Sunday, February 28, 2010

Brad the Beautiful Tied with Dan Coats, But Trails John Hostettler in New Daily Kos Poll

Or within the margin of error and thus effectively tied.

From The Hill:

Former Sen. Dan Coats (R) is in a statistical tie with Rep. Brad Ellsworth (D) in a hypothetical match-up in this fall's Indiana Senate race, according to a Daily Kos poll set to be released Monday.

Coats is considered the GOP establishment's top choice to replace Sen. Evan Bayh (D) and Ellsworth emerged as the main Democratic contender after Rep. Baron Hill (D) said he will not seek the Democratic nod on Saturday.

The Daily Kos/Research 2000 poll was sent around Sunday by the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC). It showed Coats leading Ellsworth 37 percent to 36 percent with 27 percent undecided among all those surveyed, but the poll has a margin of error of 4 percentage points.

On the other hand, ex-Rep. John Hostettler (R), who is one of five GOPers seeking the nomination, leads Ellsworth 40 percent to 24 percent with 26 percent undecided.

The surveyed polled 600 likely voters in Indiana from Feb. 22-24. The party breakdown of the 600 likely voters is 41 percent Republican, 36 percent Democrat and 23 percent Independent.

Even though Hostettler looks more attractive than Coats in the poll, it was taken before Hill ruled himself out of the race and has a high-number of undecided voters, meaning that the results are still up in the air.

I look forward to seeing the internals of this poll when it comes out tomorrow.

My initial observation is that this poll fits into my evolving theory that Coats is weak against Ellsworth because of Coats' moderate (some would say liberal) voting record on things like judges and gun control, and his (almost proudly-touted) Washington insider status.

Of course, at the same time, this result is at odds with a recent Rasmussen poll. It is, after all, a lefty poll. But then why would Hostettler lead? The internals should be interesting.

Baron's Tainted Rangel Campaign Cash

The NRCC hits Baron over his ties to the shady Charlie Rangel:

With the House Ethics Committee confirming that corrupt New York Democrat Charlie Rangel is guilty of breaking key ethics rules, Baron Hill has put himself squarely at odds with the bipartisan panel. Hill has already voted twice to sweep his party’s corruption problems under the rug by letting Rangel off the hook – and is it any wonder? According to the Federal Elections Commission, Hill has taken $26,000 from Rangel and his PAC in campaign donations. It’ll take more than a few donations for Rangel to buy his way out of hot water, but that hasn’t stopped him and Hill from trying.

Hill repeatedly sided with his corrupt colleague while the House Ethics Committee completed its investigation into Rangel’s endless history of dirty deeds:

“Rep. Charles B. Rangel broke congressional gift rules by accepting trips to Caribbean conferences that were financed by corporate interests, the House ethics committee said Thursday.”

“The committee said its report was intended to "serve as a public admonishment" of Rangel, and it ordered him to repay costs of the trips.”

“Beyond the trips, Rangel faces more troublesome allegations regarding his failure to pay taxes on a villa he owns in the Dominican Republic, the use of his congressional office to raise money for the wing of a New York college named in his honor, revised financial disclosure forms that show more than $500,000 in previously unreported wealth, and his use of a rent-controlled apartment for his political committees.” (Paul Kane, “Rep. Rangel’s trips broke congressional gift rules, panel says,” Washington Post, 2/26/2010)

“Baron Hill's decision to repeatedly sweep Rangel’s corruption under the rug and openly accept campaign donations in return proves that he is just another Democrat who is more concerned with partisan loyalty than serving the people he’s supposed to represent,” said NRCC Communications Director Ken Spain. “Speaker Pelosi once promised to ‘drain the swamp’ and lead ‘the most honest and open Congress in history,’ but Hill and his fellow Democrats are now standing knee-deep in corruption.”

Keeping tainted money is nothing new for Baron Hill.

He got campaign contributions from embattled businessman Tim Durham, and he still kept them.

And he had a chance to give Rangel's contributions back earlier, and he still kept them.

Obama to Move to Reinstate Gun Ban?

Just how badly does Obama want his own party to get thumped in November?

A repost of something from February of last year, from ABC News:

The Obama administration will seek to reinstate the assault weapons ban that expired in 2004 during the Bush administration, Attorney General Eric Holder said today.

"As President Obama indicated during the campaign, there are just a few gun-related changes that we would like to make, and among them would be to reinstitute the ban on the sale of assault weapons," Holder told reporters.

Holder said that putting the ban back in place would not only be a positive move by the United States, it would help cut down on the flow of guns going across the border into Mexico, which is struggling with heavy violence among drug cartels along the border.

In a brief interview with ABC News, Wayne LaPierre, president of the National Rifle Association, said, "I think there are a lot of Democrats on Capitol Hill cringing at Eric Holder's comments right now."

During his confirmation hearing, Holder told the Senate Judiciary Committee about other gun control measures the Obama administration may consider.

"I think closing the gun show loophole, the banning of cop-killer bullets and I also think that making the assault weapons ban permanent, would be something that would be permitted under Heller," Holder said, referring to the Supreme Court ruling in Washington, D.C. v. Heller, which asserted the Second Amendment as an individual's right to own a weapon.

The Assault Weapons Ban signed into law by President Clinton in 1994 banned 19 types of semi-automatic military-style guns and ammunition clips with more than 10 rounds.

"A semi-automatic is a quintessential self-defense firearm owned by American citizens in this country," LaPierre said. "I think it is clearly covered under Heller and it's clearly, I think, protected by the Constitution."

Parting question:

Dan Coats voted for the assault weapons ban.

How would he vote on reinstating it?

News Flash: Obama Is Not FDR

Obama as FDRBreaking news from the Weekly Standard:

President Obama spent seven hours last week acting like a committee chairman, not a president. Rather than preside over the nationally televised health care “summit” of Democratic and Republican members of Congress, Obama was a participant. He big-footed Democrats and responded to Republican statements himself. He talked and talked and talked, considerably more than anyone else and for a total of two hours. When Obama delivered a concluding monologue, the TV cameras panned to a drowsy and bored group of senators and House members, the Republicans especially.

Did Obama lower the presidency to the level of mere legislator? Perhaps. But I think Obama’s behavior at the summit answers a separate question, one that’s lingered since he was elected more than 15 months ago. Is Obama the new FDR? The answer is no.

If Franklin Delano Roosevelt were president today, the summit never would have happened. As the top priority on his agenda, liberal health care reform would have been enacted already. For Obama, the summit was a last-gasp attempt to revive his moribund legislation. More than likely, it will fail.

The reason is tied to what is probably the greatest difference between FDR and Obama. Roosevelt took command of Washington. Obama hasn’t. “FDR became the father of the modern presidency by moving the Chief Executive to the center of the American political universe,” John Yoo writes in his new book on presidential power, Crisis and Command. “Roosevelt’s revolution radically shifted the balance of power among the three branches of government.”

Obama has weakened the presidency and strengthened the power of Congress—a shift in the other direction. FDR seized legislative authority. The bills that Congress passed in his first 100 days and beyond were produced by the Roosevelt administration and ratified reflexively by Congress. There’s a reason you probably don’t know who Henry Rainey and Joe Robinson were. They were rubber stamps, Rainey as House speaker, Robinson as Senate majority leader.

But in Obama’s Washington, Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Majority Leader Harry Reid are powerhouses. The job of actually writing bills—the economic stimulus, health care, cap and trade, the omnibus appropriation—was turned over to them and their colleagues. To put it more bluntly, Obama has abdicated where FDR ruled like a king (at least in his first year in the White House).

Roosevelt’s strategy worked. Obama’s hasn’t. The FDR agenda passed, though the Supreme Court later struck down important parts of it. Except for the stimulus, Obama’s top priorities haven’t passed. FDR moved on, in 1935 and 1936, to getting the so-called Second New Deal (Social Security, the National Labor Relations Act) enacted. Obama’s future looks less rosy.

It’s clear that Roosevelt had an ambitious vision and a far more expansive idea of the presidency than Obama has. When I first heard the tale that Obama had told congressional Democrats to write the bills and he’d sell them, I thought it was apocryphal. Now I’m not so sure. Obama seems to see presidential power as purely rhetorical.

Two appealing aspects of Roosevelt’s public style have not been duplicated by Obama. He hasn’t come close. “In contrast to presidents who inundate the nation with words, Roosevelt rationed his broadcasts,” writes presidential historian Fred Greenstein in The Presidential Difference. He gave four fireside chats his first year, then fewer. In a letter cited by Greenstein, FDR said “the public psychology cannot be attuned for long periods of time to a constant repetition of the highest note in the scale.”

Obama, in contrast, talks incessantly on practically any subject. He was interviewed at halftime of the recent Duke-Georgetown basketball game on—you guessed it—basketball. He has debased the value of the “exclusive” interview with the president by granting so many. Obama is ubiquitous, and always talking. He’s lost his connection with millions of Americans, who’ve tuned him out. He’s sparked a political backlash. FDR didn’t until his second term.

Then there’s the mystery of FDR the man. “The man behind the style was an enigma,” Greenstein writes. This created a mystique and enhanced his influence. Obama is relatively transparent and has less clout. When he tries to promote a deal in public or intimidate an opponent—he tried both at last week’s summit—he comes across as a bossy senator or chief of staff.

To Obama’s credit, he hasn’t claimed to be the reincarnation of FDR. At a fundraiser last year, he said he’d put his “first four months (in office) up against any prior administration since FDR.” The “since” gets Obama off the hook. The FDR issue has been raised mostly by friendly liberals in the media.

It’s an unfair comparison. Roosevelt’s reputation for imposing a liberal makeover on America is impossible to match. But Obama has tried. And in one significant way he’s been successful. Like FDR, he’s broadened the size and scope of the federal government. Should his health care and cap and trade bills pass, along with the authority to seize any financial institution whose collapse would be “a systemic risk” to the economy, Obama would put himself in FDR’s class as a supersizer of Washington’s power. He’s not there yet.

By following another Roosevelt example, Obama has bought trouble. FDR thought government spending would spur economic recovery. It didn’t. And his surge in regulation and tax increases actually impeded economic growth and job creation.

So, too, with Obama. Same policies, same result. Yet he appears puzzled why there were 4 million fewer jobs in the country after a year of his presidency. Liberal critics such as economist Paul Krugman insist FDR’s stimulus wasn’t large enough and neither is Obama’s. Conservatives believe Obama’s policies are wrong, and what works are across-the-board individual and corporate tax cuts. Either way, Obama comes up short.

For Obama, the most brutal disparity between him and FDR is likely to come in November. After the Democratic landslide of 1932, Democrats won still more seats in Congress in 1934. In this year’s midterm congressional elections, that’s an outcome Obama can only dream about.

Of course, the biggest difference of all is that FDR was a pragmatist. He wasn't the sort of arrogant committed ideologue that Obama has shown himself to be.

Health Insurance Is Not Auto Insurance

So Doug Masson reminds us.

Someone needs to tell Obama that, though. He compared health insurance to auto insurance as recently as last week's health care summit. Democrats have also justified their mandate that individuals must buy health insurance by comparing it to the mandate that auto owners must buy car insurance.

The Culture of Corruption: Bank Owned by Illinois Democratic Gubernatorial Candidate about to Be Seized by Feds

What can I say? It's Illinois and he's a Democrat.


Kent Conrad Didn't Get the Reconciliation Memo

Ruh roh. He says it won't work.

And he'd know; he's in charge of the Senate Budget Committee which is integral for the reconciliation process.

“Barry Goldwater & Nelson Rockefeller Got into an Argument & George Wallace Won”

National Journal ponders the current state of the GOP through the lens of 1960s firebrand presidential candidate George Wallace:

The history of the modern Republican Party in one sentence: Barry Goldwater and Nelson Rockefeller got into an argument and George Wallace won.

OK, footnotes are required. The most important is that racism, a central factor in Wallace's career, is marginal in today's Republican Party. In fact, if there is anything Republicans like about President Obama, it is the racial breakthrough that his election represents. Nothing in this article implies that the GOP is a racist party.

But there was much more to George Corley Wallace than race. We too easily forget, today, what a formidable figure he cut in his heyday. His four-term career as governor of Alabama spanned a quarter-century. In 1968, he launched one of the most successful independent presidential candidacies in American history, winning 13 percent of the popular vote. In 1972, this time running as a Democrat, he won five primaries and was on a roll when a would-be assassin's bullet knocked him out of the race.

"To dismiss George Wallace as a racist or a demagogue is to seriously underestimate his allure," said the National Observer in 1968. "His appeal is broader, far broader, than racism, and his themes too vital to be contained within mere demagoguery." Wallace drew a map for Republicans' subsequent inroads into the South and blue-collar America, and he pioneered legitimate issues to which establishment politicians paid too little attention: easy money, dysfunctional welfare programs, perverse crime policies.

What Wallace did not do was frame a coherent program or governing philosophy. His agenda was "this strange conglomeration," says Dan Carter, a University of South Carolina historian and biographer of Wallace. "I don't expect politicians to be running a seminar, but there's an absolute incoherence about the thing that is more a cry of angst than a program."

Wallace's national appeal came neither from the racial backlash he exploited nor from his program, such as it was. "It was a deep sense of grievance," Carter says -- a feeling that elites "are not only screwing you over but at the same time they're laughing at you, they're looking down their noses at you."

Fast-forward to the present. The hottest ticket in the Republican Party is Sarah Palin, the former governor of Alaska and the party's 2008 vice presidential nominee. In a recent column, George Will compared her insurgent libertarianism to that of Goldwater's, which electrified the Right in 1964. Fair enough. But Goldwater served for 30 years as a respected insider in Washington's most exclusive club, the U.S. Senate; he was never interested in cultural and social issues; resentment and rage were alien to him. Palin's style and appeal are closer to Wallace's.

Wallace was not a libertarian. In Alabama, he expanded the state government and built the junior college system. He never presented a program to shrink the government in Washington. That never stopped him from attacking Big Government, at least on the federal level. He called for "freedom from unwarranted, unwise, and unwanted intrusion and oppression by the federal government" and said, "I think that what they ought to do is cut down on federal spending." But he never put his money where his mouth was.

The cash value of Republican libertarianism has been similarly low. Ronald Reagan didn't reduce federal spending or try very hard; George W. Bush was a big spender; beginning in 1999, before Bush came to office, the Republican Congress sought to spend its way to a permanent majority. Today's "tea partiers" and Palin fans are angry about that, but try asking them for their plan to change it.

I am not saying that today's Republicans are a bunch of Wallace clones. Or that everything Wallace did or said was wrong, or that Republicans should shun all of his themes just because he used them. I am saying three things.

First, with the important exception of race, not one of Wallace's central themes, from his bristling nationalism and his court-bashing to his anti-intellectualism and his aggressive provincialism, would seem out of place at any major Republican gathering today.

Second, and again leaving race aside, any Republican politician who publicly renounced the Wallace playbook would be finished as a national leader.

Third, by becoming George Wallace's party, the GOP is abandoning rather than embracing conservatism, and it is thereby mortgaging both its integrity and its political future. Wallaceism was not sufficiently mainstream or coherent to sustain a national party in 1968, and the same is true today.

Conservatism is wary of extremism and rage and anti-intellectualism, of demagoguery and incoherent revolutionary rhetoric. Wallace was a right-wing populist, not a conservative. The rise of his brand of pseudo-conservatism in Republican circles should alarm anyone who cares about the genuine article.

Most Ethical Congress Ever Clears Charlie Rangel of Wrongdoing after Wrongdoing

Mitch for President Makes Politico

Too long to quote, but worth the read.


Global Warming Whodunit

Global Warming Whodunit

Obligatory: Bye, Bye Mr. Evan Bayh Pie Song

Listen to it carefully.

That's the sound of the future of the Indiana Democratic Party.

And there's nothing good for Evan Bayh there.

Should he run for Governor in 2012 (as every Democrat I talk to seems to take as an article of faith), a Hoosier would have had to have been 50 to have voted for Birch Bayh. They would have had to have been 38 to have voted for Bayh the last time that he was governor.

Despite his relative youth, Bayh will have all of Dan Coats' current "blast from the past" problems and then some if he takes another run at the Indiana Statehouse.

And the Democrats that have come into the electorate after the defeat of Birch Bayh and the departure of Bayh from the Statehouse?

They'll have moved on (and many already have).

So will Indiana.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

The Railroading Is Now Complete: Baron Declines Senate Bid, Backs Brad the Beautiful

Evan Bayh and Brad Ellsworth
Evan Bayh 1, Baron Hill 0

Well, that's that. Baron Hill will not run for Senate and will defer to Brad "the Beautiful" Ellsworth, effectively guaranteeing the end of his political career.

From Politico:

Indiana Rep. Baron Hill (D) announced Saturday that he will not run for the Senate in 2010.

The decision by Hill, a five-term congressman from Seymour, leaves Rep. Brad Ellsworth the strong favorite to become the Democratic nominee to succeed retiring Sen. Evan Bayh.

Hill praised Bayh in statement released Saturday, and said he intended to remain in Congress.

“Evan has been a devoted public servant to Hoosiers and a fellow companion in pushing for Congress to curb its reckless spending,” said Hill. “And while I agree with him that the partisanship in Washington is alarming, to reference my athletic past – I opt to stay in the game and continue to serve as an independent voice for my Southern Indiana constituents.”

Hill also signaled his support for Ellsworth, a two-term House member and former Vanderburgh County sheriff.

“I believe my friend and colleague, Congressman Brad Ellsworth, is the right man to fulfill the task of ensuring a Democrat is elected to succeed Senator Bayh,” said Hill.

The Indiana Democratic Party will select a nominee, since no Democrats filed for Bayh's seat after the senator's surprise retirement. Hammond Mayor Thomas McDermott, the chairman of the Lake County Democratic Party, also intends to seek the party’s nomination.

Ellsworth announced his candidacy last week, and he received a boost earlier this week from Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee Chairman Robert Menendez who during a briefing with reporters said Ellsworth "represents the views of Hoosiers in that state."

Republicans will select their nominee from a crowded field in a May 4 primary. Former Sen. Dan Coats is seen as the frontrunner.

While the popular Bayh had been considered very likely to win his seat in a reelection bid, his decision to leave the Senate appears to create a much more competitive race, which political handicapper Charlie Cook now rates as “leans Republicans.”

The most recent Rasmussen Reports telephone survey of likely Indiana voters, released Feb. 18, showed Coats leading Ellsworth, 46% to 27%.

Baron's decision to decline a run amazes me; he had to be under enormous pressure from Birch's Boy and Brad the Beautiful not to run.

Baron is the loser in this no matter how you think about it.

Despite his vocal desire to run for Governor in 2012, Baron is likely to see that dream crushed by a bid by Bayh to return to the Statehouse. Every Democrat I talk to takes it as an article of faith that Evan Bayh is going to run for Governor in 2012; that has the effect of sucking the air out of the room regardless of how true (or not) it might be. No future for Baron there.

Also, Ellsworth currently trails badly in Senate polling, but it's still early. Ellsworth will likely lose in November, though perhaps by a much smaller margin than the 20% or so he is currently polling behind Coats, Hostettler, or whichever other Republican comes out of the primary.

So long as the 2010 Senate race is relatively close, Ellsworth will be the de facto Democratic nominee to challenge Dick Lugar (or whichever Republican gets the nod to run to replace him). No future for Baron there, either.

That leaves Baron stuck here in southern Indiana to face Mike Sodrel again in November, and lose. Such a defeat will be the end of Baron's political career, as Monroe County will be drawn out of the 9th District in redistricting next year, effectively making the 9th into a safe Republican seat.

And if, by some miracle, Baron were to beat Sodrel (or face a weaker opponent), Baron would only find himself with a two-year respite thanks to redistrict that will see him defeated in 2012 anyway.

No matter how you slice it, this whole thing has been bad for Baron Hill. He got railroaded out of a chance for a Senate seat, his gubernatorial ambitions have probably been crushed by Democratic dreams of a Bayh Restoration, and the train of Mike Sodrel and redistricting is racing down the track toward him at full speed.

If Baron Hill was a stock, I'd be selling him; it's not going to get any better.

Guy Who Plays Thomas Paine on YouTube Endorses Richard Behney for Senate

From Patriot Paul:

CONGRATULATIONS, Richard and the wise folks of Indiana, for picking a true patriot to run for the U.S. Senate. I'm not in the business of endorsing candidates but I clearly understand Richard represents the will of the vast majority of Americans who are taking back our country and restoring common sense, reason and respect for our constitution.

I know, personally, Richard never intended to put his life on hold and become a part of an arrogant and corrupted political system that has consistently put personal and party agendas ahead of what's right for America. I remember Richard handing me a picture of his young, vibrant family and telling me he couldn’t be the father he wants to be until he somehow found a way to fight for a better American future for them.

I have traveled all over this country over 412 times in the last thirteen months speaking to hundreds of thousands of my fellow countrymen, white, black, brown and all the colors between. They were not rallying as right wing, left wing or no wingers. They were all joined at the hip as just plain Americans fed up with their own apathy at having given up their roles as citizens to become consumers.

All that has changed now. The giant has awakened and young dedicated men, like Richard, are risking all they have to fight a big government attempting to lead this nation to a dark place our founding fathers constructed a constitution to prevent us from going.

Richard is one of many all over our nation, who is running for office to rise above politics, rise above policies, rise above the dictates of the party leaders and announce his principles and his resolve to commit to them no matter the consequences.

This is your generation's finest hour to clean out a system that no longer serves the real owners of our republic, WE THE PEOPLE. November 2, 2010 is the best, and perhaps the last opportunity we have to rescue Lady Liberty and return this special nation to the core values that gave the world the greatest burst of freedom ever known.

Listen to Richard, Indiana. Hold him accountable to his principles. Make him commit to every one of them every time he speaks to you.

Look into his soul and if you see what this nation desperately needs at this turning point in our history; a statesmen willing to risk his political capital to do the right thing...and make him your next Senator from a state famous for calling a thing what it is and understanding that character is everything.

It's a great time to be an American.

Bob Basso AKA Thomas Paine

Stutzman Gets Endorsements, RedState Love

From RedState:

At a time when others in the race for the Indiana Senate seat are struggling to get traction outside the sacred halls of the DC GOP establishment, Marlin Stutzman keeps making waves.

He has endorsed the Jim DeMint proposal on financial reform, which calls for a balanced budget and a moratorium on earmarks. In the Indiana Senate, Stutzman endorsed a bill that would have required the legislature not spend as much revenue as came in the door. This goes even further and it is nice to see him align himself publicly to DeMint.

At the same time, he’s picked up a big list of endorsers from the Indiana Senate. 23 Senators came out and lined up behind him. They are:

David Long, Ft. Wayne; Carlin Yoder, Middlebury; R. Michael Young, Indianapolis; Travis Holdman, Markel; Mike Delph, Carmel; Brent Steele, Bedford; James W. Merritt Jr., Indianapolis; Phil Boots, Crawfordsville; Scott Schneider, Indianapolis; Brent Waltz, Greenwood; Randy Head, Logansport; Jean Leising, Oldenburg; Greg Walker, Columbus; Joe Zakas, Granger; Ron Alting, Lafayette; John Waterman, Shelburn; Brandt Hershman, Monticello; Ed Charbonneau, Valparaiso; Allen Paul, Richmond; Ryan Mishler, Bremen; Johnny Nugent, Lawrenceburg; Connie Lawson, Danville; Luke Kenley, Noblesville.

For those of you that don't know about the Indiana State Senate, it has 50 seats.

33 of them (a huge majority) are held by Republicans.

So to put that in perspective, Marlin Stutzman just picked up enough endorsements from the State Senate to be the leader of the Republican caucus.

The Republicans that didn't endorse Stutzman are:

Sue Landske (Cedar Lake)
Dennis Kruse (Auburn)
Thomas Wyss (Fort Wayne)
Gary "Doc" Dillon (Columbia City)
Jim Buck (Kokomo)
Beverly Gard (Greenfield)
Patricia Miller (Indianapolis)
Richard Bray (Martinsville)
Vaneta Becker (Evansville)

24 out of 33 isn't bad (33+1, since Stutzman is presumably for himself).

The geographic diversity of the endorsements is interesting, as is the fact that Stutzman got some endorsements from Hostettler country down in southwestern Indiana (i.e. the 8th, Hostettler's old district).

“Hostettler's Integrity Held Firm on Capitol Hill”

An old article from the Evansville Courier & Press that I came across while looking for info on the Senate candidates:

Election campaigns have become the stuff of sound bites, gaffs, smears and distortions. In this haze, the clear measure of an elected official is tough to gauge. So, as Rep. John Hostettler prepares to end his service on Capitol Hill, we thought it appropriate to relate our firsthand observations, believing that the residents of the 8th District are entitled to an accurate picture of the person who represented them for more than a decade.

Like Jimmy Stewart's principled character in "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington," John Hostettler maintained his optimism, stuck to his values and never succumbed to Beltway fever.

In an atmosphere of compromised principles, arm twisting, influence peddling and sold souls, John Hostettler stood out for his integrity.

Even his colleagues noted it. We recall one evening when Rep. Mike Flanagan, a congressman from Chicago, was walking down the hall with a gaggle of reporters. He spotted Hostettler and said, "Why don't you interview that guy, Hostettler, the most honest [s.o.b.] in Congress?"

John's integrity was a source of frustration to those hoping to influence his vote. When huge, wasteful spending bills were being considered in the House, we would take calls from frantic Appropriations Committee staffers yelling, "Your boss CAN'T vote no. We put [pork] in there to keep him from doing that!"

We also remember then-Congressman Tom DeLay saying to several members in a meeting: "Leave Hostettler alone. You can't shift his vote."

When Hostettler ran in 1994 on the slogan "Restoring Trust in Government," he meant it. We will never forget his silent grin whenever someone suggested that he abandon his 1994 pledge not to take money from a political action committee since the result was chronically underfunded campaigns.

He kept his word - and the grin - for 12 years. Time and time again, we had folks tell us: "I don't always agree with him, but he is an honest, good man."

We also observed a congressman who believed that it was the ideas a person held, not the person himself, that got elected.

Dismissive of title and prestige, Hostettler's identity as a Christian, a husband and a father never left him.

If the day had been tense in the legislative arena, the sure way to see him relax was to inquire about his wife, Beth, and their children. In an instant, you could see him regain his focus on the deeper things in life. Unlike so many other politicians, he did not encourage hero worship, seek the limelight or consider the issues to be about him.

Few congressman we knew would allow themselves to be mistaken for a Wal-Mart employee (as he once was) and simply help a shopper get her paint can from the upper shelf (as John did).

We observed actions such as this as a natural outgrowth of who he is. The same is true for his decision to decline the excessive federal congressional pension that he thought was unfair to taxpayers.

We also observed a hardworking man who did not seek credit, even when doing so would have been to his advantage. In 1995 he worked privately with Toyota officials in their selection of Princeton, Ind., for their new manufacturing plant. He kept the project a secret at Toyota's request.

He was one of the few congressmen to obtain a National Weather Service Doppler radar for an area that had not been scheduled to receive one. When severe weather damaged homes in the district, he wouldn't call a press conference to draw attention to himself - he would show up to help.

Hostettler was a leader in advancing and deploying missile defenses, ensuring that U.S. troops serve under U.S. command and seeing to it that our men and women in uniform were properly equipped.

He was at the center of the struggles over religious liberties, same-sex marriage, Second Amendment rights and the fair treatment of homeschoolers. He was a tireless defender of innocent life. Despite intense pressure, he voted against most appropriation bills because he believed in small government and would not support deficit spending.

He was one of the few independent-minded members of Congress. When he rebuffed then-Speaker Newt Gingrich's demand to vote a certain way - and the speaker tried to punish Hostettler by postponing a scheduled 8th District fundraising event - the congressman uninvited Gingrich altogether. Whether he was opposing illegal immigration, voting against the invasion of Iraq, or authoring an amendment to prohibit the District of Columbia from requiring the Boy Scouts to allow homosexual troop leaders, Hostettler ignored politics and did what was best for the people he represented - and the country.

He took his oath to uphold the Constitution seriously. While we do not know Brad Ellsworth, we do know that he has some big shoes to fill.

At the end of an outdoor debate in 2000 with Dr. Paul Perry, a U.S. fighter squadron screamed overhead as Hostettler was concluding his remarks. Dr. Perry sarcastically said to him: "It's great to be a Congressman, isn't it?" implying that Hostettler had arranged for the flyby. As surprised as everyone else at the planes' appearance, he responded, "No, it's great to be an American."

We all have our political differences. John Hostettler is a great American. Southwestern Indiana, and America, is better off because of his service and sacrifice.

I found out recently that Hostettler declined to claim his Congressional pension (despite having the opportunity to do so).

When people say that the Republican Senate field is lacking, they just don't get it. These candidates has upstanding character and will campaign vigorously for the nomination.

And the organizations they build in the primary will serve the eventual nominee well when it comes time to run against Brad "the Beautiful" Ellsworth, the handpicked choice of a bunch of secretive Democrat insiders and Evan Bayh cronies.

Why Is the Cure the Same as the Disease?

Why Is the Cure the Same as the Disease?

The Stimulus Worked

The Stimulus Worked

Friday, February 26, 2010

Even Jim Shella Sees that Dan Coats Has a Washington Insider Problem

At some point, Dan Coats has to answer this. He promised that he would do so. And through all of the spin and covering by his myriad of newly-hired flacks, he still hasn't.

Now it's just starting to get silly.

The whole campaign is on the verge of becoming a walking punchline.

It's like they're trying to see how DC insider they can be, as if they would get an Olympic medal for most Beltway insider connections or something.

Jim Shella:

When Dan Coats filed his petitions to be on the ballot for U.S. Senate I asked him how he would deal with being labeled the “Washington Candidate” in this race. He responded by saying only, “We’re back in Indiana and we’re here to stay.”

Today I received my first “Coats for Senate Morning Update.” It discusses an interview the former Senator did with a Washington publication (Human Events.) It attacked Democrat Brad Ellsworth by quoting two Washington blogs.

It was sent to me by a public relations person in Washington, DC.

Maybe he likes the label.

For Obama, Anglo-American Alliance Has Reached Its Expiration Date

First came the insipid and offensive gifts. Then came failing to invite Queen Elizabeth to the 65th anniversary celebrations for D-Day.

Small slights, really.

Now comes this, from London's Telegraph:

It was a headline I never expected to read: “US refuses to endorse British sovereignty in Falklands oil dispute.” Washington has declined to back Britain in its dispute with Argentina over drilling rights in the waters surrounding the Falkland Islands, South Georgia and the Sandwich Islands. President Obama’s position is one of strict neutrality, refusing to take sides. According to the State Department:

We are aware not only of the current situation but also of the history, but our position remains one of neutrality. The US recognises de facto UK administration of the islands but takes no position on the sovereignty claims of either party.

Has it come to this? Tony Blair sacrificed his political career and jeopardised Britain’s international standing by making common cause with America in the War on Terror. No matter how often he claims it was because he believed it was “the right thing to do”, we all know what was really going on in his head. He simply didn’t want to break ranks with the United States. The Atlantic alliance has been the cornerstone of British foreign policy since 1941, when Winston Churchill and Franklin D Roosevelt joined forces against the Axis powers. Dean Acheson may have declared that Britain had lost an empire and yet to find a role, but successive British Prime Ministers have know what their role is and, by and large, it has been to stand shoulder to shoulder with America, presenting a united front in a series of global conflicts, from the Cold War to the Gulf.

It is not just cynical realpolitik. Our two nations have more in common with each other than they do with anyone else. We share a belief in liberal democracy, in freedom, and it is largely thanks to our willingness to commit ourselves to the defence of those ideals that the world has not been engulfed by fascism, communism or Islamofascism.

For this alliance to survive, both countries must recognise their obligations and, from time to time, that involves one of us setting aside more localised concerns for the sake of the cause. Tony Blair would have preferred it if President Bush had been prepared to wait for a second UN resolution before launching the invasion of Iraq, but he decided that Britain should follow America into battle nevertheless. He recognised that the preservation of the Atlantic alliance had to be prioritised above all else, both for our sake and the sake of the world.

In return, we naturally expect America to side with us when it comes to our own territorial disputes — and this element of quid pro quo was recognised by Ronald Reagan when he backed Margaret Thatcher in the Falklands War. It wasn’t in America’s regional interests to side with us, but Reagan knew the terms of the deal: It was your country, right or wrong. You don’t abandon your closest ally in her hour of need.

So it is truly shocking that Barack Obama has decided to disregard our shared history and insist that we have to fight this battle on our own. Does Britain’s friendship really mean so little to him? Do the sacrifices Britain has made in defence of the Atlantic alliance count for nought? Who does he think will replace us as America’s steadfast ally when she finds herself embroiled in a territorial dispute of her own — possibly with the very same motley crew of Latin American rabble rousers? Spain? Italy? France? Good luck with that, Mr President.

And here I thought the new regime was going to embark upon a grand restoration of diplomacy, of firming our alliances, and of returning to harmony with our friends.

Guess not.

Sobering parting thought, straight from the pages of history:

It is at times like this that I remember the words of Harry Hopkins, Roosevelt’s unofficial emissary to Britain during the Second World War. In our darkest hour, when we stood virtually alone against Hitler, Hopkins was dispatched to Britain to assess our situation. Did we have the will to remain in the fight? Was this a country that America should risk its national interest to defend?

Before Hopkins returned to deliver his verdict to Roosevelt, Lord Beaverbrook gave a small dinner party for him and it was there that he rose to give a toast. “I suppose you wish to know what I am going to say to President Roosevelt on my return,” he said. “Well I am going to quote to you one verse from the Book of Books: ‘Whither thou goest, I will go and where thou lodgest I will lodge, thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God.’”


But not anymore.

Being friendly with illiberal socialist would-be despots are more important than standing with our friends.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Gergen on ObamaCare Summit: “Intellectually, Republicans Had Their Best Day in Years”

Obama Wants to Make 2010 Election about Health Care? Bring. It. On.

From ABC News:

At the very end of the 7-hour bipartisan summit on health care reform today, President Obama made it very clear where this is headed.

"We cannot have another year-long debate about this," he said, rejecting Republican calls to scrap the Democrats' legislation. "So the question that I'm going to ask myself and I ask of all of you is, is there enough serious effort that in a month's time or a few weeks' time or six weeks' time we could actually resolve something?"

"And if we can't, then I think we've got to go ahead and make some decisions," the president said, "and then that's what elections are for."

Concluded the president: "We have honest disagreements about -- about the vision for the country and we'll go ahead and test those out over the next several months till November. All right?"

Just think. He's going to attempt to ram it through (probably failing to do so) and is willing to wage the 2010 on the subject of ObamaCare.

Republicans should be so lucky.

Alice in ObamaCareLand

Alice in ObamaCareLand

The Perils of Cooperation

The Perils of Cooperation

Baron Hill's Questioner Speaks

We first heard from her here:

Now she tells her side of the story:

Many blogs have written about the incident and its fallout, but with this blog, I feel it is time to set the record completely straight.

My "class project" was for J-210 Visual Communications. I was to create a photo slideshow using still photographs and natural sound. I knew that the school newspaper would have an audio recording of the town hall that I could use, and I gathered sounds from outside of the event.

Once inside the event, I saw that no audio or video recording was allowed. Not wanting to break the rules, I went to the woman handing out press passes and explained my project. I gladly gave her my contact information, assured her that I would not use flash or be a problem, and she gave me the press sticker.

After we were pulled aside and told to start filming, I was ready to let it go. I wanted an answer though, and asked my friend to ask the congressman why we couldn't film. I did not want to become a part of the story, just report on it. Ask any of my professors, they will tell you every piece of mine has been fair and objective.

I never had any ill-intentions or want to make a hit-piece on the congressman. I only wanted a few photographs of him speaking at the event for my project.

Was I a republican? Yes. Am I now? No, I am a libertarian. Yes, I have donated to republican candidates. Yes, I admire Bill O'Reilly. However, when reporting, I keep my views out of it. It is not my place to frame a story to meet my needs.

Since when did having a dream and a political ideology become a crime? Would this blog have mentioned either if I said being on CNN was a dream come true or if I was liberal? I doubt it. I feel they are non issues, and I will apologize for neither.

Yes, the story is 6 months old, but it is completely relevant if Congressman Hill is running for office, no matter what it is. All constituents, not just Congressman HIll's, have a right to question their leaders. They are the ones employing them. They are the boss.

This brave young lady, with one simple question, caused Baron Hill's public mask to slip and revealed his arrogance for all to see.

Small correction. There are Ashleys in this. Ashley Freije, the young lady who had the project, and Ashley Scott, the young lady that was helping her friend with her project and actually asked the question.

Howey on the 9th District Race

Mike Pence and Mike SodrelFor what it's worth, from this week's Howey Report:

9TH CD: Sodrel favored in primary

Prepare yourself for the fifth Hill-Sodrel race. While U.S. Rep. Baron Hill ponders Evan Bayh’s U.S. Senate seat, we just don’t see that going anywhere. Indiana Democratic Central Committee members just don’t see a warm body to defend the 9th CD. Only Hill can do that. Former congressman Mike Sodrel faces a primary with Todd Young of Bloomington. Young has raised $300,000, which is a decent amount for a primary. But he has to overcome Sodrel’s 90th percentile name ID. Unless Young can tap into the Tea Party/anti-incumbency attitude and tie Sodrel to the wild and woolly spending days of the Bush/Congress era when he served from 2005-07, we expect Sodrel to get the nomination. It didn’t hurt that he recently received an endorsement from GOP Conference Chairman Mike Pence. Overcoming Sodrel will be tough for Young because of the sprawling nature of the 9th, nestled in between the Indianapolis, Louisville, Cincinnati and Evansville media markets and the fact that Sodrel can tap into personal wealth if he needs to. Hill, who will have to defend President Obama, the stimulus, health care and Cap-and-Trade votes, can only hope that Sodrel and Young will bleed themselves blue in the primary in order to keep the seat that way in the fall. Primary Horse Race Status: Likely Sodrel

Hat tip: Hoosierpundit reader.

Obama to Seek Reelect, Settle for Mediocrity

Just a month ago:

President Obama, buffeted by criticism of his massive health care reform bill and election setbacks, said today he remained determined to tackle health care and other big problems despite the political dangers to his presidency.

The president tells Diane Sawyer about his first term and poll numbers.
"I'd rather be a really good one-term president than a mediocre two-term president," he told ABC's "World News" anchor Diane Sawyer in an exclusive interview today.

So what should we make of this story in Politico?

President Barack Obama’s top advisers are quietly laying the groundwork for the 2012 reelection campaign, which is likely to be run out of Chicago and managed by White House deputy chief of staff Jim Messina, according to Democrats familiar with the discussions.

For now, the planning consists entirely of private conversations, with Obama aides at all levels indulging occasionally in closed-door 2012 discussions while focusing ferociously on the midterm elections and health care reform, the Democratic sources said. “The gathering storm is the 2010 elections,” one top official said.

But the sources said Obama has given every sign of planning to run again and wants the next campaign to resemble the highly successful 2008 effort.

"The conversations are beginning, but decisions haven't been made," a top official said. "If you look at David Plouffe's stepped-up level of activity with the political organization [as an outside adviser on the 2010 races], that is obviously the beginning of the process."

Anita Dunn, former White House communications director, will be intimately involved, too.

That's Anita "I Love Chairman Mao" Dunn, in case you forgot.

Anyway, it seems like Obama is going to settle for being mediocre.

Geraghty has a delicious parting thought after reading the Politico article:

This line amused me, though:

The themes for Obama’s campaign are not yet chosen, but a top adviser said not to expect a radical surprise: “He knows who he is."

That's not the problem, top adviser; the problem is that now the American people know who he is.

How true. They didn't know him when they voted for him, but they sure do know him now.

Senate Spanks Rokita, But Why?


Indiana Senate thumps SOS Rokita bid for ad exemption

Indianapolis - Score this one Indiana Senate 50, Secretary of State Todd Rokita 0.

The Senate voted unanimously Wednesday in an unusual roll call vote to reject a bill amendment sought by Rokita's office that would have removed language barring it from using a state investment fraud fund to pay for TV and radio ad campaigns in which he appears.

Rokita has spent or plans to spend more than $1.5 million on such advertising.

Some lawmakers felt Rokita was using the fund to build name recognition as he seeks other elective office. He's seeking the Republican nomination in the 4th District congressional race against 12 other candidates - including state Sens. Brandt Hershman of Lafayette and Mike Young of Indianapolis.

Rokita's office had no immediate comment on the vote.

After he announced his run for Congress, Todd Rokita did the right thing when he pulled from the air public service ads featuring him. I said as much at the time.

So why is his office pushing to amend a law to allow him to keep doing something that he pulled ads from the air to stop?

It doesn't make any sense.

Tully: “For Daniels, the Whole Reluctant Campaigner Thing Isn't a New Strategy”

Naw, really?

From the Indy Star:

If you want more evidence that Washington, D.C., can get to a person, consider the curious case of Gov. Mitch Daniels.

Indiana's governor had for months mocked the wild idea that he would run for president in 2012. Among his many definitive answers to the question was this little ditty: "No, no, no, no, no, no."

In the final TV commercial of his 2008 re-election campaign, Daniels stared into the camera and promised his name would never again appear on a ballot.

But then, this week, Daniels traveled to the nation's capital. He spent time at the White House. He chatted with the national media. He huddled at a convention of the nation's governors. He undoubtedly passed by monuments to Washington, Lincoln and Jefferson. Along the way, he must have caught a nasty case of Potomac Fever.

Because now we learn that Daniels is "open to the idea" of a presidential bid. The governor has backtracked a bit since uttering those words, and his allies insist the door to such a bid is barely ajar. But here's the thing: When it comes to running for president, it doesn't matter whether the door is open an inch or a mile. All that matters is whether it's open.

In Daniels' case, the door is open enough for the presidential breeze to begin seeping in.

With this new day, and with trips to Iowa and New Hampshire perhaps not far off, two points are worth making.

Despite his promises, it's hard to blame Daniels for considering a White House run. If you have the resume, and if the political world is pointing to you as a serious contender for the presidency, why not take the idea for a spin? Every presidential candidate has baggage, but a Daniels candidacy would likely garner support.

The governor's argument for considering a presidential run wasn't his best work. He told The Washington Post that he was cracking open the door to get people who desperately want him to run "off my back."

Let's ponder the silliness of that statement. If he wanted supporters to drop the idea, shutting the door tight -- and not dabbling with increasing frequency in national politics -- would be the more effective strategy.

For Daniels, the whole reluctant campaigner thing isn't a new strategy. Fabricated or sincere, it played well during his first campaign for governor.

He was portrayed back then as the savior -- the chosen candidate of a group of Hoosier Republicans desperate to lure him from his White House gig so he could rescue Indiana. Seven years later, he insists that he's considering a White House run only because others are pushing him to do so.

It sounds good, no doubt.

So will he run?

It's far too early to say. Remember, 10 days ago we all thought Sen. Evan Bayh was headed toward another Senate campaign.

At this point, the odds of Daniels running for president, state Republican Chairman Murray Clark said, "are not as good as I'd like to see," because the governor is too focused on the job of running Indiana.

That might be spin.

But it fits perfectly into the story line of Mitch Daniels: the reluctant candidate for president.

If I've said it once, I've said it a thousand times.

(And I could link to all of them, but why bother?)

Mitch Daniels understands one thing about politics that Mitt Romney still hasn't managed to grasp:

It's not enough for you to want to run and be elected. Other people have to want you to run and be elected. And if you appear less willing to run and be elected than they want you to run and be elected, then so much the better.

If drive and desire made a successful presidential campaign, Mitt Romney would be president right now.

Mitch Daniels understands that. Mitt Romney is still clueless.

Evan Bayh Gets Destroyed on The View

Obama at Waterloo

Obama at Waterloo



Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Baron Hill “Open” to Senate Candidacy, But Could Get Railroaded by Brad the Beautiful

Brad Ellsworth, Barack Obama, and Baron Hill
Baron says that he might run, but that he wants to have "conversations" first.

From the Indy Star:

U.S. Rep. Baron Hill said today that he isn't ruling out a run for the U.S. Senate now that Evan Bayh has said he won't seek re-election and will retire at the end of his term.

Hill -- in his first public event since Bayh's announcement a week ago -- said he needed time to speak with the senator and others about the possibility before making a final decision.

"I'm open to the idea," said Hill, D-9th District. "It doesn't mean that I'm going to do it."

Because Bayh announced his retirement just one day before a crucial filing deadline, no Democratic candidates qualified for the ballot. That means the Indiana Democratic Party's 32-member central committee will choose a nominee.

Hill had been out of the country visiting troops on a military-sponsored trip until this weekend and had been unavailable to comment about the Senate seat.

While he was away, U.S. Rep. Brad Ellsworth, D-8th District, announced he would be a candidate for the Democratic nomination. Hammond Mayor Thomas McDermott and Gary School Board member Darren Washington also told party officials they intended to run.

Hill said he is scheduled to speak with Bayh today and wanted to talk with others as well.

"Let me have those conversations first and then we'll see where this goes," Hill said.

Let's think about this for a moment. Evan Bayh not only timed his departure to come at the last possible moment so as to prevent a genuine primary challenge, but he also timed it to occur while Baron was out of the country visiting troops overseas and would be unable to react for an entire week.

While Baron was in the Middle East, Brad Ellsworth jumped into the race head first, arranging a replacement to run in his spot and dropping his Congressional candidacy entirely.

Ellsworth, in effect, has presented Baron Hill--and Indiana Democrats--with a fait accompli. There is no going back. While it is possible to negotiate the electoral law needle required to put this 8th District Humpty Dumpty back together again, the chances of it happening are slim to none.

Should Democrats choose to have someone besides Ellsworth run for the Senate seat, they will almost certainly lose the seat in the 8th District (which is otherwise safe) and they will lose Trent "Train Wreck" Van Haaften's legislative seat, too, assuming they can't undo the Ellsworth-Van Haaften switcheroo. If that other candidate for the Senate seat is Baron Hill, then they will almost certainly lose the 9th District seat (a seat that, to be fair, they seem set to lose anyway) in addition to the seats in the 8th District.

Brad Ellsworth just went "all-in" on running for that Senate seat. That's a whole lot of political risk for a politician that has never shown much inclination toward taking political risks (Ellsworth never took sides in the 2008 presidential primary, for example). Given the timing, it seems unthinkable that Brad the Beautiful would undertake these actions without some sort of tacit understanding with Evan Bayh.

Care to guess how Baron Hill's "conversations" with Bayh will turn out?

Could it be that Brad Ellsworth and Evan Bayh just screwed Baron Hill out of a chance to run for the United States Senate?

Random Thought

Shouldn't it say something when a blogger is donating "policy research and writing" as an in-kind contribution on a campaign finance report?

Exhibit 1: Zach Main attacking Dan Burton and praising Luke Messer to the heavens. There are numerous other examples, this just being the most recent.

Exhibit 2: Luke Messer's campaign finance contribution report for Q4 2009, showing an in-kind contribution from one Zach Main of "The Celerity Group, Inc." for $2,250 for "In-Kind: Policy Research & Writing."

Exhibit 3: Luke Messer's campaign finance distribution report for Q4 2009, showing the expenditure side of the in-kind contribution.

Now, every blogger has their preferences in races that are important to them, and I'm no exception (though I don't care about the 5th District race except as an academic exercise). There's nothing wrong with advocating for a candidate or a position.

This being said, there's something strange here. Does it go beyond just having a preference? You be the judge. I've never seen anything like this before.

Zach Main appears to be giving in-kind "policy research and writing" services to a campaign he is blogging about. What exactly does that mean? Does that include blogging? Were these "policy research and writing" services ever disclosed on the "donor's" blog? Should it have been disclosed?

No easy answers there. Just questions and random thoughts.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Obligatory: Mitch Says He's Running for Prez After All, Though Everybody Knew It Already

The Indy Star:

Gov. Mitch Daniels said today that he hasn’t completely ruled out running for president in 2012, but added, “I don’t expect to ever make that decision.”

“You will not find me doing any of the things that candidates do,” Daniels told reporters while attending a meeting of the National Governors Association. “I’ve got my hands full trying to do justice to this job.”

Daniels earlier in the day told The Washington Post that conversations he’s had with others, including former President George W. Bush, persuaded him to stay open to the idea of running.

But Daniels later told a group of reporters not to read too much into that comment.
“I’m still out trying to recruit other people,” Daniels said.

A year earlier, Daniels’ reply when asked whether he was considering running was “No, no, no, no, no, no.”

Asked what’s changed, Daniels said: “I promised a few people I’d only give five ‘No’s.”

Yawn. We knew this already.

Trent “Train Wreck” Van Haaften, Coming Soon to an 8th District Ballot Near You

Boy, Brad Ellsworth sure thought he would be clever. He jumped into the Senate race with both feet. He even arranged for his buddy, state representative Trent Van Haaften, to switch over to run for the 8th District seat. And Ellsworth has withdrawn from the 8th District primary ballot, effectively making Van Haaften the Democratic nominee.

And a deeply flawed nominee he is. He is rolling in special interest money and lobbyist gifts. He has repeatedly voted for a left-wing agenda in Indianapolis, and he is quite possibly closer to Obama (he endorsed him) than Ellsworth (who never really did).

The Courier & Press:

Citing the absence of an incumbent, the current political climate and issues that could make presumptive Democratic nominee Trent Van Haaften "an easy target for Republican ad makers," the Cook Political Report changed its assessment of a "likely Democratic" win with Ellsworth in the race to "lean Republican" without him.

"The early leader in the GOP field, cardiologist Larry Bucshon, lacks deep roots in the district and has yet to get his campaign fully up and running, but doesn't have a record to attack, either," the Washington-based political newsletter stated. "Running as a political outsider, (Bucshon) has raised $100,000 for the race so far and should certainly be able to raise much more now that Ellsworth is abandoning his re-election bid."

In the 24 hours after state Rep. Van Haaften of Mount Vernon, Ind., filed his candidacy to replace Ellsworth, the newly reconfigured 8th District race began to come into focus.

Van Haaften was part of a group of Democratic legislators who endorsed Barack Obama over Hillary Rodham Clinton in the 2008 Indiana Democratic presidential primary. Among the roughly half-dozen supporters who cheered him Saturday was DeLyn Beard, chief Vanderburgh County organizer for the pro-Obama organization Evansville for Change, and Posey County-based Obama volunteer Ann Shank.

When even the C&P is pointing out your shady doings as a legislator, you have a problem:

The Cook Political Report said one potentially serious problem for Van Haaften is that he "has accepted an unusually high number of gifts from lobbyists and (political action committees), including tickets from AT&T to an inaugural ball for President Obama in Washington."

On Friday — the day Van Haaften filed for Congress — Bucshon sent out a statement citing the AT&T gifts and decrying the "old way of doing business."

According to reports filed with the Indiana Lobby Registration Commission, during the Legislature's 2009 session Van Haaften accepted more than $4,300 in gifts from lobbyists, mostly from AT&T — a company that backed a broadband mapping bill he authored.

The gifts included trips to the Democratic National Convention and a golf tournament in San Antonio.

It was the second largest total of the Legislature's 150 members, behind only the $5,223 in gifts accepted by House Speaker Patrick Bauer, D-South Bend.

Ellsworth's die is now cast.

He has dived into the Senate race head first. Problem is, he didn't look to see if the swimming pool had any water in it.

And Van Haaften's candidacy, with its close ties to lobbyists and liberals, is already turning into a train wreck. In this political environment and in a district as conservative as the 8th, he will be eaten alive.

And his campaign? It's not exactly off to a strong start:

Among the roughly half-dozen supporters who cheered him Saturday was DeLyn Beard, chief Vanderburgh County organizer for the pro-Obama organization Evansville for Change, and Posey County-based Obama volunteer Ann Shank.

"Roughly half-dozen supporters"?

And two of the seven are Obama campaign organizers?

In the Bloody 8th?

There are no words.

Just look at his announcement video, with his insipid statements and the hilarious cut away to the tiny group attending the event:

So Ellsworth's hasty decision may cost the Democrats a Senate seat, a Congressional seat, and a state rep seat.

And his haste has meant that there is no way for him to go back.

Not bad for a day's work, right?

Lethal Design Flaw

Lethal Design Flaw

Stuck Accelerator

Stuck Accelerator

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Don't Cry for Him Indiana: The Truth Is Evan Bayh Was Never Bipartisan

Evan Bayh and Brad Ellsworth
You've got to admire the brazen chutzpah of Evan Bayh. Even as he whines about the partisanship of Congress in announcing his retirement from the Senate, Bayh timed his departure to be the ultimate partisan act.

By leaving when he did, Bayh completely deprived hundreds of thousands of Hoosier Democrats of the chance to have a say in who will replace him. That decision will now be made by 32 of Bayh's closest cronies on the Indiana Democratic Party's State Committee.

Fred Barnes puts it well:

Did Democratic Senator Evan Bayh, who insists he favors more bipartisanship in Washington, schedule the announcement of his retirement to give his party a distinctly partisan advantage in picking a candidate to run for his seat? It sure looks like he did exactly that.

Indeed, Democratic strategists and party officials in Indiana were full of praise for Bayh for delivering his announcement less than 24 hours before the filing deadline for candidates. This means party leaders--32 of them--will pick a candidate (by June 30), and a primary will be averted.

Bayh almost certainly knew exactly what he was doing. He is the most important Democrat in Indiana and one of his close associates, state party chairman Dan Parker, will lead the panel that chooses the Democratic candidate for Senate.

And Bayh is very familiar with the state’s election law. His first elected office was Indiana secretary of state, the official who’s in charge of elections.

Politico, the Washington-based political newspaper, quoted Indiana Democrats as saying the timing of Bayh’s announcement was beneficial to their party. “I’m sure Sen. Bayh was well aware of the need for the party to have as much input as possible,” Marion County Democratic chairman Edward Treacy told Politico. “He knew what he was doing.”

The ABC News affiliate in Indianapolis, WRTV, said “Democratic sources” told the station tell that “Sen. Bayh waited ‘til the last minute to prevent other Democrats from entering the race and that also means keeping people out who might not have really had a chance at winning the general election.”

Think about that last line again:

“Democratic sources” told the station tell that “Sen. Bayh waited ‘til the last minute to prevent other Democrats from entering the race and that also means keeping people out who might not have really had a chance at winning the general election.”

Translation: Democratic sources said Evan Bayh wanted until the last minute to prevent Hoosier Democratic primary voters from electing someone (generally liberal and left of the Hoosier mainstream) like themselves.

The Bayh machine was twice-bitten, thrice shy when it comes to primaries. Twice in 2008, Hoosier Democrats went to the polls and voted in defiance of Birch Evans Bayh III, the de facto leader of the Indiana Democratic Party.

Hoosier Democrats chose Jill Long Thompson to be their gubernatorial candidate over Jim Schellinger, who was hand-picked by Bayh and the state Democratic establishment he dominates. Hoosier Democrats also nearly committed the ultimate sin when they almost gave Barack Obama a victory in the Indiana presidential primary despite Bayh's endorsement of (and heavy campaigning for) Hillary Clinton.

Even though Hillary narrowly carried Indiana, the outcome of the primaries in 2008 was a far cry from what Bayh wanted. It wasn't supposed to be that way, after all. He picks. He decides. Everybody else just does as they are told.

And yet Hoosier Democrats in 2008 dared to show a glimmer of independent thought, and so Bayh did not trust them to decide who would be on the ballot in November to vie for the Senate seat once held by him (and by his father).

And so Bayh resorted to the ultimate hypocrisy. He destroyed the notion of the primary entirely by staying in the race just long enough to ensure that nobody could hope to enter it after he withdrew. Thus, he--and not untrustworthy and independent-minded Hoosier Democratic primary voters--would decide who had Democratic nomination for the United States Senate.

The fix is already in. Evan Bayh didn't trust his own party to pick someone to run to replace him. He only trusted himself and those close to him.

Now that's a great and very fitting metaphor--an epitaph, perhaps--for the Indiana Democratic Party in the era of Birch's Boy: In the end, it was all about him.

George Will Owns Sunday Morning

The above video includes the end of this exchange, which was brought about by talking about Evan Bayh crying about partisanship.

TERRY MORAN, HOST: There's a sense that something is broken in Washington summed up this week by Senator Evan Bayh (D-Ind.) who announced his retirement. I think it's fair to say he's leaving in disgust. Here's what he had to say.

SENATOR EVAN BAYH, (D-IND.): I have had a growing conviction that Congress is not operating as it should. There is much too much partisanship, and not enough progress. Too much narrow ideology, and not enough practical problem solving. Even at a time of enormous national challenge, the people's business is not getting done.

MORAN: Is he right, George?

GEORGE WILL: Well, it's hard to take a lecture on bipartisanship from a man who voted against the confirmation of Chief Justice Roberts, the confirmation of Justice Alito, the confirmation of Attorney General Ashcroft, the confirmation of Condoleezza Rice as Secretary of State. Far from being a rebel against his Party's lockstep movement, Mr. Bayh voted for the Detroit bailout, for the stimulus, for the public option in the healthcare bill. I don't know quite what his complaint is, but, Terry, with metronomic regularity, we go through these moments in Washington where we complain about the government being broken. These moments have one thing in common: The Left is having trouble enacting its agenda. No one when George W. Bush had trouble reforming Social Security said, "Oh, that's terrible - the government's broken."

The rest of the discussion shown on the video, of Will holding forth against ObamaCare and defending "the party of no," is full of win.

“If This Represents Baron's Idea of PAYGO, Senior Citizens Had Better Look More Closely”

A letter to the editor in the Indianapolis Star:

As constituents of U.S. Rep. Baron P. Hill in the 9th District, we noticed with some amusement his pontificating letter about PAYGO in the Feb. 15 Star. PAYGO refers to paying for added federal spending with corresponding budget reductions.

While Hill prides himself in pushing for PAYGO legislation, in practice, where are his significant spending reduction bills, especially in the face of record deficits?

He voted for President Barack Obama's health-care bill in the House last year, which contained a corresponding half-trillion-dollar cut in Medicare. If this represents his idea of PAYGO, senior citizens had better look more closely at Hill and his version of PAYGO.

Thomas and Patricia Dziennik

CPAC Straw Poll Results

31% Ron Paul
22% Mitt Romney
7% Sarah Palin
6% Tim Pawlenty
5% Mike Pence
4% New Gingrich
4% Mike Huckabee
2% Mitch Daniels
2% Rick Santorum
2% John Thune
1% Haley Barbour
5% Other
6% Undecided

Full results available here.

Video of Pence Endorsing Sodrel

The Return of the Baron Town Hall Question

This time, on Fox & Friends.

“Young Didn’t Offer Specifics about How He Would Have Done Better, Just the Usual Talk”

Todd Young hunting sparrows with a Hummer.From the Indiana Daily Student:

“We cannot trade irresponsible Democrat leaders for Republican leaders we don’t have complete confidence in,” said Todd Young, a Bloomington attorney running for Indiana’s 9th Congressional District, at the IU College Republicans callout meeting.

It was a jab at former Rep. Mike Sodrel who is running against Young in the Republican primary. This is Sodrel’s fifth chance to challenge Rep. Baron Hill, D-Ind., for the seat whose district covers Bloomington and much of southern Indiana.

Young called the Republican-controlled Congress in which Sodrel served the most fiscally irresponsible, second only to the current one.

But Young didn’t offer specifics about how he would have done better, just the usual talk about outrageous earmarks and bloated budgets.

So, let's hear it. Let's set aside the empty rhetoric about "outrageous earmarks and bloated budgets" and let's hear Todd Young's specifics.

His ideas of specifics should be interesting to hear, since he seems to have a hard time with facts.

Let's review one particular statement above:

Young called the Republican-controlled Congress in which Sodrel served the most fiscally irresponsible, second only to the current one.

Republican Congresses deserve a lot of criticism, particularly in light of the expansions of government they unwisely voted for in 2003 and 2004.

I'd also say that the Republican Congress that held office from 2005 to 2006 (despite its personal and ethical failings by certain now-notorious members) represented an attempt to begin a return back to the fiscal prudence seen by the Republican majority in the 1990s.

The Republicans majorities of 2005 and 2006 were plotting a course back to sane fiscal policies. Certainly, they couldn't balance the budget in just one year (and I doubt that any policy course advocated by Todd Young could do so either), but the numbers don't lie. They were moving in the right direction.

The Republicans in 2005 and 2006 were also trying, with their efforts at taking up Social Security reform in early 2005, to address looming entitlement problems. They clearly had a long way to go in terms of things like earmarks, but they were making progress on reducing the deficit and made a serious effort at addressing the future insolvency of Social Security.

Note this chart (from Power Line) representing the deficit as a percentage of GDP.

Deficit Chart
Deficits as a percentage of GDP "crested" in 2004. They started declining in 2005, 2006, and 2007. The Republicans in Congress were trying to reign in spending and bring down the deficit. Such things don't happen overnight.

Deficits exploded again in 2008, the first budget drawn up by the new Democratic majority. They've exploded ever since.

So to attribute fiscal irresponsibility to be some Republican malady as Young does is to concede important facts, and a big area of the political battlefield, to assumptions and spin put forward by the Democrats (who spent eight years whining about deficits they have already cumulatively surpassed in just a couple of budgets).

Republicans should speak frankly and boldly about mistakes they made when they had control of the White House and majorities in Congress. There is, after all, no such thing as a perfect Republican or even a perfect conservative.

Republicans should not, however, depart from the facts when acknowledging those mistakes. To do so is to accept a Democratic spin narrative that does not match the history of what actually happened.

I'm not surprised that Todd Young has a problem with facts. Sometimes, he even gets called on it when he repeats bad information, though clearly not often enough.

A few weeks back, at the Monroe County GOP monthly breakfast, Young made a series of claims about the benefits of being a member of Congress. John Hostettler, who is running for the Senate and formerly served in Congress, interrupted Young to correct him and to provide the audience with accurate information. Hostettler served in Congress for 12 years and spurned many of the perks of office (after losing reelection, Hostettler declined to receive a Federal pension, for example).

Facts, as John Adams once observed, are stubborn things.

Whoa: Wife of Embattled Harrison Sheriff to Run for County Commissioner


Joyce Deatrick, wife of embattled Harrison County Sheriff Mike Deatrick, filed candidacy documents Friday to seek the Democratic nomination for District 3 county commissioner.

Joyce Deatrick’s entry while her husband is under a grand jury investigation of sexual harassment allegations makes her the second family member seeking a county office this year. The Deatricks’ son Darrin, 40, is a candidate for auditor.

Joyce Deatrick, 64, a former jail matron who was named police chief in August, is challenging incumbent commissioner Terry Miller, one of the county’s best-known political figures and the commissioner who wrote to the sheriff in October to urge him to resign.

Joyce Deatrick denied Friday that her candidacy amounts to retaliation against Miller.

“I don’t have any ax to grind,” she said. “I’m an active person and I want to stay involved in community service.”

She said several people encouraged her to pursue elected office as a way to keep a hand in county government when her husband leaves office after completing his second term this year. She said she decided that made sense.

Miller, who is completing a single term after being ousted in 2002, declined to speculate on why Joyce Deatrick would challenge him.

“I’m not going to sling any mud. I want to keep it positive,” Miller said. “I’m going to go out and work hard (to win) just like I always do.”

The winner of the District 3 Democratic primary will face Jim Klinstiver, a retired Indiana Department of Transportation project supervisor and a veteran appointee to the county’s Planning Commission. The Laconia resident is unopposed for the GOP nomination.

Darrin Deatrick, meantime, and Chief Deputy Auditor Heather Metcalf will vie for the Democratic nomination for auditor, with the winner to face Republican Karen Shireman Engleman, a former two-term auditor.

Darrin Deatrick said he has no quibbles with how current Auditor Patricia Wolfe has done her job, but he’s eager to serve and thought he could apply his skills as a former business owner to the position.

Photo of the Day: Billboard Message

Hat tip: Patriot Paul.

November Job Creation Numbers

November Job Creation Numbers

Senator Mellencamp

Senator Mellencamp

Friday, February 19, 2010

Democrats Trail Republicans in Senate Polling

Every Democrat trails every Republican in new Rasmussen polling:

A new Rasmussen Reports telephone survey of likely Indiana voters shows former GOP Congressman John Hostettler leading Baron Hill 49% to 31% and Brad Ellsworth 46% to 27%.

Former Senator Dan Coats, whose entry in the race has the blessing of the GOP establishment but has angered some Indiana Republicans, runs ahead of Hill 48% to 32% and ahead of Ellsworth 46% to 32%.

Another announced Republican hopeful, freshman state Senator Marlin Stutzman, leads Hill 41% to 33% and Ellsworth by a 40% to 30% margin.

In the six match-ups, five (5%) to nine percent (9%) prefer another candidate and anywhere from 14% to 21% are undecided.

Plus some interesting favorable numbers:

Thirteen percent (13%) of Indiana voters have a very favorable opinion of Hostettler, while six percent (6%) view him very unfavorably.

Coats is seen very favorably by 16% and very unfavorably by nine percent (9%).

For Stutzman, very favorables are 8% and very unfavorables are 6%.

Eight percent (8%) have a very favorable view of Hill, and 17% view him very unfavorably.

As for Ellsworth, he is viewed very favorably by 10% and very unfavorably by eight percent (8%).

Mitch Daniels still has a high approval rating:

Seventy percent (70%) approve of the job Republican Governor Mitch Daniels is doing, while 27% disapprove.

Obama, not so much:

Indiana was a surprise pick-up for Obama in the November 2008 election. He edged John McCain 50% to 49% in the state. But just 44% of voters in Indiana now approve of Obama’s job performance as president, including 19% who strongly approve. Fifty-four percent (54%) disapprove of the job the president is doing, with 43% who strongly disapprove.