Friday, November 30, 2007

Michael Moore's "Sicko" Road Show to Pay Visits to Brad Ellsworth & Baron Hill

You can't make this stuff up.

Nationwide Sicko-Cure road show makes stop in Valley to tout universal health care

Healthcare-NOW traveled to the office of U.S. Rep. Brad Ellsworth’s, D-Evansville, in Terre Haute on Tuesday as part of the nationwide Sicko-Cure road show in conjunction with representatives of U.S. Rep. John Conyers Jr., D-Mich.

The 501c3 organization is touting Conyers’ H.R. Bill 676 as the most viable means of providing universal health-care coverage to all Americans.

The group also promotes the recent film “Sicko” by activist Michael Moore, which investigates the health care/financial industrial complex. Smith and her husband are featured in the film.

Healthcare-NOW, as part of their Terre Haute stop, offered a screening of “Sicko” later last evening at Indiana State University’s Holmstedt Hall. Their next stop will be this morning in Bloomington with the staff of U.S. Rep. Baron Hill, D-Bloomington.

Multiple Democrat Plants at CNN's GOP Debate

From Politico:

The retired general who quizzed Republican presidential candidates about gays and lesbians in the military was not the only person linked to a Democratic presidential candidate who got to ask a question at Wednesday’s CNN/YouTube debate.

CNN also aired questions from supporters of Democratic candidates John Edwards and Barack Obama.

A 20-year-old student from Texas who asked the candidates about criminalizing abortion openly backs Edwards, a former North Carolina senator.

A Florida man who asked why a gay Republican group should support each candidate and whether the candidates would accept its support is a backer of Obama, an Illinois senator.

And a mother who asked the candidates about what they’d do to limit the importation of dangerous goods from China works for a union that has endorsed Edwards.

Additionally, a Californian who asked a question about crop subsidies in 2004 interned for Rep. Jane Harman (D-Calif.), who is backing Clinton, a New York senator.

All snark about Hillary Clinton and the Democrats planting questions aside, the real issue here is not one of the questions themselves.

After all, I'd rather find out now which Republicans have trouble answering questions posed by Democrats (or ambush cable news outfits like CNN), as opposed to finding out after the party has a nominee and those shortcomings are discovered too late.

The issue, at any rate, is one of disclosure and--to a lesser degree--basic research on the part of CNN.

If questions are being asked of candidates by those affiliated with another campaign (be they Republican or Democrat), that should be disclosed.

CNN disclosed who conservative tax activist Grover Norquist was when they let him ask a question, after all.

Shouldn't it be the same for the rest?

And as for the shortcomings of CNN's debate staff, when unpaid people in their pajamas can find out the backgrounds of these questioners by spending a few minutes on Google and YouTube, why couldn't the same be accomplished by people paid to do investigative journalism?

Gallup: Why People Don't Like Hillary

From the latest Gallup poll come the reasons people that won't vote for Hillary Clinton say that they won't vote for her.

The most common specific explanation given -- simple dislike of her -- is probably also the most basic, mentioned by 25% of Clinton nonsupporters. Bill Clinton is also on the minds of many of his spouse's opponents -- 13% mention their dislike of him or disapproval of his presidency as a reason for not supporting his wife for president.

Policy disagreements figure prominently in Clinton detractors' reasoning. Seventeen percent mention general disagreement with her on issues, in addition to the relatively small percentages who cite specific disagreements with her on healthcare, Iraq, and immigration. Along the same lines, 6% describe her more generally as a "radical" or "socialist" and 5% say she is "too liberal." Four percent cite her Democratic Party affiliation as a reason they would not vote for her.

There are also several character concerns with Clinton, including perceived dishonesty, a lack of the proper experience to be president, and the notion that she is a "flip-flopper" who takes issue positions that are politically expedient.

Looked at differently, Clinton detractors are about equally likely to give a reason falling into one of the three broad categories of responses described above -- basic dislike of her or her husband (35%), policy disagreements (39%), and character concerns (34%).

One response that doesn't quite fit those broad categories -- mentioned by 8% of Clinton nonsupporters -- involves reservations about a woman being elected president. This includes respondents who say they personally don't favor a woman in the role, as well as those who perceive the country is not ready for a female in the highest elected office.

Interesting, also, are the numbers on the "definitely, maybe, or never" presidential poll question tacked on at the end.

Ted Kennedy's Autobiography


Thursday, November 29, 2007

Hillary Plants Question at GOP Debate


It turns out that Keith Kerr, retired Colonel., U.S. Army; retired Brigadier General, California National Reserve, who submitted a YouTube question about gays in the military, is actually a member of Hillary Clinton's Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transexual Americans For Hillary Steering Committee. He's also part of a film production crew trying overturn the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy.

UPDATE: In the final seconds of the post-debate coverage, Anderson Cooper acknowledges that CNN messed this up and states that CNN did not know that Kerr has a position within the Clinton campaign and that had they known, they would have disclosed the association.

No Reelection Announcement Yet from Baron?

Hat tip to a Hoosierpundit reader for this interesting tidbit in the Bloomington Herald-Times.

U.S. Rep. Baron Hill, D-Ind., will speak Friday at Indiana University.

The lecture is titled “Role of Science in U.S. Policy Making,” and will be 11 a.m. to noon at Ballantine Hall, Room 330.

He will talk about the role of science in policy, Congress and how policy makers find a balance, according to an IU news release. Refreshments will be served.

Hill, a Seymour native, had the 9th District seat from 1999 to 2005 before Republican Mike Sodrel knocked him out. He regained the seat from Sodrel in the last election, and returned to the Capitol this year. He is running for re-election, though he has not made a formal announcement.

Hill serves on the House Energy and Commerce Committee and the House Science and Technology Committee.

That's weird.

He's running for reelection, but has not made a formal announcement?

Would he need one?

Is one expected?

Is one in doubt?

Rigging the Caucus?

Jim Shella reports that Democrats are looking to fill approximately a hundred empty precinct committee positions in Marion County.

Those positions would be able to vote in a caucus to select a Democrat to go on the special election ballot should Julia Carson pass away.

If I had to place odds on who they are putting into those precinct committee positions, I would guess the selections will make the coming caucus... shall we say... less competitive than it might otherwise be.

And with Marion County Democrats skirmishing as a part of a deepening civil war, a rigged caucus (or a caucus seen by the losers as rigged) can only make things worse.

Republicans, interestingly, have a similar number of vacancies.

I am sure that Tom John has his own favorite candidate to put up for the 7th District, too.

Baron to Speak at Dinner Honoring Contributor

From the Indy Star (at the bottom):

Cummins head to get honor

Tim Solso, chairman and chief executive officer of Cummins, will be honored Thursday in Indianapolis by the Anti-Defamation League with the Man of Achievement Award.

Tickets to the dinner at the Hyatt Regency Indianapolis are $400 each, and the evening will include a performance by Memphis, Tenn.-based dance troupe Watoto De' Africa.

U.S. Rep. Baron Hill will be one of the evening's speakers, according to league community coordinator Ellen J. Shevitz.

Cheap suit?


Gas to drive to Indy from Seymour?

$15.00 (and rising)

Hyatt dinner ticket?


Sitting next to a guy who has given you $9,000 in campaign contributions?


Indeed, Solso, his company's political action committee, and his employees, have given almost that much again to Baron Hill so far this year.

Breaking News: Arm of Democratic Party to Oppose Daniels Property Tax Plan

The teachers unions dislike the Governor's property tax reform plan?

I am shocked. Shocked, I say.

From the Courier-Journal:

INDIANAPOLIS -- The state teachers' union urged lawmakers yesterday not to shift funding for school operating costs from property taxes, saying that revenue is stable and protects education during economic downturns.

Leaders of the Indiana State Teachers Association said a tax plan offered by Gov. Mitch Daniels and introduced in the General Assembly could jeopardize school programs.

"We believe real property-tax relief can occur and, at the same time, adequate funding for public schools can be maintained," said the association's president, Nate Schnellenberger.

The governor's plan eliminates property-tax levies that are dedicated to the school general fund and school transportation fund and moves those costs into the state budget to help reduce property-tax bills. The plan does the same with child-welfare costs.

The state would increase the sales tax by a percentage point -- to 7 percent from 6 percent -- to help pay those costs.

Already, the state pays for 85 percent of school operating costs, with the remaining 15 percent paid by real estate owners through property taxes. Daniels' plan would eliminate that remainder.

So, um, why weren't they complaining about this when that 85% slipped away from them?

Why is that remaining 15% so important?

Association leaders said that because the sales and income taxes that fund the state budget are more susceptible to recession, eliminating the share of school costs paid by property taxes could pose a problem. In tight times in the past, lawmakers have let schools generate more funds from property taxes to make up for shortfalls in state revenue.

Translation: In the past, the state has allowed property taxes to skyrocket during economic downturns, making those economic downturns worse.

He said the state could achieve similar savings for homeowners by taking over half the cost of school construction, which is currently paid entirely by property owners.

Translation: Please pay for new school construction. That's more important than doing anything to fix property taxes or provide better education for children. Heck, pick up half of the cost of school construction, so that we can double what we are spending on school construction *cough* designer school architects like Jim Schellinger *cough* and you'll kindly pick up the new portion of the tab.

Thanks, but no thanks. Indiana needs to spend more on teaching students, and less on constructing these fancy designer schools.

State: Incompetence *Will* Be Punished

Woe to those that bungled county and township property tax assessments across the state of Indiana.

Cheryl Musgrave and the DLGF (the Department of Local Government Finance) are going to be bringing the pain.

From the Courier-Journal:

INDIANAPOLIS -- A state agency is threatening to revoke the certifications of nearly two dozen elected county assessors who have missed early deadlines in preparation for 2008 property-tax billings.

Cheryl Musgrave, commissioner of the Indiana Department of Local Government Finance, said the assessors in those counties -- including Harrison and Washington -- must turn over property-value information immediately to avoid the agency initiating the revocation process.

"Delinquent data is an indication that 2008 tax bills may not go out on time and counties may have to borrow in 2008 to fund services to taxpayers," Musgrave said in a statement.

The move may be largely symbolic. Losing certification would not require a resignation but could keep an assessor from being able to run again. And because the agency can revoke certification for no more than one year, those assessors whose terms last through 2010 -- including Harrison and Washington -- would be largely unaffected.

Also, the state is not going after every assessor who is late. The agency has exempted some assessors whose errors in determining assessed values for this year's tax bills forced them to recalculate the bills.

Neither has the agency threatened assessors in some counties that still haven't mailed out 2007 bills.

But department spokeswoman Mary Jane Michalak said those assessors aren't off the hook.

"We'll still consider revoking certifications for assessors in other counties" who fail to meet future deadlines, she said. For now, Michalak said, the agency has been in contact with those counties and their assessors have valid reasons for being behind on the work.

Harrison County Assessor Rena Stepro said she's frustrated by the state's threat.

"But there's nothing I can do about it," she said. "We're working on getting them the information. We've got most of it done."

Stepro said her county turned some of the 2008 assessment data in by the state's Oct. 1 deadline but the agency has yet to review it.

"I don't know why they are pressuring us to get it in when they don't have time to look at it," she said. "They just wait until the last minute and then tell us when things are wrong."

Department officials said yesterday that they could initiate the decertification process as early as Dec. 10. The process includes a hearing at which the agency must prove a violation of state law or rule. The hearing officer considers the seriousness of the violation and whether it is likely to recur.

Op-Ed: Mitch Delivers

From the opinion page of the Seymour Tribune:

Daniels delivering on promised changes

The latest headlines on Gov. Mitch Daniels’ poll ratings shout that 50 percent of the state opposes his performance. We'd like to guess that’s the same as 50 percent of Hoosiers favor that performance, except, of course, for the undecideds, which were at 10 percent.

The fact that two Democrats seeking their party’s nomination to challenge Daniels are both 1 percent ahead of him at this point in the recent poll conducted by The Indianapolis Star and WTHR-13 may say more than that 50 percent of Hoosiers oppose the direction in which the state is heading under his administration, but, of course, it’s early. Very early.

As we’ve said before and may well say again as the Mitch Daniels-Becky Skillman team faces re-election next year: Daniels campaigned in 2004 on a platform of change. He’s delivered change. So what’s the beef?

Daniels promised to change the time in Indiana, and the General Assembly helped him by implementing daylight saving time. The goal was to put Indiana in sync with the rest of our global economy, he said. Although we wish the state had all moved to Central, we don’t think daylight saving time is the end of time. Surely we can reset our clocks twice a year.

And we can’t argue about economic development since the time switch. Honda is building a huge factory in nearby Decatur County and Cummins Inc., one of this area’s largest and best employers, is adding a new engine line in Columbus, just to name two nearby projects.

This year lawmakers passed Daniels’ plan to phase in all-day kindergarten. That should be a step toward improving the education of young Hoosiers, although we wish there were other options available for parents through a voucher system to make parochial schools a more feasible option financially.

Roads and bridges across the state are being repaired, thanks in part to leasing the Indiana Toll Road, a Daniels deal that infused millions of dollars into the state. Yet many Hoosiers scoff at it. It’s a shame the governor has backed off plans to lease the Hoosier Lottery in a similar fashion.

We’ll all be watching to see what Daniels and state lawmakers — Republicans and Democrats alike — do in the upcoming session of the General Assembly when it comes to property tax reform. That issue, some are interpreting from the recent poll, could be dragging down Daniels’ performance. One pundit, a college professor, said the mood of Hoosiers is one against incumbency.

That shouldn’t be any big news. Daniels ran against incumbency and on a platform of change in 2004, and it worked. Hoosiers wanted change and they voted for Daniels with 55 percent of the vote.

Yet last winter, another statewide poll showed Daniels’ approval rating had slipped to 37 percent. The reason? We were concerned about too much change too fast, we told the pollsters.

Sorry, but our future — the future of our children and grandchildren — can’t afford to stand still and accept the status quo. We can’t afford to continue to see our children and their brainpower leave home, moving to more progressive states that embrace change.

Hoosiers must hope that Daniels and the Democratic-controlled House can work together during this next General Assembly to make certain that we reform the property tax system to bring about a confidence of its fairness without putting the squeeze on taxpayers through other forms of taxes and make certain that the state continues to make gains in the health of our residents and our economy.

Why is it that the newspaper for Baron Hill's hometown can articulate a better argument for Mitch Daniels' reelection than the Governor himself?

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

More from the Endless Poll

This thing is being dragged out more than the ending to The Return of the King.

View the article here.

Constitutional Amendment to Define Marriage?
Support: 49%
Oppose: 44%

A slight shift from past results, but mostly within the margin of error. Given that I have been told by multiple people "in the know" that the poll oversampled Democrats relative to Republicans, the result is hardly surprising.

Privatize the Hoosier Lottery?
Support: 66%
Oppose: 27%
Not Sure: 7%

This seriously surprised me. That hissing sound you are now hearing is the air going out of the Democrats' constant arguments against the governor's efforts to privatize elements of state government. They've spent almost three years with anti-privatization arguments as the centerpiece for their attacks on the Governor, and this result just blew all of that out of the water.

Make Churches Pay for Police & Fire Protection?
Support: 44%
Oppose: 49%

I can't help but wonder about the results for this poll being exactly the opposite of the results for the marriage amendment. Makes you wonder about the hardening of cultural differences between Hoosier Republicans and Hoosier Democrats, particularly on religious and social issues.

When Baron's Lackeys Attack

Baron Hill on the AttackLooks like Baron Hill is scraping the bottom of the barrel to find people to attack Mike Sodrel for him.

From the News & Tribune:

His campaign has only just begun, but it’s clear to see that Mike Sodrel learned absolutely nothing from his loss last year — he is still completely out of touch. And, it’s actually offensive to me that he chooses to jumpstart his campaign by taking a purely political stance on such a critical issue — property taxes. Even though I’m sure a millionaire like Mike doesn’t worry too much about trying to make ends meet, I guess he finally realized how skyrocketing property taxes are really affecting the voters. Yet, he chose not to say what he would do at the federal level to assist homeowners in this crisis. On the complete opposite side you have Congressman Baron Hill, who addressed this issue months ago by introducing legislation that provides taxpayers with real relief. Yes, Baron Hill knows that property tax assessments are a state government issue, but he doesn’t shirk responsibility like Sodrel suggests. Instead, Hill addressed this difficult issue head on.

As for me, I want our representatives at every level — local, state and federal — working on this issue. Thank you Baron Hill for working to provide us with real property tax relief and for working with your colleagues in Congress to get property tax language added into the Temporary Tax Relief Act — instead of just trying to score useless political points like Sodrel. We can clearly see who tackles issues most important to the people of Southern Indiana and who wants to exploit them for political gain.

— Christopher Hamm, Sellersburg

Let's see.

Where to begin?

Eric Schansberg has a good start (defending Mike Sodrel is becoming a habit for him, it seems).

And now for my own thoughts...

Mike Sodrel is out of touch because he's a homeowner writing an opinion piece in favor of repealing property taxes?

That's only, what, the most pressing issue in the minds of most Hoosiers right now?

Why wouldn't Sodrel have an opinion? If he didn't, you can bet that Baron & Company would be attacking him for not saying anything.

And, again, from the Democrats come the logical inconsistencies.

Mike Sodrel is somehow wrong, because he is a federal candidate opining on a state and local issue.

Yet Baron Hill is somehow good, because he is a federal candidate trying to have Washington get involved in a state and local issue.

There is basically nothing that the federal government can do about high property taxes in Indiana.

Mike Sodrel recognizes as much.

Baron has not. Instead, he has engaged in a clever slight of hand.

He touts property tax relief from Congress as if it were something new; in reality it is merely emphasizing and tweaking a provision in federal tax law that has already been in place for a long time.

It's all well and good to emphasize such things--homeowners need all the help they can get--but it's not exactly doing much to address the issue of property taxes.

Scoring useless political points indeed.

And just where does Baron Hill stand on this anyway?

Would he support a vote on abolishing property taxes?

After all, Hill is a Seymour homeowner and is entitled to an opinion as much as Mike Sodrel or anyone else.

Just what is his opinion?

Or is he content to sit in Washington and engage in empty political posturing?

Political Pranks in Doug England's New Albany

From the News & Tribune:

On Wednesday morning, the night after the elections, we woke up to an unsettling sight at our homes. When we looked out onto our front lawns we realized that someone had been to our homes in the middle of the night without being invited. Some people came to our homes and placed many Doug England for Mayor Signs all over our front yards. They did this because we either supported Randy Hubbard for Mayor or because we are friends with Randy Hubbard supporters.

Basically, we were targeted because of our political affiliation. We’re sure this “practical joke” was done while we were sleeping because they knew we would not be happy about them being at our homes. It was not a secure feeling to wake up and know that people who disagree with us politically feel they can invade our private property. This is America, a free country. America is a country where freedom of speech and expression is encouraged and allowed. There are boundaries that should be respected when people disagree on political issues.

The individuals who did this have very little respect for our rights and obviously very little respect for our private property. Supporters for Republican, Democrat, Libertarian and Independent candidates should be able to go to sleep on future election nights feeling comfortable that harassing pranks will not be played on them during the night.

This year it is our private property trespassed on and signs in our yards. After next year’s election what will it be? Vandalism? Violence? A clear message needs to be sent throughout Floyd County: This is the last act of political harassment we want to see in this county.

We know who did this and it was not a fun-loving joke between friends. We are waiting on those who are in a position to resolve this matter to do so as soon as possible. When it is made known who did this you may be taken aback at the poor judgment used by those you trust.

— Steve Bush, Georgetown
— Danna Bush, Georgetown
— Mark Seabrook, New Albany
— Amany Ali, New Albany
— Tim Deatrick, New Albany

I guess it could be worse; Doug England could have shown up with his phony police badge and tried to arrest them or something.

Novak: Huckabee "False Conservative"

From Novak's column in the Washington Post:

Who would respond to criticism from the Club for Growth by calling the conservative, free-market campaign organization the "Club for Greed"? That sounds like Howard Dean, Dennis Kucinich or John Edwards, all Democrats preaching the class struggle. In fact, the rejoinder comes from Mike Huckabee, who has broken out of the pack of second-tier Republican presidential candidates to become a serious contender -- definitely in Iowa and perhaps nationally.

Huckabee is campaigning as a conservative, but serious Republicans know that he is a high-tax, protectionist advocate of big government and a strong hand in the Oval Office directing the lives of Americans. Until now, they did not bother to expose the former governor of Arkansas as a false conservative because he seemed an underfunded, unknown nuisance candidate. Now that he has pulled even with Mitt Romney for the Iowa caucuses and might make more progress, the beleaguered Republican Party has a frightening problem.

The rise of evangelical Christians as the force that blasted the GOP out of minority status during the past generation always contained an inherent danger: What if these new Republican acolytes supported not merely a conventional conservative but one of their own? That has happened with Huckabee, a former Baptist minister educated at Ouachita Baptist University and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. The danger is a serious contender for the nomination who passes the litmus test of social conservatives on abortion, gay marriage and gun control but is far removed from the conservative-libertarian model of Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan.

There is no doubt about Huckabee's record during a decade in Little Rock. He was regarded by fellow Republican governors as a compulsive tax-and-spender. He increased the Arkansas tax burden 47 percent, boosting the levies on gasoline and cigarettes. When he lost 100 pounds and decided to press his new lifestyle on the American people, he was hardly being a Goldwater-Reagan libertarian.

As a presidential candidate, Huckabee has sought to counteract his reputation as a taxer by pressing for replacement of the income tax with a sales tax. More recently he signed the no-tax-increase pledge of Americans for Tax Reform. But Huckabee simply does not fit within normal boundaries of economic conservatism, such as when he criticized President Bush's veto of a Democratic expansion of the State Children's Health Insurance Program. Calling global warming a "moral issue" mandating "a biblical duty" to prevent climate change, he has endorsed a cap-and-trade system that is anathema to the free market.

Huckabee clearly departs from the mainstream of the conservative movement in his confusion of "growth" with "greed." Such ad hominem attacks are part of his intuitive response to criticism from the Club for Growth and the libertarian Cato Institute about his record as governor. On "Fox News Sunday" on Nov. 18, he called the "tactics" of the Club for Growth "some of the most despicable in politics today. It's why I love to call them the Club for Greed, because they won't tell you who gave their money." In fact, all contributors to the organization's political action committee (which produces campaign ads) are publicly revealed, as are most donors financing issue ads.

Quin Hillyer, a former Arkansas journalist writing in the conservative American Spectator, called Huckabee "a guy with a thin skin, a nasty vindictive streak." Huckabee's retort was to attack Hillyer's journalistic procedures, fitting a mean-spirited image when he responds to conservative criticism.

Nevertheless, he is getting remarkably warm reviews in the news media as the most humorous, entertaining and interesting GOP presidential hopeful. Contrary to descriptions by old associates, he is now called "jovial" or "good-natured." Any Republican who does not sound much like a Republican is bound to get friendly press, as Sen. John McCain did in 2000 (but not today, with his return to acting more like a conventional Republican).

An uncompromising foe of abortion can never enjoy full media backing. But Mike Huckabee is getting enough favorable buzz that, when combined with his evangelical base, it makes real conservatives shudder.

Mitt Romney's Willie Horton Moment

More proof that the Democrats are going to attack the Republican frontrunners in any way that they can.

This is just the latest.

From DailyKos:

The Willie Horton story was likely a factor in the defeat of former Massachusett governor and Democratic Presidential nominee Mike Dukakis in the 1988 election, but it looks like former Massachusetts governor and Republican Presidential hopeful Mitt Romney now faces a far worse situation involving the tragic murders of a newlywed couple in Washington.

In 1991, Massachusetts resident Daniel Tavares Jr. hacked his mother to death and slashed another man. Tavares, who already had a long rap sheet, was sentenced to 17-20 years in prison for his mother's murder. Tavares was known as a troublemaker in prison.

Besides allegedly assaulting two prison guards, he also "threatened to kill the governor, the attorney general of MA, Bristol County Sheriff, and other law enforcement officials when released, according to a DOC document obtained by the Herald."

How did this guy get an early release for good behavior, you might ask? The person who may be able to answer that question is Superior Court Judge Kathe Tuttman - appointed by Romney in 2006.

I feel dirty.

Will Fight for Adequate Funding

Stem Cells from Skin Cells?

Monday, November 26, 2007

The Poll that Never Ends Continues

This time, the results are about elements of Daniels plan to fix property taxes.

And, for the governor, it's pretty good news.

The Indy Star has an article, and here are the results:

Would you be willing to live with a higher sales tax if it meant your property tax would go down?
Yes: 62%
No: 27%
Not sure: 11%

This doesn't surprise me. The arguments now are not much different than those that were used in 2002, the last time that the state's sales tax was increased (as a way to offset property taxes, no less). Same arguments, same circumstances. The only question is whether or not the additional stuff in the governor's plan will make sure that this is the last sales-tax-hike-for-property-tax-drop.

What about your state income tax -- would you be willing to live with a higher income tax rate if it meant your property tax would go down?
Yes: 45%
No: 42%
Not sure: 13%

Also not surprising, since people see far more directly the impact of the income tax on their wallets than the sales tax.

The governor is proposing to allow state residents to vote on major projects by schools and local government agencies that would require tax increases. In your opinion, is this an excellent, good, bad, or terrible idea?
Excellent: 12%
Good: 46%
Bad: 22%
Terrible: 12%
Not sure: 8%

Also not a surprising result.

All in all, much better results for the governor than the Sunday poll.

More pertinently, it gives an indication of the sort of shift his numbers could see once (or if) his plan is approved by the General Assembly.

"A Real Big Problem for Us"

Back in July, Democratic House leader James Clyburn predicted (YouTube video here) that victory in Iraq wouldn't be a good thing for Democrats.

And it isn't, even as much as the media likes to bury it.

A story about bringing 5,000 troops home from Iraq in time for Christmas, for example, was buried on page A16 in Sunday's Courier-Journal.

But even the New York Times has started to acknowledge the political quandary that now faces Democrats, the same one predicted by Clyburn almost five months ago.

As violence declines in Baghdad, the leading Democratic presidential candidates are undertaking a new and challenging balancing act on Iraq: acknowledging that success, trying to shift the focus to the lack of political progress there, and highlighting more domestic concerns like health care and the economy.

Advisers to Senators Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama say that the candidates have watched security conditions improve after the troop escalation in Iraq and concluded that it would be folly not to acknowledge those gains. At the same time, they are arguing that American casualties are still too high, that a quick withdrawal is the only way to end the war and that the so-called surge in additional troops has not paid off in political progress in Iraq.

But the changing situation suggests for the first time that the politics of the war could shift in the general election next year, particularly if the gains continue. While the Democratic candidates are continuing to assail the war — a popular position with many of the party’s primary voters — they run the risk that Republicans will use those critiques to attack the party’s nominee in the election as defeatist and lacking faith in the American military.

If security continues to improve, President Bush could become less of a drag on his party, too, and Republicans may have an easier time zeroing in on other issues, such as how the Democrats have proposed raising taxes in difficult economic times.

Poor Evan. He is always pushed off to the side.

"Congressional Refund"

From the opinion page of the Indy Star:

I think we should get a "congressional refund" from Baron Hill and the other Democrats who were elected last fall. If they were a business, they would have been arrested for false advertisement. Since we can't get our money back, it would only be fair if they resigned instead.

They all ran claiming they would clean up the overspending and stop earmarks. Since elected, they have done just the opposite. They have voted in lock-step with the big-spending Democratic leadership and have done nothing but waste money every time they send a bill to the Senate, as was done recently with the water conservation and children's health insurance bills. Those bills increased spending by billions upon billions of dollars. They have also been obsessed with stopping our war effort by defunding the military, which none of them mentioned in their campaigns.

Jerry Sullivan

But Mr. Sullivan, Baron's former employer needs those earmarks for its clients.

They're important, or something.

Surely you don't mind your tax dollars going to the clients of the lobbying firm that Baron worked for (but didn't, of course, lobby for).


Carson Has Terminal Lung Cancer

If you're the praying type, please include Julia Carson in your prayers.

Boy, that's something I never thought I'd say.

From the Indy Star:

U.S. Rep. Julia Carson revealed she has terminal lung cancer in a statement Saturday in which she expressed her "eternal gratitude" to family, friends and her constituents.

The Indianapolis Democrat, who took a leave from Congress in September because of a leg infection, said her doctors discovered the cancer while treating her late this summer.

In her statement, Carson, 69, disclosed that she had battled cancer before and that it had gone into remission but was back with "a terminal vengeance."

She said she had planned to return to Washington before "the second shoe fell -- heavily."

Carson made no comment beyond the statement she issued to The Indianapolis Star.

Baghdad Harry


I bet you can hardly wait.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Star Publishes Daniels Poll

And here we go.

Not as bad as some of those that talked to me seemed to think, but either "still bad" or "not good" depending on how you want to look at it.

From the Indy Star:

50% disapprove of Daniels' work
Both Democrats angling for governor's job have as much voter support as Daniels does

Half of Hoosiers likely to vote in next year's election disapprove of Gov. Mitch Daniels' performance, and the two Democrats vying for Daniels' job have at least as much voter support as he does, according to a new Indianapolis Star-WTHR (Channel 13) poll.

Rising property taxes, their personal finances, the lease of the Indiana Toll Road and the state's switch to daylight saving time all contributed to Daniels' disapproval rate, the poll of 600 Hoosiers found.

If the election were held today, former Congresswoman Jill Long Thompson and Indianapolis architect Jim Schellinger could edge Daniels out, the poll found.

Of the 449 people surveyed who said they were likely to vote in the 2008 election, 44 percent said they would back Thompson if their choice was between Thompson and Daniels, while the governor received support from 43 percent of those surveyed.

In a match-up between Schellinger and Daniels, Schellinger was ahead 44 percent to 40 percent.

The margin of error on the ballot choices was plus or minus 4.6 percentage points, while the margin of error on other poll questions, including Daniels' approval rating, was plus or minus 4 percentage points.

Daniels was elected in 2004, winning 53 percent of the vote over Democratic Gov. Joe Kernan. By March 2005, a poll taken for The Star showed 55 percent of voters approved of the job Daniels was doing.

But after a series of controversial issues -- including pushing for daylight saving time and leasing the Toll Road -- those numbers plummeted. A poll taken for The Star in March 2006 showed that 37 percent approved of the job Daniels was doing.

J. Ann Selzer, whose Iowa-based public opinion research firm Selzer & Co. conducted the new poll between Nov. 13-16, called Daniels' current 40 percent approval rating "dismal," reflecting the "sour" mood of the state.

Thirty-five percent of those polled said things in Indiana are headed in the right direction, while 57 percent think things have gotten off on the wrong track.

Many viewed their own circumstances pessimistically as well, with 27 percent saying they are better off financially now than they were four years ago, and 32 percent saying they are worse off.

With Daniels' re-election hinging in part on convincing Hoosiers that he has turned Indiana around, those numbers signal that the governor has a big selling job ahead.

The governor declined to comment on the poll numbers, saying: "We're concentrating on work, not polls."

His campaign manager, Eric Holcomb, noted that it's a long time until the November 2008 election. Between now and then, he said, voters will be reminded of the challenges Daniels has taken on as governor, including balancing the budget and pursuing jobs for the state.

"Clearly, the governor has done a lot fast," Holcomb said.

But voters also are expected to be heavily influenced by whether Daniels and the General Assembly can fix a property tax system that many view as broken after having received bills this year that were double or even triple past years' bills.

Man with a plan

Daniels has laid out a plan that hinges on a sales tax increase, which would allow the state to pick up school and child welfare costs that property taxpayers currently bear. He also has called for local spending controls and caps to limit homeowners' bills to 1 percent of their homes' assessed valuation.

That plan is why Shawn Peters, a 31-year-old Republican from Whiteland, said he expects to stick with Daniels, even though he disapproves of the job the governor has done so far.

"If you'd (asked me) before the property tax (situation) if I'd vote for the governor, I'd have said no," Peters said.

Peters was among the 43 percent of those polled who think Daniels' decision to move the state to daylight saving time has been bad for Indiana, while 44 percent believe it's been good.

Still, he said, Daniels' plan for addressing property taxes "is about the best I've heard so far" and has earned the governor his vote.

It remains to be seen, though, whether the legislature can agree on major property tax reforms. Even if Daniels and the legislature are successful, the long-term relief promised under the governor's plan won't show up until 2009 at the earliest.

Many voters likely will go to the polls in November 2008 with property taxes on their minds, as their fall bills come due.

'Governor is vulnerable'

Democrats said the poll shows Hoosiers are signaling they've had enough of Daniels.

"It's just bad news for Mitch Daniels," said Indiana Democratic Party Chairman Dan Parker. Still, he said, Daniels isn't going to be easy to beat.

Thompson, however, said the poll "reflects that the governor is vulnerable, extremely vulnerable."

She noted that she hasn't spent any money on advertising, yet she is running in a dead heat with the governor.

Schellinger said he's traveled to 74 of Indiana's 92 counties, and the poll confirms what he is hearing: "People are not happy."

And the breakdown of the results:

Daniels vs Schellinger
Daniels: 40%
Schellinger: 44%

Daniels vs Long Thompson
Daniels: 43%
Long Thompson: 44%

Notice that both of the Democrats top out at 44%. That has nothing to do with them personally, particularly given their pathetic name ID. That's the "anybody but Mitch" factor coming into play.

Daniels Job Approval
Approve: 40%
Disapprove: 50%

Given that the Governor has virtually no political sense when proposing and selling his policy initiatives (and given that he has tackled controversial and unpopular things like Daylight Savings Time and so forth), this number isn't exactly surprising.

Right Track / Wrong Track for Indiana
Right: 35%
Wrong: 57%

Can you say property taxes? Sure, I knew you could.

Better Off / Worse Off than Four Years Ago
Better: 27%
Worse: 33%

I am surprised, given the anger over the property tax situation, that these numbers are still so relatively even.

But Wait, It Gets Worse: Star-WTHR Poll to Show Mitch Daniels in Deep Trouble

Mitch DanielsUnless you're still groggy from eating too much turkey or tuckered out from shopping 'till you dropped, you have probably seen the initial results of the poll commissioned by the Indianapolis Star and WTHR.

If you're a political junkie, that is; if you're not, you probably haven't been paying much attention due to the holiday weekend.

The results made public thus far show a state deeply unhappy with President George W. Bush and even willing to vote for a generic-led Democratic ticket (against a nameless Republican), so long as Evan Bayh is on the ticket as a vice presidential pick.

No word about how that balance might change with Hillary Clinton topping the Democratic ticket; that might change things more than a bit.

You can see the article in the Indy Star about the poll here, and the full results of the Star-WTHR poll are available here.

These are just the national level results.

Barring something screwy with the internals of the poll or its methodology, the numbers are hard to spin; it shows a gloomy picture for Republicans and conservatives.

I have heard, however, that the poll oversamples among Democrats (polling more Democrats than Republicans, something that should not be the case in Indiana, even now) and it was done by the same firm whose pre-election poll showed Bart Peterson beating Greg Ballard days before the election (and they then revised that same poll to widen Peterson's margin to be even greater).

Questions about methodology aside (to say nothing about serious considerations about the credibility of the pollster), the picture the poll paints continues to be unhappy because it wasn't just conducted on national issues.

It asked about the gubernatorial race also, results that are to be published in the Star in their Sunday edition.

And from what Hoosierpundit sources say, even turkey-induced sleepiness and exhaustion from shopping won't let those results go past anyone unnoticed.

The results are too big to be buried in a holiday news cycle.

They certainly won't get past anyone with even a passing interest in politics, especially in the General Assembly and among those waiting in the wings to possibly run for governor.

Among either party.

The poll is to show Mitch Daniels' campaign for reelection in dire straights, showing him losing handily in both the general election and (supposedly) against a generic Republican primary challenger.

I inquired to one source about the extent of how bad the poll shows things for Mitch Daniels.

"Better off or worse off than Ernie Fletcher?"

Ernie Fletcher, for those of you who don't know, was the Republican governor of Kentucky that survived a primary challenge earlier this year only to go down to defeat in a 60 to 40 landslide disaster.

I expected to hear that Daniels was better off than Fletcher.

The answer I got was unexpected: "Worse."

I was taken aback; Fletcher, after all, was indicted and spent his entire term in office plagued by a scandal.

Of course, another source told me that the results were "not bad, but not good either," then pointing to the apparent imbalance between Republicans and Democrats in the polling sample.

Assuming the sources (I got multiple ones) on this are correct, this (as they say) changes everything.

Perception is reality in politics, as the old cliche goes, and Daniels has benefited for a long time from the fairly widespread perception that he is if not invulnerable then at least not very vulnerable.

This poll (credible or not) could dramatically change that perception.

Rumors of a looming primary challenge to Daniels could now manifest themselves rapidly into reality, and high-profile Democrats that have sat out the gubernatorial race thus far in favor of the placeholder / sacrificial lamb Jim Schellinger and the too-liberal Jill Long Thompson might soon find themselves revisiting that decision.

And what does Mitch do now? Having often ignored or gone against his own party's base and taken them for granted, he now finds that they have turned on him.

And with his political fortunes in trouble, just how does that change the political calculus of The Hair and Democrats in the state legislature when it comes to his plan to reform property taxes?

As the oft-quoted Chinese proverb says, may you live in interesting times.

Things just got a whole heck of a lot more interesting.

7:35 Update: Source #4 tells me that the "Ernie Fletcher" characterization is completely wrong, and that the poll did not include a question about a primary challenge. Since each of those items came from separate sources, that makes the poll look less dire for Mitch Daniels than I have heard it originally described. This fourth source says the poll shows the governor losing to Jill Long Thompson, but only by a single point, and losing by four to Schellinger. The Star should be putting up their story tonight, so we'll know more soon.

Friday, November 23, 2007

The Hair Balks at Property Tax Reform Package, Mitch Daniels Still Optimistic

The Speaker in full 'Wrath of God' ModeHe's still fumbling for a poison pill or a spin to enable him to kill it, but for now Speaker Pat "The Hair" Bauer is just muttering and mumbling about things he doesn't like about Mitch Daniels' property tax reform package.

He'll find something in the proposal to object to, I am sure.

It's just a matter of whether what he objects to is objectionable enough for him to be able to sufficiently stiffen the spines of his terrified and reelection-minded caucus.

The Governor, for his part, probably has good reason to still be optimistic.

I think that the House Democratic caucus is going to be a lot less willing to get into a fight over property tax relief than The Hair himself.

Bauer, after all, sits in a pretty safe seat.

Many of them do not.

From the Indy Star:

Gov. Mitch Daniels said Wednesday he remains optimistic about passing a 1-cent increase in the sales tax for property tax reform, despite House Speaker B. Patrick Bauer's prediction that passing the increase would be "very tough."

Daniels' plan hinges on increasing the state sales tax to 7 percent from 6 percent. The increase would provide about $1 billion to the state. Without it, Daniels may find it impossible to deliver on his promise of cutting the average homeowner's bill by more than a third.

"I think the speaker expressed realism. I'm not the least bit pessimistic, and I don't think he is either," Daniels said. "It won't be easy to do this, but what I think his comments meant is that we're going to need bipartisan support."

The governor said he doesn't anticipate that being a problem.

"I think we'll deliver a lot of support on the Republican side, and I know that (Bauer) will have plenty on his side, too," Daniels said. "I think he's being realistic as a veteran who's been through these things before, but I didn't take away a message of pessimism."

Bauer on Tuesday said the sales tax increase will be a tough sell in his chamber, not only because all 100 state representatives are up for re-election next year, but because the increase would make Indiana's state sales tax higher than its neighbors'.

On Wednesday, Daniels dismissed concerns that increasing the tax to 7 percent would put Indiana at a disadvantage to neighboring states.

"If you look at the border counties in Illinois, these other states have local sales tax on top of their state sales tax," Daniels said. "I don't believe it will put us at any disadvantage, and meanwhile, please note we'll have by far the lowest property taxes of anywhere around, a major competitive advantage."

Daniels also said Wednesday that legislators shouldn't expect him to add many more proposals -- outside of property tax reform -- to his legislative agenda for the coming year.

"Being a short session and having a very large, complicated agenda item, I'm sensitive to not making the work of the legislature any more difficult by asking for too many other measures," Daniels said.

The governor said he would not revive his pitch to privatize the state lottery during the session. That measure passed the Senate last year but failed to receive a hearing in the House.

"I don't plan to offer that," Daniels said of the lottery plan. "I think the agenda will be too crowded."

Mike Sodrel Backs Property Tax Repeal

In an op-ed appearing in the News & Tribune (and probably soon in other newspapers across southern Indiana, I would guess):

So you think you own your home? Think again. You are just renting your home from the government.

As an Indiana home owner and fellow Hoosier, I’d like to comment on this issue of major importance to us — property taxes.

The property tax issue is something that needs to be addressed by the state and local government, not the federal government. It is an important issue for anyone who owns a home or who wants to own a home. It is important to both our farmers and to our small business owners as well.

The current tax on property needs to be repealed, not reformed. It is an expensive system to administer and to maintain. It is not fair to the taxpayer — it needs to be eliminated.

We have Hoosiers whose monthly property tax bill is now larger than their house payment. Some retired homeowners may have to sell their homes because they can no longer afford to pay their property taxes.

The American dream of homeownership is turning into a nightmare for many Hoosiers. It is a budget buster for some, a hardship for many, and unfair to all.

Property taxes, in the first place, are based on “a guess.” An appraisal is an estimate of the price a home or farm might bring if it were sold.

How would you like to pay income taxes based on what somebody thought you should make? An income tax appraiser could use the same system. He or she, for example, could take your age and educational level, consider any improvements made since graduation, look at the neighborhood you live in, and then guess how much income tax you should pay. That doesn’t sound like a very fair system, does it? It isn’t.

With the current property tax system, home ownership is a cruel joke. Everyone is renting their home from the government landlord. If you stop paying the government rent, you will be evicted like any other renter.

Your right to continue living in your home is based on your ability to pay rent to the government. Many people find their government rent is rising faster than their income. Retirees, widows, widowers, and people living on social security and pensions, are the hardest hit. They are the people most likely to be evicted.

Hoosiers on fixed incomes are already facing higher energy costs to heat their homes, and higher gasoline costs.

Are we going to tax people out of their homes so we can tax someone else to build a place for them to live? What is wrong with this picture?

Taxes should not be established on a guess. And, no one should have to rent their home from the government for life.

It is time to repeal the property tax. Hoosier voters deserve a vote on the issue. I believe the people will vote to eliminate property tax. It is the duty of our elected officials to give us that opportunity.

Contact your State Senator and State Representative. Also, contact the Governor. Tell them you want to axe the property tax and you want them to give you the right to vote on it.

Mike Sodrel is a former member of Congress as representative of Indiana’s District 9. He is currently campaining for election to that seat.

It's worth noting that Sodrel hasn't endorsed a plan on how to replace property tax revenues, only a vote on abolishing the system.

I am not sure if he supports the Eric Miller plan, some other program, or simply favors the elimination of property taxes on the basis of reasoning alone (this last would be my bet; it's hard to not want to do away with a system that is so screwed up and unreasonable to begin with).

The op-ed has, of course, caused predictable reactions from certain folks in the seats on the left.

They have attacked Sodrel's op-ed on a variety of rather interesting grounds.

On the one hand, they say it's not a federal issue. True, but Sodrel himself acknowledged as much in his op-ed (heck, he started out by saying he was speaking as a homeowner). They probably just didn't read any of that, but instead went into knee-jerk partisan attack mode. Hardly surprising.

The fact that the issue is of little concern to the Federal government does not preclude a homeowner and a voter from having an opinion, even a homeowner and voter that is running for Congress.

Moreover, the state and local focus of the issue hasn't stopped Baron Hill from trying to propose legislation in Congress to do something about it. It's more than a bit intellectually dishonest to say that Mike Sodrel is wrong and misguided for merely having an opinion on a state and local issue, but then turn around and praise Baron Hill for actually proposing legislation a federal level about that same state and local issue.

I will grant, of course, that Baron has a lot of difficulty differentiating different levels of government; he once chimed in with a federal press release about the state sales tax on gasoline, but seriously.

Then you have the whole "only Republicans like Mike Sodrel are crazy enough to want to abolish property taxes" attack. Consistency across issues and individuals is not a strength of certain bloggers on the left, since they tend to prefer to just attack any idea supported by Republicans.

The Eric Miller property tax repeal program (the math of which, I must admit, has never been explained in a way that makes sense to me) has bipartisan support. About a dozen Democrats in the legislature have signed on to it as of this posting, including Democratic Senate Minority Leader (and former gubernatorial candidate) Richard Young.

So, let's see. It's "petty pandering" for homeowner Mike Sodrel to support letting Hoosiers vote on whether to repeal property taxes, but what is it when Democrats in the legislature--who will actually have to deal with the problem--actually sign onto a plan to abolish them completely? That's somehow different, I suppose.

Now, as a practical consideration, Mike Sodrel has a pretty consistent record against taxes (he never voted for a tax increase; the same certainly cannot be said of Baron Hill, particularly since Baron's reelection), so his op-ed is hardly surprising in that light.

It's hard to be accused of opportunistic pandering when you are only stating opinions against high taxes that you have held all along.

The opportunistic panderers can be found elsewhere, especially the folks who only woke up to the anger of Hoosiers over property taxes and taxes in general when Bart Peterson (the former invincible golden boy of the Democratic Party) and the Democrat-controlled Indianapolis City-County Council (what was formerly to be a one-party kingdom for the Democrats, where Republicans would not exist as a political force of consequence ever again) were shown the door in large part over those very issues.

Democrats (and Republicans) can deny such voter anger at their own peril--at every level of government from Washington to individual townships--and I don't mind at all if the bloggers on the left want to continue going on denying it. That worked really well for Bart Peterson and his cronies in Marion County.

Anyhow, I saved for last my favorite argument of all, and one typical of tax-and-spend big government liberals. You see, we are told, when a tax system is so messed up that it is taxing people out of their homes and into poverty, that's a system that just can't and shouldn't be changed.

Heaven forbid that anything be done about high taxes! Just think of the government programs that might not be funded!

As Sodrel said in his campaign announcement speech, liberals will tax people out of their homes in order to give them welfare when they become homeless. I am somehow unsurprised that Democrats don't see anything wrong with that picture.

Normally, Republicans and conservatives have to make campaign ads for folks on the left to look like this; here they are showing their true colors without editing or scary music being required.

Oh, and one last thing. Since photos of 9th District congressmen appearing with George W. Bush seem to be so popular, let me give this contribution:

"Phenomenal" Drop in Iraq Violence Reported

Reported in Pentagon reports, at least.

You won't see this reported on the evening news.

From the Financial Times:

Violence in Iraq has fallen at a rate that has surprised military commanders and even one of the architects of the “surge” that boosted US troop numbers in the country this year, according to figures gathered by the US.

The figures show the numbers of suicide attacks, roadside bombings, mortar and other attacks on US forces and on the Iraqi population have more than halved since 30,000 extra troops in June.

The military attributes the decline to the surge, the spread of local ceasefire deals across Iraq, a ceasefire by radical Shia militias and an improvement in the Iraqi security forces.

Jack Keane, the former army general who helped persuade George W. Bush, US president, to increase troop numbers in Iraq, said the decrease in violence was “phenomenal” and had occurred far faster than he had expected.

“When you understand you are dealing with the complexity of a counter-insurgency operation which can take years to resolve, to have this dramatic a success in a short period of time, it’s unprecedented,” he said.

The US military says the number of civilian deaths has also fallen 60 per cent since the surge took effect, with a drop of 75 per cent in Baghdad. According to, the average monthly US death toll dropped from 96 for the first half of 2007 to 66 in the past four months. The average monthly death toll for Iraqi civilians and security forces has dropped from 2,157 to 1,223 in the same period.

Stephen Biddle, former adviser to General David Petraeus, the top US commander in Iraq, said the most important factor was the spread of ceasefire agreements. He said the “key challenge” now was to make sure they could be adequately policed.

“I am very concerned that if we bring too many of the troops home too fast we leave ourselves without the ability to stabilise these otherwise quite unstable local ceasefire deals.”

Iraq could turn into a land of peace, love, and free candy and it wouldn't change the political situation in the United States.

The people, and voters, have tuned out the war; it's too late to change their minds now.

Texas Court: Killing a Fetus is Murder

Just not, apparently, when it is intentional (as in as an abortion).

From the Associated Press:

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) - Texas laws allow the killing of a fetus to be prosecuted as murder, regardless of the fetus' stage of development, but they do not apply to abortions, the state's highest criminal court has ruled.
Wednesday's ruling by the Court of Criminal Appeals rejected an appeal by Terence Lawrence, who said his right to due process was violated because he was prosecuted for two murders for killing a woman and her 4- to 6-week-old fetus.

The court ruled unanimously that state laws declaring a fetus an individual with protections do not conflict with the U.S. Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade ruling that protects a woman's right to an abortion.

"The Supreme Court has emphasized that states may protect human life not only once the fetus has reached viability but 'from the outset of the pregnancy,'" the court said. "The Legislature is free to protect the lives of those whom it considers to be human beings."

Lawrence was convicted of capital murder and sentenced to life for the 2004 shooting death of his girlfriend, Antwonyia Smith, and the couple's unborn child. Lawrence shot Smith after learning she was pregnant with his child, according to court documents.

Lawrence's appeal argued that he should not have been prosecuted for the death of the fetus because it was not viable. Supreme Court precedent in abortion cases has established that states have no compelling interest to interfere before a fetus would be old enough to live outside the mother's womb, he said.

However, the court said abortion precedent is based on the premise that a woman wants to have the procedure.

"The 'compelling state interest' test, along with the accompanying 'viability' threshold, has no application to a statute that prohibits a third party from causing the death of the woman's unborn child against her will," Presiding Judge Sharon Keller wrote.

Toys 'R Hazardous

Giving Thanks

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Abraham Lincoln on Thanksgiving

Proclaiming a day of thanksgiving, observed in the United States ever since:

"The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God. In the midst of a civil war of unequalled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union. Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defence, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle, or the ship; the axe had enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years, with large increase of freedom.

"No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy.

"It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and voice by the whole American people. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to his tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility and Union.

"In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand, and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed.

"Done at the city of Washington, this third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the independence of the United States the eighty-eighth."

- Abraham Lincoln, October 3, 1863

I quoted this last year, but the words of the Great Emancipator never get old.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Fun with News Aggregators, Part XII: Sodrel Donates Trucks to Deliver Food to the Needy

Christian charity from Millionaire Mike.

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette:

Tyson Foods has donated 70,000 pounds of frozen chicken to be distributed throughout the state, with 10,000 pounds coming to Fort Wayne on Tuesday.

Local organizations getting chicken are:

*Miss Virginia’s Mission;

*Fort Wayne Rescue Mission; and

*Community Harvest Food Bank

“When I was asked to select local agencies to receive this generous gift from Tyson, I was thrilled to be a part of the process,” Allen County Commissioner Linda Bloom said in a statement. “Many thanks to Tyson Foods for their wonderful donation and to Mike Sodrel for volunteering his trucking company to deliver the chicken throughout the state.”

Sodrel, a former congressman from southeast Indiana, owns Sodrel Truck Lines, Star of America and Free Enterprise System charter bus lines.

Who would have thunk it?

Certainly not the Democrats.

Major Democrat Donor Charged with Impersonating a Lawyer

Compare this to Doug England, the mayor-elect of New Albany, who impersonated a police officer.

From ABC News' The Blotter blog:

A major contributor to Democratic causes and candidates has surrendered to face charges that he impersonated a lawyer and a police officer.

Mauricio Celis turned himself in Monday and then was released after posting $50,000 bail. District Attorney Carlos Valdez argued for $1 million bail, saying Celis was a flight risk.

Celis has contributed thousands of dollars to state and federal candidates, including the presidential campaign of Sen. Hilary Clinton. Several candidates for state office who accepted campaign cash from Celis have since donated the funds to charity.

Celis, 36, was indicted Friday on charges of impersonating a lawyer, impersonating a police officer, theft and perjury.

Another Hillary donor, another scandal. Yawn.

Gloomy Forecaster

From Varvel's blog:

Tuesday, The New York Times had a series of stories about signs of normal life creeping back around Baghdad. It made me think back to that Democratic prognosticator, Harry Reid and his quote, "We can't win. This war is lost." Was he right? Not according to the Investors Business Daily.

The surge has had some positive effects. Violence is down 55% from the summer. On Sunday, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki announced that Baghdad had "defeated the forces of darkness." Michael O'Hanlon, a Brookings military analyst, told the New York Times the military trends are stunning and "beyond the predictions of most proponents of the surge last winter." Monday, AP reported the cooperation between Sunnis and Shiites against terrorists is spreading far.

It's not perfect yet but contrary to Senator Reid, it's not lost.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Indiana 1, Kentucky 0

"Indiana won. Kentucky lost."

May it always be so.

From Page One Kentucky:

Louisville and the rest of Kentucky lost out on a major new employer because the Kentucky Pharmacy Board flat out failed to move on a regulation that would have made it possible for Medco Health Solutions Inc. to bring 1,300 jobs to the city. Instead, those jobs are going to Indiana, despite the fact that Kentucky’s incentive package was better ($30 million vs. $18.5 million). Pharmacy Board Executive Director Mike Burleson, according to the C-J, “didn’t realize how fast Medco needed the board to act.”

Burleson, appointed to his position in 2004 by Gov. Ernie Fletcher, told the C-J he wanted to protect the safety of patients. That was an extremely weak excuse, in the face of evidence to the contrary, for Kentucky’s slow pace in changing regulations that would have permitted Medco to operate here. Indiana’s board made the changes quickly without controversy.

Fletcher deserves some blame here, too. While Indiana’s Mitch Daniels was personally involved in negotiating with the company, Fletcher never talked with company officials. Expect more evidence of Fletcher gubernatorial incompetence to be made public, given that Fletcher spent the last year of his term fighting for his political life.

The Medco efforts by Kentucky economic development officials, it seems, were exemplary. It was an opportunity that doesn’t come along often, and Kentucky blew it, after a year’s effort, because of the incompetent actions of the Pharmacy Board.

Steve Beshear’s economic development message, during the campaign, was that too many incentives were being given to out-of-state companies, that the state needs to develop more in-state companies. That’s not the right solution, either. Beshear needs to make sure that this kind of mistake doesn’t happen during his watch. It’s a leadership issue. Daniels is a better leader than Fletcher. Indiana won. Kentucky lost. The contest was more important than any college rivalry.

1,300 new jobs, and beating Kentucky? Priceless.

Good job, Mitch.

Howey on YouTube & the Empty Shell

From Brian Howey's column:

Brian Howey: With your help, covering the ’08 campaign via YouTube

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - [obligatory rather lengthy "I've been in political journalism for generations story removed for your reading pleasure]

So, what does this have to do with the 2008 Indiana governor’s race?


I recalled my Disney World adventures as I scanned some of the many political blogs on the Internet. There was a video clip of candidate Schellinger telling his “penny” story to a group of guys in a Southern Indiana parking lot. It’s a staple story of his campaign. But what caught the eye of the blogger was Schellinger’s statement that until just a few years ago, he and his wife lived “paycheck to paycheck.” Schellinger is the CEO of a big architectural firm. This Republican blogger was amused by the notion that any CEO would be living paycheck to paycheck.

We live in an era of the 24-hour news channel and the 30-second sound bite and what I call bottom line journalism. The profit motives of our bigger newspapers and TV stations prohibit them from doing what the Cleveland Plain Dealer managing editor vowed to do.

Unless Gov. Daniels is opening a new Honda plant, or participating in a debate (and, by the way, the formation of an Indiana Governor Debate Commission is a wonderful idea), the central Indiana, major news media with signal strength or circulation that reaches the majority of the state, doesn’t follow him out of Indianapolis.

That’s where citizens – particularly the ones who have digital video cameras – come in. If the governor or his Democratic challengers come to town, take your video camera along. You can post it on YouTube and send me an e-mail. Send the very newspaper you’re reading the link as well. Citizens with cameras that don’t lie can go where professional reporters cannot. There simply are not enough reporters that can reach a statewide audience.

Citizens can gather up the raw data that will help provide more coverage of our candidates. The idea here isn’t necessarily “gotcha” journalism. The idea is to extend the media’s eyes and ears to places like Badger Grove, Coal Bluff or Wakarusa (Indian for “knee deep in mud”).

Such coverage can have potent results. A video camera in a small southwestern Virginia burg in 2006 caught then-U.S. Sen. George Allen (and prospective GOP presidential candidate) in his infamous “macaca” quote that most considered a racial slur. It quickly hit YouTube where millions of people viewed it. In past years it would at best only been witnessed by a couple dozen people. Allen lost the election, tipping the U.S. Senate from Republican to Democrat.

The campaigns might flinch at the idea of citizens taping and uploading their appearances on YouTube. But their own campaigns videotape each other all the time looking for gotcha moments and propaganda.

Citizens deserve to see more and now have the power of technology to make it happen.

Schellinger has made his share of gaffes, and continues to make more.

He's a dream come true for this YouTubing "Republican blogger."

The video is here (in its video-byte form along with the facts about Schellinger's big buck donations to Democratic politicians).

Sandy Blanton to Replace Jerry Denbo

From the Bloomington Herald-Times (thanks to an HP reader for the text):

PAOLI — Sandy Blanton, a Democrat from Orleans, was chosen in a caucus Monday night to fill the Distrct 62 Representative seat vacated Jerry Denbo when he resigned.

In a vote of 28-21, Blanton defeated Linton’s Mike Hennette. The vote was taken by eligible precinct committeemen from the district, which is made up of Orange County and portions of Lawrence, Greene, Martin and Washington counties.

Blanton has worked since 2002 as the accountant for Comprehensive Health Care in Paoli.

The caucus seems to have been unexpectedly close.

It will be interesting to see if the Democrats can hold this seat in 2008.

$20 Billion in Pork in Democrats' Budget

Now comes this from the most honest, open, and ethical Congress *evah*.

From Politico:

It looks like Congress won’t even come close to giving up those irresistible earmarks.

Citizens Against Government Waste, which closely monitors federal spending, is putting the finishing touches on its tally of pork projects in the pending spending bills — and the picture isn’t pretty. The group estimates that there will be at least 8,000 earmarks this year, costing U.S. taxpayers, $18 billion to $20 billion.

I look forward to seeing the Citizens Against Government Waste report; it will be interesting to see what shady friends Baron got earmarks for this time around.

Last Day to Join No-Call List

Just a friendly reminder.

From the Courier-Journal:

Tomorrow is the latest deadline to register for Indiana’s Do Not Call list.

Phone numbers submitted to the list by 11:59 p.m. tomorrow will begin receiving benefits of the law starting Jan. 1, according to the office of Attorney General Steve Carter.

Registration, which is free, is available online at or by calling (888) 834-9969.

No one will be asked for any personal financial information, and it is not necessary to register again if you keep the same phone number.

Alas, political phone calls are exempt.

Close Encounters of the Kucinich Kind

Planted Questions

The Writers Strike

The Denbo Seat Caucus

It is my understanding that Sandy Blanton has won the caucus to fill Jerry Denbo's seat.

She'll be up in Indianapolis on Tuesday morning for organization day.

Confirmation should be in the newspapers in the morning.

The article on the then-forthcoming caucus, from the Herald-Times (hat tip to an HP reader for the article):

As Tuesday’s annual organization day rolls around at the Indiana Statehouse, it isn’t yet known who will serve as the state representative for the 62nd District.

That uncertainty will remain until Monday evening. That’s when a caucus called by the Indiana Democratic Party will determine whether Sandy Blanton of Orleans or Mike Hennette of Linton will replace Jerry Denbo, who resigned from the position on Nov. 7.

Both Blanton and Hennette understand that the winner at the caucus will have to hit the ground running and go to work at the Statehouse the next morning.

“I’m prepared to go if I should win,” Blanton said in a telephone interview Friday.

Hennette said it will be a new experience but he’ll be ready to go to Indianapolis and dive into the responsibilities at hand. “I’m going to have to learn,” he said.

Both candidates talk of an eagerness to tackle the issues that are important to their constituents.

“I would like to continue what Jerry has done for this district,” Blanton said. “I am a really good listener, and I’d like to listen to what the people want me to do for them.”

Monday, November 19, 2007

More on Dem Intimidation of Student Voters

Here is the article I mentioned earlier that ran in the Bethel College student newspaper, the Bethel Beacon, about efforts by Mishawaka Democrats to intimidate student voters.

Several Bethel students learned a lesson about voting and politics when they went to the polls on Tuesday Nov. 6. For many it was their first voting experience. They were surprised to encounter challenges as they attempted to exercise their right to vote. Some claim they were intimidated during the process.

Many of the students had registered to vote using a Bethel College address. The college is located in Mishawaka's sixth district, where Bethel professor Dave Schmidt was running for the common council seat against incumbent [Democrat] Ron Banicki.

"Somehow the Banicki campaign got a Bethel housing directory and had identified all of the students who lived in Logan Village and on Donaldson Street and were challenging their right to vote at John Young School," said Mark Root, Schmidt's campaign manager.

Rita Glenn of the Saint Joseph County election board said the board issued a challenger certificate to a Banicki representative named Dan Baltimore.

Students, however, felt intimidated by the process. They questioned some things they claim were said to them.

"A gentleman informed me that I had to sign an affidavit before I could vote. I questioned him on this and refused to sign it. He became very rude and told me that unless I signed this, I couldn't vote because he was 'opposing/going' against my vote," said junior Hope Grame.

Grame said he told her that if his appeal of her vote went through, her vote wouldn't matter and she could be prosecuted for falsifying her address.

"There was also mention that I could lose my financial aid," she said.

Glenn said the election board did receive complaints about what was going on at John Young and they sent representatives from both parties to the school to monitor the situation.

"On two occasions the St. Joseph County election board was called to John Young School, and on both occasions worked out a process for the students to vote and also told this man that he was not to speak to the voters," Root said.

Root said that the man continued to cause problems.

Am I the only one that sees the dark irony?

Democrats want students to vote for them because they say their party will increase student aid.

But when those students might not be voting for the "right people", the Democrats challenge their votes and threaten to take their student aid away.

Lefties Chime in on Clearwater

It hasn't taken long for the lefty blogosphere to sound off in support of Gretchen Clearwater's primary challenge to Baron Hill.

From Fire Dog Lake:

Three days ago Gretchen Clearwater announced that she is running for Congress in Indiana’s 9th CD for a seat currently held by Bush Dog Dem Baron Hill. Readers of this blog are aware of Hill’s steadfast support for the Bush-Cheney agenda — in Iraq and here at home. He was the first of the reactionary Dems to fold after being targeted by Blue America with robo-calls and the threat of a newspaper ad regarding his support for Bush’s S-CHIP veto. But Gretchen is hardly new to this. She ran against Hill, a Rahm Emanuel fave, in 2006 as well. In 2006 I looked at both candidates and Gretchen was clearly the more suitable.

But with huge Insider support Hill won — handily — and Gretchen went back to work at the University of Indiana and, of course, at grassroots activism in the 9th CD. Hill, on the other hand, promptly joined the Blue Dog coalition and has been voting against progressive values and principles ever since. If Gretchen replaces him, that isn’t a caucus she would consider joining.

The differences between Gretchen and Hill are crystal clear — far more now than they were last year — when Democrats couldn’t see beyond just getting rid of right wing fanatic Mike Sodrel. “Times have changed,” Gretchen told me on the phone a few days ago. People who didn’t support her last year have been urging her to take Hill on again.

Clearwater is even answering comments over at that FDL post, in case you'd like to read for yourself some of what she has to say.

ActBlue has a fundraising page to give money to Clearwater's campaign; as of this post she has raised about three times as much money as Hill.

No word as yet on the status (relative to Clearwater) of's promise to bankroll a primary challenger to Baron.