Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Shooting of Former Jail Commander Under Questioning in Deatrick Probe "Not a Suicide"

First came this from the Courier-Journal:

Indiana State Police investigated the death of a woman in Harrison County yesterday.

The Harrison County Sheriff's Department received a call about "an alleged accidental gunshot" at a residence in the 2400 block of Ryleigh Court in Ramsey, according to a press release from the state police. When deputies arrived, they found the dead woman.

"Deputies then requested troopers to assume the investigation," the release said.

State police detectives and crime scene technicians were at the scene, the release said.

The woman's name was not released "due to the ongoing investigation," the release said.

A dispatcher for the sheriff's department declined to release any information.

And from WLKY (one of Louisville's TV stations):

Police: Former Harrison Jailer's Death 'Not Suicide'
Source: Victim 'Under Pressure' From Sheriff Investigation

RAMSEY, Ind. -- WLKY has learned that a former Harrison County jailer, killed in what investigators are calling an "accidental shooting," was being questioned as a witness in a sexual harassment case against her boss. Watch The Story Sgt. Jerry Goodin said that police had received a domestic disturbance call from inside 28-year-old Christine Britton's home in the 2400 block of Ryleigh Court prior to the shooting. Goodin said Britton died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound, but he said investigators aren't characterizing Britton's death as a "suicide."

Several sources tell WLKY that Britton had been "under pressure" recently because Indiana State Police investigators had been questioning her as part of a criminal investigation into county sheriff Mike Deatrick. Two county dispatchers accuse Deatrick of fondling them and of intimidation. Deatrick has denied the allegations.

According to a search warrant affidavit obtained by WLKY, state investigators have questioned Britton, the former jail commander, about surveillance cameras that may have captured images of the sheriff pointing his gun at Deanna Decker and Melissa Graham after the pair filed complaints with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Last week, state police obtained a new search warrant and seized a computer hard drive from the facility in an effort to obtain additional camera footage and to determine whether anyone had attempted to destroy evidence in the case.

The special prosecutor assigned to the Deatrick case said Monday that Britton's death should have no bearing on her criminal investigation.

"There's no reason to believe there's a relationship between the two investigations," Nancy Jacobs told WLKY.

Sgt. Goodin said that police have yet to find a link between Britton's death and her cooperation in the Deatrick investigation. But, Goodin added: "That's not to say that something might show up in the weeks down the road."

I'm at a loss for words at the moment.

Dispatches from the Lincoln Day Circuit: Jennings County

I'm going to try to make this a regular feature on the blog for the next few weeks and months, what with Lincoln Day season in high gear and all.

And, as a part of that, I'll be accepting brief "dispatches" (via email) from readers across the state about the Lincoln Day Dinners they have attended, whether in their county or wherever.

On Monday night, your humble correspondent attended the Jennings County Lincoln Day Dinner in North Vernon. The event was attended by over a hundred loyal Republicans, including Treasurer of State Richard Mourdock, Indiana's Republican National Committeewoman Dee Dee Benkie, former 9th District Chairman Larry Shickles, and Hamilton County GOP chairman (and Secretary of State candidate) Charlie White. Don Hayes and Erin Houchin were conspicuously absent.

Secretary of State Todd Rokita was the speaker. I'm not much for Lincoln Day speeches (I've been to too many and my attention span is short), but Rokita gave a pretty good one. Not too long, not too short. It flowed well, had good points, was topical, and didn't wander.

I thought about comparing it to Becky Skillman's Lincoln Day speech that I heard at the Floyd County Lincoln Day about two weeks ago (since the two are both likely to run for Governor in 2012), but I don't think that the two are comparable. Rokita's speech was more about politics and the Republican Party. Skillman's speech was more about Indiana and the current situation in which the state finds itself. Both are important and topical in their own ways, but you can't compare them beyond that they were both well-delivered.

Also present were three of the 9th District candidates, Travis Hankins, Richard Moss, and Todd Young. The last has been making the rounds of Lincoln Days in the 9th already. This is, to my knowledge, the first Lincoln Day that either Hankins or Moss have attended.

Each was allowed to speak briefly. Hankins reminds me of Mike Pence in style; a very preaching or sermon-like delivery. There's a lot of Michael Bailey in him. He was the only one to focus strongly on social issues. Todd Young tended to focus largely on fiscal issues, and Rick Moss spoke about both more broadly. Fiscal conservatism alone doesn't win you elections in the 9th normally, but 2010 is unlikely to be a normal year.

Image of the Day

Congressional districts in Indiana, in the 1970s.

Imagine There Was a Republican Party...

Susan Estrich, a Democrat, ponders the possibilities:

Imagine how different things might be right now if there were a Republican Party. I mean a party like the one led by Ronald Reagan, George Bush or Newt Gingrich; a party with a program, a single set of talking points, and the technological and communications advantages to get their message across. That kind of Republican Party. The kind that doesn't exist right now.

Conservative talk radio is on the wane. The Internet, with the exception of the ever-popular Drudge Report, is dominated by the left and the more left. The Democrats, for the first time in this adult's memory, now hold the advantage in terms of technology, organization and communications. Imagine.

If there actually were a Republican Party, they'd be having a field day right now. Not a Glenn Beck field day, but the Washington-politics kind, where you hold hearings and press conferences and announce alternate legislation; where you run ads in key districts making clear what's wrong with their approach; where you do radical things like unify to oppose earmarks, renounce all of your own and become a party that stands for something. Imagine that. Beck's popularity derives not only from his talent, but also from the vacuum of any other way -- like involvement in politics -- to voice passionately felt concerns. God knows, you wouldn't write to your congressman.

The Republicans in Congress are irrelevant -- either because, in the smallest number, they go along with the Democrats, or because they just say no and lose. Either way, they're part of the problem and not a place to find an answer. Lately, most of the Republican talking heads I see are so busy trying to figure out whether Rush Limbaugh is or is not their leader that they lose any claim to being leaders themselves.

Consider this AIG bonus mess. Could the Democrats have done more to assume the position of sitting ducks than they have on this one? Could you get a better symbol to bang over their heads than knowingly allowing hundreds of millions of dollars in bonuses to be paid while people are losing their jobs and struggling to hold on to their homes? Sure, I know, the economists will tell you that hundreds of millions don't matter much when we're talking about a bailout in the hundreds of billions. But this is politics, not economics. This turkey is trimmed and stuffed.

But do you see the Republicans turning it into an opportunity? To do what? It's not just that the Democrats blew it on this one. It's that moments like this are an opportunity if there's anybody else out there with something to say worth listening to. And I don't mean Glenn or Rush -- they're doing just fine. I mean the people who do, or should, call themselves the leaders of the Republican Party, or who should make way for others who could fill those shoes.

Sarah Palin is still the big draw for Republicans, with Bobby Jindal now a distant second. But neither of them, as recent history has painfully proved, have the experience, gravity, understanding or credibility to go toe to toe with Tim Geithner, Larry Summers and the rest as to what the economy needs, and doesn't. Until the Republicans find some folks who can, this will remain a one-sided game, even on weeks like this, where that one side finds itself in the sort of situation that a real opposition party could exploit.

Should be good ratings this week for Rush and Glenn. Lucky for the White House that the president does better running against them than anyone else. Not so lucky for the Republican Party, such as it is.

I think that Tuesday's election in NY-20 will have a pretty good indicator of whether there will be a Republican Party reemerging soon or not. Nothing gets the attention of the media, and suddenly gives you a platform quite like starting to win elections again.

Saw This Web Ad Recently

MoveOn.org Ad Urging Baron Hill to vote for Obama's budget.
Yes, Baron.

Please vote for Obama's budget-busting, deficit-skyrocketing, pork-stuffed, tax-raising budget.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Bobby Knight Guitar Hero Commercial

Final Thoughts on the 9th District Caucus

I had intended to avoid posting about this further and had hoped that this would be my last post on the matter, but it seems that certain folks have a view of what happened that doesn't match with the facts of what occurred and they seem quite intent on perpetuating a narrative based upon this unique perspective regardless of how different it is from the reality of what transpired.

So I go back to the 9th District caucus one last time to correct the record.

First came this post from Brian Howey last week. I'll quote and correct in detail, as the spin Howey is labeling as reporting is truly at odds with what actually happened.

INDIANAPOLIS - Ninth CD Republican Chairman Larry Shickles was upset in his bid for re-election last Saturday as Erin Houchin of Salem won 22-13. Don Hayes of DuBois County was elected vice chair unanimously.

Sources tell HPI that it a “grassroots uprising” with Houchin using her base with the district Young Republicans while forming a team with Hayes, a veteran of 9th CD politics.

A "grassroots uprising" with a base of district Young Republicans?

This implies some sort of connotation of sweeping change or a broad-based transformation; it is not the case. Of the district's twenty counties, perhaps three (maybe four, depending on how you define it) saw changes in their reorganization, and one of those was a return to an experienced political hand who was responsible for ousting a prior district chairman years ago (and happened to have been the person that nominated Larry Shickles in this caucus).

Other counties saw leadership changes that did not impact their usual caucus voting patterns. There was very little turnover in the county chairs in the district. A grassroots uprising would imply some broad mandate for change coming from the, well, grassroots. That clearly wasn't the case here.

Then we move on to the mythical base of Young Republicans. Most of the counties with active YR organizations voted for Larry Shickles (there aren't a lot of counties in the 9th with active YR organizations, but I digress). Is that a stark and pointed commentary on the leadership--or lack thereof--Houchin provided to the district-level YRs? I don't think so, though it would be very easy to spin it that way if I wanted to be disingenuous. There's enough disingenuous spin coming out from others as it is.

Regardless, this was no "grassroots uprising" and the supposed base of Young Republicans does not exist given where the votes came from and where they went.

Houchin is younger, very hard working Republican activist type who has mastered the nuts and bolts of local campaigns — and served effectively both as 9th District YR Chairman and on the Washington County Republican Central Committee as Vice Chairman.

Erin Houchin served so effectively as head of the Young Republicans in Washington County that they voted her out of office the week before the district caucus. (I'm told that it unfolded along the lines of "Well, I guess I'll run one more year" answered by "Not this year you won't.")

I'm sure that those involved in the McCain and Sodrel campaigns in the 9th District can attest to her hard work leading the district YRs--or rather attest to the shocking absence of it, since so very little was done on the part of the district YRs--and I'm sure that she got all sorts of campaign experience getting her husband elected as Washington County Prosecutor.

I'm also sure that she'll be spending a lot of time and effort in Washington County in 2010 to ensure that he gets reelected (Washington County likes to vote its prosecutors out after only one term, but judges there serve virtually for life). One can't blame her on that score, but one can also wonder what that will mean for her activity in the district at large in such a crucial election.

“So she has paid her dues early, lots of energy, idealism and courage,” the source said. She has particular strength in the central part of the district. Hayes is a very trusted old hand/long-time party guy who is very well-respected and well-known, particularly across the western region of the district.

One person in all of this who has paid his dues is Don Hayes. Had Don wanted to run for district chairman, he probably not only would have won, but he would likely have been unopposed (for a time after the November election, Shickles was considering quitting and was sounding people out about whether anyone wanted to replace him; no one stepped forward until Houchin filed at the last minute).

Instead, Don Hayes told Larry Shickles and Dee Dee Benkie on the Monday before the caucus (at a meeting in Jasper attended by many other witnesses and at which I was present) that he would support them; his word was good until Friday, less than twenty-four hours before the district caucus, when he broke it and decided to support someone else. After that, Hayes spoke frequently about having "given my word to Erin." His word to Larry and Dee Dee apparently didn't count for much in comparison.

Don brought with him the votes of two other counties, Perry and Spencer. Those counties cooperate a lot with Dubois (they hold common fundraisers, such as golf scrambles, for example), and Hayes does much of the organizing and the preparation when they do so. Their county chairs are all experienced hands and good friends who have worked together for many years.

Hayes' decision to break his word and to support someone else caused all three of those counties--six votes in total--to flip from being Solid Shickles to Solid Hayes (they weren't solid for Houchin; those counties voted for Don Hayes). That's the outcome of the caucus right there.

Not some change in the wind "grassroots uprising," for those county chairs have held those posts for a long time. Not some great tide of Young Republicans, for those county chairs (while I wouldn't call them old; Jerriann Burroughs sure doesn't look old) are not young. A caucus outcome predicated on a couple of longtime county chairs switching sides after the dishonorable actions of one "old hand" county chairman, whatever else it might be, is not a movement by Young Republicans (or even young Republicans, for that matter). It's also not a "grassroots uprising."

Calling it those things isn't even spin; those things have no relationship at all with what actually happened.

Sources tell HPI that Shickles was vulnerable because of a lack of ties to the southern and eastern parts of the sprawling 9th CD.

This isn't the case, either. There were counties in the eastern part of the district that were quite supportive of Shickles. He was nominated by someone from Switzerland County, and Dee Dee Benkie is from Ripley County. Ohio County never even sends anyone to district meetings or caucuses.

It's misleading and simply untrue to say that he didn't have ties to the southern and eastern parts of the district (I'd consider Harrison County to be from the southern part of the district, and Shickles is from here, after all).

All analyses of the caucus vote go back to Don Hayes and to the counties in the western part of the district that flipped when he broke his word.

“This was neither ideological or personal, just time for change, fresh blood, new energy, openness and better internal communication,” one source told HPI. “The new leadership was not a stalking horse for anyone and the campaign was classic bottom-up and not planned in advance by any central authority. Erin stepped up to the plate at the 11th hour when no one else did and made some very smart moves, including asking Hayes to join her.”

Boy, this is a load. Who talks like this, except when they want to try and misdirect from those very things being precisely the case?

Houchin, who Republican sources said had a baby two days later, could represent a new tide in the 9th CD. She is reportedly friends with Paoli attorney Todd Young, who is preparing a challenge in 2010 against Rep. Hill. Sources say that a number of the Young Republicans did not have close ties to former congressman Sodrel, who has run against Hill four times, winning one term in 2002.

First, we're told that Houchin is not a stalking horse for anyone. Then, in the next paragraph, her ties to Todd Young are touted. I'd say that those two statements would seem to be at odds with each other (though Todd Young insists he had no involvement at all in the caucus).

And, again, one has to wonder who these "Young Republicans" that made all of the difference are. There's a line being sold here about the supposed youthful grassroots uprising of YRs simply doesn't bear out when compared to the facts of what actually transpired. It's all well and good to say that Houchin is a young, fresh face that won. It's not accurate to say that she won as a part of some youthful uprising or even that she won because of having a young, fresh face.

And last comes this, from this week's Howey report:

Sodrel made an appeal on behalf of Shickles, who limited Houchin to a two-minute presentation before the caucus, then spoke about 15 minutes himself before he was defeated.

Mike Sodrel was not present at the caucus; he was out of state (on business or vacation, I'm not certain which). I have been told that he tried to call Don Hayes (who was a staffer for Sodrel when Mike was in Congress) on the Friday before the caucus to speak with him, and that Hayes never returned his calls.

Second, Erin Houchin was not limited in the amount of time that she spoke. She did only speak for two minutes and Shickles did speak for fifteen, but that was not because Shickles limited her or cut her off.

Mark Wynn of Jefferson County, who seconded Houchin's nomination, asked for the ability to make a rebuttal; that request was denied (though I personally think that a spirited debate between the two candidates, while it would have taken additional time, would have been useful given the brevity of the "campaign" involved). Her nomination speech (read like a resume recital from a prepared text) was faltering and nervous, and I doubt that she would have done better with an unprepared rebuttal (let alone an extended debate between the two). I would have gladly spent another hour there to see the two of them have that back-and-forth.

Anyhow, the party rules (which are freely available online to anyone that wants to read them; PDF warning) provide no time limitations on these caucus presentations (though some committees adopt such limitations separately). The only time there is a two minute rule is in nomination speeches to the convention. If Erin Houchin was running for district chairman, presumably she would have known this had she read the rules that would be governing her election.

If Shickles had really been committed to a sort of ram-down befitting of Seth Denbo, the rules created an opening for that possibility. Houchin filed via email (a filing was mailed later, but did not arrive in Indianapolis before the deadline). Under the rules, archaic as they are, such filings do not stand if they are disputed. Had Shickles disputed Houchin's filing, the rules provide that there would have been no choice but to toss out her candidacy entirely. Larry Shickles would have then been unopposed.

One thing that can be said about Larry Shickles is that he knows the rules (both in the lack of limitation on speaking and in the matter of disputing filings), so the fact that he provided no limitation on speaking times (and utilized it) hardly says anywhere near as much about the caucus as his decision not to dispute Houchin's filing and get it thrown out.

Again, the reality of what actually happened tells a very different story from what actually gets reported. But when people go out with agendas to peddle and spins to perpetrate, they deserve to be answered (since apparently very little independent verification work is being done in these cases by the reporter himself).

Hopefully, this will be the last time I have to talk about this whole affair and the sad sacks that are peddling this fanciful storyline so at odds with reality, but don't think for a minute that I won't come back to it if necessary.

UCLA Study: FDR Prolonged Great Depression

From economists at UCLA:

Two UCLA economists say they have figured out why the Great Depression dragged on for almost 15 years, and they blame a suspect previously thought to be beyond reproach: President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

After scrutinizing Roosevelt's record for four years, Harold L. Cole and Lee E. Ohanian conclude in a new study that New Deal policies signed into law 71 years ago thwarted economic recovery for seven long years.

"Why the Great Depression lasted so long has always been a great mystery, and because we never really knew the reason, we have always worried whether we would have another 10- to 15-year economic slump," said Ohanian, vice chair of UCLA's Department of Economics. "We found that a relapse isn't likely unless lawmakers gum up a recovery with ill-conceived stimulus policies."

In an article in the August issue of the Journal of Political Economy, Ohanian and Cole blame specific anti-competition and pro-labor measures that Roosevelt promoted and signed into law June 16, 1933.

"President Roosevelt believed that excessive competition was responsible for the Depression by reducing prices and wages, and by extension reducing employment and demand for goods and services," said Cole, also a UCLA professor of economics. "So he came up with a recovery package that would be unimaginable today, allowing businesses in every industry to collude without the threat of antitrust prosecution and workers to demand salaries about 25 percent above where they ought to have been, given market forces. The economy was poised for a beautiful recovery, but that recovery was stalled by these misguided policies."


Recovery came only after the Department of Justice dramatically stepped enforcement of antitrust cases nearly four-fold and organized labor suffered a string of setbacks, the economists found.

"The fact that the Depression dragged on for years convinced generations of economists and policy-makers that capitalism could not be trusted to recover from depressions and that significant government intervention was required to achieve good outcomes," Cole said. "Ironically, our work shows that the recovery would have been very rapid had the government not intervened."

Somehow, what with card check and the "Employee Free Choice Act" and so forth, I doubt that anyone in the White House or in the majorities in Congress is listening. They can't hear reason over the sound of the contributions coming in from big labor.

Sarkozy Dreams of Remodeling Paris

An entirely new kind of stimulus: redesigning an entire city.

Obama's Potemkin Town Halls

After the victory of Tsarist Russia over the Ottoman Turks in the Russo-Turkish War of 1787 to 1792, Catherine the Great toured the conquered territories of the Khanate of the Crimea (what is today southern Ukraine and the Crimean Peninsula). Field Marshal Potemkin, who had led the Russian forces that defeated the Turks and conquered the area, sought during this tour to improve Catherine's opinion of him and his achievements during the war.

Unfortunately for Potemkin, the area he had just conquered was desolate and largely worthless. The Empress Catherine would be unlikely to be pleased to find during her visit that she had just conquered a backward swampy wasteland.

So, legend has it, Potemkin ordered the construction of scores of hollow facade villages along the route that Catherine's tour was to take, in order to impress her with the value of her new territories and to deceive her and her travel party into believing that they had just conquered something worthwhile.

The ruse worked. Catherine the Great was impressed, and Potemkin rose in her favor as a result.

Thus came the phrase "Potemkin village," which has today come to refer to a false or phony show or construct put on or up to hide something unpleasant or undesirable.

Under the Obama administration, this now includes Presidential town halls. Ironically, Obama accused and condemned the Bush administration for doing the same thing.

From the Washington Post:

President Obama has promised to change the way the government does business, but in at least one respect he is taking a page from the Bush playbook, stocking his town hall Thursday with supporters whose soft -- though far from planted -- questions provided openings to discuss his preferred message of the day.

Obama has said, "I think it's important to engage your critics ... because not only will you occasionally change their mind but, more importantly, sometimes they will change your mind," White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs recounted to The Post's Lois Romano in an interview Wednesday.

But while the online question portion of the White House town hall was open to any member of the public with an Internet connection, the five fully identified questioners called on randomly by the president in the East Room were anything but a diverse lot. They included: a member of the pro-Obama Service Employees International Union, a member of the Democratic National Committee who campaigned for Obama among Hispanics during the primary; a former Democratic candidate for Virginia state delegate who endorsed Obama last fall in an op-ed in the Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star; and a Virginia businessman who was a donor to Obama's campaign in 2008.

Click the above link to read specific profiles of the questioners and see just how supportive of Obama they are, and how closely tied to his campaign they were.

Photo of the Day

18th Aggressor Squadron
Click the image for a larger version.

From StrategyPage:

A trio of F-16 Fighting Falcons assigned to the18th Aggressor Squadron at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska, fly in formation over Tumon Bay, Guam, during exercise Cope North 09-1, Feb. 10, 2009. Units from the U.S. Air Force, U.S. Navy and the Japan Air Self Defense Force participated in the joint bilateral exercise on Andersen Air Force Base, Guam. U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Kevin J. Gruenwald.

Progressive Lightbulb Jokes

From The People's Cube:

Q: How many Obama voters does it take to change a lightbulb?
A: None. Hoping that it would change is quite enough.

Q: How many autoworkers does it take to change a lightbulb?
A: 17 at GM, Ford and Chrysler; 1 at Honda, Hyundai and Toyota.

Q: How many Chicago pols does it take to change a lightbulb?
A: F--- you, what am I gettin' outta this?

Q: How many Democrats does it take to change a lightbulb?
A: It's burnt out on the Republican side, so we're not changing it.

Q: How many MSM journalists does it take to change a lightbulb?
A: No need, Obama is the Light.

Q: How many Congresspersons does it take to change a lightbulb?
A: None, but they'll allocate a few billion to achieve change under the Obama Stimulus Bill.

Q: How many Daily Kos bloggers does it take to change a lightbulb?
A: It was Bush's fault the bulb burned out; it'll get fixed by itself when he leaves office.

Q: How many Minnesota Canvassing Board members does it take to change a lightbulb?
A: Depends. They'll only change it if it looks like a vote for Coleman.

Q: How many Oprah Winfrey fans does it take to change a lightbulb?
A: The bulb's not so light these days.

Q: How many Cubans does it take to change a lightbulb?
A: There have been no lightbulbs since the USSR collapsed.

Q: How many North Koreans does it take to change a lightbulb?
A: What's a lightbulb?

Q: How many Hollywood celebrities does it take to change a lightbulb?
A: Six to make movies about evil lightbulb companies, twelve to lecture about the unequal distribution of light on late night talk shows and nine to get caught with drugs hidden in cartons of lightbulbs.

Q: How many Obama appointees does it take to change a lightbulb?
A: His team is currently in the process of finding someone from the Clinton Administration who knows how.

Q: How many Caroline Kennedys does it take to change a lightbulb?
A: She's never thought about it but now that you mention it, she'd love for someone to change it for her.

Q: How many President Elect Obamas does it take to change a lightbulb?
A: The bulb is a lot more burnt out than we thought. Clearly, the bulb has deteriorated. It might not be changed as quickly as we would like.

And a few more:

Q: How many Kennedys does it take to change a light bulb?
A: Three. One to hold the light bulb and two to drink until the room spins around.

Q: How does Bono change a light bulb?
A: He just holds the bulb and the world revolves around him.

Q: How many union electricians does it take to change a lightbulb?
A: Five... you gotta problem with that, buddy?

Q: How many gun control advocates does it take to change a lightbulb?
A: None, they just pass a law against burnt out bulbs and then walk away wondering how come its still dark.

Q: How many journalists does it take to screw in a lightbulb?
A: Three. One to report it as an inspired government program to bring light to the people, one to report it as a diabolical government plot to deprive the poor of darkness, and one to win a Pulitzer prize for reporting that Electric Company hired a lightbulb assassin to break the bulb in the first place.

Q: How many President Elect Obamas does it take to change a lightbulb?
A: None...it’s above his pay grade.

Q: How many people does it take to help Barney Frank put up a light bulb?
A: He can do it all by himself, but it takes an entire emergency room to remove it.

Q: How many progressives does it take to change a lightbulb?
A: One: When he/she/it realizes that the bulb not working the light coming on over his/her/its head will be more than sufficient to illuminate the room.

Q: How many progressives does it to take to change a lightbulb?
A: Why would you change it when you can ban it?

Q: How many lightbulbs does it take to change a progressive?
A: None. Some things will never see the light no matter how brightly it shines.

Q: How many Caroline Kennedys does it take to change a lightbulb?
A: She’s never, you know, thought about it but, you know, now that you, you know, mention it, you know, she’d love for someone to, you know, change it for her, you know.

Q: How many Obama voters does it take to change a lightbulb?
A: Excuse me. Light bulbs are just another part of the soulless industrial society we should be moving away from in our mission to save Mother earth from warming. Obama's brother doesn't need no stinking light bulb and neither should we.

The Hair Fiddles While Indiana Burns

The Hair Fiddles While Indiana Burns

Thursday, March 26, 2009

The False Choices of Obamism

The disturbing trend in Obama's press conferences and speeches of late is the false choice he presents. "We must do this, or that." Yet, almost every time, "this" is what he wants and "that" is a false choice or a rhetorical construct or straw man that bears no resemblance to reality.

Power Line notes:

He is simply intellectually dishonest. He is the master of the False Choice (pass the stimulus or do nothing & let the economy "tank"; socialize health care or "stand pat" -- he said that last night), the Straw Man (the approach of putting moral "dogma" above "science"), the Scapegoat (those at the "commanding heights of our economy" (preface to his Budget) and the sly Non Sequitur (the breathtaking argument that to revive our economy and control spending, the government must take over health care and energy and expand federal spending on education). He deploys them in every argument he makes.

And did you see his response to the stem cell question he got last night? It was rich. Somebody asked him if he personally "struggled" with the morality of the decision he made. He said, yes, indeed he did. Say what? You just got done lecturing us that it was just a matter of following "science" rather than being slaves to "dogma." He's confused about his own moral confusion!

Obama insists that massive new federal spending on health care and education along with significant increases in the cost of energy are the key to the economic recovery, and that the economic recovery fostered by these policies will reduce the humongous budget deficits built into his present budget.

It's a theme expanded upon by David Freddoso over at The Corner:

I thought of a few of Obama's statements along these lines. We choose either his entire program of massive deficit spending or we choose "an economy built on reckless speculation, inflated home prices, and maxed-out credit cards." We either choose his budget, which is "inseparable from this recovery," or we go back to "the very same policies that have led us to a narrow prosperity and massive debt."

Obama frames himself as the man with all of the solutions. Even if America has experienced noteworthy bubbles and busts of some kind in nearly every decade of its existence, we've never had a leader like Barack Obama before. Maybe we can prevent it from ever happening again:

[T]he most critical part of our strategy is to ensure that we do not return to an economic cycle of bubble and bust in this country...The budget I submitted to Congress will build our economic recovery on a stronger foundation so that we don't face another crisis like this 10 or 20 years from now.

Those who have other ideas, who worry about nationalization of the economy, the doubling of the national debt in six years, and who fear that they are watching the nation collectively drink Drano to fix its stomach-ache — we call them "nay-sayers."

This does not resemble the bipartisan tone upon which President Obama campaigned. But if you were naive enough to buy any of that in the first place, you're just getting what you deserve now. The more important question is what happens if Obama's historically unique insights and solutions prove disastrously wrong? Where will that leave us?

Mark Steyn, of course, has a humorous take on it all:

But I also know that we need not choose between a false choice and an Obama fait accomplis. That is a false choice that will not serve anybody except the Presidential Teleprompter, which no doubt already has it plugged in as an auto-formated template. From his forthcoming speech at Buckingham Palace:

But I also know that we need not choose between a [UK-FORMAT DVD] and a [US-FORMAT DVD]. That is a false choice that will not serve people [TRYING TO SLOUGH OFF A FOREIGN GUEST BEFORE THE PHOTOGRAPHER ARRIVES FOR THE VANITY FAIR COVER SHOOT].

Ultimately, the reliance upon false choices is indicative of an inherent weakness in the argument being contended; it wouldn't be necessary if it could otherwise be supported. Obama returns to it like he returns to his teleprompter. It's a crutch, a rhetorical crutch in the case of the false choice, which he simply cannot do without.

And, eventually, the false choice will be exposed for the empty rhetorical construct that it is. That will come either when the Republicans get their act together or when the American people tire of the administration's excuses and endless empty rhetoric (they're smarter than folks in Washington think). That day is coming. It's just a matter of when it arrives.

Photo of the Day

Vladimir Putin and Ronald Reagan
Vladimir Putin (left, with camera) meets Ronald Reagan (right).

Musings about the photo from The Economist.

Interesting Critique of Local Government Reform

The Crothersville Times has the best argument against local government reform that I have yet read. It's not based on "save our local bureaucrats" or "officials should be elected" or anything else of the sort, but more practical and concrete considerations.

While local government reform seems dead for the session, it's still a worthwhile read regardless of what side you come down on the issue. Opponents of local government reform would do well to read it and evolve their arguments. Proponents of local government reform would do well to answer its contentions.

Corruption in local government is not necessarily an indictment on the idea of local government, but perhaps (the author of the Times piece might well contend) a symptom of a problem that needs to be fixed with something short of outright amputation. Indiana government needs transparency and accountability. The two go hand in hand, and they are nowhere more needed than at the local level.

The Indispensable Timothy Geithner's History of Colossal Economic Catastrophes

It seems that the American economy isn't the first economy Timothy Geithner, Obama's Treasury Secretary, has been tasked with saving. The first was the economy of Indonesia.

And Geithner's genius plan made the entire situation much worse:

Two weeks ago, the Sydney Morning Herald had a devastating expose of how Treasury Secretary Geithner destroyed the Indonesian economy back in the 1990s. At the time, "he was Uncle Sam's golden-boy emissary sent into the stormy centre of what was then the world's worst financial crisis [the Asian crisis]."

The newspaper reports that:

In a speech to a closed gathering at the Lowy Institute in Sydney on Thursday, Paul Keating [Australia Former Prime Minister] gave a starkly different account of Geithner's record in handling the Asian crisis: "Tim Geithner was the Treasury line officer who wrote the IMF [International Monetary Fund] program for Indonesia in 1997-98, which was to apply current account solutions to a capital account crisis."

In other words, Geithner fundamentally misdiagnosed the problem. And his misdiagnosis led to a dreadfully wrong prescription.

Read this story here.

Read the whole thing. We can only pray that Timothy Geithner has gotten smarter in the intervening decade, or we're in for a very rough ride.

Polls Show Tight Race in NY-20

Down to the wire.

“I Just Don’t Want to Screw It Up.”

Via Contentions:

In his confirmation hearing, Iraq Ambassador nominee Chris Hill declared: “I just don’t want to screw it up.” That is a fine motto for the Obama administration’s Iraq policy. Perhaps it needs a bit more explanation:

“I don’t want to screw it up” because . . . ? Because we are on the precipice of a remarkable victory; because Al Qaeda has suffered a grievous blow; because a functioning democracy no Democrat thought possible is taking hold in the Middle East; because the victory represents a set back for Iran; because the damage to the image and prestige of the United States from a precipitous withdrawal would have repercussions throughout the world; because China, Russia, Iran, and North Korea are watching.

Something along those lines… Let’s hope “I don’t want to screw up” becomes the official motto of the Obama team. It’s kind of catchy.

There's a lot to not screw up.

As Reuters notes, US combat casualties are at their lowest level since the war began.

In the first two months of this year 19 U.S. soldiers were killed in Iraq, down from 148 in the same period two years ago, Major-General David Perkins told a joint news conference with Baghdad security spokesman Major-General Qassim Moussawi.

Moussawi said the number of militant attacks documented last week in Baghdad was at a record low.

"U.S. combat deaths (in Iraq) are at the lowest level since the war began six years ago today, a decrease of over 90 percent," Perkins said.

What a good general Obama must be to achieve such success so quickly...

He's Tired

From The Tartan Marine:

I’ll be 63 soon. Except for one semester in college when jobs were scarce, and a six-month period when I was between jobs, but job-hunting every day, I’ve worked, hard, since I was 18. Despite some health challenges, I still put in 50-hour weeks, and haven’t called in sick in seven or eight years. I make a good salary, but I didn’t inherit my job or my income, and I worked to get where I am. Given the economy, there’s no retirement in sight, and I’m tired. Very tired.

I’m tired of being told that I have to “spread the wealth around” to people who don’t have my work ethic. I’m tired of being told the government will take the money I earned, by force if necessary, and give it to people too lazy or stupid to earn it.

I’m tired of being told that I have to pay more taxes to “keep people in their homes. Sure, if they lost their jobs or got sick, I’m willing to help. But if they bought McMansions at three times the price of our paid-off, $250,000 condo, on one-third of my salary, then let the leftwing Congresscritters who passed Fannie and Freddie and the Community Reinvestment Act that created the bubble help them—with their own money.

I’m tired of being told how bad America is by leftwing millionaires like Michael Moore, George Soros and Hollywood entertainers who live in luxury because of the opportunities America offers. In thirty years, if they get their way, the United States will have the religious freedom and women’s rights of Saudi Arabia, the economy of Zimbabwe, the freedom of the press of China, the crime and violence of Mexico, the tolerance for Gay people of Iran, and the freedom of speech of Venezuela. Won’t multiculturalism be beautiful?

I’m tired of being told that Islam is a “Religion of Peace,” when every day I can read dozens of stories of Muslim men killing their sisters, wives and daughters for their family “honor;” of Muslims rioting over some slight offense; of Muslims murdering Christian and Jews because they aren’t “believers;” of Muslims burning schools for girls; of Muslims stoning teenage rape victims to death for “adultery;” of Muslims mutilating the genitals of little girls; all in the name of Allah, because the Qur’an and Shari’a law tells them to.

I believe “a man should be judged by the content of his character, not by the color of his skin.” I’m tired of being told that “race doesn’t matter” in the post-racial world of President Obama, when it’s all that matters in affirmative action jobs, lower college admission and graduation standards for minorities (harming them the most), government contract set-asides, tolerance for the ghetto culture of violence and fatherless children that hurts minorities more than anyone, and in the appointment of US Senators from Illinois. I think it’s very cool that we have a black president and that a black child is doing her homework at the desk where Lincoln wrote the emancipation proclamation. I just wish the black president was Condi Rice, or someone who believes more in freedom and the individual and less in an all-knowing government.

I’m tired of a news media that thinks Bush’s fundraising and inaugural expenses were obscene, but that think Obama’s, at triple the cost, were wonderful. That thinks Bush exercising daily was a waste of presidential time, but Obama exercising is a great example for the public to control weight and stress, that picked over every line of Bush’s military records, but never demanded that Kerry release his. Wonder why people are dropping their subscriptions or switching to Fox News? Get a clue. I didn’t vote for Bush in 2000, but the media and Kerry drove me to his camp in 2004.

I’m tired of being told that out of “tolerance for other cultures” we must let Saudi Arabia use our oil money to fund mosques and madrassa Islamic schools to preach hate in America, while no American group is allowed to fund a church, synagogue or religious school in Saudi Arabia to teach love and tolerance.

I’m tired of being told I must lower my living standard to fight global warming, which no one is allowed to debate. My wife and I live in a two-bedroom apartment and carpool together five miles to our jobs. We also own a three-bedroom condo where our daughter and granddaughter live. Our carbon footprint is about 5% of Al Gore’s, and if you’re greener than Gore, you’re green enough.

I’m tired of being told that drug addicts have a disease, and I must help support and treat them, and pay for the damage they do. Did a giant germ rush out of a dark alley, grab them, and stuff white powder up their noses while they tried to fight it off? I don’t think Gay people choose to be Gay, but I damn sure think druggies chose to take drugs. And I’m tired of harassment from cool people treating me like a freak when I tell them I never tried marijuana.

I’m tired of illegal aliens being called “undocumented workers,” especially the ones who aren’t working, but are living on welfare or crime. What’s next? Calling drug dealers, “Undocumented Pharmacists”? And, no, I’m not against Hispanics. Most of them are Catholic and it’s been a few hundred years since Catholics wanted to kill me for my religion. I’m willing to fast track for citizenshi p any Hispanic person who can speak English, doesn’t have a criminal record and who is self-supporting without family on welfare, or who serves honorably for three years in our military. Those are the citizens we need.

I’m tired of latte liberals and journalists, who would never wear the uniform of the Republic themselves, or let their entitlement-handicapped kids near a recruiting station, trashing our military. They and their kids can sit at home, never having to make split-second decisions under life and death circumstances, and bad mouth better people than themselves. Do bad things happen in war? You bet. Do our troops sometimes misbehave? Sure. Does this compare with the atrocities that were the policy of our enemies for the last fifty years—and still are? Not even close. So here’s the deal. I’ll let myself be subjected to all the humiliation and abuse that was heaped on terrorists at Abu Ghraib or Gitmo, and the critics can let themselves be subject to captivity by the Muslims who tortured and beheaded Daniel Pearl in Pakistan, or the Muslims who tortured and murdered Marine Lt. Col. William Higgins in Lebanon, or the Muslims who ran the blood-spattered Al Qaeda torture rooms our troops found in Iraq, or the Muslims who cut off the heads of schoolgirls in Indonesia, because the girls were Christian. Then we’ll compare notes. British and American soldiers are the only troops in history that civilians came to for help and handouts, instead of hiding from in fear.

I’m tired of people telling me that their party has a corner on virtue and the other party has a corner on corruption. Read the papers—bums are bi-partisan. And I’m tired of people telling me we need bi-partisanship. I live in Illinois, where the “Illinois Combine” of Democrats and Republicans has worked together harmoniously to loot the public for years. And I notice that the tax cheats in Obama’s cabinet are bi-partisan as well.

I’m tired of hearing wealthy athletes, entertainers and politicians of both parties talking about innocent mistakes, stupid mistakes or youthful mistakes, when we all know they think their only mistake was getting caught. I’m tired of people with a sense of entitlement, rich or poor.

Speaking of poor, I’m tired of hearing people with air-conditioned homes, color TVs and two cars called poor. The majority of Americans didn’t have that in 1970, but we didn’t know we were “poor.” The poverty pimps have to keep changing the definition of poor to keep the dollars flowing.

I’m real tired of people who don’t take responsibility for their lives and actions. I’m tired of hearing them blame the government, or discrimination, or big-whatever for their problems.

Yes, I’m damn tired. But I’m also glad to be 63. Because, mostly, I’m not going to get to see the world these people are making. I’m just sorry for my granddaughter.

Robert A. Hall is a Marine Vietnam veteran who served five terms in the Massachusetts state senate.

Hat tip: Hoosierpundit reader.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Kevin Kellems Not Running for Congress

Sometimes, it seems, a traditional pre-campaign puff piece in the Courier-Journal is just a traditional non-campaign puff piece in the Courier-Journal.

The morning after I posted this, musing about the possibilities of a campaign in the 9th District by Kevin Kellems, I got two emails asserting very firmly that Kellems was not running.

The first (quoted with permission) was from Kevin Boehnlein (who was mentioned in the CJ column as implying Kellems might run for something someday):

I ran across your blog concerning Kevin Kellems and wanted to let you know that I don't believe Kellems to be a candidate for Congress or anything else this election cycle. This article appeared in the newspaper because Kevin was asked by former Jeff Mayor Dale Orem to speak at the Jeff Rotary Club last month (which I attended as a visiting Rotarian). I know Dale is an old personal friend of Kevin's and he reluctantly agreed. Dale Moss is a member of the club and Kevin's old boss at the Courier, and heard Kevin's speech about his career and his current business. Moss asked Kellems if he could write an article about him, and again, Kevin reluctantly agreed (according to my conversation with Moss).

My comments, even though they were taken a bit out of context, were directed at how Kevin's experience could help him develop his business (which I believe to be Kevin's sole goal at this time).

I became friends with Kevin in his 2000 campaign because of his strong focus on involving Young Republicans. The experience I received on that campaign, and the volunteer work I did on Congressman Sodrel's 2002 campaign, helped me when I was Congressman Sodrel's campaign manager in 2004. I am grateful to both for my experience. I have not endorsed anyone in this race, and honestly it is too egotistical for me to even think my endorsement would matter even if I did. I just haven't been as interested in the race this election cycle, but would love nothing more to unseat Hill again with whoever emerges as our party's nomination.

I think you can write this one off of your list of one's to watch.

The second came from Kellems himself (also quoted here with permission):

I understand you have a question on who may run in the Ninth CD. I am supporting Todd Young - am helping sponsor a fund-raiser for him this week in Indy, and told him a long time ago over lunch in Scottsburg that I had no interest.

Not quite a Sherman statement, but I'd say it's pretty close. I suppose Kellems could always change his mind, see a groundswell of support for a candidacy, or something, but it seems pretty definitive.

I'd note that the fundraiser sponsorship thing appears to be something new. Howey mentioned it in his daily blurb, but Todd Young told me this afternoon that he got a sponsor-level contribution from Kellems just today (not sure of the dollar level; I guess that will show in the campaign finance report in April).

For all of my snark about the video of Wolfowitz and the primary loss to Michael Bailey aside, Kellems has a significant background and a rare one in southern Indiana. Regardless of him not running for Congress, I'd hope that he returns to public life in some way, preferably running for some elected office, be it at the Federal or even State level.

I might note that there are plenty of Democratic state senators and representatives over that way (around Madison and Jefferson County) that need challengers. A few months a year at the State House might not be as nifty or awe-inspiring as working at the Pentagon or the World Bank, but somebody's got to do it.

Howey Hilarity

A reader emails to inform me that Monday's Howey Report featured quotes from the Herald-Times article on the IU College Republicans I quoted in my post questioning Murray Clark's bid to be reelected as GOP state chairman.

Of course, that Herald-Times article dates back to late January. It's an awful coincidence for Howey to be featuring it now, right after it appeared on this blog (and was reposted on Hoosier Access).

Quote of the Day

From Obama's Teleprompter:

So [Geithner] didn't do a live-camera work to layout the Toxic Asset Plan, but it simply isn't true that this shows our Administration isn't serious about transparency.

We are being absolutely transparent in our utter lack of confidence in Geithner. Our motives are transparent, even if actions are not.

But we all have high hopes for our newly branded "Legacy Assets." I am reliable told that a team of 10 of America's top branding consultants spent a week and $3 million dollars of taxpayer money to come up with that term.


According to Zogby, Obama's approval / disapproval ratings have dropped to 50-50.

State Police Expands Harrison Sheriff Inquiry

From the Courier-Journal:

A criminal investigation of Harrison County Sheriff Mike Deatrick brought Indiana State Police to the county justice complex last week to copy a computer hard drive from the agency's surveillance video system.

Although state police previously seized information from the video system, Detective David Mitchell wrote in a search warrant affidavit that police intend to review a larger span of digital information to check for possible tampering and an alleged attempt to intimidate witnesses.

State police originally were given images from a single camera, the affidavit said, while surveillance is performed on 16 cameras in the jail and sheriff's offices.

State police opened the probe into Deatrick, 63, in May after two women dispatchers, Melissa Graham and Deana Decker, accused the sheriff of sexual harassment and of intimidating them once their allegations were made public.

Decker, 39, alleged that Deatrick touched her breasts and once put his hands down her pants. Graham, 41, alleged the sheriff left sexually derogatory messages on her cell phone and made lewd remarks to her.

The women filed a lawsuit last year in U.S. District Court, seeking $6.5 million each in damages. Earlier this month the U.S. Justice Department filed a separate lawsuit in federal court against Deatrick and the County Council and commissioners to push for a settlement for the women and for corrective measures by the county to prevent future employment discrimination.

The separate investigation by state police is expected to wrap up this spring. Special prosecutor Nancy Jacobs said Friday that the evidence gathered from the surveillance video system was "just a next step. We'll see where it leads us."

Deatrick did not return phone messages.

Will it never end?

Interesting Polling from New York

The job approval rating of the Democratic governor of New York is only 18%. He is viewed favorably by only 29% of voters. Only 14% of voters would vote to reelect him.

A Hopeful Deficit

Bill Bennett:

Let me put the CBO report plainly in context: President Ronald Reagan was blasted by Democrats (and still is) for running a deficit that reached over 5 percent of Gross Domestic Product at their peak. But Obama’s deficits are running 10 percent and 13 percent of GDP over the next two years.

The Punch-Drunk President

The Punch-Drunk President
From Politico:

President Barack Obama said he believes the global financial system remains at risk of implosion with the failure of Citigroup or AIG, which could touch off “an even more destructive recession and potentially depression.”

His remarks came in a“60 Minutes” interview in which he was pressed by Steve Kroft for laughing and chuckling several times while discussing the perilous state of the world’s economy.

“You're sitting here. And you're— you are laughing. You are laughing about some of these problems. Are people going to look at this and say, ‘I mean, he's sitting there just making jokes about money—’ How do you deal with— I mean: explain. . .” Kroft asked at one point.

“Are you punch-drunk?” Kroft said.

“No, no. There's gotta be a little gallows humor to get you through the day,” Obama said, with a laugh.


Kroft: You’re sitting here. And you’re laughing. You are laughing about some of these problems. Are people going to look at this and say, ‘I mean, he’s sitting there just making jokes about money?’ How do you deal with — I mean: explain … Are you punch-drunk?”

Obama: No, no. There’s gotta be a little gallows humor to get you through the day. Sometimes my team talks about the fact that, uh, if you had said a year ago that the least of my problems would have been Iraq — which is still a pretty serious problem — I don’t think anyone would have believed it. But we’ve got a lot on our plate, and a lot of difficult decisions we’re going to have to make.

Obama's Chickens

Obama's Chickens
From Fox News:

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano has an explanation about why she never mentioned the word “terrorism” during her first testimony on Capitol Hill.

Napolitano tells the German news site Spiegel Online that while she presumes there is always a threat from terrorism: “I referred to “man-caused” disasters. That is perhaps only a nuance, but it demonstrates that we want to move away from the politics of fear toward a policy of being prepared for all risks that can occur.”

International Talk Like William Shatner Day

Monday, March 23, 2009

Courier-Journal Does Traditional Pre-Campaign Puff Piece on Kevin Kellems

Ah, a harmless little ball of fluff:

Hoosier trades capital for life on the farm

CANAAN, Ind. -- Hay in the barn, cats underfoot, Kevin Kellems is back home.

He is elder of a one-room Presbyterian church. He enjoys chatty lunches in the only restaurant in town.

Kellems oversees restoration of his mother's family farm, hangs discovered photos of ancestors. He devotes care to this history, while also selling another. Even in camouflage and jeans, Kellems cannot be just another lover of sunshine and soil out in the middle of nowhere.

He also settles into a storefront in downtown Madison. There, the farm owner works as president of The Strategy Center. On the job -- and, at 44, he still needs one -- Kellems lets people in on what he otherwise ordinarily does not. He offers experience and contacts very few can rival, to clients in business and in politics. That is, he did not stay as long at The Courier-Journal as he had imagined.

Kellems ended up at the side of Vice President Dick Cheney, of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, of World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz, at the peaks of their political stardom. In the inner circle, Kellems advised then as he does now to clients such as Hirons & Co., an Indianapolis-based public relations firm.

"He knows how to approach issues, he knows how to approach people," said Jim Parham, Hirons' chief operating officer. "He's both thoughtful and very strategic."

Kellems left Washington two years ago, a principled parting from Wolfowitz that made headlines. Besides, Kellems' grandmother had died and the 130-acre farm outside Madison needed stepped-up stewardship.

"It's not big, but it's big enough for me," the single Kellems said. He calls it a tall order, yet an important one, to leave the place better than he found it.

Kellems said he appreciates his rarified resume but would not want to repeat it. He is happy, having fun far from Pennsylvania Avenue. He asked to amend that, though, upon reflection. "It's not that I wouldn't do it over again," he said. "But I wouldn't do it now."

Kellems did it after, as a reporter in the Indiana bureau of this newspaper, being assigned to cover re-election announcements of U.S. Sen. Richard Lugar. Kellems said he was taken by what he considers Lugar's sincerity, as well as his insightful grasp of the world.

"It was one of those turning points in life," said Kellems, who applied for and got a press-related job with Lugar in 1988.

That introduced Kellems to the Republican power elite, and vice versa. Arguably, the only misstep in Kellems' ambition was a run for Congress in 2000. He did not make it out of the primary. Then again, Kellems points out, one path closed left another open. It took him around the globe, into the West Wing, before the pope.

Kellems attributes it to fortunate timing, to hard work, to the recognized need for practical input amid the ideology. Kellems calls it his front-row seat for history.

Along with journalism, history was an early love, Kellems said. He helps local history groups and said he would enjoy teaching history in college. By the way, Kellems relies on history to be respectful of Cheney, one of his former bosses.

Not that Kellems is willing to dish many details -- much less dirt -- from his days in Washington. "He hardly ever will bring it up," said Kyle Lyon, a lifelong friend. Kellems' story of 9/11 grips, though. He escaped a burning Pentagon and then helped steer news coverage of the attack.

Kellems denies any interest in returning to the ballot, though some read otherwise into this return to Indiana. Kellems seems bound to be subject to a range of well-meaning wishes, given his elite background.

"Those experiences will count for something down the road," said Kevin Boehnlein, another friend.

For now, however, Boehnlein likes that Kellems has fled the rat race, that he feels fulfilled around hay and cats and a tiny church. "Sincerely, my hope for Kevin is he gets what he wants out of life," Boehnlein said.

Isn't it interesting for the Courier-Journal to pick now to do an article about the return to Indiana of Kevin Kellems? After all, he's been back in Indiana for almost two years.

The cynic in me says that the answer lies not in the return to Indiana of Kellems but the nature of the article itself. These sorts of puff pieces were done by the Courier on Baron Hill in 2005 and Mike Sodrel in 2007. They're a base media outreach prerequisite of someone pondering a run for office, particularly (in the cases of Hill, Sodrel, and Kellems) when they've run for office before. I seem to recall that they even did one about Mitch Daniels before he ran for Governor.

Kevin Kellems ran for Congress in the 9th District in 2000, and lost in the Republican primary to anti-abortion activist Michael Bailey. Bailey, who is from Harrison County, did not carry his own home county in that race. But he did nevertheless beat Kevin Kellems in what was sort of a shock primary upset.

Now, of course, things are different. Kevin Kellems is back home again in Indiana. With cats, hay, farms, photographs, his consulting work, and his column for Brian Howey (who just recently penned something quoting a source from southern Indiana; imagine that). Such a bucolic and simple life must surely be a far cry from licking the head of the Deputy Secretary of Defense, but I digress.

Nowhere mentioned in the Courier article are the circumstances about Kellems' departure from his globetrotting career. He left Wolfowitz and the World Bank under, shall we say, rather questionable circumstances (an extended treatment of those circumstances is available here). Only two weeks before Kellems left the World Bank, it was hinted that Paul Wolfowitz, the Bank's embattled president at the time, was intending to throw Kellems under the bus to end a scandal.

None of that got mentioned in the Courier article. Not a word. Before that scandal broke, Kellems was also mentioned (by no less than Brian Howey) as a potential candidate for the 9th District race in 2008.

And the puff piece closes out with a quote from Kevin Boehnlein. That's the Kevin Boehnlein that was Mike Sodrel's campaign manager in 2004. I am certain it is just a coincidence and that Kellems (as the article contends) plans no run for higher office, but I'm going to add him to my list of the 9th District candidate field over on the right anyway, just in case.

And, of course, no post about Kevin Kellems would be complete without the infamous YouTube clip of Kellems doing a little licking as a lickspittle for then Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Greg Zoeller's Been Busy

From Kenn Gividen:

Audacity of real hope: Greg Zoeller gets it

Abusing public funds (tax dollars) will get a bit riskier in Indiana if Attorney Gen. Greg Zoeller gets his way.

Zoeller's campaign promise to keep government officials accountable to taxpayers is edging closer to reality.

Proposed legislation, HB1514, is described: "Accounting for public funds. Increases the required surety bond for certain officials, and provides that the state board of accounts may require a higher surety bond for officials who have engaged in malfeasance, misfeasance, or nonfeasance that resulted in the misappropriation of, diversion of, or inability to account for public funds."

More information on the legislation is available here.

Well, Maybe They're Both Not That Busy

Mitch Daniels has joined Barack Obama in publicly posting his NCAA bracket picks.

I'm glad that they're both taking a break from the important work of, you know, running their respective governments to do such important things as fill out basketball brackets.

Steele's RNC Outraises Kaine's DNC

From The Campaign Spot:

Michael Steele just got himself some breathing room. Not only did his first full month as RNC chair have a pretty respectable, on-par-with-January $5.1 million in fundraising, but he outraised his Democratic counterpart Tim Kaine by a healthy margin: The DNC raised $3.26 million last month.

Democrats will argue that Kaine has a day job as governor of Virginia, and that Obama hasn't held a DNC fundraiser yet. Still, I think more than a few folks expected that the DNC would be outpacing the RNC under Steele, at least early on...

This bolsters Steele's position, but the race for NY-20 will probably tell more.

Nomination of Lefty IU Prof Moves to Senate

From the Indy Star:

Washington » IU Professor Dawn Johnsen's nomination for a top position in the Justice Department was approved Thursday by the Senate Judiciary Committee. But the panel's 11-7 vote along party lines signals a potentially contentious floor fight over whether Johnsen should head the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel.

Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, called her a "hardened partisan" who hasn't shown the requisite seriousness for the position.

Dawn Johnsen, of course, has an interesting history of ties to Baron Hill.

The ad in which she appeared voicing her support for him returning to Congress has since been removed from YouTube by Baron Hill's campaign staff, but I've still got a file copy of it for upload sometime later (memo to Baron's staff: nothing put on the Internet ever really dies).

Quote of the Day

From Mark Steyn:

In turbulent times, it's good to know some things never change. After a week in which President Obama thanked himself for inviting him to the White House, compared AIG executives to suicide bombers, and did the first Presidential retard joke on national TV, I was impressed to find that Slate is bravely keeping up its Bushism Of The Day feature.

Four more years!

Presidential Results by Congressional District

From the Swing State Project.


IN 1 Visclosky (D)
Obama 2008 - 62%
McCain 2008 - 37%
Kerry 2004 - 55%
Bush 2004 - 44%
Gore 2000 - 56%
Bush 2000 - 42%

IN 2 Donnelly (D)
Obama 2008 - 54%
McCain 2008 - 45%
Kerry 2004 - 43%
Bush 2004 - 56%
Gore 2000 - 45%
Bush 2000 - 53%

IN 3 Souder (R)
Obama 2008 - 43%
McCain 2008 - 56%
Kerry 2004 - 31%
Bush 2004 - 68%
Gore 2000 - 33%
Bush 2000 - 66%

IN 4 Buyer (R)
Obama 2008 - 43%
McCain 2008 - 56%
Kerry 2004 - 30%
Bush 2004 - 69%
Gore 2000 - 32%
Bush 2000 - 66%

IN 5 Burton (R)
Obama 2008 - 40%
McCain 2008 - 59%
Kerry 2004 - 28%
Bush 2004 - 71%
Gore 2000 - 30%
Bush 2000 - 69%

IN 6 Pence (R)
Obama 2008 - 46%
McCain 2008 - 53%
Kerry 2004 - 35%
Bush 2004 - 64%
Gore 2000 - 40%
Bush 2000 - 59%

IN 7 Carson (D)
Obama 2008 - 71%
McCain 2008 - 28%
Kerry 2004 - 58%
Bush 2004 - 42%
Gore 2000 - 56%
Bush 2000 - 43%

IN 8 Ellsworth (D)
Obama 2008 - 47%
McCain 2008 - 51%
Kerry 2004 - 38%
Bush 2004 - 62%
Gore 2000 - 42%
Bush 2000 - 57%

IN 9 Hill (D)
Obama 2008 - 49%
McCain 2008 - 50%
Kerry 2004 - 40%
Bush 2004 - 59%
Gore 2000 - 42%
Bush 2000 - 56%

McCain seriously and badly underperformed George W. Bush's 2000 performance in every district, let alone Bush's 2004 numbers.

It was, as FiveThirtyEight notes with this map (green showing districts 9%+ more Democratic in the presidential race and red showing districts 9%+ more Republican in the presidential race), a trend seen across the country, but particularly in Indiana:

But don't worry; nobody's running against Murray Clark, so we're sure to do better next time. Right?

With our newfound focus on Twitter and Facebook, and with those pesky and troublesome conservative principles dropped by the sidelines, we're sure to do much better straight away. Right?

After all, a focus away from conservative principles worked so well for John McCain. Just look at those numbers in Indiana and that map if you don't believe me.

The Red Planet

The Red Planet
From the Washington Post:

Deteriorating economic conditions will cause the federal deficit to soar past $1.8 trillion this year and leave the nation wallowing in a sea of red ink far deeper than the White House had previously estimated, congressional budget analysts said today.

And from USA Today:

In a new report that provides the first independent analysis of President Obama’s budget request, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office predicted that the administration’s agenda would generate deficits averaging nearly $1 trillion a year over the next decade — $2.3 trillion more than the president predicted when he unveiled his spending plan just one month ago.

And while Obama would come close to meeting his goal of cutting the deficit in half by the end of his first term, the CBO predicts that the nation’s annual operating deficit would never drop below 4 percent of the overall economy over the next decade, a level administration officials have said is unsustainable because the national debt would grow too rapidly.

By the CBO’s estimate, for example, the nation’s debt would grow to 82 percent of the overall economy by 2019 under Obama’s policies, compared with a pre-recession average of 40 percent…

Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad (N-N.D.) has said the gloomier CBO forecast would require “adjustments” to Obama’s budget, though he declined to specify what changes would be necessary.

The Debt Star

Laughable One-Liners

Laughable One-Liners

Who Speaks for the Republican Party?

Who Speaks for the Republican Party?
Click to enlarge.

Angry Mob

Angry Mob

The Anchorman, Err, The President

Via Eric Allie comes this hilarious cartoon (warning: language).

Friday, March 20, 2009

Murray Clark: Put Machinery Before Ideology, Or: Why Should This Guy Get Reelected?

Back in January, the IU College Republicans had their start-of-semester call-out meeting. Todd Young was there (which garnered him mention in a column in the Indiana Daily Student), but so was Indiana State GOP Chairman Murray Clark.

The Herald-Times (hat-tip to a gracious reader who shared the article) had a brief story:

It was a packed house Monday evening when the Indiana University College Republicans held their “call-out meeting,” the first of such after the carnival-spirited inauguration of Barack Obama and company last week.

Normally the meetings draw out about 30 people, said Jacob Quinn, press secretary. More than a hundred were present Monday in the Dogwood Room of the Indiana Memorial Union to rally the troops and plan for the next two years.

Todd Young, a Paoli attorney who announced his intentions to run for the 9th Congressional District’s GOP nomination and to eventually go head to head with U.S. Rep. Baron Hill in 2010, was in attendance, along with the GOP chairman for the state of Indiana, Murray Clark.

“I definitely think the last election has sparked an interest in the younger generation,” said Monroe County Republican Party Chairman Gene Moncel, who was greeting and encouraging many of the students. “But honestly, I can’t say why so many are here. However, it’s good to know, and I think this proves it, that there are in fact Republicans here at IU. And I’m absolutely thrilled. I believe these officials will do a great job.”

Unfortunately, the IDS and the Herald-Times didn't report anything about what Murray Clark had to say in his remarks at the meeting. I only myself heard about them in passing much later and decided to investigate further. It didn't prove difficult; there were 110 people in the room for the call-out meeting (Clark himself apparently described it as the largest CR gathering he had ever seen on a campus in Indiana).

Anyway, Murray Clark was preceded by a young man who spoke about Republican and conservative principles. First principles; life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness, limited government, and so forth. Things that every Republican ought by right to believe and see as the focus of the Republican Party, even if they can't articulate them well (a problem commonplace these days among many Republican candidates and elected officials, I am sad to say). Regardless, the young man apparently did a very good job in speaking about them; he got considerable applause.

Then came the state chairman of the Indiana GOP, who proceeded to tell these enthusiastic students (who had just cheered one of their own speaking about principles) that principles were important in their own way, but that organization mattered more. Getting more people involved via technology mattered more. Getting a good website mattered more. Getting the fundraising mattered more. Political machinery mattered more than the ideas and values that the political machinery would, supposedly, be electing people to implement.

Unsurprisingly, Murray Clark didn't get nearly the level of applause that the young man that went before him.

Emphasizing political machinery over political principle is sort of like putting the cart before the horse. Most people (if they're not careerists or worse) tend to get involved in politics because they believe in something. For Democrats, this tends to be expanding the role of the state to help people. For Republicans, this tends to be protecting the rights and liberties of the individual (even the weakest and most vulnerable individuals).

For Murray Clark, apparently politics isn't about those things. It's about the organizations, the websites, the staffs, the fundraising, and the mechanics of it. That's just not right.

You don't get the political machinery to work very well unless you have the people that believe in something to staff it, to volunteer for it, to contribute to it, and so on. You just don't. It's sort of easy to lose that perspective when it comes to big law firms (from which Murray Clark hails and from which he obtains the big checks). Law firms write checks for the machinery and the outcome, not for the ideology.

The problem is that, eventually, (even with such big checks) you can't have the machinery and you can't have the outcomes if you don't have an ideology to underpin everything else. "Those that stand for nothing," Alexander Hamilton wrote, "fall for anything." And Republicans, of late, have.

Call me old fashioned, but I'd like a state chairman that understands that the foundation of the party--the most important thing--is what it believes, and what it believes should not play second fiddle to the organizations and constructs that might be necessary to win elections and realize those beliefs. That's not a blind belief, mind you, but that's a clear recognition that principles matter more than the vehicles that are supposed to be used to effectuate them.

Now, it's perfectly natural for a state chairman to be focused on the machinery. That's his role. But he shouldn't presume to think that the machinery that is his role should trump the goals he is working to reach. These organizational constructs are means to an end.

But the remarks by Murray Clark to the IU College Republicans seem to be part of a broader trend. Clark is a hereditary Republican (Rex Early's book is filled with references to Clark's family and relatives). Being Republican is in his blood. Taking care of the machinery is his job. What seems to be missing is a recognition of the ideology that is the necessary foundation of that machinery.

And that foundation is badly cracked. Murray Clark presided over a Democratic presidential candidate winning Indiana for first time in 44 years. Whatever the shortcomings of the McCain campaign (and there were many), that's an inexcusable failure. Mike Duncan wasn't retained as chairman of the RNC after the presidential debacle, and one has to wonder whether Murray Clark should be retained as chairman of the Indiana GOP in the wake of that failure.

Murray Clark certainly didn't believe in retaining Mike Duncan; he voted repeatedly--five times in six ballots--for Michael Steele (who recently said abortion was an individual choice). If Murray Clark wouldn't vote to keep Mike Duncan, and Indiana's GOP under Clark's watch failed to keep the state red, why should anyone on the state committee vote this coming Wednesday to keep Murray Clark? I'll come back to that question in a moment.

Murray Clark is wrong. Our faults will not be fixed with a focus on new websites and new technologies, or new GOTV programs or the latest organizational restructuring. We need those things. But, more than anything, what we need is a return to clear thinking conservatism and common sense founding principles. The foundation has to be the focus before you go worrying about buying shiny new gadgets.

Now, to return to my earlier question. Why should anyone vote to keep Murray Clark? Well, the largest reason cited is that Mitch Daniels wants him to stay.

That doesn't make sense on its face, even if it is tradition. Mitch Daniels never has to stand for election before the people of Indiana ever again (unless he runs for Senate or President). The chairman of the Indiana GOP should be concerned more with electing Republicans in the future (and the focus on principles and the organizational reforms following from that), and getting the state out of the blue presidential column, than with answering to a guy whose interests--to be blunt--many not exactly coincide with the chairman's central objectives.

This was the exact same quandary in which Republicans found themselves in 2005. George W. Bush picked the next three chairmen of the RNC (Ken Mehlman, Mel "Amnesty" Martinez, and Mike Duncan) after his reelection in November of 2004. They answered to him. They did not serve as a much-needed brake on the President when one was needed, because they were focused on his objectives and not those of Republican Party at large.

That was clearly a mistake, and I'm concerned that it is one that the Indiana Republican Party is about to repeat. On top of that simple question of priorities--those of the party versus those of the Governor--one must also take into account Murray's other stances (such as his support for Michael Steele and his apparent lack of concern about or focus on core principles) and the shortcomings of the state party under his leadership (most importantly--but not limited to--to keeping Indiana red in the presidential race).

So I ask the simple question:

Why should this guy get reelected?

As a side note, the filing deadline to run against Murray Clark for state chairman is 10:00 am on Sunday morning.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

I Really Underestimated the Creepiness

I Really Underestimated the Creepiness

Analysis: Obama Pandered with Bracket Picks

I'm shocked, shocked to learn that there's political pandering going on here!

Analysis by lefty stats blog FiveThirtyEight.

Called out, and Howey suckered, earlier.

New Ad in NY-20: "One of Them"

I'd Say Better than Fifty-Fifty & Significantly Less than Fifty-Fifty, Respectively

Jim Shella ponders:

There’s a jobs announcement in Evansville today. Sharing the stage will be Republican Lt. Governor Becky Skillman and Democratic Mayor Jonathan Weinzapfel.

What are the odds that they will be the nominees in the next race for governor?

Becky Skillman "just" has to overcome Tony Bennett and Todd Rokita.

Weinzapfel has to overcome a much larger and more fractious Democratic field, but also one with considerably more significant heavyweights in it (including Baron Hill, among others).

Fortunately for Mayor Whiny, the race is still young.

Imagine That Taping of Indiana Week in Review

If Ed DeLaney and his two Democratic cohorts in the House manage to bring some element of the Governor's government consolidation agenda back from the grave, imagine the contortions his wife Anne will go through on Indiana Week in Review when she simultaneously has to parrot the Democratic talking points and agree with her husband.

Tied in knots or turned into a human pretzel wouldn't begin to cover it.

Obama Mocks the Mentally Disabled


President Obama, in his taping with Jay Leno Thursday afternoon, attempted to yuk it up with the funnyman, and ended up insulting the disabled.
Towards the end of his approximately 40-minute appearance, the president talked about how he's gotten better at bowling and has been practicing in the White House bowling alley.

He bowled a 129, the president said.

"That's very good, Mr. President," Leno said sarcastically.

It's "like the Special Olympics or something," the president said.

When asked about the remark, the White House had no comment.

Left the teleprompter at home, it seems...

Great Idea! What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

From Reuters:

Holder told reporters at the Justice Department that the administration's review, made on a case-by-case basis, would determine whether the prisoners need to be put on trial or whether they can be released.
"For those who are in that second category, who can be released, there are a variety of options that we have. Among them is the possibility that we could release them into this country," he said.

Holder said it was possible the 17 Chinese Muslims who have been held for years at Guantanamo, and two or three others prisoners, could be freed in the United States.

...Holder met earlier this week with European Union leaders, and urged them to take some of the Guantanamo prisoners. They questioned why they should take some of the detainees if the United States does not make similar efforts to take some.

What's the worst that could happen?

There's only nineteen or twenty of them, after all, and they've never before shown a history of returning to terrorism.

Oh wait.