Sunday, February 27, 2011

National Journal & American Conservative Union Rate Lugar 4th Most Liberal Republican Senator

That's right. Fourth most liberal Republican in the Senate during 2010.

Third if you exclude Ohio's then-retiring (now retired) George Voinovich.

National Journal scored Lugar as a 63.7 on their conservative scale. They scored the most liberal Republican (Voinovich) at 60.7.

The American Conservative Union scored Lugar as a 71. They scored the most liberal Republican (also Voinovich) at 63.

Lugar was also "beat out" for most liberal Republican senator by the ladies Snowe and Collins from Maine.

Scott Brown, who took Ted Kennedy's seat representing the People's Republic of Massachusetts, is rated as more conservative than Dick Lugar.

Lisa Murkowski, who was appointed to her seat by her father and was beaten in the Republican primary only to run as a write-in candidate, is rated as more conservative than Dick Lugar.

Bob Bennett of Utah, who lost a conservative convention floor challenge for being too liberal, was likewise rated as more conservative than Dick Lugar.

Orin Hatch, who is often spoken of alongside Lugar as a target for the Tea Party and conservatives in 2012, is rated as significantly more conservative than Dick Lugar.

Heck, John McCain was way more conservative than Lugar (he topped both the NJ and ACU ratings this year).

No wonder Dick Lugar is spoken of as Obama's favorite Republican.

Richard Mourdock's “Republican Rebellion” Faces Dick Lugar's Negative Campaign

The Journal Gazette reports on Richard Mourdock's Senate campaign announcement tour coming to Fort Wayne:

State Treasurer Richard Mourdock doubts his opposition to the auto industry bailout will hurt his U.S. Senate candidacy in Allen County, where General Motors Co. employs 3,800 people.

Mourdock pointed out Thursday that he received more votes than any other candidate in Indiana in the November election. And he was the top vote-getter in Allen County, a supporter noted.

Mourdock said his disdain for the federal government’s $80 billion in aid for GM and Chrysler was a matter of principle.

“The government more and more is picking and choosing winners and losers,” he complained at a news conference in Allen County Republican Party Headquarters in downtown Fort Wayne.

Mourdock this week announced he will challenge U.S. Sen. Richard Lugar, R-Ind., in the 2012 GOP primary election. As he did earlier, Mourdock on Thursday said Lugar’s positions on immigration, nuclear weapons reduction and federal funding for state projects mirrored those of President Obama and Democrats.

“There is something poisonous about the Potomac atmosphere, and I think by being there so long, Mr. Lugar is representing the values of Washington, D.C., more than he is representing Hoosier values,” Mourdock said.

Lugar has said he will seek a seventh six-year term in the Senate.

Mourdock noted that he has been endorsed by 68 of the state’s 92 Republican county chairmen. The rest, including Allen County GOP Chairman Steve Shine, will remain neutral in the primary, Mourdock said.

County Recorder John McGauley introduced Mourdock as “somebody I want to be like. This is somebody with a purity of heart and a purity of intention.”

McGauley had earlier told a reporter, “I’m not here because I’m anti-Lugar; I’m here because I’m pro-Mourdock.”

Mourdock disputed inferences that he is a tea party candidate, calling his campaign “a Republican rebellion of sorts.”

The article goes on to quote Lugar spokesperson Mark Helmke making a series of personal attacks against Richard Mourdock:

The Journal Gazette asked [Mourdock] about speculation that his campaign will make an issue of Lugar’s age – 78 currently – and that the Lugar campaign will make an issue of Mourdock’s lack of military experience.

The second-term treasurer said he is “stunned” that “anyone would question my love for country” and called it a “desperate” ploy that he had never seen in six elections.

He also said, “I’m not going to make Mr. Lugar’s age an issue at all.”

Helmke later said: “Lugar volunteered for the Navy while a Rhodes scholar. Mourdock apparently had reasons not to enlist during Vietnam when he came of age in Ohio.”

It's a particularly noxious, to say nothing of unusual, form of campaigning for Lugar's team to decide that the best ground for them to justify their candidate's reelection is over Richard Mourdock going to college during the Vietnam War forty plus years ago (you know, when Dick Lugar was about as old as Richard Mourdock is today).

Ronald Reagan made plenty of criticisms of Gerald Ford in 1976. His supposed clumsiness was not one of them. How Lugar's team expect to reelect their man by trampling over Reagan's 11th Commandment by making personal attacks on Richard Mourdock is beyond me.

Southern Indiana Perspective on Dem Walkout

The Courier-Journal's Lesley Stedman interviews southern Indiana freshman legislator Rhonda Rhoads about the progress of the current legislative session (and the Democrat walkout last week):

Newly elected state Rep. Rhonda Rhoads, R-Corydon, is in the midst of her first legislative session and now her first big standoff between Republicans and Democrats.

She’s not amused.

She said she wants lawmakers to act courteously, try to “be adults” and work together.

“As a kindergarten teacher, I think that’s commendable when adults can act like adults,” she said. “I’m just disappointed. That’s all.”

Boycotting Democrats are staying in a hotel in Illinois to protest labor and education bills they say will hurt workers and public education.

But Rhoads, a former Harrison County Council member, said the bills are actually meant to give Hoosiers more choices at work and school.

She said Democrats are just sore they lost control of the House and it’s time for them to return to the Statehouse and get to work.

Here’s what else Rhoads had to say about the boycott and some of the bills involved in the debate.

Question: This week, Democratic lawmakers fled the state in an attempt to try to kill some education and labor bills. What was your reaction to that move?

Answer: I think when you are elected to do a job, you do the job in the state where you were elected to do it in.

All the discussion and debate on these issues should be going on in committee and on the House floor.

Q: Were you surprised by the Democrats’ move?

A: I was surprised they went out of state.

Q: Are you surprised they’ve stayed away so long?

A: That doesn’t surprise me.

Q: When do you think they might come back?

A: You’ll have to ask them. I’m not a prognosticator.

Q: One of the bills they said prompted them to leave was the right-to-work legislation, which would have freed employees from paying dues or fees to unions they choose not to join, even if those groups represent them. The Democrats killed that bill. Did you support it?

A: I would have voted for it.

As a teacher, there was a time that the union wanted to do a closed shop. They wanted me to join a union and pay the dues, whether I wanted to be a member or not.

I don’t like my money being given to candidates that I don’t support, being given to ideas and philosophies I don’t support.

At this point, I think that people who need jobs should be able to work. They shouldn’t be told they have to sign up for a union contract so they can have their job. I just don’t think in a world of choices in America that’s the right thing to do.

Q: Another issue for Democrats is Gov. Mitch Daniels’ plan to create vouchers to send moderate- and low-income students to private schools. Do you support that idea?

A: I support children having lots of different options in their education, choice in where they go to school.

If that’s one way for some children to have a different educational opportunity that suits their needs, then I see nothing wrong with giving parents options — and that’s one of the options.

Q: Already this year, you voted for a bill that would expanded chart schools in Indiana. Why do you support that legislation?

A: Because it gives parents options for their children and their children’s education.

Choice is always important to parents. And parents pay tax money. The money would follow that child.

I’m hearing from parents that they would like to have choices and there’s nothing wrong with giving parents several options and letting them choose.

Q: The House also passed a bill that would ban smoking in most workplaces, including restaurants, although it exempts bars, private clubs and some other locations. How did you vote and why?

A: I voted against banning smoking.

I don’t go to places that have smoke. I don’t like to be around smoke. But any business that wants to can put a non-smoking sign up. I don’t like as a legislator to tell people that you as a business have to do what I tell you to do. Let them decide.

I’m one of these people who believes that Americans should have more freedom to do things, especially with their own businesses.

I will go to those places that don’t have smoke and eat. And I make that choice myself.

Q: This is your first year at the General Assembly, how is it different than what you were expecting?

A: I had no idea what to expect. I didn’t have any high expectations or low expectations.

It’s a very busy place. There’s a lot of information that comes quickly to you. Sometimes there’s an information overload and that’s why I like coming home on the weekend and having a chance for it to all settle in. It gives me a chance to read without distraction, gives me an opportunity to understand the process.

I’m enjoying learning the process. I want to make sure that when I go up (to Indianapolis), I am doing the work the people sent me up there to do. That means being in my seat when the roll is called every day.

20th Anniversary of the End of the Gulf War

I haven't seen this honored or acknowledged anywhere save in this post over at Red State.

In what may well be remembered as the high-water mark of the projection of American power and prestige, it was at Midnight on February 28, 1991 that President George H.W. Bush announced the suspension of combat operations, and an end of Operation Desert Storm. Gulf War One had come to a close.

This Sunday marks the 20th anniversary of that day.

To illustrate how far into the depth of national self-loathing and doubt we have descended, I would invite you, dear reader, to imagine Barack Obama standing humbly, yet resolutely and proud, in the Well of the House of Representatives, as President George Bush the Elder did one week later, on March 7th, and announce to the nation:

…We watched over our sons and daughters with pride, watched over them with prayer. As Commander in Chief, I can report to you that our Armed Forces fought with Honor and Valor, and as President, I can report to the nation that aggression is defeated, the war is over.”

It is difficult for me to ever imagine our first Post-Constitutional, Post-American president delivering a public utterance like this; one that mentioned Pride, Prayer, Honor and Valor in the context of victory over aggression. Oh, he might use the words , in a string of vacuous, empty and platitudinous homilies, in his ever-expansive desire to redound to himself the reflected glory of the hard toil and sacrifice of others, but Barack Obama would never, ever praise the stunning efforts of our military armed forces, and the iron willed strength of our warriors that lead, arrow-straight, to victory.

“Victory”, said President Barack Obama “is not a concept I’m comfortable with”.

Oh, what a winding and dark road we’ve trod these last twenty years, that have lead us to this, the Presidency of Barack Hussein Obama.

Read the whole thing.

Wisconsin Licensing Board Now Investigating Doctors for Phony Teacher Protest Sick Notes

Remember those doctors forging sick notes for protesters outside the Wisconsin state capitol?

The Wisconsin licensing board does:

Staff at the state Department of Regulation and Licensing have begun to review roughly 300 e-mail complaints about doctors issuing excuse notes for protesters at the state Capitol over the weekend, officials said Tuesday.

Complaints that name a specific doctor and the alleged violations of rules covered by their licenses will be forwarded to the Wisconsin Medical Examining Board. Letters specifying the complaint will be sent to the doctors at the start of the investigation. ….

Officials with the Madison and Milwaukee school districts also plan to scrutinize doctor’s notes presented to excuse absences during the protests. Because of the large number of teacher absences, Madison schools were closed for four days, and Milwaukee schools were closed for one.

Legislators Gone Wild

Control of Events

Stop Obama & His Union Bosses

Tourism Ad: Hideaway in Rockford, IL

Friday, February 25, 2011

Call the Hoosier Democrats in Illinois: Tell Them to Get Back to Work

That's right. Call them. Yourself.

Here's the number:

(217) 328-3500

That's the number for the Comfort Suites in Urbana, Illinois, where the Democrats are hiding out.

Here are the state representatives of the Democratic House Caucus (district number followed by name and city):

1. Linda Lawson (Hammond)
2. Earl Harris (East Chicago)
3. Charlie Brown (Gary)
5. Craig R. Fry (Mishawaka)
6. Pat Bauer (South Bend)
7. David L. Niezgodski (South Bend)
8. Ryan Dvorak (South Bend)
9. Scott Pelath (Michigan City)
10. Chuck Moseley (Portage)
11. Dan Stevenson (Highland)
12. Mara Candelaria Reardon (Munster)
13. Chet Dobis (Merrillville)
14. Vernon G. Smith (Gary)
17. Nancy Dembowski (Knox)
19. Shelli VanDenburgh (Crown Point)
25. Jeb Bardon (Indianapolis)
27. Sheila Klinker (Lafayette)
31. Joe Pearson (Hartford City)
36. Terri J. Austin (Anderson)
37. Scott Reske (Pendleton)
42. F. Dale Grubb (Covington)
43. Clyde Kersey (Terre Haute)
56. Phil Pflum (Milton)
60. Peggy Welch (Bloomington)
61. Matt Pierce (Bloomington)
64. Kreg Battles (Vincennes)
66. Terry Goodin (Austin)
69. Dave Cheatham (North Vernon)
71. Steven R. Stemler (Jeffersonville)
77. Gail Riecken (Evansville)
80. Phil GiaQuinta (Fort Wayne)
81. Win Moses (Fort Wayne)
86. Ed DeLaney (Indianapolis)
94. Cherrish Pryor (Indianapolis)
95. John L. Bartlett (Indianapolis)
96. Gregory W. Porter (Indianapolis)
97. Mary Ann Sullivan (Indianapolis)
98. Bill Crawford (Indianapolis)
99. Vanessa Summers (Indianapolis)
100. John J. Day (Indianapolis)

They're all there, save Steve Stemler (who stayed behind because he disagreed with the walkout). The Democrats are currently running a two-person rotation in Indianapolis to make and second motions on the House floor to cause procedural tangles (not that anything is happening anyway), so any given two of them might be in Indy when you call.

Call the above number (the hotel operator or front desk will answer) and ask to be connected to the room of one of the individuals listed above.

Be polite and friendly (we're supposed to be having a new tone of civility, remember), but call them late at night and all hours of the day.

After all, this isn't a vacation, right? They're supposed to be working.

Let the Democrats know that they should get back to work.

And share this information with your friends via email, Facebook, Twitter, or your own blogs and websites. The more calls we give them, the harder they'll have to work.

If you call and find out that one of them isn't staying there, let me know. They might not all be in Illinois as they claim. Some of them might be elsewhere (perhaps still within the state itself). If that's the case, it would be good to have that information.

Funding of Democrat Walkout May Violate State Lobbying Laws on Travel Expenses

Advance Indiana explains. It would be delightfully ironic if so.

The Turn of the Tide

Anyone doubting that the political ground has dramatically moved against the Democrats need only compare two editorials by the Indianapolis Star.

Tuesday:

Bauer and other House Democrats need to stop the games and return to work today. Bosma needs to set aside the right-to-work legislation so that more pressing work can proceed. And the entire General Assembly needs to finally concentrate on the complex fiscal, economic and educational challenges facing this state.

Thursday:

It becomes harder by the day to take Indiana House Democrats seriously.

First, they went on strike to protest legislation they didn't like -- the so-called right-to-work bill. Then they fled the state, holing up in an Urbana, Ill., hotel, where they continue to draw paychecks courtesy of Indiana taxpayers but do no real work.

And now, after Republicans gave in and agreed to pull the right-to- work legislation from the agenda, House Minority Leader Pat Bauer and his caucus have demanded that as many as 10 other bills be killed. Their demands are so absurd that they even included one bill that the General Assembly already has approved and sent to Gov. Mitch Daniels for his signature.

What's next? Asking Daniels to personally deliver room service?

Whatever arguments House Democrats had going for them, principally that Republicans had sprung the right-to-work legislation on Hoosiers by surprise, they've now squandered.

No matter how much they dislike charter school legislation, or the school voucher bill, or merit pay for teachers, Democrats can't honestly claim that Indiana voters didn't have the opportunity to weigh those issues before the November elections. The governor and Republican leaders in the General Assembly made clear the planks of their education reform platform well ahead of Election Day.

Voters rewarded the GOP with a landslide victory that included a supermajority in the state Senate and 60 seats in the House. Bauer, who decried the reform efforts, was resoundingly dumped as Speaker.

Now, after having been swept into a distinct minority in the Statehouse, those Democrats who remain in office are trying to block through childish antics what they couldn't win through democratic action.

After a tepid response Tuesday to Democrats' exodus to Illinois, a more animated Daniels vowed on Wednesday to call special sessions throughout the year and send the bills to Bauer if the walkout persists. "You don't walk off the job, take your public paycheck with you and bring the whole process to a screeching halt,'' Daniels said in a Statehouse press conference.

If Democrats don't return to work in the next day or two, when key legislative deadlines will expire, they will deserve even worse than a hefty bill for the time and money they've wasted. They also should be turned out of office en masse on Election Day 2012 as voters ensure that this type of fiasco doesn't happen again.

The Republicans dropped the right-to-work legislation, but that was only Bauer's token excuse for walking out. One need only read his preposterous list of "demands" to see that. And now, with his excuse gone, Bauer and his caucus are shown fully for the obstructionists that they are.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Quote of the Day: Rhonda on Losers

From Thursday's Courier-Journal article on the Democrat walk-out:

Rep. Rhonda Rhoads, a freshman Republican from Corydon, said the boycott was a result of Democrats' frustration that they lost control of the House in the November election.

“We've come up here to do the will of the people,” Rhoads said of Republicans. “The will of the minority is not the will of the people, evidently because they are in the minority. We all have to learn to accept things.”

Gizzi: Lugar in for “Fight of His Life”

Human Events' John Gizzi, a stalwart conservative but a clear-eyed reader of the political landscape, has been covering politics for many moons.

His judgment of the threat that Richard Mourdock presents to Richard Lugar is particularly bad news for our senior Senator:

Lugar Faces GOP Primary Fight of His Life

One of the two longest-serving Republican U.S. senators faces what is likely to be the stiffest primary challenge of his career—and promises to be one of the most-watched intra-party strikes against any Republican member of Congress in 2012.

In an exclusive interview with HUMAN EVENTS last week, Indiana State Treasurer Richard Mourdock made it clear he would take on the Hoosier State’s longtime Sen. Richard Lugar for renomination in the May primary next year. At 77 and after six terms in the Senate, this is the first substantive primary challenge Lugar will face since he won nomination to his first term over conservative former Gov. Richard Gov. Edgar Whitcomb back in 1976.

The contest will have national significance not just because of Lugar’s durability and reputation as a political power in Washington, or even because Mourdock is sure to have the backing of Indiana’s powerful Tea Party movement. Rather, the two-term treasurer’s challenge will also be watched nationwide because of Mourdock’s unusually strong backing among party regulars within the state GOP.

“Nearly three-fourths of the 92 Republican county chairmen in Indiana have given me their endorsement,” Mourdock told us, “and our two Republican National Committee members [James Bopp Jr. and DeDe Banke] are also in our camp.”

As to why Mourdock—three months after he won reelection, leading the statewide Republican ticket by about 110,000 votes—is taking on his state’s longest-serving U.S. senator, the conservative hopeful ticked off votes and actions by Lugar that have infuriated the party’s grassroots activists: being the first Republican senator to endorse Sonia Sotomayor for the Supreme Court, opposing the earmark ban, supporting "The DREAM Act" (which many conservatives charge benefits illegal immigration), and, most recently, his vote to ratify the controversial New START arms control treaty.

“And then there is the feeling that, after so many years as chairman or ranking Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Dick is more concerned with foreign policy than he is with Indiana, where our unemployment is now just about 10%,” said Mourdock. “In fact, a lot of us expected him to be named secretary of state by now.”

Mourdock is a familiar figure with HUMAN EVENTS readers, going back to his two close-but-losing races for Congress in the 8th District against the late Rep. Frank McCloskey in 1990 and ’92. The geologist also lost a nomination bid to current Rep. Todd Rokita for Indiana secretary of state in ’02, but rebounded in ’04 to win his present office. In ’09, Mourdock launched a much-publicized (but eventually unsuccessful) lawsuit to stop the Obama administration’s auto bailout.

As to whether national conservative groups will make the Mourdock campaign a top priority, the challenger told us that he's had “some very good meetings” with groups in Washington, including the Club for Growth and FreedomWorks.

As pundits and prognosticators begin to focus on Mourdock vs. Lugar, the obvious question is whether the veteran senator, like Utah’s Bob Bennett last year, has been away from Republican activists so long as to have lost touch.

“You’re asking the wrong guy,” Mourdock said with a laugh, “but there was an article in the Evansville Courier after [Lugar] had a fund-raising event in which it was pointed out that this was the first time he had been in Evansville in four-and-a-half years. That speaks volumes."

Re-read that last paragraph:

“...there was an article in the Evansville Courier after [Lugar] had a fund-raising event in which it was pointed out that this was the first time he had been in Evansville in four-and-a-half years. That speaks volumes."

Dick Lugar went almost five years without visiting the third largest city in the state of Indiana, and even then only went there for a fundraiser.

That alone should be enough reason to send him packing, let alone everything else.

Even THIS Guy!

Democrat Hack to Indy Mayor Ballard: Damn You, Be More Like Obama!

Seriously.

(Maybe she means be politically hated by Hoosiers, like Obama, but I doubt it.)

Random Thought

Dan Coats, though just sent back to Washington, was this week at a local Republican Party event in Clark County.

When was the last time that Dick Lugar was at a Republican Party event anywhere?

Must Read on Chris Christie

It's not often that anything from the New York Times is "must read" in my opinion, but this profile of New Jersey governor Chris Christie is topical, interesting, and (surprisingly) generally absent of the usual expected bias.

It's even entertaining (as Christie often is):

While Christie has flatly ruled out a presidential run in 2012, there is enough conjecture about the possibility that I felt moved to ask him a few weeks ago if he found it exhausting to have to constantly answer the same question. “Listen, if you’re going to say you’re exhausted by that, you’re really taking yourself too seriously,” Christie told me, then broke into his imitation of a politician who is taking himself too seriously. “ ‘Oh, Matt, please, stop asking me about whether I should be president of the United States! The leader of the free world! Please stop! I’m exhausted by the question!’ I mean, come on. If I get to that point, just slap me around, because that’s really presumptuous. What it is to me is astonishing, not exhausting.”

And despite that flat refusal to run for president, his chief political advisor is considering the creation of a federal political action committee for Christie that could form the nucleus of a presidential campaign.

Bridge Tolling Bill Heads to House

Another good idea from Indianapolis.

From the Indy Star:

The state could proceed with tolling for the Ohio River bridges and other projects without approval from the General Assembly under legislation passed Tuesday by the Indiana Senate.

Instead, the five-member State Budget Committee — which is currently controlled by Republicans — would have to review and approve any tolling deal.

Tolling “is the only way a project like the Ohio River bridges could be done,” said the bill's author, Sen. Tom Wyss, R-Fort Wayne.

The bill passed 37-12, with Sen. Ron Grooms, R-Jeffersonville, voting yes and Sens. Jim Smith, R-Charlestown, and Richard Young, D-Milltown, voting no.

Senate Bill 473 temporarily waives a state law that requires legislative approval for the Indiana Department of Transportation to enter into public-private agreements for transportation projects and create toll-based projects. The waiver would last through 2015.

The Face of the Democratic Party

Democrats Hard at Work


I just love the price tag sticking out of Bauer's head rug. It never gets old.

The Hair In Hand

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Oh Boy: Lefty Website Ponders Lugar Party Switch

Gee, that was fast.

And it worked so well for Arlen Specter (a similarly "senior" and "moderate" senator) this past election cycle that, sure, Dick Lugar might see nothing wrong with marching to a similar tune.

Salon.com:

It's been clear since last November, when Republicans posted a six-seat gain in the upper chamber, that the Democrats' Senate majority would be in grave danger in 2012, simply because the party will be defending 23 of the 33 seats that will be up. And that was before the news that North Dakota's Kent Conrad, Virginia's Jim Webb and New Mexico's Jeff Bingaman would all be stepping down, developments that have all further complicated the party's '12 math. (It's also not even mentioning the awful poll numbers that Ben Nelson continues to face in red state Nebraska, where it's looking more and more like he'll be the Blanche Lincoln of '12.)

Against this backdrop, the latest developments in Indiana, where Tea Party activists are aggressively targeting Republican Senator Richard Lugar, would seem to offer an invaluable and unexpected opportunity to Democrats.

Later today, Richard Mourdock, the state's Republican treasurer, is set to formally announce his challenge to Lugar in the '12 primary. And he will apparently enter the race with the support of a majority of the state's GOP county chairmen and members of the state party's executive committee. It's no secret that conservatives in Indiana have been planning to take on Lugar in '12; what's startling is that speed at which Mourdock has been able to corral so much support. This has the feel of an "emperor has no clothes" moment for Lugar -- something that will encourage other party leaders, activists and voters not to be intimidated by his 35 years in the Senate and by the immense respect he enjoys in Washington. In other words, it's not hard to see this getting worse -- a lot worse -- for Lugar between now and May '12.

The opportunity for Democrats is obvious, and it's apparently already being talked about in Indiana: Convince Lugar to switch parties and run for reelection on the Democratic line next year.

True, Lugar is still generally a reliable Republican vote in the Senate, despite the Tea Party's anger with him. He broke with the GOP on the Dream Act and on the new Start Treaty last December, but he was just as opposed to the stimulus and to healthcare reform as any Republican. Of course, the simple fact that the GOP base is turning on him so aggressively probably makes Lugar more popular with Democrats. And when he last ran for reelection (in the very anti-Republican year of 2006), Indiana Democrats didn't even challenge him, with the state Democratic chairman explaining that "Richard Lugar is beloved not only by Republicans, but by independents and Democrats."

It's an open question, of course, whether Lugar would be receptive to the idea of switching. Maybe he's convinced that he'll survive the GOP primary despite the ominous signs; or maybe he's content to let the primary electorate of the party he's belonged to for his whole life decide his fate next year, even if it means forced retirement. One of the chief knocks on Arlen Specter when he switched parties in 2009 was how desperate and calculating he looked; maybe Lugar wants to avoid this.

And it's an open question whether Democratic leaders, in Washington and Indiana, will actually pursue him -- and whether Democratic voters would play along if they did. Specter, after all, flipped parties only with assurances from the White House and top Pennsylvania Democrats that they'd stand with him and chase away potential Democratic primary challengers. But that didn't stop Rep. Joe Sestak from entering the race and knocking off Specter in the May 2010 primary.

You could make a case that Lugar wouldn't be as vulnerable in a primary as Specter, given that Specter's combative personality and periodic grandstanding for the right (remember Anita Hill?) had made him many Democratic enemies over the years. It might be easier for Indiana Democrats to forgive and forget Lugar's Republican past, simply because his personal style is so much more agreeable. Still, Sestak's primary success showed the clear limits of the power of the Democratic "establishment" to dictate primary outcomes.

If Mourdock continues to make waves on the GOP side, Democrats will soon have to make a simple calculation: Do they have a candidate in their ranks who could realistically defeat Mourdock -- who won the treasurer's race last year with 62 percent of the vote -- in November 2012? If the answer is "yes," then they should sit back and enjoy the GOP primary fight, hoping it gets ugly and divisive enough to boost their own general election candidate. But if the answer is "no," then they should reach out to Lugar now.

A pick-up of a Senate seat in Indiana next year could potentially keep Democrats at or above 50 seats. The prospect of this hasn't been on anyone's radar, though -- until now.

Ponder that, for a moment.

They seriously think that the key to the Democrats holding onto their Senate majority after 2012 rests with Dick Lugar switching parties. Wow.

Quick Senate Race Roundup

Cleaning out my "stack of stuff" when it comes to stories about the Senate race.

Lots of national coverage.

The Weekly Standard covers Lugar going from Nixon's favorite mayor to Obama's favorite Republican:

Back when he was running for president, Barack Obama cited his relationship with Senator Richard Lugar so often that Lugar came to be known in the political press as “Obama’s favorite Republican.” Photos of Lugar even appeared in campaign ads that helped Obama (narrowly) carry Indiana.

After the election, the relationship continued to bear fruit for the White House. Lugar was one of the first Republican senators to endorse the president’s choice of Sonia Sotomayor for the Supreme Court. Lugar was one of only five Senate Republicans to vote to confirm Elena Kagan.

And at the White House press conference called in December to celebrate Senate ratification of the START treaty, Obama explained, “I just got off the phone with Dick Lugar .  .  . and I told him how much I appreciated the work he had done.”

...

Ultimately, however, it may be the words of Barack Obama that will give Lugar the most trouble back home. It puzzles political observers that Lugar allowed himself to be placed in this predicament—though it does echo the problems he had 40 years back as mayor of Indianapolis when networks dubbed him Richard Nixon’s favorite mayor.

Over the years the Almanac of American Politics has paid tribute to Lugar, a one-time Rhodes scholar, for his “considerable intellect” and his “powerful voice” in foreign policy. But you also find in the Almanac a recurring theme: Lugar’s career has been marred by political “disappointments.”

The 1994 Almanac explained:

In 1984, he ran to succeed his friend Howard Baker as Senate majority leader, and finished third behind Bob Dole and Ted Stevens. In 1986, he was elbowed aside in Foreign Relations by [Jesse] Helms, and in August 1988, George Bush picked—instead of Lugar—a junior and less experienced colleague, Dan Quayle, to be his vice president.

Two years later the Almanac notes that Lugar ran for president, finishing seventh in the GOP primary in Iowa and fifth in New Hampshire before quietly dropping out.

It could be that this history made Lugar vulnerable to Obama’s self-serving adoration. Indeed, if Lugar does stay in the 2012 Republican Senate primary, the list of disappointments may get a little longer.

The Washington Post:

Indiana state Treasurer Richard Mourdock will launch his primary challenge to Sen. Richard Lugar (R-Ind.) on Tuesday with the support of a majority of both the state's 92 Republican county chairmen and its state party executive committee, he told the Fix in a recent interview.

"I feel bad that he's going to be humiliated by this list," Mourdock said.

Mourdock added that he believes Gov. Mitch Daniels (R) and Rep. Mike Pence (R), the party's two leading figures in the Hoosier State, are going to stay neutral in the primary -- though Daniels, who was Lugar's campaign manager three different times, has already committed to voting for the senator.

That such a large contingent of the party establishment should come out against or withhold support from an incumbent senator is highly unusual and reflects the difficult path ahead for Lugar in advance of the May 8, 2012, primary fight. It also suggests there is a clear path to victory for Mourdock.

Mourdock will officially launch his campaign with a six-city tour.

He said that running for Senate is not necessarily anything that he wanted to do or planned to do, but that he felt he needed to. "I'm the best-poised person in Indiana to do it right now," Mourdock said. "I kind of wish somebody else was, but I'm it."

In launching his campaign, Mourdock becomes the latest conservative primary candidate to run against a Republican incumbent. Last cycle, three incumbent senators lost renomination; two of them lost to tea party-backed candidates.

But Mourdock is clear on one thing: he is not running as a tea party candidate. While he welcomes the support of tea party groups and says he expects them to coalesce around his campaign, he recognizes the limitations of being defined as a tea party candidate.

"Mr. Lugar will try to paint me that way, because he's speaking very demeaningly about the tea party right now," Mourdock said. "I think he's doing it that way to set it up and say, 'Mourdock is some wild-eyed extremist.'"

Mourdock is not the only candidate being mentioned as a challenger to Lugar, but he said he expects to be the only major opponent when all is said and done.

He said a number of candidates who have been mentioned -- state Rep. Jackie Walorski and 2010 Senate candidate Don Bates among them -- have told him they will not run. He has also been talking to state Sen. Mike Delph, who hasn't ruled out a run.

But Mourdock said he and Delph have spoken and reached an understanding that they won't split the anti-Lugar vote. After all, it's happened before; when they both ran for secretary of state at the 2002 state party convention, they split the conservative vote and allowed a more moderate candidate -- now-Rep. Todd Rokita -- to win the nomination.

"I said, 'Remember Mike, there were four people running, and we split the vote. We know how this movie ends.' And he agreed," Mourdock said. "I think that will shake out sooner rather than later."

Mourdock, as a statewide officeholder, brings significant experience to the race, and he won a second term as treasurer in November with more than 62 percent of the vote. But the knock on him is that he's run for office many times -- and hasn't always won, including losses for Congress and secretary of state.

Mourdock notes that he comes from Democratic-leaning Vanderburgh County (home to Evansville and former Rep. Brad Ellsworth) and that he won two terms on the county commission there.

He also recognizes that this race is on a new scale, and he estimates he'll need $3 million for the primary, money he expects to be able to raise due to the national interest in the race.

That national interest has a lot to do with Lugar's recent voting record, including supporting the START Treaty, opposing an earmark ban and voting for both of President Obama's nominees to the Supreme Court.

A poll conducted for Mourdock in early January showed plenty of Indiana Republicans are willing to vote for another candidate, and as we've discussed before, Lugar has been doing little to give them a reason to keep supporting him.

Mourdock expects to get a big boost from his announcement Tuesday.

"The headline isn't going to be, 'Tea party candidate to take on Dick Lugar;' it's going to be, 'GOP grassroots dumps Lugar,'" Mourdock said. "There is tremendous unrest and tremendous dissatisfaction, and that's what got me in this race."

Interesting to note the Post's reportage on Mourdock talking with Delph, and their agreement to not split the conservative vote as they did at the convention in 2002.

Obama Can Count on Lugar, Can We?

The opening salvo from Richard Mourdock.

Lugargeddon: Text of Richard Mourdock's Announcement Speech in Indy

From his website.

It's a great speech. The sort of thing you'd expect from Richard Mourdock, really.

Click below for the full text.

Lugargeddon: It's Time

From the email bag:

Dick Lugar used to be OUR US Senator. Now, according to MSNBC, Lugar is “Barack Obama’s Favorite Republican.” Why?

- Dick Lugar voted for Obama’s liberal supreme court nominees – Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan

- Senator Dick Lugar appeared in a 2008 Obama campaign commercial

- Lugar co-sponsored Obama’s DREAM Act that would provide amnesty for illegal immigrants

- Lugar recently expressed support for banning legal firearms in response to the shooting in Tucson

- Dick Lugar voted against earmark reform

- Dick Lugar helped ram the START Treaty through the lame duck session so that newly elected Republican senators couldn't even consider it

Simply put, Obama loves having Republican Senator Dick Lugar on his side.

But we Republicans in Indiana need someone who will speak for us. Not Barack Obama. That’s why, after much consideration, I’ve decided to challenge Dick Lugar in the Republican Primary for US Senate.

After 35 years in Washington, Dick Lugar has forgotten what it means to be a Republican. But we haven't.

You know, President Obama once said that Dick Lugar was among those “who have shaped my ideas and who will be surrounding me in the White House.”

But, instead, it appears that Obama has shaped Lugar.

To turn our country around, we need fresh ideas from new leaders who hold conservative principles. As Indiana State Treasurer, I single-handedly challenged the Obama Administration’s illegal bailout and takeover of Chrysler. I took this case all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court on behalf of Indiana pensioners and all the while, Dick Lugar never once protested the fact that Indiana's teachers and State Police officers were having their pensions funds looted.

I will stand up for hard-working citizens, unlike the bureaucrats that are in Washington now.

Folks, it’s time. It's our time to be heard and so I humbly ask for your support.

Sincerely,

Richard Mourdock
Indiana Republican US Senate Candidate

P.S. I’ll be traveling the state in the next 14 months before the May Primary to meet every Republican Primary voter I can. I’d love to meet you face to face. Make sure you watch my website for upcoming events.

Indiana House Democrats Run Away; Mitch Daniels Runs with Them

They don't want to vote on right-to-work legislation:

Seats on one side of the Indiana House were nearly empty today as House Democrats departed the the state rather than vote on anti-union legislation.

A source tells the Indianapolis Star that Democrats are headed to Illinois, though it was possible some also might go to Kentucky. They need to go to a state with a Democratic governor to avoid being taken into police custody and returned to Indiana.

The House came into session twice this morning, with only three of the 40 Democrats present. Those were needed to make a motion, and a seconding motion, for any procedural steps Democrats would want to take to ensure Republicans don’t do anything official without quorum.

With only 58 legislators present, there was no quorum present to do business. The House needs 67 of its members to be present.

House Speaker Brian Bosma said he did not know yet whether he would ask the Indiana State Police to compel the lawmakers to attend, if they can be found.

Today’s fight was triggered by Republicans pushing a bill that would bar unions and companies from negotiating a contract that requires non-union members to kick-in fees for representation. It’s become the latest in what is becoming a national fight over Republican attempts to eliminate or limit collective bargaining.

And, it seems, Mitch Daniels doesn't want them to vote on it either:

Gov. Mitch Daniels signaled this afternoon that Republicans should to drop the right-to-work bill that has brought the Indiana House to a standstill for two days and imperiled other measures.

Daniels told reporters this afternoon that he expects House Democrats will return to work if the bill dies. It would be unfortunate if other bills are caught up in the turmoil, he said.

He will not send out state police to corral the Democrats, the Republican governor said.

The Democrat minority has right to express its views, he added.

The governor clung to his view that this is not the year to tackle right to work.

National Review's Jim Geraghty is disappointed; I don't know why on earth he should be surprised.

Color me extremely disappointed with Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels right now...

If the Indiana House Democrats get what they want through this tactic, what’s to prevent them from using it again and again every time they think they’ll lose on a big issue?

I had been open-minded about Daniels’ “truce” talk — no matter how much a Republican presidential candidate talks about the importance of social issues, 75 to 90 percent of the president’s time from January 2013 to 2017 will be spent on economic and fiscal crises and managing a dangerous and rapidly changing world. But a concession to Democrats on major reforms like these will spur a lot of talk about Daniels’ toughness, or whether he’s too conciliatory to an opposition that has gone completely off the rails, or more accurately, out of the state….

UPDATE: Fairly or not, many readers are interpreting this news as a sign that A) Mitch Daniels doesn’t want to run for president or B) he isn’t running for president.

I also want to note that the Indiana Constitution is crystal clear on this. It speaks for itself. Mitch Daniels doesn't have the power to call out the State Police on the missing Indiana Democrat House representatives. The Constitution gives that authority to the majority of the House. They, and they alone, can compel the attendance of their membership.

Not the Governor. The House. Mitch saying he won't call out the state police doesn't mean jack, since he doesn't have the authority.

Article 4 Section 11 - Indiana Constitution

Two-thirds of each House shall constitute a quorum to do business; but a smaller number may meet, adjourn from day to day, and compel the attendance of absent members. A quorum being in attendance, if either House fail to effect an organization within the first five days thereafter, the members of the House so failing, shall be entitled to no compensation, from the end of the said five days until an organization shall have been effected.

Ace of Spades adds:

Remember when Obama said you don't deal with hostage takers unless they are going to hurt the hostages? Well, Indiana Democrats took the state's democracy hostage and Daniels just said, "Hey please come back an hurt the hostages (the state's taxpayers) some more".

Absolutely pathetic. He just told them they now have a veto over everything he wants to get done.

I don't see what Mitch Daniels thinks he has to gain out of this. Does he really think that, having proven the efficacy of the walk-out strategy, that Pat Bauer won't do the same thing again on other issues similarly threatening to core Democratic constituencies, things like education reform (which happens to be very dear to the heart of the Governor)?

Lugar Opposes House Spending Bill

It's not clear what his objections to it are.

Apparently, he doesn't have a problem with the $61 billion in spending cuts (that number "seems like a reasonable figure" to him; most conservatives think that amount of cutting is insufficient).

He doesn't say it needs to cut more, or cut less. He just objects to it.

And, get this, he says that he wants Obama to show leadership and tell everyone what to do.

Obama hasn't shown leadership on spending since taking office; I don't know why Lugar should think he's going to start now.

The Hill:

A senior Senate Republican on Sunday rejected the spending bill approved by House Republicans on Saturday.

Sen. Richard Lugar (R-Ind.) said the size of the $61 billion in cuts proposed by the House is "reasonable," but he wouldn't support the bill as it stands.

"I would not support the entirety of the House bill," Lugar said Sunday morning on CNN's "State of the Union."

Lugar didn't specify his concerns with the proposal, clarifying that the $61 billion in spending cuts approved by House Republicans "seems like a reasonable figure."

"We are spending money that we do not have," he told Candy Crowley.

Still, Lugar's opposition to the current proposal is indication that it's not only Democrats who are eying changes to the proposal as it makes its way over to the upper chamber.

Lugar called on President Obama to call a meeting with leaders from both chambers in order "to indicate the gravity of the problem of the government shutting down," while also "producing a formula" forcing the Senate to move quickly on the issue when lawmakers return.

"The Senate usually doesn't act in four days of time on complex issues – absolutely no possibility," Lugar said. "This is the time for presidential leadership."

Ellsworth Not Running for Anything in 2012

Nothing. Not Senator. Not Governor. Not Congressman.

Brad the Beautiful isn't going to grace us with his... uh... beauty anymore.

“I will not be a candidate for any office in 2012,” he told the Courier & Press. Though he did not elaborate on his plans, he said he intends to pursue other opportunities.

After developing a statewide profile in his failed 2010 Senate bid, Ellsworth was often mentioned as a possible contender as Democrats sifted through their options for the 2012 races for governor and Senate.

Have heart, Democrats!

John Gregg is here to save you. He will ride to your rescue on his mighty horses of being a lobbyist and a stalwart advocate of lifetime health care for state legislators (to say nothing of the deficit he saddled the state with when he was in charge).

Former Indiana House Speaker John Gregg said the impact on his family is the biggest factor he's weighing as he gives "serious thought" to seeking the Democratic nomination for governor next year, a report Monday said.

But, But, They're Entitled!

“This Is as Fast as a Prius Goes!”

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Hoosier Democrats Continue to Run Away from Running for Governor of Indiana

First Evan Bayh ran away, again.

Then Baron Hill bowed out.

Now Evansville Mayor Jonathan "Stealth Tax Hike" Weinzapfel has decided that discretion is the better part of valor:

Evansville Mayor Jonathan Weinzapfel has confirm what we first reported here yesterday. He will not run for governor. Here is a portion of the statement:

“Some might find this hard to believe, but one of the benefits of serving as Mayor is that I can do my job and still have time to enjoy my children, watch them grow up and participate in their lives in a meaningful way. I’m not ready to give that up. And it’s become clear to me that running for Governor would force me to choose between politics and my family. And frankly, that’s an easy choice for me, I choose my family. And so, I’m announcing today that I will not be a candidate for Governor in 2012.”

Who's left?

Former House Speaker John Gregg? He's a lobbyist, was the architect (along with Bob Garton) of lifetime health care for legislators, and presided over the largest budget shortfalls (and biggest budget gimmicks to paper over them) in state history.

Lake County Sheriff Roy Dominguez? Sheriff of Lake County? Now there's an oxymoron.

Hammond Mayor Tom McDermott? Not after his embarrassing phone call to Sheriff Roy when a political ally got arrested.

Joe Donnelly? Well, his 2nd District is probably going to be drawn to be particularly unfriendly to Congressional candidates of the Democratic variety, so you never can tell.

Brad Ellsworth? Fifteen point trouncing last year. Please, sir, can we have some more?

It's a vexing problem for Indiana Democrats, and not a new one. In 2008, a good year to run as a Democrat, the best they could do were an insincere architect that built overpriced schools and a very liberal former Congresswoman.

Lugargeddon: Spokesperson Admits Lugar Lives in Hotel Whenever He Visits Indiana

First it came out that Lugar drives a Prius.

Now we learn that he "lives" (stays, really) in a hotel whenever he visits Indiana.

Real Clear Politics (a national site, no less):

Indiana Republican Sen. Richard Lugar has been preparing for an intra-party challenge since he was first elected, but recently, questions have popped up about his residency and commitment to Indiana.

Asked if Lugar lived in a hotel when he returned to Indiana, Lugar senior adviser Mark Helmke said, "That's correct."

Lugar owns a farm in the Hoosier State that he's been tending for decades. His siblings own parts of the farm, but he still works on it once a month with his son, even though he doesn't live there.

As for the living conditions on the farm, Helmke joked, "The place is pretty rustic."

Asked how Lugar's team would respond if challenged about his residency, Helmke shot back, "We'll be happy to talk about the farm."

"It's not an issue. They can try to make it an issue. We'll be happy to talk about the farm and what it means to him," Helmke said.

This is harmful and politically damaging to Lugar on many levels.

First of all comes the obvious, namely the admission that he stays in a hotel whenever he visits Indiana.

Second is the joking dismissal of the very idea that Dick Lugar, who has always used this very farm as a campaign prop, would actually live there.

The farm must not mean a whole lot to Dick Lugar. He doesn't live there. Lots of Hoosiers live on farms. The "rustic" conditions don't seem to bother them. And it stands to reason that if Lugar spent all that much time on the farm, he'd have done some improvements to it to make his time there more pleasant (he's been paid an awful lot for an awful long time as a United States Senator; he's not wanting for money to pay for a little fixer-upper on the family farm).

Thirdly, as attorney Paul Ogden notes, this raises an interesting question about Dick Lugar's legal place of residence given the admission that he doesn't live on the farm (though he votes from there). It's a "Charlie White problem", if you will:

Lugar can claim to be a resident of Indiana by staying in a hotel in Indiana when he returns to the state. That would make him eligible to serve as a U.S. Senator from Indiana. The problem though is when he votes as all elected officials do without fail. If Lugar is voting in Indiana using his farm as his address, when it is undisputed that he is not living there, he has committed a Class D felony under IC 3-14-2-11.

Ouch.

The Wall Street Journal on “Mad Town”

Given what's going on on Madison, Wisconsin, the name is perhaps singularly fitting.

The article:

"These folks are teachers, and they're firefighters and they're social workers and they're police officers," [Obama] said, "and it's important not to vilify them." Mr. Obama is right that he knows nothing about the bill because it explicitly excludes police and firefighters. We'd have thought the President had enough to think about with his own $1.65 trillion deficit proposal going down with a thud in Congress, but it appears that the 2012 campaign is already underway.

The unions and their Democratic friends have also been rolling out their Hitler, Soviet Union and Hosni Mubarak analogies. "The story around the world is the rush to democracy," offered Democratic State Senator Bob Jauch. "The story in Wisconsin is the end of the democratic process."

The reality is that the unions are trying to trump the will of the voters as overwhelmingly rendered in November when they elected Mr. Walker and a new legislature. As with the strikes against pension or labor reforms that routinely shut down Paris or Athens, the goal is to create enough mayhem that Republicans and voters will give up.

While Republicans now have the votes to pass the bill, on Thursday Big Labor's Democratic allies walked out of the state senate to block a vote. Under state rules, 20 members of the 33-member senate must be present to hold a vote on an appropriations bill, leaving the 19 Republicans one member short. By the end of the day some Democrats were reported to have fled the state. So who's really trying to short-circuit democracy?

Unions are treating these reforms as Armageddon because they've owned the Wisconsin legislature for years and the changes would reduce their dominance. Under Governor Walker's proposal, the government also would no longer collect union dues from paychecks and then send that money to the unions. Instead, unions would be responsible for their own collection regimes. The bill would also require unions to be recertified annually by a majority of all members. Imagine that: More accountability inside unions.

The larger reality is that collective bargaining for government workers is not a God-given or constitutional right. It is the result of the growing union dominance inside the Democratic Party during the middle of the last century. John Kennedy only granted it to federal workers in 1962 and Jerry Brown to California workers in 1978. Other states, including Indiana and Missouri, have taken away collective bargaining rights for public employees in recent years, and some 24 states have either limited it or banned it outright.

And for good reason. Public unions have a monopoly position that gives them undue bargaining power. Their campaign cash—collected via mandatory dues—also helps to elect the politicians who are then supposed to represent taxpayers in negotiations with those same unions. The unions sit, in effect, on both sides of the bargaining table. This is why such famous political friends of the working man as Franklin Roosevelt and Fiorello La Guardia opposed collective bargaining for government workers, even as they championed private unions.

The battle of Mad Town is a seminal showdown over whether government union power can be tamed, and overall government reined in. The alternative is higher taxes until the middle class is picked clean and the U.S. economy is no longer competitive. Voters said in November that they want reform, and Mr. Walker is trying to deliver. We hope Republicans hold firm, and that the people of Wisconsin understand that this battle is ultimately about their right to self-government.

Former AG Steve Carter on Obamacare

From the email bag (and reposted here with permission) comes this note from former Indiana Attorney General Steve Carter, sent to "Republican leaders" across the state.

It's a very concise and thoughtful distillation of the legal situation with regard to Obamacare.

On the health care front, a lot has been going on. We both know it’s an important issue for our families and in each of our communities in Indiana. Some of the most recent action has been in the courts. I will try to avoid “legalese”, but thought it might be useful to share information, and some opinion, with you on the status of Obamacare.

Two weeks ago, there was an important ruling from the federal trial court in the northern district of Florida. The federal judge found the Obamacare legislation passed last year to be unconstitutional. Specifically, the judge found the individual mandate (this is the requirement set to kick in 2014 that would force you to buy government approved insurance) along with the financial penalty for noncompliance, to be unconstitutional. He also struck down, not just the individual mandate section, but the entire 2,700 pages of the Obamacare law.

As you know, the founders limited the power of the federal government. Article I of the Constitution sets out the specific powers granted to the federal government. The 10th Amendment leaves all powers not granted to the federal government to the states and the people. What this means is that the states have the authority to require their citizens buy auto insurance if they want to drive on the roadways of that state. The federal government does not.

Congress has often justified laws regulating various activities within our economy by citing the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution. Over the years the courts have expanded upon earlier interpretations of the limits of the Commerce Clause authority. Obamacare, though, goes a step further and attempts to regulate and penalize inactivity – the decision not to buy health insurance. Section 1501 reads in part “If an applicable individual fails to [buy health insurance], there is legally imposed a penalty.”

The federal judge in the Florida case wrote, “It would be a radical departure from existing case law to hold that Congress can regulate inactivity under the Commerce Clause. If it has the power to compel an otherwise passive individual into a commercial transaction with a third party...it is not hyperbolizing to suggest that Congress could do almost anything it wanted. It’s difficult to imagine that a nation which began, at least in part, as the result of opposition to a British mandate giving the East India Company a monopoly and imposing a nominal tax on all tea sold in America would have set out to create a government with the power to force people to buy tea in the first place. If Congress can penalize a passive individual for failing to engage in commerce, the enumeration of powers in the Constitution would have been in vain for it would be ‘difficult to perceive any limitation on federal power’ and we would have a Constitution in name only.”

Under the Articles of Confederation that preceded our Constitution, states had set up trade restrictions and barriers. The Commerce Clause was designed to let Congress regulate the trade between the states. Obamacare goes way beyond that in attempting to regulate individual health care coverage from Washington D.C. In other cases, our courts have warned against such expansion...“the power granted by the Clause is necessarily ‘subject to outer limits’ which if not recognized and respected could lead to federal action that would ‘effectively obliterate the distinction between what is national and what is local and create a completely centralized government’.”

So while this decision will be appealed by the Obama administration, it is a victory for the 26 states (including Indiana) that are challenging the individual mandate. Previously, federal judges in Virginia (Western District) and Michigan (Eastern District) have upheld the law while another Virginia (Eastern District) judge found the law to be unconstitutional. When you have split decisions in the federal judiciary as in this matter, the next level of review is the courts of appeal, then it will likely go to the U.S. Supreme Court.

We have seen increased intervention by the national government over the last few years in the private sector – banking, insurance, auto, and healthcare. Where will it end? Hopefully this recent court decision is a step in the right direction. With help from the Republicans you worked hard to elect and represent us in the Congress, and further favorable court rulings, we can return the federal government to its proper role.

A few words from a U.S. Supreme Court decision of a few years ago seems especially true today:

“But the Constitution protects us from our own best intentions: It divides power among sovereigns and among branches of government precisely so that we may resist the temptation to concentrate power in one location as an expedient solution to the crisis of the day... [A] judiciary that licensed extra-constitutional government with each issue of comparable gravity would, in the long run, be far worse than the crisis itself.”

In addition to our liberty, jobs are threatened based upon Congressional testimony last week. The Congressional Budget Office offered a report in the House Budget Committee that Obamacare would reduce employment by 800,000 jobs by 2021.

I know my note to you is more lengthy than standard talking points, but I thought you deserved a little more detail than media reports you may have seen over the past few days. Also, my concern about preserving individual liberty is great. If the federal government can force each of us to buy a commercial product (health insurance), what else can it force us to do?

Yours in support of constitutional government,

Steve Carter

Right now, of course, Carter's handpicked replacement and former deputy Greg Zoeller (Indiana's current attorney general) is involved in the lawsuit to have the law determined as unconstitutional.

Carter's name has been floated as a possible candidate for governor.

Wisconsin Roundup

A pithy observation from Red State:

As it stands, the moment those Democratic Senators walk through the door the state legislature can get on with making the “financial aspects” AND reforming collective bargaining practices. Why on earth would there be any further discussion on this issue? The relevant conversation took place last November.

Doctors aiding and abetting fraud by signing fake sick notes for teachers:



More on that from ABC News.

A doctor helpfully explains how it works:



"Now we're cookin'." Wow. Just, wow.

Power Line has a handy (and short) summary of what the proposed Wisconsin legislation will actually do:

Here's what Governor Walker's Budget Repair Bill that they're so angry about actually does:

- Ask government workers to pay half the cost of their pensions - still less than private employees pay for their pensions

- Ask government workers to pay 12% of their own health insurance premiums - the national average for the private sector is over 20%

- End collective bargaining for government unions for pensions and benefits. Allow bargaining only for raises that are less than inflation.

- End forced union dues, collected by the state. Union dues would become voluntary.

- Union members get to vote yearly on whether to keep their union.

Power Line also has a roundup of photos of the pro-democracy protests that were held to counter the pro-union protests, along with some of the videos from the event.

James Poulos at Ricochet leaves us with this cheerful parting thought:

The language of "tough choices" threatens to make a mockery of the reckoning we face today. Not because we don't face tough choices in the way elected officials mean that we do. And not because, a level down from policymaking, flesh and blood human beings -- liberal, conservative, other -- are going to have to bear the consequences of policy in their daily lives. No, the real reckoning is with each other. We can see that happening already in Wisconsin. This kind of fury -- I almost said 'divisiveness' -- is going to get worse before it gets better, because the true stakes of our reckoning are only going to grow clearer.

Anyone who responds to the current crisis by anointing unionized employees of the government as the epitome of 'the working man' is placing themselves, and I really do not say this lightly, at the mercy of socialism -- not just as an intellectual theory, but as an emotional promise of happiness. There has never been a viable, durable Labor Party in the US. But neither has the government class ever been so big or faced such an existential threat.

Hilarious Wisconsin Twitter Accounts

Parodies, obviously.

The Wisconsin Senate Democrats:

We are proud Democratic State Senators in Wisconsin. Well, we were in Wisconsin, anyway. They cut, so we ran.

We want to thank everyone for standing firm for Wisconsin's workers. If we hadn't run away, we'd be right there with you.

And the Wisconsin Teachers Union:

Workin' hard, 6 hours a day, 180 days a year.

I resent your attitude of entitlement to public funds. We earn every penny of our six figure compensation and lifetime pensions.

He's In Their Pocket


When even the reliably lefty Obama apologists at The Atlantic Monthly are starting to question what Dear Leader is doing, he might just have a problem:

I was surprised to see Obama inserting himself into the fight in Wisconsin over public employees' collective-bargaining rights.

I can see that the Democratic party base will love it, obviously, but in the battle for centrist opinion, does it make sense to align with unions against governors struggling to balance their books--that is, to align with unions against taxpayers? I doubt it.

Nothing obliged Obama to take this position. He could have recused himself, as he has on, say, budget policy. And it is one thing to offer comment in support of the unions, quite another to get his staff working in "close co-ordination" with the protesters. A shame he cannot be as forthright about long-term fiscal discipline as he is about the rights of public-sector unions.

She's Not Eager for a Rose Garden


Question asked, Mrs. Daniels answers:

Indiana first lady Cheri Daniels (left) said she is still uneasy about the potential of her husband running for president in 2012.

Gov. Mitch Daniels' wife said during a stop Thursday in Elkhart that she doesn't know how she feels about a national campaign of that magnitude and that politics isn't her forte.

She told WSBT-TV that she has enjoyed her time as first lady, but her family must consider how a presidential campaign might affect them over the next four to eight years and the impact it could have on the rest of their lives.

Dairy State Fugitives

Friday, February 18, 2011

Lugargeddon: Mourdock to Announce on Tuesday, Puts Up Campaign Website

He'll be announcing on Tuesday and then going on a statewide tour.

From the mail bag:

IT'S TIME....

You are invited to attend a special gathering where Richard Mourdock will be making a press announcement ABOUT THE U.S. SENATE RACE IN 2012. Please join us for the start of this important new effort. Your support will be most appreciated on this very exciting day.

WHO: Hoosiers for Richard Mourdock

WHAT: Special Press Announcement by Richard Mourdock

WHEN: 10:00 AM Tuesday, February 22, 2011

WHERE: Indianapolis Artsgarden at the Circle Centre Mall (Corner of Washington and Illinois Streets)

WHY: It's time...for conservative leadership in Washington.

RSVP: If possible, please RSVP to diane@richardmourdock.com

Other Announcement Locations: (click for details) Jeffersonville, IN - Evansville, IN - Crown Point, IN - South Bend, IN - Ft. Wayne, IN

Brian Howey, with his usual level of insight and analysis into all things political, searched the history books for some significance to February 22.

He even wrote a whole column about it in his weekly report.

The most significant historical event he could find to note? The American hockey team beating the Soviet hockey team in the 1980 Olympics at Lake Placid. Ooh, Soviets. Foreign policy. Nuclear weapons. Howey undoubtedly tried very hard not to swoon and delve into a monologue about how Lugar is saving the world by supporting Cold-War-style nuclear arms treaties.

But as he fought the Lugar swoon, Howey failed to note the most significant happening of February 22 in American history. It is George Washington's birthday.

(It is also the anniversary of the first national meeting of the Republican Party, something that even I--a Republican county chairman--would agree is less significant than Washington's birthday.)

Mourdock also has a website up that is now accepting contributions.

The website, and the online donation apparatus, is being done by the same folks that ran the fundraising operation for Scott Brown in Massachusetts, Indiana's own Prosper Group.

Oh, and yes, there are four (count 'em, four) county Republican Party headquarters that are hosting Mourdock's announcement tour.

This being said, please remember your Indianapolis-provided talking points when discussing this race. Everybody loves Dick Lugar. Dick Lugar leads in all of the polling. Dick Lugar has the institutional and organizational support of the Republican Party.

And, perhaps most importantly of all, Dick Lugar drives a Toyota Prius. Richard Mourdock drives a pickup truck.

Lugargeddon: Two-Thirds Plus of GOP County Chairs to Support Mourdock Over Lugar?

The blog is turning into Mourdock-palooza today.

The Hill:

Indiana State Treasurer Richard Mourdock (R) has already lined up the support of dozens of Republican Party officials from across the state for his primary challenge to Sen. Dick Lugar (R-Ind.).

A knowledgeable GOP source confirms to The Ballot Box that when Mourdock makes his bid official on Feb. 22, he will roll out endorsements from the vast majority of Indiana Republican county chairmen.

Indiana's Howey Political Report wrote Tuesday that at least two-thirds of county chairmen in the state have already decided to back Mourdock — that would mean more than 60 endorsements from Republican Party officials to launch his campaign.

It's a strong early show of support for Mourdock in his challenge to Lugar, who has been touting his fundraising advantage and strong institutional support.

I can't imagine why.


Photo aside, this isn't exactly news for anyone involved in the Republican Party outside of 465. The animosity toward Lugar is deep and surprising. Until you've seen it yourself, it's hard to understand or imagine that he could be so disliked by the party he ostensibly represents.

Couple that with Mourdock's years of effort cultivating the support of the Republican grassroots across the state and you have a potentially explosive combination that leads to, well, pretty much what you just read. The grassroots of the party is with Mourdock, not with Lugar.

At least, the county chairs were with Mourdock before this got leaked by the intrepid Craig Dunn (who was not quoted by Howey as the source, but who was quoted in the very next sentence in the Howey Report article as saying he would endorse Mourdock; it doesn't take a genius to see where that leak came from).

I personally got calls pushing me to support Lugar over Mourdock today (the first such calls I have ever gotten in my time as a county chairman, interestingly enough). I was not swayed. I gave my word to Richard Mourdock that I will support him, and I'm not for turning.

I hope other county chairmen are of similar mind, as I know of other pro-Mourdock county chairmen that are now being pressured to go back on their word. We'll see if any do.

Such calls and such pressuring--I won't invoke the "strong-arm tactics" language that reflected what was seen in Zoeller vs Costas, yet--have to be weighed against quite literally years of push from the grassroots against Lugar and Mourdock's willingness to help any county organization that asks.

Richard Mourdock has always been there for my county's Republican Party. He was here four times last year and once the year before that. Richard Lugar has been nowhere to be seen.

The last time Lugar was on the ballot, back in 2006, Evan Bayh (who was not on the ballot) barnstormed the state campaigning alongside every Democrat he could find. Lugar, meanwhile, was nowhere to be seen.

Lugargeddon: 65% of Hoosier Republicans Won't Vote to Reelect Richard Lugar

So says The Hill.

They also say that likely Lugar challenger Dick Mourdock (who was in DC for CPAC) has met with Jim DeMint, the Club for Growth, the National Rifle Association, Americans for Tax Reform, and Newt Gingrich.

Indiana State Treasurer Richard Mourdock (R) met with former House Speaker Newt Gingrich during his recent trip to Washington, D.C., to talk about his looming primary challenge to Sen. Dick Lugar (R-Ind.).

According to a source with knowledge of the meeting, Mourdock sought the support of Gingrich and his advocacy group, American Solutions.

The meeting with American Solutions was part of an extensive schedule of sit-downs with conservative groups in D.C., including meetings with the National Rifle Association, Americans for Tax Reform, the National Republican Trust PAC, the Club for Growth and GOP Sen. Jim DeMint (S.C.).

As Mourdock prepares to announce his run against Lugar, he has already lined up the backing of a majority of GOP county chairmen in Indiana. He has also been circulating an internal polling memo that shows Lugar vulnerable, according to a source close to the Mourdock camp.

The poll, which was conducted last month by Wilson Research Strategies, shows just 31 percent of likely GOP primary voters said they would vote to reelect Lugar, regardless of his primary opponent.

New Tone: Democrats Wish Death to Wisconsin Gov for Challenging Public Employee Unions



This one takes the cake:


Power Line:

I can't keep up anymore! Crosshairs bad, crosshairs good? I guess it all depends. Here they actually have a person in the crosshairs; normally that would make it really, really bad. Only here the person is a Republican, so that's different. I don't know...this civility stuff is complicated.

They also make a very good point about all of these demonstrations (some of which, I suspect, could be coming soon to the State House in Indianapolis):

A common theme of the union demonstrators in Madison today was that Governor Walker is a "dictator." This showed up on sign after sign. It sheds light, I think, on how public union members in particular, and liberals in general, think. What is going on here is that the voters of Wisconsin have elected a Republican Governor and--overwhelmingly--a Republican legislature, precisely so that they can get the state's budget under control.

What the Democrats don't like isn't dictatorship, it is democracy. That is why the Democrats in the Wisconsin Senate fled the state en masse--they prevented a quorum, so that a vote they were going to lose couldn't take place. Once again, it is democracy they are trying to frustrate, not dictatorship.

One could make the point more broadly about the organized labor movement. The unions' top priority is to eliminate the secret ballot in union certification elections. Why? The secret ballot has been the cornerstone of American labor democracy for generations. In the early days, it was assumed that the secret ballot was needed to protect workers from possible retaliation by employers if they voted for the union. That is no longer the case. Employers now universally favor the secret ballot. It is unions who are trying to abolish it through card check legislation. Why? So their goons can threaten to beat up, or worse, any employee who won't sign the card. The last thing labor unions want is democracy. They want thugocracy, as was on display in Madison today.

Lugar Drives a Prius

From this week's Howey Report:

Lugar has waged a personal war on the addiction [of the United States to oil] by driving a Toyota Prius, dwarfed in the Senate garage with mammoth SUVs, that gets 52 mpg.

Mourdock, meanwhile, drives a pickup truck.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Obama Neck-and-Neck in Reelection Polling with... George W. Bush

Yeah. Seriously.

And from Public Policy Polling, a Democratic polling outfit, no less:

44% of voters in the country say there's no way they'd support another Bush Presidency. Only 14% say they'd definitely favor one, and 39% say they'd consider it. The Republican base is decently open to the idea of another Bush- only 10% distinctly rule out the possibility. But a majority of Democrats at 73% and most notably a majority of independents at 50% shut the door to another President Bush. Perhaps those feelings will change in the coming years but it's unlikely they'd shift enough by next November to allow Jeb to win an election that soon.

Interestingly though asked who they'd vote for if George W. Bush was allowed to run against Barack Obama for a third term next year, voters only go for Obama by a 48-44 margin. One thing that number shows is a softening of feelings toward the former President. His favorability is now a 41/49 spread, and he's back up to 81% of Republicans with a favorable opinion of him.

Only Mike Huckabee, who trails by 3, does better in a match up against Obama than George W. Bush.

A Political Dinosaur

Commentary destroys not merely Obama's budget, but his entire apparent view of economics in just a few short paragraphs:

Barack Obama, the post-everything visionary who vowed to deliver us from a suffocating political past, is in fact a dinosaur. The fossilized evidence has revealed itself over the past two years. So deep in the layers of political history is the 44th president lodged that even Palestinian leaders have moved on from the grievances he cites. So overtaken by the times is he that European heads of state dismiss his economics as yesterday’s errors. Indeed, Obama is so plainly out of step with the challenges of today that he has bowed out of the present altogether and redirected our attention to an impossible and therapeutic “future.”

We have exited politics and entered prophecy. The president’s budget reflects this. It is a spending plan for an alternate universe. “No entitlement reform, no tax reform, no significant spending reform, indeed no meaningful change of direction of any sort,” notes Yuval Levin at National Review. “The budget does nothing to lessen the burdens with which we now stand to saddle the rising generation, and which will stifle growth and prosperity along the way.” Sure, spoil the fun by being factual. But presidential prophecy sees things differently. Just today, I received an e-mail from the White House explaining that “the tough choices we had to make so we can afford to invest in our future.” And it’s going to be grand. “We need to invest in roads, bridges, high-speed rail and high-speed Internet to help our businesses ship their goods and ideas around the world.”

What kinds of “goods and ideas” will be coursing through these space-age conduits? Well, prophecy is a mysterious business. He assured an audience of workers at a turbine plant in Schenectady, New York, last month, “We’re gonna build stuff and invent stuff.” And to Chinese President Hu Jintao, he relayed, “We want to sell you all kinds of stuff.” Sure, he’s a little fuzzy on the details. But he’s a big-picture guy, remember? And what do you think the future is for anyway?

Spoilsports interested in a realistic picture of our future might want to consider the news coming out of Greece today. The AP reports: “Greece’s economy will shrink by about 3 percent or more this year, the central bank predicted Tuesday, meaning the country would wallow in recession for a third straight year as it battles to recover from its devastating debt crisis.” That’s where the dinosaur economics of the entitlement state leads. As ABC News’s Jake Tapper said of the new Obama budget, “At no point in the president’s 10-year projection would the U.S. government spend less than it’s taking in.” Welcome to Greece. While we spend money we don’t have, we will pacify ourselves with futuristic visions of high-speed toys. When the Europeans did it, their dream future was a magically forgiving EU that would wash away all their present-day concerns. That’s the only difference between them and us.

Barack Obama has stopped voting present on the present. He’s already on a high-speed train to the land of fast-moving American “stuff.” It’s hard to blame him, in a way. The future has always held a great paradoxical appeal to those stuck in the past. Which is why his version of the future sounds a lot like something cooked up at the 1964 World’s Fair, and why his description of “our Sputnik moment” is actually a lot more relevant than it should be. If no one successfully counters the proposed budget, it’s back to the future for all of us.

Hopefully the Obamasaurus, like other dinosaurs, will after 2012 only be seen only in a museum.