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Monday, October 21, 2019
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Presidents Erdogan and Trump.
Presidents Erdogan and Trump.
Thursday, October 17, 2019 10:59 AM

NEWPORT, R.I. - When it comes to America's engagement in what is increasingly globalized marketplace and security, a number of Hoosier statesmen set the compass points for many of us over the past generation.

There was the late Sen. Richard Lugar, who in tandem with Democrat Sen. Sam Nunn, established a historic cooperative threat reduction program and helped denuclearize a half dozen nations (including Ukraine), while rounding up and stabilizing a Pandora's box of nuclear, biological and chemical weapons guarded by padlocks and chain link fences as the Soviet Union crumbled.

Congressmen Lee Hamilton and Tim Roemer helped establish the post-Sept. 11 security regime and Hamilton served on the Iraq Study Committee following the first American geopolitical blunder of the 21st Century with the Iraq invasion of 2003. The late Rep. Frank McCloskey literally saved tens of thousands of Bosnians from genocidal Serbs in the first ethnic cleansing of this century. Gov. Robert Orr opened up the Pacific rim to investment in our state in the 1980s, and there are now 200 Japanese companies employing more than 100,000 Hoosiers, and, according to Gov. Eric Holcomb, firms from India, South Korea and China are poised to join their ranks.

These men were engaged in our world. They had strategic wisdom, wide peripheral vision, and as Gov. Holcomb told me last week after he returned from India, "Our partners realize, just like we do, that trade is not one-way. It’s a two-way street, particularly when you’re looking to address mutual needs, but explore mutual opportunities with each other. Rule No. 1, like in life, is show up.”

So it was within this context that I watched in horror what occurred with a simple phone call on Sunday Oct. 6 between President Trump and Turkey President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Without prior knowledge of the Joint Chiefs of Staff at the Pentagon, or Secretary of State Mike Pompeo or Vice President Mike Pence, Trump essentially gave the green light for a U.S. pullout of Syria and a Turkish invasion against our ally. It was an epic double cross of the Syria Democratic Forces (SDF) made up mostly of Kurds. 

There's a reason over the past several years that Hoosier families haven't been burying our young men and women soldiers, and why the Hoosier Patriot Guard hasn't had to activate during funerals. Some 11,000 Kurdish men and women laid down their lives to defeat the Islamic State, or ISIS, doing this vicious work for us. It was the ISIS thugs that killed Peter Edward (Abdul-Rahman) Kassig after he was kidnapped during his humanitarian mission in Syria. These were the terrorists who decapitated their victims as they rolled propaganda video.
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    CARMEL – Police stop a driver westbound on 96th Street in Hamilton County. They find less than an ounce of marijuana and this driver in arrested, complete with a stay in the county jail, facing thousands of dollars of legal bills, court costs, fines and a criminal record. Police stop an eastbound driver on 96th Street in Marion County. They find a doobie on the console. He is not arrested, faces no charges, legal bills, court costs or fines. That is the evolving state of marijuana prohibition in Indiana. It's like swiss cheese, with a big hole in the middle and others likely to form in college and border cities. Acting prosecutor Marion County Ryan Mears, then an unelected official, abruptly announced that his office will no longer prosecute marijuana possession cases of under one ounce, which was quickly reinforced by Sheriff Kerry Forestal. Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Chief Bryan Roach said his force would still make marijuana arrests. But after Mears dismissed nearly 150 possession cases, it's only a matter of time before the arrests stop. The cops I know aren't big fans of doing the paperwork, only to watch an offender go free.

    SOUTH BEND – Note to Democrats: Be careful what you wish for. It just might come true, with unpleasant consequences. Like President Mike Pence. Many Democrats wish that President Trump would go. Quickly. Before the 2020 election. Through impeachment. Well, it appears likely now that the Democratic-controlled House will vote to impeach Trump. But that only sends impeachment charges to the Republican-controlled Senate, where chances that the president would be convicted and removed from office range from highly unlikely to none at all. Still, some Democrats hold out hope - wishing fervently - that Trump could be implicated so deeply in impeachable conduct and become so clearly unhinged that Senate Republicans would join in a two-thirds vote to remove him from the White House. If the unexpected happened, if that Democratic wish came true, Vice President Mike Pence would become president.
    MUNCIE – Last week’s column on Indiana’s hospital monopolies generated ten times the emails of any other column I’ve penned over the last decade. Hoosier taxpayers are interested in understanding who caused this problem and how we can fix it. I commend the thousands of readers who visited our website to read the study.  What you learned is that my study is just one of several recent reports alerting Indiana to monopoly problems in hospitals. Moreover, you know that my study combined data from several different sources including the IRS, Department of Commerce, Center for Medicaid and Medicare Services and the Rand Corporation, the nation’s most respected think tank. Awareness of this issue is important because Indiana’s not-for-profit hospital industry surely earned a billion dollars in interest on their accumulated profits last year, through their hedge fund and money market investments. That kind of money should attract thorough scrutiny of my work.
    BLOOMINGTON  – You’re probably chuckling already. Seriously? “The joy of politics”? That was pretty much the reaction I got the other day when, in the middle of a conversation about how confrontational, adversarial, and downright unpleasant politics has become of late, I suggested that it could be both fun and a source of satisfaction. Yes, of course there are always irritations and inconveniences. And the often mean-spirited tone of today’s contentious politics is well beyond anything I encountered when I was in office. But none of this erases the satisfactions that also come with the territory. They start with the people you can meet in the political arena: Able, ambitious, articulate, often at the top of their game. They may be friends or foes, but the foes aren’t usually permanent; sometimes they become friends, as the debate moves along to other issues and you find yourself sharing common ground. 
    INDIANAPOLIS –  Indiana’s public forests are primarily south of I-70, yet our population and industry are located primarily north of that interstate. Preserving existing public forests while developing new forested areas throughout the state would correct this imbalance. At the same time, enhancing the urban forest canopies, the linear street forests in our cities and towns, needs to be encouraged. These are long-term components of Indiana’s essential infrastructure that offer significant benefits on at least six levels: 1. Forests are silent workers cleaning the air of harmful substances while providing oxygen. They also are habitat for innumerable plants and animals. Trees stabilize ground water levels, reduce land erosion, and protect properties from flooding. The benefits of forests are local and world-wide. In cities, they not only improve the air we breathe and provide shade to reduce air-conditioning expenses, but they raise property values as a desired amenity. 2. Indiana has an undesirable image as a place lacking natural attractions of mountains and a seacoast. Forests can provide a place rich in opportunities for healthy, stimulating outdoor recreation, exploration, and education. Tourism and corporate investments are determined by the image we project.
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  • Atomic! Pete's debate power; McDermott v. Visclosky? Hill drinkin'
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY, in Burlington, Vt.

    1. Pete takes aim at Warren, Beto: Here are your hump day power lunch talking points: Here in Bernie’s hometown, we watched Mayor Pete Buttigieg score some debate points on the biggest stage yet. He clashed with new frontrunner Elizabeth Warrenwho struggled to define and defend her “Medicare for All” proposal. Buttigieg, of course, adds on his “for those who want it” version. “I have made clear what my principles are here,” Warren said at one of the defining points of the debate. “That is costs will go up for the wealthy and for big corporations and for hard working middle class families, costs will go down. I will not sign a bill into law that does not lower costs for middle-class families.” Buttigieg had called Warren’s plan’s “elusive” and added, “Your signature is to have a plan for everything, except this.”
  • Atomic! Headlines of betrayal; First Prez debate at ND
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY, in Niagara Falls, N.Y.

    1. The headlines of betrayal: Here are your Monday power lunch talking points: We are witnessing the most conspicuous betrayal in the history of American foreign policy unfold before our eyes. It all began with a phone call eight days ago between President Trump and Turkey President Erdogan, and now there is chaos, panic, war crimes, and an unfathomable power realignment. Here are the headlines in today's HPI Daily Wire: "Trump's called bluff kicked off Kurd fiasco" ... "Abandoned Kurds cut deal with Assad" ... "Sec. Esper defends Syrian pullout" ... "Esper confirms larger Syrian U.S. pullout" ... "Mattis says ISIS will resurge after betrayal" ... "Rep. Kinsinger says U.S. could have prevented Turkish assault" ... "Trump readies Turkey sanctions" ... "Green Berets 'ashamed' of Kurd betrayal" .... Whew.

  • Atomic! Visclosky passes chair; Teacher pay hike; Betrayal unfolds
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY, in Indianapolis

    1. Visclosky to pass on Appropriations chair: Here are your final power lunch talking points for the week: When House Appropriations Chair Nita Lowey announced she will not seek reelection, it seemed like a historic opportunity for Indiana U.S. Rep. Pete Visclosky to take the helm of the most powerful committee in the world, which oversees $1.3 trillion in spending. But Visclosky is taking a pass, saying that the chaos and turmoil in Washington and around the globe is keeping him in his current role of chairing the House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee. "Given the serious nature and necessity for continuity to address evolving threats to our national security, I have no intention of seeking the chairmanship of the full House Appropriations Committee," Visclosky told the NWI Times’  Dan Carden.
  • Atomic! Trump's betrayal; Pence on foreign help; Gov's checks

    By BRIAN A. HOWEY, in Nashville, Ind.

    1. Trump's betrayal: Here are your Thursday power lunch talking points: The whole world is watching President Trump’s betrayal of Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces. The New York Times  is reporting that 16 have been killed by Turkish forces as it moves in to create an ethnic buffer zone after Trump gave the green light in a Sunday phone call with Turkish President Erdogan. It was a unilateral decision by Trump, unbeknownst to the Pentagon. There were 11,000 Kurdish solders who died defeating ISIS with U.S. casualties in the single digits. The Kurds did the heavy lifting for America. Trump defended his decision with some of the most nonsensical rhetoric of his presidency, saying, “Now the Kurds are fighting for their land. They didn’t help us in the second World War, they didn’t help us with Normandy for example.” As for the thousands of ISIS soldiers the Kurds are guarding (which will no longer be a priority), Trump said that it’s Europe’s problem. "Well, they're going to be escaping to Europe," Trump explained. "That's where they want to go, they want to go back to their homes." 

  • HPI Analysis: Sens. Young & Braun in the Trump era
    and BRIAN A. HOWEY

    WASHINGTON – In late September, most Republican senators were dodging reporters asking about the whistleblower report alleging that President Donald Trump asked Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate former vice president and Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and his son. But the Wall Street Journal  briefly caught up with Sen. Todd Young in a Capitol hallway. Young told the WSJ  reporter he hadn’t read the report but would later in the day. “It’s not because it’s unserious or I’m an unserious legislator,” Young said in a Sept. 27 article. Over the course of his tenure in the House and his first two-plus years in the Senate, Young has established himself as someone who takes policy seriously. That’s why Trump’s potential impeachment represents such a big risk – and opportunity – for him.
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  • Adm. McRaven: The Republic is under attack from the President
    “The America that they believed in was under attack, not from without, but from within. These men and women, of all political persuasions, have seen the assaults on our institutions: on the intelligence and law enforcement community, the State Department and the press. They have seen our leaders stand beside despots and strongmen, preferring their government narrative to our own. They have seen us abandon our allies and have heard the shouts of betrayal from the battlefield. As I stood on the parade field at Fort Bragg, one retired four-star general, grabbed my arm, shook me and shouted, ‘I don’t like the Democrats, but Trump is destroying the Republic!’ If we don’t care about our values, if we don’t care about duty and honor, if we don’t help the weak and stand up against oppression and injustice — what will happen to the Kurds, the Iraqis, the Afghans, the Syrians, the Rohingyas, the South Sudanese and the millions of people under the boot of tyranny or left abandoned by their failing states? If our promises are meaningless, how will our allies ever trust us? If we can’t have faith in our nation’s principles, why would the men and women of this nation join the military? And if they don’t join, who will protect us? If we are not the champions of the good and the right, then who will follow us? And if no one follows us — where will the world end up? President Trump seems to believe that these qualities are unimportant or show weakness. He is wrong." - Admiral William H. McRaven, former commander of the United States Special Operations Command, in a New York Times op-ed titled "Our Republic Is Under Attack From the President: If President Trump doesn’t demonstrate the leadership that America needs, then it is time for a new person in the Oval Office." 
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  • Gen. Votel on what Kurd fighters did for the U.S.
    “Over four years, the SDF freed tens of thousands of square miles and millions of people from the grip of ISIS. Throughout the fight, it sustained nearly 11,000 casualties. By comparison, six U.S. service members, as well as two civilians, have been killed in the anti-ISIS campaign.” - U.S. Army Gen. Joseph Votel, who served as commander of U.S. forces in the Middle East, on the role the Syrian Democratic Forces, made up mostly of Kurdish fighters. The United States has abandoned the SDF, which is now under an ethnic cleansing assault from Turkey after President Trump gave the green light for the incursion on Sunday.
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