Doug Masson (dmasson) Sat 25 Mar 06 13:13
Much as the job interested me, one of the reasons I was happy to leave my job working for the Indiana legislature was the limitations on my ability to speak out. I would occasionally feel like dashing off a letter to the editor but really wasn't in a position to do so since I worked as an attorney for an agency that was a non-partisan arm of the General Assembly.
Hal Royaltey (hal) Sat 25 Mar 06 17:46
I noticed that in my Congressional rundown I had IN with 10 seats in the house, but you have only 9. So I went back to my source: http://www.congress.com/state/in.html and sure enough, it's vintage 1999. So Indiana lost a House seat in the 2000 census, AND tipped from 4-D 6-R to 2-D 7-R. Most of the East and the Upper Midwest lost a House seat in 2000, with NY and PA losing two seats. Did the reapportionment help to tip the balance toward the Republicans, or was it simply the rush of the so-called "Heartland" into the arms of the GOP? More broadly .. with the coasts pretty much solid Democratic and the south and the empty states pretty much solid Republican, that leaves the Midwest as the focus for this fall's elections. Do you have any sense of which way the wind is blowing in Indiana and/or the Midwest in general?
Doug Masson (dmasson) Sun 26 Mar 06 06:20
I'm a little cautious on trusting my own sense of the "mood of the Midwest." I'm so immersed in the subject and generally keep left-wing company that I'm scared of being part of a "Nixon? But everyone I know voted for McGovern" effect. That being said, I think that there is severe disillusionment with Republicans, particularly on the federal level, here in Indiana. Huge deficits and the Iraqi quagmire seem to be the main sources of discontent. I don't get the sense that the Democratic organization is particularly effective, especially at the county level. On the other hand, I have no sense of the effectiveness of the Republicans at the same level. I get the feeling that a lot of Republicans will be staying home this November, not that they will be switching their votes. We'll see if that's enough. As for our Congressional districts shifting to the Republicans, I would say that was more a function of Indiana trending toward the Republicans, probably for the same reasons the GOP has been having success nationally -- a great PR machine, scaring Americans shitless about terrorists, and effective use of God, gays, and guns wedge issues. I doubt reapportionment had a big effect since at the state level, Democrats controlled the House and the Governor's office.
Sharon Lynne Fisher (slf) Sun 26 Mar 06 07:38
In Idaho, the Republican majority is so large that they're turning on themselves -- the weirdo right wing Christian guys vs. the classic conservatives who believe in small government. It's interesting to watch. There's about a half dozen nutcases in each house. It's *very* obvious in the Health and Welfare committee, which isn't broken down along party lines but along 'professionals' (nurses, doctors, etc.) and the right wingers who make it clear that their goal is to eliminate H&W entirely (the guy who wants to cut out HIV drugs because it's a 'lifestyle' issue, the guy who cuts out aid to 19 year old girls because it *might* be used for birth control), etc.)
Doug Masson (dmasson) Sun 26 Mar 06 07:51
I think there is a huge potential rift between social conservatives and business conservatives just waiting to be exploited. At the end of the day, I think sexual repression and homophobic/xenophobic bigotry is just bad for business. At some point there is not enough of a Democratic common enemy to keep these folks together.
Sharon Lynne Fisher (slf) Sun 26 Mar 06 13:38
>bad for business That actually came up during the argument, concern that businesses would leave Idaho, or not come to Idaho, if the law was passed.
Doug Masson (dmasson) Mon 27 Mar 06 07:43
Not surprising, I don't think. Fiscal conservatism (of either the real variety or the crony capitalism variety) doesn't seem a good fit for social conservatism. Commercial businesses are very often trying to get people to spend money while they indulge themselves. Social conservatives are very often trying to get people to stop indulging themselves. That's probably overly simplistic -- for example, jamming up people's sex drives and having them divert their energies to consumer pursuits is probably very profitable. But, generally, the two seem fundamentally at odds.
Gail Williams (gail) Mon 27 Mar 06 10:06
And yet capital has wrapped itself in Christianity for quite a while. The meme is set, like an old stain, seems to me. Are people running on values versus profits thse days? Or profits for the fortunate versus (hypothetically biblical) values, for that matter? Or do they still present those two ideals as aligned, no matter which way they will actually lean if elected?
Hal Royaltey (hal) Mon 27 Mar 06 11:07
Just as an aside on the Daylight Savings Time issue: My cousing from Tucson, AZ is visiting this week and I got to talking with her about AZ not using DST. She mentioned that in the northest corner of the state is the Navajo Nation which *does* observe DST. Contained entirely within the Navajo Nation is the Hopi reservation which (like the rest of AZ) does *not* observe DST. So in the space of a few miles you can go from Arizona (no DST) to the Navajos (DST) to the Hopi (no DST) back through the Navajo (DST again) and back to Arizona (no DST). Any you thought Indiana was schizophrenic! We now return to your regularly scheduled discussion ...
Doug Masson (dmasson) Mon 27 Mar 06 11:38
Perhaps we should all go on universal GMT and be done with it.
Doug Masson (dmasson) Mon 27 Mar 06 11:43
As for the merger of capital and Christianity, I don't know how the candidates will run this year, but I know that the Christian activist groups are actively seeking out Democrats to attack. My latest post <http://www.masson.us/blog/?p=1305> mentions the Indiana franchise of the American Family Association (Brother Dobson's organization) and it's critique of IN-03 Democratic candidate Dr. Tom Hayhurst for being insufficiently opposed to regulations on "sexually oriented" businesses. One of my favorite quips is "Republicanism: Government small enough to fit into your bedroom." It highlights some of the tensions in Republican rhetoric. On the one hand, they talk a good game about small government and individual liberty, but when it comes to sex, drugs, and rock and roll, some of them are all too eager to wield the power of the State to restrict liberty.
Doug Masson (dmasson) Mon 27 Mar 06 19:07
I believe I discussed Pulaski County's back and forth on the time zones somewhere upthread. Just thought I'd mention that one of the Pulaski County Commissioners just posted a comment to my blog on the issue. <http://www.masson.us/blog/?p=1296> That kind of thing always makes me happy.
Hal Royaltey (hal) Mon 27 Mar 06 23:19
Apparently California's Secretary of State has suddenly decided to approve the use of Diebold voting machines in the state in spite of their questionable reputation and a rather negative report about them from his own panel of experts. <http://www.insidebayarea.com/portlet/article/html/fragments/print_article.jsp? article=3528309> Given the brouhaha over Diebold corp, its president, and its voting machines in Ohio in 2004, I was wondering how Indiana is approaching the voting machine problem. Does an elected or appointed official make the approval decisions at the state level, or is it entirely county option? Has the subject of computerized voting machines arisen at all? More broadly - how does election management in general seem to be going in Indiana and the other Midwestern states?
Sharon Lynne Fisher (slf) Tue 28 Mar 06 05:05
It would have to have arisen; if I understood the Idaho Secretary of State correctly, HAVA required that all precincts had to have at least one by 2006.
Doug Masson (dmasson) Tue 28 Mar 06 18:20
Indiana is testing out a new registration verification system that is apparently responsive to the Help America Vote Act of 2002. It hit some kinks in its test drive a week or so ago. Republicans are calling them minor bumps, Democrats are calling it a disaster. I don't particularly believe either one of them. It's probably worse than the Republicans say and not as bad as the Democrats are claiming. (Not that I buy into an automatic "they all lie" mentality. Just my sense on this occasion.) Voting systems are done on a county-by-county basis. Some use the bad old Diebold machines. Others use optical scan ballots. Counties have to pick from systems that have been certified by the Secretary of State. There hasn't been much partisan activity challenging the reliability of the machines. I know that the Secretary of State's office got into a couple of dust ups with Diebold and one other machine maker over a couple of issues in 2004, but nothing much came of it. I believe one of them was caught installing updates or patches or something without having cleared it with the S.o.S. The big voting brouhaha in Indiana lately has been the new requirement imposed by Republicans requiring voters to produce a state or federal picture ID at the polls. Democrats are comparing it to a poll tax and saying it will disenfranchise older and minority voters. The main problem from my point of view are that there doesn't seem to be similar rigor in identifying absentee voters; the Republicans voted against an amendment that would have allowed alternate reliable forms of identification; and they're "fixing" a problem that didn't seem to be much of a problem.
Hal Royaltey (hal) Wed 29 Mar 06 00:30
Typical ... the Right is deathly afraid that somebody might get something (money, a vote, whatever) that they shouldn't, while the Left is afraid that somebody might get denied something to which they're entitled. To conjure up an ugly metaphor, I want to pick again at the scab of this fall's voting in the Midwest in general. As I noted before the coasts are mostly blue/Democratic/left-of-center - at least the big states are. Similarly, the South and the Great Empty Middle are largely red/Republican/right-of-center. There are exceptions like Colorado which is very purple these days, and some of the usually reliably-blue upper Midwest (Minnesota, Wisconsin) are turning purple, but it's still a reasonable generality. The Midwest is the swing area. Ohio has been R, but Republican politics there is particularly stinky right now with Coingate, and Gov Taft polling so abymally. I don't know how Gov Daniels and the rest of Indiana's Legilature and Congressonal delegation is polling. Like most Americans we can't judge politics in general by looking at our friends - our friends are not a randomly selected group. Yet you must have some feeling about how the major parties will fare this Fall. These may be the most important midterm elections in years. If the balance in the Senate tips, we might get some real investigations of what the Bush Adminstration has been up to for these last few years, as well as stopping some of the more egregious assaults on our liberties emerging from the House. If the House tips, then things could get really dicey for the Bushies. I'm not sure the country could stand another impeachment, but at least it would be better justified that the last one. Do you have any sense of the mood of the electorate in Indiana (Michigan, Illinois, Ohio, ...)? Any sense of disillusionment among the public that might translate to right-of-center voters staying home on election day? What sort of letters are being published in the local papers? What sort of grumbling do you hear at the local tavern?
Vote or whine (divinea) Wed 29 Mar 06 07:45
Actually, that's an interesting question, Hal. I'm in Michigan, in one of the most conservative parts of the country, and I have such a strong sense of the ground shifting here. I'm talking to lifelong conservative, religious Republicans, some of them quite elderly, who are just bitching up a storm about Bush. We're talking WWII and Viet Nam vets who are seriously making noises about voting Democratic in the midterms, they're so disgusted. I opened up the local paper this morning, and the letters to the editor were both anti-Bush. I can't remember that ever happening before.
Doug Masson (dmasson) Wed 29 Mar 06 08:30
Actually, the Boston Globe did a piece on the disillusionment of Indiana -- specifically the 2nd District (Chris Chocola's district) toward Bush and his policies. Article: http://www.boston.com/news/nation/articles/2006/03/19/change_of_heartland/ Blog entry: http://www.masson.us/blog/?p=1286 Things are looking pretty grim there for Chocola and Bush as far as the poll numbers and attitude of the public is concerned. The problem, I think, is with the local Democratic organizations. In the 2nd District, Joe Donnelly might be a decent candidate, but I don't think he or the local Democrats are as strongly organized as we'd hope. A South Bend Tribune columnist, Jack Colwell, points out, in response to the Globe article, that votes in Boston won't decide whether Chocola wins or loses. But, Colwell sees the Globe article as a sign of hope for Donnelly. He thinks Donnelly needs national support if he's going to defeat Chocola. In 2004, Donnelly got beat by Chocola fairly handily, but he was massively outgunned financially. And, that might happen again. Bush just dropped in and raised $600,000 for Chocola. There aren't any Democrats, particularly local Democrats, who warrant a $4,000 per photo contribution which was apparently the going rate for Bush. The DCCC didn't give Donnelly a dime last cycle. And, it might decide not to do so this cycle either. I'd put the Chocola/Donnelly race as 3rd on the list of potential Democratic pickups. The first two are Ellsworth v. Hostettler in the Bloody Eighth and the Hill v. Sodrel re-rematch in the 9th. This is just a long way of saying, I get the sense the Republicans are ripe to be knocked off this year. I'm not sure the Democrats are positioned to maximize their advantage. A lot of that might be a once bitten, twice shy reaction on my part. I thought for sure 2002 and 2004 would be better for Democrats, but that just didn't happen. Maybe the things I knew back then are only just now becoming widely known. This morning, I was in court in a particularly rural county and a lawyer whose politics I don't know for certain but who I suspect votes Republican more often than not commented that Gov. Daniels couldn't get elected dog catcher if he was running today. (Also one of the debtors from whom I was trying to collect told me that he didn't have a job because Gov. Daniels had cut positions from the Dept. of Natural Resources -- didn't even get notice, just a "it's been nice working with you" at the end of the day.)
Hal Royaltey (hal) Wed 29 Mar 06 14:56
> Chris Chocola I'm sorry, but I just can't see that man's name without thinking of Count Chocula, the horrible children's breakfast cereal. ------------------ > The problem, I > think, is with the local Democratic organizations. In the 2nd District, > Joe Donnelly might be a decent candidate, but I don't think he or the > local Democrats are as strongly organized as we'd hope. and > The DCCC didn't give Donnelly a dime > last cycle. And, it might decide not to do so this cycle either. This seems to be a nationwide, deeply-entrenched problem for the Democrats. Under the current national circumstances they ought to be wiping the floor with the Republicans. Bush's poll numbers are in the toilet. The public is unhappy with Bush's war and very nervous about the economy. [We went from budget surplus to budget deficit in Bush's very first year!] The trade deficit is enormous. The price of oil is skyrocketing. Ordinary people just can't get any economic traction, while the favored few rake in the billions. With all this and more in their favor - the Democrats can't seem to buy a clue anywhere. What on earth is the problem? Does the "God, guns, and gays" strategy still work that well?
Hal Royaltey (hal) Wed 29 Mar 06 15:19
Hmmpphh .. here's an interesting sidelight ... This site: http://www.surveyusa.com/50State2006/50StateBushApproval060315Approval.htm holds the results of a survey of 600 adults in each of the 50 states on their approval of GWB. Only four states (Utah, Wyoming, Alabama, and Idaho) give Bush a better than 50% rating. Only seven states (the prior four plus Mississippi, Nebraska, and Oklahoma) give Bush a net positive rating. Indiana ranks 18th - just behind Texas - in its approval of Bush. Ohio sits at 37th (tied with Arkansas and Pennsylvania), Michigan at 42nd (between Connecticut and Delaware and more disapproving of GeeDubya than even California). Quite a few states that went for Bush in 2004 are well below Indiana in their current (3/15/2006) approval. I wonder why he polls so well in Indiana?
Doug Masson (dmasson) Wed 29 Mar 06 19:00
I think Indiana polls differently than other Industrial Midwestern states because Indiana is a northern state with southern sensibilities. The same sorts of issues that play well in the South tend to play well in Indiana. Unlike Illinois, we don't have a huge city like Chicago in the north to offset the rest of the state. I think it has a lot to do with settlement patterns in Indiana. The first wave of settlement came into Indiana via the Ohio River in the South. The second wave came via the Wabash and the Great Lakes in the north. The center filled in more slowly. Ohio and Michigan have large boundaries on the Great Lakes. (And Michigan obviously doesn't extend very far south.) Illinois doesn't really have much more of a Great Lake shoreline than Indiana, so I'm not sure why Chicago got huge whereas, say, Gary stayed much smaller. In any event, I think Illinois has similar cultural sentiments in its southern regions, but they are dwarfed by the Chicago population. Indiana has a significant northern population, but nothing like Chicago. Indiana didn't fight on the side of the Confederacy, but my understanding is that it wasn't very enthusiastically on the side of the Union. There were a lot of Copperheads (Southern sympathizers) in Indiana, and I believe it was mostly through the efforts of semi-dictatorial Civil War Governor Oliver Morton that Indiana contributed to the Union. I seem to recall something about a government shut down and business interests footing the bill. Maybe I'm overly simplistic about the South, but I think the God, gays, and guns wedge issues play well there and, therefore, in Indiana as well.
Hal Royaltey (hal) Wed 29 Mar 06 19:27
Any thoughts on the Democrats' mind-boggling ability to continue to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory?
Doug Masson (dmasson) Thu 30 Mar 06 03:55
I don't really trust myself to comment accurately on the subject. I feel like Democrats are like a spouse that has been abused for too long. Their ability to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory seems to be borne of cringing fear of getting smacked around by the Republicans once again. But, it's a self-fulfilling prophecy. The more Democrats worry about their inability to win, the less likely they are to be able to win. I think Democrats need to get over their fear, say what they mean, stick to their guns, and just deal with any negativity being forthright may cause.
Hal Royaltey (hal) Thu 30 Mar 06 12:14
> I think Democrats need to get over their fear, say what they mean, stick > to their guns, and just deal with any negativity being forthright may > cause. Until recently, that's pretty much what the Republicans have done, and it's worked quite well for them (electorally at least). For the Republicans 40 years in the wilderness seems to have inspired them; for the Democrats 8 to 12 years (depending on where you draw the line) has only cowed them. It's too bad that we've developed a political system that only seems to allow two parties, because one of our parties has gone missing, and the other - unbalanced - is on a rampage and is ruining the country economically, socially, internationally, and militarily.
Doug Masson (dmasson) Thu 30 Mar 06 12:28
While the two party system has some issues, I don't think one of them going M.I.A for an extended period is necessarily one of them. I'm reasonably confident that if one party is leaving a vacuum, either the other established party or a new party will fill it reasonably quickly. The history of third parties in America seems to be one of recognizing an issue unaddressed by the other parties, causing some chaos as they gain a noticeable following, then fading away as one or both of the established parties rush to co-opt the issue.
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