Monday, January 30, 2012

Full Council Meets 1/30: What's Going On?

The Indianapolis-Marion County City-County Council will have the full council meet for the second time this month on Monday, January 30 (agenda). The proposed smoking ban (which I discussed over at Indy Politics) and a handful of other proposals (which Pat Andrews has addressed here) will be voted on by the full council.

But what I found interesting are the several appointments to government boards, some of which are being voted on that evening and some are being referred to committee.

Aaron Haith served as the council's attorney when Monroe Gray was Council President. He also served as Gray's personal attorney at the time. He's been before the Indiana Supreme Court ethics arm twice and, at one point, had his license to practice law suspended for a year due to a DUI arrest. Haith is nominated to be on the Indianapolis Housing Agency Board.

Interesting choice, I guess?

Marion County Sheriff John Layton and County Clerk Beth White are proposed to be re-appointed to the Information Technology Board. Doing a brief search through social media, most (if not all) board members have no background in IT and are heavy on government work. And this is the board that is in charge with negotiating major IT contracts!

This is not a specific slam against either Layton or White or how they run their respective county offices. But it is important to make sure those who do or have worked in IT be represented on the board so that they can work in-conjunction with those familiar with the IT needs of city-county government. With both properly represented on this board, they'd be able to negotiate better contracts and give taxpayers the best buy for their buck.

People who followed the 2011 council races might recognize a couple of names among the various appointments. Scott Coxey and Regina Marsh both ran as Democrats in 2011 in noncompetitive districts. Coxey is being appointed to the Telecom and Video Services Agency Board, while Marsh is being appointed to the Board of Public Safety.

And on a final note, I made a joke about councilor Brian Mahern imagining himself as Mayor in four years in front of a Democratic friend of mine. And that Democrat believes that's exactly what's going on. My friend noted he's upping his profile in various ways, including attending more community meetings and starting a Facebook page shortly after the November 2011 elections.

That's all for now. Tonight's meeting should be fun!

UPDATE: Proving that I have some of the smartest readers' out there, they directed me to this municipal code that apparently dictates who is supposed to be on the IT board. It pretty much is set in stone and the appointment process seems to be mostly ceremonial.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Who Are The Lunch Pail Republicans?

I usually watch MSNBC in the mornings and over the last few weeks, I've noticed these 30-second ads by a group called Lunch Pail Republicans. The Lunch Pail Republicans are a political action committee formed by David Fagan to work against the legislation that is going through the Indiana Statehouse often called "Right-To-Work".

RTW bars employers from requiring employees to join a union as a condition of employment and can't force the collection of union dues. Advocates of this legislation say that if a union provides a good service, they won't be affected and also claim that several RTW states are more heavily unionized than Indiana is. The labor advocates say that it is an attack on workers' rights and also note that it does little, if anything, to encourage economic development.

Fagan sides with labor advocates and believes Republican leadership in Indiana has "lost their way". He says he's actively recruiting candidates to run against RTW supporters in the 2012 primary. And he also wants these candidates to run on

What I find interesting is that Fagan is finding a lot of support from somewhere because these ads are being played constantly on the television and radio. A standard practice for PACs is to produce an ad, slap it on the web, make a very limited ad buy and hope that political talk shows will pick it up. And maybe if it's a particularly well produced ad, it'll go "viral" on the Internet.

But that isn't the strategy with Fagan. In addition to seeing several of the ads on MSNBC, I've heard radio versions aired on 93.1 WIBC in the 12 noon-3pm time slot. Considering that's when Rush Limbaugh is aired, it means Fagan is getting money from somewhere.

And filing deadlines and petitions for ballot access are due really, really soon.

So we'll see how serious Fagan and his group is on primary challenges to Republicans who vote for Right-To-Work.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Introducing the MittBuck

One of the good folks over at the Something Awful Forums has set up a meticulous site that lets you into the world of former Governor Mitt Romney. He's the kind of guy who casually makes $10,000 bets as if it's $5 you'd find on the street.

So if you type in your paycheck and how often you get paid, it'll translate your income into how much money it would take for Mittens to relate to you.

You can try out the MittBuck calculator here.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

What is Mike Pence's View on Illegal Immigration?

Doug Masson mentioned that Congressman Mike Pence (R-IN) has had none of his sponsored bills passed into law, and only a handful have gotten out of committee. I don't really agree with the point he's making, but it led to an interesting discussion on what Pence (who is also running for Governor) had sponsored and proposed.

Masson dug up a newspaper scan that showed one of the bills was to grant amnesty to an illegal immigrant that had resided in his Congressional district.

I suspect that if I was a Republican, my view on immigration and how it needs to be fixed would be in the minority. But I think Hoosier Republicans, who passed an immigration enforcement law in the 2010 legislative session, deserve answers from Pence.

Is Pence still not going to talk policy until after the primary?

Monday, January 23, 2012

Did Ron Paul and Mitt Romney Cut a Deal?

NBC News will be hosting the 53rd Republican Presidential Primary debate later tonight at 9pm EST.

And we've been able to see a bit more of the interactions between candidates as the field has narrowed with five debate mainstays (Perry, Huntsman, Bachmann, Cain, Pawlenty) with only Congressman Ron Paul, former Governor Mitt Romney, former Senator Rick Santorum, and former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich still remaining.

And as those in the debate have narrowed, the verbal scuffles candidates get into become more pronounced.

Everyone seems to be fighting with everyone. Santorum, Gingrich, and Paul each took jabs of all the other candidates on stage, and Romney has highlighted inconsistencies in Gingrich's and Santorum's respectful records.

But what I've found interesting is that Governor Romney has largely left Congressman Paul alone. Even when Paul attacks Romney, it's toned down when compared to how he takes on Santorum and Gingrich.

And Romney has not just not attacked Paul, but has even been exceedingly kind to him. During last Thursday's CNN debate, I remember him even deferring a question to Paul due to his medical training. While Gingrich and others have said they couldn't support Paul as a nominee, Romney has said he would.

Have these two struck a deal? Or does Paul maybe see him as the most receptive to work with the movement he's building?

Just something to ponder as we all stare in disbelief as Gingrich's campaign has gotten a third life...

Thursday, January 19, 2012

SOPA/PIPA: Throw The Bastards Out!

As anyone who has been online the past 24 hours is probably aware, there are two bills making their way through Congress right now. SOPA (House) and PIPA (Senate) both have the overall goal of curbing copyright infringement by holding website owners criminally liable, up to and including jail time, fines, and shutting down the entire web site. In the case of web sites that are hosted outside of the United States, the Attorney General is able to force search engines to filter the site out and would get other methods at his or her disposal to prevent people from visiting the site.

Let's be clear: The movie and music industry have discovered that it isn't profitable to sue individuals and organizations. So they're essentially getting the government to do it for them.

This has caused an odd coalition of political conservatives, Internet entrepreneurship, and liberal groups to organize against the bills. And while there are a lot of ideas floating about, I think Erick Erickson over at Red State has the best idea.

It doesn't matter if it's a freshman TEA Party member or a former Presidential nominee or a senior member of the Senate.

Every single one of these people, many of whom have no CLUE how to operate a computer and rely on staff to manage Twitter and Facebook, needs to have a primary challenger and be defeated.

This is a clear assault on our free speech rights and must be defeated. Especially because President Barack Obama has only spoken mild criticism of the bills. Since Obama signed the National Defense Authorization Act, which gave the US military the ability to indefinitely detain American citizens, I have no reason to believe he'd actually veto SOPA if it reached his desk.

I'm pleased to report that none of Indiana's Congressional delegation are sponsors at this time. But they still need to be informed and pressured to vote against these horrendous pieces of legislation.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Your 5th Congressional District Candidates Are...

I spent my Saturday morning in Kokomo, Indiana. At the invitation of the Howard County Republican Party, several of the candidates for the 5th Congressional district met for breakfast and discussed the issues facing the country. The candidates that attended were all Republicans running in the primary. In addition to the ones outlined in my last post, attorney Jack Lugar also attended. Incumbent Congressman Dan Burton declined to attend the event.

County Chairman Craig Dunn read from a prepared statement about Burton's non-attendance, which he had several dozen copies of to give out to anyone interested. I've transcribed it exactly as written.

Howard County Republican Chairman Craig Dunn statement on non-participation of Congressman Dan Burton in the Fifth District Candidate Forum

The 2012 Congressional and Senate elections will not be about politics as usual. With a $15 trillion National Debt, high unemployment, Presidential abuse of power and lack of transparency, voter dissatisfaction with government and numerous National Security threats, any serious candidate for office must participate in a fair and open discussion of the issues. No candidate, be they an incumbent or a challenger, has the luxury or privilege of failing to address these issues before the voters in a manner that allows adequate comparative opportunities.

Each publicly announced Republican candidate for 5th District Representative was invited to participate in this forum. Congressman Dan Burton declined to participate. The Howard County Republican Party and the Republican voters of the 5th Congressional District are deeply disappointed by his failure to participate.

I think it's important to emphasize that this is above the typical inner-party turmoil and clashing of egos. This isn't something that happened behind closed doors and got leaked to the media. This is something read out loud at an event open to the general public.

Chairman Dunn also repeatedly emphasized how important it is to elect precinct committeemen rather than have them be appointed, and made it very clear (both during his opening and closing statements) that he'd like to have 100% elected precinct committeemen.

The candidates each presented an interesting alternative to Burton, though only one of them ever mentioned Burton by name. Dr. John McGoff, who previously ran against Burton in the 2008 and 2010 primary, made it very clear that the 5th district deserved better than what it has gotten over the last several years. McGoff joked that he was the only non-lawyer on the stage, and that his role as a medical doctor would be valuable in the ongoing debate on healthcare. He's also the only veteran running, having served in both Iraq and Afghanistan under the Air National Guard.

It seemed that he had been following Congress with great interest, especially with the election of over 80 freshman being introduced to Congress in 2011. He commented that many of the freshman class have "already rolled over and given up". He specifically pointed to Congressman Larry Bucshon (R-IN 8th), a fellow medical doctor. He said Buschon's expertise as a medical doctor isn't being utilized in legislative efforts related to healthcare and doesn't sit on committees that related to healthcare. If elected to Congress, he thinks he'd best fit on a healthcare related committee or the Armed Services Committee. If elected, he'd limit himself to no more than three terms, but might stop at two.

David McIntosh, a former Congressman, presented himself essentially as Not-Dan-Burton. He was quick to mention that, having been a former Congressman, he'd still have his six years of seniority if elected. The only unique issue that McIntosh talked about was the Federal Reserve, talking about how the printing of more money would lead to the rise of inflation. McIntosh says he'd take a similar three term, six year pledge that he took during his first round of service in Congress.

Susan Brooks has a long history of serving in appointed positions, including Deputy Mayor of Indianapolis under Steve Goldsmith and US Attorney General for the Southern Indiana district from 2001-2006 under President George Bush. She walked a careful line from being an establishment and outsider, talking extensively about how the tax code needs to be restructured so that the base becomes broader but taxes also become flatter.

She said she'd like to take a term limit pledge, but also recognizes that it might take a few years to learn the ropes of Congress. She mentioned that she'd like to see freshman Congressman serve in leadership positions, and that's something she'd like to do before leaving Congress.**

**Full disclosure: Susan Brooks and I go to the same parish, St. Monica Catholic Church, and my family has known her for several years.

Jack Lugar was short on specifics, but presented himself as an outsider. He was passionate in how he spoke, and seems to be aiming for the Tea Party-esque vote.

Many of the candidates tackled the issue about possibly splitting up the "Not Burton" vote. Brooks provided the best response, noting that chunks of areas where Burton got a lot of votes in the primary are no longer part of the district, and that there are several new areas to the district "that are not eager to have Dan Burton as their Congressman." A McGoff supporter told me that their campaign estimates that Burton's support tops out at about 21% and that should provide plenty of wiggle room for other candidates to have a competitive race without having to worry about Burton getting a plurality.

Talking to attendees, they were impressed with all the candidates and the message was pretty clear: Anybody But Dan.

Blogger/lawyer/teacher Abdul-Hakim Shabazz moderated the event and posted audio over at his blog, Indiana Barrister.

On a final note, McIntosh's site has the 5th district outlined on Google Maps. This should prove useful to my Indianapolis readers, especially if you live on the north side of Marion County.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Meet the 5th District Candidates

I'm attending a candidate forum tomorrow morning for candidates in the 5th Congressional district. Attending will be the following:

  • Susan Brooks: previously US Attorney General and married to Marion County GOP power broker David Brooks
  • David McIntosh: Former US Congressman from Indiana. May not yet live in Indiana.
  • John McGoff: Former Marion County coroner, medical doctor at Community East. He's previously run against US Congressman Dan Burton twice.

All of the candidates above are running in the Republican primary. The incumbent, Dan Burton, isn't expected to attend.

I'll try to grab a few words with the candidates after the debate.

I'll be making comments/pot-shots live on Twitter and Facebook. Let me know if you have any questions and I'll try to get them answered to the best of my ability.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Republican Establishment: Stop Talking About Mitt Romney's Record

Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich and Governor of Texas Rick Perry, making their last stand in the South Carolina primary, have recently been targeting former Governor of Massachusetts Mitt Romney in the (likely short-lived) Republican primary race for the Presidential nomination.

And lately, they've been targeting Romney's time at Bain Capital, an investment firm that invests in start-up companies and failing companies. In more than a few cases, they invested in failing businesses, drive them into the ground, and sell off the assets.

So now Perry and Gingrich have both targeted Romney's time at Bain Capital. Perry called some of what the company did "vulture capitalism" and Gingrich's SuperPAC released a 28 minute film with ominous music and dark images which basically paint Romney as the Grinch.

And ever since then, the Republican establishment, including a lot of conservative talk radio and Fox News hosts, have come out and said that they need to stop talking about Romney's time at Bain (even though it's a central part of Romney's platform), that this is an attack on capitalism, that this sounds like an Occupy Wall Street rally, and on, and on, and on.

I think it's important to point out that Gingrich and Perry are not promoting federal laws to make what Bain Capital does illegal. What they are saying is that this is bad for a Republican nominee to have and it's baggage that could be avoided by nominating someone else.

I like how Gingrich has been putting it lately. You can't talk about Romney's time as governor (where he was a liberal Republican), you can't talk about his time at Bain, so what can you talk about?

I guess it's true what they say about Presidential nominations: Democrats fall in love, Republicans fall in line. What we're seeing right now is that the Republican establishment, including many supposedly non-establishment media figures, falling in line. Will the Republican base do so as well?

Lugar Might Snatch Defeat from Jaws of Victory

I get a lot of mailings from campaigns and I usually don't even bother reading them. They're usually stuff I've already heard about, so it's no big deal.

But the other day, I got a mailing from Senator Richard Lugar's re-election campaign. In the e-mail, David Willkie, the political director for the Friends of Dick Lugar, wrote very little and basically just copied and pasted several sentences from a recent puff piece that Indianapolis Star political columnist Matthew Tully wrote.

Reading that e-mail made me question what Mr. Willikie and Lugar know about the GOP primary voters, and most voters in Indiana outside of Indianapolis.

Yes, the Star is the most read paper in the state. But there is a perception that Tully is a liberal (I don't think he is, but that's the perception). And, outside of central Indiana, there is a distinct "anti-Indianapolis" attitude. Bragging about this pseudo-endorsement isn't going to help him win over GOP primary voters. In fact, it might hurt him.

What should he have done?

Run away from it. Not even mention it. Hold a campaign rally where he burns a copy of the Star and then bites a head off a bat!

Okay, that last one is a bit much. But you get my point.

Lugar needs to run right during this primary. That means his campaign should probably stop talking up endorsements from Star endorsements.

Monday, January 9, 2012

What's Going On With Kessler Boulevard?

Sometime last week, I left my house to go about my day at around 10am. My neighborhood exits out onto Kessler Boulevard, a two lane road with trees and houses on both sides. When I came back on that same day, I saw several trees that were taken down by the lane that heads south-southwest towards 38th street and I-65. In several of the yards, the stumps and several parts of the body of the tree still remained scattered in the yard. The next morning, I could easily see several more trees with marked with an X, and one tree in particular with a red-orange fence around it, meaning even more will be cut down.

Honestly, I was stunned with the efficiency. About a dozen trees cut down within a single 12 hour period? I'm impressed.

But I had absolutely no idea what was going on. So I fired off some e-mails and eventually found out that it was due to a Citizens Water project. At this time, I'm still trying to track down details from an official source on the specifics of the project.

Sunday afternoon, I talked with a neighbor who was doing yard work who had one tree cut down and has an orange fence around a tree that is due to be cut down. Like many of the other neighbors, the tree stump of the cut-down tree is still there as well as several large logs.

He told me that, when he was originally told about this project by the city two years ago, their property wasn't going to be included in the project and none of the trees in his yard would be touched. Over the past two years, the plans seem to change often, but as of last week, he thought the trees in his yard would be untouched by the project. When he came home last week, a non-indigenous tree that was 16 inches in diameter was cut down, and the other tree in his yard is fenced off and is going to be cut down soon. He complained that, over the past 17 years, the city has cut down many trees for projects and often doesn't replace them.

He also expressed concerns about how this project will affect his property value, noting that the non-indigenous tree that was cut down was worth several thousand dollars. He told me that other neighbors, who had indigenous oak trees, would be getting theirs replaced, but his wouldn't be.

I also asked if he's tried contacting the neighborhood association and he said it wouldn't do any good since the project is approved.

If you ask me, someone has some explaining to do.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Rumors! We've Got Rumors!

Are you sick of me writing about Presidential primary politics? Well, I am too.

During this Christmas (academic) break, I went on a "mental vacation" and opted to write about the low hanging fruit, that being national politics.

But later this week, I'm completely back! And I'm tracking down some rumors about the upcoming 2012 Superbowl! Specifically, how it's going to affect residents of downtown Indianapolis.

Hopefully I can write a bit about it later in the week. Stay tuned.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Governor Buddy Roemer: The OTHER GOP Candidate YOU Don't Know

Buddy Roemer is a former Congressman and Governor from Lousiana, serving in Congress from 1981-1988 as a Democrat, and 1988-1992. In the middle of his one term as Governor, he party-switched as a Republican.

Now, I won't pretend I'm an expert on Roemer's accomplishments as a Congressional representative or as a Governor. He's said in interviews that unemployment was high when he was elected as Governor and that the system was corrupt (I guess his predecessor was charged with theft?). And when his term ended, unemployment was low and, as he puts it, "other states send their Governors to jail, not Louisiana."

The last several years Roemer says he has managed a regional bank that, he proudly points out, took no federal bailout money and hasn't foreclosed on any mortgages that they hold.

Being a long-shot candidate, Roemer has intently focused his message on one issue. And his message is an interesting one.

Get the money out of politics.

Roemer says he's built his political career off of no money from political action committees. In this election cycle, he's taking no money from PACs, SuperPACs, no contribution over $100, and full disclosure. He proposes something similar for the first bill he pushed for if elected. PACs are allowed to exist, but they must be truly independent from candidates and not run by former staff or family members. And all candidates must fully disclose donations within 48 hours. He's also said he'd veto every other bill that came to his desk until this was done.

In an election season where a former pizza chain CEO has been included, Roemer's resume seems impressive. There are Governors, and there are Congressmen and Senators, and Roemer has been both! You'd think he'd be an obvious shoe-in at least for the early debates, where the standards typically are a bit lower to appear.

Nope. Roemer hasn't appeared in any of them.

Not only that, but he seems to have been blacklisted by most media outlets, getting the most airtime on MSNBC newscasts and their evening programs anchored by liberals like Rachel Maddow and Ed Schultz.

In every cycle, there are candidates that run who are clearly jokes and typically only appear on 1-2 ballots. They run on issues like vampireism or Star Trek or something like that.

If the Republican Party were interested in fixing the issue, they'd allow clearly qualified candidates such as Roemer into at least the first few debates. The Republican National Committee could even host it's own debates to ensure all GOP candidates are heard from at least a few times.

He also, by far, has the best Twitter account of all the GOP candidates. After a Politico writer jokingly used the hashtag #Roementum on Twitter, noting that Roemer had gained 1% in a New Hampshire poll, Roemer himself has started using it.

To find out more about Roemer's campaign, you can visit his web site.

UPDATE: Last night, on The Rachel Maddow Show, Roemer said he'd have an important announcement at 4pm, Thursday in New Hampshire. Press corps shows up and everyone is assuming he's going to drop it. But nope. Roemer trolled the press. He announced he won't drop out, he'll soldier on, yada. And then the mysterious 501(c)(4) Americans Elect shows up in their shiny new tour bus and asks if he'll run on their ticket. Roemer said "It's an option", and he's previously said he's looking into it.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Fred Karger: A Republican POTUS Hopeful You Haven't Heard About

While I haven't been completely dismissive of the batch of Republicans running for the party's nomination for President, the whole media circus certainly has painted the process as a bit of a clown show. I've already written a lot about the mainstream candidates that are still or at least were running at some point, but there's a handful of GOP hopefuls who are running that haven't been covered a whole lot.

Fred Karger is someone who hasn't run for political office, but has been involved in politics for most of his adult life as a volunteer, aide in the Ronald Reagan White House, and more recently, a consultant. He's semi-retired since then, but has recently come back into the limelight to fight California's infamous Proposition 8, which would restrict marriage in California to only heterosexual marriage via a state constitutional amendment.

Karger is a bit of an oddball in the Republican Party. He's pro-choice, Jewish, openly gay and supportive of LGBT equality, but has expressed strong support for Congressman Paul Ryan's proposed budget which would cut many federal programs by large margins.

He's also the only candidate that has aggressively targeted the Mormon religion. Karger said, in an interview with the UK publication The Guardian that "If a President Romney got a call from the president of the (Mormon church), he has no choice but to obey. It is obedience over family and country." While Karger's statement boarders a bit on the inflammatory side, it likely has a bit to do with how the LSD church kind-of-sort-of supported efforts to pass Proposition 8 in California.

Karger, who has never run for public office before, knows that his chances are slim. He's mostly self-financing his campaign, he's openly campaigning not just as someone who is gay, but even worse *gaasp*, a moderate. But I heard him say on a radio show that he hopes to get into at least one televised debate to show to the gay youth in the US that anything is possible, including running for President.

For more on Karger, you can visit his website.

Next, I'll be covering that OTHER (serious) Republican Presidential candidate that no one is talking about.

A Tale of Good Public Service

I wrote about my experience regarding the Broad Ripple Village Taxi company I had on New Year's Eve not too long ago. What I didn't report was that I fired off an e-mail to the Director of Code Enforcement, Rick Powers and one of his deputies. I also CCed my council representative, Council President Maggie Lewis. I sent this e-mail at about 2:40pm on January 1, 2012.

On January 2 at 6:21 AM (there's one of those in the morning????), I got a response from Lewis telling me she'd look into it and forwarding the concerns to Councilor Ryan Vaughn, who represents the Broad Ripple area on the council.

I later got an e-mail the evening of January 4 from Adam Collins, one of the administrators within the Department of Code Enforcement. He wrote that normally, taxi complaints require knowing the vehicle's cab number, but they'd still investigate my complaint by asking the company to identify the vehicle or submit all vehicles for inspection. Collins also wrote about some of the process that taxi code enforcement has undergone since DCE's creation, that through 40 random inspections every week, each cab is checked aesthetically at least twice a year and that random mechanical inspections are done weekly.

Collins also wrote that DCE has set up a specific e-mail ( and phone number (327-TAXI) for taxi complaints.

Kudos to all involved in this.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Local Media Firm Hired by Ron Paul's Presidential Campaign

The Englehart Group, owned by my good friend Blair Englehart, has recently been hired by the presidential campaign of Ron Paul to do some video work for the campaign. Staff of the group will be leaving tomorrow morning to join Paul's presidential campaign in New Hampshire. Paul is campaigning in New Hampshire prior to the state's Presidential primary, which is the first in the nation. Paul placed a repsectable third in the recent Iowa caucuses.

You can monitor The Englehart Group's Facebook page where the videos will be posted over the next several days.

Congratulations to my friend, Blair, and all of the folks at the Group. They work hard and do great videos and will be competing with some of the best out there.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Random Thoughts As I Watch Iowa Caucus Returns

DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz has the most depressing job in national politics. She isn't able to talk up a lot of great Democratic policies that are insanely popular, because those don't exist. She's essentially paid to go on Sunday news/talk shows and go "But...but...BU$H!" and "A zillion months of private sector job growth". Sorry, Congresswoman Shultz, but those job stats mean nothing to the millions of Americans who are jobless and the millions more who are underemployed.

Four years later, President Obama can't run a re-election campaign on blaming his predecessor. David Axelrod and the other head honchos at Team Obama would do well to keep Shultz at arm's length during the election season.

And on the reverse, the eventual GOP nominee would do well to dig up every clip of Shultz possible, Tivo future appearances, and hope she takes an active role in the election season.

Iowa! Iowa! Iowa!

Later today, the first votes will be cast in the election for President of the United States when the two major parties will hold their respective caucuses in Iowa. The entire GOP field, sans former Governor Jon Huntsman, is competing in Iowa to win the caucus. And even though there is no serious primary challenge to President Barack Obama, it's my understanding that Democratic caucuses will still be held and votes will be cast.

Anyone who has followed the polling and the media circus over the past several months knows that former Governor Mitt Romney, in most state national polls, has hovered around 22%. Sometimes a bit more, sometimes a bit less.

Throughout the campaign, various candidates and non-candidates have surged past Romney in national and state polls, gaining several points and tying or going past Romney's poll numbers. Quite literally every candidate competing in Iowa has benefited from the "Not Romney" bump at some point, currently being enjoyed by former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum.

Keep in mind that many states have moved their primary dates or caucuses, de-emphasizing the "Super Tuesday" primaries and spreading out over several months so the nomination process might go on for several weeks, if not months, before a clear winner can be found. The question is if these candidates can last that long.

JON HUNTSMAN: Huntsman, a former governor of Utah, decided not to compete in Iowa and is focusing squarely on New Hampshire. Huntsman, intentionally or not, started his campaign as the moderate of the field, but his record as a governor of a red state shows a very conservative record that would resonate well with Republicans in Iowa. At the very least, his name recognition would've been helped if he got the "Not Romney" surge at some point. His decision not to compete in Iowa may be his downfall.

The only benefit Huntsman might get from the Iowa caucuses is unintentional. If Romney's placing in Iowa is perceived as "weak", look for Romney supporters in New Hampshire to look for a new home.

Michele Bachmann: I continue to maintain that Bachmann as a candidate is performing very well in the past few weeks. She's been one of the only candidates to be both assertive and aggressive during the debates, going after Gingrich on a number of issues and going toe-to-toe with Congressman Ron Paul on Iran. Her interviews have been spot on, she's no longer saying crazy ass shit like "HPV vaccines might kill you". Even though her political views line up heavily with establishment Republican views, she's painted herself as an outsider very well.

That all being said, similar to Santorum, her campaign is on fumes. Of the four candidates running in Iowa as "Not Romney/conservative", she will be hit hard if she finishes in the bottom of the pack. If she finishes bottom three in the caucuses, look for her to scale back in South Carolina, if not completely drop out.

Newt Gingrich: The former Speaker's poll numbers have taken a HUGE dive from the Romney/Paul/Perry Super PACs' negative ads. But he's spent relatively little money on his campaign so far, so if he wants to, he can limp to North Hampshire and campaign there. I think he'll easily be in the bottom three along with Bachmann and Huntsman.

Why New Hampshire? Gingrich received the endorsement of the New Hampshire Union General, a conservative newspaper in New Hampshire. If he doesn't campaign there to be Not Romney, the newspaper may very well endorse someone else!

Rick Perry: Governor Perry is one of four Governors in the race, but his campaign, like Huntsman, has been badly managed. He got in much later than almost everyone else. His debate performance has been, at best, disappointing. There have been persistent rumors that he is quite literally on drugs due to major back surgery he was recovering from before he entered the campaign, which would explain his erratic behavior in debates and interviews.

And his message has sucked too. He started by campaigning on the "Texas miracle" of job creation, and has suddenly ditched that and campaigned heavily on social conservatism.

That all being said, he is still one of the best positioned candidates to survive and carry on to South Carolina. He seems to be running a serious campaign with a good ground game. He's got access to Texas money, something many of the non-Romney candidates lack. Unlike other candidates who have to really stretch on how they relate to those who work for a living, Perry grew up poor as dirt. He has more electoral experience running state wide, in a big state, than anyone else in the race.

I've been saying for a while not to count Perry out. On paper, he seems like the perfect candidate to bring the Republican establishment and the conservative-Tea Party-ish base together. He should easily finish fourth, but it'll be hard for him to overcome the Santorum surge and the base support that Paul and Romney have.

Rick Santorum: Santorum is the current "Not Romney" pick, but he's essentially lived in Iowa for a year. His campaign has little money, and he's hitching rides with volunteers. His campaign is running on fumes and he has no presence elsewhere and it isn't likely he'd be able to build a multi-state campaign even if he came in first.

But Santorum can easily be in the top three in the Iowa caucuses. Even liberal MSNBC host Ed Schultz says that Santorum is personable and answers questions directly and doesn't settle for bullet pointed answers. A recent Public Policy Polling poll shows he has a 60% favorability rating, meaning a lot of people would LIKE to vote for him!

Santorum coming in at three essentially hinders the other "conservatives" in the race and helps to further divide the four candidates competing for the title of "conservative".

Mitt Romney: Romney's overall support isn't really all that much then the votes he got in 2008. But he seems to have a good campaign going, he's appearing in Iowa (finally), and his base is motivated enough to show up for the polls. He should easily finish in the top two.

Ron Paul: Paul's supporters are fanatics and if there's one primary or caucus he can flat out win, it's this one. Look for them to go all out. But like Romney, Paul's support has a cap. He has limited appeal to Republicans and, similar to President Obama in 2008, is relying a lot on first-time caucus voters to make up his base.

Paul finishing in the top two won't do much to boost his own campaign, but will greatly hurt anyone else lower on the ballot.

On a final note, Paul's son, Senator Rand Paul of Tennessee, has been campaigning with his father lately. I think Ron won't run as an independent if only to not hurt his son's reputation with the Republican Party. His son's reputation has been he's more willing to play ball within the body of the Senate, and because of that, might be able to get into a leadership position or a Presidential appointment. I think they both realize that the best bets to make change in politics is within the Republican Party, and going third party will guarantee anything they've worked for will mean nothing.

Predictions for the Iowa caucuses:
7. Jon Huntsman
6. Michele Bachmann
5. Newt Gingrich
4. Rick Perry
3. Rick Santorum
2. Mitt Romney
1. Ron Paul

Monday, January 2, 2012

Elections! We Discuss Elections!

I appeared on the Internet show Civil Discourse Now, anchored by attorneys and bloggers Mark Small and Paul Ogden. I appeared with Jon Easter, who writes the Indy Democrat blog. We discussed the several state and local elections happening here in Indiana and across the nation. We touched on the U.S. Senate race in Indiana, the U.S. House of Representatives races in Indiana (as well as redistricting), the open Indiana Governor's race, and the Presidential GOP primary race. Jon Easter also briefly touched on the Indiana state Senate race, where a number of high profile Democrats from the lower chamber are gambling on more favorable Senate districts instead of less friendly House districts.

It was a great time, and I'm kind of glad some of the off-air banter wasn't captured!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Shady Behavior from Broad Ripple Village Taxi

I was walking towards Broad Ripple Village last night and I was about to cross a small street when I hear this creaking and squeaking sound. Usually it means it's some crappy car that a 20-something year old owns. But to my surprise, it was a taxi cab from Broad Ripple Village Taxi. As it passed me by, I noticed several dents in the vehicle as well on the driver's side.

Interesting note: Broad Ripple Village Taxi was one of several cab companies that failed to have their license renewed back in August, 2010. I guess they've worked out those issues since then.