Monday, July 31, 2017

Ex-Vice President Michael Pence: A Blog Response

Heartland Now blogger Michael Leppert recently predicted that Vice President Michael Pence will become President at some point. He claims he has been contacted by national media outlets wanting to learn more about Pence. He believes they are preparing for Pence to assume the Presidency in case President Donald Trump isn't able to finish his time in public office, or that he'll run for President himself either in 2020 or 2024.

I'm reading the tea leaves a little bit differently, but I'd like to address the issue of Mike Pence first.

Like Michael, I don't think Mike Pence has giving me a passing thought.  And I've been critical of his political sensibilities, and his style of governing. I've never met Pence before. But I've listened to his old talk radio show, and seen him in media appearances as a candidate and as a public official. And except for his god awful RFRA-era interview with George Stephanopoulos, Pence is someone who sticks to his talking points and sticks to them well. You won't get him to budge from them, and you aren't going to get some policy-wonk answers.

I also don't believe Mike Pence is a deep, intellectual conservative. Disagree with them all you want, and I often do, but I think there is some intelligent thought going on when people like House Speaker Paul Ryan, or the late William Buckley, talk about their conservative believes. I don't think that is the case with Mike Pence. I think he's someone who speaks very carefully, and doesn't want to be boxed in. His style of governing as Governor of Indiana reflected that, with Republican legislators sometimes (privately) griping that they were getting little guidance as to what then-Governor Pence wanted.

Despite spending over a decade in Washington DC as a member of the House of Representatives, he was never known as a wonk. None of the bills he introduced into the House became law, and he was much more focused on climbing the leadership ladder.

Now, let's address Mike Pence as Vice President.

First, are we sure he's still alive? Has anyone seen Mike?

Anyway, the beginning of the year, mainstream media wrote a lot of reports talking about the "outsized" "hat" in Trump's White House. The general consensus was that incoming Chief of Staff Reince Priebus and Mike Pence were seen as the establishment figures, and had a large role in shaping much of the staff that would do the day-to-day work of the White House. Press Secretary Sean Spicer, who also lead the role as head of the communications department, was part of that group. And even though Attorney General Jeff Sessions was an early endorser of Donald Trump, his status as a former US Senator certainly put him in the Republican establishment camp too.

Nowadays, Spicer and Priebus are gone. Sessions is getting shit-talked by Trump on Twitter. And with establishment figures quickly winding down within the Trump White House, I think it is only a matter of time before that ire is directed to Pence.

Now technically, Vice President of the United States is an elected position. Pence can't be fired. He could be impeached, or be pressured to resign. Since President Trump can't fire him (and doesn't like firing people anyway), I think we'll be seeing the later at some point.

When? Who knows. Mike Pence has done a good job of making himself look good and keeping his head down. But at some point, he'll try to make a name for himself and it could backfire. And if it does, expect Trump to send up a tweet-storm and then we'll have the first Vice Presidential vacancy since the 1970s.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

State of the Blog (blog updates)

I've been debating if I wish to publish a "this blog is dead" post. But with the current antics going on in DC, and with a lot of Hoosier Republican players being a part of the chaos, I don't want to shutter the door just yet. There are a few things I'd like to address:

  • I've re-registered the domain name "". I don't personally like the name "Indy Student" as I haven't been a "student" for quite some time. That said, there are links to this blog on social media and elsewhere that I'd like to keep in tact so the blog URL will stay as "". But unofficially, "" will be what I'll refer to the blog as, at least until I find a better use for my domain name.
  • Man, was I wrong about the POTUS election or what? In my defense, I thought my electoral map was very generous to then-candidate Donald Trump. I think it is worth keeping in mind that Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin's margins for Trump were not resounding victories. Those margins were close. A few shifts in the political landscape could change those. And with states like Arizona only having a 4% margin, other states could shift as well.
  • The full time job generally keeps me away from the blog as I don't just want to be the 50th asshole to express an opinion. But you can still follow me on Twitter or friend/follow me on Facebook
  • Tomorrow, I'll address "President Pence", or as I'll be calling him, "ex-Vice President Pence".

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Transit Thoughts

The process to expand transit in Marion County is coming to an end as the Indianapolis-Marion County City-County Council voted 17-8 to raise city income taxes by 0.25% to fund expanded transit. The proposal that passed the council is only to increase the tax rate. If the Mayor of Indianapolis signs the tax increase into law, the city and IndyGo will still need to establish what expanded transit will look like, though testimony before the council indicates that the bus rapid transit line known as the Red Line will be prioritized if federal funding doesn't come into play.

While I voted in favor of the transit referendum in November, I am personally lukewarm on the tax increase, the entire process, and even the transit plan.

I agree with what my friend and blogging colleague, Jon Easter, is likely to post today. That this referendum is essentially leaving large chunks of the city in the dust, and that unless you live along one of the proposed bus rapid transit lines, your geographic distance to a transit stop probably won't increase. Under served  areas will continue to be under served. This should be addressed in an honest way, and not simply written off that there aren't destinations on the south side.

I am frustrated that the surrounding counties aren't participating in this transit referendum. While many city officials in Fishers, Carmel, and Greenwood have spoken favorably for the regional transit plan, these decisions are left to the county and the counties haven't authorized the referendum. This is frustrating because Plainfield is recognizing the need for transit services and businesses are even funding a Plainfield commuter line in hopes of bringing more workers to the southwest side suburb.

And I personally likely won't benefit from the transit referendum. The routes for the Castleton area won't change. It will still be a half mile walk to get to the nearest bus stop. And for someone who works in Carmel, the transit system really doesn't benefit me during the week.

That being said, I think my old stomping grounds of Irvington and the east side overall will benefit with the Blue Line rapid transit system making it easy to access Broad Ripple, downtown, and other neighborhoods along their routes. While the routes proposed aren't perfect, I think they're a good start and I hope the council, the Mayor, and IndyGo invite public comment so we can have a good and deliberative discussion on the proper plan now that the transit tax is all but decided. And people trying to get around Indianapolis from the airport won't have to deal with confusing bus schedules or a ridiculous Uber charge and just hop on the rapid transit bus that'll service the airport area.

I honestly believe that, while not perfect, that this is the right move as long as our representatives proceed with an open and honest discussion now that the tax has been voted on.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

My MLK Day

As a native Hoosier, I have never been to the MLK Memorial Park even though I used to live fairly close to it. This is the park where Robert F Kennedy broke the news to a largely African-American crowd that Martin Luther King Jr had been assassinated. The full speech is published on one of the nearby memorial markers. An additional marker marks the exact place where the speech occurred (closer to the park's southern edge).

I was able to spend the day with my dog, walking around Crown Hill, and saying goodbye to an old growth forest that will be chopped down by the federal government. I also went to the MLK Memorial Park, hoping to see the memorial for myself. I walked around the neighborhood and it was a mix of new apartments, homes being built, homes being fixed up, and some homes that probably haven't changed much since RFK was here.

But as I stood there at the memorial, I only saw myself and three other white folks around. As I thought about why that is, I started to reflect on my life over the past few years.

Three years ago, I worked in retail pharmacy on the retail end. If you took the staff of both the retail end and the pharmacy end together, the entire staff of the store I was in was at least 2/3rd minority, and more than half were women. At that employer, I wasn't a full time employee, so I didn't get paid holidays or paid time off at all. And any request to take a holiday or a weekend off met with a lot of resistance. Now, I have a job where I get weekends off, most bank holidays off, and I have an incredibly generous amount of PTO. And I wonder if I've benefited from a system where citizens who are minorities often don't have the same opportunities.

Maybe they're at a dead end job that works them to the bone, that doesn't care that everyone else has the day off. And because they have that dead end job, it makes it hard (if not impossible) to take time to go find a better one. And you can't just take time off, because you need the money.

Maybe they're using the day off to catch up on school work, something that I (a two time college drop out) probably should've done more of.

There's a line in MLK's "Dream" speech where he talks about how 1963 is the starting point and that the movement for civil rights will eventually lead to "an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality". MLK's message in his "Dream" speech and his many speeches and sermons is that there are legitmate issues that need to be addressed but that we will make it through. And today, as I stood there with three other white people at a MLK memorial on MLD Day, I wonder if we are in that "autumn", or if we're still stuck back a few seasons and waiting to get to autumn.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Will The Indianapolis Star Ever Post a Circle Centre Disclaimer?

The Indianapolis Star has published a variety of articles concerning downtown retailers and restaurants closing over the last several months. But a particular interest is the closing and opening of stores within the Circle Centre Mall, where the newspaper is both a tenant and an investor. None of these stories contain a disclaimer. And if you click on's "About Us" section, it still claims the newspaper is located at the intersection of New York and Pennsylvania in downtown Indianapolis.

It isn't unusual for local news media to cover the opening and closing of restaurants, particularly ones with a long history within Indianapolis. But it is my view that The Indianapolis Star has almost an obsession with Circle Centre Mall. And they should make it clear to their readers what their business relationship is with the mall and that they have a vested interest in the success of the mall.

Monday, November 7, 2016

My Final Electoral Map

A few days ago, I posted to Facebook the following electoral map in the Presidential race against Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton:

I based this on RealClearPolitics polling averages posted at the time. As the polls in competitive battleground states have tightened, the margins are really slim in some areas. Pennsylvania, for example, Clinton has an average of 2.4% lead, and the most recent poll shows Pennsylvania as tied. I've long said that states like Pennsylvania and Michigan are fools' gold for Republicans, President Obama easily won the state in 2012 by more than 5%. And even though the polls are tighter, Hillary Clinton has had a very stubborn lead, so I feel safe in calling Pennsylvania for her.

Some are forecasting that Utah could be in play, but like Pennsylvania, Trump's lead in the polls there have been stubborn. With both Libertian nominee Gary Johnson and independent candidate Evan McMullin making a serious play there, the Never Trump vote is divided three ways. Both Clinton and McMullin have largely failed to go past 30% in many polls, and support for Johnson seems to be bleeding into either McMullin or Clinton's camp. Trump also has seen a slight rise in the polls there. He may very well not break 50% in Republican heavy Utah, but I still believe he is the likely winner.

The other two traditionally Republican states that Trump has to make a play for, Arizona and Georgia, seem to be safely in Trump's column, though that he's had to spend resources there is a testament to the type of candidate he is.

Trump also appears to have stubborn leads in Ohio and North Carolina, while Clinton has an admittedly slim stubborn lead in Florida.

One of the smaller swing states, New Hampshire, has gone from a likely Democratic sweep in both the Presidential and Senate race to a toss up. Like Florida, the margins are slim for either candidate. This is the only real time where I'm differing from RCP's polling average because one poll shows Clinton with an 11 point lead. I believe that poll is an outlier and that Trump overall has a slight edge in polling.

One interesting note to my map. If Florida flips to Trump, this map ends up 269-269.

Which may mean each candidate could rely on Maine to bring them over the top. Maine is one of two states that awards one electoral vote to the winner of each Congressional District and the remaining two votes to the state wide winner. Clinton is the almost certain winner of the state wide vote and Maine's second Congressional district. Trump has a slight lead in Congressional district 1, but I'm willing to give it to Clinton because it is a very slim lead.

The other state that divides up its electoral votes, Nebraska, seems to have a solid Trump lead and I don't believe that will change.

For the remaining Indiana elections, which is a combination of polls and instincts:

Superintendent of Public Instruction: Glenda Ritz (D, Incumbent) over challenger Jennifer McCormick (R), which is in line with a recent WTHR/Howey poll

Indiana Governor: Calling it for John Gregg (D) against Lieutenant Governor Eric Holcomb. The recent WTHR poll has it tied, but Gregg has led in some previous polls. With 11% undecided and Eric Holcomb essentially running as an incumbent, I'm giving the lion's share of the undecided to the challenger. You can expect a post-mortem post on this race depending on which way the election goes.

Indiana's US Senate election: The Cook Political Report has said that Congressman Todd Young (R) is the expected winner against former US Senator Evan Bayh (D) per NBC's Meet The Press. I have to agree with that assessment. Even though Bayh gave an excellent debate performance and has done a lot of things right in the late stages of this campaign, Young and his Washington D.C. based super PACs and special interests have successfully re-defined the Bayh name for some Hoosier voters.

Democrats can take some solace in that the Cook Political Report is predicting Democrats with 50 US Senate seats, which means the Democrats will control the chamber if Hillary Clinton wins the Presidential election.

Indiana's Attorney General: Even though Curtis Hill (R) has dodged media inquiries as to why he's refusing post-conviction relief of an innocent man, this is still a Republican state and I don't believe Lorenzo Arredondo (D) can overcome that at this point.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Where is Evan Bayh?

It was only a few months ago that Evan Bayh entered the race for Indiana's US Senate seat, taking on the Republican nominee Todd Young. It instantly made the race competitive and sent shock waves across the nation. Since then, Bayh's several point advantage has nearly disappeared.

Bayh's campaign has been dogged by attacks on his residency (his neighbors claim to not have seen him), and his choice of gigs after he left the Senate in 2010. Besides claiming that him being a lobbyist isn't "true", he really hasn't had a good answer in response to these attacks.

Anyone who has been on any type of social media has likely seen several dedicated Twitter feeds, Facebook accounts, and YouTube videos tearing into Evan Bayh, often contrasting with the Evan Bayh of yesteryear with the Evan Bayh of today. Here is what my Facebook search looks like when I type the word "Bayh" into it:

This can be repeated for pretty much any social media. In some instances, the negative Bayh pages or accounts are placed before Evan Bayh's official campaign account.

Which brings me to my main question: Where is Evan Bayh?

In a recent Wish-TV article, Bayh appeared at a campaign event. Wish-TV described the appearance as "rare".

A quick glance of Evan Bayh's Facebook page shows no real events being held in the handful of days left before the election. His campaign's website doesn't mention any either. The "Meet Evan Bayh" section doesn't lead you to events, so it really doesn't live up to its name.

Some may say that Evan Bayh can run against Republican POTUS nominee Donald Trump and win, But I'd argue Indiana polls show Trump consistently on top and no major GOP candidate or elected official in the state of Indiana has reversed their endorsement of Trump.

Evan Bayh may still win this election. But it won't be because of the actions of his campaign.