Tuesday, August 4, 2015

As Hillary Clinton's Campaign Falters, Democratic Establishment Sends Joe Biden to Warm Up in Bullpen

The Guardian reports on the increasing likelihood that Vice President Joe Biden will make a run for the Democratic presidential nomination:
Vide President JOe Biden
The vice-president, who has twice mounted runs for the White House, signaled he was still open to exploring a third presidential bid this weekend when longtime aide Josh Alcorn joined the Draft Biden Pac. This was the first official link between Biden’s close-knit circle of loyalists and the effort mounted by fans of the vice-president to encourage him to jump into the 2016 campaign.
Those close to Biden emphasized to the Guardian this week that the vice-president has still not made a decision about whether to run for president. Instead, they noted that Alcorn’s move should be read as a signal that Biden hasn’t ruled out a run and that his supporters should not yet sign on with other campaigns.
Biden has long indicated to supporters that he would make a final decision about a presidential campaign at the end of the summer. While this would be a very late start for a presidential campaign by modern standards, it would still allow Biden to appear in the first Democratic debate as well as to speak at the Iowa Democratic party’s annual Jefferson-Jackson dinner, which is a major event on the primary calendar.
While Biden’s late son Beau reportedly urged his father to run for White House from his deathbed, it is unclear whether all members of the Biden family share this enthusiasm. A third presidential campaign for Biden would be an uphill fight against former secretary of state Hillary Clinton, who has locked up significant support from the Democratic establishment. However, amid the constant drip of scandal surrounding her use of a private email server, her campaign has been marked more by acquiescence to a seemingly inevitable candidate than genuine enthusiasm.
It has become increasingly apparent that Hillary Clinton has enormous trust issues.  Besides the email fiasco, there is also questions regarding the Clinton Foundation and whether Hillary Clinton used her position as Secretary of State to aid fundraising for the Foundation. 

But besides the trust issues, the real problem with Hillary Clinton as presidential candidate is she lacks the personality and skill set to be a good presidential candidate.  She is thin-skinned, secretive, and testy when challenged. On the campaign trail she refuses to address basic issues, such as whether she supports Keystone Pipeline or the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement.   Although those issues are deeply divisive among Democrats, her "solution" to not express an opinion strikes of naivety.

Bottom line is, when it comes to political skills,Hillary Clinton is no Bill Clinton.

The Democratic establishment may well have made a mistake to put all their faith in a candidate who has never proven herself to be a strong campaigner.  Let's not forget in 2008, when Hillary Clinton had all the institutional advantages her party could offer, she lost the presidential nomination to a first term Senator from Illinois.

Republicans would be wise though to not celebrate Hillary Clinton's 80 mile an hour fastballs down the middle of the political plate.  The Democrats have called on VP Joe Biden to warm up in the bullpen.  Biden, for all his gaffes and goofiness, is a much more skilled politician than Hillary Clinton ever thought of being. His willingness to speak his mind, often embarrassingly so, would be a powerful draw for an electorate begging for candidates to be authentic and talk straight to them.

Friday, July 31, 2015

Will the "Settled Science" of Anthropogenic Global Warming Theory Go the Way of Newtonian Physics?

John Steele Gordon has penned an excellent column in the Wall Street Journal discussing how saying something is "settled science" and beyond challenge is, in fact, unscientific:
Are there any phrases in today’s political lexicon more obnoxious than “the science is settled” and “climate-change deniers”?
The first is an oxymoron. By definition, science is never settled. It is always subject to change in the light of new evidence. The second phrase is nothing but an ad hominem attack, meant to evoke “Holocaust deniers,” those people who maintain that the Nazi Holocaust is a fiction, ignoring the
Isaac Newton
overwhelming, incontestable evidence that it is a historical fact. Hillary Clinton’s speech about climate change on Monday in Des Moines, Iowa, included an attack on “deniers.”
The phrases are in no way applicable to the science of Earth’s climate. The climate is an enormously complex system, with a very large number of inputs and outputs, many of which we don’t fully understand—and some we may well not even know about yet. To note this, and to observe that there is much contradictory evidence for assertions of a coming global-warming catastrophe, isn’t to “deny” anything; it is to state a fact. In other words, the science is unsettled—to say that we have it all wrapped up is itself a form of denial. The essence of scientific inquiry is the assumption that there is always more to learn.
Gordon then proceeds to talk about another scientific theory that for nearly a quarter of a millennium was accepted as true, only to be proven incorrect:
[T}here has never been so settled a branch of science as Newtonian physics. But in the 1840s, as telescopes improved, it was noticed that Mercury’s orbit stubbornly failed to behave as Newtonian equations said that it should.
Albert Einstein
It seems  not to have occurred to anyone to question Newton, so the only explanation was that Mercury must be being perturbed by a planet still closer to the sun. The French mathematician Urbain Le Verrier had triumphed in 1846 when he had predicted, within one degree, the location of a planet (later named Neptune) that was perturbing Uranus’s orbit.
He set out to calculate the orbit of the planet that he was sure was responsible for Mercury’s orbital eccentricity. He named it Vulcan, after the Roman god of fire. Once Le Verrier had done the math, hundreds of astronomers, both amateur and professional, searched for the illusive planet for the next few decades. But telescopic observation near the immensely bright sun is both difficult and dangerous. More than one astronomer injured his eyesight in the search.   
Several possible sightings were reported, but whether they were illusions, comets, or asteroids is unknown, as none could be tracked over time. After Le Verrier’s death in 1877 the hunt for Vulcan slacked off though it never ceased entirely.    
Only in 1915 was the reason no one could find Vulcan explained: It wasn’t there. Newton had written in the “Principia” that he assumed space to be everywhere and always the same. But a man named Albert Einstein that year, in his theory of general relativity, demonstrated that it wasn’t always the same, for space itself is distorted by hugely massive objects such as the sun. 
When Mercury’s orbit was calculated using Einstein’s equations rather than Newton’s, the planet turned out to be exactly where Einstein said it would be, one of the early proofs of general relativity.
Einstein was able to professionally challenge Newton precisely because, back then, the phrase "settled science" was considered an oxymoron.  A scientific theory, by its nature, is never settled and always open to challenge.   Today though Einstein would suffered professional and political ridicule for challenging Newton and had his funding cut.

The models used to predict anthropogenic global warming are increasingly being proven to be inaccurate. Is it possibly time to consider those scientists predicting an ever increasingly warmer planet that will doom mankind to a horrible future might just be wrong? 

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

After Supporting Wasteful and Likely Illegal Blue Indy Deal, Why Should Indy Conservatives Vote for Brewer for Mayor?

Chuck Brewer, Republican candidate for Indianapolis Mayor, has thrown the full weight of his campaign behind Mayor Greg Ballard's electric car sharing program, Blue Indy.

Why?

It has been alleged that scores of laws were violated in the enactment of the Blue Indy contract.  Republican Gary Welsh of Advance Indiana has written extensively about the subject:
Thursday, July 23, 2015, Council's Attorney Tells Council Members Everything About
Chuck Brewer
Blue Indy Deal Is Illegal
 
Saturday, July 18, 2015, A Franchise Agreement For Blue Indy? 
Thursday, July 16, 2015, Ballard Stealing More Valuable Downtown Public Parking Spaces For Blue Indy
Saturday, July 11, 2015, Council Resolution Seeks Towing Of Illegally Parked Blue Indy Cars
Friday, July 03, 2015, More Blue Indy Madness 
Wednesday, June 24, 2015, More Problems Ahead For Blue Indy
Friday, June 19, 2015, Expert Who Discovered Blue Indy Was Non-Compliant Told To Butt Out By City Officials   
Tuesday, April 28, 2015, Ballard Stealing Parking Meter Revenues To Pay For Electric Car Sharing Program  
Brewer apparently is unconcerned about the fact that the Ballard administration did not follow the law in the enactment of the Blue Indy contract.  He also is unfazed about the lack of transparency in the Blue Indy deal and that valuable parking spaces before downtown businesses are being taken for charging stations.  (We may well owe compensation for those lost metered spaces under the 50 year parking meter privatization deal entered into by Ballard.)  Does the fact that Brewer is willing to overlook a lack of legal compliance and transparency on the Blue Indy deal suggest he would follow similar practices if elected Mayor?

A couple days ago, a friend of mine Matt Stone published on his blog Indy Student a comparison of the Los Angeles electric car sharing deal with the Blue Indy agreement:
NBC Los Angeles reports that the state of California has awarded a $1.6 million dollar grant for Los Angeles to launch an electric car sharing program. The program will launch in some of its more diverse and low-income areas, including South LA and Koreatown. The pilot intends to add a fleet of 100 cars, with residents being able to sign up and pay a monthly membership or pay on a per-hour basis. While exact rates are still being worked out, officials are saying they hope it to be lower priced than car sharing services such as Uber and Lyft.
...  
While the report doesn't specifically say what type of electric car infrastructure that LA already has, I'm going to guess the answer is little to none. You can see some shots of charging stations being constructed in the background if you watch the news report clip on NBC-LA's web site. All in all, this works out to about $16,000 per car.In contrast, the electric car sharing program BlueIndy is costing nearly $50 million for 500 cars. That cost likely doesn't take into account the millions of dollars of lost revenue when Dictator Mayor Greg Ballard (R) unilaterally removes hundreds of parking spots from public use to turn them over to the exclusive use of a for-profit company. Or the massive fines ParkIndy, the private operator of our public parking meters, will levy upon the city for the permanent removal of the parking spaces. Despite the $6 million dollar in help from city taxpayers, don't expect that to make it any cheaper to rent one of these cars. A 2014 estimate puts the estimate at $15 for an hour, or membership fees at $10-15 for a week or an annual membership costing about $15 a month. 
Total costs work out to about $98,000 per car.
$50 million for 500 electric cars in Indianapolis compared $1.6 million for 100 similar cars in Los Angeles.  That's $98,000 per car in Indy versus $16,000 per car in Los Angeles.   It is disheartening that Republican Brewer is endorsing a program that is such a colossal waste of taxpayer money.  This is exactly why conservatives who are angry at Mayor Ballard for 40 plus tax and fee increases as well as limitless one-sided corporate welfare deals that fleece taxpayers are unlikely to turn out and vote for Brewer who is promising more of the same.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Judges' Refusal to Defer to Legislative Bodies a Product of Intellectual Elitism

Yesterday I had a conversation with a misguided attorney friend (MAF) when our conversation wandered into the area of the death penalty.  MAF declared that the death penalty was abhorrent and should be abolished.  He talked about how society had evolved since the Constitution was originally adopted.  I told him that was fine - that state legislative bodies can always proscribe the death penalty in their jurisdictions.  That is not good enough for MAF.  He wants the 8th Amendment prohibition on "cruel and unusual punishment" redefined to ban the death penalty across the country.  

Of course, the Constitution and its amendments three times refer to capital punishment so it is crystal clear that the Founders never intended for the Eighth Amendment to ban the death penalty.  MAF doesn't care.  He believes that judges should be able to redefine constitutional provisions to keep up to date changing societal mores.  His philosophy is that the Constitution is a living document that judges can change the meaning of whenever they see fit.

I have asked MAF exactly what limits he there should be on judges simply rewriting the Constitution to incorporate their own beliefs.  He assures me that the actual written words of the Constitution still would provide some guidance and judges would still be bound by precedent.  But when it come to the Supreme Court, the justices on that body are not bound by precedent.  They can make things up, finding new rights that nobody had found before.  Just this past year, the justices found for the first time in nearly 150 years that the 14th Amendment barred states from defining marriage as solely being between a man and a woman, enshrining same sex marriage as a new civil right.

Of course, the Court could have simply found the Constitution was silent and left the issue of whether to redefine marriage to state legislatures.  But many in the legal community take it for granted that judges, usually the unelected federal variety, should follow and sometimes lead public opinion by redefining the Constitution.  No need to wait around for the democratic process to play out when we have learned men and women wearing black robes that can impose by judicial fiat "good law."

Such an attitude is nothing more than intellectual elitism, an idea that those who don black robes are bestowed with knowledge superior to average men and women.  I noticed that intellectual elitism during my first days of law school.  During a Constitutional Law class, I argued that since the Constitution was silent on an issue it should be left to the state legislatures to decide.  One of my classmates dismissed my assertion, saying that important public policy issues should not be left to the "pig farmers" elected to state legislatures.

Having grown up in a farming community, I certainly know better than to dismiss the wisdom of farmers and others who choose to make a living with their hands instead of their minds.  Having worked three sessions in the Indiana Senate, I also knew that, despite the messy nature of the legislative process, there exists a collective wisdom in the legislature that often far exceeds that of individual judges.   That judges should defer to legislative bodies, which represent the will of the people in free and fair elections, is exactly the way our system was intended to operate. 

Unfortunately, MAF remains an enthusiastic believer in intellectual elitism.  He is perfectly fine being ruled by unelected federal judges instead of the elected representatives of the people.  I'm not sure there is any cure for his terribly misguided thinking.  There is still hope for others, however.  We need, however to do a better job of educating law students, and judges to be, on the important role legislatures play in our constitutional system.

Even With Unaccredited Indiana Tech Law School Offering Free Tuition, Cost of Legal Education May Still Be Too High

The Wall Street Journal Law Blog reports:
A law school in Indiana is offering students an unbeatable price — a year of law school tuition free. 
Indiana Tech Law School in Fort Wayne, which opened its doors two years ago, is waiving the more than $30,000 it normally charges tuitionand fees, promising a full one-year scholarship to any student who enrolls this fall.   
Students have to cover room and board but the rest is on the house. To stay eligible, they 
Indiana Tech Law School
don’t even have to maintain high grades, as long as they stay in good academic standing, according to its dean.
There is a catch, though.   
*Graduates of the school may not be able to take the bar exam and become a practicing lawyer.    
The American Bar Association last month refused to grant Indiana Tech provisional accreditation for reasons neither the school nor the ABA will disclose. That means at least until next spring, enrolled students will be stuck in law school purgatory.
Most states, including Indiana, don’t let students take the bar exam unless they graduated from a law school accredited by the American Bar Association.
It is not clear that even a free law school education is a good value.  While such an education might be useful background for a lot of non-legal jobs, employers generally are underwhelmed with prospective non-lawyer employees showing up at their door with a J.D. in hand.   A J.D. tends to pigeonhole law school graduates into narrow "lawyer" openings and overqualifies individuals for non-lawyer positions.  If Indiana Tech gets its ABA accreditation then that puts the schools graduates out in a saturated attorney job market which has, according to one study, nearly attorneys competing for every legal opening.

Thanks to the Indiana Law Blog which has closely followed Indiana Tech Law School developments.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Planned Parenthood's Attempt to Spin Undercover Videos as "Hoaxes" Falls Flat

The last couple weeks featured the release of undercover videos of luncheon meetings starring Dr. Deborah Nucatola, senior director of medical services of Planned Parenthood, and Dr. Mary Gatter, the medical director at Planned Parenthood Pasadena and San Gabriel Valley. Gatter is also President of the Medical Directors' Council, the central committee of all Planned Parenthood affiliate medical directors.    In the videos filmed by the Center for Medical Progress, Nucatola and Gatter are shown discussing selling aborted baby body parts with undercover investigators posing as officials with a biotech company that acts as a middleman to sell aborted baby body parts to universities and other places that conduct such research.

When the Nucatola video was first released, the response of Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards apologized for the tone of the meeting, but also claimed Nucatola had her facts wrong and that if what she said was true then Planned Parenthood did violate laws and as well as ethical guidelines.  Then the Center for Medical Progress released the Gatter video repeating much of what Nucatola had said.  So Planned Parenthood decided to take another tact seeking to sell the spin that the videos were elaborate "hoaxes."



What is the basis for the "hoax" allegation?   Does Planned Parenthood claim that CMP used actors to portray Planned Parenthood officials?  No.  Does Planned Parenthood claim that CMP altered their representatives voices, to make them say things they did not actually say?  No.  The ENTIRE basis for PP's claim that the videos are hoaxes is that in addition to making the entire several hour long  videos available on YouTube, they also created an edited 8 to 9 minute versions.  Does the edited version focus on the more objectionable things PP officials were saying?  Absolutely.  That does not make the videos a hoax no more than it makes every TV news story a hoax because the station edits the footage to focus on what is most interesting to viewers.   CMP has made the full length videos available to anyone who wants to view them in order see whether content changes the meaning of what the PP officials were saying.

The content doesn't help Planned Parenthood  Yes, in the full length video there are disclaimers by PP that the organization can only legally recover costs, but Nucatola also talks about clinics wanting to do better than break even on the selling of fetal body parts.  Nucatola also says the price depends on the demand for the organ. Meanwhile Gatter is openly haggling over the price of those fetal body parts.  The behavior of Nucatola and Gatter are completely inconsistent with the notion that PP does not sell fetal body parts and recovers costs only.  If just costs are recoverable, then those costs are calculated and quoted.  There is no change in price depending on the demand for the tissue or organs.  There is no haggling over the price.  And there is certainly no clinics trying to do better, as Nucatola suggests, than break even on costs, a direct admission that the law is being violated.

Planned Parenthood's protestations that the disclaimers that the organization can only recover costs is not on the edited version is akin to an FBI sting operation in which an elected official is caught taking a bribe but the video being shown on the evening news doesn't include the official saying he won't take a bribe...before he proceeds to do exactly that.



In both the Nucatola and Gatter videos, the doctors discuss their willingness to change the abortion procedure to produce "intact specimens."  Nucatola said that some abortionists will even "change the presentation" of the fetus so it is breech (feet first) which allows the life to be terminated without damaging fetal organs and other tissue that might be in demand.  This admission could also constitute a legal violation and certainly ethical violations.

What is most damning about the Planned Parenthood videos is not that it exposes the organization for selling fetal body parts, but it exposes the world to the gruesomeness of what takes place during an abortion.  Abortion rights supporters depend mightily on being able to cloak what happens during an abortion in euphemisms that belie what actually takes place.  They will assure everyone that the fetus is just a blob of cells, a "product of conception."  They insist that a woman should be able to "control her own body."

When Nucatola talks about crushing above or crushing below to preserve fetal body parts it is clear to everyone that those euphemisms are not reality.  The abortion issue was never about a woman being able to control her own body, but whether and when to allow the termination of the life of a developing living human being.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

New Poll Shows Hillary Clinton Trailing Republican Rivals in Swing States of Colorado, Iowa and Virginia

Doeg Schoen Forbes reports on a growing crisis reflected in likely Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton's latest polling numbers:
Quinnipiac University’s latest polling results indicate a sharply diminished outlook for Clinton. For the first time, she is trailing her top GOP rivals in the critical swing states of
Colorado, Iowa and Virginia. And her honesty and trustworthy ratings are in free fall.
Clinton is now lagging behind Senator Marco Rubio, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and former Florida Governor Jeb Bush in head-to-head match-ups by widening margins of two percentage points up to nine points. More specifically, the Republican front runners lead Clinton by the widest margins in Colorado and Iowa, by five to nine points, and are slightly ahead in closer races in Virginia by two to three points.
But the bad news doesn’t end there. In all three states, Clinton’s rating a strong leader has dropped by between four and ten points compared to earlier data. Clinton is barely above 50 percent in this key category in Colorado, Iowa, and Virginia, underscoring voters’ perception of her questionable leadership abilities.
Brutally negative favorability ratings in each critical state, 35% favorable to 56% unfavorable in Colorado, 33% to 56% in Iowa, and 41% to 50% in Virginia, reflect poorly on her candidacy thus far.
I am a bit amazed that the Establishment Democrats are not more concerned.  While the Bernie Sanders phenomenon appears to have maxed out support among Democrats, unfortunately for Democrats that doesn't seem to be because Clinton has strengthened her campaign.
Schoen goes on to discuss the need for Clinton to answer questions and do a better job of engaging voters and the media.
Given the bleakness of Quinnipiac’s latest polls, voters have resoundingly indicated that they expect a higher level of responsiveness out of the candidate. The process toward achieving this will surely involve some change in Clinton’s style. I know as well as anybody that she won’t do a complete about face, but even a little more openness will go a long way with voters who are questioning her trustworthiness and honesty. She owes Americans that.
And if the media is going to write more approvingly of her candidacy she needs to be more open, accessible and available. It’s just that simple.
I just don't think Clinton can pull off the transformation.  Hillary simply does not have the extrovert personality or political skills of her husband. 

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Angie's List Posts Another Quarterly Loss; Is Membership Decline Due to Former CEO's Attack on Religious Freedom?

The Indianapolis Star reports:
[Angie's List]  reported revenue of $87 million in the quarter, 10.6 percent more than a
Former Angie's List CEO Bill Oesterle
year ago but short of Wall Street expectations of $89 million, according to a survey of analysts by Zacks Investment Research.
The company posted a loss of $8.3 million, or 14 cents a share, an improvement over a loss of $18 million a year ago but slightly worse than analysts' average forecast for a loss of 13 cents a share.
As of writing this, Angie's List is currently trading at $4.88 a share, down nearly 20% from yesterday.  Angie's List has never turned an annual profit in nearly 20 years of existence.

Earlier this year, Angie's List CEO Bill Oesterle led a fight against Indiana's RFRA, a law that protects religious freedom  Apparently Oesterle's leading role in attacking religious freedom came at a price.  Membership revenue fell by 9% during the second quarter of 2015.  Angie's List added 24% fewer members in the second quarter than it did in the second quarter of 2014.   One has to wonder if Oesterle's departure as CEO is tied to religious people no longer wanting to do business with Angie's List because of the company's CEO.

Nonetheless, even with Oesterle's departure Angie's List may not have seen the end of the backlash.   Oesterle's attacks on religious freedom helped land Angie's List on the American Family's Association's"Bigotry Map."  According to the AFA's description of the company, "Angie's List opposes religious liberty laws, which force Christians to violate their faith or face punishment by government."

I would add that it is not just Christians. The RFRA legislation Oesterle opposed protects people of all religious faiths from being compelled to act in a way contrary to their faith.  Fortunately it appears that religious conservatives are finally organizing to stand up to corporate bullies like the Oesterle and Marc Benioff of SalesForce who in one breath preach tolerance while engaging in the worst sort of intolerance when it comes to respecting people's religious beliefs.  If the leaders of these companies find that attacking religious freedom comes at a price, they'll be less inclined to do so in the future.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Governor Pence Shuts Down Possible Commission Crackdown on Senior Citizen Euchre Players

WIBC reports:
Governor Pence is ordering the Indiana Gaming Commission not to stand in the way of
Gov. Mike Pence
senior citizens' euchre tournaments.    
Gaming Commission executive director Sara Tait says the commission has no interest in shutting down euchre games with small prizes, any more than it would go after an NCAA basketball pool. She says the commission sent an "educational" form letter to the Delaware County Senior Citizens Center, advising them that its entry fee of a couple of bucks and small prizes like a can of peaches were enough to require a charity gaming license.   
Tait says the agency never intended to do anything else, but the letter was enough to prompt the center to discontinue the game. And Pence has directed the agency to review its procedures to ensure that it follows a common-sense standard, and specifically to leave the Muncie euchre game alone.
Of course, after the news initially broke liberals rushed to pin the crackdown of senior citizen euchre on conservative Pence. In an InForefront column, former Indianapolis Star reporter Mary Dieter tried to smear the Governor for the Commission sending the form letter.  Apparently in Ms. Dieter's liberal world, Governors, at least conservative ones, review and sign off on every communication by state agencies.  Given the strident and hateful tone Ms. Dieter takes on anything Pence related, I don't think she seems particularly worried about presenting facts honestly and fairly.

Here is what happened.  Someone at the Gaming Commission exercised poor judgment in sending out a form letter that is both policy and public relations foolish..  When Governor Pence found out about it he immediately took action putting a stop to any attempt by the Commission to pursue senior citizens from playing Euchre for token prizes.

What would Pence's predecessor have done?  Governor Mitch Daniels always took a hands-off approach to the agencies, letting them do whatever they wanted often to the point of political embarrassment and foolish policy.  For example, when confronted with agencies not paying bills on time and incurring millions of dollars in late fees, Daniels unbelievably, and angrily, defended the agencies.  Presented with a similar situation, Daniels would have defended the Gaming Commission as simply doing its job.  Unlike Daniels, Pence didn't try to pass the buck and immediately took action.  Personally I prefer the latter.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

"Black Lives Matter" Protestors Interrupt Event Featuring Democratic Presidential Candidates

While the media obsesses over supposed extremism of some Republican presidential candidates, it ignores extremism among Democrats that will surely turn off a lot of mainstream voters.  Take what happened at the Netroots Nation townhall meeting yesterday.  CNN reports:
A [Phoenix] town hall for liberal activists featuring two Democratic presidential candidates was interrupted by dozens of demonstrators on Saturday who shouted down the contenders and demanded they address criminal justice issues and police brutality.
Former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders planned to
attend a public sit-down interview with journalist Jose Antonio Vargas in front of a left-leaning crowd here at the annual Netroots Nation conference, a gathering of progressives, when the tone of the program shifted just a few minutes into the event.  

O'Malley was answering questions from Vargas on stage when dozens of boisterous conference attendees flooded through a side door and shouted down the White House contender.
"What side are you on my people?" they sang in unison as they approached.
Tia Oso of the Black Alliance for Just Immigration, who represented the demonstrators, climbed onto the stage, secured a microphone, and delivered a speech while O'Malley looked on.
"We are going to hold this space. We are going to acknowledge the names of black women who have died in police custody. And Governor O'Malley, we do have questions for you ... As the leader of this nation, will you advance a racial justice agenda that will dismantle -- not reform, not make progress -- but will begin to dismantle structural racism in the United States?"
 "Yes," O'Malley replied, but before he could say more, the demonstrators in front of the stage shouted over him by reciting names of black women who have died in police custody....
Below, dozens shouted several chants in unison.
"Black lives matter! Black lives matter!" they shouted toward O'Malley, and began a call-and-repeat rallying cry that activists have been using in the wake of the death of 28-year-old Sandra Bland, who died in police custody last week. "If I die in police in custody!" one of the chants went, "Burn everything down! That's the only way mother******* like you listen!"
Conference organizers begged them to allow O'Malley to respond.
"I think all of us as Americans have a responsibility to recognize the pain and the grief throughout our country from all of the lives that have been lost to violence, whether that's violence at the hands at the police or whether that's violence at the hands of civilians," O'Malley said, before being interrupted again.
"Don't generalize this s***!" one person shouted back.
...
The demonstrators started shouting and booing again when O'Malley said: "Black lives matter. White lives matter. All lives matter."


For saying all lives matter, O'Malley had to issue an apology.  He left the stage changing: "Black lives matter! Black lives matter!"
 
Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders didn't fair any better with the protestors.  The CNN story continues:
When Sanders approached the stage a moment later, the demonstrators continued. The candidate, a favorite of Netroots Nation, threatened to leave if they continued to interrupt him.
"Black lives, of course, matter. I spent 50 years of my life fighting for civil rights and for dignity," he said. "But if you don't want me to be here, that's OK. I don't want to outscream people."  
Sanders proceeded to deliver his usual presidential stump speech over sporadic shouting from below.
After talking over one another, Sanders eventually ditched pre-planned remarks and tried to address questions from demonstrators.  
...   
"Black people are dying in this country because we have a criminal justice system which is out of control, a system in which over 50% of young African-American kids are unemployed," Sanders said. "It is estimated that a black baby born today has a one in four chance of ending up in the criminal justice system."
When Sanders cited the Affordable Care Act as a law he supported that helped people of color by making health insurance more accessible, one man shouted, "we can't afford that!"
Before Sanders finished speaking, many of the protesters walked out on him toward exit doors in the back.
There should be zero tolerance for people who insist on interrupting events like this.  They should have been immediately detained by police and escorted out of the building.  Your free speech right does not include the right to interrupt the speech of other people. 

But from a political perspective  that a Democratic presidential candidate felt compelled to apologize for saying "all lives matter" show how extremists have taken over the nomination process of the Democratic Party.  Even a spokesperson for Netroots Nation couldn't bring herself to condemn the people who ruined the event stating:  "Although we wish the candidates had more time to respond to the issues, what happened today is reflective of an urgent moment that America is facing today."

Poll Shows Declining Support for LGBT Rights, Increased Support for Religious Liberty

A new poll out shows that support for same sex marriage and other LGBT rights have declined since the Supreme Court ruling legalizing same sex marriage.  Huffington Post reports on a AP/GfK poll conducted after the decision:
According to the poll, 42 percent support same-sex marriage and 40 percent oppose it. The percentage saying they favor legal same-sex marriage in their state was down slightly from the 48 percent who said so in an April poll. In January, 44 percent were in favor.   
Asked specifically about the Supreme Court ruling, 39 percent said they approve and 41
percent said they disapprove.
"What the Supreme Court did is jeopardize our religious freedoms," said Michael Boehm, 61, an industrial controls engineer from the Detroit area who describes himself as a conservative-leaning independent.
"You're going to see a conflict between civil law and people who want to live their lives according to their faiths," Boehm said.    
Boehm was among 59 percent of the poll respondents who said wedding-related businesses with religious objections should be allowed to refuse service to gay and lesbian couples. That compares with 52 percent in April.   
Also, 46 percent said businesses more generally should be allowed to refuse service to same-sex couples, while 51 percent said that should not be allowed.   
... 
The poll found pronounced differences in viewpoints depending on political affiliation.
For example, 65 percent of Democrats, but only 22 percent of Republicans favored allowing same-sex couples to legally marry in their state. And 72 percent of Republicans but just 31 percent of Democrats said local officials with religious objections should be exempt from issuing marriage licenses. 
By a 64-32 margin, most Democrats said it's more important to protect gay rights than religious liberties when the two are in conflict. Republicans said the opposite, by 82-17.
When the battle over the Religious Freedom Restoration Act erupted in Indiana this spring, I warned that there would eventually be a political pushback.  Not only would religious folks be better organized next time, there are a lot more of them out there voting on their issues than those supporting LGBT rights.  But I also knew that those supporting LGBT rights would eventually go too far and begin bullying and harassing people and businesses who did not share their views.  While that might win some short term political battles, that's not a prescription for long-term success.

A perfect example is LGBT rights organization Freedom Indiana's approach in 2014 compared to 2015.  In 2014, the organization put together a very positive outreach campaign in support of same sex marriage and against an amendment to Indiana's Constitution defining marriage as between a man and a woman. When the 2015 legislative session rolled around though Freedom Indiana's approach had changed dramatically.  The organization waited until the last days of the Indiana General Assembly to ambush religious rights supporters over RFRA, a bill that had been introduced months earlier.  In opposing the bill, Freedom Indiana scrapped its positive approach of a year earlier and engaged in a campaign of bullying and intimidation against those who dared support RFRA.   Freedom Indiana enlisted its corporate allies to make threats against legislators and the Governor if they dared support the legislation.  RFRA opponents engaged in a campaign of deceit and demagoguery with the disingenuous claim that the law was a "license to discriminate" against the LGBT community.   The media dutifully reported this mantra even though there was not one instance in the 30 other states that have RFRAs or at the national level in which a RFRA overturned the application of an anti-discrimination law.

While RFRAs are irrelevant to the application of anti-discrimination laws, states and communities that have those anti-discrimination laws that include sexual orientation are being used by LGBT extremists to bully and threaten Christian owners of businesses who don't share their views.  The most recent example of that is the Oregon bakery known as Sweet Cakes by Melissa.  The owners of that business, Aaron and Melissa Klein, were cited for violating Oregon's anti-discrimination law and hit with a judgment of $135,000 in emotional damages for a lesbian couple supposedly suffered when the Kleins told them that they had religious objections to same sex weddings and felt baking a cake for the ceremony would violate those beliefs.  Worse yet, the Oregon Labor Commissioner found that the Kleins, by speaking out publicly about their opposition to same sex marriage as well as talking about the case, violated Oregon's anti-discrimination advertising law.  The Commissioner, who is an attorney but apparently slept through Constitutional Law 101, also imposed a gag order on the Kleins.

The bottom line is that those who support LGBT rights need to be concerned that the most extreme members of their movement will turn the public sharply against their agenda.  To their credit, some in the LGBT community have argued that LGBT rights supporters should try to win converts through education and persuasion, instead employing threats and intimidation to those who don't share their view.  Those LGBT moderates have discussed the need to be tolerant of those folks who don't share their view because of religious or other objections and that LGBT community should not support driving small business owners into bankruptcy because the owners don't support same sex marriage.

Unfortunately for the LGBT community, those more reasonable folks are not driving the LGBT political bus.  The LGBT moderates better get control of the steering wheel soon because that bus is heading for a political cliff.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Planned Parenthood Exposed in Video Sting Operation; Gov. Pence Calls for Investigation

Thursday I had to a chance to watch the undercover video in which the Planned Parenthood director talked about harvesting fetal body parts during abortions while glossing over violations of federal law.  Tim Swarens of the Indianapolis Star has an excellent editorial on the subject:
She sips from a glass of wine. Takes a bite of salad. Then discusses the marketplace's demand for intact livers, lungs and brains — harvested from aborted babies.   
In a two-hour, 42-minute undercover video — chilling in both its gruesome detail and the utter casualness with which the conversation unfolds — Dr. Deborah Nucatola, senior director of medical services for the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, explains how she fulfills orders for fetal organs.   
Dr. Deborah Nucatola
"I'd say a lot of people want liver," Nucatola tells two actors posing as representatives of

a tissue procurement firm. "And for that reason, most providers will do this case under ultrasound guidance, so they'll know where they're putting their forceps. The kind of rate-limiting step of the procedure is calvarium. Calvarium — the head — is basically the biggest part. 
"We've been very good at getting heart, lung, liver, because we know that, so I'm not gonna crush that part," she says nonchalantly as lunchtime chatter fills a restaurant in Southern California. "I'm gonna basically crush below, I'm gonna crush above, and I'm gonna see if I can get it all intact." 
.... 
About 40 minutes into watching the video, I needed to turn it off, walk away and calm my soul. That was shortly after Nucatola described in excruciating detail how she routinely repositions babies inside the womb to perform what sounds like a procedure commonly known as a partial-birth abortion. 
So that the brain can be harvested. 
Because, as she acknowledges, brains are in high demand. 
And fetch a premium price.
During the video Nucatola talked about that, depending on which organs are wanted, sometimes the abortionist will "change the presentation" of the fetus, and "convert it to a breach."  That way valuable organs to be sold won't be crushed during the procedure.  When the issue turned to the possible violation of federal law in selling fetal organs and engaging in partial-birth abortion, Nucatola responded with a Bill Clintonesque that laws are open to intepretatioin.

My conversion on the abortion issue came in college when I wrote a letter on prenatal development.  In my research, I ran across what happened during an abortion. Fetuses, i.e. unborn babies are cut up and crushed during an abortion.  Truly horrifying.  The abortion issue is not at all what the liberals say it is - that the issue is about a woman's body.  And, alt for me at least, my opposition to abortion had to do with medical science, not religion.

Cecile Richards, President
Planned Parenthood
While some liberals remarkably began defending Nucatola, Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards quickly tossed her under the bus.  Richards said Nucatola inaccurately described the organ harvesting process at Planned Parenthood facilities and that doctors don't change procedures to harvest organs.   It is not clear whether Richards is claiming that  Nucatola, who again is senior director of medical services for the Planned Parenthood,  was lying to embarrass PP for some reason or she is just grossly misinformed about the medical services taking place at PP facilities.  Or could it be a PP official being honest not knowing that she was being recorded?  Yeah, I'm guessing the later.

Indiana Governor Mike Pence called for an investigation into Planned Parenthood of Indiana.  The Star reports:
Republican Gov. Mike Pence ordered Thursday an investigation into Planned Parenthood in Indiana after an undercover video shot by anti-abortion activists sparked widespread outrage this week over the harvesting of organs from aborted fetuses. 
Citing federal and state laws prohibiting tissue trafficking, Pence said he directed the Indiana State Department of Health and the Attorney General’s Office to look into whether local Planned Parenthood locations have illegally profited from fetal organ donations.   
“I think every Hoosier should be appalled at what has come forward as allegations in this video,” Pence told WIBC-FM (93.1) conservative radio host Greg Garrison. “I’m deeply troubled by it. It is my obligation as governor of the state of Indiana to make sure that this is not happening in Indiana.” 
...   
Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky does not participate in a tissue-donation program, a spokeswoman has said.   
“And of course,” the local affiliate said in a statement, “we hold compliance with all applicable federal and state laws and regulations as an imperative.”

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Now That Rev. Harrison is Out of the Race, Who Is the Conservative and Reform Choice for Indianapolis Mayor?

Early this morning, Rev. Charles Harrison sent out a press release saying that he will not be a candidate for Indianapolis Mayor in 2015:
After much consideration, many discussions and hours of prayerful thought, I have decided not to run for Indianapolis Mayor in the 2015 election. This decision was difficult for me and my family, especially given the great outpouring of support that was
 demonstrated in the petitions that contained more than 6,000 signatures. I thank you so much for your support and your trust in me.  
Rev. Charles Harrison
I feel a strong calling to serve all the citizens of Indianapolis. As Mayor, I would have demonstrated this calling through a deep commitment to valuing all lives throughout our community, to improving public safety, and to creating an economic climate that leads to better job opportunities. I strongly encourage the remaining candidates in the race to address these issues directly, with solutions that are positive and forward-thinking.   
At this time, I believe I can best serve our city by continuing my very rewarding work as Senior Pastor at Barnes United Methodist Church and President of the Board of Directors at the Indianapolis Ten Point Coalition. Through these positions, I feel I can truly make a difference, without getting involved in the negativity and political pressures that come with elected office.  
I am humbled by the kindness and counsel that have been provided to me as I wrestled with this decision. I shall continue to serve our community with concern and compassion, so that we all can live better lives.  
First, let me say I don't blame Rev. Harrison.  People who have never been a candidate in a competitive race do not know the personal and financial sacrifices involved.  That Rev. Harrison decided against tossing his hat in the ring is a decision I respect.

Some Democrats were terrified of a Rev. Harrison candidacy because they feared he would peel off a large number of African-American voters who make up, by my estimate, 45% of the Democrats' votes for Indianapolis mayor.  But this I think that represents an overly simplified view of the electorate, not to mention a demeaning view of black voters.   If Harrison's candidacy took off, his key constituency would have been disaffected, reform-minded Republicans who are weary of the Ballard agenda which has been filled with 7 1/2 years of tax and fee increases, and the diversion of spending from the city's needs to corporate welfare for Ballard's buddies.

Ballard not only alienated fiscal conservatives during his tenure, he also alienated social conservatives by his dismissive attitude toward religious freedom during the RFRA debate and his agreeing to be Grand Marshal of the Indy Pride parade, an event that included adult-oriented themes.   The Republican nominee Chuck Brewer has inherited Ballard's hostility to conservativism, yet Brewer is too politically naïve to know that he needs to shore up his own base before moving to the left to reach out to independents and Democrats.   That's a recipe for a Democratic landslide in November.

While Brewer is promising (threatening?)a Ballard third term, reformers and conservatives don't seem attracted to the campaign of Democrat Joe Hogsett either. While Hogsett has said some favorable things, few people think that, given his background and roots in Establishment Democratic politics, Hogsett will be the one to carry the reform agenda.

The only question left is whether, given a disinterest in the candidacies of Hogsett or Brewer, conservative and reform-minded voters stay away from the polls and sink Republicans in the scores of marginal GOP districts created with the new maps

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Amazon, Barnes & Noble Dispute NY Times Claim of Bulk Sales of Ted Cruz's Book

CNN Money reports:
Amazon  denied Monday that "bulk purchases" were fueling sales of Ted Cruz's new book, but the New York Times said it's not budging in its decision to exclude the senator's memoir from its bestseller list.   
Amazon said in a statement that it has found "no evidence of unusual bulk purchase activity in our sales data" for Cruz's recently released book "A Time for Truth."    
Amazon's assertion, first reported by Politico, contradicted the Times, which said last week that the Texas senator's book was left off its prestigious bestseller list due to "the overwhelming preponderance of evidence" that "sales were limited to strategic bulk purchases."
Bookseller Barnes & Noble also looked into the matter and found no evidence of bulk sales of the Cruz book.  HarperCollins, the publisher of "A Time for Truth," also denied the allegations of bulk sales to pump up sales figures.

That the NY Times Book Review uses a secret formula to downgrade or exclude conservative authors from the newspaper's best sellers list is not exactly new.  Last year, NYTBR was accused of unfairly keeping David Limbaugh's "Jesus on Trial" off the list despite having better sales than 17 other authors on the list.   That same year, conservative author Dinesh D'Souza's "America: Imagine a World Without Her" was excluded entirely from the 25 book list despite having better sales than 13 books that were listed as bestsellers.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Speculating on the Field of Republican Vice-Presidential Candidates

Ohio Gov. John Kasich
While everyone is focused, and rightfully so, on the Republican presidential nomination battle, I thought it would be interesting to look at who the eventual nominee might pick for a running mate. 

Polling shows VP selections rarely have much of an impact on the vote for President.  But they can be important in terms of 1) winning a key state; or 2) help balance the ticket out either ideologically, geographically, or demographically.   With that in mind, let's look at some possible Republican VP candidates. 

OHIO GOVERNOR JOHN KASICH -  I don't think Kasich's presidential bid will go far, but he is a very successful Republican politician in a key state that Republicans need to win if they want to win the White House.  In Democratic leaning Ohio, Kasich won re-election in 2014 with 64% of the vote, winning 86 of 88 counties.  Kasich, however, is a supporter of Common Core which does not sit well with many conservatives.  Still that may not be enough to keep him out of the No. 2 slot.

FLORIDA SENATOR MARCO RUBIO - While Rubio's presidential ambitions should fare better than Kasich's, I don't think he will have enough to get him to the finish line.  At some point, he is likely to be considered for the second place on the ticket, especially since he's from another key state

Sen. Marco Rubio
Republicans need to win the election.  As a Latino, he would also help diversify the ticket.  Rubio is solid on most issues, though his anti-libertarian views on national security might irritate more than a few conservatives.   But, like Kasich, I doubt that's enough to disqualify him.

CARLY FIORINA -  If the Democrats nominate Hillary Clinton at the top of the ticket, Republicans might seek gender balance by putting Fiorina in the number two slot.  The former CEO of Hewlitt-Packard is surprisingly strong on the presidential campaign trail for someone who has limited political experience. (She ran for U.S. Senate in California.)    Unfortunately for Republicans though, Fiorina comes from California and she has no ability to deliver that fact for Republicans.

BEN CARSON - A favorite of many tea partiers, Carson would bring racial balance to the ticket.  But it's unlikely that his presence on the ticket would cause Republicans to win many more African-American votes and his lack of political experience could prove to be a liability.

SOUTH CAROLINA GOVERNOR NIKKI HALEY - Haley ran for the Republican nomination in 2010 opposing the establishment GOP candidate. She has battled corruption within her own party and pushed a pro-growth agenda,  She would not only bring gender balance to the ticket, but as an Indian-American she would bring demographic balance as well. On the negative side of the ledger, South Carolina should be a state fairly easily won by Republicans.

LOUISIANA GOVERNOR BOBBY JINDAL - Jindal, like Nikki Hale is an Indian-American from a state Republicans should win even without his help.  While he would be an interesting presence on the ticket, I think the GOP selection will be focused more on a VP candidate who will bring with him or her a key state with plenty of electoral votes.

NEW HAMPSHIRE SENATOR KELLY AYOTTE -  While Ayote is a conservative who would bring gender balance to a ticket, her New Hampshire has only four electoral votes.  While it is a battleground state, it is a might small battleground.

KENTUCKY SENATOR RAND PAUL - Paul is one of the few choices who, with his libertarian leanings, would bring more ideological balance to a presidential ticket.  His presence on the campaign would attract youth and more divorce crowds.  However, while Paul's views on foreign policy and national security seem to be shared by more and more Republican voters, those views seem to be an anathema to most of the GOP presidential candidates. The ideological divide is probably too great.  Plus, Kentucky should be a solidly Republican state in a presidential election.

I think the VP favorites have to be Kasich and Rubio.  If picking the top five, I would add Ayotte, Haley and Fiorina.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Lost Parking Spaces for Blue Indy Cars Can Trigger Compensation Under Parking Privatization Contract

On Monday, a bipartisan resolution will be introduced at the Indianapolis City-County Council calling for the towing of Blue Indy cars.  Blue Indy cars are electric cars that are part of the a private company car sharing program.  The Mayor had asked that customers of Indianapolis Power & Light subsidize the charging stations through higher rates, a proposal rejected by the Indiana Utility Regulation Commission.  The Blue Indy cars are not approved for use in the United States due to a
lack of safety features and the charging stations also do not meet legal requirements. That, however, has not stopped Mayor Ballard from proceeding full-steam ahead with the program.

The Indianapolis Star reports:
The curbside charging stations for electric cars being installed across the city are seen by Mayor Greg Ballard as key to an environmentally friendly future — electronic filling stations where, for a couple of bucks, drivers can juice up their Teslas and Volts overnight.
But some small business owners, living in the here and now, say the stations — dedicated mostly to the BlueIndy electric car-share vehicles — are gobbling precious parking spots in premium locations and could cost them customers.
“It hurts us because  we’re the type of place where people run in and out and like parking for just a few minutes,” said Joe Vuskovich, owner of Yats, a Cajun restaurant at 54th Street and College Avenue, a few steps from five just-installed chargers.“If people have to park three or four blocks away they might not come at all.”
The dispute is one of several signs of growing tensions over the BlueIndy electric car-sharing program, one of Republican Ballard’s major initiatives to make the city more “green” and position it as a leader in alternative transportation. When the program is at full strength, BlueIndy will have 500 electric rental cars perched at 200 locations, each with five chargers.
While councilors are fielding complaints by business owners and patrons about the lost parking spaces due to Blue Indy, they need to pick up the ACS (Park Indy) 50 year privatization contract and review what it says about compensation to the vendor for taking parking spaces out of Commission.  The contract says that only a maximum of 200 metered parking spaces can be eliminated during the entire lifetime of the contract.  Once 200 spaces are eliminated, the City owes compensation for revenue that those meters would produce for the next 50 years.  How many metered parking spaces are being removed pursuant to the Blue Indy program?  Are we going to be at 200?  Are the hands of the next mayor going to be tied by Mayor Ballard using all 200 freebies during his term?

While councilors are at it, they need to be asking about temporary closures as well.  In the contract, the City can only take meters out of commission on a temporary basis for 6% of the days the meters are in operation (365 days minus Sundays and some holidays).  That's about 18 days.  Scores of meters have been closed "temporarily" for over 18 days.   For each meter closed temporarily in excess of 18 days, $20 per meter is owed daily.

To give you an example of how the temporary compensation provision works, about five parking meters on Market Street, in front of the PNC Bank, near the intersection with Delaware Street.  The meters are probably bagged as "No Parking" spots half the time I go downtown.  Let's say they are out of commission of 150 of the 300 days the parking meters are in operation.  That would trigger compensation of 5 x $20 = $100 x 150 days = $15,000.

The way the contract is set up the credit to Park Indy for closed meters are made after the City's revenue share is determined.  That way city officials can brag about how much in revenue the privatization contract has earned for the city while not give the real pictures that includes reduction in that revenue for closed meters.

Gary Welsh of Advance Indiana, who broke the original story, has a good article on the subject of the Blue Indy Council resolution being introduced on Monday.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Examining Independent Candidate Rev. Charles Harrison's Narrow Path to Victory in Indianapolis Mayor's Race.

I keep going back and forth wondering whether the sudden emergence of Rev. Charles Harrison of the Ten Point Coalition is a legitimate independent candidate for Indianapolis Mayor or an ill-advised Republican stunt.  One thing that leads me to believe the GOP leadership was behind the petition campaign is that there seemed to be no attempt to challenge the Harrison signatures by the Marion County Board of Voter Registration.  That Board is run by two direct appointments of the Democratic and Republican county chairman.  Historically, the two party appointees have worked together to disqualify independent candidates as well as candidates of the two parties not favored by the local
Democratic and Republican Party leadership.

Rev. Charles Harrison
On the other hand, Harrison doesn't seem like the type of person who would agree to be the pawn of anyone.  Recent Twitter exchanges Harrison had with reporters suggest he has a bone to pick with party leaders who have used a rigged slating process to exclude the parties' electorates and party workers from deciding nominees.  It is a gripe that a lot of Republican and Democratic activists have.

Assuming Harrison is a legitimate candidate who plans to try to win, does he have a path to victory?  Yes, but it is a  very narrow path.  Here are some things he would have to do.

GET FREE MEDIA:  Harrison will not be able to compete with Democratic nominee Joe Hogsett when it comes to paid political advertising, but Harrison could potentially rival Hogsett when it comes to free media coverage.  Harrison will need to be particularly clever in crafting a message and engaging in activities (some would say "stunts") that grab the media's attention.  If Harrison can convince the media he has a chance of winning, then the coverage will increase dramatically.

GO AFTER HOGSETT'S RECORD AS U.S. ATTORNEY:   Unlike other jurisdictions, Indianapolis is notorious for having U.S. Attorneys who refuse to prosecute political corruption.  That includes U.S. Attorneys from both parties.  Joe Hogsett's tenure has been no different than those who proceeded and followed him.  Harrison would have to aggressively point out that Hogsett had the opportunity to prosecute Republican and Democratic corruption and walked away. 

GO AFTER HOGSETT'S CONTRIBUTORS:   If you read Hogsett's campaign report, it reads like a Who's Who of contractors doing (or wanting to do) business with the City of Indianapolis.  In recent years, we've taken for granted in Indianapolis that it is okay for the Mayor to accept campaign contributions from folks seeking city contracts.  Ballard took that practice to a new level during his tenure.   Harrison needs to go after Hogsett on the issue of who is funding his campaign.  Harrison should issue a press release asking his two opponents to join him in pledging to not take campaign contributions from those doing business with the City.   It will get Harrison headlines and give him a reputation as a reformer.

GO AFTER FISCAL CONSERVATIVES:  Republican nominee Chuck Brewer is pledging a third term of Republican Mayor Greg Ballard if he gets elected.  Ballard increased taxes and fees more (40+ by my count) than any mayor in Indianapolis history.  He has also engaged in reckless borrowing and corporate welfare projects, while diverting much-needed revenue from city services.  Many fiscal conservatives want nothing less than another Greg Ballard in office.  Harrison needs to highlight the dreadful Ballard dreadful fiscal record, which will be a challenge since he will most likely have to rely on free media to do so.

GO AFTER SOCIAL CONSERVATIVES:  This year, Mayor Ballard was Grand Marshall of the Indy Pride parade, an event which featured adult-oriented displays and condoms and lubricant handed out to parade watchers.  During the RFRA debate that preceded, Ballard was more than willing to bash Governor Pence for his support of religious liberty.  Many social conservatives think the Mayor has gone way too far in trying to earn the support of the LGBT community and in the process thrown religious and family values under the bus.  To earn many of those social conservative votes, Harrison should announce that, as Mayor, he will respect religious values and that he thinks it is improper for an Indianapolis Mayor to be Grand Marshall of the Indy Pride parade.  He could easily outflank both Hogsett and Brewer on the issue and gain the support of social conservatives.  Unlike the former, it would be easy for Harrison to get headlines on this subject.

GO AFTER CORPORATE WELFARE:  With all due respect to Lake County, Indianapolis is the pay-to-play capitol of Indiana.  Regardless of which party occupies the 25th Floor or controls the Council, it seems like the same contractors, big law firms, and the leaders of taxpayer-funded non-profits calling the shots.  Harrison needs to make the case that corporate welfare is money diverted from necessary social services.   Opposition to corporate welfare is an issue that unites the most conservative and liberal elements of the electorate.

ASSEMBLING A RIGHT-LEFT COALITION:   To win the election, Harrison would have to assemble, and keep together, a right-left coalition consisting of fiscal and social conservative Republicans and Democratic-leaning voters.  I'm convinced that Harrison could wedge off a significant piece of the Republican electorate.  I think the real challenge would be to get defections from the Democratic camp.  I've heard the argument before, that if you run an African-American against a white Democrat, African-Americans will vote for the black candidate.  But I have never seen that strategy work.  Harrison though, with his deep roots in the African-American community, might be an exception.  If he could get a significant portion of the African-American vote, then it's possible that with Republican defections, Harrison could get 40% of the general election vote and narrowly win a three way race.

While I think Harrison could win the Mayor's race, he would have to run a masterful campaign and get a lot of breaks along the way.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Democratic Lawrence City Councilman Switches to Republican Party

The Indianapolis Star reports:
Lawrence Councilman Carl Barnett has decided he's had enough. He's switching teams.
Citing his overall frustration with Mayor Dean Jessup, Barnett called a news conference at an abandoned firehouse Monday to announce his shift from the
Carl Barnett
Democratic Party to the Republican Party.
"This has been a long time coming," said Barnett
"It all started with the EMT," said Barnett, referring to when the mayor laid off 24 EMTs and took 18 firefighters off their regular duties in order to run the ambulances. That's why the firehouse Barnett chose to give his press conference was shut down, according to Barnett and other council members.
....
Four other council members also attended the news conference and said they, too, are disgruntled. The cut in EMTs and firemen was a particular concern.
The article failed to mention the highly competitive nature of the Lawrence City Council.  There are three-at large districts in the city which is split pretty much 50-50 between the parties.  In 2011, Republicans won 2 of the 3 seats with the second candidate, now Council President Tom Shevlot, squeezing by a Democrat by a mere 37 votes.   Winning 3 of the 6 district races, Republicans enjoyed a narrow 5-4 majority on the council before Barnett's switch.  Barnett, whose district is fairly solidly Democratic, lost the primary to Democratic challenger Tyrell Giles this spring.  The district most likely will stay in Democratic hands.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Socialist Sanders Uses Populism to Cut Into Hillary Clinton's Lead for Democratic Nomination

Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-VT)
Democrats like to point out that, the GOP nomination process, requires Republican presidential candidates to the right to please their base.  This supposedly makes them "too extreme" then to appeal to independents during the general election process. Democrats again claim this is happening again with the crowded GOP field.

While that theory that the GOP nominating process is producing candidates who are too extreme is questionable given the last two nominees have been moderates Mitt Romney and John McCain, there is no denying that presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton now finds her pushed to the left by her lead challenger Bernie Sanders. An avowed socialist, Sanders' rallies are regularly attended by thousands of Democratic activists who see in the Vermont Senator a spokesman for far left extremism, including redistribution of income and expansion of entitlement programs.

What the Democratic establishment doesn't understand is that Sanders' appeal goes beyond socialism that appeals to the base of the party.  He is tapping into a populism that is rampant in American politics today, a movement that crosses party lines.  On the left, populism translates into a need for bigger government to curb the abuses of big business.  On the right, populism translates into a demand that government stop rigging the game to benefit big business. 

Clinton is just ill-suited to match Sanders' populist appeal.  Worse yet, on the campaign trail she continues the "run out the clock" strategy of running the ball three times and punting figuring Sanders' doesn't have the resources and time to catch her.  She might be right.  But Sanders raised 1/3 of the money Clinton raised during the last reporting period and cut Clinton's lead in half in Iowa, down to 19 points.  A CNN poll shows Sanders only trailing Clinton by 8 points in New Hampshire.  All are very significant accomplishments.

But there is a significant obstacle to Sanders' drive to the Democratic nomination. A recent national poll showed that, among non-white Democratic voters, Sanders trails Hillary Clinton 61% to 9%.  It appears that while white Democrats are willing to consider Sanders, minority Democrats are sticking with Clinton.  At least for now.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Can Rev. Charles Harrison Survive Indianapolis' Signature Gauntlet to Get on Ballot as Independent Candidate for Mayor?

It has been reported by Jon Easter of Indy Democrat that a company was hired to collect signatures of registered voters to put community activist Rev. Charles Harrison on the ballot as an independent candidate for Indianapolis Mayor.  Yours truly was in fact solicited to sign the petition after leaving the Statehouse yesterday.  I signed the petition.  It is my policy that I sign everyone's petition as I
Rev. Charles Harrison
think

As Easter reports, it is not clear who hired the company and whether the petition effort is approved by Rev. Harrison or rather an attempt to draft him into the race.  (A website purportedly to encourage him to run was also set up.)  Earlier this year, Harrison closed his exploratory campaign.  Perhaps he has changed his mind.  Assuming a sufficient number of signatures are deemed valid (more on than that in a second), he has until July 15th to file the paperwork to be a candidate for Mayor.

Easter speculates that Republican County Chairman Kyle Walker might be behind the effort to get Harrison on the ballot.  I don't buy it.  Harrison is a strong personality and is not about to agree to be Walker's sacrificial lamb.   Further, I doubt Harrison would pull more from Democrat Joe Hogsett than Republican Chuck Brewer.  Although Harrison is African-American, it has been shown time and time again that black voters will vote for a white Democrat over a black non-Democrat.  I think Harrison would pull more from Brewer, in particular Harrison would attract conservative Republicans who are fed up with the big spending, big taxing, big borrowing Ballard administration. 

Of course it is possible that Harrison could catch fire and win a three way race.  But the only path to getting a plurality of the vote in a three way race would seem to be to assemble a coalition of conservative Republicans and an overwhelming majority of African-American voters who normally vote Democrat. As noted above, I have more confidence in the former than the latter.

It was also reported that the canvassers turned in approximately 7000 signatures to get Harrison on the ballot.   As the law only requires about 3200 signatures to qualify (2% of the total 2014 Secretary of State vote) one would think Harrison should be in the clear.  But the problem for Harrison is that it the Marion County Board of Voter Registration,is the body which certifies the validity of petition signatures.  The MCBVR, which is led by a Democrat and Republican, each appointed by her respective county chairman, is extremely partisan and has for years worked together to keep  independents and disfavored, anti-establishment party candidates off the ballot. 

One of the ways the MCBVR does this dirty business is to claim that signatures of registered voters signing the petitions do not match what the MCBVR has on file.  But those signatures are not updated.  People's signatures change over time.  My signature on file with the MCBVR is from when I signed a Social Security card when I was about 14 years old.  My signature looks nothing like that today.

A few years ago, I obtained a listing of the petition signature approval rate in every congressional district in Indiana.  Unfortunately I couldn't find those statistics for this article.  What it showed was that the 7th Congressional district, which is entirely within Marion County, by far had the lowest approval rate of petition signatures.    I've seen candidates get twice as many signatures only to see the MCBVR disallow enough to keep those candidates off the ballot.  Always, always, the candidates kicked off the ballot are independents or party candidates challenging the one favored  by the party establishment.

Assuming Harrison wants to be a candidate, I will be very interested in seeing the machinations the MCBVR goes through to disqualify signatures.