Friday, January 30, 2009


Finally got electricity back after losing it during the ice storm earlier this week.

So much to blog about and so little time.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

James Bopp Speaks on RNC Chair Race

In an email letter to fellow RNC members (available at Marc Ambinder's blog here), Indiana committeeman James Bopp has spoken about the RNC race for the first time since his Conservative Steering Committee initiative.

He doesn't endorse anyone, but his dislike of Michael Steele could not be more clear:

Recent news accounts of the RNC Chairman's race have focused on whether Michael Steele is or should be the conservative choice. Sean Hannity thinks so, and so does Lisa Cheney, who I recently found out, to my surprise, is not Dick Cheney's daughter. But others have their doubts. The Politico recently ran an article about Michael Steele's candidacy for RNC Chairman where Kim Lehman and Steve Scheffler, NCW and NCM from Iowa, expressed concern about Mr. Steele's candidacy because of his involvement with the Republican Leadership Council.

I share this concern. When Mr. Steele first called me about his candidacy for RNC Chairman, I asked him about his involvement in the Republican Leadership Council. He said he got involved because of his friendship with Christie Todd Whitman and left because he need to spend more time with GOPAC. He said that if he is unsuccessful in his quest to be RNC Chairman, because of his involvement with the RLC, "so be it." My impression from this conversation was that the Mr. Steele's involvement in the Republican Leadership Council was casual and innocent.

As a result, I went to the RLC website to see what I could find. I was already aware of Whitman's hostility to social conservatives, as well as co-founder John Danforth's. What I found was over a dozen pages on the RLC's website that detailed his extensive involvement with RLC that made it plain that Steele's involvement in the group was not what I understood. You cannot go to their website now, however, and find out about this. Sometime in early December, the RLC's website was scrubbed of Steele's involvement. He is no longer listed as being a Co-Chairman or a Co-Founder, as having make fundraising trips, or as having resigned. All this information is now down Orwell's 1984 memory hole. Fortunately, I copied all the relevant pages at the time and some of the other pages can still be found on the web.

I have no problem with meeting and talking to anyone, because I believe that honest dialogue is a healthy and necessary step in unifying the RNC behind its next Chairman. In addition, I do not doubt the sincerity of Michael's pro-life beliefs. He has a public record of support for the pro-life cause which I appreciate. Furthermore, I am very impressed by Mr. Steele's success in overcoming personal and political challenges to become Maryland's Lt. Governor and by his obvious communication skills.

My concern is that we need a RNC Chairman who is able to unify all branches of the conservative movement within the RNC. Unfortunately, there are those who want to divide the conservative movement by pitting fiscal conservatives against social conservatives, and ultimately to drive social conservatives out of the Republican Party. I count Christie Todd Whitman and John Danforth in that group. They founded the Republican Leadership Council to wrestle "control" of the Party away from "social fundamentalist." That Michael Steele helped start this group, and actively supported it, means he was at least willing to aid and abet this cause.

Unfortunately, none of Steele's subsequently explanations about his involvement in the RLC satisfactorily explains it and some explanations are contradicted by the facts. Furthermore, the scrubbing of RLC's website of Steele's involvement is deeply troubling in itself.

Bopp then goes on, at length with url citations (among other things) to document his concerns and make his case. Read the whole thing for yourself; it's a compelling argument.

Bopp concludes by taking exception to Steele's dislike for his Conservative Steering Committee (and, more broadly, he makes the case for Steele's hostility to social conservatives more generally):

At the RNC special meeting on January 7th, Betsy Werronen, NCW DC, asked the RNC Chairman candidates, as the RNC Chairman, "would you stop (the conservative steering committee) from continuing to meet?" Steele answered "[w]hen I am elected as the RNC Chairman, I will stop this group from meeting again."

Whatever one thinks about the need for conservative RNC members to meet or the practical possibility that an RNC Chairman could actually stop RNC members from meeting when they want to, Steele's commitment to ban conservatives from meeting raises several concerns. First, it is highly divisive. There just could not be a more divisive policy by an RNC Chairman than he is entitled to police if and when RNC members can meet together when they want to. Second, free association for political purposes is an essential part of our First Amendment rights. That Steele would want to violate that right raised questions about his commitment to bedrock conservative principles. And, finally, it is consistent with his involvement in the RLC. That Steele would devote his time and effort and lend his reputation to a group that is hostile to social conservatives is certainly consistent with wanting to ban them from meeting at the RNC.

I blogged about James Bopp and the Conservative Steering Committee here, here, here, and here.
At the end, Bopp makes his objects to Steele clear, but does not take a definitive position in support of another candidate:

Steele's involvement with the RLC ultimately raises a serious concern about his commitment to bringing unity among the members of the RNC. My goal is to unite all conservatives, social, fiscal and national defense, behind the Republican Party, and to unite all members of the Republican party behind our next Chairman. Steele's involvement in the RLC and his subsequent commitment to stop conservatives from meeting suggests that he will be unwilling and unable to do so.

Fortunately, there are other conservative candidates that I believe can unite the party. Saul Anuzis, Ken Blackwell, Katon Dawson and Mike Duncan are conservatives who want to unify, not divide, the conservative movement. They each bring their own unique combination of talents, experience, and perspectives on the future of the RNC. They deserve our support.

This took me by surprise; when I saw that Mr. Bopp had put forward a letter, I figured that it might contain an endorsement (rather than merely a very well-made "anybody but Michael Steele" argument). Even so, I'm not disappointed. His letter and his position now put his involvement in the creation of the Conservative Steering Committee in something of a different light (much more of an "anybody-but-Steele" light than a "pro-Duncan" light).

One Last RNC Poll

Vote here.

Mike Duncan won the earlier "least favorite" poll.

Obama on the Cover of MAD

Obama MAD Cover

Winners and Losers

Winners and Losers

It's On: Todd Young Files for Congress

A new development in the 9th District Republican race today.

It's been a long time coming, you might say.

From the Bedford Times-Mail:

Paoli lawyer explores run for Congress
Opposes Obama stimulus plan

PAOLI — Saying many Hoosiers are becoming troubled by the prospect of trillion-dollar federal deficits, Paoli attorney and Bloomington resident Todd Young today filed papers with the Federal Election Commission to create an exploratory campaign committee for Indiana’s Ninth Congressional District.

Connie Nass, former Indiana State Auditor and mayor of Huntingburg, is serving as treasurer of Young’s committee. State Sen. Brent Steele, R-Bedford, is a senior adviser.

The 9th District seat is held by veteran Rep. Baron Hill, a Democrat from Seymour. Hill defeated Republican Mike Sodrel in 2008, and the seat will be up for election again in 2010.

“I know it is early to be talking about a political campaign, but it is not too early to be concerned about the dangerous levels of deficit spending now being recommended by Congress and the Obama administration,” Young, a former policy adviser to Sen. Dick Lugar, said in a prepared statement.

If President Obama signs into law a stimulus bill of $825 billion, the fiscal ’09 deficit will soar to at least $1.3 trillion, more than double last year’s $541 deficit, Young's statement asserts. By 2010, total federal debt could reach $14 trillion, or 95 percent of the nation’s gross domestic product, he said.

President Obama is arguing that the stimulus bill will create up to 4 million new jobs.

“Americans may not realize how enormously inefficient this bill would be,” Young said. “These enormous deficits are ultimately going to force huge tax increases on the American public or trigger an inflationary cycle that will greatly reduce the buying power of Americans’ savings and retirement accounts. We have not seen deficit spending on this scale since World War II. It’s time to sound the alarm.”

A bit more here. Partial bio here. More substantial bio of Todd Young here.

Above, I noted that this run was a long time in coming. It was.

Todd Young first floated his name to run for the 9th District in 2008, a possibility met with concern from Baron's camp. He politely deferred, however, when Mike Sodrel decided to run against Baron Hill for a fourth time. Since standing aside, Young has focused on poking Baron over government spending, energy, and ethics issues in a variety of letters to the editor (here, here, and here). Since the election, he has started to test the waters about a possible campaign.

Todd Young's deferral to the respected (and de facto incumbent) Mike Sodrel has not locked up the 2010 nod for him, but I think it has won him a lot of respect among base activists, county party organizations, and so forth. That will carry him far should there be a primary contest (perhaps with Jasper doctor Richard Moss and/or Columbus conservative activist Travis Hankins).

Had Young challenged Sodrel in the primary 2008, he would have likely been trounced and might well be less acceptable in 2010 (even after Sodrel's defeat) as a consequence. That's the sort of lesson that folks up north lining up to run against Dan Burton might want to consider.

So Todd Young is making news. Anyone heard anything else about Travis Hankins, Richard Moss, or any other potential candidates?

Monday, January 26, 2009

Notorious Tax Cheat Now Head of the IRS

The Senate has voted to confirm Timothy Geithner, who didn't pay his income taxes for years and lied and cheated on them when he finally did, as treasury secretary.

What can I say?

It's just the most honest and ethical administration ever. Change we can believe in.

But this disgusting affirmation and acceptance of behavior that would be unacceptable among anyone else was unfortunately bipartisan.

Ten Republicans voted for Geithner.

The normally squishy Susan Collins of Maine was not among them, nor was the sometimes squishy Dick Lugar or the often squishy Arlen Specter.

Three Democrats and the Socialist Senator from Vermont, Bernie Sanders, voted against rolling over for tax evasion and fraud. The Socialist! And such notable liberals as Robert Byrd of West Virginia, Tom Harkin of Iowa, and Russ Feingold of Wisconsin opposed Geithner as well.

What does this mean?

Ultimately, were it not for certain Republicans caving, Geithner's nomination could have been defeated by a filibuster, and the United States could have a treasury secretary that respects its tax laws. The American people would know that no one man is indispensable and that no one is above the law (a point Democrats have been screaming about for years when it came to Republicans caught in far less cut-and-dried situations).

And given the opposition of various prominent Democrats to Geithner's nomination, its defeat would have been bipartisan.

Name and shame. Here are the ten Republicans that made this travesty possible:

Bob Corker (Republican of Tennessee)
John Cornyn (Republican of Texas)
Mike Crapo (Republican of Idaho)
John Ensign (Republican of Nevada)
Lindsey Graham (Republican of South Carolina)
Judd Gregg (Republican of New Hampshire)
Orrin Hatch (Republican of Utah)
Richard Shelby (Republican of Alabama)
Olympia Snowe (Republican of Maine)
George Voinovich (Republican of Ohio)

Kit Bond (Republican of Missouri) was not present, but would have voted against Geithner had he not missed his plane to get to the vote.

John Cornyn is the head of the Republican Senatorial Committee. So much for him getting any money from me this cycle. If the head of the GOP's Senate campaign arm can't stand up against a Democrat who is cheating on his taxes, then what will he stand up for?

Jim Inhofe says it all:

Eye of the Storm

Eye of the Storm

Pelosi: Birth Control Will Rescue Economy

Dazed and ConfusedFrom Drudge:

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi boldly defended a move to add birth control funding to the new economic "stimulus" package, claiming "contraception will reduce costs to the states and to the federal government."

Pelosi, the mother of 5 children and 6 grandchildren, who once said, "Nothing in my life will ever, ever compare to being a mom," seemed to imply babies are somehow a burden on the treasury.

The revelation came during an exchange Sunday morning on ABC's THIS WEEK.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Hundreds of millions of dollars to expand family planning services. How is that stimulus?

PELOSI: Well, the family planning services reduce cost. They reduce cost. The states are in terrible fiscal budget crises now and part of what we do for children's health, education and some of those elements are to help the states meet their financial needs. One of those - one of the initiatives you mentioned, the contraception, will reduce costs to the states and to the federal government.

STEPHANOPOULOS: So no apologies for that?

PELOSI: No apologies. No. we have to deal with the consequences of the downturn in our economy.

"No apologies, no."

I wonder what's next with this sort of horrifying (to say nothing of historically morally bankrupt) logic. Nationalized health care mandating that people can't have children because of economic means testing? Abortions being required because local schools are overcrowded?

Given her views of birth control, and her rather large family, I also wonder about the apparent hypocrisy of her lack of apologism.

If this is the "return of science" promised by the Democrats, then it is a dark perversion of science indeed.

New RNC Race Rundown

From Rothenberg:

This year’s RNC race increasingly appears to be a three- or possibly four-person contest, with the current RNC chairman, Mike Duncan, holding a tenuous but not insignificant advantage over former Maryland Lt. Gov. Michael Steele, with Michigan GOP Chairman Saul Anuzis and South Carolina GOP Chairman Katon Dawson fighting it out for third.

Former Tennessee GOP Chairman Chip Saltsman hurt himself seriously by circulating a controversial song, while former Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell has never been on the RNC and therefore lacks a crucial credential in this election.

Blackwell has the support of many high-profile conservative activists, including some whose influence has waned over the past 20 years, but while supporters are fervent, his ceiling in this contest is relatively low.

Dawson’s membership in an all-white country club and his Southern base are problems, especially after Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, a former national chairman who remains extremely popular and influential within the RNC, suggested that the party would not benefit from picking a Southerner to head the national party. Still, two recent endorsements, by Mississippi national committeeman Henry Barbour (Haley’s brother) and New Jersey’s David Norcross, have boosted Dawson’s standing in the race.

Duncan leads at the moment because he is a known quantity and is perceived as a safe choice by committee members. He has interacted with his colleagues on the national committee for years, building the kind of personal relationships that often pay off in these kinds of votes.

Well-placed sources also say that the current RNC chairman is the choice of one-time master White House strategist Karl Rove, who apparently believes that he can continue to exert significant influence on the direction of the party as long as Duncan is in charge.

But Duncan’s election would send a bizarre message of continuity and status quo to a party that has suffered two consecutive election cycles of stinging defeats. Even RNC members who feel personally comfortable with the sitting RNC chairman might not be willing to do that. And even though Duncan surely isn’t responsible for his party’s problems, even party insiders understand that they need to send a message of change.

Steele, who chaired the Maryland GOP (or what’s left of the state party after decades of atrophy), obviously has plenty of assets, including a strong TV presence and the fact that he, like Blackwell, is black. Some complain that he isn’t conservative enough, and even some of his friends say that he can be a loose cannon.

The Michigan Republican’s strategy is both interesting and astute. He is, as one insider described it, “just trying to hang around,” hoping to become something of a consensus alternative if RNC members ultimately decide that they cannot afford to send a status quo message by re-electing Duncan or risk the uncertainty of turning the national party over to the unpredictable Steele.

Right now, the RNC race is clearly up for grabs, with no candidate within shouting distance of a majority. That may well be the case when national committee members gather in Washington next week to select a party chairman.

Duncan seems to lead these estimations, despite being opposed by non-RNC activists looking at the race from the outside. To pick him would be very dangerous in terms of base relations. This being said, I'm not sure that many people at the RNC care about the base of the party anymore.

Rothenberg's analysis this week sort of matches my analysis last week. Personal relationships matter, as does prior involvement on the committee. At the same time, this is a "wheels within wheels within wheels" sort of thing where countless plots are being hatched and numerous deals are being made (and unmade) by all sides. Assuming Duncan does not win on the first ballot (and I suspect he is the only one that could), these deals will have increasing importance and value as each round of voting takes place.

The current declared count is hard to estimate because the number over at YourRNC is badly out-of-date. Duncan, for example, shows 35 endorsements on his website to the 25 listed there. That's a lot of endorsements to be missing. Heck, Duncan is the only RNC candidate whose website even lists (or makes it easy) for you to figure out his endorsements. That says something (though it's not something advocates of change at the RNC will like to hear).

Great Idea: Obama Plans Nightmare of New Regulatory Mandates to Help Crippled Auto Industry

From Ace of Spades:

President Obama plans to instruct key federal agencies today to reexamine two policies that could force automakers to produce more fuel-efficient cars that yield fewer greenhouse gas emissions, according to sources who have been briefed on the announcement.

The move, which the White House has privately trumpeted to supporters as "the first environment and energy actions taken by the president, helping our country move toward greater energy independence," could reverse two Bush-era decisions that have helped shape the nation's climate policy and its auto market.

Obama will instruct the Environmental Protection Agency to reconsider whether to grant California a waiver to regulate automobile tailpipe emissions linked to global warming, sources said, and he will order the Transportation Department to issue guidelines that will ensure that the nation's auto fleet reaches an average fuel efficiency of 35 miles per gallon by 2020, if not earlier.

Yeah, they are going to study it. Sure. This was part of Obama's campaign and his new team at EPA is almost certain to grant the waiver.

And what might the cost of this waiver be?

Carmakers also contend that the law could increase manufacturing costs, which then would be passed along to consumers. Environmentalists counter by saying consumers would save money in the long run because higher purchase costs would be offset by lower fuel costs.

The Association of International Automobile Manufacturers, a trade group that represents Honda, Toyota and 12 other international manufacturers, objects to the law on the grounds that it would lead to "a patchwork of state laws" instead of one federal standard. Allies note that the auto industry is already under tremendous financial pressure, with car sales lagging, and can't afford to comply with new regulations.

"The net effect of his request would add between $1,000 and $5,000 to the price of every car sold in California," (CA Congressman Tom) McClintock said.

Yessir. More regulation (50 flavors, different in every state!), more expensive cars, more harm to the auto industry and all of the people it employs. That's the change we need.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Barack on Board

Day by Day

New CNN Logo

New CNN Logo

Other changes in CNN company policy effective immediately include:

* President Obama will be referred to as "Obama The Great, the merciful and beneficent " in official communications.

* President Bush will be referred to as "He who must not be named."

* First Lady Michelle Obama will be referred to as Her Enlightened Royal Highness.

* All stories which could cast the slightest pall over the luminous glory of Obama The Great, the merciful and beneficent will be squashed immediately.

* No mention will be made of the $170 Million dollars spent on the Obama Coronation - instead, CNN will continue to focus on the $150,000.00 wardrobe of Sarah Palin.

* All old news stories from 2005 complaining about Bush spending $40 million on his inauguration will be immediately cleansed from the CNN archives.


Hat tip: Diana Vice.

Fight the Future

Hoosiers for Democracy, advocating against the passage of the Kernan-Shepard reform legislation currently before the legislature.

Feel the disappointment.

The harsh reality of high expectations.

Thin Veneer of Bipartisanship Vanishing from Obama "Stimulus" Debt & Pork Spending Spree

Even McCain says he can't vote for it:

Sen. John McCain, Obama’s opponent in the November presidential contest, said he did not believe the stimulus package did enough to create jobs.

“There have to be major rewrites if we want to stimulate the economy… . As it stands now I can’t vote for it,” McCain said on Fox television.

He also continued a theme from his campaign, declaring that the former Bush administration tax cuts, that were particularly beneficial to high-earning Americans, should be made permanent. The measure expires next year and Obama has said he will not seek their renewal.

Let's face it; for the Democrats to lose McCain, a guy who has made it the point of his career to vote for bad policy put forward by Democrats and get media attention for it, their legislation must really stink.

Still Number One

The One still can't top The Gipper:

The Obama inauguration was watched by 37.8 million, second only to Reagan’s 41.8 million in 1981.

Ronald Reagan’s inauguration twenty-eight years ago on January 20, 1981 set the inaugural ratings record, averaging almost forty-two million (41,800,260).

And, of course it goes without saying, there were fewer Americans around in general in 1980 than in 2008, so the Reagan number is that much more impressive when taken in its full context.

Get Your Little Blue Book Now!

The Pocket ObamaYou can't make this stuff up.

Just in case you can't get through a day without some refreshing and uplifting words from the new president, the History Company has created the "Pocket Obama."

This is a tiny, pocket-sized book filled with "quotations borrowed from Barack Obama's speeches and writings."

According to its creators, "It is an unofficial requirement for every citizen to own, to read, and to carry this book at all times."

I kid you not.

I was immediately reminded (as were commenters at the above site) of "Quotations from Chairman Mao Zedong," the "Little Red Book" made infamous during China's Cultural Revolution.

Of course, a marketing ploy saying it's an unofficial requirement for every citizen to buy a copy is sort of a far cry from the government mandating every citizen have a copy.

But still, you just can't make this stuff up.

Who Do You Least Want as RNC CHairman?

Vote in the poll.

Right now, Mike Duncan is running away with the dubious victory of being the most unwanted candidate. The least unwanted candidate (the most wanted one?) is Katon Dawson.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

From the Mailbag

A reader sends this image to add to the ones that I put up earlier.

Becky Skillman 2012
Even Jen Wagner seems to see Becky Skillman's stock as rising (and Skillman has apparently been taking plenty of small steps to prepare the way for a possible gubernatorial bid).

Third Grade Civics Lesson

An email from a friend:

The most eye-opening civics lesson I ever had was while teaching third grade this year. The presidential election was heating up and some of the children showed an interest.

I decided we would have an election for a class president. We would choose our nominees. They would make a campaign speech and the class would vote.

To simplify the process, candidates were nominated by other class members. We discussed what kinds of characteristics these students should have. We got many nominations and from those, Jamie and Olivia were picked to run for the top spot.

The class had done a great job in their selections. Both candidates were good kids. I thought Jamie might have an advantage because he got lots of parental support. I had never seen Olivia's mother.

The day arrived when they were to make their speeches Jamie went first. He had specific ideas about how to make our class a better place. He ended by promising to do his very best. Every one applauded. He sat down and Olivia came to the podium.

Her speech was concise. She said, "If you will vote for me, I will give you ice cream." She sat down.

The class went wild. "Yes! Yes! We want ice cream."

She surely would say more. She did not have to. A discussion followed. How did she plan to pay for the ice cream? She wasn't sure. Would her parents buy it or would the class pay for it. She didn't know.

The class really didn't care. All they were thinking about was ice cream. Jamie was forgotten. Olivia won by a land slide.

Every time Barack Obama opens his mouth he offers ice cream and sixty percent of the people react like nine year olds. They want ice cream. The other forty percent know they're going to have to feed the cow and clean up the mess.

Dee Dee Benkie on the RNC Race


One of [Katon Dawson's] endorsers, Indiana National Committeewoman Dee Dee Benkie, stressed the need for change in comments to GOPUSA:

The American people lost faith in the Republican Party, and the loses that Republicans suffered during the past two election cycles should be a clear sign that dramatic change is needed. We can't simply go on with the same approach and expect different results.

We need to get back to basics with a new leader at the helm -- one who understands the conservative, grassroots base, and one who is not afraid to stand up for Republican principles. Katon Dawson is a proven leader who will fight the Democrats and transform the Republican Party.

Daily Funnies

And they rejoiced.
Delta Bravo Sierra: And they rejoiced.

Lego Obama
Lego Obama.

President Oblahma.
Red Planet: President Oblahma.

New Sheriff Obama's closing the jail.
Varvel: New Sheriff Obama's closing the jail.

The media's Gitmo relocation plan.
Delta Bravo Sierra: The media's Gitmo relocation plan.

Challenge Unconquered
Allie: Conquering Mount Gitmo.

The road to hell is paved with good intentions.
Varvel: The road to hell is paved with good intentions.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The Nouveau Regime Stays Classy

Also via NewsBusters:

For all of the hatred Republicans heaped upon Bill Clinton, I don't recall them booing him at Bush's inauguration in 2000, nor Carter at Reagan's inauguration in 1980, let alone chanting this crap at either of them.

And who can beat taking swipes the former President on the White House website:

Under the “agenda” portion of the site regarding Katrina, it reads: “President Obama will keep the broken promises made by President Bush to rebuild New Orleans and the Gulf Coast. He and Vice President Biden will take steps to ensure that the federal government will never again allow such catastrophic failures in emergency planning and response to occur.”

“President Obama swiftly responded to Hurricane Katrina,” the statement on the site continues. “Citing the Bush Administration’s ‘unconscionable ineptitude’ in responding to Hurricane Katrina, then-Senator Obama introduced legislation requiring disaster planners to take into account the specific needs of low-income hurricane victims.”

At times like this, it's useful for the folks on top to remember that the wheel turns. The folks at the top at one inaugural find themselves at the bottom before too long, on the receiving end of the same behavior (or worse) than what they visited on the other side.

Like NFL teams that take exception to their symbols being mistreated (players jumping up and down on Pittsburgh's towels or the disrespect of the logo of the other team on the field), partisans remember and hold grudges over how they, their team, and the symbols of their team were treated far more than they remember and hold grudges over the outcome of the game.

"One generation that receives a beating," Otto von Bismarck wrote, "is often followed by another which deals it out." Ironically, he was writing this at the peak of his country's martial triumphs, and intended it as a warning to Prussia's vengeful generals as they sought peace terms at the end of the Franco-Prussian War. The generals didn't listen; the rest is history.

And, more than anything, things like boos for a politician say more about the people booing than they ever manage to say about the person being booed, and it ignores a basic level of decency and good taste. In fact, one of my first posts as a blogger was about the booing of politicians.

I didn't like jeering and catcalls and booing then (when it was directed at Democrats), and I don't like it now.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Baron on Obama

From the News & Tribune:

“It is a new day in America, and I’m so proud of our country for doing this,” Congressman Baron Hill said.

He talked about growing up in Seymour and not fully understanding the Civil Rights Movement until he went to Furman University in South Carolina to play basketball. His roommate, who was black, was not allowed to go to the same places as him. Hill said he knew he wanted to help make it right when he got older.

Furman desegregated in 1965. I'm not sure how segregated Greenville, South Carolina, was from around 1971 to 1975 when Baron was there; enough for him to remember it, I guess.

The Lamb of Obama

The Lamb of Obama
H/T: Mark Hemingway.

Bush Returns to Texas

Not soon enough, some might say.

I'm not one of them; I'm content to live in that minority.

Send President Bush a thank-you note for seven years of keeping our country safe via this website, if you're so inclined.

Hot Air has a thoughtful goodbye.

Obama to Make Guns "Childproof"

From the newly change-ified

Address Gun Violence in Cities: Obama and Biden would repeal the Tiahrt Amendment, which restricts the ability of local law enforcement to access important gun trace information, and give police officers across the nation the tools they need to solve gun crimes and fight the illegal arms trade. Obama and Biden also favor commonsense measures that respect the Second Amendment rights of gun owners, while keeping guns away from children and from criminals. They support closing the gun show loophole and making guns in this country childproof. They also support making the expired federal Assault Weapons Ban permanent.

How exactly do you make a gun "childproof"?

H/T: Geraghty.

"Programs Will End"


The question we ask today is not whether our government is too big or too small, but whether it works - whether it helps families find jobs at a decent wage, care they can afford, a retirement that is dignified. Where the answer is yes, we intend to move forward. Where the answer is no, programs will end.

I won't be holding my breath waiting for the list of programs that will be ended. In fact, I'm sure that the few that are ended will probably be defense-related.

Get Your Chia Obama Today!

Chia Obama
H/T: Marc Ambinder.

Making It Real, Again

1337 words that changed the world.

Worth reading again on this, the day we affirm the peaceful transfer of power (in 1776 a rare and unheard of thing) in the country founded by this document.

In CONGRESS, July 4, 1776.

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,

When in the course of human Events, it becomes necessary for one People to dissolve the Political Bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the Powers of the Earth, the separate and equal Station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent Respect to the Opinions of Mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the Separation.

We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.

That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just Powers from the Consent of the Governed.

That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these Ends, it is in the Right of the People to alter or abolish it, and to institute a new Government, laying its Foundation on such Principles, and organizing its Powers in such Form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient Causes; and accordingly all Experience hath shewn, that Mankind are more disposed to suffer, while Evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the Forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long Train of Abuses and Usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object, evinces a Design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their Right, it is their Duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future Security.

Such has been the patient Sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the Necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The History of the Present King of Great-Britain is a History of repeated Injuries and Usurpations, all having in direct Object the Establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let the Facts be submitted to a candid World.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public Good.

He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing Importance, unless suspended in their Operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other Laws for the Accommodation of large Districts of People; unless those People would relinquish the Right of Representation in the Legislature, a Right inestimable to them, and formidable to Tyrants only.

He has called together Legislative Bodies at Places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the Depository of their public Records, for the sole Purpose of fatiguing them into Compliance with his Measures.

He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly Firmness his Invasions on the Rights of the People.

He has refused for a long Time, after such Dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative Powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the Dangers of Invasion from without, and Convulsions within.

He has endeavoured to prevent the Population of these States; for that Purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their Migrations hither, and raising the Conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.

He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers.

He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the Tenure of their Offices, and Amount and Payment of their Salaries.

He has erected a Multitude of new Offices, and sent hither Swarms of Officers to harass our People, and eat out their Substance.

He has kept among us, in Times of Peace, Standing Armies, without the consent of our Legislature.

He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a Jurisdiction foreign to our Constitution, and unacknowledged by our Laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislaton:

For quartering large Bodies of Armed Troops among us:

For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from Punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:

For cutting off our Trade with all Parts of the World:

For imposing taxes on us without our Consent:

For depriving us, in many Cases, of the Benefits of Trial by Jury:

For transporting us beyond the Seas to be tried for pretended Offences:

For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an arbitrary Government, and enlarging its Boundaries, so as to render it at once an Example and fit Instrument for introducing the same absolute Rule in these Colonies:

For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:

For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with Powers to legislate for us in all Cases whatsoever.

He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our Towns, and destroyed the Lives of our People.

He is, at this Time, transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to complete the Works of Death, Desolation, and Tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty and Perfidy, scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous Ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized Nation.

He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the Executioners of their Friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.

He has excited domestic Insurrections among us, and has endeavoured to bring on the Inhabitants of our Frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known Rule of Warfare, is an undistinguished Destruction, of all Ages, Sexes and Conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions we have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble Terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated Injury. A Prince, whose Character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the Ruler of a free People.

Nor have we been wanting in Attentions to our British Brethren. We have warned them from Time to Time of Attempts by their Legislature to extend an unwarrantable Jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the Circumstances of our Emigration and Settlement here. We have appealed to their native Justice and Magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the Ties of our common Kindred to disavow these Usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our Connections and Correspondence. They too have been deaf to the Voice of Justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the Necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of Mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace, Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the World for the Rectitude of our Intentions, do, in the Name, and by the Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly Publish and Declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be, Free and Independent States; that they are absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political Connection between them and the State of Great-Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm Reliance on the Protection of the divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.

Signed by ORDER and



My God save and bless the United States of America.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Rating the Senate

The Free Will blog ranks the liberalism of the Democratic senate caucus.

It's an interesting breakdown; there's a lot of unity there, and a lot of fault lines. It will take an able Senate hand to exploit them all and keep the Republicans a viable minority, since they're likely to lose a couple of their own Senators on any given issue.

Hot Time in the Old Town

Someday, I need to go to one of these New Albany City Council meetings.

They seem to be very entertaining.

Change We Can Believe In

From David Freddoso:

Barack Obama has said he wants to delay the long-awaited switch to digital television, and he is likely to get his way. There were a great many reasons to oppose the transition to begin with, but why slow things down now that it is underway?

Here's why: the change would benefit one particular corporation at the expense of its competitors. The beneficiary happens to be the company where Obama's undisclosed advisor on this and other telecom issues (also a major donor) makes his living.

And here I thought lobbyists and special interests were going to have no place and no say in an Obama administration.



Sunday, January 18, 2009

An Interesting Inaugural

Vaclav Havel's New Year’s Day speech to the people of Czechoslovakia announcing the end of the communist regime, January 1, 1990.

Baron Hill on Climate Change

Quoted at the blog Eco-Pragmatism:

"I want to be able to support a bill," said Rep. Baron Hill, a five-term lawmaker from southeastern Indiana. "But if coal is not addressed, then I cannot support a bill. It's just as plain and simple as that."

A Look Ahead at 2012 (The GOP)

Matt Tully's column today takes a look at the GOP side of the 2012 gubernatorial field.

This is a noble pursuit and an entertaining parlor game (I already started looking at who has bought gubernatorial-campaign-esque domain names back in early December).

Becky Skillman
The two-term lieutenant governor is considered a likely candidate for the state's top office. Those close to Skillman say she is interested but has not decided whether to run. Skillman, a popular former state senator whose strong political skills are sometimes underestimated, would be a leading candidate for the Republican nomination, particularly if Daniels made clear she was his preferred candidate.

Tully says that Skillman is interested. I'd say that she's the only candidate that has taken concrete steps toward a run, namely in acquiring the necessary domain name(s) for a campaign website. Also, a quick check of the Election Division's campaign finance website reveals that, on December 30 of 2008, she changed the name of her campaign committee.

It went from being the rather verbose and clunky "Becky Skillman for Lieutenant Governor Campaign Committee" to the much more pithy and gubernatorial "Skillman for Indiana." As of late October (so not including the last expenditures for the 2008 election), Skillman's committee had about $220,000 in cash-on-hand.

Mike Pence
The congressman from Columbus would be tough to beat. A loyal conservative, Pence is a strong communicator whose calm demeanor would play well in Indiana. As with everybody else, he says he hasn't started thinking about his 2012 plans. Some think he is less inclined to run for governor now that he has taken a top Republican leadership spot in the U.S. House. But we'll see how he feels after more years in the House minority.

I just posted about this yesterday; I think that Pence possesses a unique skillset suited toward work in a legislature rather than an executive chair.

He has no state-level campaign committee (and he'd probably transfer over his existing campaign domain name), but he can roll most of his Federal campaign funds over into the state race without much problem, giving him a ready-made campaign war chest of some $450,000 (though he, presumably, still has a Congressional reelection bid to consider in 2010).

Steve Carter
After two terms as attorney general, Carter is now out of public life. But few expect him to stay out permanently. Last year, Carter won a battle over the nomination to succeed him as attorney general, making clear he has some pull with GOP insiders statewide. If he runs for governor, he would be an instantly credible candidate.

Steve Carter would probably be a good candidate if he were to run, but one has to wonder what four years out of the public spotlight will do for his name recognition. His defiance of the Governor and Mitch's allies in the AG race is hardly going to endear him to those same people in any bid to succeed Daniels as governor of Indiana.

His campaign committee, name unchanged, remains active and has a balance of about $130,000. He has no domain name for a campaign.

Todd Rokita
He's in his second term as secretary of state, and his political ambitions long have been clear. But Rokita has taken a lower profile in recent years. Being elected twice to a statewide office gives him valuable name ID.

Rokita has some of the same problems as Carter; broader name recognition of him will fade quickly as he leaves office in 2010. (Let's be honest here; there's not a lot of name recognition for secretaries of state or attorneys general to begin with.)

His campaign committee has borne the rather interesting name of the "Todd Rokita Election Committee" since it was established in 2001. It wouldn't need to be renamed for him to run for something else (unless he wanted a more pithy name for future political ambitions). He retains a current warchest of about $160,000. His existing website domain would probably be converted for the new campaign.

Brian Bosma
The leader of the House Republican caucus long has been interested in higher office. But jumping from the Indiana House to the governor's office is difficult. Plus, Bosma, like many legislative leaders, is a controversial figure. On the other hand, he is popular with social conservatives, who play a big role in GOP primaries.

I find it unthinkable that Brian Bosma could run for governor as the minority leader of the Indiana House. Speaker Bosma is a viable candidate for governor. Minority Leader Bosma (or even the less-demeaning Republican Leader title) is unthinkable as a candidate. Any road to the governor's office for Bosma must first pass through the regaining of the House majority in 2010. Call me back when that card is punched.

His committee is presently titled as the rather nondescript "Committee to Elect Brian Bosma", his existed website domain could easily be converted for a campaign, and he has about $380,000 in cash on hand; more money currently on hand than anyone save Mike Pence.

David C. Long
Most Statehouse observers say Long never has expressed interest in running for governor. But he's run the Senate with a deft touch since taking over as president pro tem two years ago, so why not add him to the list of people to watch?

Imagine you were David Long. Once you get past the fact that you're the tallest person in the room, do you really want to run for governor? Why? It's term-limited. Provided he doesn't screw up or deliver some sort of electoral or political catastrophe upon his caucus, David Long will be the leader of the Senate for much longer than the four or eight years he might sit in the Governor's office downstairs. Governors come and go. In Indiana, Senate Presidents Pro Tempore are forever.

His campaign committee remains titled as "David Long For State Senate" and has about $250,000 cash on hand.

There are also, of course, the dark horses and the complete (at least for the moment) unknowns. Four years is an eternity in politics. We don't know what other politicians may emerge from the woodwork to want to run on the GOP side in that time period.

When Frank O'Bannon was sworn in for a second term, Mitch Daniels was on pretty much nobody's list to be a candidate for governor of Indiana. The field may yet expand to include a variety of other figures from the public and private sectors.

Mitch's Prescription

Mitch's Prescription

Infrastructure Stimulus

Infrastructure Stimulus

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Fun with the Obamicon Machine

The interestingly-named Paste Magazine website has a nifty contraption that allows you to turn ordinary photographs into Obama-like campaign poster imagery.

I was trapped inside by the freezing weather today and bored, what with the Hoosiers being slaughtered in basketball again, so I had some fun.

Congressman Baron Hill.

Speaker Pat "The Hair" Bauer.

Speaker Nancy "Wild Eyes" Pelosi.

Attorney General Greg Zoeller.

Governor Mitch Daniels.

And, last but not least, my favorite:

Baron Hill picking his nose.

More on the RNC Race

GOP LogoRecently, Indiana committeewoman Dee Dee Benkie endorsed Katon Dawson for RNC chairman. After some pestering, she sent me a brief email outlining the reasoning behind her endorsement:

I am supporting Katon Dawson because he knows how to win... period. Dawson is experienced, energetic and tough. He has the best plan to help the GOP get back to basics and get back to winning. It is also admirable that Katon has remained positive even after he has been under constant attack. Katon has grace and grit under fire. The race and zip code of our next chairman is not what matters. It is the ability to get the job done.

Jim Bopp, the other RNC committeeman from Indiana, is apparently quietly in the camp of Mike Duncan. Nobody seems to know where Murray Clark comes down; my understanding is that there has been a sentiment among the state party leadership in favor of "keeping Indiana's powder dry." Bopp's silence means that he is toeing this line, though I am told that it is generally thought he is in favor of Duncan.

Dee Dee Benkie (in a manner someone described to me as "all too typical of certain people from the 9th District"; I'm not certain how to take that) was not so restrained and let her opinion be known and put her endorsement out there regardless. Those Republicans from the 9th District are always causing trouble. They're also always speaking out.

If I had to guess, I would say that the committee is likely to instinctively favor one of its own (the trend when there is not a Republican president calling the shots). That means a bias in favor of Anuzis, Dawson, or Duncan.

Mike Duncan, by virtue of his incumbency, has advantages that he is also quick to leverage in every way possible (much to the consternation of supporters of his five opponents). At the same time, Duncan was leading the party at the time of its worst defeat in over thirty years; it's hard to reward a record like that. If he doesn't win or have a huge lead at the end of the first ballot, he's probably finished.

And, given the number of candidates and the fact that none of them are likely to drop out between now and the meeting where the vote will take place, one must assume that there will be multiple rounds of voting. Only Duncan might win on the first round, and I find that to be unthinkable at present (though it could happen, I suppose, if the party is genuinely that suicidal).

And that's the thing. Predictable races become unpredictable after the first round of voting. People drop out. Alliances are made and broken. Deals are cut. And, more often than not, these deals are made before the committee even casts its first vote. Candidates X and Y may agree that one will throw their support (and the support of their committee members, presumably) behind the other if one comes in last after the first or second round of voting. And yet this deal might be cut with one candidate having no intention of ever honoring it, and the other might intend it with complete honor and integrity. But even as the candidates (or their supporters on the committee) cut such deals among themselves, there is no guarantee that their committee members will adhere to their wishes or follow the deal.

But in this environment of quiet deal-making, existing relationships within the committee become more important than ever, because of the danger of the deal not being upheld at one end or the other. This gives the existing members of the committee (Anuzis, Dawson, and Duncan) a decided advantage. If Steele's supporters are "whipping votes" for him and cutting similar deals, that is also something in his favor. It is this ability to make deals and to have those relationships with the committee that are going to show through as increasingly important in the second ballot and onward.

Geraghty has a more general round-up of the race, as of Thursday.

Pence for Governor in 2012

He says he is keeping his options open.

Personally, though a gubernatorial run has been long-speculated, I've observed Pence to be more of a legislative leader than an administrator or an executive leader. Not merely because he's been in Congress, but his actions and temperment seem to fit that role far better than that of, say, a governor.

And while Indiana is a conservative (and usually Republican) state, I'm not sure that Pence could win a statewide race (he'd probably have an easier time winning a senate race than a state-level race). The 6th District is not exactly a microcosm of the rest of Indiana, or a treasure-trove of keys to statewide electoral victory.

Getting Results

Getting Results

Michael Steele Is Fed Up with Anonymous Smears from Mike Duncan in the RNC Race

So says Geraghty (about the fed up part; the Mike Duncan part is logical conjecture since everyone seems to be getting smeared but him).

Irony, Meet Al Franken

The Minnesota Senate recount may be unconstitutional, according to a constitutional law professor writing in the Wall Street Journal.


The precedent set by Bush v. Gore in 2000.

Charlie Crist for Senate?

Hold your applause, please. He's no Jeb Bush.

The 20 Most-Gerrymandered Congressional Districts in America

Slate has an interesting slideshow of them.

Of the twenty, sixteen are occupied by Democrats. Four are occupied by Republicans.

Indiana's 4th District (home of Steve Buyer) does not even make the list.

Funny Because It's True


"If I ever have tax problems, I sure want Senate Republicans on my jury."

Community Organizers for Obama, Coming Soon to a Community Near You

From Hot Air:

You didn’t think he was going to disband the cult just because he’s president now, did you? Behold the launch of Hopenchange 2.0: Turning his grassroots organization from an operation to get him elected into an operation to pressure members of Congress to adopt his agenda. And by “members of Congress,” I don’t mean Republicans.

What fascinates me is his faith that his supporters, almost all of whom are Democrats, can be counted on to side with him on policy against … other Democrats. There’s no reason in principle to believe that’s true — Obamites logically should prefer his position on economic recovery to McCain’s, but to Chris Dodd’s or Barney Frank’s? — but it’s perfectly sensible if you view Obamamania as a cult of personality with The One as the object in whom all trust is reposed. (See also.) He does a superb job of cultivating it too, from using the paparazzi to enhance his status as an icon to dumping one dopey Lincoln allusion after another on a media that’s itching to make the comparison. In theory it’s a bad idea to have a party “rooted around” one individual — but The One isn’t just any individual, or so we should believe. If Lincoln told you to dial up some Blue Dog Democrat and ask him to vote for another bailout, you’d do it, wouldn’t you? Well, there you go.

It's way too easy to break Godwin's Law with this, so I won't go there.

More saliently, it would not surprise me if a lot of the people involved with this were to find "real jobs" among the half a million plus government jobs Obama supposedly intends to create to help the economy. That would be par for the course for political machines like those seen in Chicago (government workers in no-work jobs who turn into what amounts to paid campaign workers at election time); America would merely see such organizations writ large nationally for the first time since the spoils system was abolished.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Liveblogging the State of the State

I'm up in Indy with Brian Jessen and the Hoosier Access guys to blog the State of the State address.

View the Hoosier Access coverage here. I'll be liveblogging via Twitter here.


Here's what I put on Twitter.

All of the Democrats like to shake his hand for some reason; winning 57 to 40 in a Democrat year might do that for a Republican. 7:02 PM

Mitch notes the bad economic situation, but the strong position Indiana had beforehand thanks to prior action by the legislature. 7:04 PM

"The proper stewardship of the people's money", curtailed by events "far from here." IN in far better shape than in past recessions. 7:05 PM

"Business-like care for tax money." Thanks the legislature and the state administration for frugality already. 7:06 PM

Mitch vows "no tax increases." For 16 years under Democrats the budget was balanced with gimmickry and number games. 7:08 PM

"Whatever course we take this budget year, higher taxes will play no part in it." 7:08 PM

"We must reject the use of gimmickry... left to the museum of bad government where we left them four years ago." 7:09 PM [boy, I sure called the gimmickry mention]

Mitch doesn't want to raid the rainy day fund out of fear that the recession will go on and then there would be no reserve left. 7:10 PM

Notes deep cuts in education across the country; wants to maintain education spending and spend that funding more efficiently. 7:10 PM

39 cents of every education dollar in Indiana is spent outside of the classroom. "Put the children first." 7:11 PM

Mitch hits out at school bureaucracies and the fact that less than half of education employees are teachers. 7:12 PM

Lower overhead... more teachers, smaller classes, better standards. 7:12 PM

ISTA, the state teachers' union (and the bankroller of the IN Dem party) must be enraged by this speech. 7:13 PM

Mitch wants legislation approved that will increase the ability of teachers to maintain classroom discipline. 7:14 PM

Wants lawyers out of classrooms: "Butt out; you expect order in the courts where you practice your profession, we are going to have... 7:15 PM

...order in the classrooms where teachers practice theirs." 7:16 PM

"Times of stringency are optimal times for new thinking & breakthroughs in spending the same dollars more wisely." 7:17 PM

The nat'l party should be so focused in its message "We are rightly encouraged to think of a budget bind as an opportunity to innovate 7:18 PM

Wants a const amendment to cap property taxes. Was approved last time, needs to be approved again to go to the people for final vote. 7:19 PM

"Do you trust the people of Indiana to weigh the evidence (on taxes) and make this decision, or don't you?" 7:20 PM

There's a lot of subtle zingers in this; typical Mitch speech fare; the state Democrats will probably hate everything in it. 7:21 PM

"Government should stop taking money it does not need from working families who need it." 7:22 PM

Mitch doesn't like to stand still. Education reform, tax reform, local government reform. 7:23 PM

Mitch always likes to appeal to sense of Hoosier patriotism, deep love of state that fills the population but seldom finds expression. 7:25 PM

No governor of Indiana can go wrong by making fun of corruption in Illinois and Chicago. 7:25 PM

The deficit of California is three times the size of the budget of the state of Indiana. 7:26 PM

Returns to the recession; compassion, but differentiation: "separating winners from whiners, the brave from the weak." 7:27 PM

"Alacrity" name me a politician that will use a word like that in a public speech. 7:27 PM

"God bless this assembly and this great state." Great speech. Much to like. Much to enrage the opposition party and the Dem Speaker. 7:29 PM

Monday, January 12, 2009

The Abominable "NO" Man

The Abominable 'NO' Man
Speaker Pat "The Hair" Bauer strikes again.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

A Look at Redistricting

Mike Delph's proposal, S.B. 198, calls for the creation of a nonpartisan commission to draw the legislative districts. The proposal has won editorial support from the Indianapolis Star, and similar measures (at least in terms of establishing nonpartisan redistricting commissions) have been implemented in about a dozen other states.

People often speak of gerrymandering in elections, particularly people talking about Indiana's General Assembly, but it's hard to take that talk in context until you look at the actual numbers.

For example, the Democrats have held the House majority after three of the four elections conducted on the current map. The Republicans have held the Senate majority after four of the four elections conducted on the current map.

The difference?

The Republicans routinely obtain overwhelming majorities in terms of popular vote in aggregate Senate ballots; it's hardly surprising that they have a majority in the Senate. The Democrats, however, have never once on the current map won more popular votes in aggregate House ballots than Republicans, yet they routinely have a majority in that body. Not even in the hugely Democratic years of 2006 and 2008 could the Democrats win majorities of the popular vote in aggregate House ballots.

Now, it's common assertion that both houses of the General Assembly are gerrymandered. But given that Republicans seem to have no trouble getting more votes than Democrats even on the slanted House maps, it's probably safe to say that Delph's redistricting commission, if it could be made to work, would see Republican majorities in both houses as a routine matter of course. For this reason, one supposes, Pat Bauer will never let it see the light of day in the House.

Now suppose that the argument is made, as others have put forward at a Congressional level, that these popular vote numbers are skewed by uncontested races. Fair enough; let's look.

At the House level, this is demonstrably untrue. In 2006, the Democrats ran 82 House candidates. The Republicans ran an equal number. Thus, there were eighteen Democrats without challenge and 18 Republicans without challenge. In 2008, the Democrats ran 84 House candidates. The Republicans still ran 82. There were eighteen Democrats without challenge and 16 Republicans without challenge.

And yet, in both cases, the Republicans still won in terms of aggregate votes (surprisingly in 2008, since the Democrats fielded more candidates than the Republicans). Now, it can probably be safely assumed that those 16 or 18 races on each side are genuinely seen by the opposing party as being uncompetitive and not worthy of resources. The balance in those uncontested races in net favor of the Democrats would seem to lead one to reason that the Republican advantage in net votes is being understated.

Now, the supposed uncompetitive nature of those races doesn't mean that the Republican Party should let the Democrats get away with so many uncontested races. First of all, such uncontested races conceal the extent of Democratic gerrymandering on the House map. Second of all, you never know when you will find a Jon Elrod or an Ed Clere who will win in a district in spite of all odds and advantages for the incumbent party.

You never get Jon Elrods or Ed Cleres without someone being willing to stand up and dare to campaign. This expansion of the map is the very strategy by which the Democrats gained such impressive Congressional majorities. They dared to challenge the conventional orthodoxy, and they assailed the gerrymandered Republican "firewall" with so many decent candidates and competent campaigns that the wall collapsed when combined with the force of a more traditional cyclical wave year (as 2010 could very well be for Republicans as it was for them in 1994 or the Democrats in 2006).

The Republican Party will never regain the majority, even in Indiana's House, until it is willing to encourage and support "long-shot" candidates in these districts. It is also not going to regain the majority until it focuses more on the nuances of the districts in terms of candidate recruitment, and it runs smarter campaigns that are tailored to the district, not tailored to the whims and experiences of folks in Indianapolis.

As nice as Senator Delph's proposal is, for it to ever even get to the floor of the Indiana House for a vote, the Republicans are going to have to surmount the gerrymandered "firewalls" already built by Pat Bauer and retain the majority first.

Obama Picks Lefty Bloomington Prof for DOJ

Dawn Johnsen is no stranger to readers of this blog, but now she's making national headlines as Obama's pick to head up important Office of Legal Counsel in the Justice Department of the nouveau regime.

Not bad for somebody that started her career as the legal director of the pro-abortion group NARAL and then served in the Clinton Justice Department (another Clinton retread by Obama, it seems) then settled in Bloomington, where she appeared in campaign ads for Baron Hill and denounced Supreme Court decisions upholding various right-to-life legislation.

The selection of Johnsen by Obama has gotten some postage from the big-time bloggers at Power Line and from the Wall Street Journal.


The selection of Dawn Johnsen is problematic. Johnsen, now a law professor at Indiana University, has been a particularly shrill critic of the Justice Department's positions on legal issues pertaining to the war on terror. Last year, for example, she testified before Congress that the administration's legal interpretations were "tainted by the administration's desired policy ends and overriding objective of expanding presidential power."

The administration's legal interpretations stand or fall on their merit. In attacking them by imputing improper motives to their authors, Johnsen reveals herself as injudicious and unprofessional. Such qualities are not what one hopes for in the head of the Office of Legal Counsel.

Perhaps Johnsen hoped that by taking her shrill approach she would stand out in the mind of the next Democratic president. If so, she appears to have been correct.

The selection of Johnsen (along with all the other DOJ Clintonistas) suggests that the Obama administration may return to the bad old days of the Clinton-Reno Justice Department. In that era, DOJ erected silly walls (since removed) that impeded intelligence gathering regarding terrorism. It also nixed military action that targeted Osama bin Laden personally. Johnsen may still be uncomfortable about such action, having complained (according to the Washington Post) that the Bush administration's "counter-terrorism actions. . .threaten. . .even the physical safety of those targeted."

Johnsen is also the former legal director of NARAL, the pro-abortion outfit. That fact will add spice to her confirmation hearing.

And here:

It seems clear that the OLC should be prepared to say that the executive lacks the legal authority to take a given action where that's the conclusion it thinks follows from the law. In that sense, the OLC can, indeed, serve as a constraint on executive power.

The interesting questions arise where, as may be the case here, the head of the OLC is pre-disposed to take a narrow view of executive power (I say this "may" be the case here because it's also possible that Johnsen's stated views stem from dislike of President Bush's policies, not a real disagreement about executive power). As the Journal points out, it is most unlikely that the judicial and legislative branches will be taking a narrow view of their respective powers. Thus, "modesty" in the executive branch can place the executive at an undue disadvantage in the inevitable jockeying among the branches, and in ways that may harm the nation, including its security. On the other hand, as Johnsen has suggested, it is unseemly and possibly dangerous for the executive to assert its powers based on the view that a legal position is arguable, as opposed to correct.

But this tension is largely of academic interest only. As a practical matter, a president who takes an aggressive view of his powers will want a Justice Department, including an OLC head, who resolves doubt in favor of the assertion of executive power. One imagines that Obama will be such a president and that Johnsen will operate accordingly, or have a short stay.

Noting Johnsen's opinions about the restraint of executive power, the Wall Street Journal opined:

Ms. Johnsen became famous in the left-wing blogosphere as an especially arch critic of the Bush Administration's war on terror. As an Indiana University law professor, she took to the Web with such lawyerly analysis as "rogue," "lawless," "outrage," and that's the mild stuff. Now she's been nominated to run the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel, which interprets the law for the entire executive branch.

One of the OLC's main duties is to defend the Presidency against the inevitable encroachment of the judiciary and Congress on Constitutional authority, executive privilege, war powers, and so forth. Ms. Johnsen knows this, or should, having served as acting OLC head in the Clinton Administration between 1997 and 1998. The office has since become all the more central in a war on terror that has been "strangled by law," to quote Jack Goldsmith, a former Bush OLC chief.

Yet Ms. Johnsen seems to think her job isn't to defend the Presidency but to tie it down with even more legal ropes. She has written that "an essential source of constraint is often underappreciated and underestimated: legal advisors within the executive branch." And in touting her qualifications, the Obama transition cited her recent law review articles "What's a President to Do?: Interpreting the Constitution in the Wake of the Bush Administration's Abuses"; and "Faithfully Executing the Laws: Internal Legal Constraints on Executive Power."

In other words, Mr. Obama has nominated as his main executive branch lawyer someone who believes in diminishing the powers of the executive branch. This is akin to naming a conscientious objector as the head of the armed forces, or hiring your wife's divorce lawyer to handle your side of the settlement too.

Given that Obama, like every president before him in recent times, is likely to take an expansive view of executive power once in office (regardless of campaign rhetoric beforehand) it will be interesting to see where that likely transformation will leave Johnsen. Will she agree with Obama when he makes that shift (in which case it can be said that her opinions about the Bush administration regarding expansive executive power came from partisanship and ideology, rather than genuine legal analysis)? Or will she disagree (and likely find herself out of a job)?

The PAYGO Gimmick

Congressman John Campbell sheds some light on the Democrat gimmicks involving PAYGO, Baron Hill's favorite justification that he's a fiscal conservative.

That justification probably rings rather hollow now:

I am no fan of the Democrats pay-as-you go (PAYGO) rule that was put in place at the beginning of the 110th Congress, in fact their rule was nothing more than a cheap gimmick which they ignored on a wide range of bills. When taken together this would amount to an increase in the deficit by more than $420 billion.

Well the 111th Congress will further weaken the PAYGO by:

1. Providing an exception for emergency legislation (theoretically anything could be termed “emergency legislation” in order to bypass PAYGO).

2. Allowing the “banking” of savings in one bill so they can be used to offset spending in another bill. In addition to circumventing their rule in the 110th Congress, increasing the deficit by $420.1 billion, the Majority manipulated the rule by using the same offsets for multiple pieces of legislation (in one case they used a single offset 25 different times). Instead of addressing these violations and gimmicks, this new change stretches the rule to accommodate even more spending.

3. The Democrats instituted their pay-as-you-go [PAYGO] rule at the beginning of the 110th Congress with a promise that it would end deficit spending. Since then, however, the fiscal imbalances have worsened dramatically: the deficit has swollen from $162 billion 2 years ago to current projections of more than $1 trillion this year; and the debt, which exceeded $10 trillion in September, may force the Treasury to borrow an additional $2 trillion this year alone, according to some analysts.

4. Allowing the Majority to “shop” for budget baselines to make PAYGO compliance easier. Specifically, the rules package modifies the requirement that the House use the most recent baseline from the Congressional Budget Office. In 2008, the Majority waived the PAYGO rule for the Farm bill and justified the waiver based on an out-dated baseline.

The majority makes these exceptions, but still fails to plug existing loopholes in the overarching rule. PAYGO does nothing to tackle the out of control growth of entitlement spending and it does not apply to entitlement spending increases in appropriations bills. It is clear that PAYGO indiscriminately favors tax increases.

As I've pointed out repeatedly before (here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here *whew*), it's clear that Baron Hill and the Democrats have no problem at all with a policy that favors tax increases.