Friday, April 29, 2011

A False Test for Mitch's “Truce”

An interesting article from Commentary about the choice facing Mitch Daniels over the recently-passed abortion bill, and how the media is characterizing Mitch's decision.

Gov. Mitch Daniels will decide today whether to sign a bill cutting off public funding from Planned Parenthood, which would make Indiana the first state in the union to do so. Some media outlets are dubbing his decision a test of Daniels’s proposed “truce” on social conservative issues.

Here’s how the media-administered test works. If Daniels signs the bill he will be “breaking” his so-called truce. But if he vetoes the bill he will face the wrath of social conservatives and widen the “divide” in the conservative movement. It’s a lose-lose situation, conveniently arranged by the same media that are always prepared to trip up conservative politicians.

“It’s a tough line to walk for Daniels, who, as a potential candidate for the Republican presidential nomination, needs to prove his conservative chops,” writes TPM Muckraker. “He’s faced heated criticism on the right for calling for a ‘truce’ on social issues and suggesting lawmakers focus on fiscal matters instead.”

Not to be a stickler or anything, but couldn’t public funding be characterized as a “fiscal matter”? The idea that this is a test for Daniels is more than slightly ridiculous, and he shouldn’t—he probably won’t—let it influence his decision. Defunding Planned Parenthood has been a goal of small-government conservatives for quite awhile, and they would be just as disappointed as values voters if Daniels vetoes the bill.

There is no reason for Daniels even to give the socially conservative argument for stripping Planned Parenthood’s funding. He need merely repeat what he told Andrew Ferguson of the Weekly Standard last June: “I want citizens to understand,” he said. “When people start demanding we spend more money, they’re saying, ‘We want to raise your taxes.’ And the citizens should say, ‘Okay, tell me. Which one of my taxes do you want to raise?’ ” Liberals can then interpret his decision however they want.

Mitch has said all along that he never meant his truce comment to be confused with "surrender." This vote will be an interesting test of that.

Mitch didn't push the bill, but it's now on his desk. It might be a bridge too far for him to veto it if he harbors presidential aspirations (and he clearly does). Vetoing would mean that Mitch's view of his truce doctrine really does mean surrender. He would be crossing over from merely not pushing hard on social issues himself to actively interfering with the efforts of others. Hopefully he won't do that.

Moreover, the whole consideration on the part of liberals is a false construct, as the Commentary article notes. Mitch is not rendering moot his truce talk (at least in the way he has characterized it in subsequent interviews) by signing the legislation.

Nothing may reassure social conservatives about a presidential candidacy by Mitch Daniels, and put to rest any qualms they have with him and the "truce", than signing this bill.

Surprising Polling & Reactions on Ryan Budget

The Democrats have been working hard to convince everyone that Republicans want to kill grandma (and they want nobody to be more convinced of this than grandma).

Polling says that they haven't been very successful (particularly with grandma).

Hot Air:

Yesterday, we noted the USA Today/Gallup poll that showed Paul Ryan and Barack Obama in a statistical dead head on their competing budget plans, but today’s Gallup release is worth a second look. According to their poll, Ryan does best in a surprising demographic, and that may end up making it more difficult to sell Obama’s “Mediscare!” campaign:

Ryan’s plan includes a complete restructuring of Medicare for people younger than 55. Pluralities of middle-aged Americans as well as those 65 and older prefer Ryan’s plan to Obama’s, while adults 18 to 29 show more support for Obama’s, 53% to 30%. These findings are in line with approval of Obama by age, more generally.

Only 18-29YO voters favor Obama’s plan, 53/30. All other demographics show a six-point edge to Ryan, with approval edging up from 45% to 48%. The finding on the seniors may actually not matter all that much, since Ryan’s plan offers some grandfathering (if you’ll pardon the expression) for current recipients.

The support among those 50-64 years of age, 47/41, is actually more telling. After all, these are the people who have spent their lives paying into the system, and could be expected to be the most resentful of entitlement reform when they’re on the cusp of qualifying for them. Yet they seem more comfortable with Ryan’s overhaul than with Obama’s cuts-and-status-quo approach.

Why? Perhaps because they are used to making their own decisions for themselves. A voucher plan puts them more in control of their own health care, rather than relying on the whim of a government board like the IPAB to decide when, how, and if they’ll get coverage for care. It seems interesting that the age demographic with the least life experience in making their own decisions feels most comfortable with the top-down diktat approach.

These numbers give Ryan an edge in the debate, although a thin one to be sure. Obama’s attempt to frighten seniors into panic at the idea of choice and self-management doesn’t seem to be working terribly well, and Ryan has a wide opening to argue for the American values of individual choice as a means for reform.

I have another theory about why this is. I don't think it has so much to do with seniors being able to make their own decisions (though that might be a part of it) as it has to do with 1) seniors no longer having any trust whatsoever for Obama and Democrats (they did already slash half a trillion out of Medicare already and are causing the program to go bankrupt) and 2) a stark realization among seniors that paying for the current system will bankrupt the country (and probably result in them getting nothing). A lot of seniors might be wondering if it isn't better to fix things than to remain with a system that is unfortunately unsustainable.

After all, wouldn't it be an encouraging thought to think that every generation of Americans recognizes that this country doesn't exist for a generation alone, and that no one generation should leave the country worse off for generations that follow?

That'd be an encouraging thought. I don't know whether it's a widespread one, though. We can always hope.

There's also polling comparing the Obama budget (laughable bankruptcy-inducing farce that it is) with the Ryan budget. They poll even.

The cynic in me finds that discouraging, given the fundamental and obvious problems with Obama's spend-o-rama budget. At the same time, it's encouraging that the Democrats' naked scare tactics (once so tried-and-true) don't appear to be working this time.

Maybe there's hope after all. Nah.

Then there are the reactions.

The Democrats (with some help from the media) have been attempting to construct a narrative of constituent rage at Republicans over the Ryan budget, hoping perhaps to stir up a repeat of what they themselves faced over ObamaCare in the summer and fall of 2009.

The problem with that narrative is that there hasn't been any constituent rage.

The New York Times has attempted to sell the narrative with vague invented "reporting", but has fallen woefully short when compared to much better factual and specifics-laden journalism by Slate.

The New York Times headline? "House G.O.P. Members Face Voter Anger Over Budget"

The Slate headline? "Wanted: Angry Liberals"

Just look at the near-riot (not) that Paul Ryan faced.

Commentary adds:

Since Congress has been in recess for the last week and a half, it’s a good bet that had there been a large number of summer-of-2009-style town hall meetings, with constituents beating up Republican members of Congress over the Ryan budget, drowning them out with boos, the clips would have been all over the airwaves. Do you think that MSNBC and CNN would have spiked video like that? Neither do I.

But it gets better!

Here in the 9th District, which has something of a reputation for its testy town halls where people get "enraged" at their Congressional representation (or was it their former Congressman that got enraged at them?), Todd Young's town halls have been filled with "quiet crowds".

If folks in the Bloody Ninth aren't boiling over about it, then there's no there there.

Congressman Mike Pence, meanwhile, had only one person complain about the Ryan budget. Most of the complaints were about government spending or doing too much:

The first comment Rep. Mike Pence heard at a town hall meeting Wednesday was a complaint about Republican efforts to revamp Medicare.

Randy Hisner of Decatur said Congress is “reneging” on its pledge to provide health insurance to older people.

“I don’t think any voucher will be big enough for me to buy private insurance” in retirement, Hisner said about the GOP proposal.

His turned out to be the last comment on the subject.

At least three congressmen – among them Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., the architect of the House budget proposal – have been booed at recent town hall meetings because of their plan to privatize and subsidize Medicare for those currently younger than 55.

An audience of more than 100 people at Riverside Center spared Pence, R-6th. Instead, he listened to gripes about the threat of socialism, people who buy “junk” with food stamps, taxes on businesses and environmental restrictions on oil companies.

The polling on ObamaCare looked nothing like the polling on the Ryan budget. It's no wonder that there's nothing to report in terms of constituent anger over the budget; they're just not enraged.

No Mitch Presidential Decision This Weekend

He'll be too busy celebrating the success of his legislative agenda with the adjourning of the General Assembly session.

The Indy Star:

Gov. Mitch Daniels said this morning he has not yet decided whether to seek the Republican nomination for president, and won't announce a decision this weekend.

Daniels has said that he would announce his decision after the legislature concluded its session tomorrow. But Daniels told The Indianapolis Star that "it absolutely won't be (announced this weekend) because you can't announce a decision you haven't made."

He said he will now take some time to reflect on his decision, and while he won't keep people waiting long, he won't rush it.

But, he added, "the time to work on it is here."

He's been encouraged by many to run, he said, "and I feel some responsibility not to just keep them dangling."

Don't worry. The decision will come soon enough.

And the announcement, like the letterhead, will probably rock your world.

Chris Matthews Says Nobody Questions College Grades of White Presidents, Only 10 Minutes after Questioning Bush's College Grades

Seriously.

I can't help but wonder how this guy functions on a daily basis without hurting himself (or others around him). The level of stupid here is just incredible. You have to see it to believe it.

Quote of the Day: Campus Liberals Practice Their Version of Tolerance & Diversity

From the South Bend Tribune:

After learning about Chick-fil-A's connections to those other [social conservative, pro-marriage] groups, "I didn't feel that Chick-fil-A belonged at my university," said Hannah Stowe, an IUSB junior from South Bend who filed a complaint against [Indiana University South Bend Chancellor] Reck [who wouldn't kick Chick-fil-A off the campus].

"IUSB is a place where everyone is welcomed and ideas can be exchanged freely," said Stowe, who describes herself as an individual who isn't strictly heterosexual.

That last statement should apparently, in the student's opinion, actually read, "IUSB is a place where everyone is welcomed and ideas can be exchanged freely, so long as those people and ideas agree with mine."

Meet Obama's New National Security Team, Same As Bush's Old National Security Team

But with a few positions mixed around to protect the innocent (or something like that.

Hope and change, courtesy of ABC News:

President Obama Picks New National Security Team, 3/4ths of Whom Served Under Bush

President Obama formally introduced his new four national security appointments, saying that all have his complete confidence and are critical for the US to “stay focused on our missions, maintain our momentum and keep our nation secure.”

“Leon Panetta at the Defense Department, David Petraeus at the CIA, Ambassador Crocker and General John Allen in Afghanistan,” the president said as he announced his team. “These are the leaders that I've chosen to help guide us through the difficult days ahead.”

The announcements were interesting because three of the four men on stage – Petraeus and Allen in the military, Crocker as part of the diplomatic corps -- served in senior national security positions for the administration of President George W. Bush, whose foreign policy President Obama has not been particularly effusive in praising.

Foremost among them is the man whose exit is partially setting off the national security team reshuffle: Secretary of Defense Bob Gates, who has now served longer at the Pentagon under President Obama than he did for the president who first brought him on for the job, George W. Bush.

President Obama originally convinced Gates to stay on for one more year, but prevailed upon him to extend that by at least another year.

“I want to thank President Bush for first asking me to take this position, “ Gates said today, “and you, Mr. President, for inviting me to stay on -- and on, and on,” he said to laughter.

“He’s the Thinking Man’s Candidate”

National Review looks at the latest Mitch for president rumblings.

Richard Mourdock Is No Sharron Angle

This is something that political observers here in Indiana have long known.

A while back, everybody in Washington DC found that out when Mourdock came to town for a whirlwind of interviews, meetings, and generally positive press.

Hotline:

Democratic campaign officials are looking at closely at contesting the Senate race in Indiana, where Sen. Richard Lugar (R-Ind.) is at risk of losing the Republican nomination to a candidate running to his right, state Treasurer Richard Mourdock (R).

They liken the situation in Indiana to the 2010 Senate races in Delaware and Nevada, where weak conservative candidates emerged and ended up losing winnable races.

But while Mourdock upsetting the longtime senator would give Democrats a better shot at picking up the seat - no Democrat even challenged Lugar in 2006 - the party still would face a tough task winning in a Republican-friendly state. Here's why:

Mourdock's Part Of The Establishment: While Mourdock does not have the experience Lugar has winning Senate races, he is a statewide officeholder in his second term. Mourdock was elected treasurer in 2006 and cruised to reelection in 2010. Neither Christine O'Donnell (R) nor Sharron Angle (R) had that record of success going into their respective races.

Mourdock rejected the notion that if Republicans nominate him over Lugar, Democrats will suddenly be able to put the seat in play. He specifically contrasted his record with that of Tea Party candidates, noting he's been on the ballot in Indiana six times before - and was recruited to run for Democratic ex-Rep.Brad Ellsworth's open House seat last year.

"This isn't my first rodeo," he told Hotline On Call.

And Mourdock won't have much trouble rallying Republicans around him in case of an upset. He's already secured the backing of most county party officials, and notably Republican members of Congress are staying on the sidelines for the primary.

The trajectory of the race: In Nevada and Delaware, O'Donnell and Angle ran under the radar for much of the primary campaign. By contrast, Mourdock entered the race very early on in the cycle, has already attracted national buzz and, at least up to now, has prevented any other conservative candidates from jumping in that would split the anti-Lugar vote.

His early entrance allowed him to become the symbol of a wider conservative frustration in the Hoosier State over Lugar's recent record -- including his vote for TARP and his work with the Obama administration on foreign policy and backing of the president's Supreme Court nominees.

If Mourdock achieves the tough task of unseating a political icon in Indiana, he will emerge in the general election stronger, not weakened. Angle's victory was due in part to a crowded field and the collapse of onetime GOP frontrunner Sue Lowden. O'Donnell narrowly won the primary only after being subjected to a barrage of negative media coverage that all-but-doomed her chances in the general election.

The state's electoral climate: President Obama narrowly carried the state in 2008 - a result that Mourdock credits to Lugar's close relationship with Obama - but it's going to be challenging to repeat that feat again in 2012. The state has suffered through hard economic times, and turned decisively against Democrats in 2010. Sen. Dan Coats won a contested race handily, and Republicans picked up two House seats. Republicans currently control all offices chosen by statewide ballot. And Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, a potential presidential contender, is still widely popular.

The white, blue-collar demography of the state also makes it more challenging for Obama to win again in 2012 compared to other states with more college-educated, diverse populations. (Our National Journal Democratic insiders just ranked it as the hardest state for Obama to keep in his column.) All that means that whoever emerges as the Republican nominee in the Senate race would start out as the early favorite.

The Democratic nominee: While Democrats like the idea of Rep. Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.) entering the race - a distinct possibility, given that Donnelly's district is likely to become more Republican after redistricting - he has not yet fully committed to running. After Donnelly, there are not many other options, as Democrats have a very thin bench in the state (and it's not exactly like Democrats are rushing to run for statewide offices, as several top names have taken themselves out of the running in recent weeks).

Donnelly is also untested in a statewide race, barely held onto his House seat last year and could face scrutiny over his voting record if he is the nominee.

"If it's a match-up in the fall between Mr. Donnelly and myself, he is in essentially the same position Brad Ellsworth was in last fall, when Ellsworth got crushed," Mourdock said.

Any Nation Will Do

As a child, our president wanted to be prime minister of Indonesia:

It turns out Barack Obama was dreaming big right from an early age - at just nine-years-old he announced he was going to be the prime minister of Indonesia.

The episode from a new biography of the president's mother, Stanley Ann Dunham, reveals the roots of a hunger for power which has driven Mr Obama's heady rise from an eccentric upbringing in Hawaii and Indonesia to the White House.

In A Singular Woman: The Untold Story of Barack Obama's Mother, author Janny Scott tells how young Barack - then known by the westernised abbreviation of 'Barry' - was pushed by his mother to reach for the sky right from the start.

'Benji Bennington, a friend of Ann's from Hawaii, told me, "Sometimes when she talked about Barack, she'd say, 'well, my son is so bright, he can do anything he ever wants in the world, even be president of the United States'. I remember her saying that".'

The book continues: 'Samardal Manan, who taught with Ann in Jakarta, remembered Ann saying something similar - that Barry could be, or perhaps wanted to be, the first black president.'

His mother's ambition was clearly not lost on the future U.S. president. When his Indonesian stepfather asked him once what he wanted to be when he grew up, he was probably expecting him to say an airline pilot or an athlete.

'"Oh, prime minister', Barry answered,' wrote Ms Scott.

The 750-Pound Gorilla

Post-Session Destinations

Thursday, April 28, 2011

House Votes to Block Hoosier Taxpayer Dollars from Funding Abortions & Abortion Providers

That means no more Indiana taxpayer money for Planned Parenthood, basically.

This is a big victory for the pro-life movement, and a big chance for Mitch Daniels to (once again) put to rest social conservative worries that his "truce" talk would see him go wobbly on his longtime pro-life stance.

Planned Parenthood says they're going to sue to get it undone. I'm not sure what their argument is going to be; it's the prerogative of the legislature, not the courts, to decide where taxpayer dollars are spent and what restrictions are attached to where those dollars are allowed to go.

If some lawyer out there wants to email me with an explanation of how such a suit would work, I'd be interested to hear it.

The Indy Star:

A bill cutting off funding to Planned Parenthood of Indiana is headed to the governor's desk after the House approved the measure 66 to 32.

The bill was a victory for those who say they do not want to see their tax dollars go to an organization that provides abortions.

"I believe that with passage of this legislation, we will become one of the most pro-life state in America, and I'll be proud of that," said the author, Rep. Eric Turner, R-Cicero.

About $3 million in taxpayer funds goes to Planned Parenthood per year to pay for services such as birth control, sexually transmitted disease tests and cancer screenings. The provider uses patients fees and private donations to pay for abortion and it provided 5,500 in Indiana last year. Opponents fear the defunding measure will deprive women of needed services.

It takes effect immediately. Planned Parenthood says it will seek an injunction to keep it from being enforced.

Royal Wedding Watching

I am not remotely interested in the upcoming royal wedding. I must confess, however, to being greatly entertained by the apparent willingness of the newest Windsor couple to deliberately snub those they don't like, and then find elaborate (and haughty) reasons as to why they aren't really snubbing them.

The Obamas? Officially not invited because it's not an official state function (pay no attention to their low-class and embarrassing visit with the Queen last year).

Tony Blair? Officially not invited because he hasn't been knighted (unlike certain other former knighted British prime ministers that were invited, surely his use of the death of the groom's mother for political purposes had nothing to do with it).

Gordon Brown? Officially not invited because he hasn't been knighted (instead of being not invited so as to have a better excuse for not inviting Tony Blair).

More on the royal snubbery from National Review here and here.

DC GOP Establishment Lines Up Behind Lugar

They don't appear to have learned anything from having their rear ends handed to them in primary after primary last year.

Representatives in Congress should be chosen by the people they're being elected to represent, not insiders in a far-distant capital.

The Indy Star:

Senate GOP leaders are backing Sen. Richard Lugar of Indiana against his 2012 primary challenger, helping him raise significantly more campaign funds than state Treasurer Richard Mourdock this year.

The nearly $1 million that Lugar raised in the first three months of 2011 was six times what Mourdock has collected since announcing his campaign in late February with the backing of many county GOP leaders.

Lugar, who has been raising money since his easy 2006 re-election to a sixth term, ended March with about $3 million in the bank compared with Mourdock's $121,732.

Ed Feigenbaum, publisher of the political newsletter Indiana Legislative Insight, said Mourdock -- a tea party favorite -- has a greater ability to raise money through the Internet and has hired an experienced grass-roots fundraising team to help with that.

"In the long run, he'll be able to attract a lot of money that way," Feigenbaum said.

Mourdock had raised $162,690 through March, including $15,350 he lent his campaign, according to recently filed campaign disclosure reports.

Mourdock also got $350 from the Elkhart County Republican Party, $200 from the Miami County Republican Central Committee and $1,500 from state officeholders.

Lugar got $34,000 from his GOP colleagues, including $5,000 from Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and $10,000 from Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, who heads the campaign arm for Senate Republicans.

In addition, GOP leaders hosted a March 16 fundraiser for Lugar at the National Republican Senatorial Committee, according to a copy of the invitation obtained by the nonpartisan Sunlight Foundation.

The NRSC did not respond to a request for comment. But McConnell said in December that Lugar is one of the greatest senators in U.S. history and would have his backing in a primary challenge.

Lugar garnered about $137,000 from the Washington fundraiser and about $326,000 from a January fundraiser in Indiana, according to his campaign.

Lugar also benefited from about $233,000 in contributions from political action committees, which generally support incumbents over challengers.
Mourdock got $1,000 in PAC contributions from Old National Bank in Evansville and $1,000 from ESOP Association, which represents corporations that sponsor employee stock-ownership plans.

Some of Indiana's major businesses are backing Lugar, including pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly and Co. In addition to a $4,000 contribution from Lilly's PAC, Lugar received $1,000 from Lilly chief John Lechleiter and contributions from past Lilly heads.

Lugar also received $250 from Indiana Chamber of Commerce President Kevin Brinegar.

Lugar is one of three GOP senators up for re-election in 2012 who are top targets of tea party activists. Lugar raised about $100,000 more in the first quarter than Sen. Olympia Snowe of Maine and about $200,000 more than Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah.

If you're fed up with Washington insiders trying to decide who represents you, drop by his website and give Mourdock a donation.

Another Gas Tax Canard from The Hair

Pat "The Hair" Bauer wants the state to waive taxes on gasoline to offset the high price of oil.

If Bauer is so upset about the impact that oil (and thus gasoline) prices are having on Hoosier families, perhaps he should take it up with the leader of his party in the White House, whose domestic policies since day one have been structured to harm America's ability to drill for its own oil (to say nothing of causing inflation that is making oil prices worse) and whose foreign policy has encouraged the instability that is now causing the global price of oil to go sky high.

Irony of ironies, in 2008 then-candidate Obama campaigned in Indiana in opposition to waiving taxes on gasoline, calling the idea an "obvious election year gimmick." Obama went on to say, "This is not a real solution, This is a political stunt."

I wonder what Pat Bauer has to say about that. Party of the people, indeed.

“It's Great Timing”: The Presidential Implications of Mitch's Education Reform Triumph

Real Clear Politics has a great article up about Mitch's education reform victories this week, and how they have the potential to fit into a potential presidential run.

Unlike certain others in the field who either are not actively governing (Romney, Palin, Huckabee), Mitch spent 2010 focused on creating a political success in his home state, and has spent early 2011 using that success to add to his record of successful accomplishments as Indiana's governor.

It's an unusual strategy for a supposed presidential hopeful, but it seems (with Haley Barbour bowing out and the rest of the field either too bombastic or too mediocre) to have paid off.

The article:

Throughout April, while the political world in Washington fixated on a possible government shutdown and awaited the campaign entries and exits of Mitt Romney, Tim Pawlenty and Haley Barbour, Mitch Daniels hunkered down in Indiana, and the presidential buzz surrounding him began to subside.

But while no one was looking, Daniels finished up that last, pesky policy goal until now missing from his gubernatorial record that his loyalists hoped he'd take with him into a presidential campaign. That goal was education reform.

Spread out in four different bills is a package of reforms ranging from school choice to teacher quality that will bring to the Hoosier State some of the most sweeping education changes in the country. One of the measures has been signed, another is headed to the governor's desk and slated to be signed on Saturday, the day after Indiana's legislative session ends. The other two have passed both houses of the legislature, which is hammering out minor differences between each house's versions. Concurrence is expected Wednesday, and Indiana officials say Daniels likely will sign them next week.

By July 1 of this year, the new education laws will take effect and be primed for national inspection should Daniels be a GOP candidate for president in 2012. That prospect is looking more likely to the prognosticators inside the Beltway than it did just a month ago, even though for Daniels, not much has changed. A presidential campaign has remained a possibility for him for at least the last year, and if he runs, the theme he has planned will be all about his record as governor. Education reform completes the picture.

In a phone interview on Tuesday afternoon, Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Bennett boasted of the new initiatives, "This is the most aggressive, far-reaching legislative package in the United States when it comes to reforming education in one fell swoop."

Added Brian McGrath, the executive director of Daniels' Aiming Higher PAC: "We did it all in about four months." Recalling that, a la Wisconsin, a handful of Senate Democrats left the state earlier in the year over a dispute about a labor bill, McGrath noted, "Take out the five weeks [the legislature wasn't] in session and it's even more impressive."

Daniels' administration studied education reforms around the country and persuaded education experts ranging from Michelle Rhee to former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush to come to Indiana and offer guidance. The Sunshine State, under Bush, had implemented the most aggressive reforms over a several-year period, but an aide to Bush said with the new reforms, Indiana will surpass Florida.

Bush tipped his hat late Tuesday to Daniels' achievement in trumping him, telling RealClearPolitics, "Because of the dedicated and bold leadership of Gov. Daniels and Superintendent Bennett, Indiana is leading the nation in having the most comprehensive set of reforms to improve the quality of education." (The former Florida governor's endorsement is among the party's most coveted, and it's no secret that a big chunk of his admirers stand ready to go to bat for Daniels if he runs.)

Nevertheless, every Hoosier interviewed for this story pointed out that education reform would have been on the top of Daniels' list this year whether or not he chooses to seek the presidency, but some pointed out that the national attention has helped them make the changes to education they wanted to make.

Read the rest after the leap.

What about Syria?

Red State wonders when Obama is going to have a problem with Syrian dictator Bashar Assad massacring his people in the streets, given that he had a problem with Libya's dictator doing the same thing, but in smaller amounts.

Over the past weeks we’ve been very critical of the administration’s alleged policy in Libya. Under the guise of a rather exotic theory called Responsibility to Protect — also known by its cute acronym R2P — the United States, acting as part of a NATO force which seemingly only includes countries with financial interests in Libya, has undertaken a rather meaningless pseudo-intervention in Libya.

Our core objection to the Libyan intervention remains its incoherence. The Secretary of Defense has declared that Libya is not a vital national interest. This intervention has made us allies of al Qaeda, lacks any identifiable long term policy goals, and has been deliberately structured to fail as the use of ground forces and the goal of regime change have been ruled out. As a bonus, our allies are involved in the ethnic cleansing of Africans and they routinely behead prisoners.

On the other hand, a popular revolt is underway in Syria - where we do have vital national interests. More civilians have been killed to date by Syrian security forces than were killed by Qaddafi before our intervention. Instead of an “international” coalition being formed to R2P the heck out of Bashar al-Assad we get nothing.

It is clear at this point that the Obama administration’s doctrine is non-existent beyond being a way for Samantha Power to prove her addlepated theories. It can best be summarized as if you are a crappy little irrelevant country and you abuse your people we will step on you - not enough to remove your leader from power and change the system of government but just enough to embolden your opponents and make them reveal themselves. On the other hand, if you are an oppressive regime in a nation that either has the ability to resist or represents vital US interests feel free to kill to your heart’s content unless you are allied with the US, in which case the Egypt Rule (known in 1979 as the Iran Rule) applies.

Of course, there's obviously nothing to be concerned about in Syria. If there was, why would the United Nations be putting Syria on its Human Rights Council next month?

Apparently, the idea that Bashar Assad (a murderous despot that has had the adjective "reformer" attached to his name not out of fact or reality but out of wishful thinking) has started murdering his people was a "surprise" to Obama and company (hat tip: Hot Air):

For the first three weeks of the protests in Syria, which first broke out on March 15, the Obama administration debated internally how to react to while generally proceeding cautiously in public. Occupied with the Libya war and skeptical that Syria would reach the current level of unrest, the administration’s policy was to issue carefully worded statements condemning the violence while encouraging Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to pursue reform and reconciliation.

Two weeks ago, however, the mood inside the administration changed in response to Assad’s brutal crackdown and the realization that he was not listening to pro-reform voices from inside or outside Syria…

Multiple administration officials told The Cable that [last month] the administration had simply concluded, incorrectly, that the Syrian crisis would never grow this serious. That judgment informed their go-slow approach in responding to the protests…

“A lot of people were wrong. The general assessment [inside the administration] was that this wouldn’t happen, that Assad was too good at nipping these movements in the bud and also that he was not afraid to be brutal,” one administration official said. “All of these things combined made this more of a surprise and made it much harder to deal with.”

Is there anyone out there, anyone at all, that is going to try and say with a straight face that this country's international position is now better under Obama's feckless foreign policy than it was under George W. Bush? Different is not, it seems, necessarily better.

The Great Ball Contraption

And I do mean great. The whole thing is made out of Legos.

Yes, Legos.

It's nothing short of amazing.

Birthers


Just like with liberals unwilling to accept full recounts in Florida or truthers ignoring mountains of evidence about September 11, conspiracy theorists concerned with where Dear Leader was immaculately birthed will never be satisfied, no matter what evidence is provided to them.

This being said, even in the release of his birth certificate, Obama managed to be not only peevish but he also managed to lie, as NRO notes:

Poynter fact-checks Obama: coverage of the birth certificate issue was three percent of the newshole. Coverage of the economy was 39 percent.

39% of news coverage has been over the economy; only 3% was about Dear Leader's birth certificate. The latter gets his attention. The former, not so much.

Politico's Mike Allen tweets on the document release:

The Trump stuff was doing damage -- A top Dem: "The Swift Boaters taught us that a lie can take hold and do real damage"

A polling expert who guest blogs over at Legal Insurrection has a slightly different thought:

I have generally believed that Obama did not release his birth certificate because he thought that the birther issue made some of his opponents look foolish. So long as the birther issue was politically beneficial, there was no reason to put it to rest.

But, true conspiracy theorists notwithstanding, now he has. Why? That is the question of the day. Does he fear Trump qua Trump? Doubtful. Trump's polling is pretty dismal at this juncture. It's Palin dismal (Don't get me wrong, I like Sarah Palin, but bad numbers are bad numbers). Did he think the public was starting to buy the birther line in a way that was particularly harmful to him? Perhaps.

If so, he may have been driven to a political blunder by a collection of basic errors in polling interpretation. As Nate Silver points out, while Gallup found that only 38% of Americans believe Obama was definitely born in the US, only 43% of Americans think Trump (about whom there is no active birther movement) was definitely born in the US.

A number of issues may be artificially inflating this high degree of uncertainty. First of all, when people are asked questions about political figures, the act of asking the question is itself a suggestion that a meaningful controversy exists about the subject. Second, people are hesitant to express absolute certainty, especially about matters they know little about or do not regularly concern themselves with. Finally, people also don't always answer the question the pollster thinks they are asking, especially when they know few actual facts about the issue in question. Polling non-obvious facts about controversial people will often result in respondents simply taking the opportunity to express positive or negative affect towards the person in question.

The number of Americans who think Obama was definitely born abroad (24%) is significantly greater than the number who think Trump was born abroad (7%), but it seems unlikely that once the sources of inflation are removed, there are all that many Americans left who are serious birthers and are the sort of people who would ever consider voting for Obama anyway.

Taken together, these theoretical flaws and Gallup's "Trump birther" pseudo-control question raise significant doubts as to the threat posed to Obama by birtherism. Had Obama waited until the election, he may have been able to strike a serious blow against his opponent and other Republicans by shooting down this conspiracy in a spectacular fashion, but instead, he did us a great favor by squandering this advantage.

Falling Dollar

Monday, April 25, 2011

With Haley Barbour Out, Is Mitch In?

Today, Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour announced that he wouldn't be running for president. He's not the first Republican to take a pass on 2012, it's true, but he may be among the most consequential, at least for supporters of Mitch Daniels.

Why? Because Mitch and Barbour go way back, and previously said that they would not run against each other. With Barbour on the sidelines, another hurdle has been cleared from Mitch's path. The biggest hurdle (the apparent objection of his wife, Cheri) may yet still exist, but late word today from folks close to the Governor is that he is "sixty to seventy percent likely" to run.

Got your tickets to the annual state GOP spring dinner yet? Cheri Daniels is keynoting, and Mitch will be introducing her. How many national political reporters do you think will be packed into the back of the room for that one? Eric Holcomb and company at state party might want to order extra risers for them.

The timing couldn't be better. The General Assembly session is wrapping up, and Mitch has gotten almost everything he wanted. The budget will be balanced without raising taxes and his education reform agenda is about to land on his desk.

Mitch's "season of reform", at least as it pertains to the Indiana legislature, is about to come to a close. A new season, of campaigning, might be about to begin. And with the Republican field dominated by Donald Trump and populated by various lackluster weaklings, the stage could perhaps not be set more favorably.

And, on that note, here is the Students for Daniels petition if you want to encourage Mitch to run.

As readers of this blog know, for me to say that I have often had issues with Governor Daniels and some of his policies is something of an understatement. I doubt I'm important enough to be the last person on his list whose opinion he might care about when it comes to running for president, but I might be on Mitch's "who gives a crap what this guy thinks" list.

Even so, I find myself increasingly of the opinion that Mitch not only should run, but that he is, of those still entertaining the idea, far and away the best candidate the Republicans can field against Obama. More importantly, of those candidates, he would unquestionably be the most qualified person to face the enormous challenges of spending and debt that confront our country.

Most times, in politics, men seek the office. Very rarely, the office seeks them. And, once in a great while, the times call for uniquely qualified individuals to rise to the occasion. This country has always had a singular gift for finding leaders qualified to meet its challenges; it's a talent we unfortunately haven't exercised very well lately in selecting our presidents. It's time we return to it.

America needs Mitch Daniels.

Priorities: No Easter Greeting from Obama, But Statements on Every Major Muslim Holiday

I guess we're just all stupid and should get the hint. Dear Leader just cares more about certain religions and their holidays than others.

White House Dossier:

Just when I thought the current team running the White House might have used up all its allotted mistakes comes word that President Obama failed to issue either an Easter or a Good Friday greeting to the nation.

Now, let’s forget for a moment that these greetings, which presidents issue on many holidays and commemorations of events, are largely perfunctory and symbolic gestures that nobody cares about.

Until there’s a problem with them.

Fox News first caught the blunder and put it into context that makes the omission insulting to Christians. The mistake is odd enough to call into question just what Obama’s priorities are.

By comparison, the White House has released statements recognizing the observance of major Muslim holidays and released statements in 2010 on Ramadan, Eid-ul-Fitr, Hajj, and Eid-ul-Adha.

The White House . . . did release an eight-paragraph statement heralding Earth Day. Likewise, the president’s weekend address mentioned neither Good Friday or Easter.

Obama, Fox notes, did head out to church yesterday and held an Easter prayer breakfast at the White House last week.

Obama is on a roll for religious holiday greeting screw ups. Fox News writes:

In 2010, Obama was criticized for releasing an all-inclusive Easter greeting. He reached out to Jews, Muslims, Hindus, and people of no faith at all in a statement about a holiday that is uniquely Christian.

And as I noted last week, the president released a Passover greeting this month that compared the ancient Jewish exodus from Egypt to the Arab political awakening this year, which would be a beautiful thing if most Arabs didn’t seek Israel’s destruction.

The president is, of course, hosting the Easter Egg Roll at the White House today. But Easter isn’t really about rolling eggs on a manicured lawn, now is it?

You know, it's like he's just not that into certain things.

It's Not a Hail Mary, It's a Hail Charlie: Democrats Seek Judicial End-Run Around Legislature on Charlie White

Remember that judge that threw out the state recount commission's decision on Charlie White?

He's a Democrat (in fact, his daughter wrote an opinion piece for a Democrat blog laying out the Democratic brief against Charlie White), and now the Democrats have sought from him--and received--a Hail Mary pass.

With Charlie White appealing the judge's ruling and the legislature on the brink of rewriting the law as it pertains to the Secretary of State's office entirely, the Democrats have pushed the judge to compel the recount commission to act more swiftly, probably before the House can take up the Senate bill.

Indeed, Indiana Democratic Party Chief Hack, err, Chairman Dan Parker gave away the game when quoted in the Indianapolis Star:

“It just looks like they are trying to run out the clock,” Democratic chairman Dan Parker said this afternoon.

This is particularly rich; Democrats have known about Charlie White's voter registration problem for a very long time. So long that they sat on it until right before the election in an attempt to have it result in an October Surprise. Hoosier voters didn't go along with the Democratic plan, and White won the election for Secretary of State anyway.

So the Democrats, never to be dissuaded by the decision of the people despite claiming to be the party of the people, decided to try and overturn the results of the election. And with the General Assembly on the brink of saying that, no, Charlie White's voter registration problems shouldn't disenfranchise a million Hoosiers that voted for the Republican candidate for Secretary of State, the Democrats are now suddenly in a hurry.

Now, suddenly, Dan Parker is worried about the clock running out (in this case, the only clock here that matters is the one mounted up on the wall behind the speaker's podium in the House chambers).

Now the Democrats want the judge to not only overthrow the verdict of Hoosier voters, but also to do an end-run around the state legislature as well.

Heck, if the General Assembly passes the legislation that has been proposed, the judge will probably find some flimsy excuse to declare the law invalid and install the overwhelmingly-defeated Democratic candidate anyway.

Aiming Higher for Our Kids & Our Future

More Lugargeddon: “BSU College Republicans Generally Agree: Lugar's Time Is Up”

Another article, another indication of just how many people are agreeing with Richard Mourdock; it's time for Indiana to have a new conservative senator.

Is there no one not on his campaign's payroll that will stand with Dick Lugar?

From the Ball State Daily News:

The Indiana Republican Party faces a tough division in the 2012 primary election with state Treasurer Richard Mourdock challenging six-term incumbent Sen. Richard Lugar for his U.S. Senate seat.

Unlike the state party, Ball State College Republicans generally agree – Lugar's time is up.

While Lugar has been serving the state since 1964 and is the most senior Republican member of the U.S. Senate, Indiana Tea Partiers and conservatives generally support Mourdock for his conservative fiscal policies and for challenging the federal government's bailout of Chrysler.

Holly Gillham, public relations chair for College Republicans, said members within the organization seem to favor Mourdock for the primary election.

"Individually, most of us back Mourdock," she said. "However, as a group we are not going to formally endorse a candidate because we don't want to alienate anyone that favors Lugar."

Lugar has been targeted in Indiana by Tea Partiers for his moderate positions that don't align with their conservative values. He served as the mayor of Indianapolis before being elected to the U.S. Senate for the first time in 1976.

Mourdock announced his Senate bid in February and gained the support of Tea Partiers and conservatives around the state. He is a Ball State alumnus and is serving his second term as state Treasurer.

Michael Thomas, technology chairman of College Republicans, said Mourdock is a strong candidate with a good chance at defeating Lugar in the primary.

"An overwhelming majority of the county party chairmen are siding with him," he said. "He's a formidable challenger, especially now that he's popped up on the national scene after the lawsuit."

College Republicans have about 20 regular members and over 150 on its mailing list. Although the organization will not endorse a candidate for the Republican primary election, it will back the Republican candidate in the general election.

Tim McMahon, vice chairman of College Republicans, said the Mourdock-Lugar division across the state will not affect unity within the local organization.

"Competition is good for the primary and great for us here at Ball State," he said. "It makes us a stronger organization because we can talk about our individual differences, become more informed and better able to defend our positions.

Sophomore political science and economics major Kayleigh Mohler said although members may support Mourdock, they still respect what Lugar has done for the state and the nation.

"Lugar has done an awesome job of representing us for a long time," she said. "But perhaps it's time for a change, a fresh outlook. If you look at which one of them is going to do more to address problems that we care about, the answer now is Mourdock."

Little Thor

Planned Parenthood

Oz

Career-Politician-Turned-Lobbyist John Gregg Announces that He Will Announce that He Is Exploring Running for Governor

You just can't make this stuff up.

Indiana Democrats searching for a candidate for the 2012 governor's race may have found their man in former Speaker of the House John Gregg, who will have to rebuild name recognition after nearly a decade out of office.

Gregg said he plans to form an exploratory committee to raise money and test public sentiment, but he's prepared to seek his party's nomination.

"My mind is made up," he told the Evansville Courier & Press.

Gregg left office in 2002 and has worked as a registered lobbyist in a Vincennes office for law firm Bingham McHale. He has been traveling the state recently to attend Jefferson-Jackson dinners hosted by county Democratic groups and meet with political and labor leaders and says he's received "overwhelming support."

I'm not surprised; there aren't exactly a lot of Democrats beating down the door to run.

"I want to meet with just everyday people," Gregg said. "Also I want to get out and meet with people who've been affected by this last session -- people that belong to the building trades, people that belong to unions, organized labor.

Because, of course, union members with their lavish benefits, guaranteed pensions, and slowly-going-bankrupt companies (like the auto industry) are "everyday people."

"I want to meet with educators. I also want to meet with small businesspeople who were hoping that our Republican Legislature would have done some things to create a job growth environment."

Someone probably needs to remind John Gregg that meeting with educators means meeting with teachers, not meeting with his fellow lobbyists that happen to be on the payroll of the ISTA.

Since John Gregg makes his living and has a job by lobbying for government money to go places, it probably doesn't occur to him that it's not the role of government to create jobs. And a great deal has been done in this past legislative session to help "create a job growth environment."

This Republican Legislature balanced the budget without gimmicks (unlike John Gregg's budgets as speaker) and without raising taxes (unlike John Gregg when he was speaker). They passed reforms that will strengthen education and educators (not teacher unions), which will lead to future generations of Hoosiers having the quality of education necessary to get good jobs.

Gregg said he could announce an exploratory committee as early as May.

So he's announced that he's going to announce that he's going to explore running for governor.

Even better than that was a recent Howey article about Gregg, an career liberal Indianapolis insider, speaking to a bunch of Indianapolis liberals and saying that he was worried that they might not be accepting of him. I can't imagine why they wouldn't; he's been one of them for decades, after all.

Gregg also complained in the article about conservative efforts to end funding for Planned Parenthood, though he claims to be pro-life. Maybe John Gregg is just pro-spending. That might explain it. He doesn't like abortions, but he doesn't mind spending your tax money for other people to get them.

If you're pro-life, it goes without saying that you believe that abortion is murder. And if you believe that abortion is murder, you shouldn't want taxpayer dollars going to pay for it. Full stop. End of story.

But with John Gregg, there's always a "but." He's "pro-life," but he wants to fund Planned Parenthood. He's for "everyday people," but he spends his time talking to union bosses. He's for teachers, but he spends his time with the ISTA. Next thing you know, he'll be telling us that he's a Democrat, but not an Obama Democrat. He's spent all that time in Indianapolis, but he's an outsider. Really. Just trust him.

Some Particularly Interesting Tax Graphs

A breakdown of income tax revenue by income percentile.

The bottom 50% of income earners pay 2.7% of income taxes.


And here's the same chart, but with a breakdown added of what percentage of national income those groups are making.

The bottom 50% of income earners pay 2.7% of income taxes, but earn 12.8% of the income. The top 1% of income earners shoulder 38% of income taxes, but earn 20% of the income.


So let's look at this a different way, shall we? Just how much income do all of these groups have that could potentially be taxed?

The Wall Street Journal answers: not enough to close up the deficit or pay for all of Obama's new spending.

Even if they taxed away every dollar in Obama's "richest one percent", it still wouldn't be enough. You could tax every person making over $200,000 at 100% taxation and it wouldn't be enough to make up the shortfall we're seeing in this year's deficit, let alone cover the ballooning cost of entitlement spending. There's just no money.


Which brings us to the next graph, a comparison of three budgetary futures: Obama's first budget, Obama's redo second budget, and Paul Ryan's budget.


And, just for good measure, let's look at deficits under recent presidents:

A Tale of Differing Priorities

Recently, Dick Lugar received an award for protecting the environment at a swanky gala alongside Michelle Obama, Robert Redford, and CNN's Anderson Cooper. Richard Mourdock was at the Marshall County Lincoln Day Dinner.

It's sort of a telling comparison. They've got differing priorities. Mourdock's priority is Indiana, Lugar's priority is partying with his liberal buddies.

And the award Lugar got? Well, he's now in august company with the likes of party-switching former Florida Governor Charlie Crist, ultra-liberal Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy, RINO former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman, and former Vice President Al Gore. And those are on top of Michelle Obama, Robert Redford, and Anderson Cooper; they got their awards at the same event Lugar did.

And what did Lugar get the award for, you might ask? The answer: For supporting a key element of Obama's cap-and-trade proposal, for advocating a treaty that harmed American sovereignty, and for "reforming" Federal farm subsidies.

Trump's Big Prank

Dilbert creator Scott Adams thinks that Donald Trump's presidential campaign is the biggest practical joke ever.

It occurs to me that he may well be right.

Obama Marks Earth Day by Burning Fossil Fuels

Hello, irony. It's you again.

President Obama declared today's 41st annual Earth Day proof of America's ecological and conservation spirit—then completed a three-day campaign-style trip logging 10,666 miles on Air Force One, eating up some 53,300 gallons at a cost of about $180,000. And that doesn't include the fuel consumption of his helicopter, limo, or the 29 other vehicles that travel with that car.

During his trip, Obama's 30-car motorcade was used to carry him to events. His limo, and there are usually two in the motorcade, gets a high of 8-10 miles per gallon, according to industry estimates, ironic considering his recent criticism of low-mileage cars. In Pennsylvania earlier this month, he mocked low-mileage vehicles that get 8 miles per gallon, like heavy duty work trucks.

"If you're complaining about the price of gas and you're only getting 8 miles a gallon, you know," Obama said laughingly. "You might want to think about a trade-in."

Mourdock on the Tea Party



In Europe, people take to the street with signs to protest when the government wants to cut spending.

In America, people take to the streets with signs to protest when the government wants to increase spending.

Even China Can't Make High-Speed Rail Work

A bad idea is a bad idea, it seems, whether it's being implemented in communist China or Obama's America.

The Washington Post:

For the past eight years, Liu Zhijun was one of the most influential people in China. As minister of railways, Liu ran China’s $300 billion high-speed rail project. U.S., European and Japanese contractors jostled for a piece of the business while foreign journalists gushed over China’s latest high-tech marvel.

Today, Liu Zhijun is ruined, and his high-speed rail project is in trouble. On Feb. 25, he was fired for “severe violations of discipline” — code for embezzling tens of millions of dollars. Seems his ministry has run up $271 billion in debt — roughly five times the level that bankrupted General Motors. But ticket sales can’t cover debt service that will total $27.7 billion in 2011 alone. Safety concerns also are cropping up.

Faced with a financial and public relations disaster, China put the brakes on Liu’s program. On April 13, the government cut bullet-train speeds 30 mph to improve safety, energy efficiency and affordability. The Railway Ministry’s tangled finances are being audited. Construction plans, too, are being reviewed.

Liu’s legacy, in short, is a system that could drain China’s economic resources for years. So much for the grand project that Thomas Friedman of the New York Times likened to a “moon shot” and that President Obama held up as a model for the United States.

Rather than demonstrating the advantages of centrally planned long-term investment, as its foreign admirers sometimes suggested, China’s bullet-train experience shows what can go wrong when an unelected elite, influenced by corrupt opportunists, gives orders that all must follow — without the robust public discussion we would have in the states.

The fact is that China’s train wreck was eminently foreseeable. High-speed rail is a capital-intensive undertaking that requires huge borrowing upfront to finance tracks, locomotives and cars, followed by years in which ticket revenue covers debt service — if all goes well. “Any . . . shortfall in ridership or yield, can quickly create financial stress,” warns a 2010 World Bank staff report.

Hat tip: National Review.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Club for Growth to Lugar: Time to Retire

I suspect this is going to make some of the Lugar folks sit up and take notice (as if they aren't already).

Somewhere in the Club for Growth offices, there is a wall with the mounted scalps of the RINOs that didn't listen when it was politely suggested that they retire.

Lugar doesn't seem interested in listening on that point to anyone, let alone the Club for Growth.

The Hill:

The president of the Club for Growth encouraged longtime Sen. Dick Lugar (R-Ind.) to retire Tuesday rather than seek another term in 2012, warning that the group could get involved in the effort to oust Lugar in a primary.

In an interview on ABC's "Top Line" webcast, Club for Growth President Chris Chocola said while no decisions have been made as to whether the club will officially weigh in on the race between Lugar and Indiana State Treasurer Richard Mourdock (R), "we do have some concerns about Sen. Lugar and his service."

"We think it would probably be best if he would retire at this point," Chocola said of Lugar, who has vowed to beat back a primary challenge and win another term in 2012. "We haven't made any decisions at this point, but we are looking at it very closely, and it's one of the races very high on our radar."

Chocola said the group is also waiting to see whether strong primary challenges to GOP Sens. Olympia Snowe (Maine) and Orrin Hatch (Utah) develop ahead of next year.

Backing from the Club for Growth could translate into a significant fundraising boon for Mourdock if the group endorsed in the primary and used its network to help raise money.

Lugar is sitting on a $3 million war chest ahead of 2012.

In Arizona, the Club has already raised more than $350,000 for Republican Rep. Jeff Flake's 2012 Senate bid. An early favorite of the Club, Flake was endorsed by the group the same day he declared his intention to run for the upper chamber.

Flake brought in more than $1 million during the first quarter of the year — nearly 35 percent of those contributions were earmarked through the Club for Growth.

Obama Has Priorities; That's Not One of Them

Geraghty:

Today is the one year anniversary of the explosion on the Deepwater Horizon oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico; the disaster killed eleven workers and began an oil spill that would last five months. Even today, oil is still washing ashore.

President Obama will mark the solemn occasion with a series of DNC fundraisers in San Francisco.

I don't know why anyone could be so mistaken as to think that Obama would do anything on the anniversary of the oil spill.

After all, he did virtually nothing for the entire time that it was actually happening.

More from Luke Kenley

You might recall yesterday's post about Luke Kenley, the chairman of the Senate budget committee, who decided to strip from the budget Mitch Daniels' proposal to automatically refund your money back to you when the state has a budget surplus and a healthy rainy day fund.

Kenley is supposedly a Republican, though you could be forgiven for thinking that he was something else. He's from Noblesville, and only folks that call themselves Republicans get elected there (or in the rest of Hamilton County) whether they actually espouse the principles of the Republican Party or not.

So not only does Kenley think that he can spend your money smarter than you can, he also doesn't appear to have a very high opinion of the right to life.

Kenley joined Senate Democrats, including Bloomington's Vi Simpson (Indiana's own Nancy Pelosi wannabe), in voting against House Bill 1210, which would strengthen pro-life laws in Indiana.

According to Indiana Right to Life:

Indiana Right to Life is applauding the Indiana Senate for Tuesday’s passage of House Bill 1210, a sweeping pro-life bill that removes all state-directed funding from Indiana abortion businesses, protects pain-capable unborn children beginning at 20-weeks, opts-out Indiana from abortion coverage under state health exchanges required under the new federal health law, improves the scope of information provided to women considering abortion, and requires doctors who do abortions to maintain local hospital admitting privileges.

So, in summary, Kenley joins liberal Democrats in opposing pro-life legislation and he thinks that he knows how to spend your money better than you can. That doesn't exactly make him much of a Republican, does it?

Meanwhile, there is hope on the ATR front, as Mitch's tax refund proposal may yet make a comeback in the House, according to Hoosier Access:

In the ongoing saga over the Automatic Tax Refund (ATR), which (just as a reminder) was stripped from the budget earlier this week by Indiana Senate Appropriations Chairman Luke Kenley (R-Noblesville, s20@in.gov), Kenley has apparently felt the heat from denying taxpayers their own money and offered some weak concessions Tuesday on the original legislation proposed by Governor Daniels. While we can be happy he’s beginning to realize that he’s hired by the taxpayers, his proposed language is conciliatory at best.

Luckily Representative Eric Turner (R-Marion) understands how greedy government gets. Turner has introduced amendment 13 to SB 589 to return to the proposed language of the ATR.

The Invincible Barack Obama? Yeah Right

Marist has a poll out that shows enormous hurdles for Obama's campaign to get a second term.

In reading the poll, I was reminded of Rendezvous with Destiny, an excellent account of the 1980 presidential election by Craig Shirley (a conservative).

As incredible as it seems to us now, for much of 1979 and even through a good portion of 1980 Jimmy Carter was the invincible incumbent. He led in polling, he was running against a fractured and weak Republican field whose likely (and eventual) victor was a former actor everyone viewed as the easiest candidate for Carter to defeat.

Two years is a lifetime in politics. Bill Clinton's political obituary was being written in early 1995. In 1979 and 1980, Carter seemed certain to have more trouble with Ted Kennedy in the Democratic primaries than with winning against a Republican.

History, it is always said, repeats itself. But which history are we about to see repeat itself?

Hoosier Democrats Walk Out to Protest Law that Penalizes Walking Out

What a joke. You can't make this stuff up. If you did, nobody would believe it.

Minority Democrats in the Indiana Senate walked out of the chamber Wednesday to protest passage of an amendment meant to prevent the kind of legislative boycott that led to a 34-day standoff this year in the Indiana House.

But because more than two-thirds of the Senate’s members are Republicans, the Democrats had no way to stop the vote and it went on without them.

The provision — added to the state budget bill — passed 36-0 with no Democrats voting.

An emotional Sen. Frank Mrvan, D-Hammond, told his colleagues that he was insulted and upset by the proposal.

“When you push somebody so far that there’s no hope of anything good happening, it’s just going to cause trouble,” Mrvan said. “This isn’t right. There’s a tradition (in this country) of protesting.”

The proposal would allow a constituent to bring a civil action against any lawmaker that missed three consecutive session days without an excuse — if the absence was part of a larger effort to deny a quorum in the chamber. The Indiana Constitution requires the House and Senate to have two-thirds of its members present to act.

The proposal is modeled on a law that was in place in Indiana for 110 years but was repealed in the 1970s.

Senate President Pro Tem David Long, R-Fort Wayne, said the proposal — which could lead to $1,000 per day penalties — was aimed not at Democrats in the Senate, whom he said “are in no way shape or form or in any way to blame” for the discussion.

Instead, he said the provision was necessary because House Democrats have shown they’re willing to disrupt the legislative process for weeks to try to get their way.

“It threatens our institution not only this year but in future years and has set a terrible example to the rest of the nation,” Long said. “It cannot be allowed to occur.”

Senate Democrats returned to the chamber briefly after the vote and then left again to go caucus, leading Long to recess the chamber for their meeting. Republicans later went to caucus as well.

In the House — where boycotts and walkouts by both parties have occurred throughout the years — Minority Leader Pat Bauer, D-South Bend, had a reserved reaction. He said the Indiana Constitution guarantees the minority’s right to deny a quorum.

“I think the constitution would override their pouting and shouting,” Bauer said.

Pat Bauer often has trouble with the Constitution. Let's read it to him again.

Article 4, Section 11:

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.

An anti-bolting law is clearly a mechanism to "compel the attendance of absent members."

Factcheck.org Shreds Obama's Deficit Speech

Liar, liar, pants on fire.

If an incompetent liberal tells lies on television and a fawning media ignores the lies, is he still lying? Um, yes.

Interesting Fact of the Day: Lugar Has Voted Seven Times to Increase the Debt Limit

Gee, I wonder how he whether he'll vote to increase it the next time he has the chance?

Lefty Wisconsin Supreme Court Candidate Files Recount Petition, Despite Losing by 7K+ Votes

Seriously.

It's even more absurd when you hear how confident she was of withstanding a recount when her own margin of victory was only 200 votes, the morning after the election.

Under the new liberal math, 200 > 7,000.



The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel minces no words on this nonsense:

We understand what motivated Assistant Attorney General JoAnne Kloppenburg to ask for a recount in the election for a seat on the state Supreme Court. It’s tough to lose a close election, especially one you thought had been won, especially one in which a county clerk misplaced an entire community’s votes.

But we still think Kloppenburg’s request is a mistake. What happened in Waukesha County was a serious error, but it appears to have been just an error, and one that has now been rectified. The recount is costly and will only serve to further exacerbate Wisconsin’s political divisions. It will leave a bad taste; that’s a sad legacy for Kloppenburg. The difference in the balloting is 7,316 votes. Although that’s less than 0.5% of the 1.5 million votes cast, it’s still a big margin to overcome. Odds are that a recount won’t change a thing. Kloppenburg should take the high road in this case and concede the election.

And now, a few words from a Kloppenburg supporter (profanity warning):

Thoughts on Greg Ballard

Paul Ogden wonders why Republican bloggers have "abandoned" Greg Ballard. Since he mentions me as one that has done so, I feel compelled to add a few thoughts.

I, likewise, confess to being disappointed in some of the things Ballard has done since being elected (as my posts have indicated), and likely won't donate to him again (as I did way back when everyone roundly believed that he didn't have a chance).

This being said, conservative bloggers are not a representative sample of the electorate to which Ballard (who is unopposed in the primary) must answer in November (particularly in Indianapolis), any more than liberal bloggers that are beating Ballard up are representative of it either (even in Indianapolis). And that's lucky for Greg Ballard, but then Ballard has somehow managed to be very lucky for his entire political career.

Asleep in the Control Tower

Level 7 Meltdown

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

RINO Alert: Luke Kenley Thinks He Can Spend Your Money Smarter than You

It has largely escaped notice (it got only a relatively minor blurb in the Indianapolis Star), but the Senate budget rolled out by Senator Luke Kenley strips out the automatic tax refund (or ATR) provision that has been advocated by Governor Mitch Daniels as an important part of his legislative agenda.

Under Mitch's ATR proposal, the state would automatically return to taxpayer dollars back to taxpayers whenever the state was running a budget surplus (and had a sufficient rainy day fund accumulated as a reserve).

Luke Kenley didn't like that idea; he stripped it out of the budget bill, much to Mitch's ire (and hopefully the ire of Hoosier taxpayers everywhere). Kenley, basically, thinks that the state government in Indianapolis can spend your money more intelligently than you can.

Mitch sent a letter on this to Senators, saying in part:

I am deeply discouraged that an idea so reasonable, so pro-taxpayer and, I might add, so Republican should prove so difficult to pass in an overwhelmingly Republican Senate.

You can read the full letter to the Senate over at HoosierAccess.

You can also sign the petition in support of the ATR here:

Please support HB 1001, the "Automatic Taxpayer Refund Program."

Originally proposed by Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels, the bill would put money back into the pockets of Hoosiers by returning excess state revenue back to the taxpayers. The plan would allow taxpayers to keep more of their hard-earned money while preventing government officials from using our tax dollars for wasteful projects.

The automatic taxpayer refund program would encourage fiscal responsibility and constrain the growth of state government. It will ensure that the state does not build any unnecessary surpluses of taxpayers’ money. In 2010, Hoosiers worked 95 days before they earned enough money to pay off their federal, state and local tax obligations. If the automatic taxpayer refund program is enacted, the people of Indiana may pay less in taxes in future years.

It's not a new thing for Senator Kenley to think that he knows how to spend money better than anyone else; he was the architect of a plan for the state raid the riverboat casino money that goes to counties along the Ohio River. Mitch Daniels put a stop to that, too.

Stand with Mitch.

Sign the petition and send Luke Kenley an email at s20@in.gov, and tell him to support the ATR.

Surprise, Surprise: Hoosier Democrat Fleebaggery 100% Financed by Unions

So sayeth their latest campaign finance reports.

Did you really expect anything different?

Not His Normal Interview: Obama Snarls at Reporter for Asking (Not Very) Tough Questions

We've always known that virtually everyone in the White House press pool (and the media at large) gives him dainty, fluffy softballs. And we've seen that he is peevish and has an extremely thin skin. But I don't think we've ever seen Obama asked relatively easy, but serious, questions by a less-than-fawning reporter, followed by his thin skin showing itself so spectacularly.

USA Today:

President Obama has troubles with voters in Texas, and, apparently, with interviewers from the Lone Star State as well.

"Let me finish my answers the next time we do an interview, all right?" Obama told reporter Brad Watson after an interview with WFAA-TV of Dallas, one of four interviews with local television stations at the White House on Monday.

The exchange is toward the end of the video.

At one point, Watson asked the president: "Why do you think you're so unpopular in Texas?"

After some jousting about the size of his loss in Texas in 2008 -- the president said it was "a few percentage points," but it was more like 11.8% -- Obama told his interviewer: "If what you're telling me is that Texas is a conservative state, you're absolutely right."

Obama also fired back at criticism from conservative Texas Gov. Rick Perry.

"Gov. Perry helped balance his budget with about $6 billion worth of federal help -- which he happily took -- and then started blaming the members of Congress who had offered that help," Obama said.

Obama also bristled at claims that his administration skipped Houston in the award of space shuttle orbiters and favored states that could help his re-election.

"That's wrong," the president stated. "That had nothing to do with it; the White House had nothing to do with it."

When Watson persisted, Obama said, "I just said that was wrong," and, later, "I just said that wasn't true."

More at Politico and Hot Air.

The video:

Another ObamaCare Lawsuit

This one has been filed by the conservative Goldwater Institute and comes at the bill from a different constitutional angle than the existing lawsuits.

“It Was My Understanding that There Would Be No Math...”

Geraghty:

It’s not exactly surprising for a candidate to remember past election performances a little better than they actually were. (Ahem.)

Yesterday, during a round of television interviews with local affiliates, Obama told a reporter from a Dallas station that in 2008 he lost Texas by “a few” points; the interviewer corrected him by noting it “it was about ten.”

Actually, the margin of Obama’s loss to McCain was 11.7 percentage points.

But when you throw that into Obama’s “57 states” and his pledge to enact a “net spending cut” during his presidency, it becomes clear that Obama has always been a verbal guy, not a math guy.

In case you don't get the title reference.

Lugar “May Be about 18 Months from Becoming the Former Senior Senator from Indiana”

Proverbs says that, "Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall."

It's a bit of wisdom that the Washington Examiner thinks that Richard Lugar might to well to heed.

Way back when, he was President Nixon's "favorite mayor." Now he's President Obama's "favorite Republican." He is Sen. Richard Lugar, R-IN.

Here's something else he may be about 18 months from becoming - the former senior senator from Indiana.


Lugar has been in the Senate since 1977 and ranks third in seniority in that august chamber, outranked only by senators Daniel Inoyhe of Hawaii and Patrick Leahy of Vermont. He is the highest ranking Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and is greatly respected in Establishment Washington as a GOP moderate.

Barring an unexpected decision to retire before November 2012, Lugar will face Indiana voters for the sixth time as the incumbent. He recently raised an estimated $400,000 from one event and has amassed a campaign warchest in excess of $2.3 million. Expect that total to swell in coming months.

He's also raised something else - the hackles of Indiana Tea Party members and a primary challenger, Indiana State Treasurer Richard Mourdock.

According to the conventional wisdom, Lugar's seniority, establishment connections, well-funded campaign treasury, and easy access to sympathetic national media coverage should make him a shoo-in for a seventh term.

Don't count on it. Lugar made a big mistake by claiming last year that the Tea Party needed to "get real." He might as well have put on a dunce cap because such remarks often hint at the very attitudes of overweening pride of incumbency and blindness to genuine voter dissatisfaction that have driven many a respected incumbent into retirement - think Tom Daschle, Jim Wright, Tom Foley and Robert Bennett.

Saying things like that is how you become the latest installment of that old, familiar Washington story - former senator.