Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Marvin Scott's Math Doesn't Add Up to 2010 Race in 7th District

By Jon E. Easter

Marvin Scott is at it again.

After finally taking a position against the many anti-Muslim sentiments expressed on his Facebook page and in his fundraising material (it took him over one month), he's now taking pot shots at Congressman André Carson, calling him names, and saying that he's just 5,500 votes away from beating Carson. It's one of the many funny things that Scott, his campaign, and some of Scott's supporters are leaving on the Facebook page. Here's a sampling I just captured from a man named Ernie Kurtock.
Marvin Scott needs to replace Carson!
To keep unqualified, activist nominees from being nominated to the Supreme Court.
Kagan is another Sotomayor. GW Bush's nomination's wasn't so great either - Harriet Miers.
We want nominees like Roberts, Scalia, Alito, or Thomas to be seated on the court.
Apparently, this guy doesn't know that the House doesn't have anything to do with the nomination process of the Supreme Court.

Anyway, back to Scott's 5,500 votes claim. According to Scott's page, that number comes from the 2006 General Election when car dealership owner Eric Dickerson ran against Carson's grandmother, Julia Carson. That election, Julia Carson got 74,750 votes to Dickerson's 64,304 votes. In the previous midterm election back in 2002, Julia Carson got 77,478 votes to Brose McVey's 64,379 votes. Both times, Julia Carson won re-election with over 50 percent of the vote, and she won both times by over 10,000 votes.

That was Julia Carson, though...not André Carson. It was also never Marvin Scott running. In 2000, Julia Carson dusted Scott 91,689 votes to 62,233 votes for re-election to her 10th District seat.

Those are the facts. Now, here are some more.

Against an incredibly talented field of Democrats, André Carson won the Democratic Party nod for the Special Election in 2008. He defeated Jon Elrod to win the seat by over 9,000 votes. Against an incredibly talented field of Democrats, Carson prevailed in a primary where Woody Myers and David Orentlicher (among others) were well-funded and viable candidates.

Then, in the 2008 General Election, Congressman Carson smoked Republican Gabrielle Campo with 172,650 votes to Campo's 92,645 votes.

Does any of that sound like 5,500 votes to you?

No. Dr. Marvin Scott is distorting the facts. He's misleading his supporters. Certainly Congressman Carson can't go to sleep. There is an anti-incumbency sentiment that is being stoked by Republicans right now in Congress. That said, the only thing that will beat Congressman Carson in the 7th District is something Congressman Carson does or will do. I can't see him dropping the ball that much. He's working as hard as ever for his constituents. In fact, I don't know how he does it. He must have gone all Michael Keaton in the movie Multiplicity and cloned himself.

Wait...that sounds like something Scott and his supporters might dream up.

The 7th District has become a Democratic hotbed and even conservatives know that Scott has really no chance at defeating the most progressive Congressman in Indiana.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

State Democratic Ticket Getting Noticed Across Indiana

By Jon E. Easter

The State Democratic Ticket has been crisscrossing the state again in kicking off their General Election push. Vop Osili, Sam Locke, and Pete Buttigieg are out and about and getting noticed. Here's the report from WPTA in Fort Wayne.

By Scott Sarvay

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (Indiana's NewsCenter) - State democratic nominees hit the road on a mission to help get people back in the workforce.

State Auditor Candidate Sam Locke, Secretary of State Candidate Vop Osili, and State Treasurer Candidate Pete Buttigieg were nominated this weekend to help rebuild the state's struggling economy.

The three youthful candidates are running on a strong platform of job creation, saying that's what the voters are looking for.

State Treasure Nominee Pete Buttigieg says, “We're the ones who have a plan to create jobs and grow the economy in this State.”

Secretary of State Nominee Vop Osili says, “We need to be far more pro-active on behalf of our businesses and small businesses.”

State Auditor Nominee Sam Locke says, “So that's what we want to do with the office is find innovative ideas to save the taxpayer money especially in this economic environment.”

Advice to Republicans: Leave the Sheriff Ellsworth Thing Alone

By Jon E. Easter

Saturday, at the Indiana Democratic Party State Convention, Brad Ellsworth laid to waste those critics who are making an issue about his campaign's decision to utilize a law enforcement motif in his run for U.S. Senate.

"I am aware that there is no office called 'Sheriff of Indiana,'" said Ellsworth. "When you're in law enforcement for 24 of 51 years, it's kind of a hard thing to turn off in only three years."

Ellsworth went on to systematically explain that when you call 911, you are looking for help from a law enforcement professional rather than a politician, "We don't ask the person on the other side of that line if they are a Republican or a Democrat. We don't ask if they are black or white or gay or straight. We don't know if the situation is safe or dangerous. Sometimes we have to work in the heat or direct traffic in the rain. Sometimes it's a 24 hour shift. You just get the job done."

He said he wants to bring those same ideals down the hall from the U.S. House to the U.S. Senate. It was a great response to the conservatives on the right that are trying to make this campaign choice into an issue.

They are attacking Brad Ellsworth’s campaign tactics for trying to position himself as a Sheriff running for Senate instead of a U.S. Representative running for Senate. Do they really want to fight this fight and risk exposing more of what Dan Coats has been since he's left the Senate since 1999?

Ellsworth hit Coats hard in his speech on his seemingly inconsistent positions on issues the former Senator lobbied for when he was a big time lobbyist in Washington. Issues like the stimulus plan and health care which Coats lobbied for but is now against. Also, Coats' state of residence in the last few years was attacked by Ellsworth. While Ellsworth has been a lifelong Hoosier, Coats has famously lived out-of-state the last few years.

I just wonder why the right wing blogs continue to push this stupid and shortsighted load of elephant manure. I mean, who would you vote for, a lobbyist or a public servant? I'll take the lawman any day.

By the way, here is Ellsworth's state convention introduction video. It's the same video he's used on his website the past few months, but I do think it is effective.

Monday, June 28, 2010

In Memoriam: Robert Byrd Dead at 92

D-West Virginia

By Jon E. Easter

Senator Robert Byrd of West Virginia has died at the age of 92.

The longest serving member of Congress in history was serving his ninth term in the Senate when he fell ill and was hospitalized. His condition was reported as grave, and this morning, he is gone. It's another blow to the Democratic Senatorial Caucus who lost Ted Kennedy last year. Like Kennedy, Byrd's record and legacy is one of tremendous public service tinged with a hint of controversy.

At the time of his death, Byrd had served over 60 years in public office between the West Virginia legislature and the federal legislature. In that 60 years, he worked to get a college degree and a law degree, and his personal views on race made a complete 180. Byrd's conflicted record on race included votes against the Civil Rights Act and Justice Thurgood Marshall's confirmation. Byrd was never able to live down his membership in the Ku Klux Klan as a young man and some comments he made in a letter to a Senator from West Virginia. In more recent years, he renounced his 1940's membership in the Ku Klux Klan and apologized for it over and over again calling it a mistake. Byrd also said he regretted those votes against Marshall and the Civil Rights Act (which he personally filibustered) and wished he could go back and change them.

"I know now I was wrong. Intolerance had no place in America. I apologized a thousand times, and I don't mind apologizing over and over," said Byrd in one of his memoirs. "I can't erase what happened."

Byrd also worked hard for his constituents who rewarded him with an undefeated electoral record. Conservatives decry his record of bringing back billions of dollars in federal funding to one of the poorest states in the union. An amazing orator, a walking Senate history book, and a living relic from a different time in politics, Robert Byrd served the state he loved with distinction.

Byrd, I think, summed up his Senate career as well as I can in his memoirs, "I grew up in a state where we didn't have much hope. I wanted to help my people and give them hope. . . . I'm just proud that the people of West Virginia accepted me as I was and helped me along the way."

Byrd on the Senate

He was quite an accomplished fiddler and musician. Here's a sampling of the Senator's work.

And, finally, Senator Byrd on the Constitution.

Mark Massa Campaign Material Looks Familiar

By Jon E. Easter

As I was at the Decatur Central Lions Club 4-H Fair this past weekend at the Decatur Intermediate Learning Center, I got an opportunity to examine all the literature from the Republicans and from the Democrats at that had set up at the fair.

I have to say, though, that when I looked at Republican nominee for Marion County Prosecutor, Mark Massa's information, I noticed something that Massa probably did not really want someone to notice.

The first thing I saw in my mind when I looked at that stylized star banner above his name was its strong resemblance to the logo of a certain National Football League team that is...well...let's just say hated in these here parts: The New England Patriots. Maybe I'm stretching here, but I think the two logos are very reminiscent of one another. At the very least, they recall one another. Enough so that it was my first
reaction when I saw the campaign logo. Now, I doubt that Terry Curry will be making an issue out of it, but it's something that I think the Massa camp should have at least noticed.

Massa is also marrying himself to Mitch Daniels in the literature. That could be dangerous as the state economy, school funding, and phony job numbers continue to plague the Governor in his "lame duck" period. Massa is pictured right along side of Mitch's picture with a big endorsement quote from the Governor.

If I were him, though, I'd be looking to change that logo first and then telling us a little bit more about what he plans to do about Prosecutor rather than touting his connection to Daniels.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Convention Thoughts

By Jon Easter

What a day! After attending the state convention as a delegate yesterday, I can say that it is a great time to be a Democrat in Indiana. I thought the energy level in the convention room and in the breakout caucuses was really very good. There is no question that this year, on qualifications and on plans for Hoosiers, Democrats easily take the day over their Republican challengers.

This past week, I've analyzed all the state races, so I don't think there's really a reason to go over the play-by-play of the day. Frankly, I can't remember everything that happened or I saw right now. I'm sure it will come back to me episodically. There were a number of highlights and surprises for me. I will also do some convention bests and worsts.

Themes of the Day
Again and again the messages were.
--Keep the Indiana House in Democratic hands
--Jobs, Jobs, Jobs, Jobs!
--Keep the Democratic 5-4 Majority in the Indiana Congressional Contingent

Surprise of the Day
I will go with two on this one. I was really surprised at the margin in the Secretary of State race. Vop Osili carried the nomination by a very wide margin. It was not even remotely close as Vop took a reported 1,215 votes to Tom McKenna's 383 votes. I cannot explain it other than Vop's message must have resonated with voters who made up their minds in the last few days. The result itself was not a surprise. I really thought Vop would win.

The second surprise was the unannounced visit of the legendary former Indiana First Lady Judy O'Bannon. Judy was a great addition to the program promoting unity. She had the Democrats join hands in the convention room and yell out, "Democrats Unite, Victory 2010!" Judy remains a popular figure in Indiana.

Best Speech of the Day
It was close, but I have to hand it to Indiana State Treasurer Nominee Pete Buttigieg. In his acceptance speech, Pete combined humor, credentials, and plans into a coherent message. He instantly made the entire room understand why the office of Treasurer of State is something that they should care about. It was a great speech.

Honorable Mention to Congressman Andre Carson. Carson continues to be the best and most progressive member of Congress from Indiana. With apologies to the other four Indiana Democratic Congressman, your leader may actually be the youngest guy in your fraternity. Plus, Andre always has the best intro music.

Best Political Move of the Day
Brad Ellsworth wins this one. Ellsworth was active, accessible, and in full listening mode. He spent at least five minutes with me alone and at least two more minutes after his staff person was trying to take him away. I finally ended the conversation by saying, "I think I'm holding you up Congressman." He replied, "Not at all!"

As you know, I've been pretty hard on Ellsworth, and I feel that there's another blog post coming where I have to give some credit where credit is due. In short, this is not the same Congressman Brad Ellsworth that I feel received such a poor rating on LGBT issues. Congressman Ellsworth is listening and learning, and, above all, he's a real person. Like his views or not, Ellsworth is who he is.

Honorable Mention-Mary Ann Sullivan waited with us at the end of the line to vote for Secretary of State while many other elected officials did not. They shall remain nameless. Also waiting in the long line behind me was Greg Bowes, Marion County Assessor. Those were just two of potentially many. If you were an elected official, and you did not cut in line, thanks!

Faces to Watch for in 2012 in no particular order (who had key roles and may be a player in two years at the next state convention if there is nobody named Evan Bayh running for Governor)
Mayor Jonathan Weinzapfel, Evansville
Mayor Tom McDermott, Hammond
Senator Vi Simpson, Bloomington
Congressman Joe Donnelly, 2nd Congressional District
Congressman Baron Hill, 9th Congressional District

Bayh, by the way, did not speak, and I did not see him at all.

Democrats, you done good! The ticket is a strong one that seems risky due to its youth. Once voters meet Vop, Sam, Pete, and Congressman Ellsworth, I think the Democratic message will resonate with them. It's a message of question...but it's the right kind of change.

Pat Bauer needs to be the next speaker of the Indiana House! If he is not returned, then we will lose the chance for a Democratic majority for years to come. Don't get complacent and work to keep the Indiana House blue while you are trying to pick up a couple of Senate seats and send our Congessional Delegation back to Washington with a Democratic majority.

I'm fired up about our candidates, and that includes Brad Ellsworth. Let's go Democrats...forward to November! The Republicans need to know that the Donkey Train is leaving the station. Full steam ahead!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

I'm Voting Vop

By Jon E. Easter

Usually on Saturday, I post something humorous or lighthearted. I have been kicking around in my head whether or not to reveal what many of my friends already know. When I cast my vote as a delegate to the state convention later today, I'm voting for Vop Osili for Secretary of State.

Now, I know I usually try to stay away from endorsements. In the end, I decided I would do it this way. I would wait until the day of the convention and release my intentions.

Why am I picking Vop over Tom? Well, it's nothing personal. I have a great respect for Tom McKenna, and I do think that the Democrats will be fine with whichever candidate wins. I just think Vop is the kind of candidate that will excite people. He will get people off their duffs and to the polls on election day, and he's at the beginning of what I hope will be a long political career because I like working with him.

Tom's experience is his greatest asset, but I am also concerned about who will be a well-rounded Secretary of State. Elections are, of course, a huge part of what a Secretary of State does, but there are a number of business functions the Office also oversees. I have heard Vop talk longer and more eloquently about his plans in this realm than Tom has. Tom has centered his campaign more around the Voter ID debate. While that is important, I also think Vop is also in the right position on that issue.

I guess I've seen and heard more substance from Vop than from Tom, and I appreciate that. Although I will pledge my support and do whatever I can reasonably do to get Tom elected should he win the nomination. It's very possible that he could, and I would be absolutely fine with that. Tom, your past service to the party and your wealth of experience would make you a shoo-in for my vote in any other year. This year, though, I'm voting for Vop.

So, in review, I'm voting for Vop Osili because I think he is a potentially transformational figure in Indiana politics. I think he will excite people, and I think he has, on the campaign trail, more carefully explained his plans for the office if he is elected in November. I think he will be a great addition to the state ticket of Pete Buttigieg and Sam Locke, and I'm hoping that he prevails this afternoon. May the best man win!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Mayor Comes To Decatur Township Bringing Few Answers

By Jon E. Easter

Mayor Greg Ballard brought his traveling circus known as the "Mayor's Night Out" to Decatur Township on Thursday night as part of the Decatur Central Lions Club 4-H Fair (which continues through Saturday, by the way). While he did better than his first appearance in Decatur, it is still clear that the purpose of these events is more window-dressing than problem solving.

I do salute him for doing now 29 of these things, but I counted 10 times last night that the Mayor said, "I don't know." That doesn't count the times he gave an incorrect answer only to be corrected by one of the approximately 20 department heads behind him.

The organization was the same. The mayor kicked things off with a Powerpoint touting all the good things in Marion County and in the City of Indianapolis. Thrown in were a couple of slides reflecting neighborhood trends in crime and violence. The rape rate is up in Decatur Township. It went from 2 rapes to 5 rapes. Also assaults were up, but the stats showed crime down in other areas. The mayor falsely said there had been no murders in Decatur in two years. There was a double homicide in October 2008 of an elderly gay couple in Heartland Crossing.

When it came to Q&A time, I asked two questions. He punted one of them on promoting better mine blasting practices by those companies at work under the Southside Landfill. He said it was a function of the City-County Council to change ordinances of which the mining companies appear to be in compliance with. The second question I asked was on the safety of the new bike paths through the city. He totally changed that question. "I think what the questioner is talking about is greenways."

No, Mr. wasn't.

Anyway, he's a good sport and posed for a picture with me even though I was wearing Democratic campaign paraphernalia, and he is a nice guy. However, being a good sport and being a good mayor are two different things.

I question Mayor Ballard's wisdom in continuing these "Night Out" programs if the answers are so few and far between. He just comes off looking bad.

SOS Race Just One Major Battle at State Convention

By Jon E. Easter

Indiana Democratic Delegates meet tomorrow at the downtown Mariott to elect the statewide Democratic Party ticket. While there is, as has been previously discussed, a hot battle for Secretary of State, Indiana Democratic Party Chair Dan Parker is watching the results of Ballot Question Number 2 as well.

I caught up with Parker at a Melina Kennedy breakfast on Thursday morning at Shapiro's Deli. Kennedy brought in former Barack Obama senior adviser, Betsy Myers, to address party leaders, bloggers, and community activists on leadership and to stump for Kennedy. It was a wonderful event. Parker was amongst the high-level Democratic movers and shakers there that included party faithful, county-wide officeholders, City-County Councillors, township-level officials, and statewide candidates.

After hearing from Myers, I talked a bit with Parker. Apparently, ballot Question Number 2 will determine if the Indiana State Democratic Convention stays in Indianapolis or not. Parker said that there has been some movement within the party to open up the convention to other locations in the state provided they have enough convention and hotel space. That will now be up to the delegates.

On the Secretary of State race front, Vop Osili was also at the Kennedy event. His campaign released a list of endorsements from over 40 County Chairs, several mayors, and a group of labor groups and unions. Tom McKenna sent out a letter to delegates last weekend touting the support of his former boss, Governor Joe Kernan. Kernan will be co-hosting a hospitality suite for McKenna on Friday night.

I also was able to pick Parker's brain about the organization of the convention. The voting for delegates will be done on secret paper ballot. Parker said that delegates will have to sign in when they receive a ballot, and they will have eight tables dedicated to this. There will be 10 voting machines to feed the ballots into. If everyone shows up, there will be 2,000 voting delegates. Parker says the Indiana Democratic Party has done all it can do to make the process as smooth as possible. He said that each county has already been directed to alert the state party to changes in the delegate list and that the party rules will be followed to the letter.

The word of the day on Saturday will be patience! I would encourage all delegates to attend and jump through all the necessary hoops to make your voice heard on the Secretary of State race and the ballot questions.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Buttigieg, Locke Will Be Nominees for Treasurer, Audior

By Jon E. Easter

While Tom McKenna and Vop Osili battle to the ballot box on Saturday, the decision will be very easy for delegates in the Treasurer of State and Auditor of State races. They have just one candidate vying for each office: Pete Buttigieg and Sam Locke.

Southern Indiana's Locke will be the Democratic nominee for Indiana Auditor to face incumbent Republican Tim Berry. The auditor is a critical office in state government because it's up to that officeholder to pay the state's bills accurately and in a reasonable manner. Locke has been barnstorming the state from one end to the other in drumming up support. On the trail, he talks about updating the office and bringing it into the 21st Century. He also wants to make it more consumer-friendly.

At the Decatur Township Democratic Club meeting in December, Locke talked about his plans. He could save the state money by making some innovative changes in the Auditor's Office. Locke said that the state currently fails to implement what he calls an "accounts payable recovery system" to make sure the state isn't paying vendors more than once for the same service or that fraud is not occurring. He believes he can save $10 million with this simple innovation at little or no cost to the state.

He also advocated more transparency in the Auditor's Office by opening up the process of asking for records. He said that he recently contacted Auditor of State Tim Berry asking for four pieces of public information. It took 30 days for Berry's Office to answer only half of the request, and the state charged $17.30 for copies.

Locke said the City of Louisville has implemented a free web application created by a vendor that allows users to type in a simple search term such as "salt" and that provides the user with all the details on the city's purchases of salt including how much was paid and to whom. He said there's not any reason why the state couldn't implement the same system again, at little or no cost.

Northern Indiana's Buttigieg has also been all over the state drumming up support. He is taking on Republican incumbent Richard Mourdock head on by criticizing Mourdock's decision to sue Chrysler and hold up its bankruptcy. He also says that Mourdock has invested state revenue in, essentially, junk bonds. Buttigieg has also, I believe, rightly accused Mourdock of being overly partisan as Treasurer. Many believe that Mourdock is trying to use his position as a stepping stone to launch a run for Governor in 2012.

Today, Buttigieg, a Rhoades Scholar, released a statement on his decision to not take money from the banking industry to fund his campaign. Here is a portion of the release:

In a little more than 72 hours, I will officially accept the Democratic nomination to be Indiana's next State Treasurer, but first, I want to share some important news about our campaign with you.

I am announcing that my campaign will refuse all contributions from banks.

That means I will not accept corporate or political action committee (PAC) donations from any bank, including those doing business with the State Treasurer's office and those that accepted federal bailout money. Using federal limits as model, I am also imposing a cap on the amount individuals employed in the banking industry can donate to my campaign.

Despite whatever financial disadvantage it might create between my opponent and me, I decided to take this step publicly because it's the right thing to do. Hoosiers should never have to wonder whether decisions made in the Treasurer's Office about where their money is being placed are affected by campaign contributions - and when I am State Treasurer, they won't.

I am also pledging, once elected, to work with the Indiana General Assembly to introduce and pass legislation to prohibit all political contributions by banks to anyone running for the office of Treasurer, and to put contribution limits in place on individuals who work at banks.

Some advised me not to do this, because given the thousands of dollars the big banks and Wall Street firms are pumping into my opponent's campaign, I would be at a disadvantage.

I disagree.

Thanks to your help, this scrappy campaign has come out of nowhere in a matter of months and is now just hours away from securing the Democratic nomination. We've traveled the state introducing our ideas to voters and discussing the issues that matter most to Hoosier families. And, along the way, we've proven it doesn't take special interest backing to run an effective campaign - it just takes supporters like you.

Locke said the Auditor serves on the State Board of Finance with the Governor and the Treasurer. When Buttigieg and Locke are in office, for the first time Mitch Daniels could experience what it's like to be outnumbered.

There's a long way to go, and the fight is uphill. Republicans have the advantage of incumbency and of holding these offices for many years. That said, these two young Democrats along with whomever wins the Secretary of State nod provide Indiana Democrats with a geographically balanced, credible, and extremely qualified ticket. Indiana voters will have a clear choice to make in November.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Meet the Secretary of State Candidates

By Jon E. Easter

With the convention just days away, I thought I would post videos of the two Dems vying for the Democratic nomination for Secretary of State. With that, I'll shut up and let the candidates do the talking.

Here is Tom McKenna's website.
Here is Vop Osili's website.

Tom McKenna's announcement video.

Vop Osili's campaign released this video last week.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

City, State Floods; Mayor/Governor Silent

By Jon E. Easter

First of all, my thoughts are with the families and individuals effected adversely by today's flooding. It looks like it may get worse before it gets better.

With that said, why was THIS allowed to happen, and who in Governor Daniels' or Mayor Ballard's administration needs to answer the question? This is an interstate highway and a state road intersection.

Seems to me that after somebody upstairs left the faucet on that somebody should have closed this intersection at some level more quickly than this.

Furthermore, where on the City of Indianapolis website can I go for information about flooding in my neighborhood? Where is a statement from my Mayor? Where is my Mayor? No command center news conference was held this morning despite the fact that major areas of the city were without power and flooded out. Look at this article from the Star. See any comment from anybody at the Mayor's Office?

So What? Obama Played Golf

By Jon E. Easter

The latest volley in the confusing, contradictory, and convoluted Republican talking points war on the BP Oil Spill and President Obama is this web ad that criticizes the President for playing six rounds of golf in 58 days while the oil spill in the Gulf continued to grow.

I must admit, the ad is effective, but it’s pretty silly, honestly. The GOP is obviously picking and choosing events from the President’s schedule to fit its own agenda in painting the President as an aloof and out-of-touch leader who fiddled while the Gulf of Mexico polluted.

They continue to do this while Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas), the always goofy Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minnesota), GOP Kentucky Senate candidate Rand Paul, conservative talkers from Rush Limbaugh to Neil Boortz, and other Republicans/conservatives continue to use a British company to make the claim that Obama's harsh stance on BP is somehow un-American, a shakedown, or even...unconstitutional.

Listen, I too criticized the President for his slow response, and I still think he woefully mishandled the flooding in Nashville, Tennessee. I think it is though extremely unfair for the GOP to criticize the President for playing a round of golf just like I think it’s incredibly unfair for people to criticize BP CEO Tony Hayward from attending a yacht race. Yes, I know it's a yacht race, but, for Tony Hayward's ilk, that's like us going to the powerboat races on the Ohio River.

These folks are people. These are leisure activities. I have no problem with either of them attending these events or playing golf. Not one problem. I didn’t have a problem with President George W. Bush playing golf while soldiers died in Iraq or Afghanistan, and I certainly didn’t have a problem with Bill Clinton playing golf through the craziness of what happened while he was in the White House.

It’s a nice ad, but it rings so hollow. To expect a President, a CEO, or anyone for that matter to coop themselves up inside an office and dedicate themselves to just one issue…no matter how pressing the issue…is foolish and misguided.

That said, if the President had played 40 rounds of golf or Hayward had attended 25 yacht races, I could understand the criticisms. Frankly, though, this is just silly to take a President’s or a CEO’s leisure activities and somehow extrapolate that out into them not paying attention or caring about what’s happening in the Gulf.

I mean we could do this to really anyone in government. How many tanning appointments has John Boehner missed? What has Mitch McConnell been up to everyday since the oil spill? Nancy Pelosi? Harry Reid? Come on. This is silly.

Let’s get back to the issues and worry less about what Tony Hayward or Barack Obama decide to do in their leisure time. I give them a pass because it’s absolutely ridiculous to somehow think a leisure activity here or there is going to prevent a solution from happening in the Gulf.

Monday, June 21, 2010

With Less Than A Week To Go...It's Still Anyone's Race for Secretary of State

By Jon E. Easter

Republicans got together on Saturday and nominated Charlie White to run for Indiana Secretary of State. I guess they are ok with the Fishers Town Council member representing them on the ballot in November. They may regret their choice as Democrats will get together this Saturday to vote on who faces White. Two supremely qualified Central Indiana residents continue to duke it out for the nomination: Vop Osili and Tom McKenna. While the time continues to wane before the convention, everyone from candidate to delegate to rank-and-file Democrat is looking forward to what could be a photo finish.

Architect Vop Osili continues to crisscross the state visiting all 92 counties and picking up key endorsements. Recently, he received the endorsement of the crucial Lake County Democratic Delegates. He also has significant support in Marion County with campaign co-chairs Joe Hogsett and Andre Carson among his most ardent supporters. Osili has picked up crucial union endorsements as well including that of the United Steelworkers Local 1999 and Sub-District 3. He also won the endorsement of the State District Council of Laborers. Osili has a strong background as a business owner and founder growing his originally small architecture into something bigger.

McKenna's strong resume is his strong suit. He has served three Indiana Governors, run a state agency, managed businesses, been an attorney, served as a Deputy Prosecutor, taught and coached at the high school level, and run labor relations for A.K. Steel in Ohio. It's clear that McKenna knows the state. On the campaign trail, he has been vocal in the advocating the repeal of the Voter I.D. Bill, and he says he's more ready to lead on the first day in office.

Above board, it's been a very civilized discussion of issues. Below board, supporters have quietly exchanged charges looking at Osili's pre-1998 voting record which, as Vop freely admits, had some Republican votes on it. Osili's supporters have attacked McKenna for pushing his perceived electability, his experience and resume but providing little in the way of substance as to what he would do as Secretary of State. For a race this close, though, the candidates have been nothing but gentlemen.

Another complicating factor is that no one knows quite for sure where the key counties and the Indiana Democratic Party stand on the race. The state's second-largest Democratic County, Lake County, has endorsed Osili, and the whispers around town say the Marion County Democratic Party is pulling for him. In the next breath, the same whispers are saying that the IDP is quietly rooting for McKenna and that he enjoys support from several other counties as well. It's that close! No one knows quite for sure where the truth lies.

With Tom, you are getting a professional who understands the state. He understands state government, and he understands how an executive office is run. With Vop, you are getting a professional that brings an outsider's perspective in. A guy that understands business and what it's like to own one, grow one, and maintain one in this economy. Both men have spoken passionately about the Voter ID bill on the campaign trail, and both will serve as great advocates for citizens of Indiana in the area of voting rights and regulating securities.

This one is coming down to the final gun, and I don't know how it will end. What I do know is that, again, one way or another, the Democrats will have the stronger candidate that will bring either experience or diversity to the statewide ticket. With Pete Buttigieg running for Treasurer and Sam Locke running for Auditor, the Democrats will be putting up an extremely qualified and capable ticket against the GOP. With most of these state offices closer than you might imagine in 2006, it's going to be a battle through to November.

I am a delegate, and I have made up my mind as which candidate will receive my vote. That is (CONNECTION TERMINATED).

Sunday, June 20, 2010


By Jon E. Easter

It's Father's Day in America, and, for the second year, it remains a bittersweet day for me. On this day, I remember my father and all the good times I had with him, but I cannot celebrate it with him. My dad passed on February 20, 2009. I still miss him every day, and I think about him all the time. He still visits me in dreams, and I can still hear his voice in my head.

Enough about me. I found this video on YouTube, and I thought it was just excellent.

I also found this video from NBC News a couple of years ago on Father's Day as Tim Russert explains what it's like to be a dad. His two books on fatherhood are amazing. I'm sure that his sentiments describe those of many dads. Thanks Tim.

Most of all...if you are still lucky to have your father and if you're lucky enough to have him in your life, give him a call and tell him you love him. I now know that you can't replace them when they're gone.

Finally, I want to thank my dad for the love, encouragement, and sacrifice. There was not one minute of my life that I did not feel loved by my dad.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Saturday Humor: Big Butter Jesus Down for the Count

Big Butter Jesus (2004-2010)


By Jon E. Easter

By now, I am sure most of you know all know about the King of Kings Statue outside the Solid Rock Church just off I-75. The statue was called, informally, Touchdown Jesus, due to its arms raised pose. Comedian Heywood Banks penned a song a few years back about the ridiculous monstrosity called, appropriately, Big Butter Jesus, because it looked like the foam, fiberglass and resin statue had been carved out of butter, as Banks wrote "Just like at the State Fair."

Well, after the storms on Monday, old Heywood had to add a verse to the song (Starts at about 1:05 into video).

Here is the serious news report, and I do feel sorry for the church and its members who clearly were attached to the statue. However, it honestly did look ridiculous, and it looks like maybe the big critic upstairs didn't like the thing, either.

The church said they don't believe it was a sign from above, and, appropriately, a Jesus statue will be resurrected, according to the Pastor of the church. Hopefully, next time, they will do the subject a little bit more justice.

Still, Heywood Banks' original version of the Big Butter Jesus song contains a warning:

Well don’t make no graven images.
That’s one of the 10 commandments
I hope the grading curve is kindly
You get to heaven with a 90.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Friday Hodge Podge

By Jon Easter

Ok...without further's the first episode of a new segment: THE FRIDAY HODGE PODGE!

--cue the music please--
(preferably something peppy)

Beth White Pushing Satellite Centers
Marion County Clerk Beth White sent out a news release earlier this week talking about her agenda to return to the early voting satellite centers available during the 2008 General Election and the 2009 Referendum Vote. She is encouraging people who support the satellite voting centers to sign a petition online here. For those wanting more information, you can see a fact sheet here. As you may remember, satellite voting was shut down by the lone Republican on the Election Board before the May Primary.

“I invite voters to be part of the process whether it’s by signing the online petition, attending a meeting, calling our office or sending an email,” White said in the release. “Their support and involvement will help build the case for making our democratic process more open and accessible.”

Curry Holds News Conference
Yesterday at 10:30 a.m., Terry Curry held a news conference outside the Prosecutor's Office calling for Republican Prosecutorial nominee Mark Massa to join him in disclosing who donated what to his campaign. It's a good move, and it's good to see Curry getting some earned media. I criticized his campaign for its, in my view, slow start a couple of weeks ago.

Curry also kicked off his township team strategy last Wednesday, June 9. Looks like the campaign is officially on with that much needed momentum starting to move the dial.

Speculations Abound on Bayh's 2012 Plans
While some reports say that Lieutenant Governor Becky Skillman (as well as Treasurer Richard Mourdock) is starting to position herself for a run at the Governor's Mansion in '12, Evan Bayh's abrupt Senatorial retirement and statements in his announcement to the media are fueling speculation that he may run again for Governor in 2012. Of course, no one wants to be in Bayh's way, and reliable sources are telling me that people loyal to Bayh are telling interested Democrats to clear the road for a POTENTIAL run by the Senator.

If Bayh runs and gets elected, he would be the first two-term Governor in Indiana history to be re-elected after leaving office the first time. Isaac Gray ascended to the Governor's Office after the death of James D. Williams in 1880. He served the remainder of that term until 1881. After failing to get the Republican nomination in 1880, he left office. In the interim, he switched parties and won the Democratic nomination for Governor in 1884. He was elected Governor of Indiana and served from 1885-1889.

War time Governor Henry Schricker, a Democrat, also served two non consecutive terms, and he has the distinction of being the only man elected to those two terms. His time in office was 1941-1945 and 1949-1953. His turbulent first term was spent fighting with the Republican-led General Assembly over Executive Power.

Rokita Gaffes At Memorial Day Celebration
This blog post over at Politics and Pucks describes a scene at a Memorial Day celebration where Republican nominee for Congress in the 4th District, Todd Rokita, gave a policy speech instead of a speech honoring military service. He also apparently said that he did not call military service a sacrifice. Just read the post for more information.

Democratic nominee David Sanders probably thought things would be different this time around, but this opponent shows the same propensity for gaffeitude as outgoing Rep. Steve Buyer does. Does this mean that the current Indiana Secretary of State will soon be talking about lettuce smoking and using nukes in Afghanistan?

Hopefully, this is the year the 4th District wakes up and votes for a bright, intelligent, and qualified man like Sanders over the ambitious and apparently loose tongued Rokita. I get the feeling that Rokita will be a Buyer clone...without the nasty Congress.

Well, I think that's enough for now. Don't forget to seek us out tomorrow for Saturday Humor and a tribute to "Big Butter Jesus" and a salute to dads on Sunday as it will be Fathers Day in America.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Abdul May Be Making Stuff Up Again II

By Jon E. Easter

He praised me on his blog earlier this week, but I have to call Abdul out again on an inaccuracy on his blog. I would hope he'd try to keep me honest too.

On Wednesday, Abdul reported the following in this post:
Are Democrats Getting Stonewalled?
There is a growing rift between State party Democrats and LGBT Democrats. Reliable sources tell me that House candidates who are sympathetic to gay rights have been “advised” by the director of House races to keep their distance from gay-friendly events like last weekend’s Indy Pride festival.

Gay Democrats are reportedly upset lawmakers like U.S. Senate candidate Brad Ellsworth and State Representative candidate Brett Voorhies and legislator Ed Delaney stayed away and Rep John Barnes didn’t walk the parade this year. The Marion County Democratic party did not by (sic) booth space at the event and instead tried to piggy back on the Stonewall Democrats efforts. Stonewall Dems donated about $10,000 in the past to Democratic candidates, but that support might not be there in the future if state Democrats don’t start giving back.

Now, I'm working on tracking down the veracity of the first part of that in regards to the Indiana Democratic Party's relationship with the Stonewall Democrats. Look for that coming up in a future blog post. I will say that, in my early tree shaking, it looks there appears to be a kernel of truth in that assessment of the situation between the groups. More research is needed before I can confirm or dismiss the entire assessment of the situation.

However, the part about the Marion County Democratic Party appears to be just flat out wrong. The Stonewall Democrats put out a statement in rebuttal to the claim on Abdul's blog.

There have been some recent comments in the blogosphere about Stonewall and the Marion County Democratic Party sharing booth space at Pride this year. It would appear some are trying to paint division between Stonewall and the MCDP by using our shared booth space as evidence that MCDP isn't as supportive of the LGBT community as it should be.

We would like to set the record straight, so to speak, about the booth arrangements this year at Pride. Indiana Stonewall Democrats invited the Marion County Democratic Party and all Hoosier Democrats running for office to share our booth space. MCDP paid their fair share of the double-size booth space we were sharing and a good number of our Democratic friends were present throughout the day.

We are proud we were able to share our space with the Marion County Democratic Party. Any Democrat or Democratic organization that wishes to share booth space with us has an open invitation. Stonewall is the representative organization for LGBT Democrats and we believe in displaying that association at every opportunity.

Daily Show on South Carolina Senate Race: Why Re-invent the Wheel?

Jon Stewart on the Daily Show analyzes the South Carolina U.S. Senate race better than I ever could.

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Alvin Greene Wins South Carolina Primary
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical HumorTea Party

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Carson: A Hero to LGBT Community

By Jon E. Easter

Julia Carson was revered in the gay community. She was everybody's Grandma Julia, and I can tell you stories that I've heard from the LGBT community that will warm your heart about how this devoutly Baptist woman embraced an entire community of people that often don't get a voice.

As good as Julia Carson was with the LGBT community, her grandson, André, is trying to be even better.

While Brad Ellsworth and other state and federal politicians from both sides of the aisle stayed far away from Indy Pride this past weekend (you all know who you are), Carson dove in with both feet. No...literally...both feet...walking the parade route while shaking hands, kissing babies, hugging people, and doing what he does best. That is giving the LGBT community a strong, supportive, and solid voice in Congress. It's not just lip service. It's tacit support that brings results back to the community.

He's done it since the day he took the oath of office. Carson joined the LGBT Equality Caucus in Congress and is the only Indiana member of that delegation. It was something he didn't have to do as a new member of Congress, but he did it anyway. Beyond that, he is a clear and constant voice for LGBT rights in Congress. He didn't have to think about how to vote on Don't Ask, Don't Tell. He just did it.

It's another example of why I'm proud to be represented by André Carson, just as I was his grandmother. It's the caring Carson spirit that runs in the family. It definitely was passed from grandmother to grandson.

(Photo by Wilson Allen)