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Friday, March 24, 2017
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  • A question for Gov. Holcomb: Who's the king of rock n' roll?
    After Howey Politics Indiana conducted a brief interview with Gov. Eric Holcomb earlier this week, we followed up with this probing question for a governor who loves rock n’ roll: Who’s the King of Rock n’ roll: Elvis Presley or Chuck Berry? Holcomb responded, “That’s a trick question. It’s not an ‘either-or’ answer. It’s ‘and.’ The world was big enough for two kings who both owned every room they ever performed in!” Great answer, Gov! - Brian A. Howey, publisher
  • Trump and truth
    The Obamacare repeal is teetering in the House. Why? Remember the old story of the boy who cried wolf? President Trump’s penchant for lies is beginning to take such a toll that NBC reporter Kasie Hunt said this morning that some members wonder if he’ll even be around in a year. So when Trump threatened retribution against recalcitrant House members on Tuesday, its impact was dubious. The Wall Street Journal editorialized today: “If President Trump announces that North Korea launched a missile that landed within 100 miles of Hawaii, would most Americans believe him? Would the rest of the world? We’re not sure, which speaks to the damage that Mr. Trump is doing to his Presidency with his seemingly endless stream of exaggerations, evidence-free accusations, implausible denials and other falsehoods. The latest example is Mr. Trump’s refusal to back off his Saturday morning tweet of three weeks ago.” The other emerging dynamic is that the Pence/Marc Short legislative team hasn’t done the legwork on the RyanCare bill. It could all come down to Vice President Pence, HHS Secretary Tom Price and OMB Director Mick Mulvaney to round up about eight votes and keep Republicans like Rep. Hollingsworth in the fold. - Brian A. Howey, publisher
  • Deceit and the reality presidency
    When Americans went to the polls in the 2016 general election, the perception was that the FBI had been investigating Hillary Clinton. The reality that emerged with the testimony of FBI Director James Comey and Adm. Mike Rogers on Monday is that it was the campaign of Republican nominee Donald Trump who was under investigation since July, for potentially colluding with the Russian government to influence the American election. This is a stunning turn of events that should greatly concern every American patriot. The second takeaway is that President Trump is a liar, as confirmed by Comey and Rogers. He lied about President Obama wire tapping him during this campaign. Trump has offered no evidence, other than the rantings of cable news commentators who Fox News has removed from the air. Comey and Rogers not only said there is no evidence, but Rogers chastised the Trump administration for suggesting that the British government surveilled the Republican nominee at the behest of the sitting president. This president and his team lies about things little and big, things of no consequence and of great gravity. So this fledgling administration has emerged into a deep ethical cloud, operating in a post-truth, alternative fact mode, at a time when jarring events such as the growing North Korean crisis and efforts by the Kremlin to destabilize Europe and the Middle East will require our leaders to make decisions based on fact and sound judgment. We are now bearing witness to a reality TV presidency that appears to be beyond control. - Brian A. Howey, publisher
  • We celebrate our Hoosier champion Panther Bots
    “Go back to Mexico!” That’s what greeted the Pleasant Run Panther Bots from an Indianapolis elementary school in the parking lot after competing and winning the robotics challenge at Plainfield High School this past week. The IndyStar reports that there were similar disparaging comments made by parents inside the school. So our Hoosier hearts break a bit this Saturday morning. We’ve seen this type of intolerance in places like Columbus and Hammond this past year, goaded on by a coarsening political culture that has overtaken our nation. It is epic ignorance when you consider that these kids have been born and raised here, and for decades the Latino culture has enriched our state with a sturdy work ethic, a devotion to family and a graceful assimilation into the Hoosier culture. If there are exceptions to the phrase many of us oft say - Hoosier Hospitality - they are these ignorant, intolerant people who make the headlines by spewing hate and loathing. As for the champion Panther Bots, a trip to the General Assembly and Gov. Holcomb’s office is probably in order. We need to celebrate our Hoosier kids. - Brian A. Howey, publisher
  • Final thoughts for the week as J.D. Vance heads home
    Several end of week thoughts: Charles Krauthammer writes in the Washington Post, "The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away, but for governments it's not that easy. Once something is given — say, health insurance coverage to 20 million Americans — you take it away at your peril. This is true for any government benefit, but especially for health care.” U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton: “The House majority could be at risk if we get health care reform wrong." Mike Allen writes in Axios today: “If you refuse to meet with him or put out anti-Trump messages, prepare to suffer revenge. He pays close attention to critics, and his aides hand him printouts of anti-Trump statements made by people or companies they don't like. They have a notional enemies list that gets used for everything from rejecting appointments to key jobs, to deciding who gets a voice in policy debates.” Finally, J.D. Vance, author of “Hillbilly Elegy,” on moving back to Ohio from Silicon Valley: “It's jarring to live in a world where every person feels his life will only get better when you came from a world where many rightfully believe that things have become worse. There were practical reasons to move: I'm founding an organization to combat Ohio's opioid epidemic.” Have a great weekend, folks. - Brian A. Howey, publisher

  • HPI offers reward for return of missing Jackalope
    On March 4th, our dear Jackalope was taken from his resting spot by the coat rack at the Antelope Club. “We’re asking if you have it to PLEASE bring him back,” the Club said on Friday. “He means a lot to this club and we would really just appreciate having him back in his place. No Questions asked.” Howey Politics Indiana is offering a $100 reward for the return of Our Dear Jackalope. HPI is willing to meet the perpetrator at an undisclosed location in order to bring about the safe return of this icon. - Brian A. Howey, Publisher
  • Sen. Cotton on repeal says 'Get it right, don't get it fast'
    President Trump often declared he would provide "insurance for everybody" and "great health care" at a "lower cost." But there is great skepticism in the rush to repeal Obamacare, particularly without a Congressional Budget Office scoring of RyanCare. This is reckless. Or as U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton tweeted on Thursday, the House should "start over" and "get it right, don't get it fast." Cotton complains the bill was released late Monday night and voting began Wednesday. AARP notes that "simply put, this bill is a $200 billion giveaway to special interests like insurance and drug companies. They make out like bandits while real people are left with higher premiums and less security" with an "$8,000 a year premium hike for people who can at least afford it." And Brookings Institute is predicting that a coming CBO estimate will find 15 million Americans losing coverage. At stake for Hoosier Republicans is the fact that there's about 60,000 people or more in each of your districts that either purchased insurance off the Obamacare exchange or via Medicaid expansion with HIP 2.0. If Republicans don't get this right, and many of those folks (who were Trump voters) lose coverage or see premiums skyrocket, there will be a political price to pay in 2018. - Brian A. Howey, publisher
  • Trump accuses Obama of wiretapping his phones
    Let’s all sing: Paranoia will destroya . . . . President Trump went on a new Twitter rant Saturday morning, accusing President Obama of wiretapping his Trump Tower phones during the 2016 campaign. He cited no evidence in making this claim. The Tweeter-in-Chief tweeted, “I’d bet a good lawyer could make a great case out of the fact that President Obama was tapping my phones in October, just prior to Election! Is it legal for a sitting President to be ‘wire tapping’ a race for president prior to an election? Turned down by court earlier. A NEW LOW!” Obama's former deputy national security adviser, tweeted at Trump: "No President can order a wiretap. Those restrictions were put in place to protect citizens from people like you." Yes, Mr. President, a new low. - Brian A. Howey, publisher
  • Sessions adds another strange twist to Kremlin probe
    The Trump/Kremlin story just keeps getting stranger and stranger. Attorney General Sessions made the correct decision to recuse himself from this investigation, but having done so, we now have the top Justice Department official who will have no role in what looks to be a potentially explosive investigation, other than as a potential target. This story has the potential of consuming a nascent administration, and, in tandem the Republican Party that has attached itself to President Trump. - Brian A. Howey, publisher
  • Mr. President, can we all have a do over?
    President Trump finally appears to be reconciling some of the inner tensions in his fledgling administration with his speech to Congress last night. The tone was more inclusive. He didn’t appear to be playing loose with facts and reality. Trump seemed to move away from the “Leninist” destruction B.S. that chief strategist Steve Bannon has been pushing, bringing Vice President Mike Pence’s sunnier vision of the world. I’ve always believed a new president and a new governor should be given a chance to govern. Hopefully this is an emerging Donald Trump who will put aside his enemies lists and will try to governor all of us. As Mike Pence might ask, “Can we all have a do over, Mr. President?” - Brian A. Howey, publisher
  • Pi and modern junk science in the General Assembly
    A century or so ago, the Indiana House was on the verge of passing legislation that redefined the mathematical concept of “pi.” A Purdue professor heard about this ruse and rushed in to save the state from what would have been a major embarrassment. The “abortion reversal” bill that passed the Indiana House based on what several Democratic and Republican female reps call “junk science.” The pro-life sentiments of many of our legislators are to be admired on principle. But that doesn’t mean passing any legislation that falls into the pro-life category if it is based on unproven and scientifically verifiable research. The Senate and Gov. Eric Holcomb would be wise stick to their life principles, but pass and sign laws based on credible research.  - Brian A. Howey, publisher

  • Another Russia story and Trump goes a Tweetin'
    NBC’s Chuck Todd notes that every time a Kremlin/Trump campaign story is published or broadcast, President Trump fires off a Twitter volley at either the press or U.S. intelligence services. It happened over the weekend. The White House is hyper sensitive to the Russia story. This is a chapter that is venting smoke and you know how that old saying goes. The White House acts like there is a fire that it’s trying to hide. A vital component to this is a Congressional investigation of President Trump’s tax returns, which could tell us a lot about his ties to Russia. Congress has the authority to do so, and this is now a matter of national security. To the Indiana delegation, do your job. - Brian A. Howey, publisher

  • Congress has authority to review Trump tax returns. It should
    Harvard Prof. Mihir Desai and Edward Kleinbard, a former chief of staff of the congressional Joint Committee on Taxation, write in the Washington Post that Congress has the authority via the federal tax code to review President Trump’s tax returns. You can read their article by clicking here. Trump broke modern precedent by being the first presidential candidate in modern times to refuse to release his taxes. Washington Post columnist David Ignatius writes today, "We may be missing the forest for the trees in the Russia story: The Kremlin's attempt to meddle in the 2016 U.S. presidential election is part of a much bigger tale of Russian covert action — in which Donald Trump's campaign was perhaps a tool, witting or unwitting." With Kremlin interference in the 2016 presidential election, a development some in Congress have called an “act of war,” and with reports that the Kremlin and senior Trump campaign officials were in consistent contact, which was a story CNN and Fox News report on today, Members of the Indiana Congressional delegation should join a call for a review of the President’s tax returns. There is too much at stake and too much we don’t know.  - Brian A. Howey, publisher

  • Trump's immigration deportation optics
    The Trump administration is now preparing a massive roundup of people who entered the country illegally, perhaps as many as 11 million. It will be enforcing existing laws. What we don’t know is how this will impact our economy, which is built, in part, on the illegal workforce. From migrant field workers, to roofers, to lawn workers, to kitchen staffs, undocumented workers are part of the off-the-books economy. Many of these jobs go unfilled by American workers, as the J.D. Vance’s book “Hillbilly Elegy” amplifies. So there will be impacts and unintended consequences. As far as its execution, the optics will embolden President Trump’s base, but if the optics go from insensitive to brutal, it will alienate swing voters and blue states. - Brian A. Howey, publisher
  • Our response to the press as an 'enemy of the American people'

    Over the past four decades, I have been a committed Hoosier journalist, motivated as a career, but primarily as a steward of our community, state and nation, serving readers with fact, analysis and commentary. My career goal has been to leave a better Indiana and America than when I found it. Eleven of those years I reported and edited for the Elkhart Truth, adding an extra incentive for accuracy. Throughout our state, there are hundreds of committed journalists who strive for the same standards.

    So it is alarming as well as disheartening that President Trump would brand us an “enemy of the American people.” It comes after previous presidential assaults aimed at the very institutions that have made America the greatest nation in history: Our judiciary, our intelligence services, and our political parties. President Trump reveals a staggering dimension of ignorance with this reckless rhetoric, and sets off alarms that his authoritarian bent will fundamentally change this great nation.

    I keep coming back to Purdue President Mitch Daniels’ book, “Keeping the Republic,” echoing a fork in the road assessment of Founding Father Benjamin Franklin, who was asked what kind of nation will we be? He responded, “A republic, if you can keep it.” We now find ourselves at a similar junction. The stewards of the press, three branches of government, an array of civic institutions and our citizens are faced with the arduous task of defending more than two centuries of tradition, now under assault from what appears to be a president who either lacks a fundamental grasp of our guiding concepts and principles, or who seeks to pervert them. - Brian A. Howey, publisher of Howey Politics Indiana

  • 'Fake news' and a fake president
    President Trump went on another Twitter storm this morning. He’s obsessed with “fake news” after the story broke that his national security adviser Michael Flynn had lied to Vice President Mike Pence. So President Trump took to his Twitter machine, tweeting: “The Democrats had to come up with a story as to why they lost the election, and so badly (306), so they made up a story - RUSSIA. Fake news!” And . . . “FAKE NEWS media, which makes up stories and "sources," is far more effective than the discredited Democrats - but they are fading fast!” And . . .  “The spotlight has finally been put on the low-life leakers! They will be caught!” Aaaaaand . . . “Leaking, and even illegal classified leaking, has been a big problem in Washington for years. Failing @nytimes (and others) must apologize!” Doesn’t a president have better things to do? What we’re actually witnessing here is a fake president. - Brian A. Howey, publisher.
  • Heilmann cites 'fundamental breach' for Trump, Pence

    Last July, Mike and Karen Pence made a calculated decision to tie the Indiana governor’s political career to Donald Trump. We likened it at the time to Hansel & Gretel climbing into the wolf’s liar. So here we are, a mere 26 days into the Trump presidency and Vice President Pence was kept out of the loop on the contacts former national security adviser Michael Flynn had with the Kremlin. The Kremlin! During the 2016 campaign! Pence wasn’t looped in until the Washington Post blew the lid off the story late last week. Today’s New York Times report that the Trump campaign was coordinating with the Kremlin throughout 2016 is an explosive development. As author and commentator John Heilemann observed on Morning Joe today, “This is a fundamental breach of trust between the president and vice president. It may not be irreparable, but it is close to irreparable. Why was Michael Flynn allowed to keep his job for weeks after lying to the vice president? This is a moment of profound crisis.” Mike Pence and his team of ambitious and unwitting accomplices have crawled into the viper’s nest. - Brian A. Howey, publisher


  • Lies and truths matter
    After Michael Flynn’s resignation Monday night, the New Yorker's Evan Osnos tweeted: "The Flynn story is a reminder of a big truth: Journalism lives. And principled public servants who got the story out are hidden heroes." So what we’ve witnessed here is the first significant consequence of President Trump’s war against U.S. intelligence services and the Department of Justice. It comes with a leaky administration. And after 18 months of Trump castigating Hillary Clinton over her use of a private, unsecured email server, we’re witnessing a Trump regime recklessly handling everything from “alternative facts” to a breezy unsecured discussion of a North Korean missile crisis in the middle of a Mar-a-Lago restaurant, and a national security adviser who turned out to be a liar. Axios’s Mike Allen asks White House leakers, “If Sally Yates told the White House last month that Flynn was vulnerable to blackmail, why was he just now fired? How long had you planned to keep a security threat at the top of the NSC?” One more huge fact: Presidential counselor Kellyanne Conway is a conspicuous liar. Either that or she’s out of the loop and doesn’t know what she’s talking about. - Brian A. Howey, publisher
  • Gov. Holcomb torches Pence's Agile bicentennial deal
    Last September, with great fanfare and very little input, Gov. Mike Pence announced a deal with Agile Networks and the Indiana Finance Authority. The deal was supposed to pay for Pence’s $50 million bicentennial projects. On Thursday morning, Gov. Eric Holcomb announced, “I’ve decided to terminate discussions between the Indiana Finance Authority and Agile Networks.” The Agile deal, which was supposed to have the Ohio-based company lease the state’s cell towers and presumably extend broadband coverage to rural Indiana, never passed the smell test. When Gov. Mitch Daniels rolled out Major Moves in 2005, all the key players were there for the presentation. They took questions. And it was extensively debated in the General Assembly for four months in 2006. Pence refused to discuss the Agile deal, or any other issue, with the Indiana press for the last eight months of his governorship. None of the key players were available to discuss the Agile deal. And General Assembly leaders were skeptical. So was Gov. Holcomb. And with this move, Indiana taxpayers are now on the hook, picking up the tab for Pence’s bicentennial. - Brian A. Howey, publisher
  • The Donald & Homer Show
     Mr. President, you joker! The news media is covering up “massacres.” Really? In this “if it bleeds it leads” culture, the alternative fact notion that the media is covering up mass killings is one of the dumbest things on a growing list of incredulous things Donald Trump has said. Is Homer Simpson on your staff, Mr. President? - Brian A. Howey, publisher

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  • Trump on Obamacare repeal collapse: 'We pulled it.'
    “We just pulled it.” - President Trump to the Washington Post, announcing there is not enough support to pass the American Health Care Act. A vote was expected late Friday afternoon, but multiple media outlets were reporting throughout the day at least 30 Republicans were going to vote against it. Other reports are that Speaker Paul Ryan “pleaded” with Trump not to have the vote after Trump vowed to have an up or down vote on Thursday. On Thursday, Ryan had said, “For seven and a half years we have been promising the American people we will repeal and replace this broken law, because it’s collapsing and it’s failing families. And tomorrow we’re proceeding.” Trump vowed to leave Obamacare in place if he couldn’t get the votes.
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  • A question for Gov. Holcomb: Who's the king of rock n' roll?
    After Howey Politics Indiana conducted a brief interview with Gov. Eric Holcomb earlier this week, we followed up with this probing question for a governor who loves rock n’ roll: Who’s the King of Rock n’ roll: Elvis Presley or Chuck Berry? Holcomb responded, “That’s a trick question. It’s not an ‘either-or’ answer. It’s ‘and.’ The world was big enough for two kings who both owned every room they ever performed in!” Great answer, Gov! - Brian A. Howey, publisher
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