Fish Rot From The Head

Americans who follow politics know that even critics of party A and Congressman B  are likely to defend their own Congressperson. (Sort of like the critics of public education who defend their own school–it’s always those others that are failing. Back in the day in Indianapolis, Republicans who detested Democrats nevertheless repeatedly voted for Andy Jacobs, Jr.)

In this blog, I tend to focus on national politics. That focus may implicitly suggest that the faults and foibles of the people we send to Washington or empower to govern the state are somehow different- from–and worse than–those of the political folks closer to home.

As the song goes, “It ain’t necessarily so.”

Here in Indiana, I was recently made aware of a court case in Adams County, in which the Court invalidated an election for Union Township Trustee. The court found that Alice Weil, the Republican who won that election, was ineligible for public office due to the fact that she had previously been adjudicated a habitual offender. The court found that the Democratic candidate had  garnered the most votes awarded to eligible candidates; that person now holds the position.

The case generated little or no media coverage, and I think that’s very unfortunate, because it is yet another illustration of the way corruption at the top inevitably permeates an organization. Fish rot from the head, but the rot travels quickly to the rest of the body, and the wholesale deterioration of the GOP is a current, prime example.

It isn’t as if this candidate had fooled local party elders, ala George Santos.The Third District GOP Chair knew his candidate was ineligible–he was heard telling someone he’d have to “swap her out” if it was discovered.

Had the Third District Democrats not chosen to sue, Union Township would now have a convicted criminal as its Township Trustee. But the lawsuit cost the district Democrats six thousand dollars, which it is scrambling to cover. (The court declined to award costs–if there’s a generous reader out there, throw them some dollars!)

Third District residents (not just Democrats) have really suffered enough–their Congresscritter is Jim Banks, who now wants to be one of Indiana’s Senators.

In Washington, Banks was one of the founders of the (grotesquely misnamed) Freedom Caucus–the legislative caucus that includes such sterling defenders of the rule of law as Matt Gaetz, and deep thinkers like Marjorie Taylor Green and Lauren Boebert. Banks recently told  a radio host that he wants to find a way to stop “young ladies” from hopping in a car” to get abortion care outside Indiana.

Hoosiers outside the Third District who may be unacquainted with Banks’ interesting approach to “freedom” were recently introduced to his Senate campaign through its attack on prior Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels, who is rumored to be considering a run for that same Senate spot. The attack paints Daniels as “too liberal” for Hoosiers.

Please retrieve your jaw from the floor. Granted, Mitch Daniels was not one of the committed culture warriors so beloved by today’s GOP, but calling him liberal is…well, let’s just say it’s quite a stretch.

Banks is a “conservative” in the mold of Ron DeSantis. Think racist, homophobic and “anti-woke,” anti-immigrant, anti-choice, pro-privatization of education…on and on. (I put conservative in quotes, because calling  the radical, theocratic wing of today’s GOP “conservative” is deeply unfair to genuine conservatives.)

Interestingly, people in the Third District tell me that Banks used to be a “traditional Republican”–that once he was in Congress, he “lost his mind” and became steadily more radical and unreasonable. Assuming the accuracy of that description, it mirrors reports of other Republicans who have succumbed to the temptations of power and self-aggrandizement during the past several years.

When the people at the helm of a political party embrace lies Big and little, when the man to whom they pledge their loyalty is a grifter and a con artist, when the party abandons even the pretense of policy positions in favor of “hate your neighbor” culture war/identity politics–is it any wonder that the obedient “troops” follow suit?

Then there’s the saddest lesson of all: When there is no longer local media capable of rooting out local corruption, it doesn’t take long for the rot to travel downward.


  1. When the dribble becomes 85% B.S. … the leadership within the bubble begin to believe the dribble is a raging river to reckon with. What a Sabboth moment this is!

  2. Yesterday in the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette there was a letter by D.R. Murphy citing available government sources about Jim Banks’ net worth. It went from $400,000 in 2018 to $3.2 million in 2022. His annual salary is $174,000. Racist, homophobic, “anti-woke,” anti-immigrant, anti-choice, pro-privatization of education extremism appears to be an incredibly lucrative side business.

  3. Just this morning I read about Banks in the E-mail from InDems, “Kernel of Truth” newsletter; in an interview with a Fort Wayne radio host Banks stated he supports a “travel ban” to prevent women from leaving Indiana to access reproductive care (abortion). He later pulled Trump’s trick of “walking back” his statement saying he never heard of transportation ban till he was “accused of it.” Republicans expect us to believe them and not “our lying eyes and ears” by forgetting their earlier statements (lies). Elephants are supposed to be the ones with the long memory but probably don’t remember what they said the day…or the hour…before. We “jackasses” have the capacity to remember verbatin, quatatem and punctuatem, their lies word for word.

    Does local media really need to “root out” local corruption; can’t they just replay or reprint their own previous reports or watch national news for information?

    Sheila; off the subject and a question, the ISTA Legislation report this morning is seeking public support to prevent SB 305 and SB 486 from passing. SB 305 is seeking a universal voucher program which has no limit on income level to qualify but added an Amendment that at least half of the vouchers would go to special education students with the same income level as the current program. The Amendment is an Indiana after-thought which further limits special education students.

    SB 486 would silence teachers by no longer requiring administrators to discuss student’s learning conditions. My question is; what exactly is the meaning of Indiana’s “learning conditions”? Also; what are national “learning conditions” in the Department of Education and is Indiana ignoring Indiana and U.S. Constitutional education requirements as they are regarding voucher students?

  4. Unfortunately, it isn’t only Republicans who are guilty of this completely unprincipled behavior. Here in Bloomington we have a man who was re-confirmed as Traffic Commission, Greg Alexander, after a long-running series series of harassing tweets using course and attacking language towards individuals and, the, the entire neighborhood of Elm Heights. Why? Because they got the City Council to go over him and put in a stop sign. 3 Democratic members of the City Council, Volan, Flaherty, Sgambullari–interviewed him and approved his re-instatement. Why? two of these are anti-auto, pro-bike, with is true of Alexandar. Sgambullari just went along. BTW, here’s a recent tweet…(excuse the language). (he writes everything in lower case): “haters gonna hate and bloomington democrats gonna lick the shit out from between elm heights’ neighbors ass cheeks.” This man is Traffic Commissioner in Bloomington–liberal capital of IN.

  5. Thank you so much for bringing some light to this situation, Sheila! We much appreciate it, especially since local media is silent on the topic even after reaching out to several local news organizations.

  6. JoAnn–I cannot answer the question about “learning conditions,” but I will confirm–and amplify–ISTA’s warning about SB 305. It would cost a fortune, do absolutely NOTHING to improve educational outcomes, and further impoverish the state’s public schools. It is part of the GOP’s unrelenting war on public education. What I find incomprehensible in a state where virtually every member of the super-majority represents rural Hoosiers is the fact that it would hurt those areas the most: our thinly-populated rural districts cannot and do not support educational alternatives, so when these culture warriors weaken their public schools, rural folks are hurt the most.

  7. Voters now expect “pols” to be rich, powerful and crude. That’s why so many don’t bother to vote.

  8. I like Sheila’s phrase about succumbing “to the temptations of power.” It is relevant to many more politicians than Jim Banks.

  9. Under Banks’ “travel ban”, would women of childbearing age have to provide documentation that they aren’t pregnant in order to go to, say, Chicago for a visit? And, if pregnant, prove they still are when they return? What in the name of all things rational goes through the minds of these control freaks when they come up with this dreck? And he can walk back until the cows come home, but that it popped out of his mouth in the first place shows what his true intentions are.
    How—HOW??—do we get these nut cases out of office?

  10. I can only hope that the Dems won’t trot out another re-tread to face off with Banks in the general election.

  11. I followed and contributed to Jim Bank’s opponent this past election – and I live in Marion Couny. Democrat Gary Snyder was an outstanding candidate who would brought sensibility to Washington and would have helped in repairing Indiana’s tarnished reputation. Alas, when I asked Democrat Leaders why Andre Carson couldn’t share some of his war chest with another Democrat candidate in order to rid the IN delegation of this scoundrel, Jim Banks, the answer was campaign finance prohibits it. We Marion Co. Dems should have sent a brigade of volunteers up to Ft Wayne to canvess for Gary Synder. We need to start deploying our resources in a strategic manner if we ever hope to rid our politics of such deplorables (Hilliary was spot on with that phrase). One thought about that $6,000 – Maybe Julia Vaughn and IN Common Cause could help.

  12. People are just so gullible that if they keep hearing the same lie over and over, they start to believe it. There always have been and probably always will be unscrupulous people who exploit that weakness. The antidote is critical thinking which has to be learned. Unfortunately, we aren’t born with it. Our public education system has never really been geared toward teaching higher level thinking skills such as analysis, synthesis and evaluation. We tend to assume that young children are incapable of learning them, but they aren’t. Early childhood education should be designed to develop these thinking skills. That should be integrated into every other part of the curriculum. Am I off topic here? I think not, because education is the foundation of everything else.

  13. “…so when these culture warriors weaken their public schools, rural folks are hurt the most.” This
    sounds very sad, but the GOP would be, apparently has been, very happy to hurt ANYONE’S
    potential for learning, thus increasing the odds that those folks will silently follow along with
    the rest of the GOP agenda…in Indiana, and anywhere else. Ask Paul Rand why he has aimed
    at disbanding the federal Dep’t of Education!

  14. We now have three news services covering the Statehouse and none covering the Courthouses.

  15. Anyone out there have good advice about how to be informed and yet at the same time not lose one’s mind??? Serious question here. I follow the shenanigans up at the Statehouse pretty closely, especially bills surrounding tenant & housing issues. It seems that every year the supermajority’s hubris gets worse & worse and the Dems contributions get more and more inconsequential. Thought things would be more palatable without John Jacob Jingleheimershmidt and Curt Nisly-Weasly in office, but the R’s seem to dig up more wackos to replace them. ( I would move back to my home state of Arizona, but that AZ’s politics make our state look like Berkley.) Ugh.

  16. Sheila K; thank you for the additional information regarding the dangers of SB 305. Regarding SB 486 and students learning conditions, I tried to research state and federal education sites. Reached my own conclusion after reading teacher’s teaching conditions that, due to education now totally politicized, SB 486 would no longer require administrators to discuss students learning conditions. Decisions will be left up to teachers to free up administrators to concentrate on their political positions in education…or their education position in politics. A few years ago, a referendum on the ballot regarding a slight tax increase to increase teacher’s salaries here passed but hasn’t been heard of since. Indiana is quickly reaching an “all children left behind” condition which will increase the chances of keeping Banks and others of his ilk in office at local, state and federal levels. Beyond here there be dragons!

  17. Thank you. Sheila for helping us spread the word about our Court Case in Adams County. It’s a shame the 3rd District Democrats had to foot the bill to uphold elections, but we did what we knew to be right. That said: we sure could use some help paying this bill. Folks can donate at
    Any and all help with this lift is greatly appreciated!

  18. however the news is spread for the last 40 some years,seems that the buying up of local radio and then into murderdochs world of private investors buying up the rest is making a complete unrelented barrage of useless drivel and pokes to become a national disaster. maybe a new approach is needed. maybe its time to fully engulf the how the news media today has become the authortiarian voice of change.conservitive think tanks have become the kettle of black stew that has delibertly change society and its needs for a few who have decided that our country is thier buisness and only thier buisness. looking over a few collages of news bites of the same subjects over the years focuses the talk to provide unstable views that only attribute to ignorance and hate. this fuels further disregard for the person next to you. this in turn makes someone else
    meaningless. if democracy is to survive,we need to focus on the roots of this devastation. the news media and its deliberate attempt to end democracy,for a authoritarian regime it is being paid to support..

  19. Excellent post and great responses.

    Most Americans prefer living in their bubble, thinking it’s just the other team that’s rotting. The whole truth is harder to digest – the entire system is corrupt. Morton mentions the courthouses (justice system) are one of the MOST corrupt systems of them all. From local to SCOTUS. Money paves the way to reverse any law or policy – and it’s just outside influence.

    Everybody wants to be wealthy and successful – isn’t that the American Dream?

    What about morality and truth?

  20. Banks quickly became an ALEC prodigy during his first term in the state house. That is when his craziness came out of the closet. He is one of those purely evil people who claims to be a Christian while clearly displaying he is anything but that.

    He had a formidable and wealthy opponent for his seat in Congress back in 2017, but managed to win the race with massive financial backing from the Club for Growth and out of state far right interests. The Club for Growth is backing him again because he butters their bread exactly how they tell him to and they will spend whatever dark money is needed to make him a Senator.

    Like many other men running for office, he uses his veteran status during campaigns. He was never on the front lines though – as a member of the reserves he sat safely behind a desk dealing with supplies. Yes, I do recognize that all positions in the armed services serve a purpose, but he never would have survived or helped anyone else survive in any type of combat. If you ever had the misfortune of meeting him and shaking his hand it is like shaking a wet noodle.

  21. Have to chime in on the voucher scheme. Born & raised in Indy but lived in Phoenix for 25 years. We have universal vouchers in AZ now . No income limits. No requirement the child ever attended public school. In the first 3 months, 75% of new applicants were kids who were ALREADY in private or homeschooled (yeah, we give vouchers for homeschooling, too). No education dollars were in the budget for those kids and it’s already up to a projected $400M for the year in un budgeted costs.

    Do not be like AZ (Milton Friedman’s dream state). Vocally oppose voucher expansion of any sort. They will use special ed students as convenient props but in the end, the private schools get to pick and choose and they frequently pick the “easier to educate” students (who now have a shiny voucher)

  22. Monica; how appalling. And the students are the pawns in this education game with Democrats playing Chess and Republican playing Checkers. It is a lose-lose situation at this time for all students.

  23. Monica – Milton Friedman pushed the voucher system in Indiana. Our country also has him to blame for coming up with the idea that corporations should only care about and answer to their stockholders. To heck with caring about the communities they are in or their employees.

  24. JoAnn – SB 486 would eliminate a school boards’ obligation to discuss student learning conditions and teacher working conditions with the teacher bargaining unit.

    When the teacher bargaining law was first enacted in 1973, a compromise was struck. Salaries and wage related benefits became bargainable items; other concerns such as class-sizes, student discipline procedures, who sat on textbook selection and curriculum committees, employee and student safety concerns, teacher preparation time during the school day, professional development, and more were required to be ‘discussed’ but not bargained with the school board, although school boards had the option of bargaining these matters if they wished.

    In the last decade, the state legislature has banned the right of school board to bargain these non-monetary (discussible) items, even if they have done so for the last 50 years. Now the legislature proposes to eliminate school board requirements to even sit down to discuss these concerns with their teacher discussion teams. It’s amazing that in a time of school shootings, educators’ discussion teams would not be able to get a meeting with school board members to discuss safety procedures for students and school staff. Neither could they gain a meeting to discuss how to handle students or parents who come to class with guns and other weapons and steps to take in the future to better protect students and staff.

    This legislation is ridiculously stupid, dangerous, and short sighted. The inability to bargain working conditions like student discipline procedures and overloaded class-sizes has expanded the teacher shortage state-wide to all subjects and grades. Please contact your State Senator at 317-232-9400 to leave a message for your legislator to oppose BOTH SB 486 and SB 305.

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