Thursday, October 22, 2009

You Just Can't Make It Up: Todd Young of Carmel Campaigns for Congress in Broad Ripple

He's been there before.

According to sources present at the event, Todd Young spoke Wednesday evening at the Broad Ripple GOP Club. Lots of 9th District Republican primary voters there.

Let's rehash the geography here. Broad Ripple is on the north side of Indianapolis, in Marion County's Washington Township. It's a nice place. Wikipedia describes it thus:

Located about seven miles (11 km) north of Downtown Indianapolis, Broad Ripple contains many of Indianapolis' premier up scale restaurants, art galleries, and the Monon Trail. It also has a reputation for being socially and racially diverse, and is generally associated with progressive political attitudes.

Just the sort of place that a candidate running for Congress in southern Indiana should be spending time campaigning, right?

I mean, the 9th District snakes all the way up to the north side of Indianapolis, right?

It doesn't, you say?

Oh.

Well then what was Todd Young doing campaigning there then?

I mean, there wasn't anything he should have been doing down south, right?

You know, actually in the district itself?

Well, there was the annual Perry-Spencer Picnic at Mulzer's Camp Tuesday night.

But Todd wasn't at that; he sent former State Representative Billy Bright to speak on his behalf instead.

Perry and Spencer Counties apparently weren't important enough for Todd to make time to visit.

But driving all the way up to the north side of Indianapolis to Broad Ripple to speak to people that can't even vote for him?

That was important.

A guy's got to have priorities.

Some pictures (posted on Twitter by another event attendee):

Todd Young campaigning in Broad Ripple.
Todd Young speaking at the Broad Ripple GOP Club. Note the sold-out crowd in the background. Note also the blue shirt. It must be the only shirt that Todd owns; it's in almost every campaign picture of him.

For example, note the same blue shirt over and over again in the photos on his campaign literature:

Todd Young for Congress literature at his campaign event in Broad Ripple.
If I included a picture of the back (I'll have to scan one), you'd see another picture of him in the same shirt.

Anyway, sources present at the event noted that Todd spoke highly to the group about his time growing up not far from Broad Ripple (he grew up in Carmel).

I guess Todd was returning to his roots.

When the issue of why he was in Broad Ripple and not within the 9th District came up, Todd said that the 9th District was "sparsely populated" (it has the same number of people in it as any other Congressional district) and it was hard to raise money there (probably much more important in Todd's eyes than its population).

Todd said that since the 9th was so hard for him to raise money from (which is funny, since other candidates have successfully raised money down here; maybe it has something to do with the candidate), he was up in Broad Ripple to ask people to give money to his campaign.

That's what people in southern Indiana need. Folks in "progressive" Broad Ripple bankrolling candidates in the Republican primary. One source noted that there did not appear to be any takers on Young's request.

But it gets better. When asked about third party candidates (Libertarians are a big deal concern in the Washington Township GOP), Young assured the crowd that there would be no serious Libertarian challenge in the 9th District if he was the nominee.

According to Todd Young, he has spoken with Eric Schansberg, who has agreed (or at least told him, Todd says) that he has no intention of running for Congress again unless Mike Sodrel runs again.

It's good that Todd is reaching out like that, no? Eric Schansberg's apparent endorsement will be appearing on Todd's website very soon, no doubt.

Schansberg, of course, has a different perspective on running again than the one Todd apparently explained to the GOP Club in Broad Ripple. Schansberg, in a recent email, said that he would not be running another full-bore campaign for Congress as a Libertarian again next year. He did say, however, that he might put his name forward again (though not run full-bore) if Sodrel did for "old times' sake" (and presumably for Guiness Book of World Records honors). He also left open the option of running as a Republican.

This, obviously, doesn't quite match up with what Young told the crowd at the Broad Ripple GOP Club. Young appears to want to say or imply that Schansberg is threatening to again be a spoiler if Mike Sodrel runs again, and that Young is not faced with a similar issue.

Yet it is clear in talking to Schansberg that this is not the case at all. Young is taking Schansberg's statements and twisting them into something that is completely different from what the former Libertarian candidate is actually saying.

But regardless of that interesting element, Todd Young sure knows where he needs to go to beat Baron Hill.

It's Broad Ripple.

At this rate, Young is going to being spending less time in the 9th District than Baron Hill.

But at least Baron would have the excuse of being a member of Congress to justify not being in southern Indiana.

Todd's excuse must be a desire to return to his childhood stomping grounds around Carmel and Broad Ripple.

The Great Pumpkin Will Give Us All a Job

The Great Pumpkin Will Give Us All a Job

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Obama to Buy Off Seniors after Slashing Medicare by Giving Them One-Time Check for $250

I'm not thinking that they'll buy it.

Good News: ObamaCare to Be Financed by Raiding Social Security

From Andrew Biggs, currently of the American Enterprise Institute and previously a deputy commissioner at the Social Security Administration:

The health legislation sponsored by Senate Finance Committee chairman Max Baucus (D., Mont.) received an apparent boost when the Congressional Budget Office stated it would reduce the budget deficit by $81 billion over the next ten years. Obama administration budget director Peter Orszag crowed that the CBO scoring “demonstrates that we can expand coverage and improve quality while being fiscally responsible.”

But the CBO analysis actually leads to a very different conclusion: that in a classic “raid” on Social Security, Baucus’s ostensible fiscal responsibility depends on raising Social Security taxes today to paper over new health spending, ignoring that those increased Social Security taxes imply higher benefit costs down the road. This marks yet another gimmick in a health-reform debate defined by contrivances.

Orszag recently outlined the Obama administration’s standards for health-care financing, saying that “health care reform must be deficit neutral over the next decade (as well as being deficit neutral in the tenth year alone).” Balancing revenues and costs over the next ten years purportedly addresses short-term deficit concerns, while balancing in the tenth year signals that a plan won’t generate longer-term shortfalls. President Obama says he will not sign legislation that fails these tests.

Unlike other congressional proposals, the Baucus legislation appears to meet Obama’s criteria. Baucus’s plan purportedly would improve the budget balance by $81 billion from 2010 through 2019, and in 2019 itself would cut the deficit by $12 billion. It’s no surprise the media treats Baucus’s plan as if it belongs to Obama himself.

But the devil is in the details of the CBO memo. CBO breaks down the Baucus plan’s budgetary effects into those occurring “on budget” (where the substantive policy changes are) and those “off budget” (meaning through the Social Security program). The Baucus plan’s on-budget provisions would reduce the ten-year budget deficit by a tiny $1 billion and in 2019 would increase borrowing by $6 billion. In the real world, where entitlement costs rise faster than projected and Congress fails to implement promised cuts to Medicare spending, the Baucus plan will doubtless generate significant deficits.

Meanwhile, the Baucus plan’s fiscal skullduggery takes place off-budget. Social Security revenues would increase by $80 billion over ten years, with an $18 billon increase in 2019 alone. Around 3 million individuals would leave employer-sponsored health coverage — which is exempt from taxes — to purchase insurance through a subsidized “exchange.” Leaving employer-sponsored coverage would raise workers’ taxable wages and thereby boost Social Security revenues. Millions more would trade a portion of their insurance benefits for higher wages to avoid a new tax on high-cost policies. By skimming the new Social Security taxes, the Baucus plan appears to significantly cut the deficit when, in truth, it balances only by the skin of its teeth.

This is perhaps the clearest example of “raiding the trust fund” on record. Democrats and Republicans have long believed that Social Security surpluses encourage the rest of the budget to run larger deficits, as borrowing from Social Security does not increase the measured budget deficit or the publicly-held national debt. But it’s difficult to tell whether any particular legislation comprises a “raid,” since the legislation might be passed even in the absence of Social Security surpluses.

In the case of the Baucus proposal, however, it is incontrovertible. The plan does not simply rely on existing Social Security surpluses but creates new ones to offset higher spending on health coverage. Without new Social Security revenues the plan would not balance and, if the president is to be believed, would face a presidential veto. It’s that simple: no new Social Security taxes, no new spending.

A health debate that began with earnest claims that we could “bend the cost curve” to cut costs while increasing quality has devolved to a farce in which vastly increased government spending is papered over with implausible spending cuts and dubious bookkeeping.

Max Baucus and Barack Obama are giving a new meaning to "fuzzy math."

Rudy on the Rise

Poll Tracker:

The outlook for Republicans in the New York governor's race hinges almost entirely on whether the party can lure former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani into the race, according to a poll conducted Oct. 14-18 by Siena College's Research Institute.

Giuliani's standing has risen among New York registered voters, the poll finds, with a 60 percent approval rating, near his 63 percent all-time high in the Siena poll. Giuliani now trails Attorney General Andrew Cuomo -- the Democrats' favored candidate -- by 7 percentage points, 43 to 50 percent, after several months of lagging in the double-digits.

And Giuliani would crush incumbent Democrat David A. Paterson by more than 20 percent, 56 to 33 percent. The margin of error is plus or minus 3.9 percent.

From America's Mayor to New York's Governor?

Why not?

Quote of the Day

"We need experts because ethics is a subspecialty, knowledge of which is not commonly found among ordinary politicians."
- Jennifer Rubin, noting the ethical questions about the White House astroturfing to fake support for ObamaCare

Photo of the Day: “O” Say Can You See...

Obama Flag
Um, yeah...

The Obama Economy


A screen shot from Sunday's Meet the Press, courtesy of Ambinder.

Sort of says it all, no?

“That’s Our Opinion”

Outfoxed
Obama's White House has decided that it doesn't like Fox News.

This leads to Jake Tapper getting hilarious statements out of the hapless Robert Gibbs at a White House press briefing after asking why Fox is getting picked on:

Gibbs: Jake, we render, we render an opinion based on some of their coverage and the fairness that, the fairness of that coverage.

Tapper: But that’s a pretty sweeping declaration that they are “not a news organization.” How are they any different from, say –

Gibbs: ABC —

Tapper: ABC. MSNBC. Univision. I mean how are they any different?

Gibbs: You and I should watch sometime around 9 o’clock tonight. Or 5 o’clock this afternoon.

Tapper: I’m not talking about their opinion programming or issues you have with certain reports. I’m talking about saying thousands of individuals who work for a media organization, do not work for a “news organization” — why is that appropriate for the White House to say?

Gibbs: That’s our opinion.

Of course, Chris Matthews and Keith Olberman are on MSDNC at 5 pm and 9 pm.

Guy Benson has an excellent look at the evolution of Obama's treatment of Fox News, Fox's reporting exposing various shady doings and questionable people within the Obama administration, and the over-arching themes that Obama wants control and Fox News is defying his efforts to keep the media under his thumb.

Tweet of the Day: Rehearsal for a Fundraiser

Todd Young fundraising rehearsal.
Original tweet here.

Who has a rehearsal for a fundraiser?

Is it like a wedding rehearsal?

Was there dinner afterward?

I mean, honestly. Does the candidate need practice with shaking hands and drinking cocktails? Is his donor stump really that bad? (I've heard that it's gotten somewhat better; one person who attended the Quayle event noted that there was "nowhere to go but up.")

Rumor Has It...

...that former 9th District Chairman Larry Shickles is considering a run for a legislative seat here in southern Indiana.

Shickles is an interesting case. Though he spent ten years as Harrison County GOP Chairman, and most of Harrison County's precincts are in Paul Robertson's District #70, Shickles himself actually lives in the one Harrison County precinct that is located in Dennie Oxley's District #73. He also has a large extended family in Washington and Crawford Counties, which are the significant share of Oxley's district.

But despite that anchoring, Shickles spent more time as County Chairman going after Paul Robertson than after Dennie Oxley. He is also probably better known within Harrison County (which is 70% of District #70) than within any part of the rest of Oxley's district.

Both races would be serious challenges. But with Robertson's district trending Republican and the Oxley name not what it used to be, both represent opportunities for an aggressive and capable candidate (and both races, it should be noted, already have Republican candidates either running or pondering runs, Brett Loyd in District #70 and Steve Davisson in District #73).

Matt Tully Doesn't Believe That Mitch Isn't Running for President Either

At last.

I am not alone.

The Candidates of Dan Quayle of Arizona

Mitch Daniels of Indianapolis for President.

Todd Young of Carmel for Congress.

Baron Continues to Focus on 2012

The prepping of the gubernatorial campaign continues:

Democrat Representative Baron Hill of Indiana’s 9th Congressional District will be the keynote speaker at Montgomery County’s annual Jefferson-Jackson Dinner on Nov. 7.

The 56-year-old resident of Seymour served in the House from 1998 to 2004 and was re-elected in 2006.

“Since we don’t have a Democrat representative elected from this area, we try to get some Democrat representative to come here for the Jefferson-Jackson Dinner,” said Crawfordsville’s Kathi Schronce, Montgomery County Democratic Party chair. “Baron Hill has been in Congress a very long time and he has a good voting record, as far as I’m concerned. He’s progressive and that’s what I like about him.”

Montgomery County isn't exactly a Carmel mansion or the annual dinner for 3rd District Democrats, but it's still rather far from home for Baron.

I wonder if he will be driven to the event in his government-issue Chevy Malibu.

“Stimulus” Still Not Stimulating

Un-Stimulated
Stimulus unemployment projection versus actual for September.

If Jon Corzine Is So Great, Why Not Stay? Why Leave?

A great ad by Chris Christie in New Jersey:

Jon Stewart Destroys CNN

...for fact checking the SNL skit mocking Obama.

Friday, October 16, 2009

The Bloody Ninth

The Q3 fundraising period just concluded, the leaves are starting to change colors, and the lay of the land in southern Indiana is dramatically different than it was back in July when I looked (here, here, and here) at the state of the race (and the state of fundraising).

For the incumbent, there have been dramatic changes. For others, the more things change, the more they stay the same. And events may have unfolded to awaken a slumbering giant in southern Indiana politics, the only Republican to have ever held the seat in more than half a century.

With that in mind, there will be a series of posts (indexed via edits here once they are posted) about the state of things here in southern Indiana.

The Bloody Ninth, Part I: Baron “My Congressional Office” Hill
The Bloody Ninth, Part II: Mike “Truckman” Sodrel
The Bloody Ninth, Part III: Todd “That Guy Related to Dan Quayle” Young
The Bloody 9th, Part IV: Travis “Me Too” Hankins

The Bloody 9th: Travis “Me Too” Hankins

I suppose the “me too” thing isn’t entirely fair, but I’m at a loss at the moment for something else to put there. If I can think of something different, I’ll edit it into the title instead.

In this, the fourth and final (unless another candidate enters the race) installment of the “Bloody 9th” series, I’m going to look at Travis Hankins of Columbus.

Hankins hasn’t gotten as much attention on this blog (and others) for his campaign, but I’d be remiss if I said he hasn’t been busy. In fact, he’s probably been more active in many ways than the three candidates and one potential candidate in this series combined.

Baron Hill—when he’s not in Washington—has spent the past quarter mostly hiding from his constituents, attending fundraisers in Carmel, giving speeches in Indianapolis, holding closed-door events, and having the occasional town hall blow up.

Mike Sodrel—since he isn’t a declared candidate—hasn’t really been out in public until recently. I’m told that he appeared one night earlier this week at a nonpartisan citizen-organized town hall event in Madison and his unexpected entry caused quite a stir.

Todd Young—with the exception of the county fair in his adopted home of Monroe County—has spent most of his “campaign time” at various local GOP events, giving interviews at coffee shops in Broad Ripple in Indianapolis, and at various fundraisers.

All of this stands in rather stark contrast to Hankins, who has spent the past three months showing up at local and county events (parades, festivals, fairs) in the northern, central, and eastern areas of the district. He—or people from his campaign—have been at about every tea party rally in the district, and he has spoken at several of them. His campaign blog tracks the canvassing of precincts in several counties, a variety of house parties, and so forth. He has also been phone banking GOP primary voters like mad (usually calling individual voters himself, from what I have heard from those he has called).

With the exception of Baron (who appears at the occasional parade), Hankins is the only candidate to be doing this sort of “retail politics” activity so far in the race. At the same time, he has managed to raise about $55,000 (and he continues to spend most of what he raises on these grassroots efforts). Hankins’ strategy stands in stark contrast to strategies seen in the 9th District in recent years.

It’s a primary-based strategy. Hankins hasn’t interacted virtually at all with the district or county Republican organizations; given that the district chairman is a former colleague of Hankins’ opponent and some of the county chairmen have already cast made endorsements of that opponent, it’s not hard to see why. I could launch into a monologue here about the importance of party organizations staying out of primaries, but I digress.

There will be a primary. Hankins seems more focused on interacting with the voters in that primary than raising money for the following November (as Todd has). More than one person has told me that they see shades of Michael Bailey’s 2000 grassroots primary upset over Kevin Kellems in what Hankins is doing.

Hankins is pursuing a grassroots strategy. He is interacting with voters on a scale and a level that none of the other candidates are doing, even the incumbent. The tea parties he frequents are filled with disaffected conservatives, Republicans and Democrats. Those are the same voters that gave George W. Bush the 9th District by about a two-to-one margin over John Kerry. Those are the same voters that put Mike Sodrel into office in 2004. And those are the same voters that left the GOP in droves in 2006 and 2008, and led to the party’s woeful fortunes in those elections.

Whatever else he is doing, Travis Hankins is the only candidate aggressively reaching out to those conservative (and likely Republican) voters. This isn’t Richard Behney; Hankins didn’t begin the tea parties. He just became involved and active with them along the way. If Hankins becomes the standard-bearer of these disaffected conservatives, he will have a lot of motivated grassroots supporters that would be integral to any campaign come May or even November.

This grassroots strategy reminds many 9th District Republicans of Michael Bailey (and some view that as a negative thing, others a positive). It reminds me of another Republican candidate in an entirely different district, and that’s John Hostettler in the 8th. That’s a district that was “bloody” long before the 9th, and one whose quirky character of conservative Democrats and even-more-conservative Republicans was ripe for a grassroots conservative candidate like John Hostettler. Travis Hankins seems to be betting that the 9th District is similarly ready for such a campaign.

Hankins hasn’t raised the big bucks that have been spent in the 9th District in recent campaigns, even the modest numbers seen by Todd Young this quarter (he raised about half of what Todd has raised, but without anywhere near the endorsements or effort being put into fundraising). But at the same time, his campaign strategy (primary-first, conservative grassroots) doesn’t need require lots of fundraising. The big money in Hankins’ strategy would have to come after the primary. And at that point it probably wouldn’t come in the form of high-dollar Indianapolis fundraisers or visits to country clubs by former vice presidents. At the same time, the nature of the campaign harkens more to Hostettler’s low-fundraising efforts as opposed to the big-money media wars of Hill and Sodrel in recent years.

That’s the strategy Hankins seems to be following, at least. Will it work? I don’t know. What I can say is that the examples of Michael Bailey in the 9th and John Hostettler in the 8th tell is that it can work, and I suppose that’s what matters from Hankins’ perspective.

And any discussion of Travis Hankins wouldn’t be complete without a discussion of the elephant in the room. As one 9th District activist told me, “He looks like he’s twelve years old.” Similarly, at the Harrison County Lincoln Day Dinner (where both Todd Young and Travis Hankins spoke), there was much talk about afterward about Hankins. The consensus seemed to be that the message was good, but the messenger was too young.

That’s a significant perception hurdle, but I’m not certain that it cannot be surmounted. The reason that I think that is there are currently three very young Republicans sitting in Congress who obtained their positions at ages similar to Hankins (who is 28). Those Republicans are Adam Putnam of Florida, Patrick McHenry of North Carolina, and Aaron Schock of Illinois.

Just for the sake of comparison, take a look at Hankins’ photo (from above), and then look at the photos of Putnam, McHenry, and Schock.


Travis Hankins (born 1981) is currently 27.


Adam Putnam (born 1974) was 25 when he ran for Congress and turned 26 (the Constitutionally-required age) before taking office. He is now the House Republican Conference Chairman and the #5 Republican in the House. He served five terms and is currently running to be Florida’s agriculture commissioner.


Patrick McHenry (born 1975) was one year young than Adam Putnam, but was slightly older (at 33) when he was first elected to Congress. The early onset of salt-and-pepper gray hair must run in his family. McHenry is currently a deputy whip in the House GOP caucus, and he sits on budget, finance, and oversight committees.


Aaron Schock (born 1981) is currently the youngest person in the Congress and was 27 when he was elected. He is currently the only member of Congress born in the 1980s.

So, yes, I’d say that age is a hurdle. I wouldn’t say, however, that it’s unprecedented for someone as young as Travis Hankins to be elected to the United States Congress. He would be preceded in that by a number of young (small Y) Republicans.

Mike Sodrel in Madison

A group of citizens held a town hall in Madison earlier this week. They invited Baron, but he didn't show.

I'm told that one person who did show (unexpected and uninvited), however, was former Congressman Mike Sodrel. He was accompanied by State Senator (and former 9th District candidate) Jean Leising.

The plot thickens.

Obligatory Dilbert Mocks Evan Bayh Post

Dilbert Mocks Evan Bayh
It's been posted everywhere else already, but just in case you missed it.

Quote of the Day: Baron Hill on Gitmo Detainees Coming to America

From the Washington Examiner:

"I haven't had one person ask me about Guantanamo," said Rep. Baron Hill, D-Ind. He added that he does "not in the least" fear it as an issue in next year's elections.

The vote roll call is here.

Brad Ellsworth and Baron Hill voted to allow Gitmo detainees to come to the United States. Joe Donnelly, interestingly, voted against it.

David Petraeus for President?

Peter Beinart:

As personalities, the syntax-mangling Ike and the self-consciously intellectual David Petraeus don’t have much in common. But politically, they’re in a parallel position. Today’s GOP has a right-wing base that can damage Obama, but none of its favorites have a prayer of winning the White House. The reason is that just like the Republican right of the early 1950s, which kept insisting that the New Deal constituted socialism (or fascism), today’s conservative activists have not accommodated themselves to some basic shifts in public mood. Over the past couple of decades, the American people have grown more pro-environment, more culturally tolerant, and more suspicious of the unregulated free market, and yet the Republican Party has responded with a series of litmus tests for its presidential candidates that represent the political equivalent of sticking your fingers in your ears and yelling “la la la, I can’t hear you.”

Like McCain in 2008, Petraeus could largely skip the Iowa caucuses, which evangelicals dominate, and instead focus on New Hampshire, where independents can vote. In both 2000 and 2008, it was New Hampshire that boosted McCain, and New Hampshire, as it turns out, is the closest thing Petraeus has to a home state. From there it would be on to South Carolina, where military pedigrees go a long way.

All this is wildly speculative, of course. But there’s a political logic to it: Parties that have grown narrow and extreme tend to spiral downward until they nominate someone who is not beholden to their narrow, extreme base. That person has to be so popular that he or she can defy the normal rules about how candidates get nominated. Right now, David Petraeus is the only Republican who fits the bill. In the weeks ahead, McChrystal may become a conservative folk hero for opposing Obama on Afghanistan. But for Democrats looking toward 2012 and 2016, it’s Petraeus who represents the real threat.

Dumezich Will Not Challenge Bayh

Howey:

INDIANAPOLIS - Former legislator Dan Dumezich has told Howey Politics Indiana that he will not challenge U.S. Sen. Evan Bayh in 2010. Dumezich was in Washington today to discuss the race with the Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee.

“After much of deliberation, I have decided not to run for the U.S. Senate against Evan Bayh in 2010,” Dumezich told HPI in an e-mail late Wednesday afternoon. “Over the past few months, I have spoken to thousands of people across our great state. I would like to thank the people from Indiana for sharing their thoughts with me. It was a pleasure to met with Hoosier leaders and discuss their concerns, issues and hopes.”

With Dumezich out, the Republican field includes State Sen. Marlin Stutzman of Howe, Carmel plumber Richard Behney and Winchester financial adviser Don Bates Jr.

Dumezich had been seeking funding commitments from Republicans, spending much of August and September speaking before Republican groups around the state. Dumezich said he needed in the $6-7million range to run a credible race against Bayh, who has raised more than $12 million.

Color me disappointed, but not entirely surprised.

Dumezich, because of his fundraising skill (he once raised $2 million for Mitch in about a week) represented the potential for a "big money" challenge to Evan Bayh. He got grudging plaudits from even Democrats of the likes of former State Rep. and now Bloomington Mayor Mark Kruzan and State Rep. Paul Robertson, both of whom served with him in the legislature, for his expertise with tax law (and taxes are likely to be an issue in any 2010 campaign, obviously).

With the "big money" option off of the table, Republicans are left to ask which of the remaining candidates will have the best grassroots campaign and build the best organization to take on Birch's Boy, which candidate will be in a position to articulate Hoosier conservative principles, and thus be in a position to take advantage of a potential wave election.

The field is narrowed, but it is by no means settled.

Photos of the Day: Dick Lugar in Bloomington

Dick Lugar in Bloomington
Dick Lugar in Bloomington
Dick Lugar visits a food bank in Bloomington. The fellow accompanying him is Julio Alonso.

Julio Alonso is a former chairman of the Monroe County Democratic Party. He's been a Democratic member of the Monroe County Council, a former Planned Parenthood employee, and was the public works director for the city of Bloomington under Democratic Mayor Mark Kruzan.

I'm not sayin', but I'm just sayin'...

The ACORN Doesn't Fall Far from the Tree

Quote of the Day: Limbaugh on the Nobel

George Bush liberates 50 million Muslims. Ronald Reagan liberates hundreds of millions of Europeans, saves parts of Latin America. Any awards? No. Just derision. Obama gives speeches trashing his own country and he gets a prize for it.

- Rush Limbaugh

Campaign Promise Obama Can Say He Kept

Campaign Promise Obama Can Say He Kept

It's Like Selling Snow in a Blizzard

It's Like Selling Snow in a Blizzard

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Dan Quayle of Arizona Does Bloomington Fundraiser for Todd Young of Carmel

Todd Young and Dan QuayleAs mentioned earlier, former Vice President Dan Quayle did a fundraiser this evening for Todd Young's campaign for Congress. Your humble correspondent was not present, but several Bothan spies attended and have sent back their reports. Fortunately, none died to bring you this information (forgive the lame Star Wars puns).

The event was attended by just under one hundred people (including various family members, dignitaries, and a handful of as-yet-not-disgruntled volunteers). Attendees were to pay $300 per person for the event, but (as noted earlier) interest was poor and tickets were discounted to $100.

This difference in ticket price for the same experience caused consternation among people who paid the full price when they arrived and found other people arriving and paying less to attend the same event. Some were vocal in their complaints. It's safe to say that there are some disgruntled donors out there now, in addition to disgruntled volunteers.

Most of the attendees were from outside of the district. One source indicated very few license plates from counties within the 9th District were present in the parking lot outside as the event began. Other sources, familiar with the Bloomington social and political scenes, noted few familiar faces inside. Another termed it "a very Indianapolis gathering."

Attorney General Greg Zoeller was present, along with State Treasurer Richard Mourdock. They constituted the dignitaries present for the evening outside of Quayle of Arizona and Young of Carmel, and made sure that southern Indiana was (for once) well-represented.

After the reception, those willing to "max out" at $2,400 a head could attend a private dinner in an adjacent room with the former vice president; I've been told that the room was set for about twenty. Considering the candidate, family, and dignitaries present, probably about a dozen people opted for the "full experience."

Just doing a bit of back-of-the-napkin math, that would yield a fundraising haul in the range of about $40,000. That's a significant haul for Young's campaign given his rather disappointing fundraising thus far, but not significant in the grand scheme of "marquee" fundraisers.

Since Todd Young likes to compare his campaign to Sodrel's 2004 effort, I dug into my archives to dig up some info on Vice President Dick Cheney's fundraiser for Mike Sodrel in March of 2004. At that event, about sixty to seventy people paid $2,000 a couple (or single) to get their picture taken with the Vice President. Some four hundred paid $250 a plate for dinner and to hear the Vice President speak. The event brought in about $150,000.

$150,000 won't buy a campaign as much today as it did then, to be sure, but it's still almost four times the haul that Vice President Dan Quayle's visit from Arizona probably brought in for the Young campaign. And this was the crowning fundraising event for Young; Uncle Dan was the cavalry riding to the rescue. Every stop has been pulled out and every other statewide endorser pressured into holding fundraisers already.

For all of that effort to be expended and for less than a hundred people to turn out--with tickets on sale no less--is disappointing to be sure.

As Matt Drudge would say:

Breaking...

The Bloody Ninth: Todd “That Guy Related to Dan Quayle” Young

Todd Young with halo.He’s positively radiant with that whole Obama halo thing going on and all, but I digress.

Thanks to busy happenings outside of the blogosphere, I haven’t had the chance to sit down and finish last week’s series about the 9th District. I hope to wrap those up by the end of this week.

When we last left him, back in July, Todd Young faced daunting challenges. Having been a candidate for six months—and really campaigning since 2007—he had managed a disappointingly lackluster fundraising quarter. This was his second fundraising quarter as a candidate, but supposedly his first in which he actively engaged in fundraising.

As one person observed to me, Todd’s the sort of person that has a decent résumé: good education, some time in the military, some background in various issues, and of course family connections (he married Dan Quayle’s niece), but to actually know him is to discover that he has extremely limited people skills. I know of one particular county chairman that openly prefers Todd’s wife as a candidate for Congress instead of Todd himself. That’s a ringing endorsement right there.

I also have heard of activists in the district who have sought to hold events in their counties—Tea Parties and town halls, for example—and have tried to invite both of the 9th District candidates (Todd Young and Travis Hankins), only to be told by Todd or his campaign that he is not willing to appear at any event with another Republican candidate for Congress.

At some point, should he win the primary, Todd Young will have to share the stage with Baron Hill (someone else that likes to control his events, and also has a profound aversion to debates). If he can’t appear on stage with his primary opponent(s) or engage in debate with them, that hardly inspires confidence in an ability to appear on stage and engage in debate with Baron Hill.

Todd also has some of the most disgruntled former volunteers that I have ever seen with any candidate for Congress, anywhere. Back during the summer, I’d heard people say that Todd treated his volunteers like paid staff. It’s not unusual to find volunteers disgruntled with a campaign, but these volunteers are disgruntled with the candidate. You don’t often see that; volunteers tend to blame the organization before they will blame the person they have been volunteering for. Not so here.

Now, in the 9th District, volunteers are the lifeblood of a campaign, same as about anywhere else. You treat them well, or it will come back to bite you. Young doesn’t seem to have done that. There are former Todd Young for Congress volunteers out there that won’t hesitate to tell you about their negative experiences with the candidate they formerly volunteered for. And they’ll tell anyone that will listen.

What has surprised me in recent weeks is that things I heard from those former volunteers a month or more ago are now being repeated by party activists and volunteers in multiple other counties. Given the importance of the grassroots in any campaign here in southern Indiana, Todd could not afford to turn off existing volunteers, let alone potential volunteers as is now happening. That’s a disturbing trend.

Politics is about persuasion. It’s more the carrot than the stick, and candidates sometimes have to spend as much time kissing rear ends as they do kissing babies. Todd Young has serious problems there that will have to be addressed going forward.

Setting aside the positives of the résumé and the negatives of the lack of people skills and the whole issue about the treatment of volunteers, there appears to be a serious cultural gap between Todd Young and the district he is running for.

Young isn’t from the 9th District, or even southern Indiana. He’s from Carmel, and it shows. You can go to Carmel from southern Indiana and succeed, but it’s much harder to come from Carmel to southern Indiana and do the same.

This cultural gap manifests itself in unusual ways. For example, Todd Young recently gave an interview with Brian Howey. Did he do this by phone? No, he did it from a coffee shop in Broad Ripple, up in Indianapolis. For most people in southern Indiana, Broad Ripple is a punch line in a joke about Rosie O’Donnell, not a place to give an interview.

In terms of tone deafness, that’s up there with Baron doing fundraisers in a Carmel mansion or speaking to the Indianapolis Rotary Club while hiding from his own constituents. Fortunately for Todd, most people in southern Indiana don’t read the Howey Report.

Todd cites his involvement with Senator Dick Lugar as a prominent element of his résumé on his website. Rank-and-file Republicans have a lot of issues with Indiana’s senior senator, particularly in southern Indiana. The association is not one to be held up, particularly among gun owners (Flickr photos of Todd posing with a gun not withstanding).

The quotes are not flattering:

While Baron Hill is an arrogant douche bag, I have to say that Todd Young looks like a very "typical" member of the establishment of the GOP.

Heck he lists, to his benefit, as working for Dick Lugar. Last time I checked Lugar was as worthless as a boil on a pigs butt.

And:

I have found that most of those who have worked for Lugar have contracted his incurable disease of cynical limp wristedness, dissemblance and a peculiar contempt of gun rights. I'm not convinced that Todd is an exception.

I’m wondering what gun owners would think of the Flickr images of Todd posing with a shotgun. I am going to send it to a few in my county; hopefully they won’t compare it to the pictures of Dukakis in the tank or John Kerry’s hunting trip in the 2004 campaign.

Last week, I was informed at length by one of my precinct committeemen about their distrust of anyone associated with Lugar, including Todd. I noted that Todd had some involvement with Margaret Thatcher (as some sort of advisor on “student issues,” whatever that means), and that there was a picture of her with him on his campaign website. The precinct committeeman was not impressed. “Hell, even McCain had his picture taken with Reagan,” I was told.

So much for that.

In another example of the cultural gap, the Young campaign recently sent out an invitation to a fundraiser. That invitation featured the crest of the Bloomington Country Club. One person forwarded the email invite to me with a comment about how bizarre it was, and noted that it was the first time they had ever seen country club logo on a fundraising invite in southern Indiana.


This, of course, brings us to the fundraiser with former Vice President Dan Quayle that Todd Young is holding tonight (at the Bloomington Country Club). The event sort of typifies many of the campaign’s problems. Dan Quayle, since leaving office, has spent more time in Arizona than in Indiana, sort of like how Todd has spent most of his life in Carmel and only recently came to southern Indiana. Quayle, of course, is the uncle to Jenny Tucker, Todd’s wife (who some prefer as a candidate over her husband).

Uncle Dan Quayle of Arizona flies in to help Todd Young of Carmel. Is there any wonder why there’s a cultural gap? If Attorney General Greg Zoeller is present (and there’s no reason to think that he won’t be; he’s supporting Todd out of a debt to the former vice president), then at least the event will have some sort of southern Indiana representation. Baron Hill wasn’t even a Congressman when Dan Quayle last lived in Indiana.

I hear contradictory things about the Quayle fundraiser. On the one hand, I’m told that Young intends to push attendees to “max out” to his campaign. On the other, I’m told that interest has been poor and that tickets are now considerably discounted. I suppose that one doesn’t preclude the other. I’ll blog more on the event after it happens.

The “Dan Quayle of Arizona” fundraiser wouldn’t be the first by the Young campaign to have issues. One had only three attendees. Invitations for another were mailed out only four days in advance, arriving in mail boxes almost too late. The subject line of a recent fundraising email contained a (very obvious) misspelling.

Even so, Young has telegraphed that his fundraising will be better than last quarter. In the aforementioned interview with Brian Howey, he compared his fundraising with that of Mike Sodrel in 2004, and noted, “At the end of September, we’ll be beyond that magnitude.” Sodrel raised $80,348 in Q3 of 2003. As I noted previously, that fundraising number was considered good at the time. But it can’t be considered impressive today, as the costs of campaigning have skyrocketed.

In the email that had the subject line misspelled, Young’s campaign noted, “We've raised more money than any other challenger in the history of this District has at this point in the election cycle.”

The number I’ve heard mentioned from multiple sources about Todd’s fundraising is around $205,000. No one, however, seems to know (or want to say) whether that’s number is cash-on-hand or for Q3 raised (and it would make a big difference). As filings are due in by Thursday, we won’t have to wait long to find out which.

Going purely by Todd’s own statements and those of the campaign, one would presume that the $205,000 number is a raised figure, as opposed to his cash-on-hand. The record for a challenger at this point in the election cycle (third quarter of the year before the election) is held by Baron Hill in Q3 of 2005. Baron, then a challenger, raised $186,040 in that quarter.

The campaign says that it has beaten that challenger record, which would mean that the $205,000 number has to be raised. For there to be only $205,000 cash-on-hand, the campaign would either have an obscene burn rate (spending relative to fundraising) or it would not have broken the record.

If it’s a cash-on-hand figure, the Young campaign would be incorrect about breaking the record (which would be hardly encouraging, but Todd’s new to the area) but would have enough money for one week of television, and nothing else.

If it’s a raised figure, then that’s enough money for one week of television, some campaign staff, and a few yard signs. Unfortunately, it’s a long way from either number to the million and a half or two million that is going to be necessary to get the name ID that is going to be needed to be a credible challenger to Baron Hill.

The money that Todd Young’s campaign has raised thus far—record-breaking or not—is for nothing if Mike Sodrel enters the race unless Young wants to run for the legislature (both Monroe and Orange counties, where he lives and works, respectively, have competitive seats). It will be very difficult to defeat Sodrel in the primary.

And with Republicans spending a fortune beating each other up in the 5th District and the toll that the Obama economy has had on fundraising regardless of political stripe, one can’t help but wonder if Indiana Republicans—with the retaking of the House in Indianapolis on the line next November—can really afford to be spending limited financial resources in such a fashion in not one but two primaries. The only people that benefit from such things are political consultants.

Photo of the Day: Could This Be Southern Indiana's Next Congressman?

“The Stimulus Is What's Toxic -- We're Poisoning Ourselves & the Global Economy with It.”

The New York Post:

Ben Bernanke's dollar crisis went into a wider mode yesterday as the greenback was shockingly upstaged by the euro and yen, both of which can lay claim to the world title as the currency favored by central banks as their reserve currency.

Over the last three months, banks put 63 percent of their new cash into euros and yen -- not the greenbacks -- a nearly complete reversal of the dollar's onetime dominance for reserves, according to Barclays Capital. The dollar's share of new cash in the central banks was down to 37 percent -- compared with two-thirds a decade ago.

Currently, dollars account for about 62 percent of the currency reserve at central banks -- the lowest on record, said the International Monetary Fund.

Bernanke could go down in economic history as the man who killed the greenback on the operating table.

After printing up trillions of new dollars and new bonds to stimulate the US economy, the Federal Reserve chief is now boxed into a corner battling two separate monsters that could devour the economy -- ravenous inflation on one hand, and a perilous recession on the other.

"He's in a crisis worse than the meltdown ever was," said Peter Schiff, president of Euro Pacific Capital. "I fear that he could be the Fed chairman who brought down the whole thing."


Investors and central banks are snubbing dollars because the greenback is kept too weak by zero interest rates and a flood of greenbacks in the global economy.

They grumble that they've loaned the US record amounts to cover its mounting debt, but are getting paid back by a currency that's worth 10 percent less in the past three months alone. In a decade, it's down nearly one-third.

Yesterday, the dollar had a mixed performance, falling slightly against the British pound to $1.5801 from $1.5846 Friday, but rising against the euro to $1.4779 from $1.4709 and against the yen to 89.85 yen from 89.78.

Economists believe the market rebellion against the dollar will spread until Bernanke starts raising interest rates from around zero to the high single digits, and pulls back the flood of currency spewed from US printing presses.

"That's a cure, but it's also going to stifle any US economic growth," said Schiff. "The economy is addicted to the cheap interest and liquidity."

Economists warn that a jump in rates will clobber stocks and cripple the already stalled housing market.

"Bernanke's other choice is to keep rates at zero, print even more money and sell more debt, but we'll see triple-digit inflation that could collapse the economy as we know it.

"The stimulus is what's toxic -- we're poisoning ourselves and the global economy with it."

Change we can believe in.

Ask Baltimore about the Irsays & “Sensitivity”

Heh.

Jim Irsay, the son of the man who moved the Colts out of Baltimore in the middle of the night, tells reporters he thinks Rush Limbaugh is too "insensitive" to be an NFL owner.

Because that's what professional football, with its convicted dogfighters, wife beaters, vehicular-homicide perpetrators, steroid and drug abuse, bone-crunching hits, serious risk of injury, and nearly-naked cheerleaders is all about: sensitivity.

Reading the Latest 2010 Tea Leaves

Rothenberg rates the senate races.

Three have had their ratings changed this month to benefit Republicans; none have had their ratings changed to benefit Democrats. Suffering from the ratings changes are Blanche Lincoln (D-AR), Harry Reid (D-NV), and Arlen Specter (Traitor-PA).

Rothenberg also has updated his 2010 House ratings.

As a side note, alas, no seats in Indiana feature on Rothenberg's list for either the House or the Senate.

The statistics:

Seats in play: 48
Democratic seats in play: 31
Republican seas in play: 17

That's almost a two-to-one advantage for the GOP (or a two-to-one disadvantage for the Democrats).

Again, the movement in the field is telling. But in the House it is even more dramatic.

Movement benefitting the Democrats: 9
Movement benefitting the Republicans: 22

Sort of indicates some momentum in a certain direction, no?

Over at FiveThirtyEight, Democrat Nate Silver is already warning that a historical analysis of the generic ballot when compared to the current generic ballot portends a possible Republican retaking of the House next November.

Another writer at that same blog has noted that the Democratic position in the Midwest is insufficient to solidify and maintain their current majorities in the face of various trends and likely redistricting.

Is it any wonder that the Democrats are already telegraphing--in the pages of the New York Times, no less--their intention to go negative in next year's campaign?

As Geraghty observes, they seem to already be taking it for granted that they won't have any accomplishments to run on.

Quote of the Day: Joe Biden's Wildest Dreams

"In my wildest dreams, I never thought it would work this well."
- Joe Biden on the stimulus package

One week after he said this, the unemployment rate hit 9.8 percent and another 263,000 jobs were lost.

Geraghty notes the above contradiction, and asks:

How high does the unemployment rate have to get before anyone in the Obama administration will admit the obvious: that it has been nowhere near as effective in creating jobs as they predicted?

He also tweaks the media a bit:

Since Newsweek ran a cover piece declaring "The Recession Is Over!" 464,000 more Americans have become unemployed, and the unemployment rate has increased by four-tenths of one percent.

I seem to recall the days of low single-digit unemployment, back when the economy was creating hundreds of thousands of new jobs a month and the unemployment rate was below five percent.

Democrats called that "the worst economy since the Great Depression."

If that's the case, then what do we have when the Obama economy has nearly ten percent unemployment and continues to shed a quarter of a million jobs a month?

Deficits vs Investments

Deficits vs Investments

The Fork in the Road

The Fork in the Road

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The Perfect YouTube Video

Baron Hill at Bloomington Town Hall
The wall of silence about Baron's town hall blow up among southern Indiana's newspapers continues to erode.

From the News & Tribune:

For a while now, I’ve been on the lookout for the perfect YouTube video. If that extra verse in David Allen Coe’s famous song that includes mama, prison, getting drunk, trucks and trains could define the perfect country-western song, then there has to be something similar for YouTube videos.

I was confident one would show up eventually that would succinctly and effectively define the medium. Well, I finally found it and it stars our very own congressional representative, Baron Hill.

During one of his recent town hall meetings, a student asked Hill why she couldn’t record the event. Hill explained that he refuses to allow videotaping because of the chance that excerpts could be put up on YouTube in a compromising position.

Of course, it’s now on that Web site and I challenge anyone to find a more perfect YouTube video, at least in the political realm.

He knew it was going to be difficult to control his message and tried to do it on his own terms by attempting to ban average citizens from recording the event. He even digs a deeper hole in the video excerpt when he says that it was his town hall meeting and constituents aren’t going to tell him how to run his office.

So much for the humble public servant aspect of being a representative I guess. Rarely do we see so much truth packed into about 70 seconds.

It also proves that Baron Hill’s instincts were right. The poor guy tried his best to avoid town hall meetings this year because he knew it wouldn’t end up benefiting him. But constituents can be so darn annoying and demanding so he gambled that he’d be better off by scheduling a couple than not having any.

He learned the hard way, now that technology has given the average citizen way more power, that what happens in town hall meetings does not stay in town hall meetings. He probably would have been better off hiding out in Las Vegas for a couple of months.

I wonder if it would console him to realize he now has a lot in common with Richard Nixon, who also knew his share of woes as technology passed him by. First, it was the humiliation of comparisons over his appearance to Kennedy’s during the 1960 presidential debates. Then when he finally made it to the Oval Office, he thought recording technology would be his friend, but alas, Nixon could never erase all the mistakes he made.

I’m sure many of you have made a call recently and been informed it could be recorded “for quality assurance purposes.” This is a well known method of evaluating employee competency that does not disrupt the business interactions taking place.

So doesn’t it make perfect sense that a constituent who wants to evaluate his congressman might want to do the same thing and record interactions for quality assurance purposes?

You would think a politician like Hill, one who claims to serve his constituents, would be applauding innovations like YouTube. But what we see instead is that Hill automatically assumes that if someone simply attends a meeting and presses a record button, they’ll gather plenty of material to make him look bad. Of course, that’s the most interesting aspect of this entire situation.

Ant the video, just in case you missed it:

Monday, October 12, 2009

The Problems of the Baucus “Bill”

First of all, Cornell Law Professor William Jacobson notes, it's not a bill:

The internet is alive with the sound of people analyzing the CBO's "scoring" of the Max Baucus aka Senate Finance Committee Health Care Bill. Before everyone gets too deeply into their thoughts, please keep in mind the following (get ready, all CAPS, bold, indented signifies a really important concept):

THERE IS NO BAUCUS BILL.

The CBO scored the concepts described by the Baucus Committee. There is no legislative text. None. Baucus and his Democratic colleagues refused to reduce their concepts to actual legislation prior to a vote. Here is the CBO's disclaimer:

CBO and JCT’s analysis is preliminary in large part because the Chairman’s mark, as amended, has not yet been embodied in legislative language.

The Baucus Concepts are disasterous, but that's for another post. For this post, let me get across a simple concept: THERE IS NO BAUCUS BILL.

Your esteemed Senators on the Senate Finance Committee will not be voting on legislation because THERE IS NO BAUCUS BILL.

Your esteemed Senators have so little respect for you that some of them are willing to vote in favor of legislation which does not exist because THERE IS NO BAUCUS BILL.

The actual legislation will be drafted in secret by Harry Reid and a few other people, including staffers whose names and political connections you never will know, and the resulting legislation will be rammed through the Senate and House before anyone gets to read and analyze it.

Months of debate mean nothing. It's all smoke and mirrors by people who think you are too stupid to realize what is going on.

Have I made myself clear on this? THERE IS NO BAUCUS BILL.

The emphases are by the professor himself.

Benjamin Zycher of the Pacific Research Institute also has some observations:

The headlines will tell us that it will cost $829 billion (that is, less than $900 billion) over ten years, and will reduce the cumulative deficit by $81 billion.

Those numbers are phony for any number of reasons, but notice that the "deficit reduction" is the net result of $518 billion in increased spending from expanded insurance coverage, $404 billion in reduced spending from "other provisions affecting direct spending," and $196 billion in increased revenues. The $404 billion "does not include effects on spending subject to future appropriations." So: Will Congress actually cut Medicare reimbursements (by over 20 percent), unlike previous years?

Let that sink in for a moment.

A goodly proportion of the funding for the Baucus "bill" comes from slashing Medicare.

Zycher continues:

More fundamentally: The increase in revenues ($196 billion) is over twice the net reduction in the deficit. So put aside all the other problems with the numbers: None of this net "deficit reduction" results from spending efficiencies. It is all tax increases and more.

The Baucus "bill" version of ObamaCare contains $196 billion in tax increases.

Just as importantly, Zycher wonders with regard to the President's infamous campaign promise about not hiking taxes on the middle class:

Will those higher taxes be limited to those making in excess of $250,000 per year? Please...

And, of course, he echoes the observation of Professor Jacobson:

Note also that the analysis states in the first paragraph that the "analysis is preliminary in large part because the Chairman's mark, as amended, has not yet been embodied in legislative language."

So, it is no longer the production of only laws and sausages that should be hidden from view. Chairmen's marks also are to be hidden from polite society, lest voters, CBO, and an ever-hopeful press be scandalized. So much for transparency.

If this is the best that Obama and Congressional Democrats can muster for ObamaCare, then it's a sorry performance indeed.

Our President Is a Genius

“That’s pretty far away.”
- Obama, after looking at stars through a telescope



Another one for the "imagine if Bush had said that" file.

My, How Things Change

Obama, in the 2008 presidential debates, condemned the idea of making peace with the Taliban (or as he pronounces it, the Tahl-ee-bahn; sort of like how Pakistan becomes Pahhk-ee-stahn... and they mocked Bush for bad pronunciations, but I digress).



Now, of course, things are different.

Now it's not a dictator making peace with the Taliban.

It's the President of the United States.

Geraghty has the rather damning timeline of the expiration of this Obama promise:

Then-candidate Barack Obama, July 15, 2008:

Our troops and our NATO allies are performing heroically in Afghanistan, but I have argued for years that we lack the resources to finish the job because of our commitment to Iraq. That's what the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said earlier this month. And that's why, as President, I will make the fight against al Qaeda and the Taliban the top priority that it should be. This is a war that we have to win.

And then in August, before the VFW:

This is the central front in the war on terrorism. This is where the Taliban is gaining strength and launching new attacks, including one that just took the life of ten French soldiers. This is where Osama bin Laden and the same terrorists who killed nearly 3,000 Americans on our own soil are hiding and plotting seven years after 9/11. This is a war that we have to win.

And then in his convention address:

I will end this war in Iraq responsibly, and finish the fight against al Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan.

And then on October 22:

Abroad, we need a new direction that ends the war in Iraq, focuses on the fight against al Qaeda and the Taliban, and restores strong alliances and tough American diplomacy.

The New York Times, [Thursday]:

President Obama’s national security team is moving to reframe its war strategy by emphasizing the campaign against Al Qaeda in Pakistan while arguing that the Taliban in Afghanistan do not pose a direct threat to the United States, officials said Wednesday.

Well, he's coddled anti-American tyrants and other foreign adversaries, so why not the Taliban too?

Run Away! Run Away!

Run Away! Run Away!

Political Quagmire

Political Quagmire

Sunday, October 11, 2009

More on Bucshon's Announcement in the 8th

Following up on this post.

The good doctor's announcement remarks were embargoed until tomorrow, but I'm told that somebody broke the embargo, so I'm going to go ahead and post some excerpts:

“We stand at a historic moment in this country. How we respond could determine whether the United States retains its place in the world as a beacon of freedom and hope, or whether we slip into an abyss of dept and socialism.”

“I worry about the path we are headed down under one party rule and I don’t believe the agenda of Democrat leadership is in tune with Indiana’s 8th congressional district. Our congressman is facilitating the agenda of that one party rule. He campaigns on a conservative platform, but doesn’t back it up with his votes.”

“In order the right the ship, Republicans must first admit we were partially to blame for the increased government spending over the past decade. We need to renew our commitment to a balanced federal budget, lower taxes, and advancing the principles of a limited federal government.”

“Hoosiers recognize that we cannot continue on a path of out of control government spending. They recognize that bailing out or taking over every failing business in America leads us down the path towards Socialism.”

“Let me dispel a myth: Doctors want health care reform. Healthcare is in need of reforms. Too many people cannot afford basic insurance. Too many have the fear of not knowing what would happen if they or a loved one falls seriously ill. But let’s not throw the baby out with the bathwater.”

“I have personally cared for people teetering on the edge of life and death. Fortunately, the great joy of my profession is helping people regain their health. Every day I see people recover from poor health and have a second chance at life. And you know what? Bureaucrats in Washington didn’t make it happen. Caring families and compassionate healthcare providers did. I will work to restore the direct link between doctors and their patients.”

Baron “Mr. Basketball” Hill Loses to Obama

Baron Hill and Barack ObamaThere was a time when Baron Hill was good at basketball.

Not anymore:

U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy put one over on President Obama Thursday night.
It was a nice, if short-lived, burst of offense for Murphy during a basketball game on the White House court featuring Obama and several Cabinet secretaries against 11 members of Congress.

"I popped a 3-pointer when the president was guarding me, and I talked a little smack," Murphy, a Bucks County Democrat, said. "I told him I was going to take it easy on him."

That move may have brought a run of bad luck. "I didn't have a single shot drop," Murphy said. "I shouldn't have said anything."

The congressmen took the first game but dropped the next three as they played for about 90 minutes.

On Obama's team: Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner; Education Secretary Arne Duncan, who was captain of the Harvard basketball team and played professionally overseas; Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan. And the president also had a potent weapon in personal assistant Reggie Love, a former forward for perennial hoops power Duke University.

The members of Congress, who play regular pickup games in the House gym was also stocked with athletes. Rep. Heath Shuler (D.,N.C.) starred at quarterback for the University of Tennessee in the early 1990s, though he was a disappointment as the Washington Redskins' signal caller. Rep. Baron Hill, an Indiana Democrat, won the state's coveted "Mr. Basketball" award as its best high-school player and went on to play at Furman University in the mid-1970s.

Rep. Mike Arcuri (D.,N.Y.) played college football, and Murphy was an all-star defenseman on the hockey team at Kings College in Wilkes-Barre. Also on the House team were Democrats John Boccieri of Ohio, Brad Ellsworth of Indiana, Jay Inslee and Rick Larsen of Washington state; and Frank Katovil of Maryland. Republicans Jeff Flake of Arizona and John Shimkus of Illinois also played.

"The president's a hell of a player - he's definitely got game," Murphy said. "In the last game, he dove after a loose ball, kind of reminds me of Thaddeus Young of the Sixers."

Obama's greatest skill as a baller, Murphy said, is a "great little crossover dribble."

Frugal Hoosiers has some fun imagining the trash talk on the court:

Barack Obama: Hey, Baron, let’s run a pick and roll on them.

Baron Hill: Well... this is my roundball meeting.

Obama: C’mon, Baron.

Hill: Let me repeat that. This is my roundball meeting for you. And you’re not going to tell me how to run my Congressional offense.

Newburgh Doctor Larry Bucshon to Challenge Brad “Pretty Boy” Ellsworth in 8th District

Larry BucshonTomorrow morning, in Newburgh:

Larry Bucshon to Announce Final Decision on 8th Congressional District Candidacy

Newburgh, Warrick County, IN – Dr. Larry Bucshon will announce his decision to seek the Republican nomination for Congress in Indiana’s 8th Congressional District on Monday, October 12th in Warrick County, Indiana. The announcement will take place at the riverfront pavilion in Newburgh near Edgewater Grille at 12 noon (Central Standard Time).

And his bio:

For over two decades Doctor Larry Bucshon has worked to protect the lives of his patients and lead a successful medical practice. His entrance into public service is indicative of his life’s work: a desire to diagnose problems, and provide practical solutions.

Larry was born on May 31, 1962 and raised in Kincaid, Illinois, a small town of 1400 people in central Illinois. His life was shaped by this small town upbringing by two hard working parents. Larry’s father was an underground coal miner and his mother was a nurse. Both are now retired and still live in Kincaid. Through them Larry was instilled with a strong work ethic, honesty, integrity and standing up for what you believe in.

Larry attended the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and, upon receiving his bachelor’s degree, attended medical school at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Following medical school Larry completed a residency at the Medical College of Wisconsin, where he served as chief resident in surgery, and then remained there to complete a fellowship in cardiothoracic surgery. During this time he also enlisted with the United States Navy Reserve and served with them for almost a decade.

During his residency Larry met his wife Kathryn, who is also a physician and a practicing anesthesiologist in Evansville.

Larry has spent his career specializing in cardiothoracic surgery and has performed hundreds of heart surgeries. Since 2003 Larry has served as President of Ohio Valley HeartCare, the tri-state region’s most comprehensive cardiology and cardiovascular surgery practice. Larry’s outstanding work and leadership in this field led to him being honored as the St. Mary’s Medical Staff Physician of the year in 2007.

In addition to his role as President of OVHC, Larry serves as Chief of Cardiothoracic Surgery and Medical Director of the open heart recovery intensive care unit at St. Mary’s Hospital. He is board certified by the American Board of Surgery and the American Board of Thoracic Surgery.

Larry and his wife Kathryn reside in Warrick County with their four children – Luke, Alexander, Blair and Zoe. Larry’s life has been shaped by strong ties to his family. For the past six years he has been involved in coaching youth hockey for his children’s teams.

I think it's safe to say that Dr. Bucshon and the 8th District Republicans are going to plant their flag on health care and dare Brad Ellsworth to vote for ObamaCare.

More on the Democrat Culture of Corruption

When even Marc Ambinder believes that Democrats are building their own "corruption narrative," you know that they've got a problem.

$2.7 Million Dollar Words

Congressman Joe Wilson has raised $2.7 million since declaring "You lie!" to one of Obama's lies.

Speaking truth to power has its rewards, it seems.

Credit Where Due

Geraghty believes, let him be clear, that the Nobel committee was rewarding Obama's accomplishments:

But let me be clear: This is a moment to give President Obama his due.

There are no longer any U.S. forces in Iraq; the war there is over.

Afghanistan is finally stabilized, with the populace reassured and President Karzai’s public trust reinvigorated by free and fair elections.

Israelis and Palestinians are finally working together to build a lasting peace.

Through our forthright and clear denunciation of brutality, the Iranian protesters have had their fraudulent election canceled, and true democracy is celebrated by every young man and young woman in the streets of Tehran.

The Guantanamo Bay prison is closed.

Through our diplomatic nudging, China has made great strides in its treatment of dissent, and the Dalai Lama is recognized by every world leader as a great man of wisdom.

Eastern Europeans in places like Poland and the Czech Republic sleep easily, no longer worried about the nefarious ambitions of the Russian bear.

A crisis in Honduras has been averted through the measured, deliberate effort of the administration.

No one in Asia worries about North Korean missiles any longer.

Pakistan is stabilized, and its citizens are reaching out to India in places like Mumbai.

In Egypt, after Obama’s speech, the government has never spent more time paying attention to dissenters like the Muslim Brotherhood.

Finally, the potential chaos from a global recession has been averted, as the U.S. economy has come roaring back to lead the world to new prosperity.

Come on, folks. With a record like that, Obama was a shoo-in.

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Friday, October 9, 2009

If This Nobel Prize Was Slightly Different...

Mankiw hits the nail on the head:

Pfuffnick's Nobel Economics Prize triumph hailed by many

LONDON — The surprise choice of first-year grad student Quintus Pfuffnick for the Nobel Prize in Economics drew praise from much of the world Friday even as many pointed out the youthful economist has not yet published anything in scholarly journals.

The new PhD candidate was hailed for his willingness to tackle difficult problems, his commitment to improving the economic system, and his goal of bringing efficiency and equality into harmony.

Professor Paul Krugman of Princeton, who won the prize in 2008, said Pfuffnick's award shows great things are expected from him in the coming years.

"In a way, it's an award coming near the beginning of the first year in grad school of a relatively young economist that anticipates an even greater contribution towards making our economy a better place for all," he said. "It is an award that speaks to the promise of Mr Pfuffnick's message of hope."

He said the prize is a "wonderful recognition of Pfuffnick's essay in his grad school application."

Obama Does Absolutely Nothing, Wins Nobel Peace Prize (No, It's Not a Sick Joke)

Reuters:

U.S. President Barack Obama won the Nobel Peace Prize on Friday for giving the world "hope for a better future" and striving for nuclear disarmament, in a surprise award that drew both warm praise and sharp criticism.

The decision to bestow one of the world's top accolades on a president less than nine months into his first term, who has yet to score a major foreign policy success, was greeted with gasps of astonishment from journalists at the announcement in Oslo.

The Norwegian Nobel Committee praised Obama for "his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples." But critics -- especially in parts of the Arab and Muslim world -- called its decision premature.

Obama's press secretary woke him with the news before dawn and the president felt "humbled" by the award, a senior administration official said.

When told in an email from Reuters that many people around the world were stunned by the announcement, Obama's senior adviser, David Axelrod, responded: "As are we."

Issam al-Khazraji, a day laborer in Baghdad, said: "He doesn't deserve this prize. All these problems -- Iraq, Afghanistan -- have not been solved...The man of 'change' hasn't changed anything yet."

Liaqat Baluch, a senior leader of the Jamaat-e-Islami, a conservative religious party in Pakistan, called the award an embarrassing "joke."

Israel's foreign minister said on Thursday there was no chance of a peace deal for many years. Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told Reuters: "The Nobel prize for peace? Obama should have won 'the Nobel Prize for escalating violence and killing civilians'."

The prize worth 10 million Swedish crowns ($1.4 million) will be handed over in Oslo on December 10.

Comment from the Times of London:

The award of this year’s Nobel peace prize to President Obama will be met with widespread incredulity, consternation in many capitals and probably deep embarrassment by the President himself.

Rarely has an award had such an obvious political and partisan intent. It was clearly seen by the Norwegian Nobel committee as a way of expressing European gratitude for an end to the Bush Administration, approval for the election of America’s first black president and hope that Washington will honour its promise to re-engage with the world.

Instead, the prize risks looking preposterous in its claims, patronising in its intentions and demeaning in its attempt to build up a man who has barely begun his period in office, let alone achieved any tangible outcome for peace.

There is a further irony in offering a peace prize to a president whose principal preoccupation at the moment is when and how to expand the war in Afghanistan.

The spectacle of Mr Obama mounting the podium in Oslo to accept a prize that once went to Nelson Mandela, Aung San Suu Kyi and Mother Theresa would be all the more absurd if it follows a White House decision to send up to 40,000 more US troops to Afghanistan. However just such a war may be deemed in Western eyes, Muslims would not be the only group to complain that peace is hardly compatible with an escalation in hostilities.

The Nobel committee has made controversial awards before. Some have appeared to reward hope rather than achievement: the 1976 prize for the two peace campaigners in Northern Ireland, Betty Williams and Mairead Corrigan, was clearly intended to send a signal to the two battling communities in Ulster. But the political influence of the two winners turned out, sadly, to be negligible.

In the Middle East, the award to Menachem Begin of Israel and Anwar Sadat of Egypt in 1978 also looks, in retrospect, as naive as the later award to Yassir Arafat, Shimon Peres and Yitzhak Rabin — although it could be argued that both the Camp David and Oslo accords, while not bringing peace, were at least attempts to break the deadlock.

Mr Obama’s prize is more likely, however, to be compared with the most contentious prize of all: the 1973 prize to Henry Kissinger and Le Duc Tho for their negotiations to end the Vietnam war. Dr Kissinger was branded a warmonger for his support for the bombing campaign in Cambodia; and the Vietnamese negotiator was subsequently seen as a liar whose government never intended to honour a peace deal but was waiting for the moment to attack South Vietnam.

Mr Obama becomes the third sitting US President to receive the prize. The committee said today that he had “captured the world’s attention”. It is certainly true that his energy and aspirations have dazzled many of his supporters. Sadly, it seems they have so bedazzled the Norwegians that they can no longer separate hopes from achievement. The achievements of all previous winners have been diminished.

According to ABC News, even the White House didn't believe it:

Two key White House aides were both convinced they were being punked when they heard the news, reported ABC News' George Stephanopoulos.

"It's not April 1, is it?" one said.

And the Associated Press:

The awarding of the Nobel Peace Price to President Barack Obama landed with a shock on darkened, still-asleep Washington. He won! For what?

For one of America's youngest presidents, in office less than nine months — and only for 12 days before the Nobel nomination deadline last February — it was an enormous honor.

The prize seems to be more for Obama's promise than for his performance. Work on the president's ambitious agenda, both at home and abroad, is barely underway, much less finished. He has no standout moment of victory that would seem to warrant a verdict as sweeping as that issued by the Nobel committee.

And what about peace? Obama is running two wars in the Muslim world — in Iraq and Afghanistan — and can't get a climate change bill through his own Congress.

His scorecard for the year is largely an "incomplete," if he's being graded.

He banned torture and other extreme interrogation techniques for terrorists. But he also promised to close the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, a source of much distaste for the U.S. around the world, a difficult task that now seems headed to miss his own January 2010 deadline.

He said he would end the Iraq war. But he has been slow to bring the troops home and the real end of the U.S. military presence there won't come until at least 2012, and that's only if both the U.S. and Iraq stick to their current agreement about American troop withdrawals.

He has pushed for new efforts to make peace between the Israelis and Palestinians. But he's received little cooperation from the two sides.

He said he wants a nuclear-free world. But it's one thing to telegraph the desire, in a speech in Prague in April, and quite another to unite other nations and U.S. lawmakers behind the web of treaties and agreements needed to make that reality.

He has said that battling climate change is a priority. But the U.S. seems likely to head into crucial international negotiations set for Copenhagen in December with legislation still stalled in Congress.

And what about Obama's global prestige? It seemed to take a big hit last week when he jetted across the Atlantic to lobby for Chicago to get the 2016 Olympics — and was rejected with a last-place finish.

Perhaps for the Nobel committee, merely altering the tone out of Washington toward the rest of the world is enough. Obama got much attention for his speech from Cairo reaching out a U.S. hand to the world's Muslims. His remarks at the U.N. General Assembly last month set down new markers for the way the U.S. works with the world.

But still ... ?

Obama aides seemed as surprised at the news as everyone else, not even aware he had been nominated along with a record 204 others. Awoken by press secretary Robert Gibbs about an hour after the vote was announced, the White House says the president responded that he was humbled to be only the third sitting U.S. president to win.

The award could be as much about issuing a slap at Obama's predecessor, former President George W. Bush, as about lauding Obama. Bush was reviled by the world for his cowboy diplomacy, Iraq war and snubbing of European priorities like global warming. Remember that the Nobel prize has a long history of being awarded more for the committee's aspirations than for others' accomplishments — for Mideast peace or a better South Africa, for instance.

In those cases, the prize is awarded to encourage those who receive it to see the effort through, sometimes at critical moments.

Obama likely understands that his challenges are too steep to resolve — much less honor — after just a few months. "It's not going to be easy," the president often says of the tasks ahead for the United States and the world.

The Nobel committee, it seems, had the audacity to hope that he'll eventually produce a record worthy of its prize.

The ultimate expression of hope...

Hope that he'll amount to something more than the miserable failure he has been thus far.