Yet Another Reproach to Our Governor and His Ilk

As Indiana citizens have discovered, our Governor’s mean-spirited decisions aren’t limited to issues affecting LGBT Hoosiers. His efforts to reject even a handful of desperate Syrian refugees (mostly women and children and men over 60) is a case in point.

Fortunately, Pence doesn’t speak for all Hoosiers—or even for most of us.

I recently was contacted by Sam Harnish, a Hoosier from Northern Indiana who is part of a newly-formed group in Michigan City, “Citizens Concerned for Syrian Refugees.” He described it as an effort to provide some portion of needed help for 10 million refugees.

As he put it, 10 million of anything is impossible to comprehend.

Is there any way to visualize 10 million people? Perhaps it helps to say that that 10 million people are the combined populations of Hawaii, Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Montana, Delaware, South Dakota, Alaska, North Dakota, Vermont, Washington D.C., and Wyoming. There are 10 million refugees or internally displaced persons in Syria.

I cannot grasp the reality of life for those 10 million people. I watch the news. I see the pictures of the camps. I try to imagine being driven out of my home by war. There they are: men, women, children, and babies. All trying to survive, all seeking safety, all looking for a safe place to live – and winter is upon them.

Most, but not all, of these 10 million people are Muslim. Civil war and ISIS, ISIL, IS, Daesh (choose your favorite acronym) force families to flee regardless of religion. These 10 million people are human beings – human beings in need – and fellow human beings must respond to others in need when we have the ability.

Harnish draws a parallel to the classic “Grapes of Wrath.”

When the book “The Grapes of Wrath” was published, a newspaperman in California (Frank Taylor) tried to prove that the conditions described in the book didn’t exist. Many people today insist that there isn’t a real problem in Syria, or that America didn’t have anything to do with it. That is made easier because we don’t see what’s happening until a three-year-old child’s body washes up on a beach in Greece, or Hungary builds a fence to keep refugees out…  in Syria today, as in America in the 1930’s, there are millions of innocent human beings who need help. As human beings with the ability to help, we must.

Harnish’s organization has compiled a list of charitable organizations working to ameliorate the plight of Syrian refugees, and has investigated to determine which ones are the most cost-effective stewards of donations.

If you are interested in helping, you can contact Harnish at, or call him at (219) 879-3265.

There’s a yiddish word that describes people like Harnish: mensch. It means “a real human being.” Too bad one of those doesn’t occupy the Governor’s office.


  1. Every word of this blog points to more than one reason we need to vote Pence OUT of our governor’s seat of authority and control of our lives. We, Indiana residents, are not requested, required or expected to take in those ten million refugees; simply do something to help a few. Pence isn’t even helping Indiana residents in need of assistance.

    We live in a state that refused federal dollars (Daniels and Pence) to broaden Medicaid assistance to poor and low income residents simply to NOT have to prove the required small percentage to Planned Parenthood clinics. This resulted in closing PP clinics in the southern part of our state bringing about an HIV epidemic due to lack of testing facilities – which included testing men as well as women. This lack of testing and treatment is being “helped” by providing free needle exchange for heroin addicts to prevent further cases of HIV. Medicaid assistance to aid many elderly and disabled with Medicare payments has been stopped. Food stamp assistance has been stopped to elderly and disabled, poor and low-income along with those who have not been lucky enough to find employment as fast as Pence thinks they should.

    All of this plus the RFRA/LBGT and/or LGB, omitting the Ts, our crumbling infrastructure, disintegrating public education system and much needed public safety training and staff increases while Pence protects “his” surplus of OUR tax dollars. This brings me to the question – WHAT IS JOHN GREGG GOING TO DO ABOUT ANY OF THIS, OR IS HE? This is election year; Pence is on the air and in the news making piddly-ass announcements which means free campaign publicity. Even his deplorable news, which is supported by staunch Republican voters, is aiding his campaign.


  2. JoAnn,


    You know I’m not from Indiana. However, I will put my 2 cents into this discussion. And I suggest that the Democratic Party will do nothing with the likes of a Pence and his Tea Party cohorts. You’ll have to “wait untill HELL feezes over.” On the bright side, it might not take that long.

  3. Marv; your comment makes me regret our temperature here has risen to the teens – with snow again – if that is what it takes to get rid of Pence. Elderly and disabled in this state often feel we are in hell when we seek even temporary assistance.

    Pasco County Florida had an excellent center for all Hearing and Visually Impaired, free services. We also had a free weekly newspaper with lengthy lists of retired, but still active, people who supplemented their SS income by continuing to work at their trade with reasonable rates. Helped their customers as well as themselves and at times we made new friends. After moving back here in 2001 I finally sought help from a social service center; only needed replacement of 5-6 styrofoam ceiling tiles in my family room. I did NOT want financial help; asked for someone trustworthy to do the job which I would pay for. They sent a contractor, called me back to the center for results; they would pay the $1,300 for the work. I told the director that was a ripoff; she asked why I was upset because it wasn’t my money. She actually became angry when I refused to sign the contract to allow the work. I pointed out that it was my tax money supporting her center and walked out. Later, when my house was on the market my realtor brought her boyfriend to replace the few styrofoam tiles. They came 4 to a pack, $8 per pack, he bought two packs totally $16 plus tax. Took him an hour and 15 minutes to set up his work area, do the work and repack all his equipment. $1,300! Our tax dollars at work!

  4. WOW, JoAnn, is that social service center still in business? Sounds like it exists only to help crook contractors gouge the public and maybe the people leading at that center receive kickbacks from the contractors.

    I fully support helping the Syrian refugees. However, I can say that I am pretty well surrounded by the pseudo-religious that are absolutely positive all Muslims are terrible and dangerous people. They won’t allow themselves to believe otherwise and will not have a conversation about refugees unless you are on their side. If you don’t hold their beliefs, then you are considered stupid and one of the people that is going to allow Those People to take over our country. As you might imagine, I do not belong to the pseudo-religious right and am therefore participating in allowing our country to be taken over and destroyed.

  5. Nancy; it is C.A.F.E. located in the east 42nd Street and North Post Road area…still active. In the mid-1970’s I worked for Division of Community Services, part of the Mayor’s Office, our job was to administer federal funds into all multi-service, senior and health centers in Marion County. Part of my job was to monitor the centers regularly – unscheduled visits – and assist Directors compose annual proposals to continue receiving funds. NEVER found a problem like that in any of them; all dedicated, hard working and often during their own time to help others. I have wondered since my experience at C.A.F.E. if that goes on in the other centers now. The ones I went to before C.A.F.E. offered no help at all…not even ripoffs:)

  6. The common thread to all of the positions taken by the conservatives in this country is “fear”. Fear of having to comply with rules, fear of new ideas, fear of different worldviews, and in the case of Syrian refugees, it is the fear of the other.
    Fear for much of this country’s population has become an addiction. There is a “high” to it. There is a need to increase the dosage. There is the irrational actions that result for those highs and the pain of withdrawal. We have some really sick people out there, and all you need do to see it is to watch the evening news.
    Now, how do we create a rehab program for them?

  7. Fear and anger and sex have been used throughout human history to allow some to control others. It’s universal.

    What’s changed in modern history are two things.

    One is the ability to spread fear and anger and use sex. Modern media gives huge leverage to those who need power to define themselves. Consider Trump and Palin as perfect examples. They have the need, they have the tools.

    But the other thing that can act as a deterrent to those forces is our ability to get to the truth and live lives based on realistic risk assessment and appropriate emotions and real sex.

    So the age old story of control and slavery is at a different level today. Trump and Palin and the Kardashians can gain enormous power over people that they never meet. On the other hand thinkers can choose to live free, informed and unafraid. But that choice requires time, energy and effort.

  8. From Oxfam: 62 families in the world have more wealth now than the poorest half of the entire population of living humans; the wealthiest 1% more wealth than the other 99%.

    Those statistics are meaningless to me personally as I have everything that I need and probably enough to be pretty sure that I will never have had in my life an economic crises. Probably most of you could say the same.

    On the other hand many in the world live lives defined by economic crises. Many lives end due to the inability to gather the minimal resources required to sustain them.

    Does anyone really believe that this is the best that mankind can do?

  9. government agencies that exist primarily to serve themselves and their drinking buddies? What a surprise! When Lugar was mayor the city got federal funds for a scam: city agency condemned your house, contractor did a fake repair job, homeowner got cheap refinancing.

  10. Personally, I think both Marv and JoAnn are onto a big aspect of the problem. The Democrats are largely nowhere to be seen. This holds true at the state and national levels where they seem to be afraid of their own shadows. They seemingly cannot slate credible candidates with Mr. Gregg even seeming a little bit iffy in terms of his chances for success. As a result the Democratic Party and its members are disunited and uninspired.

    Granted, trying to unite Democrats with all their various stripes has often be referred to as being akin to herding cats but if they are going to succeed, both in winning elections and promoting an alternative agenda to what the Republicans are doing, then that is going to have to have to happen at some point. When you have efforts by one side to mobilize their supporters and others on an agenda solely based on fear then someone or something is going to have to defeat that agenda in the bright sunlight, so-to-speak. Hiding from view and only communicating with erstwhile supporters for fund raising purposes, and also using a tinge of fear mongering to do that, isn’t going to reap any credible results. One only has to look at the elected representation of this state to see that with the national picture being far worse if that can fully be comprehended.

    I sometimes wonder if the current leadership of the Democratic Party is an adjunct to the GOP since they continue to shoot themselves in their feet all the time and the same people continue to lead them throughout that process. The DNC’s chair, Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, has successfully limited the number and timing of her party’s Presidential debates, largely due, it seems, to her support of Mrs. Clinton at the expense of everything else. In essence, the Dems are defeating themselves while the chaos in the GOP and its news coverage is sucking all of the proverbial air out of the room.

    Maybe we have two disparate games being played at the same time; Trump being a covert candidate to defeat the GOP and Wasserman-Schultz doing the same thing from the opposite angle. While this might be the grist for politically oriented gallows humor the whole electoral process is becoming more and more unhinged with the prospects of any credible solutions to what Sheila’s post was meant to illuminate becoming increasingly less likely. In this particular case, people, innocent people, are suffering as a direct consequence to it.

  11. Tom Lund. Last night over 250 volunteers showed up to a Bernie rally in Indianapolis. God only knows how many more have already headed to Iowa. These are committed, smart, Hoosier voters. As I posted yesterday, why hasn’t the Democrat Party tapped into that? As for Hillary, she has been to Indiana. Showed up a couple of months ago. Did she give a campaign speech to the masses? Did she visit the areas of Indy where the most Dem votes are to be found? Hell, NO! She went up to Hamilton County to get campaign funds. Says it all.

  12. Tom; there will be a Democrat somewhere in the gubernatorial woodpile here in Indiana and they will get my vote.

    My view on the presidential nominee is this; keep in mind the Republican goon squad formed specifically to stop our biracial president from succeeding and they have done this nearly 50% of the time and refuse to give credit where credit is due when President Obama did succeed in vital areas. Add to the mix the Republican war on women; also highly successful for them because they have been supported by the staunch Republican voters (including their women) who would vote for Charles Manson should he join the GOP. I strongly believe they will crossover in the primary and pad the vote for Hillary to get her the nomination simply because she is a woman. They will then band together on election day and at the worst, put one of their current clowns in the White House. At the best; Hillary would win but the Republicans would continue their current tactics to prevent her from succeeding as they have President Obama.

    I keep stressing to family, friends and on line how important the other elections are if we expect the president, whoever that is, to work for America and Americans with any success. I have little hope for our future but will continue my support and donate what I can when I can. Sheila’s daily blog is more important than she knows; she keeps us informed and inspired to fight to return to the true meaning of the Constitution and the Amendments – sans Citizens United and returned the Civil Rights to Americans.

  13. Theresa, I was there last night at the Bernie Rally. The energy of the Sanders campaign is amazing. It shows me there is hope for the Democrat Party. I recall Hillary’s trip to Indiana, June last year – closed door with the big campaign donors and the Corporate Democrats. I think the venue was the Simon Estate, so not only closed door, but gated too. You might have made the cut if you would have donated $2,700. Evan Bayh is backing Hillary.
    The Democrat Party faces a big challenge they can continue on and live on the slogan, we are not Republicans. They can feel the Bern and move the party back to Main Street.
    Faux News may be feeling the Bern, now that Sanders is showing his strength. Faux News seems to have adjusted their targeting radar to Bernie.

  14. Tom Lund, I’m finding that your thoughts and my thoughts are aligning. I cannot claim native Hoosier status because I established IN residency in mid-2004 after residing in three other states during my adult lifetime; however, from my past experience growing up in West Kentucky, I’d say that John Gregg presents himself more in line with the heavily KY Democrat base located directly across the Ohio River from Evansville. His work history from 1978 through 1985 as both a landman for Peabody Coal and as a lobbyist for AMAX Coal do not seem congruent with the Democrat Party’s message.

    Clearly Gregg has a winning history of relating to the voters in District 45’s House of Representatives; however, his folksy low-energy style and barbershop quartet mustache do not resonate with younger voters, people of color, and voters living in more populous areas than his Knox County hometown Sandborn, population 452.

    On the other hand, Mike Pence is a plain vanilla wafer, another loaf of Midwest white bread with no flavor, and a self-made victim of his inability to separate his brand of personal faith from fulfilling his responsibilities as an elected official.

    The 2016 gubernatorial election offers us two choices: spending another 4 years with a lukewarm wet noodle or spending 4 years wrapped in grandma’s old homespun quilt.

  15. Tom and Theresa,

    Both of you are right, all the way, in your posts. One thing I might add from personal experience. When all is said in done, the Democratic Party establishment isn’t all that different from the Republican Party establishment. The Democrats go more to Aspen, the Republicans to Vail. In the not to distant past, the corporate heads of most large companies would give to both parties.

    Richard Nixon changed all of that. After he was elected, he went after the corporate heads who contributed to the Democratic candidate for illegal political contributions even if they were solid Republicans. I had resigned a few months before his election as the Head of the Political Contributions Section (Texas, Louisiana, and Arkansas) for the IRS at that time. A few weeks after Nixon was elected, I witnessed my father, who was a Regional President of a top five grocery chain and a Democrat, receive a subpoena along with “one of his buddies,” who was President of another top five grocery chain and a “far right” Republican.

    In my estimation, the only significant difference between the two groups is that the Democrats have more minority CEO’s. That’s why Debbie Wasserman Schultz will do everything possible to prevent Bernie Sanders from being her parties’ nominee.

    As JoAnn always point out, it’s all about the $$$.

  16. Who could have been prouder of our govenor standing at the door to block these poor war torn people from entering. I get a flashback of George Wallace.

  17. BSH, I absolutely love your analogies – they are spot on!

    “On the other hand, Mike Pence is a plain vanilla wafer, another loaf of Midwest white bread with no flavor, and a self-made victim of his inability to separate his brand of personal faith from fulfilling his responsibilities as an elected official.

    The 2016 gubernatorial election offers us two choices: spending another 4 years with a lukewarm wet noodle or spending 4 years wrapped in grandma’s old homespun quilt.”

  18. We all recognize that gerrymandering has given Indiana republicans their power and continues to keep them in power. They have managed to create a completely hostile environment for any Democrat to even try to run for office.

    I read today that John Dickerson suspended his campaign for the senate due to lack of funds. I think this plays a huge part in our lack of ability to recruit Democrats to run for office. They know that a lack of funding will make it impossible for them to compete, so why would they put themselves through all of the trouble and humiliation of even trying?

  19. I have long held the theory that the Republicans are too crooked to rule and the Democrats too stupid. Running John Gregg is a perfect example.

  20. When I think about people that I know, the vast majority knew what party they would vote for long before any candidates declared. I suspect most will vote in 2016.

    It’s the open minded undecided as to party that will declare the winner – what I imagine to be a few percent of voters and even a smaller % of voters.

    It is what it is.

    It seems that most people who are open minded enough to consider both parties are smart enough to see that the GOP does not offer anyone qualified to be President except for, arguably, Jeb and I doubt if he’ll survive the convention.

    So I think that Hillary or Bernie will ultimately win the Presidential race but it’s harder to get a handle on all of the governorships and congressional races. A lot depends on the specific candidates who choose to run.

  21. Teresa,

    I almost went to that Sanders rally myself since I had an invitation. That said, I keep thinking, however, about another campaign where the Dems ended up shooting themselves in the proverbial foot over a candidate that deviated from a centrist position as Mr. Sanders greatest opponent also takes. During the Presidential election of 1972 where the Democrats had rallied to George McGovern over several more mainstream candidates, the party was thrown into disarray; centrist Democrats, and they ended up being thoroughly trounced in a total blowout election. I remember that one specifically since I also voted for Mr. McGovern via absentee ballot while I was in the Navy. It was my first chance to vote; I was 18 years old at the time.

    While I have a great deal of respect and admiration for Sen. Sanders I cannot help but think, cringing as I do, that the virulent right-wing hate machine will go into hyper-drive in painting him as a “Communist” when he clearly is not. These same fools with great regularity paint the current occupant of the White House as a “Commie” when, in reality, he is a centrist Democrat. Certain GOP operatives are already trying to talk up Mr. Sanders as the Democratic nominee over Mrs. Clinton clearly with that war of hate speech and lies in mind. To think that these people wouldn’t use every dirty trick in the book to paint Mr. Sanders as a threat and as un-American is being terminally naïve.

    While, in no way do I think Mr. Sanders shouldn’t run or be a great candidate I am concerned about the cohesion of the Democratic Party and its ability to align itself behind him if he does defeat Mrs. Clinton. Given the concerns that I expressed in my previous post, which some of you had essentially the same thoughts, I am concerned that the DNC, in particular, might mount another half-hearted campaign effort if he defeats their preferred candidate, Mrs. Clinton, and once again allow someone that should never, ever, be in the White House, win the election as a result. This is why the outcome of 1972 keeps popping up for me as a potential and very much unwanted parallel. Sure hope I’m wrong.

  22. Right at every point, Tom. “They” figure that Sanders will be easier to beat. We also are very well known for shooting ourselves in the foot time and time again. Have we learned anything in the last 40+ years? That question is going to be more and more important as time goes by. We have 11 months to get this right.

  23. Electing a President is one thing, an important thing, but it’s not the only thing. Another thing is being President.

    Being President requires getting things done despite heavy opposition.

    So, what’s to be made of Hillary vs Bern?

    It’s easy to think that Bernie is closer to a liberal ideal than Hillary. Does that mean that Bernie would accomplish more of the liberal agenda than Hillary?

    Maybe, maybe not.

    Would Republicans resist Bernie more than they would Hillary?

    Is the full Bernie package too liberal for America?

    I love his campaign financing package. I believe that his health care package doesn’t go far enough. He worries about insurance but I think progress requires socialized medicine as well as insurance to control costs. I love his break up Wall St package.

    But, is there any risk that running Bernie risks losing to Republicans?

    I don’t know. I just don’t know.

  24. Betty,

    “We have 11 months to get this right.”

    You’re right we have 11 months to get this right, however, in the meantime, we have only 6 months to organize OUTSIDE the Democratic Party before the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia. Don’t forget the Tea Party was organized OUTSIDE of the Republican Party.

    Our only chance is with Bernie Sanders. The establishment wants Hillary Clinton. Bill Clinton put us into this mess when he introduced the ROBERT STRAUSS TRIANGULATION STRATEGY into the heart of the Democratic Party. With Hillary Clinton, the establishment can’t lose whether a Republican or Democrat wins.

    It’s the Democratic Party establishment who has the power to make (or break). They’re the enemy. They have to be beaten. They can be beaten. But first you have to beat the Bush Family and the Koch Brothers. That is not as difficult as it sounds. “The cabal” has been beaten before.

    “Vote Sanders, the next FDR”

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