Friday, April 30, 2010

an analysis of the 9th and a classy move by Sodrel

From Rick Howlett with WFPL in Louisville...

One of the downsides of Hankins' strategy to focus on the oft-overlooked north / northeast part of the district is that he misses out on mainstream coverage in larger areas. Howlett's piece is a good local example of what is more often done by the national media-- who are more likely to overlook a grass-roots effort. This also makes it more difficult to assess Hankins' strength: is the mainstream media correct or are they underestimating him?

In any case, Howlett's piece provides nice coverage of the other two active candidates in the GOP field. The most prominent angle is the question of whether Sodrel's past support will stick with him or whether voters will be looking for someone new.

“In an anti-incumbent, anti-establishment world, Todd Young comes across as a new person, a fresh voice, a new face, etc. Whereas Mike Sodrel – sort of been there, done that,” [Abdul-Hakim Shabazz, an Indy talk radio station host] said.

But this line from Sodrel that caught my eye:

Sodrel dismisses the notion that he should hand the baton to a younger contender. He says his base is sticking with him.

“We haven’t lost anybody who’s a supporter of ours. In some extent, I think this is good. You’ve missed Travis Hankins, he’s another one of the opponents in the race, and I think to some extent they have drawn in young people that haven’t been here in the last couple of cycles and I think that will be helpful in November,” he said.

For whatever reason, Sodrel has always seemed to feel a greater connection with Hankins-- and it's nice to see that exhibited here, especially with the back-and-forth between Sodrel and Young lately.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Sodrel threatens to sue Young


Here are key excerpts from the press release (hat tip: WHAS' Joe Arnold)...

We informed the Friends of Todd Young Campaign Tuesday afternoon that we would sue them for defamation if their deliberate, deceptive, and negative ad is not withdrawn by the end of day.

Too often politics has become the art of professional deception. Initially, we were willing to concede that the gross misstatement of Mike's record could be the result of inexperience or misinformation.

However, when Mr. Young is informed that the ad is grossly exaggerated and he continues to air it, such action is obviously deliberate. This all is not a matter of opinion; it is a matter of record....

The tag line, "I'm Todd Young, and I approve this message" makes him responsible for the content. We are going to hold every opponent responsible beginning with Mr. Young.

Three thoughts:
-An interesting move, politically.
-The move is regrettable in that it makes it (even) more difficult for factions of the GOP primary to come together to beat Hill in November.
-And the "every opponent responsible beginning with" reference at the end is odd.

push-polling AND be careful what you wish for OR alternative conspiracy theories

Hoosier Pundit has an interesting theory about the recent claims of push polling in the 9th District. The speculation first centered on Mike Sodrel and then moved tentatively to Travis Hankins. HP suggests the intriguing possibility that Baron Hill might be behind it, imagining that Hankins would be the easiest GOP'er to face in November.

A few thoughts on that:

1.) I don't think so, but if so, Baron should be careful what he wishes for. This wouldn't seem to be the year to mess with a "Tea Party" candidate. Todd Young is Tea Party-ish and Mike Sodrel would get a lot of tepid Tea Party votes. But a Hankins campaign would win the traditional GOP base as well as firing up the non-base Tea Party voters in the rural parts of the district who can vote either way.

2a.) On who Baron prefers to face, my bet would be on Sodrel. Politicians prefer known quantities and Baron knows what he gets with Sodrel. Baron also knows he's beaten Sodrel three times, including the last time when he treated Sodrel like the proverbial rented mule (beating him by 20%). This year, incumbents will be at a disadvantage-- and having a former incumbent running lessens or eliminates that angle. Sodrel has a propensity for running bad campaigns-- or so his supporters say-- so the likelihood of another "bad campaign" is quite strong.

2b.) If Baron thinks like HP, then he might predict that Hankins is not as much of a threat as Young-- the other "new blood". If so, Baron would be least excited about facing Young (and then narrowly, Hankins) in November.

3.) Running with HP's conspiratorial thinking, Sodrel's camp could have done the push polling. Have a few calls placed with negative references to himself and/or positive references to Hankins-- and voila, you damage the upstart Hankins campaign and avoid blame for the bulk of your push polling effort against Young. (A similar and more likely scenario would be to have a handful of Sodrel supporters make false claims about push polling calls.) All of this seems unlikely. But I know of at least one similar angle-- from Sodrel supporters toward Hankins supporters, involving me. So, only the shadow knows...

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

the TV ads from the 9th District

They're all good and somewhat different in terms of style.

Travis Hankins' ad

Mike Sodrel's ad

Todd Young's first and second ads

Check 'em out!

CC, MM, and O-O-O

My two favorite songs these days-- both, oddly, featuring a series of "oh-oh-ohhhhs"!

"Until the Whole World Hears" by Casting Crowns...

And this one by Mercy Me: "All of Creation"

Check out these (poetic) lyrics:

Separated until the veil was torn
The moment that hope was born
and guilt was pardoned once and for all

Captivated but no longer bound by chains
left at an empty grave
the sinner and the sacred resolved

and all of creation sing with me now
lift up your voice and lay your burden down
and all of creation sing with me now
fill up the heavens let his glory resound

Time has faded and we see him face to face
every doubt erased forever we will worship the king

the reason we breathe is to sing of his glory
and for all he has done praise the father praise the son and the spirit in one
and every knee will bow and every tongue praise the father praise the son and the spirit in one.

Great stuff:
"captivated but no longer bound by chains"
"the sinner and the sacred resolved"
"lift up your voice and lay your burden down"
"time has faded...face to face...every doubt erased"

two quotes from Indiana's state Libertarian convention

Wayne Allyn Root on Las Vegas vs. Washington DC: "The difference is that in Vegas, the drunks gamble with their own money."

And then getting a little more serious, this profound thought-- again, from Root (I think), on Ayn Rand: "You can't protect the rights of minority groups without protecting the rights of the smallest minority group-- the individual."

Bego, SEIU, and union extortion

At the Libertarian convention on Saturday night, I heard David Bego speak eloquently and passionately about his “war” with the SEIU. Brutal stuff...

He was a very effective speaker and has written a book on that battle and more broadly, “protecting employee rights”.

Here’s the website.

He also showed us this video-- on Obama's passion for SEIU, its agenda and its antics.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

more on Sodrel's record of fiscal moderation-- and his response to those who want to talk about it

HoosierPundit shares the Sodrel camp's press release on Young's accusations about Sodrel's voting record on government spending.

Similarly: Last night, after I spoke on behalf of Travis Hankins, a Sodrel representative met me outside the room to accuse me of misrepresenting Sodrel's record (I think the rep said "lying about", but I don't remember for sure) and trashing God's name (since I'm a Christian). The rep was so confident and aggressive about the accusation, that I was a little bit worried that I had missed something.

So, I took the time to re-investigate and was relieved to learn that I had been right on the proverbial nose. (No response yet from the Sodrel rep; I'll update as appropriate and as the rep allows me to speak on the record. UPDATE BELOW.)

Here are Sodrel's scores on his voting record (his "political experience") from the three groups focused on fiscal conservatism and government spending:

Club for Growth in 2005 and 2006
Citizens Against Government Waste (both years)
National Taxpayers Union (both years)

Comparing Hill, Sodrel, and Pence/Hankins...
-Hill has received 5 F’s and 3 D’s from the National Taxpayers Union.
-Sodrel received a B and a C+ (with ratings of 56% and 60% and rankings of 96th and 133rd).
-Hankins (like Mike Pence) would receive an A.

-Hill has a lifetime average of 18% from CAGW and is rated "hostile" to taxpayers.
-Sodrel averaged 55% in his two years and was labeled "lukewarm".
-Hankins (like Pence) would receive a grade above 90% and receive the designation "taxpayer hero".

-Hill received 16% from the Club for Growth in 2008—ranking him 216th out of 435.
-Sodrel received 66% and 53%—ranking him 98th and 129th in 2005 and 2006.
-Pence has averaged 99% and been ranked in the Top 5 each of the four years of this rating system. Like Pence, Hankins would be at or near the top of the Club for Growth’s list.

A few other thoughts on the Sodrel press release:

-For what it's worth, I don't see a link to the CAGW award in Scott's post-- and don't see anything when I search their website for Sodrel's name.

-In any case, it's interesting that Sodrel has been publicly critical of CAGW's rating system on the one hand (in particular, for the 30 he earned in 2006), but celebrating their ratings and his award on the other hand.

-As I've often noted, there seems to be "confusion" (that's the charitable term for this) about the difference between conservative watchdog groups (where Sodrel was strong) and *fiscal* conservative watchdog groups (where Sodrel was mediocre). NJ, ATR and ACU are focused on a wide array of "conservative" issues-- with only modest interest in federal government spending. If you want a focus on fiscal conservatism and government spending-- and I can understand why Sodrel would not want that-- then you look to CFG, NTU and CAGW.

UPDATE: I exchanged a handful of emails with the rep for Sodrel's camapign. The rep was unwilling or unable to distinguish between conservative watchdog groups (interested in a wide array of issues) and watchdog groups focused on government spending. The rep was unwilling or unable to validate the watchdog group numbers and connect them to a mediocre rating. The rep falsely accused me of saying that Sodrel was not pro-life and supported "Massachusetts-style health care". And so on. Not a pretty picture...and one more reason-- if you still need it-- to find someone else for whom you should vote!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Genesis 4:9-16's CSI and Law & Order

In Genesis 4:9, God responds to Cain’s murder of Abel with a rhetorical question. (Of course, ironically, Abel was with God!) Again, the Bible points to the power of questions (vs. e.g., here, an accusation)—which among other things, allows for a confession and a last chance at repentance of a sort (3:9). As Matthew Henry observes: "Those who would be justified before God must accuse themselves."

Cain's response?

First, “I don’t know”—a blatant lie (Jn 8:44) and at least ironically, a semi-truth since Cain didn’t know what happened beyond death!

Second, Cain plays defense with a now-famous question of his own: “Am I my brother’s keeper?” Kass: “To keep the inquisitive voice [of God] from forcing him to fully confront the meaning of his deed, he answers the question with a question”

Here, Cain follows up deliberate murder with (supposedly) callous indifference. As Kass observes, this is to be expected: “turns out to be the maxim of the would-be murderer…tacitly to profess indifference to his fate”.

In terms of style, one imagines that it was probably meant as sarcasm and tinged with indignation if not mocking: “Aren’t you his keeper? What kind of keeper are you? Am I the shepherd’s shepherd?”

In any case, this question ends up as the seed of social ethics: we are to keep our brothers—broadly defined (Phil 2:4; see also: the parable of Good Samaritan on one’s “neighbor”). Cain questions "who's in charge here?" Again, given free will—in a sense, we are...

In Genesis 4:10-12, God replies. First, consider what God didn’t say: there is no direct answer to Cain’s question. God's response could have been "uhh, not exactly"! As Dorris notes: “Talk about giving God an opening! But...God doesn’t reply. The question is left hanging, a plumb line right thru history.” In fact, implicitly, we receive this question every day—and frequently fail to answer Cain’s question well. In any case, God implicitly rejects Cain’s false and frivolous reply—in essence saying “I’m in control here; I’m the one asking the questions!”

God works to get Cain’s attention with a more pointed question—quite sobering answer after Cain’s flippancy. Then, the pointed/direct “listen”—whether pointing to God or Abel's blood crying out.

In Genesis 4:11-12, God moves to a “curse”: no more crops and a new identity—“restless wanderer”. As such, Cain is the first human to be cursed (vs. ground and snake in Gen 3). The ground had been active for Abel's blood; it would not be so for Cain's future efforts.

Why “restless”? Others will not welcome him; his conscience will (hopefully) haunt him; and he knows (by experience) that life hangs by a thread (4:14b’s fear).

It’s also worth noting that God chose not to kill him immediately (in contrast to instant deaths elsewhere and by the Law later). In a sense, time is a harsher punishment, a just/appropriate punishment (vs. impulsiveness), and Cain serves as a living testimony to others. It also allows time for repentance—and if not, it would be Hell on earth. Interestingly, it’s not God so much as the ground that will be the avenger.

In Genesis 4:13-14, we read Cain’s response. In verse 13, there’s still no remorse or repentance—only fear, despair and self-pity. (Note the use of first-person throughout—except 14a’s blame-shift). First, he complained about God's judgment, now God's justice (Lam 3:39). His “punishment is more than [he] can bear”; but his sin wasn’t more than God or Abel should bear?

In verse 14a, he turns to blame-shifting ("you are driving me…") vs. taking responsibility. This is reminiscent of (our concerns for) people who choose Hell.

The passage continues with exaggerated and ironic fears: killed by whom? Why should a murderer fear? He didn’t seem to worry about being away from God previously!

In Gen 4:15, God responds with clarification: promised vengeance (from God) and an (unidentified) “mark on Cain”. And in Gen 4:16's Cain "went out" (voluntarily) vs. Gen 3:24's God drove Adam out.

As we wrap up this story, a few thoughts on Adam and Eve.

1.) Their intro to the knowledge of good and evil gives birth to one of each!

2.) Adam's initial sin reaches its first peak here (just one generation later). As Michael Dorris notes: “This apple didn’t fall far from the tree.” The first person with an umbilical cord was a murderer; Cain and Abel are the first two wholly human beings—and one kills the other. One generation after A&E's sin and shame, Cain now adds flippancy and hardness of heart (no fear, even to the point of talking smack to God). Sin nature steps up, from Gen 3’s supporting role to Gen 4’s starring role

3.) As with his parents, Cain goes to blame-shifting vs. introspection and repentance.

4.) Finally, where are Adam and Eve leading up to this and within all this? We’re given a picture of more silence (a la Gen 3:6—and a pattern repeated by the patriarchs).

Genesis 4:6-8's Murder He Wrote

In Genesis 4:6-7, God tries to reason with Cain. (4:6’s “angry” and “face downcast” verifies and repeats/emphasizes 4:5b’s narrative.) God confronts and exhorts, wanting the best for Cain. (Borgmann describes God as a “divine Coach” here.) More broadly, this points to the reality that God wants to meet us within—and to help us thru—our temptations. Here, God delivers a timely and specific warning.

Cain is instructed to "do what is right" with a blessing to follow his obedience. This is vague, but implies that Cain should know. If not, Cain is warned that “sin is crouching at the door" and "desires" you (Rom 6:12-14; Jas 1:13-15)—and is exhorted to “master” it. Clearly, Cain has choices here, rather than being doomed to sin or inherently displeasing to God.

The metaphor of sin is crouching at our doors is quite powerful. Keizer talks about this in the context of teaching children about anger: “Something to teach a child is that anger, like other storms, often follows a warning and always comes with a price.”

Cain's lack of (recorded/verbal) response implies more pretending or a lack of concern. In any case, he decides to kill Abel as recorded in Gen 4:8. This is especially heinous given that:

a.) man is made in God's image (Gen 9:6)

b.) this is his (baby/little) “brother” (7x in passage)

c.) Abel is a good man; he had (apparently) done nothing wrong (I Jn 3:12,15)

d.) this was done under false pretenses

e.) this was pre-meditated and informed by his (impassioned) God-given reasoning ability

f.) done for a lame reason: getting rid of source of jealousy/competition

Steinbeck’s East of Eden is based on a set of Cain-like vs. Abel-like characters. He once remarked: "I think everyone in the world to a large or small extent has felt rejection. And with this rejection comes anger, and with anger, some kind of crime in revenge for the rejection, and with the crime, guilt—and there is the story of mankind." So, will we deal with these frustrations?

g.) done after a warning (and encouragement) from God

God’s voice of reason was not enough to overcome Cain's passion and impulsiveness. In fact, it probably made him even angrier! Cain strikes at God thru Abel (as Satan does). You can also hear Cain say: “'s a sacrifice for you!” Kass observes: “Cain ought to be pleased by God’s attention and interest in him. Though he respected Abel’s offering, God speaks only to Cain; Cain seems to hold more interest, being both more promising and more problematic…Yet like many an angry person, Cain [finds this] offensive, adding insult to injury.”

The NT redeems Abel, but for now, Dorris notes that Abel is “little more than a plot device”: “The first victim of the first murder is perhaps a man to pity, but we feel no ache at his loss. Abel slides off the page like a bookmark, a symbol of what we ought to be, a fine abstraction, like righteousness, that we agree our friends should pursue with far greater diligence.” For the reader, this reduces to a call to focus on Cain!

One last thought: this is the original martyr/persecutor and "why do bad things happen to good people?" stories. It is the Bible’s introduction to the idea that being good is not all there is.

The flip side of that coin is that God is seemingly silent/inactive. Of course, a common and powerful defense is that free will is allowed to have considerable reign. Beyond that, God has intervened to some extent. Borgmann says: “God does what God can do: before the deed, God comes to Cain with whispers of good counsel and comfort.”

Big picture? This is where doubt about God’s goodness can enter, but also what makes faith possible—that there's a bigger story out there. Here, the first who went to the grave was the first to go to Heaven. God snatches victory from the jaws of defeat: killing Abel sent him to his Father's arms.

And perhaps there’s an even bigger picture. The early Church focused on the implications of righteous Abel preceding Adam to the grave. As Anderson notes: “the mouth of Hades was opened for the first time unjustly. Henceforth, the legal foundations of the underworld rested on shaky grounds.”

Genesis 4:3-5's offerings of Cain and Abel

Starting into Genesis 4:3-5...

Where does Cain’s decision come from? It may imply unrecorded instructions had been given earlier. (One sees something similar in Abraham’s tithing—and more broadly, the extent to which the Law seems to codify earlier.)

In any case, it’s certainly not explicit and would probably have occurred naturally anyway. As Kass notes: “Sacrifice is of human origins. [At this point] God neither commands nor requests it; we have no reason to believe that He even welcomes it. On the contrary, we have reason to suspect…that the human impulse to sacrifice is…highly problematic…To be sure, God will eventually command sacrifices, though then only under the strictest rules.”

This is the first recorded act of “worship” and alludes to a somewhat natural desire to sacrifice and worship—or at least, to look like one is doing so. Given what follows, we’re suspicious that sacrifice originates with Cain. The term for “offering” is minchah—a neutral term that does not connote something sacred. More troubling, it implies ownership/possession (rather than the biblical ideal of “stewardship”).

What is Cain’s motive? The two most likely candidates are fear or gratitude. The latter hopes to bridge the gap with the divine. The former acts as a bribe to Something one doesn’t (fully) understand and control—to improve one’s lot or avoid trouble. Kass observes: “For primitive man—and especially for farmers, eager for rain—it is perfectly fitting that the primordial farmer be the first to think of sacrifice.”

Why did Abel follow? Was it suggested by Cain? Perhaps Cain was trying to out-do Abel in God’s eyes—not imagining that he possibly “lose” to his shepherd/younger brother. In any case, Abel takes the opportunity to heart.

To his credit, Cain divines the presence of the Divine, but doesn’t get what he expected in God or from God. God is not just a Santa Claus doling out rain and blessing crops; instead, he cares about individuals and what’s “right”.

Kass notes that unless man understands God and what He wants (if anything), it’s a shot in the dark. Man is likely to offer what would please himself (see: God built in my image!)—and probably hoping for credit for good intentions. We see the same thing today in various forms of works-based salvation.

In Gen 4:4b-5a, we read of God's disparate response to the sacrifices. Cain’s offering is not accepted. But there is nothing about Cain being rejected. In fact, God will soon address Cain and encourage him in a growth opportunity. Abel’s offering is “looked [on] with favor”

Why the disparate response from God? All we’re told here (vs. the motives to be revealed soon): 3b’s Cain's "some of the fruits of the soil" vs. 4a’s Abel's "fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock". Some of the possibilities: the type of sacrifice (plant vs. animal; the quality of the sacrifice: “some” vs. “fat…firstborn”; or related to that, low-cost vs. costly (animal life more difficult to replace).

For all of the excitement about this question, Borgmann notes the bigger issue: “Passing over any possible interest in why God favors Abel’s offering, the story moves on quickly, as the reader should. The dramatic focus emerges: an exploration of Cain’s response to rejection, and God’s response to the depressed Cain.”

Cain’s response to God's judgment? Not repentance and humility, but “very angry” and “face…downcast”—in a word, anger and shame, both with roots in (wounded) pride. How can it be that he is bested—the firstborn farmer who produces crops by his own efforts and ingenuity and is the first to sacrifice—by a lazy shepherd who follows him into sacrifice?!

Cain is upset with God (and Abel—as we’ll soon see!) when it's really his fault. They are blameless (Pr 19:3) and God is trying to help (Heb 12:5-11)! With this, Kass has a sobering observation: “When looked at in this light, Cain appears not as some monstrous deviant but as humanly prototypical.”

Again, Kass: “Cain’s display of anger reveals retroactively his state of soul in making the sacrifice. Because he had sought to place God in his debt by means of his gift, Cain feels slighted by what he takes to be God’s unjustified rejection of his offering. If indeed part of Cain’s anger is directed at the divine, it shows how presumptuous…were his expectations.”

In a word, when a gift is rejected, we either try to do better (if interested in the other) or we get angry (if concerned with self not the other).

Friday, April 23, 2010

Young's open letter to Sodrel

In a recent mailing, Sodrel corrected Young on some things-- and here, Young replies with some clarification...

Dear Mike:

I see that you are sending out letters to 9th District voters asserting that I am lying about your record in Congress. Since my character is now at issue, I believe a response is in order.

You are correct that I was wrong when I publicly stated you had voted for almost 14,000 wasteful earmarks in 2005. I had my volunteer staff go back and recheck all our research and they discovered that they had been a bit too overzealous in their initial analysis of your voting record.
The correct number of wasteful earmarks you voted for is 12,621 over your two years in Congress. Again, I apologize for my exaggerated statement. I should have been more precise.

You are also correct that I was wrong when I stated the deficit had gone up under your watch as a result of spending bills you voted for.
I misspoke. I was referring to the national debt, which did indeed go up as a result of the spending bills you voted for.

The Office of Management and Budget's official statement of revenues, expenditures and debt shows that $776.7 billion was added to the national debt during fiscal '06 and '07 - again as a direct result of the spending bills you voted for.

Surely you would not dispute that our children and grandchildren will ultimately be forced to pay off that debt with their hard-earned tax dollars.

These are the facts that I believe 9th Congressional District voters should consider as they weigh a decision on which of us might be better prepared to find ways to cut wasteful government spending and bring down the debt without massive tax increases.

Finally, I have one favor to ask. I have received several reports from people contacted by a telephone polling firm that you are using. The pollsters are telling callers that I have lied about my military service - that I didn't really serve 10 years.

Would you please inform your pollsters that they are wrong. I served five years as a Marine Corps officer, four years as a midshipman at the U.S. Naval Academy and one year as an enlisted sailor in the United State Navy. That's 10 years. That's not a lie.

One thing I learned in the service is the importance of being honest. In the heat of the battle, I made a couple of statements that could have been more accurate. I have corrected the record.

I would ask that you do the same with your pollster, and we'll move on with no hard feelings.

Todd Young

Sodrel continues to make lame excuses for his voting record. In a word, his problem is that Young can "correct the record" and Hankins can avoid misstatements. But Sodrel cannot correct his voting record without apology and repentance-- which is apparently not going to happen.

Moreover, Sodrel continues to get all chippy with it, apparently even at a Lincoln Day Dinner. I've been told two things that I cannot verify: 1.) Sodrel heavily criticized Young at the Floyd Co. LDD; and 2.) this is not within the decorum for such events. Can anyone confirm either or both of these two points?

UPDATE: I got a call, telling me it was the Clark Co. LDD-- not the Floyd Co. LDD. The caller also claimed physical threats were made against him.

It's interesting that Sodrel has responded to these attacks at all-- and it's interesting that Sodrel seems to be engaging in push polling and attacks through a poll (can anyone verify Young's claim?)-- indicating as well that the race is too close for comfort or Sodrel's trailing. (It'll be interesting to see if those polling results are released!)

UPDATE: Lesley Stedman Weidenbener wrote an article in Sunday's C-J about this.

Meanwhile, Hankins largely stays out of the fray and continues to work his strategy. The funniest part of this is that Travis has a passion which is not totally consistent with the stereotypical picture of a "statesman". But in the squabble between Young and Sodrel, Hankins certainly looks the part.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

more on IRTL's (incoherent) endorsement in the 9th District

Again, the issue is not their endorsement of Sodrel, but their sole endorsement of Sodrel-- in light of their decision to endorse all GOP candidates in the 8th District and the Senate race.

Sam Wamsley is a Hankins supporter, working to clear the record on the IRTL's incoherent endorsement decision. Here's his letter in the Jeff/NA Tribune which stirred some response. Following that, here's his open letter to Mike Fichter with IRTL:

The discussion around the Indiana Right to Life’s endorsement of a single candidate for the 9th
District Republican Primary concerns how the IRTL arrived at making this decision. In defense of the decision Mr. Fichter has stated Mike Sodrel was singled out for endorsement because of his “proven track record of loyalty, proven by votes and leadership...”

In my discussion of this matter I will lay out to you how Mike Sodrel has a failed track record and to request the IRTL change their decision by endorsing all of the Pro-Life candidates in the 9th District Republican Primary just as they have for the six candidates in the 8th District race and the five candidates in the Senate race.

In the 2004 election cycle Mike Sodrel was elected to the US House of Representatives. I have served on all of his campaign staffs except for this one and on his Congressional staff during the 109th Congress. During Mike’s tenure in Congress he voted in favor of a
DOL appropriations bill (HR 3010). It turns out this was the most costly bill of the 109th Congress; the $601.1 billion legislation signified significant increases in spending on social-welfare. Programs opposed to the ideas of Pro-Lifers, Constitutionalists, and capitalists. $285,963,000.00 were appropriated to Title X.

Title X can be used for sex education and family planning; selected Medicaid surgical abortions (rape, incest, danger of the mother’s life), used for birth control drugs and devices including drugs like Plan B which can by design abort early stage pregnancies by not allowing the conceived child to attach to the wall of the uterus, and used to provide birth control drugs and devices to minors without parental consent.

Title X cannot be used for abortions outside of the exemptions of rape, incest, or physical/psychiatric health of the mother, and they cannot be used for health benefit coverage that includes coverage of abortions.

Both Mike Sodrel and Congressman Mike Pence voted for HR 3010. Both by casting their vote stated they believed without a doubt they were doing the right thing, if only by the fact that they were now willing to be held accountable for their votes both politically and personally. Of the 230 Republicans only ten voted against it while fourteen abstained. Since the Democrats have taken control of Congress the Republicans have voted unanimously in the House against appropriation bills containing Title X funding. Though with exception Congressman Pence’s rally against Planned Parenthood funding in 2010 it is not clear whether their ‘Nays’ were cast for political reasons or moral reasons.

Additional legislation of interest in Sodrel’s voting record:
-Mike Sodrel did not support the Sanctity of Life Act (HR 776).
-Mike Sodrel did not support the Taxpayers Freedom of Conscience Act (HR 777).
-Mike Sodrel voted against the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act (HR 810).

-Mike Sodrel voted for the Child Interstate Abortion Notification Act (HR 748).

Now let’s look at the platforms of the candidates running. I will show them in order as they will show up on the ballet.

Travis Hankins

As your Congressman I will fight to:

-End Federal Funding for Planned Parenthood

-Stop Federal Funding and Practice of Destructive Embryonic Stem Cell Research

-Overturn Roe V. Wade

-Pass a Constitutional Human Life Amendment


Mike Sodrel

There is no information posted on Mike’s website concerning his stance on any issue, including abortion and the right to life.

The only information I was able to find was from a January 20th Press Release:

“I am running to retake the Indiana Ninth Congressional District seat currently held by Baron Hill. Hill has not been a pro-life voice in Congress. He has only voted the pro-life position 41% of the time. When I represented the Ninth District, I voted with National Right to Life 100% of the time (11 for 11). If elected, I will gladly support de-funding of Planned Parenthood and I will support a Human Life Amendment.”

Todd Young

"Todd has served on our board for almost 3 years and is strong supporter of Pro-Life principles. His leadership qualities and integrity will be a welcome change in Washington. Voters can be confident Todd will be a voice for the unborn and a Representative we can be proud of." - Jeff Barnhill, Board President, Crisis Pregnancy Center of Bloomington"

I am pro-life and pro-adoption - and I try to back up my talk with action. I serve on the Board of Directors of a pro-life ministry. My wife Jenny and I also promote adoption by performing free legal work so that caring adults can become loving parents.


Rick Warren

-“100% Pro-Life”

-“Turn the abortion issue back to the states where it belongs.”


The last item I would like to discuss is the IRTL survey (last page). It is a 15 question survey. The first 14 questions are rated ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ and the 15th question is multiple choice. All four candidates-- Hankins, Sodrel, Warren and Young-- rated the first 14 questions the same. On the 15th question concerning exceptions for abortions, Hankins and Young agreed there are ‘no exceptions’ while Warren and Sodrel agreed ‘there must be exceptions for ‘life of mother only’.

As you can see each of these candidates at least publically claim to be Pro-Life, some are more descriptive than others. I think it is interesting that the one candidate who is supposed to have a stellar voting record won’t even post it on his website. Instead he sent out a press release, hoping to alleviate the damage his voting record has already caused.

On the other hand I truly hope he has changed his stance and will “gladly support defunding” Planned Parenthood. The IRTL would do well by endorsing Travis Hankins who wants to champion the battle to defund Planned Parenthood, or Todd Young who is going to ‘kick down’ the doors of government, or still yet Rick Warren who has obviously read the Constitution and has a plan.

With my argument complete; Mr. Fichter, I request that you endorse all of the candidates for the 9th District Congressional Republican Primary or endorse none.

Thank you,
Sam Wamsley

Someone wrote to say that Sodrel was on the board of IRTL for at least a year. It'd be interesting to know if other candidates in Indiana have served in a similar way. Of course, such service should be applauded. And in a sense, it's "natural" to allow personal biases to color one's opinion. But in trying to be objective-- and selling oneself as objective-- and in dealing with such important matters, such biases should be overcome.

a green bible for a green god

From Lawrence Vance at

It is made of environmentally friendly materials: a cotton/linen cover, recycled paper, soy-based ink, and a water-based coating. It was manufactured in a green friendly environment where all air is purified and all water is purified and recycled. It is certified by the Forest Stewardship Council. It is endorsed by an ecumenical group of Christians and individuals in prominent environmental organizations.

In case you haven’t seen it, let me tell you about The Green Bible...based on the New Revised Standard Version, it adds some features to make this Bible an environmentalist one.

First, there is the foreword by Archbishop Desmond Tutu in which he chastises us for being "wantonly wasteful through our reckless consumerism" and devouring of "irreplaceable natural resources" instead of being "responsible stewards preserving our vulnerable, fragile planet home."...

In order to highlight the words of Jesus, some Bibles print the words of Christ red. This practice dates from around 1900. In order to "highlight the rich and varied ways the books of the Bible speak directly to how we should think and act as we confront the environmental crisis facing our planet," The Green Bible prints certain passages in green...There are some themes found throughout the supplemental material in The Green Bible:
  • The earth is fragile and delicate.
  • Man is ruining the earth.
  • There is an environmental crisis.
  • Global warming is a fact.
  • Everything should be recycled.
  • Governments need to do more to protect the environment.
  • To be environmentally conscious is to be closer to God.

These themes all have one thing in common: they are all bunk. See the work of Floy Lilley....

The writer of the preface claims that there are "over a thousand references to the earth and caring for creation in the Bible." This statistic is meaningless. Actually, the words earth and land appear in the Bible almost three thousand times. There are very few times, however, when any of these instances actually refer to caring for creation.

Some of the biblical passages highlighted in green mention pollution. For example:

If a man divorces his wife and she goes from him and becomes another man’s wife, will he return to her? Would not such a land be greatly polluted? You have played the whore with many lovers; and would you return to me? says the Lord (Jeremiah 3:1).

The land here is polluted because of moral activity, not because someone put toxic waste in a dump. Examples could be multiplied to show that many of the "green" verses in The Green Bible are not green at all.

What we are never told by any of the contributors to The Green Bible is that the two biggest environmental catastrophes in the history of the world – catastrophes that dwarf anything man has ever done – are both deliberate acts of God: Noah’s flood in the past (Genesis 7:4-10) and the burning up of the earth in the future (2 Peter 3:10)....

God’s charge to man concerning the environment is found in the first chapter of the Bible:

And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth (Genesis 1:26).

This doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t care about air and water pollution, soil erosion, garbage disposal, overfishing, and depletion of natural resources, but neither does it mean that we should be environmentalist wackos who think we should recycle everything, reduce our carbon footprint, stop driving our cars, join the global climate change cult, and make a god out of the earth.

No, God is not green. But he is holy (1 Peter 1:16). And he has magnified his word above his name (Psalm 138:2). The Green Bible is a corruption of the word of God (2 Corinthians 2:17). A landfill would be the most appropriate place for it.

environmentalism as religion

The title of an essay by Paul Rubin in the WSJ...

Many observers have made the point that environmentalism is eerily close to a religious belief system, since it includes creation stories and ideas of original sin. But there is another sense in which environmentalism is becoming more and more like a religion: It provides its adherents with an identity.

Scientists are understandably uninterested in religious stories because they do not meet the basic criterion for science: They cannot be tested....

Original religions were tribal rather than universal. Each tribe had its own god or gods, and the success of the tribe was evidence that their god was stronger than others....

It is this identity-creating function that environmentalism provides. As the world becomes less religious, people can define themselves as being Green rather than being Christian or Jewish.

Consider some of the ways in which environmental behaviors echo religious behaviors and thus provide meaningful rituals for Greens:

• There is a holy day—Earth Day.

• There are food taboos....

• ...there are self-sacrificing rituals that are not particularly useful, such as recycling.

• Belief systems are embraced with no logical basis....

• There are no temples, but there are sacred structures....recycling bins...

• Environmentalism is a proselytizing religion. Skeptics are not merely people unconvinced by the evidence: They are treated as evil sinners....

Some conservatives spend their time criticizing the way Darwin is taught in schools. This is pointless and probably counterproductive. These same efforts should be spent on making sure that the schools only teach those aspects of environmentalism that pass rigorous scientific testing. By making the point that Greenism is a religion, perhaps we environmental skeptics can enlist the First Amendment on our side.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

skin sin tax

From the Tennessean's Christina Sanchez in the C-J...

The list of sin taxes just got longer, and some local people are getting heated over a new levy they say unfairly singles out one industry. This time it's a tanning tax. Starting July 1, tanning salons across the nation will charge a 10 percent tax on tanning bed and booth services, excluding spray tans. Also, the Food and Drug Administration is considering new tanning rules that may include banning people with pale skin.

What?! Discrimination against pale people? Hey now, wait just a cotton-pickin' minute now!

Taxes that target social vices — liquor and tobacco, for example — aren't fresh on the scene, but lawmakers are increasingly considering them to discourage unhealthful behaviors or to help pay for long-term health risks. Lawmakers have weighed junk food taxes to combat obesity, and taxes on plastic surgery because it's often a luxury....

Despite the risks, more than 30 million people use tanning beds and booths each year, according to the Indoor Tanning Association....

Daniels' updated to-do list under ObamaCare

From Mitch Daniels in the WSJ on his "new to-do list"...

1) Plan for the termination of our Healthy Indiana Plan. This is the program that's currently providing health insurance to 50,000 low-income Hoosiers. With its health savings account-style personal accounts, it has been enormously popular among its participants. I hope those folks will do all right when they are pitched into Medicaid.

2) Start preparing voters for a state tax increase. The axe won't fall until someone else is governor. But when we are forced to expand Medicaid to one in every four citizens, the cost will add several hundred million dollars to the budget.

3) Check to see if Indiana should drop its health insurance plans and dump its government workers into the exchanges. Paying the new tax penalty might actually be cheaper for the state, as it will be for many private firms. I'm not certain the same rule applies to government as to business, but since no member of Congress read this entire bill before the vote, I don't feel embarrassed about not knowing.

4) Ramp up our job retraining programs to handle those who will be fired by our medical device companies, student loan providers, and small businesses as they wrestle with new taxes, penalties, or in the student loan case, outright nationalization of their business.

5) Call the state's attorney general to see if we can join one of the lawsuits to overturn ObamaCare....

6) We may no longer need the Department of Insurance since insurers will now be operating as regulated utilities under the thumb of the federal government.

an update on ObamaCare in Massachusetts

From the editorialists of the WSJ...

'This is sort of similar to the bill that Mitt Romney, the Republican governor and now Presidential candidate, passed in Massachusetts," President Obama said in a recent interview defending his national health-care plan—and few disagree, Mitt Romney excepted. So the Massachusetts preview of ObamaCare is all the more instructive after this week's imposition of de facto price controls on its remaining private insurers.

On Thursday, Democratic Governor Deval Patrick's insurance regulators announced that they had rejected 235 of 274 insurer requests for premium increases for individuals and small businesses over the coming year...The state's health costs have risen to the nation's highest since Beacon Hill passed the ObamaCare prototype that was supposed to reduce health costs....price controls are supposedly the only option.

Yet campaigns against the insurance industry are always the first political resort, as Mr. Obama's assault on Anthem Blue Cross of California showed. In Massachusetts, however, the major insurers—Blue Cross Blue Shield, Harvard Pilgrim, Tufts Health Plan—are all nonprofits. The state itself calculates that they spend at least 88 cents of every premium dollar on the underlying costs of medical care, often more.

The rates Mr. Patrick denied were generally in the range of 8% to 15%, and the premium cap will eventually force insurers to start restricting patient access to care in order to remain solvent. This is the kind of future that both nonprofit and publicly-traded insurers can look forward to around the country when Democrats start to blame them for the rate increases that ObamaCare will make inevitable....

Indiana gears up for long-term budget woes

From Lesley Stedman-Weidenbener in the C-J last month...

It’s been only a few weeks since the General Assembly adjourned for the year, its work presumably finished until 2011, when lawmakers will write the next two-year budget.

But that budget is already on the minds of Gov. Mitch Daniels, legislative fiscal leaders and thousands of school administrators, university officials and others whose futures will be determined by the two-year spending plan.

That’s because even if Indiana’s economy improves, the 2012-2014 budget will be incredibly difficult to write and manage.

State tax receipts have fallen so far so fast that 2010 revenues are projected to be less than they were five years ago — and that’s assuming the current estimates are correct. Already, tax revenues have fallen tens of millions behind for the year....

But because the current $27 billion, two-year state budget is propped up by about $2 billion in federal stimulus funds — money that won’t be available next time — the state could be in worse shape financially next year than now.

Plus, by the time the next budget cycle begins, Indiana will have plowed through all its reserves, leaving the savings account essentially empty — unless Daniels imposes some draconian cuts in some of the most controversial areas....

But if there is frustration now, just wait until next year.

With the stimulus money gone and state revenues still behind the level of five years ago, lawmakers probably won’t be able to maintain the status quo. And it’s not easy to make big cuts when K-12 education spending makes up roughly half the state budget.

University spending is another 13 percent. So is Medicaid, which is generally an entitlement that is particularly difficult to cut. Prison costs are 5 percent of the budget, as are teacher pension costs. Child welfare spending is about 3 percent.

Everything else in state government — state agencies, state parks, environmental regulation and more — makes up just 12 percent of the budget....

The state can’t save big bucks without reducing what it spends on education, universities, prisons and Medicaid. And none of those options would be popular....

more (of the beginning of) trouble for state and local budgets

First, New Albany closes four schools-- and now Harrison County feels the pinch.

This will probably continue to get worse over the next few years of Obamanomics.

From Grace Schneider in the C-J...

The South Harrison school district intends to cut 14 teaching positions from its rolls, but it remained unclear Tuesday how many teachers will lose their jobs this fall...It’s the first reduction in force at South Harrison schools in nearly two decades....six teachers will be shifted to newly opened positions – but eight others are due for layoffs unless other positions become available...

Superintendent Neyland Clark has estimated that the $300 million statewide cut in aid to Indiana public schools this year means slashing $849,000 in South Harrison through next school year. The board voted April 6 to lay off 14 teachers, targeting areas that administrators said are experiencing declining enrollment.

The eight net layoffs include two general elementary positions, three in special education, two in physical education and a librarian....

Young "fact-checks" Sodrel from the debate

I blogged on the debate-- and alluded to these points in that post.

There are other angles to pursue on this. But Young has responded with an email blast to "fact-check" Sodrel's defense to attacks on his record during the debate.

Mike Sodrel claims that he never advocated a socialized takeover of healthcare.

Mike Sodrel supported the Romney Care model in Massachusetts, a government mandate that requires people to purchase health insurance.

Mike Sodrel tells us that deficit went down both years he was in Congress.

THE FACTS: Mike Sodrel repeatedly voted (2005, 2006) to increase the deficit, he supported increased federal spending both years he was in Congress, and he added $1.12 trillion to the debt in 2 years. Sodrel's spending while in Congress translates to $14,500 of future taxes for every family in America. The Heritage Foundation released a report that "One hundred percent of the budget deficit's decline [from 2005 to 2006] was caused by revenue increases, and none by spending cuts."

Mike Sodrel claims to have been a fiscal conservative in Washington.

THE FACTS: Mike Sodrel voted for nearly 14,000 earmarks in 2005, his first year in office. That's more earmarks than Congress passed during the entire 1990s.

Bottom line: If you want a fiscal conservative, Sodrel is not an option. Choose Young-- or better yet, Hankins.

so, why did IRTL endorse Sodrel (only)?

IRTL continues to rationalize its endorsement of Sodrel (only) in the 9th District.

As I posted previously, Indiana Right to Life made the odd and indefensible choice of endorsing ONLY Mike Sodrel in the 9th District race while endorsing ALL GOP candidates in the 8th District and in the Senate primary.

Now the following post, based on email correspondence between supporters of Sodrel, supporters of Hankins, concerned GOP primary voters, and Mike Fichter at IRTL...

Fichter's interest in Planned Parenthood funding is inconsistent. Votes for PP funding in the budget have never been included in IRTL's scoring/rating system. To my knowledge, none of the three Mikes (Pence, Sodrel, or Fichter) had any interest or concern about this issue until after I brought it up in the 2006 campaign. If Fichter had knowledge of the PP funding, its inclusion in their rating system would have brought an unwelcome imperfection to the perceived record of many GOP candidates. At the end of the day, it was left out from ignorance or a political agenda to elevate GOP candidates at the expense of bringing light to a ridiculous public policy.

Fichter offers up a straw man: There is NO significant debate about why IRTL endorsed Sodrel. What's NOT clear is why they ONLY endorsed Sodrel-- when they endorsed ALL six GOP'ers in the 8th and ALL five in the Senate race. In fact, it's incoherent.

Fichter opens with a reasonable claim-- that Sodrel "supports the removal of all taxpayer funding for Planned Parenthood". But this claim is not supported by Sodrel's voting record. (If anything, his record provides evidence against that claim.) One angle for endorsing Sodrel (coherently) is to rely on his voting record-- or more broadly, to value the voting record of candidates above the mere campaign promises of other candidates. But one can't do that with Sodrel's votes for Planned Parenthood funding. You can only rely on
his campaign promises in this context-- while overlooking his voting record in 2005 and 2006.

I understand pragmatism (although I don't value it as highly as many other politicos). As such, I can imagine IRTL endorsing those with favorable voting records-- incumbents and former incumbents. More cynically, one might even endorse incumbents with decent voting records to enhance the organization's access and power. (For example, for whichever reason, the NRA endorsed Baron Hill in the last election.) But again, if this were one of IRTL's guidelines, they would not have endorsed every candidate in the other two races.

So, why did IRTL endorse Sodrel (only)?

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

debt hypocrisy from Tea Partiers?

I don't think so.

From many Republicans? Yes. But few of them are fiscal conservatives and were quite content with the Bush presidency and the GOP Congress.

Here's a letter to the editor in the C-J that fails to see this distinction...

Question for Partiers

I just have one question for the Tea Partiers. Where was your outrage when Reagan, G.H.W. Bush, and G.W. Bush administrations were running up a $9-12 trillion in debt? Why didn't you protest then? Someone tell me what I am missing!

tipping point for debt?

Great stuff from the WaPo editorialists (hat tip: C-J)...

The great fear associated with the U.S. federal debt, to which we are now adding at a rate of more than a trillion dollars per year, is that investors will lose faith in Washington's ability to keep such a colossal financial promise. In the nightmare scenario, bond markets simply refuse to keep buying up the Treasury's paper unless offered much higher interest rates. The president, Congress and the Federal Reserve then would face a choice between terrible options: Inflate the debt away or enact massive tax increases and spending cuts. No one knows, really, whether we'll hit the tipping point tomorrow, in 10 years -- or never. But it certainly makes sense to watch for danger signs.

Some market mavens thought they spotted one March 23. On that day, the Treasury found itself paying a slightly higher interest rate on 10-year bonds than private banks were paying on a standard 10-year hedging instrument known as a "swap." In market parlance, the "swap spread" had gone negative, implying that investors actually viewed lending to Uncle Sam as a riskier proposition than lending to blue-chip private firms. So far as anyone knows, this had never happened before....

The spread crept back into positive territory on April 1 -- barely -- but it is still well below historical norms. And the mystery remains: Why did it plunge in the first place? Market experts we have consulted blame technical factors...these recent strange occurrences in the credit markets remind us that excessive government debt, too, can be destabilizing. The United States is not at a Greek-style crisis point, but there's no guarantee that we'll have plenty of time to prepare before we do get there. The only sensible policy is to start getting our financial house in order well before the bond markets force us to do so.

one more problem with the national GOP

From World...

Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, the Texas Republican who vowed to resign her seat whether she won or lost her bid for governor, decided to serve out the remaining two years of her Senate term just a month after Gov. Rick Perry defeated her in the Texas primary race....

I'm guessing that Mike Pence and Rick Santorum probably endorsed her.

the C-J's overview of the 9th District race

From Lesley Stedman Weidenbener in the C-J...

Mike Sodrel has been the GOP's 9th District House candidate in the past four elections, but the 64-year-old businessman's quest for a fifth run is threatened by credible challengers. Two of Sodrel's three Republican primary opponents — Todd Young, 37, a prosecutor from Bloomington, and Travis Hankins, 28, a developer from Columbus — were campaigning last year, long before Sodrel announced this year he would run again.

Young was essentially the pick of establishment Republicans seeking a fresh face with a solid background to take on five-term incumbent Rep. Baron Hill, D-Seymour.

While Hill was deciding how to vote on the health care bill last year, Young was traveling the district holding town hall meetings on the issue.

So far this year, Young has raised and spent more money than any of his GOP opponents and has substantially more cash on hand, according to Federal Election Commission reports.

Hankins is the upstart, a grass-roots campaigner who has blanketed the district with yard signs and banners. His low-budget effort is based largely on personal visits he started making last summer.

“I want people to know I'd be a citizen legislator, not a career politician,” Hankins said. “People have come to know my heart — that I'm the real deal, genuine and I'm going to fight for them.”...


Sodrel's challengers say he's had his chances. He lost to Hill in 2002, won in 2004 but lost again in 2006 and 2008.

Republicans “are tired of the same old people. They want fresh ideas and fresh energy,” Young said. “Finally, they want somebody who can beat Baron Hill. This is not a good year for incumbents, and it's not a good year for defeated incumbents, either.”

Young cites his background, experience and focus on fiscal integrity....


Hankins insists he's the only true conservative in the race...

Hankins describes his life and political philosophy as “a Christian, a conservative and a Republican in that order....

Although all the candidates say they are opposed to abortion, Hankins said it would be his top priority if elected. He wants a constitutional amendment to ban abortion....


He acknowledged that conventional wisdom makes this a better year for political newcomers. But he said his previous term in Congress means that, if elected again, he can go right to work....

What doesn't work, he said, is government interference, regulation and overspending. Sodrel said he would have voted against the stimulus, the health care legislation and the energy bill.

There's no good evidence of his first claim. Although he was no help against a big-spending Republican President and Congress, he would probably be a steady "no" against Democrats.


Warren is essentially self-funded, having reported no contributions or spending, and he isn't campaigning as actively as the other candidates.