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Monday, January 23, 2017
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Wednesday, July 31, 2013 3:35 PM
LOGANSPORT - It is more than slightly ironic that the Indiana State Board of Education is hiring its own consultant to do what it could be doing collaboratively with its state school superintendent – improve education.

It would be nice if board members and a state school superintendent from different parties could be on the same page when it comes to the importance of education in this state, but state education reform has become so politicized that politics takes priority. The irony of the current Tony Bennett controversy involving a grade change for Christel House, the charter school funded by one of Bennett’s biggest campaign contributors, represents one of the worst kinds of academic fraud there is. Forget the NCAA hammering some college for giving a football player a D- in a math class he should have failed. What Bennett and his staff did for Christel House pales in comparison. He violated a public trust for the sake of a private school run by a campaign contributor.

Think about this for a minute: If the Indiana State Board of Education had really been holding Bennett accountable like it is holding Glenda Ritz accountable now, the Christel House controversy may never have happened in the first place. But the board didn’t.
  • KOKOMO – When my text alert dinged on Election Day, at 11 a.m., I was surprised by the message, something to the effect of, “I will be at the Cone Palace at 12:30 if you want to join me. Invite our Howard County friends.”  With that simple text, on the biggest day of his political life, Eric Holcomb signaled that he was going to be a different kind of governor. On a day when most candidates would be preening and posturing for television cameras in a big media market, a casually dressed Eric and Janet Holcomb drove up to Kokomo to dine on Coney dogs and corn dogs with his friends. The food was great and the conversation was relaxed and decidedly unpolitical in nature. I just wish that I could have been as relaxed that day. Our new governor has demonstrated all over the state of Indiana that he is a confident, personable and focused man. He piles up friends the way Indianapolis Colts’ opponents pile up rushing yards. During Holcomb’s entire political career he has been as interested in friend-raising as he has fundraising. He intuitively knows that money comes and goes, but friends are with you forever. That maxim has served our new governor very well. I’ve been around a few governors in my 40-plus years of political involvement and I’ve made watching them sort of a hobby. For some, it was somewhat akin to watching guards playing for Bobby Knight at IU. When they went up for a jump shot, you had a feeling that they had one eye on the coach, seeking his approval. We all know that that doesn’t work very well over the long run. The same is true for governors. It is hard to hit a jump shot when you have your eye on something else.
  • FORT WAYNE – When I proposed to Diane back in 1974, I told her that life with me would not be boring. That it was not. (I also said I wouldn’t run for political office but I failed in a few other things as well.) When Mitch Daniels first discussed with me that he was going to run for governor, I raised some political concerns about his big city slicker and corporate background. His response was that he was going to “out small town me.” You know, he said, I come from a small town too. I asked how big. He said something over 10,000 people. I snorted, “That’s a big city.” Of course, Mitch (the populist first name), went RV’ing to every burg in the state, lost all his suits and ties, and even used populist green as his color as opposed to the ubiquitous Republican red, white and blue. I was impressed. My hometown of Grabill had under 500 residents and couldn’t grow much because it was surrounded by Old Order Amish farms (not the liberal Amish with a top on their buggy).  A friend unfairly described the church I grew up in as being founded by a group of men who gathered together, made a list of everything fun in life, wrote “NO” across the top, and then said “now we have the foundation for our church.” When Mitch Daniels was elected governor, Indiana government was rather antiquated.  License bureau jokes have disappeared from our lexicons.
  • SOUTH BEND –  Are the odds great or small that South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg will become the Democratic national chairman? Let’s consider some questions about that.
             
    Q. Is Buttigieg almost sure to be Demo chair, as some politicians already jockeying to replace him as mayor seem to think?
             
    A. No. Nothing is certain. It’s not even certain that the candidate with the most votes will win. There’s nothing like the Electoral College to trump the candidate with the most votes in this contest. But there could be multiple ballots of the 447 Democratic National Committee members in late February. If the top vote getter on the initial ballot doesn’t have a clear majority, that person could lose out in maneuvering in additional balloting.
             
    Q. But does Pete have a chance?
             
    A. Yes. He wouldn’t be a candidate if he had no chance of being competitive.  He is, however, not regarded as a frontrunner.
  • GARY – The annual Martin Luther King Jr. breakfast in Gary is more than just a tribute to the great civil rights leader. It also is one of the biggest political events held in the Steel City. For Gary politicians, the breakfast is an opportunity shore up support within the city. For the outsiders, it is an opportunity to reach out for the backing of Gary’s heavily Democratic vote. Some of those attending the Jan.14 event said it may have been the first time they have seen long-time suburban Democrat James L. Wieser in attendance. Wieser is a Schererville attorney. He has worn a number of political hats during his 40-year political career in Lake County. He has served on the Highland Town Council and the county council.
  • INDIANAPOLIS - The Indiana General Assembly has a wonderfully easy-to-use site for the citizen who wants to know about bills introduced by subject or author. I don’t know who is responsible for this site, but hats off to him, her, and them. Today I found 43 bills on the subject of drugs. There may be many others if I searched more diligently. Imagine that: Indiana, A State in Denial, is concerned about drugs, a well-known scourge, and the primary cause of many safety, economic, education, and health problems. State Sen. Jim Merritt has authored 14 of the 43 bills. Naturally, I find the most compelling to be SB 244 which mandates a fiscal impact study of drugs and drug addiction. Normally, a fiscal impact study concerns the revenues and expenditures of government. But SB 244 goes further. It calls for an economic impact study which includes work force concerns and private expenditures on prevention and remediation. 

  • INDIANAPOLIS – “Make America Great Again?” As a child growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area I was aware of the civil rights and voting rights movements as they were taking place right at that time in what was called the Deep South, but I did not personally know of anyone participating in those activities. I did understand from the stories told to me by the elders of my family, especially on my mother’s side, that they had migrated to California from Louisiana because of the racism and oppressive economic conditions that kept so many Black families stagnant and systematically prevented them from progressing. So even though they were landowners, my great-grandmother, her 15 young adult children, and their families headed west. After all, my grandfather Rafe Taylor told me, in Louisiana if he was walking down a street and a white person was on the same side of the road, especially a white woman, he would have to cross the road or risk getting lynched. Those day-to-day experiences, among others, were just too much to bear. America wasn’t so great at that time.
       
  • INDIANAPOLIS – This is a note of hope to the General Assembly’s Funding Indiana’s Roads for a Stronger, Safer Tomorrow Task Force, known by its friends and family as the FIRSST task force. The hope is FIRSST will continue the work done on House Bill 1002 modernizing Indiana’s road financing policies. That bill has begun its travels and travails through the sausage machine of state government. The guiding factors in a road finance bill, where new construction is not the center piece, should be road use and safety, plus changes in the costs of maintenance and reconstruction. HB 1002 allows a 10-cent increase in the 18-cent tax per gallon of gasoline. This is double the increase in consumer prices since the last change in 2003. Was 10 cents an estimate of what a gullible public would accept? Or is it because the bill creates an index for future increases based on the changes (does that include decreases?) in consumer prices and personal income?
  • BLOOMINGTON – The problem is not just the politicians. It’s us, too. There are a lot of dire predictions about our representative democracy out there. We’re just past a presidential election campaign in which candidates complained about a rigged political system. Now, commentators worry about the imminent failure of the American experiment. I don’t agree with these predictions of calamity. Our representative democracy is not on the verge of collapse. But I do see stresses and tensions that should concern anyone who cares about our system of self-government. Our representative democracy has been remarkably stable and successful for over two hundred years, but that is no guarantee it will survive and prosper.
       
  • SOUTH BEND  – Quiz time. You’ll need some knowledge of local, state and national affairs and maybe a sense of humor.

    1. What will be the new Secret Service code name after Inauguration for Donald Trump?
         a. Rogue One.
         b. Bigly One.
         c. Hair One.
         d. It’s a secret.

    2. When Mike Pence travels, his plane will be designated:
         a. Air Force Two.
         b. Trump Force Two.
         c. Indy 500.
         d. None of the above.
  • ZIONSVILLE - Eric Holcomb was riding the whirlwind in 2016. The day I finally caught up with the incoming 51st governor of Indiana for a road trip began with a cruise up I-65 for a job announcement in Merrillville, and it ended with a 100-mph beeline in an Indiana State Police Chevy Tahoe down U.S. 31 as Kokomo laid in tatters following a rare August tornado. Holcomb began the year as a third-place U.S. Senate candidate followed by a series of right time/right place scenarios that thrust him into the governor’s office. When Lt. Gov. Sue Ellspermann resigned, Gov. Mike Pence found in Holcomb a former chairman of the Republican Party who could patch the GOP together following the divisive social issues of 2015. By early July, Pence was being courted by Donald Trump for the presidential ticket.

  • INDIANAPOLIS – I just have to thank Donald Trump from the bottom of my heart. When winning presidential candidates talk about “bleeding from the whatever,” and grabbing p*****s, women sit up and take notice. They listen, too, when that same candidate’s empowered daughter talks about increasing access for parents to quality daycare options.  Understandably pundits and the public continue to gape, agog and astounded by this past election, glued to the continuous news cycle that is our incoming president.   For me, I am grateful for one very important thing. Donald Trump accomplished what our first female candidate for president from a major party could not. He inspired women from both sides of the aisle to engage in the political process.  During the election cycle, I regret that we invested so much attention in the fact of Hillary Clinton’s gender rather than to issues that truly resonate with women.
  • INDIANAPOLIS – One week ago, I promised recommendations for improving the state’s economy. In the past I’ve done that extensively, but somehow readers don’t remember. Here are some more thoughts to be forgotten. It’s time for business leaders to stop seeking subsidies from the same public sector they deny adequate funding to do its job.  Businesses complain of a shortage of qualified labor. Is it government’s responsibility to train the labor force? Are our elementary and secondary schools to be merely preliminary settings for vocational training? What does business do directly to improve the labor force? If they find too many workers disabled by illiteracy, drugs and alcohol, a common complaint in this state, do they sponsor work-prep programs, including alcohol and drug treatment efforts? Do they increase wages to attract more qualified workers? Do they separately or collectively offer intensive training programs for workers?
  • SOUTH BEND – Political analysts told us that President Obama’s legacy was at stake in the 2016 election. He said that himself. If Hillary Clinton won, the conventional political wisdom was, Obama’s legacy would be secure. Obamacare would survive, finally with vital improvements a Republican Congress had refused to provide. His efforts on climate change, immigration and foreign policy, including tough sanctions against Russia, would continue. If Donald Trump won, Clinton and Trump sides agreed, Obamacare would be gone. Promoting coal would be more important than concern about climate change. “Soft” immigration policy would be replaced by deportation. There would be a far different approach to Russia and elsewhere from Iran to Cuba. A Trump victory would constitute voter repudiation of Obama initiatives and Obama himself, it was said, with the outgoing president sinking in historical evaluations. As 2017 begins, with Trump to be inaugurated as president, the expected changes loom, but Obama’s approval rating climbs.
  • KOKOMO – One of the history classes required when I pursued my history minor at Ball State University was “The History of the United States from 1950 to Present.” My left-leaning professor (redundant, I know) spent a seemingly interminable amount of time discussing the Red Scare of the Fifties and the Hollywood blacklisting of Communist sympathizers. We were told how horrible it was to deny someone the ability to make a living on the basis of their political beliefs. We were told that Sen. Joe McCarthy was evil and that all of the card-carrying Hollywood Communists were victims of a budding right-wing conspiracy. You would think that more than 60 years after the Red Scare and the resultant decades-long drumbeat regarding the evils of the blacklist that the message would have been universally received. Sad to say, there is still a group devoted to blacklisting of people for their political beliefs or business relationships. That group is the Hollywood elitists and their friends sprinkled across America from sea to shining sea. From the time that Donald Trump’s presidential nomination became inevitable to his election and to this very day, many pious liberal whack jobs, A-listers, social activists of the disturbed kind and sour-faced whiney pants have launched determined efforts to punish anything and anyone related to Donald Trump.
  • MERRILLVILLE –  I guess the reality hasn’t set in. For the life of me, I still can’t embrace the fact that Indiana Gov. Mike Pence will soon be vice president of the United States. After all, it was a mere eight months ago that Pence launched his campaign for reelection as Indiana’s governor. And, at the time, things didn’t look especially promising for Pence, who had drawn the ire of a number of groups around the state. Among those groups was the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. Pence denied state civil rights protection to the LGBT community. Pence’s stand set off a firestorm across the nation as several organizations cancelled conventions in Indiana. That national response drew the ire of the Indiana Chamber of Commerce, which issued a rare criticism of Pence. Pence’s stand on a number of pieces of legislation also drew the wrath of the state’s teachers and labor organizations. And, in Northwest Indiana, Pence was widely criticized for not directing enough money to that corner of the state, especially in terms of road projects, including the rebuilding of the Cline Avenue Bridge.
  • NASHVILLE, Ind. - The brute force of weapons with the potential to wipe out mankind has been balanced by a wide strata of interlocking elements, nuance, perception and predictability over the past half century. There was a reason Soviet Chairman Mikhail Gorbachev had a sculpture of a goose on his Kremlin desk, a reminder that such a flock once set off his nation’s early alarm system. It is that system, manned by lieutenant colonel level officers who must make quick decisions on credible threats before passing them up the powerchain, that has flirted with catastrophe on a scale where Hiroshima and Nagasaki are mere drops in the bucket. Mutually Assured Destruction never became the epic chain reaction because with Soviet, then Russian Federation, and American leadership, there was a level of predictability following the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962. So it was with significant and general alarm this past week when President-elect Donald Trump announced via Twitter that he thinks a nuclear arms race is a good idea. 
  • NASHVILLE, Ind. - In the autumn of 2015, Indiana Republican National Committeeman John Hammond III was the first to broach the idea that Americans were open to electing a “strongman” as president, the observation coming as Donald Trump was rising in the polls. Voters were yearning for an American version of Vladimir Putin. Why? America is becoming browner, older, while the workforce with a huge emphasis of “shareholder profits” is moving toward an era that will not sustain the middle class as we know it. A 2013 Oxford University study shows that some 47 percent of American jobs could be lost due to artificial intelligence and automation. Say goodbye to the branch bank and the grocery checkout clerk. A 2016 study from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development estimates that 9 percent of jobs would be completely displaced in the next two decades. These are seeds for political unrest on a scale far, far beyond 2016.

  • SOUTH BEND - When Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller described himself as “a former Republican” in an interview with Brian Howey in Howey Politics Indiana, it was surprising, in a way, but not really startling for an attorney general who often put aside politics for silly little things like the law and the Constitution. It wasn’t something you would expect to hear from a long-time Hoosier Republican who served in the White House as assistant to Vice President Dan Quayle, who was twice elected attorney general on the Republican ticket and who ran last spring for a Republican nomination for Congress. “Those who know me understood,” Zoeller said during a stop in South Bend as he winds down his final weeks in office. He also knows that some younger Republicans entering politics in the no-compromise, hate-the-opposition era probably can’t understand. “I didn’t say I’m going to the other party,” Zoeller said. Nor is he renouncing his long-standing belief in limited federal government, free trade for the betterment of the economy and a positive role for America in global affairs. “That was the Republican Party I signed on for,” Zoeller said.
  • INDIANAPOLIS – Timothy Molinari drove to the Statehouse early Monday with a long-shot hope that he could convince some Indiana electors to go rogue. It was not to be. Carrying a homemade sign that read, “Electors: Do the Right Thing,” the Terre Haute college student stood with a small but noisy group of protesters as all 11 of the state's electors cast votes for Republican Donald Trump and his running mate Mike Pence. Molinari deemed the process “corrupt” but left with a smile on his face. “I’m a person who likes to be at history,” he said. Monday’s vote was indeed historic as 538 members of the Electoral College across the nation cast ballots in a constitutionally mandated process that rarely captures much notice. Trump became just the fifth president in history to win the Electoral College vote despite losing the popular vote.

  • FORT WAYNE – When emptying out the basement of my Mom’s house after she died, we found a partially rotted chest of items meant to help our family survive a Russian nuclear attack.  It was from the 1960s, a period when all sides took Russia seriously. In 1983 President Ronald Reagan had the temerity to call the Soviet Union the “evil empire.”  Liberals back then were upset that Reagan had such hostile views. In fact, Democrats and liberals in general were rather Trumpian about Russia. They wanted closer trade ties, more exchanges, and closer cooperation with Russia, not saber-rattling opposition. Current liberal protestations have the “I’m shocked, shocked” resonance of the scene in Casablanca. Democrat electors requesting CIA briefings illustrate precisely why the people in Trump orbit have discredited the CIA.  Democrats have turned it into a branch of the DNC. Do Democrats who blame alleged Russian email leaks for Hillary Clinton’s defeat realize how ridiculous they sound? Hillary Clinton, in spite of warnings, set up an email server to get around the official system. She not only exposed her political emails but also classified material to being hacked. Then, while under subpoena to turn her e-mails over to Congress, she brazenly destroyed thousands of them. The Clinton campaign and its supporters have no ethical standing to complain. Zero.
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  • Conway cites 'alternative facts' over inaugural attendance
    "You're saying it's a falsehood, and Sean Spicer, our press secretary, gave alternative facts to that.” - Kellyanne Conway, advisor to President Trump, to NBC’s Meet The Press when pressed by host Chuck Todd on press secretary Sean Spicer’s assertion that Friday’s inauguration had the “largest audience ever.” Spicer had scolded reporters for trying to “lessen the enthusiasm of the inauguration.” Aerial photos show fewer people on the mall on Friday than President Obama’s 2009 inaugural. But there are also reports that about three million more people watched the inauguration on TV and internet platforms.
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President Trump's Inaugural Address
President Trump's inaugural address.

Trump walks Inaugural parade route
President Trump walks the inaugural parade route with his wife and son.

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Trump taxes

Should Donald Trump release recent tax returns, like every major party nominee has done over the past 40 years?


 




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