Thursday, April 30, 2009

Post-Session Musings

On the drive home from Indianapolis, I was struck by a particular image of the evening. That was of the look on Speaker Pat "The Hair" Bauer's face (and the similar look on the face of his chief of staff, standing nearby) as the House overwhelmingly defeated the budget a few minutes shy of midnight.

Standing in the gallery of the House as that vote was taken, it was clearly visible to all as the machine tallied the votes and displayed them up on the wall; I'm not sure that the streaming video could convey it well (or the recording of the streaming video). It was not the look of a man in firm command of events. It was not the look of a man in firm command of his caucus.

But, most importantly, it was not the look of a man who was winning, or the look of a man who thought that he would win some political victory by the outcome of this vote.

But the train wreck that was that final vote is in a very real sense a reaped whirlwind of Pat Bauer's own making. His strategy of reflexive obstruction and iron-fisted rule reached its logical conclusion. An ironic conclusion, but a logical one. The obstruction took on a mind of its own, even as the iron-fist of the despot at the speaker's podium sought another course.

Seeing Bauer at the podium and the look upon his face as his schemes came undone reminded me of a familiar poem by Percy Bysshe Shelley, which stuck in my mind during the drive home from Indy:

I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them on the sand,
Half sunk, a shatter'd visage lies, whose frown
And wrinkled lip and sneer of cold command
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamp'd on these lifeless things,
The hand that mock'd them and the heart that fed.
And on the pedestal these words appear:
"My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!"
Nothing beside remains: round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare,
The lone and level sands stretch far away.

The Speaker, standing at the podium as the vote was taken, looked out upon the broken ruins of his own works and despaired.

Sine Die

The House failed to pass the budget and the Senate has adjoined Sine Die at 11:55.

There will be a special session, probably in after a week or so to cool off.

I twittered for most of the evening; my commentary was available here.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Lugar to Back Nomination of Lefty IU Law Prof

From the Journal Gazette:

Sen. Richard Lugar, R-Ind., said Tuesday he will support the nomination of an Indiana University law professor to head the Obama administration’s internal law office.

He is the first Republican to publicly declare his backing for Dawn Johnsen, whose selection to head the Office of Legal Counsel has grown into a fight about abortion rights and counterterrorism practices.

Some Republicans have promised to try to block Johnsen’s confirmation either because of her support for abortion rights or because she criticized the legal justification used by the Bush administration for the torture of detainees.

Lugar’s support does not guarantee the Senate will confirm Johnsen. Sixty votes are needed to stave off a filibuster, and vote-counters say they are aware of close to 60 "yes" votes for Johnsen, but they are not declaring victory. One Democrat – Nebraska Sen. Ben Nelson – has said he will vote against Johnsen.

Advocacy groups have turned Johnsen’s nomination into a high-profile tussle in Washington. On Tuesday morning, a group of 75 Hoosier law professors signed a letter asking Lugar to support Johnsen.

Lugar has said that, barring something extraordinary, a president should be able to choose top aides even if they support policies the opposition party opposes. He has also said Congress should not require as many posts be reviewed and voted on; about 500 positions require Senate confirmation.

I'm so glad that Dick Lugar is rushing so quickly to replace Arlen Specter as the most annoying member of the Senate Republican caucus.

Specter expected a filibuster of Johnsen last week, but since he's switched it's probably no longer an operative consideration.

There is at least one conservative Democrat that opposes Johnsen's nomination, which would have given the Republicans at least the 41 votes to filibuster the radical Obama nominee. With Lugar's rather spineless decision, that becomes more difficult.

For review, let's look at some of Johnsen's statements about abortion:

“Abortion restrictions ‘reduce pregnant women to no more than fetal containers.’”

“The argument that women who become pregnant have in some sense consented to the pregnancy belies reality...and others who are the inevitable losers in the contraceptive lottery no more ‘consent’ to pregnancy than pedestrians ‘consent’ to being struck by drunk drivers.”

“The experience [of abortion] is no longer traumatic; the response of most women to the experience is relief.”

The archive of my posts about Dawn Johnsen and her lefty record is available here.

Government Motors?

From Commentary:

The GM bondholders own $27 billion and they’re getting 10 percent of the common stock in an expected exchange. And the UAW owns $10 billion of the bonds and they’re getting 40 percent of the stock. Huh? Did I miss something here? And Uncle Sam will have a controlling share of the stock with something close to 50 percent ownership. And no bankruptcy judge. So this is a political restructuring run by the White House, not a rule-of-law bankruptcy-court reorganization.

Not only are the bondholders being asked to take a disproportionately small share of the equity, but they are being asked to take it in a firm in which the government would be the majority shareholder. Yes, the government would be the majority shareholder of a failing company. Yikes! If the experience of the TARP firms and decades of nationalized industries (e.g., Amtrak) weren’t enough to scare off the bondholders, the current rhetoric and regulatory schemes coming out of Washington (which insist the car companies produce unprofitable green cars) should be enough to petrify them. If there is any doubt as to how the government impacts shareholder value just check with Ken Lewis over at Bank of America.

But of course the bondholders can just say “no.” They needn’t accept the UAW bailout plan — which this appears to be. And if in fact they hold their ground and GM is forced into bankruptcy – real bankruptcy where judges are not moved by the UAW’s political clout — then they can make their arguments to a judge and defend their financial position on its merits. They could hardly do worse than the proposed UAW-Obama plan.

Hot Air breaks it down more simply:

Imagine you’re one of the bondholders of GM, the people who bought the automaker’s debt in order to invest in the company and keep it running over the last several years. Now that the company is near collapse, the Treasury offers you this deal. Even though you own $27 billion in GM bonds, you’d get 10% of the company. The UAW, which has a claim on $20 billion for its health-care and pensions obligations, would only have to sacrifice half of that to get 39%. The feds, who will invest another $9 billion to bring their total investment to the same level as your bonds, wants 51%.

Welcome to Obamanomics.

I'm Willing to Bet This Message Polls Even Better Post Snarlin' Arlen Switching...

Via The Next Right:

Since Democrats have complete control of Congress and the Presidency, it would be good to have more checks and balances in Washington by electing more Republicans to Congress.

37% STRONGLY AGREE
16% SOMEWHAT AGREE
19% SOMEWHAT DISAGREE
26% STRONGLY DISAGREE

54% TOTAL AGREE
45% TOTAL DISAGREE

And this:
Now, thinking some about the election for US Congress, for whom would you vote between:

34% - A Congressional candidate who will help Barack Obama and the Democrats in Congress pass their agenda.

…or…

56% - A Congressional candidate who can be a check and balance to Barack Obama and the Democrats in Congress.

The breakdowns on the first question are quite interesting:

GOP 89% agree
Ind 55% agree
Women 51% agree
Young 52% agree
Northeast 52%
Suburban 57%
Moderates 45% (plurality)
Conservative Dems 30% (also give Obama 90% rating)

The poll predates the Specter switch, and it's safe to say that those numbers are only going to increase because of it, and perhaps increase significantly.

This is the same sort of messaging that Republicans used to great effect in 1994 and 1996.

EPA Moves to Kill Coal Power Plants, Uphold Obama Campaign Promise

Hey, southern Indiana union coal miners, how's that support of Obama been treating you?

In January 2008, Barack Obama told the San Francisco Chronicle that people would have to be crazy to open a coal-fueled electricity plant, because Obama’s policies would make energy costs “skyrocket” and send them into bankruptcy. Now the EPA has issued an unprecedented order to renege on a permit already granted to open a coal-generator plant in a Navajo reservation in New Mexico that has the tribe and its supporters steaming:

In a dramatic move yesterday, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) withdrew the air quality permit it issued last summer for the Desert Rock coal-fired power plant, which is slated to be built on the Navajo Nation in the Four Corners region just southwest of Farmington, New Mexico.

Jeff Holmstead, former head of the air program at EPA and now head of the Environmental Strategies Group at Bracewell & Giuliani, the law firm representing the plant’s developer, Sithe Global, said in a statement that he has “never seen anything like it.”

“I don’t think anyone ever imagined that the new team at EPA would seem to have such little regard for due process or basic notions of fairness,” Holmstead said. “Everyone understands that a new Administration has discretion to change rules and policies prospectively. But I’ve never seen any Administration try to change policies and rules retroactively.”

Tweet of the Day

From Chris Faulkner:

never, never, never say someone has endorsed you when they haven't http://bit.ly/17GXIp

Wise advice; Jon Costas should have listened.

The Hair's Poison Pill Likely to Kill Abortion Bill

From the Indy Star:

State lawmakers hit a potentially insurmountable roadblock Monday over legislation that could make it harder for women to obtain abortions in Indiana.

Their disagreement centered not on the question of abortion, but on whether to spend $23 million in taxpayer money to provide free breast- and cervical-cancer screenings for uninsured women.

House Democrats added that provision to Senate Bill 89 this month. Backers of the bill, which would require doctors who provide abortions to secure admitting privileges at local hospitals, argue that the legislation would ensure greater patient safety for women who undergo the procedure. Foes say it would cut down on women's access to abortions because only one such doctor statewide currently has hospital admitting privileges.

Rep. Scott Pelath, representing the House's Democratic majority in a joint House-Senate legislative conference committee, insisted Monday that the screenings be included in the bill. Sen. Dennis Kruse, speaking for the Senate Republican majority, said his chamber would refuse to pass a bill with such a hefty price tag.

Kruse argued that the screenings were unrelated to the original measure. He accused Democrats of inserting the provision to kill the controversial bill, knowing Republicans would not agree to such an expensive program during an economic recession.

"It appears the House majority party intended to put an amendment in that would actually help defeat the bill, and I think they succeeded in doing that," said Kruse, R-Auburn. "We're probably at a deadlock. If they don't want to give, then there's no deal."

Pelath is Speaker Pat "The Hair" Bauer's chosen man for killing bills in conference committees, and (as I noted before) there's little doubt that the screenings were tacked on to the bill in order to kill it.

Thoughts on Specter

Mark Hemingway:

I read that he was switching parties, but I was disappointed to learn he's still a Democrat.

David Freddoso:

The departure of Arlen Specter looks very bad for the GOP. You never want to lose anyone. But could Senate Republicans have stopped it? No, not once it became clear that he was going to be trounced in his primary. Specter's problem is not the party in the sense of its leadership or direction, but rather with the Republican voters in Pennsylvania.

Arlen Specter switched from Democrat to Republican in 1965 so that he could win an election. He is now doing the reverse for precisely the same reason.

If we take Arlen Specter's word for why he is leaving, we have to accept the idea that the stimulus vote represented some kind of huge turning point for him. In fact, Specter's apostasy on that vote was less remarkable than several others — for example, his vote on the Employee Free Choice Act, or his courageous refusal to vote either "yes" or "no" on Bill Clinton's impeachment. The reason the stimulus vote matters is that it matters to voters and has become an issue in the primary — which again, is the only reason Specter is leaving the Republican Party.

If we take Specter's word, then the GOP has become intolerant of moderate politicians like himself. On this score, Specter appears to have a severe case of amnesia. Exactly five years ago, the national Republican Party swooped into Pennsylvania and saved him from certain defeat at the hands of Rep. Pat Toomey (R). Valuable presidential time was sacrificed on his behalf. Also sacrificed for Arlen Specter was the reputation of his conservative colleague, Rick Santorum (R), who never recovered. From that moment forward, he lost his core constituency, and was easily defeated two years later by a pro-life Democrat.

Without essential help from the party that is so intolerant of people like him, Arlen Specter would already be a former senator today. It is not the party but the voters in Pennsylvania who have stopped tolerating Specter.

If we take Specter's word, then conservatives act in bad faith when they become involved in the political process and try to elect the candidates of their choice. Conservatives should disengage from the political process and stop challenging people like Arlen Specter. They should not organize — whether through groups like the Club for Growth or otherwise — nor should they participate in the political process, nor donate to nor vote for candidates they prefer.

Specter noted this afternoon that the Club worked against several moderates, including Sen. Lincoln Chafee (R, R.I.), who won his primary but lost his general election in 2006. Chafee did not even vote for President Bush in 2004, but like Specter he received a great deal of money and help from the Republican Party in his primary.

Reps. Joe Schwarz (R, Mich.) and Wayne Gilchrest (R, Md.) are two moderate victims of the Club for Growth whom Specter mentioned today. They were not being sore losers, but rather acted in good faith when they lost their respective primaries to conservatives and then turned around and endorsed the Democratic nominee in the general election. (Note that when he lost to Specter in 2004, Pat Toomey endorsed him immediately.) Conservatives must be team players in the GOP, but if moderates behave differently, we blame the conservatives who challenge them for subsequent disunity and defeat.

What is funny is that without any action so far by the Club for Growth, social conservatives, or anyone else, Republican voters in Pennsylvania have been lining up to end Specter's career, as the polls demonstrate. That is why Specter does not want to be judged by them. It is the only reason he has left the party.

Jonathan Tobin:

Attributing to Arlen Specter a coherent or consistent “political philosophy” is giving him more credit than he has ever deserved. Specter, who originally switched in from being a lifelong Democrat to a Republican in a 1965 move to be elected Philadelphia’s district attorney, is the quintessential opportunist. Though he was elected on Ronald Reagan’s coat tails in 1980, he has always been in business for himself. As former Congressman Joe Hoeffel, his Democratic opponent for the Senate in 2004, put it to me in an interview, “It’s very hard to run against Arlen on the issues because he is on both sides of every question.”

As in 1965, this is a move dictated solely by political survival not principle. In 2004, he survived a stiff primary challenge from conservative Pat Toomey and won only by virtue of the strong support given him by George W. Bush and former Senate colleague Rick Santorum. But only hours after that narrow primary win, Specter began distancing himself from both of them. Given the fact that there would be no such help forthcoming in 2010 against Toomey, who jumped into the race after Specter voted for President Obama’s stimulus boondoggle, it was a given that Specter would lose the Republican nomination and his Senate career would come to an end. So rather than go down as a Republican, Specter will jump ship.

This is very good news for President Obama who will presumably now have his 60th vote in the Senate when and if Al Franken is seated for Minnesota. But Obama and other Democrats should be prepared for a difficult marriage with Specter. He is bound to be as feckless and faithless a Democrat as he was a Republican.

And, lastly, Arlen Specter himself on Jim Jeffords switching parties in 2001:

I intend to propose a rule change which would preclude a future recurrence of a Senator's change in parties, in midsession, organizing with the opposition, to cause the upheaval which is now resulting.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Rumor Has It...

...that Jackie Walorski, conservative state legislator extraordinaire and suspected Secretary of State candidate, will not be running for Secretary of State after all. I have a call in to confirm, and will hopefully update this post as soon as I hear back.

A run by Walorski would have split the sort of anti-Indianapolis, anti-establishment, pro-conservative winning convention coalition pioneered last June to such stunning and decisive effect by Greg Zoeller and his campaign. Her candidacy, coupled with that of Charlie White, would have fractured that coalition (at least to the extent that it could even be reassembled or replicated; not that Charlie White running doesn't similarly fracture the losing Costas coalition also).

On top of the "Jackie's out" rumors, I've now started hearing buzz about a candidacy for Secretary of State by Mitch's hand-picked Republican State Chairman, Murray Clark (one of my favorite people).

Murray Clark versus Charlie White, assuming that White were to stay in (I'm told that he won't get out and is in it to win it) and Murray Clark would run as rumor has it (Clark has always wanted to grow up to be governor and SOS would be a useful stepping stone), would bring to mind echoes of Zoeller versus Costas, a redux of last year's particularly divisive and heated--though abbreviated--convention fight.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Abortion Bill Moves from Frying Pan to Fire

Late last week, I placed the odds of Speaker Pat "The Hair" Bauer appointing conference committee members to address the abortion provider legislation at zero.

I was wrong. Instead, The Hair has seen fit to appoint conferees. But the Democratic conferee is Bauer's usual henchmen tasked with ensuring the death of bills that the Speaker wants to never get passed. Same result; different way of getting there.

From the Journal Gazette:

A bill that could limit access to abortions in Indiana faces a tough road in the final days of the legislative session.

Senate Bill 89 languished this week without Democratic House Speaker Pat Bauer appointing conferees to hash out a compromise.

Indiana Right to Life had sent out a distress e-mail earlier in the week alleging Bauer planned to kill the bill by not allowing further negotiations.

Then late Friday, Bauer named Rep. Scott Pelath, D-Michigan City, and Rep. Matt Bell, R-Avilla, to the conference committee on the bill.

The last-minute appointments were a surprise, especially since he picked Pelath over the sponsor of the bill – a rare move in the legislature.

“I would suspect that is a problem,” said House Minority Leader Brian Bosma, R-Indianapolis. “Rep. Pelath, as the former Rules chairman, has had a long history of working closely with the speaker to be sure matters come out the way the speaker would like and not necessarily the members of the House.

“We’ll see how that one develops; it’s an interesting appointment.”

Earlier in the day, Bauer said the bill would not die without a conference committee report because the Senate could concur – or accept changes the House made to it.

“We think they were all worthy amendments,” he said.

The original bill required doctors who perform abortions to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital in case their patients develop complications.

Supporters believe it enhances the quality of care for women and allows doctors to be held accountable for problems by a hospital review committee. But opponents fear hospitals won’t grant the privileges and abortion clinics will have to shut down.

The House expanded the bill to all doctors performing “surgical procedures.”

Bosma noted the original bill would have affected only a handful of doctors in the state, but the Indiana State Medical Association opposes the expansion. He said 25 percent of Hoosier physicians do not have admitting privileges because of their practice.

“So those folks who routinely don’t have to go to the hospital would have to be affiliated and that apparently caused quite a stir in the medical lobby,” he said.

Before the appointment, Bell said the House majority never intended the bill to become law.

Instead, he said the legislation was allowed to come to a floor vote so some Democratic members could protect themselves in tight races.

Bell noted legislators heard extensive testimony on the part of the bill affecting abortions and said there is not enough time to debate all procedures the bill might affect.

“I’m excited. Finally we will have the opportunity to work out the differences on that bill and make good public policy,” he said later in the day.

Lawmakers have until Wednesday at midnight to reach a compromise.

Given Pelath's presence, I'd be amazed if the bill ever gets to the Governor's desk.

But I'd love to be wrong, again.

Will We Have a Budget? Must We?

These are serious questions.

Everyone assumes that either some budget breakthrough will be reached in the next three days or that there will be a special session.

What if there isn't?

A few years back, Ernie Fletcher (then Governor of Kentucky) could not reach a budget agreement with his state's similarly divided legislature. Fletcher's solution was to run the state without a budget, simply carrying forward funding essentially at existing levels until the legislature finally gave him a budget the next year (covering one year, instead of the usual two).

Fletcher's action was heavily litigated in court, but it's topical because the Constitution of Indiana and the Constitution of Kentucky (PDF warning) both say the same things:

No money shall be drawn from the Treasury, but in pursuance of appropriations made by law.

The phrasing is identical. Which would lead one to wonder about the Kentucky precedent.

Should a budget fail to be passed, could Mitch Daniels run the state without a budget?

The Indiana Law Blog looked at just this issue back in two posts in 2005 (here and here) and seems to think that the Governor could not do so. I'm not so sure it's that clear-cut.

The interesting precedent of Governor Oliver Morton, who ran the state government without a budget for several years during the Civil War (because he was able to find temporary private financing in lieu of a constitutional inability to spend money that the state was taking in), weighs into considering the Indiana legalities.

Everybody gambles on a budget breakthrough or a special session.

Having seen what happened in Kentucky a few years ago with an identical constitutional provision, I'm not so sure.

Johnsen Nomination in Growing Peril

According to Power Line, the White House is now worried that lefty Bloomington Professor Dawn Johnsen's nomination is in jeopardy.

There concern is probably well-justified; if Specter is opposed then a filibuster is a serious possibility.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Gaming the System: The Hair Schemes to Kill Abortion Provider Bill After All

The Speaker in full 'Wrath of God' ModeA while back, the House approved a Senate bill requiring abortion providers to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals. Planned Parenthood hates the bill, as do other lefty abortion advocates.

So, riddle me this, why did Speaker Pat "The Hair" Bauer allow it to even get to the floor, let alone get passed? Did The Hair suddenly have a change of heart? Has he become pro-life?

Was it a bridge too far to kill a bill so widely supported by his caucus? The bill did pass 73 to 20, after all.

Yet such likely wide margins of passage have not stopped The Hair before when lefty and reactionary special interests (ranging from gay marriage advocates to the ISTA to Center Township elected officials) have sought the death of a variety of other common sense, reform-minded, or traditional values measures.

So why did Pat Bauer allow the abortion bill to be passed out of the House?

The answer is now clear: so it could die of a rules technicality in the Senate.

Procedural Hangup Could Sink Abortion Bill
Insurance provision added to bill governing abortion doctors prevents Senate vote


A bill requiring abortion doctors to have hospital admitting privileges could derail not over the abortion issue, but an insurance question.

The House voted unanimously to add to the abortion bill a provision authored by Mishawaka Democrat Craig Fry, guaranteeing coverage for breast and cervical cancer screenings under the state's Healthy Indiana Plan insurance program for the uninsured.

Fry voted against the final bill, but that extra provision makes it impossible to bring the bill to the floor in the Senate, which has stricter rules requiring the parts of a bill to be related.

Changing the bill requires a conference committee, and the House hasn't appointed its negotiators.

Senate Health Chairman Patricia Miller (R-Indianapolis), who authored the bill, says she hopes to persuade House leaders the insurance and abortion provisions need to be separated.

Abortion rights advocates have warned Miller's bill would restrict access to abortions. Planned Parenthood says only one of its abortion doctors has admitting privileges in Indiana.

Miller says the bill is a patient-safety measure. She says some women who have abortions may not mention the fact if they have to seek treatment for complications. That makes it harder for doctors seeing the case for the first time to diagnose the patient correctly.

The bill passed the House 73-20 with the insurance provision attached.

What sort of odds would you place on the House ever appointing those conference committee members?

And what sort of odds would you place on The Hair allowing the two portions of the bill to be separated?

I'd rate both at zero.

Craig Fry--a former union thug, err, enforcer--is a Bauer stooge. His amendment was almost certainly offered only because it would make it impossible for the bill to come to come to the floor in the Senate thanks to Senate rules. He amended the bill not to make it better--for he voted against the final version--but to attach to it a sort of procedural poison pill to ensure that the Senate's rules would cause the bill to languish and die.

For The Hair, it's win-win. His caucus gets to go on the record as being pro-life, and his left pro-abortion allies are pleased that the measure never makes it to the Governor's desk. Craig Fry was the only one who got his hands dirty. And Bauer and his Democratic caucus enablers will blame the Senate and its more arcane rules for its death.

In David Long's Senate, the rules generally mean something. In Pat Bauer's House, they mean nothing. If The Hair wants to kill something, it dies or is kept from the floor no matter what the rules say. His rule is absolute; he governs the House with a fist of iron.

The question now is whether David Long wants to assert similar power over the Senate, if only to ensure that this important legislation does not die because The Hair is exploiting a rules technicality.

Senator Long could easily arbitrarily determine the bill satisfies the Senate's rules, and a majority vote would back his interpretation. He could also press--as the House of Representatives in Washington sometimes does--for the measure to pass under a parliamentary "suspension of the rules" that would require a higher two-thirds vote of support. That would be a higher bar to reach, but it would put conservative Senate Democrats between a rock and a hard place should Vi Simpson whip them and try to deny it the vote or two it would need for that threshold to be reached.

The ball is now in Senator Long's court. Will he allow himself, and pro-life supporters of this legislation in both parties (particularly in his own caucus), to be rolled yet again by Pat Bauer? Or will he stand up and say that enough is enough?

Biden Now Less Popular Than Cheney

Hah:

While both the president and first lady enjoy higher favorability ratings than either of their predecessors did early in their first terms, the same cannot be said for the current vice president. Only about half of Americans (51%) say they have a favorable impression of Joe Biden — comparable to the 55% who felt favorably toward Al Gore in April 1993 and lower than the 58% favorability rating Dick Cheney received in July 2001.

Biden’s favorability has slipped 12 points since January, when 63% offered a favorable impression of him on the eve of his inauguration.

Strange Happenings at Antwerp Central Station

Robert Gibbs at Work

Robert Gibbs at Work

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Obama Tosses Comms Director Overboard

Heh.

President Obama is losing a member of his press shop just shy of his first 100 days in office.

Ellen Moran, White House communications director, will become chief of staff for Commerce Secretary Gary Locke.

Boy, that sure is a move up in the world, going from being communications director for the President of the United States to chief of staff to the Secretary of Commerce.

Specter Hints at Filibuster of Johnsen

Arlen Specter, according to the Indy Star, is hinting at a GOP filibuster of Obama's nomination of lefty Bloomington law professor Dawn Johnsen to be chief legal counsel at the Justice Department:

Sen. Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, the top Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, has said his party may try to block the confirmation of Indiana University professor Dawn Johnsen to head the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel.

The committee approved her nomination by party-line vote last month, but a full Senate vote has not been scheduled.

Texas GOP Sen. John Cornyn is working to block the nomination, but it's unclear whether Republicans will try to filibuster.

Johnsen was a critic of former President George W. Bush's policies on aggressive interrogation of suspected terrorists. Those tactics were endorsed by the legal counsel's office, which produced memos allowing such methods as waterboarding, which simulates drowning.

If Arlen Specter is on board with blocking Johnsen's nomination, then she's probably in very serious trouble.

Considering Keith & Camm

Way back in 2006, I mused about the ongoing appeals process for David Camm's trial. Camm, for those of you that aren't from southern Indiana and were spared the media spectacle that was his trial, was a state trooper accused of murdering his family. David Camm was tried and found guilty, then the verdict was overturned on appeal and a new trial took place.

The prosecutor for the first trial, Stan Faith, lost reelection in large measure due to the successful appeal. The case was retried under the man that beat Faith, one Keith Henderson. Henderson, like Faith, prosecuted Camm and obtained a guilty verdict.

Again, Camm appealed. His appeal has now been ongoing for over three years; the case has been sitting up at the Supreme Court awaiting their final decision for almost a year.

Aside from the obvious matters of the guilt or innocence of David Camm, why would I be blogging about this (since this is a political blog and not a legal blog)?

Keith Henderson, a Republican who won a thumpin' reelection even in the Democratic sweep year of 2006, has long been rumored to harbor greater political ambitions. Only a few weeks ago, rumors started circulating that Henderson was "considering" a run for Congress against Baron Hill. Henderson, to be honest, has been rumored to be "considering" a run for Congress for a long time.

But the time for considering might soon be at an end. And a recent Courier-Journal article sort of highlights what I said back in 2006. The biggest part of the considering will come from the Indiana Supreme Court, which has yet to rule on the Camm appeal.

If Keith Henderson's prosecution of Camm (and the guilty verdict he obtained) is overturned, then it's hard to see him running for Congress (he might have a much harder time getting reelected in Floyd County if the Supreme Court throws out the verdict, let alone run for Congress, given what happened to the last Floyd County Prosecutor that saw a Camm verdict thrown out).

I couldn't tell you what the Supreme Court will say about David Camm; I haven't followed it in minute detail and the Courier article examines the situation far better than I ever could. I also wouldn't hazard an opinion about his guilt or innocence. I've seen considerable mountains of facts and opinions marshaled by both sides.

But what I can tell you is that whatever decision the Supreme Court hands down will have interesting political implications in Floyd County, and perhaps in the 9th Congressional District too (if not in 2010 then perhaps in 2012 or beyond). It's a whole lot easier for Keith Henderson to run for something (whether it's Congress or Floyd County Prosecutor) if David Camm stays guilty than if that verdict is overturned.

EDIT: A Democratic reader notes that my memory is faulty; David Camm's first trial verdict was overturned after Keith Henderson was elected. The trial was finished while Stan Faith, a Democrat, was prosecutor. Faith was defeated, the reader says, owing to the Republican wave and the fact that Faith faced a contentious Democratic primary earlier in the year that was decided by sixty votes. None of that, however, changes the political implications of another successful Camm appeal.

"This Federalism Deal's Gettin' Worse All the Time"

Day by Day
Day by Day

T Stands For...

T Stands For...

CNN Spaz

CNN Spaz

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Kentucky Columnist Discovers that Baron Hill Wants to Run for Governor

Something that I've been talking about since Baron got returned to Congress in 2006 (which was followed by a mention in a column by Robert Novak) is starting to get noticed in Kentucky (in part because of a post I did here that got reposted on Hoosier Access).

From David Hawpe, a columnist in the Courier-Journal:

Across the river, Rep. Baron Hill is quietly going about the business of considering a run for the governorship of Indiana.

OK, this is an old story. Back in 2003, Business First reported that Hill had decided against running, although he "reportedly had been considering" a try for the position then held by the late Gov. Frank O'Bannon.

In 2007, the Evans-Novak Political Report said that Hill "may actually be preparing" for a run against Gov. Mitch Daniels. ENPR added, "The equation is simple: a weakened Republican governor in a mostly conservative state, with no other obviously strong Democratic candidates in the wings ..." But it didn't happen.

This month the blog "Hoosier Access" reports, "The 3rd District Democratic Central Committee will host its annual dinner April 25 at Eagle Glen in Columbia City. Rep. Baron Hill, D-9th, will serve as the keynote speaker for the event." And the headline explains, "Baron Hill's 2012 gubernatorial campaign getting started early."

From time to time, I have thought about suggesting that Hill — a bright and capable person, always pleasant, and never in danger of being scolded by Miss Manners — consider John F. Kennedy's Profiles in Courage for bedtime reading.

Boy, I never thought that I'd see Baron Hill and courage in the same sentence, let alone Baron Hill and Miss Manners. David Hawpe should go to some of the same Baron town halls that I've been to (here, here, here, here, here, or here; or just listen to the recordings of them on YouTube).

Hill is the kind of fellow who stays up nights worrying about the imposition of tough fuel efficiency standards, lest the relatively few auto workers in his district (some work at Honda in Greensburg and some at Ford in Louisville) take notice. He had a tough time with cigarette regulation, despite the small number of tobacco farmers in his constituency. (He ended up doing the right thing).

If doing the right thing is gutting CAFE standards to make the increases in them worthless and less significant than they could have been, then Baron Hill did the right thing.

If jacking up taxes on tobacco to hurt the working class folks who predominantly will end up paying those taxes, then Baron Hill did the right thing.

Now he is the swing vote as the House Energy and Environment Subcommittee gets ready to take up the Waxman-Markey bill that would put a cap on carbon pollution. He's one of a handful who are "undecided" on the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009. Advocates say it offers a plan to break the country's dangerous dependence on foreign oil and create new jobs for American workers.

The Environmental Defense Fund says response to the proposal has been positive nearly across the board. EDF says the sponsors have won praise from House colleagues, from business in every economic sector, from the environmental community and from the Obama administration: "They focused on exactly the right issues to quickly build consensus."

The Department of Energy estimates a carbon cap of this kind would cost the average American household about a dime a day on their utility bills. But Hill is part of the Midwest heartland where coal-fired power plants are the rule.

The "Solve Climate" blog called the 648-page Waxman-Markey proposal a blueprint from Democratic lawmakers: "a brilliantly centrist bill that moves forward while pulling in opposite directions — designed out-of-the-gate to attract the needed votes of heartland lawmakers. That's why the right wants it destroyed and the left wants it strengthened."

So there you are, Baron. I'm sure you've already checked on the number of Hoosier coal miners in your district and the number of Hoosier coal-fired power plant projects pending. Now put those 648 pages on your bedside table next to Profiles in Courage and start studying.

It will be interesting indeed to see where Baron Hill will stand on cap-and-trade and the gigantic tax increase it will represent to average Americans (to say nothing of the harm it will do to coal miners and coal power plants in southern Indiana).

Also, Hawpe appears to be urging Baron Hill to read the legislation, which has resulted in some sort of incoherent blather from the Clark County Democrats complaining about Hawpe daring to suggest that Baron Hill... doesn't read the legislation he votes on, or something.

Not that Baron read the pork-stuffed, budget-busting, deficit-expanding "stimulus" bill before he voted for it (and it wasn't popular in his hometown), but I digress.

Two Years Ago Yesterday: Harry Reid Says the Iraq War Is Lost



Is it still lost? Was it ever lost?

Or was that political hyperbole?

Photo of the Day: Barack & Hugo, BFF


Best Friends Forever.

Tully on Tony

Matt Tully's column this weekend was about Dr. Tony Bennett's first months at the Department of Education. It's great reading.

In just three months, he's set forward a big agenda, enraged the House Democrats, pushed for higher standards, done away with half-days counting as full days, and ensured that the Indiana State Teachers' Association will mortage its own office building to try and make sure he doesn't get reelected.

And Matt Tully, well, Tully likes it. I like most of it too.

Awesomesauce: Royal Horse Guards Play the Imperial March as Saudi King Abdullah Visits Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace

You only need to watch the first forty seconds or so.

The RNC Out-Fundraises the DNC

Michael Steele can't give an exciting speech to save his life, but his RNC sure can rake in the money:

In January, Steele's first month, the party collected $5.8 million. In February, $5.1 million. Last month, $6.7 million. Including $7 million transferred to the RNC by the McCain-Palin campaign, the committee raised $25.3 million in the first quarter.

By contrast, the DNC raised $5.5 million in March, and transferred $2 million from Organizing for America — the entity that used to be the Obama campaign. For the quarter, the DNC raised a bit more than $13.8 million.

In terms of cash on hand, the disparity is similarly wide: $23.9 million for the RNC, $9.7 million for the DNC.

Remember How the Economy Really, Really Needed the "Stimulus" Like, Right Now?

Yup. And if it didn't get passed, the economy would crater and lots of jobs would be lost.

Why, we needed to rush and pass it so that all of $12 billion could be spent in the three months since the vote:

According to Recovery.gov, in the two months since the stimulus was signed into law, $12 billion has been paid out.

...

For perspective, nationwide personal income decreased $29.1 billion, or 0.2 percent, and disposable personal income (DPI) decreased $10.5 billion, or 0.1 percent, in February, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis. Private wage and salary disbursements decreased $29.9 billion in February.


Well, I figured that all of that "stimulus" money would be wasted.

I didn't know that it would also be wasted very slowly.

The National Buffoon's European Vacation

The National Buffoon's European Vacation
Yeah, I know that Obama's trip to Europe was a while back, but I saw this cartoon and I thought up the title for this post and I had to go with it.

The Handshake

The Handshake - Obama and Chavez
An amusing soccer analogy at The Corner to describe Obama's Latin American trip:

The latest event in the Americas’ Cup of international diplomacy took place in Trinidad and Tobago this past weekend. Sadly, the results ran against Team U.S.A. By a score of 4 to 0, an undermanned American team, captained by Barack Obama, went down to defeat at the hands of the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas (ALBA), captained by Hugo Chávez of Venezuela.

The first goal went to Cuba and the Castro brothers. Although not physically present, the Castro brothers managed, with the help of some rather ambiguous offers of negotiation, to flummox the U.S. and put the squad on the defensive over the embargo, human rights, and other democratic technicalities.

Venezuela’s president, Hugo Chávez, scored the second goal in a smiling, handshaking photo-op with Captain Obama that was quickly splashed around the world. Chávez successfully showed that despite previous misdeeds and vile anti-American diatribes, a new game was on. Dispensing with normal diplomatic customs, Chávez pressed home the advantage to name a new ambassador to the U.S. without bothering to receive prior private agreement.

Nicaragua’s Daniel Ortega scored a third goal after subjecting Captain Obama to a 50-minute soul-rending, anti-American harangue that lulled him into a state of defenselessness.

The final goal went to Bolivia’s president, Evo Morales. Although weakened by a recent hunger strike, the indigenous leader of Bolivia’s coca growers successfully maneuvered past beleaguered Team U.S.A. defenses.

Morales’s gambit was to say that if President Obama refused to condemn an assassination plot (which he outlined in a bizarre and murky tale that climaxed with three dead in a shoot-out), he "might think it was organized through the embassy." The ruse worked, and Captain Obama dutifully offered a statement of support to the Morales regime, without seeking further clarification regarding the so-called plot.

Overall, the once-dominant powerhouse of the Western Hemisphere admitted that its best days were behind it. Henceforth, superpowers and mini-states, and democracies and authoritarian states are all equal on the inter-American playing field. While some in the hemisphere may tackle roughly or use a hidden hand, the key for the U.S. is playing by the rules and setting a good example — even if it’s a losing effort.

Monday, April 20, 2009

More on Dawn Johnsen

The guys at Power Line continue to fight the good fight on why lefty Bloomington law professor and Obama Justice Department nominee Dawn Johnsen should not be confirmed.

Brian Howey Angry that Birch's Boy & The Hair Spurning Change Agenda of the Obamassiah

Now, I'd agree with Brian Howey on attacking the hidebound obstinacy of folks like Pat "The Hair" Bauer to badly needed measures like the property tax caps. And given my lack of agreeing with Brian Howey on just about anything, that's saying something.

In that sense, Hoosier Democrats have become the party of no. No to any consideration of local government reform. No to property tax caps. No to preserving the budget surplus in case the economy worsens. No to spending freezes on government programs. No to defending marriage. No to protecting gun rights.

Their opposition is reactionary. They'll oppose anything that the Governor or the Republicans in the Senate propose. Whatever it is, they're against it, as Groucho Marx sang it in Horsefeathers.

But Evan "Birch's Boy" Bayh? Evan Bayh is a human weather vane (just look at the photo Howey dragged up of Bayh; that's a great photo). He'll always be pointing whichever way the wind blows. Evan Bayh doesn't oppose things because the other side opposes them. He opposes them because he doesn't have any core convictions of his own and has no political spine whatsoever.

House Democrats play on a rigged map. The Republicans can get several percentage points more votes than the Democrats in House races statewide (and routinely do, even in bad years like 2006 and 2008). The chances of The Hair and his House rep lackeys being held accountable for their obstruction is slim.

Evan Bayh has no such luxury. If he were to vote for every last item of Barack Obama's agenda (as opposed to, say, 99.9% of them), Hoosier voters would send him packing just like they did with his father. And even the 99.9% probably isn't looking too safe right now.

So Evan Bayh sometimes must say no to the mighty Obamassiah because he's a human weather vane, the only person in Indiana lacking a spine (not that Bayh has ever really lived in Indiana, but I digress), and the House Democrats say no because the perverse gerrymandering of the map means that they never actually have to answer to thinking voters who look beyond the party letter next to their name. Thinking voters would take one look at the record of the House in this General Assembly and fire every Democrat in there.

Obama Has More Czars than Romanov Dynasty

The entire Romanov Dynasty, which ruled Russia for the better part of three centuries.

Hilarity.

No Money for the Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee This Year, Either

I'm not giving one dime for the RSCC to help wage a primary fight to defend Arlen Specter from a conservative challenger. The Congressional campaign committees should not get involved in primaries.

Nothing good ever comes of it but pissed off local party types and pissed off donors, and both of those things have far more negative consequences in November--even if the committee's candidate wins--than is gained from the primary itself.

It's an important lesson that applies at both national and state levels, and one that will have to be learned before the party can hope to regain the majority.

Mitch Bound & Determined to Become Fastest Lame Duck Governor in Hoosier History

I said it before and I'll say it again.

Some mountains are just too tough to climb.

And if you're a politician and you spend all of your political capital trying to climb such a mountain, you end up without any political capital to spend on other things down the line.

As much as I would like to see them get a vote, property tax caps are never going to see the light of day in the House in this session (and probably not in next year's session either). It will be another year and a half before The Hair can be held accountable.

All of the radio ads and robocalls (!!!) in the world won't budge Pat Bauer.

And when the time does come to send Bauer packing, it will be harder to accomplish then if the Governor expends all of his political capital trying to move an immovable object now.

From the Courier-Journal:

Republican Gov. Mitch Daniels has stepped up pressure on the General Assembly to approve his agenda, moving beyond just using the bully pulpit into a multimedia effort to mobilize constituent support.

Last week, his campaign committee started making phone calls to supporters with a recorded message from the governor. In it, he urges listeners to call lawmakers and demand a vote on constitutional limits for property-tax bills.

Meanwhile, Aiming Higher, a nonprofit group created solely to back Daniels' efforts -- first by organizing his inauguration and then to support his agenda -- launched radio ads with a similar message about tax caps, which are in state law but could go into the constitution with further legislative action and ratification by voters.

Daniels said the effort is essentially an extension of his campaign in which the property-tax caps were "a major pillar."

"To me it's trying to fulfill a commitment. We are very serious about doing what we say," he said. "So having tried a host of other approaches to persuade the House to submit the caps to the will of the people, we're trying to enlist a little grass-roots help for that."

But Democrats say the efforts likely will have little effect on legislative business.

House Speaker Pat Bauer, D-South Bend, said the calls and radio spots were a sign that the administration is "desperate." Further, he said, the governor is focusing on the wrong message.

"We wish he would come forth with positive suggestions on how to stop the bleeding of jobs," Bauer said.

I wonder how long it will take for one of these recorded messages from the Governor to go to somebody who files a complaint with Attorney General Greg Zoeller (who is, as we all know, someone who is a big friend of Mitch Daniels).

Do As Jimmy Hoffa Says, Not As He Does

Teamsters boss Jimmy Hoffa wants to take away the secret ballot from workers as a part of "card check," subjecting them to all manner of pressures and potential retaliation both from unions and from their employers.

Hoffa says that the secret ballot is not "a basic tenet of democracy."

Oh really?

As former Federal Elections Commissioner Hans von Spakovsky notes, it's a different story for elections held within the Teamsters itself:

Hoffa does not quite have that attitude towards his own internal elections. The Teamsters constitution requires that all elections for officers “shall be conducted by secret ballot.” All delegates to conventions where officers are elected must also “be chosen by secret ballot” — the rules governing the delegate elections must “be designed to ensure a fair, free, and democratic election.” In other words, Hoffa does not support secret ballots to assure that union representation elections in the workplace are “fair, free, and democratic,” just his own elections to lead his union.

Do as Jimmy Hoffa says, not as Jimmy Hoffa does.

Michael Steele Continues to Impress

From The Corner:

I saw Michael Steele speak at the Union League Club in Chicago last night. As best I can recall he didn't mention Obama or for that matter any other Democrat by name over the course of the evening. There was a lot of talk about how the new Republican party "wants your ideas" and "our doors are open." The two quotes I texted a friend during the talk were "...if we can win one new voter every day, we win..." and then "...I'm here to tell you that you've got a friend to walk this walk with you..."

I've been to a lot of political talks and I can honestly say that I've never seen someone at such a high level suck the energy out of a room the way Michael Steele did last night.

I wouldn't pay money to see Michael Steele, even if I got to see Sarah Palin as a part of the deal. I don't know who would. Oh wait.

Homeland Security

Homeland Security Memo Warns About Veterans

The iBow: The Ultimate Presidential Gift for the Saudi Despot Who Has Everything

iBow

Che Cartoon

Che Cartoon

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

A Look Ahead at Redistricting

The Swing State Project, a lefty Democratic series of blogs, has a post up over the weekend about redistricting in Indiana. Putting on their "bizarro world GOP thinking cap", they drew up what they believe to be the most Republican Congressional map possible (the outcome they believe is likely from the upcoming redistricting process given state redistricting laws and GOP control of the Senate and the Governor's office).

They came up with the following map:

Potential Indiana Map, 2012
Described thus:

District 1 - Pete Visclosky (D-Merrillville) -- with all of Lake and Porter Counties, and nearly half of LaPorte, this is a quintessential Democratic seat along the lakeshore.

District 2 - Joe Donnelly (D-Granger) -- outside of Dem-leaning St. Joseph County being intact, there's little for Donnelly to like about this district. The Obama vote is still probably in the mid-40s here, but no doubt this is would be a Republican seat in most election cycles. Donnelly should take a serious look at statewide office if he gets dealt a hand like this.

District 3 - Mark Souder (R-Fort Wayne) -- solid GOP seat centered on Allen County.

District 4 - Steve Buyer (R-Monticello) -- I thought of diluting this hyper-GOP district a bit to hurt Ellsworth but realized that the lines would start to get bizarre and that, as mentioned in the intro, there are too many Democrats in western and southern Indiana to be cracked up without influencing at least one district.

District 5 - Dan Burton (R-Indianapolis) -- I think the current lines in this district are silly and prefer my more compact version, still safely Republican but not so "stretchy".

District 6 - Mike Pence (R-Columbus) -- to help the odious Pence just a tad (he doesn't need much), I gave Obama-supporting Madison County to Burton to split up the swingy/moderately Dem-friendly Anderson/Muncie/Richmond area between two GOP districts.

District 7 - André Carson (D-Indianapolis) -- entirely within Marion County, as before, and still strongly Democratic.

District 8 - Brad Ellsworth (D-Evansville) -- all Ellsworth seems to need to win easily is the combined electoral power of Terre Haute and Evansville, so putting on my bizarro world GOP thinking cap, knowing that it would be easier to dislodge Hill, I attempted to give Ellsworth an actual Democratic seat, one that would have voted for Obama. The coup de grâce, both for packing the 8th with Democrats and for cracking the 9th, was the addition of Monroe County (Bloomington) with its Obama-crazed college students. For a Republican mapmaker, making Ellsworth Congressman-for-life is a small price to pay for winning back the 9th (possibly with Mr. Déjà Vu himself, Mike Sodrel).

District 9 - Baron Hill (D-Seymour) -- He is likely toast as these lines are drawn, since his tougher battles (2002, 2004, 2006) were all made or broken by Dem GOTV in Bloomington. While the district lacked Bloomington back in its 1990s iteration, southeast Indiana was also very accustomed to Lee Hamilton back then, and Hill was clearly the beneficiary of some lingering Hamilton popularity both in 1998 and 2000. As for this take on the 9th, a couple of its Ohio River counties are traditionally Democratic, but the district is more rural and conservative than ever before, so conditions would be just right for Sodrel to finally triumph after losing three of his last four races against the venerable Hill. With a district this unfriendly, Hill might also consider statewide office. He ran respectably against Dan Coats in 1990...and Richard Lugar will be 80 years old in 2012. I'm just saying!

While this map is bad from a Dem standpoint, its worst possible scenario is a 6-3 GOP edge, not as bad as the 7-2 delegation seen between 2004 and 2006. Back then we fretted about the real possibility of 8-1, given Julia Carson's repeated underwhelming performance in the 7th...thanks to Indianapolis turning deep blue and most of southern Indiana moving into swing territory (with some clear Democratic strongholds), 6-3 seems bad in the context of Indiana circa 2009. So, from a broad perspective, Obama genuinely changed the game for the Democratic Party in Hoosierland. And who knows...by 2012, maybe even this unfriendly version of the 2nd District could be held.

It's sort of an article of faith among lefty blogs that the 2006 and 2008 elections represent a series of movements in an inexorable trend in their favor; Republicans made similar such assumptions based on their performances in 2002 and 2004.

I think it's rather foolhardy to assume that Democrats are going to continue to do as well in Indiana as they have in 2006 and 2008, given the weight that was holding down a lot of the normal traditional trending in the state. That weight is now gone; it will be interesting to see how much of a bounce-back manifests itself in 2010 and 2012.

If you wanted to base your maps on the Obama baseline (which I think is foolish, given that it was an atypical year with an atypical candidate), the best map that the Republicans can hope for is probably 6 to 3. But then, the Republicans learned the folly of basing their electoral strategies in 2006 and 2008 around the Bush-Cheney '04 baseline.

If 2010 shows a significant return to prior historical voting trends in Indiana, the GOP can probably draw a map that would go 7 to 2. Such a map would probably crack Democratic strongholds in Indianapolis, South Bend, and Bloomington (among others) among multiple districts (not just two). It wouldn't look anything like the current map, certainly, but it could be done.

Inherent in such a power play, though, is the risk of overreach. In Kentucky some time ago, the Democrats sought to draw a map on which they could win every seat (or all but one). In the process, they drew a map on which they lost (for a time) every single seat.

In that sense, 6 to 3 might be a safer map. But that also assumes that you want the 3 Democratic seats to be locks for the Democrats. You might not be able to draw a solid 7 to 2 advantage GOP map. But you might be able to draw a map that has 6 solid GOP seats, one swing seat, and two solid Democratic seats.

All things to look at, going forward into redistricting.

Monday, April 6, 2009

It's On, II: Travis Hankins Files For Congress

We have a primary.

There are now two confirmed Republican candidates in the 9th District (Todd Young and Travis Hankins), and potentially as many as three or four more waiting in the wings.

Dr. Richard Moss of Jasper is making the Lincoln Day rounds, plus several other names are heard from time to time. These include Kevin Kellems (who says definitively that he is not running) and Floyd County Prosecutor Keith Henderson (whose name keeps popping up and awful lot in the "considering" category; most people do their considering in a more private manner unless they're floating trial balloons). Other names include Citizens for Truth 527 founder Bud Bernitt of Bloomington and former Congressman Mike Sodrel (who has somehow managed to largely stay away from speculation and yet--it recently occurred to me--has never definitively said he won't run).

The Hankins press release, sent out on Friday afternoon (who sends a press release out on Friday afternoon? I digress):

Travis Hankins Announces Congressional Run

Columbus - Today Travis Hankins formally filed a statement of candidacy with the Federal Election Commission announcing his run as a Republican for U.S. Congress in Indiana’s 9th Congressional District. Travis Hankins is a declared candidate and he may now designate a principal campaign committee and begin raising and spending funds for the 2010 election cycle. This is not an exploratory committee.

Travis Hankins is a Reagan Conservative who believes in a strong national defense, traditional moral values, and a limited government. Travis Hankins is committed to advancing the sanctity of Life and he will focus his campaign around four issues: Life, a Secure Border, Term Limits, and immediate Federal spending cuts to achieve a Balanced Federal Budget. Travis Hankins is committed to grassroots politics with a strong emphasis on door to door campaigning.

“I am running for Congress because someone must do something about an out-of-control national debt, corrupt pork politics, and trillions of dollars in taxpayer funded bailouts,” said Travis Hankins.

“The Washington politicians are out of touch and they are not listening to the people. The American people are sick of being ignored and they are sick of excuses and corruption from Washington. I feel it is time to hold the politicians accountable by only electing members of Congress who are committed to a balanced budget. Only in Washington D.C. is a balanced budget not common sense. If elected, as the representative from the 9th Congressional district, I will be committed both to the United States Constitution and to a Balanced Federal Budget.”

“A balanced budget will strengthen our weak dollar and a stable dollar leads to stable prices. Price stability is the first solution to solving our financial crisis. More debt from the government will only make our economic problems much worse. When government takes money from the private sector and then redistributes that money it kills jobs, distorts markets and destroys wealth. We need to cut federal spending immediately to 2002 levels. Prosperity can only be achieved through production and growth, not credit and debt. A smaller Federal Government is the solution and a big Federal Government is the problem.”

Travis Hankins is a real estate investor who was born and raised in Columbus, Indiana. Along with his twin brother Aaron, Travis graduated from Indiana University and is a member of Bible Church of Columbus. More information on Travis Hankins can be found at his website www.travishankins.com and he can be reached at contact@travishankins.com.

Things just got a bit more interesting.

I've also heard some observations that Hankins has sent mail to people, made LOTS of phone calls, had a website, and done generally campaign-like things for several months now--particularly campaign-like things that tend to cost money and may even involve donations--without ever filing anything with the Federal Election Commission.

I guess that could be a potential issue at some point, should someone file a complaint. Otherwise (and perhaps even regardless), it's inside baseball that most people aren't going to care about.

There are some more serious considerations involving Travis Hankins, particularly involving who he's been calling and mailing things to (and how he knew who to call and mail to), but that's a post for another day.

Baron Hill's 2012 Gubernatorial Campaign Is Getting Started Early

Baron Hill on the AttackIt's important, when seeking to run for a statewide office like Governor, to build up goodwill with various local party officials.

One way of doing this is to attend their events.

But there's no better way to do this than to not merely attend such events but to speak at them to and to help local party officials raise money.

It's a lesson Baron has apparently already learned:

The 3rd District Democratic Central Committee will host its annual dinner April 25 at Eagle Glen in Columbia City. Rep. Baron Hill, D-9th, will serve as the keynote speaker for the event. It will also feature Lake County Sheriff Roy Dominguez.

Tickets are $30 and the cocktail hour begins at 6 p.m. with dinner an hour later. Interested people should call Carmen Darland at 260-237-1199 for more information.

The 3rd Congressional District covers Allen, DeKalb, Noble, Steuben, Elkhart, LaGrange, Kosciusko and Whitley counties.

That's two potential 2012 gubernatorial candidates (Hill and Dominguez) keynoting at one event, an event very far from Baron's home turf. Columbia City, in super-Republican Whitley County, isn't exactly Democrat-friendly territory.

Baron must not be too worried about his 2010 challengers in the 9th District if he's already travelling the state to stock up on favors and goodwill for a gubernatorial campaign in 2012.

Dispatches from the Lincoln Day Circuit: Warrick County

I didn't know Warrick was having its Lincoln Day last week (it's not on the calendar at the state GOP website), but a reader was there and had a brief report on the events of the evening.

State Representative Suzanne Crouch (of District 78; that's a heck of a district; just look at the map) was present. She led a moment of silence in memory of the late Ray McIntyre, a Warrick County Councilman who passed away on Thursday (the day before the dinner).

A portion of "Lincoln: A New Theatrical Experience" was read. It's being performed from June through August at the Lincoln Amphitheatre at Lincoln State Park in Lincoln City (that's a lot of Lincolns; but--as a personal note--I saw the old show once, and if this one is anything like that one, it will be well worth seeing). Lincoln City is technically in Spencer County, but it's right on the line between Spencer and Warrick; former Broncos-turned-Bears quarterback Jay Cutler is from Lincoln City.

Richard Mourdock was the speaker (my correspondent, alas, didn't say much about what he had to say). Also attending were local GOP officials, Vanderburgh County Chairman Nick Hermann, and Hamilton County Chairman Charlie White (also a candidate for Secretary of State).

Like I said earlier, email me a dispatch from your Lincoln Day and I'll either post it (if your spelling and grammar are good and you don't mind) or paraphrase it into a post.

Dispatches from the Lincoln Day Circuit: Dubois County

Your humble correspondent didn't go to the Dubois County Lincoln Day last Thursday (I had a sock drawer to reorganize, you see), but a reader who did attend was kind enough to send an email about the happenings. A summary of their report follows:

Mark Messmer (recently elected GOP state rep over that way) gave a legislative update and a fierce critique of the actions of Speaker Bauer.

Richard Mourdock gave a three-minute update on Indiana's strong fiscal position (despite the bad economy) before having to leave early to attend a College Republican meeting.

Todd Rokita was the keynote speaker; he apparently gave remarks very similar to the ones I heard in Jennings County earlier in the week.

In addition to the dishonorable liar Don Hayes, 9th District Vice Chairman and Dubois County Chairman (my opinion of him, not that of the correspondent), county chairmen were present from Crawford County (Scott Hosier), Daviess County (Martin Mumaw, also 8th District Secretary, famed creator of the Mitch-free Lincoln Day), Hamilton County (Charlie White, who is running for Secretary of State), Monroe County (Gene Moncel), Orange County (Jim Mathers), Perry County (Tom McCart, who seconded the nomination of Don Hayes for district vice chairman at the 9th District caucus), and Spencer County (Jerriann Burroughs, who nominated Don Hayes for district vice chairman at the 9th District caucus).

Connie Nass, former state auditor, was present. Also present were likely 9th District candidates Todd Young and Richard Moss, the latter being from Jasper. A variety of local officials were also present (they weren't named by the correspondent, unfortunately).

~

You never know when you do these things what to expect; I was pleasantly surprised to get not one but two emails from readers about Lincoln Days that they attended last week. I'll be blogging the second shortly.

I'm still accepting brief "dispatches" (via email) from readers across the state about the Lincoln Day Dinners they have attended, whether in their county or wherever. Drop me a line about what happened in your county. Who came? Who said what? What was interesting or notable?

Kossacks Mock Evan Bayh

Kossacks Mock Evan Bayh
Hilarious.

Rothenberg: Repeat of 1994 Unlikely

Sobering analysis for people who expect a wave in 2010.

Though there are bright spots (Chris Dodd in Connecticut, for example), the Senate is essentially a lost cause for the Republicans. The GOP has a better (though slim) chance of regaining the House; resources should probably be allocated accordingly.

Obama: Austrian Is a Language

*sigh*

At a news conference afterward, Obama said his debut on the international stage had convinced him that “political interaction in Europe is not that different from the United States Senate,” where he served before entering the White House.

“There’s a lot of -- I don’t know what the term is in Austrian -- wheeling and dealing, and people are pursuing their interests, and everybody has their own particular issues and their own particular politics,” he said in response to an Austrian reporter’s question.

The preening buffoon continues his march across Europe, impressing everyone he sees.

For those of you from Kentucky that don't know (and for those of you from posh Hyde Park suburbs of Chicago that also obviously also don't know), Austrians speak German.

I Bet He'll Sign It and Still Go Around Saying He Never, Ever Raised Taxes

From the Courier:

A key Senate committee easily approved a plan [Friday] that would double the state excise tax on beer, wine and liquor.

Surprise, Surprise: Obama Not Mad at Birch's Boy Over Budget Vote

No hard feelings toward Evan Bayh at all, it seems, "given [his] support for earlier measures and given [his] electoral situation."

Imagine that. He's allowed to grandstand on a rare vote here and there, because he's so useful the other 99.9% of the time.

Creeping Realization

Creeping Realization

Rising Oceans of Debt

Rising Oceans of Debt

Teleprompter Quotes of the Day

Obama at Notre Dame:

Big Guy looks at the Notre Dame trip as what he calls a "teaching moment." We know he's right on all of the issues, it's just that the Notre Dame faculty, students and alumni haven't heard him make the case for stem-cell research, abortion, and other forms of human rights and social advancement. And we expect they'll come away persuaded, even if Big Guy doesn't say a word about those issues. That's the kind of power Big Guy has.

What they won't come away with are the new, individually wrapped condom packets with the Presidential seal on them. We only hand those out at public-school commencement addresses where we know they won't go to waste.

And on Marx:

Clarifying: Big Guy does not channel Karl Marx. Since BO is all seeing and all knowing, we believe Marx was channeling Big Guy.

Change of Strategy

Change of Strategy

Al Gore Didn't Invent the Internet, But Only Barack Obama Can Take It Away

Scary.

Even Mother Jones (a lefty journal of opinion) is decrying legislation that would empower the President to take control of the Internet in the United States (nevermind the how; it's that he'd have the authority that's scary) in the event of a "cybersecurity emergency" (the definition of which, it seems will be entirely up to the President).

In the days of the "imperial presidency" of George W. Bush, the Democrats told us that this sort of executive power-grab was a bad thing. Now, not so much it seems.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

New Burton Primary Challenger (Another One) Gets Press Release Run in Indy Star

Here.

Can't say that I'm surprised; if all of the support and free media the Indianapolis Star gave to Dan Burton's primary opponents had to be counted as campaign contributions, the Federal donor limit would have been reached a long time ago.

Whale of a Fail

Media Fail Whale
Obama Fail Whale
Hat tips: Mock Barack (here and here).

Opposition

Opposition

Friday, April 3, 2009

Telling Budget Votes

The pressure from the MoveOn.org crowd must have worked; Baron Hill voted for Obama's budget. Joe Donnelly opposed it. Every other Democrat from Indiana voted in favor of it. Every Hoosier Republican opposed it; not one Republican in the House voted for it.

In the Senate, it was a similar story. Not one Republican voted for Obama's budget.

Both Dick Lugar and Evan Bayh voted against the budget.

Interestingly, however, Senator Tom Coburn offered an amendment that would have protected the rights of doctors not to perform abortions against their conscience.

Dick Lugar voted in support of the Coburn Amendment.

Evan Bayh, however, voted against it.

How should one read this?

It seems clear that one can only conclude that Barack Obama's budget was a symbolic vote for Evan Bayh. Maybe it did spend too much for him, though I find that hard to believe. Evan Bayh has very few strongly-held convictions; show me one unpopular issue on which he will take a stand on principle alone and it will be the first. He's just grandstanding.

But it seems clear that being pro-life and standing up for the rights of the most vulnerable and defending the consciences of doctors who don't want to perform abortions is a bridge too far for Evan Bayh.

His strongly-held convictions apparently include being pro-choice, and include forcing doctors to perform abortions even when they don't believe in them.

Hopefully, in November of next year, Hoosier voters will have a choice between Bayh and a pro-life candidate that has genuine convictions, because one of Evan Bayh's very few strongly-held convictions appears to be very far from the strongly-held convictions of his constituents.

Because It Worked So Well for Others in Indiana Last Year: Obama's "Keeping Score"

Got to love this article from the Wall Street Journal:

"Don't think we're not keeping score, brother." That's what President Barack Obama said to Rep. Peter DeFazio in a closed-door meeting of the House Democratic Caucus last week, according to the Associated Press.

A few weeks ago, Mr. DeFazio voted against the administration's stimulus bill. The comment from Mr. Obama was a presidential rebuke and part of a new, hard-nosed push by the White House to pressure Congress to adopt the president's budget. He has mobilized outside groups and enlisted forces still in place from the Obama campaign.

Senior presidential adviser Valerie Jarrett and her chief of staff, Michael Strautmanis, are in regular contact with MoveOn.Org, Americans United for Change and other liberal interest groups. Deputy Chief of Staff Jim Messina has collaborated with Americans United for Change on strategy and even ad copy. Ms. Jarrett invited leaders of the liberal interest groups to a White House social event with the president and first lady to kick off the lobbying campaign.

Its targets were initially Republicans, as team Obama ran ads depicting the GOP as the "party of no." But now the fire is being trained on Democrats worried about runaway spending.

Americans United is going after Democrats who are skeptical of Mr. Obama's plans to double the national debt in five years and nearly triple it in 10. The White House is taking aim at lawmakers in 12 states, including Democratic Sens. Kent Conrad, Ben Nelson, Mary Landrieu, Blanche Lincoln and Mark Pryor. MoveOn.Org is running ads aimed at 10 moderate Senate and House Democrats. And robocalls are urging voters in key districts to pressure their congressman to get in line.

Wonder if they made any of those robocalls here in the 9th Congressional District.

Mr. Zoeller, who (you might recall) knows a little bit about winning against others who are "keeping score," might have something to say about such robocalls.

Republican Wins Award for Best Chili

From the Courier-Journal:

Scottsburg Mayor Bill Graham won the Horseshoe Chili Cook Off yesterday, a fundraiser for LifeSpan Resources, the social-service agency for the elderly and disabled that serves four Southern Indiana counties.

Graham was one of eight public officials from the counties of Clark, Floyd, Harrison and Scott participating in the cook-off in The Showroom banquet hall at the Horseshoe Southern Indiana Casino in Harrison County.

Graham said he entered the competition "because LifeSpan does so much for our community."

He said its meals program provides nutrition for many of Scottsburg's elderly residents, and its transportation activities bring seniors to medical and other appointments they couldn't get to on their own.

For his victory yesterday, Graham received a trophy and a long, wooden scepter with a red plastic chili pepper on the end.

Keith Stormes, LifeSpan's executive director, said last year's cook-off raised $10,000 for the agency, which depends primarily on state and federal funding.

Bill Graham, the Mayor of Scottsburg, is indeed a Republican (one of few in deep-blue Scott County; though the Democrats didn't bother running anyone against him last time).

Anyway, I particularly liked this photo over at the Courier of Harrison County politico Carl "Buck" Mathes at the event, sans the usual overalls but with a nice chef's hat on instead:

Daily "Make-You-Want-to-Puke" Video: Media Fawning Over Michelle Obama



More on the whole touching the Queen when you're not supposed to thing.

And nothing compares to this rant trashing Michelle Obama's fashion sense:

British Royalty Meets Boorish American Trash
I am forever being told by the MSM that First Lady Michelle Obama is America's new fashion icon. That she is the most stylish First Lady since Jackie. That she looks fabulous in everything, simply everything! That even Sarkozy's model wife stayed home in shame from G20 because she knew not even she could hold a candle to the elegantly clad Michelle, and if you can't look as good as Michelle, then you may as well just dig yourself a hole, crawl into it, curl up, and die. That I should be in a constant state of squirming and whimpering and twisting my legs together to prevent soiling myself in anxious anticipation of what spectacular knock 'em dead outfit Our New First Lady is going to wow me with next and make me wish I could wear and guess what? YES, I CAN! Because whatever outfit she wears, it only costs $500.00 which of course is in the price range of EVERY American woman in today's economy, so we can all look just like her, which is JUST LIKE US! Oh, I am so thrilled that--oh, please excuse me while I get up to change, I think I just had that little accident.

OK, I'm back, now where was I? Oh yes. And the MSM also beats me over the head with the fact that Michelle always wears bold, bright colors--something that NO First Lady, with the possible exception of Jackie, has ever, EVER dared to do!

So where were those bold, bright colors yesterday? THIS is what she wears when she goes to London to visit the Queen? I should think she frightened a lot more than a little mouse under Her Majesty's chair.

Mind you, I have nothing against wearing black. It can be very chic, and they do say it's slimming. But in this case, it just doesn't work.

The Queen is clearly dressed for spring in a pretty pastel pink.

Michelle, on the other hand, looks like a huge mutant crow. Or even the evil fairy Maleficent in the Disney cartoon Sleeping Beauty. All she needs is a scepter with the smaller crow as her familiar perched atop it:

Disney Villain Maleficent: Got that 'Michelle Obama Look' Going On
Furthermore, she looks as if she got dressed in front of a spinning airplane propeller.

And I'm supposed to be--well, blown away by her dazzling look? I see women like that schlepping around at my local Wal-Mart every day.

Though maybe that's what the MSM means when they say Michelle dresses in a way all of us gals can relate to--and easily emulate.

Ouch.