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Sunday, December 04, 2016
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Thursday, July 11, 2013 1:35 PM
KOKOMO – “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore.  Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me.  I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
When my ancestors, Scots Irish immigrants from Ulster, immigrated to America in the early part of the 18th Century, they were not greeted by Lady Liberty and her famous poem. The statue had not been erected nor the words of the poem written. However, they were welcomed by a vast land whose siren call around the world could be heard by all, “Come to America and be free!”
For centuries, the downtrodden and oppressed from around the world have made their way to our shores asking only one thing, an opportunity to work and live in freedom. The flow of immigrants to our country has enriched our character and forged a nation that has been stronger, more creative and more successful than the other, generally homogenous, countries of the world. What country would not be made stronger by a man who says, “I am going to take everything that I have and move my family to the United States where there is opportunity and freedom?”
Of course, for over 200 years, Americans have resisted welcoming new immigrants to their country. They’ve feared that the new arrivals would threaten the prosperity that they have come to know. Our nation, as great as it is, has resisted immigration by Irish Catholics, Polish, Germans, Italians, Jews and Chinese, to name just a few. We would have resisted immigration of black Africans if they had not been forced to come here for the economic benefit of the South. I don’t know if it is merely fear of change, fear of the unknown or a natural tendency to fear anyone who doesn’t look like us that has motivated Americans over history to fight immigration. America has become a club that after trying desperately to get in, we try desperately to keep everyone else out.
  • KOKOMO – These are heady days for the Republican Party.  A new Republican president will take office with a Republican-controlled House and Senate.  In addition, Republicans control 31 governorships and have a piece of governmental leadership in all but six states.  Indiana is no exception. Republicans now control every statewide office with the exception of Democrat Sen. Joe Donnelly. Republicans hold seven of the nine congressional seats. The GOP also has super majorities in both houses of the Indiana Legislature. This is all pretty amazing stuff for a political party that was written off back in July and August. You remember the headlines don’t you?  “The End of a Republican Party: FiveThirtyEight.”  “Are You Ready for the End of the Republican Party: Esquire.”  “Fareed Zakaria:  The End of the Republican Party.”
  • KOKOMO – It’s Wednesday, the day following the greatest upset in presidential election history, and pollsters, pundits and media elites all finally agree, the path to the White House for Donald Trump is wider. That path is called Pennsylvania Avenue! I must admit that it was with great joy that I stayed awake until 3:30 a.m. watching the election results and the tortuous process of seeing the entire mainstream elitist media, shell-shocked pollsters and humbled pundits take over three hours to come to the realization of what was obvious when the Wisconsin domino fell into the face of Hillary Clinton’s presidential ambition. Despite healthy leads for Trump in Pennsylvania and Michigan, media experts still went to elaborate electronic walls and pontificated on Clinton’s ability to “draw to the inside straight.” For the past four months we witnessed the greatest corporate/media/governmental election conspiracy in the history of our country. Each day was filled with carefully orchestrated releases of adverse polls, negative stories about Trump and a treatment of Hillary Clinton that virtually had CNN’s Wolf Blitzer measuring for new pink drapes in the Oval Office. The message was clear: Republicans were running from Trump. Trump was a hopeless cad, with a long history of mistreating women. Hispanics disliked Trump. Blacks disliked Trump. Women disliked Trump. Jews disliked Trump. Gays disliked Trump.
  • KOKOMO – The big question being asked in both Republican and Democratic party headquarters around Indiana is what will be the down-ballot impact of Donald Trump. I’m sure that when John Gregg’s not dreaming about government provided healthcare and when Evan Bayh isn’t having nightmares about paying property taxes on all of his out-of-state homes, they lie awake at night and ponder whether Donald J. Trump will be a help or a hindrance to their race. In my capacity as both a district and county Republican chairman, I admit that I have spent quite a bit of time studying and researching the impact of The Donald on not only the elections for governor and U. S. senator, but also on races for commissioners, councilmen, judges, treasurers and auditors. Looking back on the May Indiana Primary, you had to have been impressed with the scale of Trump’s victory over Ted Cruz. Trump thumped Cruz about as uniformly and as completely as you can do it. He scored the touchdown, kicked the extra point, spiked the ball and then led the band in the fight song. Pretty good showing for a candidate who many in our party, including myself, had serious doubts about.  
  • KOKOMO – Indiana deserves a better United States senator than Evan Bayh. Although I may be accused of using trite political rhetoric, I assure you, my motives and words are sincere. I have five reasons why Evan Bayh should not be elected to the Senate. First, and perhaps most important, Evan Bayh was a totally ineffective senator for 12 years.  The “boy governor” turned “boy senator” was so focused on riding a Senate seat to the White House that he assiduously avoided saying anything or taking any legislative stands that might raise any political angst in either conservative Indiana or in the liberal bastions of the liberal left coasts. Don’t believe me? Stuart Rothenberg from the Washington Post wrote critically of Evan Bayh and quoted James Hohmann from the Power Post: “One of the many reasons that so many of his Democratic colleagues did not like Evan Bayh during his tenure in the Senate was his excessive caution."
  • KOKOMO – Just listening to the drivel falling out of John Gregg’s mouth can give you first class case of the Hoosier heebie-jeebies. As I listen to the political flatulence that passes for the Gregg for Governor advertising campaign, a wave of emotions washes over me. The wave of emotions is somewhat akin to the feeling I would get if I was told that I had an incurable flesh-eating bacteria. You know it will eventually end, but how much misery will you have to go through to reach the end. It never ceases to amaze me that Democrats still think they can get away with the politics of the big lie. I suppose if I knew that the army of fact checkers were either on my payroll or working pro bono through the mainstream media, I might try and get away by telling a few whoppers myself. Now I know that there might be a few people reading this who might say, “But Craig, whatever are you talking about?  John Gregg would never tell a fib in the pursuit of his election to governor. Surely, you must be mistaken.” Well, I’m old enough and experienced enough to not just rely on my own political party’s communications mill. I’m here to tell you that I lived through John Gregg’s enlightened leadership of the Indiana House while he served as both majority leader and speaker.
  • KOKOMO – When you take on the job of a political party chairman, you enter your tenure with visions of political lollipops dancing in your head. You imagine all of the nifty things you’ll accomplish in the name of the cause. You salivate over creating targeted marketing programs, systematic fundraising processes and candidate development.  Then, very quickly, perhaps within two or three days, you realize that you are going to be doing things that no one told you about. Scrubbing toilets at Republican Headquarters, I realized that there might be things that I would be called upon to do that weren’t in the brochures touting the glamorous and exciting lifestyles of a Republican County chairman. Ten years into my sentence, make that service, as a GOP chair, I’ve done things that I never anticipated doing and seen events that amaze and astound. I’ve done some things they just can’t get laboratory rats to do, all in the service of my party. Last April, our Republican HQ started being bombarded with telephone calls asking when we would have Donald Trump signs for distribution. The callers were polite but quickly became agitated when told that sign distribution during primaries was largely up to the individual candidates.
  • KOKOMO – I hereby dedicate this column to former Indiana 2nd District U.S. Rep. Earl Landgrebe. Congressman Landgrebe immortalized the comment, “Don’t confuse me with the facts” during the Watergate hearings in 1974. His eloquent and timely use of this statement has been subliminally picked up and adopted by both major political parties as they go on their merry way to the bankrupting of our nation. Of course, I could have dedicated this column just as easily to one of the great philosophers of my youth, Alfred E. Neuman. His monthly mantra, “What Me Worry?” closely reflects the fiscal discipline so ably practiced by our Congress and presidents for at least the last 50 years.  Our United States government is totally devoid of a single scintilla of synergy. We elect intelligent representatives and senators, put them in the same building and crank out more toxic waste than you’d find in the Love Canal. The root cause of this legislative morass is the giant sausage-making machine that we fondly refer to as democracy. The sum of our legislative parts just doesn’t add up to a positive number.
  • KOKOMO – Howard County and the City of Kokomo are not the first areas to be visited by the destructive forces of a tornado, nor are they the victims of the worst tornado. They are the victims of three nasty twisters that touched down last Wednesday. When you are in the middle of a tornado you don’t spend a lot of time debating whether it is an F2, F3 or F4 storm that is flattening your house, destroying your business or totally disrupting your day-to-day life.  There’s quite a bit of chance and luck that goes into determining whether you emerge alive from a big tornado. When and where the twister touches down, the time of day, how long and wide the path of destruction and the day of the week are all variables that go into Mother Nature’s lottery of life. Of course, decisions and actions taken by governmental bodies and individuals also help or hinder the ultimate outcome of the tragedy of a tornado. Very accidentally, I found myself at ground zero in the direct path of the tornado at 3:20 p.m.  Sometimes innocent decisions can alter your life. Thankfully, my number didn’t come up on the big old wheel of fortune this time. It was 2:25, and I was in the family room of my home, entertaining my brother visiting from Florida. It was sunny outside but you could hear a faint rumbling of thunder from the west.
  • KOKOMO – One month ago I traveled up U.S. Highway 35 from Kokomo to northern Indiana for a company golf outing. Highway 35 leads through a political mixture of both Democratic and Republican bastions as you snake your way to LaPorte. I found this trip noteworthy for the political yard signs that were sprinkled along the way. “Pence Must Go” and “Fire Pence” signs dotted the roadway in several locations.  I had seen the same signs in yards along Capitol Avenue in Indianapolis, ever since the heated brouhaha over the Religious Freedoms Restoration Act exploded in the public mindset. Mind you, these aren’t hand-painted signs by individuals expressing their anger. These signs are professionally done and distributed as part of a longterm strategy to win the 2016 Indiana governor’s race by vilifying Mike Pence. Oops! The problem with putting all of your chips on one number of the roulette wheel is that your number better come up or you are busted. With Gov. Pence accepting the vice presidential nomination on the Trump ticket, removing him from the Indiana ballot, the obsessive focus of John Gregg and the Democratic Party on a “Pence Must Go” strategy has left them flat busted.
  • CLEVELAND – I confess that I wasn’t really looking forward to attending the Republican National Convention in Cleveland. It had the potential to range all the way from nauseating to dangerous, based on the hype leading up to the event. Advance news reporting by the major media outlets predicted deep divisions in the convention between Trump supporters and anti-Trump forces, deadly terrorist attacks, paralyzing traffic jams caused by civil disobedience and a list of speakers that excited no one. Once again, the big media got it wrong, totally wrong. The Republican National Convention was an outstanding success. It was full of drama, full of excitement and a good showing for Team Trump. As to the location, I don’t want to hear another person refer to Cleveland as the “Mistake on the Lake.”  Cleveland rocked, literally and figuratively. Cleveland is a great city with big city attractions and some of the friendliest people in the nation. Of course, the big worry going into the RNC was the question of public safety. We were told there would be thousands of protesters wreaking havoc on Cleveland and the convention. The reality was that Cleveland was possibly the safest city in the United States last week, as thousands of imported law enforcement officers and a shortage of serious protesters made for a great environment.
  • KOKOMO – I have a deep dark secret to confide. I am one of the most committed Anglophiles in the United States. I love everything British. I love the history. I love the monarchy. I love the tradition. I even love that funny language they call English. Despite the fact that George Bernard Shaw once said that, “Americans and the British are two peoples separated by a common language,” I find myself proud that my heritage springs from the land of King Harold, Robin Hood and Winston Churchill.  Heck, if Henry VIII hadn’t sent my ancestors from Scotland to Northern Ireland in an effort to whip those Emerald Islanders into shape, I might be living at the foot of Castle Hill, in Edinburgh, selling bangers and mash from a street cart. Unfortunately, the survival manual distributed by Henry VIII to the emigrants sent to Northern Ireland didn’t reveal the secret about how to grow potatoes in rocky soil. The desire to eat being a rather strong incentive, my ancestors sailed for the New World and the availability of Big Macs.
  • KOKOMO – Indiana Republicans can be proud that they took a giant leap forward on Saturday, when delegates to the Indiana Republican State Convention nominated Elkhart County Prosecutor Curtis Hill to be their candidate for Indiana attorney general.  In a continuation of a political evolutionary process that witnessed three incredibly talented women lead the Indiana statewide Republican ticket in 2014, delegates to the 2016 Republican state convention created an historical moment with the Hill nomination.  Curtis Hill became the first African-American Republican to be nominated  for a statewide constitutional office. First and foremost, Curtis Hill deserved the nomination. A four-term county prosecutor, Hill hit the entire State of Indiana like an April tornado.  Endorsed by 40 of his peers, Hill quickly served notice last year that he was in it to win it with hard work and a great message.
  • KOKOMO – What a difference a month makes! One month ago, Republicans in Indiana were drawing battle lines in the rarest of rarities, a primary that actually meant something. In a ham-handed deal, John Kasich and Ted Cruz worked up a “deal” in an effort to derail Donald Trump’s express train to the Republican presidential nomination. Kasich cleared the field and Cruz crowed that without the distraction of a third candidate, he would put the Donald in his place. One month ago, liberal and conservative pundits predicted that the Republican presidential race would come down to a contested convention that would destroy the Republican Party. One month ago, Hillary Clinton led Donald Trump in national polls by nearly 20 percent. One month ago, with the elite of the Indiana Democrats backing her, Hillary Clinton looked to win the Indiana primary and close out the Democratic presidential race. One month ago, John Gregg was shopping for a big old comfortable chair for his future digs in the governor’s office, while counting his big labor donations to his gubernatorial campaign.
  • KOKOMO – Okay, let’s cut out the bull and talk about what the presidential primary results were all about. The Trump, Cruz and Sanders campaigns were all about revolution. The masses are damn angry and they have made their voices heard. That’s how we do revolutions in a democracy. Rebel at the ballot box! It is unarguable that the Trump, Cruz and Sanders campaigns were about battling the status quo. Although each candidate found a somewhat different set of elements to assail, each of their campaigns was born from an anger that had been building for close to 50 years. Just like an earthquake fault line, the longer the interval between pressure relieving quakes, the greater the magnitude of the tremor. The current political situation is somewhat akin to linking the San Andreas fault to the New Madrid fault and watching the United States political scene go shake, rattle and roll. The typical Donald Trump supporter that I’ve met is terribly angry about what they perceive as the decline of American greatness. They long for a time when we were the only big kid on the block internationally. Trump supporters are tired of not finishing and winning wars. They want an end to wars fought with no clear definition of victory. They love the middle class and have been sickened by the steady outsourcing of jobs to Mexico, China, India and everywhere else.
  • KOKOMO – Forget about the analysis of the primary races for president, U.S. Senate and congressional races. That’s all fine and good, but I want to talk about an issue while it’s hot; an issue that both Republicans and Democrats can get their hands around and agree on at least one thing. Indiana desperately needs to move our primary election to the early part of the presidential election cycle. For virtually my entire life Indiana has been flown over, walked over, passed over and mostly ignored by the national political elites. We’ve been mostly a super safe state in the Republican electoral column; so safe that Republican presidential candidates rarely stop for much more than a quick cash grab at the Columbia Club. You might get a vice presidential candidate whistle stop visit, but the main attraction spends their time where it is needed. Democrat presidential candidates stop just as infrequently as the Republicans. Why waste your time tilling extremely rocky soil? It has been an amazing experience watching Indiana become the object of affection for Republican and Democrat presidential candidates for the past 10 days. It has been a joy to see all of the big boy national media outlets realize that there is, “more than corn in Indiana.”
  • KOKOMO – I returned home from a weekend out of town to find my yard resembling a hayfield. After nearly three hours riding the tractor, my final gesture was to set my “Kasich for President” sign out in the front yard. I took extra care to stick the prongs of the sign frame deep in the ground and I made sure that the sign was visible from all directions, yet not too close to the road to make it easily removable by a passerby.  Farmers have told me over the years that you can do a powerful lot of thinking while you’re out on a tractor. My time Sunday was spent listening to the Eagles anthology on my iPOD player and thinking about the delicious prospect of the first contested Republican presidential primary to roll into Indiana in years.  I’ve made no secret of my belief that it is to Indiana’s great detriment that we hold our primary so late in the election year cycle. We get passed over, flown over and overlooked by nearly everyone in the presidential quest. We vote solidly Republican in November and rarely see a presidential candidate once the general election campaign begins.  Hoosiers just don’t get the chance to tell the candidates about the perils of corn root worm, the challenges of keeping our children close to home after graduation, or the unparalleled joy of wrapping your hands around a gigantic Indiana breaded tenderloin. Finally, Indiana Republicans were to have their moment in the national spotlight. Not one, not two, but three presidential candidates would be coming to the state for an uninterrupted week of Hoosier campaigning.
  • KOKOMO – It’s looking more and more each day as if the Republican candidate for president of the United States will be decided at a contested Republican National Convention in Cleveland, this July. With each passing primary the likelihood of any of the three remaining candidates locking up the 1,237 votes necessary to win the first ballot seems more remote.  Kasich is mathematically unable to get to 1,237. Cruz would have to just about complete a clean sweep of the remaining primaries. Trump had the best chance of doing it, but a variety of forces have come together in the past two weeks to make his task an extremely challenging one. Let’s recite the rules one more time so that everyone can get on board with the process. The Republican National Committee rules have always required a majority of the delegate votes to secure the nomination. Even Abraham Lincoln needed three ballots to rise from second place to lock in his nomination.
  • KOKOMO – I am writing this less than 24 hours since Howard County Sheriff’s Department officers Sgt. Jordan Buckley and Deputy Carl Koontz were gunned down while serving drug-related arrest warrant at 12:30 a.m. on a frosty and lonely Sunday morning. Both deputies were life-lined to Indianapolis where 27-year-old Carl Koontz died following surgery. Deputy Koontz was a husband, a father, a son, a role model for children and a protector of the community. His loss has deeply touched the Howard County community and the emotions of its citizens are raw from the pain. This wanton murder of a young law enforcement officer is yet another somber statistic in the desultory malaise of drug abuse and the immensely profitable business of drug trafficking.
  • KOKOMO – In the wee small hours of Tuesday, May 29, 1453, the people of Constantinople were shocked from their sleep by a beating of drums, the blaring of trumpets and clanging of cymbals accompanied by the bloodcurdling battle cries of 80,000 Ottoman soldiers approaching the walls of the great city. The noise was no accident. The Ottomans were skilled in using psychological warfare to unnerve their opponents prior to battle. The battle this time was for no less than the final conquest of the Byzantium Empire. The terror of the sounds of the advancing Ottomans was enhanced by Sultan Mehmet II’s decree that his army would be rewarded for their victory with three days of unrestricted rape and pillage. The 7,000 soldiers defending the walls of Constantinople were under no illusions as to their fate should the sultan’s army be successful at breeching the thick walls of the city. Many of the Orthodox priests feared or detested the pope more than they did the Ottomans and showed their contempt by denouncing Emperor Constantine and refusing to offer from their massive treasuries any financial support for the defense of Constantinople. The words of defiance were best summed up by the Grand Duke Notaras who decreed, “Better the turban of the Sultan than the tiara of the Pope in Constantinople.” Such is the similar state of affairs in the Republican Party and its historically unprecedented presidential sweepstakes. It seems like a majority of the party has decided that it has an unrelenting dislike of each of the top three Republican candidates.
  • KOKOMO – It probably seemed like a good idea at the time, or maybe even a stroke of genius. Any good military commander will tell you that most battles are won or lost before they are even fought. The good folks calling the shots for Marlin Stutzman’s U.S. Senate campaign must have thought that the stars were aligned and leprechauns were tossing gold coins to the faithful. It must have looked like one of those once-in-a-lifetime opportunities that just couldn’t go wrong. Stutzman’s best hope of winning the U.S. Senate seat currently held by Dan Coats, before fellow candidate Eric Holcomb’s abrupt change of career path to the lieutenant governor’s office, was the hope that Holcomb and Congressman Todd Young would split up the same potential vote and allow him to slip into victory with something less than 50 percent of the vote. Holcomb’s move to the Statehouse immediately shattered that dream and left Stutzman with the unenviable job of beating an opponent with three times the cash on hand and an avalanche of organizational support flowing quickly from Holcomb to Young. With Plan A gone awry, the Stutzman team was forced to look for any life preserver floating around the quickly sinking ship. But then in a wink of an eye fate intervened and appeared to lay the golden egg at the foot of the Stutzman campaign. Those lovable rascals we call Democrats were up to their wacky grab bag of election year stunts and tricks.
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  • Daniels calls on Trump to tackle the $14 trillion in national debt
    “It is an enormous impediment to long-term growth in this country. The president-elect didn’t cause this problem, but I think he is that president for whom it will not wait another four years. I’ve said in at least two presidential election cycles, this country cannot wait out another presidency without getting serious about this problem. I’m pretty sure I’m right this time.” - Purdue President Mitch Daniels, calling on President-elect Donald Trump to tackle the $14 trillion national debt. Daniels made his comments as one of three co-chairs of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, a nonpartisan budget watchdog group. In 2011 as the former White House budget director positioned for the 2012 presidential race, Daniels cited the "great red menace" of national debt in a speech to CPAC, then wrote about the topic in his book "Keeping The Republic."
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