Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Does Anyone Think that Daniels Won't Run?

Daniels, Bauer, and Young
Damn the polls, full speed ahead.

While in the Christmas spirit, Matt Tully has praised Mitch Daniels for being a "politician willing to offer idea after idea in a state where new ideas are often shunned." Lesley Stedman Weidenbener has given a nice rundown of Daniels' "idea after idea", and rough handicaps on some of their political chances.

In the face of this artillery barrage of new ideas, some of which contain political friendly fire (to continue the military analogy), the Indianapolis Star says that Daniels is "undecided on when to decide" about running for a second term. In the piece, the governor quips that a traffic accident could cause him to not run again. That sort of remark doesn't seem like something you would hear from a guy that is giving serious consideration to not running.

Does anyone seriously think that Mitch Daniels won't run for a second term? While he is not exactly beloved, he has faced none of the problems of, say, Ernie Fletcher in Kentucky, who is being actively challenged in the forthcoming gubernatorial primary and may not even be on the ballot to run for reelection when Kentucky elects its governor next year.

I've said many times (and I won't bother to link to them), that Mitch Daniels can use a mixture of big ideas to exploit Democratic opposition to his administration while seizing the middle ground and adopting some popular Democratic issues for himself. A Hoosier version of the Bill Clinton and Dick Morris strategy of triangulation, if you will (even as loathsome as the mention of Clinton must be to a Republican like Daniels).

Yet as he continues to throw out yet more big (and often controversial) new ideas, the potency of such a strategy is diluted and its potential fades. People get dull to constant announcements of big new ideas just like they get dull to anything else. Daniels already has the image and reputation of a hard-driving, polls-be-damned reformer.

Mitch Daniels doesn't need to tread into more controversial terrain on things like privatizing the lottery to cement that image. He also doesn't need to divide his limited political capital among so many divergent reform notions. The vision thing matters, but so do execution and focus.

The governor, as leader of his party and a politician whether he admits it or not, must bear in mind the challenge facing him if he (as seems certain) intends to seek reelection. Appearing to be a damn-the-polls man of ideas is one thing. Being one, and politically recklessly so, is quite another. He's probably not to a tipping point there yet, but he should be wary of getting too close to one.

Ideas, after all, have consequences. Big ideas, even larger ones.

You Know You're a Republican/Democrat If...

You know you're a Republican if...

You think that 2006 was just an awful year. You're glad it's over, but are sure that the next two aren't going to be any better.

You know you're a Democrat if...

You think that 2006 was just a great year. You hope for more of the same, but still can't bear the thought of two more years of what brought it.

New year coming.

It's getting time for a new sort of daily routine post.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Open Door Questions Ignore Locked Doors

The Courier-Journal and the Corydon Democrat both have articles this week about the ongoing courthouse "entry" saga (originally detailed here, here, and here).

As noted before, the nature of the meeting held by the commissioners on the original matter (about which the Courier and the Democrat remain mum and disinterested) resulted in an open-door challenge. This challenge has been upheld, though so also have been the decisions of the meeting that prompted it. The opinion on the challenge is entirely advisory in nature anyway.

At least the Courier-Journal's Grace Schneider reviews the circumstances that led to the meeting. The Corydon Democrat, perhaps because the original circumstances involve a Democrat, mentions not a word about such things. I wish I could say that I was surprised.

It seems that some of the folks in the Courthouse, like the Auditor that was supposed to post the meeting (and is now county treasurer), need a refresher on Indiana state law. Some folks at the Corydon Democrat might need to retake some basic classes on investigative journalism.

If it were not for Marian Pearcy's compulsive push for the county government to follow open door laws, the entire thing would have long since been swept under the rug. Transparency is important, but it is worthless unless media organizations like the Corydon Democrat are willing to follow through on that openness with some element of actual investigative reporting.

You Know You're a Republican/Democrat If...

You know you're a Republican if...

You visited Disneyland as a kid, and the Magic Kingdom castle reminded you of your family's summer home.

You know you're a Democrat if...

You visited Disneyland as a kid, and thought the depiction of the animatronic bears was insensitive and specieist.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Good Bayh is not Forever?

Evan Bayh
Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but someday.

I haven't posted a lot about Evan Bayh's presidential aspirations; given the perspective of recent history (with both his father and Dick Lugar), I never thought that he had a chance regardless of his resume on paper. Only their end, with the acceptance of reality, is exceptionally noteworthy.

Even now, despite the withdrawal, Bayh speculation continues. Some say this is just a tactical decision and that the junior senator from Indiana (who is only fifty) will attempt to run again later. Others think that it his withdrawal is merely a clever ploy to gain his party's vice presidential nod (not that someone just as moderate, more southern, and more telegenic like Mark Warner wouldn't get it first).

Such political guessing and speculating is, I think, misguided. So long as there are Democrats out there that are more telegenic, more southern, and can get more electoral votes than Bayh, they will get the nomination. Individuals such as Barack Obama and John Edwards come to mind. Moreover, so long as such individuals exist, even if they are not running for president, it is more likely that they will get chosen for the VP slot than Evan Bayh. Individuals like Mark Warner fit this category.

Enough with the Bayh obsession, already. People didn't get this worked up into a lather when Dick Lugar ran for President, and he was arguably a better candidate and a better public servant. He's certainly the better senator. That sets aside the stupendously lackluster campaign of Birch Bayh for president, who also had more going for him.

It is simply written in the stars (and in the electoral map and Bayh's vapidity) that he will never be president, and probably never be vice president either.

You Know You're a Republican/Democrat If...

You know you're a Republican if...

Your idea of "compassionate conservatism" means giving your employees praise instead of a raise.

You know you're a Democrat if...

Your idea of "liberalism" means using other people's money liberally for the causes you support.

Monday, December 18, 2006

CJ Profiles the Capitol News

Brian Thomas, Publisher of the Capitol News
Looking at a Job Well Done

The Courier-Journal also today has a nice profile on the Capitol News, the alternative newspaper in Harrison County to the Corydon Democrat. It's a good and fair article (even giving the Democrat a chance to speak, gracefully, about the competition).

I really like that the county has two newspapers. It's hard to expect completely unbiased (intentional or not) coverage from a newspaper whose banner is the Corydon Democrat, that is owned by a family steeped in Democratic Party politics (it used to be owned by Governor Frank O'Bannon), and whose masthead tends to be populated by some of the most liberal folks in the entire county (Randy West comes to mind, though he recently retired).

The Capitol News has provided the first real alternative to the Democrat in many years. There have been attempts to provide a second county newspaper in the past, but all fell short and were not as promising as the Capitol News has thus far proven to be.

The Capitol News is the first real incentive to force the Corydon Democrat's staff to stay on their toes and not let things slide concerning the party of their name. With the Democratic Party now controlling virtually everything within Harrison County's government, that is a burden that is all the more important.

In this sense, competition is very much a good thing. Harrison County is unlikely to see the sorts of newspaper wars that characterized Hearst and Pulitzer, of course, but it's good that the staffs at each paper know that, if they do not cover something, then the other paper likely will scoop them.

Young to Run for Governor

Senator Richard Young (D - Milltown)
Crawford County Hits the Big Leagues

The Courier-Journal reports that Richard Young, the current Democratic Senate Minority Leader, is going to run for governor against Mitch Daniels. As much as I hold Frank O'Bannon in high regard, I don't think that he would have had a chance to be elected governor if he had not first served as lieutenant governor for Evan Bayh. Accordingly, I don't think that Young will have much of a chance against other Democratic candidates from Indianapolis and other areas of the state more populated than Crawford County (which, unfortunately for Young and not to denigrate Crawford County, is most places).

Vi Simpson, who was going to run in 2004 before Joe Kernan changed his mind about running to become governor in his own right, may yet decide to run. There is little love lost between Simpson and Young; she failed in her bid to unseat him as Senate Minority Leader last month.

Simpson aside, though, now that Young has declared the floodgates should open on announcements for Democratic gubernatorial candidates. Running for the White House it is not; it's far too soon to speculate or call frontrunners and so forth. That said, I don't think that Young starts at the top of the list of potential candidates, even when lots of them haven't made up their minds yet.

You Know You're a Republican/Democrat If...

You know you're a Republican if...

You're thriller about government financial support of church-based social programs, as long as it's not for Islamic churches.

You know you're a Democrat if...

You insist upon a strict separation of church and state, unless it threatens your daughter's scholarship to Notre Dame.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

In the End, There Can Be Only One...

Senator Evan Bayh
"There were too many Goliaths... I'm just not the right David."

...and it now appears that it won't be Evan Bayh (D - Indiana). Our state's cardboard cut-out of a senator has found out the same thing that Republican Dick Lugar learned several years ago; a Senator from Indiana, of either party, has virtually no chance of successfully gaining a presidential nomination.

Given that Dick Lugar has more gravitas and intelligence in a single finger than Bayh has in his entire body, this should have been a certain indication that Birch Bayh's son had no chance. I have heard Democrats call Bayh a "plastic man" and a "Ken doll", and so various commentators saying today that Bayh had no "fire in his belly" for the campaign (among other interesting colloquialisms) is a bit of an understatement.

Evan Bayh is like John Edwards, but with an actual record of accomplishment and with no charismatic speeches. The latter are obviously more important in American presidential politics, since the entry of Edwards into the Democratic field now seems imminent.

Those with great memories or a flair for Hoosier political trivia might recall that Birch Bayh ran for president several times. Those with even better memories might note (as I interestingly read recently in a totally unrelated book) that, in 1976, the elder Bayh received the vote of only one delegate.

This delegate was Thomas P. O'Neill III, then the lieutenant governor of Massachusetts and the son of House Speaker Tip O'Neill. Birch Bayh spent a million dollars in his bid in 1976 to become president, and the lone delegate that he got for his troubles was derided at the time as the "million dollar delegate."

Today, at least Birch Bayh's son learned from his father to step out of the race before wasting that much money for absolutely nothing.

You Know You're a Republican/Democrat If...

You know you're a Republican if...

You plan to become a generous philanthropist if you ever get rich.

You know you're a Democrat if...

You plan to help out at the local soup kitchen one of these days.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Obituary, Jeane Kirkpatrick, 1926-2006

Jeane Kirkpatrick
Jeane Kirkpatrick, Diplomat and Hawk, 1926-2006

The Seymour Tribune has an editorial this week praising former Reagan administration representative to the United Nations Jeane Kirkpatrick upon her passing, saying, "Few intellectuals can communicate effectively both with academics and intelligent non-specialists. Jeane Kirkpatrick had this gift. She cultivated and used it in the service of American liberty."

Years ago, I wrote a paper about Kirkpatrick. Even today, her writing and actions have lasting consequence. She came to the attention of Ronald Reagan for her authorship of a piece in the magazine Commentary entitled "Dictatorships and Double Standards" (on Wikipedia, and full transcript at the Commentary site).

The central thesis of this article was that the United States should support pro-American authoritarian regimes and differentiate them from totalitarian (communist) states. At a time when Jimmy Carter's advocacy of human rights and spurning of some American allies (like Augusto Pinochet, apartheid South Africa, and the Shah of Iran), was blamed for the rise of the Sandinistas in Nicaragua and the Islamic Revolution in Iran (among other things), her writings struck a powerful cord with Reagan and others.

The policy advocated by Jeane Kirkpatrick bears little resemblance to the policies now being undertaken by the Bush administration in the Middle East. This comes despite much conservative and Republican lament at her passing, and a lot of writing comparing John Bolton, Bush's UN representative, to her.

Indeed, some of "Dictatorships and Double Standards" is amazingly prescient, topical, and contradictory to America's situation and position today:

Thus, in the hope of strengthening a government, U.S. policymakers are led, mistake after mistake, to impose measures almost certain to weaken its authority. Hurried efforts to force complex and unfamiliar political practices on societies lacking the requisite political culture, tradition, and social structures not only fail to produce desired outcomes; if they are undertaken at a time when the traditional regime is under attack, they actually facilitate the job of the insurgents.

Vietnam presumably taught us that the United States could not serve as the world's policeman; it should also have taught us the dangers of trying to be the world's midwife to democracy when the birth is scheduled to take place under conditions of guerrilla war.

If the administration's actions in Iran and Nicaragua reflect the pervasive and mistaken assumption that one can easily locate and impose democratic alternatives to incumbent autocracies, they also reflect the equally pervasive and equally flawed belief that change per se in such autocracies is inevitable, desirable, and in the American interest.

Kirkpatrick briefly served for brief stint in 2003 in Geneva as head of the United States delegation to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights under the Bush administration. Even so, one must get the distinct impression--at least from her prior writings--that she did/would not think much of George W. Bush's "forward strategy of freedom" for the Middle East.

Kirkpatrick was a lifelong Democrat until 1985, when she switched party affiliation to become a Republican. Her switch came after her departure from the United Nations post and after she gave the keynote address at the Republican Convention in Dallas in 1996. As much as 1979's "Dictatorships and Double Standards" is a rebuke today to George W. Bush, her 1984 "Blame America First" speech (transcript) is still a rebuke to her former party.

Ambassador Kirkpatrick spoke in scathing terms about the "San Francisco Democrats", so called as much for the connotation that remains today but also because the Democrats had just held their own political convention in that city. Democrat Senator Zell Miller, who gave his own party a thrashing at the Republican Convention in 2004 (transcript), followed in Kirkpatrick's shoes. Kirkpatrick:

[The San Francisco Democrats] said that saving Grenada from terror and totalitarianism was the wrong thing to do - they didn't blame Cuba or the communists for threatening American students and murdering Grenadians - they blamed the United States instead.

But then, somehow, they always blame America first.

When our Marines, sent to Lebanon on a multinational peacekeeping mission with the consent of the United States Congress, were murdered in their sleep, the "blame America first crowd" didn't blame the terrorists who murdered the Marines, they blamed the United States.

But then, they always blame America first.

When the Soviet Union walked out of arms control negotiations, and refused even to discuss the issues, the San Francisco Democrats didn't blame Soviet intransigence. They blamed the United States.

But then, they always blame America first.

When Marxist dictators shoot their way to power in Central America, the San Francisco Democrats don't blame the guerrillas and their Soviet allies, they blame United States policies of 100 years ago.

But then, they always blame America first.

The American people know better.

They know that Ronald Reagan and the United States didn't cause Marxist dictatorship in Nicaragua, or the repression in Poland, or the brutal new offensives in Afghanistan, or the destruction of the Korean airliner, or the new attacks on religious and ethnic groups in the Soviet Union, or the jamming of western broadcasts, or the denial of Jewish emigration, or the brutal imprisonment of Anatoly Shcharansky and Ida Nudel, or the obscene treatment of Andrei Sakharov and Yelena Bonner, or the re-Stalinization of the Soviet Union.

The American people know that it's dangerous to blame ourselves for terrible problems that we did not cause.

They understand just as the distinguished French writer, Jean Francois Revel, understands the dangers of endless self- criticism and self-denigration.

He wrote: "Clearly, a civilization that feels guilty for everything it is and does will lack the energy and conviction to defend itself."

Jeane Kirkpatrick is gone, and the world will not see the like of her again. Who now will pursue the third way of departing from the Bush foreign policy of America as "the world's midwife to democracy" while not moving to the opposite extreme of "blaming America first"?

You Know You're a Republican/Democrat If...

You know you're a Republican if...

You think every American child is entitled to a high school education, as long as your taxes aren't increased to pay for it.

You know you're a Democrat if...

You think every American is entitled to a government-paid college education, even if they don't finish high school.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Almost SNL Material

Matt Tully has a nice column this week poking fun at Mitch Daniels' recent lecture to reporters about how they should ask questions. Antagonizing the press is rather a bad idea, but you can almost see Tully's scenario airing on a late-night Indiana version of Saturday Night Live. Maybe Darrell Hammond can play Daniels. He did well enough with Dick Cheney and Rudy Giuliani, so the hair shouldn't be a problem.

Dumb reporter: Governor Daniels, how in the world did you get so smart?

Smart governor: Just happened that way, I guess. Next.

DR: Sir, I'd like to ask about daylight-saving time. But first, tell me: Should I call it your "clock modernization program" or "your confusing mess that cost Republicans the House after you didn't finish the job of getting the entire state on the same time zone?"

SG: I think the former would provide the basis of a better question. Go ahead.

DR: Actually, I was just hoping you could give me the time. I broke my watch when I slammed it against the wall the other day. Changing those things can be really frustrating.

SG: Really? I had no problem with mine. Of course, I am a pretty smart guy.

DR: Governor, in some feature articles about you, writers have said you are 5-feet-6. But you seem much, much taller. Is it OK if I refer to you in my articles as "a tad under 6-foot?"

SG: That would be fine. Next question.

DR: Governor, critics say your suburban toll road plan would needlessly destroy farmland and drive jobs out of Indianapolis. Do you think those critics are selfish or just stupid?

SG: Now that's a great question. Insightful. Penetrating. Complex. Not bemusing at all! That's what I'm looking for, folks. As for my answer, I'll go with "all of the above."

DR: Many Hoosiers don't seem to like you. For argument's sake, we'll just say that group includes everyone north of Kokomo. What's their problem?

SG: I really don't know. I'm very bemused by this. If I had to guess, I'd say they must not know how smart I am.

DR: When you were White House budget chief, you were quoted as saying the Iraq war could cost just $50 billion. Should we assume that ridiculously low estimate was the result of a bemusing question?

SG: Yes. If the question had been asked properly, I certainly would have answered in 2003 dollars -- not 1903 dollars.

DR: Governor Daniels, how badly would you beat Indianapolis Mayor Bart Peterson if he ran against you in 2008?

SG: Oh, pretty badly. I would say as badly as the Colts beat Jacksonville on Sunday.

DR: Um, pardon me, governor. But the Colts actually lost that game. Would you like to restate your answer?

SG: Tsk. Tsk. Another bemusing question.

Humor aside, the Great Communicator Mitch Daniels is not. For running a flawless grassroots campaign focused on communicating and listening to rural Hoosiers, Daniels has fallen far. The end of the campaign does not end the need to effectively and intelligently communicate a message to the people. And when I say intelligently, I don't mean with what is perceived by the press (rightly or wrongly) as a cerebral and aloof air.

You Know You're a Republican/Democrat If...

You know you're a Republican if...

You despise Hollywood celebrities who think their political opinions should be heard... unless they're named Ronald, Arnold, Mel, or Charlton.

You know you're a Democrat if...

You're thrilled when Hollywood celebrities put their star power behind a cause... unless that cause is running for governor of California.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

More Privatization

Hoosier Lotto Logo
Somebody's gonna win, but will it be us?

The buzz seems to be that Mitch Daniels is going to propose privatizing the Hoosier Lottery tomorrow as a way to finance improvements in higher education.

Supposedly, such a scheme could bring in a billion dollars, which is well less than what Illinois was looking to get ($10 billion) when it considered privatizing its lottery. Granted, Illinois is a much more populous state, but it does not have ten times the population of Indiana. Either the Daniels privatization initiative is substantially different from that proposed in Illinois, or Representative Jeff Espich (R - Uniondale) is right and the arrangement should provide Indiana with more money.

All of this assumes that what will be announced by Daniels tomorrow is full-fledged privatization. This is by no means certain. The Howey Political Report headline right now reads "Daniels, University Presidents to Announce Lottery Franchising." The caption:

Gov. Mitch Daniels, shown here walking to Indiana's 190th birthday celebration at the Statehouse, told HPR on Monday that he and university presidents will make a landmark announcement involving the Hoosier Lottery and funding of higher education at 11 a.m. Thursday. The information is embargoed until that time. It comes as Gov. Rod Blagojevic, D-Illinois, is seeking to privatize his state's lottery. Another Democratic governor, Ed Rendell of Pennsylvania, is proposing to lease the Pennsylvania Turnpike. Watch for details and analysis in Thursday's weekly edition of HPR which features an extensive interview with Gov. Daniels.

Assuming it is not a clever euphemism for privatization, and they are two very different words, franchising the lottery sounds very different from privatizing it. A franchise is a license extended by a central corporation (like McDonald's) to run a business in its name, and usually there are lots of franchises issued.

That's not quite selling the whole business entirely. I'm not sure that it's all that much better, but it's not the same thing.

Privatizing--selling off an asset or enterprise to the private sector--makes sense in areas where the government cannot operate the enterprise as efficiently or effectively as the private sector. In the 1980s, countries like Great Britain privatized their steel mills, coal mines, and phone services after the government proved unable to run them competently or effectively.

Given that the Hoosier Lottery is bringing in a profit of almost two hundred million dollars per year to the state, I don't think that it can be said that the state is running it ineffectively as it stands. Maybe it could make more money, but from a socio-economic standpoint, would we want it to? After all, its sales and profits come right out of Hoosier pockets. And if it isn't broke, why should we be trying to fix it?

Improve it, maybe. But sell it off entirely? Why? Lots of things in Indiana are broken and need fixing. Mitch Daniels was elected by campaigning to fix them, and I don't think that this is one of those things.

You Know You're a Republican/Democrat If...

You know you're a Republican if...

You support George W. Bush's plan to put a man on Mars.

You know you're a Democrat if...

You want that man to be George W. Bush.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Riverboat Revenue Sharing to be Unchanged

The CJ's Grace Schneider has been burning the night oil, providing this late night article about the decision by the Harrison County Council to leave unchanged the revenue sharing agreements with Crawford County. They have also (quite sensibly) moved the date for the consideration of revisions to revenue sharing arrangements with other counties to the summer, instead of doing them so late in the year. This makes the budgeting process easier for the other counties.

Retaining the payment to Crawford County makes more sense than increasing payments to Floyd and Washington Counties on the reasoning of helping them with traffic that is going to a casino whose revenues do not benefit Harrison County (discussed earlier here). Even so, the fact that Crawford County is likely to get money from Orange County and the French Lick casino would indicate to me that a revision to the amount of money that Harrison County is giving to Crawford County could be in the offing in future revenue sharing revisions.

Hidden down in the article was also this tidbit:

In other business, the council voted unanimously to table the commissioners’ request for $75,000 to pay RQAW Inc., an Indianapolis architectural firm, to update the county’s facilities master plan. Instead, the group agreed that the new council that will take office in January should take up the matter.

The payment has been the subject of disagreement between some members who think the price is too high. Others think it’s a reasonable amount to pay the same firm which designed the county justice center more than a decade ago and the recent $4 million courthouse renovation.

Mathes, a Democrat whose term extends two more years, smiled when he told his fellow council members "Thanks a lot."

It isn't Buck Mathes that should be thanking the Council for putting off a decision on the controversial RQAW contract. Terry Miller is thanking them even more. Miller, a former commissioner who was elected again in November and will be returning to office in January, took significant campaign contributions from Joseph Mrak, the senior vice president at RQAW.

The issue of Terry Miller's interesting sources of campaign financing came up in the primaries (Google cache from this search), but was never truly pressed in the general election. There is even a nifty graphic showing all of the money that Miller was getting from various county contractors to finance his campaign.

Now, returned to the Commissioners Board, Terry Miller will be in a position to potentially use his influence to benefit his benefactors as the soon-to-be-Democratic-dominated Harrison County Council will consider the contract.

The return of Millerism is at hand.

You Know You're a Republican/Democrat If...

You know you're a Republican if...

You admire John Kerry for two things: He's got nice hair and he says the wrong things at the right times for Republicans.

You know you're a Democrat if...

You admire John Kerry for all the ways he reminds you of John Kennedy: He's a Democrat.. from Massachusetts... named John... and... and... he's got nice hair.

Saturday, December 9, 2006

Lee Hamilton is a Busy Man

For being seventy-five, Lee Hamilton keeps a busy schedule.

This past week, the Iraq Study Group which he co-chaired submitted its report on how to win/end/leave the war there. Even so, Hamilton found time to write an opinion piece for the Seymour Tribune about elections: "When the voters take control."

Maybe the Iraq Study Group report should be called, "When the radicals and terrorists take control", since the report seems to prefer a course that will cause at least one of those two groups to end up in charge of most of Iraq. Not, unfortunately, that there are any really better options out there. Different paths were available in the past, but are not now for various reasons.

I'm glad Mr. Hamilton has so much free time. Saving America in Iraq, appearing on all of those television shows, and writing a column for a newspaper, all in one week and all at age seventy-five. I should be so spry if I live to be that old.

On the plus side, I guess that coming up with a solution for Iraq must not have been that difficult, if Lee Hamilton could have taken a break from it to write a newspaper column...

You Know You're a Republican/Democrat If...

You know you're a Republican if...

You and your third spouse vehemently oppose same-sex marriage, because it damages the traditional institution of marriage.

You know you're a Democrat if...

You firmly believe marriage should be defined by judges and only be between consenting adults of the same species, for now.

Thursday, December 7, 2006

Sixty-Five Years Ago Today

Struck by a Japanese bomb, the forward magazines of the USS Arizona explode.
Struck by a Japanese bomb, the forward magazines of the USS Arizona explode.

The ruined hulk of the USS Arizona burns after the attack.
The ruined hulk of the USS Arizona burns after the attack.

Mr. Vice President, Mr. Speaker, members of the Senate and the House of Representatives:

Yesterday, December 7, 1941 - a date which will live in infamy - the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan.

The United States was at peace with that nation, and, at the solicitation of Japan, was still in conversation with its government and its Emperor looking toward the maintenance of peace in the Pacific.

Indeed, one hour after Japanese air squadrons had commenced bombing in the American island of Oahu, the Japanese Ambassador to the United States and his colleague delivered to our Secretary of State a formal reply to a recent American message. And, while this reply stated that it seemed useless to continue the existing diplomatic negotiations, it contained no threat or hint of war or of armed attack.

It will be recorded that the distance of Hawaii from Japan makes it obvious that the attack was deliberately planned many days or even weeks ago. During the intervening time the Japanese Government has deliberately sought to deceive the United States by false statements and expressions of hope for continued peace.

The attack yesterday on the Hawaiian Islands has caused severe damage to American naval and military forces. I regret to tell you that very many American lives have been lost. In addition, American ships have been reported torpedoed on the high seas between San Francisco and Honolulu.

Yesterday the Japanese Government also launched an attack against Malaya. Last night Japanese forces attacked Hong Kong. Last night Japanese forces attacked Guam. Last night Japanese forces attacked the Philippine Islands. Last night the Japanese attacked Wake Island. And this morning the Japanese attacked Midway Island.

Japan has therefore undertaken a surprise offensive extending throughout the Pacific area. The facts of yesterday and today speak for themselves. The people of the United States have already formed their opinions and well understand the implications to the very life and safety of our nation.

As Commander-in-Chief of the Army and Navy I have directed that all measures be taken for our defense, that always will our whole nation remember the character of the onslaught against us.

No matter how long it may take us to overcome this premeditated invasion, the American people, in their righteous might, will win through to absolute victory.

I believe that I interpret the will of the Congress and of the people when I assert that we will not only defend ourselves to the uttermost but will make it very certain that this form of treachery shall never again endanger us.

Hostilities exist. There is no blinking at the fact that our people, our territory and our interests are in grave danger.

With confidence in our armed forces, with the unbounding determination of our people, we will gain the inevitable triumph. So help us God.

I ask that the Congress declare that since the unprovoked and dastardly attack by Japan on Sunday, December 7, 1941, a state of war has existed between the United States and the Japanese Empire.

- Franklin Delano Roosevelt, December 8, 1941, to a Joint Session of Congress

'Avenge Pearl Harbor!' Propaganda Poster
"Avenge Pearl Harbor!" propaganda poster.

Sailors honor the Pearl Harbor dead in Hawaiian tradition.
Sailors honor the Pearl Harbor dead in Hawaiian tradition.

Harrison Commissioners Bolster Security, Cut Taxes

The Corydon Democrat notes the highlights of a recent meeting of the Harrison County Commissioners. First, they paid for a new security system. Second, they cut property taxes (also mentioned in the Courier-Journal).

Given that it is the Corydon Democrat, the sparse mentioning of certain things comes with the territory. Their article about improving courthouse security devoted only a single sentence to the incident that provoked the discovery that the security system was inadequate, the entry of a Democratic Party precinct committeeman and Deputy Prosecutor into the courthouse after hours before the election to use county equipment for his own (and possibly political) purposes. The investigation into that incident is, word has it, still underway.

I guess it is also unsurprising that the property tax reduction approved by the (still until January) Republican-majority commissioners got only a single paragraph mention down at the end, lumped with school debt reduction, while the Courier thought it notable enough to gain an entire article. The Corydon Democrat also decided not to mention the possibility of that property tax reduction much before the election. One can't help but wonder why.

But on the plus side, at least the Democrat's editorial writers want Harrison County to continue paying for schools in Crawford County. Not like our own schools could use more money or anything. There is that whole North Harrison teacher contract dispute, but that is no matter when Crawford County needs our money.

Baron for Governor Buzz

David Mann's recent political notebook mentions recent blog buzz (perhaps partially from here) that Baron Hill might consider a run for governor:

Gov. Hill?

The slogan for opponents last month was that congressman-elect Baron Hill had "gone Washington" during his previous terms. Now, however, many are theorizing that he’s "going Indianapolis."

The dust has barely settled on the 9th District Congressional race, in which Hill bested Republican incumbent Mike Sodrel. Hill hasn’t even started serving in Washington yet, and already pundits are mentioning his name as a possible candidate for governor of Indiana in 2008.

The blogging universe had been mentioning that rumor for the last week or so. But, I had to take notice when panelists on Indiana Week in Review — a weekly debate show broadcast on Indianapolis-based public television station WFYI — mentioned Hill as part of a dream battle for the governor’s office.

The other part of the dream: Republicans lose Daniels and draft Indiana 6th Congressional District Rep. Mike Pence to run against Hill.

Hill is from Seymour. Pence was born in Columbus. Would that be a dream or a nightmare for us in the southern part of the state?

Pence should probably stay in Congress. It's a bit soon to stick a fork in Mitch Daniels and pronounce him "done" in Indiana politics, after all. Even then, one need only look at Kentucky's far-less-politically-fortunate (and much-more-investigated) Ernie Fletcher to see how far one must fall before Daniels can expect to not get his party's nomination (and Fletcher may still get the nomination in Kentucky).

But Hill? While only Baron knows for sure, I think that the odds are only a tad less than fifty-fifty. Go Baron, go. Run Baron, run. Didn't Hill hold a running record or something? Oh wait.

You Know You're a Republican/Democrat If...

You know you're a Republican if...

You think Rush Limbaugh is an intellectual.

You know you're a Democrat if...

You think Barbra Streisand is an insightful political commentator.

Tuesday, December 5, 2006

Full-Day, Phased-In

Governor Mitch Daniels
"We’ll be open to compromise."

Mitch Daniels has now outlined his proposal for implementing all-day kindergarten. It centers upon two (really three) concerns. The first is phasing the program in by 2009. The second is ensuring full access to all-day kindergarten by every child in Indiana. And, lastly, the third is ensuring that the program fits within a larger balanced budget for the state.

Since the election, Daniels has expressed a willingness to work with Democrats (or not, at least on other things, as the Star notes). They seem ready to play, though some Senate Republicans obviously are in need of convincing.

For Daniels, all-day kindergarten has the potential to be what welfare reform was to Bill Clinton, namely the theft of one of the other side's signature issues for your own political benefit. The Democrats have always touted their support for all-day kindergarten. Now, they will have to work with Mitch Daniels to get it. And, by virtue of being governor and the recipient of all political credit (and blame), he will get the political benefit for passing it (if he plays his cards with just the slightest of political skill). That's triangulation.

I suspect that Mitch Daniels will also find, as Bill Clinton did, that getting credit and laud for stealing the opposition's issues does not make you popular with the opposition (and, Matt Tully notes, he's hardly popular as it is). Far from it, in fact. The Democrats will work with Daniels in spite of themselves, and they will hate him for it afterwards.

Side note: I like how Pat Bauer can find concern for balancing a budget when it comes to all-day kindergarten, but he can't find it when it comes to cutting the sales tax on gasoline:

"But, [Bauer] said, 'our chief concern is the cost of this proposal, and how the governor intends to pay for it.'"

Indiana, land of irony.

You Know You're a Republican/Democrat If...

You know you're a Republican if...

You think the secret to a youthful appearance is a good personal trainer and a great plastic surgeon.

You know you're a Democrat if...

You think the secret to a youthful appearance is yoga, soy milk, and a quiet plastic surgeon.

Sunday, December 3, 2006

No Raiding County Casino Money This Year

The Courier-Journal's Lesley Stedman Weidenbener reports that Indianapolis Republicans have decided not to propose raiding riverboat gaming revenues this year. Translation? They (wisely) don't want their party to be shut out of riverboat counties in future elections. This being said, they (unwisely) haven't taken the option off the table for some day down the line, so their party in those counties will continue to get beat up over it.

Per the Indiana Riverboat Gaming Act, passed in 1993, counties in the state have the option of holding a referendum on the approval of riverboat gaming in that county. Should the referendum pass, the county can host one of the state's limited number of gaming licenses. If the referendum is defeated, it cannot be voted on again for a period of ten years.

Most counties that have passed these referenda (like Switzerland, Lake, Ohio, Lawrenceburg, Harrison, and Orange) have had casino operators take up operations in their county with one of the limited-number of gaming licenses made available by the state (ten in total, if memory serves). Other counties (like Clark and Crawford) have passed riverboat gaming referendums and have not been so lucky.

In exchange for passing the referendum and hosting a gaming license, the counties get a share of the taxes paid by the casino operator. For poor and often rural counties, having a riverboat is a windfall.

Moreover, hosting a casino is not without its downsides. In addition to the usual referendum bogeymen of increased crime, unrelated sleazy operators basing themselves near casinos, and the (very real) problem of gambling addiction, host counties have to deal with traffic and new strains on a variety of government services.

But the areas around Indianapolis, where there are no riverboat gaming licenses, see only the windfall to the riverboat counties. They also notice that some of these counties have been frugal with their riverboat gaming revenues, and have not spent every last penny (perhaps justly fearful that Indianapolis might come and steal their money someday). From this, the conclusion has been drawn that the state should take the riverboat gaming money for itself and spend it on other things.

This is understandably not popular in these counties. In fact, the Republican Parties in these counties have suffered from even the most remote of associations with the Indianapolis Republicans that have wanted to snatch the local riverboat money. In Harrison County, for example, local Democrats wasted no time in beating local Republicans over the head over the issue all the way up to the 2006 election, even after Brian Bosma had "pocket vetoed" the proposal by refusing to allow it to come to the floor for a vote.

What advocates of seizing riverboat gaming revenues from the county dislike mentioning is that the state has already placed a cap, at around $25 million, on what counties can receive. What they have proposed in the past is not installing a cap, but lowering the cap even further.

It is a de facto tax increase. Not a tax on citizens, but a tax on those counties whose populations have decided in the past to assume the benefits and downsides of hosting a riverboat gaming license. When they voted to host riverboat gaming, the populations of those counties did not vote to create a benefit to their county that would later be almost entirely seized by Indianapolis.

It seems that, so long as there is money floating around out there, some politician, somewhere, will want to tax it. And, oddly enough, the folks that have advocated that tax increase in the past are Indy Republicans.

You Know You're a Republican/Democrat If...

You know you're a Republican if...

Your tennis shoes cost more than your maid's weekly salary.

You know you're a Democrat if...

Your tennis shoes cost more than your car.

Friday, December 1, 2006

Tweaking Riverboat Revenue Sharing

The Corydon Democrat, the Indianapolis Star, and the Courier-Journal all have had articles recently about a proposal to revise the sharing arrangements that govern the distribution of riverboat gaming revenue that Harrison County receives from its casino in Bridgeport.

Harrison County "shares the wealth" from its gaming license by providing a percentage of riverboat gaming revenue to its neighboring counties. Floyd County, for example, gets a slice of money in part because most of the visitors to the casino drive through Floyd County to reach Caesars Indiana. Crawford County, whose citizens voted in favor of riverboat gaming and never received a license from the state (a lesson to folks in Clark County, mind), also gets a share of this revenue.

Crawford County also receives revenue from Belterra Casino in Switzerland County, as that casino's operators planned to build in Crawford County but decided to build elsewhere instead. Belterra, however, has recently decided to not renew revenue sharing agreements with Crawford County, depriving them of that income.

With the opening of a new casino at French Lick in Orange County, Crawford County is likely set to receive further shared riverboat gaming revenues from a new source. This is, not least, because some traffic to the French Lick casino will go up US 37 through Crawford County (though most will likely go up US 150 through Harrison and Washington Counties instead).

Because Crawford County is set to get more money, though an as-yet-unknown amount, from Orange County, leaders in Harrison County have reasoned that Crawford County no longer needs such a large slice of the riverboat gaming revenue pie from Caesars Indiana as it used to have. Crawford County, understandably, doesn't like this. They wouldn't like it if they weren't one of the poorest counties in Indiana, and they like it even less because of that fact.

This is where it gets interesting. There seems to be an evolving consensus among the Harrison County Council in favor of cutting the size of the slice of the pie being given to Crawford County. With that county likely to be soon awash in new revenues from Orange County anyway, this makes sense.

Protestations to "stay the course" do not hold up to basic reasoning. It makes no difference in Indianapolis how riverboat revenues are shared by Harrison County; politicians around Indy would take Harrison County's riverboat revenues if they could regardless of how much is being shared with Crawford County or any other county. This does not mean that riverboat revenue should not be shared, only that such sharing should be revised given that Crawford County will soon be getting new money from Orange County too.

Alvin Brown, a retiring member of the Harrison County Council, has proposed increasing the share of revenue to Washington and Floyd Counties and cutting the share to Crawford County. His reasoning? Harrison County should want to help Washington and Floyd counties with the traffic on US 150 that will be going to French Lick.

Such an idea makes absolutely no sense to me at all. Why should Harrison County want to make it easier for people to go to French Lick to gamble? If Harrison County should be trying to make it easier for people to gamble, they should want to make it easier for people to go to Caesars Indiana.

Harrison County does not get money in a revenue sharing agreement with Orange County. We have little reason to help them with traffic to their casino. Helping with traffic on US 150 to French Lick, though perhaps well-intentioned, will harm Harrison County in the long run by cutting into the amount of riverboat gaming that goes on at Caesars Indiana.

Instead of increasing the share of riverboat revenue going to Washington and Floyd Counties, why not increase the slice of revenue that goes just to Floyd County? The agreement to give more revenue to Floyd County could be made contingent upon Floyd County making State Highway 111, which runs from New Albany to Bridgeport, where Caesars is located, into a four-lane road.

Harrison County would then be strengthening itself in multiple ways. It would be garnering additional favor with its neighbors by revising its revenue sharing, and it would be strengthening Caesars Indiana by making it easier for people to get there. With the potential of a casino opening in Clark County always looming in the background, widening Highway 111 makes a great deal of sense in terms of keeping Caesars Indiana happy and making it more accessible.

You Know You're a Republican/Democrat If...

You know you're a Republican if...

Your idea of "welfare reform" is handing out pamphlets that say, "Get a job."

You know you're a Democrat if...

Your idea of "welfare reform" is ending corporate tax breaks.