Friday, October 28, 2011

Marshallgate: Democrat Absentee Guru Indicted on 60+ Counts for Vote Fraud

This past Friday, Democrat absentee ballot and get-out-the-vote “consultant” Mike Marshall of North Vernon was indicted by a Jennings County grand jury on forty-five felony counts related to vote fraud (twelve Class D felony counts of forgery, thirteen Class D felony counts of perjury and twenty Class D felony counts of vote fraud to be precise).

Marshall’s so Chris faces eleven felony counts (one for forgery, one count for perjury, and nine counts of vote fraud).

John Cook, another North Vernon Democrat and a member with the elder Marshall of the city’s utilities board, faces two counts of forgery, three counts of perjury, and four counts of vote fraud.

These charges represent the criminal prosecution of what has the potential to be the largest vote fraud scam in recent Indiana history. It is no exaggeration to say that the Marshall ring was probably a bigger enterprise than Bob Pastrick’s infamous (and still being litigated) sidewalks-for-votes scheme in Lake County in the 1990s. Readers of this blog may remember that I have blogged about the shady situation in North Vernon and in Jennings County several times before.

Marshall, a former state representative, has run the (now infamous) Jennings County Democratic Party GOTV and absentee operation since 2006. His now-indicted son was a staffer for Congressman Baron Hill and his name (or that of his GOTV organization, then imaginatively called “GOTV” and later named “At Your Service Co.”) appears on campaign finance reports for State Representatives Terry Goodin and Dave Cheatham (among others).

He was involved in the Democratic mayoral primary in Jeffersonville in 2007, where he worked vote Tom Galligan’s successful effort to unseat incumbent Democratic mayor Rob Waiz. That primary resulted in a complaint by Waiz which was subsequently swept under the rug when it was investigated. Marshall was until last Friday working for Galligan’s reelection campaign (and received more than a third of Galligan’s campaign expenditure dollars). Marshall resigned right after the indictment was handed down.

But more on those interesting connections in other posts (below).

From the Columbus Republic:

Three Jennings County residents face a combined 65 felony counts after being indicted by a grand jury on charges of vote fraud, forgery and perjury.

Mike Marshall, a Democrat and president of North Vernon’s Utilities Service Board, faces 12 Class D felony counts of forgery, 13 Class D felony counts of perjury and 20 Class D felony counts of vote fraud, according to paperwork filed with the Jennings County clerk’s office.

Marshall’s son Chris Marshall faces one count each of forgery and perjury and nine counts of vote fraud.

John Cook, a Democrat and member of the Utilities Service Board, faces two counts of forgery, three counts of perjury and four counts of vote fraud.

The case stems from an absentee ballot filed in last year’s election.

Bear in mind that this grand jury is sitting again to hear more evidence. Additional charges may therefore still be coming.

~

At the top of this post, I refer to Marshall as a “Democrat absentee guru.” Now in most of America, using the adjective “Democrat” instead of “Democratic” is pejorative and even saying it is like fingers across a chalkboard to Democrats. In many parts of southern Indiana, the adjective “Democrat” has no such connotation. It’s just a locution in the local dialect.

However, as “Democrat” is often used (generally by Republicans in partisan commentaries) to imply a sinister or criminal undertone, I think in this case—with 65 felony counts there and the grand jury sitting again to hear more evidence it is certainly deserved in the pejorative connotation (though I traditionally avoid using it on this blog as much as possible).

Mike Marshall is a “Democrat” shady operator. He is not a “Democratic” anything. Most Democrats, rightfully I should hope, probably recoil from this sort of mendacious subversion of the American political process. Hence, the distinction above.

Marshallgate: The Jeffersonville Connection

Mike Marshall was indicted for his actions in North Vernon, but he has been busy elsewhere.

Most recently, he was working for Jeffersonville's Democrat Mayor Tom Galligan (who he helped get elected in 2007).

Marshall's indictment has created an interesting situation in Jeffersonville, to put it mildly.

From the News & Tribune:

Mike Marshall, the man in charge of soliciting absentee ballots in the re-election campaign of Jeffersonville Mayor Tom Galligan, resigned Friday after being indicted on vote fraud, perjury and forgery charges.

A Jennings County Grand Jury issued 66 indictments on Marshall, his son Christopher Marshall and a third Jennings resident, John Cook on Friday. The charges follow an investigation by the Indiana State Police, according to a press release from special prosecutor Aaron Negangard. The investigation stemmed from voter fraud issues regarding absentee ballots and applications submitted in Jennings County in 2010.

Galligan and other local Democrats all said they had no knowledge that Marshall faced the Jennings County charges when he was hired.

Let's be clear, this is a joke. The grand jury in Jennings County has been investigating Marshall for months. When they say they had no knowledge he faced charges, they mean they hoped he wouldn't be indicted until after the election.

In a short interview on Friday, the mayor acknowledged that he’d been working with Marshall for the last eight months. He said he knew his family and that he had campaign experience working in the re-election campaign of Rep. Terry Goodin, a Democrat, and one of Southern Indiana’s state house representatives.

And yet, somehow, the pesky subject of a grand jury inquiry never came up. Yeah right.

Marshall was one of several people that Galligan personally thanked during his victory speech on primary night in May. According to the latest campaign finance reports, filed Friday, Galligan’s campaign paid Marshall’s business, North Vernon-based At Your Service Co., more than $52,710.23 through the year — almost a third of the campaign’s total expenditures.

“He was in charge of getting out the vote,” Galligan said. When asked to elaborate on what those duties entailed, he referred questions to campaign manager Phil McCauley.

I want to be really clear about this. In the last mayoral election, back in 2007, there were only 6,500 ballots cast in Jeffersonville. There probably will be between seven and eight thousand cast this year.

The idea of paying someone almost $53,000--a third of your campaign funds--to answer phones and run an absentee voter program is absurd on its face. No one in their right mind would waste that much of their campaign money on those particular tasks unless something else was going on.

And, of course, we've seen with the indictments in Jennings County, which also concern absentee ballots, exactly what Tom Galligan thought he was getting for his money.

McCauley said he had not heard about the indictment until a reporter called him about Friday afternoon.

“It’s a stunner,” he said.

He called Marshall and read him media coverage of the indictments over the phone.

“He offered me his resignation on the spot,” McCauley said.

“The reason we got Mike Marshall involved was because we thought he was squeaky clean. We wanted everything 100 percent clean,” McCauley said.

When they say he was squeaky clean and they wanted everything 100 percent clean, you should probably go ahead and read that as "they didn't want to get caught." And, until the North Vernon indictment, Mike Marshall had never gotten caught before (and he has "handled" absentee ballot "efforts" for quite a few Democratic campaigns in quite a few counties).

Then comes this laughable gem:

McCauley questioned why there were so many counts listed on the indictment considering early media reports that the allegations came from only one absentee ballot last year.

This tactic by Galligan's campaign manager to argue with the reporter that the number of counts on the indictment couldn't possibly be correct is a farce. One could be forgiven for thinking that McCauley and Galligan knew about the grand jury investigation, but somehow didn't expect anything significant to come of it (and certainly not this many indictments, since he wanted to quibble with the reporter over how many there were).

Negangard said that one ballot brought the activity to light but multiple discrepancies were brought forth after police investigated.

Republicans in Jennings County challenged several absentee ballots that were submitted in 2010, according to Negangard. Democrats subsequently ran an advertisement in the North Vernon Plain Dealer accusing the Republicans of trying to deny those absentee voters their constitutional rights. One of those voters identified in the ad was a Marine named Ben Cook, who later signed a sworn affidavit stating he’d never cast a ballot. That initiated the larger investigation.

Negangard said none of Marshall’s charges were related to the Ben Cook matter, but actually to later findings.

The John Cook that was indicted along with Marshall was Ben Cook's father.

Marshall faces 12 counts of forgery, a class C felony that could carry a maximum of eight years in prison; 20 counts of voter fraud and 13 counts of perjury – both of which are class D felonies, punishable by up to three years in prison each. Negangard said arrest warrants would be issued Monday if they haven’t already. Once those indicted are arrested, an initial hearing date will be set and the case would move through the legal system like any other.

I wonder if Galligan is going to ask for a refund.

Since Marshall is probably in the process of offering a great many folks that have paid him money for his "services" up to prosecutors on a silver platter in a frantic attempt to stay out of prison, I suspect not.

By Friday afternoon, it was unclear whether Galligan’s was the only local campaign on which Marshall was working. McCauley said he didn’t know. Democratic Party Chairman Rod Pate said he wasn’t aware of Marshall working on any other campaigns in the county.

The News and Tribune was told that Clarksville Town Councilman David Fisher had hired Marshall. His campaign finance report did not reflect such, however. A reporter attempted to contact Fisher to confirm it directly but the call was disconnected as soon as the question was asked. Fisher did not return a subsequent call.

Pate said he believed the indictment was political in nature.

“People make accusations all the time,” he said. “It’s like farting in an elevator and blaming it on the guy next to you,” he said.

Oh, I suppose it's true that people have made lots of accusations "all the time" against Mike Marshall. And, finally, someone investigated the accusations and complaints, and that investigation has led to a staggering number of indictments.

Let's just say it's nothing like farting in an elevator. Only a moron would think that.

The other guy hung up when asked about his connection to Marshall. That's what "the call was disconnected as soon as the question was asked" really means.

Since Friday, there have been a few other developments. More on those in posts below.

Marshallgate: More Fallout in Clark County

It seems that Democrats in Clarksville have been paying Marshall for his "services", too:

County records show that Marshall was also paid $15,000 by a political action committee, or PAC, called the Clarksville Democrat Town Committee. According to a campaign finance report, the money was used for advertising.

It’s difficult to pin down exactly which town council candidates Marshall was working for in Clarksville. The town does not have a mayor.

Democrat Bob Liter said he was asked about it but did not give any money to the PAC to help pay for Marshall’s services. Democrat John Gilkey said his campaign operates an all-volunteer staff. He said he played no role in Marshall’s hiring and receives no financial support from the PAC.

Democrat Bob Polston said his understanding was that Marshall was working for all the Democrats, but wasn’t involved in him being hired and didn’t contribute to his payments.

“If he’s done something illegal, I’ll be the first to say ‘prosecute him,’” Polston said.

Democrats Paul Kraft and Don Tetley did not return a call for comment on the subject. Democrat David Fisher was reached for comment, but hung up on a reporter before he could be asked about it.

And the Clark County Republican Party, wisely, intends to look at every single absentee ballot touched by Marshall and those working with him.

Local GOP leaders say they plan to follow absentee ballot trends closely during the next two weeks, following the indictment of Democratic Party consultant Mike Marshall on voter fraud charges Friday.

The indictments — which included felony charges of voter fraud, forgery and perjury — were handed down by a grand jury in Jennings County. Marshall had been working on at least a few Democratic campaigns in Clark County, including the re-election campaign of Mayor Tom Galligan. He has since resigned.

“I think the Galligan campaign has had a history of manipulating absentee ballots,” said Clark County Republican Party Chairman Jamey Noel, referencing an investigation by a special prosecutor following the 2007 primary election.

“Here we are four years later, same song different dance,” he added.

Last week’s indictment stemmed from an investigation by the Indiana State Police. Galligan, along with campaign chairman Phil McCauley, denied any knowledge that Marshall was under investigation.

Noel said it’s an issue that transcends party lines, noting that the post-2007 primary investigation was initiated by Democratic former mayor Rob Waiz, who Galligan defeated then by more than 250 votes.

Following the 2007 primary, Waiz hired a former ISP officer as a private investigator to look into claims of irregularities with absentee ballots. Some of those voters told the investigator that campaign workers told them how to vote. In other instances, there were claims that people outside of the county were allowed to fill out ballots.

“I’m bothered by a few things,” [special prosecutor Ron] Simpson said in an interview with The Evening News in late 2008.

Simpson said that there were claims of irregularities — however, no one could specifically name the person committing the alleged wrongdoing. There were also differences between what the voters told the investigator and what they said under oath, Simpson said.

This comment by Simpson is very interesting.

Continuing...

“I’ve got some serious concerns,” Noel said. “We’re going to investigate each ballot one-by-one.”

This is an important effort. I'm told that Marshall was involved in preparing 2,000 absentee ballots for Galligan's campaign (remember, only 6,500 were cast in the last election). That's $25 a piece at the rate Galligan was paying him.

If those ballots get into the vote pool, the entire election in Jeffersonville could well be tainted (as could the election in Clarksville if the same thing that happened in Jennings County in past years is happening there now). Once those ballots are in the pool, the cake is baked. I certainly hope it is not too late.

In his first interview since Marshall's indictment, Galligan hilariously danced around the entire thing:

WDRB News asked Galligan how this is affecting his campaign.

"What do you think that this says to your constituents -- this situation with Mike Marshall?" asked WDRB's Jennifer Baileys. "I mean, I know he's resigned, but he was a part of your campaign."

"He's not been convicted of anything," Galligan replied. "You can take a grand jury and get indicted on the color of your lipstick if they want to do that, but getting convicted is something else, and this was two years ago. Why is this just now coming up? Because there's an election and they're trying to sway the election."

It was not two years ago. It was less than a year ago. Last year's election.

Why is it now coming up? Because that's when the grand jury handed down its first indictments (and I'm told they're convening again to hear more evidence and perhaps to issue additional indictments).

It's true that Marshall hasn't been convicted. But 45 felony indictments are not something that can exactly be conjured out of thin air, either. It's not comparable to indicting someone for "the color of their lipstick."

Galligan is trying to obfuscate the point.

He paid Marshall a lot of money for campaign activity that was by no means as valuable as the amount he was paying him. That activity had to have some additional value to be worth the amount Galligan was paying.

I think we all know what that additional value was, and just what Galligan thought he was getting for all of that money.

I think that Terry Goodin, Dave Cheatham, Jim Lewis, and probably some folks in Clarksville know what that additional value was, too.

Right about now, they all might want to be thinking about whether jail jumpsuit orange is their color or not.

Galligan says this is sour grapes and a ploy by the Republicans before the election to sway voters.

Because a special prosecutor investigating something two counties away is really concerned about a race in a small city like Jeffersonville, and came up with sixty plus felony indictments against these people as a part of some vast evil Republican conspiracy to pick on poor little Tom Galligan. Yeah right. What a joke.

There are serious questions to be asked here.

What did Tom Galligan know and when did he know it?

What did the Clarksville Democrats know and when did they know it?

What did Marshall do for Galligan?

What was Marshall doing now?

Who did Marshall get to vote? Has anyone talked to them? What do they have to say?

Marshallgate: Unlikely Bedfellows

Indiana Republican Party Chairman Eric Holcomb was in Jeffersonville for a press conference on Thursday morning.

He had an unexpected friend joining him, namely former Jeffersonville Mayor Rob Waiz, who previously filed a complaint about the actions of Marshall and Galligan in the 2007 Democratic primary (which Waiz lost).

From the News & Tribune:

Indiana Republican Party Chairman Eric Holcomb held a press conference to say absentee voter fraud would not be tolerated in the state.

“We don’t know how deep this is,” Holcomb said. “We don’t know if this is truly just the tip of the iceberg — we suspect so.”

Holcomb said the issue transcends party lines, although Clark County Democratic Party Chairman Rod Pate had dismissed Marshall’s indictments and surrounding controversy as politically motivated in a previous News and Tribune article.

“This is not a Republican complaint. This is not an independent complaint. This is about the process. It undermines the whole integrity of our system and our process,” he said. “It’s starting to look generational. These lessons on how to literally cheat to try to win an election is becoming a family tradition.”

Marshall’s son, Christopher Marshall, and a third Jennings County resident, John Cook, were also indicted Oct. 21.

Former Jeffersonville Mayor Rob Waiz spoke at the conference as well, saying he believed voter fraud was carried out against him when he was defeated by Galligan in the Democratic Party primary in 2007.

Rob Waiz is a very brave man for standing up and speaking out like this. He deserves the thanks of every honest citizen in Jeffersonville (and beyond) for having the integrity to not let party labels matter when it comes to breaking the law and subverting the democratic process.

Mad props to Holcomb for coming down here and bringing more attention to this. Mike Marshall and his operation have plagued southern Indiana for a long time. These indictments were a long time in coming, and there will be serious fallout from this for a lot of very bad people (and for a lot of people who, I think, were willing to pay very bad people for their services).

But only so long as this is not allowed to go silently into the night.

More from Waiz:

Waiz hired a private investigator, who interviewed voters after that election.

“There were several occurrences where the Galligan campaign did not follow Indiana election law,” Waiz said Thursday.

He alleged that some voters didn’t live in the city when they cast ballots. Sometimes Galligan volunteers were present when voters filled out absentee ballots, he said. And in some cases, Waiz charged that volunteers handled absentee ballots. Galligan was called Thursday afternoon, but could not be reached and his voice mailbox was full.

Waiz said one voter listed a home address on Middle Road. However, the structure at that address is a pole barn-style building that houses a machine shop.

“There is no way anybody at all could get this confused with a residence,” Waiz said.

He cited Bureau of Motor Vehicles records in saying that the voter’s actual address was in Floyd County.

The former mayor noted another instance wherein a man from Louisville was visiting his girlfriend in Jeffersonville and was signed up to vote by Galligan volunteers.

“There was massive absentee voter fraud that occurred back in 2007,” Waiz said. “With the latest development, it appears that the Galligan campaign is back doing the same thing.”

And now comes the laughable protestations from Galligan's campaign toady:

Phil McCauley, Galligan’s campaign manager, said, “Why would [Waiz] wait four years, and two weeks before an election” to make these accusations.

“He asked for an investigation [in 2007] and an investigation was done,” McCauley said. “Our people were exonerated. I’m not sure what his motive is other than his extreme dislike for the mayor.”

The Indiana State Police and a special prosecutor investigated the allegations of voter fraud in the 2007 primary, but no charges were ever filed.

Let's be clear here. Just because charges were never filed does not mean that those being investigated were innocent. It does not mean that wrongdoing did not happen.

It just means that they either couldn't gather enough evidence to make a case, or the special prosecutor (who has broad discretion) couldn't (or perhaps wouldn't) make the case.

The investigation into the Waiz complaint took a year and a half. By then, memories had faded and the trail had gone cold. The case in Jennings County was pursued with a level of expedience and speed that has, fortunately, prevented that from happening.

I think an investigation into Marshall's involvement in the Galligan campaign this year, before that trail goes cold and memories fade, could be particularly interesting.

Marshallgate: The Interesting Connections of Mike Marshall

Mike Marshall, indicted last Friday for 45 counts related to vote fraud, has some interesting connections in the world of southern Indiana Democratic politics.

Below is listing of just some of the individuals and organizations with whom Marshall has connections. It is by no means an exhaustive or definitive list. I will try to add more of Marshall’s connections as I hear about them.

Baron Hill – Democrat. Former Congressman. Mike Marshall’s son Chris, who is also indicted, worked in Hill’s Congressional office for several years.

Dave Cheatham – Democrat. State representative. Campaign finance reports have showed expenditures to Mike Marshall and his company for campaign work. Cheatham paid Marshall $2,250 in the 2008 election (here and here).

Terry Goodin – Democrat. State representative. Campaign finance reports for 2010 showed a payment of $5,000 to Mike Marshall as a "political consultant" for "GOTV."

Jim Lewis – Democrat. Former state senator defeated in 2010. Campaign finance reports for the 2010 election showed Lewis’ campaign committee paid Mike Marshall $20,000 (here and here), again for GOTV services.

Vop Osili – Democrat. Former candidate for secretary of state defeated in 2010. Campaign finance reports for the 2010 election showed Osili’s campaign paid Mike Marshall $2,500 for “consulting services.”

Harold “Soup” Campbell – Democrat. Mayor of North Vernon. Appointed Mike Marshall to the North Vernon utilities board after being elected. Since Marshall's arrival on the board from Campbell's appointment, it has issued contracts to Bernardin, Lochmueller & Associates (see below for more on that connection).

Patti Marshall Yount – Mike Marshall’s sister. Project Coordinator for Southeast Indiana for the engineering and planning firm of Bernardin, Lochmueller & Associates, Inc. See more below for BLA’s connections to some of the other individuals on this list.

Tom Galligan – Democrat. Mayor of Jeffersonville currently seeking reelection. Defeated incumbent Mayor Rob Waiz in the Democratic primary in Jeffersonville in 2007. Waiz filed a complaint over the handling of absentees, to which there was no result. Mike Marshall has worked for both of Galligan’s campaigns in both 2007 and 2011. In 2011, Galligan paid over a third of his total campaign expenditures (over $50,000) to Mike Marshall’s company for him to answer phones and “handle” absentee ballots. Marshall resigned from Galligan’s campaign after being indicted, though Galligan and his campaign manager professed ignorance of Marshall’s legal troubles despite hiring him twice and paying him large amounts of campaign money in a race unlikely to have more than seven or eight thousand voters (only 6,500 people voted in the 2007 race). Galligan has pushed a $65 million canal project being led by Bernardin, Lochmueller & Associates, which employs Marshall’s sister.

Rob Waiz – Democrat. Former mayor of Jeffersonville. Defeated by Tom Galligan in the 2007 Democratic mayoral primary in Jeffersonville. Filed a complaint over handling of absentee ballots during the primary. Hired a private investigator to look into absentee voting during the primary.

Doug Campbell – Democrat. Mayor of Austin. Currently being investigated for vote fraud in the 2011 Democratic mayoral primary in Austin. The pattern of behavior alleged here—someone arriving to collect absentee ballots from voters—is strikingly similar to the indictments in Marshall’s case.

Ron Simpson – Democrat. Former Harrison County Prosecutor. Former law partner with the late Indiana Governor Frank O'Bannon. Special prosecutor in charge of investigating Rob Waiz’s complaint after the 2007 Jeffersonville Democratic mayoral primary. Nothing came of the investigation. Simpson said he was unable to prove any wrongdoing as no one could identify who was involved in the acts alleged by Waiz’s complaint. The investigation was not completed until a year and a half after the primary; the trail may have gone cold and memories may have faded.

Greg Zoeller – Republican. Current Attorney General. Previously Chief Deputy Attorney General under Steve Carter. Zoeller, under Carter, came in to assist in Ron Simpson’s investigation of the 2007 Jeffersonville Democratic mayoral primary. As noted under the Simpson entry, they were unable to prove any wrongdoing.

Bernardin, Lochmueller & Associates – Planning and engineering firm that employs Patti Marshall Yount, Mike Marshall’s sister. BLA (as indicated here, here, and here) has done a lot of work for North Vernon (whose mayor is connected to Mike Marshall, as indicated above). BLA is also heavily involved in the $65 million canal project in Jeffersonville (whose mayor is also connected to Mike Marshall, as indicated above). Dean Boerste of Perry County, who sits on the Democratic National Committee from Indiana, is chief marketing officer for BLA. The BLA connection is perhaps the strangest “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon” connection in this whole thing. It really is a small world after all, apparently.

Alan Marshall – Democrat. Jennings County Prosecutor. Reelected after running unopposed in 2010. Mike Marshall’s cousin. As a relative of Mike Marshall, he was unable to participate in the investigation and prosecution that led to the recent grand jury indictments. I’ve been told that during the 2010 election, at least one absentee application in Jennings County was faxed to the clerk’s office at 10 pm at night from the prosecutor’s office.

~

Obviously, none of the connections listed above are meant to imply wrongdoing or even knowledge of wrongdoing. It’s just very interesting to see how Democratic politics in this corner of southern Indiana really are a small world.

Pat Bauer Vows to Flee to Illinois, Again, over Right to Work Legislation

What's interesting here is not Bauer's threat. That's old hat and to be expected at this point.

What's particularly interesting is that other Democrats in his caucus are basically saying, "Whoa, not so fast."

From the Courier-Journal:

The Democratic leader in the Indiana House said Wednesday that his members “will reserve the right to respond appropriately” if the Republicans move forward with plans to push right-to-work legislation in the General Assembly’s 2012 session.

Rep. Pat Bauer, of South Bend — who led Democrats on a five-week boycott of legislative action over the issue earlier this year — said it appears majority House and Senate Republicans are “hell-bent on bringing this ruinous policy to Indiana.”

But it’s not clear Democrats have much leverage to stop the proposal, which would let Hoosier workers opt out of paying fees to unions they choose not to join, even if those groups represent them.

On Wednesday, Democrats tried repeatedly to amend a recommendation by the Interim Commission on Employment Issues that the General Assembly adopt a right-to-work law next year.

They called the idea “radical” and said Republicans were simply aiming to destroy unions in Indiana.

“Marginalizing the opposition is not the way we operate in a democracy,” said Sen. Karen Tallian, D-Portage. “I can’t vote for anything whose real purpose is to silence dissent.”

But Republicans, who have a 5-4 majority on the committee, beat back Democratic attempts to gut the recommendation and passed it on a party-line vote.

They said the legislation will make Indiana more economically competitive and lower costs for Hoosier businesses.

Twenty-two states have right-to-work legislation.

“If you’re not competitive, you’re going to die,” said the committee’s chairman, Sen. Phil Boots, R-Crawfordsville. “We have to stay competitive.”

The committee’s recommendation now moves on to the full General Assembly, which will begin meeting for its 2012 session in January.

That’s when Bauer’s comments could lead to Democratic action — but just what type of action is unclear.

Rep. Kreg Battles, D-Vincennes, said Wednesday that “it’s way too premature” to know what steps Democrats might take.

“At best we have a recommendation here. We don’t have a bill. We still have to see the language,” Battles said. “Clearly it goes against what I personally believe and what our caucus believes in, but to make threats at this point is too premature. We’ll wait and see what happens.”

RomneyCare Hasn't Lowered Health Care Costs

It stands to reason that if it didn't lower costs in Massachusetts (and in fact made them worse), it's not going to lower them in its national incarnation of ObamaCare either.

Presidential debates between Romney and Obama would be particularly painful teeth-grinding affairs.

Politico:

Mitt Romney’s health care albatross isn’t just the similarity between his Massachusetts health care overhaul and President Barack Obama’s health reform law.

It’s also the fact that Massachusetts still has the highest health costs in the country — even after the reforms Romney signed into law as governor.

It’s a problem his Republican challengers are beginning to use against him, and it’s yet another health care issue that could keep him on the defensive in the primaries. But if he is the Republican nominee, it is unlikely to be a significant issue in the general election — in part because Obama can’t claim that his plan has gotten health costs under control, either.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry has already gone after Romney on the issue, claiming the price of the Massachusetts reform law was too high. And Romney himself has admitted that his law didn’t reduce costs — putting him in the awkward position of promising to do at the national level what he couldn’t accomplish in his own state.

Photo of the Day: Glass House Geography

Over at Capitol & Washington, fellow blogger (and fellow county chairman) Mike O'Brien is ripping on Freedomworks for a typo in one of their statements endorsing Richard Mourdock in the Senate primary.

There's no Lee County in Indiana. Fair enough. If there was, Dick Lugar wouldn't have even visited it in the past fifteen or twenty years anyway.


But Huntington isn't in Dubois County, either. It's in Huntington County, up by Fort Wayne. The city in Dubois County would be Huntingburg.

Now I don't blame O'Brien for this. He lives in the doughnut and has probably never been south of Columbus, let alone to Huntingburg. But glass houses, rocks, etc.

Hope, Changed

Junk Food

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Another Democrat Joins 9th District Race

Todd Young hunting sparrows with a Hummer.In the photo on the left, Todd Young poses for a picture with a dead bird he has blasted from the sky with a shotgun, symbolizing the outcome of the election next November.

It seems like the Democrats are now just lining up to get slaughtered next November.

From the Courier-Journal:

A former employee of Lee Hamilton, who represented Indiana’s 9th Congressional District for more than 30 years, has declared his intention to run for the seat in next year’s Democratic primary.

“We need a centrist Democrat” in the 9th District, Robert Winningham, 50, said in a telephone interview Monday.

I can't help but wonder why the rush to be ballot-filler.

All of the major names in the 9th District (Welch, Stemler, Locke, etc) took one look at the new map after redistricting and decided that discretion was the better part of valor when it came to running for Congress.

Now come the folks that apparently haven't looked at the map (one of whom will have the misfortune next November of wishing that they'd looked at the map before running).

First came the former Obama adviser.

Now comes the former aide to Lee Hamilton who lived in Texas until a few weeks ago.

Before long, there will probably be a lefty ideologue out of Bloomington running (who may well win any primary since the other two will cannibalize the "sane Democrat" vote).

All three candidates, by virtue of their connections (George to Obama, Winningham to Lee Hamilton, and any likely Bloomington lefty to various left-wing groups) will have resources and funding.

The primary will also have several additional impacts. First, it will anchor many 9th District Democrats in their own party's primary and keep them from crossing over into the Republican primary to meddle in the Lugar-Mourdock race. Second, the primary may (in its outcome and conduct) clarify for many disenchanted conservative "Democrats" whether they wish to remain in their party (many already left in the 2010 primary and general election). Third, it may test the limits of the willingness of 9th District Democrats to live together. I'll explain why in a moment.

First, I want to say that I'm a big believer in primaries. They are, by and large, healthy examples of competition. They cause organizations to be built and campaign activity to start far earlier than normal, generate earned media, air any candidate flaws well before the general, capture the attention of the public, and generally result in a net benefit to the winner of the primary.

This being said, I'm not sure how healthy this primary will be for the Democrats. Their party has always shrunk from this sort of open competition between candidates, and this particular primary stands to split the their party along a number of the fault lines that are present in their party in the new district.

The Democratic Party in the new 9th District is divided along historical lines manifested by Winningham's candidacy. There are Democrats who want to look back to a past tradition that is gone and will never come back. There will never be another Lee Hamilton, and local Democrats are sort of frozen in an earlier time while history has marched on (and the rest of their party has marched to the left).

It is divided along ideological lines; just look at Bloomington. You do not see Occupy Wall Street protests in the 9th District outside of Bloomington and only one county in the new 9th District went for Obama (Monroe).

They are divided along national-local lines. This is best manifested by the candidacy of former Obama adviser George. If I had a dollar for every Democrat in southern Indiana that cusses Obama's very name, I would be a wealthy man. History is responsible for some of this national-local disconnect, but this division was never as bad under someone like Bill Clinton as it is now.

There are also geographical divisions. Democrats in the doughnut counties are a impotent political force compared to Democrats in some of the southern counties. If you are a Democrat in the northern part of the new 9th District, in the deep red counties like Morgan and Johnson, you are one largely because of some deep-seated personal belief. If you are a Democrat in the southern part of the new 9th District, you may well have been a Democrat (or still be a Democrat) because as late as a decade ago, that was the only party that got elected and their primary was basically the general election. Republicans, by the way, have the same division between north and south, only reversed (though nowhere near as severe). Southern district Republicans are on the rise; there is no life apparent among Democrats in Morgan or Johnson counties.

Lastly, there are divisions along economic lines. Democrats in the northern part of the district tend to be higher income while Democrats in the southern part of the district have tended to be lower income. That trend tends to be true more broadly regardless of party, but I suspect that a study would show that division is more significant among self-declared, or previously self-declared, Democrats. Some of that ties into the earlier divisions that I mentioned.

All of these divisions are overlapping and impact each other. None of them are new. But the new map drawn in redistricting and the national environment, coupled with the current and likely candidacies (assuming they emerge as viable at least within their own primary; I doubt that any of them will be remotely viable in November) impact many of these fault lines.

Something will have to give.

Jim Wallace Supports Decriminalizing Marijuana

Game. Set. Match.

(As if it wasn't that way already.)

From the Ball State Daily News:

One student in attendance was concerned about the decriminalization of marijuana.

"Personally, I believe that marijuana should be decriminalized," said Wallace. "That's actually a question I haven't received much on my campaign trail.

Mitch Daniels on C-SPAN Talking about His Book & His Decision Not to Run for President



This is video of a great question and answer session that Mitch participated in at Purdue University.

RomneyCare Provides Health Care to Illegals

What's worse?

Treating the children of illegals like locals for in-state tuition, or giving them free health care?

The Los Angeles Times:

he Massachusetts healthcare law that then-Gov. Mitt Romney signed in 2006 includes a program known as the Health Safety Net, which allows undocumented immigrants to get needed medical care along with others who lack insurance.

Uninsured, poor immigrants can walk into a health clinic or hospital in the state and get publicly subsidized care at virtually no cost to them, regardless of their immigration status.

The program, widely supported in Massachusetts, drew little attention when Romney signed the trailblazing healthcare law. But now it could prove problematic for the Republican presidential hopeful, who has been attacking Texas Gov. Rick Perry for supporting educational aid for children of undocumented immigrants in Texas.

"We have to turn off the magnet of extraordinary government benefits," Romney said at the recent Fox News-Google debate in Florida.

Romney's excuse is that he "never intended" his creation to give free health care to illegal immigrants. One wonders why he didn't insert language prohibiting it (or at least make an effort at inserting such language) if that was the case.

Heavens. He couldn't possibly intend to provide free health care to illegals. After all... he was running for office!

A Conservative Look at Perry's Economic Plan

Red State has a review of Perry's new economic plan from a conservative perspective. There's much good in it (and some flaws, too). It's worth the read.

The Halloween House

Macho Man


Power Line:

Hillary Clinton’s “We came…we saw…he died” is perhaps the most ludicrous comment ever attributed to an American Secretary of State. Remember when the Democrats were appalled by George Bush’s “wanted, dead or alive” reference to Osama bin Laden? Bush was a reckless cowboy! That was a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away. Now, it is any port in a storm for the Democrats, and they are busily portraying Obama as the next thing to a drone operator, if not an actual member of Delta Force.

Within reason, I am in favor of killing our enemies. But you really have to laugh: did Obama run as the scourge of Arab terrorists? As the president who would not only continue nearly all of President Bush’s anti-terror policies, but step up targeted assassinations? And seek to overthrow Arab governments in countries like Egypt and Libya? Not only that, but drive anti-American dictators like Gaddafi into the desert where he would be hunted down, beaten and shot to death? To cries of jubilation from the Democratic Party?

I paid pretty close attention to the 2008 election, and I don’t recall any of that being part of Obama’s platform. Then there is Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize, which looks more than ever like an embarrassment. Do you think that when the Nobel committee awarded the prize to Obama at the outset of his presidency, they anticipated that Obama would become the chief proponent of targeted assassination, and the instrument–if you believe his administration’s claims–of the overthrow of multiple foreign governments, with sometimes grisly results? Whose Secretary of State would say of a deposed head of state, “We came…we saw…he died”? No, I don’t think so either. What is happening here is that the Obama administration’s policies have been a complete failure in every realm, so out of desperation, he and his minions are looking for success wherever they can find it, even though it may contradict their own basic beliefs, not to mention their campaign promises.

Victor Davis Hanson has a nice deconstruction (destruction, really) of the latest liberal canard comparing Obama in Libya to Bush in Iraq.

Another Vote to Confirm a Liberal from Lugar

Sigh.

Future Occupiers

Obama's Monster Mash

Monday, October 24, 2011

Lugar: Hoosier Tea Party Members “Outsiders” Who “Have Nothing to Do with” Indiana

Jim Shella quotes Indiana's senior Senator, letting conservatives who oppose his reelection know what he really thinks of them and their efforts to defeat him.

But Senator Lugar is warning Republicans that the Tea Party and others who are clearly more interested in defeating him than electing Mourdock are outsiders. “These are people who have great convictions,” said Lugar, “but they’re not Hoosiers and they really have nothing to do with this state. They’re trying to demonstrate their clout in the Congress and they utilize whoever they can find.”

There is something markedly surreal about a man who lives in a hotel when he visits Indiana attacking Hoosier Tea Party activists (and by extension grassroots conservatives inside the Republican Party here in Indiana) that are trying to unseat him as "outsiders" that have "nothing to do with this state."

You could probably compose a rather lengthy video compilation of Hoosier conservatives telling Lugar that they're not outsiders to Indiana (he is), they have plenty to do with this state (more so than he does), and that he's been away from Indiana for too long to criticize them.

Cheri Daniels: No VP Spot for Mitch

Can you imagine how different the Republican nomination (and the whole race for president) would be if Cheri Daniels had changed her mind?

The Courier-Journal:

Indiana’s first lady said Thursday that being a vice presidential nominee never “would’ve been an option” to her husband, Gov. Mitch Daniels.

Cheri Daniels did not elaborate but added that her family did not regret his decision, announced in May, not to seek the Republican presidential nomination.

She made the statement in an interview following an unrelated presentation at the Zionsville United Methodist Church.

Daniels said her family spent a year “weighing the pros and cons” of him seeking the presidency and stands by the decision.

“My daughters all are very happy with the family decision,” Cheri Daniels said. “Everyone is looking forward to doing family things together and having more family time.”

The governor said in May that his choice was in the best interest of his family, not the best interest of his country.

“I love my country; I love my family more,” Mitch Daniels said.

In an email sent to his supporters the same evening, Daniels discussed his concerns for the country and apologized for seeming “non-courageous or unpatriotic.”

On Thursday, Cheri Daniels said she recognizes that many Indiana Republicans wish he had run and some still approach her with interest in her husband’s candidacy. She said the decision not to run for president was based on family considerations only.

“It’s not a decision that reflects on his ability,” Daniels said. “Clearly, he could do a wonderful job.”

But when asked about the possibility of her husband being a nominee for vice president, Daniels was quick to deny the likelihood of that happening.

“I don’t think that ever would’ve been an option to him,” she said.

Instead, Cheri Daniels said her husband will conclude his second term as governor in 2012, having spent many years in public service, “much more than most people ever will.”

Sigh.

Harry Reid: Economic Problems Due to Too Few Government Jobs

For Democrats, the solutions to problems are always in more government and more spending.



The Hill:

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) on Wednesday indicated Congress needs to worry about government jobs more than private-sector jobs, and that this is why Senate Democrats are pushing a bill aimed at shoring up teachers and first-responders.

“It’s very clear that private-sector jobs have been doing just fine; it’s the public-sector jobs where we’ve lost huge numbers, and that’s what this legislation is all about,” Reid said on the Senate floor.

You can't fix this sort of stupid, but you can vote it out of office.

(Or in this case ensure that this sort of stupid isn't majority leader of the Senate.)

Misleading = Mittleading

Democrat Defends Voter ID

No, not an Indiana Democrat. That would be far too sensible.

Artur Davis, a former African American Congressman from Alabama.

Luke Kenley Wants an Online Sales Tax

From the Indy Star:

A state senator plans to ask his Statehouse colleagues Thursday to help him lobby Congress for the right to tax online sales.

Sen. Luke Kenley, R-Noblesville, said this week he will pitch state lawmakers on the need to apply the state sales tax to online retailers. He estimates taxing online sales could net the state up to $400 million annually, but said it is as much about putting online retailers on the same playing field as traditional merchants.

"Our bricks and mortar retailers are being put at a huge disadvantage in this system," Kenley said. The state levies a 7-percent sales tax on most goods, giving online retailers a sizable advantage.

But the change will have to go through Congress. That is why Kenley said he will ask members of the Legislature's Commission on State Tax and Financing Policy to help him lobby Indiana's congressional delegation for the change.

Here's an interesting philosophical question for you. Because of government tax policy, certain retailers are at a disadvantage to other retailers, and certain retailers are at an advantage to other retailers. Should the government be picking winners and losers in this? Is it doing so already?

Photo of the Day: Dick Lugar & Wife, Err Not

I'm not sure who that is with Dick Lugar at a recent White House dinner for the president of South Korea, but (despite the caption saying so) it's not the Senator's wife. Her name isn't "Deb."

What the Tea Party Has in Common (Or Not) with Occupy Wall Street

It's not what you think, but it's interesting.

Karma: Aqua Buddha Strikes Again

Meet the One Percent

The Great Pumpkin Economic Plan

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Obama Staffers Are Popular Candidates for Hoosier Democrats These Days

I'm getting the distinct impression that Hoosier Democrats didn't learn anything at all from the drubbing their party got last November.

Hoosiers don't like Obama.

And yet, here Hoosier Democrats are. Running more Obama candidates.

In the 8th District:

A former aide to Barack Obama and Brad Ellsworth is running for a Southern Indiana congressional seat.

Patrick Scates announced Monday he wants to bring hard work and "common sense" to Washington. Scates worked for Obama when he was a U.S. senator from Illinois and later was district director when Ellsworth held Indiana's 8th District seat.

And the 9th District:

A former national security aide to President Barack Obama says he’ll run for Congress in a Southern Indiana district.

Retired Brig. Gen. Jonathan D. George may be Democrats’ best chance to retake the 9th District. Democrat Baron Hill lost the seat to Republican Todd Young in the GOP’s 2010 sweep of the House.

He and his family have maintained a small farm near Bedford about 65 miles southwest of Indianapolis, and he returned there full-time in August after retiring from the military.

George told The Associated Press that he hoped to attract more life-science companies to the state if elected.

Lugar Quits Board of Liberal Group after Being Called Out; Group Also Gave Lugar Award

I love the excuse his campaign flunky gave to the Indianapolis Star: "Oh, it's not that important. He may have been on the board, but he never went to any of the meetings."

And here the Lugar folks have been saying that attending the meetings of boards you're on is important (unless they're a liberal board your guy got caught being involved in).

The Indy Star:

Indiana Sen. Richard Lugar is leaving the board of a liberal think tank following pressure from his opponent in the Republican primary race.

Tea party-backed Richard Mourdock criticized Lugar on Thursday for sitting on the board of the Roosevelt Institute's Campus Network.

Mourdock criticized Lugar for advising a group that promotes liberal policies. He also said Lugar should never have joined a board filled with prominent Democrats, including President Bill Clinton's former chief of staff and his former labor secretary.

Lugar stepped down from the board Thursday. Lugar spokesman David Willkie said he was invited on the board by a friend and never attended any meetings.

I wonder which of Lugar's liberal friends invited him to be on the board.

I also wonder if Senator Lugar makes a habit of volunteering his time and committing to participate in organizations whose activities he knows nothing about.

Such behavior might logically lead a reasonable person to wonder what other things Senator Lugar knows nothing about, yet might make a habit of committing to do.

If you think about it, this sort of defense--for anyone willing to actually believe it--is a ready-made excuse for Lugar's support for liberal policies and programs; "The Senator was asked to vote that way by a friend. He never actually supported any of that stuff."

The Mourdock campaign press release:

Indiana State Treasurer Richard Mourdock called on Senator Dick Lugar to resign from the National Advisory Board of Campus Network a division of the New York City-based Roosevelt Institute, a big government think-tank and training organization that is functionally a branch of the Democratic Party.

The Roosevelt Institute’s own website proudly proclaims its liberal pedigree:

“Through the Four Freedoms Center think tank, launched in 2009, the Roosevelt Institute incubates and promotes rigorous, progressive policy ideas and value narratives, and deploys the people who are their strongest proponents into the public debate.”

“This is an organization that is justifying wealth distribution through higher taxes and is glorifying the 'Occupy Wall Street' protesters. Why would a Republican US Senator be a part of promoting this agenda? After MSNBC declared Senator Dick Lugar to be President Obama's "favorite Republican," he has been proclaiming himself a born-again conservative. His continued service on the board of this organization proves he has not seen the conservative light,” explained Treasurer Mourdock.

Lugar’s membership on the National Advisory Board of Campus Network is also notable for his presence

among a list of powerful Democrats and liberal ideologues including:

Jim Dean – Brother of former Democratic Presidential Nominee Howard Dean
Representative Rosa DeLauro – Far-left Democratic Congresswoman from Connecticut
Al From – Founding member of Democrat Leadership Council
Katrina vanden Heuvel – Publisher of progressive magazine The Nation
Representative Zoe Lofgren – Liberal Democratic Congresswoman from California
Dee Dee Myers – Press Secretary to former President Bill Clinton
Robert Reich – Labor Secretary to former President Bill Clinton
Simon Rosenberg – President & Founder of New Democrat Network
Rob Stein – Democracy Alliance, former advisor to the Democratic National Committee (DNC)
Jim Roosevelt – Great grandson of Franklin Roosevelt, Co-Chair of rules & bylaws committee of the DNC
Patricia Bauman – Director of Bauman Foundation, member of National Resources Defense Council
John Podesta – Chief of Staff to former President Bill Clinton
Robert Borosage – Head of the progressive organization Campaign for America’s Future

The Institute’s website contains a potpourri of liberal causes including:

A defense of the "Occupy Wall Street" movement

Wealth redistribution through higher taxes

Supporting Dodd-Frank regulatory bill & far-left Prof. Elizabeth Warren's Consumer Financial Protection Agency

Defending Obamacare

"Climate Change" legislation such as "Cap & Trade"

An attack on the School Choice movement

The Roosevelt Institute’s Campus Network describes itself as, “A national student initiative that engages new generations in a unique form of progressive activism…”

“Lugar’s presence and involvement on this organization’s board unmasks him as a willing participant and a supporter of big government. The fact that so many of the posts on the website are directly supporting the agenda of the Democrat Party should have caused the Senator to resign from the organization long ago.

"Hoosier Republicans, like me, who voted for Dick Lugar in the past, have wondered why he has not taken an active role in promoting the cause of conservatism across Indiana and the nation for many years. Now, we know why. No true conservative could be a board member of an organization like the Roosevelt Institute Campus Network.

"Hoosier Republicans deserve a Senator who is a true conservative not one who is undermining the conservative cause,” stated Treasurer Mourdock.

Better still is just how hollow Lugar's position (was never really involved in the organization despite being on its board) rings when you consider that they gave him an award (along with liberal Michigan Senator Carl Levin) in 2007.

Another Mourdock campaign press release:

Richard Mourdock’s campaign for U.S. Senate called on Senator Dick Lugar to fully explain his relationship to the Roosevelt Institute’s Campus Network, a liberal think-tank and student organizing group with ties to the “Occupy Wall Street” movement. Senator Lugar abruptly resigned from the group’s board last Thursday after the Mourdock campaign raised the question of why a Republican Senator would affiliate with such a group.

Since then, it has come to light that Senator Lugar received an award from this group in 2007. That year, Senator Lugar shared the Roosevelt Institute’s “Four Freedom’s Award” with liberal Democratic Senator Carl Levin (D-MI).

“We are calling on Senator Lugar to fully reject this radical group’s agenda by returning the award,” said Mourdock campaign spokesman Christopher Conner. “Senator Lugar should also explain why he joined the group’s board in the first place.”

So Lugar was on the Roosevelt Institute at the behest of a friend.

He says he never attended any of their meetings.

But they gave him an award.

I bet he went to the meeting or awards dinner or whatever where they gave him the award.

After all, going to awards dinners to receive awards from liberal groups is nothing new for Dick Lugar. Just this past April, Lugar went to an environmentalist group's awards dinner to get an award alongside Michelle Obama. Lugar got that award for supporting cap and trade.

Jon Stewart Destroys Mitt Romney

"For Mitt Romney to win, he has to convince Republican voters that he's not Mitt Romney."

Great stuff.

FreedomWorks Endorses Mourdock

I don't find this to be surprising.

That being said, I have figured that it was coming. To talk to some Lugar supporters, the absence of endorsements from national groups like FreedomWorks and Tea Party Express (both of which have now endorsed Mourdock) was proof that Mourdock didn't have a chance and that his campaign would never get support from national conservative grassroots groups.

So much for that talking point.

Romney's Remedy

Photo of the Day: Wag the Finger

A screen shot from the Drudge Report:


Hat tip: Ace of Spades.

GOP to Warren Buffett: Put Up or Shut Up

Let's see if Warren Buffett will put his money where his mouth is.

The Daily Caller:

Billionaire investor Warren Buffett revealed Wednesday that he made $62,855,038 last year, paying $6,923,494 in income taxes (or about 17 percent of his $39,814,784 taxable income) and $15,300 in payroll taxes.

With Buffett concerned that he does not pay enough in taxes, congressional Republicans have introduced legislation to allow Buffett — and others who believe they are under-taxed — the easy option of voluntarily donating to the U.S. Treasury on their tax forms.

South Dakota Senator John Thune and Lousiana Rep. Steve Scalise have introduced companion legislation in the Senate.

Dubbed “The Buffett Rule Act of 2011,” the names of the bills take a mocking swipe at President Barack Obama’s own proposed “Buffet Rule,” which conversely would close tax code loopholes to ensure that Warren Buffett and those like him no longer pay a lower tax rate than their secretaries.

According to Thune, there is nothing stopping Buffett from paying more in taxes, and his legislation would streamline that capability.

“If individuals like Warren Buffett or President Obama are inclined to donate their own personal money towards paying down the federal government’s debt, they ought to have that right to do so voluntarily,” said Thune.

“This bill would make it easier for those wealthy individuals who feel they are currently under-taxed to pay more to the U.S. Treasury, above and beyond their current obligations, without raising taxes on America’s job creators.”

I am not thinking it would be wise to assume any voluntary contributions from tax-increase advocates like Warren Buffett in future revenue and deficit projections.

The Media's Guide to Protesters

From the email bag:

Blame Board

Monday, October 3, 2011

More from Mitch's Book: Corruption in Dick Lugar's Indianapolis City Hall in 1970

There are plenty of interesting things in Mitch's new book, Keeping the Republic.

(You can read my review of it here; I highly recommend reading it.)

In one passage of the book, Mitch talks about the evils of public sector unions and his decision to issue an executive order in Indiana shortly after he took office that curtailed mandatory provisions instituted by the Bayh administration years early.

He likened today's mandatory union dues paid by public sector workers (which then go toward union-backed political candidates) to a scene he witnessed in the Indianapolis mayor's office in the early 1970s:

In Indiana the old patronage system lasted longer than almost anywhere, well into the 1980s. As a young City Hall intern in 1970, I recall watching the cigar box being passed around in local government offices so employees could maintain their membership in the "2 Percent Club" by "voluntarily" donating 2 percent of their meager pay to whichever party was in power, thereby maintaining their jobs.

Mitch does not mention the name of Indianapolis' mayor back in those days.

This keeps with his policy in the book of not naming names when he tells stories and relates anecdotes about Indiana. (As I noted in my review, the only Hoosier Republican mentioned by name in the entire book is Richard Mourdock, in the very positive context of supporting Mourdock's effort to oppose Obama's bailout of Chrysler and screwing of Indiana public pension funds.)

In 1970, the mayor of Indianapolis was Dick Lugar (Richard Nixon's favorite mayor, back in those days). So we now know that in Dick Lugar's City Hall, employees were required to make campaign contributions to keep their jobs.

Mitch says he considers Lugar a mentor, and I do not fault him for that. Everyone starts somewhere. However, the above passage is the only place in the entire book that Daniels talks about Lugar, even indirectly and without naming him. Lugar's name does not appear in the book's index and he is not mentioned directly or indirectly anywhere else. The photo insert in the middle of the book includes a picture of a very young Mitch (back when he had sideburns), another individual, and Duck Lugar, but that's it. The photo is the one above (also available at the top of Mitch's bio here).

It's very interesting that Mitch mentioned Mourdock by name in such a positive context--Mourdock being the only Indiana Republican so honored--and his only mention, even nameless and indirect, of Dick Lugar is in the context of political corruption in the Indianapolis city hall when Lugar was mayor.

And now, Dick Lugar wants to be sent back to Washington for another six years, after already spending thirty-five (soon to be thirty-six) years there. Lugar also wants to weaken laws that limit the political involvement of police officers in positions funded with Federal money, something that is even more curious in light of the passage Mitch recounted above.

I wonder how many people that currently work in Dick Lugar's Senate office have given to his campaign.

I wonder how many of them are working or "volunteering" for his campaign outside of office hours.

I wonder.

Lugargeddon: Tea Party Express Endorses Richard Mourdock

Another day, another tea party organization endorses GOP Senate candidate Richard Mourdock.

The weekend before last, it was Hoosiers for (a) Conservative Senate.

Now, it's the national Tea Party Express:

Indiana State Treasurer Richard Mourdock, US Senate Candidate running against 35 year incumbent Senator Dick Lugar in the 2012 Republican Primary, was endorsed today by the national grassroots organization TEA Party Express at Mourdock’s campaign headquarters. TEA Party Express’ support comes on the heels of Treasurer Mourdock being endorsed by the Hoosiers for a Conservative Senate (HFCS) this past weekend at their TEA Party convention in Greenfield, Indiana.

“I appreciate the endorsement of TEA Party Express and the support of their leaders Amy Kremer and Sal Russo,” explained Treasurer Mourdock. “It is a reflection of the momentum and strength our campaign continues to gain on a daily basis.”

Over the weekend, Treasurer Mourdock was also endorsed by HFCS at a statewide convention of 55 individual TEA Party groups across Indiana.

Amy Kremer, Chair of TEA Party Express (TPE) expressed their support of Treasurer Mourdock’s campaign by stating, “We are proud to endorse Richard Mourdock for US Senate. For far too long, Senator Lugar has compromised the basic principles of fiscal responsibility that the TEA Party represents. As his voting record tracked increasingly to the left, it became clear it was time for Lugar to be replaced. Richard Mourdock is a principled conservative with an impressive record of fighting for Constitutionally limited government. The people of Indiana and the United States as a whole will be well represented with integrity by Richard Mourdock, and the TEA Party Express will be working hard to ensure he becomes the next Senator from Indiana.”

TPE’s endorsement is the latest of a growing list of conservative leaders and organizations in support of Mourdock’s candidacy: Herman Cain, Mark Levin, Steve Forbes, Dick Morris, Erick Erickson, Citizens United, Gun Owners of America, The National Republican Trust PAC, the Minuteman PAC and the National Association for Gun Rights.

Sharron Angle endorsed Mourdock last week (with her huge donor list), too.

Back in July, I outlined my theory about how grassroots conservatives are revolutionizing the primary process, and what that means here in Indiana:

Traditionally, incumbents (particularly in primaries) were very difficult to beat. They had access to campaign resources vastly greater than their opponents (generally from special interests inside the Beltway) that were not available to challengers (both in primaries and in general elections).

One of the revolutions in politics brought about by the internet and the impact of the internet on grassroots politics is that challengers that would normally not have access to national-scale resources and donor pools now have them. Grassroots conservatives nationwide can now impact races and counter the traditional Beltway special interest fundraising advantages of entrenched incumbents.

We haven't seen this phenomenon in Indiana, yet, but we saw it play out in countless races in other states in 2010 with candidates far less able than Richard Mourdock and challengers much more entrenched than Dick Lugar.

The internet and the Tea Party are a force multiplier for grassroots conservatives nationwide. Now, with a few clicks, they can use their numbers to bring vast resources to bear very quickly (in 2010, the impact could be seen in some races overnight).

The fundraising potential of out-of-state grassroots conservatives is the great equalizer in this sort of race. They're heavy artillery outside of the local battlefield that can land a devastating amount of conservative firepower on the incumbent establishment moderate with little to no warning.

That's why these endorsements for Richard Mourdock matter.

This campaign is a marathon, not a sprint, and Mourdock's campaign reflects that.

Stupid: Occupy Wall Street Protesters Support Reelecting Barack Obama, King of Bailouts



That's right. The solution to our problems is to continue doing what this country is already doing.

Scratch these people and you'll find a liberal, a progressive, a socialist, a Democrat; in short, an Obama supporter.

It wouldn't surprise me if these protests were being coordinated and "organized" by Obama for America, the Democratic National Committee, and some of the left-wing organizations aligned with them.

How North Dakota Became Saudi Arabia

A great article from the Wall Street Journal on the huge amount of oil in North Dakota, and the efforts of the Obama administration to make it harder to get it out of the ground.

A couple of interesting paragraphs from the article:

...since 2005 America truly has been in the midst of a revolution in oil and natural gas, which is the nation's fastest-growing manufacturing sector. No one is more responsible for that resurgence than Mr. Hamm. He was the original discoverer of the gigantic and prolific Bakken oil fields of Montana and North Dakota that have already helped move the U.S. into third place among world oil producers.

How much oil does Bakken have? The official estimate of the U.S. Geological Survey a few years ago was between four and five billion barrels. Mr. Hamm disagrees: "No way. We estimate that the entire field, fully developed, in Bakken is 24 billion barrels."

If he's right, that'll double America's proven oil reserves. "Bakken is almost twice as big as the oil reserve in Prudhoe Bay, Alaska," he continues. According to Department of Energy data, North Dakota is on pace to surpass California in oil production in the next few years. Mr. Hamm explains over lunch in Washington, D.C., that the more his company drills, the more oil it finds. Continental Resources has seen its "proved reserves" of oil and natural gas (mostly in North Dakota) skyrocket to 421 million barrels this summer from 118 million barrels in 2006.

"We expect our reserves and production to triple over the next five years." And for those who think this oil find is only making Mr. Hamm rich, he notes that today in America "there are 10 million royalty owners across the country" who receive payments for the oil drilled on their land. "The wealth is being widely shared."

And here I thought the government was necessary to "spread the wealth around."

When OPEC was at its peak in the 1990s, the U.S. imported about two-thirds of its oil. Now we import less than half of it, and about 40% of what we do import comes from Mexico and Canada. That's why Mr. Hamm thinks North America can achieve oil independence.

I have never heard this number before; it's very encouraging.

It's doubly encouraging when you think that (at least back in 2009) $20 billion of the country's $37 billion annual trade deficit was caused by importing oil.

Mr. Hamm's rags to riches success is the quintessential "only in America" story. He was the last of 13 kids, growing up in rural Oklahoma "the son of sharecroppers who never owned land." He didn't have money to go to college, so as a teenager he went to work in the oil fields and developed a passion. "I always wanted to find oil. It was always an irresistible calling."

He became a wildcat driller and his success rate became legendary in the industry. "People started to say I have ESP," he remarks. "I was fortunate, I guess. Next year it will be 45 years in the business."

Mr. Hamm ranks 33rd on the Forbes wealth list for America, but given the massive amount of oil that he owns, much still in the ground, and the dizzying growth of Continental's output and profits (up 34% last year alone), his wealth could rise above $20 billion and he could soon be rubbing elbows with the likes of Warren Buffett.

His only beef these days is with Washington. Mr. Hamm was invited to the White House for a "giving summit" with wealthy Americans who have pledged to donate at least half their wealth to charity. (He's given tens of millions of dollars already to schools like Oklahoma State and for diabetes research.) "Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, they were all there," he recalls.

When it was Mr. Hamm's turn to talk briefly with President Obama, "I told him of the revolution in the oil and gas industry and how we have the capacity to produce enough oil to enable America to replace OPEC. I wanted to make sure he knew about this."

The president's reaction? "He turned to me and said, 'Oil and gas will be important for the next few years. But we need to go on to green and alternative energy. [Energy] Secretary [Steven] Chu has assured me that within five years, we can have a battery developed that will make a car with the equivalent of 130 miles per gallon.'" Mr. Hamm holds his head in his hands and says, "Even if you believed that, why would you want to stop oil and gas development? It was pretty disappointing."

So here we have a self-made man who is employing lots of people, paying his taxes, growing the economy, and Barack Obama doesn't give a lick about him.

In fact, Obama wants to stop him:

Washington keeps "sticking a regulatory boot at our necks and then turns around and asks: 'Why aren't you creating more jobs,'" he says. He roils at the Interior Department delays of months and sometimes years to get permits for drilling. "These delays kill projects," he says. Even the Securities and Exchange Commission is now tightening the screws on the oil industry, requiring companies like Continental to report their production and federal royalties on thousands of individual leases under the Sarbanes-Oxley accounting rules. "I could go to jail because a local operator misreported the production in the field," he says.

The White House proposal to raise $40 billion of taxes on oil and gas—by excluding those industries from credits that go to all domestic manufacturers—is also a major hindrance to exploration and drilling. "That just stops the drilling," Mr. Hamm believes. "I've seen these things come about before, like [Jimmy] Carter's windfall profits tax." He says America's rig count on active wells went from 4,500 to less than 55 in a matter of months. "That was a dumb idea. Thank God, Reagan got rid of that."

A few months ago the Obama Justice Department brought charges against Continental and six other oil companies in North Dakota for causing the death of 28 migratory birds, in violation of the Migratory Bird Act. Continental's crime was killing one bird "the size of a sparrow" in its oil pits. The charges carry criminal penalties of up to six months in jail. "It's not even a rare bird. There're jillions of them," he explains. He says that "people in North Dakota are really outraged by these legal actions," which he views as "completely discriminatory" because the feds have rarely if ever prosecuted the Obama administration's beloved wind industry, which kills hundreds of thousands of birds each year.

That's right. Birds dead from windmills are okay. Birds dead from oil wells are bad. And not even rare birds, either.

This is a mind-numbing level of stupidity from the Federal government. No wonder the economy is staying in the toilet. When you do create jobs, they come after you. So why bother trying?

Continental pleaded not guilty to the charges last week in federal court. For Mr. Hamm the whole incident is tantamount to harassment. "This shouldn't happen in America," he says. To him the case is further proof that Washington "is out to get us."

Mr. Hamm believes that if Mr. Obama truly wants more job creation, he should study North Dakota, the state with the lowest unemployment rate in the nation at 3.5%. He swears that number is overstated: "We can't find any unemployed people up there. The state has 18,000 unfilled jobs," Mr. Hamm insists. "And these are jobs that pay $60,000 to $80,000 a year." The economy is expanding so fast that North Dakota has a housing shortage. Thanks to the oil boom—Continental pays more than $50 million in state taxes a year—the state has a budget surplus and is considering ending income and property taxes.

It's hard to disagree with Mr. Hamm's assessment that Barack Obama has the energy story in America wrong. The government floods green energy—a niche market that supplies 2.5% of our energy needs—with billions of dollars of subsidies a year. "Wind isn't commercially feasible with natural gas prices below $6" per thousand cubic feet, notes Mr. Hamm. Right now its price is below $4. This may explain the administration's hostility to the fossil-fuel renaissance.

Mr. Hamm calculates that if Washington would allow more drilling permits for oil and natural gas on federal lands and federal waters, "I truly believe the federal government could over time raise $18 trillion in royalties." That's more than the U.S. national debt, I say. He smiles.

Yes, that's $18 trillion. Maybe Obama would view oil drilling different if someone replaced the word "royalty" with the word "taxes."

Biden: It's OK to Blame Obama for Economy



I wonder if he'll let his boss know to quit blaming Bush, earthquakes, the Arab Spring, Europe, and whatever else. Somehow, I doubt it.

Who Can Possibly Really like Romney?

I can't; except unless he's the one running against Obama. But only then...

Perry strikes me as more likely to pass—among Republicans—the old “do I want this man in my living room for the next four years?” test than Romney is. Who can possibly really like Romney? He’s like your boss, or the regional supervisor who comes by the office a few times a year. You tolerate him and suck up to him, but the experience is completely phony and awkward. I don’t know him and might have him wrong, but I’d just bet you a dollar that he doesn’t have many real friends. He has partners and associates and a swarm of acolytes who suck up to him because he’s rich. But he comes across as wooden, insincere (in a harmless rather than malevolent way), and totally emotionally unavailable. Perry? Well, I find him repugnant, of course, but I’m an East Coast liberal. I’m trying to look at this through others’ eyes. And I think he’s the kind of person Southerners in particular but conservatives everywhere, except maybe in the Northeast, can take a shine to. At least he seems to have some shards of personality.
- Michael Tomasky

How Dare States Do a Job the Feds Won't Do!


A Federal judge seems to think that states can, indeed, do just that:

A federal judge on Wednesday said Alabama law enforcement officers can try to check the immigration status of those they suspect are in the country illegally, but blocked other parts of the state’s new crackdown law, which is the toughest in the country.

U.S. District Judge Sharon Lovelace Blackburn said Alabama is allowed to tread anywhere that federal law doesn’t explicitly prohibit states from acting, which means the state can enact its own penalties for immigrants who fail to carry their registration papers, and can enable its state and local police to check immigration status.

“Local officials have some inherent authority to assist in the enforcement of federal immigration law, so long as the local official ‘cooperates’ with the federal government,” the judge said in her 115-page decision.

And in a key part of her ruling, Judge Blackburn said the state can require schools to determine the legal status of students’ parents, though children of illegal immigrants may not be denied attendance.

But the judge did block four parts of Alabama’s law that she said go beyond what federal law allows: One provision created a civil action against employers who hired illegal immigrants over legal workers; another banned illegal immigrants from applying for a job; one made it a crime to harbor an illegal immigrant; and the other prohibited businesses from claiming tax deductions on wages paid to illegal immigrants.

Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley called the decision vindication for the state, and promised to appeal those parts of the law that were blocked.

“This fight is just beginning,” he said. “I am optimistic that this law will be completely upheld, and I remain committed to seeing this law fully implemented. I will continue to fight at every turn to defend this law against any and all challenges.”

The ruling marks a setback for the Obama administration, which had challenged the law along with several Alabama immigrant rights and religious groups, arguing only the federal government can regulate immigration.

Judge Blackburn, a 1991 appointee of President George H.W. Bush, disagreed, saying there are places where federal law invites cooperation, and places where it explicitly precludes it, and states are free to help in the former instance — as long as they don’t go beyond national law.

“Nothing in the text of [federal immigration law] expressly preempts states from legislating on the issue of verification of an individual’s citizenship and immigration status,” she wrote. “There is also nothing in the [law] which reflects congressional intent that the United States occupy the field as it pertains to the identification of persons unlawfully present in the United States.”

Late last month, Judge Blackburn had halted the entire law, saying she needed time to study it before issuing a full ruling, which she had promised before the end of September.

Her ruling puts her at odds with other federal courts that overturned Arizona’s crackdown law, passed last year. In that case, a district judge and then a three-judge appeals court panel both ruled that the federal government has primary authority in immigration law.

In that appeals court ruling, one judge dissented, and Judge Blackburn quoted heavily from Judge Carlos Bea’s opinion making the case that the federal government hasn’t precluded all state action.

In addition to its law enforcement provisions, the Alabama law requires all businesses to use E-Verify, a national database run by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services that allows employers to check potential hires’ Social Security numbers to see if they are authorized to work.

“We’re very pleased to see that 85 percent of our law will go into effect, and we can finally begin dealing with the problem of illegal immigration in Alabama,” said Alabama House Speaker Mike Hubbard, a Republican. “The E-Verify provision is among the most meaningful and effective parts of this law. If we’re going to stop the flow of thousands of illegal immigrants into Alabama, we must shut off the magnet that is drawing them here.”