Friday, April 29, 2016

New Poll Shows Trump Up In Indiana By Nine Points

Every poll taken in Indiana shows Donald Trump leading his Republican primary opponents in next week's primary election. The latest poll released by ARG gives Trump a 9-point advantage over his nearest competitor, Ted Cruz. Trump leads Cruz by a 41-32% margin. Kasich is far behind with just 21% of the vote. Trump is leading in almost every category, including likely Republican voters, young and older voters, male and even female voters.

A second poll released by a Republican pollster, Clout Research, shows the race much closer. Trump is ahead by only two percentage points in that poll over Cruz, 37-35%. Kasich trails with only 16% of the vote.

If I'm not around to see the vote results, my prediction is that Trump wins Indiana with just shy of 50% of the vote, but he will carry every single congressional district and sweep the delegate race--assuming the party-chosen delegates honor their rules-bound commitment to support the winner on the first ballot. Most of those delegates favored John Kasich at the time they were chosen. Only two of the delegates named by state party officials publicly declared their support for Trump, although some have indicated they would feel obligated to support the voters' wishes.

Cruz has made Indiana his last stand. He threw a hail mary pass earlier in the week by naming Carly Fiorina as his running mate in hopes of attracting female voters in next week's primary election. He snagged Gov. Pence's endorsement today, although his favorability numbers aren't so hot right now and that endorsement is likely to further infuriate already alienated Republican and independent voters. Cruz has also taken up residence in the state this past week, criss-crossing the state with multiple appearances. His crowds have been small compared to Trump's rallies.

Trump has had fewer appearances in Indiana, but his rallies have drawn far larger and more enthusiastic crowds. He returns this weekend for rallies in Fort Wayne on Sunday at Memorial Coliseum, and he will close out his campaigning in Indiana at the Century Center in South Bend Monday evening. Click here for information on those events.

Early voting, which started off very slow, has surged and appears to be well above average for presidential primary elections in Indiana in many counties now. Those new voters will favor Trump, not Cruz. The Democratic primary will draw far fewer voters. Clinton should handily defeat Bernie Sanders by a 58-42% margin, helped by those who might have otherwise voted in the Democratic primary choosing to take a Republican ballot instead.

UPDATE: There's a real outlier poll added to the mix late today. IPFW/Downs Center in Fort Wayne released a poll showing Cruz with a double-digit lead of 45 to 29% over Trump. Adding that lopsided poll into the mix makes the RealClearPolitics average show a very tight race, with Trump up about 2%, 37.5-35.2%.

Pence Determined To Lose Re-Election Campaign, Will Endorse Ted Cruz

Gov. Mike Pence will upset many Republican primary voters today by endorsing Ted Cruz's presidential campaign. It will have no impact on the race, which Donald Trump is poised to win, and Pence gains absolutely nothing from the endorsement. The people who support Cruz already make up the backbone of his narrow, electoral support. What it can only do is further alienate him from already disaffected Republicans and aid in the election of John Gregg. Support for Cruz's candidacy has been collapsing for weeks now. He cannot win in open primary elections, only in closed-door, party caucus elections. He has no viable path to winning the nomination. This is another totally bone-headed move by Pence.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

John Kass On Hastert: "Thief Of Innocence" And "Face Of Evil"

Dennis Hastert leaves court
Dennis Hastert at sentencing hearing in Chicago (Armando Sanchez/Tribune Photo)
Unfortunately for the American public, what should have been the most newsworthy story in the nation yesterday got lost amidst all of the hoopla surrounding the circus known as the 2016 presidential nominating process. That was the sentencing of one of the highest-ranking federal government officials in our nation's history that arose from crimes he committed to cover up his existence as "serial child molester" in the words of the federal judge who handed down the sentence of former Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert.

The Chicago Tribune's political columnist John Kass, who is probably privately worrying that his newspaper may be acquired by the evil face of Gannett, sat in that courtroom yesterday watching the "face of evil" as he faced his fate for structuring cash payments intended as hush money to one of his victims to avoid federal authorities and an unsuspecting public from learning about his dirty little secret. Kass focuses in a column today on what he describes as "equally bloodless and calculating" to Hastert's sins as a serial child molester--the "letters of mercy" sent to the judge by Hastert's allies. In particular, he focused on the letter Hastert had sought but failed to get.
Hastert called his political protege Tom Cross, the Oswego Republican and former state House minority leader, to ask that Cross write a letter of mercy to Judge Durkin.
It was one of the most galling things I've ever heard of in politics.
Because one of Hastert's victims was Cross' brother.
Scott Cross testified courageously in court and he became emotional.
"I looked up to Coach Hastert," Scott Cross said. "He was a key figure in my life. And Coach Hastert sexually abused me."
Scott Cross testified about how he revered Hastert, how Hastert offered to massage him so Cross could lose weight, how Hastert pulled his shorts down, began massaging his genitals until shame and shock forced Cross to jump up and get away.
It was difficult to watch him, a brave father who wants his children to understand their obligations as citizens. And it was difficult to look at Tom Cross and the family sitting there in the courtroom, watching. 
Judge Durkin, a former federal prosecutor himself, made it clear in his own questioning that Hastert asked Tom Cross for a letter. 
"It is my understanding that Mr. Hastert called Tom Cross," Judge Durkin said. "Is that correct?" 
It was correct, prosecutors said. 
Hastert said he didn't remember abusing Scott Cross. I don't believe him. But at that moment you knew he wasn't getting probation. 
Durkin pressed him and Hastert said that he'd "respect" Scott Cross' recollection.
He'd respect it? Like he respected his brother Tom? 
Like he respected the other high school wrestlers he would molest? Or the other boys he'd watch as they showered, as he sat in the lounge chair he put near the shower stalls in the locker room? 
The abuse is monstrous, yes, but even monsters have blood. What Hastert did in asking Tom Cross for the letter is bloodless. Only a supreme narcissist could ask such a thing of a brother; only a congenital user and manipulator could ever conceive of asking. 
Only the damned could ask for something like that. But Hastert asked it of Tom Cross.
If you've been following this story, you know that Judge Durkin sentenced Hastert to 15 months in federal prison. Hastert is ill now, but aren't politicians always ill and pitiful at sentencing? 
There is no fixing a child abuser, and though we're told of five victims, I wonder how many more are out there . . . 
As Durkin spoke, you could see Hastert's chin stretch and become longer, as if the jawbones themselves were unhinged, the weight of the meat pulling it all toward the floor.
The former speaker's hands were folded tightly in front of him, and that public face stretched and fell away, revealing what was underneath:
The predator, a thief of innocence, a breaker of trust and a devourer of children's lives, a user of friends, a Combine boss.
As poignant as Kass' words are, they are too little too late for him and his brethren in the mainstream media who have ignored for decades the sinister pedophile ring that has existed at the highest levels of society and government in this country. Back in the 1980s, there was hope that the dark veil of this satanic underworld would be lifted as some brave reporters began exposing what was known as the Franklin Scandal originating out of Nebraska's Boys Town, which revealed a network of elites trafficking in children for the sexual pleasure of those at the pinnacle of power. Unfortunately, those pushing to bring the powerful elites to justice were soon marginalized and caricatured as tin-foil hat conspiracists, the same fate met by every brave American who attempts to expose the evil forces who've robbed us of our Republic.

The "thief of innocence" described by Kass is the only member of the evil political caste system we have in this country that ensures that only the most flawed and controllable of men and women can rise to positions of power in this country who will face any music for his crimes--fifteen months in prison, a mere slap on the hand for a man who rose to the third highest office in the nation and amassed a multi-million dollar fortune after his humble beginnings as a high school wrestling coach. As Hastert rode away with his two sons in a Cadillac Escalade from the federal courthouse, I can imagine his first words, "Well, that wasn't so bad." We'll have to take a solace in the fact that he's the highest ranking government official in our government history required to serve time in a prison for his crimes since the punishment clearly doesn't match the crime.

Gannett Backs Young For Senate

This endorsement comes with little surprise. The Gannett-owned Indianapolis Star has endorsed Todd Young in the Republican Senate primary race over Marlin Stutzman. Young is a Dan Quayle relative by marriage, and he's been employed by the military/industrial complex in the intelligence apparatus most of his adult life so it stands to reason he would be preferred by the Langely-run newspaper chain.

According to The Star, there isn't really any difference between the two candidates on issues. The difference is in how they "approach the job." Young puts his efforts towards "ideas that have contributed to constructive debates," while Stutzman prefers an "all-or nothing, gridlock-inducing role of the ideological purist." Thus, The Star reasons Young is more likely to contribute as as senator to "a healthy debate."

It's hard to get excited about this race. Young took the race for granted in the beginning by skipping past the simple process of gathering enough signatures to make the ballot and had to rely on big favors from the establishment types to rescue his campaign through creative legal interpretations. Both play fast and loose with campaign finance laws. Both candidates' campaigns are predominantly funded by out-of-state interests, which calls in to question just how committed either of them will be to real Hoosiers in the Senate. And they've both found themselves more comfortable living inside the Beltway as opposed to Indiana after short tenures in the House.

It probably makes little difference which one of them wins the nomination with one big exception. Establishment Republican types have made waves that they might work to do in Stutzman like they did Richard Mourdock if he defeats their preferred candidate. To that extent, Democrat Baron Hill probably hopes Stutzman wins the primary.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Bobby Knight Endorsing Trump At Indianapolis Rally Today

Former IU basketball coach Bobby Knight speaking at Donald Trump's packed rally at the state fair coliseum in Indianapolis this evening. Trump told his supporters today that Knight contacted him last year before he made his decision to run for president, urging him to run and telling him that he would endorse him if he ran. Trump called in the favor. Knight declared that Trump was the "most prepared man in history" to be president.

Mt. Vernon Middle School Principal Charged For Failing To Report Child Abuse

Scott Shipley
The Hancock County prosecutor has decided that a Mount Vernon middle school principal should be criminally charged for failing to report suspected child abuse when he first learned of allegations that a former teacher's aide had been engaged in sexual misconduct with students. Scott Shipley faces one misdemeanor count of failing to report.

A school counselor first heard a rumor Kisha Nuckols was having sex with students on March 12 and informed Shipley. Because spring break was just beginning, Shipley saw no urgency in pursuing the matter. Instead, he waited until March 29 to advise the high school's assistant principal, Derek Shelton, of the allegations. Shelton immediately contacted Fortville Police, who later arrested Nuckols for child seduction.

According to the probable cause affidavit, Shipley told police he initially didn't find the information credible because it was based on third and fourth-hand information. Shipley told police that once he learned the information was credible, he had Shelton contact Fortville Police to investigate. The school counselor, Bronwyn Kotarski, who told Shipley about the allegations, is not being charged.

Marion County Republicans Send Out Hit Piece Against Sandlin On Behalf Of Shreve

Per their standard operating procedure, the Marion County Republican Party reserves its harshest and nastiest attacks for life-long Republicans who refuse to be led around like blind mice by their corrupt leadership. The party sent out the first negative direct mail piece to Republican voters in the District 36 state senate race against life-long Republican and City-County Council member Jack Sandlin, who is running in the primary against the party's anointed candidate, Jefferson Shreve, a liberal Democrat and major Democratic Party donor who moved up to Indianapolis from Bloomington a few years ago and bought a seat on the council from the Marion County Republican Party.

The negative mail piece accuses Sandlin of being a "career politician" with "a history of nepotism and conflicts of interest." "I'm outraged at how far the Downtown Republican establishment will go to protect their power and preserve their ability to continue spending taxpayer money," Sandlin said in a press release in response to the attack. "The recent mailer against my campaign was a blatant attempt to create false impressions among the voting public - and it was especially mean-spirited in attacking my wife."

A retired Indianapolis police officer with decades of service as a public safety worker, Sandlin took strong exception to being called a "career politician." "Nothing could be further from the truth," Sandlin states. "I've been a career law enforcement officer, having spent more than 20 years with the Indianapolis Police Department and another 14 years as a part-time officer in the Southport Police Department. In addition, I've spent the past 21 years running my own business, which provides fraud examination, private investigation and security consulting. "When you contrast my decades spent in law enforcement and security with my part-time positions as Perry Township Trustee and Indianapolis City-County Councillor, it becomes very clear that calling me a 'career politician' is just a flat-out lie," Sandlin adds.

Sandlin was equally as offended at accusations he engaged in a conflict of interest. The ad accused him of using his influence as elected official to help his wife win a contract. "That's just offensive to me," he says. "In my law-enforcement career, as well as my elected positions, I've always been a true public servant. I work hard for the people I represent in their best interests, oftentimes in opposition of the political insiders and their personal self interests."

Sandlin pulled no punches in his denouncing leaders of the Marion County Republican Party. "I always vote my conscience. I always speak my mind. From my experience, Republican Party Chairman Jennifer Ping and Vice-Chairman Mike McQuillen don't like to be challenged, even when the best interests of the community are at stake. They prefer to handpick their candidates, as they did with my opponent in this race. Negative attacks are the only way they can hope to control our elections and our government," Sandlin adds.

Advance Indiana readers will recall how the party last year sent out numerous mailers prior to the municipal primary election attacking incumbent City-County Councilor Christine Scales in an effort to defeat her and elect a challenger it anointed to run against her, Tim Craft, who worked for a real estate brokerage firm with a crony relationship with former Mayor Greg Ballard's administration. Nobody has engaged in more acts of public corruption and dishonesty than the leadership of the local party, which has been nothing more than a racketeering operation selling public contracts awarded by city-county government. The county's current party chairman, Jennifer Ping, is actually controlled by the same law firm that invested heavily in putting one of its own attorneys, Democrat Joe Hogsett, in the mayor's office last year.

Cruz Throws Hail Mary Pass: Naming Carly Fiorina As His Running Mate

Apparently Ted Cruz' big announcement in Indianapolis this afternoon is about naming Carly Fiorina as his vice presidential running mate should lightning strike and he becomes the Republican nominee for president this year. Fiorina endorsed Cruz after her own presidential campaign fizzled before the race barely got underway this year. She has accompanied him frequently on the campaign trail over the past couple of months.

Judgment Day For Dennis Hastert: Admits He Sexually Abused Boys

Hastert arriving for his sentencing heaering (Tribune Photo)
Courtroom viewers at the sentencing hearing of former House Speaker Dennis Hastert were shocked to learn that one of his alleged victims was the brother of a prominent Republican politician. Scott Cross, brother of former Illinois House Republican Leader Tom Cross and unsuccessful candidate for State Treasurer, identified himself to Judge Thomas Durkin as Individual D, a 17-year old wrestler at Yorkville High School who says Hastert once sexually groped him while massaging him. "As a 17-year old boy, I was devastated," Cross testified. "I tried to figure out why Coach Hastert had singled me out." "I felt intense pain, shame and guilt." Following Cross' stunning appearance, Judge Durkin sentenced Hastert to 15 months in prison and fined him $250,000.

Judge Durkin said the sentence of probation to no more than six months recommended by federal prosecutors was inappropriate and insufficient for a man he repeatedly described as a "serial child molester." Judge Durkin noted that nothing was more stunning than uttering the words "serial child molester" and "Speaker of the House" in the same sentence. Judge Durkin was highly critical of Hastert for lying to FBI agents and falsely accusing one of his victims of extortion. "What rational person takes out $1.7 million in cash from a bank?" he rhetorically asked regarding a $3.5 million cash payment Hastert agreed to pay to silence one of his victims. Durkin reminded Hastert of his role in enacting the very law that ensnared him in these criminal proceedings. Durkin noted with disgust that Hastert had actually contacted Cross' brother, Tom, and sought support for his sentencing hearing knowing that his brother was one of his victims. Interestingly, Judge Durkin's brother, Jim Durkin, succeeded Tom Cross as Illinois House Republican Leader when Cross gave up that job to run for State Treasurer.

Hastert sat in a wheelchair and stared at Judge Durkin as he harshly criticized his conduct. "The obvious reason for your lies isn't lost on me," Durkin said. "If you didn't lie, you would have never been Speaker of the House. Durkin said he believed Cross and he believed, Jolene Burdge, whose late brother, Stephen Reinboldt, had told her about years of sexual abuse he had suffered at Hastert's hands while he worked as team manager for Hastert's high school wrestling team. Reinboldt died of AIDS in 1995. Burdge also testified at the hearing. "You took his life, Mr. Hastert," Burdge said. "Not because he died of AIDS but because you took his innocence and used it against him." "Don't be a coward, Mr. Hastert. Tell the truth." Only with prodding by the judge did Hastert admit he had sexually abused boys, including Cross and Reinboldt.

Despite his age (74) and health, Durkin thought his crime required real prison time, noting that Hastert wasn't "infirm" or "unaware of what's going on." Judge Durkin said Hastert would complete his sentence at a prison facility in Rochester where many other child abusers are imprisoned and where he would have access to adequate health care for his ongoing health issues. He will be required to undergo ongoing, supervised counseling following the completion of his sentence. Hastert will become the highest-ranking federal government official to be sent to prison in the history of this country. Former Vice President Spiro Agnew received only probation for tax evasion and bribery charges to which he pleaded guilty from the time he served as Maryland governor prior to becoming vice president.

Scott Cross (1980 High School Photo)
Scott Cross (left) in 1999  at a Hastert campaign event (Tribune Photo)
UPDATE: U.S Attorney Zach Fardon released the following statement following Hastert's sentencing:
“With this case, the Office sought to hold Mr. Hastert accountable for the crimes he committed that could still be prosecuted: illegally structuring cash withdrawals and lying to the government about his motive for engaging in that activity. All of us have been inspired by the strength and bravery of the victims and witnesses who came forward in the most challenging of circumstances. As in all cases, the Office is dedicated to doing everything we can to help victims and their families seek justice. It is our hope that the sentence imposed today will promote respect for the law.”
I just realized that Scott Cross was a student at Eastern Illinois University the same time I attended college there. He was one year ahead of me.