Tuesday, June 30, 2009

National Debt Road Trip

Bauer Blinks: Budget to Get Vote Today

Pat 'The Hair' Bauer with gavel.Yesterday afternoon, it seemed like the Senate would vote on the budget and the House would vote on it Wednesday.

This would probably have been unwise; the Senate approved a budget in April that the House had already defeated, so why should the Senate stick its neck out again? Fortunately, both chambers will vote today instead; David Long appears to be learning.

And it appears that Speaker Pat "The Hair" Bauer, faced with a government shutdown and near-universal condemnation of his obstructionist course in newspaper opinion pages across the state, has blinked.

Bauer's obstruction appears to be at an end. A budget will go to the floor of the House for a vote.

It seems likely to pass; it has always been likely that the House would approve the Senate compromise budget (or something close to it) if the Speaker would only allow a vote.

From the Indy Star:

A vote is expected today on a new state budget that gives Democrats and Republicans some, though not all, of what they wanted for education.

If approved by the legislature, the deal would avert a government shutdown.

House Speaker B. Patrick Bauer, D-South Bend, said the compromise shifts $54 million to the key Democratic priority of funding K-12 education -- though that's not as much as some Democrats wanted, particularly those representing urban areas.

Note the amount here; the Speaker held the budget up and nearly put the state into a crisis. And when he caved, all he got for it was $54 million in extra education funding.

The budget, estimated at $27.8 billion over two years, plus about $1 billion in federal stimulus money, also would satisfy some key Republican concerns: preserving a $1 billion surplus while also beginning a pilot program for online charter schools and providing tax credits for contributions to private-school scholarships.

Gov. Mitch Daniels, who had made preserving that surplus a priority, said he felt "pretty good" about the progress made Monday. He had good reason to: The reserves lawmakers set aside mirrored his budget proposal.

Mitch, meanwhile, has gotten everything out of the budget that he wanted; it meets all of his criteria and few if any of those put forward by the Democrats (who started off by passing a nonsensical one-year budget).

Senate GOP leaders said they expect the governor would sign off on the deal.

But not everyone was happy.

Bauer said he expects a vote on the budget today, but "whether the vote passes or not is another question."

The Hair couldn't control his caucus on the last night in April to enforce party discipline on the budget vote. His power doesn't come from his ability to command the votes of his own caucus. His power comes from his ability to prevent his caucus from ever voting in the first place.

The moment they have to vote, he tends to not be able to control them. You saw that on Sine Die in April, and you'll probably see it today, too.

House Ways and Means Chairman Bill Crawford, D-Indianapolis, one of the top negotiators on the plan, said that he would sign off on the agreement to allow it to come to a vote but that his own vote will be "no."

Though the compromise shifts more money to Indianapolis Public Schools than an original GOP proposal called for, IPS still comes out a loser. In 2010, it would lose $8.2 million, or 2.82 percent of its state funds; and in 2011, it would lose another $12 million, or 4.25 percent of its state funds.

While I'm loath to see any decrease in education funding anywhere, it's worth noting that these decreases stem from declining enrollments and a decision to tie education funding to students themselves rather than institutions.

"I'm disappointed. I'm discouraged," Crawford said as he left the Statehouse Monday evening.

Interesting. Why be disappointed or discouraged?

Still, he said, he was sure the budget would pass with the votes of most or all of the 48 House Republicans, and about 15 to 20 of the 52 House Democrats.

As I said above, it's not hard to get a compromise or a vote on reasonable legislation out of the House when the Speaker actually lets things come to the floor for a vote.

House Minority Leader Brian Bosma, R-Indianapolis, said the budget agreement reflects compromise on both sides.

"I am confident that if it comes to the floor, it will pass. It's time to bring this special session to a close," he said. "I believe everybody moved quite a bit, actually."

Some moved more than others.

The Leftist Electoral Retreat Continues

While the United States has lurched furtively leftward, across the globe left-wing political parties remain in full-scale retreat from Europe to Canada to South Korea, and now to Argentina:

BUENOS AIRES, June 29 (Reuters) - Argentine President Cristina Fernandez suffered a stinging blow in Sunday's mid-term, losing her majority in the lower house as voters rejected her combative politics and handling of an economic slowdown.

In a humiliating defeat for Argentina's first couple, her powerful husband and predecessor, former President Nestor Kirchner, was upset in a high-profile congressional race.

The result heightened political uncertainties in Latin America's No. 3 economy, potentially setting off a power struggle in the ruling Peronist party.

Fernandez could replace several cabinet ministers in the wake of the defeat, a government source told reporters, asking not to be named.

A slate of candidates headed by billionaire businessman Francisco de Narvaez took just 2 percentage points more votes than the slate headed by Kirchner, in a closely watched race in the country's most populous province, Buenos Aires.

"This is a stunning result," said Federico Thomsen, an Argentine political and economic analyst. "Kirchner put everything he had in this election, he put himself in the battlefront and it still wasn't enough."

The mid-term election was widely seen as a referendum on the Kirchners, and the former president had hoped to shore flagging support for his wife by winning the province, a crucial electoral battleground and Peronist stronghold.

Kirchner conceded to De Narvaez, a 55-year-old center-right congressman.

Meanwhile, in Germany (of all places), they are talking about cutting taxes:

BERLIN -- German Chancellor Angela Merkel defended her plan to cut taxes despite the country's soaring budget deficit as she introduced her conservative alliance's manifesto ahead of national elections in September.

Lower incomes taxes would "provide motivation" and encourage economic growth, Ms. Merkel told a conference of her party, the Christian Democratic Union, and its Bavarian sister party, the Christian Social Union.

"It would be wrong not to do what is right and necessary for growth, and so prevent ourselves emerging quickly from this crisis," Ms. Merkel said in her conference speech.

The conservative parties' election platform promises tax cuts worth €15 billion ($21 billion), but gives no time frame. The parties plan to cut the lowest income tax rate to 12% from 14% at present, raise the threshold for paying the top income tax rate of 42%, and reduce the degree to which a rising income leads to a progressively higher tax rate.

What strange and different ideas these foreigners are starting to get. Here we elected somebody who wants to be more like them, and they're trying to be more like we were before we elected that guy.

Indiana's Weak Governor

Paul Ogden examines the weak constitutional veto of Indiana's governor, and its consequences for the special session.

The GOP "Next in Line" Myth

FiveThirtyEight crunches the numbers, examines the history, and concludes:

But let's say for the sake of argument that the next-in-line myth is all true. What would it indicate about 2012? Those claiming the myth makes it inevitable that Mitt Romney will win the nomination sometimes appear to forget that Mike Huckabee actually won more delegates than Romney, and stayed in the race longer. Are there reasons that the rich and telegenic Romney might be stronger than Huckabee (a poor fundraiser with some wacky cultural positions deeply mistrusted by Republican business elites)? Yes, but they have nothing to do with the "next-in-line" factor. And Romney's own weaknesses, like those of Sarah Palin, are as attributable to misgivings that arose during his 2008 campaign as to the mesmerizing power that the prior candidacy is supposed to exert.

The more you really look at it, the "next-in-line" myth seems to live on mainly as a way for conservatives to wash their hands of responsibility for a couple of GOP nominees--particularly McCain in 2008--they didn't much like and who went on to perform dismally in the general election. Of course candidates with prior campaign experience have some advantages; that's like one of those double-loaded statistics in sports (e.g., starting pitchers win a lot of games when they last into the late innings) that tell you virtually nothing other than that success breeds success, and winners win. In that spirit, all we really know about the 2012 Republican nominating process is that the future lies ahead.

It's also worth noting, as done well here, that McCain's nomination was hardly a foregone conclusion, despite being "next in line":

A few thousand votes the other way in New Hampshire or South Carolina and John McCain would have been eliminated. He walked a tightrope to the nomination. Nobody “fell in line” behind John McCain. He never even won a majority of the votes before Super Tuesday. One different move by Mitt Romney or Mike Huckabee along the way and McCain could have been denied the nomination. What if McCain had lost South Carolina, perhaps leading to Charlie Crist and Mel Martinez endorsing Rudy Giuliani? What if Mitt Romney had won New Hampshire, leading to a Michigan blowout and a siphoning of votes from McCain in South Carolina, snowballing into a Florida win? To speak of McCain’s win as inevitable is history being rewritten under our noses.

Ohio Valley Doldrums

Rothenberg examines the lack of life in GOP challenges to Democrats in Congressional districts bordering the Ohio River, including the 8th and the 9th:

Republican Mike Sodrel and Democrat Baron Hill faced off four consecutive times in Indiana’s 9th district. But after Hill defeated Sodrel by 5 points in 2006 and 20 points in 2008, Democrats are optimistic that he will have an easier road to re-election in 2010. And in the neighboring 8th district, now-Rep. Brad Ellsworth (D) demolished then-Rep. John Hostettler (R) by 22 points in 2006 and then cruised to a 30-point win in 2008.

All four districts went for Bush twice and then McCain, yet now there is only a faint pulse of competitiveness.

But a big part of the Republicans’ problem is the strength of the Democratic incumbents.

“The No. 1 factor is candidate quality,” said Democratic pollster Fred Yang of Garin-Hart-Yang Research Group. “And we have really good Democratic candidates in those districts.” Yang works for Ellsworth and Hill, and also worked on state Sen. David Boswell’s (D) unsuccessful run in Kentucky’s 2nd district last year.

Republican recruitment prospects against Wilson, Ellsworth, Hill and Rep. John Yarmuth (D-Ky.) are dim, if not dormant. Republicans may find a candidate to run against Mollohan, who was unopposed in 2008.

“We may have a better opportunity in a more marginal district where the incumbent is soft,” admitted one GOP strategist, who also explained that the longer these incumbents go without serious challenges, the more difficult they will be to defeat in the future.

With multiple, inefficient media markets, advertising in the Ohio River Valley districts can be an expensive affair for the DCCC and the NRCC.

I sometimes disagree with Rothenberg, but I find little to disagree with here.

Jim Treacher Strikes Again

"How can you talk about X when you didn't talk about Y?" The only difference between a lib & a child is the amount of mac & cheese they eat.

- Jim Treacher

Budget Blockage

Budget Blockage

Monday, June 29, 2009

Indy Star Slams The Hair as Obstructionist

Toupee in FlightWhen it wants to, the Indianapolis Star sure can avoid mincing words:

When a state leader in Indiana warns that casinos may close and the lottery shut down unless swift action is taken, then you know it's a crisis.

By the way, state parks, license branches and many other government offices would close and most state employees would be furloughed unless the General Assembly finally completes its constitutional duty of approving a budget.

Gov. Mitch Daniels last week outlined those consequences and others that would quickly roll out if lawmakers fail to pass a spending plan by midnight Tuesday.

Perhaps the governor is just being dramatic. Maybe it's political bluster. But House Speaker Pat Bauer, the biggest obstacle between the state government and a new budget, shouldn't try to find out.

Let's agree that Bauer and his fellow House Democrats are passionate about what they see as their duty to protect public education, especially in urban districts, by allocating more money than the governor and Senate Republicans think is prudent.

But Bauer has limitations that he must accept if the legislature is to function as intended. As Speaker of the House, Bauer has the power to personally block almost any bill he doesn't like, including the budget legislation. He doesn't, however, have enough authority or influence to compel the Senate and the governor to bend to his demands.

In short, Bauer can be an obstructionist, as he's well shown for the past six months, but he can truly lead only if he's willing to finally start working toward a compromise with his opponents. (For their part, both the Senate leadership and the governor have shown far more willingness to give ground than Bauer has demonstrated in recent months.)

Forcing a shutdown of most state operations would place unnecessary hardships on state employees and the people they serve. It also would amount to dereliction of duty on the part of legislators. If that unfortunate event occurs, most of the blame will fall on Bauer.

After six months of stubborn inaction, it's long past time for the Speaker to allow a budget compromise to move to the governor's desk.

Ouch.

That should leave a mark, but it won't.

The Speaker has a thick skin; he has thus far shown himself impervious to both criticism and to basic reason.

State Government Shutdown Looms

The Speaker in full 'Wrath of God' ModeI'd rate the odds of avoiding a shutdown at less than fifty-fifty (and thus the odds of one taking place at higher than fifty-fifty).

This past week, the Governor swung through southern Indiana to stop in the districts of some vulnerable Democrats in order to generate opposition to Speaker Pat "The Hair" Bauer's obstinate refusal to allow a vote on the House floor on the current budget compromise.

That compromise would almost certainly pass if given a vote.

Some of the reporting on this highlights the communications problem Mitch has in southern Indiana compared to the area around Indianapolis.

On Friday, Mitch outlined what would constitutionally have to happen if The Hair didn't allow a vote and the state government was forced to shut down. Same media availabilities. Same thing being reported. Two very different ways it got reported.

In the Courier-Journal:

Daniels threatens closure of parks, casinos

INDIANAPOLIS — Gov. Mitch Daniels said he will close casinos, state parks, license branches and most other government operations - and temporarily lay off thousands of state workers — if the General Assembly does not pass a new budget by midnight Tuesday.

However, Daniels said he believes he has the authority to fund prisons, the state police and other emergency services.

The governor also said assistance checks for low-income and unemployed Hoosiers would continue to be dispersed, although new applications probably would not be processed.

"I don't think we can wait any longer to let the public know of the risks," Daniels said from his office as he ticked of the list of agencies and offices that would be closed. But he said he wanted to reassure Hoosiers that, "if amazingly they choose not to act by Tuesday night, vital services — the most vital services — will continue."

Earlier this week, the nonpartisan Legislative Services Agency released a memo that said researchers their believed state law did not give Daniels the power to keep the state police, prisons and other services operating without a budget. The memo said state law would only allow a handful of institutions — not including the prisons — to remain open.

But Daniels said yesterday that he believes state law gives the Board of Finance the power to transfer money from funds not appropriated through the legislature's budget process so that he could keep emergency services operating.

Then compare that story to the one in the Indianapolis Star:

Daniels outlines dire steps for shutdown

Gov. Mitch Daniels today said most areas of state government not essential to public safety will shut down if lawmakers fail to pass a budget by their midnight Tuesday deadline.

State parks will close. So will all license branches and all other state offices, meaning most of Indiana's 33,000 state workers would be furloughed.

Casinos and horse-racing tracks, which he said cannot operate without gaming law enforcement, also would be forced to close, and the Hoosier Lottery would cease operations.

Schools and universities may continue to hold classes, but won't be getting any checks from the state until the budget impasse is resolved. And with no prosecutors being paid, Daniels said it was uncertain yet what the impact will be on local courts.

"I want to assure the public that if amazingly they (lawmakers) choose not to act by Tuesday night, vital services, the most vital services, will continue," he said.

State police will continue to patrol the highways. Prisons will remain in operation.

People who have already qualified for food stamps or unemployment will continue to get their checks — though no new claims will be processed or granted.

He said the Indiana National Guard, the Department of Homeland Security and the state Board of Health "will be available on a stand-by basis. We believe we will have the legal authority to do this and the financial means to do these basic and minimal things."

House Democrats said they are focused on getting a new budget passed by Tuesday's deadline, and said they find the consequences of the budget that Daniels is pushing the thing that Hoosiers should be scared about.

"The governor has had a good time flying around the state the past few days trying to scare people into supporting his budget demands," said Rep. Scott Pelath, D-Michigan City, who was speaking for his caucus. "I think what people really ought to be scared of are the budget he wants passed, because it would decimate public education, give up on our kids, wouldn't do anything to put people back to work, wouldn't be good for workers here in Indiana."

He would not answer, though, whether it was better for lawmakers to continue trying to reach a budget Democrats can support even if it means missing Tuesday's deadline. He said the Democrats' focus is on trying to get that budget compromise by Tuesday.

"We can't be contemplating those things right now," he said of a government shutdown. "We've got to work. This is very, very tough."

Daniels, who last month said that a shutdown "will not happen," said that while he didn't expect this doomsday scenario to unfold, he needed to let the public know what to expect if it does.

"Incredibly I hear that this special session might not end by June 30. It might go on 40 days and 40 nights," Daniels told reporters this morning in a Statehouse news conference in his office.

And he blamed House Democrat leadership, particularly House Speaker B. Patrick Bauer, D-South Bend, saying the impasses would be resolved if only Bauer would simply let the Senate Republican version of the budget be put up for a vote.

Democrats object to several provisions in the GOP budget, including spending on virtual online charter schools and tax credits that benefit private schools. They also say the proposal would hurt many school districts, particularly in urban areas.

If you really want, you can watch the media availability that they were both reporting on here (actual WMV vido file here).

If you watch that video yourself, you'll find that the Star's reporting is much more accurate than that by the Courier-Journal.

The differing headlines alone say it all.

The Governor did not threaten anything, yet the Courier-Journal used such loaded terminology in its reporting.

Heck, Mitch spent much of the media availability explaining how he didn't want to close things down and the steps he would take to not close them down. He also spent considerable time refuting threats by the Democrats to shut the state down.

Voters and citizens in southern Indiana have for decades been ill-served by the reporting they are getting about what happens in Indianapolis. Often, folks in some parts of Indiana know more about politics in Kentucky or Ohio than they know about politics in their own state.

It's a sorry thing that they're getting reporting like this from Lesley Stedman Weidenbener--and in other small town newspapers in southern Indiana (if they are getting any reporting about it at all)--as the state barrels toward this catastrophe.

The power to avoid the shutdown rests in the hands of the Speaker and his caucus. It doesn't rest with the Governor. The Senate passed a reasonable budget. The Democrats keep insisting on a one-year budget--a hilarious farce of fiscal absurdity--with unsustainable spending levels that nobody is taking seriously.

The Senate budget would pass today if the Speaker allowed a vote on it on the floor, yet the Speaker won't give it a vote. This isn't about the budget. It's brinkmanship, and it's about Pat Bauer's ego and his power trips.

Voters and citizens would do well to call their state legislators--particularly their state representatives--and urge them to pass a budget if they want to avoid a shutdown.

Mitch will almost certainly sign any piece of legislation that makes it past both chambers, so anyone wanting to apply pressure in a productive way should be contacting their state legislators.

Int-Oxley-cated II: First DUI Charge On Hold

Dennie Ray Oxley II's License PlateOops.

Sometimes, it's easy to sweep one drunken incident under the rug.

Particularly if you're a Democrat good old boy in Crawford County.

But two, one of them in the state capital and on surveillance tape?

Well, that's not only considerably more difficult to bury, but big enough that it keeps the first incident from being buried, too.

Per the Courier-Journal:

INDIANAPOLIS — A February drunken-driving charge against Indiana's 2008 Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor is on hold amid questions of whether he misrepresented himself as a legislator to avoid possible arrest.

Barry Brown, a special prosecutor in Bloomington, said Saturday he had hoped to resolve the drunken-driving charge against former state Rep. Dennie Oxley Jr. at a hearing next week. But Brown said that's on hold as investigators look into a separate incident involving Oxley in Indianapolis on Friday.

"We were going to try to work out a resolution. Obviously, this little incident is going to make that more difficult," Brown said.

Police say Oxley, 38, and a 21-year-old woman were found at a gas station early Friday and that Oxley, who appeared intoxicated, claimed immunity from arrest because the legislature is in session. Authorities later found out Oxley was no longer a lawmaker, and Marion County Prosecutor Carl Brizzi said he would meet with officers on Monday before he decides whether to file charges.

Oxley, of Taswell, was released to the custody of a friend on Friday. A telephone message seeking comment was left at his home in English.

Oxley was charged with drunken driving in February after he crashed into a parked car in Taswell.

Brown said of the drunken-driving case: "We have a hearing Wednesday, so I will be at that hearing, but it's not going to be a resolution of the case. ... We will treat it as an interim hearing."

On Friday, Sgt. Matthew Mount said, Indianapolis police were called to the service station downtown by an employee who reported a woman lying face-down and barefoot in the station's parking lot after she and a man arrived in a taxi. Officers found the man carrying the woman's shoes and walking away from the station toward an alley.

"He's approached by one of the officers. He's kind of belligerent, doesn't want to cooperate," Mount said. "The officer tries to lock him up for public intox, the guy says, 'You can't lock me up. I'm Dennie Oxley, the legislature, we're in session, I have immunity.'"

Mount said police called the prosecutor's office, which advised them to release Oxley if he had transportation home and to "deal with the immunity thing later."

Oxley, a businessman and former assistant school superintendent, was first elected to the legislature in 1998 and was the majority whip for House Democrats before becoming gubernatorial candidate Jill Long Thompson's running mate last year. The Democratic ticket lost to incumbent Republican Gov. Mitch Daniels and Lt. Gov. Becky Skillman in November.

It's my understanding that Barry Brown is viewed as a sort of "sweeper," somebody that can be depended upon as a special prosecutor to make incidents like young Oxley's first DUI arrest just disappear (or at least minimize them as much as possible) when county prosecutors want to punt on them. Brown, by the way, is a Democrat.

That routine won't be so easy this time, largely because of Dennie Ray Oxley II's own stupidity. Not only is the second incident itself on tape, but the reporter from Channel 6 that broke the story got Carl Brizzi on tape about the case, too (which makes Brizzi punting difficult, also).

Another run-in with the law involving just Oxley being drunk could probably be consigned to the memory hole. His impersonation of a public official and lying to police officers? Probably not so much.

The shabby way he refused to help the poor young girl, then tried to abandon her, then tried hide behind a car, and then evade arrest just makes it all that much more disgusting. What would have become of the girl Oxley left laying there had the police not been called?

I'm also reliably told that the cab driver put Oxley and the 21-year-old intern on the curb only two blocks from Speaker Pat "The Hair" Bauer's quarter-million-dollar-plus condo.

Since it's unlikely that the gas station was their end destination and the video doesn't appear to show the cab driver getting paid (though that could just be the editing for TV), I wonder whether the girl (or Oxley) threw up in the cab and the driver made them get out.

I also wonder if the condo (where Oxley reportedly sometimes stays) was their end destination.

It would be interesting for reporters to track down the cab driver and get his side of the story in all of this.

As a side note, I've heard that word is going around Crawford County that Oxley's wife and two kids have left him. I don't know if that's true or not (but I've heard it now from multiple people), but it would be a sorry development in this latest Oxley II escapade if so.

The (Updated) Int-Oxley-Cated Saga:

Int-Oxley-cated II, The Sequel: Interns & Impersonations & Fleeing the Scene, Oh My!, in which a drunken young Oxley is found at an Indianapolis gas station with a 21-year-old House intern, hides behind a car to avoid the police, tries to run away and is caught, claims to be a member of the legislature (he isn't) to avoid arrest, and the whole thing is caught on tape.

Dennie Ray II Mulling Secretary of State Bid, in which Oxley II, fresh off his defeat on the Democratic gubernatorial ticket is rumored to be considering a run for Secretary of State.

Interesting Development: Dennie Ray Oxley II Arrested for Drunk Driving After Auto Accident in Crawford County, in which Oxley II was arrested in Crawford County after being drunk and having an auto accident; it is noted that this rumored to not be his first encounter with the law while drinking.

Int-Oxley-cated: Dennie Ray II's Dangerous & Dumbfounding Drunk Driving Debacle, in which more is learned about the arrest in Crawford County, it is noted that his blood alcohol level was twice the legal limit, and that Oxley himself voted to raise the blood alcohol level to that new limit when he was in the legislature.

Int-Oxley-cated Update, in which the political implications of Oxley II's behavior are explored, and the possibility of a special prosecutor to handle the case is discussed.

Int-Oxley-cated: More Facts Emerge in Dennie Ray II DUI Case... The Passenger Just Vanishes, in which more details emerge about the Oxley DUI incident, including information about the damage done to the other vehicle, the passenger reportedly with young Oxley according to earlier accounts vanishes, and discussion begins about how such things are "traditionally" handled in Crawford County.

Int-Oxley-cated: Special Prosecutor Requested, in which a special prosecutor is requested for the Oxley II DUI case and it is declared that "there is no proof" that there was ever a passenger when people start asking about how the passenger could just disappear.

Read His Lips: More New Taxes

Commentary notes the passing of another Obama campaign promise:

Really, you knew this was coming:

The White House seems to be retreating from President Barack Obama’s campaign promise that he would not raise taxes on families making less than $250,000. Under persistent questioning from ABC’s George Stephanopoulos Sunday, Obama senior adviser David Axelrod declined to restate the vow and left open the possibility that the president might sign health care reform legislation that taxes high-cost, employer-provided insurance plans which some middle-class families currently receive tax free.

Actually they already broke the promise with tax hikes on cigarettes and the cap-and-trade energy tax. Even if we take the CBO’s modest number at face value (e.g. $175 per person) that does have a way of adding up. Bill Kristol did the math and noted the timing on Fox News Sunday: “$175 a person is, what, five, 600, seven, $800 a family, depending on how many — how big your family is. That’s kind of a lot of money to heap on families in the middle of a recession.”

At some point, the people that believed that Obama wasn't going to raise their taxes, but instead give 95% of people a tax cut, are going to look at their pay stubs and see that their taxes have gone up.

They're not going to be happy. Worse still, the people that thought Obama was a different kind of politician--one above these sorts of broken promises and lies--are going to become cynical to the political process (some of them for the first time, some merely again), and that's most destructive of all.

Haley Barbour on the National Energy Tax

Hitting the ground running as leader of the Republican Governors Association:

Friday the House of Representatives, by a very small handful of votes, passed the president’s energy policy, which is a gigantic hidden energy tax, plus a whole lot of open energy taxes. . . People are concerned about when they get trillions of dollars of taxes added onto them. And energy policy affects every family, every business, the total economy. They barely won in the House. Almost every Republican voted against it. And Republicans have offered a very clear alternative. Our alternative is more American energy. That instead of the Obama policy, which is to make energy more expensive . . . [H]e told The San Francisco Chronicle as a candidate last year, he said, under my cap and trade plan, electricity rates will necessarily skyrocket. That’s Barack Obama ’s language, not mine.

“My Candidate Right Now Is Mitch Daniels”

David Brooks, on News Hour:

DAVID BROOKS: John Ensign. And so, unless somebody comes out of the blue -- and my candidate right now is Mitch Daniels, the governor of Indiana, who is not that charismatic, but is a very good governor and very fiscally conservative and responsible. And he's the sort of person I think the Republicans should be leading the Republican Party. He, I should say, has shown no interest in running for president so far.

MARK SHIELDS: I like Mitch Daniels. I've known him longer than David has, I think. I knew him when he was a Republican staffer on the Hill.

He is fiscally responsible as governor. He was the budget director under George W. Bush. And that's going to be -- there's a fiscal responsibility credential that's been somewhat tarnished.

Even Mark Shields likes Mitch (is that a bad thing? I wonder). The Bush critique is certain to be made, but Mitch got his nickname of "The Blade" precisely because he wanted to cut the budget more than anyone around him in the administration (and certainly more than anyone on Capitol Hill, too).

Members of administrations serve at the pleasure of the executive, and implement the policies sought by that executive. That doesn't necessarily mean that those policies are always the ones that the member of the administration would implement if they were the executive. A key, and very easy to make, distinction.

At this point, however, Obama has taken reckless spending to such new levels that it won't be hard for George W. Bush to soon have fiscal responsibility credentials in comparison.

Photo of the Day


From Strategy Page:

Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, left, listens as Capt. Gordon Smith, air boss from Mercer Island, Wash., explains the responsibilities of coordinating aircraft movement on the flight deck from Primary Flight Control aboard the aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis. Palin embarked as a distinguished visitor aboard John C. Stennis during the ship's participation in Northern Edge 2009, a joint exercise focusing on detecting and tracking units at sea, in the air and on land. Photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Kenneth Abbate.

Sumo Session

Sumo Session

Sham-Now

Sham-Now

Quote of the Day

“The budget should be balanced, the Treasury should be refilled, public debt should be reduced, the arrogance of officialdom should be tempered and controlled, and the assistance to foreign lands should be curtailed lest Rome become bankrupt. People must again learn to work, instead of living on public assistance.”
- Marcus Tullius Cicero, 55 B.C.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Mayor Whiny's Spending Spree

From The Bloody Eighth comes another look at the tax-and-spend policies of the prettyboy liberal mayor of Evansville:

The headline in the Evansville Courier& Press said it all this morning. “More than homestead driving up tax bills.”

Mayor Weinzapfel continues to show us why he is a classic tax and spend Democrat. While Governor Daniels was finding ways to cut and cap our property taxes, it appears Mayor Weinzapfel was hiding and hiking taxes.

Explaining the decision, Weinzapfel and other participants cited Legislative Services Agency estimates the city will lose about $6.6 million in 2010 and 2011 because of the property tax caps the Legislature passed last year.

Combined, all units of government in Vanderburgh County will lose more than $13 million in property tax revenue over the two years.

But this year — when state records show those units of local government are set to receive more than $152.7 million in property taxes, excluding the millions that go to Tax Increment Financing districts — the losses come to just $718,646.

The city, which has a $216.9 million budget, will lose slightly more than $327,600.

“It looks like the officials there decided not to provide $5.1 million in local homestead relief because of the tax caps when, if they wanted to offset the caps, they really only needed 700 grand to do it,” Kitchell said.

The funny thing about all this is that Mayor Weinzapfel claimed he had to get rid of the local homestead because of services for the citizens. The reality is he raised taxes $5.1 million, when in actuality the entire county was only going to be about $700,000 down in tax collections from the property tax caps. So what is he spending the money on? It appears pay raises are one item. Nobody in State Government got a pay raise this year, but obviously fiscal restraint is not their strong suit.

City officials cited increases in fuel, utilities and health insurance and noted that all city employees, even Weinzapfel and Rose Young, his chief of staff, would get a lower-than-normal raise.

This year alone Mayor Weinzapfel passed his largest budget ever, so while everybody else in the State and Country are tightening their belts Mayor Weinzapfel is spending more and raising taxes. I hope folks take notice, because this guy wants to be Governor of our State. We can’t afford to even see this guy stay on as Mayor in 2011, let alone even think about considering the Governorship. Let me close this out with the reality of this line from the Courier, while everybody in this State is struggling Mayor Weinzapfel is taxing more, spending more, and growing government.

In September, the City Council passed a $216.9 million budget — the largest of Weinzapfel’s administration, and 7 percent more than the 2008 budget of $202.3 million.

Weinzapfel could possibly be the least sincere and most disingenuous politician I have seen in a long time.

He even beats Jim "Living Paycheck to Paycheck While Giving Six Figures to Democrats" Schellinger, and that takes some doing.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Int-Oxley-cated II, The Sequel: Interns & Impersonations & Fleeing the Scene, Oh My!

The saga of Dennie Ray Oxley II is nothing new to readers of this blog, but it continues to unfold in ways both amusing and tragic.

In the wee hours Friday morning, the Democrats' former lieutenant governor candidate--drunk out of his gourd and his speech slurring--was found in the parking lot of a downtown Indianapolis gas station trying to run away from a passed-out House intern (or former intern?) who was shoeless and face down on the ground.

When approached about the girl--reported to be one Kristin Dowlut, apparently the niece of State Rep. David Niezgodski (D, South Bend)--by the gas station attendant Oxley declared in slurred speech that he "wasn't going to touch her."

When police arrived, Oxley tried to hide behind a nearby car.

When police discovered his cunning hiding place, he declared that he was a member of the state legislature--he isn't--which was currently in special session and that he therefore couldn't be arrested and had immunity granted by the state constitution. Oxley is currently a staffer for Speaker Pat "The Hair" Bauer.

It was also reported that he was carrying the intern's shoes and did not know where he was or how he got there.

Officers, who called the incident in, apparently believed that young Oxley was his father (also Dennie Ray Oxley, who won his son's seat back last November while the son ran for governor). They were instructed not to arrest Oxley on the mistaken belief that he was a legislator.

This is, to put it lightly, not an auspicious stop on the Dennie Ray Oxley II Image Rehabilitation Tour, which began when Oxley was the speaker at the Jefferson-Jackson Dinner of the Harrison County Democrats back in April. Since then, the Democrats have moved on (just as of this week) to hunt for a new Secretary of State placeholder; hopefully this turn of events did not drive young Oxley to drink.

Earlier this year, in February, Oxley was arrested for a DUI in Crawford County. His blood alcohol level in that incident was twice the legal limit. It was initially reported that he had a passenger with him, something reflected in the charges. The passenger later disappeared; it was claimed that they were never there in the first place. It has also been rumored that the car Oxley was driving during that incident had state representative plates.

That incident was not the first of Oxley's run-ins while drinking. Many were rumored to have occurred before and been swept under the rug by the Democrats' good old boy network. Similarly, this is not the first rumor I have heard about Dennie Oxley having way too much to drink in Indianapolis, nor the first rumor I've heard about him cavorting with young House interns.

He doesn't appear to have learned anything from the February incident, and has now dragged a poor young girl into a tangled web created by his drunken behavior. Over at Blue Indiana, a commenter lamented:

Why is this a surprise to anyone?

This is the way he behaved while in office. Thank God the Dem ticket didn't win last year, even though I voted for it.

I don't think the LG gets a police driver now, does (s)he?

He's a clod and a social misfit. Always was, always will be.

Here are the various stories about second Oxley incident (including video... yes, video). An archive of posts about the Int-Oxley-cated saga follows at the end.

The Courier-Journal:

Indy Police say Oxley Jr. lied to avoid arrest

INDIANAPOLIS -- Dennie Oxley Jr., a former state legislator and last year's Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor, avoided arrest on alcohol-related charges early Friday by telling police he was serving in the General Assembly, according an Indianapolis Police report.

Oxley, 38, of Taswell, appeared intoxicated with "extremely slurred" speech, balance problems and bloodshot eyes when police found him walking away from a woman lying in the parking lot of a downtown Indianapolis gas station, the report said.

Oxley told the officers he was a legislator serving in the special session and therefore was immune from arrest, said Sgt. Matthew Mount, a spokesman for the Indianapolis metro police department.

The Indiana Constitution says that "in all cases except treason, felony, and breach of the peace," members of the House and Senate will be immune from arrest during a session of the General Assembly.

But Oxley did not run for his former House District 73 seat last year after he was nominated to be his party's candidate for lieutenant governor. His father, also named Dennie Oxley, did run and now holds the House seat.

"The officers didn't know he wasn't in the legislature," Mount said. "They called the prosecutor who advised that it was safer not to arrest him" on a misdemeanor charge.

Mount referred questions about whether Oxley Jr. could now be charged with a crime to the Marion County Prosecutor's Office, where a spokesman did not immediately return calls.

Oxley Jr., who was arrested earlier this year for drunken driving after a minor traffic accident in Crawford County, did not immediately return a message left at his home.

According to the police report, a witness said a cab dropped Oxley Jr. and the woman off at the gas station but the witness did not see how she ended up on the ground. The report said the woman was "extremely intoxicated" and was taken to Wishard Hospital in Indianapolis.

The Indianapolis Star:

Former candidate talks his way out of arrest

A former Democratic Indiana state representative was found apparently intoxicated at a gas station early this morning and avoided arrest by falsely telling police he was a lawmaker serving during the special session, which would grant him immunity.

Police found Dennie Oxley, 38, at the Downtown Citgo in the 400 block of East Ohio Street about 1 a.m. today. According to a police report, he smelled heavily of alcohol, his eyes were glassy and bloodshot, and his speech was extremely slurred. He was standing a few feet away from Kristin Dowlut, 21, who was lying face down on the gas station parking lot, apparently unconscious.

When Oxley observed police, he began walking away while an officer asked him to stop. After police detained Oxley, he told them he was a state representative and was currently in special session.

Marion County Prosecutor Carl Brizzi said he would meet with officers Monday to discuss the case and whether criminal charges would be filed. Oxley could face charges of public intoxication and impersonation of a public servant, both misdemeanors.

According to the police report, a witness who works at the gas station told police he saw a taxi cab drop off Oxley and Dowlut and later noticed Dowlut on the ground but didn't know how she got there. The gas station attendant said he went outside to try to help the female and tried to get Oxley to help her, but Oxley responded that he was not going to touch her.

Dowlut was transported to Wishard Memorial Hospital. Police did not arrest Oxley, according to the report, because of immunity during the General Assembly session.

The Indiana Constitution provides lawmakers immunity from arrest during session in all cases except treason, felony, and breach of the peace. Lawmakers can later be charged with the crimes.

Oxley, a former representative in the southwestern House District 73, ran for lieutenant governor on Jill Long Thompson’s ticket in 2008.

RTV6:

Police: Former Rep. Claimed Immunity To Avoid Arrest
Dennie Oxley Could Face Several Charges

POSTED: 2:20 pm EDT June 26, 2009
UPDATED: 6:22 am EDT June 27, 2009

INDIANAPOLIS -- A former state representative and once Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor told Indianapolis police that he was immune from arrest during an alleged drunken incident outside a gas station downtown early Friday morning.

Dennie Oxley, 38, of Taswell, Ind., was with a 21-year-old female Indiana House intern in the parking lot of the Citgo gas station in the 400 block of East Ohio Street after 1 a.m., 6News' Jack Rinehart reported.

Police were called to the station because the woman was shoeless and lying on the ground, and others were concerned for her safety.

When officers arrived, they said they saw Oxley holding a pair of shoes and trying to evade them by walking quickly through a nearby alley. An officer caught up to Oxley and immediately noticed Oxley had been drinking heavily.

"He was … extremely intoxicated, slurring speech. During the course of the conversation (Oxley) stated he didn't know how he got there or where he was," said Indianapolis police Sgt. Matt Mount.

Oxley also told the officer that he couldn't be arrested because the Legislature is in session, even though he is no longer a legislator.

Oxley gave up his seat to run a losing campaign with gubernatorial candidate Jill Long Thompson against Gov. Mitch Daniels. Oxley's father, also named Dennie Oxley, filled the vacated post in the House.

"They started talking about possibly arresting him for public intoxication, at which time he informed that they couldn't because of immunity since he was a state representative and they were in session," Mount said.

Officers took Oxley at his word. Although the immunity point is moot in this case because Oxley is no longer a legislator, Article IV Section 8 of the Indiana Constitution says "senators and representatives, in all cases except treason, felony and breach of the peace, shall be privileged from arrest during the session of the General Assembly, and in going to and returning from same."

Police said the woman involved was also extremely intoxicated and had apparently passed out on the ground. She was not able to give officers her version of the events.

Gas station clerk Mansour Alsubaie told police that a cab had dropped Oxley and the woman there.

Much of the incident was captured on gas station surveillance video. When officers arrived, it appeared on the video that Oxley tried to hide behind another car, hoping to avoid detection.

Oxley has not been charged, but because he allegedly gave police incorrect information about being a member of the Legislature, obstruction of justice and public intoxication are two of several charges he could face.

Marion County Prosecutor Carl Brizzi said he has ordered an investigation into the Oxley case and called the allegations serious.

"We want to talk to the police officers and find out what was said," Brizzi said. "We don't have all the facts, so we're going to take some time."

The intern was taken by ambulance to Wishard Memorial Hospital for evaluation. If police had not been able to find Oxley a ride home with a friend, he would also have been taken to a hospital, Rinehart reported.

Witness: Oxley 'Freaking Out' At Gas Station

A man who witnessed Oxley's ordeal said the former state representative was "freaking out, basically" in the gas station parking lot during the incident.

Mansour Alsubaie said he saw the cab pull up and then saw a woman lying on the ground after it left.

Alsubaie said he made sure someone called for help and then checked on the woman himself.

"When I came outside, he was looking at her, and I started talking to her and said, 'Are you alright?'" Alsubaie said. "She was like saying some words, but I was not understanding. She was like too drunk."

After Indianapolis officers arrived, Mansour said Oxley tried to avoid being seen and put the woman's high heel shoes in his jacket and walked off.

"I saw when the police officers come here, he was trying to leave," Alsubaie said. "The police officer catch him there."

Oxley was a policy advisor for House Speaker Pat Bauer, but he was a contract employee and that position ended at the close of the regular session.

This isn't Oxley's first run-in with legal trouble. In February, he was arrested in southern Indiana after his involvement in a traffic crash in which he was intoxicated, police said.

Oxley hit a parked car in Crawford County, officials said, and his blood-alcohol level at the time was at least twice Indiana's legal limit.

After that arrest, Oxley said he had "let folks down" and that he "will work every day to earn back their confidence."

6News made several attempts to contact Oxley Friday, but he didn't return calls.

RTV6 also has the surveilance video of the incident at the above link; it makes for interesting viewing.

The Int-Oxley-Cated Saga:

Dennie Ray II Mulling Secretary of State Bid, in which Oxley II, fresh off his defeat on the Democratic gubernatorial ticket is rumored to be considering a run for Secretary of State.

Interesting Development: Dennie Ray Oxley II Arrested for Drunk Driving After Auto Accident in Crawford County, in which Oxley II was arrested in Crawford County after being drunk and having an auto accident; it is noted that this rumored to not be his first encounter with the law while drinking.

Int-Oxley-cated: Dennie Ray II's Dangerous & Dumbfounding Drunk Driving Debacle, in which more is learned about the arrest in Crawford County, it is noted that his blood alcohol level was twice the legal limit, and that Oxley himself voted to raise the blood alcohol level to that new limit when he was in the legislature.

Int-Oxley-cated Update, in which the political implications of Oxley II's behavior are explored, and the possibility of a special prosecutor to handle the case is discussed.

Int-Oxley-cated: More Facts Emerge in Dennie Ray II DUI Case... The Passenger Just Vanishes, in which more details emerge about the Oxley DUI incident, including information about the damage done to the other vehicle, the passenger reportedly with young Oxley according to earlier accounts vanishes, and discussion begins about how such things are "traditionally" handled in Crawford County.

Int-Oxley-cated: Special Prosecutor Requested, in which a special prosecutor is requested for the Oxley II DUI case and it is declared that "there is no proof" that there was ever a passenger when people start asking about how the passenger could just disappear.

Camm Verdict Overturned; Third Trial Ordered

Well, stick a fork in Keith Henderson's larger political ambitions, if he ever had any (getting reelected might now prove to be difficult, too), 'cause he's done.

David Camm is going to get another trial:

The Indiana Supreme Court on Friday ordered a third trial for former Indiana State Trooper David Camm, who was found guilty in two previous trials of murdering his wife and two small children in September 2000 in the garage of their Georgetown home.

In a 4-1 decision, the Supreme Court said "speculative" evidence that Camm molested his daughter a day or two before the murders should not have been allowed by the judge because it could inflame the jury.

The court also said a statement by a friend of Camm's wife that she expected to see him at 7 to 7:30 p.m. the night of the murders should not have been allowed because it was hearsay that couldn't be challenged because Camm's wife, the source of the statement, is dead and couldn't be questioned about it.

Chief Justice Randall Shepard dissented from the majority, arguing that "the two reversals entered by the appellate courts in this case have unnecessarily sanitized the evidence against David Camm."

Shepard said at least some of the evidence on which Camm's first trial in Floyd County Superior Court was reversed—that he had extra-marital affairs—should have been allowed. The affairs could be proof of a motive, Shepard said.

He also said evidence that Camm's daughter was molested was allowable because it could provide "an inference" about motive.

The majority disagreed, however, saying there was no connection of Camm to the molestation so it shouldn't have been allowed.

Camm was convicted in 2002 in Floyd County of murdering his wife Kimberly, their 7-year-old son and 5-year-old daughter. In that case, the Supreme Court said, the jury "rejected" Camm's alibi that he was playing basketball at the time of the murders at a nearby church.

But the 2002 conviction was overturned by the Indiana Court of Appeals in August 2004. The appeals court said evidence from 12 women of Camm's extra-marital affairs unfairly prejudiced the jury against Camm.

In that decision, the Court of Appeals also warned that the court handling a new trial should be careful in deciding whether molestation evidence should be allowed because it is so prejudicial.

But in Camm's second trial in Warrick County in 2006, Floyd County Prosecutor Keith Henderson was allowed to argue in his closing statement that Camm murdered his family to cover up the molestation.

The use of such speculative evidence as "the foundation" of the prosecutor's case requires the conviction to be overturned, the Supreme Court said.

As I noted back in late 2006, Keith Henderson has a bright political future, but only if the Camm verdict didn't get overturned.

8 Republicans, 2 Hoosier Dems Pass Cap & Trade; “Never Have So Few Stolen So Much from So Many to Achieve So Little.”

Quote in the title from Vodkapundit.

Despite a valiant effort by John Boehner to use the expanded prerogatives of the Minority Leader position to filibuster the vote, Nancy Pelosi and the House of Representatives have passed cap and trade legislation.

Video of a particular highlight of Boehner's effort is below.



The final margin for passage was 219 to 212.

Eight Republicans were the margin for the bill's passage. Two Hoosier Democrats--Baron Hill and Andre Carson--also voted for it and provided invaluable assistance in putting this new national energy tax over the top. Even Pete Visclosky voted against it (its provisions will kill industry in his district).

In a curious quirk, Baron Hill voted against bringing the legislation to a vote before he voted to make it the law of the land. No doubt he will seek to use the contradictory votes to again confuse the 9th District electorate; somehow I think that they won't be fooled this time.

FiveThirtyEight breaks down a low-ball estimate of the cost of the legislation by state; by their math Hoosier households will pay $211 more a year.

By the math of my local electric company--when asked by the local newspaper that used to be owned by Democratic Governor Frank O'Bannon--the average Hoosier electric bill will increase by $50 a month if this legislation becomes law. Bill proponents claim that this amount will be reduced by recent amendments, but I have seen nothing substantive to actually back up that assertion.

The most common amount cited is that of $3,100, produced from an academic study by MIT.

Power Line even has a map about which states will pay and which will benefit from the legislation. With two exceptions (Idaho and South Dakota), every state that will benefit from the legislation will be a blue state either on the west coast or in the northeast. Flyover country gets screwed.

Regardless of the range, the costs of this legislation are very real. You can figure the cost in the immediate amount that your electric bill will go up ($50 a month) or in the costs you will pay when prices for everything go up as producers and businesses are inevitably forced to pass taxes on to consumers ($3,100 by some estimates).

Eight Republicans voted for this monstrosity.

They are:

Mary Bono Mack (California 45)
Mike Castle (Delaware)
Mark Kirk (Illinois 10)
Leonard Lance (New Jersey 7)
Frank LoBiondo (New Jersey 2)
John McHugh (New York 23)
Dave Reichert (Washington 8)
Christopher Smith (New Jersey 4)

Three of the YEA Republicans came from New Jersey (Lance, LoBiondo, Smith).

Two came from likely 2010 Senate candidates (Castle and Kirk).

One came from Obama's future Secretary of the Army (McHugh).

And two Republicans, Jeff Flake and John Sullivan, did not vote at all.

Forty-four brave Democrats, including three Indiana Democrats (Donnelly, Ellsworth, and Visclosky) opposed the legislation.

Had those Republicans had that sort of fortitude, this bill would have died in the House. Now it goes to the Senate, where it will hopefully meet its end.

The Bloody Eighth

If you aren't reading it already, you should be reading Troy Woodruff over at The Bloody Eighth.

He's been doing yeoman's work exposing the efforts of Evansville Mayor Jonathan Weinzapfel to raise taxes by abolishing the homestead tax credit in Vanderburgh County (and holding secret meetings to do so).

GOP Shocked by Faithfulness of Daniels

Hilarity:

At a tearful press conference, Indiana's Republican governor Mitch Daniels admitted that he has not been unfaithful to his wife, potentially scuppering his hopes of a run at the presidency in 2012. With a promising career in tatters, Daniels begged forgiveness of his family and party.

"I take strength from God, my daughters and my loving wife," Daniels said. "And I hope my fellow Republicans can forgive me for this shameful episode of not doing anything to be ashamed of."

The Republican party, long a bastion for white men that privately indulge in extra-marital affairs, prescription drug abuse, racism and approaches to underage boys while preaching strong family values, has been rocked by the revelations of a lack of revelations.

"It's a sad day for the party," Republican National Committee chairman Michael Steele says. "You think you can trust a fellow GOP man to go behind the back of everyone close to him and still advocate hypocritically for biblical moral values. But I guess there's always a few non-rotten apples in every barrel."

"The Hoosier People of Southeastern Indiana"

Sometimes, when candidates use Twitter, you wonder about how they phrase things.

Like this recent Tweet by Travis Hankins:

Campaigned last night at the Dearborn County Fair. I really enjoyed spending time with the Hoosier people of Southeastern Indiana.

Hoosier people? Just seems awkward. Who says that?

Hoosiers, maybe?

There is a 140 character limit.

Obama's Testy Press Conference

Video compiled by TPM, a lefty blog:

Obama on Iran

Obama on Iran

Smokin'

Smokin'

Free Credit Report

Free Credit Report
Music from the original commercial here.

Neda

Neda

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Their Testimony, Not Your Testimony

Remember a few weeks ago when Mitch urged folks to come testify before the budget committee about how the budget might impact them?

Remember how the Democrats threw a temper tantrum and walked out because they didn't want to hear what people had to say?

Well, it seems that they want to hear "testimony" from certain people.

They just don't want to hear testimony from you.

An email sent out today by Terry Goodin:

-----Original Message-----
From: h66@in.gov [mailto:h66@in.gov]
Sent: Wednesday, June 24, 2009 9:41 AM
Subject: Public Hearing on Proposed Budget

===================================
Statehouse eUpdate from State Rep. Terry Goodin
===================================

Friends -

I would like to share with you the schedule for the public hearings on the proposed budget. I encourage you to come and testify for the issues that matter to you. The Governor and both caucuses need to hear from you to know how the budget will effect Hoosiers. If you have the chance - please come up.

Wednesday:
Starts at 9:30 am
-Morning and Early Afternoon: Higher Education and SSACI
-Afternoon: School Superintendents

Thursday:
Starts at 9:30 am
-All Day: K-12 Educators, Busines Officials, Superintendents, School Board Members

Friday:
Starts at 9:30 am
-Morning: Social Services (Mental Health, Community Health, Soldiers and Sailors, etc)
-Afternoon: Business Groups/Potential CIB

Saturday:
Starts at 11:00 am
-CIB/HB 1447

Thank you.

Terry

===================================
Thank you for your interest in state legislative matters. Please visit my website at:
www.in.gov/h66
===================================
If you have received this Statehouse eUpdate by error or wish to be removed from the distribution list, simply reply to this email, typing "unsubscribe" in the subject line. Thank you.
===================================

Hypocrite.

Fifth District Hilarity: Luke Messer Supporter Proposes American Idol System for Narrowing Primary Against Dan Burton

And not just any American Idol system; one that is packed with Marion County heavyweights and tilted toward Luke Messer. P.E. McAlister was, with Jim Kittle, one of the first names supporting Messer).

I don't normally opine much on the 5th District; I sort of view it with a distant and cynical eye. I'm inclined to think that the 2008 primary served a good purpose and that another one is a waste of finite resources that could be better spent ousting Democrats in Congressional and state legislative races in November.

Presented for your consideration, an email sent from P.E. MacAllister (Indy GOP bigwig) to various Republican leaders in the 5th District:

Some of us in Marion County are watching with interest the contest in our Fifth District, where four men are challenging the continuing tenure of Dan Burton. The issue of whether or not this is a great idea is by now irrelevant since the candidates are already in the fray, each hoping to win the primary. The nature of the field may be interesting, but impact of such a donnybrook has every prospect of doing considerable damage, despite the fact “this is a free country” and anyone who wants to run for anything is allowed to do so. If there is ample reason to challenge the incumbent, perhaps exploring some way of lessening harm done is in order.

I have discussed the race with both the Marion County and the State Republican Chairmen, hoping to minimize the adverse impact, but for reasons of his own, neither thinks it wise for him to exert the authority the party has given him, leaving us with a spectator role in this critical exercise.

The cynic in me has to pipe up and interject at this point...

Seriously expecting Murray Clark to take a stand on anything other than ramming the governor's attorney general candidate down the party's throat probably too much to ask.

But I digress. The email continues...

I appreciate their position but don’t see it helpful. My memory of the last free for all, harkens back to a sheriff’s race in Marion County an election or so ago, which got very bitter, very expensive, and was productive of zilch for either candidate.

There could be an alternative. Maybe pretty wild, but here’s one idea. Let all four challengers do their best to line up support, but by the end of the year, say by Christmas time, allow a panel of 25 party elders, respected figures, influential people, major donors, judicious folks from the district, determine which of the four is the best candidate. Let’s assume we can get the contenders to agree on this tack, which means the three losers gracefully depart the scene and support the selectee in the spring primary.

Who selects the party elders? A party elder in Hamilton County is not a party elder in Marion County is not a party elder in Howard County, etc.

A letter has gone out to 21 people here in Marion County and includes figures like Jim Morris, Jerry Semler, Fred Klipsch, Jim Dora, John Mutz, Mike Alley, Yvonne Shaheen, Don Palmer, Al Hubbard, Danny Danielson, Bob Bowen, seeking their participation as ultimate adjudicators and requesting their agreement in principal with the idea.

21 of the 25 people are supposed to come from Marion County?

Tom John reminded me that the sun does not rise and set on Marion County but beams on other counties in the district, and including them in this experiment is essential.

Marion County is the sun around which the other counties of the 5th District should revolve? Does that make Tom John, like Louis XIV, the Sun King? (I jest, obviously.)

Thus this letter to you, asking for: your reaction; requesting your cooperation as one of the “judges” and helping us in finding other worthies in your jurisdiction. The panel, in other words, is a work in process.

This program has to be impartial; has to include promise of total anonymity so no one knows how we vote. It has to include established candidate criteria…past experience, intellectual capacity, persona (charisma), ability to articulate, fundraising capacity, stance on given issues; nature of community support (who is in his list of donors and advisors), etc.

So, we have a Messer ally proposing a presumably pro-Messer panel. Who will that panel think fulfills the candidate criteria? Maybe Luke Messer?

I cannot assure all will buy in. Two of the contenders have signed on, agreeing to the principle, pending details of how it is handled.

I have a sneaking suspicion that the details are not something with which the other candidate suggesting a "pre-primary" (Brose McVey, I believe) will agree, let alone the other candidates.

We need to contact the other two, but my point will be that this is one way of determining who represents the district come the primary. The inference is if a losing candidate opts to run against us after his peers have declined support and puts his personal ambition above that of party unity, he needs not call on me next spring for money.

Cordially,
P.E. MacAllister

Maybe these party elders might decide that no primary against Burton is actually necessary. Oh wait, they won't. The necessity of the primary is already assumed by the very structure of Mr. MacAllister's panel at its inception, along with the apparent pro-Messer origins of the very idea.

Far be it for this southern Indiana blogger to say anything about Indianapolis or the mighty 5th District, but this is America. We have a primary system, not a court of the Star Chamber or a Guardian Council.

I'm a big believer in primaries, but the amount of money and resources that will be expended in the 5th District boggles the mind. But better a free-for-all primary than a bunch of party elites picking and choosing who gets to stand against an incumbent. But then, it's also my opinion that a bunch of party elites shouldn't be picking and choosing whether to keep that incumbent, either.

That's what primaries are for.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Democrats Picking SoS Placeholder Early?

So it would seem, according to the Courier & Press:

Democrat Catherine Fanello, former president of the Vanderburgh County Commissioners, is considering a bid for statewide office in 2010.

Fanello, now city controller in South Bend, Ind., confirmed Monday that she has formed Fanello for Indiana, an exploratory committee to weigh a possible bid for secretary of state. The office has been held by Republican Todd Rokita since 2003.

"I continue to have an interest in public service," Fanello said. "(Secretary of state) is an office that is the chief election officer of the state, and that's something that interests me very much, to continue to make sure that we have fair and accurate elections.

"I was actually approached by several people about running for this office. I have not fully committed to it yet, but am strongly considering it."

In February, the 39-year-old Fanello said she is considering returning to Vanderburgh County after she finishes her pursuit of a law degree at Valparaiso University School of Law in 2011 or 2012.

She said Monday that is still a possibility, despite her interest in statewide office.

"I don't really know all the answers to those future questions yet, but I don't rule out anything because anything can happen," she said with a laugh.

Fanello served as finance officer for Evansville from 1996 to 1999 and deputy controller from 1998 to 1999.

David Mosby and Fanello won seats as County Commissioners in 2000, holding the majority on the board for four years. In 2004, Fanello announced she would not run again, and Mosby was ousted by Cheryl Musgrave.

Fanello announced her engagement to Joseph Zwierzynski, president of DLZ Indiana LLC, a South Bend architectural and engineering firm that did business with Vanderburgh County, while she and Mosby were in office. The two met because he was doing work for the county. DLZ did design work on the county's new jail and a community corrections complex.

After making the announcement in February 2004, Fanello filed a conflict-of-interest statement. She had not filed one before the announcement. She later said the couple did not begin dating until after the public contract was signed and that lawyers had advised her she was not obligated to file a conflict-of-interest statement before she married.

Fanello made her interest in the office known Saturday at the Indiana Democratic Party's Jefferson-Jackson Day dinner.

She's got big shoes to fill. The Democrats have been lacking an annointed sacrificial lamb for the Secretary of State post ever since Dennie Oxley II's political career sort of took a turn for the worse with his DUI accident earlier this year.

Charlie White is the main name being mentioned among Republicans (though I recently heard of another potential candidate but haven't been able to confirm anything).

Monday, June 22, 2009

Photo of the Day: Iran Strategy Meeting

Biden and Obama play golf while Iranians get slaughtered.
Jim Treacher is as pithy as ever:

When aren't we supposed to notice the image being put out by the Most Image-Conscious President Ever? When it's embarrassing.

When It Comes to Iran, Brad Ellsworth Joins Barack Obama in Voting "Present"

Brad Ellsworth, Barack Obama, and Baron Hill
Roll Call Vote #411, on House Resolution #560, "Expressing support for all Iranian citizens who embrace the values of freedom, human rights, civil liberties, and rule of law, and for other purposes."

Reading as follows:

Expressing support for all Iranian citizens who embrace the values of freedom, human rights, civil liberties, and rule of law, and for other purposes.

Resolved, That the House of Representatives—

(1) expresses its support for all Iranian citizens who embrace the values of freedom, human rights, civil liberties, and rule of law;

(2) condemns the ongoing violence against demonstrators by the Government of Iran and pro-government militias, as well as the ongoing government suppression of independent electronic communication through interference with the Internet and cellphones; and

(3) affirms the universality of individual rights and the importance of democratic and fair elections.

The bill passed. The Yeas were 405.

The Nays were 1 (Ron Paul of Texas).

Two members of Congress voted Present.

Brad Ellsworth was one of them.

Riddle me this: what on earth does Brad Ellsworth have against such a simple resolution? Why vote present? In short, why emulate Obama?

Now, John Hostettler had his quirky moments, so maybe there's something in the water in the office of whoever represents the 8th District. But I'd have a hard time seeing even John Hostettler voting present on a rather mild, straightforward, and blatantly obvious resolution as this.

Heck, if John Hostettler was opposed to something, he'd at least have the spine (like Ron Paul) to vote no. Brad Ellsworth gives a wishy-washy and craven "present."

Why?

Lefty Magazine Slams Obama on Iran

Ouch:

President Obama’s tepid response to the evidence the Iranian election was stolen from the people of that country by current president President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his thuggish allies is disappointing. …

The president says he entertains “deep concerns about the election” in Iran. Well, who doesn’t? Expressing concern is “nice,” it’s “diplomatic”–in the worst sense–but it is not sufficient to the circumstance, as Vice President Joe Biden and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton are reportedly arguing within the White House. …

By every measure, the US president’s response has been less than that of other world leaders, especially French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who has branded the announced election “result” a fraud and bluntly decried the government’s clampdown on dissent “brutal,” “totally disproportionate” and “extremely alarming.”

Apparently, "Divine Assessment" Means that the Almighty Can Stuff Ballot Boxes

At least that's what it looks like in Iran:

Iran's Guardian Council has suggested that the number of votes collected in 50 cities surpass the number of people eligible to cast ballot in those areas.

The council's Spokesman Abbas-Ali Kadkhodaei, who was speaking on the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB) Channel 2 on Sunday, made the remarks in response to complaints filed by Mohsen Rezaei -- a defeated candidate in the June 12 Presidential election.

"Statistics provided by the candidates, who claim more than 100% of those eligible have cast their ballot in 80-170 cities are not accurate -- the incident has happened in only 50 cities," Kadkhodaei said.

Only fifty cities.

Whew.

Only fifty.

Of course, I'd be worried if it were any.

Irony: Obama's "Budget Cuts" Eliminated Funding for Pro-Democracy Groups in Iran

From Newsmax:

Even as Ayatollah Khamenei blasted the United States for fomenting unrest in a defiant Friday prayer address in Tehran, President Obama has kept silent, focusing instead on domestic policy.
Obama spent more time with TV personality Stephen Colbert, taping a segment for a comedy show, than he did addressing the turmoil in Iran this week.

Newsmax has learned that the Obama administration also has zeroed out funding for pro-democracy programs inside Iran from the State Department budget for fiscal 2010, just as protests in Iran are ramping up.

Funding for pro-democracy programs began in 2004, when Congress earmarked $1.5 million of the State Department budget for “educational, humanitarian, and non-governmental organizations and individuals inside Iran to support the advancement of democracy and human rights in Iran.”

The funding ramped up dramatically two years later, when Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice requested $75 million for pro-democracy programs. More than half of the $66.1 million Congress finally appropriated went to expand U.S. government-funded Persian language broadcasting services at Voice of America and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.

But no money has been earmarked for such programs in the administration’s fiscal 2010 foreign operations budget request. Congressional sources told Newsmax they doubted that a Democrat-controlled Congress would add it when the budget comes before a committee next week.

Suffice to say, there aren't very many places where Barack Obama wants to reduce spending.

Isn't it strange that this would be one of them, even as people in Iran are getting shot at by their own government for wanting freedom and democracy?

Random Thought

From Jim Treacher:

"For every minute Bush spent reading to kids after hearing about 9/11, Obama has had 1 full day to deal with [the Iranian election]."

They All Scream for Ice Cream

Staying Neutral

Staying Neutral

Thursday, June 18, 2009

A Very Blustery Day

Railway cars turned over by storm.Even railway cars, empty railway cars mind you, are blowing away:

A dozen Indiana Southern Railroad Company cars were blown off the track and into a remnant of an old canal south of Worthington on Thursday morning when a storm blew through Greene County packing winds reportedly in excess of 60 mph.

There were no reports of a tornado touchdown in the county although Worthington's tornado siren sounded at 9:08 a.m.

Besides trees and limbs down all over Worthington, at least 12 rail cars including some tankers were tipped over and blown into a ditch that, at one time, was part of the Wabash & Erie Canal system.

All of the cars were empty according to personnel from the Indiana Southern Railroad Company who were on the scene shortly after the storm.

The location of the incident was along County Road 235W just north of the intersection with CR 500N in Jefferson Township south of Worthington on the east side of State Road 67.

The rail cars were parked on a side track, not the main track that is traveled by trains on a daily basis. The incident occurred just north of where the main track was washed out by floodwaters one year ago in the Great Flood of 2008.

At that location, the side track runs parallel to the old canal and CR 235W.

No injuries were reported near the track.

It's my understanding that these were parked or idled railway rolling stock that blew off the tracks.

There are large numbers of such empty freight cars (tank cars, box cars, hopper cars; literally hundreds of them) all sitting idle on railway track in Harrison County.

More inclement weather is likely later this week.

Hopefully, somebody will bring this potential issue to the attention of the county government and Forrest Lucas (who owns the rail line) before it happens here.

There are more photos of the overturned railway cars at WTHR.

Slots Bill Dead in Kentucky?

From the Courier-Journal:

FRANKFORT, Ky. — Senate President David Williams Thursday pronounced House Speaker Greg Stumbo's video lottery terminal bill dead — even as it moved toward a House floor vote Friday.

He said the Senate instead would approve his plan to boost racing purses without expanding gambling and send it to the House.

"You can stick a fork in it. It's done," Williams said, repeating earlier pronouncements that the House bill does not have the support to pass the Senate.

He also said the Senate would put his racing purse and breeding incentive proposal, which would tax lottery revenues and out-of-state betting on Kentucky races, into one bill with revised versions of economic incentives and transportation mega-projects measures that already have passed by the House.

He said the Senate would pass Gov. Steve Beshear's proposed cuts to the state budget that takes effect July 1.

House Speaker Greg Stumbo, D-Prestonsburg, the main proponent of the gambling bill, was not immediately available to respond to Williams' remarks.

Whew.

And it's a good thing, too, what with Corydon town council president Fred Cammack naively urging Kentucky to pass it:

Gambling Pros, Cons Still Debated In Corydon
Leaders Offer Advice To Ky. Legislature

CORYDON, Ind. -- Lawmakers in Kentucky started meeting in a special session Monday to decide, among other things, if slots and video gaming at race tracks are one way to help close a $1 billion shortfall in this economic crisis.

The same type of gambling has been around for several years now in Harrison County, Ind., where the pros and cons are still under debate.

“Up until a few weeks before the actual date of the ballot, I was undecided myself,” Corydon Town Council President Fred Cammack said.

“We were totally against it. We didn't want it,” said Darren Carey, youth pastor of Trinity Assembly Church.

Carey and Cammack recalled the days before Harrison County citizens voted on the riverboat gambling referendum.

“You heard all this crime stuff and you heard this and you heard that. And I thought, 'Well there's going to be a lot of money here for somebody. If we don't get it, maybe some other county will,'” Cammack said.

“Money's not evil but I think the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil,” said Carey.

The referendum passed, but by fewer than 300 votes. Since then, Cammack said the benefits have been bountiful for Corydon and the rest of the county.

“We have just done so much with the money and heard of or encountered so few problems,” said Cammack.

Carey said he knows of a family who blames gambling for the loss of their home.

“Whether our county wants to admit that or not, those things have happened,” Carey said.

But Cammack said the economy could be to blame for the loss of a home. The only problems backed up by statistics are an increase in traffic tickets.

“I think they're making a mistake if they don't latch on to it because people are crossing the Ohio River to go into Illinois and Indiana to gamble,” Cammack advised Kentucky legislators.

“We love our county and we stand for the positives and I think that’s what Kentucky needs to consider. Do you really care about the people?” asked Carey.

Harrison County gets more than $18 million a year from riverboat gambling. That’s $10 million more than what it gets from property taxes.

In 2008, the city of Corydon collected $265,000. So far this year, it's already collected around the same amount.

I think most folks in Harrison County understand that expanded gambling in Kentucky is a bad thing for Indiana, particularly for Harrison County given its proximity to Louisville and to Churchill Downs. I'm not sure why Cammack doesn't understand that.

Gambling isn't a license to print money; there's a finite and limited market there from which to gain tax revenue. Thanks to the casino in French Lick and the two racinos in Indianapolis, that market is already stretched very thin.

More gambling in Kentucky--and Fred Cammack foolishly encouraging them to do it--would be killing the goose that laid the golden egg.