Monday, August 29, 2011

Obama's Regulatory Nightmare

The Heritage Foundation has some thoughts about regulations:

The White House on Tuesday announced “final plans” to reduce “unreasonable” regulations that hinder economic growth and job creation.

That President Obama even acknowledges there are costly consequences to government dictates is progress of sorts, and any reduction in red tape is most welcome. But the anticipated savings from the proposed reforms are swamped by the torrent of new regulatory burdens unleashed by this Administration.

Regulatory officials estimate that the proposed changes, if enacted, could save businesses more than $2 billion a year. Many involve streamlining reporting procedures, while others eliminate regulatory overlap or tweak compliance technicalities. Overall, however, the most economically onerous initiatives of this Administration—Obamacare, Dodd–Frank, and the excesses of the Environmental Protection Agency—remain wholly unaffected and thus dwarf any cost savings from the regulatory review.

Since taking office in January 2009, in fact, the Administration has imposed 75 new major regulations, with additional costs exceeding $40 billion annually. Only six deregulatory actions have been taken in that period, resulting in a net increase in regulatory cost of more than $38 billion a year.

No other President has burdened businesses and individuals with a higher number and larger cost of regulations in a comparable period.

Simply put, when it comes to regulation, what little this Administration takes away, it gives back liberally.

A great many more are rules are looming. The spring 2011 Unified Agenda lists 2,785 rules (proposed and final) in the pipeline. Of those, 144 are classified as “economically significant.” With each of the 144 pending major rules expected to cost at least $100 million annually, they represent at least $14 billion in new burdens each year.

Today’s announcement follows on a presidential executive order in January calling for a review of regulations by federal agencies. Officials released preliminary plans in May, which were finalized and posted today. The true extent of the effort remains to be seen, however. Good intentions do not always produce results—particularly when government bureaucracies are involved.

Lugar's 2011 Priorities

After I blogged about Mike Delph urging 2012 Republican primary candidates to focus on the election (and noted how both Pence and Mourdock have done a lot for local candidates and parties), a reader up in Kokomo sent me an interesting email.

Seems that Dick Lugar has some particularly unhelpful priorities when it comes to the 2011 election. Lugar's folks scheduled a fundraiser for Indiana's senior senator in Kokomo. Problem was, the Lugar fundraiser conflicts with a fundraiser to support the local Republican municipal candidates.

Lugar's first visit to Howard County in six years will be to have a fundraiser for his own campaign, at the expense of the campaigns of local municipal candidates. (Mourdock, by contrast, has been to Howard County many, many times in recent years and even offered not to hold a fundraiser there until after the November elections, and agreed to wait so as not to tap out donors in the area.)

Lugar sure has his priorities, that's for sure.

Photos of the Day: Wallace on Wheels

First photo, taken of Wallace on Mitch's annual motorcycle ride for charity.

Second photo, taken by Advance Indiana, is of Wallace while he was filming a campaign commercial (nevermind the comparison of which bike you ride when you want people to know you're riding).

Most guys, if they're going through a mid-life crisis, might decide to buy a motorcycle. Wallace decided to run for governor (and buy two motorcycles).

RNC Chief Vows Neutrality in Senate Primary

Nobody wants to stick up for Dick Lugar, it seems. The national Republican Party has bigger fish to fry (like beating Obama) than to earn the anger of the conservative grassroots by wasting money trying to keep Dick Lugar in office for a seventh term.


The Republican national chairman is staying out of the primary between Indiana Senator Richard Lugar and state Treasurer Richard Mourdock.

"I happen to believe that primaries are good," says RNC Chairman Reince Priebus. "I think having a diverse field is great. It's all the earned media, it's communicating what we need to do to get our country back on track."

Some Republicans have grumbled they cost themselves a shot at controlling the Senate last year by nominating insurgents over more experienced candidates in Delaware, Nevada and Colorado.

Priebus was Wisconsin state chairman before unseating national chairman Michael Steele earlier this year. He says hard-fought primaries won by Scott Walker and Ron Johnson for the nominations for governor and senator helped fuel their victories in November.

Priebus says the Lugar-Mourdock winner, as well as the winner of the upcoming presidential primaries, will similarly benefit from the exposure gained by having to battle for the nomination.

I happen to subscribe to a similar view as Priebus when it comes to primaries. Competition and the free market isn't just for the private sector; it's good to have this sort of competition in the political sphere as well.

Schools Can't Teach Your Child to Read, But They Can Bully Them into Being Green

This story from the New York Times boggles the mind:

Many retailers and schools are advocating waste-free options for back-to-school shoppers this year, especially when it comes to lunch. School lists call for Tupperware instead of Ziplocs, neoprene lunch bags instead of brown paper ones, and aluminum water bottles, not the throwaway plastic versions.

Sales of environmentally friendly back-to-school products are up just about everywhere. At the Container Store, the increase is 30 percent over last year for some items, said Mona Williams, the company’s vice president of buying. “We have seen a huge resurgence,” she said.

The trend makes the schools happy (much less garbage). It makes the stores happy (higher back-to-school spending). It even makes the students happy (green feels good).

Who’s not happy? The parents (what to do when the Tupperware runs out?).

“Ziplocs are the biggest misstep,” said Julie Corbett, a mother in Oakland, Calif., whose two girls attend a school with an eco-friendly lunch policy. In school years past, she said, many a morning came unhinged when the girls were sent to school with disposable sandwich bags.

“That’s when the kids have meltdowns, because they don’t want to be shamed at school,” Ms. Corbett said. “It’s a big deal.”


“The kids are all about it,” Mr. Greene said, but with the parents, “you have to build habits.”

He added, “We don’t send notes home to parents and say, ‘Listen, this is the third time you’ve brought a Cheeto bag.’ But we help them to understand” why the school has the lunch policy.

Judith Wagner, a professor of education at Whittier College in California who directs its laboratory school for elementary and middle-school children, has also been struggling with how to get parents’ support for less wasteful lunches.

“Parents will say things like, ‘Well, I want her to have a choice, and if I put in a peanut butter-and-jelly sandwich and a ham sandwich, she has a choice,’ ” Professor Wagner said. “And each one comes in its own separate plastic bag.”

What comes next, she said, is a hard call. “Do you go back to the parents and say, ‘Gosh, can you rethink the plastic bags and all this food?’ Or do you talk to the children, and you make the children feel guilty because they’re throwing this all away?”


Ms. Corbett, the Oakland parent, said the social pressure her children felt regarding recyclable products was palpable.

Still, she says, plasticware can be a pain to clean, and is not cheap. When she thinks it is likely that her daughters will lose the containers — if, for instance, they’re going on a field trip — she uses waxed-paper sleeves, like the kind bakeries use for cookies, to hold sandwiches instead.

“It’s still a no-no because you’re still having to throw that away, but it is biodegradable, it does compost, so you’re not as guilty,” she said.

Only the most important things are being taught to America's children in schools these days.

And it gets better!

We have a president that laments that ATMs have eliminated the jobs of bank tellers. I wonder what he thinks about the "green lunch" push eliminating the jobs of people who make paper lunch bags and similar things:

Despite the difficulties, the push for eco-friendly products in school lunches seems to be working, at least judging by sales data from retailers.

Sales of paper bags and sandwich bags, which once were school lunch must-haves, are declining. Between August 2010 and August 2011, unit sales of plastic sandwich bags sold declined by 3.17 percent, while paper bags fell by 13.19 percent, compared with the same period a year earlier, according to the market research firm SymphonyIRI Group.

At the Container Store, popular items this year include Japanese bento-box-style lunch boxes, Bobble water bottles with built-in filters, reusable cotton sandwich bags called snackTaxis, and PeopleTowels, machine-washable napkins.

Machine-washable napkins! For kids! In schools! How many people use those at home on an every day basis, let alone send them with their kinds to school?

Sunday, August 28, 2011

“This was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal.”

From the Washington Post comes, finally, a campaign promise that Obama has managed to keep:

The global sea level this summer is a quarter of an inch lower than last summer, according to NASA scientists, in sharp contrast to the gradual rise the ocean has experienced in recent years.

The change stems from two strong weather cycles over the Pacific Ocean — El Niño and La Niña — which shifted precipitation patterns, according to scientists at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. The two cycles brought heavy rains to Brazil and Amazon, along with drought to the southern United States.

Researchers monitored the ocean’s width, height, temperature and salinity through satellites and robot-operated floats, and presented their findings Aug. 8 and 9 at the annual Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) Science Team Meeting in Austin, Tex.

“This year the continents got an extra dose of rain, so much so that global sea levels actually fell over most of the last year,” said Carmen Boening, an oceanographer and climate scientist at the lab, in a statement.

“What this show is the impact La Niña and El Niño can have on global rainfall,” he said in an interview, adding scientists need to get a better sense of ice sheet dynamics before they can offer a more precise estimate of future sea level rise. “We really have a lot left to understand before we can do better.”

Hat tip: Ace.


Fault Lines

Friday, August 26, 2011

From the Interesting Coincidences File

Earlier this week I blogged about Comcast giving money to Dick Lugar (as a part of a larger post about the Senate race).

Comcast, according to ABC News, is the largest contributor to the reelection of Barack Obama:

Employees of media giant Comcast have contributed more money to President Obama’s reelection bid than employees from any other organization, according to a new analysis of Federal Election Commission data by the Center for Responsive Politics.

Comcast employees contributed nearly $80,000 directly to Obama for America and roughly $200,000 to the Obama Victory Fund, a joint account benefitting both the Obama campaign and Democratic National Committee, through the first half of 2011 records show.

Comcast, the nation’s largest video and internet services provider, is the parent company of NBCUniversal, which owns broadcast networks NBC and Telemundo among other assets.

President Obama has recently spent time with top Comcast executives, attending an intimate fundraiser at the home of Comcast executive vice president David Cohen in Philadelphia in June and a private “social reception” at the Martha’s Vineyard estate of Comcast CEO Brian Roberts earlier this week.

Roberts, who serves on the President's Council on Jobs and Competitiveness, has not yet personally contributed to Obama’s campaign, according to FEC records.

Cohen, however, is a top Obama fundraiser, contributing the legal maximum to both the campaign and the DNC, and bundling more than $500,000 in contributions for the 2012 cycle from his friends and associates.

Birds of a feather flock together much?

Imagine a Different Apple

Or no Apple at all.

Legal Insurrection:

Apple in many ways revolutionized and popularized personal computing. But what if….

  • we had been more concerned about the secretarial jobs and typewriter factories destroyed by Apple?
  • we made it so easy to unionize Apple that Apple had to be run like General Motors?
  • we imposed such employment mandates and controls that the cost of Apple expanding was prohibitive?
  • we demonized rather than idolized the new captains of the computer industry even though they became fabulously wealthy?
  • when Apple was on the verge of bankruptcy it had accepted a government bailout rather than working through its problems and emerging stronger than ever?

In other words, what if we had the economically repressive policies of the Obama administration?

We never would have known what we missed. And not just the technological convenience, but the thousands if not millions of jobs created in spin off companies and solo-geeks creating apps and all the other gear which makes computing and listening and viewing and creating what it is today.

Instead, we would have had television commercials with images of typewriter factories saved, and secretaries thanking the government for saving their jobs. Just like we have a President who laments the loss of bank clerk jobs due to ATMs.

Scary thought, no?

Mourdock Gets Endorsement from National Association for Gun Rights

Just in time for the big gun show this weekend in Indianapolis.

Today, the National Association for Gun Rights PAC announced their endorsement of Richard Mourdock (R - IN), a candidate for the Republican U.S. Senate nomination in Indiana.

“Richard Murdock will be a rock-solid leader for gun rights as a United States Senator,” declared Dudley Brown, Executive Director of the National Association for Gun Rights PAC.

“From fighting the U.N. Small Arms Treaty to defending the right to carry, gun owners can count on Richard Mourdock. I’m proud to endorse such a stalwart gun rights supporter,” continued Brown. “Mr. Mourdock will bring a much-needed brand of no-compromise, pro-gun leadership to Congress and Washington, D.C.”

Mourdock will face off against incumbent Senator Dick Lugar in the Indiana Republican primary.

“Senator Lugar has a long history of supporting gun control,” declared Brown. “Mr. Mourdock has pledged to support Hoosier gun rights, not attack them like Senator Lugar.”

As recently as 2010, Senator Lugar reiterated his support for banning so-called “assault weapons.” He has voted twice -- 1993 and 2004 -- to ban semi-automatic rifles.

Obama Golfs Through East Coast Earthquake

The Wall Street Journal's timeline of the earthquake:

Shortly before 3 p.m. Mr. Obama paused from his round at Farm Neck Golf Club in Oak Bluffs, Mass., to convene a conference call on the earthquake with top advisers, White House spokesman Josh Earnest said. The president was briefed on the scope of the earthquake and its impact on infrastructure in the affected areas up and down the East Coast.

“The president was told that there are no initial reports of major infrastructure damage, including at airports and nuclear facilities and that there were currently no requests for assistance,” Mr. Earnest said in a statement.

Mr. Obama, who has been vacationing on Martha’s Vineyard with his family since last Thursday, had arrived at Farm Neck Golf Club just after 1:30 p.m., about 20 minutes before the 5.9 magnitude earthquake hit. It is unclear if he, like many on Martha’s Vineyard, felt the earthquake at the time.

The president was seen talking on a cell phone after teeing off on the first hole.

Hot Air adds a reminder of the double standard:

He was on the course for an hour after the quake struck without comprehensive information about how bad it was? Bush spent seven minutes reading “My Pet Goat” after the planes went in and he’ll hear about it until the day he dies; imagine if the quake had knocked a few bridges down and it turned out later that Obama had spent the following hour teeing off. I’m amazed he didn’t run from the course as soon as he heard the news (presumably via that phone call after the first hole), just to be on the safe side. A lot of people were lucky today that things weren’t worse. He’s one of them.

Pence on the Summer Campaign Trail

Remember, Mike Pence has a full time job as a Congressman in addition to campaigning seemingly everywhere across the state.

I couldn't help but notice in the video that there are two water towers in the footage. One is for Linton and the other is for Sullivan. If you draw a line between those two towns in western Indiana, and go just a little bit south of the halfway point between them, you'll find the town of Sandborn, where John Gregg calls home when he's not being a lobbyist or a career politician.

Coincidence? One can't help but wonder. Pence is already campaigning statewide, including in Gregg's back yard.

Harrison County's Long Nightmare Finally Ends

Longtime readers of this blog are probably familiar with Mike Deatrick, the former two-term Democratic sheriff of Harrison County, who was indicted last spring on ten felony and two misdemeanor counts involving allegations of sexual harassment, intimidation, and destroying video recordings to cover up the aforementioned (among other charges).

Deatrick refused to resign as allegations piled up, including allegations of mistreatment of inmates at the county jail. A special prosecutor was brought in to handle the case; the prosecutor felt he was too close to Deatrick to be able to pursue the matter himself. The then-prosecutor lost a bid to be reelected last year. Deatrick's longtime political ally, two-time running mate, and chief deputy (who said during the campaign he'd had a late falling out with the increasingly unpopular incumbent sheriff) sought to be elected sheriff in his own right. He was soundly defeated last November as well, along with almost every Democrat on the ballot in Harrison County.

Monday, Deatrick plead guilty. In court, he admitted as a part of the plea deal to everything he spent so many years denying. He will not spend a single day in jail, but will be punished with a year and a half of "home incarceration" (house arrest).

Harrison County's long nightmare is finally over; it just didn't end anywhere near how most people in the county probably wanted it to.

The article from the Courier-Journal is after the leap, for anyone that wants to read about the conclusion to this tragic chapter of Harrison County history.

George W. Bush Remembers September 11

There's going to be a special interviewing him about September 11 this Sunday on the National Geographic Channel. That should make for some pretty interesting viewing. This video is an excerpt.

Photo of the Day: Boys Will Be Boys

A picture really is worth a thousand words.

Promises, Promises

Four Years of Bad Economy


Monday, August 22, 2011

Dick Lugar's Imaginary Friend

In the last election in my county, one of the local Republican candidates was the subject of some particularly nasty (and completely untrue and baseless) rumors.

This is, unfortunately, par for the course for politics in southern Indiana and it seems to be a particular tactic among certain Democrats in my county.

This candidate was new to politics, having never for office before. The candidate was sort of surprised to be subjected to this sort of thing, particularly since the rumors were so easy to disprove.

At one of the many chicken dinners that are the staple of campaigning for local office in these parts, one of the incumbent Democratic elected officials who was seeking reelection came up to the candidate and asked him how things were going.

"You know," the candidate said, "I've learned more new things about myself every day here lately."

The Democratic elected official immediately--and curiously--responded, "I didn't have anything to do with that."

It turned out that staffers in this elected official's office were out peddling the false rumors about the candidate (and the candidate wasn't even that particular elected official's opponent).

Come election day, the candidate won despite the rumors. In fact, the candidate won by a landslide. And the Democratic elected official got beat by a pretty good margin, too.

The endless rumors of a third candidate that seem to crop up with curious regularity in Indiana Republican Senate primary remind me of the rumors the candidate was hearing.

Invariably, some rumor comes up that somebody is considering a Senate bid.

When later asked if they are considering a Senate bid, the supposed candidate expresses no interest whatsoever. They, in essence, are learning new things about themselves--their supposed interest in being a Senate candidate--whenever these rumors come up.

At some point, this sort of pattern has got to get old.

Richard Mourdock isn't going to run for the United States Senate, they said, he's going to be Mike Pence's lieutenant governor.

This was news to Mourdock, who went on to declare his candidacy for the Senate. It was also presumably news to the Pence folks.

Then, with Mourdock in, in June we saw rumors from many of the same people that former Congressman David McIntosh was going to join the Senate primary.

This was news to McIntosh, who was instead eyeing a bid against Dan Burton in the 5th Congressional District.

With the McIntosh rumors shot down, in July--just one month later--we saw rumors from the same people again that former Congressman Chris Chocola was going to join the Senate primary.

This was news to Chocola, who heads up the Club for Growth and is very interested in seeing Dick Lugar defeated but is not interested in being a candidate to do so.

Notice a trend here? Sure, I knew you would.

Now comes the resurrection of Mike Delph, whose Senate candidacy is back from the grave of Delph failing the bar exam this past spring.

The impetus for this latest round of speculation about a Delph candidacy is a particularly curious, and rather obscure, campaign finance reporting error by the Lugar campaign in which they listed Delph as being the contact for a political action committee for Comcast. Delph had not been involved with them since 2007, four years ago.

Then this rather obscure campaign finance reporting error was somehow brought to the attention of a newspaper in Fort Wayne, which promptly mentioned it in a story. The cynic in me thinks that this information was fed to them by someone interested in making a Delph candidacy a topic of conversation again, but I digress.

This prompted Delph to ask for a correction, since he is no longer with the Comcast PAC (and isn't giving any money to Lugar either).

That request for a correction, in turn, led to a story about whether Delph was going to run or not, since Delph's habit when asked that is to regurgitate the same statement he has been giving to reporters since early this year.

Nothing had changed in Delph's answer to questions about him running, but there ended up being a story anyway.

Mike Delph, in a move that certainly made him no friends, then decided to criticize Mike Pence, Dick Lugar, and Richard Mourdock for not doing more to focus on municipal races.

This was a typical Delphic drive-by shooting. Pull the trigger, then aim after the rounds were fired off.

If Delph expected conservative adulation over him allowing his name to be floated as another candidate in the Senate race, or his criticisms about the 2011 elections, he must have been sorely disappointed. He was instead roundly criticized.

The Pence folks must have come down on Delph like a ton of bricks, because the next day he took the remarkable step of sending out an email listing all of Pence's fundraisers for 2011 candidates.

What Delph did not do was note that Richard Mourdock has spoken at almost forty Lincoln Day dinners this year, the primary fundraiser for most local parties that will be supporting municipal candidates running in cities and towns across the state.

Between them, Pence and Mourdock have spoken at roughly two thirds of the state's Lincoln Day dinners. Mourdock alone spoke at thirty-seven (by my last count). And they've done a lot for municipal candidates and local parties this year, while Mike Delph was busy missing almost half of his votes in the state senate and failing the bar exam.

This is not new; both candidates have done a lot for municipal candidates in prior years. I would wager that Pence and Mourdock did more for local parties and local candidates in 2007 than Mike Delph has done so far in 2011.

That doesn't include their help in the years in between, or the other assistance they have provided. Mourdock, for example, has for years donated Indianapolis Indians tickets and personal historical guided tours of the State Capitol that are often auctioned off as fundraisers at Lincoln Day dinners across the state.

Dick Lugar, of course, has been missing in action for a very long time when it comes to helping win municipal and local elections in Indiana. In this, certainly, Delph's criticism was spot-on.

But, regardless how nonsensical Delph's criticism of Pence and Mourdock was, his actions gave succor to the Lugar campaign's ceaseless efforts to pretend that the Senate race might have a third candidate.

One could be forgiven for thinking that Mike Delph is getting perverse pleasure in letting Mourdock twist in the wind, even as he is clearly being used by the Lugar team. The longer Delph floats out there undecided, the more money (particularly out of state money) sits on the sidelines and doesn't flow to Mourdock.

The floating of names for third candidates is a deliberate Lugar strategy. Lugar needs a third candidate to survive next May. And if he can't get one, he can at least try to make donors and outside groups think that there might be one, giving them pause to committing resources to his defeat.

The above examples indicate a deliberate Lugar strategy. They have set the bar for Mourdock's success as a candidate on his fundraising, and his fundraising will depend on him being the lone challenger to Lugar. So long as there is a chance (fictitious or not) that there will be a third candidate, a not insignificant amount of money sits on the sidelines and this false perception makes Mourdock appear a weaker candidate than he actually is in reality.

Does anyone seriously think that Mike Delph could run a better campaign than Richard Mourdock, or would be a stronger candidate? No one thinks such a thing. The only people that claim to do so are more interested in Lugar's reelection than they are in the success of a potential third challenger, or even the reality of there even being a third challenger.

The idea that a state senator that has never run on the ballot statewide with few to no Federal connections is going to enter the race and be a better candidate than someone who has been in the race for seven months, has run statewide twice, and continues to line up extensive national support is just absurd.

The grassroots of the party, to the extent never before seen with an incumbent sitting senator in this or any other state, spoke with one voice earlier this year when eighty percent of the county chairmen urged Mourdock to run. They didn't urge Mike Delph to run, or even wait for Delph to make up his mind (which he previously claimed he would do after the General Assembly was adjourned). They urged Richard Mourdock to run. And there is every indication that in late September, the state tea parties will follow suit.

If Mike Delph doesn't know these things, then he's not remotely near as intelligent a man as I have always believed him to be. Either that or he is living in a fantasyland constructed entirely for his benefit by the whispered sweet nothings of the likes of Brian Howey and David Willkie.

Right now, Dick Lugar has only an imaginary friend to be the third candidate in this race. If he wants, Mike Delph can be Dick Lugar's friend. But I think everyone that wants to see Lugar beat would just as soon not see that happen.

I'm inclined, his shoot-then-aim style notwithstanding, to think that Mike Delph is a pretty smart guy. Richard Mourdock is twenty years older than him (and Lugar has twenty years on Mourdock and is twice Delph's age, by comparison). If Mourdock is elected, and serves two terms, Mike Delph (perhaps by then even a United States congressman and not merely a state senator) will still be younger than Mourdock when campaigning to succeed him.

In the end, Mike Delph can run in 2012. The question won't be whether he can win; he can't. The question will be whether conservatives in the state will ever forgive him for it if he wants to run for something else later on.

Any fair reading of the mood of conservatives in the Republican Party is that they are becoming less forgiving of such things, not more. Delph almost certainly has to know that.

Tim Berry, Future Lieutenant Governor?

Might State Auditor (and former State Treasurer) Tim Berry be Mike Pence's running mate next year?

His hometown newspaper thinks so:

State Auditor Tim Berry might not be ready to lobby for the job of lieutenant governor, but he already has the lingo down.

“I believe that I’ve played a role in making a difference, in building a better government, building a better Indiana,” he said. “And if I continue to believe that and others continue to believe we can make a difference in the future, I’m open to that. How that role is, what that role is, I really don’t know today.”

Of course, building an even better Indiana is 2012 GOP gubernatorial front-runner Mike Pence’s slogan.

And the 50-year-old Berry’s name is one of several being suggested as a lieutenant governor running mate.

“I think he’s been so successful running statewide that he has a platform to do something else if he wants to. And he has conducted himself in such a way that his integrity and credibility is a given,” said Murray Clark, former head of the Indiana Republican Party. “He has his priorities in order, too; he really balances his public life and family in a neat way.”

Berry lives with his wife and two sons – a fifth-grader and high school sophomore – in Indianapolis. He spends a lot of his spare time going to the boys’ hockey and lacrosse games, and his office is full of family mementos.

The two-term auditor has hired an outside public relations consultant but says it’s not to raise his political profile. The firm is handling communications duties that used to be in-house before the position was eliminated to save money.

Berry concedes he has considered in the past running for Congress – both in his hometown of Fort Wayne and more recently in central Indiana – but decided he didn’t want to be just one of 435 U.S. representatives.

He seems more open to the lieutenant governor position.

“If Mike Pence believes that my record and my skill set would assist him as a partner in leading Indiana forward, I’d be flattered,” Berry said. “And you certainly never say no to the governor or the potential governor. Plus, this is where my heart is.”

Pence said he hasn’t had any conversations about a running mate, focusing instead on building his organization, volunteers and fundraising to win the Republican nomination.

But he says that Berry is an “outstanding public servant and my respect for him is boundless, as it is among most Hoosier Republicans.”

Berry would bring a lot to the ticket, several politicos said. After all, not many people have been elected four times on a statewide ticket and served more than 20 years in state and local government.

Berry spent eight years as Allen County treasurer; eight years as state treasurer and is now in his second term as state auditor.

He appears to be well regarded in Republican circles.

“He’s not a guy with a high profile, but he is always there for the party, always there for the governor and always there for his colleagues,” said Ed Feigenbaum, editor of the Indiana Legislative Insight newsletter. “If you do the job quietly and well, you can present yourself as a candidate for a higher office. And he has a record of achievement and performance he can point to.”

Berry has reduced spending in his state offices, implemented the state’s first up-to-the-minute financial system, led nationally recognized efforts for Indiana’s wireless 911 technology and pushed tax credits for Indiana’s college savings plan.

Much of his experience is administrative; he has a bit of a blank slate on policy and social issues, preferring to focus on fiscal discipline.

Andrew Downs, director of the Mike Downs Center for Indiana Politics at IPFW, said if Pence is looking to soften his strong conservative image, Berry would be a great choice.

“Pence could campaign to the partisan ideologues, and Berry could target the moderates and independents,” he said.

Berry also would bring some geographic balance to a possible Pence ticket – if you count Berry as being from northeast Indiana. He lived in Fort Wayne until elected to state office. Since then, he and his family have lived in Indianapolis.

“Our kids go to school here, we go to church here,” Berry said. “But I still miss Casa’s, Coney Island, my morning runs through Foster Park.”

Berry’s biggest negative perhaps is his lack of flash.

“I don’t think people forget him, but I just don’t think he pops to mind when people are thinking about high-profile candidates,” Downs said.

And Feigenbaum said he hasn’t excelled in fundraising or name recognition.

“I’m not sure he’s particularly well known among the electorate even though he has been a statewide candidate four times,” he said.

For his part, Berry said all the talk about his strengths and weaknesses is all inside-baseball talk.

“The average voter at the end of the day isn’t concerned with someone’s running mate,” he said.

I think it's a bit early for Mike Pence to be naming his running mate (though probably not too early to be thinking about it who might be). There are many good possibilities; Tim Berry is almost certainly among them.

Telling Graph about the Obama Economy

From National Review comes this graph comparing the rate of private sector hiring to the rate of hiring for government regulatory jobs:

Fundraiser Invite for Democratic Judge in Marion County Imply Justice for Sale

Hah. Hah. Hah.

Real funny, right?

Marion County Democratic Party chairman Ed Treacy thinks so. After all, the fundraiser was for his wife.

Some are raising questions about a fundraising flier for a Marion County judge that seems to offer favorable rulings in exchange for campaign contributions.

The invitation sent out in support of Judge Becky Pierson-Treacy promoted a fundraising gathering set for next month at the law office of Linda Pence.

Under the heading of suggested contributions, it lists $150 as sustained, $250 as affirmed, $500 as so ordered and $1,000 as a "favorable ruling."

Former Marion County Judge Gary Miller told 6News' Derrik Thomas he thought the flier was a joke at first.

"It appears that there may be justice for sale," he said. "Those kind of things, even as a joke, are not to be done at the behest of a judge or the judge's campaign committee, and this flier would fly in the face of these rules."

Pierson-Treacy presides in Court 19, but 6News was told she and her husband, Marion County Democratic Party Chairman Ed Treacy, are out of town on vacation.

When reached by phone Friday, Treacy took responsibility for the language on the flier.

"If you want to blame someone, blame me. It was not the best use of language," he said.

Any investigation or complaint against a specific judge is confidential. However, if the Judicial Qualifications Commission files formal charges, that information is made public.

"We require our judges to act in a manner that promotes confidence in the judicial branch," said Kathryn Dolan, spokeswoman for the Indiana Supreme Court. "They must always act with fairness and impartiality. Even the appearance of impropriety, or the appearance that something is unfair, is against the judicial canons."

The flier indicated that it had been approved by Pierson-Treacy's campaign.

6News was told Friday evening that the fundraiser had been canceled. Pence, who was set to host the event, did not return calls for comment Friday.

More Information: Judge Becky Pierson-Treacy Fundraising Flier

And that's Linda Pence that was hosting the fundraiser. She was the Democratic candidate for attorney general in 2008.

Unopposed Candidates Removed from Ballot?

This is a very bad idea. Just because a candidate doesn't have an opponent doesn't mean that they shouldn't be listed on the ballot. Bad government flourishes in the dark.

People ought to know who their elected officials are, even if they are not opposed on the ballot.

A new Indiana law that strips from ballots the names of candidates facing no election opponents has upset candidates, political parties and election officials who predict the blank spaces on ballots will confuse voters.

The Journal & Courier reported that the ballot provision cleared the General Assembly this spring as part of a lengthy bill changing various election rules and procedures. It took effect July 1.

But the newspaper reported that local officials only recently learned about it, and some officials are still trying to decode the rule, which removes the names and offices of candidates facing no opponents from ballots.

West Lafayette Clerk-Treasurer Judy Rhodes, whose name won't appear on the November ballot because she's unopposed, said she was taken aback when she recently learned about the provision.

"The idea that persons who are standing before the community for elected office become invisible on the ballot is a very surprising policy decision," Rhodes said.

Lafayette Mayor Tony Roswarski, who figured to lead a Democratic ticket on November ballots but whose name also was removed because he faces no opponent, said he's not pleased about the new law or the fact that it wasn't discussed openly during the legislative session.

He said it would make more sense to leave cities the option to remove uncontested races from ballots, but not require it.

Republican State Rep. Kathy Richardson of Noblesville, who sponsored the legislation, said the purpose was to cut costs and create more efficient ballots. She said cost savings would be most evident in places that still use printed ballots, such as Marion County.

Republicans, including Rhodes, and Democrats in Tippecanoe County are bracing for what the change will mean for campaigning and voter turnout in November.

Heather Maddox, chairwoman of Tippecanoe County's Democratic Party, predicts the law will affect voter turnout and puzzle voters.

"It's also going to cause a lot of confusion," said Maddox, who also is co-director of the county's Elections and Voter Registration office.

Maddox and Jared Bond, the Republican co-director of the elections office, are already bracing for the calls they'll receive from surprised voters wondering why mayoral, clerk or city council names are missing from their ballots.

Morgan County Clerk Peggy Mayfield, who's the legislative liaison for the Indiana Association of County Clerks, said the wording of the bill as passed is different than what she thought it would be.

She said the association championed the change, but when discussing the idea last spring Mayfield's understanding was that it would only negate ballot names and offices when there were no contested races in a district.

"This is not what we expected as the result, but that's what happened," Mayfield said.

She said it's possible the clerk's association would seek changes in a future legislative session. But for elections being held this fall, the new law will be the mandate.

Brian Vargus, a political science professor with Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, closely follows state government but only recently learned of the new law's provision.

He said if the law results in fewer voters casting ballots it would likely hurt candidates lower on tickets. But conversely, Vargus said the change could push candidates for some lower-profile offices to campaign more than they normally would.

Encore: Savor the Summer of Obama

I posted this back in mid July.

But given just how awful this summer has been for the economy and for the country, let's look at it again.

No, it's not a parody.

Before the fall brings us down, before the election season begins in earnest with all its nastiness and vulgarity, before the next batch of stupid scandals and gaffes, before Sarah Palin tries to convert her movie into reality and Joe Biden resumes his imitation of an embarrassing uncle and Newt and Callista Gingrich creep us all out, can we just enjoy Obama for a moment? Before the policy choices have to be weighed and the hard decisions have to be made, can we just take a month or two to contemplate him the way we might contemplate a painting by Vermeer or a guitar lick by the early-seventies Rolling Stones or a Peyton Manning pass or any other astounding, ecstatic human achievement? Because twenty years from now, we're going to look back on this time as a glorious idyll in American politics, with a confident, intelligent, fascinating president riding the surge of his prodigious talents from triumph to triumph. Whatever happens this fall or next, the summer of 2011 is the summer of Obama.

At least I don't think it's a parody.

But could they really be serious?

It's scary that they apparently are.

Confirmed: Kristi Risk to Challenge Bucshon

You heard it here first.

From the Indy Star:

U.S. Rep. Larry Bucshon, a freshman lawmaker who represents the 8th District, will be challenged again in the Republican primary next year by Kristi Risk, a tea party favorite who last year narrowly lost the eight-person race.

The Spencer stay-at-home mom announced her candidacy Wednesday. She told the Evansville Courier & Press that she's challenging Bucshon because she thinks he's "a placeholder, not a fighter" in Congress.

Risk, who began her campaign last year with fliers that she designed and printed on her home computer, was backed by scores of passionate volunteers against the better-funded, party-backed Bucshon.

Bucshon defeated Democrat Trent Van Haaften in the general election.

Obama's Just Playing Through

Red State has a pretty good thought about Obama's vacation, namely why anyone would want him on the job. At least when he's not working, he can't be continuing to make things worse.

Dear People Who Think Obama Should Not Go On Vacation:

Are you out of your ever living mind?!?!?!

Have you not seen what destruction on our economy and morale this man has wrought for three years?!?!

And you want him to go back to Washington, D.C.? Congress too? You are out of your mind.

The correct answer is STAY ON VACATION ALL OF YOU. The stock market tends to do better when Congress is gone. The world tends to run fine when this President is on vacation. Our freedoms cannot be further encroached while Obama is in Martha’s Vineyard.

Please, stop asking this man to come back to Washington where everything he touches tends to break down.

When he comes back in September he says he will have a plan to create jobs. The last several plans he had to create jobs killed or destroyed more private sector jobs than even the most radical leftist could have hoped for. Please, please, please stop saying he needs to come back to Washington.

Mr. President, you take as much vacation as you want. In fact, if you want to leave the country and go visit your relatives in Kenya or just go for a safari or go see your old stomping grounds in Indonesia or, heck, take the family to see penguins in Antarctica or even go to Bora Bora, I’d be glad to have you take say . . . the next twelve months off.

And even better, I’m sure we can find some people to fund your vacation other than the American taxpayers who you’ve been using to fund your political campaign bus tour.

Imagine If Your Family Lived Like Obama...

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Kristi Risk to Announce Primary Challenge to Larry Bucshon on Wednesday Morning

So sayeth the grape vine.

Risk will be in Evansville tomorrow, August 17, at 11:30 a.m. at the library in Oaklyn "to listen to the concerns of area citizens and share some important news." Word has it "some important news" constitutes an announcement of a Congressional bid.

Apparently it didn't take much for her to be drafted.

It's strikingly easy to draft a candidate when the candidate is drafting themselves.

They don't call it the Bloody Eighth for nothing.

Poll: Perry in Command with 11 Point Lead

That didn't take long at all.

Texas Governor Rick Perry, the new face in the race for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination, has jumped to a double-digit lead over Mitt Romney and Michele Bachmann with the other announced candidates trailing even further behind.

The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey of Likely Republican Primary voters, taken Monday night, finds Perry with 29% support. Romney, the former Massachusetts governor who ran unsuccessfully for the GOP presidential nomination in 2008, earns 18% of the vote, while Bachmann, the Minnesota congresswoman who won the high-profile Ames Straw Poll in Iowa on Saturday, picks up 13%.

Texas Congressman Ron Paul, who was a close second to Bachmann on Saturday, has the support of nine percent (9%) of Likely Primary Voters, followed by Georgia businessman Herman Cain at six percent (6%) and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich with five percent (5%). Rick Santorum, former U.S. senator from Pennsylvania, and ex-Utah Governor Jon Huntsman each get one percent (1%) support, while Michigan Congressman Thaddeus McCotter comes in statistically at zero.

Sixteen percent (16%) of primary voters remain undecided.

Judge Shoots Down Lawsuit to Voucher Program

So when will the ISTA stop wasting their members' money?

From the Indy Star:

A lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the state's school-voucher program might have hit a roadblock Monday.

A Marion County judge said he will not halt the program while the lawsuit works its way through the court system because he thinks the claim has little chance of succeeding.

The ruling denying a temporary injunction came as a blow to teachers and parents who sued Gov. Mitch Daniels and Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Bennett in July, claiming the voucher program is unconstitutional.

Teresa Meredith, vice president of the Indiana State Teachers Association and a plaintiff in the case, said she's not sure whether they will continue to press the case, but they plan to meet with their attorneys today to discuss their strategy.

"I certainly hope we do something to move it forward, but I'm not sure what we'll do," Meredith said.

The judge's decision pleased Bennett.

"I don't think there's a question that this is one of what will likely be a number of steps that will validate the fact that this is constitutional and in the best interests of Indiana children and families," he said.

The plaintiffs argued that the state cannot use public money to benefit primarily religious institutions, such as Catholic and Christian schools.

Of the more than 240 schools that are participating in the program, all but six are religious, attorney John West said last week as he tried to persuade Marion Superior Court Judge Michael Keele to grant his request for a preliminary injunction.

Indiana Solicitor General Thomas Fisher argued that the money will be used to provide a better education for children, not to directly benefit religious schools. He added that parents can use the vouchers to send children to nonreligious schools in other districts.

In his ruling, Keele said the plaintiffs "failed to demonstrate any likelihood of success on the merits" of the case, a key criterion for getting a preliminary injunction.

Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller, whose office is representing the state, issued a statement Monday calling the ruling "a victory for Hoosier students and families" who plan to use the program.

The Definitive Defense of Perry's Jobs Record

Already we're hearing liberals, Democrats, and Perry's opponents scoff at the record of jobs creation in Texas during Rick Perry's time as governor.

This article, written by someone who doesn't even support Perry, should put those criticisms to rest.


White Flag

Lugargeddon: Mark Levin, Herman Cain, More Mourdock Endorsements Roll In

Richard Mourdock's been having a good couple of weeks.

First, a poll from the Club for Growth showed Mourdock ahead of Lugar, 34% to 32%.

Then Lugar rushed out his own poll trying to make things look better, saying that the race was actually Lugar leading Mourdock,45 % to 31%.

Reassuring? Not so much, particularly when the incumbent has 100% name ID, is supposedly beloved, and is actually considerably worse off than Marco Rubio was against Charlie Crist at this point in that race in 2009. Back then, Crist was leading Rubio two-to-one.

The poll was so bad for Lugar that the Mourdock folks had to be happy with the numbers. I suspect that the Lugar people can't be happy with the results; they had just spent over a hundred thousand dollars on TV ads to bolster their numbers and that was the best they could do.

The entire narrative of their campaign, based on a false perception of invincibility, was destroyed by their own poll. The emperor truly has no clothes.

If Lugar was as beloved and invincible as his campaign has so long contended, he would not be below 50% in race where he has near-universal name ID. No incumbent in such a situation is in a good situation for reelection. For someone to be undecided about Dick Lugar is for someone to not want to reelect him but to not know enough about his challenger (a problem that will be solved soon enough).

And with the polling running Mourdock's way (even Lugar's own polling showing how winnable the race is), now come the endorsements.

Joining Steve Forbes, Gun Owners of America, the National Republican Trust PAC, the Minuteman PAC, Erick Erickson, Citizens United PAC, and three-quarters of Indiana's Republican county chairmen come two new additions.

Last week came the endorsement of conservative radio talk show host and constitutional lawyer Mark Levin (audio here).

This week it was presidential hopeful and conservative favorite Herman Cain, who decided to voice his support for and endorse Mourdock while at an event hosted by the Indiana Republican Party in downtown Indianapolis.

Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain is backing Indiana State Treasurer Richard Mourdock's challenge to U.S. Sen. Richard Lugar.

Cain told a crowd of Indiana Republicans Monday evening that he had met with Mourdock and decided to support his insurgent campaign.

Cain was in Indiana helping to raise the profile of the state in the 2012 presidential race.

Indiana Republican Party Chairman Eric Holcomb in June invited nine Republican candidates to campaign in Indiana. Cain was the first to accept the invitation.

Cain is coming off a fifth-place showing in Iowa's Republican straw poll. He said an extended Republican primary contest would help keep candidates like himself in the race, along with front-runners like former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and Rep. Michelle Bachmann.


Obama: Lincoln Had It Almost as Bad as I Do


Yes, he actually said that.

Power Line:

Byron York is chronicling the outrages committed by President Obama on his taxpayer-funded campaign swing through Iowa and the Midwest.

At his campaign-style town hall meeting in Decorah, Iowa, President Obama compared the criticism he has received from Republicans and other political opponents to the troubles faced by President Abraham Lincoln during the civil war. “Lincoln,” the president said, “they used to talk about him almost as bad as they talk about me.”

Almost as bad! Lincoln was “the original gorilla,” a sub-human, to the Democrats. It is impossible to imagine the hysteria that would result from any such depiction of Obama. But that was the least of it: the Southern states, in the grip of the Democratic Party, seceded rather than be governed by an anti-slavery President Lincoln. In the North, treasonous Copperhead Democrats bedeviled Lincoln’s administration throughout the Civil War. And a group of rabid Democrat/secessionists eventually assassinated him.

We have remarked before on Obama’s striking ignorance of history, but even he must understand that his claim to be more abused than Lincoln is disgraceful. If a narcissist like Obama were capable of shame, this would be an appropriate time to show it.

Democrats, it must be noted, are singularly incapable of shame.

Why would Obama be any different?

Obama's Debt-End Tour

From the RNC:

As great as the video is, it's sort of misnamed really. The debt isn't anywhere near ending.

Uphill Climb

Monday, August 15, 2011

Richard Mourdock Speaks to Red State

The video is from the annual Red State Gathering; it's the same event where Rick Perry announced he was running for president.

This is probably the first time that folks outside of Indiana have seen Mourdock speak; it is one of his best communications mediums. He does so much better speaking in formats like this than he does in some of the web videos (which are probably the primary way most people outside of Indiana may have seen Mourdock before events like this).

Yet Another Bubble to Worry About

This time in higher education:

That's the sort of trend that can't continue forever.

Which leads to Scott's First Law: If something can't continue forever, it won't.

And Now, Dick Lugar on the Economy

Remember, the economy is still strong. We're making progress.

That was last week. Now this:

"To those who denigrate the United States, I say, 'Let's get real.' The dollar is the currency of the world now. It has replaced everything else, simply because there is no confidence in anything else. As a result, 61 percent of all reserves in the world are held in dollars now. Our bonds are the only ones being purchased by other countries.

"We are the only country that has a fleet that can guard the high seas and make foreign trade possible. Sometimes, we are the only country that can send troops abroad to make any difference in the rest of the world. We had to pick up NATO troops to take them to Afghanistan and bring them back, almost like a taxi service. Those are the facts of life in the world."

I don't think it's denigrating the United States to acknowledge that we face very real challenges as a country, and the current elected officials in Washington have contributed greatly to those challenges and are not doing enough to set things right again. Fresh perspectives and new eyes are needed for these problems.

As important and dominant as the dollar remains, how does its position compare to what it was three years ago? Six years ago? Twelve years ago?

What percent of reserves were held in dollars in 2008 when Obama was elected? 64.1%

In 2006, when Lugar was seeking reelection? 65.7%

In 2000, when Lugar was seeking reelection? 70.5%

To "get real" would be to acknowledge that the metric Lugar chose to emphasize his argument was substantially better in 2008 than today, better in 2006 than 2008, and better in 2000 than 2006.

And, yes, the United States Navy is the largest in the world and secures global trade routes. How are we going to pay for all of those ships (or the planes to provide taxi service to other nations fighting alongside us in Afghanistan) with exploding entitlements, barely restrained discretionary spending increases, and our current economic situation?

Lugar needs to get real.

Tweet of the Day: Obama Poll Numbers

39% of Americans still worried about being called racists
- Jim Treacher

In reference, of course, to Obama's job approval numbers plunging in the latest Gallup poll to 39% (and his disapproval number climbing to 54%).

In New York, a reliably liberal state, Obama's approval ratings are also underwater (though not quite as bad):

For the first time since President Obama took the oath of office, his disapproval rating among Empire State residents is higher than his approval rating. Of 1,640 registered voters queried in the survey, 45% said they approve of the job the president is doing, while 49% said they disapprove.

I once worked with an unrepentant and unwavering hippy. He was liberal in virtually every outlook. Once, I came by his cubicle and he had a photo of Jimmy Carter pinned up on the wall.

So, daring the office taboo about politics, I asked him about the picture and received a brief explanation. He'd gotten it in some sort of fundraising mailing asking him to send money to one of Carter's causes (probably watching rigged elections in some third world leftist dictatorship like Venezuela or something). He'd responded by sending in a small check (he was no limousine liberal).

Then, unbidden, he went on to add, "I only voted for Carter once, though."

"What?" I said, not expecting to hear that at all.

"Times were bad, man," my coworker said. He apparently felt that no further explanation was needed, and I never sought one.

I never did ask him if he voted for Reagan the second time or not. I later found out that he voted for Mitch Daniels twice, because he believed (the first time) that Indiana wasn't doing all that well and (the second time) because he believed that Mitch was doing a good job.

I haven't asked him what he currently thinks of Obama, but I can't help but think that I might get an answer similar to the one he gave in 1980, and the one that even liberals in New York are starting to give according to the poll above.

"Times are bad, man."

The Winds of Winter


Mirror, Mirror on the Wall...

...he's worse than Jimmy Carter after all.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Lugar: “The American economy Is Still Strong... We're Making Progress”

What planet is Dick Lugar on?

9% unemployment.

$4 a gallon gas.

Zero economic growth.

Record debt and deficits.

The country's credit rating just got downgraded.

The stock market is in the tank.

And yet he says in an interview with WDRB Fox 41 in Louisville that the economy is strong and we're making progress?

Isn't that the line that the Democrats have been using since the "recovery summer"?

And we all know how far from reality that was.

The quote:

One of the longest-serving members of the U.S. Congress says we should not be worried about what's happening on Wall Street. Republican Senator Richard Lugar says Americans need to remember the economy is moving forward.

He had some encouraging words for everyone the day after a very discouraging trading day: "The American economy is still strong, that we're making progress although it's very slow in terms of job creation, and that we still have a dollar that is the world currency and we are still selling bonds to everybody all over the world despite the S&P downgrade."


Keep in mind that he gave this interview on Tuesday. The stock market lost over six hundred points on Monday. It lost over five hundred points on Wednesday, with a dead cat bounce on Tuesday that was more than wiped out the next day. The market has lost just over two thousand points in the past three weeks.

And yet Dick Lugar says we're "moving forward."

Of course, remember that Lugar is principally concerned with how things are impacting his job, as opposed to how they are impacting our jobs.

WI Recall Target Looks to Mitch's Example

What began here, is being repeated out there.

From National Review:

In an interview with National Review Online earlier this week, Darling was optimistic about the future for Walker’s agenda, even as Big Labor and progressive activists continue to target Republicans. “I hope what happens is that we become more like Indiana, where Gov. Mitch Daniels did what he did,” she said. Daniels, she explained, championed fiscal reform and “then saw his poll numbers get really down, really bad. But a year or two later, he ran and got 60 percent of the vote. That’s what I’m hoping will happen here, that people recognize that what we did is working.”

State Senator Alberta Darling survived the effort by big labor and the Democratic Party to recall her on Tuesday.

Austerity pays political dividends in the long term, as Mitch Daniels proved (and perhaps in the shorter term too, as Alberta Darling proved).

Lugar: I Don't Need to Prove I'm Conservative

Seriously. He actually said that.

I suppose there's two ways to answer that.

1. Of course not, because Lugar isn't a conservative and thus has nothing to prove.

2. Really? He's been trying hard to pretend he's a conservative ever since Mourdock started running against him.

The winning line came in an interview with WAVE 3 in Louisville, Kentucky.

The financial crisis is sure to be on the minds of voters when they head to the polls next year. The debate is already raging in states like Indiana, where Senator Richard Lugar is in the fight of his political life.

The Tea Party wants to end Lugar's 30-plus year Senate career, and the economy will be central to the campaign so I asked Lugar to talk debt, spending cuts and his Tea Party challenger.

"I'm not certain I need to prove how conservative I am," said the six-term U.S. Senator who is locked in a tough campaign with his Tea Party opponent for the Republican nomination, Indiana Treasurer Richard Mourdock.

Lugar voted in favor of the deal to raise the U.S. debt ceiling to more than $14 trillion to avoid default.

Lessons from the Land of Milk & Cheese

Imagine this for a moment. Labor unions poured twenty million dollars into six state senate recount races in Wisconsin.

That was more money than was spent on every single state senate race in Indiana, combined, in 2010.

That was probably more money than was spent on every single state house race in Indiana, combined, in 2010.

In fact, it was around the same amount of money that was spent by every candidate of every party in Indiana's nine Congressional races in 2010, combined.

That's a lot of money. It's not exactly the sort of money that labor unions have laying around in the cushions of their couch. When you spend that much money on something, you have less money to spend on other things later. And it's even worse (for the unions; it's far better for Wisconsin taxpayers) that they didn't accomplish what they set out to do.

Twenty million dollars, the full power of American organized labor, brought to bear on six tiny state senate districts in the formerly Obama-carried state of Wisconsin managed to upset two Republican state senators. Two successful recalls out of six. Ten million dollars per successful attempt.

One successfully-recalled Republican wasn't living in his district and was instead living with his mistress; his wife helped get him recalled.

The other was in a district where the Republican, who had been the subject of various ethics complaints, previously only won by a razor-thin margin.

The paragon of political triumph the ousting of these two state senators was not.

If anything, it was a spectacularly expensive failure.

And they want to do it all over again, this time targeting Governor Scott Walker.

Good luck with that.

Erick Erickson:

The biggest lesson I think the GOP should take away from this is what actually happened. The GOP played to form. They won their policy victory in the legislature and went home proud. To them it was the end. But to the left, they had not yet begun to fight.

The GOP nearly got caught flat footed. Luckily, as much as the GOP played it right, the Democrats overplayed their hand, enraging Republican voters enough to mobilize to combat sore losers. I think we can also extrapolate that unions are on the verge of becoming paper tigers, but I suspect after they analyze just how they squandered $20 million they won’t repeat the same mistakes, however much I hope they will.

Another big lesson for the GOP is that reforms the media casts off as “deeply unpopular” among favorite slogans often times turn out to be supported by people. The GOP in Washington should learn something from this on that front. Given the caving on issues Republicans in congress routinely do because the media convinces them the public hates them, the GOP in Washington should get some Wisconsin GOP testicular fortitude. Ironically, I suspect Congressman McHenry’s Chief of Staff who thinks I’m “officially” rooting against the GOP would probably choose to ignore this piece of advice.

Beyond all that, though, I would be very cautious for either side to extrapolate much to a national level anything about these recall elections, which are inherently different styles of elections than normal elections.

Nonetheless, go toast the Wisconsin GOP and laugh at the $20 million the unions now won’t have next year. It is a beautiful thing.

Sean Trende of Real Clear Politics:

There are four takeaways here. First, it will be more difficult for Republicans to advance their agenda further in Wisconsin. This may not matter, since most of that agenda has already been enacted, but the slender one-vote majority leaves them no room for error. Remember, one Republican voted against Walker’s budget earlier this year; if that vote were held today, the GOP probably would have lost.

Second, the Democrats’ chances of taking back the state Senate in the near future are limited. Darling’s district becomes about nine points more Republican after redistricting, and the “odd-numbered” seats, which will be eligible for recall next year, were shored up as well.

Third, in light of this second defeat for Wisconsin Democrats, a successful recall of Walker next year seems unlikely. The one argument Democrats can make is that these recalls were largely fought in Republican-leaning districts, while Walker’s recall will be fought in a state that is generally a swing state. All they have to do is reduce his 2010 showing by three points or so. And, of course, the national mood can change quickly, as we learned in 2010. Regardless, unless things change, it will be much harder to convince a top-tier challenger to run, or to attract money for the race.

Fourth, and most importantly, it shows the limits of labor’s political clout. Twenty years ago it probably could have delivered these races, and 40 years ago the law that started this whole mess would have been almost unthinkable. Rather than sending a message of labor’s strength to GOP governors in the rust belt, this campaign may have made plain its limits.

Tweet of the Day

Somewhere in Wisconsin a tear falls on a t-shirt of Che Guevara wearing a cheesehead hat.
- Justin Hart

Washington Honey Badgers

Photo of the Day: Hacked Road Sign

This is probably not the best medium to express that message.

He Cannot Not Tell a Lie

The Only Time Obama Is the Adult in the Room

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

A Primary Challenge for Larry Bucshon?

It seems some folks were handing out a flyer "drafting" Kristi Risk at the Strassenfest Parade this past weekend in Jasper.

Risk came in second in the Republican Party primary in the old 8th District in 2010 by about two thousand votes to Larry Buchson, who went on to win the general election.

The flyers seek to "draft" her to run again for an encore match against Bucshon.

The flyer has no disclaimer on it (nor does the mentioned website or Facebook page), so it's not clear who paid for it and is behind it.

Obama: “We're Not Even Halfway There Yet”

That's right. Millions of Americans still have jobs and aren't getting government handouts. There's hard work to be done.

Dear Leader:

"It's been a long, tough journey. But we have made some incredible strides together. Yes, we have. But the thing that we all ought to remember is that as much as good as we have done, precisely because the challenges were so daunting, precisely because we we were inheriting so many challenges, that we're not even halfway there yet. When I said 'change we can believe in' I didn't say 'change we can believe in tomorrow.' Not change we can believe in next week. We knew this was going to take time because we've got this big, messy, tough democracy," President Obama said at a campaign fundraiser in Chicago on Wednesday night.

Bob Schieffer Owns David Axelrod

The key exchange:

Axelrod: “We are in a different place than we were the day he did that interview.”

Schieffer: “We are, things are worse than they were.”

Sort of sums it up.

And when even Bob Schieffer is saying as much, that tells you just how much trouble Obama is in.

Lugar Refuses No Tax Pledge

Principles are for suckers, you see. They prevent guys like Dick Lugar from getting Republicans to agree with Democrats more often.

Campaign pledges, like Grover Norquist's Taxpayer Protection Pledge, are written affirmations of principle by politicians, a group not normally known for their ability to adhere to principle or promise without such things being in writing.

I can understand in that context why a career politician like Dick Lugar wants no part of having to state certain principles in writing; it would make it much more difficult for him to disregard them after the election is over (and he doesn't have to answer to conservatives ever again).

From the Associated Press:

When anti-tax crusader Grover Norquist visited the Indiana Statehouse last week, he made a public plea for U.S. Sen. Richard Lugar to sign his anti-tax pledge.

But he might not be able to persuade the veteran senator to get on board.

Lugar is the only Republican in the state's Congressional delegation who hasn't signed Norquist's pledge, which requires the signer to “oppose and vote against any and all efforts to increase taxes.” The pledge is popular in tea party circles, and for Lugar, who faces a tough primary challenge from State Treasurer Richard Mourdock, a tea party favorite, signing it might seem to make sense.

But Lugar says he won't sign any political pledges because they tie lawmakers' hands. He told a group at a Kiwanis Club event in Indianapolis last month that the new generation of Washington lawmakers has made so many ironclad guarantees that negotiating a compromise on issues like raising the nation's debt ceiling has become nearly impossible.

“A good number of members said they are not in a position to vote for any plan,” Lugar said of debt ceiling talks.

Pledges, many of them advanced from the right, are proliferating as candidates get closer to 2012. Norquist's Taxpayer Protection Pledge is one of the oldest and has arguably the broadest reach in the nation. Since Norquist began selling it to lawmakers in 1986, the pledge has gathered signatures of more than 1,000 lawmakers.

The pledge has been at the center of the national debate over the debt ceiling because of its broad and near-absolute influence on the many lawmakers who have signed it.

Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform, said he understands Lugar's concerns.

“You don't want to take the pledge unless you know you can keep it,” he said.

Mourdock, by the way, signed the no taxes pledge that Lugar refused to sign.

Welcome to the Recovery

Perry on the Brink


Rick Perry intends to use a speech in South Carolina on Saturday to make clear that he's running for president, POLITICO has learned.

According to two sources familiar with the plan, the Texas governor will remove any doubt about his White House intentions during his appearance at a RedState conference in Charleston.

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It's uncertain whether Saturday will mark a formal declaration, but Perry's decision to disclose his intentions the same day as the Ames straw poll — and then hours later make his first trip to New Hampshire — will send shock waves through the race and upend whatever results come out of the straw poll.

Immediately following his speech in South Carolina, Perry will make his New Hampshire debut at a house party at the Portsmouth-area home of a state representative, Pamela Tucker, the Union Leader reported Monday. Tucker was among the Granite Staters who went to Texas last week to encourage Perry to run.

Perry is expected to head to Iowa in the days following his New Hampshire trek, too, POLITICO has learned.

He's expected to make a formal kickoff in Texas, possibly next week, sources familiar with the planning said.

This week, the Texan will continue the private meetings he's held in Austin for the past month. On Thursday, Perry will meet with a small group of national small-business association CEOs to discuss job creation and his economic record.

Whether the Ames winner is Michele Bachmann, Tim Pawlenty or someone else, they will immediately have to compete with Perry for attention in the aftermath of his kickoff, particularly given his plans to visit Iowa. The Texan is not on the straw poll ballot, but several Iowa operatives said the 527 group "Americans for Rick Perry," has been aggressively working GOP events to boost his write-in performance.

The Texan would immediately be a formidable figure in the race, appealing to conservatives hungering for more options — particularly in states where the GOP base is heavily conservative, like Iowa and South Carolina, Perry would have an opportunity to unite both tea party activists and more traditional party regulars who want a mix of conservatism and electability.

And there's a great ad out now from Students for Perry.

Seeding the Economy

Name Calling

Monday, August 8, 2011

The Spending Is Nuts

This video won the Power Line prize.

A Scary New World

For pretty much the entire lifetime of everyone reading this blog, we have lived in an American century. Whether you judge it as having begun in August of 1914 (when Europe committed suicide as a global hegemon), April 1917 (when the United States entered World War I), or with the end of the Second World War, we've lived in a world that has--at least in economic terms--revolved around the United States.

As much as American troops helped break the stalemate on the Western Front in World War I, loans of American dollars (to buy American-made war material) kept the Allies in the war. The American economy not only produced the most powerful military ever seen in the world and sent it across two oceans to win two victories in World War II, but that same economy provided vast amounts of financial and material assistance to its allies. And, after the war, American dollars rebuilt what became the "free world."

Now, unwise political and policy decisions made not merely by one party or by one presidential administration have threatened the financial solvency of the United States, and in so doing undermined the American economy, and caused America's place as the central hub of the global economy to start to unravel.

In that sense, the downgrade from Standard & Poors, as much as some might want to quibble with it, is just a reflection of a situation that has been a long time in coming.

We're facing a scary new world.

S&P was just rude enough to wake everyone up.

Don't hit the snooze button and turn over and go back to sleep.

For most of the time period I mentioned above, Americans have enjoyed great advantages and have come to hold particular perceptions about our country's role and position in the world. I doubt that the American people, as a whole, will be kind to the politicians that have so damaged those advantages and shattered those perceptions, to say nothing of the cost to the country's central position in the world order we largely created after World War II.

The Curious Capitalist:

Standard & Poor's decision to strip the United States of its triple-A credit rating, whether we agree with it or not, signals a turning point for the entire global economy. Because of the unique role the U.S. plays in the world economy, a downgrade of the U.S. isn't anything like a downgrade of Greece or Spain. For the last century, and especially since the end of World War II, the modern global economy as we know it was built on top of America, relying on its economic strength as a foundation, and using its currency as the primary tool of world economic discourse. In many ways, the world has benefited greatly from that U.S.-led system. The past half century has seen unprecedented economic integration and poverty alleviation, uplifting hundreds of millions out of destitution on a scale never before witnessed in history. America, simply, has been the economic engine that made the world go around.

Now that engine is sputtering, and the potential long-term repercussions are tremendous – for the way the world invests and trades, and how the global financial system operates.


The challenge the world faces with a downgraded America is that there is nothing to take America's place at the center of the world economy. What the downgrade heralds is a messy, uncertain transition into – well, we don't know what. And that's truly scary.