Friday, August 31, 2007

Cue the Imperial March

From MSNBC:

Energy beam weapon could be used in Iraq
But officials refuse, concerned non-lethal effects could be seen as torture


According to internal military correspondence obtained by The Associated Press, U.S. commanders were telling Washington that many civilian casualties could be avoided by using a new non-lethal weapon developed over the past decade.

Military leaders repeatedly and urgently requested — and were denied — the device, which uses energy beams instead of bullets and lets soldiers break up unruly crowds without firing a shot.

It's a ray gun that neither kills nor maims, but the Pentagon has refused to deploy it out of concern that the weapon itself might be seen as a torture device.

Perched on a Humvee or a flatbed truck, the Active Denial System gives people hit by the invisible beam the sense that their skin is on fire. They move out of the way quickly and without injury.

I'm trying to think of a fitting and pithy Star Wars quote here, but my geek-quotient must not be high enough.

An Independent Candidate for Governor?

And not a Libertarian, but instead (maybe) a Green?

From the Sierra Club:

Symposium on Economics and Sustainability

Saturday September 15, 2007
9:30 AM – 4:30 PM
Holliday Park’s Nature Center
6363 Spring Mill Road, Indianapolis

Topics:

...

- Panel discussion, moderated by Keni Washington, of politicians, including
* Steve Bonney (independent candidate for governor of Indiana)

Past candidate or current candidate?

It doesn't say.

If current, I wonder if there will be four candidates (Republican, Democrat, Libertarian, and Green) at the debates next fall, or just two.

Hat tip: Kenn Gividen.

A Uniter, Not a Divider

Hoping for Fred

From the News & Tribune:

Any day now Mr. Fred Thompson will remove all doubt and announce he is running for the Oval Office in 2008. After reviewing his website www.imwithfred.com and reading his views on the issues of the day, I am convinced that Fred should represent the GOP for the highest elected office in the land. A drastic change in leadership style is needed in our country, and I believe that Fred Thompson will set the example for all elected officials to follow.

— Bobby Cox, Jeffersonville

Mr. Cox probably wasn't in Indianapolis last weekend.

Thompson will supposedly announce on Leno, and soon.

He'll sink or soar in short order.

Senator Craig Needs to Quit


'Nuff said.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

In His Defense: Baron Hill's Defenders Crawl Out of Their Holes

Baron HillMy recent post noting the interesting coincidence between a former lobbying client for Baron Hill's chief of staff on one hand, and a nice earmark going to that former client on the other, was recently reposted over at Frugal Hoosiers.

It sure got Mr. Hill's defenders to come crawling out of their holes, posting--no doubt--entirely from house.gov and Seymour IP addresses.

Their spin on the entire thing was uniform and their faux outrage on full display.

What, after all, could possibly be wrong with Baron Hill getting an earmark for an emergency room?

What indeed?

Setting aside my objections to earmarks in general, it is not the earmark itself that is so questionable in the actions of Congressman Hill and Ryan Guthrie--his chief of staff--but rather the circumstances that surround it.

It is those circumstances that Hill's defenders seek to obfuscate and avoid in their high-spin comments at Frugal Hoosiers.

I'm all for more money for emergency rooms.

In fact, I wonder why Baron picked just this hospital's emergency room.

Why this hospital's emergency room instead of that of another hospital?

Why not emergency rooms at several hospitals?

I am sure that many need the assistance.

It is, rather, the startling conflict of interest and the stark fiduciary violation of the matter that is of considerable public concern in this issue.

As I said, the circumstances that surround the earmark, rather than merely the earmark itself.

A lobbying firm that employed both Hill and Guthrie--the former as a "senior advisor" and the latter as a registered lobbyist--did lobbying on behalf of Schneck Memorial Hospital in Seymour.

Ryan Guthrie was the lobbyist listed as holding the Schneck portfolio, and the lobbying firm was paid $30,000 in 2006 for Guthrie's services.

Now, Hill and Guthrie are giving $375,000 of taxpayer dollars to someone with whom Guthrie (and less directly Hill by his position as a "senior advisor") had a lobbyist-client relationship.

If the earmark had been obtained in 2006 and the lobbying fee paid in 2007 (instead of vice versa), it would be just as ethically questionable.

It would, thanks to revolving door provisions in the House ethics rules, most likely be illegal.

As it stands, it is quite shady and a shocking conflict of interest.

So I ask the simple questions:

Why this hospital?

Why--of all of the hospitals in the 9th District needing better emergency rooms (and I am sure that many do)--did Schneck Memorial get an earmark and not one in Salem or Madison or Jasper or somewhere else?

Why the favoritism?

Was it because Baron's chief of staff did lobbying on its behalf?

If not, that's a heck of a coincidence.

This hospital paid Guthrie and Hill's firm to lobby for them, then Guthrie and Hill turned around and got them an earmark for big bucks a year later.

Why that hospital? Why that emergency room?

Why is it the same one that paid Guthrie's (and Hill's) then-firm for lobbying?

Enquiring minds want to know.

EDIT: Label update.

Karl Rove: Punk'd


From CNN:

White House pranksters wrapped Rove's Jaguar in plastic wrap on the private driveway next to the West Wing.

Rove's car is easily recognizable because of its "I love Barack Obama" bumper sticker and the twin stuffed-animal eagles on the trunk. Oh, and there's a stuffed-animal elephant on the hood.

Rove, the top White House political strategist who recently announced his resignation, left his car on the driveway while visiting Texas and traveling with President Bush. He was due back in Washington Wednesday evening.

Who says Republicans can't have fun?

GOP A-Team Holding Back in 2008

From Politico:

Several GOP recruits passing up Congressional bids

Republicans have had a difficult time lately convincing some of their more highly regarded recruits to jump into hotly contested races.

-- In Ohio, former Attorney General Jim Petro (R) decided not to run in the seat vacated by retiring GOP Rep. Deborah Pryce. Then former Columbus Mayor Greg Lashutka passed up a bid. Local Republicans are now scrambling to find a viable candidate to challenge Mary Jo Kilroy, the likely Democratic nominee.

-- North Carolina Republicans are also hitting a recruitment snag in finding a challenger to freshman Rep. Heath Shuler (D-N.C.). Former GOP Rep. Charles Taylor, who lost to Shuler last year, has refused to announce his future intentions.

Other candidates have deferred to Taylor before making their own decision, but his delay has frustrated potential candidates. District Attorney Jeff Hunt, considered a strong contender, took his name out of the running yesterday. (The webmaster of the Henderson County Republican party has shut down the party’s website out of frustration with Taylor.)

-- And in many conservative-leaning districts, Republican candidates have yet to come forward. Rep. Baron Hill (D-Ind.) still doesn’t have a GOP challenger in a district that gave President Bush 59 percent of the vote. Rep. John Barrow (D-Ga.), who won reelection by only a razor-thin margin, also hasn’t drawn any competition.

-- Granted, the party has landed some impressive recruits, from state Sen. David Cappiello in Connecticut to retired Air Force Maj. Gen. Rick Goddard in Georgia. And there’s still time for candidates to emerge and raise money. But the fact that leading candidates are deciding to pass up campaigns in favorable territory indicates that the environment isn’t looking too favorable right now for the GOP.

John Gizzy touched on this in his Human Events column written from Indianapolis and the Midwestern Republican Leadership Conference.

The best Republican candidates are sitting this one out.

Exposé


Senator Craig, interestingly, was a leading supporter of the Romney campaign.

Senator Craig's Song & Dance


Foley, Murphy, Vitter, Craig.

So, um, who's next?

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Trouble in Bloomington, Part 6

And quick on the heels of the mobilization of the Nutroots against Blue Dog Democrats--among whom Baron Hill is a leading member--comes this letter to the editor in the Bloomington Herald-Times:

Hill chooses the political

To the editor:

To those of us without blinders on, such as the conservative commentator Bruce Fein, it is self-evident that the president, vice president and attorney general have committed numerous grave violations against the Constitution, which they swore on the Christian Bible to uphold. The simple and clear remedy set forth by the founders is impeachment and removal by Congress. I called to ask Rep. Baron Hill his opinion on this matter. His reply was that he does not support impeachment and offered several “practical” (read: political) reasons.

But most tellingly, Hill did not explain the legal-factual basis of his refusal to support impeachment. This means that either (a) Hill does not actually believe that the Constitution has been violated by the Bush-Cheney administration, and/or (b) Hill does not actually believe in upholding the Constitution. (If the former, he needs to open his eyes; if the latter, Hill himself is now violating the Constitution.

Both give rise to the question: With Democrats like Hill representing Bloomington, why not just bring back Mike Sodrel?

-DOUG HANVEY, Bloomington

Letter hat tip: Hoosierpundit reader.

Prior posts in this series:
August 22, in which Baron tells his base in Bloomington that he supports taxing tobacco farmers, favors putting taxes on things like fast food, and won't impeach the Cheney-Bush regime; he also reaffirms his love for Bloomington "culture."
August 16 and August 20, in which the lefty crazies foam at the mouth because Baron voted for the new FISA bill to enable the NSA to listen in on phone calls by terrorists.
August 14, in which Greenpeace urges Baron Hill to take a stronger stand on fuel-economy standards and get out of the pocket of the auto companies and the automaker unions.
July 9, in which Baron tells a Bloomington anti-war lefty, "I'm not voting to give any more money to the President to continue this war."
June 25, in which Bloomington lefty Gretchen Clearwater indicates she will challenge Baron Hill in the Democratic primary because he is insufficiently anti-war.
June 21, in which Baron buys a luxury condo in gated golf and tennis community in Bloomington to be closer to his liberal supporters.
June 1, in which MoveOn.org pledges its support to fund primary challengers to certain Democrats such as Baron.
April 27, in which one of Baron's most notable supporters (a Bloomington law professor) denounces the Supreme Court for restricting partial birth abortions.
April 21, in which the IU student paper decries Baron's use of college students for PR gimmicks.
April 21, in which the IU student paper runs a cartoon mocking Baron for his many motives and positions.

MSNBC, CNBC Refuse to Run Pro-War Ads

Lately, I have been posting YouTube videos of the pro-war ads being put out by a group called Freedom's Watch.

Now, from Power Line, comes word that MSNBC and CNBC have refused to run those ads, despite allowing issue ads on other topics:

We wrote here about the television commercials that Freedom's Watch has produced, featuring veterans and their families, that urge Congress and the public to continue supporting the Iraq war. The commercials are well done, and convey the simple message that the Iraq war is important and winnable, and that we should allow our troops to see the mission through. The ads are appearing in the context of a blizzard of anti-war ads by left-wing groups, intended to pressure Senators and Congressmen into pulling the plug on the Iraq effort.

Freedom's Watch has placed its ads on Fox and CNN, but CNBC and MSNBC have refused to run the ads. Ari Fleischer wrote this morning on behalf of Freedom's Watch to let us know that CNBC and MSNBC have stubbornly refused to air the pro-war ads, even though they have run issue ads on other controversial topics.

Freedom of speech: at some of our cable networks, you can't even buy it! We'll follow up with any response that may be forthcoming from NBC.

Little House in San Francisco Big Source for Hillary Campaign Cash

Appearances, they always say, can be deceiving, but geez.

From the Wall Street Journal:

DALY CITY, Calif. -- One of the biggest sources of political donations to Hillary Rodham Clinton is a tiny, lime-green bungalow that lies under the flight path from San Francisco International Airport.

Six members of the Paw family, each listing the house at 41 Shelbourne Ave. as their residence, have donated a combined $45,000 to the Democratic senator from New York since 2005, for her presidential campaign, her Senate re-election last year and her political action committee. In all, the six Paws have donated a total of $200,000 to Democratic candidates since 2005, election records show.

That total ranks the house with residences in Greenwich, Conn., and Manhattan's Upper East Side among the top addresses to donate to the Democratic presidential front-runner over the past two years, according to an analysis by The Wall Street Journal of donations listed with the Federal Election Commission.

It isn't obvious how the Paw family is able to afford such political largess. Records show they own a gift shop and live in a 1,280-square-foot house that they recently refinanced for $270,000. William Paw, the 64-year-old head of the household, is a mail carrier with the U.S. Postal Service who earns about $49,000 a year, according to a union representative. Alice Paw, also 64, is a homemaker. The couple's grown children have jobs ranging from account manager at a software company to "attendance liaison" at a local public high school. One is listed on campaign records as an executive at a mutual fund.

The Paws' political donations closely track donations made by Norman Hsu, a wealthy New York businessman in the apparel industry who once listed the Paw home as his address, according to public records. Mr. Hsu is one of the top fund-raisers for Mrs. Clinton's presidential campaign. He has hosted or co-hosted some of her most prominent money-raising events.

People who answered the phone and the door at the Paws' residence declined requests for comment last week. In an email last night, one of the Paws' sons, Winkle, said he had sometimes been asked by Mr. Hsu to make contributions, and sometimes he himself had asked family members to donate.

Something smells, but I am sure it is just the rather sickly looking plants in the house's yard.

Dealing with Tragedy

Work Outs

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Nutroots Mobilize Against "Bush Dogs"

From the lefty crazies at DailyKos:

We've been working to identify the group of conservative Democrats in the House who are holding back progressives from being able to effectively govern. These are concentrated in two main caucuses, the Blue Dog Caucus and the New Democrat caucuses.

Blue Dogs consider themselves heirs to the Southern conservative wing of the party, and tend to vote for socially restrictive policies and a hawkish foreign policy.

The New Democrats tend to be more partisan, but often are key to passing important pieces of right-wing legislation, such as the Bankruptcy Bill

In the last few years, these two caucuses have expanded their numbers, and the Blue Dogs have become the swing vote in the House allowing for effective conservative control of the Congress.

We want to put a stop to the embrace of conservative values among House Democrats, and make sure that when Democrats are elected, they act like Democrats.

So who specifically are these people? As Chris Bowers noted, the two biggest defeats for House Democrats so far in 2007 have been the capitulation vote on Iraq, and the vote to allow Alberto Gonzales warrant-less wiretapping powers.

We're calling the Democrats who capitulated on both bills 'Bush Dogs', as these are the most likely to capitulate on important fights in the future.

The first step in stopping this behavior is to identify the people engaging in it and offer up criticism.

There are a few reasons for this.

One, many of these members feel no pressure to vote correctly or uphold progressive values.

Criticism is the signal they are relying on to let them know when they err.

Two, some of these members may need to face a primary challenge, and it's useful for potential primary challengers to know that there is criticism of these members.

Congressman Baron Hill is, of course, a leading member of the Blue Dog Democrats.

Freedom's Watch - Robinson

Stop, Thief!

Someone has stolen my winning lottery ticket:

RICHMOND, Ind. — Whoever has the sole winning ticket for a $314.3 million Powerball lottery jackpot kept quiet today even as the buzz continued at the convenience store near the Indiana-Ohio state line where it was sold.

Left Coast Coverage of Property Tax Crisis

From the Los Angeles Times comes coverage of Indiana's "war on property taxes":

INDIANAPOLIS — With property values in Indiana being reassessed for the first time in six years, Laura Hile said she expected that the tax bill for her modest three-bedroom home would be big.

After all, state officials had warned residents to expect an increase of as much as 24%.

Indiana homeowners are waging war against a system they see as inconsistent and unfair. Many politicians agree with their view. Property tax revenue traditionally helps fund local governments, which set the amounts and help distribute the money to local entities that provide services.

In Indiana, state officials said, there are about 1,000 local township assessors. These elected officials are responsible for, among other tasks, evaluating a property's worth and sending that information on to the state's 92 county assessors, who use the assessments to help set the property tax bills.

State law requires that assessments be based partly on a property's market value, how much it could be sold for. But not all assessors follow state guidelines on how local tax assessments should be conducted -- or are even formally trained to do the job in the first place, said Gov. Mitch Daniels.

"As a result, the process can be unfair," Daniels said in a recent interview. "The local assessments are in some cases outright botched."

The public outcry has grown so loud that a commission has been established -- headed by Indiana Supreme Court Chief Justice Randall T. Shepard and former Gov. Joseph E. Kernan -- to seek ways to fix the problem.

"Local spending has doubled while incomes have remained flat," Daniels said. "That means taxes are going to go up unless something changes."

Daniels said he had learned that some business properties in Marion County had gotten assessments that were undervalued. That, in turn, had unfairly boosted homeowners' tax bills.

Last month, he ordered that residents in Marion County be allowed to pay their current tax bill at their 2006 rates, and demanded that all assessments be tossed out and redone.

He later ordered such do-overs in Gibson, Posey and Delaware counties.

And last week, he extended a deadline for local governments to decide whether to raise income tax rates.

"Right now, we're just trying to help taxpayers in the short term, while we try to figure out a longer-term solution," Daniels said.

That's some surprisingly balanced reportage from the normally super-liberal LA Times.

They must not have gotten the talking points memo from Jen Wagner, Jim Schellinger, and the Indiana Democrats telling them to blame it all on Mitch Daniels and the evil blood-sucking, baby-eating Republicans.

Louisiana State Treasurer Switches Parties

Looking bad for Mary Landrieu:

An Important Announcement from Treasurer John Kennedy...
Monday, August 27, 2007

Dear Friends:

Your support and friendship are very important to me. I have always tried to tell you where I stand and what I stand for. That’s why I’m writing this letter.

I have decided to join the Republican Party. I wanted you to be among the first to know, and to hear it from me. It has been an honor to serve as your State Treasurer and I will seek my third term this October as a Republican.

Word has it he switched parties to run against Mary Landrieu for the Louisiana Senate seat in 2008.

At least he's not related to the Massachusetts Kennedys; those family reunions are probably uncomfortable enough as it is.

"From My Cold, Dead Hands!"

From Reuters:

GENEVA (Reuters) - The United States has 90 guns for every 100 citizens, making it the most heavily armed society in the world, a report released on Tuesday said.

U.S. citizens own 270 million of the world's 875 million known firearms, according to the Small Arms Survey 2007 by the Geneva-based Graduate Institute of International Studies.

About 4.5 million of the 8 million new guns manufactured worldwide each year are purchased in the United States, it said.

"There is roughly one firearm for every seven people worldwide. Without the United States, though, this drops to about one firearm per 10 people," it said.

North American Union

No Mas

Monday, August 27, 2007

Baron Hill Obtains $375,000 Earmark for Top Staffer's Former Lobbying Client

Congressman Baron HillIt is a striking and incredible useful capability of the Internet to allow citizens to notice interesting connections between congressmen, lobbyists, congressional staffers, and earmarks that before would have never seen the light of day.

After he lost the election in 2004, Baron Hill went and got a job at mCapitol Management, a big Washington lobbying firm.

When he went to mCapitol, Baron was followed at the same time by Ryan Guthrie, his former chief of staff:

mCapitol Management today announced the hiring of former Congressman Baron P. Hill as Senior Advisor to the firm and former Chief of Staff Ryan C. Guthrie as Vice President of the firm effective immediately.

Baron, being a former Congressman, was not given lobbying responsibilities; he got a cushy job as a "senior advisor."

Ryan Guthrie, Chief of Staff for Baron HillGuthrie, however, did become a registered lobbyist.

His clients included the Cook Group, Emergent Biosolutions, Integrity BioFuels, MWH Global, and Schneck Memorial Hospital.

He also represented some of those same clients, including the Cook Group and Schneck Memorial Hospital, in 2005.

In 2006 alone, mCapitol--while Baron was a "senior advisor" and Guthrie was a lobbyist and "vice president"--was paid $30,000 by Schneck Memorial for lobbying services.

You might remember Schneck Memorial Hospital.

It's in Seymour, Baron's home town.

Baron Hill and Ryan Guthrie must have liked Schneck Memorial a lot.

So much, in fact, that Hill (now back in Congress) and Guthrie (now back as Baron's chief of staff) requested it get an earmark to the tune of $375,000 in the current round of appropriations bills (detailed in a listing provided recently by the Courier-Journal):

• $375,000 to Schneck Medical Center in Seymour to expand the emergency department.

For being a "nonprofit" hospital, Schneck sure has good business sense.

It gave $30,000 to mCapitol Management for lobbying by Ryan Guthrie in 2006.

Baron Hill, Guthrie's boss, got Schneck an earmark for $375,000 as soon as he got back in Congress.

That's the sort of return on investment that would make any for-profit investor more than just a little happy; 1,250% in about a year.

Your tax dollars at work.

It's not illegal as far as I can find, even under the new Congressional ethics rules the Democrats have claimed to tighten.

The so-called revolving door of Congressmen and their staffers going to work as lobbyists can barely be considered closed as it stands.

However, Guthrie and Schneck (his former client) benefited from a sort of reverse revolving door that is not even covered under ethics rules insofar as they currently exist.

Regardless of the letter of those ethics rules, this sure looks unethical in the less-legislated and less-Washington-insider senses.

It's the sort of startling shady deal and eye-opening conflict of interest that Baron Hill campaigned on trying to clean up in Washington.

Instead, it looks like he is fostering an entirely new form of it alongside his chief of staff.

And these are just the sorts of shady deals that we can find out with the limited transparency currently available to the public.

Full transparency remains elusive.

Earlier in the year, according to an article in the April 2 Indianapolis Star, Baron refused to disclose a full list of requested earmarks despite promising to do so in 2006 after he was elected.

His spokesperson explained this apparent shift by saying that Mr. Hill misunderstood the promise when he made it.

EDIT: Label update.

Tobacco Regulation Advocates Target Hill

From WIBC:

Anti-Smoking Forces Target Indiana Congressman
As representative of tobacco-farming district, Hill is a big prize for activists

By Eric Berman
8/21/2007

Anti-smoking activists are renewing their attempts to pressure Indiana Representative Baron Hill (D-9th) to support a bill giving the Food and Drug Administration authority to regulate tobacco.

Indiana Senators Richard Lugar (R) and Evan Bayh (D) and Democratic Representatives Julia Carson and Brad Ellsworth have endorsed the bill, which could force cigarette manufacturers to list or change the ingredients in their product.

But activists have centered their attention on Hill, the only Hoosier on the House committee that would hear the bill. That hearing is expected in the next couple of months. He also represents the Indiana congressional district with the most tobacco farmers.

Hill has yet to take a public position on the bill.

Representatives of five anti-smoking groups held a news conference in Columbus to unveil a poll they say shows 70% support for the bill in Hill's district.

He already wants to tax fast food and tax tobacco farmers, so talking Baron into adding some more government regulation into the mix surely can't be that difficult.

One of My Goals in Life Has Been Achieved

My liveblog over at HoosierAccess of Mitt Romney's speech has been quoted by gay website The Bilerico Project in their "Homotextual" section:

7:57 - Mocks John Edwards' haircut. For those of you in Kentucky, that's the pot calling the kettle black right there.
-- Indiana blog HoosierAccess.com liveblogging presidential candidates Mitt Romney's speech to the Midwest Republican Leadership Conference

This, of course, marks the fulfillment of one of my goals in life.

For those of you keeping track, these are the Hoosierpundit's goals in life (in no particular order):

* Live long.
* Prosper.
* Achieve utter and total world domination.
* Visit Room 101 (accomplished by visiting a Baron Hill campaign rally).
* Have hair as good as John Edwards or Mitt Romney.
* Have a wife that looks like Jeri Thompson.
* Be quoted by Bilerico (Woohoo!).

Democrats Move to Disenfranchise Florida

Oh, the irony.

From Politico:

The Democratic Party has taken a swipe at the nation's fourth biggest state, stripping Florida of all of its '08 delegates as punishment for jumping the gun with its Jan. 29 primary. Florida's early date could force other states to move up and up to stay at the front of the pack.

Florida officials complained that the DNC was going to "disenfranchise voters," as it says on the state party's home page.

But... but... I thought Republicans were the ones that wanted to disenfranchise Florida voters.

I feel so confused.

Connect the Dots...

...to see who is really responsible for Indiana's property tax crisis.


Hint: It's Jim Schellinger, builder of zillion-dollar designer schools.

Hat tip: Kenn Gividen.

Adios, Alberto

Attorney General Alberto Gonzales has resigned.

From Politico:

Attorney General Alberto Gonzales resigned this morning, long after he had become a persistent embarrassment to President Bush.

The acting attorney general will be Solicitor General Paul Clement, who can stay in the job for months, administration officials said.

In a brief statement before cameras at the Justice Department, Gonzales said he had met with Bush on Sunday and informed him of his decision to resign, effective Sept. 17. He made no references to the controversies that hounded him from office.

Most Ethical Congress in History, Really

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Romney Attacks Giuliani


Behold, a well-shopped story.

From the New York Times:

This week, Mitt Romney, the former governor of Massachusetts, started running radio advertisements in Iowa and New Hampshire referring to New York City as a “sanctuary city” in an effort to portray Mr. Giuliani as liberal on immigration, a position that would put him out of step with many Republican voters.

Which ran just after this Time hit piece (shopped no doubt by someone from Boston with exceptional hair):

The evidence also shows great, gaping weaknesses. Giuliani's penchant for secrecy, his tendency to value loyalty over merit and his hyperbolic rhetoric are exactly the kinds of instincts that counterterrorism experts say the U.S. can least afford right now.

Giuliani's limitations are in fact remarkably similar to those of another man who has led the nation into a war without end. Some of the Bush Administration's policies, like improved intelligence sharing between countries and our own agencies, have made the U.S. better at fighting terrorism. But others, from the war in Iraq to the treatment of detainees at Guantánamo Bay, have actually made the task much more difficult. The challenge for the next President will be focusing on and adapting the good tools and jettisoning the bad. Whether you conclude Giuliani can win this war depends ultimately on whether you think we are winning now.

We put our public figures on pedestals, you see, because it makes them so much easier to tear down when they are already up high.

And there is never a shortage of people willing to do the tearing down, particularly when they are helped by folks from the same political party as the target.

Freedom's Watch - Travis

Daniels: No More Out-of-State Prisoners

From the Courier-Journal:

INDIANAPOLIS -- The New Castle Correctional Facility likely has seen the last transfer of inmates from Arizona, according to Gov. Mitch Daniels.

Daniels was asked about the prison transfers during a news conference yesterday. He said he did not expect to see "any more prisoners accepted anytime soon" at the medium-security prison.

"The main reason to take this step at all was to start using a white-elephant prison that was largely empty, to hire 300 Hoosiers -- that happened -- and to get them trained," Daniels said. "The day is not far off, probably measured in months, when we'll need that space for Indiana prisoners anyway."

Not the sorts of visitors to the Hoosier state that we want after all.

Launch Delay

Caught Red-Handed, Again

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Freedom's Watch - Veteran



I saw one of these commercials on television the other night, not long after first reading about them.

That's pretty surprising, since Indiana seldom gets national-level political advertising.

Great ad, and I'm thankful someone is finally running stuff like this (and even running them in southern Indiana to boot).

September 10 vs September 12

That's an argument about mindset that you would normally see being made by Republicans against Democrats.

Politico's Jonathan Martin, however, thinks that it's a comparison that can be made between Mike Huckabee (whose stump speech has a decidedly domestic tilt) and the rest of the Republican field (as typified by Rudy Giuliani) who tend to focus overwhelmingly on terrorism and international issues.

Huckabee, as a governor with little foreign policy experience, has of course to play from his strengths just as Giuliani plays from his.

But, when you look at a lot of the polls comparing issue-based party preferences, how much of a strength for the Republicans are issues like terrorism and the war?

George W. Bush, and the environment he has created, are a powerful drag on what would normally be a powerful Republican advantage, and one that could be hammered ceaselessly and effectively.

Making it work again as it used to in the past requires successfully breaking with George W. Bush, and that might not be possible.

In that sense, the Huckabee strategy might have potential.

In France, an unpopular incumbent (Chirac) was replaced by a fresh face from the same party (Sarkozy) because the fresh face was able to successfully distance himself from the drag created by his predecessor.

Can Giuliani do that?

Can Huckabee?

Who can make the "Sarkozy Shift" (for lack of a better term) work for the Republican Party?

Can anyone?

I will say, however, that Huckabee took questions during his press availability, and several related to Iraq.

He did not dodge them (he did not dodge any question, surprisingly), but I lost the portion of my post that I had typed in response to much what he said.

I am going to try to review the HoosierAccess video of the Huckabee presser sometime tomorrow (I may try to redo that post if I have time); his Iraq answers there might shine light on Mr. Martin's juxtaposition.

I don't think that Huckabee is running away from the war or from terrorism or September 11 in the campaign insomuch as he is emphasizing what his campaign perceives to be his strengths.

Any national security emphasis can be made in the general election against Democrats anyway.

With the exception of candidates like Ron Paul, there's not a lot of visible difference between the Republicans on the war or on terrorism, so I am not sure that it is a significant an omission as it has been made out to be.

No Charges for Mark Foley

Glenn Murphy should hope to be so fortunate,

From the TC Palm:

WASHINGTON — Former Congressman Mark Foley is unlikely to face criminal charges for sending sexually explicit e-mails to teenage boys, sources close to the year-long investigation have told Scripps Howard News Service.

The end of Foley's political career may be the most severe consequence the former congressman faces for the revelations that stunned his longtime supporters and prompted his immediate resignation, just weeks before the 2006 election. The Fort Pierce Republican represented parts of St. Lucie, Martin, Okeechobee and Palm Beach counties.

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement said this week the investigation should be completed within the next several days.

I bet that this will get ZERO coverage in the mainstream media.

Why bother?

They used Foley to further their agenda; the consequences or the end result don't matter in the aftermath.

Yet More Murphy

This won't be over for a very long time.

From the News & Tribune comes word of the seeking by Glenn Murphy of a special prosecutor and the granting of his request.

John Colin, Harrison County’s chief deputy prosecutor, has been appointed special prosecutor and will review allegations that former Clark County Republican Chairman Glenn Murphy Jr. sexually assaulted a man in a Jeffersonville home on July 29.

The appointment came from Clark Circuit Court on Friday, a day after Indianapolis lawyer James Voyles Jr. filed a motion requesting a special prosecutor on Murphy’s behalf.

To date, Murphy, a Utica resident, has not been arrested nor has he been charged with a crime.

John Colin is probably above average on the partisanship scale.

That seems to be true of a lot of the folks in the prosecutor's office in Harrison County (remember Shawn Donahue, the Harrison deputy prosecutor who used county equipment to fold a political mailing, err, his "personal papers"?).

A Change of Course

Friday, August 24, 2007

Midwest Republican Leadership Conference Media Roundup

So far, just in the Courier-Journal by Lesley Stedman Weidenbener and the Indianapolis Star by Mary Beth Schneider.

I find Huckabee to be considerably more impressive than Romney, and I wonder how Huckabee would be doing if he had Romney's level of money.

I am quite certain that Mitt Romney would be nowhere without his giant pile of money; he's not much further than nowhere nationally even with it.

I expect articles in the national dailies to be out tomorrow morning.

Read the liveblogging here.

Liveblogging from the Midwestern Republican Leadership Conference in Indianapolis

Just as a reminder, I will be liveblogging over at HoosierAccess today, tomorrow, and Sunday from the Midwestern Republican Leadership Conference.

I'll still be posting the usual stuff here, but click on over to HA to read more about the big Republican pow-wow in Indy.

Study: Eye Color Matters

From the Times of India:

NEW YORK: Success lies in the colour of your eyes, and those with blue ones are likely to achieve more in life than their peers as they tend to study more effectively and perform better in exams, says a study conducted by US scientists. The study did not mention anything about people with black irises.

The tests showed that brown-eyed people had faster reaction time, but those with lighter eyes appeared to be better strategic thinkers.

Brown-eyed people succeeded in activities such as football and hockey, but lighter-eyed participants proved to be more successful in activities that required skills in time structuring and planning such as golf, cross-country running and studying for exams, the scientists said.

Louisville University professor Joanna Rowe, who conducted the tests, said the results suggested an unexplored link between eye colour and academic achievement. “It is just observed, rather than explained,” she said. “There’s no scientific answer yet.”

Hat tip: Kenn Gividen.

Police Get Missile Launcher in Gun Swap

From USA Today:

ORLANDO, Florida (AP) — Police were hoping for a good turnout at their "Kicks for Guns" program to exchange weapons for sneakers, but they weren't expecting a surface-to-air missile launcher.

An man exchanged the 4-foot-long launcher for Reebok sneakers for his daughter, the Orlando Sentinel reported Friday.

Taking advantage of the exchange's no-questions-asked policy, the man was not identified. He told the Orlando Sentinel that he found the weapon in a shed he tore down last week.

"I didn't know what to do with it, so I brought it here," he told the newspaper. "I took it to three dumps to try to get rid of it and they told me to get lost."

Besides the missile launcher police collected more than 250 guns. They were all exchanged for sneakers or US$50 gift certificates.

Um, those aren't supposed to be just laying around, exchange...

When Beauty is Not Enough

A new scent from the Silky Phony.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

The Flip-Flopping Tax Man Cometh

Baron HillBaron Hill spoke at some sort of luncheon in Bloomington on Saturday.

If you're a subscriber to the Bloomington Herald-Times, you can read the story here (if you're not--like me--you can wait for someone that is to email you the text and then read it and post about it).

The eighty attendees managed apparently only four questions, or at least the Herald-Times printed Baron's responses to only four questions.

Even with such a limited pool of questions (or such a censored account of the questions, depending on how you look at it), Baron couldn't help but slip up and let his true self show anyway.

In the span of four questions he managed to declare his intention to raise taxes on tobacco farmers, say he wanted to tax beer and fast food, change his position on the Iraq war yet again, and refuse to support the impeachment of the Cheney-Bush regime.

Q: What is Hill’s position on talk of impeaching President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney?

A: There’s a part of me that wants to impeach because I think these people have just screwed this country up. But the other side of me tells me that if we get bogged down in impeachment, we can’t push the people’s agenda because all of our time would be spent on impeachment. I’ve not completely dismissed the idea but I’m not on board yet either.

The lefty nutters in Bloomington can't be happy with this.

After all, until Baron Hill supports impeachment, the crimes of the Cheney-Bush regime will just continue.

Not that he's just one congressman in a large majority that wouldn't vote for it, and majorities tend to rule, but whatever.

Q: Why continue to vote in support of the tobacco industry?

A: I represent around 650,000 people in this district. I represent a district that is the eighth largest tobacco-growing district in the country. Now most of you struck it when you say it wouldn’t make any difference. But down in the southeast corner of the district if you go to Vevay, Ind., and walk into a high school like I’ve walked into and you ask the question of the 350 kids that go there how many of your moms and dads grow tobacco, 95 percent of those kids would raise their hands. ... You have your culture here in Bloomington, and I love it. But there’s a different culture out there as well. The whole family is involved in tobacco growth, and I’m willing to raise their taxes in spite of my reservations for the tobacco farmers that the tobacco farmers are not going to bear the brunt totally of the funding for SCHIP. There are other things out there we can go after, too, like liquor, beer, fast food. The tobacco farmers that I represent are not going to bear the whole burden. That’s the way I see it.

Whoa.

Now, that's a big paragraph, and a heck of a monologue reply, but I'll quote the important parts.

A monologue question answer, for those of you from Kentucky, is when a politician is trying to say as much as possible while giving as little information as possible about something he doesn't really want to tell you anything about.

"You have your culture here in Bloomington, and I love it. But there’s a different culture out there as well. The whole family is involved in tobacco growth, and I’m willing to raise their taxes in spite of my reservations for the tobacco farmers."

So, Baron Hill--great fan of fiscal conservatism he--wants to raise taxes on tobacco and tobacco farmers.

There's a lot of tobacco farmers in this district that aren't going to appreciate their member of Congress holding that view.

But wait! There's more!

"There are other things out there we can go after, too, like liquor, beer, fast food."

That's right.

Baron Hill wants to raise taxes on fast food.

Better get your Big Mac before he taxes the heck out of it.

Q: Is there anything being done to encourage tobacco farmers to grow other crops?

A: We have tax incentives for them to grow grapes to make wine, but wine made in southern Indiana is not as good as the wine in California because of the soil. There are a small majority of tobacco farmers that are trying to make the transition, but when it’s a way of life for people down there, it’s very hard for them to change.

I don't know what a small majority is; maybe it's the margin by which Baron won the last election.

Regardless, those poor tobacco farmers are going to have to move to other stuff when Baron Hill raises their taxes.

Q: Are you willing to refuse all funding for the war except for funding to bring the troops home?

A: I’m trying to be responsible here. If the bill that is introduced for spending money on withdrawal only does not pass, I’m not willing to cut off the funds, threatening the safety and the lives of our troops. I’ll vote for the measure to send money only on the withdrawal. I’m ready to do that, but if it fails then that makes me look at whether or not cutting off funding completely is the smart thing to do because I don’t want to put our troops in peril. I will not do that.

This seems to be a flip-flop from what Baron told one of his lefty supporters back in early July:

I asked him specifically whether he would vote to defund the war in September.

He told me "I'm not voting to give any more money to the President to continue this war."

Now, Baron can't have it both ways.

He either lied to his supporter back in July, or he is lying to the people that asked him this question now.

Time will tell which way he will vote; I suspect it will have a lot to do with which way the wind is blowing and who Baron thinks is paying attention.

If you want to win the war, if you farm tobacco, or if you eat fast food or drink beer, you'd better be paying attention.

Hat tip: Hoosierpundit reader.

Property Tax Outrage Spreading

Spreading in Floyd and Clark counties:

After reading in The Tribune Council President Larry McAllister’s comment regarding no new appropriations due to the state freezing the 2008 budget at the 2007 level, does that mean the property owners can disregard those huge property tax increases we are seeing this week?

I feel it is only fair to freeze the property tax rate at 2007 levels if government spending is held to that standard.

What is government doing with the revenues from casino gambling, lottery, sale of the Indiana Toll Road and the 2003 sales tax increase to offset high property taxes?

The free ride is over; please hold our elected officials to accountability and better management of our tax dollars.

Homeowners, maybe it is time for an old fashioned Boston Tea Party — Hoosier style!

— Dennis Welch, Floyds Knobs

And another:

This is my first time ever to write a newspaper. I’m writing now because I am angrier than a hornet who has just had his house — nest snatched away.

Needless to say, yesterday I received my property tax bills.

I would like to join others of like mind to initiate, if necessary, or join in a tax revolt. Once upon a time there was tea thrown overboard in Boston because of being taxed without representation. Perhaps some politicians need to be thrown overboard.

If you can provide the name of anyone or an organization whose goal is to bring taxes under control, I would appreciate your help.

— Frank Alford, Floyds Knobs

This one has probably been listening to Eric Miller:

“We” is a big word, right? Who are “we”? Who is the government? We all attempt to blame everything on the government. We all seem to forget our founding fathers’ famous words: “We the people.” Do not forget that you elect the people to make decisions on your behalf. The people that you elect do not make decisions based on what you want unless you tell them what it is that you want. It’s common sense, so just tell them what you want.

It is really very simple. Just tell them that you do not want to pay property tax, but tell them emphatically. Tell them that you want the tax dollars that are required to support the necessary funding of our infrastructure to come from some other venue. There are many other venues to choose from.

Do not become appeased and/or complacent with the “homestead” and “mortgage” exemptions that are offered to you to reduce your tax liability. These are “band-aids” that minimize the pain short term and divert your attention from the reality of taxes continuing to increase over time.

Find a tax, a revenue source that is generated from all demographic groups, not just the property owner or any other specific demographic group for that matter. Critics of a property tax repeal cry that other potential taxable revenue sources are not stable, nor consistent. I would like for some of these critics to help me understand the stability and consistency with real estate and statistically compare with alternative revenue venues to identify potential deficiencies.

We need to collectively voice our opinions to the legislature. We need to let them know that we want to vote on this issue. We need to force this issue into the legislative lime light or it will not even be an issue to discuss. Let our leaders know how you feel about property taxes. If you agree with me, tell them that you would like for them to introduce legislation to eliminate property taxes! At least drive the visibility to force a vote. If you do not agree, then tell them what you do want them to do. Take responsibility for what you believe and force accountability within our system.

It’s simple. Just call your elected leaders and tell them the following: I want property tax to be eliminated/repealed. I want an opportunity to vote on this issue.

Or I want to pay property tax. I do not want the opportunity to vote on this issue.

— Ben Mattox, Floyd County


And it has spread in Jackson county, too:

I have never written anything to the newspaper until now, and I have had this on my mind several days. Now I feel the need to complain to someone other than my family or neighbors.

We live three streets north of 10th Street in Seymour. I was told at the assessor’s office this is the reason our taxes are higher. It seems the increase is higher because we live in Seymour-Redding Township.

Everyone has had an increase in their taxes, but ours increased from $597.86 to $1,019.94. For a reason I don’t understand, our taxes are almost double per year. Come on, people, how many of you have checked into yours?

The people in Marion County are getting all kinds of media attention, TV, newspapers, etc. What are we getting? Guess our county is so small no one thinks we should be complaining. Well, I am.

I don’t know how much theirs has increased, but ours certainly is too high. Our homes are not to be compared to an automobile, which depreciates each year, but what we do to our homes to keep it up, we pay for, not our governor or any other politician.

I would appreciate someone explaining this to me. I have called the assessor’s office and the treasurer’s office several times and they can’t even explain it to me.

Bea Johnson
Seymour, Ind.

I am not thinking that finger-pointing is going to make these people any less angry.

Just ordering reassessments likely won't do it either.

Baron on DailyKos

Lefty enough to be worthy of defending:

IN-09: The last three cycles, Democrat Baron Hill and Republican Mike Sodrel have squared off. The seat has flipped each time (Hill, Sodrel, Hill). Now it looks like we'll see the fourth matchup between the two candidates.

Along with the other two new Indiana House Democrats (Donnelly and Ellsworth), Hill is among the lowest in party unity scores. But their votes are critical for keeping the House in Democratic control and they will vote for us some of the time on important issues (like embryonic stem cell research). 50 percent of a House member is better than 0 percent, as obnoxious as it may seem at times.

If 50% is so nice, I bet they love Baron voting with Nancy Pelosi and the San Francisco liberals 91% of the time.

Another Record Low Poll for Congress

From Gallup:

Congress Approval Rating Matches Historical Low
Just 18% approve of job Congress is doing


PRINCETON, NJ -- A new Gallup Poll finds Congress' approval rating the lowest it has been since Gallup first tracked public opinion of Congress with this measure in 1974. Just 18% of Americans approve of the job Congress is doing, while 76% disapprove, according to the August 13-16, 2007, Gallup Poll.

That 18% job approval rating matches the low recorded in March 1992, when a check-bouncing scandal was one of several scandals besetting Congress, leading many states to pass term limits measures for U.S. representatives (which the Supreme Court later declared unconstitutional). Congress had a similarly low 19% approval rating during the energy crisis in the summer of 1979.

A Tale of Two Approval Ratings

This Guy Is Crazy

Jumping from more than ten meters in the air (that's about forty feet) into a kiddy pool that contains only a foot of water.

The jump is in the last minute or so of the video, in case you don't like hearing Japanese without subtitles and want to fast-forward.



When will this sort of thing join anime and Godzilla in Japan's entertainment exports to the United States?

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Hillary on the Surge

"It's working."

Whoa.

I bet that you didn't see that one coming.

I expect to look out the window any minute now and see winged pork soaring toward a sun that is rising in the west.

Before you know it, she'll say she was for the war before she was against it.

Indiana Dems Fear the Inevitable Hillary

Heh.

Democratic state Rep. Dave Crooks cringes at the thought of Hillary Clinton winning the party's presidential nomination.

It's not that he has anything personal against her, he says. He just thinks she would be a drag on Indiana Democrats in 2008.

"She is just so polarizing," said Crooks, a Democrat from the southern Indiana city of Washington. He said she could cost state Democrats here three or four percentage points in the next election.

Crooks' concerns were included in a recent national Associated Press article that said many Democrats quietly fear that Clinton at the top of the ticket could hurt candidates at the bottom. They also said Clinton may be too polarizing for much of the country, will jeopardize the party's standing with independent voters and give Republicans who otherwise might stay home on Election Day a reason to vote.

Crooks thinks that will be the case in Indiana, where Democrats will try to knock off Republican Gov. Mitch Daniels, three freshman Democratic congressmen will seek re-election and Democrats will fight to maintain control of the Indiana House. They only have a 51-49 advantage now.

Unlike Crooks, most Democrats interviewed agreed to talk frankly about Clinton's political coattails only if they remained anonymous, fearing reprisals from the New York senator's campaign.

Some Indiana Democrats who were interviewed said they didn't share Crooks' fears, in part because people are seeing a softer, more moderate Hillary Clinton. Crooks isn't buying it, saying many of his party colleagues feel the way he does but aren't saying so publicly.

The national AP story has been featured on many political Web sites, and led to a segment on MSNBC's "Hardball" television show. Conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh read much of the story, including Crooks' comments, on one of his shows last week.

Crooks doesn't mind.

"I'm getting applause from Democrats who say, "Finally, somebody is saying something,'" said Crooks, who describes his district's voters as "gun-totin', bible-carrying, God-lovin', church-attending" folks.

Whether Crooks' concerns are valid remains to be seen. But as the national story pointed out, Clinton is carrying some political baggage. In a Gallup poll taken Aug. 3-5, 49 percent of those surveyed said they had an unfavorable view of Clinton compared with 47 percent who said they held her in high regard.

The story noted that her negative ratings are higher than those of her husband, former President Clinton, former President George H.W. Bush and 2004 Democratic nominee John Kerry at the end of their campaigns.

No Democratic presidential nominee has won Indiana since Lyndon Johnson in 1964.

William Kubik, a political science professor at Hanover College in Jefferson County, agrees with Crooks.

"I think Democrats in this state are very worried about her being the nominee," Kubik said. "I think other candidates would be much better for local Democrats simply by virtue of the fact that they won't generate the sort of negative response that will get Republicans to turn out in large numbers.

"She would not only have a hard time winning the state, but I think she would also hurt the ticket all the way down."

Remember, Baron's a Fiscal Conservative

Fiscal conservative in the sense that Baron Hill likes raising taxes to get rid of deficits rather than reducing spending; he has no trouble asking for millions of tax dollars for earmarks.

From the Courier-Journal:

$174.4 million sought for Indiana projects
Items are in House spending bills


WASHINGTON -- For the fiscal year starting Oct. 1, Indiana's U.S. House members have gotten $147.7 million in individual requests and $26.7 million in joint requests inserted into 12 spending bills that have passed the House.

But the bills must still be reconciled with Senate versions and signed by President Bush. The Senate has not completed as many spending bills as the House.

Rep. Baron Hill, a Democrat who represents Southern Indiana's 9th District, has $9.8 million, plus $2.15 million in joint requests:

• $3 million to Indiana University for the development of a new linear accelerator.

• $2.1 million to the Ohio River Greenway Development Commission for a riverfront roadway and other projects.

• $1.25 million to Harrison County to connect Ind. 337 and Ind. 62.

• $1 million to the Clark County Airport for a runway extension.

• $500,000 to Charlestown for a water-treatment facility.

• $375,000 to Schneck Medical Center in Seymour to expand the emergency department.

• $368,000 to Bloomington for communications and emergency operations.

• $250,000 to Columbus for a senior-citizen employment center.

• $250,000 to Next Wave Systems of Pekin for secure wireless devices and sensors.

• $200,000 to the Bloomington Hospital Foundation for regional health-information organization.

• $150,000 to the DuBois County Airport Authority for airport upgrades.

• $100,000 to Ivy Tech Community College of Indiana-Southeast Region for an early-college and middle-college program.

• $75,000 to Indiana University's nursing school for human-simulation technology and equipment.

• $75,000 to Indiana University Southeast's nursing school for the same purpose.

• $56,000 to the New Albany Police Department for an automated fingerprint-identification system.

• $11,000 to the Sellersburg Police Department for security cameras and door locks.

Joint requests:

• $2 million to General Dynamics Information Technology of Waynesville, N.C., for Muscatatuck Urban Training Center instrumentation, jointly requested by Hill and Reps. Brad Ellsworth and Pete Visclosky.

• $150,000 to Columbus for an engineering center, jointly requested by Hill and Rep. Mike Pence.

And those are just the earmarks Baron asked for.

The ones he voted for are quite shocking; more on that some other time.

Yuck

From the Courier-Journal:

Soaking at casino wasn't financial
Patron's chair was wet with urine


Floyd Kibiloski was playing video poker at the Caesars Indiana casino last month when he decided to try his luck at the machine next to him -- and got an embarrassing surprise.

Kibiloski, a Fern Creek, Ky., computer consultant, sat in a chair soaked with urine, apparently left there by a woman who had been playing at that slot machine moments earlier. It was dripping off his shorts and down his leg.

Hat tip: Eric Schansberg.

Wait for the Smoking Gun?

Peace, Love, & Genocide

Monday, August 20, 2007

It's Like Christmas!

From the Indy Star:

Think of a spoiled kid at Christmas. That's what it feels like to be Tom John these days.

The Marion County Republican Party chairman has received more gifts than anyone should in one year.

One Democratic City-County Councilman faces misdemeanor charges. Another was forced out of office over residency issues. Democrats fouled up the May primary. Tax increases have Democratic Mayor Bart Peterson facing more heat than at any point in his career.

All this and more for the loyal opposition. In a local election year, no less. John must be feeling pretty good, right?

The German statesman Otto von Bismarck once said that one should listen for the steps of God sounding through events, then reach out and grab ahold for the ride as the Almighty walked by.

Of course, as Tom John seems to be showing, it's all well and good to be able to hear destiny rustling as opportunity draws near.

It seems to be quite another to have the resources to be able to reach out, grab on, and go along for the ride.

As Democratic as Marion County is becoming, opportunities like the one presenting itself to Tom John right now will not come along very often; this might be the last one in a good long time.

Certainly, it is risky to make the leap, but--as the cliche goes--nothing ventured, nothing gained.

New county chairmen don't usually want to take big risks, but geez.

In this environment, a GOP chairman could be blamed and be worse off for not taking the chance.

Fun with News Aggregators, Part VIII

The "Netroots" are revolting:

S.1927 - The Protect America Act was introduced, rammed through Congress, passed, and signed by the President within 5 days.

Introduced Aug 1, 2007
Scheduled for Debate Aug 2, 2007
Passed Senate Aug 3, 2007
Passed House Aug 4, 2007
Signed by President Aug 5, 2007

Our Democrat controlled Congress has violated our trust, faith and most importantly, our votes given to them on the basis of hollow principles, feigned indignation and empty assurances. They cannot be trusted to act in the interest of American citizens.

In a vile display of cowardice, the Congress rubber stamped Constitutional violations, lest they be blamed when the terrorists come here to kill us all. They have and will continue to give the President every ounce of unrestrained power he wants because he will then remain singularly to blame for anything that happens. I suppose it has escaped their attention that they have created in themselves a far grander culprit.

Below is a list of every House and Senate Democrat who voted for S.1927 - The Protect America Act.

SENATE DEMOCRATS WHO VOTED FOR S.1927

...
Senator Evan Bayh of Indiana
...

HOUSE DEMOCRATS WHO VOTED FOR S.1927

...
Joe Donnelly of Indiana
Brad Ellsworth of Indiana
Baron Hill of Indiana
...

Double meaning very much intended.

The lefties seem angrier about the FISA vote than they were about continuing to fund the war.

Baron Hill seems to have very much "stepped in it" this time; the hippies and crazies in Bloomington are probably in a frothing rage over this by now.

Frozen Smoke Will Change the World

From the Times of London:

A MIRACLE material for the 21st century could protect your home against bomb blasts, mop up oil spillages and even help man to fly to Mars.

Aerogel, one of the world’s lightest solids, can withstand a direct blast of 1kg of dynamite and protect against heat from a blowtorch at more than 1,300C.

Scientists are working to discover new applications for the substance, ranging from the next generation of tennis rackets to super-insulated space suits for a manned mission to Mars.

Aerogel is nicknamed “frozen smoke” and is made by extracting water from a silica gel, then replacing it with gas such as carbon dioxide. The result is a substance that is capable of insulating against extreme temperatures and of absorbing pollutants such as crude oil.

It was invented by an American chemist for a bet in 1931, but early versions were so brittle and costly that it was largely consigned to laboratories. It was not until a decade ago that Nasa started taking an interest in the substance and putting it to a more practical use.

Sounds too good to be true.

It probably causes cancer or contributes to global warming or makes you sick if you eat it or kills small, cute, furry woodland creatures or is not biodegradable or something.

And who says the space program isn't useful?

Exchanging Blame

From the Courier-Journal:

Commissioners from five Indiana counties grappling with high property taxes say they're tired of Gov. Mitch Daniels blaming the problem on local government officials.

During a meeting Friday of commissioners from St. Joseph, Elkhart, LaGrange, Marshall and Steuben counties, LaGrange County Commissioner George Bachman bristled at the governor's repeated comments largely blaming the high taxes on excessive local spending.

"For the governor to say it's the counties' fault is ridiculous," Bachman said.

Daniels has largely blamed high property taxes on local spending, such as costly school building and renovation projects, as well as inefficient government.

"As long as we have duplicative, overlapping, antique government all over the place, you are going to have too much local spending, and therefore too high of property taxes," he said last month in declaring his re-election bid.

Unsurprisingly, those whose necks are closest to angry taxpayers are the most vocal in trying to blame someone else for the state's property tax situation.

Predator Strike

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Congressional Quarterly on IN-9

From CQ:

Fourth Face-Off May Tip A Red State Toward Purple
By Marc Rehmann 2:40 PM; Aug. 17, 2007

Baron Hill was among three Indiana Democrats who took generally conservative districts from the GOP in 2006. Can he and his colleagues hold on in a year when Republicans are defending a 10-election presidential winning streak in the state?

By now, Baron P. Hill and Mike Sodrel probably know each other as well as any two political rivals in the country. They’ve been battling over the same swath of the Ohio River Valley for all of this decade, as good an indication as any that Indiana has become a bellwether for control in the House.

But when Hill, the Democrat, won their third contest last fall — ousting Sodrel, the Republican, after just one term, to reclaim a seat he’d held for six years — that victory signaled a turning point for Democrats, who also picked up two other seats in Indiana last November, transforming a 2-to-7 disadvantage in the delegation to a 5-to-4 advantage.

Hill won by 10,000 votes last fall. In 2004, Sodrel won by just 1,400 votes, aided in part by President Bush running for re-election and taking 59 percent of the district vote. Two years before that, Hill had won a third House term by 9,500 votes.

Now halfway through the first year of his fourth term, Hill is being targeted yet again as one of the most vulnerable Democratic incumbents in the country. Sodrel is widely expected to run for a fourth time in 2008 — when the most reliably “red” state in the Midwest will be predicted to vote Republican in an 11th consecutive presidential election — although numerous political observers who are familiar with politics in southeastern Indiana say he may not announce until next February, after the presidential primaries shake out.

“There are a lot of people desiring” another Sodrel run, said Dave Matthews, the GOP chairman in Floyd County, which includes Sodrel’s hometown of New Albany.

Sodrel’s three previous races mean he does not want for name recognition. More important, he’s made millions with his trucking and motor coach company and has shown a willingness to spend it: He has donated nearly $1.75 million to his own campaigns since 2002. But Hill hasn’t lost any time raising money: He had $544,000 in cash on hand at the end of June, nearly twice what he had at this point four years ago, the last time he was running as an incumbent.

Robert Dion, a political scientist at the University of Evansville, said Bush’s poor approval ratings won’t matter much in 2008, when another candidate will be on top of the Republican ticket. “You can’t win with the votes you got last November,” he said. “You have a brand-new electorate in a presidential year, and the voters who are going to split the vote are still Republican.”

Shanghai Surprise

Insurgent HQ Discovered, Destroyed

Friday, August 17, 2007

Baron in Clarksville

Baron HillCovered in Wednesday's News & Tribune.

Notable items:

Appearing before about 60 people at the Jeffersonville Rotary Club’s meeting Tuesday at Clarksville’s Holiday Inn Lakeview, Hill said he believes Congress has failed to deliver on the public’s expectations since last year’s mid-term elections.

Yeah, I'd say that miserable failure has a new name and a new face now.

Hill criticized his own party’s leadership for the poor numbers, offering as an example of failure a bi-partisan bill that would have encouraged Bush to change course in Iraq.

“Our leadership in our party would not allow a vote for partisan reasons,” Hill said.

Leave it to Baron to blame someone else for any problem or mistake related to him.

This time, he is pushing Nancy Pelosi and his own party's leaders under the bus.

“I think the draft ought to go back in,” Waldrip said. “I think America needs a standing army. I don’t think there should be any exemptions.”

“It is being discussed,” Hill said. “I don’t think it is going to happen this year or next year.”

I like how Mr. Hill doesn't say what he thinks of restoring the draft, though he has said in the past that he doesn't think the American people are sacrificing enough for the war.

Hill said he does not expect Congress to address issues with health care until after next year’s presidential election.

“It is going to be expensive for us to have a nationalized health care system,” he said.

Hill pointed out that 4 percent of Medicare’s costs relate to program administration, while private insurers are charging 26 percent for the same services. He also bemoaned the fact that health care costs are increasing at a rate of about three times that of inflation.

“I believe we’re hitting a critical mass on health care,” Hill said.

I'll tell you what's hitting a critical mass.

What's hitting a critical mass are the special interest contributions Baron has been getting from the big health care companies and the big drug companies.

The more noise he makes, the more scared they get, and the more money they give to his campaign in hopes that he will leave them alone.

Baron Hill can come back to Southern Indiana from Washington, but he never really leaves Washington behind.

"This Week" with Karl Rove?

Hugh Hewitt thinks that Karl Rove should be given a position as a host of one of the Sunday morning talk shows.

George Stephanopoulos, Tim Russert, and Chris Matthews are all former senior aides to successful (sort of) Democratic politicians --Bill Clinton, Mario Cuomo, and Jimmy Carter respectively.

Karl Rove is easily as well read and informed as these three, and as funny as Russert can be when he's on.

So which network will put its ratings ahead of its ideology and give Rove the Sunday Show that would quickly draw an audience larger than any of the other three?

I'd watch, but I'm a political junkie and I watch them already when I can, even with some of the less capable and more partisan hosts like Stephanopoulos and Matthews running the shows.

Made in China

Senior Terrorists Eliminated

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Fun with News Aggregators, Part VII

Not everyone likes being able to eavesdrop on terrorists outside of the United States talking to other terrorists outside of the United States.

Some of them, like this guy, are quite angry with Baron Hill for voting to allow that to continue:

There come a time, people, when you must either stand up to the criminals or become one.

Roll Call of Traitors

August 6, 2007 -- Bush signs bill permitting warrantless eavesdropping of digital communications

With the support of 16 Democrats in the Senate and 41 in the House, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) was amended to permit warrantless eavesdropping on digital communications passing through the United States.

The FISA Modernization Bill could not have been signed into law by President Bush without the active support of Vichy Democrats, who bolted their leadership, including the Chairmen of the Senate and House Intelligence Committees -- Jay Rockefeller and Sylvestre Reyes, respectively -- and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, to embrace Bush's grab at increased surveillance powers.

The 41 Vichy Democrats in the House who voted against the Bill of Rights are:

...

Joe Donnelly - IN-2 (former printing executive)

...

Brad Ellsworth - IN-8 (former Vandenburgh County Sheriff)

...

Baron Hill - IN-9 (former state representative)

...

For those who may be considering challenging these traitors to the United States and the Democratic Party, their previous occupations are listed for purposes of opposition research and determing levels of past political hackery.

Credit where due; Baron voted for this, and good for him.

He will probably soon pander spinelessly to the lefty nutters in Bloomington and say he regretted doing so, was tricked, was lied to, was temporarily insane when he voted, or some other excuse.

But he did vote for it, so I commend him.

Some brief background is in order to get past all of the nutroots gibberish here.

If Terrorist A is in Pakistan and talking to Terrorist B in Saudi Arabia, we should be able to listen in on what they are saying without having to get a warrant.

They are not Americans, nor are they in the United States, so the Fourth Amendment doesn't apply.

The law needed to be updated because the special FISA court had ruled that, because the wire that Terrorist A was using to communicate with Terrorist B ran through American territory (even though neither terrorist was in the USA), the existing FISA law required that the government get a warrant.

The Fourth Amendment had nothing to do with it, just a technicality in the wording of the existing FISA law.

This was of critical importance because, after September 11, the NSA urged American phone companies to route as many foreign phone calls and communications as possible through switchboards in the United States as this made eavesdropping on terrorist communications easier.

This was a great advantage in tracking down the activities of Al Qaeda and like-minded fanatics.

The FISA court's ruling, however, meant that this was suddenly no longer possible.

Overnight, what had been a great advantage (routing as many foreign phone calls as possible through American switchboards to enable the NSA to listen for terrorist plotting) became a disadvantage and the entire country became deaf and blind.

The President asked that the law be amended to correct the problem and to allow the NSA's efforts to continue.

Baron Hill voted for that, even if (I am sure) he will repudiate the vote later.

Simply because George Bush proposed it should not automatically mean that it is some step toward fascism or something, even if the lefty nutter crazies think so.