Friday, December 28, 2012

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Google 2012 Year in Review

This video needs no introduction.  Just watch.

Jib Jab Looks Back at 2012

As we dig out, take a few moments to enjoy Jib Jab's annual look back at the previous year.  Enjoy 2012 the year the world almost ended...well sorta.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Ballard Keeping Low Profile on Social Media as Blizzard Advances

Where's the Mayor?
As the blizzard of 2012 heads towards Indianapolis, we aren't certain what the effects might be.

It does appear that the National Weather Service is pretty certain that we will get some significant snow and some significant wind to go along with that.  It's our first blizzard warning since 2007.

On Facebook and Twitter, the local Department of Homeland Security has been posting a constant stream of things directed at the citizens of Indianapolis to keep them safe.  So far, at the time this is posting, Mayor Greg Ballard has sent two tweets and has posted nothing on Facebook.

What a contrast in styles to that of Ballard's counterpoint in Newark, New Jersey, Cory Booker.  Booker utilized his Facebook and Twitter accounts masterfully by tweeting out updates and posting important statuses throughout the recent Hurricane Sandy mess.  He also used his Twitter account to stay in touch with his constituents needing services.

For all we know, Ballard may be nestled all snug in his bed while Indy prepares to receive the Blizzard of 2012.  I guess we'll have to see in the morning.

Perhaps this storm won't amount to anything, but, if I were Mayor of Indianapolis, I certainly would be using my social media accounts to reach folks in a non-traditional and new media way.  Maybe the Mayor will get the message before it's too late.

Monday, December 24, 2012


It's Christmas Eve, and I want to wish all of you a very Merry Christmas!  I hope that you all have a wonderful time with family and friends.

See you after the holidays!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

In Memoriam: Brian Patrick Benson

Brian Benson
photo from Facebook
The Marion County Coroner today identified the man killed in the Fountain Square pedestrian accident as 22-year-old Brian Benson.

Benson and Indiana Stonewall Democrats President Aaron Schaler were walking on a sidewalk along Prospect Street in Fountain Square when a van driven by Joseph Crandall jumped the curb for some unknown reason and hit the pair. Crandall told police he was in a rush, according to reports.  Schaler sustained several injuries and is recovering in the hospital. Unfortunately, Benson died on the scene after news reports say he was dragged under the van for over 60 feet.

As many of you know, I teach at Ben Davis High School, and Benson graduated from BD in 2008. I did not ever have him in class or have any contact that I remember with Benson, but many of my former students did. They are pouring their hearts out over on Benson’s Facebook page.

Facebook sometimes becomes an impromptu tribute to those that are lost. You can learn a lot about a person from what is posted there. In just a few minutes, I learned a lot about a man I had never met. I learned he was a talented actor and singer. I learned from many of his friends and their posts that he was the kind of person that you could go to with your problems. I also got to hear him perform.

Suddenly, I felt a sense of loss, too.

What is to follow is some of those old clichés, but life is certainly precious. You just never know when it’s your time or when a loved one will no longer be there. That’s why we have to hold each other tight and love like it’s going out of style. That sense of love binds us together in tragic times like these.

Continued recovery wishes go out to my good friend Aaron Schaler who, according to his friends, is in good spirits considering everything he’s been through. Aaron is a strong person who will get through this tragic circumstance, but he’s going to need a lot of love and support to help him.

My deepest condolences go out to all the friends and family members dealing with the loss of Brian Benson. I wish I would have known him like you did. I get the feeling that I missed out on someone pretty special.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Get Well Soon Aaron!

Indiana Stonewall Democrats President
Aaron Schaler
(photo from Facebook)
Word came late tonight that Indiana Stonewall Democrats President Aaron Schaler was injured in an accident in Fountain Square.

WIBC reports that Schaler was on foot in Fountain Square when he and another man were struck by a van that went up and over the curb.  The other man was tragically pronounced dead at the scene.  The driver of the van, Anthony Scott Crandall, did not "appear intoxicated" according to the WIBC report.

My thoughts and prayers go out to the family and friends of the so far unidentified man who was killed in the incident.

I want to also send my best wishes out to Aaron who is a friend of mine, and a frequent reader of the blog.  Get well soon big guy!

Monday, December 17, 2012

In Memoriam: Senator Daniel Inouye

Word came today that one of my favorite Senators, Daniel Inouye, had passed away at 88.

Senator Inouye fought all his life.  As a child of Japanese immigrants, Inouye fought racism when young.  On the battlefield, he fought bravely as an Asian-American soldier for the United States.  An eyewitness to the Pearl Harbor Attack in 1941, he lost an arm in battle during World War II.  In the Senate, Inouye fought for the voiceless.  He was one of the earliest advocates for the LGBT community, and he stood up for those that couldn't stand up for themselves.

Senator Daniel Inouye
President Pro Tempore of the United States Senate
Inouye famously served on the Watergate Committee as well as chairing the Iran-Contra Committee.  He LITERALLY served in Congress the entire time that Hawaii has been a state.  In 1959, he was elected to Congress as a House member, and he moved to the Senate in 1963.

I can't do justice to the Senator's long career and long life here in just a few words, but the Senator definitely made a huge impact on his state and his country, and he will leave big shoes to fill in the Aloha State.  Reportedly, Senator Inouye's final word was, "Aloha."  A fitting word for a man who represented Hawaii with distinction for so many years.

Another lion of the Senate is gone as Senator Daniel Inouye leaves this Earth after 88 remarkable years.  My deepest condolences to his wife and his family and friends as well as to the entire state of Hawaii.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Why Never Is Answered.

I still literally cannot believe what happened in Newtown, Connecticut at Sandy Hook Elementary School on Friday.  It has really thrown me, and, quite honestly, it's taken me a few days to gather my thoughts on this.  I still have not gotten to the point that I can make coherent sense out of what happened there.

I feel hurt and anger, and I don't know anyone that was killed or anyone connected directly to the tragedy.  I am not a parent.  I don't know what I feel about all of this, exactly.  It's times like this you just want to shake your fist and ask WHY?  Why those 20 kids?  They were all born in 2005 or 2006.  WHY?  Why the children?  So precious and so innocent.  Why?  There's never any answer no matter how much you shake that fist.

What I do know is that teachers and administrators in that school saved lives.  The heroism of the six adults that were killed in this massacre is just so hard to describe.  First responders saved lives.  Well-practiced procedures saved lives.

That said, 20 little candles were snuffed out way too early.  Six educators lost their lives at that school.  Principal Dawn Hochsprung reportedly died trying to subdue the shooter.  Some like  

December 14 will now go down in history as a day something very very bad happened.  Just know that life is precious and every second of every day counts because no matter how young or how old, tomorrow is never guaranteed.

My deepest condolences go out to all those affected by this tragedy.  May you somehow find peace and love in some way this holiday season.

The victims of this tragedy are all Gone Too Soon.

Charlotte Bacon, 6
Daniel Barden, 7
Rachel Davino, 29
Olivia Engel, 6
Josephine Gay, 7
Ana M. Marquez-Greene, 6
Dylan Hockley, 6
Dawn Hochsprung, 47
Madeleine F. Hsu, 6
Catherine V. Hubbard, 6
Chase Kowalski, 7
Jesse Lewis, 6
James Mattioli, 6
Grace McDonnell, 7
Anne Marie Murphy, 52
Emilie Parker, 6
Jack Pinto, 6
Noah Pozner, 6
Caroline Previdi, 6
Jessica Rekos, 6
Avielle Richman, 6
Lauren Rousseau, 30
Mary Sherlach, 56
Victoria Soto, 27
Benjamin Wheeler, 6
Allison N. Wyatt, 6

Friday, December 14, 2012

Friday Hodge Podge: Mahern Stepping Away; Next Up for Beth; Holiday Posting Schedule

Mahern Steps Away
Brian Mahern
Brian Mahern has announced that he would not seek a leadership position on the City-County Council or in the Democratic caucus in the upcoming Council term.  He will, however, stay on the Council. 

Citing differences with the agenda of Council President Maggie Lewis, the current Council Vice President told the Indianapolis Star's Jon Murray he still supports Lewis but wants to give the Council a chance to elect a VEEP that shares Lewis' agenda.  Lewis was effusive in praise of Mahern telling Murray that Mahern is "smart and articulate."

Murray's article seems to signal that some Council Democrats may not have supported a second term as Vice President for Mahern, anyway.  Murray writes:

Among the Democrats, who retook majority control of the council Jan. 1, Mahern, 44, has been a vocal and repeated critic of many of Republican Mayor Greg Ballard’s initiatives.

He’s also tangled with members of his own caucus, both behind closed doors and publicly. Some have grumbled privately about his penchant for calling press conferences and his perceived political ambitions, raising the prospect that some Democrats may have considered opposing a bid for a second year as vice president had he decided to seek one. 
The vice president sits next to the president at the front of the chamber during meetings but has little responsibility other than filling in when the president is absent from meetings. Mahern, however, has harnessed the position to speak out against spending by the Capital Improvement Board, the agency that runs the city’s sports venues and convention center, and to voice disagreement with the administration’s economic development strategies.

Who will replace Mahern? There are a lot of excellent candidates.  This move releases Mahern to blaze his own trail on the Council, and he told Murray he will continue working on issues for which he is passionate.  Mahern is rumored to be one of the many Democrats that are considering a run for Mayor in 2015. 

Next Up for White?
Marion County Clerk Beth White cannot run again for her current job, so it is rumored that she may be considering a run for a higher-level state office: potentially Secretary of State in 2014.  No announcement has been made, and one won't come for a long while if she decides to run.  

After a rocky beginning with the first primary election, White has done a tremendous job.  The Marion County Clerk's responsibilities are mind boggling.  Collecting child support, issuing marriage licenses, and taking care of all the court filings are just a few things the Clerk must manage.  It's a big job.

Blog Posting Schedule:
As is tradition here, I will be going off my normal daily posting schedule beginning Monday, December 17.  My day job typically gets very busy at this time followed immediately by the upcoming holidays.  I will return to daily posting on January 7, 2013.

That doesn't mean you shouldn't continue to check in.  I'll still be updating the blog, but I won't be doing it every day at midnight.  If the past is any guide, I'll have trouble staying away for too many days.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Boehner Tries Power Play Without Power

House Speaker
John Boehner
U.S. House speaker John Boehner told reporters a couple of days ago that President Barack Obama needs to come up with a new proposal to avert the “fiscal cliff” the United States is heading for if a deal is not cut soon. The thing is, the House has his proposal, and the President has the backing of the nation on it.

Poll after poll rejects the Republican plan to avert the monetary calamity by cutting spending only and fixing the crisis by eliminating a number of tax deductions. This is also the plan pretty much widely rejected by the voters at the ballot box on November 6 when it was touted as a solution by then Republican candidate for President, Mitt Romney.

The President has a more balanced approach of spending cuts and a return to the Clinton-era tax rates for the top two percent of earners in the U.S. For 98 percent of us, we will not see our tax rates change at all. Republicans argue that the President’s plan hurts small businesses and job providers and continue to sit arms folded and refusing to acknowledge the results of last month’s election.

If the United States is allowed to go over the fiscal cliff, it could trigger another recession with extreme spending cuts and major tax increases. President Obama claims this would amount to $2,000 more in taxes paid by average American families.

Don’t misunderstand me, I’m not saying the President’s plan is perfect. I am saying that the President has more of a political tailwind at this point than a Congress with just a 10 percent approval rating. That will go down even more if this crisis doesn’t get solved. I know I don’t have $2,000 more to pay Uncle Sam, do you?

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Blame Goes Both Ways in 107-2 Drubbing

Panthers Under Fire
Bloomington South runs a classy, successful girls basketball program, and Larry Winters, the head coach of that program, is and has been the catalyst of it for many years.

That’s why last night’s 107-2 win over Indianapolis Arlington was so surprising -- slap across the face from an unseen hand surprising.

I have known Coach Winters only casually as a high school basketball fan knows a coach. I’ve seen his teams play just about twice a year now for the last 16 years. They are always well-coached and classy. He has put together an excellent program and maintained it at such a level that Coach Winters was an Indiana All-Stars Assistant Coach in 2011. Those honors don’t come around unless you have achieved at a high level for many years.

Those things should not be forgotten just because his team beat another team, 107-2.

Unfortunately, all we are hearing today is the uproar over Coach Winters’ Lady Panthers beating a rebuilding Arlington team. Arlington had no business on that floor against that team, and someone at Arlington had to see that. Arlington was taken over by the State of Indiana this past year and put under the control of a charter school provider.

There are over 380 members of the IHSAA as well as some teams that play basketball that aren’t. Bloomington South is one of the 15 or 20 best programs this year in the biggest class, 4A. Arlington is one of the worst in the smallest class, 1A. It doesn’t take a diehard sports fan to see it was going to be a mismatch.

From watching him coach and seeing his teams play over the years, I can’t imagine that Coach Winters, a man who I’ve rarely heard raise his voice at a player or an official, set out to embarrass anyone. I’m sure things snowballed and then bam. It’s 107-2.

Of course, in this 24/7 media environment, it’s all a whirlwind and things get crazy. People are calling for his head all over social media. So, we should simply fire him for what? Being too successful? It’s not like his girls were rubbing this loss in. Coach Ebony Jackson of Arlington told Nat Newell of the Indianapolis Star that she respects and still respects Winters and his program. Whether or not they are successful on the year, the Arlington girls are better because they played the game. They learned about teamwork, coming together, and competing. They took a big loss, but it’s certainly not the first in their lives and I doubt it will set them up for failure later in life. Let’s not blow this more out of proportion.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not going to sit here and say that Coach Winters couldn’t have done things differently. In hindsight, I’m sure he might wish he handled this game differently. I did, however, drop him an e-mail in support today.  Arlington, however, ultimately decided to play this home game, so don't blame Coach Winters for everything.

No one meant for this to happen, but it happened. Let both teams move on from this with lessons learned. That’s what high school sports are, for goodness sakes. They are another opportunity to learn life lessons.

Get ready for the knee jerk mercy rule talk.  Listen, do whatever you like, but don't simply call for a man to be fired because you fail to look at his entire body of work as a coach and choose to overlook the reason the game was played at all.  Let's just move on, please.

Pence's Tax Plan Unpopular

One of the key parts of Mike Pence's Road Map for Indiana is proving unpopular for the Governor-Elect as he gets set to take office.
Mike Pence

Pence's much discussed plan to cut income taxes across the board by ten percent is running into snags not only in the Indiana General Assembly, as we talked about just a few days ago here on this blog, but with Hoosiers at large.

The WISH-TV/Ball State University Hoosier Survey showed that 64 percent of Hoosiers oppose Pence's tax cut plan and would rather see that money spent on education or job training programs.  Why?  Oh...I don't know.  Maybe it's because Indiana is currently hovering above the national unemployment rate.  A tax cut isn't going to do you any good if you have no income.  Maybe Hoosiers are smart enough to smell a poorly-conceived campaign promise when they hear it?  

So, what's a Governor-Elect to do?  Hang on to his agenda at all cost or, in a nod to both legislative and public opposition, drop back ten yards and punt?

Not as easy as being in Washington is it, Governor-Elect?

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Lewis, Mahern Hold High-Dollar Fundraisers

City-County Council
Maggie Lewis
City-County Council President Maggie Lewis is in a safe district on the City-County Council, so why is she holding a top-dollar fundraiser hosted by many current Democratic movers and shakers?

Well, if you believe Abdul-Hakim Shabazz over on Indy Politics, she may run for Mayor in 2015.

On Monday, Lewis was the beneficiary of a fundraiser hosted by the following big current and former hitters in Marion County and Indiana politics: Former Mayor Bart Peterson, State Senator Greg Taylor, Dave Corbitt, Carl Drummer, Adairius Gardner, Lacy Johnson, Melina Kennedy, Dave Lewis, Frank Short, and Joe Smith.  Top level contribution was $1,000.

I haven't talked to President Lewis about the possibility, but there's no reason to believe that she couldn't run and win.  At this point, it's just rumor and innuendo, but it definitely makes sense for Lewis to run.  She is well-loved, smart, politically savvy, sharp-as-a-tack, and has an impressive resume.  I have always been impressed with her.

City-County Council
Vice President
Brian Mahern
Other Democrats often mentioned as rumored Mayoral candidates include Vop Osili, John Layton, Joe Hogsett, and Brian Mahern.  Quite a deep bench there for the Democrats.

Mahern has a big fundraiser of his own coming up on Thursday at his dad's house, hosted by Auditor Billie Breaux, Assessor Joe O'Connor, Surveyor Debbie Jenkins, Sheriff John Layton, Treasurer Claudia Fuentes, Recorder Julie Voorhies, Chairman Ed Treacy, Former Rep. Bill Crawford, Constable Tony Duncan, Councillor Vernon Brown, Councillor Pam Hickman, Chip Garver, Chris Gibson, Greg Hahn, Lacy Johnson, Ed Mahern, Amy and Les Miller, Andy Miller, Joel Miller, Kevin Murray, Frank Short, Becky Smith, David Suess, Kip Tew, Heather Willey, and Unite! Here.  Top level for this one is $500.

2015's election cycle will definitely be one to watch even now.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Pence Must Sell Tax Plan

Gov.-Elect Mike Pence
If a tax plan falls in the General Assembly without being passed, does it make a sound?

As has been well noted, Governor-Elect Mike Pence has a plan to cut income taxes by ten percent here in Indiana across the board.  He's going to include that in the budget.  While many believe that the plan has its merits, some others wonder how he is going to pay for his plan and are less interested in making it happen.  Some of those folks are in his own party and are the movers and shakers who will make these decisions.

One of the questions I would have is where is he going to pay for this cut?  Indiana has (artificially) maintained a surplus while cutting schools and local governments down to the bone.  This surplus is now in jeopardy with this Pence plan.

Furthermore, with schools now dependent more than ever on sales tax and income tax revenue rather than the more stable property tax revenue, some of the largest districts are being challenged to do more and more with less and less.  Schools are now scratching their heads.  The loss of more state revenue would cripple them even more.

It appears that Pence's plan is meeting its own opposition from within the GOP.  Some of the more experienced state legislators are questioning whether this is the proper course of action for a state that has been teetering on the edge of this economy.

If Pence wants this plan to pass, he's going to have to work for it.  Indiana's Governor is often at the mercy of the Indiana General Assembly which holds more power than most legislatures over a Governor.  This long session could be interesting.  If Pence gets slapped back, it would be a huge embarrassment as this was something he campaigned on extensively.

The GOP Civil War begins.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Messer Makes Right Move For Him, Family

The Messer Family
Photo from Messer's Campaign Facebook
Luke Messer has announced that he’s moving his family to Washington, D.C.

The Congressman-Elect in Indiana’s 6th District is following the example of Mike Pence before him and is planning to move his wife and small children to a new home in Virginia while maintaining a residence in Indiana, according to WISH-TV’s Jim Shella, who reported this a few days ago.

I have to say that I have no problem with Messer’s decision with one caveat. If he maintains a vibrant presence here in Indiana and actually maintains a home in his district that he uses when he’s in the district, then he could live on the darkside of the Moon, and I wouldn’t care.

It’s clear Messer is making this decision for the right reasons. With three young children who need their father, it’s pretty cut and dry to me. He’s doing what he feels is best.

Other Congressmen have come to different decisions. Congressman André Carson continues to live in the district with his family. There was a big deal about Congressman Todd Rokita living in his office in Washington. That's fine for them.  With this sort of thing, there’s no right or wrong answer. 

Politically, the fact that Messer is “shining a light” on what could potentially become a problem for him politically means that he wants to get out in front of the residency issues that dogged Richard Lugar, Mike Pence, and David McIntosh in the 2012 Election Cycle.

To me, this was well-handled by a smart politician and probably a very good dad.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Teachers, Get Ready to Defend Yourselves??

Let the crazy begin!

The Indianapolis Star reports that in the upcoming General Assembly session, Sen. Dennis Kruse, a Republican from Auburn, plans to introduce a bill for passage that would require teachers to provide evidence if their instruction is challenged by students. Kruse calls it a “truth in education” measure.

This is another way that creationists are trying to sneak creationism, for which there is no scientific proof, into the curriculum. Evolution, for which there is tons of proof, could be challenged by a student and, under the measure, a teacher would be required to defend his or her teachings.

Thankfully, the Star reports that the House Education Chair, Rep. Bob Behning of Indianapolis, is unlikely to give the bill a hearing if it passes the Senate calling it “overbroad” and saying it puts an undue burden on teachers and schools.

This is the kind of craziness we can expect from the GOP so enjoy!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Step Back from the Fiscal Cliff

House Speaker John Boehner
Did we have an election on November 6?

I mean, I could have sworn that voters went to the polls on that day and by-and-large rejected the Republican Party's view of government of the rich, by the rich, and for the rich.  Hmm...sure couldn't tell it now here a month later.

U.S. House Speaker John Boehner continues to obstruct President Barack Obama's solution or progress along with meaningful negotiations to avert the so called "fiscal cliff" we are all about to drive off of with the U.S. Government.

Both sides have their plans, and, so far, their sticking to them.  The Republican plan tries to balance the budget with spending cuts and ending deductions.  The Obama plan would add spending cuts and raise the tax rate of the highest two percent of income earners or those that make $250,000.  The GOP says this plan will kill jobs.  Dems counter that the rate raises only go up to what was law under Bill Clinton's Administration when the U.S. settled in for fiscal growth and a booming economy.

President Obama won the election on November 6 by campaigning on tax reform and spending cuts.  Romney campaigned on much of what is in Boehner's plan.  Thus, it's reasonable to say that Boehner's plan was vetted by the voters and not popular.

Obama has put together this great video as a closing argument on why the President's plan addresses the fiscal cliff in a manner palatable to the majority of Americans.

In the meantime, John Boehner is simply trying to hold his caucus together before his new caucus is even sworn in.  Should be an interesting time for Speaker Boehner.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Pence To Begin Term in Indiana Cold

Will Pence ride in on a horse or roll up
in his red pickup?
Governor-Elect Mike Pence announced that he will hold his inauguration outdoors on January 14.  What he does for the next four years will certainly determine his political future in 2016.

You would figure that Pence would have the political wind at his back.  After all, Mitt Romney was an easy winner in Indiana.  Pence will have 70 Republicans in the Indiana House and 37 Republicans in the Indiana Senate.  It should be a breeze to get his agenda through and on to the Presidency in 2016.  As Lee Corso, ESPN's college football analyst often says, "Not so fast, my friend."

Pence didn't receive a majority of the votes for Governor.  He was just a few tenths of a percentage point short of 50 percent, and he saw his huge lead squandered by a lackluster response to an aggressive John Gregg over the last few weeks of the campaign.  A double-digit poll lead became a three-percentage point win on election night.  This was, again, during an election where Republicans gained seats in the Indiana House and had their Presidential candidate carry the state by a wide margin.

It's going to be a tightrope of sorts for Pence, and I'm not sure he's politically savvy enough to walk it.  Governor Daniels was.  Until the last few weeks when he has suddenly become noticeably more defensive and bitter, Governor Daniels pushed for truces on social issues and tried to focus on economic issues like state surpluses and tax relief.  Daniels was also good enough to make people buy what he was doing.  He didn't say he was balancing the budget on the the backs of the schools and the local governments, but that's what he did.  The electorate bought it.

Pence can't be that savvy, in my view.  He is, famously, "Christian, Conservative, and Republican, in that order" by his own words.  It will be interesting to see if he keeps himself in the middle of the road or if he will be pulled to the right by the Christian conservatives or pulled to the right by the Tea Party.  If he gets pulled to the right by both interests, he may find himself out of step with the 2016 Republican Party which likely will be much more moderate than it is today.

Furthermore, there's this issue of having all the power in one's hands.  Sometimes having all the branches of government held by one party works against you.  When you don't get the results you want from your agenda, you can't point fingers or place blame.  It's all on you.  Even though the Governor of Indiana is a weak executive compared to other governors (it only takes a majority vote in the General Assembly to override a veto), the politician in the Governor's Office is seen as the leader.  Revolts can have dire consequences, especially when the opponent and the opposition is palatable to the revolutionaries.

I don't think it's going to be an easy four years for Mike Pence.  He's not going to just say he was a hardworking Governor; he's going to have to put the proof in the pudding.  It all starts January 14.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Daniels Continues Attack on Public Educators

Mitch Daniels
His educational reforms rejected at the 2012 ballot box; Mitch Daniels besmirched the reputation of Indiana educators and accused them of using illegal means to help Glenda Ritz win election as Superintendent of Public Instruction.  The report appeared online on Saturday in the Indianapolis Star.

Despite the fact that Mitch's chosen one, Tony Bennett, had all the money, slick campaign ads, and the attention of media outlets across the state, Bennett fell short and Ritz won the election with 1.3 million votes.  This amounted to more votes than Governor-Elect Mike Pence received.  For a "down ballot" race, this is remarkable.

Daniels alleged, without evidence, that teachers were sending campaign e-mails on Ritz's behalf during school time using school resources.  He also alleged that teachers used back-to-school nights to talk about the Superintendent of Public Instruction race.

The only place I saw many teachers posting was on their own personal Facebook and Twitter accounts.  Before and after hours, teachers and future teachers took to the web to sound the alarm about Dr. Bennett and his policies.  It was a brilliant social media strategy.

Glenda Ritz
When I talked with a few of my former students who were going to go into teaching, they were all aware of Ritz and Bennett and the stakes of the election.  That certainly surprised me.  Even my mom knew.

Now, tell me how does that work when Ritz had only enough money for a few ads...mostly on the radio?  That's good word of mouth and social media campaigning.  Ritz also found an unlikely group of supporters in Tea Party activists upset about Bennett's push to overrun publicly-elected school boards as well as his love of the common core curriculum.  I doubt this was 1.3 million votes, but it did help.

Instead of congratulating her on a great campaign, Ritz's opponents are acting like they are afraid of what she might do in office.  Abdul-Hakim Shabazz wrote another critical column on his Indy Politics site on Saturday.  He's been hanging on her like glue.  Daniels has also been loose-tongued about all of this, and there are signs that the Indiana General Assembly is going to try to strip Ritz of all her powers before she has a chance to speak up.  I'd advise them to be careful.  That Twitter and Facebook campaign that helped elect Ritz can be put into play to help send home politicians that refuse to listen to what the voters have said with their ballots.

What are they so afraid of in trying to silence her?  Republicans like Daniels hold all the legislative cards.  I think it's crystal clear that they are trying to marginalize Ritz and attach her as a mouthpiece of the teachers unions so that people will stop paying attention to what she says.

As far as Daniels goes, you have to wonder why he's so bitter?  Makes you wonder if Daniels may be regretting taking that job at Purdue University that essentially put him on the sidelines the entire General Election season.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

R.I.P. Rick Majerus

Rick Majerus died today after a long battle with heart disease.

In the end, though, Coach Majerus will be remembered long for what he cared about with his heart.  His players and for the game of basketball.  This press conference from what turned out to be Coach Majerus' final game tells all you need to know about him.

The happy go-lucky Coach Majerus is gone much too soon at 64.

Friday, November 30, 2012

"Major" Part of Daniels' Legacy Experiencing Potholes

You remember that deal that leased the Indiana Toll Road to an out-of-the-country company for a cash payment? Yeah, that cash is just about gone.

The Louisville Courier-Journal reports that Indiana is set to return funding levels for highways and bridges back to pre-Major Moves levels or 25 percent less than what its had. Oh yeah, and we still have like 94 years to go on that lease, so don't expect toll revenue in our lifetime.

Daniels clearly timed this so that the funding would run out after he left office leaving Governor-Elect Mike Pence and the Republicans in the Indiana House and Senate to deal with the impact of all the road and bridge do you maintain all these new and glorious roads. The shortfall could mean that Hoosiers will regressively pay more at the pump. That should make a lot of people happy.

While Mitch is riding his motorcycle around West Lafayette as President of Purdue, you’ll likely be paying more to ride yours or drive your car to vacation or to work or to school or to the grocery or to wherever you go. The Courier-Journal reports that one plan would index the tax so that it would rise and fall with the needs of highway repairs. That, of course, could be highway robbery when you think about it.  Higher gas prices mean higher food and goods prices which hits everyone in the wallet.

Daniels allies will likely point out that Major Moves has made a major difference in Indiana’s highway system by upgrading and modernizing quite a bit of it. That’s a good point, but, unfortunately, the money to maintain these nice new and modern roads seems to have exited stage right just behind Mitch’s Harley.

Each day, we read a new way Governor Daniels is sticking it to the state on his way out the door. Democrats tried to warn folks about this one back when it passed, but other lawmakers and supporters of the plan were too blinded with dollar signs to see that what was being built would cost millions more to maintain over time. It would be like re-sodding a 20-acre back yard. It looks great for a while until the drought comes. Then, the sod dies, and you have 20-acres of dust. 

Enjoy your potholes, Indiana.  Governor Daniels sure isn’t making many friends on the way out.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Lame Duck Gov. Stuffing Boards, Commissions

Governor Mitch Daniels
Is Mitch Daniels concerned about what Mike Pence might do as Governor, or does he want to just leave a lasting stamp on state government?  One must wonder when you read this November 20 entry on the Deep Fried Politics Blog on the Indy Star's website.

The Star's Mary Beth Schneider reported that the outgoing Governor made 21 appointments to boards and commissions and reappointed 39 other people.  Schneider points out that Daniels essentially tried to fire all previous appointees of Governor Joe Kernan in 2005 so he could shape the boards in his image.  Many refused to do so at that time.

Perhaps Mike Pence will do the same thing when he becomes Governor.  Likely not.  A spokeswoman for Pence told Schneider that they had confidence in the appointments and reappointments made by Daniels.  Still, it's a rather political move for a non-political guy like Daniels is supposed to be now, right?  It makes one wonder what his motives might have been, though.

At minimum, it's a pretty hypocritical move for a lame duck Governor.  Mitch Daniels of 2005 wouldn't approve.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Lugar Legacy Falls to Donnelly

Your Blogger, Sen.-Elect Joe Donnelly, and
City-County Councillor Vop Osili
Indiana and Washington are both preparing to write the final lines in a great legislative career over the next month or so just as new lines are about to be written for another Hoosier lawmaker.

As Richard G. Lugar prepares to leave the U.S. Senate in January, he will take with him a legacy of a statesman.  A man who, despite great differences in policy and philosophy, managed to be respected by most for the majority of his six terms in the Upper House.

It was only in recent times that a picture of a different Lugar emerged, and it was something he could never shake.  The image of an out-of-touch politician who would rather live in Virginia than be in Indiana became a big narrative in the Primary.  As a result, the much more conservative Richard Mourdock gained a foothold and elbowed out the statesman.  Maybe the loss was deserved, and maybe it wasn't.  How ever you feel about Richard Lugar and his votes in the Senate or how often you think he came home or where you believe he should have lived, you cannot deny the way he did his job.  Most would agree that he examined issues deeply and voted with more than just a nod to bipartisanship, and that cost him in 2012's political landscape.  I'm not saying that Lugar wasn't partisan.  He most definitely was a proud Republican.  In the end, though, the Republican Party left him.  In my view, he never left the Republican Party.  It's cliche, but to many hardline Republicans in the 2012 version of the party, Lugar became someone they could not support.

Problem was, they failed to vet Richard Mourdock.  Mourdock was a pure ideologue with very little statesman in him.  He was never able to shake the specter of his own words that have become so well known, "The highlight of politics is frankly to inflict my opinion on others."  He was never able to shake that label he put on himself of the uncompromising Tea Party firebrand conservative.  Then, at the last debate, he inserted his foot so far into his mouth that it choked out his campaign.

From that disastrous implosion of a campaign and the remnants of what should have been a close election, Indiana elected a sitting Congressman that's often labeled as a DINO by the far left of his own party named Joe Donnelly.

Donnelly ran the perfect campaign and used that to destroy the train wrecking Mourdock in November.  We could write volumes about the Senate Election in Indiana in 2012, but you cannot deny the similarities between the man the Republicans deposed in May and the man Indiana elected in November, at least politically.

For Donnelly, it's a more left-leaning ideology than the one the Lugar had, but like Senator Lugar, Senator-Elect Donnelly has built a record of looking at issues rather than partisan factors when he votes.  Like Lugar, Donnelly is, of course, a partisan.  Donnelly is a Democrat, and he's going to be swayed at times by his party's leadership, but he's also going to madden that leadership more often than many Senators would.  That's the way that he conducted business in the House, and I would expect that is what he will do in the Senate.

Senator Richard G. Lugar
Both Lugar and Donnelly both excel at hometown politics.  Having looked him in the eye and asked him about issues important to me, I can say that I felt very comfortable trusting Joe Donnelly with my vote much in the same way as I did when I looked Richard Lugar in the eye.

Is Donnelly as accomplished as Lugar?  No. Does he have the political capital Lugar did?  Not at this point, but with moderates so few in the Senate, he will become a key vote on many issues.  Donnelly wouldn't immediately be qualified to be Secretary of State or to stare down a dictator and get that tyrant to stop the process of getting a nuclear weapon.  Maybe someday he will, though.  What Donnelly does have is the ability to relate to Hoosiers.  Despite the way many portrayed Lugar's final years in the Senate, Lugar has that ability, too.  I'll never forget watching Senator Lugar be the last person to leave a room at an event we both attended.  He shook every hand.  He signed every autograph, and he took every picture.  I've seen Joe Donnelly do it, too.  You might not agree with Joe Donnelly all the time, but you feel like he's one of us.

In 2012, Donnelly excelled by being the opposite of Richard Mourdock.  He excelled by being the kind of politician that Richard Lugar wrote about in his now-famous concession letter.  For Donnelly, it wasn't just about adhering to something to get votes.  He has an authenticity that no other candidate for the Senate in 2012 could match here in Indiana.

After hearing Donnelly so often speak eloquently about Richard Lugar on the campaign trail, you know that he wants to embody the best of what made Richard Lugar someone Indiana will celebrate for years to come.

Indiana, you got this one right.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

State GOP Agenda for 2012 Includes Passing HJR-6

The House of Horrors for Equality?
Be afraid Indiana.  Be very afraid.

If you care about marriage equality or, frankly, any relationship that might result in a union other than traditional marriage, you want to pay attention to what happens in the 2013 General Assembly session.

It appears that Indiana lawmakers plan to ram through House Joint Resolution 6 which, once passed by this newly-elected General Assembly, will then go to the voters.  This resolution, of course, would write discrimination into the Indiana Constitution and make it impossible for same-sex marriages to occur.

You might already note that Indiana has a law on the books prohibiting gay marriage and the recognition of same sex marriages from other states.  That doesn't matter to the General Assembly.

HJR-6 was birthed by the Tea Party dominated General Assembly session in 2011.  In order to go to a referendum, it must pass a separately-elected General Assembly.  That's where the 2013 version comes in.

As passed by the last legislature, HJR-6 would do more than just make same sex marriage unconstitutional in Indiana, it would potentially make other forms of legally-recognized relationships not called traditional marriage illegal.  Here's the wording:

Only a marriage between one (1) man and one (1) woman shall be valid or recognized as a marriage in Indiana. A legal status identical or substantially similar to that of marriage for unmarried individuals shall not be valid or recognized.
No room for anything but traditional marriage between a man and a woman.

Of course, this would invalidate the domestic partnership ordinance in Indianapolis and in every other city and town that has passed similar ordinances.  It would also not leave any room for compromise.  You see...the new addition to our Constitution would do just that.  It would also affect 614 laws currently on the books here in the state, according to an Indiana University study.

In this post Tea Party political climate, this overbroad proposed amendment to the Indiana Constitution could be its own worst enemy.  This doesn't just unfairly affect gay people in Indiana, but its effects could cause same sex couples in domestic partnerships or other forms of recognized relationships to have the recognition of their unions made unconstitutional.

While you would figure that the GOP supermajority would likely vote to pass HJR-6 again, there's always a chance that this thing could be stopped before it reaches the voters.  If you believe that sometimes relationships come in other forms other than marriage, you should be contacting your Indiana House Representative and Senator.  You should also remind Mike Pence that he didn't reach 50 percent in this past election...he was just under that at 49 percent.

The fight is just beginning on this one, and there must be a fight.  Once it's in the Constitution, it's not coming out without federal action.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Looking Ahead to 2014

I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving Weekend.  Mine was filled with three of my favorite things: family, fun, and football.  It's back to work and back to reality today, though.  Time to take a look ahead and see what might be in the offing for the next major election cycle in 2014.

We're still just under two years away, but you can bet that Indiana will play a pretty big role in what party controls the U.S. House with two key districts that will likely be targeted by Democrats in the push to win 218 seats and get the gavel back to presumably Nancy Pelosi.  Be sure that the campaign has already begun.

Let's begin in Northern Indiana.  Districts 1 and 3 are safe with Pete Visclosky and Marlin Stutzman serving as long as they want to serve.  District 2 was supposed to be more safe for Republicans, but Congresswoman-elect Jackie Walorski had a tough time defeating Brendan Mullen and Joe Ruiz.  Her one percentage point victory gives Democrats a lot of hope in the 2nd District that a strong run from a Democrat like Mullen or South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg could possibly retake the seat for the Democrats.

None of the Central Indiana Districts really look close.  Districts 4, 5, 6, and 7 should stay solidly within the hands of the party and the representative currently seated in them.  It will be interesting to see what Republicans do in the 7th District against Andre Carson.  Carson keeps proving time and time again that he's not the Democrat they try to make him with above-the-baseline performances at the ballot box.

The 9th District feels safe, but Todd Young was short of 60 percent in his race.  Young's battle against Shelli Yoder this past election season showed that perhaps a more well-funded run by Yoder or another Democrat  like former Rep. Baron Hill could potentially cut into the 56 percent of the vote that Young received.  At this point, I'd still rate the 9th safe.

That leaves the "Bloody 8th".  Congressman Larry Bucshon turned back a strong challenge from former State Rep. Dave Crooks earlier this month.  Bucshon's 55 percent was a strong showing in a tight district.  There are, however, Democrats in the 8th that might make things an even closer shave for Dr. Bucshon.  One of those Democrats is a guy by the name of John Gregg.

Gregg is very popular in the 8th District, and it shows in the Gubernatorial Election results.  He won Warrick, Starke, Vermillion, Vigo, Sullivan, Perry, Pike, Crawford, Greene, and Knox Counties.  With the exception of Dubois County, Gregg was in the 40th percentile of votes everywhere else.  By contrast, Barack Obama won just Vigo County, and it wasn't by much.  Gregg could give Bucshon a run for his seat there.  Former Congressman Brad Ellsworth could make a comeback or Crooks could give it another shot.

At this point, it's all speculation.  Three statewide seats will be open including Treasurer, Auditor, and Secretary of State.  Neither Tim Berry nor Richard Mourdock can pursue another term.  Both are term limited.  Secretary of State Connie Lawson was appointed to her seat, so she will likely lead the GOP ticket in 2012 statewide.  It should be noted that Berry could simply go back and run for Treasurer again.  He's sat out of that seat for eight years after serving in it from 1999 to 2007.  Mourdock needs to just disappear...for a long time...from politics.

I honestly doubt the Indiana Democratic Party will put too much effort into those statewide executive seats.  The Dems MUST hold what they have in the Indiana House and Senate and try to slowly get back in the game there.  I would expect that the IDP will spend a lot of time looking for good candidates and all the numbers in getting together a strong ticket to try to eat into the Republican supermajorities in the Indiana House and Senate.

It still seems like a long way off, but 2014 is really just around the corner in politics.  This post has just dealt with the state and federal races.  There will be a slew of local township races as well.  All of it bears watching as it will keep political pundits busy over the next couple of years.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Thanksgiving Week Break: Be Safe if Frying Turkeys!

I've decided that unless something major breaks, that I will be taking Thanksgiving Week off as a time to spend with family and friends.  I hope you have a great Thanksgiving.

In the meantime, here is this video about turkey frying safety starring William Shatner.  I believe I posted it here last year.  Be safe campers!  See you back here on Monday, November 26.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Looking At Marion County's Unofficial Election Results...

Analyzing election results sometimes can tell an observer of politics quite a bit, and a quick look at the big races in Marion County shows a number of things.

One thing was extremely apparent: Richard Mourdock was keenly unpopular. Mourdock was the worst-performing Republican in all the statewide races in Marion County voting. Mourdock lost Marion County by an unofficial total of 120,867 votes. He was 22,578 votes behind Mike Pence's total. He was 29,584 votes behind Mitt Romney. He was a whopping 49,105 votes behind the best-performing Republican, Attorney General Greg Zoeller. Mourdock was so unpopular that Democrat Joe Donnelly, his opponent in this election, got 11,524 MORE votes than Barack Obama.

While Donnelly’s 227,750 votes set the standards in Marion County for all candidates, it was NOT Barack Obama that came in second. It was actually Glenda Ritz. The Superintendent of Public Instruction-elect unofficially received 216,266 votes in Marion County. President Obama received 216,226 votes in the unofficial tally. I guess a lot of people used some, in Mitch Daniels words, “subterranean” tactics to get 82,083 votes more than Dr. Tony Bennett. Bennett’s 134,183 unofficial vote tally still was 27,300 votes more than Mourdock’s paltry 106,883 votes.

Mike Pence finished behind Bennett as well with unofficially 129,461 votes. He was 80,555 votes behind John Gregg’s unofficial vote tally of 210,016. Gregg was 17,734 votes behind Obama in the Marion County totals.

Obama’s win in Marion County was the third-straight for the Democrats. John Kerry did it in 2004, and Obama followed it up in 2008 with a dominating performance. His 216,226 unofficial votes ticked in at just over 60 percent. Mitt Romney’s 136,467 unofficial vote tally was some 79,759 votes behind the President in the state’s most populous county.

Marion County is a blue oasis in a desert of red.  The doughnut counties surrounding the state's largest population center are where good campaigns go to die.  That's evident in the Scott Schneider vs. Tim Delaney race.  Delaney handily beat Schneider in Marion County, but lost when the votes were tallied in Hamilton County.  Same thing for Michael Adkins in his race against Michael Crider when his race extended outside the eastern boundary of the County.  

Big or small, the Marion County election results had something for politicos to look at and analyze for months to come, and we will!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Daniels Accuses Ritz Supporters of Nefariousness

Mitch Daniels
Mitch Daniels backed off his pledge to shy away from talking politics to defend Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Bennett.

If you remember, Daniels promised he wouldn't talk campaigns or politics because he had accepted the job of Purdue President after his term as Governor ends.  He did, to be fair, carve out an exception to defend his policy and administration.  He must have felt under attack.

Daniels accused Ritz supporters of using "subterranean" tactics like social media and the spreading of rumors to beat Bennett.  This would be all well and good if Bennett had not had more money and slick television ads to counter these subterranean tactics.

Apparently, Daniels doesn't understand the concept of viral marketing, Twitter, or Facebook.  These are all things the students he's going be dealing with in a few months are well-versed in.

Daniels also blamed conservative voters opposed to the common core curriculum for Bennett's defeat.  I'm sure that everyone out there knew exactly what that is.  Maybe a few hundred?

That doesn't add up to the 1.3 million votes that Glenda Ritz earned.  Fact is that Tony Bennett thought he and Mitch didn't have anything to worry about.  He failed to take the pulse of the education community in the state and realize that his top down strategy of pushing reforms was simply not welcome in most communities.  

Teachers aren't against reform.  They just don't like to be slapped around.  That's what Dr. Bennett did, and that's why he's going home.  The fact that Glenda Ritz used social media to help even the playing field with Dr. Bennett's use of traditional media is irrelevant.  Ritz did reach out to college campuses, and those are the future teachers in this state.  If you think they don't have a stake in what happens in the future of education, then you're just simply not thinking correctly.

Like poor Mitch.  This is his pattern.  When he is challenged, he retreats back into his bunker and starts hurling insults.  The GOP seems to have no intention of working with Ritz on reform.  They are simply going to barrel roll over the voters and the teachers and Ritz this time.

That's good news for Democrats in 2014.  I am assuming those same nefarious tactics that Daniels believes took down his buddy Bennett will still be there to beat Republicans in the General Assembly.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Republicans Underperform in Congressional Races

Jackie Walorski
Republican Jackie Walorski was expected to simply walk away with the election in Indiana's 2nd Congressional District.

Up until Election Day, most political insiders, including me, thought the new way the 2nd was drawn created a safe seat for the GOP.  That held true all day...except when the votes started to be counted.  

It was late into the night before Walorski finally took a big enough lead to get Democratic challenger Brendan Mullen to concede the race, and it leaves one wondering if this seat, instead of the Bloody 8th, is going to become the one to watch into the future.  Walorski's closer-than-expected 49 percent to 48 percent win in the 2nd District will certainly make this a this a district that Democrats look at when they try to retake the Indiana House in 2014. 

Walorski will now be watched by every Democrat...and potentially some Republicans, too, to see what she does as the 2nd District Congresswoman.  Every vote will be analyzed.  Every statement will be dissected.  Every misstep is a potential campaign ad.

Rep. Todd Young
I would think that the new districts show some opportunities for the right Democrat in District 9 as well.  Todd Young got 56 percent of the vote against his underfunded but hardworking Democratic challenger, Shelli Yoder.  Perhaps with more money and the help from some outside groups, Tea Party Todd Young might be headed for home.  Yoder was at 43 percent of the vote.

Also cracking 40 percent was Dave Crooks in the Bloody 8th.  In fact, Crooks was at 45 percent of the vote.  Unfortunately, Larry Bucshon was at 55 percent.  The win was fairly decisive, but you get the feeling that the 8th District still is in play with a Democrat like Crooks or perhaps John Gregg and some major funding.

Nationwide, the Democrats gained seats in the House and the Senate in 2012.  Some even argue that, if many of the House Districts were not heavily gerrymandered, that Democrats would be in charge of the U.S. House.  As it stands now, Republicans will have 233 House seats.  Democrats will need 218 seats to regain control, and the race to do it started on November 7.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Expect Marion County GOP to Soul Search Before 2014

"Where do we go from here?  This isn't where we intended to be."

A line from Madonna's song "You Must Love Me" applies to the Marion County Republican Party as we head into the next election cycle.

Yes, the Marion County GOP has the Mayor's Office, but they don't have much else.  Now, they have two less seats in the Indiana House.  Christina Hale and Karlee Macer made sure that Cindy Noe and Phil Hinkle's old seats would be in Democratic hands.  Even with the new 7th District, Marion County Republicans could not hold Congressman Andre Carson under 60 percent with a good candidate like Carlos May.

On top of all this, Republicans were shut out again for another election cycle in the countywide executive office races.  Debbie Jenkins, Claudia Fuentes, and Frank Lloyd will serve the next years as Surveyor, Treasurer, and Coroner, respectively.

It's not a very good place to be if you're a party chair like Kyle Walker.  While Walker did defend the Mayor's Office from the strong challenge of Melina Kennedy in 2011, his party was unable to hold the City-County Council majority setting up a situation where Greg Ballard's chances for a third term take a hit every time he vetoes a proposal.

It's not really that fun to be a Republican in Marion County right now.  For Democrats, it's a blue oasis in a desert of red.

That desert of red should concern you, too.  The Indiana General Assembly Republicans now need exactly zero Democrats to do business.  69 Republicans will take seats in the Indiana House with 37 Republicans in the Indiana Senate.  Statewide, the landscape is quite different than Marion County.

That's quite easy to see.  I'm interested to see what course the Republicans in Marion County take from here.  The party is certainly weakened but far from gone.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Obama Moves Forward

President Obama reenters the White House
Official White House Photo by Pete Souza
On Sunday, January 20, 2013 at about noon, President Obama will place his hand on a Bible, raise the other one and take the Oath of Office from Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts. He will then give his second Inaugural Address.  After that, he will no doubt attend some balls and some fun celebratory events.  Then, the heavy lifting begins all over again.

By electing President Obama to a second term, Americans have done something that, over the history of the United States has not been all that common even though five of the last seven Presidents have sought and won second terms (not counting Gerald Ford).

President Obama has been given four years to finish the job he has started. There’s no do-over now. He has to get results, and it appears that the GOP is finally ready to move his direction. While the economy is clearly improving, our country is in a tough situation economically, and we need a President who will hold Congressmen and women accountable for what they do on the job. President Obama’s elections are over. For other candidates, the 2014 campaign season begins now. Obstructionism cannot be tolerated. It’s time for leadership.

For those on the other side of the aisle, this was no fluke. President Obama was reelected because he won every battleground state but North Carolina. There, he only lost by two percentage points. President Obama won because he had a broader and more diverse coalition of supporters, and people in those areas believed that the progress over the four years is worth continuing. The GOP and the opposition to the President simply have to recognize this and realize that these voters aren’t simply going to disappear or go away.

Now begins the business of governing in a second term. It’s not going to be easy, and it’s going to present new and different challenges to Barack Obama. That said, we know that he’s been tested by the Washington pressure cooker and on the world stage.  That's why he got the second term.  FORWARD!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Donnelly Will Make Fine Senator

Senator-Elect Joe Donnelly
In January, Congressman Joe Donnelly will become Senator Joe Donnelly, and I predict that Indiana will not regret sending a Democrat to the Senate again from the Hoosier State.  Donnelly's win signaled a couple of things to me.

First, Indiana still doesn't do crazy very well when it comes to statewide candidates in high profile races.  Mike Pence realized that and backed away from Richard Mourdock when he made his controversial comments at the Indiana Senate Debate on October 23 quicker than you back away from a rattlesnake while looking for your golf ball in the weeds.  While he refused to drop his support for Mourdock completely, his first instinct was to demand an apology.  It was an apology that never came because Richard Mourdock thought he said nothing wrong.

Secondly, the Donnelly win shows that a moderate Democrat, in the mold of Evan Bayh, can still win in this state.  That's positive and negative news for the more liberal Democrats in the state.  Donnelly will certainly continue to vote as a moderate, but he will have to be even more of a moderate given his position as a Senator for the entire state.  He can remain reasonable rather than being pulled one way or the other by the ideological right or left.  That's how Indiana likes its state politicians to act, especially at the national level.

Donnelly ran a disciplined, nearly flawless campaign that started positive, went negative at the right time, and tried to close on a positive note when Mourdock buried his own campaign.  You could tell that Mourdock was in real trouble when Donnelly began to fold in some of the lighter-in-tone ads over the past few days of the campaign.  Mourdock didn't have that luxury.

Let's face it though, Indiana is indeed a red state.  It took a near perfect campaign by a strong candidate to win this thing for the Democrats.  Richard Mourdock was simply one of the worst candidates I've ever seen for a high-profile state office.  The GOP will be kicking itself for years over the debacle that sent Richard Lugar home and Richard Mourdock to the nomination.

However it happened, Indiana gets a Democrat back at the Senate level for the first time since 2011.  That man is Joe Donnelly, and I think Hoosier voters will like what they get for their votes.  You may or may not always agree with him, but he's not going to embarrass this state.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

It's Veterans Day

Today, we honor those who have served this country in the cause of freedom, liberty, and the preservation of our rights. Thank you to all that have served and to those that have sacrificed all to make it possible for me to write this blog as a free American citizen.

I know I post this video often here on days like this, but there are men and women that live this song every day. Freedom truly isn't free. So, to all of the men and women that fight and have fought for me...THANK YOU!

Explosion Rocks Southside

Photo by Matt Kryger, Associated Press
Details are still emerging about what happened exactly shortly after 11:00 p.m. Saturday in the Richmond Hill neighborhood immediately north of Smock Golf Course in Perry Township.

What is clear is some sort of explosion rocked the area.  The cause is not yet known.  Two fatalities, so far, are linked to this blast.

This explosion reminds me so much of the one that happened on Indy's Northside 15 years ago in 1997.  A gas line was damaged during construction and the resulting explosion leveled six homes, damaged countless others, and caused major damage.  One lady was killed in that explosion.  

If you wish to help the victims, follow the American Red Cross link at the top left of the blog.

My thoughts are with all the families affected by this tragedy.

Friday, November 9, 2012

In Memoriam: Big John Gillis

Big John Gillis

Legendary Indianapolis radio personality Big John Gillis passed away on Friday night in his home.

Big John started at 1070 WIBC back in 1968 and began doing traffic in the 1980's.  He was famous for his easy-to-listen-to style and warmth.  I spent many a morning and afternoon listening to Big John help me navigate through the roads and streets of Indianapolis.

I never got to meet the big fella, but I know people that did.  Every one of them has always spoken of Big John warmly.  I'm sorry that I never got to tell him thanks for all those times he kept me safe from the WIBC Whirlybird or the WIBC JetCopter.

Rest in Peace, Big John.  The Whirlybird has landed for the last time.

Gregg Closed Gap in Last Month

Gregg's Great Effort May Open Doors
Mike Pence will be Indiana’s Governor for the next four years, and he should be congratulated for a strong campaign, but the ticket of John Gregg and Vi Simpson, in the last month, went from being remembered as the latest Democrats to lose a gubernatorial race to nearly getting pulling off an upset.

This race was closer than any of the polls thought it would be except the Gregg campaign’s own internal polls. Those polls that came out a couple of weeks ago had this at a three point race. They were roundly laughed at and criticized by Abdul-Hakim Shabazz who continued to insist the margin was wider. Turns out that it was but just a little wider.

It was close, just four percentage points, 50-46 percent. It’s the kind of run that keeps John Gregg in the conversation as a statewide candidate in 2016 again. It also allows us to wonder.  With a couple of more weeks in this campaign cycle, who knows?

What if the bulldog that John Gregg became at the end of this race had appeared in a bigger way earlier in the race? What if, instead of taking this race to Sandborn to start with, we had met John Gregg as the former evenly-divided Indiana House Speaker and former Vincennes University President at the start of the campaign instead of at the end? What if John Gregg had gotten Mike Pence off his game early on in this campaign instead of in the last few weeks and days?

We will never know these answers, and it’s easy to have 20/20 hindsight now. Compared to other statewide Republicans on the ballot that won election and even Mitt Romney, Hoosiers showed that they have a healthy concern about Mike Pence, and that came from somewhere. It most certainly was raised by John Gregg.

Vi Simpson
I sure hope Gregg stays involved in the process and doesn’t decide to go back to his quiet farm in Sandborn.  Despite being outspent mightily, Gregg really showed that he could make a dent in the perfectly coiffed Pence's master plan.  Perhaps in 2016, he might take another bite at the apple for Governor or even Senate against Dan Coats. I also think he'd be a perfect foil for a House run in the Bloody 8th.  Perhaps Gregg isn't interested in going to "Warshington", though.  He's much more Warshington, Indiana than Washington, D.C.

We need personalities in politics, and folks like Vi Simpson and John Gregg just don’t come around too often. I know that Indiana politics is more interesting when Mr. Gregg is involved in the game, and I can’t wait to hear what Vi Simpson will do next.

And no, I didn't leave out Rupert.  Rupert Boneham grew during this campaign as a candidate, and I think he's going to stay involved in the process.  He took home four percent of the vote.  It was a very good showing.  Congratulations to Rupert and the Indiana Libertarian Party.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

In Case You Missed It...

President Obama's Election Night Victory Speech!

Carson Comfortably Returns to Congress in Indiana's 7th

Congressman Carson
I admit. I was concerned.

Turns out, I didn’t need to be. Congressman André Carson got in the jet stream and blew away his worthy opponent, Carlos May, in Indiana’s 7th District Congressional battle.

Carson garnered an unofficial count of 161,422 votes to defeat May by 66,901 votes. May had 95,521 votes. The 62.3 percent Carson received was the second-highest vote percentage he’s ever had. In 2008, he got 65 percent of the vote in defeating Gabrielle Campo. That, however, was the old 7th District.

This version of the 7th took out much of the far Northern part of the old district and added the Southern tier of Decatur, Perry, and Franklin Townships. Some of my friends on the right had the district somewhere in the neighborhood of 54-55 percent Democratic. Other more recent polling cited by May’s supporters had the political makeup of the district somewhere in that neighborhood as well. Turns out, Carson not only outperformed that perceived baseline, but he’s created his own coalition, likely of moderates, that support his efforts in Congress. 
Carlos May
For once and for all, we can put that "Carson is a do-nothing Congressman" idea to rest.  You don't build a coalition and exceed baselines by doing nothing.  Congressman Carson is doing a great job in Congress, and the results are carrying him forth. His win over May only underlines this more.

May was Carson’s best, most formidable opponent since his first race for the seat in the Special Election of 2008 when he faced Jon Elrod. May and Elrod are similar in that they are serious candidates with good, strong resumes. May, however, was unable to garner any real media support and ran a spaghetti campaign (picked that one up last night) throwing things up on the wall and trying to see what would stick against the Congressman. Of course, it didn’t work, and it was widely repudiated by the voting population.

So, now we go off to 2014. It’s an “off year” election, but Carson has proven time and time again, just like his grandmother before him, that you can never underestimate his popularity and electability amongst his constituents. Like Julia Carson before, the 7th District loves André.