Barring any major happenings, I'm going to take a break from posting for a few days to rest and recharge.
Sunday, September 30, 2007
From an HP reader comes this delightful letter in the Bloomington Herald-Times from a former Baron Hill supporter:
Disappointed in Hill’s vote
To the editor:
As a contributor to and volunteer for Baron Hill’s recent successful election campaign, I was disappointed by his vote supporting a Republican bill which altered the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) to weaken the safeguards against domestic warrantless wiretapping. Democratic House leadership stated that the bill “does violence to the Constitution of the United States.” Indeed, it allows the government to spy on Americans without any independent review from the courts or the Congress. In everyday terms, this bill “Gives Dracula (the administration) the keys to the blood bank (the constitutional rights of citizens and the powers of Congress).”
Although Rep. Hill will perhaps have curried favor with some segments of his electorate by his vote, might he not have run the risk of undermining loyalty from his “core” electorate? His opposition might well be gloating over his vote, since they have obtained their desired legislative outcome while Rep. Hill potentially weakened the support from his own party members. How many of the opposition will be offering financial contributions and personal effort for his next campaign? Will the motivation of Rep. Hill’s supporters be weakened by his vote on the modified FISA?
Perhaps like-minded supporters of Rep. Hill might express themselves to his office in hope of influencing his vote at the time of a replacement bill, which will necessarily come pursuant to a six-month sunset clause of the present law.
-JOHN MCNAY, Bloomington
I, for one, have in the past commended Baron Hill for his vote on the FISA law.
It is one of precious few he has made since returning to Washington where I have supported how he voted.
He may repudiate the vote later to appease his supporters, like Mr. McNay, (and I predict that, spineless politician he is, Baron will eventually do just that) but he did the right thing.
As his fellow Democrat Brian Baird shows below, sometimes doing the right thing isn't easy or politically popular.
And I can't say that I'll give Baron contributions (I certainly won't).
I can't say that I'll knock on doors or make phone calls for him (I certainly won't).
But Mr. McNay's logic for compelling Baron to vote a certain way is as faulty as his reasoning in opposing the FISA law.
As a United States Congressman representing Indiana's 9th District (which, when I last checked, included a great deal more than Bloomington), Baron Hill has certain obligations to represent more than just a few small groups of highly-motivated, very noisy, and very contribution-happy mouth-foaming crazies in B-town.
I'm glad that he did the right thing here.
Tat tip for sending me the letter: Hoosierpundit reader.
Prior posts in this series:
September 18, in which Baron refuses to attend a peace rally in Bloomington with his supporters when he learns that cameras and members of the media will be present.
September 11, in which Baron is attacked in the Bloomington Herald-Times for voting to approve the FISA law.
August 29, in which lefty crazies in Bloomington get so angry with Baron for refusing to impeach the Cheney-Bush regime that they say "why not bring back Mike Sodrel?"
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.
From Politico comes the sad story of Congressman Brian Baird, a lefty Democrat who originally opposed the Iraq War, but has publicly admitted the success of the troop surge and the Petraeus strategy:
It’s rather lonely being Rep. Brian Baird these days. Your erstwhile allies are trashing you. Your enemies are rejoicing. Your friends can offer little more than gallows humor.
A month after Baird, a Democrat from Washington state, switched his views on Iraq and embraced President Bush’s surge strategy, he remains persona non grata in many circles.
At home, he is besieged by angry protesters and hostile ads.
In the Capitol, many of his colleagues are still smarting over his turnaround, charging that it gave fodder to Republicans and undermined the Democrats’ momentum to force a troop withdrawal.
“He clearly has been exploited by the administration to advance their position. I think that was very unfortunate and, frankly, misguided,” said Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.).
Taking an unpopular stand in politics is rarely simple, and it’s even less so when you oppose your own party’s leadership on the most divisive issue of the day.
Over the past month, Baird has had to endure a fierce reaction to his change of heart, from the chaos of a rancorous town hall meeting to the seething disapproval of Democratic leaders to the raised eyebrows of his Democratic peers.
But he remains unapologetic.
“I had seen firsthand significant changes on the ground in the region,” he said in an interview, “and I felt a responsibility to state that, because it seemed like that was a perspective that was not being voiced.”
Baird wrote in a Seattle Times op-ed Aug. 24 that even though “the invasion of Iraq may be one of the worst foreign policy mistakes in the history of our nation, ... a precipitous or premature withdrawal of our forces now has the potential to turn the initial errors into an even greater problem just as success looks possible.”
Prior to that, Baird had been against the administration’s Iraq policy.
He opposed the initial invasion in 2002 and has voted with Democratic leadership on most Iraq-related issues this year.
Earlier, Democrats had spoken of August and September as potential turning points in the Iraq debate, but few Republicans ultimately changed their positions. Now, Democrats are struggling to make their next move.
Baird said legislative tactics were the furthest thing from his mind.
“There were a few who felt I undermined the message, but I could really care less,” he said Tuesday. “Some were mad at me that I was going off message. In fact, even some of the people who had been pro-war said that to me. ... They were so quickly jumping to criticism of someone with a different position. It’s unfortunate that we’re being driven by such an extreme wing right now.”
Baird’s anti-war colleagues made little effort to hide their annoyance with him. Several said they approved of the ads and protests an anti-war group had launched against him. Others lobbed the ultimate insult: He didn’t matter.
Baird argued that the anti-war faction of his party allowed no room for alternate approaches.
“They are driving the agenda far too much, and it’s the wrong direction for this country,” he said. “We all agree that we can’t stay forever there, but how we withdraw and when we withdraw and why we withdraw matters a great deal to our own security, the legacy we leave in Iraq and our public image internationally.”
None dare say that the Emperor Has No Clothes--that the Democrats are committed to defeat when progress is being made--lest they be treated as outcasts and denounced for not towing the line of partisan talking points.
Brian Baird is a lone voice in the wilderness, and kudos to him for having the bravery to stand up to the anti-war crazies that have hijacked the party of Truman, Roosevelt, and Kennedy.
Congressman John Campbell has a great post over at Green Eyeshade Blog highlighting the budget gimmickry of the PAYGO rules established by the Democrats in Congress:
In previous blogs, I have discussed the Democrats’ PayGO rule and characterized it as nothing more than a gimmick and budgetary ploy to fool the taxpayer. I now want to provide with you two examples to highlight what I am talking about:
1) Farm Bill Reauthorization (HR 2419)
What it does:
- Increases Spending by a total of $18.8 billion over 10 years
- Raises taxes on US business by $7.5 billion over 10 years
- Increases fees on U.S energy companies by $6.1 billion
PayGo Gimmick: This bill pays for the increased spending by delaying farm and crop insurance payments and accelerating crop insurance premium payments for a $4.8 billion in “savings”. The problem is that these “savings” do not really exist! Payment schedules are simply modified to comply with PayGO.
2) Terrorism Risk Insurance Revision and Extension Act (HR 2761)
What it does:
- Increases net direct spending by approximately $8.4 billion over the next 10 years assuming a terrorist attack happens during this period, but this is a modest estimate, if an attack was worse than predicted it could run much higher.
PayGo Gimmick: This bill pretends that the government does not have to cover the losses unless a second bill, in the wake of a tragic terrorist attack, is passed by a future Congress.
When the PayGo rule was passed by the majority, Republicans cautioned that it would only promote increased spending, higher taxes, and budgetary tricks.
This is exactly what has happened. Apparently budget gimmicks combined with higher taxes equates to fiscal discipline.
There's Baron Hill math and logic for you in a nutshell:
Budget gimmicks plus higher taxes equals fiscal conservatism.
Saturday, September 29, 2007
From USA Today:
EDINBURG, Texas (AP) — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called a plan to build fencing along parts of the Mexico border a "terrible idea" that overlooks local communities.
Pelosi made the comments during her trip to the Rio Grande Valley for the annual Hispanic Engineering, Science & Technology Week conference at the University of Texas-Pan American.
"I have been against the fence, I thought it's a bad idea even when it was just a matter of discussion," said Pelosi, D-Calif. "These are communities where you have a border going through them, they are not communities where you have a fence splitting them."
Last year, President Bush signed the Secure Fence Act requiring the construction of fencing along the 2,000-mile border. The plans call for about 370 miles of fence and 200 miles of vehicle barriers, including concrete barriers, by the end of 2008.
Pelosi also touted legislation known as the DREAM Act that would make it easier for some illegal immigrants to receive higher education benefits. She spoke at a conference that drew more than 5,000 students for activities designed to inspire careers in science and technology.
The DREAM Act would eliminate a federal provision that discourages states from providing illegal immigrants with lower in-state tuition rates. It also would allow permanent residency for illegal immigrants who entered the country as children and have been admitted to an institution of higher education.
"It just isn't fair," Pelosi said. "Those young people who came to America one way or another ... their opportunities are curtailed because of the situation. And it's not only harmful to them — it's harmful to the country."
As of this posting...
Baron Hill votes with Nancy Pelosi 91% of the time.
Brad Ellsworth votes with Nancy Pelosi 82% of the time.
Joe Donnelly votes with Nancy Pelosi 82% of the time.
So, I wonder if Madam Speaker's views on the border fence will eventually fall into that overwhelmingly large percentage of mutual agreement.
From Frugal Hoosiers comes the best comment evah:
Hey, give my master a break. When I curl up on top of his shiny cranium, I am providing not only warmth but my fur makes him look like a real stud muffin too. Keeping my coat full and luxurious costs money - in both squirrel shampoo and food. By getting a huge break on his property taxes (thanks for the sweet assessment, Democrat Assessor Wesolowski), my master will have more money to spend on me - his furry lid. Sure hope he never trades me in for a beaver.
From the Seymour Tribune:
Democrat state leader misses mark on trip
To the Editor:
I cannot believe Dan Parker, the Indiana Democratic Party state chairman. He should be ashamed of himself.
Governor Mitch Daniels and some respected state Democrats were in Japan this month attempting to bring jobs home for Hoosiers, and all Parker can say is the governor is “running away from the tough issues.”
Come on Dan, the governor and some prominent members of your own party are doing what needs to be done — bringing jobs home for Hoosiers and pushing back against the tide of economic disparity some of our neighboring states have felt.
I am glad Gov. Daniels was in Japan, addressing the tough issues, and I am glad John Hall of North Vernon, also on the trip, is not a Dan Parker Democrat.
Thursday, September 27, 2007
From The Hill:
NRCC expects surge in recruits
By Aaron Blake
September 27, 2007
The National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) is expecting a small wave of recruits in the coming weeks, including filling holes in several top targeted races.
The committee is expecting recruits to emerge soon against Reps. Michael Arcuri (D-N.Y.), John Barrow (D-Ga.), Baron Hill (D-Ind.), David Loebsack (D-Iowa) and Patrick Murphy (D-Pa.), who are all without major committee-recruited GOP challengers. All but Barrow are freshmen.
The NRCC is meeting with potential candidates against Murphy and Rep. Paul Hodes (D-N.H.), another freshman without a major opponent.
Meanwhile, Indiana Republicans have been anxiously awaiting word from former Rep. Mike Sodrel (R), who is rumored to be in for a fourth straight match-up with Hill.
The word I hear in southern Indiana from those probably "in the know"?
"Get your shirts ready."
Kick the tires and light the fires.
From CNN's Political Ticker:
It's a dead heat in New Hampshire, according to our new poll of likely New Hampshire Republican primary voters.
Mitt Romney's lead in the battle for the GOP presidential nomination in the all important Granite State has evaporated, according to the results of a CNN/WMUR poll conducted by the University of New Hampshire.
The survey, released Wednesday, shows the former Massachusetts Governor drawing support from 25 percent of Republican primary voters to 24 percent for former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani.
That statistically-insignificant, 1 point margin is a major change from CNN/WMUR's last New Hampshire poll, taken in July, when Romney held a comfortable 14 point lead over Giuliani.
The News & Tribune has finally published Dave Matthews' criticism of Democratic mayoral candidate and former New Albany mayor Doug England (which I posted here).
It sure took them a while.
UPDATE: Roger Baylor, meanwhile, wouldn't run the letter at all as a submission (what do you expect from a communist), but deigned from his lofty blogging perch to decry it as a "saturation sliming" of Doug England and a "negative campaign."
Because, of course, any public airing of the factual record of what a Democrat did when in office for some reason just always has to be seen by Democrats as negative.
I can't help but wonder why.
Facts, John Adams once said, are stubborn things.
It is not Dave Matthews' fault that the facts about Doug England are so unpleasant.
Larry Craig will stay in office until judge rules
Sen. Larry Craig (R-Idaho) will stay in office until the judge rules on his motion to withdraw his guilty plea, the senator said in a statement.
"Today was a major step in the legal effort to clear my name. The court has not issued a ruling on my motion to withdraw my guilty plea. For now, I will continue my work in the United States Senate for Idaho."
Anyone stupid enough to not understand what pleading guilty means should not even be in the United States Senate.
Not that I'm surprised that there are individuals in the Senate that stupid.
No, far from it...
Wednesday, September 26, 2007
I just love that photo of JLT with Tipper Gore.
She may be leading in recent polls, but Jill Long-Thompson's fundraising belies a sort of desparation you'd expect from, say, Richard Young.
She has only three supplemental ($10,000+ donation) filings, compared to around five times as many for her main primary opponent, state party establishment man Jim Schellinger.
In fact, Long-Thompson appears so eager to get money that she is asking Republican political consultants to give her donations.
Chris Faulkner, of Faulkner Strategies, recently got this letter from her and was kind enough to pass it on.
Click to enlarge:
And Page Two.
Begging Republicans for money--Republican consultants no less--is just the thing you should be doing if you want to win a Democratic primary for governor.
At this rate, the Democrats will be running Richard Young against Mitch Daniels on the ballot next November.
Recently, a press release was posted on Baron Hill's Congressional website.
And, as a HP reader pointed out to me, a similar press release was just sent out in an email by his Congressional campaign.
Unless I am mistaken, using Congressional staff for political purposes (like writing campaign press releases) is some sort of major no-no.
The press release from Baron's Congressional office:
Hill Responds to Hoosier Taxpayers’ Concerns, Introduces Property Tax Relief Act
Bill provides real relief to Hoosier homeowners
(Washington, DC) - Congressman Baron Hill introduced legislation today that assists middle- and low-income families in decreasing their taxes. The bill, the Property Tax Relief Act of 2007, will allow homeowners who do not itemize to deduct their property taxes from their federal income taxes. Currently, the only citizens benefiting from the property tax deduction are those who itemize their taxes. Estimates suggest that approximately 40% of homeowners do not itemize.
“I have heard from many constituents about how hard they have been hit by increased property taxes,” Hill said. “And, as a homeowner in Southern Indiana myself, I understand their concerns.”
Although the federal government’s involvement with property taxes is quite limited, Hill saw a way to address homeowners’ concerns by introducing legislation that will no longer require taxpayers to itemize in order to deduct their property taxes from their federal income taxes.
“I could not sit back and do nothing while so many of my constituents were being affected,” Hill said. “I have heard from some of my constituents whose property taxes have doubled this year. This is a huge financial burden to take on, and I want to do my part to help alleviate that.”
The bill’s lead cosponsor is Congressman Vito Fossella (R-NY), and other original cosponsors are Representatives Dan Burton, Joe Donnelly, Brad Ellsworth, Kirsten Gillibrand, John Hall, Patrick Murphy and Mike Pence.
The press release from Baron's political campaign (sent out on their email list and forwarded to me by an observant reader; Baron's campaign website hasn't had an update in months):
Hill Responds to Hoosier Taxpayers' Concerns, Introduces Property Tax Relief Act
Bill Provides real relief to Hoosier homeowners
(Washington, DC) - On Tuesday, September 18th, Congressman Baron Hill introduced legislation that assists middle- and low-income families in decreasing their taxes. The bill, the Property Tax Relief Act of 2007, will allow homeowners who do not itemize to deduct their property taxes from their federal income taxes. Currently, the only citizens benefitting from the property tax reduction are those who itemize their taxes. Estimates suggest that approximately 40% of homeowners do not itemize.
"I have heard from many constituents about how hard they have been hit by increased property taxes," Hill said. "And, as a homeowner in Southern Indiana myself, I understand their concerns."
Although the federal government's involvement with property taxes is quite limited, Hill saw a way to address homeowners' concerns by introducing legislation that will no longer require taxpayers to itemize in order to deduct their property taxes from their federal income taxes.
According to the Congressional Research Service, there are approximately 942,000 non-itemizers who could be homeowners in Indiana. Under this bill, a home-owning family that does not itemize and makes roughly between $64,000 and $128,000 per year would see an average benefit of $300.
"I could not sit back and do nothing while so many of my constituents were being affected," Hill said. "I have heard from some of my constituents whose property taxes have doubled this year. This is a huge financial burden to take on, and I want to do my part to help alleviate that."
The bill's lead cosponsor is Congressman Vito Fossella (R-NY), and other original cosponsors are Representatives Dan Burton, Joe Donnelly, Brad Ellsworth, Kirsten Gillibrand, John Hall, Patrick Murphy and Mike Pence.
Only the portion in italics is different.
Your tax dollars at work.
Hat tip: Hoosierpundit reader.
From the Wall Street Journal:
When Hillary Rodham Clinton held an intimate fund-raising event at her Washington home in late March, Pamela Layton donated $4,600, the maximum allowed by law, to Mrs. Clinton's presidential campaign.
But the 37-year-old Ms. Layton says she and her husband were reimbursed by her husband's boss for the donations. "It wasn't personal money. It was all corporate money," Mrs. Layton said outside her home here. "I don't even like Hillary. I'm a Republican."
The boss is William Danielczyk, founder of a Washington-area private-equity firm and a major fund-raising "bundler" for Mrs. Clinton. Mrs. Layton's gift was one of more than a dozen donations that night from people with Republican ties or no history of political giving. Mr. Danielczyk and his family, employees and friends donated a total of $120,000 to Mrs. Clinton in the days around the fund-raiser.
In an interview, Mr. Danielczyk said he "did not and would not" reimburse employees or others for their political donations. Such reimbursement would be illegal. Mr. Danielczyk said he was a co-host for the event at Mrs. Clinton's home. "Everybody was asked to contribute," he said, "some said yes and some said no." He added, "No arm was twisted."
The episode adds to growing questions about the practice of "bundling" donations, in which ambitious fund-raisers collect money from friends, colleagues and sometimes employees to send to a campaign. Every major presidential campaign now relies on the practice to raise large sums. It is an especially important strategy for Mrs. Clinton. She has formed a group of "HillRaisers" who get special recognition for sweeping in more than $100,000 for her campaign.
Mrs. Clinton's campaign isn't the only one to be touched by suspicions about bundlers. The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan last month indicted Geoffrey Fieger, a politically active attorney. Mr. Fieger is accused of laundering $127,000 in illegal campaign contributions through dozens of employees to the 2004 presidential campaign of Democrat John Edwards, the former senator from North Carolina, who is running again for president. Mr. Fieger denies wrongdoing and says he was set up by the Bush administration.
Asked about the donations bundled by Mr. Danielczyk, Mrs. Clinton's campaign said yesterday it would return the $9,200 donated by Mr. and Mrs. Layton.
Four more years of this!
At least the House of Representatives did:
Congress signaled its disapproval of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad with a vote Tuesday to tighten sanctions against his government and a call to designate his army a terrorist group.
The swift rebuke was a rare display of bipartisan cooperation in a Congress bitterly divided on the Iraq war. It reflected lawmakers' long-standing nervousness about Tehran's intentions in the region, particularly toward Israel—a sentiment fueled by the pro-Israeli lobby whose influence reaches across party lines in Congress.
"Iran faces a choice between a very big carrot and a very sharp stick," said Rep. Tom Lantos, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. "It is my hope that they will take the carrot. But today, we are putting the stick in place."
The House passed, by a 397-16 vote, a proposal by Lantos, D-Calif., aimed at blocking foreign investment in Iran, in particular its lucrative energy sector. The bill would specifically bar the president from waiving U.S. sanctions.
Current law imposes sanctions against any foreign company that invests $20 million or more in Iran's energy industry, although the U.S. has waived or ignored sanction laws in exchange for European support on nonproliferation issues.
In the Senate, Joseph Lieberman, I-Conn., and Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., proposed a nonbinding resolution urging the State Department to label Iran's military—the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps—a terrorist organization.
The Bush administration had already been planning to blacklist a unit within the Revolutionary Guard, subjecting part of the vast military operation to financial sanctions.
The legislative push came a day after Ahmadinejad defended Holocaust revisionists, questioned who carried out the Sept. 11 attacks and declared homosexuals didn't exist in Iran in a tense question-and- answer session at Columbia University.
Every member of the Hoosier delegation save one voted for this, and kudos to them (and that goes for Baron, too).
The lone non-vote was from Julia Carson.
As usual, she wasn't present to vote.
Someday, the folks in Indianapolis are going to wake up and wish that they had representation in Congress.
Tuesday, September 25, 2007
What did the county do to have to pay that much money in a lawsuit, you might ask?
Why nothing at all.
It's paying it on account of behavior by some at the county sheriff's department run by the Harrison County Sheriff Mike Deatrick and Chief of Police Gary Gilley.
The chickens are coming home to roost, and there are still other lawsuits outstanding that the county may have to shell out money for.
From the Courier-Journal:
Harrison County is expected to pay $30,000 to settle a federal lawsuit by two former employees who made job-related claims of civil rights violations against Sheriff Mike Deatrick and the county.
But similar claims brought by two other former employees are still pending.
Harrison's commissioners disclosed the potential settlements last week in voting to ask the County Council to disburse the money to settle lawsuits brought by former corrections officers Lina M. Misamore and Danielle Smith. The council is expected to review the request tomorrow.
The two other past employees, Ray Byrne and Mary A. Ward, declined settlement offers earlier this month, and their case awaits action in U.S. District Court in New Albany.
Deatrick did not return phone messages last week but had predicted previously that the employees' claims would be dismissed.
Charles W. Miller, a Louisville lawyer who represented the jail employees, said Misamore and Smith clearly have been vindicated.
"The facts speak for themselves," Miller said.
He declined to put a reporter in touch with the women, whose phone numbers are not listed. He said they still must sign the settlement agreements.
County officials disclosed that Misamore is expected to receive $20,000, and Smith $26,000. The county's portion of $30,000 derives from a $15,000 insurance deductible per claim.
Ward, Misamore and Smith filed discrimination claims nearly four years ago with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, alleging they were subjected to a sexually hostile work environment and to retaliation when they complained.
They cited brazen sexual remarks and innuendo by two male co-workers and a female supervisor.
Each said retaliatory actions -- including shift changes and demotions -- effectively forced them to resign.
Byrne, a former jail commander, alleged that Deatrick fired him in May 2004, because he believed that Byrne was one of several employees who spoke with the EEOC.
The agency conducted an investigation that included sending an examiner to Corydon to interview employees and officials, including Deatrick. The EEOC later ruled that a civil rights violation had occurred and referred the matter to the U.S. Department of Justice.
Justice officials declined to sue the county but notified the four in June 2006 that they were eligible by law to sue in federal court within 90 days if they chose to pursue the matter.
Consequently, their lawsuit filed jointly a year ago names as defendants the county, Deatrick and three other employees -- D. Andrea Barham, David R. Dodson Jr. and Larry J. Borden. The parties had begun to exchange information, according to court records.
Following a settlement conference Sept. 7, Indianapolis lawyer Karen Pollack, who was hired by the county's insurance carrier, wrote county leaders to recommend that they settle with Smith and Misamore.
"They (the lawyers) think the settlement is the cheapest way out of it," said Terry Miller, a commissioner from Elizabeth who is not related to Charles Miller.
While the county and the sheriff admitted no wrongdoing, Terry Miller said, the commissioners felt they had little choice but to follow Pollack's recommendation.
If county officials declined to settle, they were cautioned that they could wind up paying the balance of legal fees beyond the amount that the insurance carrier decides to cover, said John Colin, the county attorney.
"It becomes an evaluation of dollars and cents," Colin said.
Charles Miller said Ward and Byrne intend to continue the fight.
"We are going to proceed to trial, if that's what we have to do," he said.
So while the Democratic County Clerk of Marion County disenfranchised thousands of voters in the primary earlier this year thanks to her own incompetence, the only disenfranchisement that the ACLU and the Indiana Democratic Party want to investigate is that caused by Indiana's voter ID law.
You might remember the voter ID law.
It requires you to show an ID to vote, the same as you have to show an ID to do countless everyday things.
You might also recall that the ACLU and the Democrats have not been able to find a single actual example of the voter ID law disenfranchising anyone (except votes cast fraudulently, one must suppose, and they won't mention those).
That's a far cry from the disenfranchisement in Marion County that was caused by the Democrats themselves; they don't want to investigate that or challenge it in court.
From the Indy Star:
The Supreme Court agreed today to decide whether voter identification laws unfairly deter poor and minority Americans from voting, stepping into a contentious partisan issue in advance of the 2008 elections.
The justices will hear arguments early next year in a challenge to an Indiana law that requires voters to present photo ID before casting their ballots. The state has defended the law as a way to combat voter fraud.
The state Democratic party and civil rights groups complained that the law unfairly targets poor and minority voters, without any evidence that in-person voter fraud exists in Indiana.
The Indiana law enacted in 2005 was upheld by a federal judge and by the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago. Before the law's passage, an Indiana voter had only to sign a poll book at the polling place, where a photo copy of the voter's signature was kept on file for comparison.
"The purpose of the Indiana law is to reduce voting fraud, and voting fraud impairs the right of legitimate voters to vote by diluting their votes," Judge Richard Posner said in his majority opinion.
From the Courier-Journal:
The Indiana Farm Bureau will ask lawmakers to increase individual income- and sales-tax rates by 1 percentage point each and use the revenue to cut property-tax bills for all payers by about 30 percent.
Indiana Farm Bureau President Don Villwock announced the organization's property-tax recommendations at the Statehouse yesterday, saying they offer permanent, substantial and fair relief to all property owners.
The group, which represents 80,000 Hoosier farm families, stopped short, however, of advocating the elimination of property taxes now.
"We know that we cannot do away with property taxes altogether in the short term," Villwock said. "I think that it is still a noble long-term goal that we at Farm Bureau will still strive for, but we need immediate relief today and we need it now."
The Farm Bureau's plan calls for the state to increase the sales tax from the current 6 percent to 7 percent and the individual income tax from 3.4 percent to 4.4 percent. That would generate a combined $2.1 billion annually in revenue.
The state would use that money to take over several costs from county government and schools.
Property taxes would no longer fund general school costs -- including those for salaries, utility and insurance expenses. Also, the state would take over the full costs of child welfare and courts from counties.
Some of the new tax revenue would be used to set up rainy day funds for schools. That money would be saved for years when sales and income-tax revenue dropped. Once the funds' balance grew, some of the money could then be used to reduce school debt.
So, let's see.
The Republicans have a bunch of property tax plans, even the Farm Bureau has a plan, and the Democrats still have no plan.
Monday, September 24, 2007
Recently, I got an email from Dave Matthews, the chairman of the Floyd County GOP.
No, not that Dave Matthews, this Dave Matthews.
Anyway, he had written an op-ed letter and submitted it to the New Albany Tribune, the Courier-Journal, and Roger Baylor's NA Confidential blog.
Matthews' op-ed was a review of the rather sordid record of New Albany Democratic mayoral candidate Doug England.
England was mayor of New Albany in the past, and he got pretty much run out of office on a rail.
This is something of a trend for New Albany mayors; it happened to his Republican successor and her Democratic successor too.
Apparently, the political statute of limitations on some of the stuff that got England voted out is about eight years, because nobody (at least so far) wants to run the Matthews letter and let the voters be reminded of why they got rid of England in the first place.
While I can understand this for Roger Baylor--he's just a blogger and likes to self-style himself as a socialist (his pub, Rich O's, has a communist-themed "Red Room") who loathes both parties--it is not as easy to explain the apparent unwillingness of the New Albany News (the New Albany half of the News & Tribune) or the Courier-Journal to not run the letter.
Doug England has a record, and it is not right to censor it from the eyes of the public.
Here is Matthews' letter:
I was elected the Floyd County Republican Party Chairman back in March. One of my top priorities was the upcoming New Albany Mayor and City Council races. As you would expect, I learned all the favorable aspects of our nominee for Mayor, Randy Hubbard. What I found hard to believe were the numerous negative reports about his opponent, Doug England. So, after attending a recent organizational meeting with Randy’s campaign staff, I decided to spend a few hours at the New Albany Public Library looking up old newspaper articles and find out for myself whether or not any of these stories were true. In case you have forgotten what you all reported in the past, here’s what I found:
Way back in August of 1993, during his first term as Mayor, the Courier Journal published an article (8/15/93) which questioned conflicts of interest between Mayor England, his Public Works Director and contractors with whom the city does business. “Doug England’s Public Works Director, John Mattingly and a major city contractor he oversees co-own land at which a floating casino might dock. The city attorney, Glenn Hancock who represents the city in legal cases also doubles as Mattingly’s personal attorney. Any question why England pushed so hard to get the Casino in New Albany? Both men are ‘close friends who helped him get elected.’”
The Journal further reported that “MacKenzie & Associates gave $3500 to England’s campaign last year and later won a $388,000 non-bid, professional service contract from the city to monitor sewer flows.” The donations violated the state law that limits corporate contributions to a single candidate to $2000 per election. “The England campaign refunded the excess $1500 after the story was published and has said the violation was an oversight.” This oversight was investigated by the Indiana State Police, but no charges were ever filed.
Prior to his second term of office, the New Albany Tribune reported (10/18/99) that “England raised $18,600 in corporate contributions since promising not to accept them.” He accepted “political contributions from a computer company that did business with the city.” I don’t assume that this company expected any compensation or favorable consideration for New Albany contracts because of these contributions….but who knows?
The most amazing report I found that your industry reported on Mayor England was as recent as October 2004. The Courier Journal article from 10/26/04 reported that “Former New Albany Mayor Doug England is under investigation by the Floyd County prosecutor after he confronted a motorist and allegedly claimed to be a county sheriff deputy.” The camera man was David White of Floyds Knobs, a camera man for WDRB-TV. He claimed that England weaved his vehicle back and forth behind him flashing his lights and summoning him to stop, thereafter claiming that he was a law enforcement agent and threatened his arrest. The incident was reported to have happened at 11:30pm, September 16, 2004. The only follow up to the incident reported that after an “Oct 7 meeting with England at Mattingly’s apartment, White said the former mayor apologized and said he has gotten rid of the badge.” “I think it was an error in judgment,” White said of England. “I don’t think he will do it again.”
Now, you can call me a “traditionalist conservative” or even one of those “intolerant fundamentalist Christians” if you like. That tends to be the current “in vogue” way to attempt to discredit Republicans. However, I firmly believe, whether Republican or Democrat, conservative or liberal... like me, all the Southern Indiana Hoosiers I’ve spoken to recently still care about honesty, integrity and accountability in their elected officials.
Randy Hubbard has taken a lot of heat lately because he isn’t debating Doug England. And he may not actually have all the quick answers to all of New Albany’s problems. (My Young Republicans Vice Chairman reported to me that in a local restaurant recently Doug England claimed to have all these answers and would fund them from a source that was “secret.” Huh?) What I do know about Randy is that he is honest, he has proven himself as a leader while the Chief of Police and Chief of County Sheriffs and he knows how to get answers to problems by consulting knowledgeable, intelligent people... both Republican and Democrat... for the right answers. Randy really did have a legal law enforcement badge and used it to protect the citizens of New Albany and Floyd County for many years.
The honest question we really have to answer is, “which of these two individuals do we really expect to lead New Albany to a brighter, more productive future?” If your own news articles above report the truth, I can’t think it is Doug.
David L. Matthews
Chairman, Floyd County Republican Party
From the Indy Star:
The number of Hoosiers working full time for the state since Gov. Mitch Daniels took office in 2005 has fallen by more than 4,000, partly because some jobs have been turned over to private companies.
Most state employees have seen their salaries go up, but dollars spent on the executive and judicial branches have dropped by more than $15 million.
These are among several findings in a new state-pay database The Indianapolis Star is making available on its Web site today. The searchable database includes the names, positions and salaries of 35,218 full- and part-time employees who are on the state government payroll, plus 39,887 university and 403 legislative employees in Indiana.
Together, the state, legislative and university employees are paid more than $3.1 billion.
The highest salary: $500,000 for Indiana University men's basketball coach Kelvin Sampson.
Most people paid by the state make far less, with the median salary for all employees $34,694.
The database shows that shifting jobs to the private sector is reducing the amount taxpayers spend on state salaries, although those savings are offset by the contracts the state has signed with private firms to take over the work.
The Family and Social Services Administration, for instance, is paying $1.16 billion over 10 years to a company to process welfare applications. The state previously had more than 2,000 employees handling that job; now, 1,399 are working for the private company, Dallas-based ACS.
In January 2005, the state government payroll listed 35,276 active, full-time employees in the executive and judicial branches combined making more than $1.27 billion.
As of Sept. 1, the state's payroll listed 31,259 active, full-time employees paid a total of nearly $1.26 billion. That's 4,017 fewer employees, and $15,349,441 less in the payroll.
Those still in state government are getting paid a little better, said state Personnel Director Debra Minott.
Under a new pay-for-performance system, about 8 percent of top-performing state government workers saw their pay jump by 10 percent. Most employees received a 4 percent raise this year, while about 7 percent whose work was deemed inadequate received no pay increase.
Democrats, of course, can never be pleased when there are fewer bureaucrats around, and (true to form) the Democratic Party's mouthpiece blog cried about it.
They like forcing bureaucrats and state employees to become members of the civil service union, because the union, in turn, contributes those taxes, err, mandatory payroll deductions, uh, dues.. yeah... dues to bankroll Democratic candidates.
It must have been love at first sight.
Sen. Evan Bayh (D-Ind.) will endorse Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.) on Monday, Democratic sources tell Politico.com.
Bayh is a moderate Democrat whose blessing could help Clinton pick up votes in Republican states.
Indiana is among the most reliably Republican states — “the reddest of the red,” as one Democratic official put it. The Hoosier State went 57 percent for George W. Bush in 2000 and 60 percent for President Bush’s reelection in 2004.
Clinton’s campaign is clearly thrilled to be getting the nod.
“Hillary Clinton to Receive Major National Endorsement on Monday,” said a release from the campaign this evening. The news conference is at 1 p.m. at a hotel on Capitol Hill.
Bayh, a former chair of the centrist Democratic Leadership Council, had sought the Democratic nomination himself but abandoned his quest in December in the face of the strong machines being built by Clinton and Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.).
At the time, Bayh said in a statement: “The odds were always going to be very long for a relatively unknown candidate like myself, a little bit like David and Goliath.”
Bayh, who had already been oft-discussed as a promising potential vice presidential pick for Clinton, had held back on endorsing her in part because of doubts about her popularity in Indiana, Democratic sources said.
I've heard in the past that a certain state party commissioned a poll, and found that--even with Evan Bayh in the VP slot--Hillary Clinton could not manage to make Indiana competitive.
I am not thinking that Hillary Clinton will make the Ken Doll her VP pick; certainly not when there are far better options out there like Bill Richardson of New Mexico or Ted Strickland of Ohio or perhaps Bill Ritter of Colorado that will actually bring her the support of actual swing states.
Poor Birch Evans Bayh III.
His father never had a prayer of being president, and his son basically doesn't even have a prayer of being vice president.
Saturday, September 22, 2007
From the Courier-Journal:
The state plans to start signing up low-income adults for a new health insurance program in December and coverage will start in January, Gov. Mitch Daniels announced today.
Adults who don’t have access to employer-sponsored health insurance and have family incomes of up to 200 percent of the federal poverty level qualify for the program.
That’s a limit of $41,300 for a family of four or $20,420 for a single adult.
Daniels made the announcement one day after returning from Washington, where he secured federal approval for the program that was created this spring by the General Assembly. The approval means the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services will pay for roughly two-thirds of the program’s cost.
The state’s share will come largely from a 44-cents-per-pack increase in the cigarette tax, which went into effect this summer.
The health plan includes:
--$500 in free preventative care, such as prostate checks or smoking cessation programs.
--A $1,100 annual health care account funded by the participant with help from the state for lower-income adults. The account would be used to cover health care costs not considered preventative care.
--A more traditional insurance plan with no deductibles or co-pays that kicks in after the health account is exhausted. Coverage would be capped at $300,000 annually per participant or $1 million over a participant’s lifetime.
The program is not an entitlement, which means when the money runs out no one else can sign up. Daniels said the program can cover up to 130,000 people.
From The Atlantic:
Giuliani Claims An Evolution On Gun Rights
Glossing over the less appealing line items on his gun control resume, ex-NYC mayor Rudy Giuliani presented himself as sympathetic to the aims of the National Rifle Association and pledged, as president, to protect gun rights.
"Your right to bear arms is based on a reasonable degree of safety," he said.
He indicated that he would oppose new efforts to tighten national gun laws.
"I believe that law enforcement should focus on enforcing the laws that exist on the books as opposed to passing new extensions of laws," he said. "A person's home is their castle. They have the right to protect themselves in their own home."
Giulaini explained the lawsuit he initiated in 2000 against gun manufacturers by saying that he was "excessive in everyway that I could think of in order to reduce crime" but said that "intervening events" like September 11th had caused his views to evolve. "I think that lawsuit has gone in the direction that I don't agree with."
He cited a DC court ruling overturning the city's gun ban as instrumental to changing and "strengthening" his views on gun control. That ruling, Parker vs. the Distict of Columbia, was handed down just as Giuliani was beginning his presidential bid.
Giuliani said that MoveOn.org's ad criticizing Gen. Petreaus was out of bounds and hinted that the group should face some sort of sanction.
"They passed a line that we should not allow an American political organization to pass," he said. "We are at war right now, whether some people want to recognize it or not."
A humanizing moment: Giuliani's wife, Judith, called his cell phone, and the two proceeded to have a lovey-dovey chat. "Good bye, sweetheart, I love you," he said.
Given that he has been much more forthright in many of his other views that run contrary to the party line, particularly on social issues and (to a small degree) on immigration, I am inclined to let this "evolution" slide and consider it to be serious and genuine.
In his candidacy thus far, Giuliani has been more than enough of a straight-talker when it comes to those issues with which he has disagreements from the rest of the party that I find it unlikely he would start pandering now; the time to start pandering would have been long ago if he was going to take that course.
If it is a flip-flop, at least it's a more reasonably explicable flip-flop than some of those many switcheroos you have seen from, say, Mitt "I have the Republican Version of John Edwards' Hair" Romney.
Not that there's anything wrong with that, of course.
From the New York Daily News:
Hillary Clinton officially declared she's not a lesbian - not that there's anything wrong with that.
During an interview with The Advocate to be published next week, Sean Kennedy, the gay magazine's news and features editor, asked the presidential candidate, "How do you respond to the occasional rumor that you're a lesbian?"
"People say a lot of things about me, so I really don't pay any attention to it," Sen. Clinton (D-N.Y.) replied.
"It's not true, but it is something that I have no control over. People will say what they want to say."
Kennedy told the Daily News he's convinced. "I 100% believe she's a straight, heterosexual woman," he said.
Friday, September 21, 2007
From the Seymour Tribune:
HillaryCare is a poor prescription
HillaryCare is back with a promise to make health care more affordable, more available and with more choices for everyone. But if Sen. Hillary Clinton’s health care program financed with $110 billion a year in new and old taxes becomes law, health care will be substantially more expensive, health insurance will be much less available and Americans will have far fewer choices. One more thing: The nation will be ever closer to complete government-run health care. So much for promises.
Clinton would require every person to pay for health care, or receive it at someone else’s expense. She would require employers to provide insurance or pay into a fund. She would require insurers to sell coverage at the same price, whether buyers are in perfect health or at death’s door. Clinton would subsidize some insurance premiums with tax credits. And she would dramatically expand tax-paid government-provided health care into the middle class, offering “a public plan option similar to Medicare.”
Clinton’s solutions would worsen everything she claims to fix and move the nation away from genuine market-based options that drive down prices. As the libertarian Cato Institute’s director of health and welfare studies, Michael D. Tanner, observed: “Hillary Clinton clearly trusts big government more than she trusts the free market and the American people.”
Requiring individuals to buy health insurance would require a massive, costly government bureaucracy to enforce compliance. Even then it’s certain to fall short of its universal goal. In California, where all motorists are required to have auto insurance, about 25 percent don’t. Mandating behavior doesn’t guarantee it.
Requiring employers to provide health insurance or pay a new tax into a fund would inflate business costs, resulting in fewer workers hired and more laid off. Businesses with fewer than 10 employees, exempt under Clinton’s plan, would be discouraged from expanding payrolls rather than trigger insurance-or-tax mandates.
Requiring insurers to sell coverage at one price irrespective of health risks would mean premiums would soar to cover actuarial risks posed by those in bad health. Such a mandate would impose on private insurers a subsidy to cover the gravely ill by overcharging the relatively well. It’s also likely to drive providers out of the market, and the void would be filled by government plans. Could that be the motive?
Clinton’s proposed expansion of the federal State Children’s Health Insurance Program to include middle-class families is another step toward socialized medicine. Private clients would migrate to government-funded coverage. What family would pay private premiums, bound to increase thanks to Clinton’s mandate on insurers, when a “free” government program is available at someone else’s expense?
Clinton’s plan “would mean higher taxes, lost jobs, less patient choice and poorer quality health care,” Tanner said. We agree.
Compare this to Seymour's not-so-favorite son, Baron Hill, who has proposed an constitutional amendment making health care a right.
It doesn't get more mandatory than that.
Yessiree, yep, yep, yeppers:
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President George W. Bush and the U.S. Congress registered record-low approval ratings in a Reuters/Zogby poll released on Wednesday, and a new monthly index measuring the mood of Americans dipped slightly on deepening worries about the economy.
Only 29 percent of Americans gave Bush a positive grade for his job performance, below his worst Zogby poll mark of 30 percent in March. A paltry 11 percent rated Congress positively, beating the previous low of 14 percent in July.
Bush, of course, will never face the voters ever again.
Thursday, September 20, 2007
Hill brings campaign to campus
During a question and answer forum at the IUS Library on Aug. 31, Ninth District Rep. Baron Hill, D – Ind., defended the accomplishments of the 110th Congress.
“We’ve done more this session than previous ones,” Hill noted.
The bigger you tell them, the more likely they are to be believed, right?
It's not exactly reassuring to know that Baron is still so divorced from reality that he is still on another planet.
The accomplishments of the 110th Congress have been staggering so far.
The four-term representative mentioned the 13 appropriation bills that passed through Congress before the August recess.
These would be the ones containing all of that nice juicy earmark shadiness; I bet Baron didn't talk about that part.
I bet he also neglected to mention that not one of those bills has yet managed to be sent to the President's desk.
Some of the bills passed include a minimum wage bill, the first passed since 1997. Another important bill that passed was one that requires utilities to use 13 percent less coal for carbon reduction in the environment.
I am willing to bet that the fact that the minimum wage hike was tucked into a bill that continued funding for the Iraq War was omitted in Baron's little talk.
Another environmental concern brought up by Congress was addressed via a requirement that appliances such as washers, dryers and air conditioners become more energy efficient.
Tax incentives will be provided for “greening” buildings. This would include planting bushes around buildings or even on the roof. Hill emphasized the seriousness of global warming.
First, let me just say that it's interesting that Baron Hill discovered global warming only after having a need to prevent a third-party Green challenge in 2008.
Second, I'd like to hear more about this putting bushes on the roof thing...
Another environmentally oriented bill was passed which would increase the gas mileage to 35 miles per gallon for cars and 32 miles per gallon for trucks by 2022.
A pity that he didn't vote to increase the gas mileage six years ago, since doing it then would have had real benefits on gas prices by now, not--you know--fifteen years in the future.
Hill's gas mileage bill was backed by the big auto companies and by big labor; it effectively gutted a more stringent measure that had already been proposed.
Also passed was the recommendation from the 9/11 Commission to deal with abandoned Soviet missile silos. Congress unanimously passed a motion to increase the punishment for smuggling aliens across the border. The punishment was increased from a misdemeanor to 10 years of prison time.
One bill of particular concern for college students would reduce college tuition cost by roughly $8,000.
Of course, reality is that Hill's votes to "cut student loan rates" were a cheap gimmick that will be good only for six months in 2011 and will save students less than a sixth of what Democrats have claimed.
Hill noted the most serious problem facing the United States is its involvement in Iraq. Hill talked about the anguish of parents whose sons and daughters have already served one or more tours in Iraq, with the possibility of facing more.
“Our troops are exhausted,” Hill said. “They need to be brought home.”
Maybe Mr. Hill should have thought of these things before he voted to authorize the war in the first place.
He said the main funding he would support now would be to bring the troops home.
A question asked by Brian Day, IUS student, was about the possibility of using ethanol from Brazil as an alternative to Middle Eastern oil. Hill said this is something he would like to see Indiana farmers do since corn is one of the state’s main crops.
Rep. Hill said he voted for the union check-off bill, which would make it easier for workers to organize a union. The bill passed the Congress but is stalled in the Senate.
“I received a lot of criticism from corporations for supporting that bill,” Hill said, “but I believe organized labor has a role to play in the economy.”
This is the infamous "card check" provision that would do away with the secret ballot when it comes to labor organizing.
Color me old-fashioned, but I am inclined to think that doing away with secret ballots is wrong.
Hill said he hasn’t picked a candidate yet from the current pick of presidential candidates, but at a recent high school meeting, when the name Barack Obama was mentioned, applause broke out among the students.
Might this be a bit of subconscious projection?
Hill was asked about his own immediate political future and the possibility that Mike Sodrel might run for his office again.
“Bring him on,” he said.
The Congressman should be careful.
George Bush lived to regret those words.
Baron Hill just might regret them, too.
Your humble correspondent wrote in to the Corydon Democrat (my local paper; scroll down a bit on the page) this week in response to a Democrat that was responding to Todd Young's recent letter on Baron Hill blocking sunlight.
The letter I am responding to is visible right below mine on that same page, and Todd Young's letter is available here.
It's nothing much new to readers of this blog, but I figure I'll repost it here for reference regardless.
Despite changes, things stay the same with Hill
I am writing in response to Christine Pendleton's letter ("Hill's projects make a difference in the community") in the Sept. 12 edition of The Corydon Democrat.
What a surprise it must be for someone to call the staff of Congressman Baron Hill with a question and hear from them the haughty and laughable assertion that their boss is as innocent and pure as new-fallen snow.
Mr. Hill campaigned in 2006 on cleaning up Washington. This is something that has demonstrably not happened. This is particularly true when it comes to earmarks, let alone when one considers Democrats such as William Jefferson who was caught by the FBI with $90,000 in bribes in his freezer.
A recent defense appropriations bill (H.R. 3222) approved by Baron Hill and the House of Representatives contained 1,776 earmarks. Earlier in the year, Democrats managed to pack $20 billion in pork-barrel earmarks into one bill (H.R. 1591) whose declared purpose was to fund our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.
I am not sure how our troops are being helped by giving money to peanut farmers in Georgia or spinach farmers in California, or by giving subsidies to milk producers, yet this is just some of what the Democrats in Congress saw fit to include in a war-funding measure.
Congressman Hill's record with regard to earmarks is more sordid still. On Aug. 20, The Courier-Journal published a list of earmarks that Hill had obtained. Calling his office was not necessary.
The Courier did not, however, publish a list of those earmarks he had requested, an important and crucial distinction. They could not do so, as Hill never made them public.
After he was elected in 2006, Baron Hill promised to disclose all of his earmark requests. According to an Indianapolis Star article from April 2, he has since asserted that he misunderstood this promise when he made it and would not disclose them after all. The nonpartisan group Citizens Against Government Waste lists Congressman Hill on its Web site among those that have refused to disclose its earmark requests.
Those earmarks Mr. Hill has made public raise serious questions about his commitment to his promise to clean up Washington. For example, some of the earmarks obtained by Mr. Hill — totaling some $625,000 — go to clients of his former employer, the Washington lobbying firm mCapitol Management. Mr. Hill was a "senior advisor" at mCapitol after he lost the election in 2004 and before he was reelected in 2006.
According to OpenSecrets.org, the Web site of the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics, Congressman Hill's former and now current chief of staff was a registered lobbyist working for mCapitol. One of his former clients has now benefited to the tune of $375,000 from an earmark obtained by Mr. Hill.
It is true that big federal dollars are seldom unwelcome in small communities like those in Southern Indiana, and they can make a big difference. The pool at O'Bannon Woods State Park, for example, was refurbished with help from an earmark obtained by then-Congressman Mike Sodrel.
This, however, is not the point.
The point is that Mr. Hill has steadfastly refused to be transparent on this and other subjects. His Web site even received a failing grade on transparency from the nonpartisan Sunlight Foundation. He has not kept his promise to disclose all of his earmark requests. Baron Hill's selection of who has benefited from those earmarks he has obtained is also highly questionable.
Every business, organization, hospital or other group in Southern Indiana would be helped by getting an earmark. This is why it is all the more suspect and worrisome that some of those that have gotten earmarks from Hill have had interesting ties to the Congressman and to his staff.
Right now, Democratic groups are preparing to run ads on television in Kentucky attacking Sen. Mitch McConnell, a Republican. McConnell, they note, obtained an earmark for the lobbying client of a former staffer. Hill, I note, obtained two earmarks for lobbying clients of his former employer.
What is good for Democrats to question about Mitch McConnell should be good for citizens of the Ninth District to question about Baron Hill.
The voters of the Ninth District sent Mr. Hill back to Washington with a mandate for change. The simple fact, however, remains the old cliché: When it comes to Baron Hill, the more things change, the more they stay the same.
September 19, 2007
For being a paper run by the family of Frank O'Bannon, I have been impressed with the fairness of the Democrat's staff and editors when it comes to running letters on their opinion page.
At least my letters; the experiences of others with perspectives on the right clearly differs.
From the American Conservative Union, no less:
ACU Files FEC Complaint Against MoveOn.org Political Action and the New York Times Company For Committing Clear Violations of Federal Election Laws
Alexandria, VA – American Conservative Union (ACU) chairman David A. Keene announced today that ACU has filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) against MoveOn.org Political Action and the New York Times Company for violation of the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971, as amended and the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002.
On Monday, September 10, 2007, MoveOn sponsored a full page advertisement in the New York Times attacking General David Petraeus prior to his report to Congress regarding the status of the United States military operations in Iraq. The open rate for a full page black and white advertisement in the New York Times is $181,692. MoveOn only paid $65,000 for the ad, according to multiple press reports.
The New York Times Company’s “discount” is in effect a corporate soft money contribution to a federal political committee. MoveOn’s acceptance of this corporate soft money contribution exceeds federal contributions and is a clear violation of FEC laws.
“ACU demands a full and thorough investigation of the cost of the Ad and the discount given by the New York Times Company to MoveOn.org Political Action, for payment by MoveOn of the usual and normal charge for the costs of the Ad and the requisite civil money penalty for violation of federal law by each of the Respondents,” ACU Chairman David A. Keene stated in the FEC complaint.
To view ACU's formal complaint, click here.
To view Exhibits A-D, click here.
Wednesday, September 19, 2007
With the earmark shadiness story a gathering storm, Baron Hill's staff has decided to put out a press release to again try and use the spin cycle to make the dirt of corruption go away.
In it, they detail the earmarks "obtained" by the Congressman, though none of the appropriations bills containing them have yet been passed.
Still absent from the press release is any explanation of why Baron decided to favor lobbying clients of his former employer, and a specific former client of his chief-of-staff-turned-lobbyist-turned-chief-of-staff, Ryan Guthrie.
Let's review, shall we?
Schneck Medical Center is set to receive $375,000 in funding for the expansion of their emergency room. The emergency room was originally designed to handle 15,000 patients annually, but currently serves 24,000 patients and the number continues to rise.
Harrison County's hospital was overcrowded too; so overcrowded, in fact, that they are building an entirely new hospital to accommodate the increasing number of patients.
Baron didn't get them an earmark.
But then, Harrison County Hospital didn't give Baron's former lobbyist employer, mCapitol Management, $30,000 in lobbying fees to get his current and former chief of staff, Ryan Guthrie, to lobby on their behalf.
I guess that was Harrison County Hospital's mistake.
They--like lots of other hospitals in the 9th District facing overcrowding and increasing patient loads--didn't play the "pay for play" game that Baron has been running.
Schneck did, so Schneck got a big fat juicy earmark.
Next Wave Communications is set to receive $250,000 to continue the development of secure wireless devices to outfit those who guard America’s nuclear weapons at the National Nuclear Security Administration.
Another earmark, another client of Baron Hill's former lobbyist employer.
Again, there are a lot of deserving small businesses in southern Indiana.
Many of them are doing innovative and important things that will benefit America, and some of them are doubtless doing things that will make America safer.
But they didn't get any earmarks, did they?
Nope, but Next Wave hired Baron's former employer to lobby on their behalf.
And what a coincidence! Suddenly Next Wave benefited from an earmark!
Who would have thought it?
There is a definitive history of Baron Hill requesting earmarks for clients of his former employer.
One earmark for an mCapitol client could be dismissed as a coincidence.
Two is no coincidence, it is a distinctive pattern of questionable behavior in the allocation of taxpayer dollars via the earmark process.
That should raise serious questions about the integrity of someone who campaigned upon a platform of "cleaning up Washington."
That's a polling percentage to be proud of.
More people (19%) blame Mitch Daniels for property taxes being high than approve of the Democratic-controlled Congress (18%).
That's not the spin you'll see from the Democratic Party's mouthpiece blog, but it's more accurate than the "new poll shows most people blame the governor for property taxes" absurdities currently being propagated there that have utterly no relationship to the actual results of the poll.
Heck, the General Assembly rightly gets blamed more than the governor, and they'd get even more blame if Daniels summoned them back for a special session.
Got to love the "Daniels isn't doing anything" meme that is *still* being put forward by the Democrats, though.
They must be going for the "tell the big lies, 'cause people will believe them" theory, because the governor is the only one that has done anything about the property tax situation.
From the Associated Press:
A retired firefighter from Bedford has formed a committee to run for governor as a Republican and said he is confident he can gather enough signatures of registered voters to get on the primary ballot.
La Ron Keith, 48, said Tuesday that he filed the necessary paperwork to form a campaign committee about two weeks ago but wanted to wait until he had his platform solidified before seeking any publicity. He must get 500 valid signatures from registered voters in each of the state's nine congressional districts to gain a spot on the ballot and challenge Gov. Mitch Daniels in next May's primary election.
Keith said he is starting off with only his personal money and has not yet sought any contributions. Daniels had $4.1 million in campaign cash at the end of June.
Three Democrats are seeking their party's nomination for governor _ former U.S. Rep. Jill Long Thompson, state Senate Minority Leader Richard Young of Milltown, and Jim Schellinger, president of an Indianapolis architecture firm and a longtime Democratic activist.
Keith said he was "fed up with politicians" who seem to make promises they do not have to keep and will not tackle tough issues.
Eh, whatever else you can say about Mitch Daniels, you cannot say that he will not tackle tough issues.
You can view La Ron Keith's CFA-1 filing online here.
As a general rule, serious primary challengers do not list themselves (like Keith does) as the candidate, the campaign chairman, and the campaign treasurer.
Dems Likely To Have To Defend Baron Hill's Seat Against Sodrel Rematch
Here's one House seat Dems may be forced to defend: That of Indiana Rep. Baron Hill.
Former Rep. Mike Sodrel, who's run against Hill three times in the past, will announce whether he's running early next month, according to the Louisville Courrier-Journal. If he goes for it, as expected, this would mark the fourth consecutive face-off in a row between the two lawmakers, with Sodrel's sole victory coming in 2004 by a margin of victory smaller than 1500 votes -- so Hill and national Dems will be forced to sink resources into defending the seat.
I particularly like the opinion voiced by one of the commenters:
If Baron Hill wins, fine; if he doesn't, there'll be one less Democrat supporting Republican positions.
This is one district we shouldn't spend a nickel on. It made sense in 2006, when we were worried about a majority, but a Democratic House majority in 2008 seems virtually assured at this point, and if the party's fortunes go down to the point where the majority is in jeopardy, there are still a number of other districts more likely to elect a Democrat.
With the nature of this district (Republican PVI of +7) and his own weak personality, Hill is always going to be a drain on resources. Let's put our time and money into electing PROGRESSIVE Democrats, and let the Blue Dogs take care of their own. For what we've spent on Hill's races, we could have elected a half-dozen progressive Democrats in districts they could hold without major support from the DCCC.
Well, there goes this guy's chances of getting a nice juicy earmark from Baron.