As a native Hoosier, I can tell you that I cannot recall a time when Richard Lugar was not a major player in Indiana politics. Lugar served first as a very successful Mayor of Indianapolis before moving on to the United States Senate. 36 years in the Senate is a long time…probably too long and polls show that may be the senior Senator’s biggest problem as he faces a primary challenge on Tuesday. A poll conducted Monday and Tuesday shows Lugar trailing his primary challenger, Indiana Treasurer Richard Mourdock, by 10 points among likely Republican primary voters. Mourdock leads Lugar 48 percent to 38 percent.
Twenty-two percent said they were undecided, and another 11 percent said they could change their mind before the May 8 primary. But even among those who had “definitely” made up their mind, Mourdock led 37 percent to 30 percent. The poll had a margin of error of 3.7 percent. A number of Tea Party groups — including national groups and some from Indiana — have gotten behind Mourdock, and the challenger does have the support of very conservative voters. A plurality of primary voters, 44 percent, identified as “very conservative,” and 63 percent of those voters favored Mourdock.
Still, the poll shows that Mourdock also has a slight edge among voters who identify as “somewhat conservative” (he takes 43 percent to Lugar’s 41 percent). “While the Tea Party and other national groups got into this race because of what they consider to be Lugar’s liberal transgressions, it appears that a bigger issue for GOP primary voters is simply his longevity,” pollster Christine Matthews told Howey Politics Indiana. “It is a very difficult environment to be running as a 35 year incumbent.” Indeed. It’s hard to make the argument for any incumbent in Washington right now.
23 percent of Mourdock supporters said they were mainly supporting him because Lugar has been in office too long. Another 16 percent said the main reason was that it’s time for a change. Lugar is the top Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations committee and one of the most senior members in the Senate. He’s Indiana’s longest-serving senator. Over the years, however, he’s become more of a Washingtonian than a Hoosier. Lugar sold his Indianapolis home in 1977 and has since lived in the Washington, D.C. area. In March, a local election board voted that Lugar wasn’t eligible to vote in his home precinct, but the senator resolved that issue by agreeing to switch his voter registration to his family farm in Marion County, Indiana.
The battle for the soul of the Republican party will play out Tuesday in Indiana. I suggested…months ago…that the Indiana Senate primary between 6-term incumbent Richard Lugar and the Tea Parties, State Treasurer Richard Mourdock would a race to watch nationally. I was right. Three national television networks are making plans to be in Indianapolis for Tuesday’s Primary Election, drawn by the battle between incumbent Sen. Richard Lugar and his challenger Richard Mourdock.
From New York, where the Wall Street Journal reports on Lugar looking to independent voters for support, to Washington, where the Post reports that the senator’s troubles are mounting, the media is focused on the Indiana Senate race. Yahoo news, television networks, and USA Today all supply news junkies the latest on Lugar vs. Mourdock. And political action committees are rounding up support for their preferred candidate. If Lugar’s moderate approach proves successful next week, all of this attention will evaporate. But, for now, every conservative, it seems, wants in on it. In the end, Indiana voters will decide this race, not the national media but what happens in Indiana is more about the soul of the Republican Party and could play into how President Obama will fare next fall.
CATON, Massachusetts — (DMN) – Andre McCollins, from New York, was 18 when he was strapped face down to a table at the Judge Rotenberg Center in Caton, Massachusetts, after failing to remove his jacket during a class. In footage of the incident released this week, Mr McCollins is heard screaming “help me” and writhing in pain as 31 individual jolts of electricity coursed through his body over a seven-hour period. Staff at the school were heard laughing in the background, according to reports. The boy was admitted to hospital afterwards.
Before being tied down, Mr McCollins is seen sitting at a desk, remaining motionless as staff request he remove his coat. He is then flung to the floor by an initial shock before being dragged to the table and a helmet placed on his head. He was refused access to water, food or the bathroom, according to reports. The school, which fought in court to suppress the video – filmed on a classroom camera in 2002, said the shocks were administered as “aversive” therapy, calling Mr McCollins an aggressive student.
Lawyers for the school claimed the shocks were part of routine therapy used to pacify mentally and emotionally troubled students. “These are dramatic tapes, there’s no question about that,” said Edward Hinchey, a lawyer for two Rotenberg Center clinicians. “But the treatment plan at the Rotenberg Center, the treatment plan that Andre had in place on October 25, was followed.” The student’s mother Cheryl McCollins, who is suing the institution, said she had “no idea that they tortured children in the school”.
Three days after the incident, she visited her son and found him in a “catatonic” state. “I couldn’t turn Andre’s head to the left or the right. He was just staring straight. I took my hands and went like this,” she told Fox News, waving her hand back and forth as if in front of his eyes. “He didn’t blink.” Doctors later diagnosed Mr McCollins with acute stress response caused by the shocks. The video was released this week after a high court judge overturned a previous ruling keeping the footage from being broadcast to the public. The court case continues.
Aversion therapy is a form of behavior therapy in which an aversive (causing a strong feeling of dislike or disgust) stimulus is paired with an undesirable behavior in order to reduce or eliminate that behavior.
As with other behavior therapies, aversion therapy is a treatment grounded in learning theory—one of its basic principles being that all behavior is learned and that undesirable behaviors can be unlearned under the right circumstances. Aversion therapy is an application of the branch of learning theory called classical conditioning. Within this model of learning, an undesirable behavior, such as a deviant sexual act, is matched with an unpleasant (aversive) stimulus. The unpleasant feelings or sensations become associated with that behavior, and the behavior will decrease in frequency or stop altogether. Aversion therapy differs from those types of behavior therapy based on principles of operant conditioning. In operant therapy, the aversive stimulus, usually called punishment, is presented after the behavior rather than together with it.
The goal of aversion therapy is to decrease or eliminate undesirable behaviors. Treatment focuses on changing a specific behavior itself, unlike insight-oriented approaches that focus on uncovering unconscious motives in order to produce change. The behaviors that have been treated with aversion therapy include such addictions as alcohol abuse, drug abuse, and smoking; pathological gambling; sexual deviations; and more benign habits—including writer’s cramp. Both the type of behavior to be changed and the characteristics of the aversive stimulus influence the treatment—which may be administered in either outpatient or inpatient settings as a self-sufficient intervention or as part of a multimodal program. Under some circumstances, aversion therapy may be self-administered.
Several years ago, I was on a Southwest flight from Houston to Tulsa. The man sitting next to me was too fat to fly. I am not saying that in a rude way, it is a simple matter of fact. His rolls extended over the arm-rests into my space. Before you think I am being mean…I am not…neither was he. Quite possibly, this was one of the most polite, cordial people I have ever flown with. He recognized the impossibility of the situation and gave me a handful of drink tickets and bought the first round. That being said, the issue is not about him or anyone as a person, it is, in my opinion about their physical ability to sit in an airline seat.
A New Orleans woman who said she was called “too fat to fly” at a Southwest gate last year is now filing a lawsuit demanding the carrier clarify its policies on larger passengers. Kenlie Tiggeman considered Southwest’s “Customers of Size” policy too inconsistent, having been told at least twice that she would be unable to fit in their seats and other times flying on the airline with no problem at all. She said she has not had issues on other airlines. I find this surprising because Southwest’s seats are a tiny bit bigger than those on other airlines. In a petition and application for injunctive relief, she alleges Southwest violated her “constitutional rights” and engages in a practice of “discriminatory actions toward obese customers.” As a consumer, Tiggeman said she has a right to know the rules at the point of purchase. “We need to know what the rules are,” Tiggeman said. “We need to know if we need one seat or two, because this eyeballing happening at the gate is incredibly discriminatory, and it’s so unnecessary.”
Southwest that “customers who encroach upon any part of the neighboring seat(s) should proactively book the needed number of seats prior to travel… (to) ensure that all Customers onboard have access to safe and comfortable seating.” The airlines’ seats are 17 inches wide, and passengers may not extend beyond the armrest in between seats. Tiggeman expands on her reasoning behind the lawsuit in her own blog, AlltheWeigh.com. A similar was filed by a passenger 20 years ago and was dismissed. Tiggeman’s incident occurred about a year after celebrity director Kevin Smith (aka Silent Bob) was “ejected” by a Southwest pilot for being unable to fit properly in his seat. Southwest apologized to both passengers and offered refunds and vouchers.
Dick Lugar has issued a cry for help. Allow me, please, to help translate the message. Lugar’s campaign came down to one word Friday: “help.” In the political equivalent of an SOS, the Navy veteran urged Hoosiers of any political persuasion who like what he’s done in his 36-year career in the Senate to help him stay there. “Every person in Indiana who wants me to continue, every person wherever they might be at this point, I encourage them to come out,” he said. “Come out immediately, as fast as you can.”
The reason for the urgency: The primary election is Tuesday, and a new poll shows state Treasurer Richard Mourdock defeating Lugar, 48 percent to 38 percent. That’s a dramatic slide for Lugar, who won in 2006 with more than 80 percent of the vote after Democrats didn’t field a candidate against him. Only a month ago, another Howey/DePauw Indiana Battleground poll showed Lugar leading Mourdock, 42 percent to 35 percent. Robert Dion, a University of Evansville political science professor, summed it up simply: “devastating.”
Mourdock’s campaign spokesman, Chris Conner, said the poll — taken Monday and Tuesday of 700 likely GOP primary voters statewide, with a margin of error of plus or minus 3.7 percentage points — confirms what that campaign has believed: “Hoosiers are tired of Senator Lugar’s willingness to support liberal causes in Washington, they feel he is out of touch with the values they hold dear and they firmly believe it is time for a change.” The usually staid Lugar was animated as he made his last-ditch appeal at his Broad Ripple headquarters while volunteers called voters to urge their support.
As a bell rang each time a volunteer won a commitment from a voter, Lugar pleaded with groups that he has helped over the years to now help him salvage his political career. They needed, he said, to “come forward and visibly give their support.” He cited farmers he had boosted with agriculture legislation and fights against regulations. He called on “working men and women,” saying his ties with business and labor are needed to create jobs. He appealed to veterans, Jewish voters who cared about his work to help Russian Jews, women who might have benefited from his program to build political networks and minority students who were helped by his scholarship program.
In Indiana, voters do not register by party. Anyone voting in the primary election can ask for a Republican or Democratic ballot. While they can be challenged if they are known to be a member of the other party, it’s difficult to prove that someone hasn’t had an election day conversion. “I believe that right now, if a majority of Hoosiers were to vote in an election — that is, all Hoosiers regardless of party, Republicans, Democrats, independents — I would win,” Lugar said. “I’m not asking anybody to cross over. I’m just saying positively, ‘Register your vote, because if you do not, I may not be able to continue serving you. At this point, help.”
And he pulled out one final weapon: Mourdock, he argued, is not qualified. “I’m just saying as positively as I can: Do not elect an unqualified person to serve in the Senate,” he said. Citing his work on national security, jobs, farm issues and budget cutting, Lugar said: “If you’re a Hoosier and you’re genuinely interested in these problems, please vote for somebody who is actually on the job doing it and will continue doing it effectively.” He blamed the hole he is in on millions of dollars in attacks against him made by outside groups whose support has helped Mourdock erase what otherwise would have been a substantial cash advantage for Lugar.
Defending his own negative ads against Mourdock, Lugar said that “after you take millions of dollars of hits, day in and day out, at least somebody ought to say Mr. Mourdock simply is unqualified to handle the complex situations in our world today.” Lugar, though, got no help from Gov. Mitch Daniels on this issue. Daniels, who got his start in politics working for Lugar and is backing Lugar in TV ads, said Friday that Mourdock is “a thoroughly credible person who is a friend and ally of mine.” Lugar’s charge that Mourdock cannot be effective if he isn’t willing to work across party lines crystallizes the differences between them, Mourdock said. “I want Republicans to be the majority so that we don’t have to be working with the other side, hoping to pick one off now and then,” Mourdock said. “I want to build the Republican Party, and he wants to try to count on winning a few votes when he needs them from the other side.”
Democrats, though, said that attitude is one reason they think their candidate, U.S. Rep. Joe Donnelly, can win in November if Republicans nominate Mourdock. Indiana Democratic Party Chairman Dan Parker pointed to the poll’s finding that 60 percent of the likely GOP primary voters polled want a senator to focus on trying to solve the nation’s problems, “even if that means working with elected officials across the aisle to do it.” Only 30 percent of those polled preferred their senator to focus first on standing up for conservative principles, even if that meant rejecting bipartisanship to solve problems.
That, Parker said, is “the one number in this primary poll that tells me the matchup for Joe Donnelly against Mourdock is going to be a good one.” “He is a tea party fringe candidate, whether they want to rebrand him or not,” Parker said. “He has a strident ideology that’s not going to fit well with the general election.” A trio of academics — Dion, at the Universityof Evansville; Andy Downs, at Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne; and Leslie Lenkowsky, at IU — all said Lugar still can win. Primary elections, they noted, are notoriously difficult to gauge because the outcome is heavily dependent on voter turnout. “It’s a long shot, but I certainly wouldn’t rule it out,” Downs said.
Lenkowsky, who only a couple of weeks ago predicted a Lugar win, said the appeal to independent voters may make a difference despite the clear deficit Lugar faces. And the poll, Dion said, could have an impact, galvanizing people who otherwise might not have voted. “Man, the million-dollar question is: Who gets energized by this?” he said. “The tea party people are already whipped into a lather, so you can’t get more excited than they are now. The kind of slow, sober-minded traditional Republican may decide that it’s time to go the polls and bring a friend.” The underlying message Lugar is really trying to get across is that this is the U.S. Senate race in Indiana and I agree. The winner of the GOP primary on Tuesday, for all intents and purposes, will win in November. Indiana is a red state and will swing right in the fall election. The message to Dems and Independents is if you don’t want Mourdock to be your Senator, get out and vote for Dick Lugar.
NUEVO LAREDO, Mexico — (DMN) – Gangland killers hanged nine people side-by-side from an overpass at a busy interchange in Nuevo Laredo on Friday, and stuffed 14 decapitated bodies into a minivan left in the heart of the busiest trade route on the U.S.-Mexico border. “This is how I am going to finish off all the fools you send to heat up the plaza,” read a banner on the overpass addressed to the Gulf Cartel, which is waging war with the Zetas gang that controls the city. “We’ll see you around, you bunch of parasites.” It was not immediately clear if the killers who hanged the five men and four women early Friday also decapitated the 14 other victims. Some of those hanged were bloodied and battered, and appeared to have been tortured. But the latest slaughter came barely three weeks after 14 other brutalized bodies were found, also in a van, behind Nuevo Laredo’s city hall. The heads of the 14 bodies found Friday were left in ice chests at basically the same place.
The banner left with the bodies on April 18, purportedly signed by Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, vowed that the gangster – considered Mexico’s most powerful crime boss – was taking back Nuevo Laredo from the Zetas, and was now aligned with their Gulf Cartel enemies. “They’re fighting for it again,” Peter Hanna, a retired FBI agent who spent much of his career investigating the Gulf Cartel, said of the new Nuevo Laredo violence. “It is a huge drug corridor, they have tons of methods of crossing it into the United States in Laredo.” If true, El Chapo’s offensive heralds more slaughter.
Guzman’s attempt to seize Nuevo Laredo’s key drug trafficking routes seven years ago killed hundreds and ignited the hyper-violent gang wars that continue today in much of Mexico. Guzman lost that fight and Nuevo Laredo has been home base for the Zetas. Just across the Rio Grande, in Laredo, Webb County Commissioner Jerry Garza said residents know what is going on in Mexico, and have long limited trips there to places that they know and expect to be patrolled by authorities. “We are aware of it, and we know it is over there, and that just makes us more vigilant” Garza said. “We don’t’ become desensitized to it, or fool ourselves into thinking it is not happening.”
Hanna speculates that Guzman may be hoping to gain control of Nuevo Laredo before the July 1 presidential elections in Mexico, which seem poised to return the former ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, to power. The PRI, which enjoyed single party rule in Mexico for most of the past century, governs Tamaulipas state, bordering Texas from Nuevo Laredo to the Gulf of Mexico, as well as neighboring Nuevo Leon and Coahuila states. President Felipe Calderon’s militarized campaign against organized crime shattered tacit agreements between officials and gang bosses across Mexico, Hanna said. In moving now, Guzman may be trying to establish firm control before Calderon’s successor takes office Dec. 1, in hopes of reaching similar deals.
Beheading, dismemberment and other brutality has become commonplace in Mexico’s drug wars. “They are trying to intimidate their rivals and the local population,” Hanna said of gruesome displays such as Friday’s. “The whole idea is that if you cooperate with the wrong side you can be killed. People are scared to death to do anything but try to avoid these people and avoid getting involved in one way or another.”