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Thursday, July 29, 2021
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Thursday, July 29, 2021 9:39 AM

INDIANAPOLIS – One thing that stood out after the Capitol and D.C. Metro police testimony Tuesday before the fledgling House Jan. 6 Select Committee was how close this “insurrection” came to being an atrocity that could have ignited a violent nationwide spasm. D.C. Officer Daniel Hodges, who repeatedly referred to those breaching the U.S. Capitol as “terrorists,” was asked why police didn’t use their guns to stop the breach. There were “thousands of terrorists … only hundreds of us,” Hodges said. “If it had turned into a firefight, we would’ve lost.”

That was a chilling revelation. There were five deaths on Jan. 6, including two supporters of President Trump and three Capitol officers who died (two by suicide in its aftermath). There had been only one shot fired, by an unidentified Capitol defender, killing Ashli Babbitt of California as she attempted to jump through an interior Capitol window. Trump has elevated her death to martyrdom.

Dozens of videos compiled by the committee and news organizations such as the New York Times revealed many insurrectionists were heavily armed – with body armor, bear spray and other chemicals, and weaponry. The U.S. was facing a constitutional crisis as Trump sought to “overturn” the election and stop congressional certification of the Electoral College declaring Joe Biden the winner on Jan. 6.

It would be difficult to gauge how a gunfight in the halls and entry steps to the Capitol could have been a total rupture of the civic dynamic, potentially sending thousands of Trump supporters and opponents into the streets of American cities. For that restraint alone, the cops defending the Capitol should have a revered place in our history.

Officer Hodges’ testimony mentioned “terrorists” 15 times and he was pressed by U.S. Rep. Jamie Raskin as to why. Hodges said that he came “prepared” to explain why he uses the term to describe the rioters. Hodges then recited how U.S. criminal codes describe “domestic terrorism.”

“U.S. Code title 18 part 1 chapter 1.1.3, B as in brown, section The term domestic terrorism means activities that involve acts dangerous to human life that are a violation of the criminal laws of the United States or of any state and B, appeared to be intended to intimidate or coerce a civilian population, or to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion or to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination or kidnapping and occur primarily within the territorial jurisdiction of the United States.”
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    INDIANAPOLIS – I didn’t see this coming. I figured that most Hoosiers would jump at the chance to get the COVID vaccine; that the anti-vaxers made up only about 5 or 10% of the population, as any school administrator could confirm regarding those who don’t want to comply with RMM vaccine requirements that have been in place for decades. Ditto for Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who said today, “Honestly, it never occurred to me we would have difficulty getting people to take the vaccine.” But now at a time when the pandemic was supposed to be disappearing in the rearview mirror, Tuesday’s Indiana State Department of Health report showed 1,085 new cases, the first time it’s been over 1,000 since May 8. On Wednesday that grew to 1,248 cases with 12 deaths. The seven-day positivity rate, which runs a week behind, continues a month-long climb to 6.3%, the highest since Feb. 9, with some 15 counties over 10%. According to CDC stats as of Tuesday, only 58% of Hoosiers age 18 and up had received one dose of the vaccine which rank us 12th in the nation; only 54.9% had received both doses. In a state of 6.7 million people, less than three million have been vaccinated. In the U.S., the numbers were these: 69% for one dose, 60% for both. A frustrated U.S. Rep. Larry Bucshon, MD, tweeted Wednesday: “New CDC recommendations on masking are not based on science but instead based on politics including kowtowing to teachers unions. The problem is tens of millions of Americans are unvaccinated. Vaccinated people are very rarely spreading the virus. When does it end? Never?” While Gov. Eric Holcomb had received near universal credit for dealing with this unprecedented modern pandemic, he’s maintained a much lower profile this summer. 
    CARMEL – The United States got lucky this time!  Everyone, and I do mean everyone, dropped the ball and was totally unprepared for the Covid-19 pandemic. We were very fortunate that the Covid-19 virus was a big sissy as far as pandemic viruses go and that we didn’t witness the extinction of mankind due to our lack of preparation, slowness of response, scientific confusion, political ineptitude and the rampant ignorance and pig-headedness of our population.  It may seem ridiculous to refer to a virus that has led to the deaths of over 600,000 Americans as a big sissy, but in the pantheon of viruses, it could have been terrifyingly worse. It could have been worse not because our response could have been worse, but because the virulence of the virus could have been worse.  Covid-19 largely bypassed our younger population, unlike the 1918 influenza pandemic, and tended to target those who were elderly or who had other health issues.  That is just plain dumb luck and not good public policy. It should not be our government’s public policy to play Russian roulette with our nation’s health.
    SOUTH BEND – Three years ago, in a column published on July 29, 2018, I wrote that Pete Buttigieg, then mayor of South Bend, should run for president. Shows what I know about politics. Mayor Pete ran for president. He lost. He could instead have easily won a third term as mayor. And he would not now face pressures of dealing with the nation’s roads, rails, airports and bridges and seeking a trillion dollars to fix them. Actually, I said in that column that I thought Buttigieg would indeed run for president, “and will not win.” But he would win by losing. I never thought Buttigieg would win the presidency in 2020, although it seemed possible after his spectacular showing in Iowa and New Hampshire. Even before that, he had some chance. If Donald Trump could be elected, who couldn’t be president? Buttigieg became one of the finalists for the Democratic nomination.
    MUNCIE – In May, Gov. Eric Holcomb’s announced an early end to pandemic unemployment assistance. This decision was a rare policy mistake for an administration that had spent more than a year handling COVID with admirable attention to data and good judgement. The mistake was also unusual in that the predictable result was economic damage to those Hoosiers who were most affected by COVID. This was a marked departure from the administration’s more than yearlong focus on the health and wellbeing of those most impacted by the pandemic. Fortunately, the courts reversed that decision and payments resumed earlier this month. Labor markets are slowly improving, so fewer families would’ve been substantially harmed by the payment turbulence. Ultimately, the decision to end pandemic unemployment assistance early will be only a footnote to an administration that performed commendably through the worst crisis Indiana faced since the Civil War. The sole reason I write about the topic is that this episode illustrates how inchoate Indiana’s workforce decision process has become. Moreover, the fiasco with pandemic unemployment assistance illuminates the folly of the Division of Workforce Development’s culture of supporting businesses at the expense of taxpayers as a whole. 
    INDIANAPOLIS – This week, we break new ground. The conclusion of this column will precede the data supporting it. But don’t consider this a permanent feature. We’ll return to slugging through the data soon enough. Indiana workers, like their brothers and sisters nationwide, find their compensation declining as a share of GDP (the value all goods and services). The details may not make the nightly news on Fox or MSNBC, it might even escape attention on NPR, the fact is of long duration and widespread. The issue is a progressive transition of income from workers to business owners and managers. That may sound Marxist, but it is very much consistent with the most admired attributes of capitalism.
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  • August redistricting hearings set, but Dems want to see maps

    INDIANAPOLIS  – Republican majority legislators have scheduled a series of public meetings across the state on Aug. 6-7 in each of Indiana’s nine congressional districts. House Democratic Minority Leader Phil GiaQuinta said that additional hearings should be scheduled after the actual maps are drawn. Legislators are expected to return to the Statehouse in mid-to-late September to redraw the district boundaries. The meetings will be grouped into geographic areas, including north, south and central. The northern group meetings will be in Lafayette and Valparaiso on Friday, Aug. 6, and in Fort Wayne and Elkhart on Saturday, Aug. 7. In addition, the southern group will host meetings in Anderson and Columbus on Friday, Aug. 6, and Evansville and Sellersburg on Saturday, Aug. 7. The central meeting will held in Indianapolis on Wednesday, Aug. 11. 
  • HPI Analysis: Mike Pence ends up in his very own twilight zone

    INDIANAPOLIS – As the smirking Donald Trump finally gave Mike Pence his deliverance at the late, late hour of 11 a.m. July 15, 2016, tweeting that he was anointing the Indiana governor to his longshot ticket, I channeled Rod Serling: “This is a portrait of an exposed governor named Mike Pence, who feeds off his self delusion, who finds himself perpetually hungry for greatness in his diet. He searches for something which explains his hunger and why the world passes him by without saluting. It is something he looks for and finds at a national convention, in his twisted and distorted lexicon he calls it faith, strength and truth. But in just a moment Mike Pence will ply his trade on another kind of corner, at the strange intersection we call the twilight zone.” Pence has found his political twilight zone, coming to a head during the Jan. 6 U.S. Capitol insurrection.
  • Atomic! America goes Pogo; GOP Govs lash out at unvaxed; IU President Whitten infected; No Trump/Pence redux
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY, in Indianapolis

    1. Going Pogo

    America and Indiana have gone Pogo: "We have met the enemy, and he is us." At this writing, as the Delta variant of COVID reinvades this nation that is now giving away coveted vaccine to third world counties, Indiana stands at an anemic 43.7% fully vaccinated with 46.4% have at least one dose. Indiana reported 878 new COVID cases Thursday, the most since May 20. New IU President Pamela Whitten announced Thursday she has a "breakthrough" COVID infection: "Gratefully, my symptoms are mild, and I will continue to work and lead the university during this time from my home office. While the vaccine is not 100% effective, I am so grateful to be protected from more serious symptoms." Gov. Eric Holcomb has been mum over the past couple of months about the state's laggardly vaccine rate (though it was announced he will have his delayed inaugural ball in August). But other Republican governors are now speaking out. Utah Gov. Spencer Cox: "I think it's ridiculous. I don't think we can take credit for the vaccine and then tell people that there's something wrong with the vaccine. We have these - these talking heads who have gotten the vaccine and are telling other people not to get the vaccine. That kind of stuff is just, it's ridiculous. It's dangerous, it's damaging, and it's killing people. I mean, it's literally killing their supporters. And that makes no sense to me."  Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey: “Let’s be crystal clear about this issue. And media, I want you to start reporting the facts. The new cases of COVID are because of unvaccinated folks. Almost 100% of the new hospitalizations are with unvaccinated folks. And the deaths are certainly occurring with the unvaccinated folks. These folks are choosing a horrible lifestyle of self-inflicted pain. Folks are supposed to have common sense. But it’s time to start blaming the unvaccinated folks, not the vaccinated folks. It’s the unvaccinated folks that are letting us down. I’ve done all I know how to do. I can encourage you to do something but I can’t make you take care of yourself."
  • HPI Analysis: Books recount Trump/Pence chaos

    INDIANAPOLIS – Mike Pence’s Washington career began in January 2001, highlighted by his refusal nine months into his first House term to abandon the U.S. Capitol as al-Qaeda terror pilots had just assaulted the Pentagon and Flight 93 was aimed toward the citadel of American democracy. In the Sept. 13, 2001 edition of Howey Politics, Pence described the anger he felt pumping adrenaline through his veins on Sept. 11 as F-16s crisscrossed the sky over the U.S. Capitol seeking the rogue airliner. He defied an order to evacuate and walked back to the landmark edifice just before 10 a.m. “I couldn’t walk away from the moment,” Pence thought as smoke billowed from the Pentagon. “I had to report to duty. It was like standing on the shore of Pearl Harbor. I did not feel any emotion but resolute anger until I heard the voice of my wife at 11 a.m. That’s when I heard how frightened she was; I was really overcome.” Pence’s Washington career may have come to an end a little less than 20 years later, on Jan. 6 as the vice president presided over what had been known as “the peaceful transfer of power,” or the congressional counting and certification of Electoral College ballots before the building was overrun by domestic insurrectionists inspired by his boss, President Donald Trump.
  • Horse Race: Pelosi bounces Banks off Jan. 6 committee; Cheney backs move

    INDIANAPOLIS  – The Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol was a “political” move unleashed by a sitting U.S. president seeking to overturn an election. The U.S. Senate rejected a bipartisan Jan. 6 commission, with U.S. Sen. Mike Braun deeming it “political.” Ditto for the U.S. House with Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy rejecting a bipartisan plan that had been negotiated by Republican U.S. Rep. John Katko. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi created a Jan. 6 “select committee,” stocked it with Democrats and ousted GOP leader Liz Cheney. McCarthy waffled for almost a month, before making his five selections, including U.S. Reps. Jim Banks of Indiana and Jim Jordan of Ohio. Pelosi retaliated on Wednesday, bouncing both Banks and Jordan six days before the committee was to meet for the first time. “With respect for the integrity of the investigation, with an insistence on the truth and with concern about statements made and actions taken by these Members, I must reject the recommendations of Reps. Banks and Jordan to the Select Committee,” Pelosi said in a statement on Wednesday. “The unprecedented nature of January 6th demands this unprecedented decision.”
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  • Dr. Carroll on 'different pandemics'
    “To suggest that Covid-19 is an escalating emergency in the United States is not quite right. The truth is that the vaccinated and unvaccinated are experiencing two very different pandemics right now. If we don’t confront that, the nation can’t address either appropriately.” - Dr. Aaron E. Carroll, chief health officer for Indiana University, in his New York Times column "Covid is now a crisis for the unvaccinated" on Wednesday.
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