Tuesday, June 27, 2017

CBO Releases Report on "Better Care Act" from Senate

When the GOP and the Democrats gather to vote in the U.S. Senate on health care this week, there should be a ton of interested parties.

We knew that millions of people would be adversely affected by the passage of the Senate's health care bill.  The Congressional Budget Office, a non-partisan group, put some human numbers on the bill's effects.

The CBO estimates 22 million Americans will eventually be thrown off insurance.  Deductibles will skyrocket.  Premiums will go up.  Medicaid will be cut.  It's not good, and the outcomes aren't forecast to be good either.

Those in the know have already been on this.  Since the Republicans rolled out the ironically titled Better Care Reconciliation Act, There have been protests.  Just yesterday, protesters were carried away from Todd Young's Indianapolis office.

One protester left in an ambulance.

The way this secret process has gone, it seems that Republicans don't want to hear the truth.  They don't want to look Americans in the eye on health care.  Senator Young is non-committal on the bill, but he is "hoping to get to a yes," according to the Fox 59.

Keep speaking out.  Keep making phone calls.  Susan Collins of Maine is the latest Republican to say she will vote no on the bill.  Keep putting pressure on Senator Young to vote no.  Contact him but please be respectful.

Let's look at what we have and fix it where it needs to be tweaked.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Carmel, Fishers Spend Like They Have It (Because They Do)

Questions are being asked about spending in two Hamilton County cities.

First comes the news that Carmel Mayor Jim Brainard's new Ford Fusion has been damaged.  Brainard says he'll pay out of pocket for the repairs.  So kind, Jim.  After all, on his behalf, the City of Carmel is paying $600 a month for that Fusion in a lease agreement.  To put this in perspective, I drive a Chevy Malibu, and I pay much less than $600 a month.  The Indy Star has all the details in this report.  Writers Vic Rykart and Chris Sikich report that Brainard could have negotiated a purchase straight up and saved the city $4,000.

Second is the matter of Fishers and what that city is paying Jennifer Messer, the wife of Congressman Luke Messer.  After an investigation into the records, Bryan Slodysko of the Associated Press found that Messer gets a check for $20K per month from the City of Fishers and does about 26 hours of legal work a week for that cash from Washington.  That's a $240,000 job.

Now, let me caveat this by saying in both cases that Mayor Brainard and Jenniifer Messer have every right to negotiate whatever deals they can get out of the cities they serve.  It just seems like these two Hamilton County municipalities must have stacks of cash laying around if they can simply give it away like this.  

With Indy still struggling to fill its budget hole, maybe the Circle City can ask these two Hamilton County cities for a loan.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Health Care Debate Should Be About People Not Politics

President Donald Trump
The Republicans seem hell bent on attempting to roll back Obamacare prior to the July 4 recess, and it leaves Americans feeling helpless.

High hopes for the Senate at least turning the bill passed from the House side into something remotely palatable have been replaced by concerns that the normally-deliberative upper house of Congress is getting ready to do nearly the same thing. That’s left the future of the Affordable Care Act in peril.

Just yesterday, Anthem announced it was pulling out of the ACA Marketplace with its plans, and who can blame them? The President and Congress have created an uncertainty that any business would be unsure about. Donald Trump is causing health care in this country to collapse…not Barack Obama.

It’s amazing how often Trump wants to blame his predecessor. When Barack Obama rightly pointed out that the failed policies of the Bush Administration were often to blame for what became of the economy he inherited, he was lambasted. Trump seems to get a free pass on things when he whines on Twitter. Still, he seems determined to roll back every single thing President Obama did in his time in office. As Trevor Noah put it on the Daily Show, Trump keeps metaphorically hitting “Control-Z” on everything Obama.

At this point, all we can hope is that enough Republicans refuse to be sheep. There are definite hopes. John McCain sounded frustrated over the way the GOP was trying to ram this bill up the rear of Americans. He rightly noted that Republicans complained about the process Democrats took to hammer out the Affordable Care Act, and that, frankly, was much more of a normal process with hearings, amendments, and votes. Republicans just decided to be the party of no back then.

You can also hope that others out there that have shown a little resistance such as Olympia Snowe or Susan Collins or Jeff Flake understand exactly what this means. Perhaps even Todd Young can be persuaded not to let a hastily negotiated bill by a homogeneous small group of Republican Senators to go through.  Details of which are just leaking out as this posts.

This is NOT about politics folks. People’s lives are at stake. People like me with pre-existing conditions such as asthma, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. My late mother with her Parkinson’s Disease and arthritis would have been sorely effected by whatever is decided. And there are tons more people out there worse off than we were or are.

Obamacare was never perfect, but it was a good start.  The Affordable Care Act should have been tweaked and fixed but Republicans didn't want that.  They wanted whole hog repeal and replace.  That's why we are where we are.  They may get their repeal, but they were never ready to replace.

Again, for God sakes, this is not about politics. Hit the brakes a bit and let’s work this out for the American people, Mitch McConnell. But, if Mitch doesn’t come to his senses, Republicans, don’t be sheep.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Republicans Scramble to Hold On to Two Republican Seats in Special Elections

Republicans are practically giddy that Karen Handel defeated Jon Ossoff in the special election runoff in Georgia's 6th Congressional District.

I want to congratulate Handel. A win is a win is a win, and she won.  Democrats put a lot of chips on this one, and Republicans mobilized and got it done.

Still, there are some signs out here that are not so bad for Democrats.  First of all, this isn't just any seat.  This is Newt Gingrich's old seat.  In 2004, George W. Bush won the district by 41 points over John Kerry.  Just this November, Tom Price, now a member of the Trump cabinet, won the district by over 20 points.  In Georgia's 6th, it's hard to overturn over 40 years of Republican rule...only Watergate did that.

Ossoff also raised a lot of money. Much of it was from outside the district, but he also outraised Handel inside the district, and Handel relied on outside donors for almost all her campaign cash.  She even got some late PAC help. A real effort by Republicans this week mobilized the troops and tried to suppress the Democratic vote with a pro-GOP PAC taking out of context a story from Barack Obama's autobiography.  Those are all tactics now.

This is really the beginning for Handel, who will face a lot of scrutiny as a new member of Congress over the next year and a half or so.  She'll probably face a crowded primary and perhaps even Ossoff again in November of next year.

A footnote to all of this is that Democrats also lost a race in South Carolina last night.  Ralph Norman defeated Archie Parnell by three percentage points in a race that was much tighter than expected.  Democrats paid little attention to this race in comparison to the Georgia race.  Mick Mulvaney, now a member of the Trump Administration, won the district by 20 points in November. Cook Political rates the district as a +9 Republican district.  That's a baseline of nearly 60 percent for the GOP.

So, in short, the Republicans spent a lot of money simply to hold on to two seats they already comfortably had won in November.  If there's any such thing as a moral victory, I think the Democrats can claim it.

Still, elections have consequences and the tape reads that the GOP held both seats on Tuesday.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Spotlight Back on Indiana Senate DIstrict 29 for 2018

Sen. Mike Delph
Indiana Senate District 29 will be back on the ballot in 2018, so that means the referendum on Mike Delph will be back on the ballot as well.

Delph has been a little more quiet than normal since having his wings clipped by his own caucus after he revealed information that happened in caucus back in 2014.

Taking you back, Delph revealed that the discriminatory House Joint Resolution 3 that would have amended the Indiana Constitution to make same-gender marriages illegal was dead via Twitter.  For that, Delph was banished to sitting with the Democrats by Senate President Pro-Tempore David Long and was removed from his leadership roles in the caucus.

Delph also is getting primaried...or at least will have a primary opponent.  According to Abdul-Hakim Shabazz's Indy Politics website, Carmel-based city planner and architect, Corrie Meyer, is running on the Republican ticket.

Democrats are running J.D. Ford again.  Ford ran a teriffic campaign in 2014 pulling in 46 percent of the vote in the district that includes a large part of Hamilton County, part of Boone County, and parts of Washington, Pike, and Wayne Townships in Marion County.

Any way you slice it, Delph will have to work hard again to stay in office.  You would have to think that the blue parts ot the district have become more blue, and I can't imagine Delph is any more liked now than he was in his district four years ago.

If the Democrats are ever going to make any progress in the Senate, this is one of those seats they have to have because it is winable...especially with Delph in the seat.  We'll see how this one plays out in both the primary and the general.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Honest to Goodness, Indiana Now Pence's Fast Cash ATM Button?

That cha-ching sound you heard was Mike Pence hitting the cash register before returning to Washington.

That's right, Pence did a quick run home to raise some money for his own PAC at a max $5,000-a-person fundraiser at the Mariott downtown Friday.  As has been well pointed out by both Lawrence O'Donnell and Rachel Maddow, it's highly unusual for a VEEP to have his own PAC when he is not running for anything.

Of course the other news is that Pence has lawyered-up to represent him in the many messes the Trump Administration has made so far.  Again, as the Vice President, Pence cannot use government funds to pay for his personal lawyer.  So, as Lawrence O'Donnell and Rachel Maddow have pointed out, he had to create this PAC in part to pay for one, his attorney and two, a possible run at the top of the ticket in 2020.

When he needed a quick hit on the ATM, Pence returned home to Indiana to get that quick cash.  Congratulations, Hoosiers, we're now the "fast cash" button on Pence's ATM settings.

Actually, when I heard $5K was the top of the line, I was sort of shocked.  He's kind of low balling it.  Eric Holcomb will be part of a 10K a plate dinner at Forrest Lucas's abode on June 27.  For that $10K, you get to sit down for likely a piece of dry chicken and some sort of asparagus or something (hopefully they go for steak) at a roundtable dinner with Holcomb.  The Star report is here.

Maybe Lucas tried to organize something for Pence, but Karen Pence couldn't attend and there would be other ladies present?  I don't know.

Anyway, I'm sure Pence took some cash back with him.

By the way, our friends over at Indy Republican also took a good look at the issue.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Politics Doesn't Have To Be Nasty

I had not been to a political fundraiser in a while, so I attended Marion County Surveyor Debbie Jenkins's fundraiser earlier tonight at the Carpenter's Union Hall in Beech Grove.

It was a great event.  I love catching up with people at these events.  I caught Mayor Joe Hogsett as he was leaving, and he did not deck me for my blog post last week.  I didn't think he would.  In fact, he was his normal jovial self.

The fun part of the night came as I was leaving.  Edwards Drive-In's food truck catered the event, and I was going to get a pork tenderloin for the road.  About six or seven of us, including Democratic candidate for Sheriff Kerry Forestal and former City-County Councillor Doris Minton-McNeil got caught underneath an awning waiting for our food as a thunderstorm hit.

It poured.  Being the largest person around, I tried to help keep people dry hoping not to blow away.  Still, after the day, it was kind of a refreshing way to end it.

Not all politics has to be nasty, and there wasn't a nasty word spoken at the fundraiser.  In fact, everybody seemed very concerned about Congressman Steve Scalise and those injured in the shooting earlier today.  Here we were though...six or seven Democrats stuck under an awning getting soaking wet while waiting for food.

I was wet to the skin by the time I got in my car, but I didn't care.  We laughed, joked, had fun, and enjoyed the company of others.

It's really the small things in life that bring a smile to your face.  For me, politics brings me together with my friends, and it doesn't have to just be Democrats.  Last week, I had a blast talking to the Republicans at the Decatur Central Lions Club 4-H Fair.  After some good-natured ribbing, the conversation turned to families and life.

Politics aside, we're humans first.

I continue to send my thoughts and best wishes for a speedy recovery to those injured in the shooting at the Republican Congressional Baseball Team practice this morning.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

In Memoriam: Phil Denton (1956-2017)

Let me start this off by saying that I didn't personally know Phil Denton.  I had heard of him, and I knew of his value to the Indy gay community.  Still, I don't ever recall shaking his hand and meeting him.

Still, I want to thank him.

Denton, a longtime activist in the Indy LGBTQ+ community, passed away this past week at the age of 60 just as the annual Indy Pride celebration kicked up.  He was the owner of Greg's, one of Indy's oldest establishments catering to the LGBTQ+ community.  Having purchased the bar 25 years ago, Denton changed the name to Greg's from Our Place in 2002 to celebrate the life of his friend, Greg Powers.

If you're not gay, you have no idea what it's like to have a safe environment where you can be yourself. Since 1980's opening, Greg's or OP's or whatever it's been called, has been one of Indy's safest places for gay people to be, well, gay.  It's Indy's oldest gay bar.  Besides all of that, Greg's has always been at the forefront of activism for LGBTQ+ individuals as well as all those charitable causes they helped support in Indy, and Phil has been that driving force.

Hopefully, the wonderful bar on 16th Street where a person of any orientation or gender identity can go to be himself or herself will continue.  With the loss of a couple of other establishments in town, we can't afford to lose this historic cultural hub.

Again, I didn't know Phil, but I think his heart was on display if you've ever been in his establishment.  It is a place of welcomeness and open arms and minds and hearts.

Thanks for being there for the community, Phil. You have served us well.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Is Joe Hogsett Looking at 2020 in 2017?

Mayor Joe Hogsett
Joe Hogsett's position on the Paris Accords could actually give us a window into what the Mayor of Indianapolis might be thinking about three or more years down the road.

Hogsett gave good lip service and said the right things about Indianapolis adopting the right kinds of policies to help prevent climate change, but he stopped short of the more hard language to say how we'd get there.  He refused to sign the Climate Mayors Agreement.  As one of my friends put it, "Caution over leadership."

That could be a good way to describe Hogsett's position on not only this but also some other more liberal ideas such as raising the minimum wage for full-time city employees.  The Democratic leadership of the City-County Council is backing it, but Hogsett says he'd rather balance the city budget before looking at raising the city employees up closer to a living wage.

He said the right things but didn't push the sanctuary city thing too far.

Clearly, Hogsett is balancing things out.  Why this cautious approach on seemingly slam dunk proposals for Democrats?  After all, these proposals would largely be popular measures in Marion County where the political pool gets more and more deeply blue.  There are no countywide Republican officeholders, and it's getting harder and harder to find candidates for the elephant party each election cycle.

Liberals can be elected in Marion County, but can they be elected statewide?  Few have tested the waters. Now let me be clear, Hogsett has shown leadership in many areas, but the more controversial the subject might be...the more he seems to dance that line.   Better to be CAUTIOUS, right?

Hogsett has to be looking down the road and keeping his political options open for 2020.  All indications the 60-year-old well-known statewide Democrat will run for a second term in 2019.  With all but the crime issue, he has done a spectacular job.  I'd say the chances are very good he would win that second term.  The next year, however, that Governor's Office may be calling his name.  He could run for that office and not leave his current job.

Eric Holcomb, despite what many believe to be a good start to his tenure, is only at 54 percent approval in two different polls since election day.  An unpopular incumbent could be at the top of the ticket for President if Donald Trump doesn't get himself impeached.

I'd continue watch these more left-leaning issues to get a barometer of what Hogsett might do in the future.  Then again, I could be way off base and Hogsett is just trying to be a strong executive, but I believe that he still might have a desire to make one more statewide run.

Now that the Mayor is probably mad at me...

Donnelly Running Ads for Reelection Campaign

Sen. Joe Donnelly
It appears that in the early going of the 2018 campaign that Joe Donnelly is not leaving anything to chance.

Having already been the subject of ads against him, Donnelly, who does not even know his opponent yet, is out with some early ads to try to define himself in these months before the Republicans began to truly mobilize against him. It's smart politics. Donnelly's advertising hits hard on his record and talks about the Senator's accomplishments in office.  

From the beginning, the Indiana Senator has been accessible and has been talking about more than just the issues that dominate the national news cycles. Donnelly has been trying to improve things for veterans since taking office. He's also been engaged in Indiana's problems with drugs such as heroin and opioid abuse.

Donnelly's problems electorally are going to come from the fringes of both parties. Right wingers will call him a liberal and try to tie him to Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi. Those on the far left attack Donnelly for things like his positions on abortion, his slow conversion to supporting same sex marriage, and his vote to confirm Neil Gorsuch.

The point of all this is Donnelly is starting early, and for a seat the Democrats must hold on to to capture the Senate in 2018, it's a good thing. The earlier the better, I say.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Tallian Takes on Hill on Legalization of Marijuana in Indiana

Senator Karen Tallian
Former gubernatorial candidate and Indiana state Senator Karen Tallian went after Attorney General Curtis Hill's positions on the legalization of marijuana in an op-ed released by the Indiana Senate Democrats.

Hill detailed his positions in an Indianapolis Star piece published on June 1 begging presumably the Indiana General Assembly to not legalize marijuana.  In the process, he runs through a myriad of greatest hits (no pun intended) of those opposed to legalization...you know...it's a gateway drug that warps your mind.

Well, Tallian is having none of it. She writes...
I was dismayed by the recent inflammatory Op-Ed from Indiana’s new Attorney General regarding marijuana reform laws. His portrait of “money-hungry profiteers…with dollar signs in their eyes” lining up at the doors of the Indiana legislature sounds like a firebrand sermon preaching hell-fire and brimstone.

Having submitted marijuana reform legislation, and monitored every proposal that has been filed, I have some experience in what is in the legislature. Although there is a lot of citizen interest, most of the lobbyists roll their eyes at the thought of marijuana legalization in Indiana.

But that is not the end of the story. The AG’s editorial cautions us against “flirting” with any reforms. Indiana’s prosecutors have most vehemently opposed any reform actions, sometimes resorting to what can only be described as self-serving deceit.

Marijuana Reform is simple, even if one does not support legalization.

We should stop putting our kids in jail, or giving them criminal records, for possession of a substance that is legal in many other places. Current laws make it impossible for someone convicted of a drug crime as a teenager to find a job once they have completed school. We penalize our youth for their lifetime for being busted in high school.

The “gateway” drug theory is simply not even a valid argument. Marijuana is not heroin. Mr. Hill’s “citations” regarding addiction, impaired driving, and crime are misleading at best, and totally fail to give the real conclusions of those studies.

It is true, we have an opioid problem in our society. A huge part of it is attributable to prescription drugs, and the situation is not relevant to marijuana reform. Further, and to the contrary, much research shows that marijuana may be used to help addicts “come down” from more serious drugs.

Now that some states have allowed for it, medical research is blossoming and supporting the cause for medicinal marijuana. Double-blind laboratory studies have proven positive effects in epilepsy, and more research is being done all the time. Research should be encouraged at our state medical institutions, but that too is illegal. Something that could be alleviated through reform laws.

Finally, and we know this as a nation, prohibition of a substance that is accepted by such a huge portion of society has never worked. I could have written an entire Op-Ed on this subject alone.

This year the General Assembly took a step forward in medical options for Hoosiers by legalizing cannabidiol oil for certain epileptic children. I hope the members of the General Assembly continue down the path of options, and not the fear mongering coming from our Attorney General.
To be continued in the General Assembly.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Recent Poll: Hoosiers Cautiously Approving of Holcomb

Governor Holcomb
A majority of Hoosiers think Governor Eric Holcomb is doing a good job according to a recent poll by the Indiana Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Store Association, and I think Holcomb has largely earned the accolade.

The Indianapolis Republican stands at a 54 percent approval by Hoosiers to go with with the General Assembly's 49 percent approval rating.  Another 56 percent of Hoosiers think the state is on the right track in the poll conducted by Fabrizio Lee & Associates.  All of this was more secondary to the headline of the poll showing that over 70 percent of Hoosiers believe cold beer sales should be expanded and 65 percent support Sunday sales.

The overarching headline of the poll is more good news for Holcomb.  As you may remember, he signed the Indiana General Assembly's Ricker's Convenience Store loop hole fix bill reluctantly asking the General Assembly to look at Indiana's antiquated liquor laws.

Back to the Governor's approval rating.  I am really surprised the number is just 54 percent.  It would seem Hoosiers like their Governor but just aren't sure to make of him quite yet.  That should be some decent news for Indiana Democrats as they look ahead.  There must be something holding Holcomb's numbers back, and that very well could be Donald Trump.

Eric Holcomb did a far better than average job marshaling the state through his first Indiana General Assembly session. Obviously, I have my ideological differences with the man, but he made it clear that he's not as ideological as many thought he would be. He also showed that he has some backbone of his own and won't necessarily be a pushover for Brian Bosma and David Long as many thought he might.

Let's face it though, Holcomb hasn't really be truly tested yet. Mike Pence didn't get tested until the entire RFRA thing hit, and he failed the test. Liquor laws, government transparency and a couple other areas seem to be where Holcomb differs from his General Assembly majority. Given the opportunity, he caved on the liquor laws, on solar power, and on expanding restrictions on abortions. He also moved forward to make the Superintendent of Public Instruction position an appointed rather than elected position. None of these were particularly big moments.

His highlights of his first few months in office were the way he moved swiftly to help East Chicago residents affected by lead in their water. He also pardoned Keith Cooper for a crime he clearly didn't commit over the objections of Attorney General Curtis Hill.

Time will tell what Holcomb does from here, but, as I've written before, his start has been promising. There's a long way to go to 2020 and the next time he'll face the voters.

Friday, June 2, 2017

Trump Eager to Erase Obama Legacy

"Thanks Obama" is not just a meme any more.
It's all about being vindictive.  That's the Republican logic in Washington, and it's hurting America and Americans.

Donald Trump's presidency so far has been erasing President Barack Obama's eight years from office out of the record books.  Trump has tried to kill the Affordable Care Act and replace it with a rushed piece of legislation that will hurt Americans in their pocketbooks and at the doctors office.  Today, we saw further evidence as Trump announced the country's withdraw from the Paris Accords on climate change.

Trump's rolled back Obama executive orders aimed at reducing carbon in the atmosphere.  He's rolled back efficiency standards for cars.  He's taken steps to make Americans more unhealthy with what they order at restaurants by rolling back the Obama-era plan to post caloric content on menus.

It's much more than that as well.

Trump's new budget (complete with befuddling math errors) amps up the defense spending while attempting to balance the budget with deep cuts in social programs such as food stamps and medicaid.

This is besides the embarrassment that President Trump is on a near daily basis to the country.  His manner as well as some of the things he's posted on social media are beneath the office he holds.

So, let's be really clear about Trump's aim.  He's trying to take America back to before the Obama Administration to the failed policies of Republicans like George W. Bush whose policies nearly brought the country's economy to a full stop.  Tax cutting for the richest Americans while we have so many things and so much debt going on against us is simply dangerous because we've seen this movie before.

Trump, however, and the coalition that elected him somehow believe America was greater before Obama was our President.  We simply know that's not true.  Obama wasn't perfect, but he was a great President whose accomplishments just keep looking better each day.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Montana Special Election Controvesy Makes National News

Greg Gianforte
Welcome to 2017.  A time where it's downright dangerous to be a campaign reporter.

That's exactly what allegedly happened for Guardian reporter, Ben Jacobs, when he asked Montana Congressional candidate Greg Gianforte a question about the American Health Care Act.  Not only did Gianforte refuse to answer the question, he allegedly body slammed the reporter in front of others breaking Jacobs's glasses.

The hotly-contested Montana Congressional special election race should be a walkover for Gianforte who is up against Rob Quist, a banjo-strumming political newcomer, who has raised a ton of cash.  After Gianforte's alleged conduct in the encounter with Jacobs, many believe a "closer-than-it-should-be" race may have become even tighter.

Let's put all the politics of this aside and let's be fair and give Gianforte's side of the story.  The would-be Congressman, who is running to replace Secretary of the Interior, Ryan Zinke, claims it was Jacobs that provoked the incident by shoving his phone in his face and rudely continuing to ask questions when he was initially rebuffed.  He alleges Jacobs grabbed his wrist and somehow that resulted in him being on the floor with a broken pair of glasses.

It makes no sense.

Furthermore, even if it the story did add up, this sort of behavior from a person running for one of the 435 House seats should give folks in Big Sky country pause.  Montana has but just one U.S. House seat.  That's one representative for the 1.03 million people that live there.  Indiana has nine Congressional seats for 6.62 million people.  That comes out to one representative for about 735,555 people.

Gianforte's alleged actions are being supported and even condoned on the far right. They see it as a conservative hero allegedly smacking down that liberal media.  Gianforte has been charged by police in the case after audio of the alleged events surfaced.

For five seconds, even if I believed Gianforte's version of the story, his reaction to Jacobs questions and demeanor in my view are completely uncalled for.  I can't imagine sending someone with the kind of hair trigger that Gianforte appears to have to Washington where it's only going to get worse.

In a larger sense, the lack of respect for reporters and the press is appalling.  I'm not saying that there's never been a time that reporters have gone too far in pursuing a story, and the constant spotlight of always being on guard can't be easy.  The press, however, has to be allowed to do its job, and journalists should be protected from harm. Often, they are not.

We'll know by tomorrow how Montanans voted.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Trump Must Fix Trump or Resign

President Donald Trump
When I try to turn away from blogging about national issues, they always seem to pull me back.

Last night, Donald Trump was accused by a Washington Post report of revealing highly classified information to the highest level of Russian government officials during an Oval Office meeting last week.  Again, he's left me speechless.

This is the stuff of novels.  It's the stuff of screenplays.  It's certainly not non-fiction, but, if the WaPost article is true, and there are some in government corroborating it, this is non-fiction.

I literally have no words for this latest shock. As exasperated Rachel Maddow said, "Hyperbole is dead." It's like he's trying to get impeached at this point, and it's now at the expense of our allies, according to the report in the Post.

Of course, the White House has pushed back at the report giving a non-denial denial of the story saying that it's untrue "as reported."  No other information came out of the White House last night as the President's spin-meisters no doubt try to cover the latest smelly mess left by Trump.

It appears that we have elected the most unfit and unaware man to ever serve in the Oval Office.  If those that wanted someone to shake up Washington voted for Trump, it appears that they have elected a guy that may unwittingly bring the whole place down.

For the love of our country, the President of the United States has to get his act together, and it's clear that he's the only one who is going to do it.  He won't listen to anyone or anything and refuses to be and act Presidential.  That all must change.  He has to start listening to those around him.  He has to listen to those that brief him and to those that advise him.  This is not about Donald Trump any more.

This is about America.  If Trump can't get himself under control and under some sort of discipline, he must resign or be impeached and removed from office.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Race for Marion County Sheriff's Seat Well Underway

Sheriff John Layton
Marion County Sheriff John Layton can't run again because he's term-limited.  After two terms and a long career in law enforcement, he'll step aside in January of 2019.  The race to replace Layton is just beginning.

On the Democratic side, former U.S. Marshal for the Southern District of Indiana, Kerry Forestal, is the front runner for the nomination and probably the favorite to take Layton's place.  Forestal was briefly considering a candidacy for the 2010 election cycle, but he was appointed U.S. Marshal by President Barack Obama.  He stayed in that position until 2015 when he returned to the Marion County Sheriff's Office serving as Executive Officer for Layton.  

Mark Brown, who has run twice against Layton for the Sheriff's position, also has maintained an active Facebook page.  I have not seen Mark to ask him if he's running again in 2018 or not, but a third try would not surprise me at all.  Mark's a man of great class, and I've always enjoyed our interactions.

On the Republican side, two GOP candidates are emerging.  Southport Police Chief Tom Vaughn announced his candidacy last week.  The 20-year veteran of law enforcement has a website up along with a Facebook page.  Jim Grimes, who was last seen making a primary challenge against Bob Behning in House District 91, is another experienced candidate in the mix.  Grimes already is out there raising cash in this race.  He seems to be getting support from the mainstream of the GOP.

There's a little less than a year back to the primary, but the Marion County Sheriff's race may be one to keep your eye on as the field grows.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Mothers' Day Changes When You Lose Mom

Me and Momma Easter
Today marks my third Mothers' Day without my mother, but I'll never stop celebrating this day.

My mother went to sleep on Christmas in 2015 and died that night.  We got the call around 11:30 pm that she had just passed around 11:15.

I'm not going to take you back down that memory lane.  Believe it or not, it's not that sad for me because seeing my mother's lifeless body in her PJs and under her Tennessee Volunteers blanket (given to her by my brother and sister-in-law for Christmas), I couldn't be all that mad at the world.  That's what she wanted, ultimately, to "get home" to see my father.  She made it for Christmas.

What I want to talk about is the process I went through after Mom died.  Losing my mom was much tougher on me than losing my dad.  While I had periods of spending a lot of time with both, I think most people would call me a "mama's boy" and I'm fine with that.  For me, losing Mom just sucked because I lost my best friend.

For one thing, I called her every night, and, if I didn't call her one or two nights, she'd call me on the third night to find out what was so important going on that I couldn't call her.  She was the one that I would unwind my day with and tell her what happened.  She knew all the big events in my life and what was going on.  If I didn't tell her something, she always had a way of finding out.  So, I adopted a social media and blog policy, if I wouldn't show my mother this posting, then I wouldn't post it.  I still adhere to it today.

So, guess what I do?  I still talk to Mom, and I think she still knows what's going on in my life.  Just because the physical person is gone doesn't mean you have to stop talking to them.  I would highly advise against doing this on a street corner in downtown Indy, but I do still talk to my mother if I need to do so.  When I don't talk to her enough, she crashes my dreams now.

It's been a process, and I still miss her.  Her memories bring more smiles than tears now, but I'll still hear her favorite songs and get a little tear in my eye.  I think that will happen forever.  Anyway, I wanted to write this blog post for those of us without mothers on Mothers' Day.

I urge you to celebrate your mother's memory.  Here's to Marjorie May Miller Easter!  Happy Mothers' Day, Momma.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Trump's Driving My Political Brain Insane.

Future Impeached President Donald Trump
I've been trying to write a few days ahead on this blog so that, like these days, when I get busy I have some posts ready to go.  .

You may have noticed that I've been late to react to the latest Donald Trump news.  Frankly, after James Comey was fired, I didn't quite know what to write.  I still don't.  I'm stunned.  I'm slack-jawed.  I'm nearly speechless, and I'm trying to find out why there are still nearly four in ten people in the United States that back Donald Trump as President.

So, this is a pretty disjointed stream of consciousness mess on the current situation.

To me, it's crystal clear that when you take five or six steps back and look at the big picture that this administration has something to hide, and it's trying it's darnedest to hide it.  The only one who isn't is Donald J. Trump.  

Trump is lumbering through this Presidency like a rhinocerous trapped in a crystal factory.  He's knocking things over and leaving every one else to clean up his mess, but he's the rhino...so he doesn't care.  

Trump is Robert Stack in Airplane...

Only Trump goes ahead and tries to anticipate what you think he should not do and then does it.  You get the feeling that his team tells him to avoid talking about topic A.  Common sense, political wisdom, and everything else would tell Trump to avoid topic A.  So, he talks about topic A or he makes the exact decision leading to the scenario in topic A.

Russian connection? PSH! Let's have them in the Oval Office and only let their media in! Media asy what?  Trump's saying, "I've got an idea. Let's fire the FBI Director because he's getting too close.  He wants to investigate my people more.  I've also got a fool proof plan to explain it all.  We'll blame it on Hillary Clinton's e-mails so the Democrats will have to agree."

Everyone nervously in the room shakes their head yes because no one would want to defy the President.

I'm trying to make sense of it, but I simply can't. Trump continues to defy logic, sensibility, and good thought at every level.

I mean...when I write it again, it just boggles my mind.  Just days after requesting more juice for his investigation into the Trump Administration’s ties to Russia, Comey was fired by President Trump on the alleged recommendation of Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein. Many of us out here in Real-Worldville don’t buy it.

Trump claims he fired Comey over the handling of Hillary Clinton’s e-mail case. Come on, man?  I want to cuss!  After he spent months on the campaign trail stoking the fire of that case, he’s going to fire the man that gave him the wood? Puh-leeze. This President is insane or has an impeachment wish!

He's making me crazy!!  He's even making those on the right crazy too.  He's got them buying into his bull feces.

Here's the bottom line.  If Trump wanted Comey gone, he should have done it as one of his first actions in office. Trump didn’t want Comey gone until it looked like Comey was about to be an enemy...I mean...I think.  I don't know any more.  

Then there's the whole manner in which Comey was fired...which blows my feeble mind even more.

So, Donald Trump pens a letter firing Comey while the Director was in Los Angeles, has it delivered by his personal bodyguard to the FBI Headquarters, and doesn’t bother to pick up the phone to call Comey. Are you kidding me?

In a Gallup Poll, 54 percent believe Trump inappropriately fired Comey. That means 38 percent believe Trump did the right thing in firing Comey, and that coincidentally matches his current job approval rating. These people are....kaj;eiakf;alej;laiedjfaoreifa;ijead;lifiedjc;alwekzj.

Sorry...(deep breath)...

I believe this will all come back to bite Trump right in the behind. I just don’t think he’s good enough at covering his own tracks. Patience is a virtue with this one. I am still nearly certain of this...Donald Trump is on his way to making history. He may be the third President to be impeached, but he may be the first to actually deserve it and be convicted in the Senate.

When he's removed from office, he'll do an interview with Sean Hannity, "No one has been removed from office before...I mean...it's the first time, Sean.  It's historic."

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

By Electing Macron, French Rebuke Results of Trump, Brexit Elections

French President-Elect Emmanuel Macron
Photo from Twitter
The French people flirted with disaster, but they ultimately selected the best candidate to move Europe and the world economy forward.

Emmanuelle Macron won the French Presidential Election on Sunday over Marine Le Pen.  Outgoing President Francois Hollande did not run for reelection after dismal approval ratings scared him off.  That means that a political centrist will now be in charge of one of the world's most important democracies.

Macron and Le Pen, the candidate of the National Front, a far right political party, had emerged from the field of candidates as the two top vote getters last month.  Early polls showed the race too close to call. Macron became the target of reputation damaging stories in the press, and there was a flurry of last minute interference by the same influences that seem to have possibly at least attempted to interfere with the U.S. Presidential Election.  None of that had an effect.  In fact, Macron trounced Le Pen garnering over 66 percent of the vote.

This was a strong rebuke of the far right forces that have taken hold in several major worldwide countries.  Donald Trump had softly backed (not openly) Le Pen as had several forces that also pushed through the Brexit in Great Britain.  Le Pen wanted to take France out of the European Union, and that would have doomed the EU and thrown the world economy into an uncertain place.  Le Pen also has similar anti-immigrant views as Trump and, despite an effort to cleanse her party's image, Le Pen's National Front Party had leadership, in the past, that denied the Holocaust as well as what many others determined racist and anti-semitic views.

Now Macron has to govern, and politics aside, the French did elect a man with a few things in common with Trump.  Macron has little experience in politics.  This is his first elected position.  Like Congress, the French National Assembly is also a factionalized mess with more factions and parties represented than in Washington.  It's going to be interesting to see how Macron puts together his team as he has to tiptoe a careful line.  Far right folks are already attacking Macron for his acceptance speech that featured the European Union's Anthem "Ode to Joy".  They say he'll be a yes man for the European Union.  Really, he's a bit of an enigma.  He also comes to power at a time when France has been reeling from a wave of violent terrorist attacks including one in the days leading up to the Presidential Election itself.

What's clear is that, for now, France avoided the fate of the United States or Great Britain.  What that means right now and from here is anyone's guess.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Pence's Bad Deal Forces State Scramble to Pay for Pet Bicentennial Projects

Pence speaks at Bicentennial Gala
Mike Pence is in Washington, but we’re still paying for his projects in Indiana.

Governor Eric Holcomb signed a budget that includes $5.5 million for Pence pet projects dedicated to Indiana’s now over bicentennial.  Over $53 million in other bicentennial projects remain unfunded with an uncertain future, according to reports.

Holcomb was in a tough position. The projects were done, so someone had to pay. That someone is you and I after Pence left the Hoosier State without a solid funding solution for his projects. The completed work includes the new Bicentennial Plaza on the Westside of the Statehouse and, according to WTHR, upgrades to the state library. Pence initially wanted to lease the state’s cell tower assets to pay for the projects. With no takers, there was nothing in the coffers to pay for the projects.
Had transparency been a part of this equation, I might have backed the projects, but lawmakers were iffy on this plan from the start. Plus, in a state budget that spends $32 billion, the price tag is just 0.0002 percent of the total.

Still, with all the other needs the state had, it seems that the $5.5 million could have been spent elsewhere or come from different sources. $5.5 million could have done a lot elsewhere. 

Instead, it’s tied up paying for Mike Pence’s pet projects while coming out of our pockets instead of maybe more private sources.  I hear the Republicans charged a minimum of $250 and some gave up to $25K a plate to hear Donald Trump, Jr. speak at their spring dinner.  That's hearsay, I admit, but there are probably some local companies that could have easily covered that $5.5 million had they been given the opportunity early in the process.

Call me crazy.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Every Indiana U.S. House Republican Votes for AHCA Opening Door for Democrats

Democrats should be very excited for 2018.

Every Indiana Republican in the United States House voted for the American Health Care Act, and every provision of this unpopular bill is, as Nancy Pelosi said on the floor of the House, "tattooed on (the) forehead," of every member that voted for it.

Even the most staunch supporter of the AHCA admits that he Senate is going to make wholesale changes to the bill, and, if any form of it passes the Senate, that it won't likely even resemble what came out of the House.

That's why those with preexisting conditions and that depend on things like Medicare are so concerned about this bill.  Over 24 million Americans, according to one estimate, will lose insurance on this bill.  It's a disaster, and all seven Indiana Republicans are attached to that disaster at the hip.

Now, some Republicans could run naked down the aisle during the State of the Union and still get reelected in Indiana.  These folks can do pretty much whatever they like, but for people like Jackie Walorski, Susan Brooks, Trey Hollingsworth and Larry Bucshon, this bill might work against them with the right Democrat opposing them.

It's going to be key to get good Democrats to run against each Republican Congressional Representative this year.

I did not mention Todd Rokita in that list of Republicans because if he runs again in District 4, he's likely to be reelected.  Rokita, however, wants a promotion to the other side of Capitol Hill in the Senate, and his vote for the AHCA could work against him as well as defending United Airlines and law enforcement in the Dr. David Dao dragging incident a few weeks back in Chicago.

As you may remember, Dao had a ticket for a seat on an overbooked flight.  When United tried to get some passengers to give up their seats for members of another United flight crew, the passengers refused.  Dao was chosen at random, but he refused to give up his seat.  Authorities were called, and Dao was dragged off the plane unconcious having sustained a variety of facial injuries and a concussion.

United Airlines CEO Oscar Munoz and the airline admitted fault and settled with Dr. Dao, but that wasn't enough for Rokita who made sure to get the following statement on the record.  "I also wanted to say that this is a bit of a two-way street. A grown man, assumedly sane, when approached by law enforcement, on an aircraft, should abide by the requests being made. And I don’t know that that, Mr. Chairman, has been said in this hearing or generally in the conversation. So I wanted to make a record of that, because it deserves to be said,” Roikta said.

Ok, Todd.

One way or another, Republicans have opened the door...maybe even to a primary challenge for themselves.  Now, it's up to Democrats to walk through and take the opportunity.  That's something that our party admittedly has trouble doing sometimes.  See Clinton, Hillary...

Thursday, May 4, 2017

"Shining City" a Little More Dim Tonight

Today is a rotten day in America.

The United States House just threw some 24 million Americans off the bus and left them behind without health insurance and then celebrated with the President on the South Lawn like giddy teenagers.  They did it without truly understanding the bill or without truly understanding a cost.  They did it over the majority of Americans saying do something else.

But that was only one thing that happened today.

In a signing ceremony, President Donald Trump signed a RFRA-like executive order surrounded by religious leaders and next to an adoring Mike Pence who essentially tried this same crap in Indiana.  Thankfully, it seems a little toothless per the ACLU.

As I think about these two events, I get madder and madder and madder.  I feel as if this isn't some attempt at making better policy.  It just feels like it's an attempt to further divide us based on our politics.  It's more about wiping out every vestige of President Obama's eight years in office not because what he did was wrong but just because Republicans think they can.

I am also struck by the great song "America" by Neil Diamond, a somewhat schmaltzy 1980's era song from a largely forgotten film called the Jazz Singer.  The song's lyrics talk about huddling together on boats, planes, and trains to be free in a new country.  It's a dream so many Americans who once called another land home can relate to now as they have begun that new life here.

We used to be that "shining city on the hill" that Ronald Reagan talked about.

Sadly, I can't help but feel that our shine is a little dimmer tonight.  Our way is a little more muddled, and I can't help but shed a little tear for what we have become and for what the rest of the world must think of us.

Don't get me wrong, I'm very proud to be an American.  I'm very proud, and I understand what it means.  I understand that in other countries that I could be imprisoned for being gay or be thrown in some Gulag-like work camp for opposing the government.  I understand that as an agnostic, I could be persecuted or murdered.  I understand that my status as an American citizen gets me in most countries around the world and that our society has advanced to the point that my water comes from a faucet and my food is plentiful.  I get it.  I'm very blessed to be an American.  I'm very thankful for all those that have died to make my life as free as it is today.

It's that pride and that thankfulness that makes me sad tonight.  I fear that other Americans or other folks may not have that same experience.  Unfortunately, we have a party and a President in power that doesn't seem to care about this,

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Democrats Can't Afford to Lose Donnelly in 2018

Joe Donnelly
Senator Luke Messer.

Senator Curtis Hill.

Senator Todd Rokita.

Chill down your spine, yet, Democrats?

I don't understand why some people on my side of the political aisle can't see why a conservative Democrat is better for Indiana than a conservative Republican. Furthermore, I can't see why some on my side of the aisle are ready to turn the table over just because they don't like the way Joe Donnelly sometimes sets out the place settings.

Much of the latest ire from some folks in my party against Donnelly comes from the decision to vote to confirm Neil Gorsuch as a Supreme Court Justice.  I'm almost certain that once Chuck Shumer had his 41 votes to force Mitch McConnell into the nuclear option on Gorsuch that Democrats like Donnelly in tough reelection fights for 2018 were free to vote up on Gorsuch.  It takes a line of attack off the table.

You can be mad because you think Donnelly isn't liberal enough, and I have shared my frustrations about him here before.  The strategy of not voting for Donnelly or leaving your ballot blank simply is a full or half vote for one of the three Republicans I mentioned at the start of the post.  Granted, there could be someone else other than those candidates that break out on the Republican side, but I think that those three seem to be the most likely candidates.

Messer reportedly is placing himself in a better position for a run.  While Messer seems at first glance to have a good legislative head on his shoulders, he was "excited" for Donald Trump's agenda, and he was considered for a spot in the Trump cabinet.  Rokita allegedly wants to move down the hall to the Senate so he can take his great ideas like eliminating union representation and grievances for federal employees and taking food out of the bellies of some of our school children to the upper legislative body.  Curtis Hill is putting himself in front of every camera he can find even if he has to dress up like Elvis to do it.  He's raising his profile as Attorney General for some reason.

Any of the three would take Donnelly's Senate seat, Richard Lugar's old Senate seat, in an entirely different direction.

Here's my inconvenient truth.  In Donnelly's position, I would have done the exact same thing on Neil Gorsuch, but I get why some others wouldn't.  I'm just not ready to let a Republican from Indiana vote on another Supreme Court nominee...especially one that might replace a more liberal vote on the high court.

If you don't like Joe Donnelly, that's fine. Seek him out and talk to him.  He's plenty accessible. Also, realize that the most important vote he'll cast in the Senate for you is that vote for majority leader.  If he's not there and it's Rokita or Hill or Messer, will they have hardly ANY of your positions in mind when they vote to keep Mitch McConnell as majority leader?  

Dems can't mess around and lose Joe Donnelly's seat in 2018. We just can't afford to do it.  Hopefully, Democrats across the state will figure that out and solidfy that base vote.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Holcomb Should Halt General Assembly Assault on Government Transparency

Governor Eric Holcomb
Governor Eric Holcomb has a chance to send a statement to the Indiana General Assembly on behalf of the Hoosier people, and, if they listen, he just might save them from themselves.

If you've been following this legislative session, the state's alcoholic beverage laws and how to pay for infrastructure repairs have dominated much of the talk, but, as the bills start to hit Governor Holcomb's desk, there's one piece of legislation that isn't worth the paper it's printed on.

The Indiana House and Senate passed House Bill 1523. The bill would give Indiana's many layers of government the freedom to charge taxpayers, the media, or anyone wanting public records up to $20 an hour if the search requires more than two hours of research.  That can get quite expensive, and it can create a chilling effect especially for those who can't afford it.

Reporter Kaitlin Lange of the Evansville Courier-Press reports that Holcomb has several options.  Like his predecessor, Mike Pence, he can veto the measure.  Pence vetoed a similar bill when he was Governor.  He can sign the bill, or he can allow the bill to pass into law without his signature.

The last option would be a cowardly way out, but it would give the Governor an out by saying that he didn't agree with the legislation and wouldn't sign it. By signing the bill, he would put himself in a position that could give Democrats an attack position in 2020 when and if he decides to run for reelection.

His best option would be to do what Pence did and veto the bill.  The General Assembly would need just a bare majority to overturn his veto, but Holcomb would be on the record as standing with the Hoosier people against this ridiculous bill that would be a strike against government transparency.

He certainly hasn't done everything I've wished him to do, but Holcomb has been a much-needed advocate for Hoosier common sense so far in the Governor's Office.  This bill seems like another opportunity for Holcomb to stand up and be counted and show his independence from the legislative branch.

Perhaps by telling the General Assembly to take a hike on this price hike, he'll wake them up a little.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

In Memoriam: Don Rickles (1926-2017)

Don Rickles
Growing up, I was a weird kid.

It's true.  I was just strange.

As I look back, I can't explain why I did some of the things I did as I grew up.  I just did them.

One thing I still have problems with is sleeping.  For my entire life, I've been a night owl.  I would often stay up until one or two a.m. watching television.  Late night television was my constant companion.

My parents allowed me to watch TV or listen to the radio because when they tried to make me stop, I would invent ways to bother them.  The kicker came one night when I claimed to have "thrown up" in bed.  Mom said she went in to my room, and there was a simple puddle of spit in the bed.  Eventually, we made a deal.  If I didn't bother them at night, they would let me watch TV silently in my room.

So, Johnny Carson became my best friend at night.  When I'd watch Johnny, I'd get through a couple of guests and find myself dozing off.  Before you knew it, the TV would still be on, and I'd be sound asleep.

Today, I lost another great friend.

Mr. Warmth, Don Rickles, passed at the age of 90.  I can remember being exposed to Rickles and his unique brand of humor through his many appearances on the Tonight Show. He and Carson had a rapport that few have been able to match in show business.  They knew each other so well that any appearance on the Tonight Show became a sort of dance of comedy between two kings of it.

Rickles, of course, had along career on his own spanning over 60 years in the business.  He outlived almost every one of his contemporaries in comedy and was a link between the past and the present in comedy.

He had a challenging brand of humor.  He claimed to never write jokes but would often play off the audience or the situation.  He was great at improvising and you can go back and watch some of his mastery of that stream of consciousness kind of humor on YouTube.  I've spent hours laughing at Don and his Tonight Show appearances as well as other appearances on other talk shows.

If you watch Rickles enough, you get a deep sense of the man he was.  A man with a sharp wit and cutting tongue, but a soft heart and bright smile.  Rickles almost always would thank the audience or the host from his heart at some point...before sticking in the knife with a good and winking one liner.  Rickles could be making fun of you, but he laughed with you and not at you.

I feel like I've lost a friend.  Goodbye Mr. Warmth, and thanks for the laughs.

Angie's List Helping to Enable O'Reilly's Bad Behavior

Bill O'Reilly
If he worked for anyplace other than Fox News, Bill O'Reilly would be out of a job today.  That's my opinion.

In fact, "Bill O" as Keith Olbermann used to call him on his old show Countdown should have been gone long ago from the airwaves on the Fox News Channel, but it's a true "good ole boys" kind of place over there which marginalizes women newscasters and celebrates misogynistic behavior.  A smug, arrogant serial harrasser like O'Reilly appears to be must be seen as an asset by the folks at Fox.

Our "locker room talk" President has come out and defended O'Reilly, and that shouldn't surprise anybody.  Donald Trump's presidential campaign was knocked off track for about a month by his own crude comments toward women recorded by Access Hollywood microphones.  Trump is an enabler because he knows that people like O'Reilly buy him cover.

The fact of the matter is that Fox News should do what the parent company finally did to the old head of the network.  When it became clear that Roger Ailes harrassed multiple women in a sexual manner, he was forced out.  The same should happen to O'Reilly.

Of course, that would leave the Fox News Channel without one of its marquee stars.  The O'Reilly Factor is still a ratings juggernaut that brings in revenue and viewers for Fox News.  That said, the advertisers are starting to pull back from O'Reilly in recent weeks.  We've seen several companies say they don't want to be in the Bill O'Reilly business.

Indianapolis-based Angie's List is sticking beside O'Reilly.  That's sad, and it shows a lack of vision, in my opinion, by the company. It's these advertisers who are sticking in with O'Reilly that are helping to enable his bad behavior.  Apparently, Angie's List doesn't feel that supporting O'Reilly's show with money will have an effect on how the company, which has received taxpayer dollars over the years, is perceived.  Well, I hope the City-County Council, Mayor Joe Hogsett and others are paying attention the next time Angie's List comes for a tax-money handout.  I don't want my money to go to a company that supports a guy like Bill O'Reilly.  It should be noted that Eli Lilly pulled its ads from O'Reilly's show, according to the Indianapolis Star.

O'Reilly probably will survive this latest scandal.  Rush Limbaugh emerged from his scandal after he said awful things about Sandra Fluke.  His show was notably weaker out the other side, but Limbaugh just re-upped for a chunk of cash with his distributor.  O'Reilly may survive, but he'll come out the other side weakened.

I guess as long as Fox News feels like it can pay out settlements to excuse O'Reilly's serial harrassing behavior then they'll tolerate his antics.  Since Fox News seems unwilling to take the steps to remove and replace Bill O'Reilly, it's up to advertisers and viewers to ultimately decide whether they'll be so supportive.

Angie's List has pulled its ads from O'Reilly.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Donnelly Chooses to Confirm Gorsuch

Joe Donnelly
Senator Joe Donnelly announced on Sunday that he's supporting the confirmation of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court. It touched off a firestorm of praise and criticism from Indiana politicos.

Let's begin with the decision.  Donnelly, as a moderate, is often looked to in the Senate as a swing vote.  Sometimes he sides with Republicans.  Many times he sides with compromise.  That draws the ire of the progressive wing of Indiana Democrats who wish that he would fall more in line with liberal leanings.

That's just not Joe Donnelly.  It never has been, and it never will.  Joe Donnelly is going to make you mad if you're a progressive, and he's going to surprise you, too. In this case, he's casting his vote with lots in mind.

First of all, there's 2018 to worry about.  It will be a midterm election, and Donnelly is seen as one of the most vulnerable Senators.  The vote to confirm Gorsuch takes an entire attack angle off the table for the Indiana Republican Party.  The GOP can't beat him over the head with this vote like the NRA is trying to do with his gun control votes even though he voted for not only the Democratic gun control measures, but the Republican-supported ones too.

Secondly, there's a good chance that even with Donnelly's vote that Mitch McConnell won't have the 60 votes necessary for cloture and thus the Democrats will successfully have filibustered Gorsuch's confirmation.  The only way to confirm him is for McConnell to overturn the filibuster and use the so-called "nuclear option" and take a simple majority for Gorsuch to be confirmed.  Either way, it looks bad for the Republicans and McConnell.

Finally, Donnelly is standing up for the old rules of the Senate.  Before we reached this hyperpartisan era in politics, things used to be more collegial.  The President would nominate someone to a position that he believes is qualified.  It's up to the Senate to advise and consent to that nomination.  If someone is not qualified, the Senate is fully justified to vote down the nomination.  If, however, like Gorsuch, someone is qualified for the job, then the Senate votes to consent to the nomination even if there are philosophical differences.  This is how a judge like Ruth Bader Ginsburg was confirmed, 96-3.

I know that many liberals get upset when I point out the alternative to Donnelly in 2018 likely will be a Republican who is diametrically opposed to many of the things liberals support.  That always must be remembered.  Donnelly's balancing precariously right now.  He's going to need every vote he can get.

That's the choice liberals will have to make: voting on principle vs. quite probably losing the Senate seat.  I'm just being real.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Different Kind of Bathroom Bill Advances in General Assembly

Just when you thought things couldn't get any weirder at the Statehouse, you find another bill that somehow wiggled through the cracks.  This bathroom bill definitely will make you shake your head.

A deep reading of a bill moving through the Indiana General Assembly unbelievably contains a major provision that will make it the law as of July 1 that you must buy something at a Hoosier business first to be able to use that establishment's restroom facilities.

House Bill 1212 sponsored by Representative Perry Ellsroth (R-Stone Head) would make it a misdemeanor punishable by a $50 fine or six months in jail to use the bathroom at any Indiana business without buying something first.

"I don't forsee people calling the police over this, but business owners are tired of seeing customers have to wait while people use the facilities in their businesses without purchasing anything.  This is espescially true in communities situated along interstates," said Ellsroth.

Ellsroth said his bill does not establish a limit on how much you have to spend, but he expects the bill to help the state make more in sales tax even if the bill is just a few cents.  "Every little bit helps,"

Enforcement will be an issue, but Ellsroth says that any business that allows someone to use its bathroom for free needs only to post a sign on the door saying that the restrooms are free for public use, "We thought that was a simple fix for those businesses that did not want to participate."

In 2015, Ellsroth raised eyebrows when he sponsored a bill to change Indiana's bird from the cardinal to the American bald eagle.  That measure failed when people realized that there is no Perry Ellsroth from Stone Head in the Indiana General Assembly and then realized it was April Fool's Day.  As always, I remind you to be on guard when reading things on the internet today.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Future Caucus Promotes Cooperation, Bi-Partisanship in State Government

A group of 14 Indiana lawmakers held a news conference yesterday in Indianapolis, and their message was extremely important.

Bi-partisanship, reaching across the aisle, and working together is something that should happen in government and that should start asap.  Indiana's "Future Caucus" is a group of 14 milennial Indiana lawmakers (seven from each party) dedicated to trying to find common ground and work together.

The news conference on the Statehouse lawn yesterday included ideological opposites Democrat Dan Forestal and Republican Timothy Wesco as well as other lawmakers.  If Wesco and Forestal can find common ground, there is hope for us all.

As representatives of the caucus and the Millenial Action Project said at the news conference, it's critical to show millenials that even opposites agree on many things.  It's also important to reach out and involve young people in the political process.

I know from talking to young people on a near daily basis that many want to be involved, but they have no idea what the "on ramp" is to get involved or don't understand why there is so much rancor an gridlock in politics.  Frankly, I have trouble sometimes with that.  I certainly wish things were much more collegial on both sides of the aisle.

I wish he future caucus the best as it hopefully grows from 14 to maybe 150 someday in Indiana.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Indiana Congressional Caucus Splits on Internet Privacy, Trump Tax Return Issues

All of the Republican members of the Indiana U.S. House delegation voted to rollback Obama-era privacy rules and to allow your internet service provider to sell your web search data to advertisers.

Democrats AndrĂ© Carson and Pete Visclosky voted to protect your privacy.  The Republican delegation of Jackie Walorski, Jim Banks, Todd Rokita, Susan Brooks, Luke Messer, Larry Bucschon, and Trey Hollingsworth voted in favor of violating your privacy and selling that data without your consent.

Sickening isn't it?

This came on a day when many of these same representatives (all but Messer who didn't vote) voted to keep President Trump's tax returns private even as questions about his ties to overseas governments continue to mount.  Carson and Visclosky voted to have the Trump tax returns released to Congress.

So, as you surf the net, you can thank your Republicans in the U.S. House for less privacy and for allowing your ISP to sell your data.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Brewer Takes Chance on Reality TV

Former Mayor Candidate
Chuck Brewer
I was perusing my Facebook wall this morning when I saw local activist Evan McMahon's post on a new CNBC Show.

"I was watching previews for The Partner, on CNBC, and thinking 'man that guy looks familiar'. Well he should, it's former Indy Mayoral candidate and owner of both Soupremacy and Potbelly, Chuck Brewer," wrote McMahon.

Inspired to do a Google search, I found the show's web page.  Sure enough.  There's the first contestant, Chuck Brewer.

In his contestant video, Brewer highlights his military service and his success in business.  He talks about selling off his Potbelly franchise and continuing to work with his own concept, Soupremacy.  Again, it doesn't tap into his personal life too much other than he's a father.  It also doesn't mention anything about him running unsuccessfully for Mayor of Indianapolis.

Nevertheless, Chuck Brewer impressed many with his run in 2015, and I wish him the best on the reality show.

Monday, March 13, 2017

What's Up With the Blog?

I've been pretty sporadic about posting lately, and I apologize.

I need to get back on the blogging horse, but it's not probably going to happen over the next couple of weeks.  I have some busy times ahead followed by a two-week vacation and a good friend coming into town.

Thus, I'll post whenever something gets my dander flying, as my grandmother used to say, so stay tuned.  As always, I appreciate your patience when I go on these "sabbaticals".

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Hogsett Building Strong Relationships Across Aisle

Mayor Hogsett and Governor Holcomb share
a laugh at a jobs announcement
Photo courtesy of Twitter
As President, Barack Obama was widely known as “No Drama Obama”. The circus took over on January 20, and the poo hasn’t stopped being flung.  In Washington, we could use a little less drama these days. 

Thankfully, here in Indianapolis, we have our own version of “No Drama Obama” and that’s Joe Hogsett. 

 His smoothly sailing ship has yet to hit an iceberg in this city, and he’s just done it by going about his business and doing the work.

Hogsett has barely hit a speed bump with most of the City-County Council. Sure, there’s a renegade few on the body, but they are largely hidden by a strong relationship that Hogsett has built with the Republican side of the aisle. 

The Republicans like Hogsett…even when they have to criticize him. If you don’t believe me, pull aside one of the Republicans and ask them. The Mayor has reached out across the aisle and has listened to their concerns.
Republicans feel more listened to than they did under Greg Ballard. Again, if you don’t believe me, ask them in a private moment.  Sure, you'll get the pushback from time to time that politics requires, but it's half-hearted pushback at best.  You won't see Joe Hogsett yelling down a Republican member of the Council.
When you think about it, the drama that existed between the Council and the Mayor’s Office is largely gone. Part of that is partisan, sure. It doesn’t go unnoticed that Hogsett is a Democrat with a 14-11 majority on the City-County Council, but one only has to look back about 10 years to see the dysfunction between Democrats that led to a Republican snap back as they took back the Mayor’s Office and the Council in 2007. 

Maggie Lewis is a very capable Council President, and she’s more comfortable ever in that position. With Zach Adamson in the Vice President’s role and Mike McQuillen leading the opposition, the Council seems to have found a sweet spot where it’s getting things done for the city and putting good proposals on the Mayor’s desk for his signature.

As we reach halftime of this Mayor’s first term, it’s hard to see a snapback coming. Jim Merritt was a good choice for the Republicans to lead their sinking ship in Marion County. If anyone can plug their holes, he can. Kate Sweeney Bell is also a great choice for Democrats moving forward. She will be a strong chair, and, as Hogsett’s choice to succeed Joel Miller, ensures there will be tranquility in the party, as much as there can be for Democrats, anyway.

There are lots of problems for the City of Indianapolis to solve, and the Republicans and Democrats in city government are going to have to continue to be a model for other governmental agencies to continue to get things fixed here in our city.

Even though it’s bad for my blog, I love the “No Drama” philosophy.