Friday, February 27, 2009

Obama Seeking New Gun Ban

Via ABC News:

The Obama administration will seek to reinstate the assault weapons ban that expired in 2004 during the Bush administration, Attorney General Eric Holder said today.

"As President Obama indicated during the campaign, there are just a few gun-related changes that we would like to make, and among them would be to reinstitute the ban on the sale of assault weapons," Holder told reporters.

Holder said that putting the ban back in place would not only be a positive move by the United States, it would help cut down on the flow of guns going across the border into Mexico, which is struggling with heavy violence among drug cartels along the border.

"Just a few gun-related changes."

Just a few...

Hilarious Craigslist Ad

Yeah.

OK, let me start off by saying this Xterra is only available for purchase by the manliest of men (or women) . My friend, if it was possible for a vehicle to sprout chest hair and a five o'clock shadow, this Nissan would look like Tom Selleck . It is just that manly .

It was never intended to drive to the mall so you can pick up that adorable shirt at Abercrombie & Fitch that you had your eye on . It wasn't meant to transport you to yoga class or Linens & Things . No, that's what your Prius is for . If that's the kind of car you're looking for, then just do us all a favor and stop reading right now . I mean it . Just stop .

This car was engineered by 3rd degree ninja super-warriors in the highest mountains of Japan to serve the needs of the man that cheats death on a daily basis . They didn't even consider superfluous nancy boy amenities like navigation systems (real men don't get lost), heated leather seats (a real man doesn't let anything warm his butt), or On Star (real men don't even know what On Star is) .

No, this brute comes with the things us testosterone-fueled super action junkies need . It has a 265 HP engine to outrun the cops . It's got special blood/gore resistant upholstery . It even has a first-aid kit in the back . You know what the first aid kit has in it? A pint of whiskey, a stitch-your-own-wound kit and a hunk of leather to bite down on when you're operating on yourself . The Xterra also has an automatic transmission so if you're being chased by Libyan terrorists, you'll still be able to shoot your machine gun out the window and drive at the same time . It's saved my bacon more than once .

It has room for you and the four hotties you picked up on the way to the gym to blast your pecs and hammer your glutes . There's a tow hitch to pull your 50 caliber anti-Taliban, self cooling machine gun . I also just put in a new windshield to replace the one that got shot out by The Man .

My price on this bad boy is an incredibly low $12,900, but I'll entertain reasonable offers . And by reasonable, I mean don't walk up and tell me you'll give me $5,000 for it . That's liable to earn you a Burmese-roundhouse-sphincter-kick with a follow up three fingered eye-jab . Would it hurt? Hell yeah . Let's just say you won't be the prettiest guy at the Coldplay concert anymore .

There's only 69,000 miles on this four-wheeled hellcat from Planet Kickass . Trust me, it will outlive you and the offspring that will carry your name . It will live on as a monument to your machismo .

Now, go look in the mirror and tell me what you see . If it's a rugged, no holds barred, super brute he-man macho Chuck Norris stunt double, then contact me . I might be out hang-gliding or BASE jumping or just chilling with my ladies, but I'll get back to you . And when I do, we'll talk about a price over a nice glass of Schmidt while we listen to Johnny Cash .

To sweeten the deal a little, I'm throwing in this pair of MC Hammer pants for the man with rippling quads that can't fit into regular pants . Yeah, you heard me . FREE MC Hammer pants .

Rock on .

Baron's Stimulus Vote Not Popular Back Home

From the Seymour Tribune:

To the Editor:

As many of us suspected, Indiana 9th District Rep. Baron Hill showed his true colors in voting for the so-called stimulus bill with the majority of the funds going for spending.

This 1,000-plus page bill was completed late on Feb. 12 and voted upon on Feb. 13. This is incredibly irresponsible to vote now and read it later.

Very little good will come out of this bill.

Members of Congress were promised 48 hours to review and President Obama promised five days on a Web site for public viewing. This didn't happen.

Folks, you've been lied to by the Democrat Party.

This bill wasn't about stimulus but about spending and getting all sorts of "junk" pushed through in the cloak of stimulus. This is change? Change you can believe in? A transparent and ethical administration? What a bunch of bologna.

Hoosiers, you need to wake up. Your future, financial freedoms, privacy, choices and many other things that you care about are being eroded away.

In 2010, you need to vote for real change.

Hill voted against the fall 2008 TARP bill so that he could get re-elected. Now he votes for a worse bill and justifies his vote with the fact that some of the junk was removed. Bench Baron in 2010.

Timothy Coomer
Seymour, Ind.

In voting for spending of this magnitude (and all of the additional bail-outs and appropriations bills that are likely soon to follow), Baron Hill has destroyed any credibility he once had as a "fiscal conservative", if indeed he ever had any to begin with (a contention that, as I have previously noted, has little support or basis in fact).

When you look at the projected deficit, remember that Baron Hill voted for all of the spending that put us there.

Deficit Chart

More on the Election Board Inquiry

From the Corydon Democrat:

A letter sent out in a school newsletter, penned by Lanesville Community School Corp. school board president Donald J. Hussung, was the focus of a complaint filed by Harrison County GOP chairman Scott Fluhr and, now, an investigation requested by the Harrison County Election Board.

The three-member board voted last Tuesday to seek an investigation into whether any state law was violated by the letter, which came out two weeks before the General Election in November and urged parents to consider the voting records of the candidates, specifically who had voted most often in favor of Lanesville schools.

That candidate was then-Harrison County Councilman Carl (Buck) Mathes, a Democrat, who was running against then-Republican Councilwoman Rhonda J. Rhoads for the District 2 county commissioner's seat. Both had voted several times on the issue of forgiving a Lanesville school loan; Mathes voted to forgive and Rhoads voted against.

It was up to the election board to decide whether the complaint had merit and to seek an investigation. Edith Richards, a Democrat, and Republicans Sherry Brown and Larry Shickles make up the board. Brown sits on the board due to her position as Harrison County clerk. Richards and Shickles were appointed by their respective party chairs.

Lanesville school attorney Gordon Ingle said he wasn't particularly surprised by the verdict of the election board.

"Yes and no," he said. "Yes, because I think the case has no merit and I think it's a witch hunt, and no because of the fact that the board is majority Republicans and I think that Mr. Shickles has an ax to grind."

"The first issue is a formal request was made," Shickles said. "The election board has an obligation to take that request up, and that's what it essentially has done."

Shickles said that anytime politics is involved in an issue, someone could say it's partisan, but he contends this is a legitimate issue that needs addressing, despite the party affiliation of election board members.

"The board is doing, literally at this point, nothing but being careful and making a determination of if there was a violation, and if there was, who did it," he said.

During the election board hearing, Shickles said there was a letter, issued by the Indiana Secretary of State's office, read that said Hussung's letter did merit an investigation under a state statute regarding campaign finance requirements, but Shickles said it's unclear who's to blame for the misconduct.

"That's why we didn't want to make the decision without asking all the questions," he said. "The school board, the audio (from the meeting), they talked about it in rather casual conversation, but took no action. Not voting is not a consensus."

Ingle said his opinion is no law was broken. "The specific law they said might have been violated was that a person who expends or spends money to expressly advocate the election or defeat of a clearly identified candidate," Ingle said.

"In my opinion, the (letter) that Lanesville sent out did not expressly advocate election or defeat of a candidate."

Ingle said the word "expressly" is narrowly defined by the law and, in the case at Lanesville, no one did that.

"The only intent (Hussung) had was to let voters know what the records of the particular candidates were and, in my opinion, that's fair game," Ingle said.

For now, a letter is being drafted to be sent to the attorney general and secretary of state to ask them to conduct an investigation and return findings to the election board.

Shickles said the board will be looking for two things: whether the letter meets the qualifications as specified under the state statue as campaign material or as a letter intended to advocate the election or defeat of a candidate, and, if it does, who's responsible.

The state investigation would follow the chain of events and would likely determine who, if anyone, is at fault, be it the author of the letter, the superintendent, the principal or anyone else involved. But, Shickles maintained the issue was important enough to merit such an investigation.

"We cannot let our government institutions use government resources such as that to play a role in elections," he said.

The election board is planning to approach the Harrison County Commissioners for permission to go to the Harrison County Council for $5,000 for legal counsel, and Shickles said he has no reason to believe that request won't be granted.

"It's a difficult situation," he said. "Two people (Mathes and James Goldman, who was also mentioned in the letter) who have to vote for that you could somewhat say are benefactors. I appreciate it's putting them in a tough situation."

The money would only be used if the board believes it's necessary to seek counsel, not an assurance that it will seek it, but Shickles said it's in the county's best interest to allow the board to do so, if it sees fit.

If the investigation turns up a violation, no criminal charges can be filed and the outcome of the election cannot be changed. Shickles said a fine may be imposed or an edict may be issued warning against the same behavior.

Shickles said since both state offices are currently in legislative session, it might take a while for the investigation to take place.

"I'm guessing it'll be late spring before they dig their feet in," he said, though it could be earlier.

Findings from the investigation could take as long as next fall before being released.

Lindsey Corley, the reporter who wrote the above story, contacted me for a quote (and I promised to get back with her), but I was swamped with work from being off due to the funeral and wasn't able to get back to her before her deadline was up (sorry Lindsey!).

An interesting point is made in the comments of the story:

At this point the only one that has spent any money for attorney's is the school board. The school has paid Mr. Ingle to represent it in the matter. Had they not used public resources to conduct electionering then they would not be spending their money on lawers.

Now, either generally the use of public money or school resources to advocate for political candidates is frowned upon. It can be couched in whatever legal weasel words Gordon Ingle (Lanesville's attorney) might choose, but that simple fact remains unchanged.

If the Secretary of State's office is correct (and they are in charge of Indiana's election laws), and there are legal issues here, then they need to be addressed. The issues would never even be looked at if the letter to the election board was not sent. For the matter to even be examined required a letter to the election board asking them to look at it. The whole matter would be ignored without a letter being sent, and I don't think that the use of public money or school resources for politicking is something that should be ignored.

We either live in a county where election laws are upheld, or we don't. If we live in a county where they are not, then we must accept that such institutions will be able to utilize public tax dollars to accomplish political objectives and to engage in electioneering. In entering into the election and engaging in electioneering, certain individuals at Lanesville wished to send a message: forgive our loan, or we'll screw you come election time.

Obviously, that message was received; their efforts probably defeated Rhonda Rhoads given the margin of the race (~22 votes or so). Nothing can change that, and I didn't file the complaint expecting that it would. Indeed, the complaint itself was filed in mid-December, before the outcome of the recount (then underway) was even known.

Hopefully, the end result of that complaint will be determining whether anything was done improperly. As I said, the use of taxpayer dollars and school resources in a manner such as this to influence an election is not something that is normally acceptable. Those dollars and resources should be going toward the betterment of the education of students, not toward politicking.

That which is ignored tends to be repeated. And if this was wrong, it should not be repeated or ignored. We have laws for a reason. Even supporters of the most noble of causes (and I happen to largely agree with Lanesville on the issue the school board was originally concerned about) must still abide by the law. And, it follows, that the laws should be enforced.

So, here we are again at the fundamental questions. Do election laws matter in Harrison County? Should taxpayer dollars and public resources be used for electioneering purposes? Should such usage be ignored when it happens? Should election laws be ignored when they are violated?

The world wonders.

Read previous posts about this here and here.

Obama & Lincoln


From the email bag:

Lincoln and Obama are very much alike:

1. Lincoln placed his hand on the Bible for his inauguration. Obama used the same Bible.
2. Lincoln came from Illinois. Obama comes from Illinois.
3. Lincoln served in the Illinois Legislature. Obama served in the Illinois Legislature.
4. Lincoln had very little experience before becoming President. Obama had very little experience before becoming President.
5. Lincoln rode the train from Philadelphia to Washington for his inauguration. Obama rode the train from Philadelphia to Washington for his inauguration.
6. Lincoln was a skinny lawyer. Obama is a skinny lawyer.
7. Lincoln was a Republican. Obama is a skinny lawyer.
8. Lincoln was highly respected. Obama is a skinny lawyer.
9. Lincoln was born in the United States. Obama is a skinny lawyer.
10. Lincoln was called Honest Abe. Obama is a skinny lawyer.

Obama: I'm Abe Lincoln
Via Eric Allie.

Back, Again

Apologies for the lack of blogging. Had a death in the family last Friday, and spent most of the past nine days either dealing with that or catching up with stuff that piled up during the funeral. Regular blogging should now resume.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Photo of the Day

Nancy Pelosi grins.
The cat that swallowed the canary, shown after the "stimulus" bill was passed.

Auto Dinosaurs

Auto Dinosaurs

Congressional Republicans Are Showing Life & the Democrats Don't Like It One Bit

Ambinder notes:

The White House and Congressional Democrats were caught off-guard by the quality, quantity and perseverance of Republican opposition to the economic stimulus plan, perhaps lulled by the opposition party's joyful, pre-inaugural riffs of a bipartisanship theme. Communication -postmortems have been conducted by White House, House and Senate Democratic officials. And as the president introduces his plan to remedy the housing crisis, they're operating off lessons learned.

First: be pre-emptive in framing. That's the idea behind a research release from the Center for American Progress. Don't let Republicans appear on talk shows without giving their media interlocutors something to challenge them with. As Republicans carp about the plan, you'll see Democrats point out that Republicans have been urging the president to get to this phase of the economic recovery universe more quickly.

The goal is to make it difficult for Republicans to keep saying they support the goals of the president's plans but not the legislation aiming to further them. Do Americans really think there is such a vast divide between the way Republicans and Democrats want to accomplish things that Republicans just simply can't bring themselves to support the legislation to advance goals everyone agrees on?

On the other hand, party unity is a precious commodity. The balancing act for Republicans is to find the sweet spot where opposition to the Obama agenda does not seem to the American people like (a) opposition for the sake of opposition or (b) opposition arising out of wedlock between Congressional Republicans and political conservativism of recent years, a failed state, in the eyes of voters.

The main Republican criticisms of the plan appear to be that the plan doesn't help those who need it -- Sen. Richard Shelby says it helps those who least need it, pointing to the Fannie/Freddie refinancing instructions, which would allow "underwater homeowners to refinance even if they are not at risk of default." You'll see Republicans pound away at Democrats for not prioritizing the need to keep people in their homes.

Looks like Obama will have to bring in some more former Clinton people to create a war room just to manage the supposedly impotent Republican minority on Capitol Hill.

More on the Election That Never Ends

From Wednesday's Corydon Democrat:

The Harrison County Election Board met yesterday morning (Tuesday) regarding a complaint filed by Scott Fluhr, county chairman of the Republican party, over a letter sent to taxpayers in Franklin Township less than two weeks prior to the General Election in November.

In the letter, which was sent out with the Lanesville schools' monthly newsletter, Donald J. Hussung, president of the Lanesville Community School Corp. Board of Trustees, reminded Franklin Township residents that Rhonda J. Rhoads, the Republican candidate for the county commissioner District 2 seat, had voted against forgiving the loan on their elementary school's gymnasium, while her opponent, Democrat Carl (Buck) Mathes, had voted to forgive the loan. (Rhoads and Mathes were serving on the county council when they voted on the loan issue.)

Mathes was declared the winner over Rhoads, by 22 votes, in mid-December following a recount.

Yesterday, after listening to arguments from Gordon Ingle, attorney for Lanes-ville schools, the three members of the election board — Harrison County Circuit Clerk Sherry Brown, Democrat Edith Richards and Republican Larry Shickles — decided they should seek legal counsel.

Because the election board has no money, it will seek a $5,000 additional from the county council. The request will initiate with the county commissioners at their meeting on Monday, March 2.

A request has also been made to the state Attorney General's office and the Secretary of State to investigate the legality of Hussung's letter.

It's interesting how the article focuses on the cost of hiring legal counsel for the election board, sort of passing lightly over the issue that caused my complaint in the first place.

Granted, more people in Harrison County probably read the Courier-Journal than the Corydon Democrat (and the article on this in the Courier was on the front page), so they probably did learn more of the story behind what's involved.

And as much as I don't want to see the county spend $5,000 on something like this, I didn't feel so bad when I read this letter to the editor in the same paper in the same edition:

What is your proposal on the amount of money that is to be given to the school corporations this year?

There is a campaign to get the monies back up to $4 million so as to provide more tax relief to the taxpayers as a stimulus package.

It would seem to me that we as taxpayers should be the first to get a more direct benefit from the boat money. We have seen hundreds of thousands of dollars go for studies that have been done before on the county developments, and this is getting to be redundant and wasteful.

Do we really need to remodel the old hospital at a $15 million price tag? Do we really need to have a $1 million EMS building with an addition for a (medical) helicopter which we have no contract for? Do we need to keep passing a budget only to keep on giving agencies more money because they can't stay in their budget?

Not much in economics department there, folks. So, let's see if maybe we can get the citizens of this county their own stimulus package and vote to give the schools more money for debt relief.

Joe Nick Cox Jr.
February 18, 2009

To put that in perspective, they could retain two hundred election lawyers for the cost of the new EMS building. They could retain three thousand of them for the cost of remodeling the old hospital. None of the studies ordered and consultants paid by the county for a variety of issues have cost $5,000. Most have cost many times more.

In that perspective, $5,000 is not too much to pay to make sure that the election laws are properly followed in Harrison County. It's a far better use of the money than giving it to Indianapolis consulting and engineering firms.

Township Reform Gutted

The Indiana State Senate, where government reform goes to die:

A key piece of the government reforms backed by Gov. Mitch Daniels was gutted in a Senate committee today, which voted to keep township government.

Senate Bill 512 was reluctantly stripped down by its author, Sen. Connie Lawson, R-Danville. The bill now only bars nepotism in township government, and requires their budgets to be reviewed and approved by county councils. It also asks the county councils to look at the balances of the townships, and if they are higher than 10 percent to consider whether the township needs to raise any more tax dollars.

The committee voted 9-2 for the pared-down bill, but only after voting down another amendment by Lawson which would have abolished only the township advisory boards. Those will now stay in place, along with the townships themselves.

If Mitch Daniels cannot get what he decided would be the signature issue of his second term, local government reform, out of the Republican-dominated State Senate after the crushing mandate he won from the voters in November of 2008, then he might as well be a lame duck for the next four years.

As George W. Bush found out with Social Security reform in 2005, once you win an election and plant your flag on an issue to spend your political capital, you'd better get the job done, because your political capital will vanish if you fail.

I'm not sold on the need for all of the local government reform. In fact, I oppose a good deal of it. But I also don't want to have a governor devoid of political capital for the next four years, because the road is going to get worse before it gets better.

As a practical matter of politics, Mitch must do or die here. Serious reform legislation must be passed, and not some impotent and gutted fig leaf. Otherwise, all of that effort and political capital are gone with the wind.

Glorious News from the Last Frontier!

Sarah Palin is now qualified to be in Barack Obama's cabinet:

Gov. Sarah Palin must pay income taxes on thousands of dollars in expense money she received while living at her Wasilla home, under a new determination by state officials.

The governor’s office wouldn’t say this week how much she owes in back taxes for meal money, or whether she intends to continue to receive the per diem allowance. As of December, she was still charging the state for meals and incidentals.

“Last fall we raised questions about longstanding practices within the Department of Administration regarding tax treatment of per diem payments,” Kreitzer wrote in an exchange of e-mails over the past few days with the Daily News.

“At the Governor’s request, we reviewed the situation to determine whether we were in full compliance with the pertinent Internal Revenue Service regulations,” [state administration commissioner Annette] Kreitzer wrote. “As a result of this review, we determined that per diem needs to be treated as income, requiring a revision of W-2 forms for any affected employees.”

To be honest, I'm tired of seeing her on television every night. She's the governor of Alaska. When does she find time to govern it? She's always being interviewed, and when she isn't she's giving speeches in the lower 48 or parading her family out to be interviewed instead (and then just happening to walk into the interview later on to say hello).

That's what she did with her daughter Bristol and grandson in a recent interview this week on Fox. Bristol, when asked about abstinence programs in school, remarked that they're "not realistic at all" and they don't seem to work when you have sex. Obviously not.

Absence makes the heart grow fonder and even the most favorite of things can become tiresome when they become routine.

Some folks over at National Review are starting to have Palin Fatigue too.

Irresponsible Signers

Irresponsible Signers

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Welcome Back My Friends to the Election That Never Ends...

Your humble correspondent got mentioned in today's Courier Journal twice (and, no, I didn't get arrested or drive drunk or sing gospel music, or do anything like Dennie Oxley).

The story:

The Harrison County Election Board voted today to seek an investigation of whether Lanesville school officials violated state law in October by urging parents to vote for Democratic candidates for county commissioner.

The board’s request will go to Indiana Secretary of State Todd Rokita, the state’s top election official, and Attorney General Greg Zoeller. It also agreed to ask the county commissioners and county council for $5,000 to retain a lawyer, if needed, for guidance.

The action stems from a Dec. 17 complaint from Scott Fluhr, the county’s Republican Party chairman, demanding that the board investigate a note by Lanesville school board president Donnie Hussung.

The note disseminated in school newsletters reminded parents to remember which commissioner candidates had supported the school system’s effort to get county leaders to forgive a $1 million loan to the schools.

In the District 2 commissioner’s race, Democrat Carl “Buck” Mathes edged GOP candidate Rhonda Rhoads by 22 votes.

Even if Rokita or Zoeller ultimately find wrongdoing, election board members said, the election results probably wouldn’t be overturned and no serious criminal or civil penalties are expected. The election board could levy a fine if violations are uncovered, said County Clerk Sherry Brown.

“We’ll get all the information and decide whether to go forward,” said Edith Richards, the lone Democrat on the election board and its chairwoman. “This could bring to their attention that this is a no-no.”

The board responded to Fluhr’s complaint by sending a subpoena to the school board seeking copies of several newsletters, meeting minutes and e-mail messages sent among its members and administrators last spring and fall, before the primary and general elections.

The election board also reviewed an audiotape from the school board meeting in October in which Hussung discussed his plan to write a letter to parents. Lanesville printed Hussung’s letter reminding parents and others that Rhoads voted against forgiving the $1 million school loan, while Mathes supported the move.

Rhoads insisted that such an endorsement using school resources was improper and probably cost her the election. She unsuccessfully challenged the results in a recount.

Election board member Larry Shickles said the board shouldn’t drop the matter, citing Deputy Secretary of State Jerry Bonnet’s Nov. 26 letter in response to a complaint from Rhoads. Bonnet agreed that Hussung’s note appeared to endorse specific candidates, which requires a disclaimer explaining who paid for the message.

But Lanesville school board attorney Gordon Ingle, who attended today’s election board meeting, argued on behalf of interim Superintendent Sam Gardner that Hussung’s letter wasn’t “expressly” an endorsement of a candidate.

Gardner, contacted later today, said Hussung’s offer to write something for the newsletter didn’t raise any “flags.”

“None of us thought it was that big an issue at the time,” he said.

It's interesting to get mentioned so relatively prominently in such a journalistic work without having been called by the author (presumably the Courier's Grace Schneider, with whom I have exchanged calls and answered questions on things before).

With the Corydon Democrat, you sort of expect to never get called for questions or comments. With the Courier, they tend to call you (especially with the mention by name as one of the only people involved not quoted or called). Not so much this time. Must have been the deadline.

Anyway, I wouldn't exactly consider my letter to have "demanded" anything. Far from it, actually (it's a loaded and distortionary word). I requested an relatively simple investigation (a glorified public records request), and they conducted it. It was an outstanding and noteworthy issue of questionable legality in an election.

The margin of victory in the Mathes-Rhodes election is immaterial. First of all, the complaint was filed about a week before the recount ended and its outcome was even known (and I would have filed the complaint even if Rhonda Rhodes had won). Second, nothing resulting from the investigation will possibly change the outcome of any of the elections in the county.

However, if questions are not raised about such things and they are not examined, and if wrong then addressed, the boundaries expand and you get more of the same in future elections. That which is ignored is repeated. That which is investigated, not so much.

The sad thing about all of this is that Lanesville has the best high school in Harrison County (it has the highest graduation rate, the lowest cost per pupil, its teachers are not as well paid as teachers in the other school corporations, as a percentage more of its students go to college and more of its students graduate with honors diplomas, and I could go on and on). My parents are both Lanesville alumni, and the issue over which the letter was written (Rhonda voted against forgiving some debt that the school owes to the county) is one about which I largely agree with the folks from Lanesville.

But, as the Democratic election board member, Edith Richards, said herself in the article, what the school board (and I guess the superintendent) did during the election for this great school system was likely a no-no.

Deficits, in Perspective

Deficit Chart
Graph courtesy of Power Line.

A clever and fitting analogy from The Corner:

RE: the Republicans "recently discovered hatred for deficit spending." There is a BIG difference between the 8 years of Republican deficit spending and the current stimulus bill. I sometimes drive 85mph when the speed limit is 75mph - that doesn't mean I can't legitimately criticize the guy who passes me doing 150mph. One is pushing the envelope - the other is reckless driving! The law even recognizes the difference - I might get a ticket, but the other guy will go to jail and have his car impounded.

But it's all going to be okay!

Because, as Ambinder tells us, Obama is going to rival Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush in terms of tax cuts:


Don't know if anybody has yet noticed in the Republican Party but President Obama was presented last week a major talking point for 2012.

He'll sign today one of the largest tax cuts in history.

In spite of the White House pointing this out to journalists, it is funny how little remarked-upon this is.

It's hard imagine we won't hear about this four years from now. And if that's not boxing a future Republican candidate in ahead of time, I don't know what is.

Think about how many potential Republican arguments are going to be pre-empted by that nice little fact?

A better question might be how much of an argument Obama's tax cut is going to make if the economy is still in the crapper, or even worse, in 2012.

Don't understand? Scroll up and look at that graph again.

Thirteen bucks a week will be forgotten fairly quickly; stagflation or other corrosive economic effects (like tax hikes to cover the interest on the ballooning budget deficit, more destructive inflation and currency devaluation from the Fed printing money, an increase in the price of gas that could see the cost of a single tank more than wipe out this minor tax cut, or just a strong shift in the misery index) won't give that meager tax cut much political value.

Don't spend your thirteen dollars all in the same place.

Online Voter Registration

What a great idea!

Because the people that spam your email box with ads for Viagra and with fake warnings about your bank account should also be able to register to vote.

I'm sorry. I suppose I'm old fashioned. You have to show up or mail something in to vote. You should have to show up or mail something in to register to vote, too.

If that's too much work for you, or too inconvenient, then you don't have a proper understanding of the importance that voting plays in your life and in the proper functioning of our country and its political system (the worst in the world, with the exception of every single other one that has been tried).

I found this tidbit particularly interesting, though:

Another legislative proposal would create a committee to study Indiana's presidential primary election dates.

The committee would be charged with studying whether the state should move its primary election date from early May to earlier in the year so that the state has more of a say in presidential races. The group would study the cost of a date change and whether voters would have a better chance of having their voices heard. And it would look into the possibility of joining other Midwest states to hold a regional primary.

I like Mitch's suggestion back last year of moving the primary to automatically be the same date as that of New Hampshire.

Jon Huntsman Comes Out

In favor of civil unions.

Interesting, since he comes from a state so red that it has basically no blue in it at all.

Also interesting, since he's considered a possible candidate for President in 2012.

The comparison to Romney is also interesting and illustrative. Romney, having had to run to the middle (or even to the left, as I myself contended during the primaries) to get elected and govern in Massachusetts, could never make his new-found conservative positions seem authentic.

Huntsman, in contrast, has no such limitations. Because Utah is so conservative, it is all but impossible for someone to get to his right on most issues, so the movement to the center is much easier than the move from the center to the right (or from the left to the right, for that matter).

Is his position politically savvy? Probably. Will it hurt him with the Republican base and with social conservatives? Yes and no. In the short term, yes. In the long term, it very much depends on the political landscape in late 2011 and what the rest of the GOP field looks like.

Maybe It's Just Because Obama Is a Lefty and Can't Sign The Bills Very Fast...

A bit of historical comparison from John Steele Gordon:

After the House passed the “stimulus” bill by a vote of 246-183 without a single Republican vote yesterday, Speaker Nancy Pelosi told the chamber that no president in history had ever acted so boldly or so quickly to help the American economy.

Well, boldness, I suppose, is in the eye of the beholder. But quickness can be objectively measured. The bill passed on the 25th day of the Obama presidency. Is that a record for major economic legislation? No, it’s not even close.

On March 9th, 1933, only the sixth day of Franklin Roosevelt’s presidency, he signed the Emergency Banking Act–which revolutionized American banking–into law. It had been submitted at one o’clock that afternoon, passed the House by unanimous voice vote 38 minutes later, passed the Senate a few hours after that with only seven dissenting votes, and FDR signed it into law at 8:36 that evening. Now that’s quick, not to mention bipartisan, which no one can accuse the stimulus bill of being.

Indeed, by the 25th day of his presidency Roosevelt had also signed into law the bill creating the Civilian Conservation Corps to employ 250,000 young people, the Economy Act, which reorganized the government to reduce government expenses by $500 million, and the Beer-Wine Revenue Act legalizing low-alcohol drinks and taxing them heavily, which proved to be the death knell of Prohibition.

By June 16th, when Congress adjourned, Roosevelt had signed 14 major acts of legislation into law.

Is it interesting that these historical comparisons always show Obama to be lacking whenever the actual facts of history are supplied?

Obama the Cabinetmaker

Obama the Cabinetmaker

A Tail of Two Lists

In the run-up to the stimulus vote, both the DCCC and the NRCC, the respective Democrat and Republican Congressional campaign arms ran ads in target districts hoping to either sway votes or gain political capital on how certain members voted.

The lists are interesting to compare.

The Democrat list targeting Republicans (via NRO):

Don Young AK-AL
Dan Lungren CA-03
Elton Gallegy CA-24
Ken Calvert* CA-44
Brian Bilbray CA-50
Bill Young FL-10
Tom Rooney FL-16
Lincoln Diaz-Balart FL-21
Mario Diaz-Balart FL-25
Tom Latham IA-04
Donald Manzullo IL-16
Brett Guthrie KY-02
Joseph Cao LA-02
John Fleming LA-04
Bill Cassidy LA-06
Roscoe Bartlett MD-06
Thad McCotter MI-11
Michele Bachmann* MN-06
Blaine Luetkemeyer* MO-09
Lee Terry NE-02
Leonard Lance NJ-07
Christopher Lee NY-26
Henry Brown SC-01
Pete Sessions TX-32
Eric Cantor VA-07
Dave Reichert WA-08
James Sensenbrenner WI-05
Shelley Moore-Capito WV-02

*Ads on economic recovery and children's health care will run in these districts.

The Republican list targeting Democrats (via Ambinder):

John Barrow (GA-12)
Bruce Braley (IA-01)
Chris Carney (PA-10)
Travis Childers (MS-01)
Kathy Dahlkemper (PA-03)
Steve Driehaus (OH-01)
Chet Edwards (TX-17)
Bart Gordon (TN-06)
Alan Grayson (FL-08)
John Hall (NY-19)
Steve Kagen (WI-08)
Mary Jo Kilroy (OH-15)
Larry Kissell (NC-08)
Suzanne Kosmas (FL-24)
Dan Maffei (NY-25)
Betsy Markey (CO-04)
Eric Massa (NY-29)
Jerry McNerney (CA-11)
Charlie Melancon (LA-03)
Dennis Moore (KS-03)
Glenn Nye (VA-02)
John Salazar (CO-03)
Mark Schauer (MI-07)
Kurt Schrader (OR-05)
Carol Shea-Porter (NH-01)
Ike Skelton (MO-04)
Zack Space (OH-18)
Harry Teague (NM-02)
Dina Titus (NV-03)
Tim Walz (MN-01)

It's interesting to compare the two lists. While this isn't a perfect way of defining the seats that both sides see as targets in the 2010 election cycle, it's worth noting regardless.

Many of the GOP seats targeted by the DCCC, like that of Pete Sessions (who is the head of the NRCC) cannot be considered competitive (and most weren't in recent cycles). The DCCC didn't seem to determine its ad list in quite that way.

But almost all of the NRCC ads, with a few exceptions (Ike Skelton, for example), are swing districts. The NRCC's targeting focus is different than that of the DCCC. The DCCC, by running ads in places like the districts of Pete Sessions and Eric Cantor, is mostly running ads as a show of force. The Republicans, by mostly running ads in more competitive districts, seem to be hoping to gain more mileage with them in the longer term.

Part of that stems from the fact that there are basically no Republican swing districts left. Part of it probably also stems from the fact that those seats the Democrats built their majorities on tend towards a conservative electorate that, in many respects, won't appreciate flushing a trillion dollars down the toilet.

It's of course notable that nobody from Indiana from either party made the target list.

Quote of the Day

"Genuine bipartisanship assumes an honest process of give-and-take, and that the quality of the compromise is measured by how well it serves some agreed-upon goal, whether better schools or lower deficits. This in turn assumes that the majority will be constrained -- by an exacting press corps and ultimately an informed electorate -- to negotiate in good faith.

"If these conditions do not hold -- if nobody outside Washington is really paying attention to the substance of the bill, if the true costs . . . are buried in phony accounting and understated by a trillion dollars or so -- the majority party can begin every negotiation by asking for 100% of what it wants, go on to concede 10%, and then accuse any member of the minority party who fails to support this 'compromise' of being 'obstructionist.'

"For the minority party in such circumstances, 'bipartisanship' comes to mean getting chronically steamrolled, although individual senators may enjoy certain political rewards by consistently going along with the majority and hence gaining a reputation for being 'moderate' or 'centrist.'"

- Barack Obama, in one of his two autobiographies

Barack Obama: The Audacity of Me

Obama to Visit Canada

Hilarity and orgasms ensue.

Jackie Walorski for Secretary of State?

Color me a skeptic. She's a stand-up legislator and a great conservative, but she'd have to get her understanding of the campaign finance laws she'd have to administer in order first.

The Pride of Our Education System

Make It Rain Candy, Mr. President!

Photo of the Day: Don't You Wish Your Piggy Bank Looked Like This?

Redistribute Wealth - Vote Democrat
Yeah; thought not.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Back

Yeah, I took a short break from blogging, though not from a lack of material. Sometimes, you just need to recharge the batteries.

So much to blog about, so little time...

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Hope & Change: Gregg Withdraws Commerce Nomination, Cites Illegal Census Power Grab

Via Drudge:

GREGG WITHDRAWS NOMINATION FOR COMMERCE SEC
Thu Feb 12 2009 16:18:14 ET

For Immediate Release:
Thursday, February 12, 2009

Senator Gregg Statement on His Withdrawal for Consideration of U.S. Commerce Secretary

Sen. Gregg stated, “I want to thank the President for nominating me to serve in his Cabinet as Secretary of Commerce. This was a great honor, and I had felt that I could bring some views and ideas that would assist him in governing during this difficult time. I especially admire his willingness to reach across the aisle.

“However, it has become apparent during this process that this will not work for me as I have found that on issues such as the stimulus package and the Census there are irresolvable conflicts for me. Prior to accepting this post, we had discussed these and other potential differences, but unfortunately we did not adequately focus on these concerns. We are functioning from a different set of views on many critical items of policy.

“Obviously the President requires a team that is fully supportive of all his initiatives.

“I greatly admire President Obama and know our country will benefit from his leadership, but at this time I must withdraw my name from consideration for this position.

“As we move forward, I expect there will be many issues and initiatives where I can and will work to assure the success of the President’s proposals. This will certainly be a goal of mine.

“Kathy and I also want to specifically thank Governor Lynch and Bonnie Newman for their friendship and assistance during this period. In addition we wish to thank all the people, especially in New Hampshire, who have been so kind and generous in their supportive comments.

“As a further matter of clarification, nothing about the vetting process played any role in this decision. I will continue to represent the people of New Hampshire in the United States Senate.”

Wow. Talk about a sucker punch, made all the more effective by the way his nomination was hyped by the administration and its allies.

Abraham Lincoln, 1809-1865

Abraham Lincoln, 16th President of the United States
Born February 12; today is his two hundredth birthday (a date shared with Charles Darwin; guess who Google honored with a special logo today).

Some quotes from and about America's greatest president.

A house divided against itself cannot stand." I believe this government cannot endure, permanently half slave and half free. I do not expect the Union to be dissolved — I do not expect the house to fall — but I do expect it will cease to be divided. It will become all one thing or all the other.
- Speech at the Republican State Convention, Springfield, Illinois, accepting the Republican nomination for US Senate, June 16, 1858

I claim not to have controlled events, but confess plainly that events have controlled me. Now, at the end of three years struggle the nation's condition is not what either party, or any man devised, or expected. God alone can claim it. Whither it is tending seems plain. If God now wills the removal of a great wrong, and wills also that we of the North as well as you of the South, shall pay fairly for our complicity in that wrong, impartial history will find therein new cause to attest and revere the justice and goodness of God.
- April 4, 1864

In giving freedom to the slave, we assure freedom to the free —honorable alike in what we give, and what we preserve. We shall nobly save, or meanly lose, the last best, hope of earth.
- December 1, 1862

This country, with its institutions, belongs to the people who inhabit it. Whenever they shall grow weary of the existing Government, they can exercise their constitutional right of amending it, or their revolutionary right to dismember or overthrow it. I cannot be ignorant of the fact that many worthy and patriotic citizens are desirous of having the national Constitution amended...

The Chief Magistrate derives all his authority from the people, and they have referred none upon him to fix terms for the separation of the States. The people themselves can do this if also they choose; but the executive, as such, has nothing to do with it. His duty is to administer the present government, as it came to his hands, and to transmit it, unimpaired by him, to his successor.

Why should there not be a patient confidence in the ultimate justice of the people? Is there any better or equal hope, in the world? In our present differences, is either party without faith of being in the right? If the Almighty Ruler of nations, with his eternal truth and justice, be on your side of the North, or on yours of the South, that truth, and that justice, will surely prevail, by the judgment of this great tribunal of the American people.

By the frame of the government under which we live, this same people have wisely given their public servants but little power for mischief; and have, with equal wisdom, provided for the return of that little to their own hands at very short intervals.

While the people retain their virtue and vigilance, no administration, by any extreme of wickedness or folly, can very seriously injure the government in the short space of four years...

Intelligence, patriotism, Christianity, and a firm reliance on Him, who has never yet forsaken this favored land, are still competent to adjust, in the best way, all our present difficulty...

In your hands, my dissatisfied fellow countrymen, and not in mine, is the momentous issue of civil war. The government will not assail you. You can have no conflict without being yourselves the aggressors. You have no oath registered in Heaven to destroy the government, while I shall have the most solemn one to "preserve, protect, and defend it."

I am loath to close. We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battle-field, and patriot grave, to every living heart and hearth-stone, all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.
- First Inaugural Address, March 4, 1861

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation, so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate—we can not consecrate—we can not hallow—this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.
- At the dedication of the Soldiers' National Cemetery in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, November 19, 1863

The cheek of every American must tingle with shame as he reads the silly, flat and dishwatery utterances of the man who has to be pointed out to intelligent foreigners as the President of the United States.
- Chicago Times editorial after the Gettysburg Address

At this second appearing to take the oath of the presidential office, there is less occasion for an extended address than there was at the first. Then a statement, somewhat in detail, of a course to be pursued, seemed fitting and proper. Now, at the expiration of four years, during which public declarations have been constantly called forth on every point and phase of the great contest which still absorbs the attention, and engrosses the energies of the nation, little that is new could be presented. The progress of our arms, upon which all else chiefly depends, is as well known to the public as to myself; and it is, I trust, reasonably satisfactory and encouraging to all. With high hope for the future, no prediction in regard to it is ventured.

On the occasion corresponding to this four years ago, all thoughts were anxiously directed to an impending civil war. All dreaded it—all sought to avert it. While the inaugeral [sic] address was being delivered from this place, devoted altogether to saving the Union without war, insurgent agents were in the city seeking to destroy it without war—seeking to dissole [sic] the Union, and divide effects, by negotiation. Both parties deprecated war; but one of them would make war rather than let the nation survive; and the other would accept war rather than let it perish. And the war came.

One eighth of the whole population were colored slaves, not distributed generally over the Union, but localized in the Southern part of it. These slaves constituted a peculiar and powerful interest. All knew that this interest was, somehow, the cause of the war. To strengthen, perpetuate, and extend this interest was the object for which the insurgents would rend the Union, even by war; while the government claimed no right to do more than to restrict the territorial enlargement of it. Neither party expected for the war, the magnitude, or the duration, which it has already attained. Neither anticipated that the cause of the conflict might cease with, or even before, the conflict itself should cease. Each looked for an easier triumph, and a result less fundamental and astounding. Both read the same Bible, and pray to the same God; and each invokes His aid against the other. It may seem strange that any men should dare to ask a just God's assistance in wringing their bread from the sweat of other men's faces; but let us judge not that we be not judged. The prayers of both could not be answered; that of neither has been answered fully. The Almighty has his own purposes. "Woe unto the world because of offences! for it must needs be that offences come; but woe to that man by whom the offence cometh!" If we shall suppose that American Slavery is one of those offences which, in the providence of God, must needs come, but which, having continued through His appointed time, He now wills to remove, and that He gives to both North and South, this terrible war, as the woe due to those by whom the offence came, shall we discern therein any departure from those divine attributes which the believers in a Living God always ascribe to Him? Fondly do we hope—fervently do we pray—that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue, until all the wealth piled by the bond-man's two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash, shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said "the judgments of the Lord, are true and righteous altogether"

With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation's wounds; to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan—to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace, among ourselves, and with all nations.
- Second Inaugural Address, March 4, 1861

There lies the most perfect ruler of men the world has ever seen. Now he belongs to the ages.
- Edwin M. Stanton, at Lincoln's death, April 15, 1865

Indy Star: Remember Lincoln on His 200th Birthday... By Passing the “Stimulus” Package

Yeah, I couldn't believe that they would imply that either.

From the Indianapolis Star:

Is there anything about courage, vision and leadership that Americans, and Hoosiers, can still glean from those bleak days of the early 1860s?

Many observers would, of course, focus on Lincoln's best-known accomplishments. But one of his secondary, although no less extraordinary, achievements may well have the most relevance to the nation's current economic challenges.

Lincoln was an early and ardent proponent of building the Transcontinental Railroad. Even as the Civil War raged, he continued to funnel resources into the effort to link America's East Coast with its West by rail. Like many of Lincoln's accomplishments, the full fruit of building the railroad wasn't harvested until well after his death. But the project proved to be one of the most transformative economic ventures of the 19th century.

Why is that relevant today? The nation may well be at another pivotal, although far less charged, moment. Reducing the nation's heavy dependence on foreign oil and transforming its transportation systems could prove to be as economically vital as the railroads were in centuries past.

To their credit, somebody on the editorial staff, after writing the above paragraphs, decided to throw in one paragraph trying to walk it back a little:

That doesn't mean government must develop or even pay for transformative technology (the wonders of the Internet age, after all, gained full flower through private enterprise). But visionary leadership combined with the right regulatory and tax climate could blaze the way for wondrous breakthroughs.

It's worth noting the correct history here. The United States government did not pay for the Transcontinental Railroad in the way that certain folks currently want to invest in infrastructure (or even in the same way that Eisenhower built the Interstate Highway System in the 1950s).

The Federal government, sort of busy at the moment with other pressing matters, merely passed legislation (the Pacific Railway Act) that created an incentive structure (based on rewarding railway companies with a set acreage of land for each mile of track laid) and loaned the railway companies money (all of which was paid back, with interest; try to get that now from some of these "infrastructure" and other projects in the "stimulus" package).

Incentivizing private sector enterprise and progress to achieve important national aims is a very different thing, and a very different lesson, than what is being attempted by the Obama administration in terms of addressing what the Star calls "the nation's current economic challenges."

The two are not analogous, and it is a great disservice to Lincoln and to history to try and make them so. Like so many comparisons between Lincoln and those that followed him (not just Obama), it falls flat on its face.

Int-Oxley-cated: Special Prosecutor Requested

Yeah, I told you so.

From the Courier-Journal:

Crawford County Prosecutor Cheryl Hillenburg filed a motion asking to withdraw from the case and for the appointment of a special prosecutor because of ties that she and her family have to Oxley and his family.

Hillenburg's motion asking for a special prosecutor said she, her husband and her chief deputy "have participated in numerous fund-raising events" for Oxley. The motion also said the prosecutor's husband, attorney Stanley Pennington, has represented Oxley and his family in a civil capacity.

Oxley is scheduled to appear in Crawford Circuit Court tomorrow. Hillenburg said her withdrawal means Oxley won't be officially charged until a special prosecutor is appointed but the hearing may go on with Oxley being presented a copy of her motion for a special prosecutor.

Meanwhile, more on the infamous disappearing passenger (or the passenger that wasn't, or whatever the story is now):

Despite the latter charge, Sheriff Tim Wilkerson said Oxley was traveling alone.

Wilkerson said the arresting officer had worked previously in a tourist community where the endangering charge is routinely included in suspected drunken-driving cases where a crash is involved. That is not traditionally done in Crawford County, the sheriff said.

"In our investigation, there's no proof there was anyone else" in Oxley's vehicle, Wilkerson said.

On Monday, The Associated Press reported that Chief Deputy Andy Beals said that Oxley had a passenger. Yesterday, Beals said that was a mistake.

The sheriff's report made no mention of a passenger in Oxley's car and said the SUV was unattended at the time.

"There's no proof."

Words you can believe in, if you're a Democratic politician in Crawford County.

Buskill Out as Clark GOP Chair

From the mail bag:

Dear Supporters,

It has been an honor to serve as the Clark County Republican chairman for the past 18 months. I have tried to leave the party in better shape than I found it. I hope I accomplished that.

I will not seek re-election as chairman during our March 7th meeting. I accepted a position in Indianapolis working with our State Superintendent Tony Bennett.

Tony has given me the opportunity to be on the front lines of driving more money to the classroom and I am very excited about the opportunity.

I will miss home, and I will definitely miss the fight to make Clark County a better place to live. We must continue the fight to elect better and more qualified people to office.

I hope I can continue to be a resource to the party and look forward to helping the new chairman anyway I can.

Please stay in touch.

Thank you,

David Buskill
Clark GOP Chairman

This isn't exactly unexpected. But reorganization is coming early this year (two years since the last one, instead of four). It should be interesting to see who stays and who goes across the state.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Int-Oxley-cated: More Facts Emerge in Dennie Ray II DUI Case... The Passenger Just Vanishes

Two more stories in the Courier-Journal today on Dennie Oxley's drunken joyride over the weekend.

First:

Former state Rep. Dennie Oxley of English said yesterday that he "made an error in judgment" involving a car crash that resulted in his arrest on suspicion of drunken driving.

Oxley's blood-alcohol concentration after the incident Friday night was 0.17 percent, more than twice the 0.08 level at which a person is presumed to be intoxicated under Indiana law, according to a report by the Crawford County Sheriff's Department.

"I take full responsibility. I make no excuses, and I expect no special treatment," Oxley said in a statement.

The 38-year-old Democrat, who gave up his House seat to run for lieutenant governor last year, expressed relief that no one was injured when his car struck a parked vehicle in Taswell.

"I know that I have let folks down," he said. "I simply want them to know that I will work every day to earn back their confidence."

Chief Deputy Andy Beals of the Crawford County sheriff's department said Oxley, who was traveling with a passenger, was arrested on suspicion of driving while intoxicated with a blood-alcohol content of greater than 0.15 percent and driving while intoxicated with endangering a person.

Both charges are Class A misdemeanors.

Oxley, driving a 2007 Chevrolet Impala, struck a parked 1992 Ford Explorer, doing between $10,000 and $25,000 damage to the two vehicles, according to the report.

Oxley is scheduled to appear in Crawford Circuit Court on Thursday on the official charges, which had not been filed late yesterday.

Oxley was released from the county jail and did not need to be hospitalized. The crash report did not give any information on his passenger, and the sheriff's department refused to release that information.

Where to begin?

I'd like to have a 1992 Explorer that could have $10,000 to $25,000 in damage done to it without being totalled. That must be some Explorer. And if the damage is that bad--on virtually any car--you're talking not just some fender bender or light impact. You're generally talking about a vehicle that has been rendered a total loss by a pretty significant encounter with another car (earlier speculation about a sporty luxury import can be dispelled; Oxley wrecked a Chevy Impala). One also has to logically think that the Impala, being a car, probably took even more damage than the Explorer, being an SUV.

I wonder how fast he was driving and if the airbag deployed on his car from the impact.

More importantly, the 0.17 level is over twice the legal limit (a legal limit that Oxley opposed in 1998 but voted to establish in 2001).

Notice the amount of discussion in the aforementioned article (and in prior articles as well, here, here, and here) concerning the passenger.

Well, in its second story, the Courier-Journal says that this passenger, well, was disappeared. Or never existed in the first place. Or something.

Former state Rep. Dennie Oxley did not have any passengers in his car when he hit a parked SUV in Taswell and was arrested on suspicion of operating a vehicle while intoxicated, the Crawford County sheriff said today.

Oxley, 38, who was last year’s Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor, was arrested Friday night on suspicion of driving while intoxicated with a blood-alcohol content of greater than 0.15 percent and driving while intoxicated with endangering a person.

Despite the latter charge, however, Sheriff Tim Wilkerson said Oxley was traveling alone. Wilkerson said the officer who made the arrest had worked previously in a tourist community where the endangering charge is routinely included in suspected drunken driving cases when a crash is involved.

However, the sheriff said, that is not traditionally done in Crawford County.

“In our investigation, there’s no proof there was anyone else” in Oxley’s vehicle, Wilkerson said.

Reports yesterday cited Chief Deputy Andy Beals as saying Oxley had a passenger. However, Beals said today that was a mistake.

Something smells here.

And it's not the sudden change of phrasing in all of the reporting from earlier concrete talk of hard facts to "suspicion" of the same earlier-reported facts.

Well, that smells too. But there's other stuff that smells more.

After so much mention of a passenger, in a wreck that caused considerable damage to at least one car (and probably Oxley's as well), the passenger suddenly doesn't exist at all.

And the very people that told us that the passenger existed earlier this very same day (see above story) now say that the passenger never existed, and that the officer on the scene made a mistake.

Moreover, the inclusion of the endangering charge is not something confined merely to tourist communities. It's used in such tourist destination spots as Jeffersonville. Which, as everyone who is not from Kentucky knows, is very far from Crawford County.

Back in 2007, I blogged about a candidate for city court judge in Jeffersonville that had a similar endangering charge filed against them (he later pled it down). There was no vehicle accident in that case; the incident happened in town.

Yet in Crawford County, where Oxley hit another car in town (though the car parked, it could have easily had a person in it or he could have hit a person or a moving car instead), this charge is strangely not "traditionally" made.

See the logical disconnect here? If the charge is routine enough for the folks at the sheriff's department and the officer to know about it and to know to make it (at least outside of Crawford County, "traditionally"), it's routine enough for a distinction to be made about the presence (or absence) of a passenger.

Yet the passenger is explicitly mentioned in the reporting and by the police themselves, along with a strict refusal to comment about the passenger's identity. Then, suddenly, the passenger not exist after all; the article makes no mention about whether the endangering charge will be filed or not.

And then we get to the whole "that's not traditionally done in Crawford County" line. Granted, Tim Wilkerson is a Republican, so I don't expect him to cut Oxley any favors (that would be for the prosecutor, more likely if at all; assuming they don't go to a special judge and prosecutor due to conflicts).

But that's just a loaded statement coming out of somebody in Crawford County, with a lot of history in the past to support that perception. It's an even more loaded statement when you're talking about it in the context of a former state legislator, a former lieutenant governor candidate, a possible secretary of state candidate, and a supposed (formerly) rising star in the Indiana Democratic Party.

Whether it is deserved or undeserved here, that perception just attached itself to Dennie Oxley in a big way. Already, commenters over at the Courier-Journal's website are speculating about the identity of the passenger that suddenly wasn't.

None of that's helpful to Oxley, at least as he issues statements of contrition and hopes to salvage the remains of his broader political future (as something other than a state legislator or a lackey to Pat Bauer; at least he won't be a placeholder candidate to be sold down the river by Dan Parker).

This can be swept under the rug yet, even with all of the attention from the newspapers.

Just wait and see. I'd love to be proven wrong.

Obligatory Post: Video of Brian Howey Asking Obama a Question



Obviously, that wasn't Brian Howey. It's sort of how I picture him, though, given his gushing and fawning coverage in a newsletter that's supposed to be about Indiana politics.

Anyhow, some related "thank you God" amusement:

Now I lay me down to sleep
I pray the Party my wealth to keep
If I should die before I awake
I pray the Party, my estate to take.

Hail Barack,
Full of Hope,
The Party is with thee.
Blessed art thou among socialists
and blessed is the fruit
of thy planned Change
Holy Obama,
Father of Chope,
give us taxpayers money now,
and tax the everyone else to death.

Our Obama, who art in Washington,
Hollow be thy claims!
Thy hope and change come
Thy bills be done
In DC as it is in Chicago.
Give us this day our stimulus bread
And give us more goverment programs
As we remove those of them that voted against us
And lead us not into capitalist temptation
But deliver us from evil conservatism.
Amen.

The Rundown on the Post's Hit on Steele

The Campaign Spot takes a detailed look at the Washington Post's hit piece--conveniently supplied by the Obama Justice Department--on new RNC chairman Michael Steele.

The timing of the article is lamentable, obviously. Republicans that were against Steele find it to be vindication of their support for someone else. Democrats and their media allies can use it to spin a web to link Steele to all manner of things from the past that Republicans elected Steele specifically to break from.

Steele, at least, seems to be focused elsewhere for now.

“Loose Twits Sink Shifts”

Two illustrative and important lessons in the use of Twitter today.

The first comes from Geraghty at the Campaign Spot, detailing how an inopportune "tweet" by the chairman of the Virginia GOP scuttled an imminent party switch by a Democrat state senator that would have handed the upper house of the Virginia state legislature to the Republicans.

Watch the sequence of events unfold as Geraghty updates his post:

A well-connected source in Virginia tells me that at least one Democratic state senator is leaving the party's caucus . . . "Not sure yet if he's going Republican or Independent." This is significant because the Democrats currently have a 21 to 19 majority; a switch could give Republicans control of the chamber, because the lieutenant governor, who presides and breaks ties, is Republican William Bolling.

And yes, this source used the pronoun "he."

UPDATE: Jeff Frederick, chairman of the Republican Party of Virginia and member of the House of Delegates, via Twitter: "Apparently one dem is either switching or leaving the dem caucus. Negotiations for power sharing underway."

I have called the lawmaker in question and am hoping to hear back shortly.

ANOTHER UPDATE: A Tweet from the Republican State Leadership Committee: "Reports from the VA House floor sort of confirm something big happening in the Senate."

YET ANOTHER UPDATE: After intense reports of an imminent switch out of Richmond, the sources go silent. Perhaps the switcher got cold feet . . .

. . . which is what Virginia VirtuCon is reporting: "Dem. Maj. Leader Dick Saslaw recessed, Senate Dems proceeded to pile on Northam and he caved."

AN 'UH-OH' UPDATE: From a Richmond source: "We're hearing that it was the premature release of this info from Chairman Frederick via Twitter that scuttled the deal."

A PERFECT SUMMARY: A reader suggests the headline, "Loose Twits Sink Shifts."

The Economist, meanwhile, has two recent bipartisan examples of tweets by members of Congress getting those members into trouble. The first was from a Republican. The second was from a Democrat.

WHEN he typed out a text message about his trip to Iraq, Pete Hoekstra, a retiring Republican congressman from Michigan, thought nothing of it. Within hours he was being derided and criticised for revealing the hush-hush details of an official congressional trip via Twitter, the application that lets people beam 140-character (or less) messages onto the web, where they can be read by anyone. Mr Hoekstra was unmoved.

Lighten up. Its called twitter

What seemed like a gimmicky little technology that congressmen would use for PR has become a window into how the House and Senate work. Claire McCaskill, the senator from Missouri, took to her blackberry to text details and impressions of the high-tension negotiations over the stimulus.

Proud we cut over 100 billion out of recov bill. Many Ds don't like it, but needed to be done. The silly stuff Rs keep talking about is OUT.

This inspired the liberal blogger Atrios to go after Mrs McCaskill, especially when she tweeted that she was visiting a museum—did she think funding that was silly, too?

The Economist's conclusion is particularly important for Twitter users, particularly politicians, to learn (and learn quickly, given the rapid spread of Twitter):

When lawmakers grow addicted to this service, they ramp up the possibilities of gaffes and attacks as they try to open up the political process. Imagine a Congress of 535 Joe Bidens, all rushing to blurt out the first things they think.

The power of Twitter in politics is the connection it gives between candidates and elected officials, on one hand, with citizens and constituents and voters, on the other.

But the potential for mistakes on Twitter is significant; George Allen can tell you how one wrong spoken phrase can ruin a promising political career. That's not quite the same as something texted to a website from a phone or a Blackberry, but there is a record of it just the same.

It would be a shame for this important avenue of communication to be lost, or subverted to the control of spin doctors and staff hacks, simply because members of Congress (and others) don't think before they tweet.

Something put on Twitter is visible to everyone, and the things that Hoekstra, McCaskill, and Jeff Frederick (the Virginia GOP chairman) put on Twitter are probably not things that they would have shouted from the rooftops for anyone and everyone to hear. And, in putting those things on Twitter of course, that's exactly what they did.

The Chicago Way Comes to America



Hat tip: Advance Indiana.

The Bailouts: Two Cows Version

Hehehe.

You have two cows.

John Paulson borrows one cow so he can sell it for $100. He gives you $10 as collateral.

You buy your neighbors cow for $100, which you finance by taking out a $90 loan from the bank and use John's $10 to make up the rest.

You brag to everyone about your financial health. You have assets--two cows you own, plus one Paulson owes you--worth $300, and liabilities of just $100.

A third of the country goes vegetarian.

You thought your two cows were worth $200 and now they are worth $140.

You express confidence in your financial health. Your assets are now worth only $200--your two cows plus the one John owes you--but your liabilities are still only $100. If necessary, you could sell the assets at this distressed price and pay off all your loans.

You hold onto your cows because you are sure the market is "dislocated." Some day someone will want to eat beef again.

The rest of the country goes vegetarian. Your two cows are now worth $2 each to guys who want to make dog food.

John Paulson buys a cow in the market for $2 and he gives it to you as repayment of the loan. You now have three cows worth six bucks.

John wants his $10 back.

The bank calls. It wants its $90 back.

You call the Federal Reserve and ask for a bailout.

The last line seems to be missing.

A neighbor, Joe Q. Public, had his two cows gored to pay for the bailout.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Int-Oxley-cated Update

News is still coming in about former state representative and defeated Democratic lieutenant governor candidate Dennie Oxley's drunk driving escapade back over the weekend.

If this were anyone else in the area (assuming it isn't swept under the rug, which I guess could still happen even with the press and attention it has gotten), Oxley would likely face charges of reckless driving and public intoxication (misdemeanors), leading to a period on probation and some fines or fees being paid. Those charges could be upgraded depending on circumstance (prior history, minors in the car, et cetera; those don't seem likely from what I hear). If it gets to a felony level and there is a conviction (or even a plea-down from a felony to a misdemeanor), Oxley would no longer be able to run for office in Indiana.

Oxley's biggest loss, of course, will probably be in not being able to have Dan Parker hang him out to dry with the other Democratic statewide candidates in November of 2010.

However, Crawford County is a tight-knit community and Oxley is a public figure. Oxley is also a Democrat, as are nearly all elected officials in Crawford County, including (notably) the prosecutor.

For that reason (and others), it is entirely possible that the Oxley case would not be handled by the county prosecutor and county judge if charges are filed and could instead go before a special judge and special prosecutor (in the event of conflicts). If that happens, even a minor case like this might well drag on forever; Indiana could have a new Secretary of State by the time it is resolved.

Once the charges are filed by the prosecutor (assuming they are filed), the police report and associated documents will become public record. I will try to post copies of them when they are available.

In the meantime, in memory of happier days, enjoy these two videos of Dennie Ray II.



Random Economy Thoughts

From Podhoretz over at Contentions:

I understand this talking point of Obama’s, but surely we are nowhere near such a calamity [as the Great Depression] — remember that between 1979 and 1982 we had interest rates at 18 percent, inflation over 10 percent, and eventually unemployment that topped 10 percent.

Meanwhile, Greg Mankiw has an interesting graph (via Justin Fox) comparing this recession with past recessions:

Recession Graph
William Polley has two more:

Recession Graph
This one is a bit less cluttered, also from Polley:

Recession Graph
The graphs seem to suggest, and Polley contends, that the recession resembles those of 1974-75 and 1981-82, sharp, steep, and brief.

Moreover, all of these graphs are more accurate and comprehensive as instruments of comparison than the rather misleading and limited graph put forward by Nancy Pelosi's office that seems to be getting some attention on the Internets these days.

Even the Associated Press is now even fact checking Obama's claims regarding the "stimulus" legislation, particularly many of the dubious claims he made during his recent visit to Elkhart:

OBAMA: "I know that there are a lot of folks out there who've been saying, 'Oh, this is pork, and this is money that's going to be wasted,' and et cetera, et cetera. Understand, this bill does not have a single earmark in it, which is unprecedented for a bill of this size. ... There aren't individual pork projects that members of Congress are putting into this bill."

THE FACTS: There are no "earmarks," as they are usually defined, inserted by lawmakers in the bill. Still, some of the projects bear the prime characteristics of pork - tailored to benefit specific interests or to have thinly disguised links to local projects.

For example, the latest version contains $2 billion for a clean-coal power plant with specifications matching one in Mattoon, Ill., $10 million for urban canals, $2 billion for manufacturing advanced batteries for hybrid cars, and $255 million for a polar icebreaker and other "priority procurements" by the Coast Guard.

Obama told his Elkhart audience that Indiana will benefit from work on "roads like U.S. 31 here in Indiana that Hoosiers count on." He added: "And I know that a new overpass downtown would make a big difference for businesses and families right here in Elkhart."

U.S. 31 is a north-south highway serving South Bend, 15 miles from Elkhart in the northern part of the state.

OBAMA: "I've appointed hundreds of people, all of whom are outstanding Americans who are doing a great job. There are a couple who had problems before they came into my administration, in terms of their taxes. ... I made a mistake ... I don't want to send the signal that there are two sets of rules."

He added: "Everybody will acknowledge that we have set up the highest standard ever for lobbyists not working in the administration."

THE FACTS: Two of his appointees, former Senate Democratic leader Tom Daschle for secretary of health and human services and Nancy Killefer as his chief compliance officer, dropped out after reports they had not paid a portion of their taxes.

Obama previously acknowledged he "screwed up" in making it seem to Americans that there is one set of tax compliance rules for VIPs and another set for everyone else. Yet his choice for treasury secretary, Timothy Geithner, hung in and achieved the post despite having belatedly paid $34,000 to the IRS, an agency Geithner now oversees.

That could leave the perception that there is one set of rules for Geithner and another set for everyone else.

On lobbyists, Obama has in fact established tough new rules barring them from working for his administration. But the ban is not absolute.

William J. Lynn III, tapped to be the No. 2 official at the Defense Department, recently lobbied for military contractor Raytheon. William Corr, chosen as deputy secretary at Health and Human Services, has lobbied as an anti-tobacco advocate. And Geithner's choice for chief of staff, Mark Patterson, is an ex-lobbyist from Goldman Sachs.

OBAMA: "The plan that we've put forward will save or create 3 million to 4 million jobs over the next two years."

THE FACTS: Job creation projections are uncertain even in stable times, and some of the economists relied on by Obama in making his forecast acknowledge a great deal of uncertainty in their numbers.

Beyond that, it's unlikely the nation will ever know how many jobs are saved as a result of the stimulus. While it's clear when jobs are abolished, there's no economic gauge that tracks job preservation.

It's unusually diligent of them.

The polling also isn't very friendly, as Power Line notes:

Scott Rasmussen finds that 62% of Americans want any "stimulus" bill enacted by Congress to include more tax cuts and less spending. Even among Democrats, a slight plurality prefers the bill to be heavier on tax cuts. Only 14% want fewer tax cuts and more spending.

The tax cuts now included in the stimulus package are sub-optimal from an economic standpoint. But the poll data show that most Americans understand that the Democrats' bill is essentially a power grab--a massive transfer of wealth from the private sector to government and the clients of the Democratic Party.

The Senate Republicans note the interesting growth of the stimulus package from September of last year (with citations and quotes of Democrats backing up every number at the link).

As The $827 Billion Spending Bill Continues To Grow, Taxpayers Remember When It Was A Much Smaller Proposal

$56 billion, 09/25/08)

$61 billion, 09/26/08

$100 billion, 11/09/08

$150 billion, 10/08/08

$200 billion, 10/16/08

$300 billion, 10/14/08

$400 billion, 12/04/08

$500 billion, 12/13/08

$600 billion, 12/12/08

$700 billion, 11/24/08

$775 billion, 12/19/09

$800 billion, 02/08/09

Notable Harvard economist Robert Barro sums it up:

This is probably the worst bill that has been put forward since the 1930s. I don't know what to say. I mean it's wasting a tremendous amount of money. It has some simplistic theory that I don't think will work, so I don't think the expenditure stuff is going to have the intended effect. I don't think it will expand the economy. And the tax cutting isn't really geared toward incentives. It's not really geared to lowering tax rates; it's more along the lines of throwing money at people. On both sides I think it's garbage. So in terms of balance between [spending and tax relief] it doesn't really matter that much.

Now, to answer several emails I got about my earlier post about the stimulus package and the warning given by Japan's history with similar measures, I want to note that I'm not a "do nothing" on this.

There are important things that government needs to be doing. I don't think that spending a huge pile of money so quickly in the urge to "just do something" for the sake of being seen by the electorate to do something is the proper course for public policy. There are things it should look at fixing and improving (particularly with regard to policies, laws, and regulations), and reasoned discussions should be had about what the best way forward.

The banking and financial system needs to be cleaned up and fixed. The government needs to spend money more wisely and in ways that accomplish more for each existing taxpayer dollar. In this, Obama and Congress could stand to learn a lot from several governors (such as Mitch Daniels, but also Republicans and Democrats).

Public policy should be structured in such a way that the energies of individuals are channelled into important projects, not in a way that relies upon government to do these things, usually because in many (if not most) cases it either can't do it or it can't do it effectively or very efficiently.

This isn't exactly a turning back the clock to eight years of "failed policies" (that's a canard and a straw man); we haven't had that sort of enlightened government policy in this country in a long time.

We need it.

Unfortunately, it doesn't look like we're going to get it.

Instead of getting more of the "failed policies" of the 2000s, we're instead going to get more of the "failed policies" of the 1930s and the 1970s. It's a false choice, and a darned poor option set.