Friday, February 29, 2008
UPDATE: It turns out Goeglein is a serial plagiarist. He resigned his position in the Bush White House.
The Election Board incorrectly classified the Decatur-08 precinct (formerly Decatur-13 and Decatur-18) as in the 4th Congressional District instead of the 7th District. Therefore, when Decatur Township Assessor Jason Holliday, a voter in Decatur-08, sent in an application to vote on an absentee ballot, he was denied an absentee ballot. Mr. Holliday alerted Chairman John whereupon inquiries to the Election Board were made and it was learned that other voters in the precinct were either denied absentee ballots or some who received absentee ballots would not have their votes counted because of the lingering computer glitch which would prevent those votes from being counted. Amazingly, when asked, Clerk Beth White’s office indicated they were not going to make any effort to replace these absentee ballots or contact the voters.
Conveniently, the disenfranchisement of this Republican precinct will work to the advantage of the anointed Democratic candidate Andre Carson. Marion Co. GOP Chairman Tom John is demanding White correct the problem immediately to avoid a repeat of last year's primary where thousands of Marion Co. voters were denied their right to vote.
UPDATE: A change of heart on the part of White's office after the complaint became public according to this report from the Star's Brendan O'Shaughnessy.
Thursday, February 28, 2008
Chief of Police Michael Spears
Deputy Chief of Investigations William Benjamin
Deputy Chief of Operations John Conley
Deputy Chief of Administration Bryan Roach
Investigations Asst. Commander Lincoln Plowman
North District Major David Allender
Northeast District Major Becky Lake
Northwest District Major Paul Ciesielski
Southwest District Major Brian Mahone
Southeast District Major Clifford Myers
Downtown District Major Darryl Pierce
Tactical Operations Major Chad Knecht
According to a record of his transcript from Concordia University, which Carson had placed in his state personnel file, he began his undergraduate studies at Concordia University in the spring of 2001. Carson represented in an interview with the Star's Robert King that he took his undergraduate college courses at a satellite facility for the school in Hamilton County. Remarkably, Carson completed and earned his undergraduate degree in just 2 years and a summer term, finishing his last term in the summer of 2003 with 128 credit hours. His state personnel records indicate he earned an MBA from Indiana Wesleyan University in 2006. In other words, Carson managed to earn both an undergraduate and a master's degree in five years while he was employed full-time by the Indiana State Excise Police.
As someone who legitimately earned an undergraduate and a post-graduate degree, something isn't adding up here. For the record, I earned my undergraduate degree in 3 years and a summer term as a full-time student, and I was really pushing it hard. I earned my law school diploma in 3 years as a full-time student. I sure as hell couldn't have worked a full-time job and pulled that off. Do we have a child prodigy here in Andre Carson who is a quick learner? I doubt it. His personnel records show he finished 88th out of 89 in his class at the Indiana Law Enforcement Academy. As RiShawn Biddle aptly described Andre, we have a guy who is more qualified to be a Democratic precinct captain than a member of the U.S. Congress. The local news media is allowing a snow job to be pulled over on the voters of the 7th District to make us believe Andre Carson is something he is not. Would the local news media start doing their jobs and start asking the questions of this candidate that we the voters deserve to know?
Two days ago, citizen activist Adam Longworth, disgusted at what he saw, filed a complaint with the Marion County Board of Elections. In his complaint, Longworth conceded that the mere act of being photographed in uniform with a candidate was permitted under Indiana law. Today, I received a copy of the proposed letter (dated February 29, 2008) from the Board dismissing the complaint in part because of the exemption Longworth cited. "This exception appears to permit the actions you allege with regard to the appearance of uniformed officers in campaign advertisements," Andy Mallon writes in his response to Longworth's complaint. Mallon, however, conceded Longworth's complaint alleged potential actionable items concerning the location of the filming and photographing, although omitting the possibility of law violations occurring because the officers performed these acts while on duty. "In addition, the Election Board has reviewed your other allegations regarding the locations of acts you assert were taken by certain uniformed officers in light of the violations listed in IC 3-14-1 et seq over which the Election Board would have investigative jurisdiction," Mallon writes. Apparently, proving once again just how useless the Election Board is as an investigative body, Mallon's investigation consisted of one phone call to the Sheriff's legal counsel and the case was closed. Mallon writes:
Although it is not clear that the Election Board would have investigative jurisdiction over all of the matters you raise, the Election Board has taken the step of contacting legal counsel for the Marion County Sheriff's Department to determine whether that department could add any detail or context regarding your allegations. Based on that communication with the Sheriff's Department, we are not able to confirm your allegations that Sheriff's Department property was used for a Carson campaign "photo shoot" or that any unlawful conduct occurred as a result of the attendance by uniformed officers at "press conferences." Therefore, the Election Board does not have substantial reason to believe an election law violation has occurred, and no further investigation is warranted under IC 3-6-5-31 at this time.
Mallon's letter notes that Longworth failed to provide any copies of the complained of materials to support his allegation. Well, the phone call with Kevin Murray may have been good enough for Mallon but it's not good enough for public accountability. Mr. Murray, or his client Sheriff Anderson, need to tell the public now: 1) Who asked these law enforcement officers to participate in Carson's press conferences in full uniform and show up at a filming location to make commercials and campaign photos for the Carson campaign? 2) Were there any inter-office memoranda, letters or e-mails discussing the participation of Sheriff's department employees in these events? If so, let's see them. 3) What are the names of all members of the Sheriff's department who participated in these Carson campaign events? 4) What is the time and place where each of these acts occurred? 5) What is the stated working hours of each of the Sheriff's department employees who participated at these political events? 5) If any of these employees requested time off to engage in these political events, lets see the dated and signed requests of each of them. Until Sheriff Anderson's office provides answers to these questions, the public has a right to question whether his office is as interested in serving the public safety needs of Marion County as it is in the election of Andre Carson to Congress.
Representative David Orentlicher was at his desk but elected not to cast a vote. Representative Bosma demanded he do so but the Speaker closed the machine. Orentlicher says his voting machine was not operating correctly. Normally when that happens a lawmaker will just stand up and call for the Speaker's attention to register a vote. Orentlicher was silent even after Rep. Bosma called for his vote. The Democratic candidate for the 7th District Congressional general election nomination did go up afterwards and ask that his vote but registered but only after everyone in the body was watching.
He later told me he would petition for an aye vote so the proposed amendment did fail by a 50-50 vote, but it is always a little easier to make sure your vote would not alter the course of the bill or, heaven forbid, go against the Speaker's wishes.
Running for office is all about leadership. That means voting. Not watching. Not waiting. Not wishing no one would notice. Not having to defend a vote to your constituents. Now Rep. David Orentlicher will have to explain not only to the voters but to his own peers why he didn't cast a vote. Rep. Carolene Mays cast a vote and she is also a candidate for the general election nomination of the Democratic party in the 7th. Rep. Jon Elrod voted and he is the Republican candidate for the special election in the 7th congressional district. And they both will have to stand up and explain their votes but something tells me that will be a whole lot easier than trying to stand up and tell Hoosiers why you just sat there.
Rader makes some very salient observations about Orentlicher's inaction on an issue he has made a number one priority. To their credit, Rep. Elrod and Rep. Mays, both candidates for the 7th District race like Orentlicher, took a stand. Elrod stood with the Republicans in favoring the 1% cap on a homeowner's assessed value. Mays stood with the Democrats and their 1% cap on a homeowner's household income. I just don't understand what Orentlicher was thinking. He already faces an uphill battle against Andre Carson in the May primary. This doesn't help him in the least. Carson will no doubt throw up the "bold leadership" stance he has taken in his primary battle against him. Of course, Orentlicher will never defeat Carson in my opinion unless Carson loses the special election to Elrod. If Carson wins the special election, Orentlicher, Mays et al. won't have a prayer against Carson.
On Wednesday, nine Republicans joined Democrats in voting for HB 1153, including Senate President Pro Tempore David Long, R-Fort Wayne . . .
Long said business at the state's taverns has been hurt by tougher drunken-driving laws and smoking bans in recent years.
"The taverns are hurting for business," Long said, highlighting the law that allowed pull tabs for nonprofit organizations but not taverns.
"I thought they made a compelling argument that this doesn't create a problem with gambling in this state, and they were an unintended victim of the law last year."
Long's predecessor, Sen. Bob Garton, would have never allowed a vote on this legislation, let alone vote for it. He had become very weary of the dubious motives behind the folks lobbying lawmakers for gaming expansion in this state for good reason. It will be interesting to see which, if any, lawmakers get jobs as lobbyists after the session adjourns this year. The list just keeps growing. And wouldn't it be nice if the legislature devoted as much time on providing real property tax relief to the state's property taxpayers as it does in rewarding lawbreakers.
Wednesday, February 27, 2008
I have been very clear in my denunciation” of Farrakhan’s history of anti-Semitic remarks, Obama said at the Democratic debate in Cleveland, “I did not solicit his support.” Obama said he “can not censor” individual endorsements but said there is no affiliation with his campaign and Farrakhan. “I can’t say to somebody that he can’t say that he thinks I’m a good guy,” Obama said, citing his support among Jewish Americans and stating that he would make it a priority to soothe historically tense ties between the African-American and Jewish communities in the nation. “I have some of the strongest support from the Jewish community in my hometown of Chicago and in this campaign,” he said, describing himself as a “stalwart” on supporting Israel.
Obama's response wasn't good enough for Sen. Clinton. “There’s a difference between denouncing and rejecting,” she countered, “And I made it very clear that I did not want their support, I rejected it,” she said, “I would not be associated with people” that make such comments. Obama quickly responded. “I’m happy to concede the point and I would reject and denounce,” he said. “Good, good,” replied Clinton.
It's fascinating how the Carson campaign and its supporters continue to pummel this blogger for raising the issue of Farrakhan being invited to the funeral of the late U.S. Rep. Julia Carson to eulogize her and to offer his endorsement of grandson Andre Carson's candidacy to take her place in Congress. Russert, a Democrat, is considered by many to be one of the best political reporters in the country. If he saw it as a legitimate question to ask Obama about in a televised presidential debate, as clearly Sen. Clinton also did, am I wrong to raise the question? And why hasn't Carson rejected Farrakhan's support as Obama quickly did when he has been confronted with the question? Ironically, the Carsons back Sen. Clinton over Sen. Obama in the presidential race. And remember Rep. Stephanie Tubbs-Jones (D-OH), one of the "send my seed" congresswomen who eulogized Julia Carson and endorsed Andre's candidacy? She is under fire for suggesting in an interview this week that Somalia is Obama's native country, while she was defending a picture the Clinton campaign allegedly circulated around the Internet showing Obama dressed in native wear during a trip in the past to Kenya.
Councilman Mitch Harper, R-1st, was the lone member to oppose the abatement. He said he would have preferred to hold the issue until the state finalizes its property tax plan. Because the plan could cap the amounts of property taxes people can pay, tax abatements could cost city and other governments needed revenue.
Harper is astutely aware of the property tax cap plan pending in the Indiana General Assembly and the compounded impact of granting abatements. Even without the looming tax cap plan, the fact remains that every time government abates property taxes for one taxpayer, the burden of funding the costs of local government and schools shifts to other property taxpayers. City leaders in Indianapolis need to be more wary about granting tax abatements like the one Fort Wayne just handed out for this project. Last year, Indianapolis approved a $2.7 million, 10-year tax abatement for the Cosmopolitan On The Canal project, which is a mix of apartments and retail, among many other tax abatements. A substantial portion of Indianapolis' downtown has benefited from tax abatements or lies within a TIF district, which diverts property taxes collected on improved properties away from taxing districts to pay for improvements within the TIF district.
Hat tip to Hoosier Access, which has a video clip (via Fort Wayne Politics) of Harper providing a good explanation of how local governments will have to rethink their approach to granting abatements if we truly favor an approach of capping property taxes as suggested by Gov. Mitch Daniels and as passed by the Senate just this week after clearing the House earlier.
As the grandson of the late Indiana congresswoman Julia Carson and the favorite of the Indianapolis political machine she so carefully cultivated in her lifetime, Andre Carson should be a shoo-in to take over her open congressional seat.
The fact that the district is a Democrat stronghold, along with the backing he has gotten from such prominent leaders as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and U.S. Senator (and fellow scion) Evan Bayh, should ease his path to power.
But as the seat comes up for a special election next month, Carson petit-fils is struggling to defeat his Republican opponent, Jon Elrod, who made a splash two years ago by ousting a Democrat from the state house from a seat that both he and his brother had held for 30 years.
At the same time, Carson junior faces challenges from three heavy hitters within his own party in the congressional primary in May. If he can clear both of those hurdles, he will still have to take on Elrod again in the general election in November.
He is also is dogged by suspicions about his ties to the Islamic community, especially after Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan essentially endorsed the younger Carson during a eulogy at his grandmother's funeral two months ago. Carson the younger distances himself from Farrakhan by claiming that his grandmother invited him. Said Carson in a recent interview about his faith: "I am multifaceted."
Biddle takes on the corrupt political culture in Center Township that has taken its toll on the city's African-American community and the old-style black political machine it represents. He has particularly harsh words about both older and younger Carson politicos. Biddle writes:
The younger Carson could manage to keep the seat in the family. But his struggles show the difficulty of sustaining old-style black political machines, many of which were built during the Civil Rights era on race-baiting, appeals to black pride, and the doling out of welfare benefits.
As younger generations of blacks realize the extent of the damage to their communities wrought by this archaic form of leadership, even heirs apparent will strain to articulate reasons for continuing the status quo . . .
Carson fils is a onetime rapper, former state excise police officer and flunky in the state's homeland security agency. He snagged his only political office -- a seat on Indianapolis' city-county council -- after one of his grandmother's proteges resigned when it was revealed that he didn't live in the district. Although physically imposing, the soft-spoken youngster lacks his grandmother's authoritativeness . . .
The corrupt antics of the elder Carson's allies -- especially then-council president Monroe Gray -- along with rising crime and a 65-percent increase in the city's county-option income tax, finally brought voter anger to a boil.
Those scandals and grievances reminded voters of the reality that quality of life hardly improved under Carson's grandmother. The city's largest school district, Indianapolis Public Schools, admitted that four in ten students who made up its original class of 2007 dropped out, while another 13 percent will likely follow. The city's job base, once far more robust than its Rust Belt rivals', has barely grown this decade.
Blacks, including the 25 percent who live in poverty, were especially hard hit as seven years of skyrocketing felonies -- including a near-record 153 reported homicides in 2006 -- devastated their neighborhoods. This decline, along with the corruption of her allies and her own dirty politicking, colors the very legacy of the elder Carson on which her grandson is running. His own brief record resembles a typical black Democrat precinct captain rather than a change-agent, which essentially makes him a creature of the very culture voters are rejecting.
While Biddle is critical of Carson, he speaks approvingly of his GOP opponent. "So a challenger like Elrod, a socially moderate Republican who is known for attending closely to his constituents, would seem more attractive than the younger Carson, who, like his grandmother, represents more of the same," he writes.
It's too bad a voice like Biddle's no longer exists at the Star. He was driven out of town by the corrupt Carson political machine because he spoke the truth about them from the perspective of an educated, informed and independent voice within the African-American community. His departure has left a real vacuum in local news media coverage on these matters, leaving Amos Brown alone to practice the tired and worn out race-baiting in which he engages every election in this city to galvanize black voters to fall in line with the corrupt Carson political machine.
Hat tip to the numerous Advance Indiana readers who e-mailed a link to Biddle's article today.
Tuesday, February 26, 2008
As we are all aware, the cornerstone of a free and democratic society is the election process whereby ordinary, everyday citizens are responsible for choosing the people who will represent them. It is of the utmost importance that the integrity of each and every election be maintained to prevent those that the people DO NOT elect from being put into office.
I am not the person to sit back and simply refuse to speak up when there is a breach in said integrity. I have been perturbed lately to see several violations of election law which would typically have been picked up by the mainstream media go unchecked and indeed unmentioned.
Therefore this will constitute a formal complaint against the Andre Carson campaign. Over the last week or so, Mr. Carsonʼs campaign has had two press conference in which Marion County Sheriffʼs deputies, dressed in their full uniform have been seen in plain view of the camera. This of course is illegal, not only for the Andre Carson campaign, but also for those deputies involved. There was also a press conference at Forest Manor Multi-Service involving Mr. Carson. Forest Manor Multi-Service center located at 5603 east 38th street. This center is a not for profit and having a political press conference at a not for profit is illegal as well. This could mean that the not-for-profit could have its tax exemption revoked.
The question has also been raised in regards to the campaign ads that Mr. Carsonʼs campaign has released as of late. They depict three sheriffsʼ deputies, one of whom is Kerry Forrestal (the other two names escape me at the moment) listening to Mr. Carson while they pose for a photo, and while they are in their uniforms. While this in of itself is not illegal by state statute, the question has been raised as to the location of the photo shoot and whether or not these officers were on the clock. I believe this also requires investigation. It is believed, from reliable sources, that the photo shoot took place in the Marion county jail; possibly a conference room. Clearly city utilities including electricity and gas were used to illuminate and heat this space as the shoot
I believe most of the offenses can be covered by the following statute:
IC 3-14-1-6 Solicitation, challenge, or performance of election function by state police department employee, police officer, or firefighter
Sec. 6. (a) A state police department employee or a police officer or firefighter (including a special duty, auxiliary, or volunteer police officer or firefighter) of a political subdivision who recklessly:
(1) solicits votes or campaign funds;
(2) challenges voters; or
(3) performs any other election related function;while wearing any identifying insignia or article of clothing that is part of an official uniform or while on duty commits a Class A misdemeanor . . .
If any officer is found to be in violation of this statute, they can be charged with a class A misdemeanor.
As I stated before, I believe these issues need to be addressed immediately. The integrity of the electoral process depends on it.
“Jon Elrod is the proven small business candidate in this race,” said Lisa Goeas, NFIB’s vice president, political. “The positions he has taken as a local leader, state legislator, and those he espouses as a candidate for Congress indicate his strong support for small business, specifically in keeping taxes low, giving small business owners increased access to health care, and reducing burdensome regulations.”
“As a partner in a small law firm, he knows what it takes to run a small business, and his legal practice is focused on helping small businesses deal with tax and legal issues,” she added. Goeas also noted that Elrod supports making current tax cuts permanent, simplifying the tax code and controlling government spending. His positions on healthcare, NFIB members’ biggest concern, includes support for measures that make access to quality healthcare more affordable by allowing small businesses to pool together, expanding health savings accounts and making healthcare costs more fully deductible.
Democratic candidate Andre Carson refused to respond to the organization's questionnaire. He's been out collecting fat checks from big labor, which is excited about Carson's plans to nearly double the federal minimum wage to $12 an hour, sock businesses with new taxes and have the government take over health care. Interestingly, I sent an e-mail to the Greater Indianapolis Chamber of Commerce asking for a response to Carson's call for a $12 an hour federal minimum wage. The organization, which has a recent history of supporting tax and spend liberals, did not respond. I'll let you know if I hear from them after they've heard from some of their members.
The Elrod campaign also is responding to the negative attack ads Carson's campaign has been running against him with all the out-of-state special interest money Carson has been collecting. "For the second time in as many weeks we have seen the Carson Campaign digress into a series of negative attacks, this time on radio, against Jon Elrod," Elrod stated earlier today from the campaign trail, “The Carson Negative Campaign Tactics are tired and without value to the voters.” In fact, some of these dirty tricks were illegal and as result landed Carson and his DC henchmen in hot water for copyright infringement. Elrod's complaints centers primarily on a claim by the Carson ads that he intends to privatize social security. Elrod has actually said he wants to allow younger workers an opportunity to invest in private investment accounts, in addition to participating in social security. Responding to the negative attack ad, Elrod said:
“My campaign is going to continue to talk about job creation and how to help our senior’s age with dignity. We must come to a point in our country where we can address challenges and talk about solutions with clarity and honesty.” Elrod believes there should be no changes to our Social Security system for any American age fifty plus. Elrod understands making social security solvent is a must. Elrod also knows The United States cannot keep up with the rate of growth in entitlement programs, and as a result wants to make the necessary decisions to guarantee future generations a share of a noble social program. “There is nothing wrong with allowing a 20 year old the right to have a little more to say in where his investment dollar goes.” and his DC henchmen in hot water for copyright infringement.
Elrod challenged Carson to spell out how he plans to save the current social security system. “In order to keep up Carson will have to raise taxes, or push up the retirement age. Which one will it be Andre?” Elrod added he would be more than happy to have a debate on what he called “senior issues” with Andre Carson. Carson's use of social security to scare senior citizens is just more of the same crap Democrats use election after election to beat up on their Republican opponents. They used to always tell seniors their Republican opponent was going to cut social security. Now they claim they're going to privatize it entirely. Andre had a quote he was using to discuss privatization the other night at the candidate's forum. To paraphrase, he said privatization is just another vacation for a corporate CEO." It makes no sense, particularly for a guy who has a job working for a company that ought to be thankful government privatizes its public construction work. Without it, his so-called "marketing specialist" job wouldn't exist, but don't expect Andre, a career government employee, to understand that.
Meanwhile, stories of multiple campaign and ethical lapses by the Carson campaign go unreported by our local news media. WISH-TV's campaign filed a copyright complaint against the DCCC for an attack video it aired on the Internet, which featured reports by WISH-TV political reporter Jim Shella on Carson's opponent, State Rep. Jon Elrod. It must have been a valid complaint because the negative attack video has disappeared from YouTube. "This video is no longer available due to a copyright claim by LIN Television Corporation (WISH-TV's parent company)," says YouTube. Not surprisingly, Shella, ever the pro-Carson reporter, never mentioned the violation in his reporting on the campaign. Hat tip to Polis Politics.
Complaints continue to roll in from LEOs that Sheriff's department personnel are electioneering on behalf of the Carson campaign in uniform and on the taxpayers' dime, even using a county building to photograph and film for the benefit of the Carson campaign. Advance Indiana reported earlier on a press conference Carson held with Indiana's First Responders last week at which several LEOs participated in uniform, including Chief Deputy Sheriff Kerry Forestal. Also, WXNT talked about a press conference Sheriff Anderson was holding with Carson, along with U.S. Rep. Brad Ellsworth, a former sheriff, at Forest Manor Multi-Service Center, Inc. The problem here is that Forest Manor is supposed to be a not-for-profit and is therefore barred from engaging in partisan politics. The organization receives grants from the county, as well as other governmental agencies. Sen. Jean Breaux, a big Carson supporter, is employed there. The group's Vice President and board member is former CCC President Monroe Gray, also a Carson campaign supporter. Don't expect to read about any of these transgressions in your local news media. They're too busy helping to ensure Carson's victory to report on such matters.
Socially conservative Republicans look at Jon Elrod's position on gay marriage and question whether he is true to his party.
Democrats look at Elrod's suburban, almost rural upbringing and question whether he is fit to represent an urban congressional district.
And others look at Elrod's life -- an amateur stage actor and former rugby player who studied abroad in London -- and note that he hardly seems a typical Indiana lawmaker, much less a Hoosier Republican.
Elrod, it seems, doesn't mind being seen as a guy willing to thwart convention. By trying to defeat Democrat Andre Carson in a special election March 11 for the 7th District congressional seat, he's clearly bucking conventional wisdom. Carson's grandmother, the iconic Julia Carson, held the seat for a decade until her death in December.
And Elrod was the lone Republican in the Indiana House -- out of 49 -- who refused to sign a petition demanding a floor vote on an amendment that would effectively make gay marriages, already illegal, also unconstitutional. Elrod hasn't had a chance to vote on the matter yet. But he says he is willing to become the first Republican in the General Assembly to vote against the amendment in the four years it has been an issue.
Stalwarts among Hoosier conservatives such as Eric Miller say his stance "puts him at odds" with the Republican Party. Some conservative bloggers have gone as far as to call Elrod a "fake Republican" or a RINO -- Republican in Name Only.
The irony with Elrod's opposition to the marriage amendment is that Elrod said his position is rooted in a basic Christian principle.
"I think marriage is a sacrament. That means it is something ordained by God. To have government dictating what that is is generally a bad idea," he said. "Right now we define marriage pretty poorly by the government. You are married just as long as you want to be. . . . "That is not at all what my church teaches."
Elrod, who is single and a lifelong United Methodist, has seen marriages dissolve in front of him regularly through his law practice, which includes divorce cases. But he said his position on marriage -- that it is a church matter, not a state matter -- is also grounded in the writings of C.S. Lewis, the Christian sage behind "The Chronicles of Narnia," and a host of Christian books.
Elrod grew up attending University Heights United Methodist on the Southside and has more than a casual fascination with church history. He spent three years studying theology at Christian Theological Seminary in Indianapolis, mostly out of desire to learn more on a subject he enjoys talking about. He remains a thesis shy of a master's degree.
In recent years, Elrod has been ensconced Downtown at Roberts Park United Methodist, a church with a thriving homeless outreach and more than its share of liberal Democrats, including blogger and Indiana Democratic Party communications director Jennifer Wagner.
Elrod, Wagner said, is a good guy. But don't look for her to provide him campaign ad material. As she puts it, "I've never seen him kicking any puppies."
Elrod, 30, has charted his own course in other ways.
Through high school, college and his adult life, Elrod has played a number of roles on the stage. He was the male lead in "The Gift of the Magi." He was the sword-fighting Inigo Montoya in "The Princess Bride" and cast as the fastidious Felix in "The Odd Couple."
He played rugby while an undergraduate at Cincinnati's Xavier University, giving it up only after knocking his shoulder out of socket for a third time.
As a history major, he spent a semester studying abroad in northern England at Harlaxton College, where both dorms and living quarters are housed in a 19th century English manor house. He used the location to his advantage, traveling to Scotland, Ireland and Belgium.
As a law student at Indiana University, he spent a semester studying British law in London and serving an internship with a wig-wearing English barrister.
To get the most from the experience, he chose not to live with other Americans but instead stayed in a house with a cluster of students from around the world -- Aussies, New Zealanders and a German, among others. Together, they navigated the quirky London neighborhood of Brixton, known for its African, Caribbean and Middle Eastern immigrants and as home of the mosque where the shoe bomber drew his inspiration . . .
And he said his five-year career in the law -- handling issues such as wills, custody matters, business formations and personal injury cases -- have given him a fundamental knowledge of how laws affect people's lives.
Monday, February 25, 2008
This slating system in both parties in Marion County has got to go. The Democrats didn't even bother to require their incumbent judges to face opposition. They were automatically given one of the eight slots on the ballot. The challengers had to fight among themselves for the open slots. What happened at the Democrats' slating for the 7th District congressional race was downright criminal. The vote was simply stolen and everyone knows it. Non-compliant committeepersons were simply replaced with compliant committeepersons. Democrats, particularly Marion County Auditor Billie Breaux, should be ashamed of her treatment of other Democrats in her pursuit of Andre Carson's anointment to the 7th District seat. First, she was extremely rude to Rep. Carolene Mays at an earlier candidates forum, basically accusing her of being a Republican. And then at a recent fundraising dinner for Indiana Equality she tore into State Rep. David Orentlicher for daring to challenge her dear Andre for the 7th district nomination. Rep. Orentlicher could not have been more supportive in the past of Rep. Carson and many of the other Center Township Democrats, but it counts for nothing when you dare to oppose them and one of their candidates. Our system of electing folks here in Marion County makes us the laughing stock of the country. We deserve the absolute worst government we have for allowing this to happen year after year.
"I hope he has the opportunity to meet Karl Marx very soon," McCain told a town-hall style meeting of about 150 people, referring to communist theoretician Marx who died on March 14, 1883.
Castro, 81, announced on Tuesday he was stepping down as president and Commander-in-chief of Cuba's armed forces after 49 years in power. His brother Raul Castro is expected to be named Cuba's new head of state on Sunday.
"Apparently he is trying to groom his brother Raul," McCain said. "Raul is worse in many respects than Fidel was."
McCain's comment might play well with Florida's Cuban-American population, but it's not the kind of talk one would expect from a person who wants to be our Commander In Chief. And by the way, could he have used the term "by the way" any more times during that rambling speech? He's a totally uninspiring leader aside from being a poor public speaker. Not much to look forward to this fall on the Republican ticket.
Andre Carson's greatest political asset may be his grandmother's name, but one of his biggest liabilities is proving to be her funeral.
That's because his family gave a spot in the parade of dignitaries who eulogized Congresswoman Julia Carson to Louis Farrakhan, whom Jewish leaders consider one of America's leading anti-Semites, gay rights activists consider a homophobe and who famously referred to white people as "devils."
In recent weeks, Andre Carson has been reassuring Jewish leaders here and in Washington that Farrakhan's appearance wasn't his idea. He has spoken publicly about his distaste for discrimination, homophobia or racism of any kind. He has talked repeatedly of his desire for unity.
But the Farrakhan episode also called attention to something that went largely unrecognized before -- that Andre Carson is a Muslim and that, if elected March 11, he would be Indiana's first Muslim representative in Congress and only the second in U.S. history.
How his faith will factor with voters, if at all, is unknown. But in a post-September 11 world, it has led some of his own campaign advisers to interject, without being prompted, that Andre Carson is not an Osama bin Laden Muslim. And since the funeral -- which included Farrakhan's own plug for Carson's candidacy -- the young Carson has been trying to explain that he also is not a Louis Farrakhan Muslim.
Carson says his faith is just part of who he is. "It is not the totality. Like every other human being, I have various faces," he said. "I am multifaceted."
Carson explains in the story how he was originally drawn to the Nation of Islam but turned off by what he called Farrakhan's, divisiveness, admitting, however, that he attended Farrakhan's Million Man March in D.C. in 1995. King writes:
Perhaps most transformative, though, was the "Autobiography of Malcolm X," the story of a complex man who preached black separatism as a spokesman for the Nation of Islam only to moderate his views before his death.
That story -- and the young Nation of Islam men patrolling his neighborhoods -- made Andre curious, he said. But he couldn't get past the divisiveness embodied by Farrakhan.
"That did not match my experiences or personal beliefs," Carson said. "So, for me, it was like it was good to see the drug dealers being pushed out. But the philosophy and the ideology do not match who I am."
Even so, Carson attended Farrakhan's Million Man March in 1995 -- with a white friend, he says -- because of his interest in black men taking responsibility, rather than any aspect of Farrakhan's persona.
"I was one of the many people," Carson points out, "who didn't agree with everything he said. Still don't."
Muhammad Siddeeq, the father of a friend, helped Carson sort through things. He spent hours answering Carson's questions about Islam, the Nation and Farrakhan. "It was really touching for me," Siddeeq said, "because he was such a youngster and he was seeking clarification."
Andre confronted a choice many young black men considering Islam face, Siddeeq said: To follow Farrakhan and the Nation of Islam, with its street credibility on social matters but record of divisiveness, or more universal Islamic teachings that promote tolerance. At crunch time, Siddeeq said, Carson chose tolerance.
"This man," Siddeeq said, "moved in the spirit of what was right and what was wrong and he made the right decision, at the right time."
Julia Carson and Louis Farrakhan go way back.
They were together, says Andre's wife, on the night Andre Carson was born. They were acquainted from Farrakhan's visits to meetings of the Congressional Black Caucus. When Farrakhan came to Indianapolis in 1997, Julia showed up at Farrakhan's news conference and gave him a hug. And as she lay dying in her Near-Northside home, Farrakhan called to wish her well.
Andre Carson knew little of the personal history. He said he had never met Farrakhan. Word of Farrakhan's phone call came to him from his grandmother's professional caregivers, and from Julia herself. As a grandson, Carson insists he was far from the final voice on her arrangements. But he still sought advice from Siddeeq, who said he must honor his grandmother's wishes . . .
So, in the end, he says he chose to honor his grandmother's wishes for her funeral. But matters grew more complicated for him when Farrakhan, while speaking over Julia's casket gave what essentially amounted to an endorsement of Andre as his grandmother's political successor. It was something he and his campaign staffers say he could easily lived without. It sparked letters to the editor referring to Andre as Farrakhan's emissary. Indianapolis political blogger Gary Welsh says Carson should repudiate Farrakhan's endorsement.
"If he disapproves of what he stands for then you wouldn't want his endorsement for the office you are seeking. And I've never heard that," Welsh wrote.
Jewish leaders initially were concerned as well. They asked for a meeting with Carson, heard his explanation of the invitation and accepted it, according to Marcia Goldstone, of the Jewish Community Relations Council. Carson met with the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, the most powerful Jewish lobby in Washington, which their spokesman, Josh Block, describes as "a good conversation."
Brian Vargus, a political scientist at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, said the Farrakhan flap has been overblown because the minister is, in his view, largely irrelevant to most voters. He says the fact that the 7th Congressional District leans heavily Democratic should override other factors. But he said it will be interesting to sees if political opponents will try to make an issue of Carson's faith.
But polling last year by The Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life suggests that it already is. Pew's survey found that 45 percent of Americans say a candidate would be less likely to garner their support if he or she holds the Muslim faith.
Carson has tried to deflect this, saying his faith is merely a compartment in his life. And indeed his support for abortion and gay rights would be at odds with many Muslims, whose views on social matters tend to be conservative. He has said little about Middle East peace other than he supports a secure Israel and a two-state solution to peace process for Israel and the Palestinians.
He has spent the bulk of his adult life -- nine years -- as an officer with the State Excise Police, a plainclothes job enforcing alcohol, tobacco and gambling laws. He also spent nearly a year dealing with counter-terrorism efforts at the state Department of Homeland Security, where Carson says he worked as a watch supervisor in a job that worked with the FBI, the CIA and the Drug Enforcement Administration on issues ranging from supremacist groups to threats of terrorism.
Sunday, February 24, 2008
Carson: Carson grew up on Park Street, in a Near-Northside neighborhood just south of Fall Creek. He describes it as living in "Dodge City" for all of the gunfire around him. Gang wars and drug dealers were a part of the landscape. He took part in a neighborhood crime watch that reported drug activity. Walking home one day he met a friend who told of being molested by a man nearby. "We lived in the 'hood," Carson says. The experiences contributed to his decision to enter law enforcement. Today, the area is part of the restored Fall Creek Place neighborhood, where he lives with his wife and child.
Elrod: Elrod grew up on his family's bucolic 14-acre homestead on the Southeastside of the county, east of Southport. He and his three brothers swam and fished in a pond on the property, which also had a volleyball court and a basketball hoop. There was a creek he would prowl with his mother and collect snakes. He dreamed of becoming a paleontologist. The trees around the house were thick enough to make Arlington Avenue and the nearby homes all but invisible. His mother describes it as "heavenly." Elrod now lives Downtown.
Comment: Carson was clearly trying to use this as an opportunity to prove his bona fides as being raised in the "hood." Elrod's boyhood is idyllic, what else can you say.
Carson: Carson's mother and father never married. For much of his life, his father was absent. He describes his mother as loving, but troubled with personal problems he declines to discuss. Those troubles contributed to them being forced to live temporarily in a homeless shelter when he was a preschooler. From there he was raised by his grandmother Julia Carson, who became like a mother (photo at left). Aside from love, Andre says she taught him responsibility, requiring him at age 14 to start paying her $50 in monthly rent. He earned the money by working part-time in car washes and moving stuff for a construction company.
Elrod: Elrod's parents have been married 43 years. His father, Bob Elrod, is a lawyer. His mother, Bev Elrod, stayed home with her four sons. Jon, who has a twin brother, Jerry, and his other brothers attended the same elementary school their father had. His grandparents lived next door and helped with child care.
Comment: "The most important things I can pass on to my daughter are the values that my family taught me," is the line Carson uses in his campaign commercials. What values he's talking about is quite unclear. It's obvious he had two absent parents by his own description who never bothered with marriage or raising their children. The part of this story I find unbelievable is that his grandmother started charging him rent of $50 a month when she took him in at age 14. By today's standard that would be about $125 a month. Either she was cold-hearted and greedy or Carson is exaggerating on this point. Grandma certainly doesn't come off looking good on this one. By comparison, Elrod grew up in a traditional family, with two loving, married parents raising their four sons. And he had a stay at home mom with the grandparents living next door. It doesn't get any better.
Carson: As a kid, he played football and basketball.
Elrod: He played Little League baseball and soccer. But in high school he moved on to wrestling and the pole vault. In college at Xavier University, he joined a rugby club (photo at right) and bulked up to endure its bruising nature. But he had to drop the sport after dislocating his shoulder a third time.
Comment: As someone who wasn't/isn't good at sports, I'll leave the comments to the readers.
Carson: "The Autobiography of Malcolm X: As Told To Alex Haley." Carson was struck by the complexities of the black activist who was first committed to the black separatist teachings of the Nation of Islam but, just before his death, embraced a more unifying message. "I was fascinated by his journey," Carson said. He found the book while trying to understand the Black Muslim influences he saw in the neighborhood. Carson said the more tolerant message of Malcolm X's later years, following his turn to more traditional Islam, appealed to him.
Elrod: "The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt." Elrod can trace the life and career of the nation's 26th president from memory. He favorite parts include the fights against corruption and pioneering efforts in conservation. As a boy, Roosevelt became a wrestler to gain physical strength. So, too, did Elrod. Both were elected to their Statehouse seats in their 20s. Elrod's entrance into politics was inspired partly by TR's quote: "It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena. . ."
Comment: To someone like me, all the talk about Malcolm X, Nation of Islam, etc. just confirms that Carson sees everything in terms of race and that does not project a message of unity as Carson claims he represents. I'm sick of that mentality as are many people. Given Elrod's commitment to being an agent for change, it comes as no surprise that Teddy Roosevelt is one of his political heroes.
Carson: Carson was a rap artist with the stage name Juggernaut, performing at local variety shows and making some local recordings. He learned to rap almost as a matter of self-preservation because of the threat of rap battles he constantly faced in the school lunchroom and on the streets. To be found unprepared was a recipe for embarrassment and ridicule. "It was a peaceful way of deciding who was the wittiest, who was the best wordsmith, who could throw out the biggest words. You would study all night with the Webster's dictionaries." He did some break dancing until his grandmother objected to how dirty it left his shirts.
Elrod: Elrod has an extensive career as an amateur stage actor. In high school, he had the male lead in "Gift of the Magi" and played the Spaniard Inigo Montoya in a student production of "The Princess Bride" -- even choreographing the sword fighting scenes. In college, he helped found a law school drama society that performed plays with legal themes, including a take on "12 Angry Men." Recently he won the role of Felix in a community theater foray into "The Odd Couple." In school bands he played the baritone, trombone and tuba.
Comment: These two guys are as different as oil and water.
Carson: Julia Carson, of course. His grandmother was a state legislator for 18 years and served a decade in Congress, from 1997 until her death in December. Andre worked on her campaigns and was a party to countless dinner-table chats with his grandmother on politics. In 1984, she took him to the Democratic National Convention in San Francisco -- an experience he calls transformative.
Elrod: He comes from a political family. His grandfather, French Elrod, was a Marion County commissioner from 1955-65. His father, Bob Elrod, has been the Republican attorney for the City-County Council since 1970. Both his mother and father are longtime Republican committee workers. His parents particularly identify with the politics of Indiana Sen. Richard Lugar -- fiscally conservative, strong on defense.
Comment: It's what is not written here. People in the GOP will tell you that Elrod's family never pulled any strings to help him get elected. He earned the offices to which he was elected in his own right. Carson, on the other hand, relied exclusively on the help of his grandmother and political cronies to attain every job he's gotten in life.
Carson: Carson has a bachelor's degree in criminal justice management from Concordia University-Wisconsin through its satellite campus in Hamilton County. He has a master's in business management from Indiana Wesleyan University.
Elrod: Elrod has a bachelor's degree in history from Xavier University in Cincinnati and a law degree from Indiana University.
Comment: This is an issue I've discussed before which the local news media has completely ignored. If you accepted their education at face value, you would get the impression both candidates have earned undergraduate and post-graduate degrees. Carson's education claims are extremely suspect. We are to believe that Carson, while working full-time as a state police excise officer, earned a bachelor's degree from a Wisconsin university by traveling up to Carmel for night classes between Spring, 2001 and Spring, 2003. In his last semester, he earned 21 credit hours, bringing his total credit hours to 128. The school allowed him to transfer 6 hours from Ivy Tech and another 14 hours from the Indiana Police Academy, where he finished 88th out of 89 in his class. He got 20 hours of in-service credit. Sorry folks, but you don't have to be a skeptic to question this degree. Elrod graduated magna cum laude from Xavier University, which King omitted from Elrod's education credentials. Both his undergraduate and law degrees are from respected universities. They are legitimate.
Carson: In 2001, he married Mariama Shaheed-Carson. They have a 14-month old daughter, Salimah, whose name means "peaceful" in Arabic. Mariama, 32, is an assistant principal at Snacks Crossing Elementary School in Pike Township. She is the daughter of Marion Superior Court Judge David Shaheed.
Elrod: Elrod is single.
Comment: King has a bias against single persons.
Carson: When he was little, his mother made him read Bible stories and report on them each night before bed. He was baptized in a Baptist church. Through seventh grade he attended St. Rita's, a Catholic school, and considered the priesthood until he hit puberty. As a teen, he read the Talmud, ancient Jewish teachings, and the Bhagavad-Gita, the Hindu scripture. In high school, he became drawn to Islam by the sight of crisply dressed Nation of Islam members in his neighborhood. He sought guidance from Imam Muhammad Siddeeq, who briefly counseled Mike Tyson. Carson converted to traditional Islam in the mid-1990s. His mosque, Nur-Allah Islamic Center, closely identifies with Wallace Deen Mohammed, who abandoned the race-based theology of the Nation of Islam for the more universal teachings of traditional Islam.
Elrod: He has spent his entire life in the United Methodist Church, the diverse Mainline denomination home to both George W. Bush and Hillary Rodham Clinton. Growing up, he attended University Heights United Methodist Church on the Southside. While at Indiana University, he served as the sexton at a Methodist church in Bloomington. He now attends Roberts Park United Methodist Church Downtown. He is a thesis shy of attaining a master's in theology from Christian Theological Seminary in Indianapolis -- not because of interest in becoming a pastor but more for the sake of learning.
Comment: More talk about Nation of Islam. No mention of Carson's ties to Louis Farrakhan, C'mon, Robert King, it's the elephant in the room none of you media folks want to discuss because you know how much it infuriates white voters in the 7th District. Elrod and I are both Methodists. He still attends church regularly. I don't. [Update: The front page of the print edition carries a tag line saying on Monday the newspaper will carry a story entitled, "Carson Faces Concerns About His Muslim Faith." Again, the concern isn't that he is a Muslim. The concern is with his ties to the controversial Louis Farrakhan. It seems the media can only discuss it in those terms to try to turn the table on those raising questions about the Farrakhan connection to make them appear bigoted against the Islamic religion and deflect attention to the bigoted and anti-Semitic teachings of Farrakhan.
Carson: Carson is a marketing specialist. He joined Cripe Architects + Engineers, a local firm that specializes in designing schools as well as commercial projects, last year. He spent nine years as an officer with the State Excise Police, which enforces alcohol, tobacco and gambling laws, primarily in the area of sales to minors and illegal gambling machines. For nearly a year, he was detached to the Indiana Department of Homeland Security's Intelligence Fusion Center, a multi-agency force that works to prevent terrorism, major crimes and narcotics trafficking. He was a watch officer, supervising intelligence analysts.
Elrod: Elrod is a lawyer. For five years, he has worked in the law practice established by his grandfather and continued by his father, Elrod & Mascher. He handles everything from personal injury cases to divorces to bankruptcies -- everything but criminal law. He has both defended corporations and sued them. "Nothing is too big and nothing is too small," he said.
Comment: Amazing how Carson can take those jobs his grandmother got him and make them seem impressive. Elrod and I are both lawyers. Is there any better way to earn a living?
Carson: Carson has received strong support from national Democratic Party leaders, including a fundraiser earlier this month in Washington, D.C., and is using an experienced Washington consultant. Locally, he inherited much of his grandmother's political machine, which helped her repeatedly fend off Republican challengers. His campaign has produced a pair of television ads and a radio ad that have aired repeatedly.
Elrod: Elrod has received no support from the national Republican Party. His political consultant is based in Franklin and is working on its first high-profile campaign. He has yet to hit the airwaves with ads, but video of his effort to write thank-you notes to supporters while sitting in the House chamber became a YouTube moment. He has received support from the Indiana Republican Party and his mother, Bev Elrod, recently made 517 phone calls on his behalf in a single day.
Comment: Again, King's bias against Elrod shines through.
Paths to Office
Carson: Carson has yet to face voters in a contested race. When City-County Councilman Patrice Abduallah resigned last year, Carson emerged from a caucus of precinct captains as the choice to fill the seat on an interim basis. He ran unopposed in November. After his grandmother's death, he was the first-ballot choice of county precinct committee chairs.
Elrod: Elrod won his first two elected offices in upsets in districts heavily favoring Democrats. In 2004, he won a seat on the Center Township Advisory Board by 35 votes. Then in 2006 he defeated Democratic incumbent Ed Mahern by eight votes to win a seat in the Indiana House. His secret, particularly in the House race, seems to be hard work. In that campaign he knocked on 6,000 doors.
Comment: King couldn't twist these facts against Elrod, could he?