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Sunday, September 15, 2019
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President Trump with the NRA's Wayne LaPierre.
President Trump with the NRA's Wayne LaPierre.
Saturday, September 14, 2019 9:03 AM
By BRIAN A. HOWEY

NASHVILLE, Ind. - So there was President Trump in the Oval Office on Wednesday, mocking his most recently departed National Security Adviser John Bolton as a "Mr. Tough Guy."

A few minutes later, President Tough Guy was seated with Health & Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, announcing a ban on flavored vapes. “We have a problem in our country,” Trump said, springing into action after five vape-related deaths nationally, including one in Indiana. “It’s called vaping, especially vaping as it pertains to innocent children.”

But if you want to talk about protecting "innocent children," the huge elephant on the table is the epidemic of mass shootings in our nation in places like Sante Fe and Marjorie Stoneman Douglass high schools in Texas and Florida, and, of course, Sandy Hook Elementary School where more than 20 little kids and educators were slaughtered. Most of these involved AR-15s and many other incidents have killed hundreds of people.

And on this point, “President Tough Guy” might as well be “President Mouse.” Because we have no idea where he stands on several issues with widespread support, according to recent polling by Fox News, NBC/Wall Street Journal and ABC/Washington Post. The support for expanding background checks is in the 90th percentile. A national red flag law - which has been invoked more than a thousand times since the Indiana General Assembly passed our version in 2005 - gets support measuring 80%. Fox News found that 66% favor an assault weapon ban.

I've described the epidemic of atrocities in our schools, malls, concerts and night clubs as a virtual "guerrilla war" unleashed on our population who now ponders escape routes when entering movie theaters and bars.

I asked U.S. Jim Banks if my "guerrilla war" description was hyperbole. Banks is a conservative Republican from Columbia City, a military veteran and an ardent 2nd Amendment supporter. “No, I don’t think so,” Banks said. “Look, I’m a father and each one of these shootings is deeply emotional for me and for anyone else who watches them. I want to do anything I can to from my position to address them and keep them from happening again.”

Are mass shootings the "new norm" in American life? "No," Banks responded. "It’s not the new norm. It shouldn’t be the new norm. Our political leaders have to rise up and do something about it."
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  • By JOSHUA CLAYBOURN
    EVANSVILLE – Everyone has their 9/11 remembrances and that is fine. Understand just how rapidly it is receding into the unremembered past: The number of Americans with no real memory of it approaches one-third, and the number of Americans with no adult memory of it creeps toward half. With the forgetting comes the loss of emotive content. It is a mixed blessing. On the one hand, the falling away of emotion means we lose the felt sense of the only silver lining of the whole blood-soaked affair, the flowering of patriotism in the immediate thereafter. Those of us who lived through the bright autumn of 2001 witnessed the last mass expression of a common American patriotism of the 21st Century. No moment like it has come since, and it is unlikely to reappear. If in this vein we are the people we were two decades ago, the evidence has yet to present itself. That said, we should not over-valorize the people we were two decades past, either. The best of us rushed into burning towers in September or descended upon Afghanistan in October. The rest of us watched in stupefaction or satisfaction, or perhaps both. That goes even for direct witnesses of the great massacre, including me. We spectated. It was not two years later that the phrase emerged, not from Afghanistan but Iraq, that in the post-9/11 era only the American military was at war; the American people were at the mall. 
  • By JACK COLWELL
    SOUTH BEND – “It’s the economy, stupid.” That’s the famous admonition to Bill Clinton’s campaign staffers attributed to James Carville, the colorful Clinton strategist in the 1992 upset of President George H.W. Bush. Bush, a very good president, especially in foreign affairs, handling so well the collapse of the old Soviet Union, had “unbeatable” approval ratings a year before. Well, it was the economy, or rather the perception of the economy and what Bush was doing about it, that enabled Clinton to win. Two points of clarification: 1. The headquarters message posted by Carville actually had no “It’s.” It was simply, “The economy, stupid.” 2. The brief recession during Bush’s presidency actually was over, recovery underway before the 1992 campaign started. But Carville was right. Clinton won. The perception of how the economy is doing and what the president is doing about it is a potent political factor in presidential politics.
  • By CRAIG DUNN
    KOKOMO – Lately the Zen Master has encouraged me to open up my sensory powers and observe more of the world around me. I’ve embraced my Zen Master’s suggestion, and I have to say that much of what I’ve seen is disturbing. So, for lack of a better title for this column, I’ll call it things that make you go “Hmmm.” By now I’m sure that you’ve noticed that you can’t turn on the television, peruse the internet, read the newspaper or go anywhere without being bombarded with the not-so-subtle message that a climate crisis is upon us, sea levels are rising, baby polar bears are dying by the thousands and you better buy your electric auto soon to save the planet. No less than our all-knowing former President Barack Obama warned us way back in 2009 that global warming and a rise in sea levels threaten our existence.  Surely, President Obama, a major supporter of the Paris Climate Accord, would lead by example and show the average Bible-toting, gun-loving dim-bulb American how to live. Well, guess again! Just last month former President Obama purchased his second home, a 7,000-square-foot beauty on Martha’s Vineyard for a whopping $14.85 million. Added to his 8,200-square-foot home in Washington, D.C., one can see that the Obamas are going to leave a monstrous carbon footprint.
  • By MORTON J. MARCUS
    INDIANAPOLIS — This November Hoosier voters will make important decisions about the future economy of our state. They will choose the mayors and council members who will determine the members of local zoning boards and planning commissions. The choices of those boards and commissions will set the course of the state for 50 or more years. We have many examples of good and bad land use in Indiana’s past; let’s look at some recent developments. Boone County and Lebanon have guided development along their portions of I-65. Warehouses, heavy machinery sales and services, retail trade, and highway traveler services will be found adjacent to the interstate. Crown Point, in Lake County, has allowed housing right along I-65, north and south of the 109th Avenue (Exit 249). This breaks the line of commercial, industrial, and institutional uses adopted by Merrillville further north.

  • By MICHAEL HICKS
    MUNCIE — Natural disasters, such as hurricanes and tornadoes, have economic costs. They also reveal much about market economies, government planning and response. As I pen this column, Hurricane Dorian is winding its way through the Atlantic. I cannot yet speak to its impact, but I can outline the costs that it, along with other natural disasters, may impose.  North America faces blizzards, large snowstorms, hurricanes, cyclones, earthquakes, flooding and tornadoes. All impose some of the same costs on society, businesses, households and government. There are three distinct types of impacts. Weather-related natural disasters cause trade interruptions. The effects are often modest, delaying shipments and travel by a few hours or days. Additional damages occur when businesses and conventions close, perishable foods are damaged and families miss reunions and weddings. These impacts tend to be modest, transient and easily insured. 
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  • Atomic! Myers cites 'scandals'; Pete's debate; Vape threat
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY, in Nashville, Ind.

    1. Dr. Myers comes out swinging: Here are your Friday power lunch talking points: Democratic gubernatorial candidate Woody Myers came out swinging against Gov. Eric Holcomb with an op-ed citing recent "scandals" in the administration. "It’s time for accountability. It’s time for scandal-free leadership," Dr. Myers said, citing the July resignation of Department of Social Services Associate Director Todd Myer and Indiana National Guard Adj. Gen. Courtney Carr in August. "In the short two months since my announcement that I’m running for Governor, Hoosiers have seen numerous scandals and missteps by our state government that have me very worried about the direction Indiana is headed.” 
  • Buttigieg's 3rd debate unlikely to project him into top tier
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY

    NASHVILLE, Ind. - Frontrunner Joe Biden turned in a feisty, credible debate performance in Houston Thursday night likely to maintain his polling status, while South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg struggled to break through with a performance that would elevate him to the top tier.  Buttigieg's best line came on the topic of President Trump's trade war with China. "The president clearly has no strategy. You know, when I first got into this race, I remember President Trump scoffed and said he'd like to see me making a deal with Xi Jinping," Buttigieg said. "I'd like to see him making a deal with Xi Jinping." 

  • HPI Horse Race: Merritt seeks to climb his 'Mt. Hogsett'
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY

    INDIANAPOLIS – Three times in the last two decades, the winning Indianapolis mayoral nominee advanced to the City-County Building’s 25th Floor with around 92,000 votes. That was the case when incumbent Mayor Joe Hogsett dispatched little-known Republican Chuck Brewer in 2015, when Mayor Greg Ballard defeated Melina Kennedy in his 2007 reelection, and in Mayor Bart Peterson’s 2003 reelection over Republican Greg Jordan. The big upset came in 2007 when Ballard took advantage of a catalytic anti-tax fervor and upset Peterson 50.4% to 47.2% with 83,239 votes. For State Sen. Jim Merritt, the Republican nominee challenging Mayor Hogsett, getting to 92,000 votes is his summit. Or as Merritt put it when he talked with HPI Tuesday afternoon, “It’s my mountain. It’s slippery and steep, but I’m climbing it.” Merritt knows what it takes to pull off an upset. He was chairman of Greg Ballard’s stunner over Peterson in 2007. Today he faces a race against Hogsett in which he faces, perhaps, a five-to-one money disadvantage. Hogsett began the year with $3.2 million and had $3.8 million cash on hand last April, while Merritt posted $267,000.
  • HPI Interview: Banks says it's time for Trump, Congress to step up on gun reform
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY

    INDIANAPOLIS – In last week’s Howey Politics Indiana edition, my column “Of celphalopods and CEOs” called out the lack of spine Congress and the White House have shown in reaction to an epidemic of mass shootings that have created a jittery nation. That afternoon, I sat down with Republican U.S. Jim Banks at Sahm’s Place. The questions I had were along the lines of is this the “new norm” in American life, where people fear assaults at schools, universities, malls and bars? I had also called the growing cohesion among mass shooters in fringe websites as a virtual “guerrilla war.” Banks is considered a Republican rising star, moving from Whitley County Republican chairman, to the Indiana Senate, and now Congress. Still young at age 40, with a military tour in Afghanistan under his belt, many consider him to be on a future gubernatorial track and beyond. He didn’t dismiss interest in a future Statehouse run, but he could also have a future in House leadership. Banks agreed that it is time for Congress and President Trump to “rise up” and confront the myriad of security challenges facing the population, as Congress and President George W. Bush did in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 terror attacks. 
  • Horse Race: Buttigieg faces telling moment in third debate
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY

    INDIANAPOLIS – If South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg is to have a realistic shot at winning the Democratic presidential nomination, he’s going to have to make some serious inroads beginning at 8 tonight (E.T.) during the third Democratic debate in Houston. It will run three hours on ABC. Buttigieg now says he’s in his “phase three” of his longshot presidential campaign. “We knew coming into this campaign that its early stages would unfold in roughly three phases,” Buttigieg explained. “The first was to convince Americans that a small-town mayor with a funny-sounding Maltese name was a viable candidate for president. On the strength of our vision, the urgency of our convictions, and some help from phonetic pronunciation, we’ve done that. We’ve climbed in the polls and been on two debate stages, and now, we continue to earn opportunities to share our plans.” 
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  • Banks makes election promise to Trump
    "I promised President Trump tonight that Indiana would be the first state on the board for Trump/Pence shortly after 6pm on November 3, 2020!" - U.S. Rep. Jim Banks in a Facebook posting after House Republicans met with President Trump for their retreat in Baltimore. Indiana's polls are one of the first to close on Election Day and the state typically is one of the first to declare its 11 Electoral College votes for the Republican nominee, with the exception of 2008 when Barack Obama won the state.
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  • The NFL's Century season
    The Chicago Bears and Green Bay Packers kicked off the 100th season of the NFL Thursday nigth, meeting for the 199th time. The Bear defense lived up to billing. But Chicago third year QB Mitch Trubinsky ... not so much, as the Packers won 10-3, much to the howling, growling chagrin to the Bear faithful at Soldier Field. This, despite a pre-game appearance by the Punky QB (Jim McMahon). 

    There were 10 original teams of the NFL, including two in Indiana: The Hammond Pros and the Muncie Flyers. The others were Akron Pros, Canton Bulldogs, Cleveland Tigers, Dayton Triangles, Decatur Staleys, Racine Cardinals, Rock Island Independents, and Rochester Jeffersons. The Staleys would become the Bears. 

    The NFL wouldn't return to Indiana (beyond the Bears training camp at St. Joseph College at Rensselaer where Dick Butkus once said the statues were so ugly the pigeons wouldn't crap on them) until the Colts arrived in Indianapolis in 1984. It took 15 years before consistently great quarterbacking would establish itself in Indy, first with Peyton Manning and then Andrew Luck. Jacoby Brissett is now on the clock. - Brian A. Howey, publisher
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