Thursday, June 28, 2012

Health Care Ruling Not 9/11 or End of America

Mike Pence compared the ruling on health care today to 9/11.  He quickly apologized.

Other conservatives are lamenting the ruling as the "Death or Democracy" or the "End of America".  Pardon me.  Where were you when Citizens United came down?

That's neither here nor there.  Citizens United didn't end America any more than today's controversial ruling did.  Today's ruling guarantees the the United States will take the health and welfare of its citizens and make it a priority.  That's what it does.  Granted, that's a political answer.  So, let's just take a few steps back.

Even if you believe that "Obamacare" is the end of the world, you must concede that the United States has been through worse than this.  We've survived a revolution.  We got through an invasion.  We survived a civil war and so much more.  Today, I was blessed to hop on a hotel shuttle and cross into Downtown Louisville to the Muhammad Ali Center.

The Ali Center is a sprawling complex full of five levels of art, memorabilia and history.  It has great exhibits and a myriad of interactive things for young and old alike.  I recommend a trip.

I arrived there this morning about 9:45 a.m., so I didn't see the Supreme Court ruling go down.  I didn't really want to.  I had a feeling it was going the other way, and I chose to spend a vacation day in a good mood.

Have Courage in Your Convictions!
That Keeps America Great
As I walked through the exhibits, I got to one that highlighted the Civil Rights Movement.  As most of you know, Muhammad Ali had a front row seat.  To many Americans, he is a hero of that movement.  To me, he's one of my heroes, period.  Ali has always stood for something.  Even if you didn't agree with him, you had to admire him.

Part of the Civil Rights Exhibit is this very small diner setting.  There are a few stools set next to a countertop. When you walk in, it's very silent then you hear bells...like the door chimes of today. 

This young man of apparent mixed ethnicity walked into the exhibit before I did. He was probably 12 or 13 years old. This booming voice came over the speakers, "Hey! What are you doing in here??!!?! You know I can't serve you!" I jumped, and I saw him jump too. I had never experienced what that might feel like until today.

We live in a country that didn't solve that issue, but we made it a lot better. That reality for our parents and grandparents is now a museum exhibit for us.

We're working on it. We are a country in progress. We are a living experiment, and yes, we are divided. But, our motto "E Pluribus Unum" means to me that it's ok to have differences. It's something many, like Mike Pence, in Washington should remember.

I received the news from my friend Steve Terrell that the Affordable Care Act had been upheld as I was standing next to the torch that Muhammad Ali used to light the 1996 Olympic Torch in Atlanta. It was a highlight of his life, and now, I'll always remember that moment.

Once the torch of liberty was lit always remember that it's the people that provide the liberty. If you don't like something, go out and change it. That's why this spirit of America will never die. Muhammad Ali realized that, and he "shook the world."

Roberts, Court Ruling Leaves Romney Gasping

Chief Justice John Roberts
With Chief Justice John Roberts joining Justices Elena Kagan, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor, and Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the Supreme Court found that the Affordable Care Act was constitutional today in Washington.

Immediately, Republicans began to frame the political argument as Democrats and President Obama tried to do the same thing.  Both sides are scrambling.  What remains clear is that the biggest accomplishment of the President's domestic agenda survives to fight another day.

Mitt Romney has little or not credibility to fight on this.  When he was Governor of Massachusetts, he authored a similar state health care plan that was the model for the Affordable Care Act.  If President Obama "raised taxes" to give us comprehensive health care reform, then Governor Romney did the same thing in Massachusetts.

I don't know what the right pivot is here for Romney, but the green light is on for the President.  It's time for full speed ahead.  Romney has had a very bad week, thanks to the black robes on the nation's highest court. With their decision striking down quite a bit of Arizona's immigration law on Monday to this now, Romney has been left gasping for air and grasping for responses.

This is behind us.  Let's get moving.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Mr. Cheney, Come On Out

Former Vice President
Dick Cheney
Dick Cheney's daughter, Mary, was married to her longtime partner a few days ago in Washington, D.C.  It was a big moment for gay marriage, and I hope that the former Vice President realizes it.

Cheney has long been seen as a "Darth Vader" kind of character.  An unfeeling and uncaring sort who is often blamed like a bogey man for all the wrong things that happened during the Bush era.  Rightly so, I don't have much love for the man who said we'd be greeted as liberators in Iraq and who seemed as if he was the "brains of the operation" in the White House from 2001 to 2009.

That doesn't mean that he can't change his image.  One way he could do it is to lend his voice to the cause of marriage equality and be a voice to tell parents that it gets better.  He's certainly one of the most famous parents of a gay child in the world.  Why not use that pulpit to bring forth some good in his twilight years?  It might change some minds about Cheney and about the issue.

Listen, I respect that perhaps he doesn't want to step out there so far.  I know it's a ledge for conservatives and right wingers and that there's not climbing back on it if he steps off.  I just think that Cheney would find himself some respect on the other side as a human being from a lot of folks out here fighting for the cause.  He has lobbied before on the issue, but he could do a lot more with his voice in the public realm.

Dick Cheney is probably a good father.  He's obviously loving and accepting of his daughter and her partner's long term commitment to each other.  Why not help out others more?  What other cause is there for an aging politician and policy wonk with nothing but time on his hands?  Maybe this could become his issue for change in the world.

That's why I make a personal appeal to you, Mr. Cheney.  Please be a vocal supporter of marriage equality. You can make a difference.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Friday Hodge Podge: Abdul On To Something?; Governor Fallout; Vacation

Marion County Clerk
Beth White
White for SOS?
Abdul-Hakim Shabazz is known to stir the pot occasionally, but he seems to be on to a rumor that I've been persistently hearing.

Now, I don't subscribe to his cheat sheet over at indypolitics.org, but Abdul posted that Beth White, the current Marion County Clerk, is thinking about running for Secretary of State in 2014.  I don't know what Abdul wrote about that rumor, but I must admit, I have heard it.

That really shouldn't be a surprise.  White, who is term limited, would make an excellent Secretary of State.  She has proven herself more than capable of running the Marion County Clerk's Office for these past few years, and she can take that experience and apply it to the state.  In fact, with all the Marion County Clerk has on her plate as clerk, the Secretary of State's job falls right in her wheelhouse.

I say Run Beth Run!  

Daniels Pulling Out of Politics Could Hurt GOP
Governor Mitch Daniels said he's now done with partisan politics as he begins to make the transition to becoming the President of Purdue University.  That's bad news for the GOP.

Purdue President
Mitch Daniels
Daniels has become a reliable fundraiser and campaigner for candidates.  He's stuck his nose into several Indiana House and Senate races in the past and even tried to get Mark Massa elected Marion County Prosecutor.

With Daniels gone and out of politics, that leaves the Republicans to look elsewhere for help.  That probably won't hurt the state-level candidates, but it might hurt those competitive Indiana House and Senate races.  At minimum, it leads to some good speculation.

By the way, whenever I now refer to the Governor in my captions, he will now be "Purdue President Mitch Daniels" because he said he's essentially done being Governor.

Vacation
I'm heading out and getting some R&R next week.  I won't be posting unless something breaking happens.  Posting returns to normal on July 2.  In the meantime, you can follow me on Twitter if you are so inclined.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Mourdock Campaign Goes Brain Dead

Mourdock
The Richard Mourdock for Senate Campaign probably thought it was being slick when it had the candidate sit down and record all possible responses in reaction to a Supreme Court Decision on Health Care.

That was before they embarrassingly released all of them on YouTube.  Talking Points Memo compiled them, and here they are.

Mitch Daniels Should Resign Now

Purdue Boilermaker
Mitch Daniels
Mitch Daniels is waiting for his term to be over.  Officially, he is now the lamest of lame ducks.  This morning, he announced he's essentially going to be going to work and collecting his check.  It's a slap in the face to hardworking Hoosiers who will pay his salary.

For a man that often rails against public employees, he sure must like being one now.  After spending eight years as Governor, Daniels now becomes another public employee as President of Purdue University when he leaves office.  He gets the job with few of the normal qualifications that college Presidents typically have.

Should Be Governor
Becky Skillman
Meanwhile, it's going to be hard for him to act fully in his duties in the Office of Governor and not be political.  He told everyone this morning that he would "recuse" himself from all partisan political activity.

That means we now have a rudderless ship at the state level.  A state that will simply move in the direction of its political leaders in the Indiana General Assembly.  Since Daniels won't be participating in politics, does that mean he won't veto bad bills?  I think this action simply cedes the responsibility of governing to others.

The proper thing would be for Governor Daniels to resign and turn this executive branch over to Lieutenant Governor Becky Skillman.  I thought Mitch was a lot of things, but I never thought he'd be in this thing just for the check.

UPDATE:
Sometime you look like an idiot.  I was reminded, as I had forgotten, that the legislative session is over now. It was a dumb and stupid thing for me to overlook that.  Still, I stand behind the rest of the post.

House District 97 Race Features Two Young Future Stars

Justin Moed
For the last few years, Indiana House District 97 has been ably represented by Mary Ann Sullivan, but she's stepping aside to move hopefully to the Indiana Senate in January.  That leaves two dynamic and energetic men fighting it out for the right to represent the district in the Indiana House.

For the Democrats, Justin Moed has been an Energizer Bunny of sorts pounding the pavement of his district, knocking doors, and making waves.  I love the campaign he's running.  He's posting a travelogue of sorts almost nightly on his campaign Facebook page.  Random pictures from interesting parts of the district and pictures of constituents dot the photo albums.  On the Republican side, it's A.J. Feeney-Ruiz that's battling for the seat. Everything I just wrote about Justin Moed could be said about Feeney-Ruiz as well.  Both Moed and Feeney-Ruiz have backgrounds in government. Moed has worked in the Indiana House of Representatives and Feeney-Ruiz worked for Secretaries of State Todd Rokita and Charlie White.
A.J. Feeney-Ruiz

It's retail politics at its best. This kind of attention for a district that is very diverse socioeconomically, demographically, and in many other ways is excellent. Chances are, if you live in the district, you're going to be meeting your next state representative. Conversely, the candidates will know the district they serve because they've been covering it.

This is the way it should be. Two energetic candidates focused on service and not resorting to calling each other names or resorting to nasty tactics.

That, of course, could change. It's still early, and this is going to be a close race. Of course, I'm rooting for Moed. This is the Indy Democrat blog, after all. Sorry A.J.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Durham Found Guilty x 12

Yeah, it usually doesn't end well for guys
with artwork of themselves.
Prior to November of 2009, Tim Durham was a political power donor of sorts for politicians like Carl Brizzi and Mitch Daniels.  Today, he's a felon.

Earlier this evening, Durham was found guilty on 12 felony counts stemming from his defrauding of investors of his Fair Finance company.  In all, over 5,000 investors were defrauded of over $200 million.  Two other of Durham's partners were also found guilty of eight and five felony counts, respectively.  Durham will be facing a very long prison term.

It was just a short time ago that Durham was flaunting his wealth from his office at the top of the Chase Bank Tower.  It was prime real estate.  Durham lived large and wasn't shy about it.  He liked hobnobbing and rubbing elbows with the rich and famous.  That included large political campaign donations.  The problem is that he largely earned that money by bilking his company's investors.  Sadly, WIBC reported that those investors likely won't get any of their money back.

U.S. Attorney Joe Hogsett had the following statement about the conviction of Durham.


Public Safety Director Search Begins

According to the Indianapolis Star, the process to replace Frank Straub has begun.  We soon will begin to see who might be the next Public Safety Director for the City of Indianapolis.

Straub leaves August 1.  While I won't be asked, I have some suggestions for the city as it looks for the next PSD, and, if I were someone in power, these are the kinds of people I would consider.

First of all, the next person to hold this job must care more about people and less about ego.  This is not a personality cult job.  It must be one person who does not overshadow Greg Ballard, even though that's incredibly easy to do.  The next PSD must have humility.

Secondly, the next person to hold this job must be visible, but he or she should never speak for the agencies of public safety.  It's the job of the chiefs of those departments to lead.  I should not be the job of the Public Safety Director to speak for them or lead for them.  The next PSD must be a delegator

Thirdly, the next public safety director must be transparent.  While this position is one that needs to be behind the scenes yet visible, the next PSD must not be afraid to step out of the shadows to be honest with the public when it is needed.  This is a position that requires a great deal of oversight, but it should not require a great deal of day-to-day operations management. The lines must always be open between the Department of Public Safety and this community.  The next PSD must be accessible.

Finally, the reforms must continue, but they should not come from the top down.  The next Public Safety Director should not come in and hit the ground and assume everything is bad in our public safety agencies.  Instead, as a good leader does, he or she should observe, listen, and make the best decisions for public safety.  There is no prescribed way to do this job, but the reforms must continue.  The next PSD must still find a way to be a change agent.

That's what I would look for in a person to lead the Department of Public Safety.  Other factors such as diversity and experience certainly would play into my decision, but it's important to get this next person right. The position is too important to be simply handed out to a political appointee.

Democrats Still Focused on Building Momentum in Senate

Asst. Indiana Senate Minority Leader
Tim Lanane (D-Anderson)
The Democratic Caucus in the Indiana Senate is just 13 Senators right now, but, as we've discussed on this blog before, Marion County will play a big role in seeing if that number grows or not.

In Marion County, the following Senate seats will be up for grabs in the fall: District 28, District 30, District 32, District 33, District 34, District 35, and District 36.

You can take Districts 33 and 34 off the board.  Both Senator Greg Taylor and Jean Breaux are unopposed and will return to the Senate in January.  The other districts feature some interesting races.

District 28 legs into Marion County, but it contains all of Hancock and most of Northern Shelby Counties.  Michael Adkins, the Democrat, will take on Republican Chris Lytle and Libertarian Jim Rainwater.  This became an open seat when Republican Beverly Gard decided to not pursue another term in the Senate.  Adkins is running a good campaign, but there's no doubt he's playing uphill.

District 30 contains a portion of Southern Hamilton County and parts of Washington Township and Lawrence Township in Marion County.  Incumbent Schneider faces Democrat Tim Delaney and Libertarian Fred Peterson.  Delaney is the son of Ed and Ann Delaney, so there's a lot of political smarts in that family!  Peterson ran for Mayor of Indianapolis in 2007.  The areas of Marion County are likely Democratic, but once you cross into Hamilton County things change.  It's an interesting district, though.

District 32 is totally within Marion County.  Republican lightning rod Pat Miller holds the seat currently.  The district contains the Southeastern part of Center Township including Beech Grove, Eastern Perry Township, all of Franklin Township and Southern Warren Township.  Miller is facing her toughest opponent in a long time.  It's former State Representative John Barnes.  Barnes served a part of this district in the past when he was in the House.

District 35 is currently Republican Mike Young's seat.  The district includes all of Speedway, Southern Wayne Township, and Decatur Township in Marion County.  It then goes west into Hendricks County where it picks up Guilford and Liberty Townships.  Democratic candidate Mark Waterfill is out walking the district, and he thinks he has a good shot.  I looked at the district as well and considered running for this seat.  My determination was that it is winnable with the right Democrat, but it's going to take a lot of work.  It was more work than I thought I could devote to it.  Waterfill, however, is off to a great start against Young.

District 36 is a battleground.  Other than a small part of White River Township, the rest of the district lies completely within Marion County.  Most of Perry and Southwest Center Township are in the district.  Brent Waltz, the Republican incumbent, is up against State Representative Mary Ann Sullivan.  Most people are aware that Sullivan will walk this district and will not be outworked.  Libertarian Tomerial Brooks is also in the race.  Sullivan, I think, represents an excellent chance for a pickup.

I'm not ready to make any kinds of calls here with these races.  I just know that the Democrats have put up some extremely high quality candidates to battle the incumbents.  Dems need to double their caucus to take control of the Senate.  That's not possible in 2012, but progress will make possible future Senate Democratic Leader Tim Lanane happy.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Daniels to Lead Purdue?

Gov. Mitch Daniels
Rumors are flying and media sources are confirming that Governor Mitch Daniels will take the helm of Purdue University.

Sources tell RTV 6 that an announcement can be expected as early as Thursday.  Daniels is expected to serve out his term as Governor, according to Lt. Gov. Becky Skillman.

It's quite a quizzical choice for a man who's done so much to tear down our state's public universities and institutions.  He's watched as the state legislature has dictated to these higher learning institutions what they can charge for tuition and as their budgets have been slashed by the million.  All of that doesn't even mention what his education policies have done to local public schools.

But, bully for Purdue.  Congratulations to the Governor.

Donnelly Swings Back in Ad

So far, Richard Mourdock has gotten the help of Karl Rove's PAC in his fight against Joe Donnelly.

On Monday, Donnelly released an ad that signifies, I believe, his first counter attack in the air war.  This 30-second ad seeks to define Mourdock and tries to draw a contrast between the Republican nominee and Donnelly.



The ad comes after an excellent Democratic debate that showed Donnelly working hard for the support of the Democratic base. I think this race will be a tight one, and that benefits Donnelly.  Don't forget, he ran a tight race for reelection and bucked the Republican tied in 2010 to beat Jackie Walorski by just a hair.


Monday, June 18, 2012

LGBT Hoosiers Watch Two Historic Weeks in Indiana Politics

For the first time in history, LGBT Hoosiers have reason to believe that things are starting to really get better in the state they love.

For starters, the Indiana GOP has no plank in its platform on marriage.  This omission was either a major oversight or a signal that times are changing in Indiana on the issue of marriage equality.  It perhaps shows that the GOP, at least in Indiana, is starting to perhaps believe that defending their version of "traditional marriage" isn't such a winning wedge issue any more.

Let's hope they take the next step and fail to reintroduce HJR-6.  After all, they would just be doing it on their own now with no supporting plank in their own party's platform.

More change was evident on the Democratic side where traditionally Hoosier Democrats have seen their party try to stay out of the fight when it comes to LGBT issues.  This year, State Chairman Dan Parker should be praised.  Diversity and equality were both themes of the Indiana Democratic Party Convention in Fort Wayne and came up in convention speech after convention speech.

Congressman Andre Carson urged men to get right and stop practicing sexism and homophobia.  Addressing the Indiana Stonewall Democrats and Progressives, Scott Reske announced a position change to now favoring marriage equality essentially reversing his vote on HJR-6 from 2011.  Joe Donnelly went further than 2010 Senate candidate Brad Ellsworth did and told the Stonewall caucus said he would oppose any constitutional amendment on marriage.  Vi Simpson told LGBT Hoosiers to "push back hard" against anyone telling them that they don't reflect Hoosier values.  Finally, and most historically, an official plank was adopted to the party platform in opposition to writing discrimination into the Indiana Constitution when it comes to marriage.  Belief in marriage equality is essentially in writing for Hoosier Democrats.

The 19th state's Democrats also are sending several LGBT delegates to the National Democratic Convention in Charlotte.  Many of these delegates were not appointed by the Indiana Democratic Central Committee but were elected by delegates in each Congressional District caucus at the state convention.

It's not just D's and R's, though, pushing the equality torch forward, on the Libertarian side of things, Rupert Boneham and his party have both made it clear that they stand for equality.  The Indiana Libertarian Party, in fact, has gone further than both of the other parties and has been the most liberal on the issue thus far.

These are baby steps, but they are steps in the right direction.  When gay and lesbians can live openly, serve openly, and love openly, that benefits our state.  Someday, we won't even talk about these issues as committed Hoosiers, regardless of gender, are able to get married in front of family and friends and have that marriage mean something and be recognized by the state.  I know I left my party's convention more hopeful than ever that that day is not very far off.

Do we have other issues we can be looking that need to be addressed?  Certainly.  I bristle, though, when people say that this is an issue that is somehow less important than others.  That's simply because the person usually saying it is not living it.  It's important to place yourself in another's shoes to see what the world looks like from their perspective.  For LGBT Hoosiers, this is part of their civil rights that are being denied in a state-sponsored manner.  That's not right, and none of the fearmongering slippery slope arguments explain why keeping two committed humans apart is a good idea.

Let's hope this spirit of acceptance and tolerance continues and the pace of progress continues to accelerate as we move into 2012 and beyond.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Happy Fathers Day


My dad, Henry S. Easter, Jr.
A teacher, a mentor, and a friend
(1939-2009)

To my dad, a man I lost in 2009, there's not a day that goes by that something doesn't remind me of you, and I strive every day to still make you proud.  I miss you like hell, Dad.  I'm sorry, but Henry S. Easter, Jr. you were the best father a kid could have.  I love you, and I think about you every day.

I hope you all enjoy today with your fathers or take comfort, like I do, in their memory.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Delegate's Notebook: Notes and Observations

Fort Wayne Memories
I left my hotel room this morning about 8:00 a.m. for the 15-minute trip downtown.  I hit a detour and ended up going around the Eastside of Fort Wayne.  Nice town.  Lots of free parking downtown, Greg Ballard, and there is some great architecture.  During the lunch break, I took a little walk and found the historic Lincoln Tower, an art deco skyscraper that once was Indiana's tallest building before, I believe, the Regions Bank Tower was completed in downtown Indianapolis.

The Lincoln Tower
It was an enjoyable trip (that's still continuing as I write this).  Thanks to the great City of Fort Wayne.


Carson's Day
Andre Carson took the microphone at the General Session of the convention.  His job was to introduce the Congressional delegation and candidates as well as hit the high points of the last few years in Washington.  He did the job admirably, but the crowd just wasn't quite there.  That's when Carson kicked into high gear.

Gotta Love Carson Stickers
Holding Up Carson Signs
He grabbed the microphone and launched full speed into an off script speech that had the convention center rocking and rolling before he was done.  Carson managed to weave in dragon slaying saying that Democrats needed to slay the dragons that lie ahead between now and November.  "You have to sharpen your sword and get out your toolbox," said the Congressman.

After riffing on dragons, Carson did his best PA announcer impression to introduce the others in the Congressional delegation as well as the candidates.  Earlier in the day, Carson had amped up the 7th District caucus in a similar manner.  There are few rock stars in the Indiana Democratic Party today, and Carson, like his grandmother before him, can control a room.  Carson is a rock star with substance.

Weird Set-up
They made it!
The General Session was set up in quite a peculiar way.  The delegations from Congressional Districts 1-3 were seated immediately in front of the stage.  Then, there was a space of probably 50 feet before Districts 4-6 were seated.  Another space was set up between that group of delegates and the group of delegates from District 7-9.  It ended up that the people that drove the farthest to the convention were the farthest away from the stage.  Also, the home districts of all of the major candidates, with the exception of Joe Donnelly, were seated far away from the stage.

At least the Indiana Democratic Party provided video screens.  They needed them in the back of the room.

Attendance Down but Respectable
Attendance was decent, but it was not great.  About 300 delegates that qualified to come to Fort Wayne couldn't make it to the city, apparently.  I could never get a straight number, but attendance, according to one in the know, was about 65 percent of normal.

Holy Position Change Batman!
State Rep. and 5th District Congressional candidate Scott Reske surprised some folks today by changing his position and pledging support for marriage equality. Reske was one of 11 Indiana Democratic State Representatives that voted for House Joint Resolution 6 that would write discrimination into the Indiana Constitution.

Snubs and Flubs
There are always snubs at these kinds of events.  Andre Carson and John Gregg didn't address the Progressives and Stonewall Democrats Caucus.  That's not really a big deal for Carson, who, despite his straightness, is a member of the LGBT Congressional Caucus.  Gregg sent Vi Simpson.  Reportedly, Simpson and Gregg somehow due to a scheduling snafu never addressed the 3rd District Caucus.

Delegates Register
After many in the 7th District challenged Indiana Democratic Party Chairman Dan Parker's chairmanship formally and informally, the caucus was seated in the far corner of the convention hall.  Parker had said on his critics that the view is always better, "from the cheap seats."  Well, I can confirm that's not always true.  I'm sure the 8th and 9th District will agree as well.

Many Marion County delegates were angered when they tried to check in early on Friday night only to be told they would have to wait until Saturday morning.  There was no official response from the Marion County Democratic Party as to why the delegates weren't allowed to check in early despite a text and a message on Twitter from your blog editor.

All in the Music
Music choices always interest me.  Lots of country played in the General Session.  Toby Keith's American Soldier is one song I recall.  There was a Willie Nelson ditty, too.  Vi Simpson got the Lady Gaga treatment as she came to the stage to Edge of Glory.  After she was done, Katy Perry's Firework played.  Andre Carson got the Party Rock Anthem.  September by Earth, Wind, and Fire played for John Gregg.  Glenda Ritz got, of course, Puttin' on the Ritz.

Best Lines of the Day:
"Mike Pence is, by his own admission, a show horse.  Well, I'm a work horse." --John Gregg

"I still don't like his mustache." --John Gregg's Mother

"I still believe in moonlight on the Wabash. I want an Indiana home where every Hoosier has value." --Vi Simpson

"I will walk from Lake Michigan to the Ohio River to find 10 more jobs or 10 more opportunities for Hoosiers." --Joe Donnelly

"There's going to be a staffer doing 100 pushups after this." --Andre Carson after missing 3rd District Congressional candidate Kevin Boyd's first name and leaving off 4th District candidate Tara Nelson's name, altogether.

"Let's take it back for the people!" --Pat Bauer

"When the Republicans tell you that you don't reflect Hoosier values, I want you to push way back!" --Vi Simpson to Indiana Stonewall Democrat and Progressive Caucus

Donnelly Makes Rounds at Dem Convention

Congressman Joe Donnelly
Congressman Joe Donnelly had a very solid performance today at the Indiana Democratic State Convention in Fort Wayne.  He delivered a great General Session speech and made a significant pledge to a key constituency.

In his speech to the delegates, Donnelly said that Indiana has a clear choice between extreme partisanship and Hoosier common sense when they go to the polls in November.  It was only the beginning as Donnelly nailed Mourdock skillfully in a number of ways in his speech.

Donnelly began the speech by telling the story of a group of autoworkers in Kokomo.  He talked about them waiting to hear if the auto bailout bill was going to go through and how good it felt to call them and tell them that they would still have jobs.  Richard Mourdock, of course, fought that bailout bill in the courts recklessly spending taxpayer dollars and paying higher legal fees than Libya did.

He also went after Mourdock's view of partisanship.  Donnelly said that he received a call from President Bill Clinton after the former President saw Mourdock do an interview.  He said that Clinton told him that Mourdock's attitude sent "chills down his spine."  Clinton told Donnelly that without bipartisanship in the 1990's nothing would have gotten done for America.

Asking for help, Donnelly told the delegates to talk to their friends and neighbors and to spread the word about Richard Mourdock.  He said that Democrats should be reaching out to Richard Lugar Republicans and supporters and let them know that there's a home on this side of the aisle for them.

Mourdock's extreme views on Social Security and Medicare were also targets for Donnelly.  He asked the delegates if they believed the two longtime social programs were unconstitutional.  Of course, the group answered with a loud, "No!"  Then, the Congressman asked, "Do you believe that Richard Mourdock is a Constitutional scholar."  The crowd again responded with a loud, "No!"

Donnelly said that his record of fighting for working people should stand for itself.  "I will walk from Lake Michigan to the Ohio River to find 10 more jobs or 10 more opportunities for Hoosiers," Donnelly said.

Earlier in the day, Donnelly, a defender of traditional marriage, told the Indiana Stonewall Democrats and Progressives Caucus that he would oppose any constitutional Amendment on marriage.  He cited his record in supporting ENDA and the repeal of don't ask, don't tell as well.

Donnelly had a good day, and it was clear by the end that many who opposed his nomination for Senate were ready to vote for Joe in November.

Dems Nominate State Ticket of Fighters

When the Indiana Democratic State Convention was gavelled to a close today just before 6:00 p.m., all the business before it had been done.  The party nominated a ticket of fighters, and that's just exactly what is needed to succeed in 2012.  Time will tell if the formula will work or not.

John Gregg address the 7th District Caucus
Introduced by his mother, John Gregg stepped to the microphone to the tune of Earth, Wind, and Fire's classic September to address the delegates in the General Session.  

After rallying the troops a bit, Gregg settled in and hit Mike Pence's rather empty legislative record.  Pence has been in Congress for 12 years, but he's gotten a single bill of his own passed, Gregg said.  Andre Carson, by contrast, in the minority for nearly these last two years has gotten two bipartisan bills enacted and into law.  "He's never introduced a jobs bill," said Gregg of Pence's job creation record.  "He's voted against Pell Grants six times," 

Gregg said Pence is out of touch on what the Hoosier state needs.  "Indiana needs a leader that worries more about what goes on in Washington, Indiana, more than what's going on in Washington, D.C.," said Gregg.  "Indiana needs a leader who, when he says the word 'Virginia' that he's talking about his aunt rather than where he lives."

Also, Gregg attacked Pence for trying to, in his words, shut down the government "to keep women from getting health care."

Gregg said he will capitalize on Indiana's strengths and focus on creating jobs, "And not just any jobs, good paying jobs."

He also talked about strengthening agriculture in the state, backing mass transit, and encouraging things like stem cell research.  "It's time to get the legislators out of research and get researchers in those labs," said Gregg.

On education, Gregg made it simple.  He said that under his administration that teachers would be treated like the professionals they are.  Gregg said, "The day of demoralizing and degrading teachers is over!"

To improve education, Gregg would increase funding for early childhood education and continue to try to make college affordable.  "Those jobs won't mean nothing if we do not invest in public education," said Gregg.

As he was finishing up his remarks, Gregg made an appeal for help from the delegates.  He said that everyone needed to work together to get things changed at the Statehouse, but he also said that a large block of disenchanted Republicans may actually help the Democrats.  "Tell those Lugar Republicans that we have room on our campaign for them," said Gregg.  "They've been told they don't belong in their party."

Senator Vi Simpson accepted the Democratic nomination for Lieutenant Governor with a speech that went back and hit many of the same points as Gregg did.  Simpson was clearly emotional at times in accepting the nomination, "I promised my son I wouldn't cry," said Simpson.

Towards the end of her remarks, Simpson hit a blow for equality.  "I still believe in moonlight on the Wabash," said Simpson.  "I want an Indiana home were all Hoosiers have value."

Equality was a theme all day long.  Several speakers mentioned how the Indiana Democratic Party had to be a big tent, open and inclusive for all Hoosiers.

Kay Fleming and Glenda Ritz were also nominated for Attorney General and Superintendent of Public Instruction, respectively.  

In a short, concise speech, Fleming acknowledged that she was late in getting into the race, but she wanted to represent all Hoosiers rather than just special interests, "I want to be your lawyer," said Fleming.

Ritz had perhaps the second-most "red meat" speech of the day.  She took personal aim in the direction of Tony Bennett and called him out by name, "Tony Bennett: I want you to know you are running against a successful teacher who will change your teach to the test mentality."  She then proceeded to give him failing grades on every issue saying that Bennett is the Superintendent "Against Public Instruction."  She said that she wants to be the Superintendent For Public Instruction.

There you go.  Lots there to read, I know.  I'll cover other aspects of the convention in another blog post like Joe Donnelly's speech and the other bests and worsts of the day.  More to come!

Friday, June 15, 2012

Bennett Takes Credit for Higher Scores, Grad Rates

Dr. Tony Bennett
Dr. Tony Bennett has released a campaign video that says that his ideas are responsible for higher graduation rates and higher test scores in Indiana.

This is just me talking, and I want to make that clear.

I fully believe that Dr. Bennett has every right to tout higher scores and higher graduation rates because they happened under his watch, but I believe a little humility is needed.

School leaders, teachers and their students have been working their butts off in this state, and Dr. Bennett had an opportunity by just changing a few words to give them the credit they deserve.  Rather than implying that his ideas alone were responsible for the growth in the rates and scores, he could have given that credit to the teachers, students, and administrators.

My suggested change in wording, "Under Dr. Bennett's leadership, Indiana teachers, school leaders, and our students raised graduation rates and test scores."

There.  Done.

Dr. Bennett and his campaign, however, chose not to go this route.  Teachers teach.  Students learn.  Administrators administrate, but politicians politic.

Indy Democrat Has Landed

Well, I'm here in good old Fort Wayne.

I have a beautiful hotel room, and I had a delicious dinner.  The U.S. Open is on in the background, and I'm good to go for the evening.  I'll be tweeting a lot tomorrow about the convention from a delegate's perspective. If you don't already follow me on Twitter, look me up @johnnystir.

Should be a fun day.  This is my fourth time as a delegate!  Can't believe it.

Let the Games Begin!

The Indiana Democratic Party State Convention starts tonight in Fort Wayne.  I'll be blogging about tomorrow's main convention activity when I return to my hotel room on Saturday night.  There will be lots of stories to follow.

So, Indy Democrat goes on the road!  Hope to see everybody in Fort Wayne.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Ritz Voted Republican? (See Update) NO!


(Please see the update below...)

Indy Politics editor Abdul-Hakim Shabazz is known to sometimes stir the pot and make things up, but it looks like he's got the scoop and the documents.

Glenda Ritz, candidate for the Democratic nomination for Superintendent of Public Instruction,  apparently voted Republican in the 2012 Primary.  That means, for all intents and purposes, she is planning on voting for half of the Republicans on her ballot in November.  It could, of course, be an error.  From time to time, voter registration does do that, but even if it is an error, Ritz apparently voted Republican from 1990-2006, according to Shabazz.  She did vote Democratic in 2008 and 2010.

Looks like if the Dems are going to be putting on the Ritz for State School Superintendent, they have some explaining to do.  The full Indy Politics article is here.

Wonder if Justin Oakley now has plans for the weekend?  Whatever happens, this is an embarrassment for Dan Parker and the Indiana Democratic Party.  How can you drop the ball on this one?  If there's one person Indiana teachers will rally against and vote against in droves, it's Tony Bennett.  If you wanted a Republican, you might as well of asked Suellen Reed to come back and out of retirement.

Hopefully, this is some glitch at voter registration.  I have yet to meet Glenda Ritz.  I'm sure she's a very nice lady, and I'm sure she's capable.  That said, as a Democrat, this needs to be resolved before this elected delegate votes for her to represent my party.

UPDATE:
I received a call from Adam Kirsch of the Marion County Democratic Party that said he has a copy of Glenda Ritz's voter record, and it shows she pulled a Democratic Ballot.  I followed up with Abdul who stands by his story.  Apparently, another reporter followed up on the story and said that the issue might have been a clerical error.

Anyway, problem solved.

Bush Fighting for Soul of GOP

When Richard Lugar wrote his now-famous concession letter after losing in the GOP Primary to Richard Mourdock, he included language that lamented how far his party had gone off the track.  Since then, other old hat Republicans like Alan Simpson have joined in.  Now, someone who might have a future in the party is giving his two cents worth.
Jeb Bush as Governor of Florida
Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush has made headlines these last couple of weeks for a couple of statements.  First of all, he pushed back on Grover Nordquist's bizarre control over the party by saying that he never signed Nordquist's pledge despite his record of cutting taxes.  Bush was quoted as saying, "I don't believe you outsource your principles and convictions to people."

After Nordquist pushed back at Bush, he took his attack even further suggesting that his father, George H.W. Bush and Ronald Reagan would not fit in today's Republican Party.  

Of course, Bush saw his father's campaign implode firsthand because of a silly pledge that famously was, "Read my lips! No new taxes."  George H.W. Bush eventually had to raise revenue, and that was one of the complicated reasons he was shown the door in 1992.  

Jeb Bush didn't stop there.  Earlier this week, he pretty much said that it was ok for gay people to raise a family in a committed relationship.  He stopped short of saying he supported same-sex marriage on PBS's Charlie Rose, and he said that traditional marriage, between a man and a woman, should be sanctioned.  

That said, he said that there should be some way to recognize same-sex unions and that, "I don’t think people need to be discriminated against because they don’t share my belief on this, and if people love their children with all their heart and soul and that’s what they do and that’s how they organize their life that should be held up as examples for others to follow because we need it. We desperately need it and that can take all sorts of forms, it doesn’t have to take the one that I think should be sanctioned under the law."

Lots of wiggle room there, but it appears that Jeb wants to take on the cultural conservatives, too.

While many people probably took a vow to never vote for a Bush again after what George W. did to this country, Jeb Bush might someday merit a look.  He's clearly not afraid to take on those controlling the soul of his party and the purse strings of it, too.  Sure, he's not running for anything, and this may be a way of making himself so toxic that Mitt Romney wouldn't dream of picking him as a Vice Presidential candidate, but it is refreshing to hear a different voice from what has become the party of no.  

Jeb Bush deserves a tremendous amount of respect for the positions he's taking and being the adult in the room when it comes to the GOP.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Mayoral Election Rumors for 2015

Whispered Conversations
in Overcrowded Hallways
Editors' Note:  The following blog post contains unsubstantiated rumor and innuendo.  Do not take any of it as fact.  I am reporting only what I'm hearing through my various political channels.  Take it as informed gossip.

It's never too early to start looking ahead, and the political rumor mill is heating up for 2015, and the possible candidates for Mayor of Indianapolis are interesting.

Of course, the biggest fish in the room is Mayor Greg Ballard.  Winning a third term in office is often difficult and Ballard, at least for show, seemed pretty hard-to-convince at first to run for a second term.  Ballard will only be 60 when the next election for Indianapolis Mayor comes around in 2015.  That's hardly early enough to retire.  Ballard's next three years in office will probably go a long way to determining whether or not he run.  So far, he's been fairly quiet in his second term.  It took him two years to get going last time around, so he'll probably figure out what his second term legacy might be around the middle of next year or so.

Anything Ballard wants to do on his own will certainly be hampered by the fact that he no longer controls the City-County Council.  Democrats, of course, do.  Clearly, by stealing Ryan Vaughn away from the Council to be his Chief of Staff, he knows how important working with the Council will be in these next three years.

I think the chances of him running again are probably about 50-50 at this point.  He certainly, as an incumbent, will have those advantages there.  If his heart is in it, he probably will give it another go.  If it's not, he might turn it over to someone else.  Of course, Ryan Vaughn will be a possibility if Ballard doesn't run.  The bench isn't incredibly deep for the Republicans, but I'm sure there are some people that will step to the forefront.  Look for City-County Councillors like Benjamin Hunter, Mike McQuillen (see yesterday's post) and Jeff Cardwell to play a role if Ballard steps away.  I just predict that one or more won't sit on the sidelines if the Mayor's Office is open.

On the Democratic side, I've heard three names consistently mentioned as interested, and I'm adding in a wild card.  I would ask them, but they would probably tell me they are interested in their jobs on the Council or elsewhere.  Thus, I apologize in advance to them.

Let's begin with Councillors Brian Mahern and Vop Osili.  Mahern and Osili would be strong candidates, and I've heard through back channels that either might be interested in running.  Again, I haven't heard it from either of their mouths, so take this for what it's worth.

Another possiblity is John Layton.  The Marion County Sheriff will have to get through a reelection campaign in 2014, and I'm sure that he won't even think about running for Mayor until after that.  Still, he's built a solid record as Sheriff so far and has broad crossover appeal and respect from Republicans and Democrats.  I've heard through back channels he's someone that might be interested.

I also get the feeling that Joe Hogsett isn't quite done yet, either.  Hogsett pursued the office aggressively for quite a while in 2010 before dropping out of the running to clear the field for Melina Kennedy.  Depending on what happens with President Barack Obama's reelection campaign, Hogsett may be looking for opportunities for 2015.  He made a lot of friends in his run for Mayor, and he would also be an excellent candidate again.  He can't do anything political until he's no longer U.S. Attorney.

There's a long way to go, and I'm sure things will begin to get more clear.  That's what I'm hearing in the rumor mill.  We'll see which rumors become truths and which ones are just rumors.  If you're thinking of running and I missed you, sorry.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Is Carlos May Running Marvin Scott-like Campaign?

I was on my normal run through my Facebook news feed before bed just a few minutes ago, and this exchange stood out.


A couple of things here...

First of all, Congressman Carson is reaching across the aisle to known Republicans who have helped engineer campaigns against him.  That's not something that usually happens.  You can see the responses.  They are interested only in slapping his hand back.  But, secondly, Carlos May simply thanks Bob Croddy for his support, and he doesn't dispute Croddy's description of Carson.

Apparently, I have misjudged Carlos May.  I suppose we can expect the same kind of campaign from him as Marvin Scott ran in 2010.  Well, that's good.  One thing we've seen form the numbers.  This kind of campaign doesn't work in the 7th.

McQuillen Fundraiser Costs Top Dollar for What?

City-County Councillor Mike McQuillen will be feted at a top level fundraising reception on Flag Day in his own home.  One of the hosts is Citizens CEO, Carey Lykins.  Interesting, don't you think?

Certainly it's Lykins' right as a private citizen to support anyone he wishes with a big check.  He can afford it, but McQuillen was one of the Councillors that voted in favor of Mayor Greg Ballard's water transfer deal.

The second question that I ponder here is what is a City-County Councillor who won't see a reelection campaign for three more years doing receiving a (top price of) $1,000 fundraiser in the 2012 election cycle?  Forrest Lucas is also listed as one of the sponsors.

Maybe McQuillen is stockpiling cash for a run at Mayor of Indianapolis in 2015 or something before that in 2014?   Only McQuillen probably knows.  It just seems like a strange time, in the midst of this 2012 campaign, to be hosting such a big fundraiser.  I'm sure Carlos May and other local Republicans on the ballot in 2012 fighting for cash are just thrilled to see someone not even in this cycle siphon it off.

Happy Birthday President Bush

George Herbert Walker Bush turns 88 today, and, from all accounts, he remains as sharp as a tack even as age seems to catch up with him.

A World War II veteran who was shot down and rescued in battle, Bush served in a variety of government posts before being elected President in 1988.  His time in office started well, but his handling of the economy eventually gave voice and rise to a young Democrat from Arkansas named Bill Clinton.  Clinton eventually would defeat Bush in a bitter race though the two combatants from 1992 would become the best of friends.

However you feel about him politically, George H.W. Bush is a good man, and he is deserving of the respect he's due.  Happy Birthday Mr. President, and I hope to see him skydiving at 90.

Carson Taking Nothing for Granted

Congressman AndrĂ© Carson's 7th Congressional District looks a lot different these days with the new lines that were drawn following the 2010 census, but I think he likes it that way.  Speaking at the Decatur Township Democratic Club meeting last night, Carson promised to learn everything he can about the new areas of the district from the people that live in it.  
Congressman André Carson

"I want you to talk to me," said Carson.  "Tell me what are your concerns and what are the issues here."

Carson talked about his accomplishments in his first four years on the job.  Chiefly among them getting two important bills that he authored through Congress and signed into law by President Barack Obama to help our returning servicemen and servicewomen.  He also said that he had been able to bring over $400 million in funding back to the district for a number of projects.

Carlos May
Scott Carr, his newly-appointed campaign manager, said the Congressman would be taking nothing for granted and would be waging a campaign for votes across the 7th District and even in areas that typically have supported Republicans.  "We lost some blue areas and gained some red areas, but that's okay," said Carr.

Carson will be battling Carlos May, a fairly popular Republican candidate, who used to serve as Mayor Ballard's Neighborhood Liaison in some of the territory in the new 7th.  In 2010, he quit his job to run for the 7th District office.  He lost to Marvin Scott in the Primary.  He barely won the nomination in the last month's primary.  This time around, he's the Director of Latino Affairs for Ballard.

On Election Day, Carson is expected to win reelection, but he's clearly not leaving his chances to fortune.  Carr said that Democrats can expect Carson to be in their neighborhoods with volunteers and canvassing in an "aggressive campaign" for reelection.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Indiana Democratic Party Platform to Oppose Marriage Amendment

The ball is already rolling on an amendment that will ban same-sex marriage in Indiana, but the Indiana Democratic Party Platform will oppose it.

According to reports, Senator Vi Simpson announced on Saturday at Indy Pride that this unprecedented plank in the Indiana Democratic Party platform would be adopted at the Indiana Democratic Party Convention in Fort Wayne.  The Indiana Equality is reporting that all statewide candidates including John Gregg signed off on the plank.

From Indiana Equality:

On Saturday, Senator Vi Simpson made a dramatic announcement concerning the Democratic Party state platform.
As of late Friday, language was added that OPPOSES ANY CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT REGARDING MARRIAGE. PERIOD.

Vi made the announcement at Indy Pride. The particular language is unprecedented in any Indiana party platform. It involved much work over the past week.

All statewide Democratic candidates, including Mr. Gregg, signed-off on the language. Vi pushed as hard as she could.

We are tremendously grateful. A new day in statewide politics has dawned.

The platform will be formally adopted at the Democratic State Convention this coming week.

As you may recall, the amendment rolled through the Indiana House and Senate in the 2011 session.  It now must do it again in 2013 (or 2014) before reaching the voters in a referendum.  The Governor of Indiana can certainly oppose the amendment but cannot block it.  It will go directly to the voters if it passes again during the next biennium.

Democratic Convention Commences in Fort Wayne This Week

As the Indiana Democratic Party prepares to convene its convention on Friday, there's a lot to be smiling about if you're a Democrat.  While there's a lot to smile about, there's also lots to be concerned about, too.

Let's begin with the smiles.  It appears that Joe Donnelly is off to a good start in the Senate race and has political operatives like Karl Rove concerned.  Rove and his PAC launched an ad offensive in Indiana this past week to try to buoy Richard Mourdock's fortunes in the early going.  It's still early, but this race remains in focus nationally.  Remember, Dan Coats was leading Brad Ellsworth by major numbers by this time in 2010.  This one is going to stay close, I think.

Last week, Mike Pence officially accepted the nomination for Governor of Indiana on the GOP side.  Last week, John Gregg spent a lot of time on the earned media trail trying to define Mike Pence before he had a chance to do so.  He has Pence's attention.  Now, Gregg has to pivot this week and begin to define his own message.

Now, to the concerns, and let's begin with Gregg.  While Gregg has gone out of his way to define Pence, I think he now has to, as several others have pointed out, start to define his differences with him.  He cannot win this race as the anti-Pence.  John Gregg has some views that are similar.  He must make the case to Hoosiers that he has different ideas about state government.  If I were him, I'd play up my time as Speaker of the House when 50 Republicans and 50 Democrats were there.  That meant that he had to compromise to get things done.  I think that's the direction he needs to start.  Follow that up with specific policy plans that differ from Pence's, and I think that Gregg will have an excellent opportunity.

As a Democrat, I must admit that I remain concerned about the position of the Indiana Democratic Party.  My views on the Chair situation have been well-documented here on my blog, and the party finds itself with no statewide offices now.  Also, with the way the districts were drawn in the Indiana House, it would seem that Democrats will struggle to keep the number of seats they have now.  There are tremendous opportunities in the Senate, but it's going to take a while to win the 13 seats needed to tip the majority back to the Democrats.

So, I will go to Fort Wayne, and I will be blogging on Friday night and Saturday night from Indiana's second-largest city (providing the internet works in my hotel room).  We will see what happens and what comes out of the convention.  It appears the statewide ticket for the D's will include three women as well as John Gregg with Vi Simpson, Glenda Ritz, and Kay Fleming joining him as Lieutenant Governor, Superintendent of Public Instruction, and Attorney General candidates, respectively.

As always, it's going to be an interesting time for political junkies in Indiana.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Looks Like Dem Ticket Includes Three Women, Gregg

If all goes as expected on Saturday at the Indiana Democratic Party Convention, three women will join John Gregg on the statewide ticket.

Indianapolis residents Kay Fleming and Glenda Ritz are expected to be nominated for Attorney General and Superintendent of Public Instruction.  Vi Simpson will be nominated for Lieutenant Governor.

These women will join Tara Nelson and Shelli Yoder who are running for U.S. House seats in Districts 4 and 9, respectively.

With U.S. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi keynoting the 2012 Jefferson-Jackson Day Dinner, it appears that the Indiana Democrats have embraced girl power for 2012!  Will be interesting to see how that will effect things at the ballot box in November.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Gregg Has Pence's Attention

Mike Pence
John Gregg is out on the earned media trail, and he has the attention of the Mike Pence for Governor campaign.

Pence must feel somewhat threatened by the former Indiana Speaker of the House's attacks because he has trotted out high-level surrogates to fire barbs back at Gregg.

Jim Shella pens this piece for WISH-TV.  In it, Shella describes some of the campaign tactics that Gregg is using.  Gregg is employing a different strategy, and it appears that it's working.  With millions of dollars in Washington money pouring into Indiana to support his campaign, Pence has been on television for a few weeks with a few different ads.

John Gregg
Gregg has to rely on some other tactics since he cannot match Pence dollar-for-dollar.  He's taking his message directly to the people in trying to define Pence as out-of-touch with extreme views.  The Gregg Campaign has launced a website touting the Pence Plan for Indiana heavily based on Pence's record, writings, and policy over the last 20 years.  Gregg's camp also created a Twitter account @PencePlan.  Pence's campaign actually got that Twitter account suspended temporarily, according to Shella.

As Shella points out, Pence's camp is saying that Gregg is being a bit misleading with its attacks.  When Pence himself has built his entire career, however, on championing wedge issues, how could what Gregg charges be misleading?

On the Pence Plan website, this video is posted.  Is John Gregg being misleading?  That sure sounds like Mike Pence's voice.




Pence is not a moderate.  He's a right wing, Tea Party Republican who cannot separate his Evangelical Christian religion from his duty as a policy maker and office holder.  It's amazing how the Mike Pence Campaign is trying to sell us this working man from a working family who just wants to do good by Indiana. That certainly isn't the Mike Pence we've come to know.




Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Recall Elections=Dumb

Wisconsin, you voted for Republican Governor Scott Walker in 2010, and you just doubled down on him last night. Live with him.

Recall elections are an absolutely ridiculous idea.  I don't care who the person is that you're recalling, and, if anyone deserved it, it was Scott Walker, but I believe recall elections are too prone to adhere to the will of the given moment rather than what's best overall for a state.

Can you imagine, for example, if it were possible to recall a President?  One side or the other would always be trying to recall the Commander-in-Chief.

Wisconsin Governor
Scott Walker
For removal of a politician, impeachment is the way to go.  Impeachment isn't some willy nilly idea that you can just right a wrong election.  It implies at least some level of criminal misconduct.

Taking the federal model, there are hearings in the House and a trial in the Senate with the Chief Justice presiding.  The House has impeached two Presidents, but they were both acquitted in the Senate.  Nixon, in all likelihood would have been a third and would have been removed from office if he had not resigned.

Impeachment is not immune from politics.  Both impeachments that have occurred in U.S. history had the ugly taste of politics involved.  Andrew Johnson was impeached over Reconstruction, and Bill Clinton was impeached essentially over lying about an affair. The acquittals in the Senate safeguarded democracy in both cases.

Impeachment is not a recall, and it's not about elections.  Elections are about selecting the right candidate.  When a greater number of people vote for one candidate over another, then that person should be able to govern.  Elections have consequences, and, in my opinion, you don't get a redo when you vote.  If a majority of the voters or, in some cases, a plurality of the voters vote someone in, then that person wins the election and is entitled to serve for that term.  No do overs.  Period.  No recallls.  Period.  If you want to beat someone, work hard for his or her opponent and make sure that person is voted out next time he or she is up for election.

Recall elections have a long history in this country and around the world, but I believe they are exercises in ridiculousness.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

A Change is Gonna Come...

Apostolic Truth Tabernacle in Greensburg, Indiana, has apparently posted a statement on its website saying that it doesn't condone hate.
"The Pastor and members of Apostolic Truth Tabernacle do not condone, teach, or practice hate of any person for any reason. We believe and hope that every person can find true Bible salvation and the mercy and grace of God in their lives. We are a strong advocate of the family unit according to the teachings and precepts found in the Holy Bible. We believe the Holy Bible is the Divinely-inspired Word of God and we will continue to uphold and preach that which is found in scripture."
Of course, the church is the same one that is now famous for a video of a small boy singing a song that included the words, "Ain't no homos gonna get to heaven."

Apparently, the church may not condone hate, but its members certainly do if you watch the video.  When the little boy says those awful words, the church congregation erupts in thunderous applause.  Kind of hard to believe the church doesn't condone hate when its members seem to tacitly approve of indoctrinating its little ones with it.

The church has said in the media that the pastor has received death threats over the video.  I never condone that.  Media sources also are reporting that the local Sheriff's Department was unaware of the threats.

Unfortunately, I think that we're only going to see more of this ridiculousness.  As the fight for gay rights becomes more and more mainstream, those that profess not to condone hatred...then do it anyway...are going to get louder and louder.  They will become a very loud and vocal minority.  It doesn't matter.  Change is coming, and, like they say in Hairspray, "You can't stop the beat."

I know, for example, that Micah Clark is actively campaigning against Proposal 213 that will grant certain benefits to couples in domestic partnerships.  Of course, Clark's concern is that marriage is somehow threatened by this move.  It's clear, however, that if you actually read the proposal, there is still far more of a benefit financially for married couples than to those in a committed domestic partnership.  The only threat to marriage is divorce!

Thanks to culture vultures like Clark, we end up with indoctrinated youngsters like that little boy in Greensburg.  People who seem more afraid to deal with reality over their stilted concept of it indoctrinating the young to fear and hate.  That little boy will grow up in a very different world than his parents did.  He will come to his own opinions someday, and they may not be the same as he was taught when he was a little boy.

Times are changing quickly, and the bitter will hold on with every last breath.  Someday though, they will come around or be relegated to the extremes.  If you don't believe me, listen to Sam Cooke.

Pence Attempting Pivot to Center: Don't Buy It

Rep. Mike Pence
The Indiana Republican Convention is this weekend, and Mike Pence is FINALLY expected to drop some policy initiatives.  According to what his campaign is telling media folks, the top planks will be "jobs and education."

It sure would be good to know where Pence stands these days.  As he tries to pivot away from the more divisive social issues that he has championed for many years, it's important to remind Hoosiers about the man that considers himself "Christian, conservative, and Republican, in that order."

This week, John Gregg has launched an offensive on Pence's social issue positions.  Yesterday, he held a news conference outside Planned Parenthood and highlighted Pence's past support of defunding the organization.  Gregg is an anti-choice Democrat, but he understands that the vast majority of Planned Parenthood's services aren't about abortions.  Pence is so extreme that he would defund an organization that provides so many services to women over one issue.

There's also a new website called "The Pence Plan" detailing Pence's more radical and extreme views.  Pence's views on women's health are detailed here.

Pence is trying to change his stripes, for sure, but they will always be there.  He's a staunch supporter of DOMA.  He doesn't believe in evolution calling the origin of species "an open question."  He's a member of the Tea Party caucus.  He's been a U.S. House Republican caucus leader, too.

So, when Mike Pence tries to tell you it's all about jobs and education this summer, don't buy in.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Simpson Case Spotlights Councillor Conduct Again

City-County Councillor
Joe Simpson
I don’t know Councillor Joe Simpson, but I think I know this from reading what is alleged to have happened at his next door neighbor's house: he’s probably guilty of bad judgement.

As most of you have probably heard, Simpson, the City-County Councillor representing District 9, allegedly interfered with a police investigation and was arrested on Sunday when he allegedly refused leave the scene. It’s, at minimum, another embarrassment for a City-County Council that doesn’t need it.

I must admit that anytime I’ve ever seen police working a scene that I’ve never run up and tried to be a part of what is going on. Instead, I might ask someone else what’s happening or wait to see what’s going on from the safety of my home.

I had something similar happen a few weeks ago. While I was getting dinner together, I heard the sound of diesel engines outside the house. When I walked outside, I noticed an ambulance and fire truck parked on my side of the street. I didn’t run up and ask them what was going on. Instead, I stood back and watched as my neighbor’s mother was loaded into an ambulance. I didn’t know that I had missed my neighbor’s father being wheeled out in severe medical distress after he collapsed without warning. He later died.

I’m not saying that my situation is the same as the one that Simpson was presented with on Sunday evening, but I am saying that I would allow first responders…be it police, fire, or paramedics to do their jobs without interference. I would have nothing to add to the situation I just described even though I know CPR and am on the Decatur Township Civilian Fire Merit Commission. When there was a fire in the dumpster outside my apartment a few years ago, I didn’t grab a fire hose and try to help. I let the professionals do their jobs and kept quiet about my status on their Merit Commission.

Simpson, if what went down is as it is being reported, would have been smart to do the same thing, I think. No sense being a hero when lives are on the line.  It should be noted that he did apologize to the officers, according to the Indianapolis Star, saying that he "messed up."

He has put Terry Curry in the tough position of requesting a special prosecutor in this case. It is absolutely the right thing to do for Curry, but he shouldn’t have been in this position. No one should have been put in this position.

Simpson is just the latest Councillor accused of wrongdoing.  Marion County Republican Chair Kyle Walker is exploiting the case for political gain releasing this statement:

"The arrest of Democrat City-County Councillor Joseph Simpson is the second time in less than four years that a Democrat Councillor has been arrested for violating the law and then resisting law enforcement. Our police officers have a tough enough job without such disrespect and interference from Democrat members of the City-County Council. This pattern of contempt for our public safety officers needs to stop immediately. I call upon Council President Maggie Lewis to remove Councillor Simpson from the Public Safety Committee and Law Enforcement Study Commission and to condemn the actions of her fellow Democrats in hopes that this pattern does not continue."

Walker is referring to the arrest of former Councillor Doris Minton-McNeill, who is no longer on the Council.  She didn't even run for reelection.  Reminding people of the past even though the past is no longer the present should be expected from Walker.  Walker would be asking her to condemn the actions of someone who is no longer on the Council and whose arrest occurred before Maggie Lewis was President of the Council.  On Simpson, I'd say let’s let the legal process play out. Perhaps more information will come to light and Simpson will be exonerated.  Besides, Walker's caucus' own past isn't perfect.  Former Councillor Lincoln Plowman sits in a federal prison right now after being convicted of bribery while he was a sitting Councillor.

Whatever happens, when you’re a City-County Councillor or a public official, you are held to a higher standard of conduct in public. It might serve all Councillors, including Joe Simpson, to remember that.

UPDATE:
Joe Simpson was cleared of all charges in November 2012.