Monday, October 31, 2016

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween!  Safe trick or treating for the little ones.  For the big ones, be safe.

Comey's Questioned Announcement Throws Electorate for Another Loop

FBI Director James Comey
There's just eight days left in this election season, and it's been an interesting few days.

On Friday, news dropped that the FBI is not done looking into Hillary Clinton's e-mails after all.  Looks like this time the e-mails in question live on a computer shared by Huma Abedin, a Clinton aide and former Department of State staffer, and her estranged husband, Anthony Weiner.  They were apparently discovered during an investigation into Weiner's sexting habits.

Questions have been raised by many individuals about the timing of the announcement by FBI Director James Comey.  This is a huge matzo ball now hanging over the election on November 8, and it does appear to be having a small effect on the polls nationally and in the individual states.

The thing is no one, including Comey and the FBI, seem to know exactly what's in the e-mails and only obtained a warrant to begin looking into them this weekend.  This is most certainly going to drag out until after the election with most experts saying that there's likely nothing new to add to the inquiry the FBI closed without filing charges against Hillary Clinton earlier this year.

I'm writing this based upon my understanding of the case, and what I've heard from experts.  The polls were trending Donald Trump's way ever so slightly.  As October surprises go, this one seems to be fairly weak on the surface, but it's not your normal election.

Should be interesting to see if Trump can make hay out of this or if something from his past or present will come back to haunt him.  Also, as Nate Silver from Five-Thirty-Eight pointed out, there are tons of early votes already in the bag.  

I think it's clear we're in for a long Election Night.  I think this one will be a nailbiter.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Do Research on IPS School Board Race; Don't Vote Blindly

I don't have a dog in the IPS fight other than I'm a concerned citizen who lives in this city and wants good schools for our students.

I have found myself at odds on social media, in person, at events and at other times with some of the current IPS Commissioners up for reelection.  Yet, in two cases, I consider them my friends even though I feel that some of their views on education reform are just plain wrong.

There are some things you just never will convince me about this reform movement, and I don't like the power and influence that the money that creeps into these races brings with it. Still, I think by and large the current incumbents on the IPS Board of School Commissioners are good people that think they are doing right by the students and community they serve even if we disagree.

I'm not going to endorse anyone here on my blog because it's really up to the voters in IPS to select the best candidates for them.  I will say that I do believe there are individual candidates on the ballot that should not under any circumstances be elected to this board.  Please don't read more into that statement than there is.

Rather than mention names, I'm going to allow you to make your own decisions.  It's worth a few minutes.  I encourage you to Google your candidates and research them fully.  I don't encourage you to vote this one without doing research.  Believe me, it won't take long to determine which candidates can be trusted on this board and which should not be near it.

To all of you in IPS, I wish you the best as you make your decision.  The true fate of public education in this city is in your hands.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Trump/Pence Insult Hardworking Poll Workers with Rigged Election Rhetoric

My first foray into politics was working the polls.
Donald Trump

My first position was a poll sheriff. That position was eventually done away with in each polling site, and I moved to judge. I also worked some elections as a clerk. I would do the job again.

It’s an enjoyable way to pass a day, you get paid, and you get the satisfaction of knowing you helped in the important process of electing our leaders. I worked every election from 2000 up through 2004. After that, I made the step from working inside the polls to be a Precinct Committeeperson and then a Ward Chair.

I stepped out for a few years, but I recently reassumed a Ward Chairmanship in Decatur Township. It’s a different way to serve, but you’re still involved in the process of helping to recruit poll workers and make sure they know what they are doing.

I never have served as an inspector in the polling site, but I know the job isn’t easy. It takes a person that can follow step-by-step instructions and who can keep organized. When I did serve inside the polling place, I took my job seriously. While there were times you could grab a bowl of chili and maybe even read a book, your job is to make sure that everyone who appears and is legally able to do so at your precinct has an easy experience casting their ballot.

Most poll workers meet the night before to set up the polling site, and there is a structured way to do it. There are set policies and procedures that are not optional. They are to be adhered to at all times, and, while it might be easy to cut corners, that’s the quickest way to making a critical mistake. 

When my alarm would go off at 4:30 a.m. on Election Day, I had to be ready to go when I worked the polls. A quick hop in the shower, a bowl of cereal, and a car ride later you are there in the pitch black ready to open the polls at 6:00 a.m.

That’s when the inspector unlocks the door and yells, per regulation, “The polls are now open!”
There’s usually a rush early on. The people waiting outside for you to open at 6:00 a.m. are usually not so patient. The day typically progresses from there.

When I did work the polls, I can tell you that I never disenfranchised anyone. If someone was not on our poll book, we did the best job that we could to find out why from the Election Board. Usually, the problem was the voter’s problem. He had not voted in four years and didn’t know his precinct moved. She didn’t update her voter information after she moved from Michigan. People misread a map. 
 
If we ever touched a ballot more than we were supposed to under the regulations, we were supposed to fill out a form about assisting a voter. Once we handed the ballot to the voter, it’s officially his or her ballot now. There are contingencies for everything. Ballots where people make mistakes or that are defective are called “Spoiled ballots”, and there are specific ways inspectors have to deal with them to make sure that ballot can never be run through a machine.

Before one poll worker can leave, the ballots must balance with the number distributed originally. There are all sorts of official seals that require the signature of all those working. These are safeguards. Tons of documents are signed. Everything…including the official pens must be counted.
Extraordinary care is taken to make sure EVERY vote counts and every ballot…voted and unvoted…is catalogued and accounted for. In Marion County, the Republican judge accompanies the inspector to one of the drop off sites for all the election materials. They wait in line and cannot leave until everything balances.

My point is that Donald Trump and Mike Pence calling our election system rigged is so ridiculous it doesn’t even really deserve merit. Calling the system rigged is calling out all those hardworking poll workers and Election day workers who work hard for low pay. It’s a slap in the face.

Truth be told, rigging an election in Marion County would mean rigging over 600 polling precincts and more than 3,000 election workers.

So, when you go to the polls on November 8, rest easy. Your vote will count and be counted.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Please Send My Friend André Back to Congress

André Carson
It’s hard to believe, but André Carson has been in Congress since March of 2008.

Carson won a Special Election and then fought off a wild primary field that year before winning an easy victory for his first full term in Congress. It’s been a journey for the man who once rapped under the stage name of Juggernaut. I’m actually, full disclosure, honored that I have been able to call the big guy my friend for eight years.

I met André shortly before the nominating caucus that made him the Democratic Party candidate for the special election. I admit, as I have before, I was skeptical to turn the 7th District Congressional seat over to a man with so little experience at the time. 

I talked with Carson over the phone, and I immediately connected with him. Instead of discussing his position on trade or what I thought he needed to do to improve the economy, we talked about music and what toys we played with when we were younger. It was a good conversation, but I felt as if I knew David Orentlicher just a little better. 

When it came time to vote at the caucus, David Orentlicher was my choice. David O. had been a state representative for years, and I knew him well. I knew his position on a myriad of issues, and I also knew he had a great deal of experience. He was and remains a brilliant candidate for Congress, and he just gave it another go in the Primary in 2016. The votes were counted, and David Orentlicher didn’t win. In fact, André smoked everyone on the first ballot.

To congratulate him, I was going to leave him a voice mail. I dialed his number, and I was shocked when I heard that big booming voice on the other end, “Jon Easter…what can I do for you man?”
I had made it known that I was an Orentlicher guy, so I told André congratulations, and, “I’m with you now. Whatever you need from me, you let me know.”

Carson said, “Great. Let’s go!”

Ever since that day, that’s been my relationship with the Congressman. He’s been there for me whenever I’ve called, texted or sent a social media message. He’s been on my radio show. He’s asked me for advice. I’ve asked him for advice. He’s helped me with issues with my mother’s care. Carson has been the kind of friend to me that transcends the political side of things.

To me, he’s André and, to him, I’m “Big East”. Reminds me of the relationship I had with his grandmother who called me her “Decatur Boy”. That’s an entirely different story. Needless to say, it’s really hard for me to objective when it comes to my friend André.

I have been. There are times we’ve disagreed. I’ve even called him out on the blog. Whenever we see each other next, he always thanks me for what I wrote and treats me just like always. Congressman Carson is a good man.

So, I can’t lie. I’m proud of my Congressman. I’m proud of my friend. I’m proud of the way he’s helped lead the fight to improve veterans’ healthcare when they come home from war. I’m proud of the millions of dollars he’s been able to redirect back to our city for road and street repairs. I’m proud of the funds he’s been able to secure for homeland security. I’m proud of the work he does for working people in trying to save our jobs and making the 7th District a place companies want to come to and build. 

I’m also proud to have watched him start as one of 435 and grow to become a leader in not only the Congressional Black Caucus but the Democratic Caucus at large. I’m proud my friend stands up for me as a member of the Congressional LGBT Caucus even though he’s not gay. He’s one of the best allies our community has.

When I considered running for Senate District 35 in 2012, I was on the fence. My mother, who was still living at the time, told me not to do it. Other friends were pushing me to go for it. I was stuck. I called Congressman Carson and asked for 15 minutes of his time. He was busy, but he told me he’d call back. About 40 minutes later, there was André’s number popping up on my phone, and he gave me the best advice possible. He said that the only person that knew if I should run for sure was me. He also suggested that if I even had to ask the question then maybe there was my answer. I thanked him, hung up the phone, and I decided to follow my mother’s advice.

Now, that doesn’t mean that Congressman Carson doesn’t rib me now every time he sees me about running for office again, “When are we going to see you on the ballot again, Big East?”

I guess I get to see a different side of my Congressman than most do. To me, he’s my friend André, and I hope you’ll give him another two-year term in Congress. He works hard for you, and he cares.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Strong Bayh Ad Underscores Evan's Hoosier Roots

In this time of awful political advertising, it's really refreshing to see an ad that stands out for its positivity, memorability and effectiveness.

I think the Evan Bayh campaign, whose ads these past few weeks have been very strong, has struck gold with this one.



The ad features a woman named "Sue" who babysat Evan when he was a boy.  She drives home Evan's Hoosier roots, family story and reminds us that even though his jobs may have taken Evan away from Indiana that a person is "once a Hoosier, always a Hoosier".

If you disagree, are you going to argue with Sue?  I think she looks like she probably would make you go pick your switch.

Awesome ad by the Bayh campaign.  It's the best I've seen this cycle not run by Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Bayh Can Help Fix Broken Senate

Evan Bayh
Evan Bayh is not perfect.

Not by a long shot, and I've been critical at times of him here on this blog.  Sometimes, it's important to step back and take the long view of things though.

Bayh was a successful Secretary of State and then two-term Governor of Indiana.  Bayh won election to that office in a tight fight over Republican Lieutenant Governor John Mutz.  He was the first Democrat in two decades to serve in the office.

Serve he did.  Probably his lasting gift to the state besides lower taxes and a state surplus was the 21st Century Scholars Program.  Years later, that program still continues to help students that deserve to go to college be able to do so.

Evan Bayh then went to the United States Senate, and, I'll be honest, many Democrats found his service there less palatable than his Governorship.  But, in a testament to his leadership, for the next 16 years, red Indiana had a purple tint.  Bayh Democrats, those middle-of-the-road, careful D's populated the Statehouse.

So, as I looked at my ballot in the voting booth the other day, I didn't even hesitate to mark my ballot for Evan Bayh.  After all, John McCain has said that if Republicans control the Senate you can expect them to hold the United States hostage until they get nominees for the U.S. Supreme Court that meet their demands, Constitution be damned, he expects Republicans to block President Hillary Clinton's nominees, should she win the Race for the White House.

You see, Todd Young is a Republican, and I'm not sure what he's done in Congress nor has he given us much idea.  He's been one of 435...indistinguishable from the rest.  He has no programs with his name on it.  All Todd Young will do in the Senate is toe the party line.  He will serve the Republican Party and not the state of Indiana.

We know Evan Bayh won't do that.  Bayh's bucked his party and even trended more conservative at times than Richard Lugar on some issues when they were both in the Senate.  Bayh won't be the gridlock in the Senate.  Like Indiana's current junior Senator, I think Bayh is part of the solution to fixing a broken Senate.

You see, what makes Bayh not liked by many Democrats is actually one of his best qualities.  Bayh reaches across the aisle.  Sometime, he votes like a Republican.

I just can't see Todd Young doing that.  Make sure you send Evan Bayh to the Senate.  Heck, Joe Donnelly's seat may even depend on it in 2018.  It will be a lot easier for Joe to stay in the Senate with a partner like Evan Bayh on his side.

Don't look for perfection. Look for the guy that will get things done.  That's Evan Bayh.

Friday, October 21, 2016

I Voted No on Mass Transit Referendum

One of Chicago's "L" Trains
I voted no on the mass transit referendum.

Believe me, I'm sympathetic to all the reasons to vote yes, and I may even agree with some of them.  However, this plan is a bandage on a gaping wound and will do little to solve the mass transit problems with IndyGo in certain parts of the city.

One of those parts is where I live.  I live in Decatur Township, and this plan does little to nothing for this area of town.  The problems facing residents down here with access to mass transit will continue, so I don't feel that I should have to pay for it.  Call me selfish, short-sighted, a hypocrite...whatever, but I just don't feel that this is something I can support.

I \don't buy that there is any long term plan to solve this issue in this area.  If I did, I would think differently about this plan.  Kentucky Avenue and/or the railroad tracks along Kentucky Avenue would be a perfect corridor for plan expansion, but it won't come.  I've already been told by a City-County Councillor, a Democrat, that we don't have any destinations down here and that we don't have enough residents to support expansion.

To me, that tells me that there's no plan for the city to ever help us down here build up what we have.  They are content with Decatur Township taking the trash from he rest of the city and putting it in the landfill down here.  They are content with the IPL Harding Street plant powering the city from extreme Northeast Decatur, but they aren't serious about helping us bring restaurants, shopping centers, and other amenities that would attract higher-level housing down here.  Nope.  We're supposed to fund the rest of the county north of Troy Avenue but get nothing this way.

I am pro-mass transit, and I would support a tax increase to get it done. I voted for the Eskenazi Hospital referendum, and I voted yes on the Decatur Township schools referendum.  I just can't support this halfway done plan that won't address the myriad of needs in my neck of the woods.

I say to the powers that be that if you want my tax dollars, I just ask that you give me a plan worth raising my taxes for before I will vote to raise them.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Two Supremely Qualified Candidates Battling to Replace Zoeller

Judge Lorenzo Arredondo
There's a key race on the ballot that few people are talking about.

It's the race for Indiana Attorney General, and either one of the candidates running for this job hope to make history on Election Night.

On the Democratic side, Judge Lorenzo Arredondo was the Lake County Circuit Court Judge from 1976 to 2010.  Arredondo has taught judges to be judges and is also a former classroom teacher.  He's a brilliant legal scholar, and he would be an excellent Attorney General.  If elected, the Democrat would be the first former judge to serve as Indiana Attorney General and the first Latino elected to a statewide executive office.

Curtis Hill
Elkhart County Prosecutor Curtis Hill, Jr. is the Republican
nominee for the office.  If elected, Hill would be the first African-American man elected to a statewide executive office (Dwayne Sawyer was appointed, and Pamela Carter was the first African-American and female African-American elected to statewide office).  Hill is now in his 13th-year as Elkhart County Prosecutor.  Before that, he was a deputy prosecutor and was a private practicing attorney.

Qualifications are not a question.  These two are supremely qualified to be Attorney General.  It comes down to a question of philosophy.  If elected, what will the Attorney General do?  Zoeller has often used his position to take the state to court over political fights.  When he has done this as he has in cases against immigration, Obamacare, gay marriage, and the auto bailout, he has usually lost spending millions of dollars in taxpayer money on appealing or pushing cases over a political agenda.

Judging from Curtis Hill's website, it sounds as if he has a very similar philosophy as Zoeller.  From his website:

As your Attorney General, I will not hesitate to fight back against executive orders, agency rules, or legislation that seeks to invade our lives in violation of the Constitution. I will establish a federalism unit to fight for and restore the proper balance between our federal government, our state, and the people of Indiana. You should expect your Attorney General to lead with courage and as your Attorney General, you can count on me to stand my ground for Indiana and protect the rights of Hoosiers!

Arredondo has said straight up that he would not use the office as a political one to push his own philosophy of government.  Arredondo talks on his website about using the office for much more of its other functions.  Judge Arredondo says he wishes to be a consumer advocate for Hoosiers as well as a good steward of taxpayer dollars.  On his website, he says he will be tough on crime and push for better policies on curing Indiana's opiate problem and keeping criminals behind bars.

Let me state this.  I think either candidate will do a fine job as Indiana's Attorney General, but I feel that Lorenzo Arredondo is the best choice.  His depth of experience and his ideas for the office will serve Hoosiers well.

It's a critical choice for Hoosiers.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Trump Finishes Trump in Third Debate

Donald Trump sunk himself.  He took himself down.

Regardless of what was said in the debate, Donald Trump, a major party nominee, said before a vote was counted that he would essentially not accept the results of he election.  "I'll keep you in suspense," said Trump.

Game. Set. Match.  Hillary Clinton was the winner on points, on temperament, and on style.

Clinton also got so under Trump's skin that later he called her, "a nasty woman."

Trump would be wise to read this letter left in the Oval Office by George H.W. Bush for his successor Bill Clinton.  The words are beautiful.


Bayh Defeats Young in Only Debate of 2016 U.S. Senate Race

Evan Bayh
Last night's debate between Todd Young, Evan Bayh, and Lucy Brenton turned out to be a rout after all.  The winner was Evan Bayh.

Bayh was on his best game all evening long and showed absolutely no rust as he expertly took every political attack Young could throw at him.  Bayh was even successful at diverting several of the attacks right back at Young.  For example, Young attacked Bayh for walking away from the Senate as things started to heat up again in the War on Terror.  Bayh easily sidestepped the brunt of the attack by explaining his national security credentials and deftly used the opportunity to attack Young's record on veteran's affairs.  Young found himself on the attack all night, but he left himself wide open for Bayh to knock him around a bit.

Young repeatedly tried to make Bayh out to be an out-of-touch lobbyist who cares more about his bottom line than Hoosiers, but that's a tough case to make on Bayh.  For his part, on several issues, Bayh said he disagreed with Hillary Clinton most notably cap and trade and general trade policy.  Bayh pledged, as he has for years, to work across the aisle.

Repeatedly, Young touted his Hoosierism and the fact that he's a former Marine.  There is certainly
Todd Young
nothing wrong with his service, and I thank him for it.  It just seems that this is the basis of his entire campaign instead of accomplishments he might be able to point to over six years in Congress.  In fact, it was like Young wanted people to believe that Bayh was coming at this race as the incumbent.  Bayh one time pointed out that it was Young and not him that was actually in Congress currently.

Lucy Brenton
Lucy Brenton was entertaining.  While she definitely made her Libertarian friends happy with her campaign rhetoric all night, she provided more of a sideshow at times to the main event
between Young and Bayh.  Brenton notably was the only candidate to talk extensively about being a parent (mother of 10 children).

It was not a good night for Todd Young.  The few remaining undecideds in the race did get to see a stark contrast between the Congressman and the former Senator.  Bayh was very smooth all night and rarely found himself in trouble.  Young was the aggressor showing that he believes the polling that he is behind in the race.

This one will be close on Election Day, but I didn't see anything that Bayh did to lose the election. He had an excellent debate.  This one will largely come down to what the voters think in this and which candidate they trust with their vote.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Glenda Ritz Deserves Four More Years to Reform Education with Governor John Gregg

Superintendent Ritz
Of all the races on the ballot, because of my day job, Superintendent of Public Instruction means a lot to me.

For those of you that don't know, I've been a public educator since 1997.  I teach at the Area 31 Career Center in Wayne Township where I've been since 1999.  I write this endorsement not in my capacity in any way, shape or form as anything but a voter and someone who is very concerned about education in the state.  As always, this is just my opinion.

As I began to approach my decision on who to place my trust in to help lead the state's education policy, I tried to get past the party description of both candidates as well as how they've been characterized by their opposition.

I started with a web search to see what I could learn about the candidate I had no opinion about, Jennifer McCormick.  Through that search, I was able to find that Dr. McCormick is a capable and respected education leader in the state.  She has articulated some very strong opinions with which I agree.  For example, she believes that the entire performance pay system isn't working.  She believes that paying teachers matters, and she also believes that a single letter grade doesn't represent he performance of a school.  On the other hand, I'm a bit concerned that she wants to take a top down approach when it comes to evaluating teachers as opposed to the current way of setting guidelines and allowing school districts to meet those guidelines on evaluating their teachers as they see fit.  That's a huge concern to me.

Dr. Jennifer McCormick
Many of her proposals have little detail attached to them, and she did not really perform that well under direct questioning at Monday's Superintendent of Public Instruction Debate.  What I did learn is that the Democratic attempt to tie her to Tony Bennett's failed leadership of the Department of Education is unfair and completely inaccurate.  In fact, McCormick not only takes issue with how Ritz has done business but also is willing to attack the political climate of the DOE under Bennett.

Turning to Superintendent Ritz, my main concern has been has she been up to the task of leading the Department of Education.  Let's begin with this: it's been a very difficult climate for a Democrat at the Statehouse these four years.

It seems that nearly everyone in that building with any power or authority has been out to get Ritz.  She has been ridiculed as essentially "just a librarian" by David Long.  She has been undercut by Governor Mike Pence who tried to create a shadow Department of Education.  She has been railroaded by his appointments on the Indiana Board of Education, and the General Assembly, for the first time in the history of Indiana, passed legislation removing the elected Superintendent of Public Instruction as Chair of the Indiana Board of Education.

In short, any plans Ritz has had to change education in this state have been met with the scrutiny of an entire Indiana government structure that has been against her.  It's almost impossible to do anything in that climate.

Ritz has gotten things done.  She has held her head high, and she hasn't let being the target of every Republican's frustration at Democrats in state government stop her.  This is among her best attributes.  With a true partner in the Governor's Office, it will be interesting to see what the next four years of education might be like.  John Gregg has the right ideas.

I like McCormick, but I have concerns about her platform and her ability to stand up to the Republican Party that will almost certainly still be in control of the Indiana General Assembly.  I like Ritz even though her first term in office has been largely frustrated by partisan fights and disappointing political machinations.

In 2016, I've decided to endorse Glenda Ritz for another four-year term in office.  I think that with Governor John Gregg, Ritz will have a different climate to work from and will successfully help to improve education in the state.  As a teacher, I think she is the right person to recruit others to teach.  She's tough and has been tested against almost everything the Republicans can throw at her.

I will be voting for Glenda Ritz.

Bayh, Brenton, Young to Debate Tonight

Tonight is the first and only debate between Todd Young, Evan Bayh, and Lucy Brenton, candidates for Indiana's junior U.S. Senate seat.

I wish I could tell you what to expect.  I just don't know.  The tone of the race through ads for both major party candidates has been increasingly nasty for weeks.  Now, hardly anything positive is coming out of the Bayh or Young campaign.

After a poor start, I think the Bayh campaign has finally gotten its act together and has begun to hit Todd Young as hard as he's hit Bayh.  I still think it was a mistake for Bayh's camp to allow Young's campaign to define the veteran Indiana political figure.  After 30 years in public life, there should be no question in anyone's mind who Evan Bayh is or what he stands for.

I'm interested to see how Bayh answers questions about his post-U.S. Senate employment.  Conversely, I'm interested to see how Young responds to direct questioning over his record when it comes to his positions on entitlements and student loan debt.  

Brenton winning this race is unlikely, but she could prove herself more than just a spoiler if she can have a strong showing in probably her first major exposure of the campaign.

We'll find out from 7-8 pm tonight.  The debate will air locally on WFYI or WTHR.  It will also stream at www.indianadebatecommission.com. You can submit questions there for the debate.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Holcomb Subliminally Bringing Up LGBT Civil Rights Issue?

The race for Indiana Governor is either neck and neck or firmly within John Gregg's mustache depending on what poll you believe.

A couple of polls show Gregg and Holcomb within the margin of error of each other, but a Monmouth University poll that came out last week shows Gregg up 12 points.  

The ads have become a little more negative in the race, but they have not reached the depths of some of the other races on the ballot, and the first two debates between Gregg, Holcomb, and Libertarian Rex Bell drew praise for their substance and civility.

That's why something that's in an Eric Holcomb ad is raising the eyebrows of moderate Republicans and Democrats across the state.

For a moment in one of Holcomb's recent ads, John Gregg is shown in front of the Metro, and Indianapolis bar that caters to the LGBT community.  

Gregg has been outspoken this time around from day one of his campaign on the issue of civil rights for the LGBT community.  He has gone as far as to, according to the most staunch activists, apologize for his former positions and promise to make this his top priority if elected.  He says that no matter what happens in the General Assembly that Gregg will sign an executive order dedicated to preventing discrimination against LGBT Hoosiers.

Holcomb has refused to take a position other than to say there is no consensus in the legislature and that he has essentially no stomach to fight for what's right despite widespread polling supporting the addition of LGBT Hoosiers as a protected class under the state's non-discrimination law.  Moderate Republicans also generally support the idea.  It's Holcomb's hardcore right wing base that opposes it.

When I heard about the Holcomb ad, I scoured the internet for any sign of it. It's not on Holcomb's YouTube channel.  This morning, one of my Facebook friends, Jeff Lilly, posted a screenshot of the ad.  With permission, I post it here.  

Screenshot courtesy of Jeff Lilly on Facebook


To me, it seems pretty cut and dry, and it's pretty sad and stupid.  As some Republicans have pointed out, for this to work negatively against Gregg, people across the state would need to know what the Metro is, and any Republican that knows the Metro would probably be turned off by the tactic.  

Anyway, that old tired adage, "It is what it is," applies here.  You don't need me to tell you what to believe.  Make your own judgement on this one.  I will say that I think this is rather low.  Stay strong John.  You're on the right side of history.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Election Musings on a Friday Morning

Sorry for the lapse in posting this week.  It's been a vacation week for me, and, frankly, I have been enjoying myself.

It's that weird time of the political season that, for a blogger, you think you've written just about everything you can write about the election, but, in reality, people are just now starting to pay close attention to the election season.

What's remarkable to me is that election season just seems to get longer and longer, but it seems to get more and more tedious for the voting public.  Now, the voting has started, and the ballots are coming in.  The excitement continues to mount for what might happen on November 8 across Indiana and the United States.

I'm starting to get a more clear picture of what I think might happen on Election Day, and I do think there will be some upsets and razor thin margins in some major races.

With Donald Trump continuing to tank, I think it's quite possible that Indiana may be closer than anyone might believe on Election Night.  I don't think we've found the bottom of the Trump scandal yet as new allegations continue to come out daily.  If Trump is caught on tape or on video with anything similar to what we've already heard in the Access Hollywood tapes, I'm not sure he will have much more support than his most hardcore supporters.  Granted, those are enough to get him some votes, but the moderate Republicans that tend to swing elections in Indiana are likely NOT among those folks.

The best thing for Hillary Clinton to do at this point is just keep on keeping on.  In just about two weeks, this entire election has turned on a dime.  The wind is now at her back, and she just needs to keep sailing.  Michelle Obama hit a home run for Hillary on the campaign trail yesterday.  The President has not been more popular since the first few months of his campaign.  If I were Hillary, I'd keep leaning on them.  As much as possible, I'd keep going high while Trump goes way low.

Here in Indiana, I think Eric Holcomb has probably gained and made a bit of a comeback in this race, but John Gregg continues to run a very good campaign.  I don't particularly care for his latest negative ad, but I think that shows that this race is getting close.  Gregg has a great chance to win on November 8.

Evan Bayh's chances are slipping away, I think.  Bayh has run a horrible campaign and has allowed Todd Young and his minions to define him.  There's only one person to blame for that.  After all, Evan Bayh has been a figure in Indiana politics for 30 years.  The Bayh brand goes back even further.  It's unconscionable that a man so politically savvy could be outflanked by Todd Young.  Election Day cannot come soon enough for Bayh.  I think he can still win, but Hoosiers need to see and hear from their former Governor and Senator in the next few days.  I actually have much more to say about this race, and I'll do so here next week.

Indiana's U.S. House races are also a topic of interest.  Districts 1, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8 would seem to be safe and settled in favor of the incumbent or the incumbent party.  That leaves us with District 2 and District 9.

In District 2, Jackie Walorski is trying to hold off Lynn Coleman.  Initially, it looked like Walorski would be safe, but we've seen the national folks start to take a look at this race.  The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is throwing some help in there for Coleman, and the former South Bend Police Department officer's campaign continues to get stronger.  I don't know if it will be enough to knock off Walorski, but it's enough to bear watching.

In District 9, it's anyone's guess as to who is ahead.  What's clear is Trey Hollingsworth will do anything to get elected.  Hollingsworth has attacked Shelli Yoder in ads by just making things up out of whole cloth about her.  For her part, Yoder has gone high and has attacked Hollingsworth for more documented issues...his carpetbagging and attempt to buy the 9th District seat.  This is a Republican seat, but Yoder's strong run and Hollingsworth's weak candidacy has given Democrats an opportunity.

There's still a lot more to discuss.  I guess that's why I shouldn't take days off at this time in the campaign cycle, right?  That's enough for now, though.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Trump Devolves into SNL Caricature in Second Debate

Well, where do we begin with last night's Presidential debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump?

Let's begin with one of the two candidates isn't Presidential.  That's Donald Trump.

Yes, Trump comported himself again like he was a ring leader of a circus of crazy.  He was calling out all of his side show acts early on.  At one point, I was convinced he was reaching into his pocket and that Hillary had something to worry about.

Trump was clearly off his meds again last night, and he provided Alec Baldwin with enough fodder for another 10 or 11 Saturday Night Live sketches.  In short, he tried to throw everyone off the stench of his own putrid conduct in a lifetime of putrid conduct.  Problem is that he's neither skilled enough to do so nor had the opponent to allow him to do so.  In fact, at times watching Trump lurch across stage aimlessly wandering, it was like watching Baldwin's spot-on impression of Trump.  That's scary.

Somehow, Hillary Clinton kept it all together last night.  She just let Donald go on at times babbling like a drunk best man clearing out his cache of imagined and debunked attacks against her.  While Trump wandered, she sat.  While Trump yelled, she was calm.  When he threatened to throw her in jail, she merely smiled. When he went low, she went high.

A vocal minority of Trump supporters will yell and cheer and scream and tell you that their man won the debate.  When they do, politely nod and just think about the day that Hillary Clinton raises her hand and takes the Oath of Office.

Trump did nothing to get himself back in this race, and Hillary has done nothing to lose it.  In fact, by just letting Donald be Donald, Clinton is practicing one of her best attributes: patience.

The winner of debate number two is Hillary Clinton.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Taking a Few Days Off...Back on Monday

Day job has me too busy to blog.  Back on Monday.  Should be live tweeting the debate Sunday night, so follow me @johnnystir on Twitter.

Vice Presidential Debate Quite Testy

Viewed the Vice Presidential Debate last night, and I thought it was a tie.

I thought Mike Pence won the early part of the debate, but I think that Tim Kaine made a comeback and really knocked Pence around late in the game.

All-in-all, this was a tie.

As CNN's Paul Begala pointed out, the candidates in the debate clearly had different aims.  Mike Pence debated as if he was running for President in 2020. Tim Kaine was more of a traditional running mate who went hard after Donald Trump and challenged Pence to defend him.

It's an interesting thought, for sure.

In a larger sense, this did not change the race at all.  If you were for Hillary Clinton, then you are still for Hillary Clinton.  If you're for Donald Trump, then you are still for Donald Trump.

The next debate is Sunday between Clinton and Trump.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Gregg Takes Second Debate

John Gregg
After a lackluster gubernatorial debate last week that I called a small Gregg victory, a second debate took place last night at the University of Indianapolis.

It was a clear win by John Gregg, an one that clearly showed why he's more prepared than Eric Holcomb to be Governor of Indiana.

The Democratic nominee was in strong form on Monday night throwing in some of that Southern Indiana charm that lacked in the first debate.  Gregg scored strong points on the depth scale often speaking of fleshed out plans and referring viewers to his campaign website.

Holcomb came across often as defensive tasked with defending the negatives and touting the positives.  All to often, he came across without any direct responses to Gregg's plans other than the status quo.  He also avoided mentioning Mike Pence's name like the plague.

Rex Bell did a tremendous job touting his idea about limited government as the Libertarian candidate.  Unlike other statewide Libertarian candidates of the past, Bell spent less time talking about how his two opponents went after each other and more about his view of government.  That is less government is better.

Gregg came out ahead, and, if you believe the recent polling that puts Gregg in the lead in this race, he probably came out well ahead.  That is...if anyone took the time to watch the debate.  Lots will be decided in just over a month on November 8.

Monday, October 3, 2016

What A Difference a Week Makes

What a difference a week makes.

Just one week ago on this blog, I wrote that this election was entering the Donald Trump's election to lose point.

Well, forget the election, he just lost it last week.

After a poor debate performance in which he appeared more than off his game, Trump fell into every trap set for him this week by the Clinton campaign.  That was punctuated by the New York Times report that because of a one year business loss of nearly $1 billion in 1995 that Trump likely has paid no federal taxes in 18 years.

Polls are showing that Trump's rise in the polls has either been stunted or is actually now falling and Clinton is moving back on solid ground.

Trump didn't just stop there. Trump further added to his woes by calling into question Hillary Clinton's marital fidelity as well as imitating her health problems at a rally on Saturday.  Trump has officially flipped his wig.

With under 40 days to go until November 8, it remains to be seen if Trump can recapture the momentum he had just a week ago.  One thing is for sure, this campaign season has been incredibly unpredictable.

I don't imagine there will be too many fireworks in this upcoming vice presidential debate on Tuesday night.  There's always some time for another October surprise, but it appears for now that this race is trending Clinton.

Guess we'll revisit next week.