Sunday, December 29, 2013

Carson Pens Heartfelt Statement on Loss of Andy Jacobs

Congressman Jacobs and Congressman Carson
Photo by Wilson Allen
Congressman André Carson called Andy Jacobs his "Obi-Wan Kenobi" more then one time.  Late yesterday, he released this statement about Jacobs' death in tribute to his friend and mentor.
Statement by Congressman André Carson on the Passing of Former Congressman Andrew Jacobs, Jr. 
INDIANAPOLIS, IN — I join countless Americans who today mourn the loss of Congressman Andy Jacobs, Jr. 
Congressman Jacobs was family. He served as an invaluable mentor and dear friend to my grandmother, Julia Carson, who he hired to work in his Indianapolis congressional office in 1965. It was Andy’s faith and encouragement that inspired my grandmother to run for state representative in 1972, and his support of her never wavered. 
At an early age, Andy also took an interest in me as well and imparted wisdom while serving as a role model. He continued as a valued mentor, even long after he left office. With Andy’s passing, our nation lost a man who was resolutely courageous, both in his service as a Marine in Korea, and in public life. 
While people will likely recall that he helped strengthen Social Security and was unrelentingly frugal with taxpayer dollars, his true legacy is that of a man who took the path less traveled, one of principle, no matter what advantages he sacrificed to do so. 
While in Congress, Andy never took a donation from a political action committee, he never attacked an opponent, and he never put his name on his office door in Washington, D.C., explaining that “the seat belonged to the people I serve, not to me.” He was a selfless public servant, who never cared about station or the trappings of office. 
Andy was a man of rapier wit. And though he used it often to hilarious effect in disarming the infrequent angry constituent or political foe, he was he never caustic or maligning. He upheld the dignity of all. This is undoubtedly why he forged enduring friendships with, and held the respect of, many across the aisle. 
For some time now, Andy has penned a weekly “Thought Bite” for Nuvo. On December 18, it read: “If there’s one thing I hate, it’s hate.” I cannot think of a better self-assessment for a man whose heart had unlimited capacity to see the goodness in everyone. 
In sum, Andy was a model of decency, compassion, servant-leadership, thoughtfulness, and civility. I pray that God rests his soul and gives peace and comfort to his wife, Kim, his sons Andy and Steven, and to the countless others for whom Andy is “family.”

Saturday, December 28, 2013

In Memoriam: Andrew Jacobs, Jr. (1932-2013)

Congressman Andrew Jacobs, Jr.
Although he tried to convince everyone that he wasn't, he was larger than life.

Former Congressman Andy Jacobs, Jr. passed away today at the age of 81.

Jacobs was elected to Congress in 1964, took office in 1965, and, with the exception of two years, served the City of Indianapolis with distinction until 1997.  His time in office saw the capital of the Hoosier State grow from India-No-Place to the bustling city we know today.

In a place where people can get lost in the office, Jacobs did it his own brilliantly intelligent way.  He was accessible and one of us.  He was a true "people's Congressman" who drew praise from those on both sides of the aisle.

He was a man who never took himself too seriously.  One time, he directed me to introduce him by saying, "He was born.  He has yet to pass."

As a Congressman, Jacobs was hard to affix a label to.  He was a liberal on some topics, but he was actually very conservative on others.  Before it was popular, Jacobs railed against pork spending in Congress, but he was very much a dove when it came to taking the country to war given his experiences as a combat veteran in Korea.  Most of all, Jacobs understood that he was a representative in government and was put there by the people he served.

Jacobs also saw talent in those he hired.  He encouraged Julia Carson to serve greater causes than just his Congressional Office.  At his urging, Carson ran and was elected to the General Assembly. She later replaced him in Congress.  Jacobs also was one of the first to join André Carson's campaign for Congress when Congresswoman Carson passed in 2007.

In his later years, Jacobs became a prolific author writing both fiction and non-fiction books to critical acclaim.  He also taught political science at IUPUI.  Congressman Jacobs was a father and a husband as well.  He leaves behind his wife, Kim Hood Jacobs, and two children.  He was the son of Congressman Andrew Jacobs.

I met him only a few times, but I will always remember the warmth that came from him.  Andrew Jacobs, Jr. was put on this Earth to serve, and he did so with class and excellence.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

MERRY CHRISTMAS

Hard to believe, but it's Christmas Eve again.  From my family to yours, Merry Christmas.  I hope you find the warmth of family and friends over the next few days to celebrate a beautiful time of year.

Until then...Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas!

Monday, December 23, 2013

Not Ducking The Issue

A week ago, I didn't know Phil Robertson or anything about him.

I don't watch Duck Dynasty or anything on A&E for that matter.  I remember when the network used to be one devoted more to the arts than reality programs based on duck calls.

A network has to make money, however.  Duck Dynasty appears to have done that for A&E, and A&E has done that for the Robertson family, as well.

I've been careful not to weigh in too much on what Mr. Robertson said or didn't say because I don't care.  He has a right to free speech, and I will defend his right to say whatever the heck he wants to say.  As Americans, we are given that right.  We are also given the right to worship any God or practice any religion we choose without fear of retribution from the government.  For that matter, you are also free to not practice any religion or to even refrain from worshipping at all.

That, however, does not excuse what we say.  This freedom of speech that we have should not be practiced capriciously.

Speaking from personal experience, there are times that I agonize over nearly every important word of a blog post.  I know that if I write the wrong thing here that my entire life could be turned upside down.  That's why I don't follow the advice of some of the folks that wish I'd be more vicious here.  I'll be the first to admit that I've toned down and held back my rhetoric both politically and personally here.  I like my job, and I know my employers can read this blog.  It's in the public spectrum.

It appears that Mr. Robertson didn't take this into account when he made his comments, and, if he did, he did so without thinking them through.

Listen, Robertson's been lifted up and defended and pushed down and beaten up enough over this the last few days.  The last thing you want to hear from me is more piling on.  His statements stand for themselves, and I found them personally vulgar and ignorant.  I was not offended, but I was saddened about how much our society values the words of celebrities these days.

Let me finish with this, though.  For those who are standing up and defending Mr. Robertson and his views, you had better be ready to stand up and defend folks like Bill Maher and many others that have been demonized by the right wing media for what they have said.  As for me, I believe in a right to free speech, but I also believe that right comes with an unspoken contract to be responsible for what you say and the consequences that follow.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Blog Update: Temporary End to Daily Updates 'Til 2014

For the next couple of weeks, the day job is going to be calling and needing my entire and undivided attention.  The holiday season is after that, so I'm putting the blog on semi-hiatus for the next few weeks.

I'll still be posting, and I'm not going anywhere.  I just cannot commit to daily updates.

Here's a rough schedule:
December 9-December 20-Sporadic updates
December 23-December 27-Breaking news only updates
December 30-January 3-Sporadic updates.
January 6-Daily updates resume.

Thanks for your understanding and readership.

Friday, December 6, 2013

In Memoriam: Nelson Mandela (1918-2013)

Yesterday, word came that one of the most remarkable lives on the planet had come to an end.

Nelson Mandela left this world at the age of 95.

As an activist against the policy of Apartheid, Mandela was arrested and charged with inciting workers strikes and leaving the country without permission.  Mandela spent 27 years in prison enduring physical and mental abuse.  He played an active part in overseeing the end of Apartheid policies.

In 1994, he was elected President of the country that threw him in jail, South Africa.  He was determined to heal a country damaged by years of the policies of Apartheid.  He wasn't interested in retribution but in bridging the racial chasm that tore apart South Africa.

I can't do the great man justice with a few words here.  I'm just certain that we will not see another Nelson Mandela.  He was a man of great significance for freedom in the world.  We mourn his loss with the understanding that he is no longer suffering from the health problems that have, frankly, ailed him since long before he was released from prison over 23 years ago.

Nelson Mandela is free.  He is at peace.  Thanks to him, so is South Africa.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Delph Wants to Spoil Ballot on Straight-Ticket Voting

Sen. Delph
Senator Mike Delph wants you to think before you vote.

The Carmel-based Republican is filing legislation to do away with straight-ticket voting.  He tells Abdul-Hakim Shabazz that it's so people have to actually look at the ballot they vote instead of simply marking a straight ticket oval or pushing the appropriate button and walking away.

As someone that has voted straight ticket in the past, I like having the option, but I understand where Delph is coming from.  I just didn't know that this was such a big problem that there was this groundswell to do away with the straight ticket option.  Other than a few libertarians, I have never really heard anyone rail against it.

I think before I vote.  I don't simply mark a straight-ticket oval without first examining all the candidates.  Of course, I'm in the odd position that I will know many of the candidates on the ballot.  Others are not in my position, and this won't change that.  Now folks will have to agonize over what candidates they want for township advisory board.  I wonder if they will just walk away and leave that portion of the ballot blank.

Most people that take the time to show up at the polls on Election Day have made up their minds.  This will simply slow down the process.  I doubt if Delph's legislation will go anywhere, but I guess we'll see.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Daley Now Role Model in Different Way

Tom Daley
On Monday, an international celebrity made a big splash with a video announcement.

Britsh gold medalist Tom Daley, a diver, revealed to the world in an announcement on YouTube that even though he still is into women that he is dating a man.  

Daley says his relationship with the unidentified man (rumors say the guy is Hollywood screenwriter Dustin Lance Black) has made him feel like he never has before.  "It did take me by surprise a little bit," said Daley in his YouTube announcement. "It was always in the back of my head that something like that could happen, but it wasn't until spring this year that something just clicked.  It felt right...my whole world just changed right there and then."

Now, why am I here writing on a political blog about a 19-year-old British diver announcing that he's dating a guy?  It's simple.  I want to commend Daley for taking this step in his life and deciding to live it in such a public manner.  "People are going to have their own opinions, and I think people are going to make a big deal of this.  Is it a big deal?  Well, I don't think so."

That's right.  It's not a big deal, Tom.  The more people that say that, the better.  Life is too darn short to worry about who other people can love.  

By the same token, it IS a big deal.  Tom Daley, an athlete and a celebrity, is yet another high-profile person choosing to come out and live their life in the open.  That speaks so much to those who live in fear each day of what people might think about them if only their true selves were known.  For that, Daley also has a message, "I'm still Tom.  I still want to win an Olympic gold medal in Rio2016 for Great Britain.  I'm still motivated as ever to do that."

I think Tom will find plenty of support out there, and I hope his example brings strength to those still living in fear.  It really does get better out here.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Claytor Discusses Commitment to Serve

Mike Claytor
The Democratic candidate for Indiana Auditor of State wants everyone to know that he is in it for the long haul in the wake of the resignation of Auditor Dwayne Sawyer.

Sawyer suddenly and somewhat shockingly announced his resignation last week, effective December 15.  Sawyer's decision to resign creates another opening in the Auditor's Office that Governor Mike Pence will have to fill.

Democratic candidate for Auditor, Mike Claytor, however, is using the opportunity to tell Indiana voters that he won't quit should he be elected Auditor.

Claytor sent an e-mail note, paid for by the Indiana Democratic Party, with the subject line, "I will not quit" to his supporters.  It detailed his commitment to the office and asked for some financial help.

You might have heard that the Indiana State Auditor, Dwayne Sawyer, suddenly resigned last week. This comes four months after Auditor Tim Berry resigned last July. 
Why is this time frame significant? This week is also the two-year anniversary of the state losing $320 million, which was followed by the state losing $206 million more four months later.
Let me state this plainly: in the span of just four months, the Pence administration lost two auditors. In that same amount of time, the Daniels administration lost more than half a billion dollars. 
We need more stability and accountability in Indiana state government. 
I do not think a political appointee should hold the office of your Chief Financial Officer, which is why I need your help spreading the word about why we need a CPA in the Auditor’s office.
I made a commitment to fight every day, week, and month from now through the end of the election (and beyond) to share information about the Auditor’s office and about how your taxpayer dollars are being spent. Now I’m asking for a commitment from you. 
Will you join one of my monthly clubs? I need supporters who will be with me every day, every month, until we take back the Indiana Statehouse in November of 2014. 
The Bean Counters Club – Join the Bean Counters Club for $10 per month and receive a membership card, advance notice of important issues that will be covered in the campaign, an exclusive invitation to a club member function in October 2014, and the benefit of being on a winning team on November 4, 2014. 
The Add Claytor Club – Help us "Add Claytor" to the Indiana Statehouse with a monthly contribution of $25. Receive all of the benefits above, plus a custom calculator so that you can help add balance to every discussion. 
The Balance the Books Club – Join the Balance the Books Club for $50 per month, receive all of the benefits above, plus an invitation to a monthly conference call update where I will personally outline what is going on in the campaign and cover other issues of the day. 
The CFO Club – Join the CFO Club for $100 per month, receive all of the benefits above, plus an invitation for two to a private members reception election night prior to the traditional IDP election night reception. 
Together, we can balance the books and balance the power. 
Mike Claytor

Smart move by Claytor to make sure Indiana voters know his commitment to not only win the election and stay in office but use the office to guard Hoosier taxpayer dollars.  For more information, visit www.claytor4auditor.com/

Monday, December 2, 2013

World AIDS Day Provides Opportunity to Reflect

The Names Project AIDS Memorial Quilt on display
at the National Mall
Yesterday was World AIDS day.  It was a day to reflect and remember those that have passed, to raise awareness about the disease and how it continues to spread in areas across the world and a day to hope that some day we will live in a world without HIV and AIDS.

When I was an undergraduate at Indiana University, I attended a viewing of the Names Project AIDS Memorial Quilt held at the Indiana Memorial Union.  The display then was just one small portion of the quilt, but I was shocked by how large it was and how personal each individual panel was.  The love that went in to the tributes I saw made an indelible impression.  For me, it's an experience I'll never forget, and I highly recommend that anyone that gets the opportunity to see the quilt takes it.

HIV remains a killer in this world.  Despite the efforts of governments, scientists, and individuals around the world to end the pandemic of AIDS, statistics from 2009 tell us that 30 million have died.  In 2011, 34 million people around the world had HIV.  Areas of Sub-Saharan Africa and other parts of the developing world have been especially hit hard by the HIV virus.

Strides are being made, and progress is, too. People are learning to live with HIV and medical science is preventing it from developing into full-blown AIDS.  It's amazing to think back to where we were 30 years ago and where we are now when it comes to HIV.  While we've come a long way, there's still a long way to go.