incumbent Democrat Baron Hill, Republican newcomer Todd Young, and Libertarian Greg Knott.

The 9th is a complicated district that covers essentially South Central and Southeastern Indiana. It includes most of Columbus, most of the Bloomington, the Louisville suburbs, the Cincinnati suburbs and other communities in between. It has elements of everything that makes Indiana…well…Indiana. From the manufacturing industry around the Ohio River to the Indiana University campus to the old state capital of Corydon to the vast farmlands in between, it takes a mix of progressive and conservative ideas to represent it well. It is a microcosm of the rest of the state.

Seated in the 9th District is veteran legislator Baron Hill. After an unsuccessful run for Senate in 1990 to replace Dan Quayle when he was named Vice President by George H.W. Bush, Hill was elected in 1998 to replace the retiring Lee Hamilton in a close race. He was re-elected in 2000 and again in 2002 in a nail biter over Republican Mike Sodrel. In 2004, he was narrowly defeated by Sodrel, but he won a rematch in 2006. He defeated Sodrel again in 2008 resoundingly, 58-39 percent. As most of you know, Hill is a Blue Dog Democrat, a conservative coalition of Dems of which three of Indiana’s five Democratic representatives play key roles. Hill has been mentioned as a possible candidate for Governor in 2012.

His main challenger will be Republican Todd Young. Young prevailed in a close primary fight over Travis Haskins and the guy that never quits, Mike Sodrel, who finished a distant third. As a side note, if Sodrel didn’t get the hint that he’s no longer wanted, I think this Primary Election provided him plenty of insight. Young worked the hardest for the GOP nod, and he took the spot from the favored Sodrel. Young is a former Marine and is a part-time Orange County Deputy Prosecutor. He's an Indianapolis native that has also lived in Hamilton County. That's something that the Indiana Democratic Party brought up.

Libertarian Greg Knott will also challenge. The Libertarians are making a big deal about Knott being under 35. He's a network administrator for a Bloomington company. A quick Google search ferrets out no campaign website, but there are a few blog posts like this one from SchansBlog that talks about his support of the Fair Tax. You do have to credit the Libertarians for finding a number of good people ready to step up and run. They have found candidates in all nine districts, for U.S. Senate, and for several other offices.

Given that Hill was trailing by nine points in a FDL/Survey USA Poll to the vanquished Sodrel in January, you would have to figure that Hill is in a bit of a pickle in the 9th this time around. While there are still over six months for this race to take twists and turns, you would think that Young will have to let people get to know him a bit before they are willing to turn the keys over to him. CQ Politics lists the district as a Lean Democratic district. The Cook Political Report calls it a toss-up.

I think, at this early stage, I have to agree with Cook. At this point, I think Hill in in trouble, but that doesn't mean I think he will lose. Hill has been a Blue Dog, and Young may actually turn out to be a bit conservative for the moderate leaning district. Knott may pull two or three percent away from Young, and in a close race, it might actually put Hill over the top. Hill knows how to run and win in close races. He's a master at it, and I think this one will be another one to add to his quiver. I will have to wait a while to definitively call this one, but nothing would surprise me in the 9th. It's reasonable to assume that this will not be the only blog post on the race in the Fightin' 9th. It should be an interesting race for the politicos to watch.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Looks Like Specter Ghostbusted in Pennsylvania

By Jon E. Easter

Senator Arlen Specter's long, nearly 30-year, Senate career appears to be over tonight. The Republican-turned-Democrat's supporters are telling NBC News tonight that they do not believe that Specter can overcome the early lead for Rep. and retired Rear Admiral Joe Sestak, and NBC News is calling the race for Sestak.

Specter is 80 years old and was successfully portrayed by Rep. Sestak as an opportunist for changing his party from Republican to Democrat, someone who would do anything to hold on to power. He was known almost more for his curmudgeonly ways than his accomplishments in office. He also bravely worked through his cancer treatments in 2005 which drew the support from almost everyone. Quietly, Specter is already blaming President Obama for abandoning him, but I think that Obama saw the writing on the wall.

In other races, it looks like Rand Paul has triumphed for the Tea Party in Kentucky, and that Blanche Lincoln is out to an early lead in Arkansas. She needs to get to 50 percent to avoid a runoff with Lieutenant Governor Bill Halter.

In the Special Election to fill the seat of the late Jack Murtha, former staffer Mark Critz takes the old boss's seat in a critical hold for the Democrats. It's a big win for Pennsylvania Dems.

Souder Resignation Creating New Landscape in 3rd District

By Jon E. Easter

I've said before when we've seen this sort of thing. I don't revel in this sort of thing. Congressman, Congresswomen, Senators, State Legislators, Mayors, Trustees, Councillors, etc. are people, too. So, I have to shake my head at the entire situation with Congressman Mark Souder. His statement sounded heartfelt, and I wish him the best. With his religious beliefs, I think he thinks he will likely have to answer to a higher power on this one.

The advice to anyone in power, "Don't believe you can get away with anything with anyone at anytime, and, if you are hiding something, 'tis best you do the uncovering before you are uncovered. The sunshine will shine upon you. It doesn't matter what it is; someone is watching."

That said, the previously untouchable Souder did the right thing. He had no choice but to resign, and it sounds like as I read multiple news reports that the Republicans worked quickly to cut him loose from their caucus. John Boehner, according to several sources, was quick to tell Souder to quit. And, rather than try to survive a tough election against a tough Democrat, Souder did the right thing for his party and his district.

For the first time since 1995, a new person will represent the 3rd Congressional District, and this scandal opens up a bit of a wound for the Republicans in District 3, but this is, after all, a very Republican district. In 2008, amidst Republican losses everywhere, Souder was returned to Congress by a 55-39 percent margin over Democrat Mike Montagno. Democrat Tom Hayhurst, who gave Souder his toughest fight in 2006, won the Democratic nomination and will battle the Republican nominee, at least in November...if not before.

The future of the representation of the 3rd Congressional District now lies in the hands of Governor Mitch Daniels. At his discretion, Daniels can set a Special Election date to replace Souder. There is no date requirement for the Governor, but the Indianapolis Star reports that logistically 60 days would be necessary to run an election. That would be sometime in July.

A short campaign season would favor someone with high name recognition. Hayhurst doesn't have to enter the Special Election if he doesn't want to do so. Who knows if any Democrats will try to enter the race. Jill Long Thompson did once represent the area in Congress.

The Republican side is pretty wide open, but speculation is centering on Marlin Stutzman. Stutzman is still on the tip of the tongue of many Hoosiers after challenging Dan Coats and three other Republicans for the Senate nomination. Former Fort Wayne Mayor Paul Helmke could be a nice seat filler. The GOP also needs to fill its ballot for November now. Should the GOP candidate prevail in a Special Election, which is likely, it makes things always interesting for the General.

The last Special Election in Indiana occurred in the 7th Congressional District. Congressman Andre Carson defeated Republican Jon Elrod in March of 2008 to fill the seat his late grandmother, Julia Carson, held until her death. Carson then prevailed in a brutal seven-way Primary defeating some great candidates in the process. Elrod did not run again in the May Primary instead choosing to go back and focus on his Indiana House seat. He lost that seat, too, to Mary Ann Sullivan in House District 97. Gabrielle Campo was the GOP candidate for Carson in November, and Carson collected 65 percent of the vote.

Souder's exit makes the opening for a Democrat to take the seat in the Special Election. These types of enterprises are extremely hard to predict. Should a Democrat run the right campaign, you can win a Special Election in this area as a D. Long Thompson did.

So, in the 3rd District, all eyes are on Mitch Daniels. He has the next move in determining a date for a Special Election.

This is unintentionally the start of my look at the upcoming Congressional races in all nine Indiana districts. The 9th District follows tomorrow morning.

Souder to Resign

By Christopher Jackson

Representative Mark Souder (Hypocrite-IN) has been reported to resign later today, as first reported by Fox News early this morning. the resignation comes as a response to an affair that Souder was having with a staffer that would have placed him in front of the House Ethics committee. As a 'family values' Representative, this just demonstrates the hypocrisy of the Republican Party establishment for the 248,317th time in 2010. I can't wait to see how the IN GOP tries to respond to this and say it's not a big deal.

The three big questions that I am trying to figure out answers to are: 1) Will charges be pursued since it was bad enough to land him in hot water with the Ethics Committee, 2) How will a successor be chosen, and if that is by Special Election, when would that occur, and 3) How will this affect the ballot because he won his contested primary early his month?

Religious Bigotry Strikes Back

By Christopher Jackson

In just the past 24 hours, multiple stories have arisen about religious bigotry entering back into our nation's political conversation. First, if you haven't heard, the new Miss USA was crowned last night. Miss Michigan, Rima Fakih, is a Lebanese-American, who is a member of a large Lebanese community in Dearborn, MI. She is only the second Arab-American to win the crown, and the first Muslim. Oh noes, she's a Muslim! At least that is what the right wingers are saying today. I would link to some reactions from the right wing responses directly, but they don't deserve the site traffic, so check out the ThinkProgress link above to see some of the savageness and insults being hurled.

In addition to this, Congressman Carson was tagged in a new story that Channel 8 did on anti-Muslim comments found associated with the campaign of perennial candidate Dr. Marvin Scott. The video on Facebook is found here. The video also mentions a blog post over at the Indianapolis Times, by fellow blogger Terry Burns. At issue is a fundraiser invitation and a Facebook page post, since deleted, the implied that Congressman Carson is a Muslim extremist and terrorist. Dr. Scott denies that he knew about the comments when they were made, and when told about them, he flatly states that he does not agree with them and that Congressman Carson's religion will not be made into a campaign issue. While I believe that Dr. Scott does not agree with the allegations made, the issue still stands on why religion bigotry is able to permeate our political discussions?

Why does it matter that Miss USA (who coincidentally attended a Christian high school, and who's family celebrates both Muslim and Christian holidays) is a Muslim? Why does it matter that Congressman Carson is Muslim, and one of only two serving in Congress? It shouldn't, both should not be issues. Both of these facts should be seen as progress for our culture in America, and then that be the end of it, no negativity applied. Don't we have more important issues to deal with in America? How about that oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, which the CEO of BP has said is "relatively tiny"? How about the financial reform bill that will have a vote for cloture, this week? What about the Arizona immigration law that is so blatantly unconstitutional, that its not even funny?

The US needs to have a serious debate about policies and governance, not these petty things that have no effect on our government or our country. Maybe I'm biased because I'm an atheist, maybe not, but I believe that the majority of sensible Americans on both sides of the aisle will agree that we need to move on from these senseless attacks on Americans just because of their religious beliefs. So my question is, will you join me in fighting to end these attacks?

Side note: I apologize for any errors or formatting mistakes on this post, its the first time I have written and posted a entry with my iPad.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Water Deal Drama II

1.) Will all Democrats vote as a block against the proposal? No. Councillors Jackie Nytes and Mary Moriarty Adams broke ranks and voted with the Republicans.
2.) Will all Republicans vote as a block for the proposal? Yes. No independent thinkers in the Republican caucus.
3.) Will Ryan Vaughn recuse himself from the vote? No, of course not.
4.) Will Councillor Ed Coleman, Libertarian, play a key role in how this proposal passes or does not pass? Nope. He voted with the R's on 131 but the D's on 132.

Incidentally, the two proposals allowing the water deal to move on passed 17-12 and 18-11.

Water Deal Drama

As the City-County Council begins its meeting, there are four burning questions I have about the water deal vote that's expected this evening.

1.) Will all Democrats vote as a block against the proposal?
2.) Will all Republicans vote as a block for the proposal?
3.) Will Ryan Vaughn recuse himself from the vote?
4.) Will Councillor Ed Coleman, Libertarian, play a key role in how this proposal passes or does not pass?

MCDP Issues Release Questioning Vaughn's Conflict of Interest on Water Deal

From the Marion County Democratic Party...I will just report, you can take it for what you will.

INDIANAPOLIS – Today, Democratic Party Chairman Ed Treacy outlined what he called a “clear conflict” of interest for Councillor Ryan Vaughn on the transfer of the water and sewer utilities.

“Councillor Vaughn has a readily apparent conflict and, for the good of Indianapolis’ residents’ trust in government, he must recuse himself for any and all votes on the transfer of the water utility,” Treacy said.

Vaughn works as an attorney and lobbyist at a law firm that counts among their clients Veolia Water. The firm does litigation work for the French company currently operating the water utility. And, Treacy has learned, the firm is doing public affairs work related to the water and sewer transfer deal. Councillor Vaughn works in the public affairs division.

The Revised Code of the Consolidated City and County of Indianapolis-Marion County outlines an “actual conflict of interest:”

Sec. 151-1122. Conflicts of interest, voting.
(a) Voting. This section establishes standards for determining when a councillor is disqualified from acting or may be permitted to abstain from acting in conflict of interest situations.
(b) Actual conflicts of interest.
(1) Defined. A councillor has an actual conflict of interest whenever the outcome of a vote on a matter before the council would either:
a. Confer a direct material pecuniary benefit with a value in excess of one thousand dollars ($1,000.00) which would be received (i) by the councillor, the councillor's spouse or councillor's dependent children or (ii) by any business in which the councillor, the councillor's spouse or councillor's dependent children have an interest that is required to be disclosed under section 151-1123, which benefit would be materially different from the benefits conferred generally on the public or the councillor's constituents, or
b. Affect a private personal interest by either conferring any preference or causing any detriment to the councillor, the councillor's business, or councillor's family which would be different from that which would apply to the public or the councillor's constituents generally.
A councillor, who is also an employee of the city or county or other agency whose budget is subject to approval by the city-county council, shall not be deemed to have an actual conflict of interest either (i) with respect to votes on budgets or revenue proposals, unless the proposal pertains primarily to such employee or the employee's supervisor, or (ii) with respect to votes on proposals setting the compensation of councillors.
(2) Disclosure of actual conflicts. As soon as it becomes apparent that a councillor has an actual conflict of interest with respect to a matter before the council, the councillor shall immediately disclose the conflict and thereafter not participate in the debate.
(3) Disqualification from voting. A councillor with an actual conflict of interest shall be disqualified from voting on the matter.
(c) Appearance of a conflict of interest.
(1) Voluntary abstention. Whenever a personal relationship, business interest, or civic involvement of a councillor (other than those relationships inherent in the political process and in advocating constituent concerns) is such that it might appear to limit the councillor's objectivity on the merits of the councillor's vote, the councillor may request to abstain from voting on such matter. The abstention shall be allowed , unless the abstention prevents the council from deciding the matter, in which circumstances the council by a majority vote of those voting may require the councillor to vote. A vote under such circumstances shall not be grounds for ethical complaints against such councillor.
(2) Debate and disclosure. The appearance of a conflict of interest shall not disqualify a councillor from debate on the matter if the nature of the perceived conflict of interest is disclosed as soon as it becomes apparent to the councillor.
(G.O. 45, 2009, § 1) (Emphasis Added)

Treacy indicated that he wasn’t an attorney, and wasn’t prepared to make an allegation as to a violation of the letter of the law, but alleged a clear violation of the spirit of the law.

“Councillor Vaughn will tell you that he is not a partner or that his client has ‘waived conflict,’ and while that legal mumbo jumbo might let him keep his law license, it would be wholly unethical for him to vote on this matter,” Treacy said.

Treacy mentioned the benefit that a young attorney would see if his vote substantially benefited a client.

“Councillor Vaughn is conflicted on this matter,” Treacy said. “He has a clear conflict of interest and clearly should recuse himself.”

Gubernatorial Grind: All Suddenly Quiet

You remember a few months ago. Republicans and Democrats were clamoring to run for the state's highest executive office and sit in Mitch Daniels' current chair. Isn't the former clamor suddenly quiet?

This time last year, Lake County Sheriff Roy Dominguez, Hammond Mayor Tom McDermott, Evansville Mayor Jonathan Weinzapfel, Congressman Baron Hill, former Indianapolis Mayor Bart Peterson, and others were mentioned by many Democrats as possible candidates. On the GOP side, speculation centered around Secretary of State Todd Rokita, Lieutenant Governor Becky Skillman, Congressman Mike Pence, and a handful of state legislators.

Suddenly, all has gone silent. The reason? I think it's Evan Bayh.

Bayh's sudden and unexpected decision to retire from legislative government and his "I am an executive at heart" admission in his news conference announcement sent the speculation suddenly in his direction.

A Bayh candidacy would clear the Democratic field and would likely cause Mike Pence to stay in Congress or pursue even higher office in 2012. That would leave Bayh up against a possible Congressman like Rokita or Lieutenant Governor Skillman...who is widely to run.

Rokita actually could be ready for Congressional retirement in 2012, believe it or not, should he win in 2010. Jim Shella from Channel 8 speculated on the night of the Primary that Republicans, who control Congressional redistricting, would likely eliminate the 4th Congressional District should Indiana lose a seat through the census. This would be in retaliation for Rokita's unprompted backing of a so-called non-political redistricting plan. That would put Rokita up against one of his Republican brethren like Dan Burton or perhaps even against Congressman Carson in some version of the largely Democratic 7th District.

Who knows what the Marlin Stutzmans, the Mike Murphys, or the Brandt Hershmans may try? Richard Lugar may also create a huge opening for his Senate seat if he decides to retire in 2012, as some have speculated. I would expect some of the five Republicans that ran in the primary for Bayh's seat would run for that as well.

Lots of political dominoes are in play here, and it all is still two years away. It's just that for that much possible political intrigue that things have gotten as silent as a church mouse. Maybe it's just the calm before the storm.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Indiana Stonewalls Walk Out of JJ Dinner Over Bayh "Joke"

Senator Evan Bayh told a joke at the Jefferson-Jackson Day Dinner that sent the Indiana Stonewall Democrats contingent to the door in protest. This according to blogger Bil Browning.

I did not attend the dinner, but, apparently Bayh was relating a story to the $125/plate crowd at the fundraiser about walking through the airport. He said a person approached him and asked him a question, "Do you have AIDS?"

Upon further clarification, the question should have been understood as, "Do you have aides?" The person approaching the Senator had a letter for him. See the video and after-dinner reaction from Bayh here at Bil's blog, the Bilerco Project.

Listen, I'm the last person to be considered a dyed-in-the-wool supporter of Evan Bayh, but he has been pretty good on LGBT and HIV issues over the years despite being pretty conservative otherwise. That doesn't excuse his joke, but I really don't think he intended it to offend anyone. He apologized about it, and he looks sincere in Bil's let's move on.

Like Brizzi, Massa Appears To Crave Media Attention

Republican candidate for Marion County Prosecutor, Mark Massa, has several things in common with Carl Brizzi.

Besides being follicularly-challenged (which, in the interest of full disclosure, Democratic candidate Terry Curry is, too), Massa has chosen Scott Newman as a campaign chairman. Newman supported Brizzi's candidacy and helped him win the office in 2002. So, Massa is not an outsider. Like Brizzi, both candidates were hand crafted and hand picked from the inside. In short, it's fair to say that Massa comes from the same political stock as Brizzi did.

It also seems that Massa shares the same media obsession that Brizzi does. We've already seen Massa hold two news conferences to announce, frankly, weak initiatives that you would think a good prosecutor would do anyway in the regular course of his or her job. It's up to Terry Curry to drive this point home, and I think he will.

Marion County has had enough of media star prosecutors. It needs a hardworking prosecutor that is more interested in prosecuting criminals than getting his face on television with initiatives, and I think that's the type of person voters will get in Terry Curry.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

ISD Abstains from Vote to Put Ellsworth on the Ballot

The Indiana Stonewall Democrats abstained from the 28-0 vote to place Congressman Brad Ellsworth on the ballot. Here is a news release from the organization. You can find the release on their website by clicking here.

For Immediate Release - - Today, the Indiana Stonewall Democrats (ISD) spoke resolutely and loudly by saying nothing on our ballot to determine Evan Bayh's successor for Democratic candidate for United States Senate.

To any who would question our commitment to the Democratic Party based on our abstention, we would respond with a simple question, "What does it mean to be a Democrat?"

We find our answer in the Indiana Democratic Party's 2008 platform, which includes the following statements:

As a party of the people, we strongly oppose restriction of opportunity to Hoosiers based on their race, religion, ethnicity, gender, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, or economic background.

We also encourage legislation addressing hate crimes that would protect the freedom of all Hoosiers and create tougher penalties for those who infringe, criminally or otherwise, on those freedoms.

We must work to ensure that all people - without regard to race, religion gender, ethnicity, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, or economic background - have the right to achieve the American dream. For the sake of current and future generations, it is our duty as Democrats to put an end to any injustices that threaten that goal.

We find further guidance in the Democratic National Committee's 2008 platform, which states:

We support the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" and the implementation of policies to allow qualified men and women to serve openly regardless of sexual orientation.
We support the full inclusion of all families, including same-sex couples, in the life of our nation, and support equal responsibility, benefits, and protections.
We believe it is time for the Democratic Party at all levels to live up to our expressed ideals.

Our abstention is born, in large part, from the frustration of feint support from the Indiana Democratic Party, which has taken our support for granted too long and shown no interest in developing ISD further.

We do not intend our abstention, in any manner, to be taken as support for Republican nominee Dan Coats. His objection to permitting highly-qualified gays and lesbians to serve in the armed services is well-documented, as is his historical hostility to the gay and lesbian community. Further, we doubt a high-paid, Washington, D.C. lobbyist is what average Hoosiers needs in this time of economic insecurity.

Nor do we intend our abstention to be construed as an indictment of Congressman Ellsworth's personal sentiments towards gays and lesbians. By all accounts, the Congressman interacts respectfully and meaningfully with our community, and to his credit, implemented a gay-friendly employment policy as Vanderburgh County Sheriff at great political risk to himself.

But as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. stated, "Shallow understanding from people of goodwill is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will."

Regrettably, there has been, up to this point, a disconnect between not only the Democratic Party's words and deeds, but in the Congressman's personal conduct toward gay, lesbian, and transgender Hoosiers and his votes and public statements on their issues. Specifically, Congressman Ellsworth voted against the Hates Crimes bill and the version of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) that provides protection to transgender Hoosiers, and he has not expressed publicly his willingness to vote for the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." Moreover, and perhaps most tellingly, when asked during our meeting whether he supports adoption by gay couples, Congressman Ellsworth stated he "needs more information."

Given the number of children suffering in the foster care system, the Congressman's reservations about gay adoption are deeply troubling.

But, in fairness, we must say that our meeting with Congressman Ellsworth was constructive overall. Our hope is that he will continue to learn about our issues, moderate his positions on areas of disagreement, and follow through on our many areas of agreement.

Had the Congressman spoken publicly for the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell, voted for the Hate Crimes bill, or supported a transgender inclusive version of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, or had the Indiana Democratic Party shown interest in facilitating the growth of our caucus, perhaps our path today would have been different. But we see a clear distinction between an elected official with a record forged under the crucible of political pressure like Senator Evan Bayh's and a candidate who claims to be supportive but whose voting history and public rhetoric show an effort to too frequently side with those who demonize gay, lesbian, and transgender Hoosiers, and a political party that does the same.

In sum, we will no longer go along for the sake of "party unity" with a party that too frequently fails to unify with us under its own guiding principles.

We want to state emphatically on behalf of our members and our fellow progressives in the Democratic family that our support must be earned by living up to the Democratic Party's principles through action. When that is done, we will respond accordingly. Approximately two weeks ago, we hosted a fundraising event for several Indiana House of Representatives candidates. We did so to support our friends who have lived up to our platform and to help preserve the Democratic House leadership that has done the same.

It is our hope that we will soon be able to likewise embrace Congressman Ellsworth without reservation and usher in a more fruitful relationship with the Indiana Democratic Party.

The Indiana Stonewall Democrats will have no further comment at this time.

There you have it. The ISD did not vote against him, but they did not vote for him. It's a reasoned and brave approach from the organization (of which once again, full disclosure, I am a member). It appears that Ellsworth will have some work to do with the LGBT community to get its full, vocal support. Although, as the ISD says in its release, this is not an endorsement of Dan Coats.

And Coats, Sink-Burris Have a Challenger...Brad Ellsworth

Well, it's official. Republican Dan Coats and Libertarian Rebecca Sink-Burris will meet Democrat Brad Ellsworth in November in the battle for Indiana's Junior Senate seat. No word on the vote total yet, but the State Democratic Central Committee voted to place Ellsworth on the ballot for November. This, of course, was necessitated by Evan Bayh's late announcement that he would not run and the failure of Bloomington's Tamara D'Ippolito to get anywhere in the neighborhood of enough signatures to get on the ballot.

There was some talk that the vote may or may not be unanimous. The Indiana Stonewall Democrats (of which I'm a member, full disclosure), who have a seat on the Central Committee, had held how they would vote close to the vest over concerns of Ellsworth's abysmal record on issues important to LGBT voters.

Congratulations to Congressman Ellsworth on this nomination. On to victory in November!

Carson, Hill Take on Daniels on Health Care

Congressman Andre Carson of Indiana's 7th District and Congressman Baron Hill of the 9th District put out a joint news release Wednesday calling into question Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels' "flawed" and "not plausible" actuarial report about the new health care reform bill.

Here is the release:
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today’s actuarial report on the alleged fiscal impact of the new health care reform law, which was commissioned by Governor Mitch Daniels’ Administration, is yet another attempt by the Governor to politically assail health reform, said Congressmen AndrĂ© Carson and Baron Hill.

Congressmen Carson and Hill are again imploring the Governor to provide Hoosiers with factual, apolitical information on the new law.

The actuarial report presented to the State Budget Committee this morning paints a flawed, “doomsday” scenario that simply is not plausible, according to Hill and Carson:.

1. First, the report projects the cost of Medicaid expansion to the State under the assumption that 100 percent of those eligible will enroll, including those who currently have private insurance. No means-tested public program has ever achieved a 100 percent participation rate. Medicare, the most well-known of such programs, has a participation rate of only 96 percent.

The state’s own Healthy Indiana Plan offers evidence of the fact that participation for programs like Medicaid ramp down after reaching a high enough income threshold. The state projected more than 100,000 people would take part in HIP—enrollment reached well less than half that number.

In addition, the report does not consider such cost-defraying instances as the number of Hoosiers who will become newly-eligible for Medicaid who already receive some state-funded health services, such as mental health treatment or hospital care. Under the new reform law, many of those services will be covered under Medicaid, and the federal government will shoulder a significant portion of those costs.

2. Second, the report intentionally excludes savings rendered by the Governor’s plans to end the Healthy Indiana Plan (HIP). Indiana spent $140 million on the program this year. Using the Governor’s ten-year projection model, that’s $1.4 billion in tax dollars that are freed up should the Governor pursue his plans to voluntarily terminate the program.

3. Third, the report lacked any relevant context. Without health reform, states’ share of Medicaid costs would have grown rapidly because of both the rising cost of health care and the rate at which businesses are forced to drop employee coverage.

As the letter from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services the two congressmen forwarded to the Governor last week noted, Indiana currently pays the full costs of its State-funded program. Under the new reform law, the federal government will cover 100 percent of the costs for the newly eligible for 2014-2016, 95 percent in 2017, 94 percent in 2018, 93 percent in 2019, and the federal government will pay 90 percent of these costs indefinitely.

“We are repeating the same message we delivered to the Governor last week – please work with us in a productive manner to ensure that this law is implemented in the most efficient and cost-effective manner,” Congressmen Carson and Hill said in a joint statement. “Presenting Hoosiers with misleading and inflated projections is not productive and detracts from the important work at hand.”

Saturday Humor: Darth McCain

I'm back! Here's another video that will make you laugh (though not as much as the one Jon posted with Lewis Black in it).

All I can say is bwahahahahahahaha!!!

Saturday Humor: Daily Show Offerings

Lewis Black on Glenn Beck and his penchant for all things Third Reich
The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Back in Black - Glenn Beck's Nazi Tourette's
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical HumorTea Party

And from Tuesday night's show, Jon Stewart on the nomination of Elena Kagan and how some on the right are trying to make her into Harriet Miers.

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Release the Kagan
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical HumorTea Party