Thursday, December 31, 2009

2009 Winners & Losers

I'm sure some people won't agree with all of these, but disagreeing is what these lists are for anyway. Just posting it like I see it.


Conservatives – If you had written one of these lists at the start of 2009, you would almost certainly have not predicted that conservatives (or Republicans, for that matter) would be looking ahead with hope to the 2010 elections. You also probably wouldn’t have predicted that public opinion on everything from health care to the generic Congressional ballot to deficits to the very role of government in our lives would now be tilted in favor of conservatives (and, to a lesser extent, Republicans).

Mitch Daniels – Despite his local government reform agenda stalling in the House during the legislative session, the Governor rolled over Pat Bauer in the budget fight. He went down to the wire to protect the state’s reserves. Those reserves are now going to be used to save the state from even deeper cuts in education and other services. Had the reserves been spent, as Bauer and the Democrats wanted, the cuts Indiana is looking at in 2010 would be even deeper. Did I mention that he’s getting a lot of presidential buzz for 2012 and his national profile has increased?

Richard Mourdock – You couldn’t have predicted the rise of Richard Mourdock at the start of 2009. The normally-quiet state treasurer from Indiana went to the Supreme Court to try and stop the Obama administration from seizing Chrysler and screwing Indiana pensioners out of millions. In the process, Mourdock has found his voice and has become a hero to the Tea Party movement. Provided he weathers the vengeance of Obama and his minions in 2010, Mourdock’s future for 2012 could be bright indeed.

Dan Burton – That Dan Burton would face a primary challenge again in 2010 could have been predicted. What could not have been so easily predicted was that he would face so many opponents that the “anti-Burton vote” would be so split as to make his primary victory (and thus reelection) almost certain.

Capitol Improvement Board – When you can get the General Assembly to vote to give you $9 million a year in subsidies when—as it now turns out—those subsidies aren’t needed after all, you’ve got to be considered a winner.

House Republicans – The national wind is now at their backs, they continue to land good recruits in many traditionally Democratic (but conservative) districts, and the Governor himself is now determined that Pat Bauer and the House Democratic caucus will never again quietly smother his reform agenda. The stars are aligned for a victory in 2010 (and the majority that will give them control of redistricting), if the House Republicans and the House Republican Campaign Committee can deliver.

Mike PenceHis national profile continues to rise as Republicans in Congress continue to try and find their voice and Obama seems to be losing his. Mike and Mitch are both garnering Presidential buzz.

Scott Schneider – His caucus victory over the strong-arming of the Indianapolis insider machine was decisive and echoed Greg Zoeller’s victory at the GOP convention last year. Schneider won because some people still haven’t learned.

Brad Ellsworth – With Donnelly under fire and Baron Hill unable to open his mouth without making a gaffe, Ellsworth may find himself the last man standing on Election Night in 2010. It seems likely that his district will, after redistricting, become much more Democratic. Whether he’ll stay there or attempt statewide office for Senator or Governor remains to be seen.

John Hostettler – The former 8th District Congressman’s surprise announcement for the Senate less than a month ago moved him from the political graveyard to the front line of the political battlefield. He is the frontrunner in the Republican U.S. Senate primary and his style of grassroots politics—as opposed to big money campaign politics—may be the only way for a Republican to beat Evan Bayh next year.


Baron Hill – From calling his constituents “political terrorists” in the Washington Post to thundering at a town hall that he wouldn’t be told how to run “my Congressional office” to stories in the Wall Street Journal highlighting his lavish overseas junkets on the taxpayers’ dime, Baron Hill hasn’t had a good year. To top it off, Baron gave every Democrat a little less reason to work for his reelection and every Republican a much bigger reason to defeat him when he all but announced he would run for governor in 2012. The only thing keeping him from being a complete loser for the year is the lack of a top-tier Republican challenger against him, but that situation may yet soon change.

Evan Bayh – Poor Evan. Last year, he tied himself close to the ship of Hillary Clinton and that ship sank. This year, he tied himself close to the ship of Barack Obama. That ship isn’t looking much better either. His wishy-washy positions engender him few friends. His wife’s shady board positions are getting increasing public scrutiny. He touted his role in securing the passage of ObamaCare. Such boasts may prove unwise, as other once-invincible Democrats that touched the health care catastrophe are running well behind in polls. The wind is blowing against him. All of the campaign cash in the world might not avail Birch’s Boy in a political hurricane.

Carl Brizzi – Will he or won’t he run again? Will Tim Durham, his biggest supporter, be indicted? Brizzi isn’t necessarily a loser this year, but his future doesn’t look quite as bright as it did just a few short months ago.

Pat Bauer – The dead animal atop the Speaker’s head might well be roadkill created when Governor Mitch Daniels drove right over Bauer to preserve the state’s rainy day reserves in the special session budget fight this past summer. Time has vindicated the wisdom of the Governor’s course, and Bauer has never quite recovered from going to the brink with Mitch Daniels and unquestionably flinching. Desperate to maintain his hold on power in the House, Bauer is now backpedaling on a whole host of issues from local government reform to ethics to property tax caps. His retreat may not save his majority, or his post as Speaker.

Dan Burton’s Challengers – One of them could be a winner, if only the rest of them would go away. But none of them will, so they’ll all lose. It will take more than the withdrawal of just one of them (as Jim Shella has predicted) for the field to consolidate. There might not be enough anti-Burton votes to beat Burton with one challenger, but there certainly aren’t enough to beat him with more than one (or four, or five, or however many are running now).

Steve Buyer – Recent focus on his foundation is certainly unpleasant and unwelcome, regardless of the actual facts of the matter. But Buyer’s issues with his foundation aren’t enough to imperil his political fortunes. He isn’t facing a serious primary challenger and isn’t likely to face more than a placeholder next November.

House Democrats – They’re losers for the same reasons that the House Republicans are winners and Pat Bauer is a loser. Hope you like the minority, boys. Come 2010, you’ll be there for a long time.

Marlin Stutzman – The state senator from Howe was almost certain to face Evan Bayh next November until the unexpected announcement by Hostettler. Never was someone else’s fate so much in the hands of someone else as it has been with Stutzman. When Dan Dumezich decided not to run, Stutzman benefited. When Hostettler decided to run, Stutzman lost out. Fortunately, the signature hurdle facing ever Senate challenger is high and (even then) Stutzman has a long and promising political career ahead of him.

Jonathan Weinzapfel – If Bart Peterson taught Indiana mayors anything, it was that they should never raise taxes in closed-door meetings. Let alone closed-door secret meetings. Weinzapfel’s hopes to someday run for governor were dealt a mighty blow by his own political ineptitude.

Iffy / Could Go Either Way

Becky Skillman – Will she run? Won’t she run? Increasingly, Skillman’s fate is tied to that of Mitch Daniels, who leads a wing of the Indiana GOP that is not Skillman’s own. If Mitch stays popular in the coming years, her chances in 2012 (should she run) will be high. If he falters or flounders, her chances will likewise suffer.

Indianapolis ColtsThey spent the whole 2009 season being winners until their coach and their president decided that they should lose. They’ll be winners now only if they bring a big shiny Lombardi trophy back to Indianapolis in a few weeks. I look forward to them proving me wrong.

Special Category for Epic Fail

Dennie Ray Oxley II – Losing as the running mate for the least popular gubernatorial ticket in recent memory wasn’t enough for young Oxley. Hitting a parked car while driving drunk wasn’t enough for young Oxley. Getting drunk and then abandoning a young intern (on security camera) at a convenience store wasn’t enough for young Oxley. Not turning himself in when ordered by the court and having an arrest warrant issued for him instead wasn't enough for young Oxley. One has to wonder what will come next.

George Carlin - Guys Named Todd

Warning: Lots of profanity, but still hilarious.

Davy Jones

Raising the Roof

Raising the Roof

Debt Ceiling

Debt Ceiling

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Jim Caldwell & Bill Polian Are Pansies

Colts lose to Jets
It's not really a fair image, that Photoshop. It wasn't Peyton Manning or any Colts player that ran up the white flag today at Lucas Oil Stadium. It wasn't even the unlucky Curtis Painter.

No, the white flag was run up the pole by Jim Caldwell and Bill Polian in a conscious decision to stop playing a very close game and forfeit it to the New York Jets (who, it is entirely possible, the Colts will see again in the playoffs, when they could have knocked them out today).

The Indianapolis Colts have never been quitters. Tony Dungy never quit and his team never quit. And this is Tony Dungy's team; Jim Caldwell, until today, might as well have never been alive.

The fans never quit on the team because they knew that--even when they're way down in the 4th quarter--this was a team that wouldn't quit. No matter how bad the situation could be, this was a team that wouldn't quit. This was a team that could make the miraculous comeback seem routine, and did.

Perfection is a noble goal, and Jim Caldwell and Bill Polian are quitters. Sit your best players down if you're way ahead. Sit them if you're way behind. Do not sit them in the heat of the game when things are very much in play.

There are no words for how disappointed and disgusted I am at Jim Caldwell and Bill Polian.

If one wants to look at this logically, one must assume that the tradeoff that the team made now will be to its benefit in the coming weeks. Namely, that forfeiting the game today will accrue to the advantage of the Colts later (primarily in players not being hurt). I'm not convinced that will be remotely the case.

If it was the case, the best thing to do logically would have been to maximize the benefit (and minimize the risk of injury) by benching players once the team clinched several games back. Caldwell and Polian didn't do that. They also didn't make clear their policy in advance. They simply arbitrarily pulled the team from the field.

They quit.


Good posts on this can be found at Stampede Blue, Ogden on Politics, and 18to88.

In particular (from 18to88):

Jim Caldwell is a brave man. He just promised Colts fans everywhere that the 2009 Colts are going to win the Super Bowl. And woe unto him if he doesn't fulfill that promise. Unfair on our part? Yes. Caldwell was just doing what he thought was best for his team. Unwise on his part? Yes, I think it was terribly unwise.

What we saw today at Lucas Oil Stadium was political suicide. Fans aren't fair. Fans aren't rational. Fans don't care if you start your head coaching career 14-0. In Indianapolis that generates less goodwill than you might think... especially when you willfully throw away a chance at a perfect 19-0 season.

And from Stampede Blue:

Welcome to Colts football, where it is a-okay to quit on a football game for no damn reason whatsoever other than fear.

For a team and an organization that prides itself in "playing the right way," here is the message they just sent to tiny Colts fans everywhere (from SpazMo in the comments):

I gotta go wake my kids up and teach them one of lifes most important lessons: ITS OKAY TO QUIT.

This game made me, and a lot of other Colts fans, sick. With a Colts offense seemingly dominating the Jets defense heading into the third quarter, and leading 15-10, Jim Caldwell may well have made the poorest decision we have ever seen in Colts history. After the Colts scored a TD to regain the lead, and after their defense stopped the Jets, forcing a punt, Caldwell decided to pull quarterback Peyton Manning for rookie Curtis Painter. The move elicited a strong wave of boos from the Colts faithful in the Lucas Oil Stadium stands.

...The tragic figure in all this is rookie Curtis Painter. Every time he stepped on the field, the crowd booed. The reality is they were not booing at Painter.

They were booing Caldwell, and by extension, the coward that is Bill Polian. Yes, I said it. It is cowardly to sit players in a situation like the Colts did against the Jets...

Basically, Caldwell's decision was a gigantic middle finger to the fans.

I feel so sorry for the thousands of fans who braved a near-blizzard in Indianapolis only to see their coach and management throw a game this team should have won. On the sidelines, players from all sides of the ball looked dejected, frustrated, and upset. I don't think a decision like Caldwell's is one that instills trust in the players. Caldwell may very well have lost his locker room with that decision.

Yeah, I'm an angry fan.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Coal in Their Stocking: Another Look Ahead at Redistricting in Indiana

Way back in April, the lefty folks over at the Swing State Project put on their "bizarro world GOP thinking cap" and drew up what they believed to be the most Republican Congressional map possible for Indiana to get in the 2011 redistricting process.

Thanks to interesting nuances in Indiana redistricting law, the Republicans will effectively control the entire Congressional map-drawing process, but full control of the state legislative map-drawing process will require control of the House.

Now, just in time for Christmas, the lefties at SSP revisited the idea of a Republican gerrymander of Indiana. They dubbed the result, terrible to liberal sensibilities as it was and coming as it did on Christmas Eve, "Coal in your Stocking: A Republican Gerrymander of Indiana."

Here is their suggested map (click to enlarge):

Described thus:

IN-01 (blue, Pete Visclosky - D) - Took LaPorte County form neighboring IN-02 and dropped the Republican-leaning counties in the south of the district. Easily went for Obama by about a 2-1 margin.

IN-02 (green, Joe Donnelly - D) - Shifted the district east; basically the only old parts are St. Joseph County and Elkhart. Went from 54-45 Obama to about 51-48 McCain. Donnelly might have a shot at holding this one, but it would be much tougher.

IN-03 (purple, Mark Souder - R) - Remains centered in Fort Wayne, but the rest of the district goes south now. Formerly a 56-43 McCain district; my rough estimate is about a 55-44 McCain margin now.

IN-04 (red, Steve Buyer - R) - Shifts from the Indianapolis suburbs to the north central part of the state, but I scooped out about half of Tippecanoe County to compensate for losing those Republican suburbs. Another formerly 56-43 McCain district, I'm guessing it's about the same now, maybe a point less Republican.

IN-05 (yellow, Dan Burton - R) - Shrinks down to mostly the northern Indy suburbs, although I did add in part of the aforementioned Tippecanoe. Was 59-40 McCain, I'd say the margin's more like 57-42 now.

IN-06 (teal, Mike Pence - R) - Stretchy! Instead of comprising the mid-eastern part of the state, it goes from Muncie, around the outskirts of the Indy area, up to the northwest end of the state. Was 53-46 McCain, actually I think it's a little more Republican now, around 55-44 McCain.

IN-07 (grey, Andre Carson - D) - Pretty much unchanged, although slightly bigger, easily high-60s for Obama.

IN-08 (light purple, Brad Ellsworth - D) - Interestingly-shaped to remove Bloomington from IN-09, this one now includes pretty much all the Dem-friendly territory in the southwest of the state. Formerly 51-47 McCain, this flips to around 53-46 Obama.

IN-09 (light blue, Baron Hill - D) - Loses Baron's most favorable territory and adds in some Republican parts on the west and northeast sides. Was 50-49 McCain, now a whopping 58-41 McCain.

It warms the cold depths of my heart to see the 9th District become (at least by their usage of McCain's rather sorry 2008 presidential performance) the most Republican Congressional district in Indiana.

This being said, I don't think that McCain's 2008 presidential performance is going to be much of an indicator of Congressional voting patterns in the future any more than George W. Bush's 2004 presidential performance is. There's a whole lot more to take into account if you want to draw a gerrymander than just the presidential vote totals.

McCain's number, for a lot of Indiana, represents a Democratic high-water mark not likely to be reached again any time soon. In the same way, the Bush-Cheney '04 number is a Republican high-water mark not likely to be reached again any time soon. For other parts of Indiana, particularly rural southern Indiana, McCain's number outperformed the sort of performance you can expect for Republican candidates in the future (assuming Obama doesn't drag their whole party down in such precincts, which seems increasingly possible).

Even so, that's a very Republican map.

Coal in the Democrats' stocking, indeed.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas

Photo of the Day: Redneck Snowman

Inflatable Redneck Snowman
Took a picture of this on my way home from work the other day.

I'm going to have to get myself one of these for next year.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Evan Bayh, WellPoint, and ObamaCare

Birch's BoyLast week, former Congressman and current Senate candidate John Hostettler tweaked Evan Bayh by sarcastically predicting that Bayh wouldn't vote for ObamaCare because it would endanger his wife's access to lucrative stock options as a member of the board of directors of health insurance giant WellPoint.

Well, Hostettler was wrong and he was right. He was wrong in that Bayh did very much vote for the ObamaCare legislation. But Hostettler was correct in that Bayh was not going to let his family's finances suffer from the passage of ObamaCare.

What Hostettler didn't count on was that the legislation itself--damaging as it might be to Indiana's state finances, as much as it might expand government, as much as it allows Federal tax dollars to fund abortions, and for all of its other myriad faults--still contained benefits for WellPoint and thus for the Bayh family.

Evan Bayh didn't need to worry about voting against his family when he voted for the bill. Bayh didn't get anything for Hoosiers in the sell-out-a-thon that came in the mad rush to get this abomination passed, but some things ended up in the bill that benefit WellPoint and thus the Bayh family's finances.

Evan Bayh has his priorities, after all, and it's pretty clear that big insurers like WellPoint (and his family's bank account) are way up there on that priority list. Ordinary Hoosiers, not so much.

As lefty blog FiveThirtyEight notes, the greatest benefit to health insurance companies comes from the insurance mandate contained within the legislation. Everybody must now buy insurance, and the legislation provides $400 billion in subsidies to private insurers to help make that happen. It also expands the customer base for companies like Wellpoint by almost ten percent.

Over the course of the next ten years, the Senate's bill directs about $447 billion in public subsidies to people for the purchase of private health insurance. (This is in addition to another $400 billion or so in subsidies for the expansion of Medicaid).

Another way to look at this is that the Senate's bill will add about 17 million nonelderly members to the private insurance companies' enrollment relative to the baseline case, according to the CBO. As about 177 million nonelderly Americans currently have private insurance, this represents a 9.6 percent increase in their customer base.

WellPoint, as one of the largest insurers in America, is going to get a big slice of that $400 billion pie. It's also going to see its customer base swell by around ten percent as many people who don't currently have insurance (for whatever reason) are forced to buy it from companies like WellPoint.

It's hardly surprising, therefore, that WellPoint stock closed on Monday at a near 52-week high. That's right where Susan Bayh would want it to be if she wanted to exercise some of those stock options as a nice Christmas present.

Democrats howled for years that the Medicare prescription drug benefit was a huge payoff to big pharmaceutical companies. By such simple reasoning, ObamaCare represents a huge payoff to big insurance companies like WellPoint. Moreover, the legislation contains a series of measures that will benefit large insurance firms such as WellPoint over their smaller competitors.

From the Wall Street Journal:

Still, the latest version in the Senate contained some bright spots for insurers, at least compared to potential provisions discussed that required insurers to spend 90% of premiums on health care. This weekend's version set the minimum medical-loss ratio at 85% for large-company coverage and 80% for small group and individual businesses.

"I think 85% for large group is not a problem; that's where they are anyway," said Mr. Borsch, the Goldman Sachs analyst. "Companies are going to have to change their business model to operate in the individual market at 80%," he said, citing commissions for brokers that might have to get cut.

In other words, some of the mandates set by the bill create competitive advantages for big insurers like WellPoint (on whose board of directors Susan Bayh sits) while deliberately placing smaller insurers at a competitive disadvantage.

WellPoint isn't going to have to trim its profits or alter its business model much to meet this 85% requirement. Its smaller competitors, however, are going to have problems meeting their requirements. Advantage: WellPoint.

The sad fact is that, under Obama, the Federal government is now in the business of picking winners and losers. Evan Bayh didn't get anything for Hoosiers in this legislation. He did get something for himself, though.

He made sure that companies like WellPoint were picked by the Federal government to be winners.

Mitch on ObamaCare at the Brink

From National Review comes Mitch Daniels' statement on the imminent health care cataclysm:

"I'm discouraged, dispirited, and disappointed. Discouraged that such a backwards, anti-taxpayer disaster of a bill is this close to passage. Dispirited at a gross process of vote-buying and special deals that borders on corrupt. And severely disappointed that any of our delegation would vote for such an anti-Indiana measure.

"Let's nurture the hope that somehow the public will be heard before our nation makes such a terrible mistake."

Peyton's Language

Harry Reid: If a Senator Didn't Get Something in Health Bill, They're A Sucker

Doesn't speak well of Evan Bayh's efforts for Indiana in this whole mess, does it?


“There are 100 senators here and I don’t know that there’s a senator that doesn’t have something in this bill that isn’t important to them,” Reid said. “If they don’t have something in it important to them then it doesn’t speak well of them.”

He likened the legislation to the defense bill, which is thick with earmarks and other provisions benefitting individual members and even private corporations.

“That’s what legislations all about,” Reid said of the compromises.

With news today that Indianapolis' Wishard wasn't the intended recipient of the mystery hospital money, there doesn't appear to be anything for Indiana or for Hoosiers in this bill.

As we're going to find, though, I think that there was plenty in this bill for Evan Bayh.

Indy's Wishard Not Intended Senate Mystery Hospital, But Qualifies Anyway

A follow-up on this post from yesterday.

ABC News:

A $100 million item for construction of a university hospital was inserted in the Senate health care bill at the request of Sen. Christopher Dodd, D-Conn., who faces a difficult re-election campaign, his office said Sunday night.

The legislation leaves it up to the Health and Human Services Department to decide where the money should be spent, although spokesman Bryan DeAngelis said Dodd hopes to claim it for the University of Connecticut.

Based on the criteria set out on the bill, it appeared that state-affiliated hospitals in about a dozen states could compete for the funds.

Wishard wants its share of the money, though, according to Jim Shella:

The bill says the money should go to a research hospital at public university that contains a state’s sole medical and dental school.

That description fits Wishard Hospital and, according to a statement from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s office, facilities in 11 states overall. It would be up to the Secretary of Health and Human Services, not Senator Dodd, to determine where the money goes if the provision becomes law.

Meantime, Wishard CEO Matt Gutwein says he will pursue at least a portion of the $100 million.

Hope & Change: Democratic Senator Reelected by 36% Margin in 2004 Now Trails by 22% in Reelect Polling

No, not Evan Bayh (though this sort of polling should give Indiana's most famous invertebrate serious pause), but North Dakota's Byron Dorgan:

Incumbent Democratic Senator Byron Dorgan may have a serious problem on his hands if Republicans recruit Governor John Hoeven to run for the U.S. Senate in North Dakota next year.

The first Rasmussen Reports Election 2010 telephone survey of likely voters in North Dakota finds the popular Republican governor leading Dorgan by 22 points – 58% to 36%. Just six percent (6%) are undecided in that senatorial contest.

Part of the challenge for Dorgan is the health care legislation working its way through Congress. Dorgan, along with every Democrat in the Senate, has voted to move the legislation forward and is expected to vote for final approval of the reform later this week. That’s not likely to be well received in North Dakota where just 30% favor the proposed health care reform plan and 64% are opposed.

In 2004, a banner Republican year, Byron Dorgan was reelected in North Dakota by a margin of over 36%. In that same year, Evan Bayh's margin was "only" 24%.

There hasn't been any polling at all on Evan Bayh lately. One can't help but suspect that his numbers have seen some considerable erosion over the past year.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Is Wishard ObamaCare's Mystery Hospital?

Earlier today, the guys over at Power Line began to ask questions about a mysterious and unidentified hospital due to receive a big pile of money under Harry Reid's version of ObamaCare:

There are carve-outs for Nebraska, Vermont, Florida, Louisiana, Montana, and a mystery state no one's been able to figure out yet: "$100,000,000 for a 'Health Care Facility' 'at a public research university in the United States that contains a state's sole public academic medical and dental school'" (p. 328 of the manager's amendment).

They've been digging into the identity of this hospital:

Many readers have written in offering good candidates for the state whose university health care facility will be the beneficiary of the $100 million payday under the mysterious provision at page 328 of the Obamacare manager's amendment that the Senate will be voting on this week. Late this afternoon ABC picked up the scent of the story, as has Politico. ABC quotes the comment of one Republican source: "If taxpayers are going to be expected to sign the check, Democrats should at least let them know who to make it out to."

Is there not a single Democratic Senator sufficiently sickened by this putrid legislation to oppose it? What a revolting farce.

Later in the evening, Power Line heard from someone in the Senate that believes that Indianapolis' own Wishard Memorial Hospital is the mystery hospital due the $100 million allocated in the bill:

GOP Senate staffers speculate that the mystery hospital may be in...Indiana:

A good candidate for the mystery $100 million may be Wishard Memorial Hospital in Indianapolis, Indiana. Wishard recently won approval for construction of a new hospital in downtown Indianapolis. If Wishard is not the intended beneficiary, they can make a credible case that they should be eligible for a share of the money.

Under Section 10502 of the Reid Amendment, the beneficiary of the $100 million must be "affiliated with an academic health center at a public research university in the United States that contains a state's sole public academic medical and dental school." Is it affiliated with an academic health center? According to its Web site: "Wishard is proud to be one of the leading providers of healthcare in the city of Indianapolis with physicians of the Indiana University School of Medicine providing a comprehensive range of primary and specialty care services." Are they owned by the University of Indiana? No. Are they affiliated? Looks like they are.

Is IU the only public academic medical and dental school in Indiana? According to the Web sites of the American Association of Medical Colleges and the American Dental Association, it is.

Is the project "essential for the continued financial viability of the state's sole medical and dental school and its academic health center" as the provision requires? According to nine university presidents in Indiana, including the President of the University of Indiana, it is.

Has the state established a dedicated funding stream for the project? Yes. In November, voters approved $700 billion in bonds to fund the project.

Would the federal government provide less than 40 percent of the project? Yes. The proposal provides only $100 million of the $700 million project.

Can we say with certainty that Wishard is the intended beneficiary of this provision? No. But we think it is a pretty strong case they are eligible for the money.

One reader working on the case for us has identified Colorado as the probable beneficiary. He doubts Indiana because the required guberantorial application for the funds suggests the cooperation of an allied Democratic governor, though he concedes that Evan Bayh may have been working his own deal.

Where is the transparency? Do transparent payoffs qualify?

Could this be a pay-off for Evan Bayh?

Nebraska gets the rest of the country to pick up the tab for increased Medicaid costs.

And Indiana? Indiana gets $100 million for a hospital in Indianapolis that most Hoosiers won't even use?

If that's Evan Bayh's idea of being bought off, then he's dumber than I thought.

Quote of the Day

From Red State:

The question of whether we live in a country ruled by leaders who refuse to listen, but do what they believe is in their own interest, has been answered.

Conservatives hate this bill. Progressives and liberals hate it too. The public is solidly against it.

But it does not matter, apparently. The implications of a country in open revolt against this bill and the elite in the Democratic party giving the public the finger are profound.

The Daily Kos and FireDogLakes of the net could not produce a single Democratic Senator or Independent to vote no. Conservatives could not produce a single Democratic Senate vote against cloture. Neither could the general public. Perhaps the left can still get one of their own to kill this nightmare. Is there not a single Dem Senator who will stand with the public, or is this merely a quaint notion we used to have about our country — that the system responds to the public?

The Democrats must have 60 votes to amend this bill, then 60 votes to defeat the filibuster. They say they have them — we will see.

Senator Nelson, according to a senior Senate staffer, got a huge appropriation for Nebraska — and a state opt-out for abortion funding, as in states can opt-out. Another Democratic Senator bought off with money we are printing to pay our bills.

The world will understand America has changed. Our country is now run by elites who are printing money, debasing our currency to throw at massive new spending and deficit creating programs — and actually believe they are both moral and politically smart. Just 19% of the public believes this plan will not increase the deficit.

What comes next is very discomforting to think about. But we have now crossed that line from what our country was into something else, and that something else has nothing whatsoever with the country being a Republic. There will be a reckoning for this, and it will not be pleasant — not for anyone.

The Democrats seem to have convinced themselves in a fit of madness that the reason they lost Congress in 1994 was not because they dared to attempt health care reform, but instead that they failed to get it done.

This sort of deranged thought process assumes that the American people so dislike the proposed health care reform that they will like it better once they have to live with it every day for the rest of their lives.

Such thinking defies all logic and reason.

This is like a man who grabs a live electric wire, gets shocked, and somehow convinces himself later that he should do it again and that there wouldn't have been any pain if only he had managed to hold onto the wire and not let go.

The Democrats have grasped the live electric wire, and this time they're not going to let go.

The Democrats' only hope lies in the American people being stupid enough to forget by next November what Congress has done to them this Christmas Eve.

The State Budget Consequences of Bayh's Vote

As Evan Bayh stands ready to vote for Harry Reid's version of ObamaCare, it's worth having a reminder of the consequences that program will have for Indiana's budget:

Under the health legislation currently under consideration, Congress is counting on putting 15 million-20 million more people into the Medicaid program albeit with promises of enhanced federal funding. Fresh evidence from the National Association of State Budget Directors (NASBO) demonstrates that states are in no position to accept any increased costs of expanding Medicaid.

The Fiscal Survey of States: December 2009 shows that the budget situation faced by states truly is unprecedented. States cannot afford their current share of the Medicaid program but both the House and Senate bills prevent states from lowering current Medicaid eligibility. Giving Medicaid preferential treatment forces states to make reductions in other program areas.

And, under the proposed Senate legislation, Mississippi would have to find some $200 million a year to support the expansion of Medicaid. Other states, such as Indiana, have predicted full implementation of an expanded Medicaid population in ten years would cost Hoosiers an additional $1 billion a year. Nebraska predicts the cost of expansion will be greater than $450 million over a 10-year period, while Texas will be saddled with an additional$18.5 billion to $24.5 billion over that same time period.

We just found out this past week that Indiana is facing an almost $2 billion shortfall that is going to wipe out the state's reserves.

Now, Evan Bayh is going to saddle Indiana with an additional $1 billion in spending obligations with no way to pay for them short of raising taxes.

Democratic senators with actual brains (and not display mounts that serve only to display blow-dried emptiness) have gotten big concessions for their states, such as putting taxpayers in other states on the hook for ObamaCare's new state Medicaid obligations.

Evan Bayh hasn't been that clever. He also apparently doesn't care about the state budget train wreck that his vote is about to cause.

There's no dodging this one. It's all on him. His vote will decide, and he will be held accountable for it. This vote will likely render his mighty $12 million warchest moot.

A few dozen more private Cher concert fundraisers won't raise enough money for Bayh to make voters forget that he took their health care away from them and put it into the hands of government bureaucrats.

Tweet of the Day

"These are my principles. If you don't like them, I have others." -- Groucho Marx, predicting the career of @evanbayh

- Jim Treacher, ripping Evan Bayh

They've Got Their Priorities

They've Got Their Priorities

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Riddle Me This: If Ben Nelson Will Hold Out and Get Bribed, Why Can't Evan Bayh?

It's true. Ben Nelson sold out the pro-life movement with his decision to vote for cloture on ObamaCare.

But Nelson, inarguably, got something for his state in exchange.

From the Washington Post:

Nelson secured full federal funding for his state to expand Medicaid coverage to all individuals below 133 percent of the federal poverty level. Other states must pay a small portion of the additional cost. He won concessions for qualifying nonprofit insurers and for Medigap providers from a new insurance tax, and was able to roll back cuts to health savings accounts.

A dirty secret of Harry Reid's latest legislative Frankenstein is that it will push the costs of increases in Medicaid off onto the states.

Ben Nelson, at least, sold his vote in exchange for making the other 49 states pay for the cost increases in Nebraska, instead of Nebraska's state budget having to pay for it.

What did Evan Bayh sell his vote for? Do Hoosiers, facing a huge budget shortfall as we do, get a similar exemption?

And if we don't, why isn't Evan Bayh threatening to kill ObamaCare to get similar special treatment for Indiana?

Why would Evan Bayh vote for legislation that will crush Indiana's budget but give a free pass to Nebraska (and, in fact, make Hoosiers pay for Nebraska's free pass)?

Why not be as ornery and contrary as Nelson and, at least, get a free pass for Hoosiers, too?

Why does Evan Bayh value Nebraskans over Hoosiers?

As If There Was Any Real Doubt: Baron Confirms “I’m Running for Re-election”

The Courier-Journal has the story:

INDIANAPOLIS — “I’m running for re-election.”

Those words are from U.S. Rep. Baron Hill, D-9th district, who has for weeks endured rumors that he’s retiring from Congress in 2010 to run for governor two years later.
Not so — at least not the retiring part.

“I want to go back,” said Hill, who is serving in his fifth term. “We’re working on things like health care and energy independence and we’re now on the brink of getting these things done. But they’re not done to my satisfaction. I want to go back to refine them.”

Hill’s comments came just days after the National Republican Congressional Committee sent out an e-mail about Hill’s so-called “retirement jitters.”

The term actually came from a Congressional Quarterly story about Democrats who are retiring and those in tough districts. Hill was part of a larger list of “Democratic incumbents in competitive districts who will now be closely watched for retirement jitters.”

But Hill says he doesn’t know how the rumors about retiring got started.

He pointed to a story in Howey Politics, on online newsletter about Indiana, that also questioned whether he would run for Congress again or wait to run for governor.

“Do I have a desire to run for governor? I’m honestly thinking about it,” Hill said. But, he added, “I’m having a fund-raiser tonight at my daughter’s and a fund-raiser (coming up) with Wesley Clark” to support the congressional race.

Instead of distancing himself from Washington and its works, he's going to go all-in with Nancy Pelosi and Obama.

There's no turning back now.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

There's No Way Baron Would Retire, Right?

Baron Hill and Barack Obama"There's just no way."

That's been my considered reaction to the talk this week about the possibility of Baron Hill retiring and not seeking reelection.

It's hard to conceive of a scenario where Baron would retire even with his gubernatorial (or senatorial) dreams on the line with a tough wave election facing him in 2010.

First of all, it's antithetical to his personality and wouldn't fit with his (rather substantial) ego. It's not in his nature to run away from a challenge, particularly one from people (Republicans, conservatives more generally, people named Sodrel, etc) for which he has rather deep (and demonstrated) contempt.

Second of all, the 2010 results (and the weakness of Todd Young and Travis Hankins) have made him cocky.

Mike Sodrel's measured silence also weighs into this. It's a Catch-22. Baron either faces opponents that are sufficiently weak that he need not be worried (Young and Hankins) or he faces an opponent that is strong enough to give him trouble (Sodrel) but with whom he has so much history that his ego probably won't let him retire quietly to live to fight another day.

No, I don't think that Baron Hill will go quietly into the night. He's going to stay for the fight, because he's either going to have an easy opponent or he's going to be continuing his duel-to-the-death with Mike Sodrel.

Of course, I could be wrong.

The DCCC (the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee) on Wednesday put out a list of members of Congress that have committed to run for reelection and have promised that they will not retire.

Baron Hill was not on that list.

Could Baron decide to sit out 2010, enjoy a year or two off the campaign trail, and instead focus on 2012 (for governor or senate)?

It might be easier to run in 2012 if you don't have to go through another bruising round with Sodrel in 2010 (to say nothing of the very real risk of losing, and then having all of your future ambitions and dreams dashed forever).

Plus, any Sodrel campaign down in southern Indiana will have an very real impact on Baron's standing in the rest of Indiana. There will be ads running against Baron in the Indianapolis media market, and those ads will hammer Baron's liberal record and (almost certainly) they will hammer his more egregious statements of late ("political terrorists", "my town hall meeting," "my Congressional office", etc).

Even if Sodrel were to run and not win, the air war his campaign would wage with such ads (probably with the help of the NRCC) will probably cause serious damage to Baron's name ID and favorable-unfavorable numbers in the Indianapolis media market. I'm not sure that Baron would want that.

I really don't think Baron will decline reelection in 2010 for the reasons outlined above, but at this point nothing would surprise me.

I would have expected Baron Hill's name to have been at the top of that DCCC list, and it wasn't.

Supreme Court Rejects Chrysler Appeal

Missed this the other day.

From the Indy Star:

The Supreme Court has declined to take another look at Chrysler's bankruptcy.

The justices today turned down an appeal from the state of Indiana pension funds that earlier challenged the automaker's bankruptcy proceedings. The bulk of Chrysler LLC's assets were sold to Italy's Fiat.

The court previously rejected the pension funds' effort to block the sale.
In the latest appeal, the funds argued that the arrangement worked out with Fiat, and approved by federal courts, violated federal bankruptcy law. The pension funds said they were not trying to reverse the bankruptcy sale, but instead wanted to recover money for themselves and other Chrysler creditors.

It's disappointing, to say the least.

Jim Shella Doesn't Get It

From his blog:

John Hostettler’s first press release is an attempted attack on Evan Bayh that’s a little tough to follow. Hostettler first assures voters that Bayh will vote against health care reform.

His argument is that Bayh will vote for his own economic self interest because Susan Bayh serves on the Wellpoint board of directors. Then, Hostettler says he would vote no, as well, but for the right reasons, apparently. Those would include doing what Hoosiers want.

Is that a distinction that will get you elected?

If you expect one press release to constitute the entirety of a campaign against someone with perhaps the Senate's largest campaign warchest, then--obviously--no, a distinction made in just one press release is not something that will get you elected.

But Shella, almost certainly deliberately (you can just see the mustached doyen of the Statehouse reporters looking down his nose as he says "attempted attack"), is missing the point of Hostettler's press release, to say nothing of its sarcasm and its irony.

Apparently, also, Shella has no concern whatsoever with the interesting correlation that has been proven--by folks inside (and here) and outside (also here and here) of this state--to exist between Evan Bayh's voting habits and his wife's financial interests as a member of the various boards of directors on which she serves.

It's interesting that Hoosier newspapers, for example, can (rightly) busy themselves with endless editorials railing against the close relationship that the General Assembly has with lobbyists and special interests, but can then be almost completely silent about the relationship that Indiana's junior senator has with special interests courtesy of his wife. Maybe Hostettler's efforts will wake them up.

I suspect that Hoosiers will be concerned with this interesting aspect of Bayh's finances. It's good that Republican candidates challenging Bayh are making an issue out of these sorts of things; his opponents never bothered to highlight such shadiness before, and most newspapers in the state have tip-toed ever so delicately around the subject of Bayh's votes relative to Bayh's wife and their family's financial interests.

And as for voters punishing elected members of Congress for their party's sins, as opposed to their voting records, they have a habit of doing that. Evan Bayh could vote against ObamaCare and still find Hoosier voters punishing him for its passage (or just for the President's folly in attempting it).

Irony of ironies, John Hostettler voted against most of the most unpopular policies of the Bush administration (the Iraq war, spending, government expansion, etc). Hoosier voters sent him packing anyway. It would be an interesting irony of history for Evan Bayh to meet the same fate.

Dianne Feinstein: It's “Morally Correct” for Taxpayer Dolllars to Fund Abortions

From CNS News:

As the Senate was debating the Nelson amendment Tuesday, asked Feinstein: "Is it morally right to use tax dollars from pro-life Americans to cover insurance plans that cover abortion?"

Feinstein said: "Is it morally correct? Yes, I believe it is. Abortion is legal, and there (are) certain very tragic circumstances that a woman finds herself in. Married, with an unborn baby that’s unable to survive outside of the womb, her doctor tells her it’s a threat to her health. I think she ought to have a policy available to her." asked: "So it’s morally right for pro-life taxpayers to have to help pay for plans that cover abortion?"

Feinstein responded: "Please. We pay for a lot of things that we may or may not agree with, and taxpayers pay for it, for those things, as well."

The Lobbyist Days of Christmas

The Lobbyist Days of Christmas

The Princess and the Health Care Bill

The Princess and the Health Care Bill

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Hostettler Takes Aim at Bayh's Shadiness

It seems that John Hostettler hasn't wasted any time in taking aim at Evan Bayh, and at the shady doings of Bayh's wife (which have been fodder on blogs left and right for months now).

The release:

John Hostettler is assuring Hoosiers today that Senator Evan Bayh will not support a federal government takeover of the nation's health care system as the measure moves toward a vote in the U.S. Senate.
"Even before I announced my intention to run for the Senate, people were telling me how concerned they were about a government takeover of their family's health care.  I can confidently assure Hoosiers that Indiana has one, rock-solid "No" vote on this issue. Evan Bayh will not vote for the Senate health care bill. 
"The reason is simple:  he cannot afford to alienate the health insurance industry. 
"A vote for President Obama's most important legislative initiative will create a clear conflict of interest at home, literally, for Indiana's junior senator.  The fact is that his wife, Susan, serves on the Board of Directors of one of America's largest health insurance companies, and she has been paid more than $1 million since first being named to that Board shortly after Senator Bayh's reelection in 2004. 
"Bayh will not vote against the clear economic interests of his family.  In the midst of these trying economic times – with nearly one in ten Hoosiers out of work – it's understandable that Senator Bayh cannot not endanger such a significant source of income to his own household."
Hostettler concluded, "I do not support the Senate bill or any other government takeover of the best health care system in the world.  Though I oppose the Senate bill for other reasons, I am nonetheless encouraged that Senator Bayh will listen, if not to his constituents, to his family's economic interests."
In late October, Senator Bayh said he would consider joining Republicans to filibuster the health care bill.  According to, Susan Bayh has received $1,068,352 in compensation since joining the Board of Directors of WellPoint, an affiliate of Blue Cross Blue Shield, in 2005.
John Hostettler is a resident of Blairsville, Indiana and is seeking the Republican nomination for the 2010 election to the United States Senate from the state of Indiana.  John Hostettler was a member of the United States House of Representatives from 1995-2007 serving the Eighth District of Indiana.

Things just got even more interesting.

Sodrel Decision “in the Next Few Days”

From the Howey Report:

Former Congressman Mike Sodrel says he will declare his intentions for the 9th CD “in the next few days.”

In an e-mail to Howey Politics Indiana on Wednesday, Sodrel explained, “That announcement will include the ‘why.’”

Several influential 9th CD Republicans tell HPI they expect Sodrel to run. If so, it will be his fifth race, winning in 2004 while losing to U.S. Rep. Baron Hill in 2002, 2006 and 2008. As one high ranking Republican explained of Sodrel’s appearance at the 9th CD Christmas party in Scottsburg last Saturday, “Mike wasn’t there for the eggnog.”

Or as Sodrel put it, “I’m really not very fond of eggnog.”

As for the Tea Party movement that Sodrel supported with an appearance in Corydon last month, Sodrel explained, “I sincerely hope that the Tea Party influence is felt in political races nationwide. If the Tea Party is able to agree on a platform, remain independent of either party, stay out of primaries, and support the general election candidate that best represents their platform, they could bring America back from the brink of full fledged socialism.”

Sodrel warned, “If they just compete as a third party, they will likely just split the conservative vote, and hand the election to the liberals. The good news is that not since the civil rights marches of the ‘60s have so many people been willing to stand up publicly for their liberty. If this energy can be channeled into positive efforts it could change American politics, and America, for the better.”

Many party observers in the 9th agree that if Sodrel enters the race, he will be highly favored in a contested primary.

A Look at Bayh's (Possible) Primary Opponent

From Bloomington's WFIU:

When former Eighth District Representative John Hostettler joined the race to unseat Senator Evan Bayh last week, the field of GOP candidates vying for the Democrat’s seat grew to three. But the state’s junior senator is also facing a challenge from within his own party. Yet one of Bayh’s would-be primary challengers might not even appear on the ballot.

Bloomington restaurant owner Tamyra d’Ippolito has never run for political office. In fact, her only experience is twice managing underdog campaigns for Indiana University graduate student adviser Gretchen Clearwater in primary challenges to Ninth District Democrat Baron Hill. And d’Ippolito admits she’s perhaps over-matched against Bayh’s well-established presence in the state.

“He’s comes from a political womb and I’m a mere citizen. But I’m not a multi-millionaire like Evan Bayh. But whatever I can do, I’ll do it,” she says.

The first step in her campaign to unseat Bayh is collecting the 45-hundred signatures necessary for her to appear on May’s ballot. It’s a task she says favors the wealthy and protects career politicians.

“Four-thousand five-hundred signatures, from all over Indiana, registered voters, 500 hundred from each [congressional] district. It is a full-time job. I think it is completely bogus for a candidate to have to do this to run for office,” d’Ippolito says.

D’Ippolito has until Valentine’s Day to turn in her petitions. She admits her odds of defeating Bayh are long – he’s won his past three statewide elections with more than 60 percent of the vote.

But d’Ippolito, an uninsured colon cancer survivor, says Bayh’s lack of support for current health care legislation indicates he is unwillingly to address the hundreds of thousands of Hoosiers like her who do not have health coverage. She also accuses Bayh of seldom taking strong positions on issues, especially for a Senator who has won so convincingly.

“If people are thrilled with what Evan Bayh is doing, they will vote for him again. But from talking to people, I think most people think he’s disconnected with the people from Indiana,” she says

Besides Hostettler, three other Republicans are seeking Bayh’s seat. Calls to the senator’s Washington office were unreturned Tuesday.

Apparently, there are either three Republicans running or four, depending on whether you're looking at the start of the article or the end of it.

Anyway, the signature requirement is always a substantial hurdle; I'm not sure how it compares to ballot access requirements in other states. That would make for an interesting study.

Of those four Republicans (there are indeed four), it's entirely likely that at least one of them won't meet the signature count threshold to get on the ballot.

Will Tamyra d'Ippolito manage to meet the signature requirement? That depends on the anger of lots of liberals with Evan Bayh, and not just in places like Bloomington. There aren't enough big liberal college towns in Indiana to cover the 500 signatures from every congressional district.

“This Is Just a Football Game”

Great perspective from Navy's Ken Niumatalolo.

Comes about 1:45 into the clip.

These kids will be in... These kids are going to protect us, in Afghanistan and Iraq, and — both of these teams. I have great, great respect for these men, and this is just a football game. I mean, that's all it is, but there's a bigger picture, and I couldn't be prouder of our young men.

He Would Have Gotten an A+, but Dubya Ate His Homework...

He Would Have Gotten an A+, but Dubya Ate His Homework...
Jim Geraghty reviews Obama's record:

Another 3 to 4 million jobs lost, and the unemployment rate rising from 7.6 percent to 10 percent.

In ten months, the national debt has risen from $10.6 trillion to $12 trillion.

We're not sure the housing market has hit bottom; loan-modification programs aren't working.

Trade disputes with China, Canada, South Korea, Mexico, Panama and Colombia . . .

Iran ignoring our efforts to reach out, and bloodily smashing a pro-democracy movement.

Israel furious, and the Palestinians as stubborn and unyielding as ever.

An executive order to close Guantanamo Bay within one year ignored.

Khalid Sheikh Mohammed coming back to the Big Apple.

Unremitting violence on our southern border.

Average retail price of gasoline rising from $1.86/gallon to $2.61/gallon.

A stellar cabinet of Tom Daschle, Bill Richardson, Nancy Killifer, Van Jones, Kevin Jennings . . .

56 percent of the almost 80 ambassadorship nominations or confirmations going to political appointees or donors instead of career diplomats.

If Obama gives himself a "solid B+" for this, I'd hate to see what a C looks like, or a D, or (heaven forbid) an F.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Meanwhile, Next Door in Ohio

When we last left Ohio, King of the Swing States, the Republican gubernatorial challenger and the incumbent Democratic governor were in a dead heat.

That was a month ago, and what a difference that month has made.

The Republican now leads by nine.


The latest Rasmussen Reports telephone survey in Ohio shows Republican John Kasich getting 48 percent of the vote while Strickland picks up just 39 percent.

Nobody Knows the Trouble I've Seen...

Speaking of Slavery



Monday, December 14, 2009

Harrison County Straw Poll Results

From the straw poll conducted by the Harrison County GOP Sunday evening:

President (for 2012) - Sarah Palin

Governor (for 2012) - Richard Mourdock

U.S. Senate - John Hostettler

U.S. Congress (9th District) - Mike Sodrel

Secretary of State - Charlie White

State Auditor - Vacant *

State Treasurer - Richard Mourdock

Vacant means that nobody at the straw poll submitted a name for that race; names had to be submitted by attendees. Nobody got on the ballot automatically, even incumbents.

Full results for all races are available over at the Harrison County GOP website, here.

Sarah Palin, interestingly, beat Mitch Daniels (who was also listed as a 2012 presidential candidate) by better than two-to-one.

Richard Mourdock won the 2012 gubernatorial ballot. Becky Skillman came in second. Mourdock was the event speaker. It was the second time he has spoken in Harrison County in as many months; he spoke at the Corydon Tea Party back in November.

John Hostettler was the only Senate candidate present, though someone was passing around a signature petition for Richard Behney (as were petitions being passed around for Hostettler).

Mike Sodrel was the only 9th District candidate (or potential candidate) who attended (the other candidates were invited to attend, but had other obligations). I saw someone in a Travis Hankins shirt and several people that are Todd Young supporters.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Shatner & Palin Tonight Show Hilarity

First came William Shatner reading Sarah Palin's Twitter postings like poetry:

Then came him reading her book, and her response (by reading his book).

It's all hilarious; probably the only funny stuff on the Tonight Show since Leno went off.

Evan Bayh Hires Maoist for '10 Campaign

So insane that you couldn't make something like this up if you tried.

From the Washington Post:

Anita Dunn, one of Barack Obama's closest political advisers, is returning to her media consulting practice -- bypassing the chance to serve in the first Democratic White House in nearly a decade.

She will return to her firm -- Squier Knapp Dunn -- and begin the process of readjusting to the soap-operatic world of political consulting. Dunn's biggest client heading in the 2010 election is Indiana Sen. Evan Bayh who some Republicans believe can be beaten -- we're skeptical -- with the right candidate.

That was posted back in November of 2008. Dunn did end up working at the White House, and she quit after she got in trouble for making a series of comments saying she was a fan of Mao Tse-Tung.

The website for Squier Knapp Dunn lists Anita Dunn as a partner who is currently on leave from the firm. The firm's website lists Evan Bayh's Senatorial campaign as one of their clients. Bayh's hire of Dunn made news last year, but Dunn wasn't in hot water over her Maoist comments back then.

And just how much money has Evan Bayh given to Anita Dunn and her company? The short answer is that we don't know. The Senate, interestingly, exempted itself from having to report campaign expenditures.

But do Hoosiers want a Senator who relies on a Maoist for political messaging?

Bob McDonnell & the Politics of Addition

An interesting interview with the Governor-Elect of Virginia:

Q. There's been a lot of commentary in the media about how you and Governor-elect Christie of New Jersey won. The line has been that you won because you emphasized bread-and-butter issues: taxes, roads, traffic -- and de-emphasized social issues. Will we see those priorities with you as governor and do you still care about the social issues? Are they still winning issues for Republicans and conservatives?

A. Absolutely! I am a social and economic conservative and have made no bones about it. I have an 18-year record as attorney general and as a legislator of not only supporting, but leading on a lot of those issues. So I am unequivocally pro-life, pro-property rights, pro-gun, but what I understood people were most concerned about and what I saw as the biggest challenges facing Virginia were quality of life and pocketbook issues: jobs, economic development, taxes and federal intrusion into the free enterprise system. So we decided about a year out this would be a campaign about jobs. My first bumper sticker said, "Bob's for Jobs." I figured if that were all people remembered come Nov. 3, I would win. Secondly, we ran a campaign that was uplifting and generally positive and focused on issues. People have so much bad news about the economy, the last thing they need is politicians butting heads and saying how bad the other guy is.

And then this:

Q. Some conservatives in the party have come up with a 10-point "purity pledge," which they plan to present at the RNC gathering next month in Hawaii. The approach is the Reagan one, that if you're 80 percent with me, you're my friend. Is this useful to help the party define its image?

A. There are a core set of principles that can be embraced by all Republicans. I've just taken a cursory glance at that pledge and haven't really studied it. One of the reasons I was able to get 58.6 percent of the vote is that we tried to bring a lot of people into the party. We had a 2-1 advantage with independents and I try to do it by reaching out and embracing people, not having a covenant of limitations that excludes people. What I am concerned about are these acid tests where if you fail on one or two, somehow you are ostracized from the party. That leads to infighting, destruction and losses at the polls. For me, I stuck to my principles as a social and fiscal conservative, but focused almost entirely during the campaign on economic conservative issues. I didn't alienate my socially conservative friends, but I'm not sure written acid tests will be helpful in building the party.

I think the brand is damaged in two ways. One is because we have violated some of those basic tenets when it comes to things liken taxes and spending at the state and federal levels -- Congress, the president, some governors not sticking to fiscal conservatism. On the other side we've allowed ourselves to be defined by the left as the party of 'no.' Democrats were very successful during the Kane and Warner years portraying us as obstructionists; we didn't have positive ideas; we just wanted to get in the way of the progressives and progress. We've got to do a better job of putting forth positive ideas. As long as we're branded as a narrow party or the party of 'no," we're not going to win. I think we had some success in busting that here in Virginia.

There are big lessons here for Indiana Republicans, I think.

There's this myth that you can't be strong on social issues and appeal to moderates. Bob McDonnell's victory (in which the Democrat campaigned hard--with the help of the Washington Post--on virtually nothing but social issues) busts that.

Bob McDonnell didn't run away from social issues; he didn't try to change who he was. But he also understood that people cared about other things, too, and he structured his campaign to be able to speak to those concerns.

It's not a matter of social conservatives (or conservatives more broadly) sitting down and shutting up. It's a matter of them speaking about their beliefs in a way that appeals to the broader electorate.

In that sense, conservatives can have their cake and eat it too if they articulate their message properly.

Poll Numbers Slip-Slidin' Away

Monday, December 7, 2009

“Mike Isn't Going for the Eggnog.”

From a reader comes this blurb from the Howey Report, concerning Saturday's 9th District GOP Christmas Party:

HOSTETTLER, SODREL ATTEND 9TH CD RECEPTION: Former U.S. Reps. Mike Sodrel and John Hostettler attended the 9th CD Christmas party Saturday night in Scottsburg (Howey Politics Indiana). Hosettler announced last Thursday he would challenge U.S. Sen. Evan Bayh. Ninth CD sources continue to tell HPI that Sodrel is preparing to enter the Republican race. As one informed and reliable source told HPI, "Mike isn't going to the Christmas party for the eggnog. It was obvious that he is running."

Do As We Say, Not As We Do: Democrats Refuse to Return Durham Money

From Saturday's Indianapolis Star:

On Friday, Indiana Democratic Party Chairman Dan Parker called on other politicians who have taken Durham's money -- almost all Republicans -- to pay it back, whether or not they have already spent it.

"If they agree with the premise that the money shouldn't have been in the process to begin with, where they spent it is irrelevant," Parker said. "You need to find a way to get it out of the process."

Well, let's see...

Who listened to Dan Parker?

Well, not the Democratic National Committee and not Baron Hill:

"Tim Durham is innocent until proven guilty, and we'll reassess once that decision has been rendered," Democratic Rep. Baron Hill said in a statement relayed by a spokesman, when asked if he planned to give back his $5,600 contribution.

A spokesman for the Democratic National Committee also said it would not give back the $3,000 it received.

Attorney General Greg Zoeller and State Senator Mike Delph, though, have the right idea:

Republican Attorney General Greg Zoeller, who is up for re-election in 2012, and state Sen. Mike Delph, who is running for re-election in 2012, each received about $10,000.

And both have set aside an equivalent amount pending resolution of the investigation. That way, if the money is tainted, they can give it to charity or even to a fraud victim's fund, if one is established.

There you have it. Baron Hill and the Democrats aren't returning Tim Durham's money, despite trying to score political points by calling for others to give it back.

The only people to have made arrangements to return Durham's money are principled Republicans like Greg Zoeller and Mike Delph.

I'd also like to call attention to Becky Skillman, who was one of the few statewide elected officials up last year who did not take any money at all from Tim Durham.

National Attention for Hostettler's Challenge

The Campaign Spot at National Review Online (hat tip to Advance Indiana):

Sen. Evan Bayh of Indiana always been a tough, perhaps impossible target for the GOP to knock off in 2010. His father was a senator, he's been governor of the state, he's won by huge margins in the past, and his approval rating has usually been high. He's got a ton of money.

Enter former congressman John Hostettler. He's a non-traditional Republican in a lot of ways; he supported Chuck Baldwin of the Constitution Party in 2008, instead of John McCain. Intriguingly, Hostettler was one of only a handful of House Republicans who did not vote to authorize the Iraq War; Bayh did. If Hostettler wins the primary, Bayh could find himself attacked from the left on the Iraq War.

The spending in Washington and the mood in Indiana appear to have forced Bayh to sound a bit Tea Partyish: "We can’t keep charging to the national credit card. Washington needs a credible plan to pay its bills. Last week, I stood up in the Senate and told my colleagues so."

Hostettler will face at least three other Republicans in the GOP primary: state senator Marlin Stutzman, Carmel business owner Richard Behney, and Don Bates, Jr., a branch manager for Wachovia Securities.

It's hard to see a scenario in which Bayh isn't reelected, but . . . the mood in the country is strongly anti-incumbent and increasingly anti-Democrat. Ordinarily, a high-profile, well-known, and generally well-liked incumbent like Bayh doesn't have to break a sweat; 2010 might be a year where he has to sweat some.

And RealClearPolitics:

In perhaps another indication of Republicans' growing confidence about the 2010 landscape, former Indiana Rep. John Hostettler (R) announced today that he will challenge Sen. Evan Bayh (D-Ind.).

In a YouTube video, Hostettler ties Bayh closely to the national Democratic Party, repeatedly mentioning Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid as he criticized the steps taken to address the economic downturn, and claims Bayh and Reid are now blaming others "for their years of failed leadership."

"What do they have to show for it? Unemployment is the highest that it has been in a quarter century," Hostettler says. "We can't afford to allow Harry Reid and Evan Bayh to have six more years to bankrupt our children's future."

Hostettler, a member of the GOP class of 1994, was a victim of the 2006 Democratic wave, losing to Brad Ellsworth. His entrance makes him the biggest name in the GOP field of candidates, and could give national Republicans reason to look more closely at a race that had not necessarily been thought of as a pickup opportunity.

It may be too soon to predict how the former Congressman will perform in a statewide race against a longtime officeholder in Bayh, especially given the nature of his 2006 defeat. He has an interesting profile as one of only a handful of Republicans who voted against the Iraq resolution in 2002.

The announcement could be bad news for Democrats for another reason, though, coming at a time when Reid needs every vote in his caucus to pass health care legislation. The moderate Bayh has been a target of independent issue campaigns already.

"Evan Bayh has been very popular historically in Indiana, from secretary of state to governor and ultimately to senator," St. Joseph County Republican Party chairman Chris Riley told RCP today. "However, the changing political landscape may create more vulnerability than one might have previously expected, and certainly the way he comes down on health care is going to be a major factor in the 2010 elections."