Friday, May 30, 2008

walking the streets...

I've been walking the business districts in the towns and cities in the 9th District.

It's been a good experience with a variety of responses-- from apathy to excitement, from people giving me time to treating me politely but wanting to get back to work.

From yesterday, two stories worth repeating...
-I was going from 131 to Eastern Blvd. when I passed that mini-mart/gas station on Kopp Lane. I wasn't going to stop for a single business establishment, but I noticed that Lady Liberty was on his sign along with the gas prices. So, I backed up and went in. Pointing out that I had LL on my business card, he asked if I had a yard sign. How's that for an easy sell?! Anyway, if you're in the area, say hi to him!
-I visited the Kirby vacuum store on 131 and I asked him if he had heard of Sodrel and Hill. He said he had never heard of them. I asked him if he lived in Louisville. He said, no-- So. IN. I don't know whether to be appalled at his ignorance, to admire his blissful unaware-ness, or to thank God that we live in a country where we don't have to pay that much attention to politics.
-I met three young ladies smoking outside the Sprint store on 131 and one of them asked me the best questions on policy all day long. She also pointed to the business card and said "is this you?" And I said, "The statue?" That got a good laugh out of them. I'll have to use that line more often!

I'm honored...

From the LPIN...

Schansberg Wins National Recognition in Denver

DENVER, CO - Dr. Eric Schansberg, LPIN activist and candidate for the 9th District U.S. Congressional seat, was awarded the prestigious Thomas Paine Award at the Libertarian National Convention last weekend. The recognition is awarded to the person viewed as the nation's top libertarian communicator. Schansberg, an economics professor, is an author, guest columnist for Indiana Policy Review and oft-quoted presence in both Louisville regional press as well as national media. Past recipients of the award include popular libertarian presidential candidate Harry Browne and motivational speaker Michael Cloud.

That's a heady crowd to join-- and this is a great honor!

From Mark Rutherford's blog-- on the LPIN press release...

Libertarian Schansberg Wins National Recognition

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - The Libertarian Party proudly announces Libertarian activist and candidate for Indiana's 9th District U.S. Congressional seat, Dr. Eric Schansberg, is the recipient of this year's Thomas Paine Award as the nation's leading communicator of libertarian ideals. This award is given every two years at the biennial national conventions. It is given to individuals whose achievements place them among the best activists in the history of the LP.

"I'm honored to receive the award and humbled to join the company of such fine previous winners," comments Schansberg. "I want to thank those who have multiplied my efforts (mostly behind the scenes), especially those on my 2006 and 2008 congressional campaign teams, those in leadership in the LPIN, and Craig Ladwig at Indiana Policy Review."

Schansberg, of Jeffersonville, has run for public office and is running again again this year for Congress. He is the author of three books on limited government, regularly writes articles for the Indiana Policy Review Journal, and publishes an influential blog called the "SchansBlog."

"In our time, we have a tremendous opportunity to communicate a message of Freedom -- with people who are increasingly disenchanted with the Republicans and Democrats. May we apply ourselves more diligently and creatively to that end," recommended the economist from southern Indiana.

Thanks to Mark for nominating me-- and to all those who have helped me in my efforts, most notably my campaign team (Melanie, John and Martina), the LPIN'ers (to name a few, Mark, Dan, and Todd), and Craig Ladwig with IPR.

Hopefully, we'll become even more effective at communicating Libertarian principles-- in my congressional campaign and beyond.

Hill's two Memorial Day problems

From the AP's Emily Veach, complaints about Baron Hill politicizing a Memorial Day event.

U.S. Rep. Baron Hill’s comments to a Memorial Day ceremony in southern Indiana’s Dubois County have upset members of a veterans group who feel they were too political.

Hill, a Democrat, told the Dubois County Veterans Council’s Memorial Day ceremony that President Bush planned to veto a GI Bill approved by Congress. He encouraged the crowd to ask the president to let the bill become law.

“I don’t want to make this political, but the president has said that he is going to veto this bill. For the life of me I don’t understand why,” Hill said in his speech. “And I hope that you’ll take the time, in honor of our veterans, to write to the president of the United States and ask him to change his mind.”

As the famous saying goes, "I don't want to do X, but..." usually means "I want to do X".

Ken Schuetter, secretary of the veteran’s council, said he was infuriated by Hill’s comments at the program in the city about 40 miles northeast of Evansville.

“It was not a political event. He made it political,” Schuetter said....

Schuetter said Hill’s staff asked for him to speak at the ceremony and that the group was considering a ban on politicians speaking at its events.

I can sympathize (at least in part) with Hill crossing a (perceived) line. When speaking in non-political settings, as a politician, it's not completely clear what's allowable, reasonable, or optimal in terms of political content.

That said, I would have been quite reluctant to speak on anything specific in a "memorial" setting. And it looks especially bad, since Hill invited himself to speak at the event.

Finally, I'm confused that Baron has enough time to politicize Memorial Day events, but not enough time to debate gas prices-- something he thought was so vital in May 2006 (when gas prices were $2.60/gallon).

Monday, May 26, 2008

Hill's hypocrisy on gas prices

From Daniel Suddeath's lead story in Saturday's (Jeff-NA) News-Tribune...

Schansberg challenges Hill to debate on gas prices

Gasoline prices nearing $4 a gallon in Southern Indiana are a big issue for Eric Schansberg, the Libertarian candidate for the 9th District seat in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Schansberg would like Democratic Party Rep. Baron Hill to address the prices is his bid for reelection, and he feels there is no better way to do it than in a debate.

“Voters deserve an explanation from Congressman Hill,” Schansberg said. “Baron thought this was an important issue in 2006. Surely he will want to address it now.”

Schansberg referred to the 2006 campaign when Hill challenged then incumbent Mike Sodrel, the Republican candidate for the 9th District seat, to a similar debate.

Schansberg said that like Sodrel in 2006, Hill apparently isn’t interested.

To add appropriate flavor to this, one should remember that Hill repeatedly demanded a debate from Sodrel in May 2006.

“He still has not returned our calls,” Schansberg said.

In a release from Katie Moreau, campaign spokeswoman for Hill, she stated the congressman is worried about acting on the problems, not debating them.

“There will be plenty of time for open and honest debates in the months to come. Right now, Baron is focused on legislative priorities, such as lowering the people of Southern Indiana’s property taxes and the price they are paying at the pump for gasoline,” Moreau said.

Talking with us through the press instead of returning our calls? Classy, huh? And again, in May 2006, Hill thought that debating was more important than acting. Why the change?

Schansberg does not expect the debate to take place, saying the gesture was more to show that Hill was being hypocritical on the issue.

“Two years ago he demanded a debate from Sodrel on this issue and now that the shoe’s on the other foot, he’s not going to want any part of this,” he said.

Why won't Hill debate me on this?
a.) his party supports a range of policies that reduce supply and thus, increase prices
b.) he supports profligate spending and debt, weakening the dollar, and driving up the price of imports including oil and gas
c.) he's a hypocrite
d.) it's the smart thing to do politically-- as an incumbent who has little to offer on this issue
e.) why would a politician want to debate an economist on an economics issue?
f.) all of the above

The correct answer: F. (Ironically, this is Hill's grade on fiscal conservatism from the NTU, CAGW, and Club for Growth.)

Sodrel’s campaign has been contacted about the debate and Schansberg said there has been some dialogue between the two camps, which was confirmed by a spokesman for Sodrel’s campaign.

Sodrel said he’s not sure how much good a forum just on gas prices would be.

“When Congressman Hill challenged me, I said a single-issue debate is not very useful and I still feel that way,” Sodrel said. “Would I participate? Sure. But I just think we ought to have a serious debate (on several issues).”

I appreciate Sodrel's consistency, although he missed an opportunity to expose Hill's hypocrisy.

In a release, Schansberg stated gas prices have increased 68 percent since Hill returned to Congress in November 2006.

“As an economist, I know that gas prices are determined by the market, and we all know that Democrats support a range of policies that restrict the supply of oil and gas, and thus keep prices higher,” Schansberg said.

On May 14, a bill co-sponsored by Hill to temporarily suspend filling the Strategic Petroleum Reserve for the remainder of 2008 passed in the House. The Senate also passed the bill, and President George Bush announced Monday he would sign it into legislation, temporarily suspending filling the reserve for the next six months.

“People are really hurting,” Hill stated in a release. “Although this is certainly not the long-term answer to lowering gasoline prices, we should help people in the short term if we can. I believe we ought to be offering relief to folks.”

Reducing the SPR is fine, but it's exceptionally modest compared to other policies.

Sodrel said the key is to develop other sources of energy, but added that even if developed, Americans would not be able to rely on the additional sources for at least a generation.

In the meantime, Sodrel suggests capitalizing on existing U.S. oil sources.

“We’re also going to have to develop our natural gas and our crude oil sources in environmentally conscious ways,” he said.

Amen, brother...Preach it!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Press Release: Schansberg challenges Hill to debate on gas prices

After challenging Rep. Baron Hill to a debate on gas prices, Eric Schansberg has yet to hear back from Hill’s campaign. Dr. Schansberg is following the tradition set by Hill in May 2006 when Hill challenged former Rep. Mike Sodrel to a debate on gas prices.

Hill demanded a debate with Sodrel in 2006 after average gas prices increased from $1.99 in November 2004 (when Sodrel entered office) to $2.87 in May 2006—a 44% increase. Since Hill returned to Congress in November 2006, gas prices have risen from $2.23 to $3.74—a 68% increase.

“Voters deserve an explanation from Congressman Hill,” Schansberg said. “Baron thought this was an important issue in 2006. Surely, he will want to address it now.”

Schansberg added: “As an economist, I know that gas prices are determined by the market. And we all know that Democrats support a range of policies that restrict the supply of oil and gas—and thus, keep prices higher. Baron also supports increased government spending and debt, which continue to weaken the dollar and drive up the price of imported oil.”

“That’s why we need a change in Washington – a change of direction to help Southern Indiana families,” Schansberg said. “I understand the hardships working families face, and in Congress, I'll support measures that will increase the supply of oil and lower gas prices—instead of sending taxpayer dollars to special interest groups like oil companies and corporations that produce alternative energy."

Baron Hill's "fiscal conservatism" (revisited)

Baron's special brand of "fiscal conservatism" was on display again yesterday as he voted for a $290 billion farm bill-- with significant increases in hand-outs to farmers, even with rapidly increasing food prices and farm income.

Taking your money and giving it to the wealthy?
Voting for increased spending and calling oneself a fiscal conservative?

This won't help Baron's failing grades with National Taxpayers Union, Citizens Against Government Waste, and Club for Growth. (As a fiscal moderate, would Mike Sodrel have joined the 100 GOP House members who voted for it or the 100 or so who voted against it?)

Baron is not as profligate as many of his Democratic friends, but every time I hear him try to claim the fiscal conservative label, it's worth a good belly laugh.

Friday, May 09, 2008

new Club for Growth stats on fiscal conservatism (or more likely, not)

Club for Growth has just released its measures of fiscal conservatism for 2007. (They have numbers for 2005 and 2006 as well.)

For a look at all Indiana House members over those three years, click here.

Among Hoosier reps...

-Not surprisingly, Mike Pence dominates-- with 99% and an average ranking of 3rd (out of 435).
-Dan Burton is next with 78% and an average ranking of 67th. Steve Buyer is close behind with 74% and 79th. Mark Souder trails a bit with 60% and an average of 123rd place

-Of past reps, Chocola was impressive with 93%-- good for 12th place. Hostettler had 76% and 58th place. And of local interest, former 9th District representative Mike Sodrel had 60% and an average of 113rd place.

-And then there's the Democrats. Among the "blue dogs", Ellsworth at 18% and 206th edged out 9th District Representative Baron Hill at 15% and 216th.

-For the those further down the socialism spectrum, we wrap up with Julia Carson at 5% and 364th; Visclosky at 3% and 392nd; and Donnelly at 1% and 394th.

Of course, along with NTU and CAGW data, we have a third piece of evidence that neither Sodrel nor Hill are fiscal conservatives.

I'm glad to provide voters with a Mike Pence-like, fiscally conservative option-- if this is an important issue for them!

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Hill moves to the general election

Congratulations to Baron for his victory-- and to Gretchen Clearwater and John Bottorff for a race well-run...

Since the race is of particular interest to me, I've spent some time looking at the numbers and have a few things to note:

-John Bottorff did really well in Clark County (25%), presumably because he shares a last name with a former long-time state rep. John also did well in the western part of the district, while Gretchen did really well in Monroe County (more than 30%).

-Even though Baron thumped his opponents as individuals, he did relatively poorly against them as a group.

Baron only got 68% of the vote this year-- compared to...
-79% with two opponents in 2006
-88% with one opponent in 2004

-unopposed in 2002
-86% with two opponents in 2000
-70% against two opponents in his first effort to replace Lee Hamilton in 1998

Because of the presidential primary, voter participation was way up. As a result, Baron doubled his average vote total over his five other primaries (98K vs. 47K). But his opponents got as many votes as he has received historically (47K)-- and far more votes than all of his previous primary opponents combined, quintupling that average (47K vs. 9K).

Should this be added cause for concern for Hill going into November? It's difficult to say. On the one hand, he still won comfortably. On the other hand, he lost 11% and the apparently widespread anger about his endorsement of Obama may last until November.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

National Day of Prayer

On this day, our "national day of prayer"-- and every day-- I ask you for your prayerful support.

Pray that I would win if it is within God's will. More important, pray that my campaign would be an effective platform for the matters of economic and social justice I'll emphasize:

-ending our on-going efforts in Iraq
-no taxpayer funds for corporations
-reforming Social Security
-no taxpayer funds for Planned Parenthood
-reducing or eliminating payroll taxes on income
-and so on...

May 1: five years of nation building

Today marks the fifth anniversary of our attempt to rebuild Iraq-- or to help Iraq rebuild itself.

We won "the war" in six weeks, but our efforts to rebuild a nation have been, not surprisingly, much more challenging.

May God protect our troops; may our leaders work to bring them home within the next year; and may Iraq be successful in establishing a stable government for a free and prosperous people.

Hill endorses Obama: why and why now?

Baron has endorsed Obama for President. HoosierPundit has a nice summary of the articles available as well as some analysis.

Given that Hill chose to endorse Obama, I think I understand Hill's timing: probably to look like he was carefully considering both options, perhaps to exert some influence, and certainly to avoid choosing Obama as a super-delegate after the district goes for Clinton in a big way.

But why did Hill think that it was smart to pick Obama? Relatively speaking, and despite some baggage in embracing Obama, Hill must think that he has Clinton voters in his pocket and needs to reach out to Obamites-- instead of thinking he has the O's in hand and needs to appeal to C's. Given that, Obama's connection to "change" and his Iraq position (ironic given Hill's support for the status quo) would seem to be the draw for Hill.

Of course, if voters want someone who will work to bring our involvement in Iraq to an end-- or if they want someone who represents true change rather than spare change-- they'll choose me.