Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Indianapolis Star's "Mother" Shot at Mike Pence Misses the Mark

The Indianapolis Star never misses an opportunity to take a shot at Vice President Mike Pence.  Today's attempt though fell missed the mark by a mile.

Star Editors dispatched writer Justin L. Mack to determine whether it was true that Pence calls his wife, Karen, "Mother."   Several people were interviewed during this Star "fact check" session, some of which confirmed the nickname, while others denied it.

Of course, underlying the story is Star's assumption that a husband does not call his wife "Mother," that this is simply not done and that Pence is weird for doing so.   Star's readers, including myself, quickly let Mack and his editor bosses know in the comments section that the Star's assumption underlying the story is flat out wrong.

Growing up I quite often heard men refer to their wives, the mother of their children, as "Mother."  The term uttered by a husband about his wife, is considered  a term of respect and endearment.  Granted most of the men who used that term have died off and the nickname has become outdated over time.  But since when has Pence ever been a person on the cutting edge of trends?  He, after all, still uses an AOL email account.

I am a bit shocked that the Star editors, who are presumably older than Mack, did not know that it is very common for an older man to call his wife "Mother."   Or perhaps the Star editors knew and simply did not care.  Taking a shot at the former Governor now Vice President is so much easier than to concern oneself with facts.

Monday, March 19, 2018

The Passing of a Personal Hero, Shirley Justice

So sorry I missed the story last week.  WTHR issued this story last week:

INDIANAPOLIS (WTHR) - A mother and ex-wife shot multiple times outside her child's daycare four years ago has passed away. 
Despite multiple surgeries, doctors had to leave several of the bullets inside her body. Shirley Justice suffered massive internal injuries to several major organs. 
Shirley Justice talked exclusively with Andrea Morehead during her uphill battle to recover after being shot 14 times. 
It would mean several surgeries and a lot of determination.
On February 18, 2014, Justice dropped off her daughter at Kinder Kare Daycare on West 38th Street in Eagle Creek. That's when her estranged husband Christopher Justice surprised her with a gun outside. Shirley was shot more than a dozen times and clung to life. 
... 
Christopher Justice is serving a 24-year sentence for attempted murder after being convicted last year. His trial had several delays because Shirley needed more time to recover so she could testify about the shooting. 
"She would sometimes call me and say another bullet fell out," said Det. [Marcus] Kennedy. "She was a super strong lady, it broke my heart, too, to hear she passed away." 
Kennedy is one of IMPD's veteran homicide detectives assigned to the case. He had to write the final probable cause against Justice with help from Shirley about the gunfire. Kennedy eventually got to talk to her at her hospital bedside and during her years of rehab. 
Eyewitness News has learned despite Shirley Justice not surviving the massive injuries, prosecutors have decided Indiana's jeopardy law doesn't allow them to upgrade his charges to murder.
I never got to personally meet Shirley Justice. But I knew of her courage.  I spoke by phone to Shirley about problems she had when she tried to "lazy judge" a Marion County Superior Court judge who had failed to make a timely ruling in a custody dispute.  The judge had apparently issued a ruling after the lazy judge filing (which judges are not allowed to do), finding against Shirley and for Christopher. (I researched the court file and confirmed what Shirley was claiming.) After the shooting, the case was taken away from the judge by the Indiana Supreme Court. 

Shirley had wanted to get her story out and knew I was not only an attorney but a blogger.  It was shortly after our conversation that she was shot fourteen times by her husband, Christopher Justice outside the day care center.  I went ahead and wrote the story only to find shortly thereafter a grievance filed against me by the Disciplinary Commission contending that I had violated attorney-client privilege, revealing confidential details against Shirley's wishes.  

I think the Commission simply assumed Shirley was going to die soon and would not be around to contradict the allegation the Commission was essentially making on her behalf.  But Shirley did not die.  As she clung to her life, she talked to a Disciplinary Commission investigator (which conversation she recorded) and let him know in no uncertain terms that I did not violate her confidentiality and she had wanted me to write about her case on my blog.  She said she wanted the grievance against me dropped.  The Commission did exactly that, no doubt reluctantly since the Commission had been on a warpath against me following critical blog articles I had written about the Commission and its Executive Secretary G. Michael Witte.

In the years that followed, I lost touch with Shirley.  I did not know that she continued to suffer physical problems from the shooting that would eventually take her life.  I so regret not knowing that and not learning of her passing until this week.  I would have welcomed the opportunity to attend her funeral to tell her family what a wonderful and courageous woman she was.  Shirley Justice is nothing less than a hero to me, someone who did the right thing even when it was not easy to do so.  This world could use a lot more people like Shirley Justice.

Note:  Shirley's family has established a Go Fund Me page to help defray the considerable expenses associated with her passing.  Please consider contributing.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Pennsylvania Special Election Provides Yet More Evidence Mid-Terms Will Feature Democratic Tidal Wave

Yesterday, Democrat Conor Lamb defeated his Republican opponent Rick Saccone in a Pennsylvania special election to fill the vacancy left when Republican congressman Tim Murphy resigned.  Candidate Donald Trump had won the district, Pennsylvania Congressional District 18, by 20 points in 2016.  The district is so reliably Republican that the Democrats did not even bother to field a candidate against Murphy in 2014 and 2016.   Conor won the razor thin victory by running as a defiantly moderate Democrat, someone whose views were not at all in line with his party's liberalism, but whose views better match the conservative leaning voters of District 18.  Although President Donald Trump came to the district the weekend before the election to fire up the Republican base, his efforts, as they did in
Conor Lamb
Alabama, failed to inspire the GOP faithful.  They weren't buying what Trump was selling.

I can hear the excuses now.  Lamb ran as a Republican-lite.  Saccone was a horrible candidate.  Yeah, so what?  The fact is District 18 is a heavy, heavy Republican district.  When the numbers are that stacked in the GOP's favor, the Democrats cannot win a district simply by running a candidate who talks like a Republican even if the GOP fields a candidate who can't walk and chew gum at the same time.

Make no mistake about it...what gave Conor Lamb a shot at victory is the unpopularity of Donald Trump.   Trump's presidency has been an unmitigated failure.  For 14 months, the Trump administration has teetered from one crisis to another, with the President taking pains to alienate every demographic group with the exception of under-educated white men.  While Republicans still back Trump by 80% plus, the fact is independents, those people who voted for Trump because they couldn't stand Hillary, have long ago left and they show no sign of coming back.  Trumpers don't get that.  They think Donald Trump won some sweeping victory on November 8, 2016, when in fact Trump only won a narrow victory in the Electoral College because he faced the most spectacularly unpopular candidate the Democrats could find.

For Trumpers, the approaching blue wave due to hit the shores on November 6th (which even they must by now admit is coming) surely must be someone else's fault.  How about George Soros?  Nancy Pelosi?  Chuck Schumer?  Bob Mueller?  Paul Ryan?  Mitch McConnell?  Lord knows the Kool-Aid drinking Trumpers will never actually hold the President responsible for anything.  The ethos of "personal responsibility" does not apply when the leader of your cult is named Donald J. Trump.

But it should.  Trump and his embarrassingly incompetent and scandal-riddled tenure is destroying the party I have believed in and supported since my 18th birthday.  It will take a generation to rebuild the Republican party post-Trump.  The sooner that process begins the better.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

White House Firing Stuns Washington

No, I'm not talking about the firing of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson this morning.  That was not unexpected.

Instead, CNBC reports on the unexpected personnel development:
President Donald Trump's personal assistant, John McEntee, was fired Monday for unspecified security reasons and was removed from the White House, according to a Tuesday report from The Wall Street Journal. 
He has now joined Trump's re-election campaign as a senior advisor. Trump 2016 campaign spokeswoman Katrina Pierson is also joining the 2020 re-election campaign as a senior advisor. 
"Katrina and John will play pivotal roles on our campaign once again as we develop a winning strategy through 2020 to Keep America Great," said Michael Glassner, the campaign's chief operating officer. "They will also contribute tremendously to our national engagement in the mid-term elections this year. We're delighted to have them back on the team." 
McEntee, who served on Trump's winning presidential campaign beginning in 2015, joined the Trump administration after the election. He was escorted off the White House grounds on Monday over an "unspecified security issue," the Journal reported, citing sources. 
A CNN reporter later tweeted, citing a source familiar with the matter, that McEntee was terminated because the Department of Homeland Security is investigating him for "serious financial crimes" that are not related to Trump.

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Race for 2020 GOP Presidential Nomination Heats Up

Thus far, most of the focus on Election 2020 has been on the Democratic side as scores of possible candidates appear on the verge of tossing their respective hats into the ring.  What though has gotten loss coverage is the fact that things are heating up on the Republican side as well.  Arizona Senator Jeff Flake is attending a "Politics and Eggs" event in New Hampshire on March 16th where he will give a speech titled "Country Over Party."

The Washington Times reports on Flake's response to speculation he may run for President:
“I don’t rule anything out, but it’s not in my plans,” Flake told ABC News in December. But the Arizona senator said he believes a Trump re-election bid will “leave a huge swatch of voters looking for something else.” 
Meanwhile, Ohio Governor John Kasich, a GOP primary finalist in 2016, appears to be prepping for  a 2020 run.   Politico reports:
John Kasich’s inner circle is gearing up for a possible presidential run in 2020 — actively weighing the prospect of a Republican primary challenge to President Donald Trump against the feasibility of a long-shot general election campaign as an independent.
And there’s one consideration driving their thinking perhaps more than any other: what some of his advisers consider the very real, maybe even likely, possibility that Trump doesn’t run again — by choice or not — or that the president becomes so politically hobbled by late next year that the political landscape fundamentally shifts in Kasich’s favor. That’s one reason Kasich has yet to decide whether to pursue an independent bid or a primary challenge.
Nine Republicans in or close with Kasich’s political operation told POLITICO that the departing Ohio governor has been working with a tight clutch of advisers and informally surveying donors and fellow pols about the shape of his next steps. So far, he has solidified his role as a go-to commentator for national news shows while stacking his schedule with trips including an April return to New Hampshire.
Gov. John Kasich (R-OH)
Donald Trump right now has a cult-like grip over 80% of the shrinking GOP electorate.  Falke and Kasich would not have a chance to win if they ran today.  Undoubtedly Flake and Kasich know that and they are betting that Trump won't be as popular with Republican voters on the first day of 2018 as he will be come the Summer of 2019, when the Presidential race heats up in earnest.  That's not a long-shot gamble.  The Mueller investigation appears to be getting closer and closer to President Trump.  That the independent counsel will end up concluding that Trump or, at least, people very close to him, engaged in a  conspiracy with Russians to win the 2016 election, accepted bribes to influence policy, money laundering, obstruction of justice and other criminal activity appear much more likely than they did even a month ago.  

In the end, I think it only 50-50 Donald Trump even completes his term, much less runs for re-election.  Even if Mueller did not spoil the Trump GOP Kool-Aid party, there appears to be a looming disasterous midterm election for Republicans which would flip control of the U.S. House to the Democrats and make 2019 a year of impeachment and other investigations of the Trump Presidency.  I could definitely see Trump choosing to leave in 2019 rather than deal with that.  Better to go out an electoral winner than face that and the distinct possibility of losing in 2020 when the Democrats undoubtedly field a much stronger candidate in a more favorable political climate.

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Democrats Flip Two More Republican State Legislative Seats, This Time in New Hampshire, Connecticut

The Hill reports on Tuesday's elections:
Democratic candidates on Tuesday won two special elections for state legislative seats in the Northeast, another indication for the party that a blue wave is forming ahead of November's midterm elections.

In New Hampshire, Laconia voters elected substance abuse counselor Philip Spagnuolo
(D) over Republican Les Cartier, a former state employee, in a district President Trump carried by a 13-point margin in 2016.
...
In Connecticut, Democrat Philip Young defeated Republican Bill Cabral to win a Stratford-based district that has been in Republican hands for decades, even though Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton carried a narrow plurality there in 2016.
...
The wins Tuesday night extend the Democratic advantage in special elections held since Trump was inaugurated last year. In 2018 alone, Democrats have won Republican-held state legislative seats in Wisconsin, Florida, Kentucky and Missouri.

The New Hampshire seat is the fifth Democrats have taken from Republicans since Trump's inauguration. 
Tuesday's elections now makes 39 state legislative seats that have flipped from Republican to Democrat since Trump's election.  While the Republicans did hold a Lexington, Kentucky area state house seat on Tuesday by some 34 points, it is a district that Trump won iby 62 points, thus the election represented a 28 point swing in the Democrats' direction.  That is consistent with the average 27 point swing to the Democrats in state legislative races since Trump's election.

It should be noted that in most congressional, state legislative and state-wide races, Donald Trump ran behind other Republicans on the 2016 ticket.  Indiana was one of the few exceptions as Trump proved to be more popular than most GOP candidates in the Hoosier state.