Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Thoughts on Indy's Mass Transit Referendum

I’ve looked at Indy’s mass transit plan in preparation for voting on it in November, and I just can’t make sense of why someone in Decatur or Franklin Townships should vote for it other than civic pride.

These two townships are notably left out of the plan which is being sold as a good first step towards a mass transit system to make our city proud, but I’m not seeing it here on the Southwest side. In fact, I’m voting no.

Yeah, I know a bunch of my Democratic friends are going to yell and scream at me for not seeing the big picture and playing it selfish with my vote. Well, if you believe the polls, it doesn’t appear my vote is going to matter anyway. It will be one vote of protest as we’re asked again to raise our own taxes for something I will get no benefit from.

Here’s my problem, and I’ve told this to my friends that are supporting this plan. This is the same thing Decatur Township and, I assume, Franklin Township residents get told. If you support this plan, we’ll get around to you. Then, the money runs out and they never quite get around to us. We get left out.

We’ll be glad to take your trash down here. We’ll be glad to generate your power. We’ll be glad to even treat your sewage. Just don’t worry about us. The Great Southside will be here for Indianapolis no matter how much we are forgotten by those in the City-County Building. Someone called my argument emotional, and it is.

By the way, thanks to Mayor Joe Hogsett and other leaders who have tried to encourage the people of Indianapolis to educate themselves on this issue without advocating one way or another on the vote. I’m not sure Hogsett’s predecessor would have been so quiet.

I support mass transit that will serve all. I don’t support mass transit that serves some and takes money out of my pocket for it. At least not when I’m getting asked to pay for Eskenazi Hospital or the transportation issues here in Decatur Township schools. Nope. I’m not going to vote to pay.

Down on the Southside, we have civic pride, too. I just wish we’d see some payoff for it sometimes.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

In Memoriam: Gene Wilder (1933-2016)

Gene Wilder has passed away.

News of his passing came suddenly and quietly on social media yesterday afternoon.  I can't help but feel just a little less.

The world is a little less funny today.  It's a little less happy.  The afterlife, however, is a little more classy.

Mr. Wilder's work was as varied as he was talented.  From his work as an actor to his work as a writer and novelist, Wilder's shaggy elegance was his trademark.  His love for the late Gilda Radner was touching.

There will never be another.

Gene Wilder was 83.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Why Colin Kaepernick Can Play on My Team

Colin Kaepernick may or may not be a San Francisco 49er by the time you read this.  There's some talk that he's not going to make the opening game roster.

On one hand, his numbers just haven't been that great, and the 49ers have settled on a new starting quarterback in Blaine Gabbert.  Kaepernick is expensive, and football folks are wondering if he has lost his ability to play after injuries have mounted.  It's a stunning fall for Kap who once upon a time started in a Super Bowl.  For that matter, It's also been a stunning fall for the San Francisco 49ers, a team that has fallen fast from the NFL elites.

Putting all of that aside, I'm sure that you might have heard about Colin Kaepernick's protest by now as it has been the talk of everything from the morning talk shows to evening news to sports radio.  It's one of those rare moments where a sports story has hit the mainstream.

As I'm sure you've heard, the quarterback refused to stand for the Star Spangled Banner and the display of the American Flag prior to the 49ers-Packers preseason game in Santa Clara last week.

It was something that we have not seen in professional sports since Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf decided to take a stand in the early 1990's.  Like Kaepernick, Abdul-Rauf cited the long history of the oppression of minorities by the United States as a justification for his action.  Unlike Kaepernick, the NBA stood against Abdul-Rauf and suspended him for a game.

Colin Kaepernick
Photo from the NFL
When he returned, Abdul-Rauf would stand for the National Anthem, but he would silently pray with his eyes closed.  Back then, I supported the NBA's action.  I was wrong.  I apologize to Abdul-Rauf.

Why was I wrong?

When you read the founding documents of this country, there's nothing in them that forces anyone to stand for a song or support a piece of cloth.  On the contrary, there's a whole amendment in the Bill of Rights that supports someone's right to, without the government's intervention, to stand or sit in protest.

Despite what you think about Kaepernick or Abdul-Rauf, they were both well within their rights to protest a cause that they firmly believe enough in to take the kind of hate they were about to receive.  Abdul-Rauf's home in Gulfport, Mississippi was burned to the ground after threats were made in 2001.  A quick search on Twitter of Kaepernick's name proves the very thing he's protesting.  As Motormouth Maybelle says in Hairspray, "brace yourselves for a whole lotta ugly comin' at you from a neverending parade of stupid."

I find myself in the middle.

I believe that black lives matter, but I also believe in this imperfect thing we call our country.  I make the choice to stand and honor the flag and my country when I hear the Star Spangled Banner.  I make the choice to recite the Pledge of Allegiance.  Those are my First Amendment choices, and they are no better than yours or Colin Kaepernick's or Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf's in the eyes of our Constitution.  I can agree with Kaepernick's cause but disagree with his methods and still defend his right to protest,  As WTHR's Bob Kravitz wrote in his column on this issue, "I don't agree with Kaepernick, but I can certainly understand his point of view to the extent it's possible for any white person to understand."

At the end of the day, who knows what's going to happen to Kaepernick's career.  If he does get released, I think you can predict that no team will go near him.  They'll justify it in football terms, and they will be right.  In a greater sense, the NFL doesn't like controversy.  That will be the REAL reason no one will really take a flier on Colin.

The irony of all of this is that the NFL has developed a real problem with minority ownership and minority team management in the league. After a promising few years where the Rooney Rule seemed to work, the NFL is slipping back in 2016.

For his part, even with all the backlash against him, Kaepernick has shown no desire to put the toothpaste back in the tube on this issue, and I respect him for that.  He knows this could cost him his career, and he's ready to go down with this fight.  In this day and age when we can barely get sports figures to say it gets dark at night, it's refreshing to see someone have the character to put it all on the line for what he believes in.

For that reason, regardless of whether or not I agree with his methods, Colin Kaepernick can play on my team any day.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Pence Hate Misplaced on This One

Mike Pence
Mike Pence just is not liked by Democrats.

No shock, right?

I don't particularly like his politics, but I hope I've never given the impression here that I hate the man because that's not true.  I know Pence is a husband, a father, and a human being.  When he decided to run for office, it was probably for the right reasons...just on the wrong grounds.  In fact, he's so wrong on the issues that he would never be right as Vice President.

Earlier this week, I criticized Governor Pence for choosing to visit Baton Rouge instead of South Bend to attend to the needs of flood victims.  News reports say that Pence applied today for federal disaster relief for the flooding that happened on August 15.

On Wednesday, tornadoes devastated parts of Indiana.  An EF3 twister destroyed or damaged several businesses and scores of homes in Kokomo and another touched down in parts of Montgomery County.  As cleanup began, Pence visited Kokomo bringing the national media with him to shake hands, give hugs, survey the damage, and offer help.

At its core, this is what any governor should be expected to do.  It's what Pence didn't do in South Bend, but he made it right in Kokomo.  I would expect John Gregg to do the same thing after he's Governor of Indiana in January.

Unfortunately, many fellow Democrats and Pence opponents seem to forget that this really is the job of the Governor of Indiana.  The fact that he's dragging extra people with him is not necessarily a bad thing.  Those extra folks are the national media bringing attention to the devastation in Kokomo.

Regardless, I'm not going to rip Mike Pence for doing exactly what I criticized him for not doing earlier this week.  I have to be intellectually honest.

Also, I just want to take a moment and underline that even had Pence decided to not visit Kokomo, the city is unbelievable hands with the very capable Greg Goodnight at the helm.

If you want to help the disaster victims across Indiana, visit www.redcross.org.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Storms Spawn Rare August Tornado Outbreak

Every once in a while, we're reminded just exactly where we are in this world.

We're reminded that, if it wants to, that this world will step on us and wipe us off its shoe as it continues down the street.  We are just visiting on this planet, and Earth lets us know every once in a while.

Yesterday was one of those days.  Out of a forecast that included just a marginal risk of severe weather, a rare tornado outbreak took over the news cycle and didn't let up for about seven hours spreading true fear and wonder across parts of Indiana.

Striking as many schools let out, the storms forced delayed or aborted dismissals for schools as students crowded off buses and back into hallways sometimes more than once.  Reports of tornadoes on the ground in the City of Indianapolis sent chills down residents spines as they scurried for cover.

The true hard hit of the day went to Kokomo where an apparent devastating tornado directly hit Greg Goodnight's city.  When it was done, homes and businesses lay in rubble.  Then several more tornado threats raked the area all night across not only the Kokomo area but also from Lafayette to Peru to Muncie to Rushville to Richmond and other communities across our state.

In all, thanks to prevention and maybe simply luck, there were only minor injuries and no fatalities.  We thank our cliched lucky stars for that.

While many Hoosiers escaped unharmed, they are cleaning up now as their lives have been strewn across the Indiana landscape.  It's with them that our hearts and best thoughts should be.

As I've said before, to help victims of disaster, visit www.redcross.org.  My best wishes go out to everyone adversely affected by yesterday's storms.  We are reminded, again, by mother nature that we are pretty much just guests here.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Early Preview of 2018's Senate Fight

After the craziness of the 2016 election is settled in November, 2017, a year with no elections will be a welcome respite from the wackiness.
Senator Joe Donnelly

Still, as soon as the ink is dry on the 2016 results, the 2018 election season will start, and it will be here before we know it.

On the top of the ticket will be Joe Donnelly’s fight to keep his United States Senate seat. One has to figure that he will be one of the Democrats they go after.

Truthfully, Donnelly hasn’t done much wrong or put a bad foot forward. He’s kept his nose down and has done his work. It’s exactly what you expect from a guy like Joe. There’s very little pretense with him, and he’s extremely approachable.

In 2018, the Republican frontrunner for the nomination will be anyone's guess.  It will just be a big and nasty battle.  We’ll get a pretty clear view of who thinks they can beat Donnelly early on. If certain people with big names stay out, then you’ll know that Donnelly is on solid ground.

My thought is that you'll see Susan Brooks, Todd Rokita, Todd Young (if he loses to Evan Bayh) and other Republicans in the 2018 race.  Lots at stake for Brooks and Rokita though.  As sitting representatives, they would have to give up their safe Republican seats.

It's going to be interesting to see how this develops over the next two years, and it's never too early to look ahead and speculate.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Hogsett Putting Own Stamp on Mayor's Office

Joe Hogsett Participates in the Polar Pedal in January
Photo from Facebook
Let me first say that this blog post is long overdue.

While it's too early to say what kind of Mayor Joe Hogsett will ultimately be and will ultimately accomplish, eight months is enough time to realize that the days of Greg Ballard are long gone.  There's definitely a new Mayor in town.

Now, this isn't meant necessarily as a slight to Ballard.  Greg Ballard had his way of being Mayor of Indianapolis, and it was without question different from his predecessors.

In the history of UniGov, Ballard stands out. No man before Ballard had upset his way to winning the Mayor's Office.  Prior to Ballard, it had always been a neat and nice hand over of authority.  The incumbent had never lost to a challenger, and the political climate that carried Ballard to victory was entirely new.

It was in that atmosphere that Greg Ballard became Mayor of Indianapolis.  Once he got there, Ballard showed little resemblance to the man the voters thought they elected.  Promises of spending cuts, holding the line on taxes and fees and more police officers went by the wayside, and transparency went out the window.  

Despite a Public Safety Department that was supposedly engaged with public safety as "Job One" of his administration, Ballard saw any significant progress on crime largely eroded by the time he left, and then there's the city's financial woes.

Fiscally, Ballard left a city budget deep in debt with no means to fix itself because any assets had been sold to make a quick buck and to pay for pet projects like a World Sports Park few asked for and  a devotion to the sport of cricket.

It was a sticky wicket.

While there are still disappointing headlines of crime and far too many people using firearms to settle their differences, you get the feeling that Joe Hogsett is out here with us rather than on the 25th Floor looking down on us. That perception was something Greg Ballard, despite many successes and Mayors Nights Out, could never shake. It was the idea that he was aloof and not interested in working hard on the details. Sometimes you got the feeling you were talking to a man who would rather not be listening to you or someone who just refused to give you the opportunity to be heard.

That’s just not the feeling you get from “Mayor Joe”.

It’s been almost eight months since Hogsett took office, and the atmosphere of the City-County Building is much different.  In fact, what a difference there is at the City-County Building these days. If you don't believe me, just talk to any elected official.

Normally, you'd expect Democrats like me to be singing Hogsett's praises, but some of the best comments I've heard about Joe have come from members of either party when comparing the new Mayor of Indianapolis to the one that just left office.  

The days of the Mayor's Office being the guiding light of the city continue, but Hogsett’s door seems to be open.  The ideas can come from either side of the aisle. 

One City-County Councillor of the Republican persuasion told me that he/she has met with the Mayor more during the Hogsett Administration's eight months than during Ballard’s entire eight years in office.  A Democrat elected to a county-wide executive office said that Hogsett treats his/her office as an equal rather than an underling. “It was the first time we ever were asked about anything with the budget since I’ve been in office,” said the official.  Another Republican was impressed that Hogsett reached out first instead of it being the other way around.

This is from a guy that got over 60 percent of the vote.

The work of governing the city has long begun for Hogsett, and there are the occasional individuals with complaints.  Some neighborhood groups tell me feel ignored by the Hogsett Administration and that certain aspects of the transition could have gone better. It's criticism I know Hogsett will take to heart.

Mayor Joe has a tremendous number of accomplishments he can tout.  From improving transparency in government to backing out of bad deals to continuing the war on abandoned homes to lighting the streets with street lights to continuing to push education initiatives such as Pre-K education to just being there for those adversely affected when Carrier announced its plans to pull out of our city, Hogsett has done a tremendous job.

One of his toughest jobs has been to whip up a tasty and appetizing budget in an atmosphere that simply isn't conducive to that sort of feat.  The rubber has met the road now as the Mayor has begun the process of working with the City-County Council in implementing his first budget.

The budget, as written, would cut spending without significant staffing cuts or cuts to public safety. There are also no tax increases in the budget which, according to the Hogsett Administration, would cut the city’s structural budget deficit in half. In essence, the budget focuses on making city government leaner and meaner.  For his part, the Mayor calls it focusing on efficiencies in a budget that spends less money than it did previously.

There’s still a long way to go, and Indianapolis is a long way from perfect. Many challenges are left to climb and tackle, and Hogsett would be the first to admit it. Still, the early returns in his first 230 some days on the job show that Hogsett is as skilled as they come as Mayor and that Indianapolis made the correct choice in November.

Mayor Joe is off and running.  Try to keep up.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Pence: "No Plans" to Visit Flood-Ravaged South Bend

Mike Pence
The flooding in Baton Rouge has become particularly horrific and, given the unrest that city has experienced in the past year, the pictures of people wading through water to save their neighbors have been particularly harrowing.

It's also become a political lightning rod.  Thanks to Donald Trump.

As far as anyone can tell, Trump took the initiative to head to Louisiana on his own along with Indiana Governor Mike Pence to hand out supplies and meet with victims of the flooding.  It's his right to do so.

Turns out Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards had specifically requested that President Barack Obama hold off before visiting the flooded state.  Hillary Clinton also honored the request.  When Trump barged in, it forced the entire situation into the political realm.  Some on the right were also attempting to draw parallels between Obama's response to the flooding and George W. Bush's response to Hurricane Katrina flooding in New Orleans.  The two don't quite match up as FEMA and the feds have been responding to the Baton Rouge situation from the start.

Were the optics bad for President Obama?  You could argue that.  I tend not to parse the President's daily schedule or activities given the stress of the position.  It's one of the main reasons you really haven't seen much criticism of President Bush and his vacations over time.  As evidenced by the past, the President is in a situation to respond to any circumstance that arrives no matter where he or she may be.  If World War III breaks out while Obama is putting on the 17th hole, he is instantly able to connect with the government via one of those people in his entourage.

Here in good ole Indiana, we have an honest to goodness flooding situation to deal with as well.

The City of South Bend is certainly well-led by Pete Buttigieg, but the residents of South Bend won't be seeing their Governor like the people of Baton Rouge did.  Apparently, according to WRTV, Governor Pence has no plans to visit South Bend and tour the flooded areas.  Now, I'm sure he'll be signing a disaster declaration if he hasn't already, but I'm sure those folks would love to see their Governor to know their state government cares about them.  Baton Rouge has been hit harder, but South Bend is part of the state Pence calls home.

If you want to help victims of natural disasters, you can always contact he Red Cross.  Find out how you can help at the American Red Cross's website at www.redcross.org.

UPDATE
My friend Abdul-Hakim Shabazz pointed me to this Tweet exchange.  Take it for what it's worth.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Not Ready To Make Nice...

We all go through times when we feel like we should be quiet and back down.

Then, we get mad.



The Dixie Chicks always inspire me.  I'm definitely not ready to make nice.

In that vein, stay tuned to Indiana Talks because the JohnnyStir Show will return soon...better than ever.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Turvey in 6th District Race

Rich Turvey
I need to issue a rare apology to a candidate for office.

Rich Turvey, a veteran, father and pancreatic cancer survivor, is in the race for Congress as the Libertarian nominee in the 6th Congressional District running against Luke Messer and Barry Welch.

Turvey was nominated by the Libertarians at their convention earlier this year.  It certainly was never my intention to leave any candidate out, and I apologize to Mr. Turvey for omitting a mention of his candidacy in my blog post on Wednesday.

Good luck to Mr. Turvey in his run.

Bayh's Best Asset: He's Evan Bayh

Evan Bayh
It’s not been a particularly good week for Evan Bayh.

The former Indiana Senator and Governor has come under scrutiny for his residency, his after Senate careers and even some of the boards he has sat on.

Still, even after all the hits, a Monmouth poll conducted last week shows that Bayh has a sizeable seven-point lead in this race, but it’s not the huge lead early polls showed Bayh enjoying over Congressman Todd Young. Though it should be pointed out that it's just one poll and some Democrats questioned the sampling.

It's been weeks now that Young and those backing him have been using negative ads against Bayh.  It's a questionable tactic given that Bayh is probably the most well-known Indiana politician of our lifetime.  Still, it hasn't stopped the R's from accusing Bayh of borderline criminal behavior to being the deciding vote for controversial legislation like Obamacare.

Listen, I've been pretty vocal on this blog about Evan Bayh and my dislike for some of his political stances.  I stand by that criticism.  I think Bayh tends to be too poll-driven and too far to my right on some issues.  In other words, I think Bayh is a conservative.  To accuse him of some of the things Todd Young and his buddies are accusing him of, however, is ridiculous.

Fact of the matter is that conservatism wins elections in Indiana, and Evan Bayh has done that for 30 years.  He's not going to change his political stripes now, and that's actually his best asset.  It's what he's done for 30 years in Indiana politics. As the old song goes, "If You Don't Know Me By Now...You Will Never Never Never Know Me."

And, by the way, Evan Bayh no more cast the deciding vote for Obamacare than I did to make Indiana blue in 2008.

Bayh is doing exactly what Bayh has done in campaigns for years.  He has a brand, and he's selling it, for better or worse.  Bayh continues to air ads directly opposite of the Republican attack machine spots against him. If I were him, I’d unleash his greatest asset: the fact that he’s Evan Bayh, perhaps the most successful politician in modern Indiana politics.

So, here’s a script of an ad I’d film and run as soon as I can get it on the air. I think it shows a little humanity and humility but conveys the message he has been wanting to get across well.  Now, I haven't timed it...looks a little long for a 30 or 60.

Now, Evan, get dressed in your best blue shirt and khakis and find a nice wheat field along U.S. 41 between Terre Haute and Vincennes and let's close the argument.
“There’s nothing like being a Hoosier. From watching my dad in the Senate to my own incredibly fortunate time in public service, Indiana has always been where my heart is. Through my time as Governor and my two terms in the United States Senate, I’ve fought for Hoosiers and I want to bring Hoosier common sense back to Washington. Even when you and I have disagreed, you’ve continued to support me and, along the way, have made my dreams and the dreams of my family come true. Thank you for your trust. It’s for that reason that I want to continue to serve Hoosiers as your U.S. Senator. It’s time to stop the partisanship and bickering and get things done. I’m Evan Bayh, and I approve this message.”
No charge as always for the political advice.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Close of Recount in 8th District Sets November U.S. House Ballot

The recount has finally ended in District 8 between Democrats David Orentlicher and Ron Drake.

On Friday, Orentlicher finally took the tough step of conceding a 54-vote loss to Drake. As you may remember, Orentlicher was on the other side of a close election for House District 86 several years ago beating Jim Atterholt by just 36 votes and, in the process, securing a Democratic majority in the Indiana House.

This time, it just wasn’t to be for Orentlicher. Drake, a former state representative, moves on to face Congressman Larry Bucshon and one of Indiana’s most-stalwart Libertarians, Andy Horning, in the Southwest Indiana Congressional seat once known as the Bloody 8th.

With the 8th District now settled, let’s look at the Congressional ballot in all the other districts.

In District 1, Democrat Pete Visclosky, the incumbent, Libertarian Donna Dunn and write-in candidate John Meyer.  This seat is safe in the hands of the Democrats.

In District 2, the incumbent, Republican Jackie Walorski, is in another tough fight against retired South Bend Police Officer, Lynn Coleman, the Democratic nominee. While this district leans Republican, the lack of much help at the top of the ticket could spell trouble for Walorski. Until 2013, this district was represented by Democrat Joe Donnelly.  Ron Cenkush, a Libertarian is also in this race.

District 3 is an open seat with Marlin Stutzman retiring to unsuccessfully run for Senate. Republican State Senator Jim Bates is extremely conservative, but he won the GOP nomination to replace the ultraconservative Stutzman. Libertarian Pepper Snyder is in this race, and she has a chance to make some headway as Democrat Tommy Schrader, a perennial candidate in Fort Wayne for a variety of offices, has mounted a less-than-stellar campaign.

District 4 has incumbent Todd Rokita, a Republican, taking on educator John Dale, a Democrat, in a rematch of 2014’s election. Rokita was restored last week to the ballot after running for Governor and is searching for a fourth term in office. Unfortunately, this district ranks as one of the most Republican districts in the country, so there’s little doubt the man who tried to take on children’s school lunches will be going back to Congress.  Steve Mayoras is also running for the Libertarians.

Like District 4, District 5 had its incumbent, Republican Susan Brooks, restored to the ballot after a run for Governor. Brooks has a great opponent in veterinarian Angela Demaree. With a bad day at the top of the ballot, it’s possible this district could slip away from Brooks. Still, it’s doubtful. While parts of Marion County will make it interesting, the Hamilton County parts of the district make it tough for Democrats. Libertarian Matt Wittlief is on the ballot.

In District 6, incumbent Republican Luke Messer is trying to go back to Congress again for his third term. He faces Democrat Barry Welch.  Libertarian Rich Turvey is also in the race.  I initially had left him out of this post, so I apologize to him.

In District 7, Libertarian Drew Thompson and Republican Cat Ping try to defeat Congressman André Carson. Carson, whose stock continues to rise in the Democratic Party, has a chance to win his fifth term in Congress in November. I had a great conversation with him last weekend, and he sounds like he is having a great time continuing to do the work of his constituents.

Finally, saving the most interesting race for last, there’s the goofy 9th District. Incumbent Todd Young is about to go down in defeat to Evan Bayh for U.S. Senate in November. That leaves “Tennessee Trey” Hollingsworth to face Democrat Shelli Yoder. With Hollingsworth’s attempt at buying his seat in Congress, Yoder has an excellent shot at flipping this district that rates as a toss-up this year. Libertarian Russell Brooksbank is also in the race.

Currently, it’s 7-2 Republicans. If the Democrats are going to have a chance at the House, they have to pick up a couple of seats. With Trump at the top of the ticket and a weak gubernatorial candidate, anything is possible.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Gregg's Attack on Holcomb Risky Yet Understandable

I'd put this ad as risky, but it appears the John Gregg campaign has begun to try to define Eric Holcomb as Mike Pence.

In the first ad this campaign to mention Holcomb's name, Gregg's camp successfully shows why it's ok to think of Holcomb and Pence in the same thought stream.



Define your opponent before he can define himself is one of the oldest tricks in the book, and, in the absence of an ad to defend himself, the ad might just be effective.

It's a bit risky because it does mention Eric Holcomb's name and show his picture, but I think it's a risk Gregg can take at this point.  Might as well go for the win while you can.  That's exactly what this ad is doing.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Gregg Leads Holcomb in Race for Governor

John Gregg
It's August 15, 2016, and it's time to say it.

John Gregg is the frontrunner in the Governor's race.

Internal Gregg polling shows the Democratic nominee ahead of Eric Holcomb, and Holcomb still is waiting for Mike Pence's money to materialize in his bank account so that he can do more than pet cows and eat elephant ears at the State Fair.

Normally, I wouldn't buy an internal poll, but Susan Brooks's polling said the same thing when she released polling to the Republican State Central Committee.

The fact that I think Gregg is the frontrunner today, August 15, won't mean a hill of beans if he's not the frontrunner on November 8.  I really don't believe Holcomb is done nor down and out, but he's going to have to get some serious help seriously quick.

We have yet to see anything out there from Holcomb's fledgling campaign beyond some internet advertising.  That can be effective, but he definitely needs to get up and on TV ASAP.  Most Hoosiers don't know Holcomb from a deep fried Twinkie.  He has no story.  He has no identity.  He doesn't even have a name if you've watched John Gregg's latest ad where he's simply referred to as "my opponent"and not Lieutenant Governor Holcomb.

The distance back for Holcomb should be short, but Gregg's been on TV for months now.  He has built a brand carefully, and he was done a huge favor by Holcomb saying he was going to run on the Mike Pence record and brand.  Holcomb had a chance to break from that cleanly and set his own path.

Again, there are still many days to go in this whole thing, but I think I believe the polls that show Gregg up five to seven points in this race.  I still rate this thing as a toss up because I really do not believe Holcomb is through, and he has a tremendous fundraiser on board with Suzanne Crouch.  They'll raise enough funds.

Much will be determined when Holcomb gets up on the air for the first time with his first ad.  If it's an attack at Gregg, you'll know that the Republicans feel desperation setting in.  Frankly, the GOP may have no choice.  The millions spent by the Republican Governors Association has seemed to do little to shake John's popularity thus far.  It's hard to believe Holcomb, a former Republican Party State Chair, can outmaneuver the gregarious Gregg in likability.

Right now, the GOP has to be fearing the mustache and quietly cursing the VEEP nominee.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Gregg Hits Back on RGA Attack Ad

John Gregg has responded to the latest Republican Governors' Association trash ad.  Here it is...



I don't know that this ad will do Gregg any favors in Democratic circles.  After all, it makes me cringe to see him touted as a "longtime coal advocate", but the spot does appeal well to voters potentially turned off in communities that still do depend on the coal industry to keep them afloat.  There are communities in Indiana like that.

All-in-all, I might have taken a different direction with this ad than the Gregg camp did based on my support for clean-energy technology, but this spot is still a sharp and well-done response to a really dull attack on him.

Also, notice Gregg refers to Eric Holcomb as, "my opponent".

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Young Running Right Into Bayh's Message

Evan Bayh
Todd Young hopes to ride his negative campaign back to Washington as a member of the United States Senate.  The problem is that it plays right into the trap set by Evan Bayh for him.

While both campaigns have lobbed negative volleys at each other so far in this campaign and have had negative ads aired on their behalf by outside groups, Evan Bayh's brand has always been about him staying above the fray and appealing to the center right voters in the state.

As a Congressman, Todd Young rode the Tea Party's wave of anger into office in 2010.  By 2012, he had a nice safe district drawn for him.  He's never really had to play to independents and soft Republicans.  There are
not enough hardcore red Republicans for him to win the state.

Todd Young
The soft R's love some Evan Bayh.  They always have.  Bayh essentially has been a blue dog conservative Democrat since he joined the Senate in 1999.  He's never been in a close election after his first runs for office.

Bayh's problem is the opposite of Young's.  He can't get hardcore left Democrats to trust him to represent their causes.  Often, the far left Dems in Indiana have grudgingly voted for Bayh or have left their ballots blank in that race in protest.  The good news is that Indiana is full of centrist Democrats, centrist Republicans and independent-thinkers.  That's why Mike Pence was in so much trouble.

The negative campaigning and trying to portray Evan Bayh as an ultra-partisan hack simply won't work against him.  Democrats know it's not true, and Bayh's voters on both sides of center understand what he's about.  He can play to the center so much more effectively than a Congressman who has rarely had to play outside his base.

With about three months left in this race, Young had better come up with another narrative because the one he has only reinforces Bayh's anti-partisanship bickering message or he's not going to beat the most successful Democratic politician in modern Indiana history.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Rokita, Brooks Don't Have Unobstructed Path Back To Ballot

The political landscape in Indiana could further be changed on Saturday when two caucuses meet to fill ballot vacancies in Congressional District 4 and 5.

Expected to be returned to the ballot are Todd Rokita and Susan Brooks, the current incumbents, but that’s not a sure thing. There will be a choice for the voters in the upcoming caucus, but typically those are party people not ready to rock anyone’s boat.

Just for fun, let’s look at who’s running in each Congressional District. Rokita along with Kevin Grant, Nick John Kadas (who lives in Schererville) and Clayton Tomasino are battling in the 4th District. In the 5th, Brooks takes on Steven Mackenzie and Cynthia Sweet.

It would be catastrophically big news if either Brooks or Rokita is upset, but you know each of them have to just be slightly worried and carrying around a sense of doubt and regret in the backs of their minds for trying for the nomination for Governor. Perhaps there could be a law change that would make this very strange situation a thing of the past. For example, perhaps it could be that neither Rokita nor Brooks would have to quit their office unless they were to become the party’s nominee for Governor. 

That might even lead to an expanded field.

Anyway, I have a feeling that when the sun rises on Sunday that Todd Rokita will be the Republican candidate for Congress again in District 4, and Susan Brooks will be the Republican candidate for Congress again in District 5.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Trump's Threats Make Wrong Kind of History

Donald Trump
Donald Trump made history today.

Trump was repeating a long debunked line that Hillary Clinton wants to do away with the Second Amendment in making an argument about the Supreme Court.

As you know, the President (unless you're Barack Obama, apparently) gets to nominate his or her choice to replace one of the nine justices in the case of an opening.  The Senate then holds confirmation hearings (on any other President's nominee than Barack Obama's) and votes up or down to confirm or deny the nomination.

On the ballot with Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, and the other candidates for President in 2016 is that open seat on the court because the Senate is refusing to do its job and hold hearings on Merrick Garland's appointment by President Obama to the high court.

Garland, by anyone's definition, is a moderate and might be EXACTLY what the closely-divided Supreme Court needs.  As it stands now, there are four more liberal justices and four more conservative justices (although Anthony Kennedy can be a swing vote on the court).  The next President of the United States may very well determine the direction of the Supreme Court.

Hanging in the balance are many of those wedge issues we've had over the last 40 years in our society.  Abortion rights, civil rights, and gun rights are three of the hot buttons.

Many conservatives have tried to say that Hillary Clinton wants to abolish the Second Amendment and take guns away.  The truth is that Clinton wants to keep guns in the hands of lawful gun owners but remove the ability for those that shouldn't have guns to get them.  It's common sense reform that is widely supported by Americans.

Trump was in the middle of making that "Hillary wants your guns" style argument when he took it a little further.  Here is the video.



We've reached a new moment in politics.  It's a moment when comments like Trump's are coming out of a mainstream party's nominee for President's mouth.  It's not Ted Nugent.  It's not Bill Cunningham or Pat Buchanan or Rush Limbaugh or Glenn Beck.  It's essentially the comments of the head of the Republican Party.

Threatening the life of your political opponents cannot be something allowed to stand especially in today's world where we've seen those in the political realm targeted for their beliefs.  It's something I would never support coming out of the mouth of my party's nominee...even today.

Republicans including candidates and officeholders must come out and strongly repudiate Trump's incendiary comments.

Most Brutal Hillary Clinton Ad Yet Comes with Assumed Assist from Letterman

There's no way that Hillary Clinton uses this footage unless David Letterman's production company allowed it.



The ad itself is brutal and so simple.  Donald got caught, and he's such a hypocrite.

Monday, August 8, 2016

Merritt Acknowledges Problem with Campaign Event in Senate Chamber

Sen. Merritt
Senator Jim Merritt of Indianapolis rolled out a common-sense piece of legislation last week he plans to sponsor that would increase jail time for people who threaten or attack law enforcement or their family members.  He did it in the Indiana Senate Chamber.

Problem was that the two individuals from law enforcement that he picked to join him were Jack Sandlin and Aaron Freeman, two City-County Councillors, also running for Senate.  Sandlin is a former law enforcement officer, and Freeman is a former deputy prosecutor.

Sandlin promoted the event on his campaign website, according to the Indianapolis Star, and neither he nor Freeman could be reached for comment.

Merritt acknowledged that he should have done things differently to the Star saying that they would have held the news conference outside the chamber in hindsight and took full responsibility for the event.  Democratic Senate Leader Tim Lanane sent a letter to Senate President Pro Tempore David Long to complain about the campaign event being held in the Senate chambers.

It's certainly an issue because both Sandlin and Freeman are battling Sean Gorman and Sara Wiley in tough contests for the Senate District 36 and 32 seats.  Both are open seats with retiring incumbents.

Friday, August 5, 2016

Citius-Altius-Fortius

I love the Olympics.

Here we go again.  It's been just under four years since the 2012 Summer Olympic Games closed in London.  The games have already started in Rio for 2016 as I write this, and the opening ceremony will take place tonight.  It's hard not to feel like the Olympics are at a crossroads.

Don't get too concerned.  They aren't going anywhere.  In two years, the Winter Games will begin in PyeongChang, South Korea, and in 2020, Tokyo will host the next Summer Games.  Both of those cities will no doubt do their best to host.

You just get the feeling that here on this planet that there just aren't too many places that CAN host the games any more.  After all, Rio, the sixth-most populated metropolitan area in the Americas in one of the most-populated countries in the world, is having difficulty making sure everything shines, and everyone is safe.

We can hope the spirit of the Olympics shines through.

It's a spirit of competition and peace, but, all too often, the committee charged with keeping these games pure and sacred, the International Olympic Committee, has found itself hit with allegations of corruption and greed.  Commercialism has replaced the spirit of competition and good will.

Even though these bad things have crept in over the years, the competition is unmatched.  The honor of playing for one's country and representing your people against other athletes from around the world makes this event unique and so special.

So, over the next two weeks or so, we'll learn about new athletes.  We'll meet some new pop culture icons, and we'll see great athletes whose careers are about to end do amazing things.  We'll likely cry with someone who fights hard only to fall short in the end, and we'll wonder what happened to someone who was expected to do well but struggles.  The stories write themselves, but the details change.

I want these games to be a success for Rio and for its people.  With all the concerns over the Zika Virus, dirty water, violence and the unstable world climate dominating the headlines, it seems that success is the least expected result of these games.

Here's to hoping that, out of these crossroads, the Olympics will be a success for South America and the world at large.  Here's to hoping that the only thing displayed over these next two weeks is peace, love and competition.

Citius-Altius-Fortius



Thursday, August 4, 2016

Allegation Against Adamson Resolved with No Charges

Christian Mosburg, me and Zach Adamson
on the campaign trail in 2011
It feels good to finally be able to write something about this, but a special prosecutor declined to charge City-County Council Vice President Zach Adamson after a seven-week investigation into an allegation made against him.

I won’t lie. It was hard for me to be unbiased on the situation, so I elected to not write anything on the blog about it at all. I was too angry to begin to discuss it.  Instead, I went about supporting my friend behind the scenes.

In my heart and mind, I knew nothing would come of this allegation and that the situation would come to this end, but it was hard to watch one of my best friends have his reputation besmirched in such a fashion by allegations that were not true.

Since the unfounded allegation hit the media, I've been passing the many well-wishes of people I know who have told me to tell Zach and his husband Christian Mosburg that they were thinking of them. I even was stopped in the grocery store by a concerned community member who wanted me to make sure to tell Zach and Christian she was praying for them.

Adamson released a statement:
From the beginning, we have maintained that the accusations against me were false. We are pleased that after 7 weeks of extensive investigations by the police, they have come to the same conclusion.  
We're grateful to the IMPD detectives working on this matter and thank them for their thorough investigation. 
I wish to thank the many people here in Indianapolis and around Indiana who've reached out to express their unequivocal support for me and my family during this time. 
We look forward to putting this behind us so we can get back to the important work of improving the quality of life for the people of the 17th District and across Indianapolis.

Young vs. Bayh Going Negative

The ratings are all over the place in Indiana's U.S. Senate race.  It's hard to tell exactly where the race is right now.

One thing is true: the campaign is turning negative.

Todd Young fired the first ad on the negative side.  It's kind of a dud, if you ask me, that uses old footage of Indianapolis (it includes the old RCA Dome).



The ad was recut into a 30 second spot for TV.

That prompted this response from the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.



Bayh has since followed up with an ad of his own following the same themes. Well, it's only August.  Four months of this close Senate race to go.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Trump's Tuesday In Video

Sometimes a piece of video needs only to stand alone to make a statement.



Then, this piece of video...



Why is this election close again?

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

McCain Eloquently Stands With Khan Family (Still Endorses Trump Though)

John McCain
A few members of my family have served in the military.

On my dad's side, his uncles served in World War I, World War II and Korea.  One uncle that served in the first World War was mustard gassed in battle, and it disabled him for the rest of his life.  I'm told he also suffered from flashbacks and probably what we would now know as posttraumatic stress disorder.

While many saw deployment and even some time in battle, the rest were more lucky than Uncle Fred was.  They may have suffered the mental wounds of war, but physically, they came home fine.

For Gold Star families, they don't get to have their loved ones back.  I can only imagine the pain, sorrow and emptiness that fills the hole where that person once was.  A dad or mom that has lost a son or daughter or a brother or sister who has lost a sibling or a son or daughter that has lost a parent must be a gauntlet of emotion each day to power through.  I know how tough it was to lose my mother to Parkinson's Disease, arthritis and other ailments at 73.  I can only imagine what it must be like to lose someone in the prime of their life who died for a cause that may or may not be readily clear in the name of their country.

John McCain is an American hero.

I cannot, and I will not ever insult McCain’s service and sacrifice for the United States.  He spent five years in a Viet Cong prison camp sacrificing his body one beating at a time for his fellow soldiers, refusing early release to avoid special treatment others in his prison camp didn't have the opportunity to receive and then returning to his country permanently disabled after the war.

For his trouble, Donald Trump said he wasn't a war hero because McCain got captured, "I like people who don't get captured, ok?"

That was his flippant comment back in 2015 in Iowa.  It was offensive then, and it's offensive now especially since Trump spent the Vietnam War in Manhattan with a deferment for bone spurs.  John McCain is having his bones broken night after night, and Trump is waltzing around New York like a playboy.

Over the years, John McCain has become a different man.  Despite the time spent in that prison camp, McCain continues to be one of the biggest war hawks in the U.S. Senate.  He has many views I simply disagree with and he bears little resemblance to the John McCain that we saw in the early 2000's who stood up to his party.  

While I respect his service to his country and the sacrifices he has made for it, I would find it unlikely that I would ever vote for the politician he has become, and I would love to see him sent home to Arizona this election season.

With that said, there's nothing John McCain could do in the U.S. Senate that would make me describe him in any other way than a hero for his sacrifice and his service.  Every once in a while, we still get a glimpse of that political maverick.  It happened just today.

In that tradition, John McCain eloquently and swiftly put Donald Trump, his party’s nominee, in his place on Monday.  After Trump decided to take on Captain Humayan Khan's family.  Khan, who was killed in action in Afghanistan, fell on the battlefield in 2004.  For his family, the wound is still fresh.

Captain Khan's father Khizr and his mother Ghazala took to the stage at the Democratic National Convention last week to criticize Trump over his proposed policy to ban Muslims from the United States. Their argument was simple.  That their son had sacrificed for this country for our freedoms.  He fought and died in this country's service and that Trump had disgraced their son's sacrifice with his proposal, "You have sacrificed nothing," said Khizr Khan in his speech.

Trump, of course, pushed back saying that the family had "no right" to criticize him and that he had sacrificed much.  This set off critics from all over the political spectrum as Trump had attacked a Gold Star family.  

Enter John McCain, perhaps the most eloquent of the defenders:

“The Republican Party I know and love is the party of Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Dwight D. Eisenhower, and Ronald Reagan. 
“I wear a bracelet bearing the name of a fallen hero, Matthew Stanley, which his mother, Lynn, gave me in 2007, at a town hall meeting in Wolfeboro, New Hampshire. His memory and the memory of our great leaders deserve better from me.
“In recent days, Donald Trump disparaged a fallen soldier’s parents. He has suggested that the likes of their son should not be allowed in the United States — to say nothing of entering its service. I cannot emphasize enough how deeply I disagree with Mr. Trump’s statement. I hope Americans understand that the remarks do not represent the views of our Republican Party, its officers, or candidates. 
“Make no mistake: I do not valorize our military out of some unfamiliar instinct. I grew up in a military family, and have my own record of service, and have stayed closely engaged with our armed forces throughout my public career. In the American system, the military has value only inasmuch as it protects and defends the liberties of the people. 
“My father was a career naval officer, as was his father. For hundreds of years, every generation of McCains has served the United States in uniform. 
“My sons serve today, and I’m proud of them. My youngest served in the war that claimed Captain Khan’s life as well as in Afghanistan. I want them to be proud of me. I want to do the right thing by them and their comrades. 
“Humayun Khan did exactly that — and he did it for all the right reasons. This accomplished young man was not driven to service as a United States Army officer because he was compelled to by any material need. He was inspired as a young man by his reading of Thomas Jefferson — and he wanted to give back to the country that had taken him and his parents in as immigrants when he was only two years old. 
“Captain Khan’s death in Iraq, on June 8th, 2004, was a shining example of the valor and bravery inculcated into our military. When a suicide bomber accelerated his vehicle toward a facility with hundreds of American soldiers, Captain Khan ordered his subordinates away from the danger. 
“Then he ran toward it. 
“The suicide bomber, striking prematurely, claimed the life of Captain Khan — and Captain Khan, through his selfless action and sacrifice, saved the lives of hundreds of his brothers and sisters. 
“Scripture tells us that ‘Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.’ 
“Captain Humayun Khan of the United States Army showed in his final moments that he was filled and motivated by this love. His name will live forever in American memory, as an example of true American greatness. 
“In the end, I am morally bound to speak only to the things that command my allegiance, and to which I have dedicated my life’s work: the Republican Party, and more importantly, the United States of America. I will not refrain from doing my utmost by those lights simply because it may benefit others with whom I disagree. 
“I claim no moral superiority over Donald Trump. I have a long and well-known public and private record for which I will have to answer at the Final Judgment, and I repose my hope in the promise of mercy and the moderation of age. I challenge the nominee to set the example for what our country can and should represent. 
“Arizona is watching. It is time for Donald Trump to set the example for our country and the future of the Republican Party. While our Party has bestowed upon him the nomination, it is not accompanied by unfettered license to defame those who are the best among us.
“Lastly, I’d like to say to Mr. and Mrs. Khan: thank you for immigrating to America. We’re a better country because of you. And you are certainly right; your son was the best of America, and the memory of his sacrifice will make us a better nation – and he will never be forgotten.”
McCain stopped short of retracting his endorsement of Trump.  That would have even meant mor ein an election year, but you can certainly feel McCain's pain in this statement and his anger.

Bottom line is that once again, Donald Trump isn't fit to be President of the United States.  Period.

Back to the start, I was always taught to treat our military members with respect by my mother and father.  They fight for us.


Monday, August 1, 2016

Gregg in Strong Position as Holcomb Depends on RGA Dirty Ads to Help Him Catch Up

John Gregg
It's been a mostly relaxing weekend, and it's given me a chance to reflect on the Governor's race here in Indiana and where that stands.

It's still a critically important race with Eric Holcomb and running mate Suzanne Crouch now playing somewhat of a catch-up role to Rex Bell and Karl Tatgenhorst, the Libertarian ticket, and, of course, John Gregg and Christina Hale, the Democratic ticket.  There are less than 100 days now left, and Holcomb has little time to waste.

For Holcomb, it seems the Republican Governors' Association is keeping its nose in the race. The RGA has launched yet another attack ad on John Gregg.  This time, it's trying to link Gregg to Hillary Clinton and her comments about putting the coal industry out of business.

Eric Holcomb
A few months back, Clinton said that she wanted to put coal companies and coal miners out of business quickly pivoting to talk about retraining those workers in other fields.  Of course, a few snappy political editing jobs later, and big bad Hillary is putting good people out of jobs. The ad says that Gregg did nothing to stop Hillary's plan.

The fact is that John Gregg couldn't do anything to stop Hillary Clinton from putting anyone out of a job when she said those comments earlier in this presidential campaign.  That's because he hasn't held elective office in 14 years.  Hillary Clinton hasn't held political office since 2009, and when she was with the State Department, he wouldn't be putting her emphasis on domestic issues anyway.

Anyone with half a brain sees this as a political move to tie a supporter of Clinton's to a controversial opinion of Clinton's.  I guess the Republican Governors' Association must agree with Donald Trump's controversial views 100 percent.

Back to the things that matter, John Gregg needs to take advantage of this moment when he has more money, more support and even more name recognition to show he's the more qualified candidate to serve as Governor.

Eric Holcomb's resume is very light compared to his Lieutenant Governor choice in Suzanne Crouch, and I would not hesitate to point that out in a very fair way if I were Gregg.  Holcomb would be one of the least qualified Hoosiers to hold the Governor's Office in my lifetime.  He's never been elected to an office before, and the one elected office he has held, he was appointed to.

For Gregg, he needs to be drilling his biography in ads as well as that of his Lieutenant Governor, Christina Hale.  I think it's time to bring out this ticket in full.

Really, Gregg hasn't stepped wrong yet in this campaign. He's running very well.  He hasn't made any mistakes.

Granted, Holcomb has a ways to climb to catch up, but, in a red state, the distance he has to cover is shorter than it would be in some other states.

No matter who the candidates are, the Governor's race remains one to watch for Hoosiers.  It will make a big difference as to how things go in the next four years in Indiana.