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Friday, November 17, 2017
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Friday, November 17, 2017 11:27 AM

By BRIAN A. HOWEY, in Gnaw Bone, Ind.

1. The ‘Pervnado’ keeps twisting

Here are your final power lunch talking points for the week: The “Pervnado” as the New York Post headline writers are calling it, is claiming more and more victims, from Harvey Weinstein, to Louis C.K., to Presidents Clinton and Bush41 and now U.S. Sen. Al Franken. It has men and women in the political realm going through their minds to review any potentially ribald past behavior. It prompted U.S. Rep. Luke Messer to tell Fox News, “I think both Roy Moore and Al Franken should both step down. The (Franken) photo was inappropriate. It should be investigated. Whatever his recollection, that picture is a picture.” Messer said that “Roy Moore should step aside. That would be the best thing for the state of Alabama and our country.” And, yes, the Franken picture is a doozy. As Stuart Smalley might say, “You’re not smart enough, you’re not good enough and, doggone it, senator, people really don’t like you.” 

And then President Trump barreled in with a Twitter Berate, saying, “The Al Frankenstien picture is really bad, speaks a thousand words. Where do his hands go in pictures 2, 3, 4, 5 & 6 while she sleeps? And to think that just last week he was lecturing anyone who would listen about sexual harassment and respect for women. Lesley Stahl tape?” But he was silent on Moore. This is dangerous territory for a president who can trace just about every scandal and controversy to past tweets. As NBC’s Ali Vitali observes, “More than a dozen women accused Trump of sexual assault or misconduct in the final months of the 2016 presidential campaign.” And then there’s the 2005 “Access Hollywood” tape with Billy Bush, where we hear Trump say, “I just start kissing them, it’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything. Grab 'em by the pussy.” Of course, you remember how the Trump household reacted to all of that, with the future First Lady showing up at the next debate wearing a pussy bow. We were being punked, right?

2. HPI Mobile is up

Howey Politics Indiana subscribers can go to the Apple App Store or Google Play and download the new HPI Mobile, where you can read today’sHPI Daily Wire formatted for your smartphone. It’s free for HPI subscribers. As for those of you who don’t subscribe, for 96 cents a day, or about half the price of a cup of Starbucks coffee, you can have access to the most-read aggregated topical news and daily analysis in Hoosier political and policy circles.

3. Tax reform and deficit rhetoric

The days when Hoosier Republican members of Congress can fret about budget deficits are over. The delegation joined 220 Republicans to pass the tax reform package that analysts say will add $1.5 trillion in debt over the next decade. Of course, that goes on the federal credit card, to be paid by our children and grandchildren. But, hey, President Trump, Vice President Pence and congressional Republicans needed a victory or the big donors were going to stop taking phone calls. Former deficit hawks like Reps. Todd Rokita and Luke Messer didn’t mention the deficit increases, nor did any others from the GOP delegation. But U.S. Rep. Andre Carson did. It’s not even popular legislation, with a Quinnipiac poll this week showing 52% disapprove and 25% approve (with 60% of Republicans supporting). Why? by a 59-33% margin, voters believe the proposals benefit the wealthy at the expense of the middle class. All eyes are on the Senate where Sens. Bob Corker and Jeff Flake, who aren’t seeking reelection and aren’t on good terms with the president, along with Sens. Ron Johnson, Susan Collins, John McCain and Lisa Murkowski, who have expressed concern about pumping up the deficits.

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    INDIANAPOLIS – On Tuesday night, President Trump, after an 8½ hour flight from Hawaii which closed out 12 days of travel and work and many meetings in five different countries crossing 20,295 miles, concluded a highly successful Asian trip. He started by paying respect to American service members at Pearl Harbor and ended after strengthening military and trade alliances across the Indo-Pacific region.  The president met with leaders of several different nations, he attended three important trade summits, gave flawless speeches in each country and became the first foreign leader to be honored with an official dinner in the Forbidden City since the founding of modern China. Perhaps most importantly, he reinforced a brilliant strategy in dealing with the nuclear threat of North Korea. He pulled our partners further along with sanctions, showed the world our military might and encouraged diplomacy, as it was announced immediately after the trip that China was sending a high-level special envoy to North Korea.
    SOUTH BEND – Republican strategists plotting to defeat Sen. Joe Donnelly have attacked the incumbent Democrat as standing in the way of President Trump’s agenda. Q. Will that strategy change after the results of the election Tuesday, especially with the anti-Trump flavor of the big Democratic wins in Virginia? A. No. At least not yet. Q. But will the Republican nominee who runs against Donnelly really want to be viewed as foursquare for Trump’s agenda? A. Right now, the two Republican congressmen regarded as top contenders for the party’s nomination, Luke Messer and Todd Rokita, battle for support of the Trump base, so sizeable in the presidential vote in Indiana, with both claiming to give that foursquare support. Each tries in an already nasty battle to find some inkling of disloyalty to Trump by the nomination opponent.
    INDIANAPOLIS – Once upon a time, if you asked the average Hoosier, s/he would have told you, farming was the backbone of Indiana’s economy. But eventually reality did make an impression. Today, it is common to acknowledge manufacturing as our dominant economic activity. Of course, that may be changing, but let’s not go there. Instead, let’s look more closely at manufacturing’s transformation from 2005 to 2015 (the most recent data available from the Annual Survey of Manufacturers). Nationally, during that turbulent decade, two million (15.2%) of manufacturing jobs disappeared. Indiana’s loss was over 61,000 (11.5%). Production workers in manufacturing accounted for 75% of those job losses in Indiana compared to 71% nationally. Those declines were proportionate to the 2005 levels of production jobs in manufacturing. Despite these job losses, total payrolls in manufacturing rose nationally by 9.8%; yet the total wages of production workers fell by 16.3%. In the Hoosier state, manufacturing payrolls advanced by 7.1% with a corresponding 11.6% decline in the wages of production workers.
    FORT WAYNE – In the late ’60s and early ‘70s, I was a counter-culture college student, battling the leftist lemmings who condemned America and trashed our flag. The Evil Empires were Red China and Bolshevik Russia. In 1970 the movie “Patton” was released, one of my favorite movies. My Young Americans for Freedom friends and I would stand up and cheer to the irritation of everyone else present when Gen. Patton delivered these memorable lines, “Well, the war shouldn’t be over. We should stop pussyfooting about the goddamn Russians! We’re gonna have to fight them sooner or later anyway. Why not do it now, when we got the army here to do it with?  Instead of disarming these German troops, we oughta get them to help us fight the damn Bolsheviks!” His military and political superiors were even less supportive than the irritated movie theater crowds were when we stood up and cheered. So, when I walked around Red Square in 1998, it was with severely mixed feelings. As a kid I had watched on our family’s black and white TV set as Soviet military forces paraded down Red Square, aware that in our basement we had an area with a survival kit to hopefully survive a nuclear hit from the Evil Empire. By the 1990s, major changes had begun occurring in Russia. 
    NASHVILLE, Ind.  – A century ago, momentous events and lives were launched. There was a coup d’etat in Petrograd, often described as the “Russian Revolution,” but in reality was a violent Bolshevik power grab that created a 100 million human death toll over the next eight decades. In May of that year, John F. Kennedy was born and would go on to launch the New Frontier. And in Ann Arbor on Nov. 17, 1917, Robert Dunkerson Orr took his first breaths. His family was on vacation when he entered the world, and he would be raised in Evansville and find his early and late careers playing out on the world stage, buffeted by the two other events and lives. Gov. Orr, as he would become in 1981, was the first governor I covered as a journalist. His life traversed times of great upheaval, with him and first wife Josie serving in the U.S. Army and Women’s Air Force Service Pilots during World War II. His public service career ended in Singapore where he served as the U.S. ambassador for three years. On Nov. 4, nearly 100 former staffers of Gov. Orr gathered to remember his remarkable life. It didn’t have quite the movie characteristics of Gov. Edgar Whitcomb, who escaped from the Japanese at Corregidor during the early months of World War II and would later come close to circumnavigating the globe by sea after retiring from public life. But Orr through business, policy and politics helped create the Indiana we know today.
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  • Horse Race: The politics of cold beer

    INDIANAPOLIS –  Indiana legislative Democrats are wandering the desert, gripped in super minority status, and presumably thirsty. Could cold beer be part of their answer for electoral redemption? Late last week, the Indiana Association of Beverage Retailers and the Indiana Retail Council cut a deal in an attempt to ward off broader sale of cold beer in an issue almost certain to surface in the 2018 General Assembly. It’s one we’ve been predicting for a couple of months now. The trade-off is Sunday sales in exchange for cold beer to remain only in liquor stores and craft breweries.
  • HPI Interview: Sen. Young latest Hoosier to arrive to tumult

    INDIANAPOLIS – Freshman Indiana senators have had their share of initial tumult after joining the world’s most exclusive club, and U.S. Sen. Todd Young is no exception. U.S. Sen. Birch Bayh came off an election during the Cuban Missile Crisis din 1962 to his first year with the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, setting him on a path to draft the 25th Amendment a year later. Young’s not facing an impeachment trial of a sitting U.S. president, as U.S. Sen. Evan Bayh did when he arrived to his seat in 1999 with President Bill Clinton, even though the term is surfacing in topical news and TV ads these days. Three months after Sen. Dan Quayle took the oath in 1981, President Ronald Reagan was nearly assassinated, with Quayle helping to pass his historic tax cuts several months later.

  • Atomic: Moore & Young; Trump nuke authority; Lugar & loose nukes
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY, in Indianapolis

    1. Indiana senators call for Moore to go away: Here are your Tuesday power lunch talking points: It took a long, excruciating weekend, but U.S. Sen. Todd Young denounced Republican Alabama Senate nominee Roy Moore late Monday afternoon, coming after a fifth woman accused Moore of sexually assaulting her when she was a teenager and he was a 30-something prosecutor. "After giving Roy Moore ample time to unequivocally deny the disturbing allegations against him, those allegations remain far more persuasive than the denials,” Young said in a statement. “Roy Moore should immediately drop out of the race. The appearance of grossly reprehensible behavior disqualifies him from service in the United States Senate. If he does not step aside, we need to act to protect the integrity of the Senate.” U.S. Sen. Joe Donnelly said Moore “should withdraw from the election. The facts surrounding what happened in Alabama are pretty clear and I think that would be the best thing to do.”

  • Battle lines brew over Sunday sales, cold beer

    NASHVILLE, Ind. - A deal over Sunday alcohol sales was reached between the Indiana Association of Beverage Retailers and the Indiana Retail Council in an attempt to ward off broader sale of cold beer in an issue almost certain to surface in the 2018 General Assembly. “The package liquor store industry along with our friends at the Indiana Retail Council are committed to working directly with legislators to successfully draft and pass meaningful and impactful public policy that will allow Hoosiers to purchase alcohol for carryout on Sundays for the first time since Prohibition,” said Jon Sinder, chairman of the Indiana Association of Beverage Retailers and CEO of Crown Liquors. But Scot Imus of the Indiana Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Store Association called the deal “backroom gamesmanship,” saying, “How credible can these groups be when just six months ago each made opposite claims?” Imus is representing Ricker’s, which ignited the debate when it exploited an 80-year-old loophole to serve cold beer in convenience stores in Columbus and Sheridan earlier this year. The General Assembly moved last spring to quash the loophole, with CEO Jay Ricker saying that lawmakers were picking winners and losers in commerce.
  • Atomic: Pence taxed; Moore fiasco; heroin murder; Trey targeted

    By BRIAN A. HOWEY, in Gnaw Bone, Ind.

    1. Mike, we’ve heard this before: Here are your final power lunch talking points, compiled here are the new Gnaw Bone Coffee house: Vice President Mike Pence was in Plainfield Thursday pushing tax reform, though unclear whether it was the House or Senate package. “We’ve got real momentum,” Pence said at TKO Graphix as Sen. Todd Young and Gov. Eric Holcomb looked on. “I know we’re going to be able to count on Sen. Todd Young. But Indiana also needs to be able to count on Sen. Joe Donnelly to vote for tax relief.” Donnelly responded, saying, “I will carefully review the Senate proposal released today and continue to engage with my colleagues and the White House on behalf of Hoosiers as the Senate works on tax reform."

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  • Rokita revives residency issue against Messer
    "What's best for our family is living right here amongst our constituents, amongst our neighbors in Brownsburg, Indiana. You only have to look to [Richard] Lugar [and] Evan Bayh to see how the Indiana electorate treats someone who doesn't really live in this state and has lost touch." - U.S. Rep. Todd Rokita to WIBC’s Tony Katz, in reference to his criticism of U.S. Senate primary opponent Luke Messer, who moved his family to Washington while he serves in Congress. Messer told Katz, "The Hoosiers I talk to put their family first and they respect that a member of Congress would put their family first too.“ Sens. Lugar and Bayh lost Senate bids in 2012 and 2016 with residency one of the issues that came up during the campaign.
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  • The slitherly slope and redemption
    Here are some thoughts on the “Pervnado” that is sweeping Hollywood, Capitol Hill, newsrooms and statehouses, though things at the Indiana Statehouse have been quiet.

    Does it make a difference when a decades-old allegation comes up that the perpetrator apologizes? Particularly if there’s no specific evidence? We’ve watched Kevin Spacey, Sen. Al Franken and comedian Louis C.K. seek some measure of atonement for their inappropriate behavior, while Republican Alabama U.S. Senate nominee Roy Moore, who has been accused of pedophilia, has not and remains defiant? Ditto for comedian Bill Cosby.

    As any crisis communicator will tell you, coming clean and being contrite is the better long term strategy even if one takes big losses in the short-term. And Americans have a penchant for redemption, as past controversial figures ranging from Muhammad Ali, Jane Fonda, Kobe Bryant to Barney Frank and even Presidents Clinton and Nixon eventually were restored some degree of trust and popularity.

    Is it inconsistent for U.S. Rep. Luke Messer to call for the resignation of Sen. Franken for one ribald photo and an inappropriate and slithery pass a radio personality Leanne Tweeden, while President Trump escapes a similar assessment despite a dozen or so similar complaints and the Billy Bush “Access Hollywood” tape?

    Just asking, as we watch many powerful figures tumble down the slithery slope.  - Brian A. Howey, publisher
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