Sunday, August 20, 2017

Pence's Job: "Translate" Trump for Other Countries

NPR political reporter Tamara Keith describes Mike Pence's job as international "translator" for President Trump, which consists of "offering reassurance to allies in soothing tones while projecting unflinching loyalty to the president by quoting him repeatedly and with reverence."

Keith notes that in just one speech to business leaders in Argentina, Pence referenced or quoted Trump 22 times, and that the version of Trump that Pence quotes "is a man who only says the most presidential things." Apparently Pence's "translations" are loose ones. Keith's analysis is worth a listen.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Indiana AG Seeks Vigorous Defense of Indiana Vote Suppression Law

In a previous post we reported on an Indianapolis Star report showing that the most populous counties in Indiana (which happen to to be heavily Democratic) are prevented from having more than one early voting center because of a Republican-passed statute. That resulted in a discrimination lawsuit being filed by Common Cause Indiana and the NAACP against the Marion County and Secretary of State Connie Lawson.

Now the state's Attorney General Curtis Hill, elected in Indiana's Trump wave of 2016, has aggressively intervened in the case with a filing that that says the Marion County Election Board is not adequately defending the statute or the state's interests. It will be interesting to see how anyone mounts a defense of a law that is so transparently designed to suppress urban voter turnout. Also interesting: Hill is a lifetime member of the NAACP, according to his Wikipedia page.

You can read more about the case in the Star here.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Hundreds Attend Lafayette Demonstration in Support of Charlottesville

Demonstrations in opposition to the racist activities in Charlottesville are springing up all over the country, and throughout Indiana. Here is the J&C coverage of demonstrations Evansville, Muncie, Richmond, and Indianapolis. Lafayette was no exception. On Saturday hundreds attended a demonstration here to voice their support for the victims of the violence and their repudiation of racism and violence. Here is WLFI's reporting on the Lafayette event.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Indy Star Reports Republican Manipulation of of Early Voting in Indianapolis Area

Today the Journal and Courier published a story about a study by the Indianapolis Star that showed Indiana Republicans systematically repressed early voting options in Democratic-leaning Marion County while encouraging it in Republican-leaning Indianapolis suburbs. One cited result was that suburban Hamilton County saw a 63 percent increase in absentee voting from 2008 to 2016, while urban Marion county saw a 26 percent decline (absentee ballots are used in early voting stations). Hamilton County got two new early voting stations, while the number of esarly voting stations in Marion County declined from three to one. You can read the J&C coverage of the Star report here.

Slate describes the mechanism for vote suppression as a state law that effectively barred “counties with populations over 325,000” from opening more than one early voting site. The bill targeted Marion, Lake and Allen Counties, all with substantial minority populations and Democratic inclinations. County election boards could only override the law with the unanimous consent of all members their bipartisan members. The Republican member of the Marion County election board refused to allow Marion County to add other early voting centers.

This story has gotten national traction with stories in such outlets as Vox, Huffington Post, Slate and Esquire.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

NY Times Says Pence Positioning for 2020; Pence Objects, Loudly

The New York Times has published a story suggesting that Vice President (and former Indiana Governor) Mike Pence is positioning himself for a run at the presidency in 2020 on the assumption that the current president will be unavailable. The bill of particulars includes Pence becoming the only sitting VP ever to establish his own political fund-raising committee, meeting extensively with donors, and hiring a politically aggressive chief-of-staff. You can read the Times article here.

The Times reported that Pence responded strongly:
“Today’s article in The New York Times is disgraceful and offensive to me, my family and our entire team. The allegations in this article are categorically false and represent just the latest attempt by the media to divide this administration. Whatever fake news may come our way, my entire team will continue to focus all our efforts to advance the president’s agenda and see him re-elected in 2020. Any suggestion otherwise is both laughable and absurd.”
Understanding the president's mercurial nature and his obsession with absolute personal loyalty, Pence's denial was loud and public. Frank Bruni's column "Mike Pence, You're Doomed" says Pence responded "with an operatic outrage that showed just how close to the bone it had cut." Bruni describes Pence's no-win situation like this: "Without Trump he’s nothing. With Trump he’s on a runaway train that he can’t steer or brake. If it doesn’t crash, Trump can scream down the tracks straight through 2020. If it does, Pence will be one of the casualties."

All this is laid out nicely by Glen Thrush in August 8 edition of the Times podcast The Daily, in which Thrush notes that Pence jumped at Trump's offer of the vice presidency because Pence was "enroute to being defeated for re-election as governor of Indiana," a fact not often noted.