Sunday, July 31, 2016

Trump, Once Again, Imports Foreign Workers Instead of Hiring Americans at His Florida Resorts

Yet once again, Donald Trump's actions belie his words when it comes to bringing American jobs back.  Even the glare of possible publicity on his employment practices didn't stop Trump from stiffing Americans in favor of foreign workers, workers who would be captive employees, i.e. individuals who could market their skills to other employers to improve their pay.  The Daily News reports:
Donald Trump wants to bring jobs back to America — and some foreign workers to fill them.   
Trump is looking to hire 78 servers, housekeepers, and cooks for his Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach and the nearby Trump National Golf Club in Jupiter, according to Federal labor records.
As he has for years, the Republican presidential nominee filed this month to import Buzzfeed News first reported Wednesday.
foreign workers for the jobs instead of hiring Americans,
Department of Labor records show Trump has sought H-2 visas for hundreds of foreigners to fill temporary positions at the two properties in recent years.
The visas are issued through a legal program that allows employers to temporarily hire foreign workers when there are no Americans available to do the work.
But hundreds of U.S. applicants either applied or were referred for the jobs, but only a handful were hired, the New York Times reported in February.
Since 2010, nearly 300 U.S. residents applied or were referred for jobs as waiters, waitresses, cooks and housekeepers there, but only 17 were hired, according to The Times.
Trump’s two properties are looking to hire 37 waiters and waitresses, who will be paid $11.13 an hour, and 26 cooks, who will earn $12.74 an hour. Additionally, Mar-a-Lago needs 15 $10.17-an-hour housekeepers.
This exposure comes on the heels of another loss by Trump in court. The New York businessman attempted to stiff a painting contractor on the remaining $34,863 on a $200,000. The judge found not only that he owed the $34,863 but he owed the contractor's attorneys nearly $300,000 legal fees for having to sue to recover on the bill.

Trump has a long history of not paying small business owners and employees what they are owed. The Trump business practice is to claim unhappiness with the quality of the work as justification. Although that is generally not a defense, Trump knows that few small businesses and employees have the financial resources to challenge Trump in court. With regard to the painting contractor, Trump gambled wrong. The painting contractor found attorneys willing to take on Trump without having to front the legal fees.

By the way the name of the judge in the case? Jorge Cueto.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Movie Review: Documentary "Fastball" Narrated by Kevin Costner

Baseball fans and even those who aren't fans but enjoy the science behind the game, should watch the documentary Fastball currently available through Netflix.  The 2016 film, narrated by actor and baseball fan, Kevin Costner explores the history and science behind baseball's most common pitch - the fastball.  From the film's website:
The heartbeat of the game of baseball is the battle between the pitcher and the batter – one man with a ball, one with a stick. As the pitcher winds up and the batter zeroes in, both of their bodies tense up and suddenly spring into action against each other. All actions of the game arise from that confrontation, sixty feet and six inches and barely a second in the making.
As explained in the fascinating new documentary FASTBALL, that seemingly arbitrary
Steve Dalkowski - the fastest pitcher to never make the majors?
distance is actually a nearly perfect balance point between the two players on either side of the ball. From that distance, a pitch thrown as fast as a human being can possibly throw – somewhere just above 100 mph if you are an elite pitcher – is delivered at a speed that is right at the threshold for how quickly the most talented of hitters can see, process, and react to the pitch. At that highest level of execution, batters and umpires alike swear the ball “rises” as it reaches home plate – something that physics tells us is impossible.
That’s just one of the mysteries, myths, and memories investigated and revealed in FASTBALL, based on the original idea by the film’s Producer, Thomas Tull, who also produced the feature film “42” and who is a Board Member of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. The film features interviews with dozens of former players, from legendary Hall of Famers to up-and-coming All-Stars. FASTBALL documents the history of the “fastest” pitcher – from Walter Johnson’s famous speed of 122 feet per second, to Bob Feller’s post-war record of 98.6 mph, to Nolan Ryan’s “officially” clocked best of 100.9, to the current speed gun king Aroldis Chapman’s 105.1.
But it also remembers the many stories and statistics surrounding the greatest fastball pitchers of all time. Sandy Koufax’ perfect game is remembered with rarely seen footage shot from behind home plate; the intimidating stares of Hall of Famers Goose Gossage and Bob Gibson are echoed in the observations of modern-day fastball mavens Chapman and Craig Kimbrel; and early problems with wildness ultimately lead to two very different careers for Hall of Famer Ryan and former phenom Steve Dalkowski, the fastest pitcher in history who never made it to the majors.
While players, historians, and scientists might disagree on who was actually the fastest pitcher in history – and yes, the film does the math and seems to come out with a very clear verdict that might come as a surprise – FASTBALL tells the story of the game itself. Filmed at baseball’s most hallowed grounds, from the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown to Yankee Stadium to the sandlot field in Weiser, Idaho, where Walter Johnson's fastball changed the game over a hundred years ago, the film provides unparalleled insight into both the mechanics and the mythos of our National Pastime.
Some background on the science behind the "verdict" regarding the game's fastest pitcher of all time.  The methodology to calculate the speed of a baseball pitch has varied over time.  Only very recently has it become standardized. Pitch velocity is now measured 50 feet from the plate, or approximately 10 feet after it leaves the pitchers' hand.   Earlier rudimentary measures of pitch speed were done calculating velocity nearer or past 60 feet six inches, i.e. where the plate would be.  By adding in the decline in the velocity of the pitch over distance (a constant), the scientists were able to recalculate the speed of earlier pitchers so they could be compared on a level playing field.  I won't spoil the surprise but instead leave my readers guessing pending their review of the movie.  Walter Johnson, Bob Feller, Nolan Ryan, Aroldis Chapman...who is the fastest pitcher of all time?

The movie does whiff on one point, however.  While there is a great deal of discussion about the physical challenges in hitting a 100 mph fastball, the movie misses the boat when discussing why such a pitch is so difficult to hit. While the reaction time to judge the location of a fastball and swing if in a hitting zone is extremely brief, a fact well documented in the movie, major league hitters can do successfully adjust to hit 100 mph pitches.  What makes a good fastball such an effective weapon is that the batter doesn't always know it is going to be a fastball - it could well be an off-speed pitch such as a changeup or slider, a pitch that looks a lot like a fastball until it breaks.  These off-speed pitches throw off the batters' ability to focus solely on timing the fastball.  Indeed the great fastball pitchers discussed in the movie all had strong off-speed pitches.

I highly recommend Fastball.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Indianapolis Library Attempts to Seize Private Property Via Eminent Domain

With much of my attention focused on the national political scene, this story of eminent domain abuse by our local Indianapolis library passed under the radar.  At a June 27th meeting of the library board, members voted to allow former Councilor and library CEO Jacie Nytes the authority to use eminent domain to seize several property parcels located in the Martindale Brightwood area from an elderly window who runs a business from that address.  The taking also includes a local church.
Jackie Nytes, Indianapolis Library CEO

Readers of this blog will note that I have noted that years Republican nominee Donald Trump partnered with Atlantic City government officials to try to seize the house of an elderly widow so he could expand limo parking for his casino. After a protracted court battle, Trump failed in his effort when the court found the taking would not have been for a "public purpose."

It appears that our local library is trying to do a similar thing.  Although the issue of whether the taking would be a "public purpose" will not be in dispute, at a June 27th meetin gof the library board, members voted to give former Councilor and library CEO Jackie Nytes the authority to use eminent domain to seize several property parcels locaed in the Martindale Brightwood area from an elderly window who runs a business from that address. The taking would also include a local church.

WRTV reports:
The plan ... is to close the small library and build a new free-standing one, right across the street on a plot of land that’s owned by people who don’t plan on selling.
That includes Lum Woodard, owner and pastor of Greater King Solomon Baptist Church. He says the $60,000 he’s been offered for the land is not enough to relocate and reopen somewhere else.
“It could be devastating,” Woodard said. “We would have to close, because $60,000 wouldn’t even buy a house in this neighborhood.”blockquote>
Sheena Schmidt, who owns several buildings in the area, says construction of the library would negatively impact those businesses, cutting off a crucial alley for deliveries.
"The alley is going to cause all these people to go out of business," Schmidt said. “It’s sad. It’s unbelievable what they’re doing.”
The WRTV report notes support for the project from neighborhood organization President, Amy Harwell:
“This is stupid, plain-and-simple stupid,” Harwell said. “We shouldn’t have to take measures – eminent domain – to get this property. Most of the people who are saying it doesn’t need to be there don’t live in this community.”
Ms. Harwell might well be right - that owners of the property are "stupid" for not taking the money.  So too may be the 100 plus people who signed a petition against locating the library at the site.  But being "stupid" for not accepting an offer does not make the library's use of eminent domain right.  Absent a compelling government need, private property owners should be able to refuse to sell their property.

This use of eminent domain does not involve the building of a road a scenario in which government may not have many options in terms of where to locate the road.  A library is not required to be built at a certain location.  Here it appears that the library has many options to build on property owned by people who are actually willing to sell, without resorting toeminent domain. These options include acquiring property owned by Martin University that is being offered almost for free.  As the Martin University property is vacant there would be no need for demolition.

Nytes and the library board apparently want the "perfect" property to build the new facility and if property owners won't cooperate, they're apparently willing to seize their land by force, backed by government, if necessary

To proceed with eminent domain, the library will have to get approval from the Council.  I will update this story as it develops/

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Why I Became a Republican and Will NEVER Support Donald Trump for President

I was not born a Republican.  I chose to become one.

The number one influence on party affiliation is family. In particular, people tend to adopt the political party of their parents.  That factor has more influence on party affiliation than any other.

My mother is a Democrat.  My father was the quintessential "yellow dog Democrat." I remember sitting at the dinner table during which my father pontificated on politics..  He would always rail about how horrible Democratic elected officials were, people like then Indiana Senators Birch Bayh and Vance Hartke. He, no surprise, didn't like the Democratic candidate for president in 1972, Senator George McGovern. One day I asked him if he disliked Democrats so much, why he was not a Republican. I remember his response like it was yesterday: "The Republican Party is not for the working man."

My father passed away when I was 14 and did not live to see to see me become a Republican. It was in my late teens that I began to question the wisdom of my parents support of the Democratic Party.

During the late 1970s, as I was transforming from boy to adult man, the Republican Party at was also going through a transformation.  A conservative movement was gathering steam.  It was a movement based on the belief that Americans can create a better future if the federal government is limited to its constitutional functions and business owners are freed from the shackles of government regulation.  It placed an emphasis on the family unit as the critical building block of society.   It was aspirational but had as its foundation the ideas of intellectuals in the party, people like the late Congressman Jack Kemp, economist Milton Freedman, constitutional scholar Robert Bork, and the editor of the National Review William F. Buckley, Jr. There was no hating people because of their religious belief, their ethnic background or political positions.  Democrats were not reviled but rather viewed as last souls who were simply wrong on the issues. If ever questioned, conservative intellectuals of the day could provide a laundry list as to exactly why they were right and the liberals were wrong. All this was done without engaging in school yard name calling or demonizing the opponents as evil.

Of course, the ultimate triumph of the conservative movement was the election of Ronald Reagan in 1980. Reagan gave conservativism a face as well as one of the best communicators in political history.   I am proud to say that my very first presidential vote was for Reagan, a vote in the 1980 Indiana GOP primary. Of course, the Gipper went on to win in a landslide that November, an achievement accomplished while running unapologetically on the ideas deeply rooted in the conservative movement of which I had become a member.

Over the years, Republicans often fell short of the conservative ideals embodied in the conservative movement Reagan initially led. Sometimes too the ideas of that movement fell short as well.  The conservative idea of enterprise zones flopped.  Likewise, privatization mostly failed, chiefly due to political cronyism driving the process instead of market forces.  It doesn't take much to find other examples.

Nonetheless, the Republicans Party, post-Reagan, was extraordinarily successful at the ballot box.  Democrats were ousted from power in the Senate in 1980, after nearly 30 years of being in the majority. Fourteen years later, Republicans won a majority in the House for the first time in 40 plus years. While the GOP's success stalled during the Clinton years, Republicans have enjoyed unprecedented success since Barack Obama's election in 2008.  By 2014, the GOP had a record number of governors and majorities in an unprecedented number of state legislative chambers. The Republicans also had a majority in the Senate and a majority the size of which hadn't been matched in 80 years in the U.S. House. The only thing the Republicans failed to win since 2004 is the White House. The GOP was poised to do exactly that in 2016, having the opportunity to run against an extraordinarily unpopular Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton. The victor would also tip the balance of the Supreme Court, having the opportunity to appoint as many as three new justices. 

But by 2016, things had changed. The aforementioned conservative intellectuals - Kemp, Freedman, Bork and Buckley - all had passed away long ago. So too had Ronald Reagan.   Those great minds which led the movement were replaced with television and radio talk show hosts. Detailed position papers on the issues were replaced with sound-bites and talking points. Those conservative media types told us it wasn't enough to think our liberal opponents were wrong on the issues, we also had to hate them.

Into this intellectual vacuum stepped Donald Trump, a life-long liberal running for the nomination of the conservative Republican party.  Spewing hate and vitriol from the podium, Trump echoed the talk show conservative media's denigration of political discourse by engaging in school yard name-calling. But that wasn't all. Trump mocked a reporter's disability, made a racist comment about a judge presiding over the fraud case against "Trump University," and praised brutal dictators. Indeed reporters in general became a Trump target.  Any truthful news report showing the New York businessman in a negative light, stories such as his sexist treatment of women, his failing to follow through with donations promised to charities, his repeated failure to pay vendors, employees and lenders what he owed them, were dismissed as just being examples of media bias. It didn't matter to Trumpites that the stories were true.

But it was not just the lack of substance, Trump attacked conservative values across the board.  He advocated that the federal government be more powerful and demonstrated through he recognized no constitutional limits on the power of the President.  He advocated the end to free trade.  Indeed, Trump's suggestion for a trade war would deal American consumers a huge blow and will undoubtedly trigger a recession if not a depression. Trump even attacked the First Amendment, suggesting that Americans have too much freedom to criticize public figures.  Of course, Trump had been for years filing SLAPP lawsuits to silence his own critics.

But intellectual consistency to Trump mattered not.  Trump reversed his position on taxes and the minimum wage.  He changed his position on banning Muslims from entering the country.  He reversed his position on Planned Parenthood a documented seven times. Throughout the campaign, Trump demonstrated beyond a shadow of a doubt he has absolutely no core political principles and will change his position at a whim and then deny his former position ever existed. 

Even Trump's claim of being a successful businessman is belied by four bankruptcies, numerous failed businesses, and a trail of unpaid bills.  Rather, examined more closely, Trump's entire career is one of being a con man, a grifter, the consummate huckster, a person always taking risks with other people's money, rarely his own.  If Trump would not have inherited $100 million from his father, he likely would have had a Kevin Trudeau type infomercial career, hustling the modern version of snake oil.  Not to insult Mr. Trudeau. Trudeau is plenty smart while Trump clearly is not.

This week, Trump was officially nominated by the GOP national convention being held in Cleveland.  I am told that now I must give up everything I have ever believed in as a card-carrying conservative Republican and the future of my party to support the election of a life-long liberal Democrat to the White House, someone who is a serial womanizer, someone who hates people based on their religion and/or ethnicity, someone so lacks even a modicum of talent and ability, or the temperament or maturity, needed for the job as President of the United States.  I am told that I need to put aside my concerns for the future of this country including the possibility of the initiation of nuclear war due to some petty Trump dispute with a foreign leader all because, well, Hillary will be worse. Forget the illogic of attacking Hillary Clinton's dishonesty and immorality with the most dishonest and immoral candidate we could find wearing a Republican jersey. I am told that we Republicans should all get behind Trump because it is his party now.

Wrong.  It is not Trump's party.  Those of us who toiled in the trenches for conservative causes were doing so long before Trump began pretending to be a Republican in order to run for the GOP nomination. We will be fighting for those causes long after Trump leaves the stage. It is our party, not Trump's. To support Trump would be a betrayal of the legacy of Ronald Reagan and the conservatives who fought the political battles over the past four decades.  I am not going to betray those conservative principles.

My Republican Party needs to be about limited government,  not unlimited executive power.  Republicans need to understand and respect the Constitution, not dismiss the document out of hand.  The Republican Party needs to welcome all people to the conservative cause, regardless of race, religion or ethnic background.  Trump fails to live up to the ideals of the Republican Party on every score.

Unlike people like George Will though, I will not walk away from my party because it is temporarily led by someone who makes a mockery of everything I believe Republicans should represent.  It is my party, the party I chose, after all. Come November 9th, the fight begins for the soul of the Republican Party. You will be able to find me on the front lines of that battle.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Dissidents Maneuver to Force Floor Vote on Allowing Republican Delegates to Vote Their Conscience

According to a just released story from U.S. News and& World Report:
Signaling a potentially boisterous start to the Republican convention, anti-Trump delegates claimed on Monday that they'd collected enough signatures of delegates to force a state-by-state roll call vote on changing party rules, a battle that party leaders hoped to avoid.
It seemed highly unlikely that the insurgents would prevail. After a brief meeting in the convention arena, members of the rules committee said there will be no amendments to the rules that could deny the Republican nomination to Donald Trump.
A slow-moving roll call of the states still seemed possible, which the rebels seemed likely to lose. But even staging that vote would mean that instead of using the convention's first day to emphasize unity behind Trump, the gathering could underscore the tumultuous relations between Trump and party leaders on one side and social conservatives on the other.
Republican Party leadership and officials from Trump's campaign said Monday they'd held 11th-hour talks with anti-Trump delegates to see if they could avert a messy floor fight, live on television, over the rules. But one official said the negotiations had failed, speaking on condition of anonymity to describe private discussions.
Some socially conservative delegates — many backers of Texas Sen. Ted Cruz's failed presidential bid — have wanted to force the convention to hold a state-by-state roll call on whether to change the party's rules in ways that would take power from GOP leaders. That bid includes an effort to let delegates back any candidate they want.
Party rules say a roll call should be held if a majority of delegates from seven states demand one.
But there are other requirements too — such as delivering proper documents to the secretary of the convention — that must be met to qualify for a roll call. The conservative delegates have said they think party leaders could thwart a roll call by taking steps like making it hard for them to deliver their documents.
After a frantic search on the crowded convention floor for the secretary, Susie Hudson, the rebellious delegates found a GOP official who said he would deliver the petitions.
"Now we take this fight to the floor," Dane Waters, a leader of the Delegates Unbound, said in the email.
First, I should clarify that, contrary to what is indicated in the story, there are no rules yet governing the operation of the 2016 GOP convention until the convention adopts those rules. That is the first order of business at these types of conventions   But the 2016 GOP Convention Rules Committee's report contains the recommendation that delegates be bound and, thus, not allowed to vote their conscience.  Overcoming that recommendation for a floor vote on those rules is quite difficult, especially when technicalities can be used to stop challenges.

It is encouraging though that there are so many of my fellow Republicans who are refusing to back a liberal, unqualified con man as head of the GOP ticket.

Friday, July 15, 2016

It's Official: Trump Picks Indiana Governor Mike Pence for VP

I have been waiting to hear the words out of his mouth before commenting.  It finally happened this morning - Donald Trump announced via Twitter (how else?) that Indiana Governor Mike Pence is his choice for Vice-President.  All that it takes now to make it official is for that decision to be confirmed by a majority of delegates at the upcoming GOP national convention.  A mere formality.

To run for Vice-President, Pence had to withdraw as the GOP nominee for Governor.  Pence doing so this morning sets off a scramble in the Indiana political scene.  Pence's replacement on the ballot will be chosen by the Indiana state committee which is made up of two representatives from each congressional district. While many names have been floated as replacements on the ticket for Pence, it appears that current Lt. Governor Eric Holcomb may have already lined up enough support with the state committee. Other names mentioned include Speaker Brian Bosma and Susan Brooks and Todd Rokita, both Hoosier members of Congress. The Indianapolis Star is now reporting that both Holcomb and Brooks are officially in as candidates to replace Pence.

Although Pence has fallen out of favor with many Hoosier conservatives, the fact remains that he remains very popular with conservatives outside of Indiana. As such, he will certainly shore up the Trump ticket some on the ideological front. But as far as making a difference in the race, exit polls shows who is No. 2 on the ticket rarely matters. At best a vice president can usually help the presidential candidate win the Veep's home state and that's about it. But I'm not certain that the selection of Pence makes a difference in Indiana when it comes to Trump. I expect that Indiana may end up being competitive, much like it was in 2008 when Democrat Barack Obama won the state against Republican John McCain.

As far as Pence goes, he is risking his political career.Every racist, sexist, xenophobic and utterly stupid thing comment uttered by Trump, and there will be many such statements, will tarnish Pence's reputation. Many quality VP choices took themselves out of the running because they didn't want to risk their political careers by being associated with Donald Trump.

But then on the other hand, VP selections are often considered the next in line when the Presidential campaigns go south. Witness Jimmy Carter's selection of Walter Mondale as VP in 1980.Mondale became the presidential nominee in 1984 against Reagan. Of course, that did not end well.

It could be possible that during the presidential campaign Pence will appear as the voice of reason compared to the unreasonable Donald Trump. To accomplish that, however,would require Pence to promote Trump while at the same time somewhat distancing himself from the New York businessman's more outrageous comments. Not sure Pence can pull that off.

It's certainly been an interesting political season so far.  Maybe too interesting. 

Monday, July 11, 2016

Hill Walks Away From Indiana Senate Nomination; Democrat Insiders Will Replace Him With Bayh

This morning, former U.S. Rep. Baron Hill announced he is walking away from his May nomination for the Indiana U.S. Senate seat currently held by Dan Coats.  Hill had a good chance of winning the seat against Republican nominee U.S. Rep. Todd Young who well could have been burdened by having Donald Trump at the top of the GOP ticket in what is likely to be a good Democratic year.

Hill's replacement on the ticket will be chosen by Democratic insiders, members of the state committee.  That expected nominee appears to be none other than former Gov Evan Bayh. 

Sound familiar?  In 2010, then U.S. Senator Bayh withdrew from re-election too late for
Former Indiana Sen. Evan Bayh
other Democrats to get on the May primary ballot. As a result, Democrat insiders, instead of that party's electorate, picked the nominee, which turned out to be then Congressman Brad Ellsworth.  Bayh's move angered many Democrats who feel his last minute decision helped North Carolina resident Dan Coats win the election.

At the time of his 2010 decision, Bayh said he was leaving because Congress was dysfunctional and he lost interest in serving:
After all these years, my passion for service to our fellow citizens is undiminished, but my desire to do so by serving in Congress has waned,  For some time, I've had a growing conviction that Congress is not operating as it should. There is much too much partisanship and not enough progress. ... Even at a time of enormous national challenge, the people's business is not getting done.
One has to wonder what Bayh saw about how Congress has operated in the last six years to cause him to have renewed faith in the institution.   Further, Evan Bayh does not even live in Indiana.  He is a Washington, D.C. lobbyist who lives in the Georgetown section of that city.  The Washington Business Journal published a story on the Bayh's purchase of a home four-bedroom home on N Street Northwest in March of 2015:
The former Democratic senator from Indiana, now a partner at the K Street office of McGuireWoods, said he would have been just as happy staying in Spring Valley. But with their two kids off to college, the big six-bedroom, Georgia-style brick home was more than the couple needed.
Susan Bayh, her husband said, "just liked the idea of being in the middle of things," including plenty of shopping options. After the sacrifices she made for his political career, the senator figured he could sacrifice for her by moving to Georgetown.
"It's really simple. We have twin sons who went off to college last fall, my wife really wanted to downsize, and we didn't need as much space," Bayh told me in a phone interview. "It's the age-old story. The wife wanted to move. The husband didn't. So we moved."
The couple, which celebrated their 30th anniversary last month, settled on an 1820 Federal that was completely renovated with modern amenities, an old-meets-new "best of both worlds" setup, Bayh said. The home is assessed at $1.4 million, according to the District, and initially hit the market through Washington Fine Properties at nearly $3.2 million. McEnearney Associates represented the Bayhs.
The constitutional requirement for Senate is only that a person running be a resident of the state at the time of the election. So Bayh could move back to Indiana to run for the Senate.  But the problem is that while clearly residing in Washington D.C. and working as a lobbyist in that city, Evan Bayh and his wife has for years (even after Bayh left the Senate) continued to vote in Indiana, claiming that a very modest downtown condo is the family's residence.  Former Indiana Secretary of State Charlie White was prosecuted successfully for a felony based on the allegation that he didn't live at the address he used for voting.  Yet more popular political figures like Democrat Bayh and former Senator Richard Lugar continue to do the exactly same thing without even the slightest concern of being prosecuted.

My guess is that many Democrats will be quite displeased with today's turn of events.  Hill's donors, who could now see their donations transferred to Evan Bayh for use on his campaign, also have an even more particular reason to be angry at these turn of events.  

Friday, July 8, 2016

With Ball Set on Political Tee This Week, Trump Whiffs

This week should have been a good one for Donald Trump.  While the FBI report issued by Director James Comey did not recommend criminal charges for Hillary Clinton's use of a private email server, Comey did indicate that Hillary Clinton and her aides were "extremely careless in their handling of very sensitive, highly classified information"  in handling the nation's secrets.  (Note: not sure how "extremely careless" is different from "grossly negligent" the threshhold for a criminal prosecution under the applicable statute.)  As CNN reported, Comey's "explicit criticism of Clinton's conduct offered her enemies a trove of fresh ammunition for their assault on her character, honesty and trustworthiness — one of her biggest vulnerabilities."

Of course presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump used the occasion to drive
the point home about Hillary's dishonesty and poor judgment?  Well, in fairness Trump did mention that in passing at a rally in North Carolina that followed the FBI announcement.  But what garned headlines out of the rally was Trump again talking about his controversial anti-Clinton "Star of David" retweet (a tweet that originated on a white supremacist website) and praising former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.

A day later, Trump met with House and Senate Republicans.  At the House meeting, Trump was asked about how about as President he would go about protecting Congress' Article I powers.  The issue is near and dear to Republican lawmakers who have felt President Obama consistently encroached authority.  Trump though apparently didn't know what Articles were or confused Articles with amendments.  Trump said he would protect Article I, Article II (which outlines executive power), and Article XII.    There is no Article XII of the Constitution - they stop with Article VII.  Trump's lack of knowledge about the Constitution he would be sworn to defend as President caused considerable concern among several House members.

But Trump's meeting with Senate membership went even worse.  Trump got into it with Arizona Senator Jeff Flake,  The Washington Post reports what happened:
When Flake stood up and introduced himself, Trump told him, “You’ve been very critical of me.”
Yes, I’m the other senator from Arizona — the one who didn’t get captured — and I want to talk to you about statements like that,” Flake responded, according to two Republican officials.
Flake was referencing Trump’s comments last summer about the military service of Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), who was a prisoner of war during the Vietnam conflict. Trump questioned whether McCain was a war hero because he was captured.
Flake told Trump that he wants to be able to support him — “I’m not part of the Never Trump movement,” the senator said — but that he remains uncomfortable backing his candidacy, the officials said.
Trump said at the meeting that he has yet to attack Flake hard but threatened to begin doing so. Flake stood up to Trump by urging him to stop attacking Mexicans. Trump predicted that Flake would lose his reelection, at which point Flake informed Trump that he was not on the ballot this year, the sources said.
Flake was not the only Senator Trump attacked during the meeting.  Trump also referred to Senator Mark Kirk as a "loser," which is ironic since the Republican Kirk won a state six years ago - Illinois - that Trump has no chance of winning this Fall. 

Apparently Trump thinks the way to persuade in politics is by bullying elected officials with threats and engaging in schoolyard name-calling.  All that does is reinforce the (very accurate) view of Trump as someone who is lacking in temperament and unfit for the Office of the Presidency.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Indianapolis Mayor's Son Arrested for Marijuana Possession

The Indianapolis Star reports:
Mayor Joe Hogsett's son William was arrested last week on marijuana possession and other drug-related offenses, according to the Rushville Police Department.
William Hogsett, 18, was arrested about 10:45 p.m. Friday on initial charges of possessing marijuana and possessing drug paraphernalia, Rushville Assistant Police Chief Todd Click told IndyStar on Thursday.
He was booked into Rush County Jail and released after posting $5,000 bond, according to the Rush County Sheriff's Office.
According to a Rushville police report, William Hogsett was driving a black Jeep with two passengers when officers stopped the vehicle for crossing the center line and failing to use a turn signal.
The officer smelled marijuana and ordered William and the passengers to step outside the vehicle.
William initially denied knowing about drugs, but later told the officer that the narcotics were on the passenger-side floor.
Officers found a zippered bag that contained two pipes, a butane torch, leafy marijuana and a small container of a waxy marijuana extract known as hash oil or wax.
William Hogsett's passengers were also arrested on possession charges, according to the report.
Put me down as one Republican who thinks we need stop treating marijuana possession matters as criminal cases.  This young man if convicted, will forever have to live with a blemish on his record. Although, it is only a misdemeanor, it is still a blemish. While I never smoked pot, I did certainly drink alcohol under the age of 21 as did probably 90% of my peers. Our laws have to be reasonable and criminalizing pot possession and drinking under 21 are not reasonable laws.

Monday, July 4, 2016

Kevin Kellems, Trump's Director of Surrogates, Resigns Third Week Into the Job

The big issue is "why."  In his two weeks plus on the job, what did Kevin Kellems see inside the Trump campaign that troubled so him so much he felt he needed to jump off the Trump train at its very next stop? The Indianapolis Business Journal reports:
Indiana political consultant Kevin Kellems, who joined Donald Trump’s presidential campaign team just last month, has resigned. 
Kellems, who was brought on to be the director of surrogates on Trump's campaign,
Kevin Kellems
announced his resignation in a short email to associates obtained Friday by The Washington Post.
"While brief, it has been an interesting experience, and am proud of the contributions made through our early-phase project endeavors," Kellems wrote in the email. "Also have enjoyed meeting some fine and dedicated individuals throughout the organization. Look forward to running across several of you going forward." 
Erica Freeman, another aide who worked with surrogates, also resigned, a person familiar with her decision.
Surrogates is a term used for supporters who are not on the campaign staff but who do appearances on television and at events for the candidate.
The New York businessman has been accused by even his own fellow Republicans of making comments that exploit xenophobia and are racist and sexist.  Many of the Republicans in the #NeverTrump crowd have pointed out that many in the GOP working with and otherwise associating themselves with Trump are risking forever tarnishing their reputations. Trump recently added anti-semitic to his critics' list of Trump bigotry this week.  

But Kellems though knew of Trump's controversial reputation long before he joined the campaign. So it must have been something else that caused him to leave just over two weeks from the Republican national convention when all eyes are going to be on Donald Trump, exactly when Kellem's assistance in managing surrogates will be most needed.

Friday, July 1, 2016

Governor Pence Meets With Donald Trump Amid Rumors Indiana Governor Being Considered for VP Slot

The Chicago Tribune reports:
Indiana Gov. Mike Pence's re-election campaign announced Friday that he will meet with presumed Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump over the weekend amid speculation that Pence is under consideration as his vice presidential running-mate.
Gov. Mike Pence
The move raises questions about what it would mean for his gubernatorial re-election campaign at home. While the Republican governor's embrace of social issues has brought considerable criticism from Democrats and business leaders, he is well regarded among national conservatives and brings with him the support of the party's evangelical wing. If Pence were to become Trump's vice presidential nominee, state law dictates that he could not run for both offices.
Indeed, Pence's presence on the ticket would reassure traditional conservatives and evangelicals.  Although many Hoosier social conservatives and evangelicals aren't wild about Pence's tenure in office, that's mostly inside baseball.  Given the fact that more than half of Republicans want another nominee, Trump needs to shore up his conservative credentials.

But at the end of the day, the No. 2 person on the ticket matters little.  It's the No. 1 person who wins or loses presidential campaigns. Republicans are on the verge of nominating a candidate who is greatly disliked by 70% of the voters.   Trump will likely lose the general election badly and may well take down numerous Republicans with him.  Governor Pence has to make a decision whether he wants to be associated with a Trump-led divisive campaign that tarnishes the reputation of everyone associated with him.