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inkwell.vue.268 : Doug Masson - Masson's Blog: A Citizen's Guide to Indiana
permalink #26 of 89: 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. 
  
inkwell.vue.268 : Doug Masson - Masson's Blog: A Citizen's Guide to Indiana
permalink #27 of 89: 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?
  
inkwell.vue.268 : Doug Masson - Masson's Blog: A Citizen's Guide to Indiana
permalink #28 of 89: 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.
  
inkwell.vue.268 : Doug Masson - Masson's Blog: A Citizen's Guide to Indiana
permalink #29 of 89: 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.)
  
inkwell.vue.268 : Doug Masson - Masson's Blog: A Citizen's Guide to Indiana
permalink #30 of 89: 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.
  
inkwell.vue.268 : Doug Masson - Masson's Blog: A Citizen's Guide to Indiana
permalink #31 of 89: 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.
  
inkwell.vue.268 : Doug Masson - Masson's Blog: A Citizen's Guide to Indiana
permalink #32 of 89: 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.
  
inkwell.vue.268 : Doug Masson - Masson's Blog: A Citizen's Guide to Indiana
permalink #33 of 89: 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?
  
inkwell.vue.268 : Doug Masson - Masson's Blog: A Citizen's Guide to Indiana
permalink #34 of 89: 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 ...
  
inkwell.vue.268 : Doug Masson - Masson's Blog: A Citizen's Guide to Indiana
permalink #35 of 89: Doug Masson (dmasson) Mon 27 Mar 06 11:38
    
Perhaps we should all go on universal GMT and be done with it.
  
inkwell.vue.268 : Doug Masson - Masson's Blog: A Citizen's Guide to Indiana
permalink #36 of 89: 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.
  
inkwell.vue.268 : Doug Masson - Masson's Blog: A Citizen's Guide to Indiana
permalink #37 of 89: 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.
  
inkwell.vue.268 : Doug Masson - Masson's Blog: A Citizen's Guide to Indiana
permalink #38 of 89: 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?
  
inkwell.vue.268 : Doug Masson - Masson's Blog: A Citizen's Guide to Indiana
permalink #39 of 89: 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.
  
inkwell.vue.268 : Doug Masson - Masson's Blog: A Citizen's Guide to Indiana
permalink #40 of 89: 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. 
  
inkwell.vue.268 : Doug Masson - Masson's Blog: A Citizen's Guide to Indiana
permalink #41 of 89: 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?   
  
inkwell.vue.268 : Doug Masson - Masson's Blog: A Citizen's Guide to Indiana
permalink #42 of 89: 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. 
  
inkwell.vue.268 : Doug Masson - Masson's Blog: A Citizen's Guide to Indiana
permalink #43 of 89: 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.)
  
inkwell.vue.268 : Doug Masson - Masson's Blog: A Citizen's Guide to Indiana
permalink #44 of 89: 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?
  
inkwell.vue.268 : Doug Masson - Masson's Blog: A Citizen's Guide to Indiana
permalink #45 of 89: 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?  
  
inkwell.vue.268 : Doug Masson - Masson's Blog: A Citizen's Guide to Indiana
permalink #46 of 89: 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. 
  
inkwell.vue.268 : Doug Masson - Masson's Blog: A Citizen's Guide to Indiana
permalink #47 of 89: 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?
  
inkwell.vue.268 : Doug Masson - Masson's Blog: A Citizen's Guide to Indiana
permalink #48 of 89: 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. 
  
inkwell.vue.268 : Doug Masson - Masson's Blog: A Citizen's Guide to Indiana
permalink #49 of 89: 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.
  
inkwell.vue.268 : Doug Masson - Masson's Blog: A Citizen's Guide to Indiana
permalink #50 of 89: 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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