Friday, December 26, 2008

Christmas Fireworks at Walt Disney World

Christmas Fireworks at Disneyland

Iraq War Now So Lost That Its Muslim Government Made Christmas an Official Holiday

From the AP (which has to give characteristic emphasis on a random bombing before giving any coverage at all to the surprising news):

BAGHDAD – Iraq's Christians, a scant minority in this overwhelmingly Muslim country, quietly celebrated Christmas on Thursday with a present from the government, which declared it an official holiday for the first time.

In his homily on Thursday, Chaldean Cardinal Emmanuel III Delly praised the establishment of Christmas as an official holiday as a step toward easing tensions.

"I thank the government for giving chances to all to serve each other for the general benefit, and I thank it too for making this day an official holiday where we pray to God to make us trust each other as brothers," he said at the Christmas Mass before several dozen worshippers in the small chapel of a Baghdad monastery.

A senior Shiite cleric, Ammar al-Hakim, attended the Mass flanked by bodyguards in a gesture of cooperation with Christians.

"I thank the visitors here and ask them to share happiness and love with their brothers on Christmas; by this they will build a glorious Iraq," the cardinal said.

"We came here to bring a message of love, respect and gratitude to our Christian brothers and to share happiness with them as we have shared sadness with them during the cruel targeting they came under," al-Hakim said in an interview with al-Furat TV. "We will do our best for equality between people and a good life for all, whatever their religious, sectarian and ethnic background."

He is the son and heir-apparent of Abdul-Aziz al-Hakim, Iraq's biggest mainstream Shiite party.

Who knows. Before long, some lefty secular wacko will probably sue to have Christmas removed from being a Federal holiday here in America. Then Iraq, a constitutionally-declared Muslim country, will have it as an official holiday and the United States will not.

A Hearing into the Case of Rudolph, a Reindeer

A parody of political-correctness run-amok in Canada from the Globe & Mail:

In December of 2006, this rights commission was asked to investigate claims of discrimination based on physical disability with regards to a reindeer, Rudolph.

Thanks to the use of anatomically correct dolls brought to life in a stop-action dramatic recreation of the incidents under discussion, as well as at least one version of the events delivered in the form of a ridiculously catchy country western song, the commission has established the following facts:

* Rudolph suffers from a facial disfigurement.

* Rudolph is employed by Santa Claus, the owner and sole executive of a toy manufacturing conglomerate known as Santa Claus Holdings Inc. (herewith referred to as SCHI) and located on or near Earth's magnetic north pole (herewith referred to as the North Pole). Rudolph works in the delivery department, propulsion and guidance systems.

* In the North Pole, reindeer can fly. No one thinks this is weird.

* Like the lingerie section at department stores, SCHI delivers its entire annual production of Christmas gifts on a single night – Dec. 24.

* The alleged incidents took place in the winter months leading up to Christmas, 2005.

The commission established the following narrative of events:

Rudolph suffers from an unusual swelling and discoloration of the nose.

Medical doctors who examined him at the commission's request concluded that his disability is not due to any known medical condition.

For one thing, his nose is too shiny. Witnesses testified that some “would even say it glows,” raising the possibility of radiation poisoning. That was ruled out through the use of a Geiger counter. A diagnosis of congenital disfigurement is accepted by the commission.

It's clear that Rudolph's disfigurement was a source of shame for his parents. At one point, the child's father tried to blacken his son's nose with mud, a considerable effort given mud's scarcity in the North Pole. Donner eventually fashioned a prosthetic nose and forced Rudolph to wear it when out in public.

Rudolph's problems were exacerbated at school. The prosthetic nose was crudely made and often fell off, revealing Rudolph's disfigurement. His peers responded by ridiculing him and refusing to let him “join in any reindeer games,” according to one version of events.

Reindeer games are an intrinsic part of reindeer society, and Rudolph's exclusion from them was painful. No action was taken by teachers or the school principal to rectify the situation. The commission notes that the school is owned and operated by North Pole Education Systems Inc., a subsidiary of SCHI.

The cruel taunts and exclusion continued until Dec. 24, 2005, when climatic conditions resulted in the peculiar appearance of a thick blanket of fog in the North Pole, a polar desert where average temperatures on this date are in the minus-45-degree range.

It was at this point that Santa Claus himself approached Rudolph and offered him the chance to fill a newly created position in the delivery department: He asked Rudolph to help pull his gift-laden sleigh in the lead position.

Santa Claus's hope was that Rudolph's brightly lit red nose would serve as a beacon and help him guide his sleigh that night. It apparently worked, as the delivery went off without a hitch.

Rudolph's sudden and unexpected engagement by the region's single all-powerful employer changed his peers' attitudes toward him. “Then all the reindeer loved him,” one witness said. Some predicted that Rudolph would “go down in history.”

CONCLUSIONS

The commission finds this case to be troubling from start to finish. Its members note with sadness that the North Pole is dominated by a judgmental and Manichean character who divides the world into “naughty” and “nice.” Rudolph's systematic exclusion clearly comes from the top in a community that is controlled in all its aspects by a single employer.

There is little in that regard to distinguish the North Pole from any single-company town in apartheid-era South Africa, pre-First World War Ireland or the current New Brunswick.

The commission is also troubled that Santa Claus only intervened on behalf of a victim of repeated discrimination when his company's fortunes were on the line. While lawyers acting for SCHI at the hearings argued that the hiring of Rudolph was a clear indication of the company's policy of inclusion, the commission feels that it was motivated by a venal goal and that the company only played it otherwise after complaints were made to the commission.

RECOMMENDATIONS

The commission therefore finds that:

* SCHI discriminated against Rudolph, and it should pay Rudolph the sum of $18.5-million in damages.

* SCHI must immediately begin tolerance and diversity programs for all of its employees, starting at the top.

* SCHI must open itself to diversity audits on an annual basis and file a report with this commission indicating the progress it has made in finding work for red-nosed reindeers, tall elves and un-jolly humans.

Hat tip: Mark Steyn at The Corner.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Star Editorial: Beware of Spoilage

The Indy Star's editorial page chimes in on its own recent reporting regarding Greg Ballard's ties to Indy law firm Barnes & Thornburg:

Does any of this imply unethical behavior? Not at all. The problem is that coziness and connections can take on a life of their own. That's why precautions -- and disclosure -- are preferable to relying on individual virtue.

Nearly a year ago, this editorial page questioned Ballard's appointment of Grand as head of the Capital Improvement Board because Grand is managing partner of Barnes & Thornburg, which represents the Indiana Pacers' owners, the Simons. The Pacers are the prime tenants of Conseco Fieldhouse, owned by the CIB, and are expected to seek renegotiation of their lease.

Ballard insisted he was satisfied by Grand's agreement to recuse himself from Simon-related CIB business. But the idea of self-benching by the top man on the CIB's first order of business has always seemed unworkable. Moreover, it does nothing for credibility with the public, an issue that also attends to other interactions between the city and Barnes & Thornburg, however innocent.

Appearances count. In the campaign, Ballard rightly raised a fuss over ethical conflicts associated with the Democratic City-County Council. Democrats circled the wagons. Ballard promised the opposite. Is this it?

In the end, it's not so much the practice of business as usual under another name that is irritating; it's that Ballard promised to do better in the campaign.

And, ultimately, Ballard is answerable for his campaign promises, both those he has kept (there are many) and those he has not (like this).

Irony abounds. The below photo is a great example of the contradictions present thus far in the Ballard administration.

Joe Loftus, Greg Ballard, and Bob Grand stand in line to see George W. Bush in November of 2007.
When George W. Bush came to New Albany in November of 2007, I took this picture of Greg Ballard, standing in line behind me waiting to get into the event (he looked at me funny when I took this picture).

At the door to the building, a city councilman from New Albany loudly argued with security that he wanted to be let in without standing in line. Ballard merely waited.

How great is that? How perfectly symbolic of the sort of everyman politician everybody thought Greg Ballard was? The ultimate outsider, with no presumptions, devoid of the haughty arrogance that comes from office.

What's also interestingly symbolic and rather ironic, in retrospect, are the two individuals flanking then Mayor-elect Ballard. To the left is Joe Loftus, a partner at Barnes & Thornburg. To the right, with his back turned to the camera, is Bob Grand, the Indianapolis managing partner at Barnes & Thornburg.

Even in moments like this, where his most endearing qualities are on display, Ballard seems to find himself in the company of folks from Barnes & Thornburg.

Like I said, it's ironic.

More Than Just Something Stuck in His Teeth

More Than Just Something Stuck in His Teeth

Tribute to Brit Hume



With the departure of Brit Hume from Special Report, there is no longer anything redeeming worth watching on any of the three cable news channels. Special Report just won't be the same without him.

Obama Questioned in Blagoquiddick Probe

Not a word about it on the news, though it's a big blaring headline right now over at Drudge.

From The Smoking Gun:

President-elect Barack Obama and two of his top advisers were interviewed last week by federal prosecutors probing Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich's alleged bid to sell Obama's vacated Senate seat, according to a report issued today by an Obama lawyer.

The Washington Post has more:

The report also revealed for the first time that officials with the U.S. Attorney's office investigating the Blagojevich case interviewed Obama on Dec. 18. Emanuel was interviewed on Dec. 20 and Obama adviser Valerie Jarrett was interviewed on Dec. 19.

Hugh Hewitt asks the first question I thought when I saw that Obama had been questioned.

Was the President-Elect under oath? Given Patrick Fitzgerald's love of perjury traps and his penchant for pursuing people that lie to him, mislead, or obfuscate, it's a very pertinent and valid question that deserves to be answered.

Then again, I'm not sure that--since under Title 18, Section 1001, lying to a Federal agent is a crime--that Obama would even have to be under oath to commit a crime.

As Hewitt notes, the timing of the interviews (first Obama, then Jarrett, then Emanuel) is perhaps quite telling also.

Suffice to say, dumping all of this two days before Christmas isn't likely to bury it, even with a super-compliant media.

Hope for the Future

From The Corner:

Rod Blagojevich, $1 trillion "fiscal stimulus", Harry Reid, expiring tax cuts, Nancy Pelosi, socialized health care, Charlie Rangel, reinstitution of the oil drilling ban, Joe Biden, liberal judicial nominees, Al Franken (maybe), nuclear Iran, John Murtha, car czars, Dennis Kucinich, PC culture, Chris Dodd, entitlement explosion, Barney Frank, entitlement implosion, Barbara Boxer, card check, the Clintons, Russian adventurism. If Republicans can't come back in 2010 they should be sued for political malpractice.

You'd think, but the GOP still has to get its act together first.

Good News: Public Still Hates Congress

9%, baby.

Blago's Defense

Blago's Defense

Newsbusters Catches AP Scrubbing Party Affiliation from Stories about Corrupt Dems

Shock.

Big "D" Democratic Elections

Big 'D' Democratic Elections

Monday, December 22, 2008

More from the Senate Race Rumor Mill

Birch's BoyI've already blogged (here, here, and here) about rumors that Dan Dumezich intends to challenge Evan Bayh in 2010. Now, it seems, he won't be alone in seeking the interesting honor of facing the amiable nonentity that is the junior senator from the Hoosier state.

Rumor has it that Marlin Stutzman, former State Representative from District 52 and recently-elected State Senator for District 13, now also hopes to challenge Bayh. Stutzman's bio is available here, at his old state rep website and here at his new state senate website.

You've got to have a lot of political ambition in you to go from six years in the Indiana House to just winning a state senate seat to wanting to challenge Evan Bayh two years later.

But then, you've got to have a lot of political ambition in you to go from eight years in a state senate to barely four years in the United States Senate to being President of the United States, so I guess there's precedent (though I doubt Marlin Stutzman finds the comparison flattering).

Indy Star Reveals What We Already Knew: Greg Ballard Has "Property of Barnes & Thornburg" Tattooed on His Rear End

I like Greg Ballard, really I do. I gave him money when he had no chance (and urged others to do so also) and blogged about him when the Indy Star wasn't even giving any coverage at all to the nobody challenging Bart Peterson.

Of course, you'd have a hard time believing that I like him, given that--horror of horrors--I dared to blog about something that had already been broadcast on television to the entire Indianapolis media market.

What happened to Greg Ballard? I'm not talking about the occasional verbal malapropism that is to be expected from an inexperienced politician.

What happened to the retired Marine Corps colonel who had the little campaign that could? I'm not talking about his habit of random musings about policy ideas in public forums. In a lot of ways, that sort of thinking out loud is commendable in this age of scripted politicians, even if the musings sometimes send the GOP base into a frothing rage.

What happened to the guy with the little book of sound management principles who seems lost on the 25th floor of the City-County Building? What happened to the guy that stood in line to see the President along with everybody else, while two-bit local politicians of far less importance or stature were trying to argue their way to the front of the line? What changed about Greg Ballard? More importantly, who changed him?

The Indianapolis Star, in an above-the-fold article with inch-high headlines topping its Sunday edition, gives us the answer: Barnes & Thornburg happened to Greg Ballard.

Paul Ogden terms it "Indiana's version of pay-to-play," and he's probably not far off (he also notes that it's hard to believe the explanations given for Barnes & Thornburg's influence and some of the city's actions of late).

Diana Vice and Advance Indiana have thoughts on Mike Delph's ethics proposals for the coming session. They're a great start, but only a start.

I'd like to add another one: No recipient of public funds can retain lobbyists or accept appointments or run for election to boards or other institutions that have influence over those funds.

Already, things like the Hatch Act of 1939 prevent the individuals employed by recipients of federal funds (and the Federal government itself) from engaging in political activities. The guys that ran for Mayor of Terre Haute in 2007 can tell you all about it. Why not widen these provisions to restrict certain types of lobbying and restrict other pay-for-play schemes?

Why should employees of Ivy Tech write Ivy Tech's budget? Why should teachers write education budgets that will, thanks to property tax reform, have an ever-increasing say about their own pay rates? Why should political appointees to commissions and boards be able to give contracts to their clients at their main jobs? Why should vast amounts of legal work be outsourced from public offices (at local and state levels) to law firms that bankrolled the campaign of a given candidate who, when elected, ordered the outsourcing? Serious reform is needed to stop this.

None of this will happen, though. The big law firms will continue to bankroll campaigns, lobby elected officials, and get contracts, appointments, and benefits for their clients. The system is too dysfunctional to work, but also so dysfunctional that it can't be fixed either.

Socks

Socks and Shoes

Hard Times Require Sacrifices

Hard Times Require Sacrifices
On the bright side, four of Indiana's Congressional delegation have declined the pay hike:

WASHINGTON -- Four of Indiana's 11 members of Congress say they will give up their automatic $4,700 pay raises next year.

The seven others either did not return calls or declined to say whether they would keep the raises, which increase lawmakers' yearly salaries to $174,000.

With the economy in a rut and tax revenues declining, Gov. Mitch Daniels has frozen state employees' pay and is not accepting his scheduled increase from $95,000 to about $108,000.

Pay for members of Congress automatically increases by a cost-of-living adjustment unless lawmakers vote to block it. But they also can decide on their own not to accept the increase, as Sen. Evan Bayh, D-Ind., and three House members have.

Rep. Mike Pence said he will donate his pay raise to charities that help Hoosier children and families.

"During these very difficult times," the Columbus Republican said, "many Hoosier families are facing hardship and sacrifice."

Rep. Dan Burton, R-Indianapolis, said that if Congress doesn't pass a bill stopping the annual automatic pay increase, he will return his 2009 increase to the Treasury.

"As we face the most challenging economic crisis in our history, and with many Americans and Hoosiers enduring personal financial hardships, I am opposed to any pay increase for members of Congress in 2009," Burton said.

Rep. Brad Ellsworth, D-Evansville, donated his 2008 pay increase to charity and will do so again in 2009 to fulfill a campaign promise, according to his spokeswoman.

So, for the record then, Bayh, Burton, Ellsworth, and Pence have declined the pay raise (or are at least giving it to charity).

Baron Hill, Joe Donnelly, Mark Souder, Steve Buyer, Andre Carson, and Dick Lugar have accepted it.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Holiday Destroyer

USS Russell, Holiday Destroyer
From Strategy Page; click for the full-size version.

PEARL HARBOR, Hawaii (Dec. 18, 2008) The guided-missile destroyer USS Russell (DDG 59) displays a spectacle of holiday lights during the 2008 Afloat Holiday Lighting Contest on board Naval Station Pearl Harbor Dec. 18, 2008. Hawaii area commanders toured the harbor and judged ships based on best lighting scheme, most creative display and energy conservation. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Michael Hight

Friday, December 19, 2008

Six Targets of Opportunity

The Economist finds six potential Republican targets of opportunity (seven if there is a special election in Illinois) in the 2010 Senate field. They note:

Arkansas - Blanche Lincoln (Huckabee theory)
Delaware - Open (requires Biden fatigue)
Hawaii - Daniel Inouye (age)
Nevada - Harry Reid (Daschle theory)
New York - Unclear (inexperience candidate theory)
West Virginia - Robert Byrd (potential death)

I am not so optimistic. Winning a seat like West Virginia is going to take more than planning for an ill turn in the health of Robert Byrd (or his death, alternately). All of these potential openings require strange circumstances and star alignments that you simply can't plan for in advance, particularly since some of them are so unlikely (Mike Huckabee is never going to run for a Senate seat).

The Republicans have a better chance of regaining the House (and that's really not saying much) than they do at gaining many seats in the Senate. And gains in either one are going to require a dramatic expansion of the playing field, a 435 district strategy and a 33+ Senate race strategy.

If the Democrats had accepted the playing field as the Republicans had defined it with gerrymandering and partisan entrenchments, they would still be in the minority. It was a paradigm shift in their thinking that enabled them to recruit and support good candidates outside of that narrow range of skin-deep competitive races, and thus expand the field to the point that the entire monolithic edifice that the Republicans had built fell apart and totally collapsed.

I don't see any indication of that sort of shift in thinking among Republican leaders or the Republican base.

"The Egregious Act of Having a Mailbox"

I agree with him on virtually nothing politically, but this post by Doug Masson is both disturbing and interesting. It involves a driver who is suing a homeowner because the driver drove off the road, hit the homeowner's mailbox, and the driver's car was damaged. The homeowner is being sued through no apparent fault of his own.

I am reminded of a story from Harrison County about a guy who lived along a busy road just outside of town. Kids (high school teenagers) would leave the nearby bowling alley on weekend nights and drive along the road past his house.

Because the guy who lived along the road was a teacher, they would frequently bash in his mailbox just for kicks. Eventually, the kids took to driving the road at a high rate of speed and just driving over his mailbox, bending the post at the ground or breaking it off entirely.

Needless to say, the guy got tired of repairing and replacing his mailbox, so he (being a teacher, and some teachers are deviously clever and cunning in ways that most normal people--and certainly students--just don't appreciate) devised a practical and clever solution.

He got a new mailbox specially made for him. It was made out of quarter-inch steel that would deflect a rifle round (he shot at it to see), and it was welded to a study and thick steel pipe that descended deep into the ground, where it was anchored by a sizable foundation of poured concrete (the concrete presumably going up inside of the pipe also).

Needless to say, the first kid to attempt to drive over that mailbox discovered that the mailbox was not terribly bad off for the encounter, but the damage to the car would not easily be explained to his parents, particularly since the vehicle was no longer in any condition to make it home.

I think that mailbox was a good learning experience for somebody (and likely a few somebodies that were his buddies), and it would be unfortunate if some court or jury would deprive teachers of the opportunity to educate future students about mailbox vandalism outside of the classroom.

The Democrats' Ken Lay

The Democrats' Ken Lay
The fraud of Bernard Madoff is staggering to behold, and terribly under reported. In what was probably the largest Ponzi scheme and financial fraud in history, Madoff made around fifty billion dollars (the exact total has yet to be determined) disappear (if some of it was ever there in the first place; it's difficult to tell). Those he defrauded include Holocaust survivor and Nobel laureate Elie Weisel and a variety of charitable foundations.

And yet despite the damage Madoff has inflicted on his clients (which range from the very wealthy to charitable groups that help the most vulnerable), his fraud has gotten very little press.

It's also probably no surprise to find that Madoff lobbied a lot, and gave generously to political candidates. And you wouldn't find that reported either; Madoff gave overwhelmingly to Democrats.

As Politico notes:

The Madoffs were also hefty donors to political candidates. In total, the Madoff family has donated more than $380,000 to political candidates, parties and political action committees since 1993, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. The giving skewed largely Democratic, although donations were made to several Republicans, including scandal-ridden Rep. Vito J. Fossella (R-N.Y.).

One of the largest recipients of Madoff largess was Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), who received $39,000 from the family for his two Senate races. Bernard Madoff has given an additional $100,000 to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee since Schumer took its helm in 2005.

As a poster at The Corner observed, Politico waited to the fifteenth paragraph to note which party was benefiting from Madoff's checkbook.

Commentary called the Democrats out:
...all of those politicians who accepted [Madoff's] donations need to give back the money. (Sens. Schumer and Lautenberg have said they would, but the Democratic Senate Campaign Committe says it is “under review.”) Perhaps they could give some of it to the charities wiped out by Madoff’s scam.

As news of the Madoff fraud was breaking, the New York Times had an impecable sense of timing. They ran a piece about how Senator Charles Schumer (D, New York) had been raking in the big bucks from Wall Street. Somehow, they neglected to make any mention at all of Madoff.

Schumer's response to the current situation on Wall Street is entertaining, in a sort of morbid way:

In an interview, Mr. Schumer said that until the recent market turmoil, he did not fully appreciate how much risk Wall Street had assumed and how much damage its practices could inflict on ordinary Americans. “It is a learning process, no question about it, an evolution,” he said, adding that he now believed that investors and homeowners must be better protected.

I'm inclined to think that, if the political parties had been reversed, there would be no such negligence and Madoff would be routinely topping the news cycle.

Just Imagine...

From Treacher:

It might cause a Star Trek floating-robot logic loop

What would've happened if the Iraqi shoe-thrower had followed up by asking a tough question about Obama's tax plan? How would the lefty blogs, and the lefty newspapers they're replacing, cope?

Merry Fitzmas

Merry Fitzmas

Shoe Story

Shoe Story

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Democrat Wins Harrison Recount

From the Courier-Journal:

Carl “Buck” Mathes was declared the winner in the race for Harrison County District 2 commissioner today after the completion of a recount.

Mathes, a Democrat from the Corydon area, won by 22 votes and survived a recount process requested by GOP candidate Rhonda Rhoads that had stretched over eight and a half working days.

Rhoads conceded to Mathes shortly before lunch after a three-member court-appointed commission completed its review of nearly 18,000 paper ballots and signed a report to Washington Circuit Judge Robert Bennett, who served as special judge in the case.

“I appreciate the support from half of the county who voted for me, and I’ll try my best to make the other half happy,” said Mathes, an auctioneer and contractor.

Rhoads, said that the razor-thin margin between the candidates, who are both members of the Harrison County Council, showed that voters have serious concerns about each candidate.

“I feel the vote showed people didn’t like what either of us has done,” said Rhoads, a 58-year-old retired kindergarten teacher from Corydon. But “I feel good about the process.”

It's interesting that this whole thing appears to have been for both candidates a humbling experience.

Greg Ballard Wants More Gun Control Laws

...because the existing mountain of gun control laws are just enforced so vigorously.

The man just doesn't understand the beauty of the unspoken thought.

From WISH:

...in November, Ballard got inspiration from, of all places, a football star that shot himself in the leg. Giant Plaxico Burress is fighting 3 years in prison, not for the shooting, but for the weapon. Even if Burress had never fired, New York has mandatory jail time for carrying a gun that's not registered with the city. Ballard thinks what works there might also work in Indy.

"I wonder about our gun laws. Should we be harsher with our gun laws," said Ballard.

Ballard's idea is clearly still in its earliest stages. He told 24-Hour News 8 his hopes before he even mentioned them to his own staff or public safety director. He revealed it, unexpectedly, during an otherwise routine interview about his first year in office.

"I'd like to look at gun laws, frankly. Penalties for illegal guns," said Ballard.

Ballard said he knows many will oppose the idea, and he wants to make clear what kind of guns he'd target.

"I have no problem with second amendment legal guns. No problem what so ever on that. It's the illegal guns that are concerning," said Ballard.

Talk about shooting a hole in your head and enraging (what's left of) your base.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Christmas at the White House

Jim Carroll has an interesting post about going to the White House Christmas party.

Name That Politician

Matt Tully breaks down into categories the sorts of politicians that the press loves, and he gives helpful examples.

Except for one category, where his mind seems to strangely go blank:

Reformers: These politicians seek to reduce the influence of special interests with the ultimate goal of restoring faith in government. They are willing to irritate and call out political colleagues who are too cozy with lobbyists. As such, they are often unpopular in party caucus meetings, something that just makes them even more popular with the media. (Example: I'm still seeking one.)

I thought of someone when I read this. I'm sure you did too. I'm also sure you're not one bit surprised that Matt Tully didn't want to include John McCain in that category.

Rod Blagojevich's Downfall

Profanity warning.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Todd Young on the Internet

In response to my earlier post that mentioned a lack of a website for him, a reader reports finding this page online about potential 9th District GOP Congressional candidate Todd Young. It's a bio, and well worth reading if you're weighing the candidates.

Indiana Planned Parenthood Continues to Make News, Bring Distinction to Hoosier State

Now they are being investigated by the Attorney General for that whole advising a thirteen-year-old girl to lie and cross state lines to get an abortion thing that was exposed just a while back (ably discussed by Scott Tibbs here and here).

Photo of the Day

Baron Hill and the Pledge of Allegiance
From Brian Howey:

Former secretary of state Joe Hogsett, U.S. Rep. Baron Hill, current Secretary of State Todd Rokita and Indiana Supreme Court Associate Justice Robert Rucker recite the Pledge of Allegiance during Monday morning's Electoral College vote. Rokita said it was a "process of the people."

Notice what Baron isn't doing, but Hogsett and Rokita are?

Blagoquiddick: "Truth Is Available Immediately, But Lies Take Time To Coordinate"

Governor Blagojevich confers with now President‐Elect Barack Obama
A great line courtesy of Geraghty (above photo courtesy of Hot Air):

Obama, December 11: "I've asked my team to gather the facts of any contacts with the governor's office about this vacancy so that we can share them with you over the next few days."

It is now four days later. Just how much time does it take to assemble a list of who had contact with Blagojevich and his staff and when? How long does it take to put together, "A met with B on the day of C, and they discussed D; E met with F on the day of G, and they discussed H"?

Yes, Fitzgerald said Obama is not a target of the investigation. But when a relatively simple question is met with foot-dragging, one remembers that the truth is available immediately, but lies take time to coordinate.

Maybe Obama will provide the information at today's press conference; if not, the press must start asking the incoming president whether he really thinks the people have a right to this information, and if so, what justifies the delay.

Since then, of course, the Obama team has said that Patrick Fitzgerald has now asked them not to release the results of their internal investigation until the week December 22 (where it, coincidentally, would be buried in the Christmas news cycle black hole).

None of that explains why they didn't release the information immediately; a probe of this sort shouldn't take four hours, let alone four days.

Ace notes a pattern:

You can just see the Obama pattern unfolding with the Senate seat fixing scandal.
1. I don't know him
2. I know him a little
3. I know him but I thought he'd gone to rehab
4. I'm giving a major speech condemning everything he stands for

Meanwhile, it seems that Rod Blagojevich isn't alone in the pay-for-play game among those close to Obama.

Bill Richardson seems to have gotten in on the action, too.

The inimitable Michael Barone, meanwhile, has a great post detailing the background and history of Rod Blagojevich (who he terms "the stupidest governor in the country") and the intricacies of Illinois and Chicago politics.

This whole affair has also shed interesting light on the Service Employees International Union, or SEIU. Readers might recall that SEIU vowed to spend "whatever it takes" to make Jill Long Thompson the next governor of Indiana. Needless to say, that didn't work out so well.

Anyway, SEIU is now in trouble in California for running a charity that didn't give any money to charitable causes, and for illegally compelling campaign donations from its membership. That latter, one should think, would be a ripe target for a RICO investigation by the Justice Department (unlikely under Obama) or some enterprising state attorney general.

Fun with Diet Coke & Mentos

Monday, December 15, 2008

Recount Update

From the CJ:

The three-member recount commission waded through another 2,200 ballots today, bringing their total count to about 12,400 or so. The latest numbers indicate that Democrat Buck Mathes picked up three additional votes over GOP candidate Rhonda Rhoads. The recount commission reviewed ballots from South Franklin (512 for Buck, 375 for Rhonda), North Franklin (305 for Buck, 270 for Rhonda), Northeast Harrison (266 Buck, 282 Rhonda) and Southeast Jackson (278 Buck, 267 Rhonda). The commission in the process added one vote to Buck's original total in South Franklin, and two votes to his original total in Southeast Jackson. No additional votes went to Rhonda during Monday's count.

At the rate the commission worked Monday, it's conceivable the group could complete its review of the fianl 5,600 and wrap up by Thursday morning. Lawyers on both sides of the case say the recount has worked extremely hard.

Franklin Township was the remaining big hurdle to Rhonda. Even so, it doesn't seem likely that the remaining 25% or so of the votes are going to swing things in her favor, even if they contain some of the precincts and areas of the county that are both most populous and most friendly to her.

Quote of the Day

From National Review:

Reviewing his decision to implement the surge, Bush recalled the political pressures on him to retreat: “It was in this room that a prominent member of my political party said, ‘You must remove troops from Iraq because it could cost us elections if you don’t,’” the president said, gesturing around the Oval Office. “And it was in this room I looked at him and said, ‘You must not understand George W. Bush.’”

Random Thought

Partisanship and paying-to-play go hand-in-hand for Democrats, it seems.

Make-Work

The Big Dig
“If all we want are jobs, we can create any number — for example, have people dig holes and then fill them up again, or perform other useless tasks. Work is sometimes its own reward. Mostly, however, it is the price we pay to get the things we want. Our real objective is not just jobs but productive jobs — jobs that will mean more goods and services to consume.”
Milton Friedman

Flyover Country

Flyover Country
An oldie, but a goodie; add Blagojevich to the shadows cast by Chicago.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

RNC Member Contact Info

From Top Conservatives on Twitter comes a listing of contact information for the membership of the Republican National Committee. None of the members from Indiana are on Twitter (surprise, surprise), but their contact information is below:

Chair - Murray Clark - murray.clark@bakerd.com
Member - James Bopp Jr. - jboppjr@aol.com
Member - Dee Dee Benkie - deedeegop@aol.com

And Then There Were Three

I'd say that you heard it here first, but it's possible that you didn't. If you were on Twitter, you would have heard it there first on Friday night as I was tweeting from the 9th District Republican Christmas Party at French Lick.

With that shameless plug aside, your humble correspondent can now report that there are at least three potential candidates "testing the waters" to run for the Republican nomination in the 9th Congressional District.

These include the already known quantities, Todd Young, an attorney in Bloomington who lives in Orange County, and Travis Hankins (who sent me a letter in the mail announcing his candidacy the other day), an aspiring young Republican volunteer and conservative activist from Bartholomew County. (I've already blogged about their potential candidacies here and here.)

Todd Young was at the Christmas Party. Travis Hankins was not.

The second candidate was at the party, Richard Moss, a doctor from Jasper (in Dubois County). An ear nose, and throat specialist, Moss runs a practice in Jasper and also writes a blog, called ExodusMD (which I am now linking to over on the right). It's not a campaign site, but given that Travis Hankins already has a website, I guess this makes Todd Young the only candidate without some sort of presence on the Internets.

It's too soon to handicap the race; I'm not even certain that the field is complete or at the least been settled yet. There is still speculation about other individuals (Floyd County Prosecutor Keith Henderson, Libertarian candidate Eric Schansberg, perhaps others; nobody saw Moss coming) entering the race on the Republican side.

But a three-way primary with three or more serious contenders (or relatively serious or active contenders) is an interesting animal, and one that could have an unexpected outcome. Two or more candidates may pull from similar voting constituencies, splitting them and clearing the way for someone entirely unexpected to emerge with the nomination.

Things just got a whole lot more interesting.

"Some Iraqi Journalists Stood Up to Apologise"

Best line of the entire article.

From Breitbart:

An Iraqi journalist hurled his shoes and an insult at George W. Bush, without hitting him, as the US president was shaking hands with the Iraqi premier at his Baghdad office on Sunday.

As the two leaders met in Nuri al-Maliki's private office, a journalist sitting in the third row jumped up, shouting: "It is the farewell kiss, you dog," and threw his shoes one after the other towards Bush.

Maliki made a protective gesture towards the US president, who ducked and was not hit.

The journalist, Muntazer al-Zaidi from Al-Baghdadia channel which broadcasts from Cairo, was frogmarched from the room by security staff, an AFP journalist said.

Soles of shoes are considered the ultimate insult in Arab culture. After Saddam Hussein's statue was toppled in Baghdad in April 2003, many onlookers beat the statue's face with their soles.

Some Iraqi journalists stood up to apologise.

The White House said Bush ducked to avoid the first shoe, while the second narrowly missed the president.

Bush said: "Thanks for apologising on behalf of the Iraqi people. It doesn't bother me. If you want the facts, it was a size 10 shoe that he threw".



The Fox News reporter, "You could almost imagine the fate [of the guy that threw the shoes] if Saddam Hussein was still in charge."

McCain Declines to Endorse Palin for 2012

John McCain and Sarah PalinWell, John McCain is still a son of a bitch. But with the election and his status as Republican presidential nominee six weeks in the past, he's no longer our son of a bitch.

Cold, right?

Well, as Allahpundit notes at Hot Air, six weeks makes a lot of difference in John McCain's opinion of Sarah Palin, too:

Think how easy it would have been to throw her a bone without committing to anything, e.g., “It’s too early to be making endorsements when we don’t know who’s running or what the issues will be, but naturally she’s my preference going into it.” It would have made for an awkward soundbite three years from now if he ended up endorsing someone else, but endorsing someone else will be sufficiently awkward on its own terms that that soundbite would hardly make it worse.

Consider this another brick in the reconstruction of his centrist brand. (More on that in the next post.) Exit question: What exactly does he mean when he answers Steph’s point about endorsing her for VP just six weeks ago by saying, “Well sure, but now we’re in a whole election cycle”? What’s changed in six weeks, besides her usefulness to him?

Now, I won't sit here and endorse Sarah Palin for 2012 or 2016 or even 2020 (they're all a long ways off, and who knows what will happen in the meantime). But then, I didn't put her on my presidential ticket as my running mate, and I didn't spend three months flying around the country telling everybody how great and qualified she was to be my running mate.

John McCain has many redeeming qualities. Loyalty to his party, or to his erstwhile political allies, has never been one of them, particularly when they are no longer useful to him.

I'm glad to return the favor.

Heh

The New York Post put up its top ten political scandals of the year, but the list is pre-Blagoquiddick:

Former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick - (D)
Former New York Goverrnor Eliot Spitzer - (D)
Former Senator John Edwards (D)
Rep. Charles Rangel (D)
New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn (D)
Staten Island Rep. Vito Fossella (R)
Newark Mayor Sharpe James - (D)
David Kernell, son of Tennessee Democrat Mike Kernell (D)
Former Alaska Senator Ted Stevens (R)
Alaska Governor Sarah Palin (R)
Former New Jersey Governor Jim McGreevey (D)

For those of you from Kentucky, that's three Republicans to seven Democrats, and Sarah Palin is hardly a political scandal (the report exonerated her from any wrongdoing) when compared to many of the others on the list.

Missing from the list, though, are Democrats (like Governor Rod Blagojevich, Congressman William "Dollar Bill" Jefferson, Birmingham Mayor Langford) and Republicans like Congressman Rick Renzi and that guy that looted the NRCC's treasury. Still net corruption advantage to the Democrats, though.

Quote of the Day

From Political Doodle:

On Election Day, I knew more about Sarah Palin's relationship with Wasilla's librarian than Senator Obama's relationship with Governor Blagojevich, whose campaign he helped run in 2002.

Why is that? Is it because, as the media explained at the time, Obama had already been vetted and Palin hadn't?

Rod Blagojevich Pleads Guilty to Naiveté... Really

Friday, December 12, 2008

Baron's for This Bailout, Just Not That Bailout

I'm sure it all makes sense to him in his own mind, really.

Baron Hill opposed bailing out the financial industry. He voted for bailing out the automobile industry. His reasoning? His statement reads: "Our economy simply could not withstand the collapse of the American auto industry. One in 10 American jobs is linked to the domestic auto industry."

The cynic in me wonders whether our economy could withstand the collapse of the American financial industry (or whether it will withstand it, since it all but has). How many American jobs are linked to the financial industry? Probably more than one in ten when you figure in businesses that are dependent on short-term credit, or consumers at stores, or homeowners, or pretty much any other area of the economy.

Anyway, Mitchell Blatt, over at the Indiana Daily Student, didn't take long to dig down to the heart of the matter:

Baron Hill raked in $23,750 from the auto industry this past election cycle. That is the 6th highest total of any Representative.

Ron Paul, who received $27,911 from the industry (That fact alone proves the industry is incompetent.), voted against it.

The top 20 voted 16-4 in favor of it. Nine of them were from Michigan though. Michigan, of course, had all of it’s Reps vote in favor of it except one who did not vote.

As a practical matter, it's interesting that Baron Hill voted for this bailout but opposed the financial one when the election was going on. (He got much less money from the financial industry as a point of comparison, only about $8,000 and much less in terms of rankings of overall contributions from that industry.)

Baron has historically had a contentious relationship with labor unions, particularly over free trade (they still have not forgiven him for voting for Permanent Normal Trade Relations with China, among other things).

There also isn't a significant Big 3 presence in the 9th District, so I can't help but wonder if this vote might also serve to repair Baron's relationship with the UAW (he needs to do that if he has statewide ambitions someday).

I've already made my opinion of bailing out the Big 3 pretty clear.

I don't think this is a serious bailout of the Big 3; they'll be back asking for more money before you can say Muscatatuck River three times fast.

This is really more of a bailout for the United Auto Workers, whose onerous contracts have contributed in large measure to the creation of the woes of the Big 3.

The RNC Field

Chris Cillizza has a breakdown.

It amounts to:

FIRST TIER
Saul Anuzis
Mike Duncan
Michael Steele

SECOND TIER
Ken Blackwell
Katon Dawson
Chip Saltsman

THIRD TIER
Tina Benkiser
Jim Greer
Jim Nussle

I didn't even know any of the folks in the third tier were even running.

I find none of the candidates to be exceptionally appealing over the others. They're all imperfect. Anuzis' state party is terrible (and he's probably a stalking horse for Mitt Romney). Duncan will not shake things up. Steele has liberal leanings in his past. Blackwell lost his last election horribly (ditto Steele on this one). Dawson was a member of an all-white country club until recently (and is a stalking horse for Mark Sanford). Chip Saltsman is a stalking horse for Mike Huckabee (and when it comes to Dawson and Saltsman, I'd rather the GOP's public face for the next couple of years not have a southern drawl to prevent a Democratic play at regionalizing the party and its message and messenger).

Random Thought

With all of the talk of a budget shortfall, it's very telling when you see people voicing concerns about making up revenue shortfalls--tax increases--rather than finding ways to reduce spending or streamline the government to make it more efficient (though Mitch has done plenty of that already, and will do more). We would be very, very screwed had the state's financial situation not been as good as it was going into this situation; we are still better off than most other states.

Who will spend that "revenue" more efficiently? Individuals acting in their own enlightened self-interest, or bureaucrats in Indianapolis acting in the enlightened self-interest of special interest lobbyists and various bureaucrats?

Howey Picks Up on Dumezich Senate Rumors

You heard it here first (and later here, here, and here). And you didn't have to get a subscription to read the whole thing, either.

Another Recount Update

From the Courier's Grace Schneider:

The illness of Marvin Capehart, one of the three men conducting the recount in the Harrison County District 2 commissioner's race, slowed progress Thursday. Capehart, a retired autoworker, left at lunch time and was experiencing chest pains. The commission wound up completing a hand count of ballots from three additional precincts, after having motored through 14 precincts on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday this week.

Judge Robert L. Bennett of Washington Circuit Court appointed Democrat Charles Allen to replace Capehart, hoping that the group could keep making headway.

The results late Thursday show that Republican Rhonda Rhoads remains about 20 votes behind Democrat Carl "Buck" Mathes. With results from North Blue River, Corydon West and Southwest Harrison added to the totals, the count: 3,594 for Buck and 3,291 for Rhoads. The recount and county election board members, however, are keeping closer track of how the recount numbers compare with the original count of votes because votes on many of the 800 ballots that were not recorded by the voting machines' optical scanners. So far, 58 additonal votes have been divided between the candidates, 6 have been take away. The net gain is 22 additional votes for Rhonda and 10 for Buck, making a 12-vote margin at this point.

If you're the praying sort, please keep Marvin Capehart in your prayers. He's as partisan a Democrat as you'll find in Harrison County, but he's a good man nevertheless (and one who will, on rare occasion as I found out once over the summer, actually agree with Republicans from time to time).

Slow progress in terms of the recount. They'll likely not get done by the deadline mandated by statute and will have to get an extension from the presiding judge.

And the more specific counts are a big improvement for the average reader, so kudos to Grace for that.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Quote & Photo of the Day

"I had no contact with the governor or his office."
- Barack Obama, December 9

Barack Obama and Rod Blagojevich, December 2 (that's Mitch Daniels in the background):

Barack Obama shakes the hand of indicted Governor Rod Blagojevich on December 2, 2008. Mitch Daniels is in the background.
Looks like "contact" to me.

Harrison County Recount Update

From Grace Schneider of the Courier-Journal (not a normal blogger over there, it must be said, so a friendly welcome to Grace):

The 3-member recount commission working its way through a hand count of 18,000 ballots in Harrison County's District 2 commissioners race wrapped up its third day Wednesday. With counts of votes cast in 14 of the county's 36 precincts, the revised results show that Carl "Buck" Mathes has 2,755 votes to Rhonda Rhoads' 2,525, a 230-vote margin. Harrison County Clerk Sherry Brown reported late Wednesday that a running tally indicates that Rhonda has now cut into Buck's lead by 15 votes. Originally, Buck led by 32 votes. During the next few days, as the recount commission delves into the northern townships, the recount commission's decision on whether to accept ballots that were not properly scanned by optical reading voting machines could prove crucial. Why? Because as Buck said during the fall campaign, Rhonda "kissed every child in Northern Harrison County." Not really, but as a kindergarten teacher for many years at Morgan Elementary, Rhoads became acquainted with hundreds of students and their families who have steadily backed her at the polls.

In previous County Council election, where both candidates competed for at-large seats, Rhonda received the most votes from Blue River, Spencer, Jackson and Morgan precincts. Look for results in the coming days from polls in Jackson (3), Morgan (2), Blue River (2) and Spencer (1).

Recounts are not linear; you can't extrapolate results from certain precincts and expect similar results from others, even if the partisan compositions of the electorate in those precincts might be similar. While precincts of a similar composition might well be inclined in a recount to produce a result more favorable to one candidate over the other, there is no way of knowing what that change might be or what scale it might take.

Anyway, the consistency of the terminology being used in the reporting on the recount is rather disappointing and the running tally of what has been counted is frequently confused with the net change numbers (which are basically what really matters). I'm familiar with the distinction; most readers probably are not.

The lack of clarity in reporting those numbers might well be why the recount commission (two Democrats and a Republican) wished to avoid making the numbers public until the Courier's reporter waved the statute (perhaps not entirely accurately) in their face and insisted on the numbers being released. The commission relented, so the misleading numbers will likely continue to flow.

Random Musings

When it comes to bizarre narratives, I'm glad that certain other people have such a fine record of spewing them.

The wonderful Jim Schellinger, the best candidate for governor since, well, the Democrats had a governor I guess (lost to a washed-up liberal former Congresswoman).

The vaunted, tough-as-nails Linda Pence (done in by her own legal record).

The Terrapin values of the great carpetbagging lawyer Nels Ackerson (lost by a landslide).

The affable smile and wonderful campaign commercials of Michael Montagano (lost by a landslide).

The invincible Bart Peterson (defeated by a nobody with no money).

The safe Democratic majority on the Indianapolis City-County Council (*poof*).

The terribly unpopular and un-reelectable Mitch Daniels (won by a landslide; heck, not a landslide, a vicious slaughter awash in green blood).

Yup. I'm laughing all the way to the ballot box (as for McCain, even stopped clocks are right twice in a day, particularly when nobody likes the candidate and the President is about as popular as nuclear waste).

Evan Bayh is vulnerable; he certainly wouldn't be hiring top talent if he wasn't afraid. He is more vulnerable right now than he has ever been at any moment in his entire political career since a county judge declared that a post office box is a legal residence in the state of Indiana (I've met Evan Bayh; I'm fairly certain that he can't fit in a post office box, let alone reside in one, but I digress).

The record of Senate takeovers in recent years is of incumbents previously thought safe unseated by determined (and even sometimes merely mediocre) challengers who dared to raise the money, campaign hard regardless of the odds, and take the chance as others (often their incumbent opponents and their supporters included) scoffed.

That doesn't mean that Evan Bayh will be beaten, but it would be foolhardy for a serious effort to not be made given his weakened situation. In the coming months, Bayh's future will rest upon a game of perception. Of how much money he raises, of the initial fundraising totals of his opponent, and how much he can get columnists for state newspapers to write about how foolish anyone would be to dare to challenge him. But under that perception lies a weaker candidate than at virtually any time in his career. The moment that someone that buys ink by the barrel points out that the Emperor has no clothes (if they ever do so), then all bets are off.

Cesspool

Cesspool.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Dan Dumezich for Senate?

Last Tuesday, I blogged (also here) about rumors swirling about a potential challenge to Evan Bayh by Lake County attorney Dan Dumezich. Yesterday, Frugal Hoosiers followed up with a post discussing the perilous political position of Birch's boy and going into more detail about Dumezich's background.

The weakened political position of Evan Bayh is difficult to overstate. The mighty Bayh machine, forged by sixteen straight years of Democrat governors and held together by the boundless personal ambition of a man that sought to be President, has been smashed.

Bart Peterson, Bayh's protege, went down to defeat to a Marine that came from nowhere in the greatest political upset in Indiana history. Bayh spent his political capital heavily and only narrowly delivered Indiana in a hotly-contested primary, only to find that he had backed the losing candidate. Hopes for a vice presidential spot on the Democratic ticket did not materialize. His establishment's pick in the gubernatorial primary went down to defeat, even as Indiana's members of Congress went their own separate ways in terms of presidential endorsements; Bayh could not sway them. The string of defeats suffered by the state Democratic Party of having not won an election for statewide office since 2000 continues unbroken.

Not so long ago, Evan Bayh's future prospects were boundless and the stock of the party he had built was skyrocketing. What a difference fourteen months makes; those prospects have now plunged back to earth and cratered. Evan Bayh's political future is now limited to warming a back bench seat in the Democratic Senate caucus, overshadowed by Lugar and Daniels in Indiana and outshone in the Senate by virtually everyone. The party he built has lost the mayorship of Indianapolis, holds no statewide offices, Bayh's influence among Indiana's Congressional delegation would only be weaker if it had more Republicans on it, and Pat "The Hair" Bauer always goes his own way.

It used to be that Evan Bayh was a rising star. Now he is all but a fading light.

I've been poking around some, and have heard mixed things about a Dumezich candidacy.

On the one hand, I am told that a candidacy by Dan Dumezich would be, as Rex Early would put it "a Grand thing" and one with "green painted all over it." The theory goes that Dumezich, an articulate attorney who served as a judge and then briefly in the legislature, could raise a sizable war chest to fund a competitive campaign, enough money to make Evan Bayh start hiring the best political consultants money can buy.

Bayh's diminished influence and the weakened status of his own party helps to make him a target. On top of that, he is running in a traditionally conservative and Republican state in a year that will historically favor the party out of power (in this case, the Republicans). Better still, Birch's boy will have spent two years voting in line with his party on a wide variety of liberal agenda items from tax increases to vast expansions of government to card check to a wide variety of litmus-test social issues guaranteed to make rural Hoosier conservatives (Democrat or Republican) howl.

In such an environment, an articulate, well-funded, and viable candidacy will likely find generous national support and result in a battle royale. One need only look to a wide variety of recent Senate elections from both parties to find once-popular incumbents losing to good campaigns and good (even just decent) candidates. Virtual nobodies have managed to run competent campaigns and have unseated incumbents (like Elizabeth Dole or George Allen, for example) previously thought to be untouchable.

Dumezich, if I recall correctly, sits on the board of Indiana Right to Life (which gives him an in with social conservatives) and could potentially raise a lot of money from his big money legal friends.

At the same time, a Dumezich candidacy is not without its critics. Several individuals I spoke with don't think he will have much appeal in rural Indiana (though if Mitch Daniels could find broad appeal in rural Indiana, I think that a road map exists for anyone). Others suspect a Dumezich candidacy is a cipher to ensure that Evan Bayh does not face a serious general election opponent (thus escaping all of the aforementioned weaknesses).

These theories revolve around the Democratic-leanings of the clients of Dumezich's law firm, Mayer Brown, and the position of Bayh allies (like Bill Moreau) at Indianapolis law firms like Barnes & Thornburg. Would such allegiances, they say, preclude serious support for a Dumezich candidacy from those corners? Maybe, maybe not. But the supposition, put forward by Advance Indiana's Gary Welsh in the comments at Frugal Hoosiers, that Dan Dumezich would only run for the Senate to ensure that he would lose and Bayh would win seems a bit far-fetched to me. Any conspiracy of law firms that clever would find someone less prominent to be their patsy candidate.

If there is no such conspiracy (and I seriously question whether one exists), then Dan Dumezich has the potential to be a serious threat to the much-weakened Evan Bayh. And Bayh seems to recognize that he's vulnerable. He wouldn't be hiring high-powered political consultants if he thought that Dan Dumezich (or his eventual challenger) was going to roll over and play dead.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Looking Ahead to 2012: A Study of Domains

During a recent bout of insomnia, I decided to have some fun with the WHOIS database, a nifty listing of who owns a given domain name and when they bought it (among other things). Because of the importance of the internet in modern politics, and the cheap cost of registering a domain name, politicians and campaigns frequently register their domain names far in advance of any official campaign declaration.

So, being bored and unable to sleep, I started punching in combinations based around potential gubernatorial candidates for the 2012 race. A study, if you will, in the advance web positioning of potential gubernatorial candidates.

For each candidate, I tried a variety of similar combinations:

joesmith.com
smithforgovernor.com
joesmithforgovernor.com
joesmithforindiana.com
smith2012.com
joesmith2012.com
hoosiersforjoe.com
hoosiersforsmith.com

It's an interesting exercise, to be sure. It might not catch everyone (Mitch Daniels' campaign website was mymanmitch.com, for example, which you wouldn't find with any of the above searches), but I figured that the results should be interesting, so I set out searching.

Because this study was an exercise in boredom rather than some exhaustive academic research, I tried to limit myself to the first eight or nine people for each party that came to mind when running the search.

I didn't expect to find a whole lot (and with a few very notable exceptions, I didn't). What I did find, though, is probably worth raising eyebrows over.

I hope to return to the listing, and check it again (along with new names that might appear as potential candidates) every three months or so.

The genuine nominee for each party may emerge much later; Mitch Daniels wasn't being considered for governor in late 2000, and nobody was thinking of Jim Schellinger or Jill Long Thompson in late 2004.

First, the Democrats (in alphabetical order by last name):

Joe Donnelly
joedonnelly.com - generic registration
donnellyforgovernor.com - not registered
joedonnellyforgovernor.com - not registered
joedonnellyforindiana.com - not registered
donnelly2012.com - not registered
joedonnelly2012.com - not registered
hoosiersforjoe.com - not registered
hoosiersfordonnelly.com - not registered

Donnellyforuscongress.com was Joe Donnelly's official website (as opposed to donnellyforcongress.com; Donnelly had to make sure that everyone knew which Congress he was running for), so he's not exactly taking the easy way out with web addresses as it is.

Brad Ellsworth
bradellsworth.com - generic registration
ellsworthforgovernor.com - not registered
bradellsworthforgovernor.com - not registered
bradellsworthforindiana.com - not registered
ellsworth2012.com - not registered
bradellsworth2012.com - not registered
hoosiersforbrad.com - not registered
hoosiersforellsworth.com - not registered

Ellsworthforcongress.com was Brad Ellsworth's campaign website. It's worth noting that the generic registration thing doesn't mean much; many politicians have their names bought up by generic registrars who hope to sell the domain back to them to make money.

Baron Hill
baronhill.com - generic registration
hillforgovernor.com - generic registration
baronhillforgovernor.com - not registered
baronhillforindiana.com - not registered
hill2012.com - held by a private registrar as of August 27, 2008
baronhill2012.com - not registered
hoosiersforbaron.com - not registered
hoosiersforhill.com - current campaign website

It's worth noting that hoosiersforhill.com, Baron's current campaign website (and campaign committee), could easily become a gubernatorial platform (remember hoosiersforjill.com?).

John Gregg
johngregg.com - unrelated photography website
greggforgovernor.com - not registered
johngreggforgovernor.com - not registered
johngreggforindiana.com - not registered
gregg2012.com - held by a registrar in Fairfax, California as of November 10, 2008
johngregg2012.com - not registered
hoosiersforjohn.com - not registered
hoosiersforgregg.com - not registered

I'm fairly certain that John Gregg could get a very, very long way into a gubernatorial run before he even bothered to have somebody register a website for his campaign.

Tom Henry
tomhenry.com - generic registration
henryforgovernor.com - generic registration
tomhenryforgovernor.com - not registered
tomhenryforindiana.com - not registered
henry2012.com - not registered
tomhenry2012.com - not registered
hoosiersfortom.com - not registered
hoosiersforhenry.com - not registered

There is a Brad Henry that is Governor of Oklahoma, which probably explains the additional generic registration above.

Graham Richard
grahamrichard.com - held by a private registrar as of September 9, 2007 (registered through February, 2011)
richardforgovernor.com - not registered
grahamrichardforgovernor.com - not registered
grahamrichardforindiana.com - not registered
richard2012.com - not registered
grahamrichard2012.com - not registered
hoosiersforgraham.com - not registered
hoosiersforrichard.com - not registered

Fort Wayne readers can correct me if I'm wrong, but I think that grahamrichard.com (which has nothing at it right now) was Graham Richard's 2007 campaign website.

Vi Simpson
visimpson.com - held by a private registrar as of October 31, 2007
simpsonforgovernor.com - not registered
visimpsonforgovernor.com - not registered
visimpsonforindiana.com - not registered
simpson2012.com - not registered
visimpson2012.com - not registered
hoosiersforvi.com - not registered
hoosiersforsimpson.com - not registered

I'm not sure Vi Simpson even had a website for her Senate campaign; I can't find one.

Jonathan Weinzapfel
jonathanweinzapfel.com - not registered
weinzapfelforgovernor.com - not registered
jonathanweinzapfelforgovernor.com - not registered
jonathanweinzapfelforindiana.com - not registered
weinzapfel2012.com - not registered
jonathanweinzapfel2012.com - not registered
hoosiersforjonathan.com - not registered
hoosiersforweinzapfel.com - not registered.

With a last name that hard to spell, Evansville's mayor (should he run) would likely find a website domain that would be easier for people to remember and spell in their browsers (perhaps something unconventional not listed above). Then again, his campaign website for mayor was weinzapfelformayor.com.

Then, the Republicans (also in alpha order by last name):

Greg Ballard
gregballard.com - family website of another Greg Ballard
ballardforgovernor.com - not registered
gregballardforgovernor.com - not registered
gregballardforindiana.com - not registered
ballard2012.com - not registered
gregballard2012.com - not registered
hoosiersforgreg.com - not registered
hoosiersforballard.com - not registered

Ballard's current campaign website is mayorgregballard.com.

Tony Bennett
tonybennett.com - official website of the singer
bennettforgovernor.com - not registered
tonybennettforgovernor.com - not registered
tonybennettforindiana.com - not registered
bennett2012.com - not registered
tonybennett2012.com - not registered
hoosiersfortony.com - not registered
hoosiersforbennett.com - not registered

Bennett's campaign website was drtonybennett.com; "doctor" (dr) variations of the above websites are also not registered. Presumably the existing website domain would be sufficient to any future run for another office.

Brian Bosma
brianbosma.com - current campaign website
bosmaforgovernor.com - not registered
brianbosmaforgovernor.com - not registered
brianbosmaforindiana.com - not registered
bosma2012.com - not registered
brianbosma2012.com - not registered
hoosiersforbrian.com - not registered
hoosiersforbosma.com - not registered

As with Tony Bennett, having your name as a stand-alone domain name for your campaign website makes rolling it over for a run for another office a simple matter.

Carl Brizzi
carlbrizzi.com - current campaign website
brizziforgovernor.com - not registered
carlbrizziforgovernor.com - not registered
carlbrizziforindiana.com - not registered
brizzi2012.com - not registered
carlbrizzi2012.com - not registered
hoosiersforcarl.com - not registered
hoosiersforbrizzi.com - not registered

Why is it that Republicans, supposedly so far behind when it comes to the internets, register their name for their campaign website (with all of the simplicity and reuse potential that implies), while Indiana Democrats inevitably have something tacked on to the end of it (like ellsworthforcongress.com or donnellyforuscongress.com).

Steve Carter
stevecarter.com - unrelated music and photography website
carterforgovernor.com - generic registration
stevecarterforgovernor.com - not registered
stevecarterforindiana.com - not registered
carter2012.com - not registered
stevecarter2012.com - not registered
hoosiersforsteve.com - not registered
hoosiersforcarter.com - not registered

I'm not certain that Steve Carter even had a campaign website when he ran for attorney general.

Jon Costas
joncostas.com - website for failed attorney general campaign
costasforgovernor.com - not registered
joncostasforgovernor.com - not registered
joncostasforindiana.com - not registered
costas2012.com - not registered
joncostas2012.com - not registered
hoosiersforjon.com - not registered
hoosiersforcostas.com - not registered

I am surprised that the AG campaign website was never taken down; Jill Long Thompson's website is long-gone, and she got blown out barely a month ago, not six months ago.

Mike Pence
mikepence.com - current campaign website
penceforgovernor.com - not registered
mikepenceforgovernor.com - not registered
mikepenceforindiana.com - not registered
pence2012.com - not registered
mikepence2012.com - not registered
hoosiersformike.com - not registered
hoosiersforpence.com - not registered

For someone that is the subject of so much speculation about gubernatorial and presidential ambition (and especially the target of draft movements), I am surprised that more Pence-related domains have not already been bought up (especially the 2012 ones).

Todd Rokita
toddrokita.com - current campaign website (still around)
rokitaforgovernor.com - not registered
toddrokitaforgovernor.com - not registered
toddrokitaforindiana.com - not registered
rokita2012.com - not registered
toddrokita2012.com - not registered
hoosiersfortodd.com - not registered
hoosiersforrokita.com - not registered

I'm surprised that Rokita's campaign website is still up, since the election was two years ago and he hasn't commented on future ambitions (if any) aside from his flirtation with running for attorney general back in the spring.

Becky Skillman
beckyskillman.com - current campaign website
skillmanforgovernor.com - held by a private registrar as of December 3, 2008
beckyskillmanforgovernor.com - held by a private registrar as of December 3, 2008
beckyskillmanforindiana.com - not registered
skillman2012.com - held by a private registrar as of December 3, 2008
beckyskillman2012.com - held by a private registrar as of December 3, 2008
hoosiersforbecky.com - not registered
hoosiersforskillman.com - not registered

Well, this was something of a surprise, especially after going through all of these other domains and finding very little. Somebody, it seems, is spending some money on potential domain names. Keeping her options open, maybe?

All four of those domains are privately registered. There's no way to know if Skillman's campaign committee bought them. It's possible. Domain names are cheap and Skillman did have more money than Jill Long Thompson had.

On a hunch, I checked the update date for beckyskillman.com, the current (and still-up) campaign website, a domain openly registered under her campaign committee. It was, it seems, also updated (renewed?) on December 3, 2008, the same day as the four privately-registered domains. That's a heck of a coincidence.

Also a coincidence are expenditures on March 5 to GoDaddy.com on Becky Skillman's 2008 Q1 campaign finance report totaling $202.79 for "website domain name." That's could be a lot of domains, or it might not be. It may not even be more than one domain (GoDaddy also sells hosting; that total could include website hosting costs for her actual campaign website), but it's interesting regardless.

Ultimately, a candidate only needs one easily-remembered (and easy to spell) domain for their campaign website. You don't need five. Any of the aforementioned Republican candidates (plus Baron Hill and perhaps Graham Richard) that have non-office-specific web domain names could easily convert them for a run for governor or any other office outside of the one they currently hold.

You only start to buy multiple variants on a domain name if you're not just keeping options open, but afraid that someone else might get them first for purposes of auctioning them back or (as happened to Jon Elrod) using them for purposes of undermining a potential campaign by (as happened to Elrod) pointing those domains to opposition-controlled websites.

On second thought, five domains might be a bit more than just keeping one's options open. It's more like making sure all of the bases are covered.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

The Problems of the Car Companies

According to Brian Howey's muddled reasoning, the whole situation with the auto companies is the fault of George W. Bush and Dick Cheney.

How, you ask? Why not only did they not do anything when the price of oil (and thus gasoline) was sky-high, they compounded their sins by refusing to implement a tax to keep it high when the price of oil fell!

Howey's article lamenting the imminent collapse of the Big 3 American automakers is a whitewash of everything that is wrong with the American car companies. The very term "American automakers" is itself a misnomer, as companies like Toyota now make more cars in the United States than the Big 3. The column spends more efforts casting about blame upon others (the Bush administration, the oil companies, the lack of a market for green vehicles to stimulate development and large-scale production) than it does looking at the real problems of the Detroit auto companies.

While it is true that the price of oil has caused the bottom to go out of the lucrative SUV and truck markets over which the Big 3 was king for so long, and the high profits of which helped to conceal their other problems, such things are incidental to the failings of the Big 3. The sudden run up in the price of oil merely accelerated, just as the popularity of SUVs and trucks earlier merely prolonged, the collapse of the Big 3. Their fates were written in the contracts that they made with the unions and all but carved in stone in the arrogance of their executives and the hidebound nature of many areas of their organizations.

Nowhere in Brian Howey's column do you find a discussion of the failures of the Big 3 executives. Nowhere is their arrogance in refusing to adapt to the currents and trends of market discussed. Nowhere is ink given to the ossified and monolithic nature of so much of their organizations, unable to adapt as the market and environment around them changed dramatically. It is not, Darwin wrote, the strongest that survive, but rather those most responsive to change.

Lee Iacocca, when he saved Chrysler in the 1980s, took a salary of a dollar so that no one could criticize him as not sacrificing alongside his employees. When he went to Congress to ask for a loan guarantee (not a bailout, merely a loan guarantee), he promised to pay them back, and he did. "We at Chrysler borrow money the old fashioned way," Iacocca said. "We pay it back." You see no such salary cuts from the Big 3 executives. You see no such pledges of repayment, only hands out asking for corporate welfare.

Nowhere in Brian Howey's column do you find words like unions, health care, benefits, pensions, or UAW. Nowhere are the facts acknowledged that the Big 3 can make great cars (even if their organizations are inflexible and often slow to adapt to change), but that their cost structures are being eaten up by huge pension costs, lavish union benefits, and so forth.

According to the Wall Street Journal, home pay for a worker for a Big 3 employee is about $28. Toyota workers make $26. Honda workers make $24. But when you factor in the burden of pension costs, lavish benefits, and other factors (workers sitting idle or labor not being utilized efficiently because of union contracts), the costs for the "foreign" car producers rises to $44.20. The costs for the Big 3 rise to $73.21.

That $29 gap is eating the Big 3 alive. They can make good cars. They can make better cars. They can make cheaper cars. They just can't sell them competitively because of that labor cost gap.

With such staggering differences in labor costs, it's amazing that it has taken this long for the Big 3 to get to a crisis point. The UAW has, over many decades, won for itself benefits more lavish than those present in any other American industry. It is not surprising that Detroit is now struggling and is on the verge of bankruptcy.

According to the UAW itself, every worker at GM is supporting 4.61 retired members (and spouses). Every worker at Ford, 2.11 retired members (and spouses). Every worker at Chrysler, 1.6. When you consider that Social Security is on the verge of becoming insolvent when two workers are working for every retiree (versus one worker for every two retirees for Ford, or four retirees for GM), you have to appreciate the ability of the Big 3 to last this long. You also have to see written in Detroit a warning for the rest of the country.

And, ultimately, the fault does not lay exclusively with the big executives. It does not lay exclusively with the unions. It is with them both. The executives do not want their companies to have to declare bankruptcy, because they will lose their jobs, their private planes, and their cushy bonuses and perks. The unions do not want the companies to have to declare bankruptcy, because they will lose their cushy pensions, their lavish benefits, and their bankruptcy-inducing retirement and job bank schemes.

Why should the executives or the unions face the music when Congress will write a check to bail them out and save them both from themselves? That's the real dilemma of the Big 3 automakers, and neither Congress nor the American public should be deceived by what is going on here. A bailout is only going to prolong the inevitable bankruptcy and reorganization.

The sooner the Big 3 go bankrupt, clean house, reorganize, and shed their crippling labor cost structures, the sooner they will come roaring back. The Big 3 and the UAW need to stop digging, not come to Congress asking for a bigger shovel.