Thursday, May 25, 2017

Montana Special Election Controvesy Makes National News

Greg Gianforte
Welcome to 2017.  A time where it's downright dangerous to be a campaign reporter.

That's exactly what allegedly happened for Guardian reporter, Ben Jacobs, when he asked Montana Congressional candidate Greg Gianforte a question about the American Health Care Act.  Not only did Gianforte refuse to answer the question, he allegedly body slammed the reporter in front of others breaking Jacobs's glasses.

The hotly-contested Montana Congressional special election race should be a walkover for Gianforte who is up against Rob Quist, a banjo-strumming political newcomer, who has raised a ton of cash.  After Gianforte's alleged conduct in the encounter with Jacobs, many believe a "closer-than-it-should-be" race may have become even tighter.

Let's put all the politics of this aside and let's be fair and give Gianforte's side of the story.  The would-be Congressman, who is running to replace Secretary of the Interior, Ryan Zinke, claims it was Jacobs that provoked the incident by shoving his phone in his face and rudely continuing to ask questions when he was initially rebuffed.  He alleges Jacobs grabbed his wrist and somehow that resulted in him being on the floor with a broken pair of glasses.

It makes no sense.

Furthermore, even if it the story did add up, this sort of behavior from a person running for one of the 435 House seats should give folks in Big Sky country pause.  Montana has but just one U.S. House seat.  That's one representative for the 1.03 million people that live there.  Indiana has nine Congressional seats for 6.62 million people.  That comes out to one representative for about 735,555 people.

Gianforte's alleged actions are being supported and even condoned on the far right. They see it as a conservative hero allegedly smacking down that liberal media.  Gianforte has been charged by police in the case after audio of the alleged events surfaced.

For five seconds, even if I believed Gianforte's version of the story, his reaction to Jacobs questions and demeanor in my view are completely uncalled for.  I can't imagine sending someone with the kind of hair trigger that Gianforte appears to have to Washington where it's only going to get worse.

In a larger sense, the lack of respect for reporters and the press is appalling.  I'm not saying that there's never been a time that reporters have gone too far in pursuing a story, and the constant spotlight of always being on guard can't be easy.  The press, however, has to be allowed to do its job, and journalists should be protected from harm. Often, they are not.

We'll know by tomorrow how Montanans voted.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Trump Must Fix Trump or Resign

President Donald Trump
When I try to turn away from blogging about national issues, they always seem to pull me back.

Last night, Donald Trump was accused by a Washington Post report of revealing highly classified information to the highest level of Russian government officials during an Oval Office meeting last week.  Again, he's left me speechless.

This is the stuff of novels.  It's the stuff of screenplays.  It's certainly not non-fiction, but, if the WaPost article is true, and there are some in government corroborating it, this is non-fiction.

I literally have no words for this latest shock. As exasperated Rachel Maddow said, "Hyperbole is dead." It's like he's trying to get impeached at this point, and it's now at the expense of our allies, according to the report in the Post.

Of course, the White House has pushed back at the report giving a non-denial denial of the story saying that it's untrue "as reported."  No other information came out of the White House last night as the President's spin-meisters no doubt try to cover the latest smelly mess left by Trump.

It appears that we have elected the most unfit and unaware man to ever serve in the Oval Office.  If those that wanted someone to shake up Washington voted for Trump, it appears that they have elected a guy that may unwittingly bring the whole place down.

For the love of our country, the President of the United States has to get his act together, and it's clear that he's the only one who is going to do it.  He won't listen to anyone or anything and refuses to be and act Presidential.  That all must change.  He has to start listening to those around him.  He has to listen to those that brief him and to those that advise him.  This is not about Donald Trump any more.

This is about America.  If Trump can't get himself under control and under some sort of discipline, he must resign or be impeached and removed from office.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Race for Marion County Sheriff's Seat Well Underway

Sheriff John Layton
Marion County Sheriff John Layton can't run again because he's term-limited.  After two terms and a long career in law enforcement, he'll step aside in January of 2019.  The race to replace Layton is just beginning.

On the Democratic side, former U.S. Marshal for the Southern District of Indiana, Kerry Forestal, is the front runner for the nomination and probably the favorite to take Layton's place.  Forestal was briefly considering a candidacy for the 2010 election cycle, but he was appointed U.S. Marshal by President Barack Obama.  He stayed in that position until 2015 when he returned to the Marion County Sheriff's Office serving as Executive Officer for Layton.  

Mark Brown, who has run twice against Layton for the Sheriff's position, also has maintained an active Facebook page.  I have not seen Mark to ask him if he's running again in 2018 or not, but a third try would not surprise me at all.  Mark's a man of great class, and I've always enjoyed our interactions.

On the Republican side, two GOP candidates are emerging.  Southport Police Chief Tom Vaughn announced his candidacy last week.  The 20-year veteran of law enforcement has a website up along with a Facebook page.  Jim Grimes, who was last seen making a primary challenge against Bob Behning in House District 91, is another experienced candidate in the mix.  Grimes already is out there raising cash in this race.  He seems to be getting support from the mainstream of the GOP.

There's a little less than a year back to the primary, but the Marion County Sheriff's race may be one to keep your eye on as the field grows.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Mothers' Day Changes When You Lose Mom

Me and Momma Easter
Today marks my third Mothers' Day without my mother, but I'll never stop celebrating this day.

My mother went to sleep on Christmas in 2015 and died that night.  We got the call around 11:30 pm that she had just passed around 11:15.

I'm not going to take you back down that memory lane.  Believe it or not, it's not that sad for me because seeing my mother's lifeless body in her PJs and under her Tennessee Volunteers blanket (given to her by my brother and sister-in-law for Christmas), I couldn't be all that mad at the world.  That's what she wanted, ultimately, to "get home" to see my father.  She made it for Christmas.

What I want to talk about is the process I went through after Mom died.  Losing my mom was much tougher on me than losing my dad.  While I had periods of spending a lot of time with both, I think most people would call me a "mama's boy" and I'm fine with that.  For me, losing Mom just sucked because I lost my best friend.

For one thing, I called her every night, and, if I didn't call her one or two nights, she'd call me on the third night to find out what was so important going on that I couldn't call her.  She was the one that I would unwind my day with and tell her what happened.  She knew all the big events in my life and what was going on.  If I didn't tell her something, she always had a way of finding out.  So, I adopted a social media and blog policy, if I wouldn't show my mother this posting, then I wouldn't post it.  I still adhere to it today.

So, guess what I do?  I still talk to Mom, and I think she still knows what's going on in my life.  Just because the physical person is gone doesn't mean you have to stop talking to them.  I would highly advise against doing this on a street corner in downtown Indy, but I do still talk to my mother if I need to do so.  When I don't talk to her enough, she crashes my dreams now.

It's been a process, and I still miss her.  Her memories bring more smiles than tears now, but I'll still hear her favorite songs and get a little tear in my eye.  I think that will happen forever.  Anyway, I wanted to write this blog post for those of us without mothers on Mothers' Day.

I urge you to celebrate your mother's memory.  Here's to Marjorie May Miller Easter!  Happy Mothers' Day, Momma.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Trump's Driving My Political Brain Insane.

Future Impeached President Donald Trump
I've been trying to write a few days ahead on this blog so that, like these days, when I get busy I have some posts ready to go.  .

You may have noticed that I've been late to react to the latest Donald Trump news.  Frankly, after James Comey was fired, I didn't quite know what to write.  I still don't.  I'm stunned.  I'm slack-jawed.  I'm nearly speechless, and I'm trying to find out why there are still nearly four in ten people in the United States that back Donald Trump as President.

So, this is a pretty disjointed stream of consciousness mess on the current situation.

To me, it's crystal clear that when you take five or six steps back and look at the big picture that this administration has something to hide, and it's trying it's darnedest to hide it.  The only one who isn't is Donald J. Trump.  

Trump is lumbering through this Presidency like a rhinocerous trapped in a crystal factory.  He's knocking things over and leaving every one else to clean up his mess, but he's the he doesn't care.  

Trump is Robert Stack in Airplane...

Only Trump goes ahead and tries to anticipate what you think he should not do and then does it.  You get the feeling that his team tells him to avoid talking about topic A.  Common sense, political wisdom, and everything else would tell Trump to avoid topic A.  So, he talks about topic A or he makes the exact decision leading to the scenario in topic A.

Russian connection? PSH! Let's have them in the Oval Office and only let their media in! Media asy what?  Trump's saying, "I've got an idea. Let's fire the FBI Director because he's getting too close.  He wants to investigate my people more.  I've also got a fool proof plan to explain it all.  We'll blame it on Hillary Clinton's e-mails so the Democrats will have to agree."

Everyone nervously in the room shakes their head yes because no one would want to defy the President.

I'm trying to make sense of it, but I simply can't. Trump continues to defy logic, sensibility, and good thought at every level.

I mean...when I write it again, it just boggles my mind.  Just days after requesting more juice for his investigation into the Trump Administration’s ties to Russia, Comey was fired by President Trump on the alleged recommendation of Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein. Many of us out here in Real-Worldville don’t buy it.

Trump claims he fired Comey over the handling of Hillary Clinton’s e-mail case. Come on, man?  I want to cuss!  After he spent months on the campaign trail stoking the fire of that case, he’s going to fire the man that gave him the wood? Puh-leeze. This President is insane or has an impeachment wish!

He's making me crazy!!  He's even making those on the right crazy too.  He's got them buying into his bull feces.

Here's the bottom line.  If Trump wanted Comey gone, he should have done it as one of his first actions in office. Trump didn’t want Comey gone until it looked like Comey was about to be an enemy...I mean...I think.  I don't know any more.  

Then there's the whole manner in which Comey was fired...which blows my feeble mind even more.

So, Donald Trump pens a letter firing Comey while the Director was in Los Angeles, has it delivered by his personal bodyguard to the FBI Headquarters, and doesn’t bother to pick up the phone to call Comey. Are you kidding me?

In a Gallup Poll, 54 percent believe Trump inappropriately fired Comey. That means 38 percent believe Trump did the right thing in firing Comey, and that coincidentally matches his current job approval rating. These people are....kaj;eiakf;alej;laiedjfaoreifa;ijead;lifiedjc;alwekzj.

Sorry...(deep breath)...

I believe this will all come back to bite Trump right in the behind. I just don’t think he’s good enough at covering his own tracks. Patience is a virtue with this one. I am still nearly certain of this...Donald Trump is on his way to making history. He may be the third President to be impeached, but he may be the first to actually deserve it and be convicted in the Senate.

When he's removed from office, he'll do an interview with Sean Hannity, "No one has been removed from office before...I's the first time, Sean.  It's historic."

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

By Electing Macron, French Rebuke Results of Trump, Brexit Elections

French President-Elect Emmanuel Macron
Photo from Twitter
The French people flirted with disaster, but they ultimately selected the best candidate to move Europe and the world economy forward.

Emmanuelle Macron won the French Presidential Election on Sunday over Marine Le Pen.  Outgoing President Francois Hollande did not run for reelection after dismal approval ratings scared him off.  That means that a political centrist will now be in charge of one of the world's most important democracies.

Macron and Le Pen, the candidate of the National Front, a far right political party, had emerged from the field of candidates as the two top vote getters last month.  Early polls showed the race too close to call. Macron became the target of reputation damaging stories in the press, and there was a flurry of last minute interference by the same influences that seem to have possibly at least attempted to interfere with the U.S. Presidential Election.  None of that had an effect.  In fact, Macron trounced Le Pen garnering over 66 percent of the vote.

This was a strong rebuke of the far right forces that have taken hold in several major worldwide countries.  Donald Trump had softly backed (not openly) Le Pen as had several forces that also pushed through the Brexit in Great Britain.  Le Pen wanted to take France out of the European Union, and that would have doomed the EU and thrown the world economy into an uncertain place.  Le Pen also has similar anti-immigrant views as Trump and, despite an effort to cleanse her party's image, Le Pen's National Front Party had leadership, in the past, that denied the Holocaust as well as what many others determined racist and anti-semitic views.

Now Macron has to govern, and politics aside, the French did elect a man with a few things in common with Trump.  Macron has little experience in politics.  This is his first elected position.  Like Congress, the French National Assembly is also a factionalized mess with more factions and parties represented than in Washington.  It's going to be interesting to see how Macron puts together his team as he has to tiptoe a careful line.  Far right folks are already attacking Macron for his acceptance speech that featured the European Union's Anthem "Ode to Joy".  They say he'll be a yes man for the European Union.  Really, he's a bit of an enigma.  He also comes to power at a time when France has been reeling from a wave of violent terrorist attacks including one in the days leading up to the Presidential Election itself.

What's clear is that, for now, France avoided the fate of the United States or Great Britain.  What that means right now and from here is anyone's guess.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Pence's Bad Deal Forces State Scramble to Pay for Pet Bicentennial Projects

Pence speaks at Bicentennial Gala
Mike Pence is in Washington, but we’re still paying for his projects in Indiana.

Governor Eric Holcomb signed a budget that includes $5.5 million for Pence pet projects dedicated to Indiana’s now over bicentennial.  Over $53 million in other bicentennial projects remain unfunded with an uncertain future, according to reports.

Holcomb was in a tough position. The projects were done, so someone had to pay. That someone is you and I after Pence left the Hoosier State without a solid funding solution for his projects. The completed work includes the new Bicentennial Plaza on the Westside of the Statehouse and, according to WTHR, upgrades to the state library. Pence initially wanted to lease the state’s cell tower assets to pay for the projects. With no takers, there was nothing in the coffers to pay for the projects.
Had transparency been a part of this equation, I might have backed the projects, but lawmakers were iffy on this plan from the start. Plus, in a state budget that spends $32 billion, the price tag is just 0.0002 percent of the total.

Still, with all the other needs the state had, it seems that the $5.5 million could have been spent elsewhere or come from different sources. $5.5 million could have done a lot elsewhere. 

Instead, it’s tied up paying for Mike Pence’s pet projects while coming out of our pockets instead of maybe more private sources.  I hear the Republicans charged a minimum of $250 and some gave up to $25K a plate to hear Donald Trump, Jr. speak at their spring dinner.  That's hearsay, I admit, but there are probably some local companies that could have easily covered that $5.5 million had they been given the opportunity early in the process.

Call me crazy.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Every Indiana U.S. House Republican Votes for AHCA Opening Door for Democrats

Democrats should be very excited for 2018.

Every Indiana Republican in the United States House voted for the American Health Care Act, and every provision of this unpopular bill is, as Nancy Pelosi said on the floor of the House, "tattooed on (the) forehead," of every member that voted for it.

Even the most staunch supporter of the AHCA admits that he Senate is going to make wholesale changes to the bill, and, if any form of it passes the Senate, that it won't likely even resemble what came out of the House.

That's why those with preexisting conditions and that depend on things like Medicare are so concerned about this bill.  Over 24 million Americans, according to one estimate, will lose insurance on this bill.  It's a disaster, and all seven Indiana Republicans are attached to that disaster at the hip.

Now, some Republicans could run naked down the aisle during the State of the Union and still get reelected in Indiana.  These folks can do pretty much whatever they like, but for people like Jackie Walorski, Susan Brooks, Trey Hollingsworth and Larry Bucshon, this bill might work against them with the right Democrat opposing them.

It's going to be key to get good Democrats to run against each Republican Congressional Representative this year.

I did not mention Todd Rokita in that list of Republicans because if he runs again in District 4, he's likely to be reelected.  Rokita, however, wants a promotion to the other side of Capitol Hill in the Senate, and his vote for the AHCA could work against him as well as defending United Airlines and law enforcement in the Dr. David Dao dragging incident a few weeks back in Chicago.

As you may remember, Dao had a ticket for a seat on an overbooked flight.  When United tried to get some passengers to give up their seats for members of another United flight crew, the passengers refused.  Dao was chosen at random, but he refused to give up his seat.  Authorities were called, and Dao was dragged off the plane unconcious having sustained a variety of facial injuries and a concussion.

United Airlines CEO Oscar Munoz and the airline admitted fault and settled with Dr. Dao, but that wasn't enough for Rokita who made sure to get the following statement on the record.  "I also wanted to say that this is a bit of a two-way street. A grown man, assumedly sane, when approached by law enforcement, on an aircraft, should abide by the requests being made. And I don’t know that that, Mr. Chairman, has been said in this hearing or generally in the conversation. So I wanted to make a record of that, because it deserves to be said,” Roikta said.

Ok, Todd.

One way or another, Republicans have opened the door...maybe even to a primary challenge for themselves.  Now, it's up to Democrats to walk through and take the opportunity.  That's something that our party admittedly has trouble doing sometimes.  See Clinton, Hillary...

Thursday, May 4, 2017

"Shining City" a Little More Dim Tonight

Today is a rotten day in America.

The United States House just threw some 24 million Americans off the bus and left them behind without health insurance and then celebrated with the President on the South Lawn like giddy teenagers.  They did it without truly understanding the bill or without truly understanding a cost.  They did it over the majority of Americans saying do something else.

But that was only one thing that happened today.

In a signing ceremony, President Donald Trump signed a RFRA-like executive order surrounded by religious leaders and next to an adoring Mike Pence who essentially tried this same crap in Indiana.  Thankfully, it seems a little toothless per the ACLU.

As I think about these two events, I get madder and madder and madder.  I feel as if this isn't some attempt at making better policy.  It just feels like it's an attempt to further divide us based on our politics.  It's more about wiping out every vestige of President Obama's eight years in office not because what he did was wrong but just because Republicans think they can.

I am also struck by the great song "America" by Neil Diamond, a somewhat schmaltzy 1980's era song from a largely forgotten film called the Jazz Singer.  The song's lyrics talk about huddling together on boats, planes, and trains to be free in a new country.  It's a dream so many Americans who once called another land home can relate to now as they have begun that new life here.

We used to be that "shining city on the hill" that Ronald Reagan talked about.

Sadly, I can't help but feel that our shine is a little dimmer tonight.  Our way is a little more muddled, and I can't help but shed a little tear for what we have become and for what the rest of the world must think of us.

Don't get me wrong, I'm very proud to be an American.  I'm very proud, and I understand what it means.  I understand that in other countries that I could be imprisoned for being gay or be thrown in some Gulag-like work camp for opposing the government.  I understand that as an agnostic, I could be persecuted or murdered.  I understand that my status as an American citizen gets me in most countries around the world and that our society has advanced to the point that my water comes from a faucet and my food is plentiful.  I get it.  I'm very blessed to be an American.  I'm very thankful for all those that have died to make my life as free as it is today.

It's that pride and that thankfulness that makes me sad tonight.  I fear that other Americans or other folks may not have that same experience.  Unfortunately, we have a party and a President in power that doesn't seem to care about this,

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Democrats Can't Afford to Lose Donnelly in 2018

Joe Donnelly
Senator Luke Messer.

Senator Curtis Hill.

Senator Todd Rokita.

Chill down your spine, yet, Democrats?

I don't understand why some people on my side of the political aisle can't see why a conservative Democrat is better for Indiana than a conservative Republican. Furthermore, I can't see why some on my side of the aisle are ready to turn the table over just because they don't like the way Joe Donnelly sometimes sets out the place settings.

Much of the latest ire from some folks in my party against Donnelly comes from the decision to vote to confirm Neil Gorsuch as a Supreme Court Justice.  I'm almost certain that once Chuck Shumer had his 41 votes to force Mitch McConnell into the nuclear option on Gorsuch that Democrats like Donnelly in tough reelection fights for 2018 were free to vote up on Gorsuch.  It takes a line of attack off the table.

You can be mad because you think Donnelly isn't liberal enough, and I have shared my frustrations about him here before.  The strategy of not voting for Donnelly or leaving your ballot blank simply is a full or half vote for one of the three Republicans I mentioned at the start of the post.  Granted, there could be someone else other than those candidates that break out on the Republican side, but I think that those three seem to be the most likely candidates.

Messer reportedly is placing himself in a better position for a run.  While Messer seems at first glance to have a good legislative head on his shoulders, he was "excited" for Donald Trump's agenda, and he was considered for a spot in the Trump cabinet.  Rokita allegedly wants to move down the hall to the Senate so he can take his great ideas like eliminating union representation and grievances for federal employees and taking food out of the bellies of some of our school children to the upper legislative body.  Curtis Hill is putting himself in front of every camera he can find even if he has to dress up like Elvis to do it.  He's raising his profile as Attorney General for some reason.

Any of the three would take Donnelly's Senate seat, Richard Lugar's old Senate seat, in an entirely different direction.

Here's my inconvenient truth.  In Donnelly's position, I would have done the exact same thing on Neil Gorsuch, but I get why some others wouldn't.  I'm just not ready to let a Republican from Indiana vote on another Supreme Court nominee...especially one that might replace a more liberal vote on the high court.

If you don't like Joe Donnelly, that's fine. Seek him out and talk to him.  He's plenty accessible. Also, realize that the most important vote he'll cast in the Senate for you is that vote for majority leader.  If he's not there and it's Rokita or Hill or Messer, will they have hardly ANY of your positions in mind when they vote to keep Mitch McConnell as majority leader?  

Dems can't mess around and lose Joe Donnelly's seat in 2018. We just can't afford to do it.  Hopefully, Democrats across the state will figure that out and solidfy that base vote.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Holcomb Should Halt General Assembly Assault on Government Transparency

Governor Eric Holcomb
Governor Eric Holcomb has a chance to send a statement to the Indiana General Assembly on behalf of the Hoosier people, and, if they listen, he just might save them from themselves.

If you've been following this legislative session, the state's alcoholic beverage laws and how to pay for infrastructure repairs have dominated much of the talk, but, as the bills start to hit Governor Holcomb's desk, there's one piece of legislation that isn't worth the paper it's printed on.

The Indiana House and Senate passed House Bill 1523. The bill would give Indiana's many layers of government the freedom to charge taxpayers, the media, or anyone wanting public records up to $20 an hour if the search requires more than two hours of research.  That can get quite expensive, and it can create a chilling effect especially for those who can't afford it.

Reporter Kaitlin Lange of the Evansville Courier-Press reports that Holcomb has several options.  Like his predecessor, Mike Pence, he can veto the measure.  Pence vetoed a similar bill when he was Governor.  He can sign the bill, or he can allow the bill to pass into law without his signature.

The last option would be a cowardly way out, but it would give the Governor an out by saying that he didn't agree with the legislation and wouldn't sign it. By signing the bill, he would put himself in a position that could give Democrats an attack position in 2020 when and if he decides to run for reelection.

His best option would be to do what Pence did and veto the bill.  The General Assembly would need just a bare majority to overturn his veto, but Holcomb would be on the record as standing with the Hoosier people against this ridiculous bill that would be a strike against government transparency.

He certainly hasn't done everything I've wished him to do, but Holcomb has been a much-needed advocate for Hoosier common sense so far in the Governor's Office.  This bill seems like another opportunity for Holcomb to stand up and be counted and show his independence from the legislative branch.

Perhaps by telling the General Assembly to take a hike on this price hike, he'll wake them up a little.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

In Memoriam: Don Rickles (1926-2017)

Don Rickles
Growing up, I was a weird kid.

It's true.  I was just strange.

As I look back, I can't explain why I did some of the things I did as I grew up.  I just did them.

One thing I still have problems with is sleeping.  For my entire life, I've been a night owl.  I would often stay up until one or two a.m. watching television.  Late night television was my constant companion.

My parents allowed me to watch TV or listen to the radio because when they tried to make me stop, I would invent ways to bother them.  The kicker came one night when I claimed to have "thrown up" in bed.  Mom said she went in to my room, and there was a simple puddle of spit in the bed.  Eventually, we made a deal.  If I didn't bother them at night, they would let me watch TV silently in my room.

So, Johnny Carson became my best friend at night.  When I'd watch Johnny, I'd get through a couple of guests and find myself dozing off.  Before you knew it, the TV would still be on, and I'd be sound asleep.

Today, I lost another great friend.

Mr. Warmth, Don Rickles, passed at the age of 90.  I can remember being exposed to Rickles and his unique brand of humor through his many appearances on the Tonight Show. He and Carson had a rapport that few have been able to match in show business.  They knew each other so well that any appearance on the Tonight Show became a sort of dance of comedy between two kings of it.

Rickles, of course, had along career on his own spanning over 60 years in the business.  He outlived almost every one of his contemporaries in comedy and was a link between the past and the present in comedy.

He had a challenging brand of humor.  He claimed to never write jokes but would often play off the audience or the situation.  He was great at improvising and you can go back and watch some of his mastery of that stream of consciousness kind of humor on YouTube.  I've spent hours laughing at Don and his Tonight Show appearances as well as other appearances on other talk shows.

If you watch Rickles enough, you get a deep sense of the man he was.  A man with a sharp wit and cutting tongue, but a soft heart and bright smile.  Rickles almost always would thank the audience or the host from his heart at some point...before sticking in the knife with a good and winking one liner.  Rickles could be making fun of you, but he laughed with you and not at you.

I feel like I've lost a friend.  Goodbye Mr. Warmth, and thanks for the laughs.

Angie's List Helping to Enable O'Reilly's Bad Behavior

Bill O'Reilly
If he worked for anyplace other than Fox News, Bill O'Reilly would be out of a job today.  That's my opinion.

In fact, "Bill O" as Keith Olbermann used to call him on his old show Countdown should have been gone long ago from the airwaves on the Fox News Channel, but it's a true "good ole boys" kind of place over there which marginalizes women newscasters and celebrates misogynistic behavior.  A smug, arrogant serial harrasser like O'Reilly appears to be must be seen as an asset by the folks at Fox.

Our "locker room talk" President has come out and defended O'Reilly, and that shouldn't surprise anybody.  Donald Trump's presidential campaign was knocked off track for about a month by his own crude comments toward women recorded by Access Hollywood microphones.  Trump is an enabler because he knows that people like O'Reilly buy him cover.

The fact of the matter is that Fox News should do what the parent company finally did to the old head of the network.  When it became clear that Roger Ailes harrassed multiple women in a sexual manner, he was forced out.  The same should happen to O'Reilly.

Of course, that would leave the Fox News Channel without one of its marquee stars.  The O'Reilly Factor is still a ratings juggernaut that brings in revenue and viewers for Fox News.  That said, the advertisers are starting to pull back from O'Reilly in recent weeks.  We've seen several companies say they don't want to be in the Bill O'Reilly business.

Indianapolis-based Angie's List is sticking beside O'Reilly.  That's sad, and it shows a lack of vision, in my opinion, by the company. It's these advertisers who are sticking in with O'Reilly that are helping to enable his bad behavior.  Apparently, Angie's List doesn't feel that supporting O'Reilly's show with money will have an effect on how the company, which has received taxpayer dollars over the years, is perceived.  Well, I hope the City-County Council, Mayor Joe Hogsett and others are paying attention the next time Angie's List comes for a tax-money handout.  I don't want my money to go to a company that supports a guy like Bill O'Reilly.  It should be noted that Eli Lilly pulled its ads from O'Reilly's show, according to the Indianapolis Star.

O'Reilly probably will survive this latest scandal.  Rush Limbaugh emerged from his scandal after he said awful things about Sandra Fluke.  His show was notably weaker out the other side, but Limbaugh just re-upped for a chunk of cash with his distributor.  O'Reilly may survive, but he'll come out the other side weakened.

I guess as long as Fox News feels like it can pay out settlements to excuse O'Reilly's serial harrassing behavior then they'll tolerate his antics.  Since Fox News seems unwilling to take the steps to remove and replace Bill O'Reilly, it's up to advertisers and viewers to ultimately decide whether they'll be so supportive.

Angie's List has pulled its ads from O'Reilly.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Donnelly Chooses to Confirm Gorsuch

Joe Donnelly
Senator Joe Donnelly announced on Sunday that he's supporting the confirmation of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court. It touched off a firestorm of praise and criticism from Indiana politicos.

Let's begin with the decision.  Donnelly, as a moderate, is often looked to in the Senate as a swing vote.  Sometimes he sides with Republicans.  Many times he sides with compromise.  That draws the ire of the progressive wing of Indiana Democrats who wish that he would fall more in line with liberal leanings.

That's just not Joe Donnelly.  It never has been, and it never will.  Joe Donnelly is going to make you mad if you're a progressive, and he's going to surprise you, too. In this case, he's casting his vote with lots in mind.

First of all, there's 2018 to worry about.  It will be a midterm election, and Donnelly is seen as one of the most vulnerable Senators.  The vote to confirm Gorsuch takes an entire attack angle off the table for the Indiana Republican Party.  The GOP can't beat him over the head with this vote like the NRA is trying to do with his gun control votes even though he voted for not only the Democratic gun control measures, but the Republican-supported ones too.

Secondly, there's a good chance that even with Donnelly's vote that Mitch McConnell won't have the 60 votes necessary for cloture and thus the Democrats will successfully have filibustered Gorsuch's confirmation.  The only way to confirm him is for McConnell to overturn the filibuster and use the so-called "nuclear option" and take a simple majority for Gorsuch to be confirmed.  Either way, it looks bad for the Republicans and McConnell.

Finally, Donnelly is standing up for the old rules of the Senate.  Before we reached this hyperpartisan era in politics, things used to be more collegial.  The President would nominate someone to a position that he believes is qualified.  It's up to the Senate to advise and consent to that nomination.  If someone is not qualified, the Senate is fully justified to vote down the nomination.  If, however, like Gorsuch, someone is qualified for the job, then the Senate votes to consent to the nomination even if there are philosophical differences.  This is how a judge like Ruth Bader Ginsburg was confirmed, 96-3.

I know that many liberals get upset when I point out the alternative to Donnelly in 2018 likely will be a Republican who is diametrically opposed to many of the things liberals support.  That always must be remembered.  Donnelly's balancing precariously right now.  He's going to need every vote he can get.

That's the choice liberals will have to make: voting on principle vs. quite probably losing the Senate seat.  I'm just being real.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Different Kind of Bathroom Bill Advances in General Assembly

Just when you thought things couldn't get any weirder at the Statehouse, you find another bill that somehow wiggled through the cracks.  This bathroom bill definitely will make you shake your head.

A deep reading of a bill moving through the Indiana General Assembly unbelievably contains a major provision that will make it the law as of July 1 that you must buy something at a Hoosier business first to be able to use that establishment's restroom facilities.

House Bill 1212 sponsored by Representative Perry Ellsroth (R-Stone Head) would make it a misdemeanor punishable by a $50 fine or six months in jail to use the bathroom at any Indiana business without buying something first.

"I don't forsee people calling the police over this, but business owners are tired of seeing customers have to wait while people use the facilities in their businesses without purchasing anything.  This is espescially true in communities situated along interstates," said Ellsroth.

Ellsroth said his bill does not establish a limit on how much you have to spend, but he expects the bill to help the state make more in sales tax even if the bill is just a few cents.  "Every little bit helps,"

Enforcement will be an issue, but Ellsroth says that any business that allows someone to use its bathroom for free needs only to post a sign on the door saying that the restrooms are free for public use, "We thought that was a simple fix for those businesses that did not want to participate."

In 2015, Ellsroth raised eyebrows when he sponsored a bill to change Indiana's bird from the cardinal to the American bald eagle.  That measure failed when people realized that there is no Perry Ellsroth from Stone Head in the Indiana General Assembly and then realized it was April Fool's Day.  As always, I remind you to be on guard when reading things on the internet today.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Future Caucus Promotes Cooperation, Bi-Partisanship in State Government

A group of 14 Indiana lawmakers held a news conference yesterday in Indianapolis, and their message was extremely important.

Bi-partisanship, reaching across the aisle, and working together is something that should happen in government and that should start asap.  Indiana's "Future Caucus" is a group of 14 milennial Indiana lawmakers (seven from each party) dedicated to trying to find common ground and work together.

The news conference on the Statehouse lawn yesterday included ideological opposites Democrat Dan Forestal and Republican Timothy Wesco as well as other lawmakers.  If Wesco and Forestal can find common ground, there is hope for us all.

As representatives of the caucus and the Millenial Action Project said at the news conference, it's critical to show millenials that even opposites agree on many things.  It's also important to reach out and involve young people in the political process.

I know from talking to young people on a near daily basis that many want to be involved, but they have no idea what the "on ramp" is to get involved or don't understand why there is so much rancor an gridlock in politics.  Frankly, I have trouble sometimes with that.  I certainly wish things were much more collegial on both sides of the aisle.

I wish he future caucus the best as it hopefully grows from 14 to maybe 150 someday in Indiana.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Indiana Congressional Caucus Splits on Internet Privacy, Trump Tax Return Issues

All of the Republican members of the Indiana U.S. House delegation voted to rollback Obama-era privacy rules and to allow your internet service provider to sell your web search data to advertisers.

Democrats André Carson and Pete Visclosky voted to protect your privacy.  The Republican delegation of Jackie Walorski, Jim Banks, Todd Rokita, Susan Brooks, Luke Messer, Larry Bucschon, and Trey Hollingsworth voted in favor of violating your privacy and selling that data without your consent.

Sickening isn't it?

This came on a day when many of these same representatives (all but Messer who didn't vote) voted to keep President Trump's tax returns private even as questions about his ties to overseas governments continue to mount.  Carson and Visclosky voted to have the Trump tax returns released to Congress.

So, as you surf the net, you can thank your Republicans in the U.S. House for less privacy and for allowing your ISP to sell your data.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Brewer Takes Chance on Reality TV

Former Mayor Candidate
Chuck Brewer
I was perusing my Facebook wall this morning when I saw local activist Evan McMahon's post on a new CNBC Show.

"I was watching previews for The Partner, on CNBC, and thinking 'man that guy looks familiar'. Well he should, it's former Indy Mayoral candidate and owner of both Soupremacy and Potbelly, Chuck Brewer," wrote McMahon.

Inspired to do a Google search, I found the show's web page.  Sure enough.  There's the first contestant, Chuck Brewer.

In his contestant video, Brewer highlights his military service and his success in business.  He talks about selling off his Potbelly franchise and continuing to work with his own concept, Soupremacy.  Again, it doesn't tap into his personal life too much other than he's a father.  It also doesn't mention anything about him running unsuccessfully for Mayor of Indianapolis.

Nevertheless, Chuck Brewer impressed many with his run in 2015, and I wish him the best on the reality show.

Monday, March 13, 2017

What's Up With the Blog?

I've been pretty sporadic about posting lately, and I apologize.

I need to get back on the blogging horse, but it's not probably going to happen over the next couple of weeks.  I have some busy times ahead followed by a two-week vacation and a good friend coming into town.

Thus, I'll post whenever something gets my dander flying, as my grandmother used to say, so stay tuned.  As always, I appreciate your patience when I go on these "sabbaticals".

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Hogsett Building Strong Relationships Across Aisle

Mayor Hogsett and Governor Holcomb share
a laugh at a jobs announcement
Photo courtesy of Twitter
As President, Barack Obama was widely known as “No Drama Obama”. The circus took over on January 20, and the poo hasn’t stopped being flung.  In Washington, we could use a little less drama these days. 

Thankfully, here in Indianapolis, we have our own version of “No Drama Obama” and that’s Joe Hogsett. 

 His smoothly sailing ship has yet to hit an iceberg in this city, and he’s just done it by going about his business and doing the work.

Hogsett has barely hit a speed bump with most of the City-County Council. Sure, there’s a renegade few on the body, but they are largely hidden by a strong relationship that Hogsett has built with the Republican side of the aisle. 

The Republicans like Hogsett…even when they have to criticize him. If you don’t believe me, pull aside one of the Republicans and ask them. The Mayor has reached out across the aisle and has listened to their concerns.
Republicans feel more listened to than they did under Greg Ballard. Again, if you don’t believe me, ask them in a private moment.  Sure, you'll get the pushback from time to time that politics requires, but it's half-hearted pushback at best.  You won't see Joe Hogsett yelling down a Republican member of the Council.
When you think about it, the drama that existed between the Council and the Mayor’s Office is largely gone. Part of that is partisan, sure. It doesn’t go unnoticed that Hogsett is a Democrat with a 14-11 majority on the City-County Council, but one only has to look back about 10 years to see the dysfunction between Democrats that led to a Republican snap back as they took back the Mayor’s Office and the Council in 2007. 

Maggie Lewis is a very capable Council President, and she’s more comfortable ever in that position. With Zach Adamson in the Vice President’s role and Mike McQuillen leading the opposition, the Council seems to have found a sweet spot where it’s getting things done for the city and putting good proposals on the Mayor’s desk for his signature.

As we reach halftime of this Mayor’s first term, it’s hard to see a snapback coming. Jim Merritt was a good choice for the Republicans to lead their sinking ship in Marion County. If anyone can plug their holes, he can. Kate Sweeney Bell is also a great choice for Democrats moving forward. She will be a strong chair, and, as Hogsett’s choice to succeed Joel Miller, ensures there will be tranquility in the party, as much as there can be for Democrats, anyway.

There are lots of problems for the City of Indianapolis to solve, and the Republicans and Democrats in city government are going to have to continue to be a model for other governmental agencies to continue to get things fixed here in our city.

Even though it’s bad for my blog, I love the “No Drama” philosophy.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Haltime at the Statehouse

We've reached halftime of the Indiana General Assembly session.

I believe John Mellencamp accompanied by Billy Joel is the halftime show.  Sit back and relax and watch...

In all seriousness, the Indianapolis Business Journal or "IBJ" published this excellent list of the bills still wandering the halls of the House and Senate Chambers.  The piece also discusses some of the implications of these bills.

Everything from an abortion bill that could conceivably give rights to perpetrators of incest to a bill that would explicitly allow student-led school prayer are still living as the House takes up the Senate's bills and vice versa.

Hat tip to Indy Politics and their daily e-mail for drawing our attention to the excellent work by the IBJ.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Pence Hypocritical on E-mail Mess

Mike Pence would have you believe his e-mail flap is no big deal and that it doesn't compare to Hillary Clinton's e-mail scandal.

Truth of the matter, like Hillary Clinton, Pence was trying to conduct business in a busy world.  Clinton set up her private server at home so she could do the work of Secretary of State from there, and there's no question that Mike Pence was doing the same thing.

Sitll, it's hypocritical for Pence to have criticized Clinton for her use of a private e-mail to conduct work business while he was doing the same thing.  People are right to call him out for this duplicity on this issue.

The fact that some ID thief was able to stumble in and hack the Governor's America Online account without really even knowing what he or she did makes it kind of funny. There's no evidence Hillary Clinton's private server was hacked.

The Star's Tony Cook's expose from last week hit hard at the Vice President, but it still didn't shine the excrement that was Donald Trump's incredibly bad and horrible week.  Pence's e-mail scandal is minute compared to the continuing Trump Administration's mess with Russia.  That's an onion that keeps unpeeling.

Pence was hacked, and he used a private e-mail account to conduct state business.  Knowing these two things, he continued to criticize Hillary Clinton.  That makes him a hypocrite...with a capital H.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Mass Transit Tax Passes

At last night's City-County Council meeting, the mass transit tax was approved by a 17-8 vote.

Both sides of the vote can claim a bi-partisan flavor.

I have made no bones about being against this mass transit plan.  I think it shortchanges major parts of Indianapolis including much of the Southside.  The individual votes of the councillors kind of covered where the mass transit plan would or would make improvements.  All four southern-tier Councillors voted no joined by Stephen Clay, Christine Scales, and Susie Cordi.  The eighth vote came from Jeff Coats on the city's northeast corner.

Now that the tax has passed, I'll gladly pass over the dollars to the city (like I have a choice...I'm not leaving).  I know that this plan will make a difference for many.  I just wish that instead of the top sirloin that we could have explored the filet mignon.

My biggest beef (no pun intended) has always been that this plan doesn't take into account the mass transit situation in the southern tier of townships.  Decatur and Franklin are hardly touched by the plan yet residents in those communities (like me) will pass over our tax dollars for nothing in service.

I'm done complaining.  I'll just hope that someday I can use safe, efficient mass transit here in Decatur Township without taking extraordinary measures to do it.  I'm not going to hold my breath.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Thank YOU Joel Miller

Chairman Joel Miller
Photo Courtesy of Facebook
Joel Miller and I have been friends for a long time. That's why it's a funny feeling writing this.  For, this isn't a political obituary.  This is just a thank you for all he's done.

As reported here and elsewhere, the big fella, the grand poobah of the Marion County Democratic Party, our Chairman, is stepping aside, and we'll get a new head coach as of March 4.  If all goes as planned, that new Chair will be Kate Sweeney Bell who I've known for just about as long as Joel.

I believe I first met Joel when he was the Executive Director of the Marion County Democatic Party.  He was a guy about my age, and we hit it off from the start.  Joel is funny, and he has some great stories.  My journalist side was immediately drawn to those great stories.

Over time, our friendship has remained rock solid.  When I thought about running for State Senate, I made a few phone calls, and Joel was one of them.  He advised me to run and "Kick Mike Young's ass."  I probably should have, but I wasn't ready for primetime then.

Eventually, Joel became the Chairman of the Marion County Democratic Party, and I was, for a while, the only left-leaning blogger in town writing about politics.  Never once has Joel told me what to write here.  Now, I know he reads it because I've gotten phone calls on rare occasions he has disagreed with me.  That's only happened maybe two times in four years.  Joel's been extremely good with me, and always has made himself available for a comment when I've needed it.  I appreciate that access to the Party Chair.

Finally, I'll never forget this.  I have run for office twice here in Decatur Township and on the Southwest side.  I didn't worry my opponent either time.  In fact, it was quite clear that I wasn't going to even be competitive from the early returns.  Still, Joel made it a point to come to me after my City-County Council race looked discouraging and tell me how proud he was that I got over 38 percent of the vote and had exceeded my baseline vote.  It was a moment I will remember to hear my friend and my party chairman say, "I'm proud of you, brother. Good run."

So, thanks Joel. Thanks for being a great Marion County Democratic Party Chairman.  In just four years, you've managed to accomplish much.  Through your leadership and hard work, Marion County continues to lead the way for the Indiana Democratic Party.  You've left things in great shape.  Take a couple of hours off and then get right back to work.  We need you in this fight, and I will look forward to covering whatever you decide to do next.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Hold Legislators Responsible on Town Hall Question Regardless of Party

It's easy for me to sit here and say that every member of Congress should be holding town hall meetings in every constituency in the United States.

That's an easy argument to make.  It's so easy, and it's so true.

We elect our representatives and our senators to go to Washington and represent us.  They are acting on our behalf there.  It's only fair that they should be getting their marching orders from those they represent, regardless of party.

This is not the same as being accessible, and, if there are security concerns, then measures should be taken to do what it takes to make sure that both the constituents and the public officials are safe.  Take that concern off the table.  I'm not asking for an informal "Congress on Your Corner" in this contentious time.  The bottom line is that frankly, this is the time that our elected officials need to hear most from their constituents.  There's so much crosstalk out there that it's important to get the messages from the working men, women and young people that send our elected officials to office.

If your elected official is not holding one of these events, continue to demand that they do. Republican or Democrat, it doesn't matter the party.  If we don't continue to hold our elected officials responsible for the work they do in office, we get the government we deserve.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

MCDP to Reorganize on March 4; Sweeney Bell Expected to Lead Marion County Democrats

Kate Sweeney Bell phone banks.
Photo courtesy of OFA Flickr Page
The Marion County Democratic Party will meet on March 4 for its reorganization meeting at the UAW Union Hall on South Tibbs Ave.  The doors will open at 9:00 am with credentialing being cut off at 10:00 am.

Precinct Committeepersons and Vice Precinct Committeepersons will meet to elect a new Chair, Vice Chair, Treasurer and Secretary of the local party.  

Current Chair Joel Miller will not be seeking a second term as Chair, and Marion County Recorder Kate Sweeney Bell has been working to solidify support for several months for a run at Chair.  She has the support of Mayor Joe Hogsett and and Congressman André Carson.  She's been longtime friends and allies with both party heavyweights.

Besides Sweeney Bell for Chair, recommended candidates supported by the Mayor and the Congressman, according to the Mayor himself, are Stuart Mora for Vice Chair, LaDonna Freeman for Secretary, and Mark "Tony" Duncan for Treasurer. Nominations will be taken from the floor.

I have no concerns about Sweeney Bell's ability to run a party, but I do have concerns about having her, as an elected official, being in charge day-to-day.  Miller worked as a full-time Chair, and he was in the office almost every time I visited the headquarters.  Sweeney Bell will have to make sure that the people she puts in charge around her will carry out her agenda.  When I raised my concerns, Sweeney Bell pointed out that Mike McQuillen is an elected official and Chairs the Marion County Republican Central Committee.  That's true, but I believe a legislative post is much different than an executive office.  

If anyone can pull it off, though, Kate can.  As I learned a long time ago, if you want to get things done, go see a busy person to help you.  She's going to be incredibly busy.  I've known her for years, and I have the utmost confidence in her and respect for her to move the party forward.  

Joel Miller deserves a heaping helping of praise as well.  It's hard to replace a legend, and he did so magnficiently taking over for Ed Treacy and carrying the ball forward.  There is now not a Marion County Executive Office that is not in the hands of the Marion County Democratic Party.  Joel has been a friend of mine for years as well, and I can't thank him enough for the work he's done. Joel is still very young, and you can bet you haven't seen the last of him. Life, however, moves on, and it's an exciting time for Democrats. 

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Buttigieg Still in Thick of DNC Race

Mayor Pete Buttigieg
This weekend, Democratic National Committee members will vote to see what man or woman will lead the DNC forward into the future.  Last night, on MSNBC's Hardball, another major Democrat declared at least some support for South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg.

In the closing moments of the show, former DNC Chair and Vermont Governor Howard Dean brought up Buttigieg while discussing the upcoming election for DNC Chair saying that there was an outside chance for he party to elect him chair.  Chris Matthews asked him point blank if he supported Buttigieg, and Dean said, "I kinda am."

As Dean noted, it's still an outside chance for Buttigieg.  The frontrunners are still Congressman Keith Ellison and former Labor Secretary Tom Perez, but they could cancel each other out leaving Buttigieg as a very viable candidate.

If you measure endorsements of muckety mucks, even with Dean's sort of endorsement, it's going to have to be the rank and file members that push Buttigieg over the top.  On his side, Buttigieg has former Maryland Governor and possible future Presidential candidate Martin O'Malley and former Pennsylvania Governor and DNC Chairman Ed Rendell.  Senator Joe Donnelly is backing Buttigieg as are many mayors across the country.

Congressman André Carson is backing Ellison.

What a run it's been for Mayor Buttigieg, win or lose.  When he started this thing, he was largely a young guy with a strange name from the city where Notre Dame is located.  Now, the political class has been introduced to Buttigieg, and it bodes well for both the future of the Indiana Democratic Party and the party in general.  If he wins, he'll be a great Chair.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Odds Favor Third Term Pursuit for Curry

Marion County Prosecutor
Terry Curry
Pursuit of a third term seems likely for one Marion County Democrat.

Terry Curry, the Marion County Prosecutor, has yet to make a formal statement that he's running for a third term, but a recent fundraising e-mail asks supporters to stand with him as he runs.  

If he runs, Curry is almost sure to win the race in a county that is trending more and more Democrat.  Plus, Curry has done a very good job since taking control of the office in 2011 in restoring confidence and order in the office.  Lord knows, he had his work cut out for him when his predecessor, Carl Brizzi, left office. 

Curry knocked off a strong primary field in 2010 and saw his toughest general election battle with now Indiana Supreme Court Justice Mark Massa, a well-funded and strongly-backed candidate.  In 2014, Curry easily won reelection with relatively little opposition from Duane Merchant.

That seems like eons ago.

Curry's fundraising e-mail touted several of his successes as Marion County Prosecutor as well as some of the successful cases and contributions to the community his office has worked on since 2011. 

While there have been a number of successes, there are legitimate criticisms of Curry's record, and he seems to acknowledge that there's still work to do in the future, "Not only do we see the challenges, we are ready to take them on through our community outreach, crime prevention training, and the vigorous prosecution of those who victimize others in our community," Curry said.

If successful in running and serving his third term, Curry would equal Stephen Goldsmith, who served 12 years as Marion County Prosecutor.  He did not run for reelction in 1990 instead deciding to run for Mayor of Indianapolis in 1991. Jeff Modisett won the race for Marion County Prosecutor in 1990 and would become the last Democrat to serve in the office prior to Curry's tenure.  

With county prosecutor as a statutory office created by the General Assembly, there are no term limits for this office in the Indiana Constitution.  Like Curry, Marion County Assessor Joe O'Connor can run for a third term. Pursuing second terms will likely be Marion County Clerk Myla Eldridge and Marion County Recorder Kate Sweeney Bell.  Marion County Auditor Julie Voorhies can also run for a second term as Auditor.  

Only Sheriff John Layton will have to step aside in 2018 due to being term limited. Former U.S. Marshall and former Chief Deputy Kerry Forestal is the likely candidate to emerge as Layton's heir apparent.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Impeachment Seems Eventual Possibility for Trump

I am getting so tired of writing about national issues on this blog.  After all, I'm not the "United States Democrat Blog" here.  That said, it's the day-to-day drama of the White House that just keeps giving, and this is Indiana.  We all know how often the General Assembly has done something silly, and I don't mean Bruce Borders dressing up as Elvis.

Before we go further, this blog is full of blatant innuendo and rumor.  I don't have any facts to back this up.  I just have inklings, feelings, and intuitions.  Call it the hairs on the back of my neck.

I never thought I would say this about a sitting United States President, but I believe that Donald Trump has sunk himself already as the Chief Executive.  His Administration is not savvy enough to save him or itself.  This thing is going down, and it's going to be more than Michael Flynn whose career is sunk.

We are less than three weeks into this new regime and aboard this new ship at the White House, and it is listing...badly.

It's just shocking.

Today, the New York Times reported that the Trump campaign had repeated contact over time with the Russians.  Yesterday, the Washington Post reported that Flynn had discussed sanctions with Russian authorities before Trump was sworn in and then pretty much lied about it to his superiors.  Now, further reports say that Mike Pence was cut out of the loop here.

Investigations have begun.  There will be hearings.  People are asking questions. The famous question, "What did the President know, and when did the President know it?" is being asked.

Personally, I think the road to impeachment has begun, and the quicker it happens, the quicker we can start to mend up this country's wounds.  You can say what you want about Mike Pence or Paul Ryan or wherever the wheel will stop, but they are not Donald Trump.  We have to protect what our country is and the very bedrock it has been built upon.

Donald Trump is clearly not fit to be President, and he's surrounded himself by some very dangerous but careless people.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Flynn Out

The Washington Post and a variety of other news organizations are reporting that General Michael Flynn, one of Donald Trump's closest and most loyal advisers, has resigned as National Security Advisor.

Facts are still flying in at press time, but this is a huge story and one that will not be open and shut.  That's why I'm going to leave this one there until morning and until I can more fully-grasp this story.

Once again, the Trump Administration, which hasn't even filled all its cabinet posts yet, has seen its National Security Advisor, General Michael Flynn, resign three weeks into his service.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Supreme Court Seat Vacant Now for One Year

Judge Neil Gorsuch
A week or two ago, Donald Trump made his first Supreme Court nominee.

Judge Neil Gorsuch is a qualified jurist, and I think the Supreme Court nomination process will ferret out where he is strong and deficient. For the most part, it appears this is a good selection for a Republican President trying to replace the late Associate Justice Antonin Scalia.

What's bizarre is the effort to get him confirmed.  I've never seen interest groups purchase ads to try to get people behind a Supreme Court nominee because the United States people don't get to vote on them.

From what I've read on Judge Gorsuch, he and I have different philosophies on government.  That said, if I were a Senator, and I'm obviously not, I would not hold Judge Gorsuch off the court because we differ on philosophy. Given Donald Trump's performance as President so far, I think it’s pretty clear that Judge Gorsuch is a selection that could have been worse in a number of ways, and it's not like we could not have seen it coming.  After all, this was one of the key things that Hillary Clinton said over and over on the campaign trail. It's the President of the United States that makes the decision on who to nominate to the court, and, if they are qualified, they are confirmed by the U.S. Senate.  That's the time honored tradition we have.  A sitting President gets his nominee.

Anyway, that’s what should happen.
Judge Merrick Garland
But, let’s back this whole thing up a little.

Judge Antonin Scalia Scalia went to bed and died peacefully in his sleep one year ago today: February 13, 2016.

A one year vacancy? That would be preposterous, right?  That means that the Supreme Court should already be full. It should include a ninth jurist who, by his public record, should have received an easy confirmation. Scalia’s old seat should have been filled by a man who is imminently qualified with many years of experience and unquestioned respect from people on both sides of the aisle.

The Supreme Court right now should include Chief Justice John Roberts, Associate Justice Sam Alito, Associate Justice Steven Breyer, Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Associate Justice Elena Kagan, Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy, Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor, Associate Justice Clarence Thomas and, the new kid on the block, Associate Justice Merrick Garland.

In my mind the Supreme Court should be full and there should be no question about who is on it. President Barack Obama did his job, and he nominated a qualified individual to the Supreme Court. Obama should have gotten his nominee.

Mitch McConnell stole the seat. That’s why I not only encourage, but I expect Democrats to lay things on the line and filibuster this nomination of Judge Gorsuch and slow the entire process down to a halt until Judge Merrick Garland is given his fair hearing and vote in front of the U.S. Senate. 

That would be fair.  

Friday, February 10, 2017

Holcomb Spends Thursday Righting Some Wrongs

Governor Eric Holcomb
Eric Holcomb just had his finest day as Governor.  He did something long overdue, and he cleaned up some of Mike Pence's mess, too.

First, Holcomb issued a pardon for Keith Cooper for an armed robbery he in all likelihood did not commit.  In the midst of evidence that clearly was becoming more and more suspect, he was offered a deal and released from prison in 2006, but the stain of the felony remained on his record leaving him, as many convicted felons do, finding it difficult to resume his life.  Eventually, even the deputy prosecutor that prosecuted the case against Cooper was calling for a pardon.

After reviewing the case, Holcomb came to the same conclusion and issued the pardon.  Holcomb did not pardon Cooper on a battery conviction which stemmed from an incident with another inmate.

You can read more on Cooper's case, specifically the shoddy way Mike Pence dealt with it, here.

Also on Thursday, Governor Holcomb finally declared a neighborhood built over an old lead-contaminated site in East Chicago as a disaster area allowing the residents there emergency state funds to finally seek other living arrangements and opening up the possibility of federal assistance to the city to demolish the West Calumet neighborhood and decontaminate the site.

Shortly before he left office, Governor Mike Pence had turned down the request of East Chicago to name the old USS Lead site as a disaster area citing the state's response to the disaster.

For the last 12 years, we've had Mitch Daniels and Mike Pence at the helm of Indiana's executive branch.  It's been a long time since we've had a Governor have a day like Eric Holcomb did on Thursday.  Holcomb used his power in exactly the right way in two very high profile cases, and you get the feeling that he did it without regard to politics or how his base would perceive him.

Holcomb looked at the facts and came down on the side of compassion.  My dad always used the quote, "Compassion is not a sign of weakness."  This is an example.

As a member of Governor Holcomb's loyal opposition, I can only ask that he not forget that he governs all Hoosiers.  We ask him for fairness and judiciousness.  I'm sure that we will disagree on much in the future, but his actions on Thursday should give all Hoosiers hope that there is a Governor in place that will finally listen to all sides and make decisions based on what is right.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Buttigieg Picks Up Major Endorsement for DNC Chair

O'Malley and Buttigieg
(Photo courtesy Twitter)
It may seem like it's a long way off, but soon the men and women who will try to defeat Donald Trump on both sides of the aisle will start to make their way to New Hampshire and to Iowa and the other early states to begin the 2020 Presidential Race.

Some Democrats are hoping that Bernie Sanders may have another run or that Elizabeth Warren uses some of her political capital and intelligence to give it a go.  Caroline Kennedy, Kirsten Gillibrand, Amy Klobuchar, Cory Booker, and a number of others might enter the race.

One man not being talked so much about is the guy that finished third this past election for the Democratic nomination.  That's Martin O'Malley.

O'Malley, a popular governor, ran a strong campaign that just didn't have the fire or resources of that of Bernie Sanders or Hillary Clinton in 2016.  Nevertheless, he impressed many and, at 54 years old, is someone to watch in the future of the party.

In the race for DNC Chair, O'Malley has thrown his support behind South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg.  O'Malley says that Buttigieg will bring the party the "fresh start" and "new leadership" that it needs.

While this is not the same as having Bernie Sanders's endorsement or Hillary Clinton's, this is a major political figure recognizing and endorsing a small city Mayor from Indiana to run the Democratic Party.

Pete just might win this thing yet!

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

McConnell's Attack on Warren Might Backfire

Elizabeth Warren
When the vote happens, Jeff Sessions will be confirmed as Donald Trump's Attorney General.

The so-called "nuclear option" put into place, Sessions will need a bare majority to be confirmed as Attorney General.  This will come despite a wide range of questions over his background, his history as an attorney and judge, and his votes in the Senate.

Unfortunately, a full debate about Sessions's record is not possible in the U.S. Senate, the body of government charged with confirming cabinet appointments, because Sessions is a member of the Senate.  Current Senators are forbidden from criticizing other sitting Senators while debating on the floor.

Senator Elizabeth Warren was no doubt wary of this fact when she read from a letter where Coretta Scott King, the civil rights leader and late widow of Dr. Martin Luther King, criticized Sessions when he was up for a judgeship in 1986.

In the letter, King says Sessions disenfranchised African-American voters by using his position as a federal prosecutor to "chill the free exercise of the vote."

After Warren read the passage in debate over Sessions's nomination for Attorney General, McConnell stood up in the Senate and invoked the Senate rules to silence Warren.  Over her appeal, they asked her to "take her seat."  In one short-sighted swoop, McConnell managed to alienate the words of Coretta Scott King, one of our greatest African-American civil rights leaders.  He also managed to alienate the supporters of one of the most-admired Democratic Senators by shutting down Warren's speech on Sessions without, as some have noted, any concern over the content of the claims in her speech.

That's a move that can have lasting effects as Warren has a way of firing up the liberal base.  By declaring war on Warren, McConnell risks making her profile even bigger over something he probably has already won: The nomination of Sessions as AG.  Longtime Senator Orrin Hatch pointed out that he votes are likely there to confirm Sessions.

With that being the case, McConnell's use of this Senate rule to shut down Warren who was quoting King on Sessions looks even worse.  By the way, you can bet your bottom dollar that this won't stop Warren from speaking out, either.

Below, by the way, is the full text of the letter that got Senator Warren in difficulty last night.  It deserves to be seen so that every one knows what one great American thought about Sessions.  Quite ironic that it was addressed to the then-chairman of the Judiciary Committee, Strom Thurmond.