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Sunday, December 04, 2016
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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.
  • INDIANAPOLIS – Let’s get excited about our upcoming 201st year of Indiana statehood. We are a good place to do business because of the comparatively lower costs to employee our people and power our factories. We are leaders in the ever increasingly important areas of agriculture and life sciences. Our institutions of higher education and medicine are some of the world’s best. And the elections are over! What a relief for all of us. It is time now to set aside the inclination toward competition. It is time to work together, all of us, to resolve those lingering issues that negate our advantages and keep all of our people from sharing in our successes: Addiction. Low Wages. Hunger. Sexual violence. Illiteracy.  Poor health. Civil rights. The reality is this:  Too many of our citizens live lives with problems not a lot different than people in developing and yes, even war-torn, nations. We like to think of ourselves as living in a happy and wholesome place, and Indiana certainly has the potential for greatness. But we won’t achieve greatness unless we tackle our very complicated and serious challenges. Consider that Indiana is one of the most obese states in the nation. We have had a surging suicide rate. Nearly 10 percent of the babies born here are born opiate-addicted. Our infant mortality rate is shameful; among African-Americans, it is the worst in the nation. By so many measures, the fabric of family has frayed for too many in Indiana.

  • 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.”
  • BLOOMINGTON – Cooperation between the President and Congress should be far more assured than in the last six years. But the commitments and promises made during the campaign will be very hard to carry out. As hard as the campaign might have been and the transition is proving to be, Donald Trump’s challenges are really just beginning. Governing after a toxic election in which the results awarded him an ambiguous national mandate – his opponent, after all, got more votes – will require finesse, a clear-eyed view of his role in the world, and no small amount of luck. There is no question that, come January, President Trump and the Republican majority in Congress will be in firm control of the government. They will be able to call the shots on policy, and cooperation between the president and Congress should be far more assured than it has been for the last six years. He will soon find, even under these circumstances, that the commitments and promises made during the campaign are going to be very hard to carry out.
  • MERRILLVILLE – There are some Lake County Democrats who are reluctant to talk about the future of the party. At least they are reluctant to talk on the record. The party is at its lowest point in decades, considering what happened Nov. 8 and has happened since. The two strongest party leaders over the last half century are gone. Stephen R. Stiglich, who served as county sheriff, died a decade ago while heading up the party. And, longtime chairman Robert A. Pastrick passed away a couple weeks ago just short of his 89th birthday. The only other chairman in recent years was Hammond Mayor Thomas McDermott Jr. Buncich was elected chairman when McDermott stepped down. He said being chairman could hurt his planned run for governor. Yet, McDermott is riding high as his lock on Hammond continues to get stronger. And in the May Democratic primary, his wife, Marissa McDermott, ousted Lake Circuit Court Judge George Paras. Marissa McDermott, a political newcomer, acknowledged that her victory was a result of her husband’s name-recognition. So, the McDermott name is riding high. Could 2020 be the year Thomas McDermott actually runs for governor as opposed to just talking about it?
       
  • BEAN BLOSSOM, Ind. - Here’s a holiday trivia quiz: Name a Hoosier running for executive office who didn’t poll a majority of the popular vote even though this person won both times. That would be Vice President-elect Mike Pence.  The Donald Trump/Mike Pence ticket now trails Democrat Hillary Clinton by more than 2 million votes out of 126.4 million cast. In 2012, the governor won with just 49 percent of the vote here in Indiana in a three-way gubernatorial race. To the victor go the spoils, as the old saying goes. But simply winning an election doesn’t mean a mandate. Grasping the helm of a roiled nation requires a different type of leadership. What happened to Gov. Pence after his 2012 win is instructive. He governed in mandate style, signing several pieces of socially divisive legislation like the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, while polls showed public sentiment going in the opposite direction. In the four polls conducted this cycle by WTHR/Howey Politics Indiana, we found Gov. Pence to be one of the most polarizing figures in modern Hoosier politics.
  • FORT WAYNE – Every election results in individual and categorical winners and losers that impact the longer-term future of politics. Here are a few of my selections. Indiana winner: The Pence/Coats establishment. It directed the quasi-slating of the victorious state ticket: Todd Young for Senate, in part by moving Eric Holcomb out and into position to become governor; Suzanne Crouch as lieutenant governor; Curtis Hill as attorney general; and Jennifer McCormick as superintendent of education. In political years, especially by Indiana standards, they are “fresh faces” ready to ready to rejuvenate the brand.  Indiana loser: An exhausted Democrat re-tread brand. Evan Bayh is one of the most decent men to represent our state, but coming back after clearly moving to Washington and becoming Big Bucks Bayh was a huge mistake, and his biggest mistake was trying to deny those changes. John Gregg had a detailed list of what he wanted to accomplish, and is generally considered “affable” when not nuking his opponents. The problem is that Gregg’s solutions, and Bayh’s, were the same liberal re-tread ideas that Hoosiers had passed up long ago.
  • SOUTH BEND - With Thanksgiving here, it’s time to present the annual Turkey of the Year Awards. Recipients may cry fowl. But even if they haven’t been turkeys all year, each winner has done something to merit this prestigious recognition. The awards for 2016: For campaign strategy, the Turkey of the Year Award goes to Hillary Clinton for a rejected plea of “love trumps hate.” Voters instead were deciding that Twitter trumps email as they heard of messages the candidates sent. A turkey for inadequate preparation for a sudden surge in website traffic goes to Canada. It’s website for immigration crashed election night. In the last laugh category, Hoosier Democrats who laughed that Mike Pence was ending his political career by joining the Trump ticket get the award.
        
  • SOUTH BEND – When pigs flew over my car as I drove home on election night, the sight neither startled nor surprised me. Hey! The Cubs won the World Series. Donald Trump won the presidency. So why would aerodynamically skilled porkers be a surprise. Actually, the Cubs were expected to win this time. Trump wasn’t. Not long ago, as Hillary Clinton won the debates and Trump was losing it in a tweeting rage, speculation grew about a political tsunami sweeping away the Republican presidential nominee and helpless Republican candidates all around the nation, bringing a Democratic Senate for sure and maybe – just maybe – even a Democratic House. Could Clinton, surprisingly close back then in an Indiana poll, even carry the Hoosier state the way President Obama did in 2008? Tsunami there was. In Indiana, the waves swept away helpless candidates, just as predicted when a tsunami hits. But some of those mid-October election forecasts were like a South Bend weather forecast in winter that goes wrong as shifting winds off the lake bring something far different than predicted. Tsunami waves hit a different place, a different party.
  • INDIANAPOLIS – State Democrats were hoping to celebrate a string of election victories at their annual holiday party here in the state capital. Instead the early December event will likely have a more somber tone as party leaders dissect what went wrong on Election Day. Democrats lost every statewide contest last Tuesday, including what were seen as competitive races for Senate and governor. Despite money and labor poured into a handful of legislative seats, the party failed to unlock the Republican super majority in the General Assembly, or make a dent in Republicans’ hold on seven of nine congressional seats. State Democratic Chairman John Zody blames the across-the-board losses on a tidal wave created by GOP President-elect Donald Trump. Late polls projected Trump to win the state by 6 to 10 points. Instead, he and his vice presidential candidate, Gov. Mike Pence, won by 19 points, more than 500,000 votes more than his losing opponent, Democrat Hillary Clinton. “That’s tough to overcome,” said Zody, who seemed as surprised as anyone by Trump’s strong pull on the down-ballot races.
  • BLOOMINGTON – We’re faced with a fundamental disagreement among state governments as to how they should treat Americans’ most basic right. One of the more intriguing aspects of this unusual election year is the extent to which the underpinning of the election itself — voting — has become an issue in its own right. An act that we used to take for granted is increasingly being called into question. Just look at the headlines from the past few months. Russia, it seems clear, was trying to meddle in the process, sowing confusion and distrust about the integrity of the vote and about the vibrancy and fairness of our democracy. There have been questions about the cyber-security of voting infrastructure across the country — “States Unprepared for Election Day Cyber Attack,” ran the headline on a Politico story 10 days before the election. There are worries about the fragility of our voting system in general, what with its patchwork of procedures, obsolete machinery, and increasingly complex training requirements for poll workers. And, of course, you’ve got the cries from one of the presidential candidates that the entire system is rigged against him.
  • MERRILLVILLE – Lake County’s traditionally weak Republican Party thinks it can now play with the big boys. County GOP Chairman Dan Dernulc and others think they did a heck of a job during the Nov. 8 election. Not so fast. Republicans lost a state representative race they had won two years ago, but they did win a seat on the county board of commissioners, something the party hadn’t done in 20 years. Lake County Republicans haven’t grown as much as they would like you to think. It’s not that they have made the gains on their own. That’s hardly the case. No, Big Brother in Indianapolis gets the credit for making it possible for Lake County Republicans to make some advances. They craftily drew districts to favor Republicans following the 2010 Census.
  • INDIANAPOLIS  – Suddenly, on Nov. 9, the majority in the United States woke up to find it has been silent too long. In fact, it realized, it might not be a majority at all. The combined Republican and Libertarian vote was 50.59%. From what I know, many of the Libertarian votes were from Republicans who were embarrassed to be known as Republicans this year. The 48.76% who voted Democratic or Green believed strongly in their causes and could not understand how others could believe otherwise. But they were not the majority. Now, instead of taking to the streets, this silent minority needs to be heard. Now, if it wishes to be successful in the political arena, it must recognize the urgency of political action. This means ending the corruption of gerrymandering by political parties and restructuring the Electoral College. Gerrymandering is the practice of state legislators drawing district lines to protect their seats and their party in the General Assembly. Here in Indiana, through a study committee report, we have made a good start toward taking extreme partisanship out of the process. But that effort must continue and be intensified next year.
  • NASHVILLE, Ind. – “Do you want to see something really cool?” Sure. I was with Liz Murphy, an aide to Vice President Dan Quayle and we were in his ornate office at the Old Executive Office Building next to the White House. We walked into an office similar in size and scope to the Indiana governor’s office at the Statehouse. We ended up before an antique colonial revival-style double-pedestal desk Theodore Roosevelt brought to the White House in 1903. It was one of six desks to once occupy the Oval Office. Murphy pulled open the desk drawer, which was empty, save for the signatures of vice presidents. There were Nixon’s, Truman’s, George H.W. Bush, and of course Dan Quayle. I looked for Thomas R. Marshall’s, but the signature tradition didn’t begin until the 1940s. Marshall served as Indiana governor a century before Mike Pence took over his old second floor Statehouse office.
  • EVANSVILLE – The 2016 election was a resounding success for Indiana Republicans. Outgoing governor Mike Pence is the new vice president, Eric Holcomb will be the next governor, and Republicans won all other statewide races, including state education  superintendent. Like the federal government, the Indiana Statehouse is firmly controlled by Republicans. For the party brass and thousands of Republican political and policy advisors, the incentive will be to celebrate the victories, congratulate themselves on strategy, and rest on the laurels of a fresh victory. Undoubtedly, the Trump/Pence wave carried the day and is driving the Republican Party. So why should they ever again listen to Never Trump Republicans they might view as losers? That line of thinking would be a strategic blunder. Trump’s victory appears to be based more on a rejection of Clintonism and liberalism than an embrace of Trump’s ideology. Mitt Romney got 60.9 million votes and lost, while early returns show Donald Trump has 59.1 million votes and is winning. Trump also received less than McCain’s popular vote total in 2008 and came up short of Obama’s winning 2012 vote totals in all of the battleground critical swing states of Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Michigan, Iowa, and Ohio. Indiana Republicans didn’t ride a wave of Trump support. Instead, they rode a wave of anti-Clintonism thanks to Democrats staying at home.
  • WASHINGTON  – Vice President-elect Mike Pence was an afterthought to President-elect Donald Trump during his acceptance speech early Wednesday morning. After showering supporters, campaign staff and family members with lengthy encomiums, Trump turned to walk away from the podium. Then he returned abruptly, looked to Pence and said, “Thank you, Mike Pence.” The slight was probably unintentional, even though Pence’s presence on the stage could not be overlooked. Pence was the person who introduced Trump. That awkward moment surely does not foreshadow the importance of Pence in a Trump administration. Pence provided ballast during a stormy campaign when Trump went off course, and will wind up doing the same when Trump has to work with Congress. There may not be much of a honeymoon, despite the fact that Republicans control both houses of Congress. Trump laid into many Republican lawmakers with alacrity during the campaign, including House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wisc.
  • 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.
  • INDIANAPOLIS  –  Republicans in Congress and President-elect Donald Trump have promised swift work to undo laws and orders written during the Obama administration, starting with the Affordable Care Act. Before that happens, one of the newest members of the U.S. Senate has some less flashy business in mind. U.S. Rep. Todd Young, elected Tuesday to fill the Senate seat vacated by the retiring Dan Coats, said he’s focused on what happens in Washington between now and January. The congressman from Bloomington specifically hopes to get a favored bill on welfare reform onto the agenda of the lame-duck session of Congress that starts next week. Young said the bill, which he authored, creates “social impact” partnerships to reward states for programs that move people from welfare into jobs. Passed unanimously in the House, it has support from Democrats in the Senate but has failed to move forward. “Frankly, that’s where my head is right now,” he told reporters over morning coffee Wednesday, just hours after a stunning election night spent here in Indianapolis.
  • MERRILLVILLE – Democrats across the country took a hit during Tuesday’s election, but nowhere was it felt more than in Northwest Indiana. NWI had the most riding on the Indiana governor’s race. Democrats in that corner of the state were high on John Gregg, the party’s candidate for governor. Just as he couldn’t overcome the plurality of Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney in 2012, Gregg couldn’t make up for Donald Trump’s huge plurality this year. According to NWI Democrats, Gregg was to be the area’s link to Indianapolis and the massive amounts of money resting in state coffers. Gregg made a considerable number of stops in the area, hoping to raise money and energize the region’s Democrats. Lake County Democratic Chairman John Buncich, who also is county sheriff, led the push for Gregg, working hard to bring out the area’s huge union vote. While the region’s vote for Gregg was substantial, the pluralities of the past were diminished by the unexpected turnout for Trump and the residual effect for Republican gubernatorial candidate Eric Holcomb.
  • WASHINGTON – The most damaging consequence of the Republican Party’s nomination of Donald Trump for president is that it denied that role to Texas Sen. Ted Cruz. It’s not that Cruz would have beaten Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. But if Cruz had been the GOP standard bearer, it would have answered a question that will vex the party for the next four years. After Trump falls to Clinton, social conservatives will say to party leadership, such as it is: You did it again. You nominated someone who is not a true believer, and the party paid the price at the polls. Beginning on Nov. 9, they will argue that it’s their turn in 2020. They will lift up Cruz, or maybe Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, to lead the party into the battle to deny Clinton a second term. If it hadn’t been for Trump, this fundamental question about the Republican Party could have been answered this year: Is it most effective when it situates itself on the far-right of the political spectrum or when it occupies the center-right?
  • ATLANTA - We Hoosiers here in our bicentennial year have lived at the center of the political universe. So many fates and futures passed through the crossroads of America that Donald Trump even called us “Importantville” on the eve of our May 3 primary. It revealed the double edged blade to Trump in what has essentially become a “post-truth election.” He clasped our better angels, saying, “Now Indiana is becoming very important .. .you folks belong where you belong; it's called Importantville right? I love it.” The following morning, he was accusing Sen. Ted Cruz’s father of complicity in the assassination of President Kennedy.  Gov. Mike Pence endorsed, campaigned and even snapped my photo with Sen. Ted Cruz at the Republican Spring Dinner. It earned him a Twitter swipe from Trump. By late summer, Pence had shunned Indiana media. Trump would go on to clinch the Republican presidential nomination in Indiana after he had been exhorted to victory by our sports pantheon of Bobby Knight, Gene Keady and Lou Holtz. He would find his vice president, Mike Pence, here, though it appears that  our governor, fearing a reelection defeat to John Gregg, literally flew out to New Jersey in mid-July to box the nominee into that decision.

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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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Pence lauds Carrier deal
Gov. Mike Pence talks about the Carrier jobs deal with Scott Pelley on CBS.

President-elect Trump's Thanksgiving video
President-elect Donald Trump outlines plans for his coming administration in this Thanksgiving video.

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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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